Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our wonderful holiday weekend

On Friday, our family was able to take our kayaks out on the Salt River with another family from our church (they brought their two kayaks along). First, my husband and his friend went with our two oldest sons, while us ladies stayed behind to watch the younger children. About an hour later, we traded off farther down the river and my friend and I went with just Solomon while the men stayed behind watching the kids. It was absolutely lovely! We saw a lot of native wildlife, including herons and other amazing birds, a young bald-headed eagle with a fish in its claws heading back to its nest in a rock outcropping, and a coyote that was not acting as shy as we would have liked it to - thankfully, we were on the river and the coyote was on the shore. In the past, we have also seen huge wild horses drinking in the river, but this time we didn't. 

We met up with our families about an hour and half later down the river, where we took the kayaks out and headed home. Since we had met at the river before 8 am, we were home again by noon and still had lots of time left to enjoy the day. 

The boys spent several hours playing outdoors in the yard and pool. In the evening, I went to the bike store and picked up my bike that had been out of commission needing new tires, inner tubes, and the brakes fixed. I was so glad to finally have it in working condition again! Before it got dark, I was able to drive it through our subdivision for a half hour. As I did so, I found some cards lying in the street. They turned out to be bank/credit cards, as well as an ID card with an address on it, so I returned them to the owner. They were thrilled and wanted to know if I had found the whole wallet. I told them I hadn't, but drove back to show them where I had found the cards. As we stood there, I spotted where the wallet had been tossed into a nearby front yard, with the contents spilling out of it.  It appeared there was still cash left in the wallet, so hopefully nothing important had been stolen. The people were really happy, and so was I.

Saturday was mostly a day of getting caught up around the house while my husband worked all day, although I did take my bike for a 4-mile trip around our neighborhood in the evening.

Sunday was busy as usual with two church services, as well as a going-away party and a baptism after the evening service. It was late by the time everyone had left our house (we baptize in our pool) and the kids were all in bed. The night was absolutely beautiful because it was cool and breezy, which is unusual for this time of year.

Yesterday, Monday (Memorial Day) was a GREAT day, partly due to the fact that we still had mild weather and were able to spend much time outdoors.

In the morning, the temperature was somewhere in the high 60s when I got up around 7 (I slept in - HA!). My husband said he would feed everyone breakfast and hold down the fort so I could go off bike riding in the cool morning breeze. The boys really wanted to come along on their bikes, so I agreed. Because I will not allow them to ride even on the side walk next to the busy streets where we live, we loaded our bikes into the back of the van and drove a couple of miles down to a park that is adjacent to one of Tempe's many bike trails - trails that are open only to non-motorized vehicles.

I had never been on these trails before, and oh, was I in for a pleasant surprise! Riding next to the canals gave us a nice, beach-like breeze. The pavement was immaculately smooth, the terrain was flat, and we just kept going. After three miles of winding through parks and along golf courses, enjoying the smells of desert vegetation and freshly-mowed grass, we turned around to go back because I knew Annie cannot be left for more than an hour and a half. She is still exclusively breastfed. In all, the four of us effortlessly rode 6 miles in about one hour.

We got home just in time for my husband to leave for his kickboxing class, something he has been enjoying tremendously. By lunchtime, the boys had folded all the laundry that needed to be folded and put it away while the girls played in their newly rearranged bedroom, which is now a miniature "house" for them complete with a baby crib, kiddie kitchen, shopping cart, and toy cleaning supplies.

While the kids were busy, I was looking on craigslist for a new bike for Solomon. During our ride in the morning, I noticed that his 20" bike was getting really small on him. The back wheel was also bent out of shape from a recent collision with one of his brothers, and the tire (outer tube) itself was so worn it needed to be replaced. I was able to find a really nice, like-new 21-speed aluminum-frame bike for him for ridiculously cheap. I made arrangements to pick it up in the afternoon because I was hoping we would all be able to go bike riding as a family at night.

