Monday, February 28, 2011

Youth and Beauty!

No, I did not watch the Academy Awards, but I did see this picture on Yahoo of "True Grit" star, Hailee Steinfeld. I just HAD to comment! She looks lovely! She's only 14 and she looks it! No trying to look too grown up for this smart girl! I think the frock is becoming, suitable, modest, lovely, and perfect for her! Thank you, Hailee!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Yet another Family Strategies giveaway!

Raising Homemakers is having a Family Strategies giveaway, too!! How wonderful is that?!

Click HERE to enter!

Another Family Strategies Giveaway!

LAF is having a Family Strategies Giveaway, this time there are 2 prizes! You can enter HERE.

Otherwise, for my information on Family Strategies, click HERE.

Winner will be chosen Monday!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Family Strategies Giveaway

Raising Olives is having a giveaway for Doug and Beall Phillips' Family Strategies! Hurry on over! The giveaway ends Monday!

Toss 25 Things ~ Catalog Challenge

25 catalogs after Christmas? Not a problem! I easily tossed 40, yes 40 of them!!

Magazine challenge? Now that'll be hard. I'm a magazine hoarder!

I also have the toy challenge looming ahead of me. Can I really get my children to collectively toss 25 toys?

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Blessing of Young, Unmarried Ladies

Dear young ladies, or mothers of young ladies,

There is a niche that needs to be filled and it is a perfect fit for many young, unmarried ladies. What a blessing you ladies can be to mothers of young children! Even the most joyful and talented mother can fall weary, frustrated and unrested, needing just a little time to catch her breath and her thoughts before returning refreshed to her highest calling. Today's economy can often force the father away from home at times for work leaving mother to do it all at home.

I am hardly the most joyful and talented mother out there. I adore my children, but admit that I was unprepared for just how much work they can be! This past year proved very trying and tiring for me due to many different, difficult circumstances that arose. As hubby and I seemed to tread the waters of faith, we grew weary. Our faith didn't falter, but our weakened bodies did.

A dear friend of mine noticed this. She noticed that I needed a breather. I needed time to refresh, to finish a sentence, to take a shower without worrying what's going on beyond the bathroom door. I needed time to pray, something I don't do much of anymore except for quick snippets throughout the day. She noticed that hubby and I needed time together. And in her heart of agape love, she sent me her daughters.

Her daughters, whom my children love, swept into my house and with God-given talent and skills, took over. They cared for my older two children while the baby and I met hubby after work at a hotel for a 4 day weekend!

Oh, what a blessing it was! I spent the entire road trip listening to sermons, praying and singing hymns uninterrupted! It was nice to sleep in. It was nice to turn off my brain. It was nice to shower in one of those high-jet hotel showers without worrying about anything. It was nice to just loll about the days without messes and chores looming up in front of me. It was nice to gather my thoughts, re-evaluate my motherhood, miss my older children and be a wife instead of a mother.

When I arrived home, the house was in order, the children happy, healthy and eager to see me, and the girls were feeling just as blessed to have helped me as I was to receive such a gift.

May I train my daughters up to be such girls!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Curriculum Advice from Victoria Botkin Giveaway!

Raising Olives is having a giveaway of Victoria Botkin's Curriculum Advice! Enter here:

When Spring Awakens

Energy seems to surge through me when Spring awakens.

I feel more focused.

I feel more organized.

I feel more alive with a renewed sense of purpose.

I feel excited.

Winter does tend to droll on here with very gray Februaries and teasing Marches.

Slowly but surely, Spring is awakening. Kind of like me when the alarm goes off, playing the classical music station and I just lay in bed for up to 2 hours, dozing and listening because I got yet another poor night's sleep from children needing care at all hours....but I digress....

It started back when the temperatures lolled around 0 degrees F. I could hear birds! No longer were the woods near my house quiet, but alive with the echoing sound of chirps and churls.

Other signs of a coming Spring are teaser days of warmer temperatures, and the time to order seeds and plants for the garden!

The days are getting longer. The wood pile is quite low. Patches of browned grass are showing where the snow was plowed back. Perhaps my favorite, though, is my brother is preparing for sugaring off! Maple syrup season begins soon!

Friday, February 18, 2011

What's a Mother To Do?

