Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tidbits and Snippets for October 27th

Hello, dear readers!

I apologize for not blogging more often! My life right now is fuller than full, and there is just no time for serious blogging. These little "Tidbits and Snippets" posts are written a line at a time over several weeks, so I can handle these - but that's about it. I do have some longer blog posts going (slowly!), but they are of the type that takes forever to refine, so again - blogging is slow going around here.

In the meantime, enjoy!

Finding Beauty in Homeschooling Through the Seasons - (TAN Homeschooling, guest post by Jen of Wildflowers and Marbles)

"As a wife, mother, and homeschooler I’ve been through my share of seasonal changes. Some years bring seasons that have been overwhelming, other seasons were painful and full of pruning, and there have been seasons full of great joy. Homeschooling through these seasons can be daunting, especially if we don’t gently adjust our homeschool plans with due consideration for the season God has gifted us. Because, while these seasons may seem to be an interruption of our normal life, and we may angst and seek to get back to whatever we consider “normal,” I suggest that there is far more value in the season God has gifted us in the supernatural sense than any spelling lesson, math quiz, or syllabus checklist we may have to let go. These seasons, many of which are painful and full of God’s tender pruning in our lives, bring growth in virtue and allow our children the opportunity to walk with us as we carry the cross. Seasons build saints."

"My Kids Don't Listen to Me" - Oh, my goodness. So many awesome parenting resources and links here! I am just starting to wade through this wonderful material. (Jess Connell)

Green Juice and Morning Sickness - More great material on health links to severe nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. (Vital Health Journey)

Laity Should Act When Clergy Won't - Judging from the vehemence of the comment section, many conservative Catholics join the author in her criticism of the current papacy. (Crisis Magazine)

"Let’s face it: The 2015 Synod on the Family is a mess. I was one who gave Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt. I now have my doubts about him. And I have no doubt at all that some of the men surrounding him are either heretics or lunatics or both."

Oral Contraceptives, Epigenetics, and Autism - Just in case you needed another reason not to take birth control pills. (Hormones Matter, hat tip to Contentment Acres)

Do You Feel Sorry for Children Helping Their Siblings? - "We gravely handicap our children when we insinuate they 'shouldn’t have to' help take care of their younger siblings in need. And when you hear an older child whining about such service, stop yourself from feeling pity until you have weighed the complaint against Scripture’s standard of love."  (Generation Cedar)

The Predator Next Door and How to Protect Your Children - Excellent and pertinent information for all parents. (The Long Way to Go)

Upcoming "Created to Be His Helpmeet" Study - I'm really excited about this! Join us! (Always Learning)

Recipe Corner

I very much enjoyed this low-carb Basic Coconut Flour Crust. Not only is it much easier to make than regular pie crust (it is patted out rather than rolled out), but it's also delicious raw. Yum, yum. And some of it actually made it into the pan, and it made a lovely pie crust. (A bit dryer than regular wheat crust, but completely workable.)

From the same website, Ultra-Low-Carb Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. YUM. This is next on my to-do list.

I made my favorite No-Fail Applesauce Spice Cake recently, splitting it into two 8x8 pans (one for church, one for a picnic). Love this cake. I reduced the sugar slightly, and for simplicity's sake used a regular buttercream frosting. (I usually do a cream cheese frosting, but used buttercream in order to be able to freeze the cake.)

From the Bookshelf

Daughter of Empire: My Life as a Mountbatten

I have no idea how I ended up with this book (sometimes I request the most random things!), but I am very much enjoying this autobiography of one of the lesser known British royals. It's a wonderful portrait of English aristocracy of the 20th century, as well as a terrific behind-the-scenes tour of World War II, the work toward Indian Independence, the insight into the life of my favorite British royal, Elizabeth II - and more.

I found it helpful to have read Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch before tackling this book, so that I had at least a hazy knowledge of the characters and events of 1900s British royalty. Also helpful was one of my favorite books, Agatha Christie's An Autobiography. Though Christie and Lady Pamela were born 35 years apart, a great deal of British culture was in common.