We had BBQ pork ribs and potato wedges for lunch. Afterward, my husband left to go soulwinning for a few hours while the girls napped and the boys enjoyed some quiet time reading and coloring. I cleaned the kitchen and the van, and started on dinner. After the girls woke up we went to pick up Solomon's bike, and I finished making dinner - a copycat version of Island's Yaki Tacos, a family favorite. My husband fed and watched the kids while I went out soulwinnig for an hour myself in the evening. 

As soon as I got home, we packed up the van with our bikes once more, because Solomon wanted to try his new bike and I wanted to show my husband the awesome bike trails. He is going to have to work like crazy all June, so this was our last chance to get family time this week. Since we do not have a bike trailer or a baby bike seat, my husband rode his bike with the three boys, while I pushed the stroller with Becky and Anna in it on my roller skates and Miriam rode her little bike beside me. Boy, what a workout that was! The tires on my skates did not spin easily at all, so it took a lot of effort - I definitely got a good workout! 

Today, Tuesday, we went to the dentist for some work on Isaac and myself, and for Miriam's checkup. It went as well as can be expected. Miriam was so proud of herself. She told me the ingredients in the paste they used to clean her teeth: cantaloupe, cheese, lemon juice, onions, garlic, spicy bell pepper, and "numb" - but she assured me that there was NO fluoride in it!

Later we stopped by the bank, where Isaac found a $20 bill lying in the bushes outside. To say he was thrilled would be an understatement! He had given his last penny to help pay for the kids' kayak (which, in the end, was 100% paid for between the three boys), and he really badly wants to be able to buy a fishing rod before we go camping this summer. Lest anyone get all worked up again, rest assured that we asked if anyone had reported losing a $20 bill as soon as we got into the bank, but nobody had. They have our contact info just in case, but it looks like the money is Isaac's to keep.  

After lunch, we did some school work while the girls napped, and right now they are all playing outside in the still unusually cool weather. Wow, this global warming is great! :)

Not much else left to do today other than running some errands, going to the library, and making dinner. I am hoping to finish answering the remaining questions on the Q&A this week. Sorry for the lack of photos in this post, hopefully I'll get a chance to post some later this week. I also have a little gem for all those precious people at Fundamental Forums, Sweeping the Cobwebs, Free Jinger, and whatever other little gossip/slander/envy outlets there are. No, really, you will like this one! We'll see when I get around to that.

And oh, I won a giveaway last week! Which reminds me, it is not too late to enter THIS giveaway on the blog of a precious lady from Ireland that I tremendously enjoy reading. You can win the latest Duggar book, due for release in a few days. 

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Recipe for Cookie Pizza

Just in time for your holiday get-togethers this weekend (or maybe a bit late...), here is one of our family's very favorite summertime desserts ~ Cookie Pizza.

  • Start by setting a block or tub of cream cheese out on the counter to allow it to soften while you prepare the "crusts".
  • Next, whip up a batch of basic sugar cookie dough:

Ingredients:

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 3/4 cups flour (use all-purpose, or whole wheat pastry flour)

1. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add vanilla and egg, continue to beat until creamy.

2. Add dry ingredients and mix to combine. Dough should stick together nicely without being too stick or crumbly.

  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; sprinkle with flour.

  • Shape half of the dough into a ball, set it on the baking sheet, sprinkle with more flour, and roll into a circle. The dough should be about 1/8 inch thick. If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, sprinkle with more flour.


  • Bake at 325 degrees for 8-12 minutes, until the edges of the cookie are barely starting to turn golden. Slide the cookie off the baking sheet onto the counter or a chopping board and allow to cool. Repeat with the second half of the cookie dough.

  • While the cookie pizzas are cooling, prepare the frosting:

Ingredients

8 ounce block or tub of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
about 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp of milk, just enough to make frosting easily spreadable

Beat all ingredients in a mixing bowl on high speed until smooth and creamy.


