Thursday, July 31, 2008

Am I the Only Mom Who...

...has held a baby while on the toilet?

...has hidden a children's book because I can't bear to read it one more time?

...has gone in the laundry room to eat a snack so I don't have to choose whether to share?

...has pretented to still be asleep so I can catch a few more minutes of rest before tackling the barrage of questions thrown my way?

...has thrown my son's white shirt in the trash rather than bleach it again?

...can name every Thomas engine ever made?

...considers a day without someone crying a luxury? (Oh wait, I don't have those!)

...finds folding laundry relaxing?

...who is glad plants are not children because they would be sorely neglected?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Four Seasons Bookmark Giveaway

This is a "small but sweet" giveaway for some of my homemade bookmarks. There is one for each season--spring, summer, fall, and winter! Simply leave a comment on this post sometime between now and Saturday at midnight, and you will be entered to win. I will announce the winner on my blog Sunday morning.

For more giveaways or to enter the fun, visit the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival going on all week!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Year Gone By!

Today is Maddie's fourth birthday(even though she says she wants to stay three)! Soon she will be one of four children-- the rest of whom are boys! We're not worried about her, though. She can hold her own. We joke that Maddie received an attitude in a box on her first birthday. Up until then, she was a laid-back, calm, quiet baby--and boom!-- when she turned one, she turned fiesty, too!

Maddie has a sweet spot in her heart for all animals (including flies and spiders) and all babies. She is like a magnet to them! She says when she grows up, she wants to be a mommy and a bird watcher. Noble goals.

Happy Birthday, Princess!

Friday, July 25, 2008

What Are You Reading? July edition

There is just not enough time to read everything I want to read. I can't stop myself from reading multiple books at once, but I try to stick with one fiction and one non-fiction at a time to keep things under control! Of course, I'm usually in the middle of a read-aloud with the kids, too. I like a comment Babychaser made about how reading aloud to the kids is a way to read books I never got around to reading. We make it a point to read excellent, non-fluffy literature so the books I read to them are often just as interesting to me as to them. The following is my current list:

The Bible-- I'm currently in I John.

The Strength of His Hand by Lynn Austin-- This is the third book in her historical fiction series on King Hezekiah.

Confessions of a Medical Heretic by Robert Mendelsohn-- the same doctor who wrote How to Raise a Healthy Spite of Your Doctor

Deceptively Delicious
by Jessica Seinfeld-- I never found the need to try to disguise veggies in a child's food...until I had a child who would live on bread and applesauce if I would let him! Our first attempt was meatballs (with squash puree). I thought it was wonderful. He spit it out!

We are between read-alouds. We just finished The Mouse of Amherst by Elizabeth Spires about a little rodent who lives with Emily Dickinson. The kids loved it so much we finished it in two sittings. We are about to start Little Rascal by Sterling North.

Now it's your turn! Take a minute to tell me what you are reading. What are you reading in your personal Bible study? How about a Bible study at church? Or something (even a picture book) you have read recently to your child(ren). How about a magazine you faithfully read? Tell me about it. Even if you don't usually comment, could you take a minute and share with me...and all of us...your list or recommendation? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Homeschooling Questions

Jenny recently asked me some questions about homeschooling. I thought it would be a good idea to answer them here and maybe be a help and encouragement to others.

I am considering homeschooling but what concerns me is choosing a curriculum and structure that will keep [my daughter] up with her peers (and maybe even ahead). Was it easy for you to find the right thing? How did you choose it?

I have an advantage in that I was homeschooled myself from sixth grade through high school so I am already familiar with lots of homeschooling materials, books, and ideas. However, "homeschooling" begins long before time for formal instruction. Talking to your child, playing with her, reading excellent books to her, involving her in your life--those things prepare your child for more structured learning when she is ready. It's not like one day you just "start school." I've been reading to Gavin (5 1/2) since he was a few months old. By two, he could count and knew his colors. Owen (23 months) has NO interest in colors, but has learned to recognize almost every letter of the alphabet-- not because I've opened up a curriculum and taught it to him, but because he was interested in the refrigerator magnets and asked what the letters were so many times, he picked it up on his own. So much of early learning is picked up just by being together.

When your child is ready to begin math and reading and handwriting, you'll know. Gavin started Kindergarten a few months before he turned five because he was ready. I've found that my children are a bit ahead of their peers, but the beauty of homeschooling is that a child doesn't have to be on the same pace as everyone in her class but can be free to learn at her own pace. That could mean reading at four or not until age nine!

