Monday, December 27, 2010

A Favorite Christmas Gift


One of my most favorite gifts I was able to give to my children this Christmas was a set of custom made fabric baby name blocks from a stay at home mommy at Berry Sweet Baby Boutique. They are beautiful, one of a kind, well made, sturdy, artistic blocks. I had my infant's name done, one letter per block. I just told her my favorite fabrics and that I'd like coordinating, but not necessarily matching fabrics on the blocks, but each block quite individual and let her do the rest! She came up with the cutest set! I love the taggies on the blocks and I LOVE how each block is so unique and eclectic! Quite a visual feast for my little man who loves a good pattern.

The blocks are stiff enough to stack and squishy enough for baby's little hands to grab. I just love them!

They'd make a great baby shower or new baby gift! Especially since it is so disappointing to head into the big box stores and see all those plastic, noisy, battery-operated, overwhelming toys on the market.

Oh, and if you want to see blocks with letters on them (mine have letters, but none of them are showing in the picture above), just visit Berry Sweet Baby Boutique and look in the photo album.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Ghost of Christmas Past

The Ghost of Christmas Past left a mess!

At least I got most of the pine needles removed!

We had a very nice Christmas here at Taigh Beag. It started Thursday when hubby came home from work and friends came over and ended this evening when I threw the quite dead Christmas tree out the front door in into the front yard.

I know some people hold onto Christmas through the New Year. As for me, Christmas begins December 1st and ends the morning of the 26th. I like having the house back in order by the New Year. In some ways, I'm forced to do this because it involves reorganization to fit the opened gifts in our little cottage.

My 4 year old, standing amid wrapping paper and opened, upended gifts, announced, "This is the best Christmas ever!" I'd have to say that I agree. This has been the best Christmas of his life and the best Christmas I've had in a while! The message at church today was excellent. The friendship and family ties were so warm and loving. There were a few surprises here and there, too.

And for those wondering, hubby and the kiddos got me a digital camera and a box full of tools. Yes, tools, including work gloves and hand sanitizer! Let me put it this way, if we had HGTV, I'd be watching it ALL the time and we'd probably have a hole in a wall somewhere! Hubby knows the kind of crazy woman I am! I do plan on redoing the living room and am thrilled to have my own tools to tackle the project with.

In the meantime, I have a hugely messy house to clean up.

Merry CHRISTmas!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Homespun Christmas


This year, I dabbled in a more homespun Christmas. I made a few of the gifts, but still bought most of them. (It was fun shopping etsy!) I spent a lot of time in the stores browsing, shopping, and going back for forgotten and newly thought of items. I even made our own wrapping paper. Of course, I'm now coming up with loads of ideas for a more homespun Christmas. I've written them down in a 2011 planner.

Some ideas include decorating our bushes out front with pine cones coated in peanut butter and bird seed. Instead of doling out Christmas cookies to neighbors, I'm going to continue with what I started this year, loaves of yummy bread fresh from the oven. For presents, I want to make doll clothes, matching aprons, a barn, a stable, John Deere Pink bedding for my little farm girl, to name a few.

For a lovely vision of a homespun Christmas, visit Aspiring Homemaker. The link is in the left-hand sidebar!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Should I Really Not Have?

Today, I delivered some Christmas gifts. At every stop, I heard the same things:

"Oh, I wish you didn't go through the trouble."
"You didn't have to give us anything!"
"You shouldn't have."

I can't help but think, should I not have?

Would people rather I just not give them anything at Christmastime because:

They then feel the burden of obligation to return the favor, even though I sincerely do not expect a return and in fact the gifts I've given them are ways of saying thank you for what they've done for me throughout the year?

They're overloaded with Christmas cheer already and another tidbit of thanks is just another thing to go stale on the counter?

To be honest, such replies to my Christmas gifts kind of burst my bubble. I was all happy to give and would have been more than happy with a simple, "Thank you."

I do believe that in the area I live, it is considered polite to refuse. Why? I don't know. I always grew up believing that it was better to refuse and muddle through without than to accept graciously and thankfully and be better for it. I remember someone telling me that refusing a blessing is throwing it back in the person's face. That really hit me hard.

I don't get many chances to give. Please, let me give when I can.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

When Mother is Ill

I woke up today feeling tired, thirsty and slightly dizzy, but got up anyway. Some water soothed my thirst. However, exercising failed to fill me with morning energy and only made the dizziness worse. By 6 am I was reeling and could barely move off the bathroom floor. I managed a quick shower, ate a banana and a bit of peanut butter, drank more water, grabbed my infant and curled up in bed. Of course, as it usually happens, my oldest was up early, my infant didn't want to sleep anymore, my daughter's diaper was sopping and hubby was away at work. Everyone simply had to wait until I could move without falling down and feeling like I was going to throw up.

My oldest ran toy trucks up and down my back and declared that I had a fever after feeling my head. He said my head was hot and my arms were cold. Then, he got himself dressed and tried to change his sister's diaper for me. I had to cave and take my anti-vert meds, which is a guarantee that I cannot leave the house. (We had a birthday party to attend 1 1/2 hours away.) They make me too drowsy to drive. But someone has to take care of 3 children 4 and under! Someone has to get up and feed them, give them milk to drink, change diapers, etc.

I admit it. I am just a bit resentful that when everyone else is sick, I take care of them, but when I'm sick, no one takes care of me and I still have to carry on with life's work. I try to balance it in my mind's eye by reminding myself how my dear husband has dragged his tired butt to work with the stomach flu, colds, migraine headaches, etc. At least I'm home and can turn on the electric babysitter and relax on the sofa while the kids watch mindless videos and trash the house.