I'm enjoying this book very much.

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

I picked this book up a bit randomly, probably when I was searching "decluttering" in our library system. While I wasn't too interested in the topic, I expected that it would be a good introduction to the topic of hoarding. (I have never watched any of the "hoarders" shows.)

This book has, so far, greatly exceeded my expectations, and I'm really enjoying it.

Besides providing a thorough overview of the traits and patterns inherit in the development of the hoarding vice, the authors provide an enlightening look into the different ways that people view "stuff." This has allowed me to admit that my way is not the only way to look at stuff (*sob*).

For example, my mother and I look at stuff in completely different way. Her way is "Don't get rid of it; you might need it some day." My approach is more along the lines of "Priceless family heirloom? Great, the trash can is over there."

You can probably guess that this brings us into frequent conflict! But this book taught me to give some grace and allow others to have different viewpoints on material goods.

This book also hit close to home in another way.

I have found the portraits of the hoarders described in this book to be rather repulsive. Over time, their impulses (toward keeping things, or toward compulsive shopping) have gained more and more power over these individuals until the people themselves were unable to escape their impulses - even those that wanted to. I found it to be very animalistic, and very saddening. Why couldn't they just pull themselves together and control themselves? Do they like living like this?

But then I had to pull myself together and admit that I have some areas of my life in which my impulses are often in control of my actions, rather than my own will. Prime example is in eating carbohydrates, which are verboten in my current diet. Do I want to eat them? No! But do I give in to my impulses, and thus let my impulses control me? Yes, I do - and more frequently than I'd like to admit.

It's a good example to me to examine myself and ask if there is any place in my life that is controlled by vice or by my fleshly desires, rather than being self-disciplined and under the control of the Holy Spirit. Any sin left uncorrected will grow and flourish until the sin itself is in control (pornography, eating, hoarding), and the person is then at the mercy of his own sin. Not a good place to be.

I'm enjoying this book very much.

Journal of the Plague Year

Having just finished At the Sign of the Sugared Plum (a fictionalized account of the London plague), I am now diving into a primary historical source on the infamous Plague Year of London (1665 A.D.). Though I've just begun reading, I find this a fascinating book and can't wait to read more. I can only imagine the horrors of living in London during the plague.

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love

I was so thrilled to find this at the library! (Typically, the public library does not carry good quality Christian books, which is very unfortunate.) This is my first Clarkson, and I'm enjoying this to the max (I've wanted to read her books for years).

This book perfectly fits my needs at the moment, and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Yes! Buy It Now!

I'm so excited about Albert Mohler's new book, We Cannot Be Silent. It's being released today, so snag a copy! Trust Mohler to tell hard truths in a way like no other.

"We are now witnesses to a revolution that is sweeping away a sexual morality and a definition of marriage that has existed for thousands of years. This is the morality and understanding of marriage that has been central to societies shaped by biblical witness and the influence of both Judaism and Christianity. But, it is important to note that marriage has been understood throughout human history – in virtually all civilizations – as the union of a man and a woman. 
"We Cannot Be Silent is a book about that revolution, how it happened and what it means for us, for our churches, and for our children. It is important to trace the revolution, and understand that the most heated controversies of our day did not emerge from a vacuum onto the daily headlines. Every revolution has a story, and the story of this revolution is one that we can now trace. To put the truth plainly, this revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there.
"The revolution that is centered on transforming sexual morality and redefining marriage has succeeded faster than its most eager advocates had even imagined, as they themselves now admit. But this revolution could not have achieved such a velocity if the ground had not been cleared by developments that came long before same-sex marriage. We will look at what came before same-sex marriage, and we will look into the future to what will come after."
Read the rest of the release announcement here! 

Dear readers, have a wonderful week!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thinking of You, Dear Mamas

Two winters ago, a sweet friend learned that one of her precious twins had succumbed to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome at twenty weeks.

