Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Tips

3 Mom (me) - tested Tips For Summer
1) After a long, hot day of playing outside, bring the kids in and put them in the bathtub with Popsicles. It gets them clean, cools them off, and contains the sticky mess all at once!

2) When packing for the beach, be sure to include a container of baby powder. When it is time to come home, liberally sprinkle powder on gritty bodies and the sand (even wet sand) brushes right off! This also works for the sandbox.

3) Keep a packet of ketchup (the kind you get at fast food places) in the freezer. It is the perfect cold pack for little skinned knees. Just wipe it off and pop it back in the freezer when the tragedy is over.

What about you? What are your tips and tricks for summer?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What Are You Reading? June Edition

This has been a SLOW time for reading because we've been busy with summer activities. So what follows is my short list. Don't forget to let me know what you're reading, too!

The Bible-- I'm working through Hebrews.

The Longing Season by Christine Schaub (fictionalized story of John Newton and the composition of "Amazing Grace")

When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne (read-aloud with the kids)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Teaching Children to Help-- Part 6

It is very important to me to have a tidy living room. I can live with dust. I can forget that the beds are unmade. I can even let the dishes pile up if need be, but the living room is where we spend most of our time and it disturbs my eyes and mind when it is messy. Therefore, we make this a priority in our house. And this is a priority when it comes to training my kids to help.

I really started this process what I was pregnant with Owen a couple of years ago. Not that the kids didn't help straighten up before then, but knowing we had a third little person on the way and anticipating several weeks of me on the couch recovering and nursing round the clock, I decided I wanted them able to do this job without my help when necessary. They were 3 and 1 1/2 at the time so I was there to guide them, but I was hands-off.

Since this is something we do often, we've developed a few fun ways to get the job done. (Of course, it would be best if the kids would realize that putting something away as soon as you are done with it is a way to save you a lot of work in the long run. BUT as hard as I try to instill that principle, we are still a long way from that!)

  • Turn on music to work by. Fast music works best and we listen to anything from Veggie Tales to Beethoven!
  • Set a 5-minute time limit and do everything you can before the timer goes off. As long as you are working hard, you can stop when the bell rings no matter what is left out.
  • Put one of the older kids in charge of the clean-up and let them assign jobs to the other kids. (They enjoy following orders from each other instead of me every once in a while.)
  • Plan a fun floor activity, like a puzzle or game, for after the floor is clear.
  • Make it a number game. "Put away 5 things that belong downstairs and 4 things that belong upstairs." OR "Straighten up 2 soft things and 3 hard things."
What are the priorities in your house?
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 1
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 2
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 3
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 4
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 5

Monday, June 23, 2008

Just Who Is That Woman?

Titus 2: 3-5-- "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."

I heard a comment on the radio the other day as I was driving that made me think:

"Every woman is an older woman to someone. Even an 18-year-old is an older woman to a 15-year-old."

At 27, I still consider myself a younger woman, but even I can be that Titus 2 "older woman" to someone-- be it my daughter or my younger sisters or to other younger women in my life.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Treat From Martha

My mom and I always joke that Martha Stewart is out of touch with reality. She'll say things like, "All you need is a pack of chicken lips that you can find at any specialty chicken lips store!"

However, in perusing some Martha Stewart magazine given to me by a friend I found this super easy summer treat.

Simply mix 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup in a glass with 1/2 cup of seltzer water and 1/4 cup of milk...and enjoy!

Happy 1st Day of Summer!

Friday, June 20, 2008

In Doctors We Trust? Part I

I love to read medical information-- be it on the internet or in medical diagnosis books. I never take my kids to the doctor without first looking up their symptoms myself and coming up with a probable diagnosis. Sometimes I'm right (like when Gavin had Fifth Disease) and sometimes I'm clueless (like when Maddie had pneumonia). However, I like to be informed.

The need for that has been plain to me lately as I've read a few fascinating books recommended to me by my sister-in-law (who had them recommended by her sister-in-law!). The first I read was How To Raise a Healthy Child...In Spite of Your Doctor by Robert Mendelsohn. Written by a pediatrician, it details many common reasons parents bring their children to the doctor and why it is unnecessary. For example, he says that fevers-- even high ones-- are just the body's way of fighting infection so not only does a child not need to see a doctor, but they also need no medication to lower the fever as that counteracts nature's (God's) healing process. This book is filled with practical advice about ear infections (let them run their course instead of turning to antibiotics), well visits (just a way to get children in the office for the vaccines), headaches (find the trigger), the list goes on. There is also an entire chapter on vaccines that is one of the most straight-forward writings on the subject that I've seen. The chapter can be read in its entirety online by clicking here.