I admit also that I am NOT a happy sick person. My patience is thin, my temper short. I HATE feeling unwell. It consumes me. How anyone with chronic ailments gets through life is beyond me. My vertigo is chronic, but thankfully it is easily managed and only flares up now and then.

I think I'm going to put my 2 year old to bed and try to catch a few zzzz's with my infant.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 3's of Me

I saw this over at Joyful Chaos and thought it would be fun!

3 Names I go by:
1. Mom
2. Mommy
3. Cait

3 Jobs I've had:
1. Fashion Bug Manager
2. Walmart Cashier
3. Costume Shop Employee


3 Places I've lived:
1. A Big Ol' Farmhouse in New York
2. A single wide mobile home in New York
3. A little cottage in New York

3 Favorite Drinks
1. Water
2. Raw Milk
3. Almond Milk

3 Places I've been:
1. Scotland
2. Williamsburg, VA
3. Howes Caverns, NY


3 Favorite Foods
1. Indian
2. Historical foods with plenty of nutmeg and currants
3. Fruit

3 Things I look forward to:
1. Time with my extended family
2. Having our own farm
3. Spring

3 Pets I've had
1. A cat named Picky
2. A naughty monk parrot named Gordy
3. A big, mean, baby-eating Pitbull (really, she's a medium-sized, excitable, kid-ignoring Amstaff) named Star.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

6 Months and Counting!

We did it! Baby Boy and I made it to 6 months breast feeding! This is such an answer to prayer. Whenever I feed him, I think about my older two and how they were on bottles of formula at this point and all I could get out of myself were a few watery droplets.

I'm happy we've made our goal and we're still breast feeding. He is eating regular foods now, mashed and watered down with water and/or breast milk. He also eats a lot at night. My best let-downs are at night. I don't mind. During the day, breast feeding is more difficult. He's easily distracted and frustrated that my let-downs are often slow in coming and weak. It's hard to just relax and breast feed when I have two older children who seem to suddenly turn into rabid monkeys as soon as baby's to breast. I often breast feed laying down during the day because my let downs seem better if I'm laying down. I'm definitely not as full chested and am in fact down two cup sizes since my milk came in. But, there's still milk there, and with the night time feedings, there's enough to keep him going. We'll see what the pediatrician says on Friday. Baby boy is not a butter ball by any means, but he's not overly thin either.

I'm not sure if we're going to make it to a full year, but we'll take it one day at a time. Thank you, Jesus for answering my prayers for being able to breast feed for 6 months!

Today is my 30th birthday, too!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Did I Really Just Do That?

Did you ever have those moments in motherhood where something flies out of your mouth and you can't believe you just said that!?

As Christmas nears this year, I remember last year's Christmas Eve very well. Pregnant and with two toddlers in tow, I went to Walmart. I can't remember why I had to go, but I know it was a needed trip. I needed some necessity. Well, of course, the store was packed solid with customers. I put my daughter in the seat and I put my son in the basket part of the shopping cart. There was no way he could walk beside me in that crowd without getting bumped around, lost in the shuffle or even kidnapped amid the din. An older woman employee with a think (I think) Polish accent and wearing plush reindeer antlers on her head came up to me and told me that I should not let my son ride in the basket. I ignored her and went on my way. Two more times she came up to me and told me that I should remove him from the basket. By the third time, I exploded.

I yelled, "Leave me alone, the store's crowded, he's fine and if he falls out I'm not going to sue Walmart!"

You know how in movies when someone does something like that, everything freezes, everyone stares and you hear a cricket chirping or a baby crying in the distance? Well, that's almost how it was in that Walmart aisle. I thought sarcastically to myself, "Now THERE'S a good Christian example on Christmas Eve."

To this day, I see that employee and am reminded of my behavior. Some might say it was justified, but I could have handled it better. I simply can't believe I exploded like that!

A more recent episode took place in Target. Just last week, I had all 3 kiddos with me in Target. The older two were strapped into the SUV shopping cart seats while baby boy was in his carseat carrier in the basket part. As I shopped, it was the usual reminders to behave. Admittedly, they were better behaved this trip than they have been in past trips. But, I got up to the checkout line and it was my turn at the register. My kids were tired, hungry and just sat in a doped-up stupor that young children get between activity and over-tired. The cashier says to me, "Wow! They're so well-behaved."

Do you know what I did? I didn't say, "thank you." I didn't smile at my children. I literally threw my head back and laughed out loud one of those sarcastic laughs. The cashier just stared at me. I said, "Did I just do that out loud?" I couldn't believe it! I back peddled with a few compliments about my children and left thinking that I could have been a better example of graceful motherhood.

We're human. We're hormonal. We're stretched to our very human limits with patience. We mess up.

At least they make for funny stories, good lessons learned and something to blog about.

Feel free to share any guffaws you've had!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cozy Up Day


It was one of those hunker down, cozy up days. My eyes usually pop open sometime between 4:30 and 5 am. Today, they amazingly didn't pop open until 8 am and that's only because a little guy with rooting and I noticed that what little December sun we get was up. The older two children were still sound asleep and remained so for another half an hour. Usually, they're up at 7 am. It was obvious that we weren't going to make it to church and the weather didn't look promising for travel either.

It was so gloomy! I kept my living room curtains closed all day. Instead, I switched on the Christmas tree lights, lit a Yankee Candle Autumn Lodge candle and put on some Christmas music. The kiddos played and played and played. We had simple meals and I made cinnamon rolls (from Bettina's Husband-Pleasing book!) I finished a Christmas gift for my baby boy, a textures fabric book made from scrap squares and ribbon bits I had in my stash.