A year ago this month, another friend got to hold her baby girl, born extremely prematurely, for an hour, singing to her and cuddling her, before her sweet daughter passed into eternity.

Another friend lost two babies via unsuccessful embryo adoption transfer.

This past spring, another friend grieved a stillborn baby boy.

Another friend lost a baby in an ectopic pregnancy.

Numerous other friends have experienced miscarriage and loss of all kinds.

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. For all of you out there who have known this unspeakable grief of losing a child during pregnancy or infancy, my thoughts today are of you.

Psalm 6:6-9
"I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.  My eye wastes away because of grief, it grows weak because of all my foes.  Depart from me, all you workers of evil; for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.  The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayers."

Psalm 23:4
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me."

Psalm 34:18
"The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit."

Psalm 116:15
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

{Thanks to Better than Eden for the above Scripture quotations. See her post for more.}

{Some more good thoughts on pregnancy/infant loss here.}


Monday, October 12, 2015

Tidbits and Snippets for October 12th

Making Your Home a Haven: 6th Annual Fall Challenge - I have done this for many years and always enjoy it. (Women Living Well)

What You May Not Know About Raising Boys - It's all true! (Raising Arrows)
"A friend of mine who is raising a house full of boys recently told me how her friend with only girls could not relate to her life in the least.  We laughed about how it was nice to be in the company of another “boy mom” who understood the zoo we live in."

Also from Raising Arrows, it's that time of year again - time for our annual Caramel Apple Party! Next year I am going to actually decorate for fall, and we're going to combine the two events on the same day. (This year I'm handicapped by having no fall decorations, but I plan to spend the year collecting some!)

And Here It Comes- The Cultural Celebration of Pedophilia Is the Next Goal - If you don't know this, please inform yourself. It's coming. And if the recent history of this country is any predictor, it will be resoundingly successful. (The Common Room)

If that wasn't depressing enough, here's some more: Gay Agenda Permeates Public Schools With Children's Books - "Explicitly X-rated, pornographic descriptions of sex acts between children as young as preschool age are peppered throughout academic curricula... And now, there’s a new book out that – thanks to Common Core and Planned Parenthood - might just show up in your child’s classroom. It’s Perfectly Normal contains material so sexually explicit that, according to the American Life League, it has been ruled inappropriate for prisoners by a Washington State court." (Deep Roots at Home)

The Reality of Homeschooling With Multiple Children - "I realize that I have SO much to learn as a parent and as a home educator, but I can see how God is purifying me and refining me through this process. I also can look back and see how much progress my children have made right alongside me." (My Joy-Filled Life)

Two pieces that I especially loved from Like Mother, Like Daughter's Bits and Pieces post:

10 Essential Self-Care Habits for Moms - Great post! I can't wait to explore the rest of this fun blog as well. (Jess Connell)

Top 5 Areas I Am Simplifying My Life - I have also really enjoyed reading all the posts in this wonderful blog! (Not My Own)

Craft of the Week

We loved this Easy Paper Pumpkin Craft from Pint-Sized Treasures! Fast, inexpensive, and easy. That's my kind of craft.

To save money (and time running to the store), we painted white cardstock (instead of buying orange), and skipped the pipe cleaners.

The children loved these.

Recipe Corner
We included this spice cake as part of the birthday celebrations for daddy, and it was lovely! Okay, it was more than lovely. It was crazy-insanely-wonderful-MORE-NOW-please!, and only the fact that I am *supposed* to be being good kept me to eating only one piece! Wow, this was good. I used a traditional creaming method instead of the method listed in the recipe.
From the Bookshelf

I picked this one up randomly to read for fun, and it is excellent! So many times we parents don't realize that some of our children's health issues can be addressed with diet changes, and this is a wonderful text to learn more about this subject.
This subject would have been particularly appropriate for my childhood. As a child, I suffered from non-stop ear infections (a not uncommon ailment), and ended up undergoing surgery for ear tubes three times. My mom had none of the information now available about how diet changes (like going dairy-free) and other health changes (like chiropractic care) could possibly have helped us at the time. Instead, they were forced to put their child under the health risks of hospitalization and general anaesthesia three times (plus the long-term ear damage that I suffered as a result).
I am so glad that excellent information like this is available to parents today.