Next time I'm pregnant, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I kind of don't want to go back to the hospital I've been birthing at, or even the same OB. Though I've been blessed with fast, vaginal deliveries with no pain meds, I still have "stories" about giving birth in the hospital. I'll just itemize them quickly here:

1. My OB only delivered 1 of my 3 children. The others were delivered by OBs on staff that I had never met until they walked in while I was 10 cm dilated.
2. My first baby was premature and required a little special care and a full staff in the room and his birth was only $10,000. My 3rd son (just 4 years later) was born pretty much on his own with no intervention and just the OB and a nurse waiting by the bassinet and he was $20,000!
3. My OB wanted to induce with my 2nd and 3rd babies despite the fact that I can go naturally quite well on my own AND they both weren't full term yet. (I've NEVER made it to 40 weeks...I've never made it to 38 weeks!)
4. Though I have no physical evidence, I think they put pitocin in my IV for my 2nd baby to speed things up and get me out of there since it was so busy. My contractions were HUGE and there was no break in between them.
5. I asked for an itemized bill after my 3rd birth and the bill showed 3 orders of pitocin, though I had NOTHING hooked to my IV the entire time I was there AND they charged me over $50 every time I took an OTC motrin. (Bring your own motrin, ladies!)
6. I don't get to recover alone. It's shared recovery rooms....blech!
7. They don't have midwives.

Unfortunately, my other choices are the local general hospitals which are even worse with OBs who are even worse! Although, the one does have midwives, hubby refuses to let me birth there because the horror stories coming out of that hospital are too numerous to ignore.

There is one other choice that's a bit of a distance away, but perhaps worth the trip. I think I may check out that hospital and their midwives when the time comes.

Hubby isn't comfortable with a home birth, and asks that I birth in a hospital.

What we need where I live are more midwives and a non-hospital birthing center!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Year With Bettina Week 3

Bettina says:
Valentine Cookies

Put a lot of sugar in them, -
(Sugar always helps, I think,)
Cut them with a heart-shaped cutter,-
Ice them all a lovely pink,-
Send them to your dearest sweetheart,
(They're the kind I send to mine,)
And I'm sure he'll love to have you
For his Sweetest Valentine!

A Thousand Ways to Please a Family With Bettina's Best Recipes by Louise Bennett Weaver and Helen Cowles Le Cron

Well, I didn't make Valentine Cookies, but I did try out one of Bettina's recipes in her Please a Family book to make these cute, and yummy heart-shaped cakes for hubby and I's Anniversary!

I added the coconut for my own preference while my oldest gave me the idea to add red sprinkles on some of the cakes, too.

I must say, I've been searching high and low for a cake recipe that rivals that of the boxed cake mixes in the store. This one "takes the cake!" It'll be my go-to recipe.

White Cake for Valentine Hearts

1/2 cup fat (I used a blend of butter, olive oil and coconut oil)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (I didn't have lemon extract, so I just didn't add any)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup milk (I did 1/3 cup buttermilk and 1/3 cup raw milk)
2 1/4 cups flour (I used all purpose white flour)
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder (I did 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon baking soda to have a better reaction with the buttermilk)
2 egg whites

Cream the fat, add the sugar and extracts, and cream for 3 minutes. Add the liquids and dry ingredients, and beat vigorously for three minutes. Carefully add the egg whites, stiffly beaten. When combined, bu not beaten, pour the batter in cake pans lined with wax paper, and bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.
The batter should not be more than 1/2 inch thick in the pans. When the cake is cool, cut out with a heart-shaped cooky cutter. Moisten the cutter with cold water to make smooth edges on the cakes. If cutter is not available, a paper pattern may be placed on top the cake and with a sharp knife the desired shape may be attained. Ice these cakes, place on lace or paper doilies, and arrange on a large cake-plate or platter.