After such a busy week, it was nice to just putter around the house and take it easy.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Please Join Me for A Year With Bettina Beginning in 2011


Beginning in January 2011, I will be spending a year with Bettina. Bettina is a fictional character of 2 antique cookbooks/novellas. I will share some of her fun stories and household hints as well as try out her recipes, reviewing them here. I also hope to feature some giveaways as well. So, please join me by following my blog via Google Friend Connect and let us spend a year with Bettina.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

An historic milestone

He's been breeched!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

One Drawer

My Grandmother is an inspiration in more ways than one, but one of the ways she's an inspiration is with her housework. I blogged about her white socks floors and my subsequent failure in the past. Recently, I've been wanting to simplify again, even farther. My mind once again returned to my dear Grandmother and her simple, uncluttered home. Grandma doesn't have a big desk stuffed with papers. Grandma doesn't have piles and cabinets filled with this and that. So, what does Grandma have for organizing her bills and mailings? I didn't know. Or rather, I didn't remember. I thought, and thought and it came to me. I remember, a summer day at Grandma and Grandpa's needing a pen and Grandma pointing me to a drawer. In that drawer, neat as can be, was Grandpa's "desk."

One Drawer. How simple is that!?

I thought, if I had just one drawer, I'd have extra drawers to better organize in. Maybe I'd even be able to get rid of an entire piece of furniture!

My one drawer quest has begun. Can I pull it off? Or will it be a failure like white socks floors?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Luncheon Spread

I'm stuck in a lunch rut with my kiddos. They always seem to end up with either pb and honey sandwiches or grilled cheese. In an effort for them to eat more fruits and veggies AND in an effort to simplify lunches, I'm thinking of putting together a salad spread, a salmagundi of sorts. Here's what I'm thinking of including:

Hummus
refried beans
chickpeas
carrot sticks
olives
pita
cheese slices
grapes
nuts

But I need more ideas! I need things that will keep once cut up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So Many Goings On!

Well, it ain't a turkey! I took other pictures, but to be sensitive to those who may be bothered by the sight of a dead bird, I'm only showing the tail. I was in my living room when I heard this loud bump, but I couldn't figure out what it was. A little bit later, I was loading the kiddos into the truck when I saw this grouse laying next to the tire. At first glance, I thought it was a falcon and was ready to call EnCon! A beautiful bird, to be sure, but not being wasteful, I threw the bird into the cooler in the truck, took it to my dad's and had it butchered. My dad also gave the tail to my son. We salted the end and have it pegged on a board so it fans out nicely for display. This'll be only the 2nd time in my life I've had grouse.

My kiddos LOVE playdoh. But I was sick of scraping dried playdoh off my dining room table. So, I made them these playmats! They're made out of sturdy construction paper and "laminated" with packaging tape.

I was getting him dressed this morning and he just looked so stinkin' cute without a shirt on that I had to get a picture. I love soft, plump babies!

An autumn isn't complete without my oldest son spotting a combine!

He's starting to roll over! (Yes, he's on the kitchen floor. Yes, he likes being on the floor. Yes, the floor is clean. Yes, the floor is warm.)

My oldest son was proud of his band of robots that he drew!

Our new sling from Sevenslings.com! I love it for wearing him on my hip!

In other news, seed catalogs have been coming in, and not my usual ones, either. I'm discovering all sorts of new (old) varieties of veggies and am looking at getting mostly heirlooms next year.

Speaking of veggies, come the new year, I'm starting a veggie, fruit and new food chart for my oldest son and daughter. 4 year old is pretty good at eating a decent variety of fruits and veggies. He'll even do spinach a little, thanks to Popeye and he loves lima beans! But 2 year old will have none of it. I can get her to eat raw carrot a little, and a bit of banana and apple. She does like black beans and black olives, but only if they're canned. This morning, I successfully made her a smoothie out of strawberries and bananas, but lunch's smoothing of carrot, beet and raspberries didn't fly too well with her. She only drank about an ounce. So, I'm going to start charts with 12 slots for each new food (they say it take 12 tries to acquire a taste.) Then, I'll be on a quest to get them to eat new things.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I wonder....

I walked outside this evening to load our outdoor wood boiler (I love loading it, so I do it instead of hubby when I can) and took in the view. The setting sun was glinting off the silver bins and dryers at the farm next door. Across from the farm, the moon was a pale white shadow just above the old apple orchard. The air was crisp, the woods bare, and the quietude perfect. I love it here. I'm hard pressed to move. Yet, our house is so small and getting smaller by the day.

I look at real estate, but find nothing. Perhaps we will be able to add on in the (hopefully) near future.

I wonder, are we to move or stay put?

Edited: I had typed "wool boiler" but I meant wood boiler! Sorry!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Go Out and Play!

I know I should let them. I know they need to. But it is so hard to these days!

Charlotte Mason says that children need daily outdoor excursions. I'd love to do that, and my son begs me to let him go out and play, but I won't.

For one thing, having a 5 month old outdoors in November isn't an easy task. For another thing, while I can trust my 4 year old in our backyard on his own, I cannot trust my 2 year old to stay where she belongs. She likes to wander to the front of the house and even managed to scoot across the street to visit our neighbor when I had popped inside for a quick peek at dinner cooking once. (Chalk up another gray hair to that one!) And the last straw is the recent robberies in the area. Though we live in the country, the inner city drug scene has come barging in. There's a drug run going on and in order to get drug money, these druggies have been circling out from the city, robbing houses. Because of this breech in our cozy neighborhood security, hubby has asked me to not let the children play outdoors unless I was right there with them (as opposed to remaining indoors with nose pressed against the glass.)