  • Spread half of frosting onto each of the two cooled cookie pizzas.

  • Top each pizza with an assortment of fresh fruit. Our favorites are strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwi, and grapes - but any fruit will taste fantastic on it! Finish each pizza off with a sprinkling of shredded coconut flakes. 

Prepare to be asked to make this again and again. There is something absolutely addictive about the combination of sugar cookies, cream cheese frosting, and fresh fruit.

If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below with your feedback and any tips you may like to share. 
Enjoy! :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How selflessly loving I am

So, for a very different sort of desert fun altogether, we bought my husband an Early Father's Day/ birthday present today. It was a very selfless gift and took a lot of sacrifice on my part. Or not... :)

As so many times in my haphazard flexible days, it started with a simple outing. We went peach picking at a local U-pick orchard, something that has become a yearly tradition for us. If you live in the area, don't miss the peaches - they are the best. The picking season will likely end next week, or so they told me. See, even if you hate me, you can glean some valuable information from my blog.

By the time we were done picking, it was past noon. Solomon's piano teacher lives on the way home, and since he was supposed to have lessons this afternoon I thought it would be nice to stop there on the way home, rather than having to back-track a 20-minute drive to her house. Only problem was, the lesson was not for another hour and a half. Suddenly, it struck me that my good friend L lived on the way to the piano teacher, and I figured she probably would like some peaches.

We stopped at her house, the girls napping in the van while we talked in front of her garage for a bit. I was admiring their totally awesome outdoor toys, such as kayaks and every kind of camping gear imaginable. Then I mentioned that I had thought about getting my husband a kayak as a joint gift for Father's Day/his birthday, but that we would not be able to transport it without a trailer so I had given up on the idea. She was like "Duh, you have a luggage rack on your van!", although she didn't quite say it like that. :) Then she pulled out an ad for Dick's Sporting Goods that had a bunch of kayaks on sale on the front page, some for as much as 50% off. Apparently, it was a special Memorial Day sale. You would think she works for the store, especially judging by their cool outdoor gear. 

We devised a plan whereby we would buy a kayak for my husband, as well as one child-sized one, and hide them at their house until Father's Day. I figured one adult and one child kayak would allow us to have one parent kayak with one child, while the other parent took the rest of the kids downriver a bit, so we could switch off every couple of miles and thus "leapfrog". Anna is just too young for me to leave her for a full day of kayaking by myself. Since we only have two kids who are strong enough to swim in a river, I figured one child-sized kayak was all we needed (or could afford, for that matter) since we'd be switching off. 

The only problem was that I don't just go out spending money on kayaks and gear without first getting my husband's permission. I had some money from translating sitting in my account, and the two oldest boys were willing to drain their savings accounts and pay 80% of the cost of their kayak. My friend L had coupons for Dick's worth $35. I still came up a bit short, for which I needed my husband's approval without telling him what we were getting. He is such a stinker. Anytime he knows I am getting him a present, he just guesses what it is before I even have a chance to buy it. It's uncanny. I would have hated being his mom and trying to hide Christmas presents from him as a child. (S, in case you are reading this, I'm pretty sure he searched for and found his gifts every year before Christmas. If he seemed surprised, it must have just been fake. I know he must be tired of living this lie any longer.)

So, because his second guess was that I was getting him a kayak (after guessing a new instrument first), I went ahead and admitted everything. After a lot of cajoling, he agreed to letting me buy the gift, and we took the kayaks home instead of hiding them for another month.

We pulled onto our street just as the school bus was leaving. It was nice to think that in addition to doing our daily school work (early this morning before leaving, as well as in the car), we had gone peach picking, hung out with our friend, and bought all this awesome gear. Our poor homeschooled kids truly are so underprivileged. Judging by their smiles, you would never guess how miserable lives they really lead! :) I for one love being able to live life WITH our children, rather than us having to share what we did all day over the dinner table or, worse yet, just veg in front of the TV together.