I really thought that this book would let me off easily. After all, I don't have a smart phone, and I just deleted my Facebook account. I'm already hands-free, right? Right?
Okay, well, not really.
While I don't walk around staring at a phone, I found myself so, so convicted in other areas. My tendency to rush our family through routines in a "hurry, hurry, HURRY UP NOW!" frenzy. My over-zealous dedication to my to-do list. My frequent refrain of, "Not now, son, I'm busy - maybe in a minute."
Oh, she got me on so many fronts.
But this book is delightful, though convicting, and I am learning so much from it. I would love to own a copy so that I could re-read it often.
Two quick negatives:
(1) Each chapter has a small section that is black background with white font. I have found these sections so incredibly difficult to read that I've given up on them. I'm sure they're great, but I can't handle the colors.
(2) I would have preferred a more solid Christian grounding in the author's writing. I suppose that her audience is wider without a more biblical base, but I prefer Christian books to be openly Christian, rather than nearly unidentifiable as Christian at all.
(I'm assuming that this book is Christian because it was published by Zondervan. Isn't Zondervan a Christian publisher?)
But beside those two small complaints, I loved this book and highly recommend it. And, as a society, I think that we desperately need this kind of cry in the wilderness to wake up, put down the phone, and start paying attention to what really matters.
At the Sign of the Sugared Plum
Historical fiction (for older children and adults) set at the time of the Great Plague Year in London, a subject that we studied recently in our history text. While not flawless (and certainly not for young or easily upset children), the story (particularly the end) is gripping, and it is an excellent text for learning both historical terminology (comfits, anyone?) and the history of the Great Plague of London.
Just after reading this book, I went to the market and found myself unconsciously steering clear of people and holding my breath to avoid contagion. I'd really internalized the plague-fear that gripped London during that time! A fun exercise in learning history.
Highly recommended.

Product Recommendation

We have previously used - and loved! - Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix (which we use for all gluten-free baking), and this week we tried Pamela's Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix. It was beyond awesome. Our family devoured every crumb of the two pizzas that I made, and we all loved the flavor and texture. And with no kneading involved, it was actually faster and easier to make than regular wheat pizza dough! I rolled (patted) it out on parchment for super-easy transfer to our pizza stone, and it was just a joy to use. Highly recommended.

(No affiliate links, just wanted to recommend a great product.)

Just for Fun

I have been trying to get back into some barre exercises, and this video has been a great review for me! I love the instructor's sweet and encouraging attitude and helpful hints.

Have a blessed week, dear readers!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Preventing Hyperemesis Gravidarum (And Other Great Stuff!)

Hello, dear readers!

I want to introduce you to a sister HG blogger, Ingi over at Vital Health Journey. She has a great thing going over there, and I've very much enjoyed reading through her posts. As an HG mama, Ingi is, like many of us, interested in the topic of HG prevention. Here are two of her posts on the subject:

Causes of Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Preventing Hyperemesis Gravidarum

Check it out!

I'm looking forward to reading more of Ingi's posts. Ingi, thanks for sharing!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Around Here Lately

We are having a busy fall!

Temperatures have yet to drop below 100, but we are pretending that it's autumn anyway. Time to break out the cinnamon spice candles, decorate with fall leaves (if I decorated... which I don't... but I should), and head to the pumpkin patch.

At the beginning of last month, our little guy turned six! We had a fun day celebrating.

The 9yo and the 3yo obligingly blew out his candles for him, and we all enjoyed the rather odd combination of angel food cake with chocolate frosting.

Our apple trees are decidedly not doing well. Their leaves are shriveled and have brown tips. A trip to the nursery this morning hazarded the tentative diagnosis of "salt burn," so we came home with a (pricey) supplement that will hopefully help them a bit. We'll see!