Hmmmm....a stockade fence around the perimeter of the yard is starting to sound really good!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sour Raw Milk and Hiding Veggies in Brownies?

I bought too much raw milk the last time I was at the farm and a gallon of it started to turn. It really wasn't all that tasty to drink anymore, but I didn't want it to go to waste. After doing some research, I learned that when raw milk starts to sour, it is still good for you and chock full of healthful enzymes. When pasteurized milk sours, it just goes rancid and you best dump it down the drain. So, not needing any more yogurt, I decided to make a simple fresh cheese.

1 gallon of raw milk heated slowly, stirring often to 180 degrees F
1/4-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar added once the milk reaches 180 - start with the 1/4 of a cup and add a little more at a time, slowly and carefully increasing the heat, stirring until the curds separate from the whey

Drain into a cloth lined collander. String up the cloth and let the whey drip out until a solid cheese is formed.

It's super-yummy - kind of like a more moist, fresh-tasting feta.

My 4 year old calls it "fast cheese" and when he eats a bite, he runs around the house as fast as he can!

PS...don'tcha just love my countertops!? LOL! They are original 1950's! As ugly as they are, they're great. They wipe clean and I can place hot pots directly on them.

My daughter is NOT a fruit and veggie lover. I followed all the advice in her early years of solid food, but as soon as she turned 18 months, she turned her nose up at all her favorite fruits and veggies. Now, I hide them in whatever I can (while also working towards her eating them the way she used to). Yep, there's veggies in these brownies. And there's no chocolate! I used the Carob Brownie recipe in Nourishing Traditions, but modified it.

Instead of butter, there's pumpkin
Instead of 1 of the eggs, there's baby food sweet potato that my daughter refused yesterday
Instead of rapadura, I used sugar and honey
I added some peanut butter chips just for good measure to try to encourage my kids to eat the "cake." Plus, I've been craving peanut butter and "chocolate" together.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giveaway!

I have a Giveaway going on HERE!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day, Daddy!

1st Stripe
Drill Sgt.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Laundry Tree Soapnuts Review


It was so exciting for me to win the giveaway from Girly Girl Giveaways for soaps nuts from Laundry Tree! I was even more excited to receive the box in the mail and open it! I was expecting just few soapnuts, the essential oil and a baggy. Maybe I didn't read the giveaway close enough, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive what's shown in the picture above! A LOT of soapnuts, 2 baggies and the essential oil adorably packaged in the basket! But....are soap nuts just nuts? Or are they something I'd buy again?

I put them right to the test! Following the directions, I put 5 soapnuts in the baggy. Not following the directions, I put about 8 drops of essential oil on the baggy. You really only need 2 or 3. I had chosen baby powder scented oil and it's a little overpowering with 8 drops. 2 or 3 would have done just fine, just as the instructions say! Although, I loved the smell so much, I added a couple drops to my natural cleaning solution. Back to the laundry room, I had quite the task for these little soapnuts. Last night, my infant had a poopy cloth diaper that I had forgotten to rinse. Yellow breast milk poop was mostly dried in the nappy. When I pulled the diaper out of the wash, they were spotless! WOW!

So, what in the world are soapnuts? They the dried berries of the Chinese Soapberry Tree. They contain saponins which create suds and clean things! They are as natural as you can get and great for cloth diapers and delicates. Shall I try them on my silk blouse that my son spit up on a month ago and I have yet to laundry? 5 nuts last up to 6 loads of laundry. I haven't counted them, but I got quite a lot of nuts!

Please, go visit Laundry Tree and check out their soapnuts and essential oils!

**Please note that I won this on an online giveaway and chose to do an online review without incentive from the company. No monies were exchanged.**

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Menu Planning Made Easy For Me

Sometimes, I menu plan. When life is pretty normal and I can expect to make dinner every night on a regular basis, I try to menu plan. I tend to follow a pattern that helps streamline the dinner choices, especially if I plan for the whole month. Here's what I do and why:

Sunday: We at a my parents', so no dinner is planned.
Monday: Soup or Stew - Monday is a busy day for me, so it's easy to just toss a soup or stew in a crockpot.
Tuesday and Wednesday: I leave open for creativity or stand-by favorites. I like to try different ethnic dishes or peruse through my historical cookbooks.
Thursday: Pasta night - This is something my parents started and I thought it was a good night for pasta. I try to keep this the only day of the week we eat pasta.
Friday: Fish! Not for religious reasons, but I always liked the sound of "Fish on Fridays!"
Saturday: Pizza (or some derivative thereof) Sometimes, I'll allow hot dogs or hamburgers instead, or we'll do a calzone or stromboli.

Do you menu plan? Do you follow a pattern? Please share!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Giveaway!

Like a Warm Cup of Coffee is hosting a giveaway of $50 towards a beautiful set, of dishes, the Grateful for You collection. The Giveaway ends 11/12.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Proactive Prayer


My minister has a saying that goes, "Faith=Knowledge+Belief+Action."

Action.

So often my prayer life is a jumbled call-out of needs, often repeated until the stress I'm feeling is lessened or I just sort of give up, figuring God heard me enough times. Oh, I have my times of praise and worship and times of thanksgiving and just chatting with God, but I'm focusing on the prayers of needs and wants for this particular post.

This morning, "Proactive Prayer" popped into my head. When I pray for the needs and wants, am I willing to pray proactively, or just whine a bit? Proactive praying, to me, is to pray with the full intent of following through, moving forward and doing what God would have us do in faith.