Pink Icing for the Valentine Hearts
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cream
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (again, I didn't have, so I didn't use)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A few drops of pink coloring (2 drops of red food coloring does a good job)
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar (I used 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup arrowroot flour)

Cream the butter and add all the liquids and coloring. Slowly add the sugar and beat until creamy. If too stiff to spread evenly, add more liquid. With a moist knife spread the icing evenly over the cakes, being careful to ice the edges well. Small pink or white candies may be used to decorating, or bigs of green jelly mints, cut in thin strips, may be gracefully arranged on the tops. Be careful not to add too much coloring. (Fruit coloring, paste or liquid, may be used; it is perfectly harmless.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Start of a Beautiful Relationship

I've noticed lately that there seems to always be books on my daughter's bed. She likes to look at books before falling asleep. I hope this is the start of a beautiful relationship with books.

Toss Out 25 Things - Media Challenge

I prayed for days! I knew it would be hard for me to part with CD's an DVD's, especially my old CD's from my youth. But, I managed to find 25 items (and a couple more).

Oh, and that Discover X CD-Rom on top there is the orientation CD-Rom for St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I was accepted to go to college there (I didn't go), but I didn't want someone seeing this picture and thinking it was pornography! It's been 12 years. I don't think I'm going to be headed to college to Canada anytime soon! That disc can go! LOL!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

8 Months and Counting

I thought for sure we were done breast feeding this past month. Baby boy hit a HUGE growth spurt (3 weeks long) that lasted through my cycle. I don't make much milk during my cycle and he was getting so frustrated, he'd beat my chest and cry. I held a wiggly, fussy baby in my arms for 3 long hours while no milk let down. His cloth diapers were snapped at the newborn setting. Thankfully, his arms and legs remained chubby and he loved his baby food, but I was getting concerned. I went for the formula. He would NOT drink it, and thankfully so, because we fought through and my milk came back strong, he plumped up to a larger sized diaper.

I remember those two nights! Cosleeping on my bed, he seemed to wake up every hour and nurse. Being so tired, my milk let down easily and the baby slurped and slurped to his heart's content. He soaked through 2 diapers and jammies the first night and 1 set the second night.

Thank God I'm still breast feeding! What an answer to prayer!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wondermill Giveaway!

The Urban Homemaker has a giveaway going on for a Wondermill Junior grain mill! To enter, click here:

Toss Out 25 Things - Clothing Success!

I thought getting rid of 25 things would be hard. Turns out it's quite addicting! I went through every box of clothing in storage and this is my result (minus the garbage bag in the back. That's 1/2 a year's worth of garbage from the basement). Usually, I offer the stuff up on freecycle to those in need, but I don't have storage space for it since our shed is snowed in, so I'm just going to donate to Goodwill and be done with it.

My next Toss Out 25 Things Challenge is going to be quite the challenge, I think. It's books, cd's and DVD's. I prayed before going through the clothing and I'm going to spend time in prayer before going through the books, cds and DVDs. What the Lord doesn't want in this house, I want to toss!

Making Herbs Simple DVD giveaway!

Visit Training Up Kaitlyn to enter to win!!!

Toss Out 25 Things - The Challenge

Darlene at Raising Homemakers posted an article about tossing out 25 things. I decided to take up the challenge. Trying for days to find time to actually do the challenge, last night my baby blessed me with a 7pm bedtime and I was able to put 18 Kids and Counting Season 2 on Netflix and pull up my 4 totes of stored-away clothing.

Most of my clothing is given to me. I also still have clothing from my high school days! My tastes have changed, my needs have changed, and yet I still have a lot of clothing. Without counting, I just started making piles of keeps, maybes and get rid ofs. When I finished, I started counting the get rid of pile and didn't bother counting past 30! I had made my goal and then some! Although, about half the pieces I'm keeping for upcycling. The other half, I'm giving away. All in all, I was able to narrow down my boxes from 4 to 3! I'll go through the spring/summer clothing again later in the year and probably throw even more away.

Now I want to go through my children's clothing boxes. They have a LOT of boxes!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

That Season in Life

I have entered into that season in life where there simply aren't enough hours in a day.

It has come to that time in my infant's life where he's getting more mobile and more clingy to mommy. The world seems bigger and naps seem less exciting than the world around him.

It has come to that time in my toddler's life where naps are no longer needed, yet she is unable to fully occupy herself with one project for any length of time.

It has come to that time in my 4 year old's life where being indoors is incredibly boring and he's dying for fresh air. However, the weather has been very difficult this year. Right now that wind gusts are strong enough to make an adult fight against it and the wind chills are below zero. Short tempers and boredom are setting in and even mommy's most creative ideas seem charmless.

