Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Giving Good Gifts

When considering Christmas gifts and cards, consider buying/giving a gift that gives back to a good cause.

Haiti Orphan Project has a Christmas shop with some cute cards and ornaments.

Another option is World Vision, which gives useful gifts (cows, chickens, soccer balls, etc) to families in need in other countries.

And, if you know of any other organizations that are trustworthy and reputable, please leave a comment and link.

Hat tip to Arthur, for linking to the Haiti Orphan Project Gift Shop.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

36 Week Appointment

My 36 week check-up revealed a potential problem - high blood pressure and protein in my urine.

So, I am had some labs drawn, and I am doing a 24 hour pee collection to check for hypertension. I am going to attempt to "cure" the problem by drinking more water.
If I don't hear anything before weekend, then "no news is good news." And, if I do have hypertension, I should know before Saturday.

Baby is measuring right at 36 weeks, head down, but still "bouncy." Baby heartbeat was 138. All is well with Baby.

More Baby Prep.

Okay... I think I am ready... maybe...

I got our Baby Boy 0-3 month clothing out and put it into Baby's little drawers. And, I put one of his warm little sleepers and hats in my hospital suitcase. I got out the small cloth diapers, but I don't have a place to set them out just yet. I need to get a changing table or a real chest of drawers.

The ladies at church are giving me a shower this coming Sunday. I never thought Baby 6 would get a shower! And, I'm not sure what they are getting, since I have almost everything. But, I am hoping there will be refreshments!

All we really need now is a big van to carry us all in.

Otherwise, I think I am ready. I thought about writing a "birth plan," but I know from experience that it would be of no use to the hospital staff. Then, I thought that it would be a fun post to write about how useless a birth plan is for a hospital birth. But, in reality, that would frustrate me and NOT help me prepare for labor. (It is Paul's desire to have another hospital birth, and I thought I was okay with that until about last week... now I am remembering how little I get my own way and how pushy some of the nurses were... but I better just not think about it at all right now... OR, maybe I could have a home birthing kit ready, "just in case" *winks*. Oh, just kidding, Paul, didn't know you were going to read this, heehee... I'll be a good girl.)

I think I am ready.... maybe.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Looking Ahead to L&D

Prayer Requests for the labor and delivery that we anticipate in the next month:

- As in the past, it is my utmost desire to be a good witness to the nurses and doctors (Gentleness and Self-Control)
- That I would have nurses and doctors that I like and work well with (Love)
- That I would be brave and not a big baby (Peace)
- That the docs would not try to talk me into anything I don't want to do (Patience)

In short, pray that the Holy Spirit would be obvious in me as we enter into a physically demanding event.

Friday, November 25, 2011


I have so much to be thankful for!

- salvation!, that is not contingent on my performance, but on the Great Big Love of God!
- a nice, big, mold-free house
- five healthy kiddoes
- My little girl, Lydia, was saved from near dying in May 2008, of unknown causes. Now she is still small, but very happy and active.
- dry beans
- children who LOVE to learn!
- Nelson is really starting to read well (He has been reading for a while, but it just did not "click" until last week. I love it when the lightbulb gets switched on!)
- The children are making friends at church
- brown rice
- Four of my children are believers! (Joshua- age 4- was not baptized, but he is quite the little Christian!)
- Three of my children are baptized
- My husband loves the Lord
- fresh bread, cooked by Rebecca or Paul instead of myself
- My husband loves me and my children with great passion
- I get to meet Baby 6 in the next 5 weeks (or so)
- dairy products in my fridge without having to own a cow
- Paul weighs less than 200 pounds again!
- We all have plenty of healthy food to eat, we never go without
- Our family dog, Daisy, is a very nice pet... and very low maintenance
- Praising God IN ADVANCE that one day soon my well water will be going through a filter again, and I will be able to do my laundry... (Please, Lord, make it soon!)
- We have an internet connection in our home
- My cherished piano, flute, and guitar are all standing ready for service whenever I want them
- In-Laws nearby who want to take care of me, and who have agreed to be "on-call" from 3am to 3pm every day until Baby 6 comes.
- Yummy food... oh, did I already say food? Well, you see, I am pregnant, and food is very important to me just now :0)
- Transportation - we are trusting God and praising Him IN ADVANCE, because we know that He will get us a BIG van just when we need it. 
- Books. Bibles. More books.
- Great sermons streamed through our computer.
- Getting to hear Paul preach again!!! (And, soon you can too. He bought a digital recorder and is hunting for the right sermon hosting site.)