As far as actually choosing a curriculum when the time came, I didn't have a difficult time because I just went with what fit our style and needs. (I'll share later about what curriculum we plan to use in the upcoming school year.)

Also, I could teach [my daughter] English, sure--but math? I'm not sure what I'd do around 7th grade when the math gets more complicated and I can barely remember it myself. Do you plan to continue homeschooling that long? If so, do you feel equal to the task of teaching all subjects or would you join a network?

I do plan to homeschool my children through high school. I've had to get away from the idea of homeschooling being just "school at home" where the teacher stands up and teaches the student from her great depths of knowledge! In homeschooling, you learn together. Just because I took trigonometry in high school doesn't mean I even remember enough to even teach elementary math alone! I read through the text myself and help my children along. In high school, there are many programs (in math, science or any number of subjects) for homeschool students where the student follows the text and teaches herself (or learns along with Mom). It's not like Mom has to know it all herself before she can offer it to her children.

That being said, joining a co-operative group or network can be a great idea, too. When I was in high school, another homeschool mom taught a group of us geometry one afternoon a week. She was a high school math teacher before she began homeschooling her son and had the skills to teach us something we may have had a more difficult time learning through a textbook. There is always more than one way to go about something!

I know I would face a lot of criticism from friends and family, but I think it may be the best thing for her.

It is always hard to go against the crowd--especially if the "crowd" is people you care about! Pray about it and if you feel the Lord is leading you to homeschool, then it will all be worth it!

Monday, July 21, 2008

In Doctors We Trust? Part 3

My previous posts on this topic dealt with the more technical/medical side of the issue. I thought I should also address the cultural side of it. If you read any parenting magazines, you've probably picked up on the current trend that "doctor knows best"--better than the older, wiser women in your life. It is implied that anything "Grandma" has to offer must be outdated, impractical information and irrelavant to a child today.

Think about it. Who would know more about getting an infant to sleep or an older baby to eat? A mother who has raised children of her own or the pediatrician who learned about it in medical school? And who knows best how to deal with toddler tantrums? A mother who has studied the Bible and applied the principles in raising her own now-grown children or the family doctor who parrots what he/she was taught in class? (Keep in mind, doctors are trained in medical issues. Their training in breastfeeding, child training, and nutrition is minimal at best.)

Titus 2 tells the older women to teach the younger women in all aspects of life, but today their knowledge is being replaced by a doctor's. This is not to say doctors don't have a place or that everything "Aunt Betty" suggests is gospel, BUT to discount the counsel of a Godly woman and run straight to the doctor is not wise.

In Doctors We Trust? Part 1
In Doctors We Trust? Part 2

Saturday, July 19, 2008

An Apron Full of Memories

I found this idea for making an apron out of an old dress. I though it was so cool...especially when I got thinking. There is this dress that has been sitting in my closet for years now without being worn. It is slightly out of style, but I didn't want to get rid of it because it is the dress I wore to the church the day of my wedding before putting on my wedding gown. It has too many memories.

Now I had a way to save the dress and even be able to wear it...just in an modified form. I found some coordinating (and inexpensive) ribbon at Walmart and spent an afternoon cutting, pinning and sewing. This is the final result. I would model it, but it doesn't have the same look over a 6 month pregnant belly!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Up To My Ears in Books!

I recently joined
PaperBackSwap. It is so easy and an excellent place to get rid of books you don't want...and get books you do! All you do is list the books you are giving away. When another member wants your book, you pay the shipping to get it to them and you earn a Book Credit. The fun part comes next! When you find a book you want (over 2 million books are listed!!), simply request it and you pay nothing except one of your saved Book Credits.

As a result of joining this program, I've got a stack of books waiting for me to read. Also, I've gathered a few other books from the library that people have recommended in my
What Are You Reading? feature each month. Add to that a list of books on birth that I want to read in the next month or so and it's a bit overwhelming because I want to read them all NOW!


When I posted a few weeks ago about the summer reading I was doing with the kids, I promised to share any new reading treasures we came across. Here are a few gems!

Toddler/Preschool Level

Let's Do That Again!
by Hiawyn Oram

Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam by Hans Wilheim

Elementary Level

Six Dinner Sid by Inga Moore

Cassie's Sweet Berry Pie: A Civil War Story
by Karen B. Winnick

Miss Rumphius
by Barbara Cooney

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Practical Update on Treating Illnesses!