So often, prayer is depicted as a stillness in your life, as it very well should be in many circumstances. "Be still and know that I am God," the Bible says. But, we also have to pray with our feet. Jesus healed the lame man, but it was up to the lame man to get up in faith and walk! Something has come up. Do we sit in our recliner and pray for the Lord to guide us in this emergency, or are we praying as we're already running to tackle the problem?

Proactive prayer.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

First Impression

Most people come in the back door, including hubby when he comes home from work. With the help of the kiddos, we redid the stairway going up to the kitchen porch. The kitchen porch is incomplete, small and messy right now and the door doesn't open all the way because of stuff piled. Then, you enter in the kitchen, which I try to keep tidy, but it is the hub of the house and main entrance.

Lately, I've felt burdened to make a good first impression by cleaning up an organizing the porch and kitchen. You see, hubby needs a haven of bliss. Our little cottage should bring him peace as he walks in the door. He doesn't need to fight with a door that swings back at him as he tries to enter because stuff is piled behind it. He doesn't need to trip over shoes or not have immediate access to drop his lunch pail after a long, hard day at work. He doesn't need to see clutter.

Hubby doesn't complain a bit, nor has he given any sigh or disapproving look. He's truly happy to be home no matter what. But I can't help feeling that any negativity to his homey environ can't be helpful to achieving bliss.

He may not really notice the door not opening all the way and swinging back because of junk piled because it's almost always like that, but I'm sure he would happily notice when it opens all the way and allows for clear entry into the porch and the kitchen.

The rest of the house stays pretty tidy for him, but a lovely first impression would be a really nice gift to give to hubby.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I Won Soapnuts!

BWS tips button



I won the soapnuts giveaway at Girly Girl Giveaways!
The soapnuts are coming from Laundry Tree.
I'm so excited!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day

Yes, I am voting today.

Yes, I researched the candidates.

Yes, I'm taking my children with me to the polling place.

Monday, November 01, 2010

30 Days of Giving, Day 1 and more


They say charity begins at home.

I decided that today's gift will be to my children in that I promise not to yell at them. You might think, "Yeah? So what?" But this is a biggie for me. I hate that I have a tendency to yell. I get stressed easily and go from 0 to 60 in .5 seconds and once I'm at 60 it's difficult to slow back down to 0. On top of that, I'm seeing my own sin manifest in my children. My 4 year old has been yelling and getting stressed easily. I've seen my 2 year old clench her little fists in anger and look as if veins were going to pop out of her neck. The two of them have had some awful fights lately.

Now, I'm not counting yelling that's necessary, like yelling at a child running out into a parking lot to stop and return, or yelling to make myself heard to stop a loud fight. I'm talking really about not allowing myself to get that stressed (often over little things) to the point where I give up on self control and yell in anger and frustration.

So, NO YELLING today. Sober-mindedness and self-control are key.

I won't be blogging about every gift, but I will list them in the sidebar to the right.

I also started seeking out verses of thanksgiving and came across Ephesians 1:16. While that was a nice verse, I decided to read the whole chapter and found it a great chapter to agree in prayer upon for my own church family.




Saturday, October 30, 2010

30 Days of Giving (and Thanksgiving)

30-Day Giving Challenge

Over the course of 2010, my little family found itself in a position of need in various ways and we were abundantly blessed! The love that surrounded us overwhelmed us at points and now that we're more back on our feet, we want to say and act thank you.

I saw this challenge on facebook and immediately joined their facebook page, but wasn't sure if I was actually going to do the challenge. Then, I couldn't get it out of my mind! So, I am going to accept the challenge to the best of my ability.

One thing I KNOW I'm going to do is give any giveaway I enter and win in November to my sister. I haven't won any since I started the giveaway barrage a few weeks ago, but hopefully I'll start winning soon.

I haven't decided if I'm going to share what else I hope to do. I don't want to come across all "look at how good I am." Then again, in not sharing what I hope to do, I don't want to come across as all false modesty. I dunno......I don't mind sharing. I don't mind not sharing. What would you prefer?

Friday, October 29, 2010

As Natural As You Can Get Soap

I recently learned about soapnuts. Immediately interested, I looked at an online store and then thought to myself, "what exactly are soapnuts and can I grow them myself?" They are the dried berries of the Chinese Soapberry Tree and can be used in laundry and such. Unfortunately, they are not grown in my zone. So, I started looking into other plants that contain saponins. Soapwort is the most common. But how is it used? I came across this website.

Do any of my readers have any experience with saponin-containing plants and their uses?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Books At My Doorstep

As I arrived home today, these books were waiting at my doorstep:

The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
How Many Kisses Good Night by Jean Monrad Thomas (Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin)
My Big Book of the Outdoors by Jane Werner Watson (Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin)
Baby's Christmas by Eloise Wilkin

and a complimentary copy of Busy ABC by Colin and Jacqui Hawkins!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Coconut Oil Giveaway!

Songberries is hosting a giveaway of Tropical Traditions' Virgin Coconut Oil! Check it out!

Coconut Peanut Butter Giveaway!

Mommy Is Green

Is hosting a giveaway of Organic Coconut Peanut Butter from Tropical Traditions.
I've been looking for just this kind of resource for organic foodie goodness!

Stocking the Pantry


I usually come away with a well-stocked pantry from my garden, but it just didn't work out this year. Regardless, I want to enter this winter with a well-stocked pantry. Hauling 3 very young kiddos out in the snow, wind and cold to hop from store to store to grocery shop every week is NOT fun. Thankfully, November is a great month to stock a pantry. As the holidays approach, grocery stores have some great sales and bargains to take advantage of!