I could sit here all day and come up with many, many more ideas. But, I think you get the idea. We are grateful for all the Lord has done for us! And, we are thankful for all His is going to do!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Great With Child

About 5 weeks to go.

Best Choral Piece Ever

I have been looking for a video for what I consider to be the best choral piece ever... Far Above All, arr. by Mark Hayes. But, I cannot find a good version anywhere.

BUT, I did find an audio-only sample on a website. The "sample" is the entire song. I cannot hear it without streams of tears covering my face. It is truly the best contemporary choral piece that I have ever heard.

Go listen to it at this link.

Without Apologies (Food Expenses Part 2)

Disclaimer: This blog is about growing in the Lord. And, I want to distinguish that I am NOT saying in any of my "healthy living" posts that eating better gets me in better standing with God. Healthy eating is a good thing, but it does not improve my relationship with the Lord. I post about this topic, because it is important to me as a homemaker. You have liberty to eat as you will... eating Oreos and McDonalds will not send you to hell... I am never, never saying that.   

I was woken up during the night and I could not get back to sleep. So, I pondered my food expenses again. (Please tell me that I am not the only person who lies awake in the middle of the night solving the problems of the world?)

Anyway, I thought of more expensive foods that I buy... without apology. Paul and I are definitely on the same page here.

We sweeten our foods with honey (the best that we can afford). We use REAL, pure maple syrup on our oatmeal and pancakes. These items are pretty expensive (since we cannot keep bees right now... though it is a long-term goal! And, we are not likely to start tapping trees for sap this year.) But, no matter how cheap sugar/brown sugar is (REALLY cheap) we only use it if we have to. Occasionally we buy succanat to replace the brown sugar in recipes.

We buy cheeses that are milk based, not oil-based. We eat a lot of cheese, though I no longer serve it by itself as a snack. We use our food processor or a grater to shred cheese for many meals. And, it is wonderful how a meal of rice and beans is transformed by cheese!!! Yep - we will not be cutting out this expensive item either.

Butter - ummmm.... butter... We LOVE cooking with butter and slathering it on our fresh bread. But, unless we find really good deals, butter can be really expensive. We tried to make our own, but our raw milk comes from a cow with a lower butter-fat-content. It is still my dream (make that OUR dream) to have our own goats or cows... the higher butter content the better!, some day. But, this is another LONG-term goal. We have not bought margarine for about 3 years.

So, this post is the results of my midnight ponderings. We choose to buy some expensive foods. And, I am okay with that. Still, we don't want to go overboard on our food expenses goals or our healthy eating goals. We will keep praying that we will keep a good balance on these issues. (Fortunately for me, my husband excels at moderation!)

How about you? Do you feel balanced? How would you like to see change in your family? Are you very little concerned about healthy eating? Are you too concerned about healthy eating? Maybe someone else here can learn from your comments.

And, in case I don't see you again, Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Food Expenses

I have been totaling all of our food expenses for November and I am still a little discouraged by the numbers. I counted the 1st of the month through the 21st of the month as 3 weeks. And, I subtotaled each week, then averaged the expense per week. I am a little sorry to say that we are still spending an average of $134 per week on food (for a family of 7, not counting unborn Baby).

Honestly, maybe this is not so bad...

Here is the USDA's guidelines  for Oct. 2011, for the cost of foods for individuals. (You can see the whole chart, for other months here) I tallied my family, using their "thrifty plan" amounts and came up with an estimate of $219.8/week.
Even my highest weeks were not that high. So, maybe we are not doing so bad...
All I know is that is seems like too much for our family!