The main point I got from the book was the need to learn and inform yourself. A doctor, even a good doctor, can be wrong. I think many moms assume the doctor knows best just because he/she is a doctor so they don't take the time to learn the facts.

The second book I read was The Sanctity of Human Blood: Vaccination I$ Not Immunization by Tim O'Shea. This book was entirely devoted to the great vaccine debate. The author (also a doctor) gives compelling arguments against vaccines. Most of what he says is referenced so you can check his facts. Some of the information I found to be a little kooky (out-there, what have you) and I even found one instance where he misrepresented a fact, but overall, the author gives lots and lots and lots of information about the history of vaccines and their dangers and the money behind it all. (Did you know the FDA does not have to test vaccines-- only approve or disapprove them? And that many members of the FDA and Congress hold stock in vaccine manufacturers--money that motivates them to get vaccines approved?) O'Shea also spends a good portion of the book showing how vaccines actually do not immunize (something that can only happen by naturally getting a disease) but often only delay a disease or cause it to turn up in a unnatural form.

For those worried about laws, O'Shea explains how vaccines are mandated, but not mandatory. Even though school systems often "require" them, there are still ways to be exempt. Isn't it nice that homeschoolers can avoid this hassel altogether?

Again, however you feel about this issue, it is so important to be informed! Blindly trusting what one doctor or the media or whoever is not always wise. Find out for yourself.

To be continued...

Please take a minute to leave your thoughts on this issue! I'd love to hear what you think.

In Doctors We Trust? Part 2

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Could It Be Dehydration?

Remember the headaches I've been having? I read somewhere recently that mild dehydration can be a cause of headaches in pregnancy. Those who know me, know I'm a water-only person. I don't like coffee and I've eliminated the occasional soda or juice because of my sugar issues and I drink hot tea maybe once or twice a month. Otherwise, it is water. However, when I was having morning sickness, I got into the habit of drinking less. Recently I've made a concious effort to up my water intake and guess what? No headaches!

I'm kind of like my dad in that I don't like to take medicine unless I have to. I was glad I found the trigger so I can eliminate my pain without pills! (I think Brian is glad, too, because after hearing me complain of headaches for days on end, he brought home a bottle of Tylenol! I still resisted, though, and never had to use it. Thanks anyway, Sweetie!)

I hit the 5 month mark this week...

Thanks for the dress, Sarah!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Etsy News...

Last night I added two more items to my Etsy shop. I've also worked on the appearance of the shop and added a welcome announcement.

Teaching Children to Help-- Part 5

From the mouths of my babes—

Me: Maddie, do you like to help Mama around the house?

Maddie: Yes!

Mama: What kinds of things do you like to do?

Maddie: Ummm…bake and straighten up as long as I don’t sweat and cook!

Another day…

Me: Gavin, do you like to help do things around the house?

Gavin: Um…uh-huh.

Me: What kinds of things do you like to do?

Gavin: I like—I sort of like…(long pause)…dusting.

Me: Owen, do you like to help Mama?

Owen: Uh-huh! (Big smile!)

Teaching Children to Help-- Part 1
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 2
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 3
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 4
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 6

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Science in the Summer

One Sunday afternoon at my parents' house, Gavin and Maddie "adopted" two caterpillars. They found them on the rue in the herb garden and decided they needed to come home with us. We fixed them each up with a jar with a fabric top for air, a wet sponge, and a bit of rue to eat. Each caterpillar was named. Gavin's was declared a girl named Cutie. Maddie's was a "boy" named Gavin! (Tragically, "Gavin" died so Maddie adopted a new caterpillar the next week named Heimlich Gavin.)

They were really good about checking the food supply and sponge every day ... and cleaning out the poop! They love looking at this big animal book we have and poring through the pictures of animals. I decided to see if the swallowtail caterpillar was in there and it was so they took some time to look at it together. One Wednesday night, we noticed Maddie's caterpillar-- excuse me, Heimlich Gavin-- had crawled up the side of the jar and was not moving. By the next morning, he was in his chrysalis. On Thursday, Cutie went through the same process.

Twelve days in a row of "checking on the caterpillars" followed! On Monday morning as we leaving to run errands, Maddie looked and a butterfly was flapping around in the jar! Heimlich Gavin had come out of the chyrsalis! Sure enough, Cutie had come out, too! Needless to say, we didn't leave to run errands for quite a while. Heimlich Gavin nibbled on some grass after he was set free and then flew off into the big world amidst cheers from the kids.

