Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Blooming in spite of the weeds

Flowers. Aren't they beautiful? I couldn't choose between these two pics so I decided to publish them both. They are from our backyard. The family who lived in this house before us put in many sculpted flower beds, and the yard was truly beautiful when we bought the house. It is not quite so beautiful now. I love to garden, but pruning and weeding in the lives of our children has taken precedence over pruning and weeding in my yard. If you look closely you will notice lots of weeds mixed in with those beautiful flowers! I was thinking about this as I pulled some weeds yesterday.... weeding is a never ending chore. And "weeding" as part of parenting is never ending also. Then the Holy Spirit turned the spotlight onto me. There are some weeds in my life that I thought were pulled long ago, but here they are again. Ugh! Why do I still struggle with some of the same things I struggled with 20 years ago? Will I never be completely weed free? When will I be ready for the cover of Better Homes and Gardens?
I am so thankful that God doesn't tire of weeding and pruning me! He patiently works, day after day, year after year. Always faithful. Never quitting due to discouragement. What a comfort Philippians 1:6 is, "being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." I am so very thankful for my Master Gardener.
Lord, help me to submit to your weeding and pruning in my life. Make me the person you want me to be. I know I'm a slow learner sometimes (often!) but please don't give up on me. My heart's desire is to bloom for you, showing your glory! Amen.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Weekend at the Cottage

We spent the past weekend at my husband's parents' cottage. We had so much fun! All of our children, including the 2 year old, rode on a jetski for the first time (belongs to a cousin, not to us!). AND.......drum roll please, even I rode on it! (I have had a love/hate relationship with dark murky water since a near drowning experience when I was 8. Okay, make that mostly a hate relationship). Uncle B has a VERY large rottweiler named Mac who loves to swim and herd children. :-) Here he is pulling our 8 year old son G through the water. Don't you just love his doggie life jacket??!
Here is a picture of our 7 year old son L on the jetski with his Uncle T:

And here is a picture of our 10 year old daughter G on the jetski with her daddy:

I have not always appreciated the cottage. It is after all 160 years old (read, few modern conveniences). I have often wondered if the beds were as old as the house! But I truly love and appreciate it now. It is so wonderful to have a place to "escape" to and spend time with extended family. And when I see my husband and our children having so much fun, well, my heart is full indeed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

First Mammogram

If any of my male relatives are reading this, let me just say that you should be very, very, very nice to your wife on the day of her mammogram!! I'm glad it's over. I was 5 years past the recommended age for a baseline mammo, but as I have been either pregnant or nursing or both virtually nonstop for the last 10 years, I have not been able to have one until now.

It helped me tremendously to know that I was in charge of how much pain I wanted to be in. I did not know until today that I could say "stop" whenever the top plate squishing down on my girls got too uncomfortable. Of course, wanting to prove that I was some kind of Amazon woman, I waited until I literally could not breath and then croaked out, "okay!" That and the fact that I wanted the first films to be good ones so I wouldn't have to do it over again.

You know what I thought of whilst doing this uncomfortable procedure? My kids. I want to be around for them for a long time. I want to finish raising them. I want to snuggle and love on my grandkids. I want to watch my children parent their own little people who are as difficult as they were! I want to watch my husband go completely gray. I want to LIVE! If this preventative measure can help extend my life, I will do it gladly. Life is such a gift and each day is so precious. I'm so grateful for my life.

And that's all I have to say about mammograms. Except that there is no picture to go with today's post. :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My new best friend!

Yes, my new best friend is a container full of nickels! We are trying out a new incentive program for our children and it's working out beautifully!! Each morning we give them 10 nickels to keep in their pocket. If they disobey, give me attitude, strike a bad tone, or anything else we deem unacceptable, I hold out my hand and they silently put one nickel into it. If they complain about it I keep my hand out for another one. Whatever nickels they have left at the end of the day are theirs to keep. Our 7 year old son in particular is responding so well to this! Yesterday I told him to unload the dishwasher, and he began to say, "but that takes so lo...." and then slapped his hand over his mouth and immediately began working. Yay!! We may have to switch to dimes at some point, but for now nickels work great! (this idea was not an original one - credit goes to Katherine Bell for this wonderful motivational tool!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tea time...and thoughts on being intentional

My 10 year old daughter and I had tea last night. We have tea together every Monday evening after her brothers are in bed. We are slowly working through the book Growing Little Women, capturing teachable moments with your daughter by Donna Miller and Christine Yount. My daughter put this tray of tea things together while I was putting her youngest brother to bed. Didn't she do a great job??! She loves beautiful things and has a very particular idea in mind of how things should look. We usually wear hats to tea time, and wore them last night. It is fun to have a little "dress up" time with my daughter who is fast becoming a young lady and no longer a little girl.To be perfectly honest, I do not always have a good attitude, initially, about tea time. By 9:00 PM I am tired and looking forward to a little time with my husband. Often there are still dishes that need washing and clothes that need folding. And the couch calls my name so loudly! But once we start our tea time I am always so glad for this time to intentionally input values and character qualities that are important to me into my daughter's life. Our conversation often goes down rabbit trails and we have so much fun talking about all kinds of things!