Are you stocking your pantry? What do you consider absolute essentials?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Simplifying the Clutter Challenge

Ok, the clutter in my house really isn't that bad and I'm not really one to hold onto unnecessary things. However, I do have a problem simplifying. If I have something that I would or do use, but don't REALLY need it, then I tend to hold onto it.

Recently, I've been feeling overwhelmed by stuff. I hate having pieces of clothing I don't love, but wear anyway because I just like them. I cleaned out my lingerie chest and found two nighties I had when I was first married. I suppose I ought to get rid of them. 8 years and 3 children later, that style just doesn't suit (fit) me anymore. So why did I put them back in the drawer?! A blogger friend of mine keeps her own wardrobe and the wardrobes of her children quite simple. I'm inspired (and challenged) by that.

Toy and books are other areas where I can simplify.

It is definitely taking a LOT of thinking through.

It doesn't help that I keep hearing a voice from my past saying, "Hold onto it! You never know when you might need it!" Waste not, want not and all that.

Oh, the challenge that this is for me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

4 Months and Counting!

We've been exclusively breast feeding for 4 months!

He is taking a pacifier now, but it was his choice. At about 3 1/2 months old, he was fussing and noticed me holding the "binky." He actually reached up his little hand for it. As soon as my hand holding the binky was within his reach, he grabbed my hand and pushed the binky into his mouth. It hasn't hindered our breast feeding at all.

At the doctor's visit, I was encouraged NOT to start solids until at least 6 months since it was obvious by the little chubby boy on my lap that breast feeding is going so well. This feels SO good after having such difficulties with my older two. I now know that the reason I lost my milk was because of misinformation, fear and stress about the whole situation.

Moms-to-be who may be reading this, remember these points:

1. Forget schedules. Forget making baby sleep through the night. A baby should eat when he wants, as often as he wants, and as much as he wants. Don't watch that clock. If he only wants a 2 minute snack, then fine. If he wants to suckle for 1/2 an hour, let him.

2. Don't let hospitals freak you out about nursing. If the nurse is complaining that you haven't fed your baby in 4 hours because he's too sleepy to feed, just ignore her. He'll eat when he's hungry, but also encourage baby, too. Try to get him to nurse. If he doesn't retry every 1/2 an hour. If he really is just going to sleep and sleep, let him sleep at your exposed breast to at least allow stimulation. Squeeze colostrum into his mouth. I did this with Baby Boy. He was so lethargic from jaundice that he wouldn't wake up to eat, so I just squeezed what I could into his mouth.

3. Don't give into formula unless your baby is NOT gaining weight after your milk comes in. Just increase healthful caloric intake, try some mothers milk tea, rest and feed feed feed feed feed your baby.

4. Don't be afraid of growth spurts. Baby's gonna be fussy. Baby's gonna be hungry. Baby's gonna eat all the time. Baby Boy would cluster-feed for hours at a rip and sleep on a breast all night long and then a day or two later, he'd sleep for 5 hours straight during the day.

5. Now, this is just my personal opinion, but don't bother with solids at 4 months unless it is blatently obvious your baby wants more. With my oldest, I got on the solids bandwagon and started him on rice cereal. He wouldn't take it on a spoon, so the only way to get him to eat it was to mix it in formula or breast milk. Well, as soon as he took a bottle, he refused the breast. Long-term breast feeding was sabotaged. From what I've been reading, we moms should avoid cereals and grains for first foods, anyway.

6. If for some reason breast feeding is NOT successful, do NOT beat yourself up. Yes, breast is best, but what is also best is for our child to be fed and nourished, loved and cherished.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Commitment to Loveliness

I am joining Charming the Birds from the Trees in this week's Commitment to Loveliness. Here are my Commitments:

1. Mindfully dress myself each morning rather than just throwing something on.
2. Take the time to groom myself before bed each night.
3. A la Charlotte Mason, send my children out of doors for a good portion of the day (weather permitting.)
4. Less TV, More Reading and Games
5. Make special fall-time goodies...this morning was currant scones.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What's My Ministry?

So, here we are, busy moms and wives who sometimes can't even go to the bathroom without multitasking and we hear over and over again about how Christians are to have a ministry. Immediately we think we have to take on some big project like Children's Church, Worship Team or Nursing Home Ministry and we wonder how we'll ever fit that in to our busy lives. Then, we read somewhere how our families are our ministry and we shouldn't take on a ministry that pulls us from them. Therefore, we feel pulled to either pole. On one hand we can excuse ourselves by hiding behind our families as our ministry (and yes, they are our ministry and a VERY important ministry. I'm NOT discounting that). On the other hand, we stress ourselves out by taking on outside ministries (and yes, these are legit, needed and important ministries).

What are we to do? Remember 3 things: 1. We need to pray. We need to go to the Lord and let Him lead us to where He wants us to go. Just because Nancy has a lovely soprano voice doesn't mean she's called to be on the worship team. 2. In our prayer and seeking the Lord, we need to remember that the Lord may call us in seasons. Sometimes, He does close the doors on ministries and opens new ones or none at all. We shouldn't beat dead horses. Just because it's a Christian thing doesn't mean it's of the Lord. For example, Veggie Tales is a Christian children's program, but it isn't good for your kids to watch it for 5 hours straight! 3. Ministry isn't necessarily some big project. As Christians, ministry opportunities are around us all the time. It's in our thank yous, and sorry's, and let me help yous. It's in our smiles, our chances to share the gospel, a hug, a phone call, a card, an invitation, or grace at the dinner table.

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Our October in Pictures

A great way to get my veggie-hating daughter to eat veggies is to mash it with an electric hand mixer and let her lick the paddles clean. In this case, it is acorn squash from our garden.