Cutie was more hesitant and after watching her for quite some time, we had to leave because someone was expecting me-- 15 minutes ago! We pulled away from the house with Maddie sobbing in the backseat because she hadn't been able to watch Cutie test out her wings! I kept thinking, "What kind of Charlotte Mason-style mother am I deeming these errands more important than nature watching?" So...after we had met our first obligation, I went back home and let the older kids get out and coax Cutie to fly away. Within minutes they had succeeded and we went on our way with dry eyes! This kind of science is so much more fun than textbooks!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day-and-a-Half

Maddie has been asking to play catch with Daddy for several weekends now, but weather and lack of a glove have prevented them from doing it. However, we got her a glove this week, and Saturday night after dinner was our un-official start to Father's Day. Brian took the kids out to play and I joined them after the kitchen was cleaned up. Notice how Gavin is sitting just like Brian?

OOPS! I totally forgot to buy Fathers' Day cards so I had to take a half hour out of a busy Sunday morning to make cards. Stress-free it was not, but I was happy with the results.

We spent Sunday afternoon with my parents and both sets of my grandparents. We had a cookout with homemade icecream for dessert!

On the left is Brian with Bekah (my sister), Maddie, my dad, and Gavin.

On the right, Owen is taking his turn churing the icecream.


Brian with Maddie, Owen, and Gavin on Sunday morning

My dad ("Papa" to my kids) with Maddie, Owen and Gavin
This greatly illustrates
Owen's anxiety with people, including family!

My dad with my younger sisters, Kati and Bekah, and me

My Etsy Shop

Well, I did it! I opened an Etsy shop! I spent Saturday afternoon finishing up a few projects that had been sitting around needing the last minute touches. Then Saturday night, while Brian was watching a movie, I set up the shop. I'll start small and see how it goes...

To visit, click here or on the link in my sidebar.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Daddy in Our House

Gavin is his daddy's boy! What Brian does, Gavin does. What Brian wears, Gavin wears. On the weekend, Gavin won't decide what to eat for breakfast until Brian tells him what he is having. When we are out, he won't hold my hand to cross the street-- only Daddy's. Brian knows what a huge responsibility he has to have someone looking up to him in everything! Aren't we glad we have a Heavenly Father to guide us? May we ALL strive to be just like Him. Happy Father's Day!

NOTE: I thought this photo was so cute, I've entered it in a contest!
To vote for my picture on Natural Mommy, click here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Sampler

I've been wanting to share this news for a couple of weeks now, but thought it best to wait until now! I've been selected to appear in The Sampler at 5 Minutes for Mom! I was working on this article to appear on my own blog and then thought, "Hey, why not try to submit if for publication somewhere else?" What a nerve-wracking few days waiting to hear if I'd been accepted...

Click here or on the button above to read my article, "Fear."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bye, Bye, Arthur!

Now that our homeschool is officially out for the summer, our mornings are free for, well, kind of the same thing we did during the school year-- reading!

We used the Five in a Row curriculum for Gavin's kindergarten. We've had the opportunity to read lots of wonderful books that we may have never picked up had they not been recommended. There are three volumes of Five in a Row in print and we made it half-way through the second one so I assumed we would continue this series in first grade. However, I have to admit I am a little tired of it and ready for a change. I talked to Gavin about it and he echoed my feelings so we've decided to move on to something else next year.

So, now that we have all this summer reading time, I've decided to check some of the remaining FIAR books from the library and simply enjoy them (with no pressure to "do" anything with them). I am thoroughly loving reading these excellent quality books! (Sorry, kids, I've had it up to here with Dora, Clifford, and Arthur books.) Our favorite so far has been Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Pollaco-- a terrific story about a Jewish woman, her black neighbor, and a cat!

We're not limiting ourselves to the Five in a Row list either! We have brought home several of the books recommended by Elise on Children's Book Monday. A favorite has been The Serpent Came to Gloucester by Matthew Tobin Anderson which I picked especially for my reptile-loving daughter.

This month we are also working our way through When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne. This collection of poems has been perfect for the oldest two kids! Such well-written, classic poetry, yet right on their level. What kid doesn't like poems about pretending and going to the zoo.

We have three more books on hold for us at the library so I'll continue to recommend any treasures we discover!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Teaching Children to Help--Part 4

What Can Children Be Expected to Do?

Only you know what your children are capable of doing. However, if you take the time to teach them, even young children are able to help with quite a bit! Just as a guide, I’ll list what my children are able to do. They certainly don’t do all of these things all of the time, but this is what they have been taught to accomplish when asked.

