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!

Comfy Rumps Giveaway!

Miss Lily's Washing Powder Giveaway!

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 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 ( 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.