Someone snuck out of the pack-n-play at Grandma's house and covered herself in Grandma's cold cream. I do believe this child has stealth in her blood.

Don'tcha just love staring at sleeping babies!?

Oops, forgot to turn this right way up. This is what happens when a teenage girl gets a hold of a 2 year old girl....nails get done. In this case, it's John Deere yellow and green.

Big brother reading book after book to baby brother.
My daughter helping mommy by winding the cord onto the vacuum.
Happy 4 months old today and fresh out of the bath!
Brothers.

Comfy Rumps Giveaway!

http://funandfunkymommy.blogspot.com/2010/10/comfy-rumps-with-giveaway.html

Miss Lily's Washing Powder Giveaway!

http://themommytimes-scmomof2boys.blogspot.com/

Peace and Love Diapers Giveaway!

Baby Dickey's Giveaways is have a Giveaway for a Peace and Love Cloth Diaper. Look how cute they are! I love this Charlie Brown autumn one!
Also, look at these felt strawberries in the shop! So CUTE!

AppleCheeks Giveaway!

Baby Dickey's Giveaways is offering an AppleCheeks giveaway! See it at:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Painting Children

In this Eloise Wilkin book, the children help Daddy by assisting him in painting the fence. Of course, in the ideal world of the 1950's, the children are perfect little helpers and not a spot of paint is upon them.

In the real world, I had two such helpers myself, yesterday. I finally got sick of the dingy breezeway, so I put the children in clothing I wouldn't mind throwing away if I had to, (plus an added smock for daughter), and old hats to avoid having to cut any hair. I made sure the baby was safe, secure, warm and out of danger of flying paint. Paint brushes were passed out. Instructions were clearly given, and we took to painting.

Well, it wasn't long before Baby Boy started to fuss. He had wiggled off some blankets and was now cold. Since the breezeway is just off the kitchen, I put him in his swing (a favorite morning spot of his) and felt he'd be safe there and perhaps sleep, which he eventually did. But, I had to keep poking in and out to check on him. During one of these intervals, my oldest decided to take it upon himself to paint the siding of the house outside the breezeway! Thankfully, most of it hosed off, and he was given a great lesson on listening and obeying. (Before checking on the baby, he was given clear instruction to paint the garage door.) He was promptly sent to the sand pile to play and could no longer paint. Amazingly, daughter was doing great with her little brush. She only sat on the paint can lid once and painted where ever I told her to. Then, I popped in to check on the baby again and once returned to the paint site, she was gone and painting the siding. Another hose down and she was promptly disarmed of her paintbrush and sent to the sand pile.

I continued painting in peace (and frequent checks to baby and children) until daughter had a break down and asked to go to bed. She's going through a growth spurt and melts by late morning. I got her washed up and tucked in bed only to be greeted by a wide-eyed 4 year old asking earnestly if he could return to painting. "I'll never paint the green again," he vowed. I told him he'd have to do as I said, to which he agreed and we both took to painting.

It was great! He did an excellent job and we got the breezeway done (except for the stairs and landing). He loved seeing what we accomplished and asked to paint more. I sent him to a few bits on the garage to paint. Once he worked on those, he asked to paint the garage door. I figured no harm and put him to it. I could see him from the kitchen window while I did dishes. Things were going fine and I gave thanks to the Lord for my little man. I put my head down to scrub a difficult pot and when I raised it to the window, son was no longer at the garage door. I ran outside only to see him painting an old metal door that hangs, unused off the breezeway.

He received a reprimand and lecture about listening and obeying since he did not have permission to paint that door. He understood but, "just wanted to make it look pretty." I figured there was no harm in painting that old door, but made it crystal clear that he was to paint nothing else without my permission first. So, we parted to our individual tasks and once dishes her accomplished, I returned to check on him. The door was half painted, but each individual pane of glass now sported a different design in white exterior satin paint. Son was promptly disarmed again, the glass unsuccessfully hosed down and the paint put away.

Hubby was so pleased with the work on the breezeway that he didn't mind the siding and door were painted. We both decided that the lessons learned by the children in helping, listening, obey and just getting to paint were worth much more than the cost of buying additional exterior paint to fix the white stain on the green siding.

If there's one thing I've learned in being a parent for 4 1/2 years is that teaching them chores and jobs is messy! But, when you have willing helpers and productive children, it's worth it.....most of the time. Sometimes, I do just shoo them away so I can get the job done. Trying to thaw a stubbornly still frozen chicken as dinnertime looms closer and closer is not a task a child can easily help with. Eloise Wilkin never painted a picture of that.

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Great Fall Clean-Out

After spending days of rain cooped up indoors, I've had it. My kiddos were driving me up a wall. The house felt like it was closing in on us and I was sick of stray dust bunnies attaching themselves to whatever fabric floated by them. We needed a project and that project was cleaning the living room. It was a success, other than I didn't get to the shelf above the picture window.

Tomorrow, we're tackling the garage. It'll give us a chance to enjoy a rare, beautiful Autumn day and I'll be able to start parking my car inside before the frost shows up on the windshield.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Cloth Diapers...it takes $$ to save $$




I really wish I knew how much I've spent on disposables because the initial cost of cloth diapers is rather steep. I have used inexpensive prefolds and have even made my own, but they all require those vinyl over pants. It wasn't bad when my oldest was born because I could get the vinyls at the local Walmart. Unfortunately, after much use, they've torn. I bought replacements only to find them replaced with a newer version of a horrible quality. Some even ripped the first time they were washed. They also retain a nasty urine odor that's tough to get out (vinegar helps) and they leave deep, red elastic marks on my kiddos' thighs.