Gavin is 5 ½, Maddie is almost 4, and Owen is 22 months.

Setting the Table—
Fold the napkins—Gavin and Maddie
Place the silverware—Gavin and Maddie
Put condiments, drinks, serving spoons, etc. on the table—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen
Pick up crumbs off the floor—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen

Clearing the Table—
Clear dishes—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen
Put away condiments, drinks, etc.—Gavin and Maddie
Throw trash away—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen

Help transfer clothes from washer to dryer—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen
Fold dish towels and washcloths—Gavin and Maddie
Fold large towels—Gavin
Fold simple clothes (shirts, underwear)—Gavin and Maddie
Sort socks—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen (sort-of!)
Put away own laundry pile--Gavin and Maddie

Dust—Gavin and Maddie
Clear floor of toys so Mom can vacuum—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen
Wash surfaces with a wet rag—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen

Make own bed—Gavin
Help Mom make bed—Maddie and Owen
Straighten living room—Gavin, Maddie and Owen
Straighten own room—Gavin and Maddie
Go get diapers, napkin, pencil, etc. for Mom—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen
Help Owen get dressed/undressed—Gavin and Maddie
Gather trashcans to be emptied—Gavin and Maddie

Cooking and Baking—
Help add ingredients and stir—Gavin, Maddie, and Owen

Teaching Children to Help-- Part 1
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 2
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 3
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 5

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Rock-a-Bye Baby

NOTE: In response to my Mom's Day Out? post, someone commented that I was being too hard on women who felt differently than me. Obviously we can't all agree on all issues. I write about what is important to me and what I believe. Maybe my posts will make you think, maybe they will make you change your mind about an issue, maybe they will cause you to feel even more strongly about what you believe (whether you agree with my opinion or not). Either way, keep the (respectful) responses coming!

I've alluded to the fact that we don't put our kids in any day care or nursery setting, even at church. I also promised to share my views on the topic.

One reason we stay away from nurseries are germs! I may be paranoid, but I can just picture the scads of germs lying wait on every surface. It has nothing to do with the cleanliness of a particular place. It’s just that kids rarely use the same caution as (most) adults when they have a cold (or worse) so germs can be spread about easily. We also avoid fast food play areas and the pediatrician’s office for the same reason! We pass around enough germs in our own house that I don’t feel the need to pick up any more unnecessarily.

Another motivation for staying away from nurseries is that I don’t feel comfortable leaving young kids with someone I don’t know. They don’t usually feel comfortable with that either and I don’t believe they need to pushed into it. The time will come when they will welcome the opportunity to have some independence from Dad and Mom, but for now, we’ll enjoy the dependence.

That’s not all! Even at a church or Bible study nursery, I can’t be sure what they are learning. I feel responsible for what knowledge enters their tender minds and you can’t be too careful. Even good intentioned people can have a different Bible view than I do and I want to know what my children are being taught. A small child’s mind is a sponge and they are not yet able to discern what they believe is right and wrong. (That comes later.)

My main reason for not putting the children in nurseries, though, is that Brian and I firmly believe a family should worship together. Babies, toddlers, older children, teenagers—all can and should be included with the family in church. A baby might not be able to sing the words of the songs, but she can listen or clap along. Maybe a 10-year-old can’t understand everything the pastor is teaching, but he can gain more than you might imagine. The idea of separating the family at church is a relatively new idea and it certainly wasn’t a concept in Jesus’ time—how else was the young boy available to share his lunch with the crowd of 5000?

I know some people argue that if Mom is constantly quieting the baby and telling the kids to sit still, she is not getting much out of the service. I remember reading in The Mother’s Companion some years ago a point I’ve often pondered. The author said that sometimes when children are young, a mother may have to sacrifice what she feels is her right listen quietly in church. Her current ministry is her children and sometimes bouncing the baby outside the sanctuary door is what is required of her.

I will admit it has been discouraging for us in finding a church because most places expect children to report to the nursery as soon as they walk in the door. We had several bad experiences. Once, when Maddie about 18 months, she began to get restless during a service and the pastor stopped in the middle of his sermon to tell me that there was a "quiet room" she could go to. Another church welcomed us at the door and then (without asking) led us straight to the nursery.