Yesterday I posted about how I treat illnesses while avoiding the doctor's office and unnecessary medicine. Well, I got a chance to put it in to practice.

On Tuesday evening, the kids were outside playing and Owen came to sit beside me on the step. I leaned over to kiss him and noticed he felt warm-- not sweaty warm, but a deep internal warm. (Lips are a fantastic thermometer as most moms know!) He seemed happy so we continued to play, but when I brought the kids in for bed, I used our temporal thermometer and took his temperature. He did indeed have a fever. I gave him an extra drink before bed and placed it by his mattress so he could replenish his fluids throught he night as needed.

When he woke up Wednesday morning, he still had a fever. I made sure he drank a lot during the day. His appetite was slightly diminished so I made sure the foods he did eat were good foods-- yogurt, fruit, cheese...

He was restless at naptime, but since rest is so important to healing, I put him to bed an hour earlier that night.

When he woke up this morning, his fever was gone and his full appetite is back!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Treatment For Sickness

I was recently asked what we do in our house to treat prevent and treat illnesses ourselves if we try to avoid the doctor's office. Before I begin, I want to say that the most important part of being a parent is raising our kids to be Godly people. The other stuff pales in comparison! So you may not agree with everything I say, and that's okay!

The biggest thing we to do is avoid getting sick at all. I breastfeed the kids as long as possible, usually around 2 years. We also drink lots of water. The kids drink diluted juice once in the morning and milk a couple of times a week. The rest of their liquid comes from water. We also try to limit (not eliminate) sugar. We eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I am not germ-phobic, but we avoid overly germy places like the Chick-fil-A play area in winter (we go occasionally in warm weather) and the doctor's waiting room. We get fresh air and a limited amount of sun without sunscreen to soak up the natural Vitamin D. We wash hands, get adequate rest, etc.

Of course, all of that doesn't mean we never get sick. The kids have been extremely healthy, but they aren't immune to all illnesses! With colds, we try to avoid medicine. Mostly we just get lots of rest and push the fluids. Fluids help ease sore throats and keep yucky mucous moving along. I'll give a dose of Tylenol before bed if pain is interfering with sleep which is super important to getting better.

With ear infections, I don't have a firm policy. Thankfully, Gavin and Owen have only had 1 ear infection each. Maddie has had 4, I think. We have used antibiotics, but I also have used an ear drop (by Similason) designed to relieve pain while the body heals itself. It is just so hard to see a child in real pain!

For fevers, I don't do anything except push fluids and extra rest. We try to let the fever run its course and fight the infection. Again, I will use Motrin or Tylenol at night if it is interfering with sleep.

Desitin is the miracle cure for diaper rash! Just make sure you use Desitin: Original because it contains a higher percentage of zinc oxide than Creamy.

I don't like vaccines for flu, chicken pox, even measles because these are harmless diseases in the majority of cases.

I don't really use herbs or homeopathic things too much because I haven't done enough research on the topic. I try to let the body work and heal itself in most cases. We have used a homeopathic tablet for teething-- Hyland's Teething Tablets. I have also used Rhino pops a few times. (They are shaped like lollipops and contain zinc. It's a natural cough drop for kids.)

I hope this explains our basic philosophy. Just ask if you have more questions! If I have enough questions, I'll do a new post to answer them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Feeding Babies and Toddlers

We have a firm no "real food" policy until after 6 months. I know the pediatricians recommend starting cereal, etc. at 4 months, but I don't see the point. Most babies don't have a bit of interest in eating at that age. It's just fun for the Mommy. I admit, I've been tempted. (My scrapbooking mind knows that my baby propped up in his highchair taking the first bite would a great picture!) We also eschew popular trends and have yet to use a bottle (even for expressed milk) with any of our babies. Of course, we're asked, "Then how do you and hubby get a night out if no one can feed the baby but you?" The answer: We can't and we don' least not until they are old enough to be content with something besides Mama's milk. So here's a look at our children's eating habits from birth through toddlerhood.

We start out with exclusive breastfeeding. No formula supplements, no water, no pacifiers. Our first two did take a paci when they were several months old (after b/f was firmly established) but both gave it up before a year. We chose never to offer Owen a paci at all. I always read about how breastfed babies need to eat every 2-3 hours. If I were only so lucky. Mine always eat at least once an hour in the beginning. Makes it hard to even take a shower. I became quite skilled at folding laundry while nursing, but that is beside the point! We also co-sleep with our babies so they nurse often at night, too.