So, I do believe it was time to finally break down and buy some decent cloth diapers. After all, I reasoned, my oldest will probably be bedwetting for at least another year. My daughter is still in diapers and shows no interest in potty training. My youngest has a legacy of diapering still ahead of him and we plan on having at least one more child.

So, I purchased 6 Fuzzi Bunz (3 small, 3 medium.) Thankfully, Fuzzi Bunz is having a sale and marked some of their diapers down to $14.95. Plus, I got free shipping! I also purchased 6 Antzy Pants (www.getantsy.com) with 3 nighttime inserts. I got all gender-neutral colors. The medium Fuzzi Bunz might actually fit my daughter, so she can use them until Baby Boy grows out of the smalls. The Antzy Pants should fit both my Son and Daughter. I do laundry every other day anyway, so hopefully this lot will pull us through with minimal use of disposables. (I also still have my stash of prefolds and homemades as well as one Grovia and one Grovia knock-off). I would like to get more Grovias, but we'll see how the Fuzzi Bunz work out.

I have to admit, the initial cost was hard to swallow, but consider this:

1 package pull-ups for oldest boy: approx. $15.00
1 value box diapers for daughter: approx. $15.00
4 packages diapers for son: approx: $25.00

That's $55.00 a month for diapers. I spent approx. $250.00. Counting in supplementary disposables here and there, I'll have the cloths paid for in 5-6 months!

Ok, now I feel better.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Filling a blank wall with love

Rain Rain Go Away!

My son and daughter being chrysalises.
Little children want to play!

The sandpile stands cold, wet and lonely in the back yard. The picture window bears little, puggy nose prints from children staring into the rain, willing the sun to shine. Mother does her best to keep her little ones occupied, knowing full well that winter approaches and indoor living will be the norm.

She wonders, "Do children get more dirty indoors or out?"

Indoors, they help Mother bake and paint picture after picture. It isn't long before flour dusts them and poster paint tattoos adorn their soft skin. Outdoors, it is mud and sand, grass stains and frog germs. The bath runs more often.

The television looks tempting. Just turn it on and be done with it, but Mother's heart is pricked. She knows the benefit is limited. Television makes the children restless and more likely to act up. They get tired, but not sleepy. Their imaginations get dulled so playing with toy blocks or playdoh seems a challenge. What's more challenging? Giving into immediate gratification and turning on the television, only to suffer the whining consequences later? Or, keep on with the child training? She chooses the latter, despite the hard work and delays in chores and toys everywhere; saving television for when she cooks dinner. A special treat.

But, oh for a walk in the fresh, cool, autumn air. Preschooler in the front of the stroller, toddler in back and baby strapped to her chest, she looks forward to it. When. Even the weatherman seems not to know.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Winter Reading List




I rarely read books for myself anymore. Part of it is I spend reading time online. Another reason is I feel as if I should use what little reading time I have to read the Bible. This year, however, I really do want to start reading books again. I'll compile a list and post it in my sidebar. Charlotte Mason will probably be #1, because it was loaned to me by a dear friend and I have yet to read it! I also have a non-fiction book about a turn of the 19th century midwife in Maine that I want to read. There's a couple Vision Forum publications to go through as well as a book about the Amish that I won on a blog giveaway.

Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Beautiful Day!

We had a LOT of rain here this week, especially the last two days. My basement got quite wet. The children's play are was completely soaked and that's usually the driest spot in the basement! Their rug was saturated. Thankfully, it's one of those indoor/outdoor rugs. I really didn't mind having to haul things out of there. It's a great reason to clean up and redo. I also was able to sell that huge TV we have down there. That adds a lot of space!

In the kitchen today, I made raw goat's milk cheese. It turned out so well! I'm so pleased! Whole Wheat Pumpkin Currant Oatmeal cookies are baking as I type. In a few minutes, I will start heating up milk for another batch of yogurt. There's flour soaking in buttermilk for another loaf of bread.

Outside, we all went to the farm to pick up a bale of straw to spread in the dog's kennel. All this rain turned it into a muddy, stinky mess. Now, when you walk out the back door you smell straw! During Baby Boy and Daughter's nap time, Big Brother and I pulled all the acorn squash vines out of the garden. There were a LOT of acorn squashes. I'll be giving some away.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Good Day Musings

We had a pretty good day today! Daughter went through 5 shirts, 2 pairs of pants and 2 baths today! The sand pile was pretty muddy after all the rain we've had, but they had a great time playing in the mud!

For home school, Big Brother is learning to sound out some words from learning the phonics of the letters he's learned so far. (He's up to the letter F). We painted Autumn Leaves to mimic the ones we picked up in the yard. He learned the parts of a feather and the difference between frogs and toads. We also did character lessons and his Bible verse.

We all went for a walk and enjoyed this perfect Autumn day. I got so many stares from people driving by! They were actually slowing down and looking in their mirrors. I had the two older ones in the double stroller and the baby strapped to me in the Moby Wrap. The kiddos came home with a hearty stem of red clover.

Before dinner, we picked through the garden. We gathered the last of the watermelons, one banana pepper and two hidden tomatoes that grew wild. We also picked off some dried beans. Daughter LOVES the job of pulling them out of their pods.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sesame Street

Sesame Street Naughty Before Katy Perry

Sheesh!

Future Farmers of America


Unless the Lord directs us otherwise, you're looking at (well, read the blog of) future farmers of America! In the meantime, we're praying a LOT, doing research, working on saving up money, and dabbling in the micro-farming of our own little piece of property here at the cottage. This spring might see us some goats and chickens!