-I did have to make some purchases that will not be made every month - like 50 pounds of oats (week 1) and 50 pounds of flour (week3). But, I just keep thinking, "what else can I do?!" Meat is usually the most expensive food per pound. But, I buy very little of that. And, fruit is sort of costly per pound, but I buy whatever is on sale. And, we cut back our fresh fruit intake significantly!
- I had to buy pecans this week... ouch! (Nuts cost far more than meat, per pound.)
-We are buying water right now, because our well water is non-potable. But, we are only paying .38/gallon, for a refill at Wal-Mart. (And, we hope that our Culligan water system will be fixed soon...)
-If we give up the raw milk delivery we would only be saving about 50 cents per gallon. And, I would likely not give the kids near as much milk - because store bought milk constipates the children and makes Paul's so-called "lactose intolerance" act up. But, without milk, they would need to eat more food... So, this is not a good option.
-We also have family/friends over for dinner at least twice a month, usually more. But, this is something that we do not plan to cut out! In fact, we wish we could host more meals! (Sometimes our shared meals are potluck style, with other families helping carry the load.)

The good news is, we still spend less that the "average" American family.

And, all of this food money was spent on actual food at the grocery store. We are not eating out at all.

So, we are doing much better than we were! I am writing this post, largely, for my own "memory." I want to be able to look back and see how we are doing. But, if it helps encourage/challenge you to review your own family's expenses, I will be happy to have helped!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I'm So Mean (Mwahahahaha)

We have finally decided on a name for our soon-to-be-born little man. But, I am so mean that I am going to keep it a secret a while longer.

Hey, at least I told you the gender! The rest will be our special surprise!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Love You, Jesus - By Rebecca

A Song by Rebecca, Nov. 16, 2011

O Jesus Christ, My Savior, Lord, King,
I Worship and Adore You.
I need You in my life.

O Jesus Christ, I love You. I love You. 
O Jesus, I love You. I love You and I need You.

O Jesus I need You in every step of the way. 
I need you, Jesus.
I need you in every step of the way.
                           O Jesus, I need you each and every day.                              

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Am I Nesting?

It hit me tonight - "I don't have a suitcase packed!" and "I don't have a list of helpful information for caretakers!"

So, I wrote a list. And I packed my suitcase. And, I hung up all my non-maternity skirts and blouses in the closet.

Okay... I think I'm ready to go now... sometime in the next 6 weeks or so.

Love - By Rebecca

Written by Rebecca on October 29, 2011

Girls, God loves us even if we can not do all the things we would like to do. The most important thing to do is love your brothers and sisters and parents, which can be hard. We need to love more then anything. We sisters need to love more than MOST sisters all over the world. Most sisters hate each other but we have to LOVE just like Jesus does. We need to love one another.

Proverbs 15 :1  A soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Love is like that verse. You can not speak soft words unless we love one another. I have a hard time trying to love. Loving people is hard. I love but it is hard. We can not love with out God's help and love. We need God and I hope you have accepted Him in your life. He has totally changed my life. I would not go back and change it for the world. I was 5 when I was baptised by my dad. I love God very much. Love is AWESOME. You love every person you meet, even if it is hard. Love is GREAT!      

What an Amazing Girl!

Both of my daughters amaze me. But this post is about Rebecca. A few weeks ago I found a notebook that she was writing in. I opened it and read it. I was blown over. She was writing to other young ladies about the importance of loving your family. I did not tell her that I found her book. I did not think on it again until today.

Then, last night she was in her bed but came running up the stairs to get a pencil and paper. I said, "What are you doing?" Her answer, "Working on something," and ran back to her room. Less than ten minutes later she came back with a song she had written. I read it, it is very sweet. And, I heard her sing it to her Daddy.

Then, this morning, she is planning out a Bible Study... to teach the girls at church Sunday, after church is over. She has chosen a text and songs. Who is this girl?! She amazes me!

At age 9, I was boy crazy. Rebecca is crazy in love with Jesus.

I would like to give Rebecca a voice on this blog. She has written on the blog before, under the label "Rebecca Writes." It has been a very long time, because typing is a real challenge to her. But, I asked Rebecca if she would like to write her magazine article or her song on our family blog. She seems excited. It might take a while to get it typed out and misspellings corrected. But, it will be coming soon.

When you think of it, please pray for Rebecca, as she will be working really hard to "publish" her thoughts on the blog.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"Are you a glutton for punishment?"

A few weeks ago we were in Sam's Club pricing some items for my comparison pricing chart. As you already know we are becoming more frugal in our grocery shopping every day. We were at Sam's on a Friday night, just before closing time, and the store was surprisingly empty. Since the aisles were barren of shoppers, we allowed the children to wander from the cart more than usual. (Generally we have a "hands on the cart" rule for the littlest three children and the older two are expected to walk very nearby.) That night we had children wandering up and down the aisle.