At four months, the pressure is on. The doctor starts suggesting solids, the strangers start asking...but we resist. Gavin didn't take his first bite of anything until 7 months, but hated it! He didn't start eating a regular meal until 10 months old. Maddie was also 7 months when she had her first solids and she liked to eat right away. She has never been picky. She's my child who will try anything. She loves to eat-- even crumbs off the floor and any stray bite Owen leaves in his bowl! Owen was closer to 8 months when we offered him his first solids.

We have never used baby cereal. Sometimes I will grind own oatmeal and use that mixed with water or breastmilk. Usually, I just offer fruits and veggies, though. Anything soft and smushy will do. I've never bought jarred baby food either. Maybe I'm too thrifty. Maybe the jarred stuff just turns me off. I don't know. I've just never even considered buying it. I bought a baby food mill with Owen (for $9.99 at Toys 'R Us) that was great.

It grinds any soft food (bananas, beans, peaches, etc.) into baby food consistency (with better taste!). It's not a big deal because I just give the baby some of what we're eating. I don't have to cook a "baby meal" every night. Occasionally, if I grind extra of something, I will freeze it in an ice cube tray and thaw a bit for baby if I don't think they will like what we are eating.

Since we start solids so late, it isn't long before our children are ready for something beyond puree. Cheerios, bread, cheese cubes, shreds of chicken...

I continue to nurse through this time. The nursing do get spaced out, but I have frequent nursers. Because we never introduce a bottle, we go straight to sippy cups. We offered Gavin water in a sippy cup sometime in his second six months. He had his first juice at about a year. Maddie didn't drink anything besides breastmilk until a year. Owen was the same way, but he never could figure out how to use a sippy cup so we taught him to use a cup and straw.

So how about those dates with hubby? For awhile, we are content with dates with baby. It is not that hard to take a nursing baby out. Pop him/her in the sling and they are content. Eventually, the kids are ready to spend a few hours with Gran and Papa (and Aunts Kati and Bekah). It really depends more on emotional stability than nutritional needs. Gavin and Maddie were 8 and 6 months respectively. Owen didn't get left alone without Mama and Daddy until 10 months old...and that was after he was asleep for the night.

I practice extended breastfeeding so nursing continues into toddlerhood. It definitely takes a backseat to table food, though. Everyone is expected to sit with the family at meal times. No getting out of your seat when you're done. That is hard to enforce with 18-month-olds (ours have all rejected the highchair not long after their first birthdays), but it is necessary for good long-term habits.

I'm not saying my ways are the only ways. That's just the way we have chosen--the way that works for us. Happy eating!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Kids in the Kitchen

Teddy Grahams recently came out with a trail mix. It comes in a small 6 oz. box, but my kids adore Teddy Grahams so we thought we'd try it. Well, it was such a hit that the box was gone in 2 days! Being the frugal Mama that I am (or try to be), I decided we could easily make our own...and have a lot of fun doing it, in pajamas!
We used a half box of cheese crackers (generic Cheese Nips), a regular size box of Teddy Grahams, several handfuls of raisins, and a half bag of pretzels. The kids did all the pouring and stirring. So much more fun than buying it at the store!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Think Before You Speak

It seems as though people feel free to share their opinions with pregnant women more openly than they do with others. When do people ever say to an overweight woman, "Don't you know what causes that?" Or say to the man with three jobs, "I bet you've got your hands full!"? Or to the couple with multiple cars, "How many more of those are you going to have?" But somehow it is alright to say these things to someone expecting a child. Maybe these comments are meant to be funny or genuine, but they can be hurtful or at the very least irritating.

Having had numerous thoughtless comments directed my way, I try to be careful that what I say not be perceived as negative towards a pregnant woman or a woman with small children.

What good does it do to make a negative comment anyway? If a woman is happy with her situation, a less than happy response is disappointing and discouraging to her. And if a woman is unhappy or scared about her situation, a negative response will not be of any help. She needs encouragement, not more fuel for her emotional fire.

If we truly believe children are blessings, we need to believe it in all situations. They are blessings if they come as a first child or tenth child, to a married woman or an unmarried one.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Two Words That Don't Belong In The Same Sentence!