(That was two weeks ago. They still look awful.)

Shriveled leaves, brown tips, blighted fruit. Niiiiiiccce.

Arizona gardeners, any other suggestions?

Our church's children's club this month focused on using tools, which was right up the 3yo's alley. He spent the entire two hours happily banging, screwing, and measuring. As usual, the 9yo tolerated it long enough to be polite before disappearing to continue with his adventure games. He paused long enough to win the "string noodles on a string of spaghetti" game, which thrilled him.

This was followed up by a "Tools Night" at a local hardware store:

Our latest geography-based history study has been New Mexico - hot air balloons, Apache Indians, Geronimo, Georgia O'Keefe, UFO sightings, Cochise, and lots of great food. Our culinary adventures have included enchiladas (with beans and rice), Indian Fry Bread, and biscochitos (the official state cookie).

In history as part of our study of the Thirty Years War, we celebrated St. Martin's Day - a Catholic beginning-of-winter feast day. When Sweden converted to Protestantism, they wanted to keep St. Martin's Day, so they moved it back a day to Martin Luther's birthday and renamed it Martin Day. Oh, my goodness. The ingenuity of human beings in playing the logistics game. This really cracks me up.

We had Swedish apple cake and made a St. Martin's Day lantern. If you look closely, you can see that our lantern is made of a re-purposed coca cola box.

We enjoyed St. Martin's Day (Martin Day) so much that we are planning to add it to our annual repertoire of family holidays. (Along with Guy Fawkes Day, Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, the feast of Santa Lucia, the feast of St. Nicolas, and other assorted holidays. It's getting crowded around here!)

Another history project that went over (unexpectedly) well was making Louis XIV Versailles Ball Masks. I thought it would be a nice five-minute project. That was a week ago, and the boys still haven't taken them off! I'm not complaining! Anything to make history fun and memorable.

The littlest of the bunch is sitting up and getting into lots of toys, and our baby with special needs is also learning to get into trouble. In the first picture, you can see him starting to reach up to get the car box placed out of his reach (he got it!). The two of them play quite well together.

The 10mo is getting into stranger-danger stage, so her cheerful grin is often now replaced by a suspicious stare when she is confronted by strangers:

Who are you, and where's Mama?
Back to her sunny self.
A not-yet-but-kinda-sorta-large(ish)-family hack that I have learned lately has been... color-coding the family! Yes! You knew we'd get there sometime!
So far I am only doing bath towels and pillow cases. (Oh, and the boys' tools.) For bath towels, I have (or am working on finding at Goodwill) two towels of the same color per person. They are:
  • Daddy - Green
  • Mama - Pink
  • 9yo - Striped
  • 6yo - Blue
  • 3yo - Navy Blue
  • 1yo - Purple

For pillow cases, I am working on purchasing two identical pillowcases per child, so that they can rotate them and always have an easily-identifiable pillow (as opposed to the everyone-has-white-and-WHOSE-PILLOW-IS-THIS-ANYWAY? system). So far,
  • 9yo - Forest green
  • 6yo - Blue and white striped
  • 3yo - Green and blue striped
Working on the rest.
How's it working? I love it. I should have done it years ago. Having a good system in place for this has been a blessing, even in just a few short weeks.
At a church function in the "photo booth" -
I am slowly learning bits and pieces of almost-but-not-quite-large-family living. For example, getting-ready-to-leave time is gradually extending. If we want to be somewhere at 10:00 a.m., and it takes 15 minutes to drive there, I'd better be packing the car up by 9:15 or so, or we're going to be late. It's hard to admit, but it's true. I'm also learning the deep, deep secrets of managing large amounts of socks, shoes, water bottles, and other "ack!-they're-multiplying!" issues that surround larger-ish family living.
Coming up over the next month: numerous park days, a field trip for a back-of-the-house restaurant tour, a field trip to the airport, a family reunion, and lots of other fun stuff.
Happy Fall, dear readers!