I had stopped to write down the price of Foldger's coffee, because the sorry-excuse-for-coffee at Aldi is a disgrace to the word "coffee." (You should see my poor husband standing over the coffee pot at church waiting for it to finish on Sunday mornings!) Anyway, I was writing down the price and did not notice until the last moment that there was an older couple walking down the aisle. Our kids were all near the cart, but sliding their feet on the concrete floor and doing their best to be patient with Mommy. Anyway, we let the couple around, but the gentleman stopped and looked at us. He counted the children and pointed at my bulging belly and said:

"Are you a glutton for punishment?"

This question he addressed mainly at Paul, but included me in a piercing look. Paul smiled amiably. I made some unnecessary comment about the children's behavior (which I did not think was at all "bad.") And, the man spoke again - something about how can we afford to feed them. Looking around at the shelves of Sam's one of us jokingly, yet seriously, said "we buy in bulk." And usually when we get this question (about once a month), I answer that "we eat a lot of oats." I can't remember what else we said that night, because I was still amazed that the man had the audacity to call children "punishment." And, then he went on to say something about how we must do it for the tax deductions. I must have been 10 shades of red, but I said "I hadn't thought of it that way before." Paul was still just smiling... and trying to keep the children still.

The interview was then over. As you all know, I internalize every criticism ever laid at my door. But, I did not cry. I knew with a clean conscience that we are not a burden on any tax-payers funds. I did not need to defend myself to him. But, still the conversation stuck with me.

It wasn't until a few days ago that I came to this conclusion - "I am so glad that man was not my Daddy!" My Daddy never made me feel like a burden. He never complained about the price of food, clothes, or medical procedures - at least not in front of me. Yes, we all knew that he had to work a lot, but he did not complain to me about the price of flute lessons and other extras.

And, I started to realize that though I would never say that "children are a punishment," there are little ways that perhaps parents make their children feel it. Paul and I have talked about this at length this week. And, we are more resolved than ever that while we are doing our comparison pricing - we will NOT let the children feel that it is a burden to feed them. We can be honest about the price of food. We can look together for good deals. And, we can rejoice in bargains. But, we need to do it in a way that does not begrudge the children for eating.

And, if someone needs new glasses... again... we will buy them without the usual complaining. And, I will try much harder not to remind the children of the cost of glasses every time they scratch them.

And, I will stop being such an electricity nazi "Hey, don't you know someone has to pay for that light you left on?!"

It is right and good to teach children the value of money. But, I have been doing it with the wrong attitude - the wrong approach. I am always coming at it from the negative, instead of the positive.

But, I do not want my children to feel like a burden to me. I do not want them to resent the day they were born, because they think it somehow hindered mommy's happiness. I want to raise them to know that they are loved and valued - more than money! I don't want them to ever think that they were a "punishment" to me.

The comments of the stranger were not meant to be helpful to me. But, the Lord took them and showed me some areas where I can improve.

 What about you? I know you love your kiddoes, but is there room for improvement? I truly mean to work on this! Even so much as how I let my face reflect my feelings at Wal-Mart. I don't want people to walk by me with an expression of pity for my circumstance! I am BLESSED beyond measure! True, I cannot always buy meat - but I have 6 (counting baby in my tummy) wonderful treasures of great value! I want my face to reflect the joy of my life... rather than the momentary afflictions. I want people to look at me and say, "What a happy family." And, I want them to see the Light of the World in our faces.

This is quite a resolution. Please God, we will all attain to it more every day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Last week was a good school week

I am simply amazed at all the homeschool hours I was able to "log" last week!

Mon through Sat, including an hour a day for chores:
Rebecca had 48 hours, for an average of 8 hours a day
Nelson had 37 1/2 hours, for an average of 6.25 hours a day
Lydia had 40 1/2 hours 6.75 hours a day
Last week was an exceptional week. Generally we stay around 4 hours a day (per child), which is why we do school 6 days a week, year-round...excepting sickness, baby births, vacations, etc.