God has impressed on me so much during this last year the importance of being intentional. Before we know it we are going to wake up and our daughter will be 18. I don't want to miss out on the opportunity to truly know her. I sense this need to be intentional about building relationship with my sons too, but I feel it more acutely with our daughter. Perhaps because she's the oldest? I am learning that building relationship is seldom convenient, always time consuming, and infinitely rewarding. My sisters and others with older children have told me that teenagers often open up and want to talk late at night. This is hard when you still have toddlers/young children who wake up early. Lord help me to intentionally choose relationship at every opportunity! Even when it's late and I'm tired. It is such a privilege to be entrusted with the thoughts and feelings of another person, especially one of your children. So with that in mind, I'm already looking forward to next Monday's tea time!

More on Baking

Beth has asked about the health benefits we see from eating our own bread, so for her and anyone else who's interested, here are a few more details. How to say this delicately.....the small people who live in our house, and one in particular, have had severe elimination issues which have been helped by eating the whole grain (literally the whole grain gets ground up) that is present in our bread. I believe it has contributed to the good health of all of our colons. :-) In addition to this I have read that the vitamins and minerals present in the wheat berry lose their effectiveness very quickly after grinding and being exposed to air (within 72 hours), so we are getting the most bang possible from the wheat since I am baking immediately after grinding. Baking our own bread also saves us a tremendous amount of money!! Pennies per loaf compared to 2.50-3.50 at the store.
I buy 50# bags of wheat berries from a food co-op for $19 and each bag lasts about 3-4 months depending on how much bread I bake. When I began baking our bread over 3 years ago the only equipment I purchased was my wheat grinder (in the back corner of the picture). I kneaded the dough by hand for over 2 years before buying a mixer because I wanted to be sure it was something I was committed to doing for the long haul before such a costly investment. Then last year we were able to purchase the Bosch mixer pictured above. I love my Bosch mixer!! It kneads 4-5 loaves perfectly for me in 4 minutes. The most time consuming part of baking bread now is the 1 hour rise time. I usually bake 4 loaves at a time (if I make a stuffed sandwich that goes down to 3 loaves) and this lasts about a week and a half, sometimes longer if we don't have toast.
I am not a total health nut. That is something I have aspired to from time to time, but alas, it does not describe me. However, I decided that the foods we eat very frequently should be as healthy as possible, and it just so happens that the child with severe elimination issues lists his favorite food as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So I buy natural peanut butter (peanuts is the only ingredient), jam with no added sugar (I try very hard to avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup in it), and bake our own bread. I have noticed a real difference with this particular child since beginning to bake our own bread, and that makes it all worthwhile! Plus I really do enjoy it! AND, it's absolutely delicious!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Baking Day

Here is the "fruit" of several hours worth of baking. Banana muffins, zucchini bread (in foreground - 3 loaves), whole wheat bread (in back - 3 loaves), and a braided stuffed sandwich for supper. I have been baking all our bread for over 3 years now and I really enjoy it! No, I am not supermom or susie homemaker or any of those other labels that we'd all like to be but are painfully aware we are not! Our family has benefitted greatly from the health benefits of eating homemade bread made from freshly ground whole wheat flour, so that's why I do it. That, and I am slightly compulsive! I just cannot bear to throw ripe bananas away, so I end up baking them into muffins or bread once or twice a week. We just can't seem to eat all of them quite fast enough (maybe I shouldn't buy so many?). Anyone want to guess how long these baked goods will last in our house?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

No Training Wheels!!!

On the day our 5 year old son turned 5, he decided he needed to learn to ride his bike without training wheels. He worked and worked and worked and worked and did it! From painfully slow and wobbly steering one day, to pretty smooth sailing the next, it was amazing to watch!! We are so proud of him!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today's snapshot

It is nearing the end of July and our garden has yet to be planted. But we're working on it and I am ever hopeful! Lord willing we will have a harvest from this garden long into the fall!

And so it begins....

After much thought and reading many other blogs, I finally decided to start one too, primarily for the purpose of sharing our daily life more fully with loved ones who live both near and far. This will be a personal blog, with snippets of our life, our homeschooling journey, my interests and what I am currently learning, and whatever else strikes my fancy at the moment. Welcome!