One day last week I was getting dressed when I heard Owen close himself in the bathroom. I knew I should go check on him immediately...but I didn't. He emerged about 2 minutes later with a toy wooden screwdriver in his hands.

"Mama, cook potty!"

On close inspection, I noticed the end of the screwdriver was wet...yuck!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Preparing For the Baby

With Baby Benjamin due to arrive in the fall, our house is busy with preparations. Well, not really busy, but as the day draws closer, the list grows longer.

With this being the fourth baby, we don't have many supplies to gather. We've learned to eliminate lots of baby clutter because it just isn't used. The bouncy seat, floor activity mats, etc. left our house long ago but we held onto a small fold-up swing so we'll get that out and dust it off soon. I need to wash my slings, too, because that is my prefered method of baby carrying. We did splurge and buy a Moses basket off of ebay last month so I'll set that up.

Brian will get the big box of baby boy clothes out of the attic at his mom's house. He also has to add a shelf in the boys' armoire to hold the tiny garments.

Nursing eliminates the need for bottles, but we do try to stock up on diapers. I was hoping to go cloth this time, but we've settled on disposables and we'll stash away an extra packs any week we have extra money in the budget.

In my dreams, I will cook a few meals to put in the freezer for postpartum. I have big plans but I rarely get more than a batch or two of bread and maybe a casserole set aside. Instead, we'll set aside a few dollars for take-out!

We're concentrating on getting the older kids ready for a new person in the house. I'm teaching them to do a few chores independently. Maddie has learned to dress and undress with no help. Still working on getting the shed clothes put into the hamper or drawer, though! Owen has finally moved into his mattress beside our bed and stays there all night (no crawling up beside Mama at 2 am!). Naps are easier now, too, as I can put him down on a floor pillow in the living room and he will drift off with me nearby. He has mostly weaned, although I didn't push the issue. I have tandem nursed before, but he decided recently he didn't want to nurse anymore.

I'll make a list of items to pack for the hospital. I used to pack ahead of time, but I put it off with Owen and then he came early and we had nothing ready! It kept me busy in the early stages of labor getting a suitcase packed so I will probably do the same this time. A list is necessary, though, when my brain is a bit foggy.

Fifteen weeks to go...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

In Doctors We Trust? Part 2

Another aspect of medical care that women are mis- or under-informed about is childbirth. Our culture has taught us that having a baby is full of risks and complications when in fact it is a normal, safe part of life. Yes, there can be legitimate problems, but that is the exception, not the norm. Many inventions (IVs, artificial rupture of membranes, induction, C-section) are actually performed unnecessarily. Sometimes these things are done because the doctor is impatient, the woman is impatient, or the doctor is afraid of being sued (can we blame him/her in today's "lawsuit-happy" world?). But often interventions are performed because doctors and women have been conditioned to believe that childbirth can't happen safely by itself on its own time.

It is so important to read and be informed!

Obstetricians are trained as specialists and surgeons and are therefore taught to look for problems and what to do in emergencies. But what about a woman who is a week overdue? Is that an emergency needing induction? How about a woman in labor but who is progressing slower than average? Is there a problem with her body? And why is it necessary for every woman to have an IV when she is eating and drinking to keep up her energy (which is safe despite outdated policies)?

It is so important to read and be informed! Then you are equipped to make responsible decisions and not blindly trust what one doctor believes.

Brian and I recently watched a documentary on homebirth called The Business of Being Born. It talks about the medical aspect of birth and how it often works against women. So many people believe homebirth is not safe, but that is simply not true. Statistically, homebirth is actually safer than hospital birth! Women are more comfortable at home and are allowed to labor longer without fear of interventions that hinder or slow the birth process (epidurals, continuous fetal monitoring, etc.).

Most women decide against homebirth for various reasons. Personally, I have chosen a hospital birth because Brian feels more comfortable with that option AND a homebirth would not be covered by my insurance AND the fact that the closest homebirth midwife is 90 minutes away . (I already have to travel an hour to see my midwife who practices in a hospital.) But it is so important to be informed and know your options wherever you choose to birth, not just assume what you hear in the media or even from your doctor is true.

What do you think? I'd love to hear more opinions!

In Doctors We Trust? Part 1

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Remember me posting about entering a photo contest at Natural Mommy with this photo?

Well, I won! How cool is that?

Now I get a $25 gift certificate to spend at RG Natural Babies! Fun!
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