Our views may not be popular, but we are doing what we feel is best for our family...and may you strive to do the best for yours.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Hodgepodge of Info

The Photo Shoot

I haven't taken the kids to a professional photographer since Maddie was a baby. Part of it is my thriftiness. Part of it is the fact that I hate to drag everyone out to the studio just to have one or all of the kids frowning or crying! Still, I like to have "formal" pictures of them to hang around this house so periodically, everyone gets dressed up for me and we take a few shots. I hadn't taken the time to do this since the fall so I figured it was about time!

My Pregnancy

I reached the half-way point this week. Morning sickness is a thing of the past. I always find the first three months the hardest of the whole pregnancy-- even worse than the last month or so when I am huge and tired! For me, the second trimester brings headaches and this time is no different. I try to avoid taking anything for them, but it can be difficult to endure a headache EVERY day like I have recently so I may break down soon. I just wish I could figure out the trigger so I could avoid the headaches all together.

I continue to struggle with low blood sugar. It makes me weak, dizzy, jittery, and shaky. I was able to get a glucose monitor for free so I periodically check when I'm feeling that way and inevitably, my sugar is low. On Sunday, I started feeling that way, but knowing I had eaten plenty of carby things, assumed my yucky feelings were being caused by something else. I guess I should trust my instincts, though, because when I got home, I tested my sugar and it was only 65!! (Somewhere between 80-120 is normal.) Despite all my woes, I really do feel pretty good!

Perhaps our biggest news is that we've named our baby! It was actually a MUCH easier task than expected. Brian and I were have real difficulties find names we both loved so we stopped looking. Last week, we got the list back out and realized there was one name we both liked so instead of continuing the search, we decided to just go with it. SO..."Baby" is now Benjamin Cooper!

Continuing Projects

My kids were invited to a birthday party this week and we needed to come up with a gift so I decided to make one.
Maddie liked the purse so much she begged me to make her one! On top of all that, I've continued to work on a few baby onesies and another handbag so I can attempt to open an Etsy shop like some of you suggested. I'll let you know when I get it up and running.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Teaching Children to Help-- Part 3

A Few Pointers:

1) Make it fun! If work is going to be a daily part of the day, try to make it as enjoyable as possible. We often play music as we're cleaning up to encourage speed and pleasure. Sometimes we have races to see who can put away laundry to fastest. (You have to be careful and make sure this remains friendly!) The kids also think it is fun to use a step ladder or a feather duster to reach high places while they are cleaning. Whatever makes things fun.

2) Accept the fact that it working together may be more time consuming at first than working alone. It is such a temptation for me to make the bed or set the table or transfer the wet clothes to the dryer myself rather than include the kids because I can do it so much faster when I don't have to supervise! However, this does them a disservice. With time, they will be able to do these things without supervision and will actually save time.

3) Accept that children are little and not always the perfectionists you would like them to be! This goes along with #3. As long as they are doing their best and not being careless, I often have to overlook some things. For example, my kids are in charge of folding kitchen towels and most of the time they are not folded as neatly and symmetrically as I would like. (I'm OCD!) BUT once they are placed in the basket above our sink, who even notices? Plus we wash enough dishes and clean up enough spills that the towels rarely stay folded for long!

4) Allow plenty of fun time after work. Just as I need some downtime after chores, so do the children. Make sure the day has lots of time for reading, playing, going outside, napping (if the children are young or even if they are not!)...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Teaching Children to Help-- Part 2

How Do You Teach Children to Help?

1) Let the children work beside you. This is the easiest way for them to learn. If you are folding the laundry, let them do it with you. Even the youngest can learn to find and sort socks. Older ones can fold small towels and gradually work up to more complicated folding. Same goes for other chores. Dust the furniture together, assigning the youngest ones things they can reach like the bases of lamps or the table legs. Working together insures everyone is doing their part. No one can slack off if you are all together. You can still assign small jobs to do alone such as making a bed or putting away a stack of laundry, but the majority of work is done together.

2) Teach proper techniques patiently. Nothing steals the joy more than a grumpy, impatient mom! I am guilty of this often. However, it is better to take the time to show a child how something should be done than to get angry and take over the job yourself.

3) Make working a habit. Giving the children regular work, helps form the habit. If giving chores is only an occasional thing, it can seem like a punishment. If you require a child to clear their dishes after EVERY meal and put their clothes away EVERY time they change, good habits are formed. Children can easily form the opinion that work is for Dad and Mom and play is for them! Giving them regular work to do, even if it is different tasks every day, helps them realize work is a regular part of life and expected of everyone.

4) Model good work habits yourself. If you constantly complain about your work or make work seem like a burden, the attitude can rub off on your children. The Bible says, "A joyful heart is good medicine," and that certainly applies in this situation!

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