Time is limited. Right now I'm finding time to type this blog post while I upload photos for etsy. I'm liquidating some of my vintage clothing and posting them to etsy. If you know anyone who's into vintage finds, please direct them to my etsy shop. Thank you!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Picture Window

There is a picture window in my living room that tells a story. Through hand prints it tells the story of my family. I can sit in hubby's chair and look at the window and see the sticky, smeared hand prints of my daughter. A little higher up are the more accurate hand prints of my 4 year old son. Still higher is hubby's hand print where he rests his hand while talking on the telephone. There are even nose prints from the dog. Look closer and you may even see artwork created from a puff of breath and quick finger.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

In the Beginning....

Occasionally, my mind wanders back to when hubby and I got married. It really takes some reminiscing to go all the way back to before we had children; back to when we lived in a single-wide mobile home for 3 years.

Yesterday evening, I thought of those two weeks before we said our vows. After our realtor failed us miserably by lying to us about the house we bid on in order to try to make a higher commission, we found ourselves facing homelessness unless we found something fast. We both hated the idea of apartment dwelling, hubby being a farm boy and me dying for at least a little yard to putter in. So, I went on a search for a mobile home in one of the local parks. I found this quaint park tucked away in a pine forest. It seemed quiet. The lots were decent sized. And there was this trailer for sale with a big shed, two decks and cabin-like wood siding. A phone call said it had 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms. That sounded good, and the price was right. Financing could be done through the park owner AND the lot rent was the cheapest in the area.

Two weeks before our wedding, we held the keys in our hands. Hubby would go find work during the day, since he was temporarily laid off at that point, and I would drive over from my parents' house and tackle our little home. Or, at least I'd try. I'll be honest with you, I didn't know where to start. I had no motivation. I was overwhelmed. It seemed to daunting.

My mother actually did most of the deep cleaning. She knew what to do and wasn't daunted at all. Thank God for her! But, as I look back, a much more experienced housekeeper now, I shake my head at how a little trailer overwhelmed me so!

Really, though, I wasn't trained up to take on such a project. I also have the personality flaw of if something doesn't come to me easily, I get overwhelmed and tend to avoid it. But, I'm glad I thought of those two weeks. As I train up my children, I pray I don't forget to train them up to tackle big projects with gusto and not be overwhelmed. Right now they are. I can see it. They have no problem making a big mess, but when it comes time to clean it up, my 4 year old gets stressed out and doesn't know where to start and my 2 year old simply walks away and ignores what she doesn't want to do. Being the more experienced housekeeper now, I get frustrated with their behavior as I egg them on to do as they're told. But, now I've dug deep into an almost forgotten past and I understand their feelings. It can be overwhelming. Now, we can have a new beginning.

Back With Bettina

I did take a bit of a hiatus, didn't I? Well, the vertigo was pretty annoying and left me nauseous, so I didn't feel much like sitting down and cooking up a storm.

I am back with Bettina, though! It's a new month, and therefore new recipes to explore and try! What does Bettina have in store for Valentines Day?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

February Goals

Every so often I like to set some small goals or short-term goals for myself. It's kind of like a game, a challenge for me. It doesn't mean much of anything beyond self-discipline. So, last night, I wrote up a list of 10 goals I'd like to accomplish in February:

1. Eat simpler, healthier meals.
2. Spend less $$ (we spent a lot last month! eek!)
3. Conserve energy (our electric bill was pretty high these last two cycles)
4. Create less trash (it's gonna be tough to compost with 3-4 feet of snow on the ground!)
5. Less time on the internet (yeah, I've been wasteful lately)
6. Train children to sit and listen to a story (I can't get through a picture book without them getting distracted and often getting into a fight!)
7. Purge at the Lord's leading (I've been praying that the Lord shows us what in our house is not edifying to Him and to lead us to get rid of it!)
8. More prayer and Bible reading (can never do too much of this)
9. Exercise regularly (gotta keep the blood flowing to keep my vertigo at bay)
10. Put photos together. (My daughter is almost 3 and I haven't organized a photo since she was born!)

Do you have any goals for this month?