Was it because I was more disciplined than usual? I doubt it. Was it because my kids were more interested than usual? Maybe. But, the single greatest factor is that Paul had my van at work all week. I have been "stranded" at home for about two weeks now, while Paul's truck sits awaiting gasoline... some day. But, it has been really good for us! I am NOT complaining. Well, I will complain that I lack the self-discipline to stay at home all day, every day if I have a car at my disposal. You just never realize how much those "little errands" add up to time spent away from the house/school.

How about you? Do you find a mystical connection between hours spent in school and days your car is unavailable to you?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Puppy Era is Over

The Puppy has gone to a new home. 

She will be living on a 160 acre cattle ranch. 

I think she will be happy there.

Did I Do the Right Thing?

 I was obeying my husband's orders, so it must have been the right thing to do...

I put our new puppy on Craigslist. She has been such a burden to us. So, why do I feel so, so guilty? If only I could be sure that she would go to a Good home, I would not feel so bad. The biggest reason we took the dog was so that we would not have to post her on Craigslist for my FIL... not knowing who would take her away. Now - we face that dilemma anyway. Argh.

I think I better go read my other post and see all the very good reasons for getting rid of her. Oh... if only she wasn't so stinkin' cute! I saw her sleeping in a ball today, it just about melted my heart.

Here's her going away picture Craigslist picture. I said she was "Free to a good home."

Why do I feel so, so guilty? Really, I think I might cry.

Friday, November 11, 2011

One more difference between boys and girls

It's unbelievable how different our little ladies are from our little men!

Just one more evidence to the fact:

I ask Nelson to take a shower and he will cry for several minutes while he's looking for clean clothes. He even cries in the shower. (Such an inconvenience it is to the boy to be clean!) His shower lasts all of 2 minutes. And, I guess he uses soap.

But, the girls beg to take showers. They would happily take two a day if I would let them! And, then they stay in the shower for about 45 minutes with my constant pounding on the door saying, "It's time to get out." They come out looking like prunes and smelling like they have been rolling in flowers.

Tell me I'm not the only one with quirky kids.

I ordered...

 Rod and Staff Science Curriculum for 2nd grade this morning!!!

Happy day, I love to order new curriculum.

We were doing a more "classical" approach to education. So, we were not doing any science books in the elementary stage. But, I was reading A LOT of natural science books. Still, it seemed that the kids were always wanting more. And, I felt that I needed some kind of system to follow. So, I did it... I actually bought a science program. I chose 2nd grade, because I can modify it to serve 3 kids at once - don'cha just love homeschooling?! (I bought 1 teacher's guide and 3 workbooks, so I am not breaking any copyright laws... in case you care - all for only $20!!!)

Praise God for a little extra income from UPS "peak season!" Go on, friends, keep buying Christmas presents! And, ship them all with UPS ; )

Stay tuned as I plan to order social studies and math in the coming month!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Questions for Abeka Math Users

Okay Homeschool Moms and Dads, I need your help (again)!

I am switching to A Beka math as soon as I can afford to order it! I am considering cutting out some items to save the final cost.

So, these are my questions -

Do you/did you use the Drill Cards Set A often enough to make it worth the puchase (I would be using it for both 1st and 2nd graders). I think they look good/useful, but $28.50 is a lot of money. I am leaning towards buying them.

And, do you/did you use the charts and games enough to make it worth the money (for first and second grade)?

And, I am assuming that since this is first and second grade math that I should not worry about answer keys? Or, are they set up in such a way that it could be a useful tool for children self-grading?

Thanks for your assistance!

I just looked at the A Beka site and found that there will be a opportunity to view materials in my area on the 15th of this month! Hot Dog - count me in! Only problem is... what if I fall in love with every other subject they offer too... oh my...

Veteran's Day Homeschool Pages


Today and tomorrow my kiddoes are doing activities that I found on the websites listed below. If you do a google search you will come up with many fantastic activities to reinforce your children's appreciation for service men.

Apples for the Teacher

Teacher Vision - unfortunately some of the worksheets on this site require "signing up" (no thank you)

ABCTeach (for reading comprehension) 

Most of the other sites I came across required some kind of mysterious "signing up." So, I did not link any others. For my young students, this was enough.

What is your homeschool doing for Veteran's Day? I would love to hear your ideas.