And oh, what a selfless, sacrificial gift on my part... because I totally don't enjoy kayaking on the many lakes and rivers in our beautiful state. Oh no, not AT ALL! ;)

As soon as we got home, we launched the kayaks in the pool for a little test run, and it was so much fun! We will be going kayaking on the Salt River this weekend, hopefully with our friends who got us into all this trouble to begin with. That's what happens when I make a quick stop to drop off something - L just likes getting me into trouble! We should all have reckless friends like her! :)

And yes, I will be packing a comb, just in case.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's called jumping cholla for a reason...

Last Saturday, I got the crazy idea that going desert hiking by myself with six kids in hot weather sounded more appealing than staying home and getting caught up on the chores and weekly cleaning. 

As it turned out, it was rather nightmare-ish. 

First, it took me forever to decide on a hiking trail that was not too far away (gas prices!), not too exposed (sun beating down!), not too off-road (no more crossing creek beds in my minivan!), and not too rough terrain (little kids!). In the end, I settled on a fully exposed trail, but it was relatively short and easy, not too far from home, with paved roads all the way up to the trail head, and the promise of seeing petroglyphs. You know, because I can't look at primitive drawings from my own children anytime I want.

The boys were already being rambunctious in the parking lot while I was slathering sun block on the girls and gearing them all up with sun hats. There was a steep ravine next to the parking lot, at the bottom of which was some really nasty barbed-wire fencing. I turned around to find Offender A (names withheld to protect the guilty) sliding down the ravine, flying toward the barbed wire. I called him back, only to find Offender B sliding down to the bottom of the same ravine the next time I turned around. 

There are two things you need to know about kids: (1) Just because they hear me forbid their sibling from doing something, they somehow never make the connection that I probably don't want them doing it, either. (2) They assume that unless I specifically forbid an activity, it is automatically permitted. You know, as opposed to "Unless you are sure you are allowed to do this, better ask first." Because if they ask, they would risk getting a "No, of course not! Are you insane??" answer. The only problem with such a philosophy is that I cannot possibly conjure up all the ways in which they could do something reckless, foolish, destructive, or (most likely) all of the aforementioned. "Okay, kids, now don't pick up any rattlesnakes, don't hide pieces of cactus in your sister's car seat, don't try to see who can hurl the largest rock the farthest across the parking lot, ..." Boys will be boys, after all. 

So back to my story: Not only was Offender B heading down the ravine, but he was also pushing/pulling/coercing Victim A down with him. Because we all know that the funnest part about hiking is being stuck in a ravine between barbed wire and a paved parking lot. Offender A was looking on, and about to give Offender B a hand in helping push Victim A down. I very calmly (haha!) told (haha!) them to help Victim A back up on solid ground, which took a lot of effort and almost resulted in all of them tumbling down the ravine. 

Remember, this is in the desert, where everything sticks, pricks, bites, or stings. Gnarly cacti are everywhere, as a rattlesnakes, venomous spiders, scorpions, and other lovely creatures. We don't go hiking all that much, and yet have seen all of the aforementioned out in nature. They're pretty common, is what I am trying to say.

By the time we set out for our hike, I was already a bit miffed. Anna was not at all liking having to wear sun block and a hat, so she was fussy. About 5 minutes into the hike (which was slightly uphill, with no shade at all) the girls decided that they were done hiking and wanted to go back to the van. This trail was a good 45 minute drive from home, so I was trying to push them on longer, but to no avail. Right around this time, Offender C started a fight with Offenders A and B over who should be walking in the very front of our group. Anna and the two older girls were really done for at this point, so less than 15 minutes into the hike I had to turn around and head back to the van with a screaming baby, girls who were feeling overwhelmed, and disappointed older kids who wanted to see the petroglyphs and go hiking longer.

This was a let-down for all involved after all the time spent finding a trail, packing a lunch, driving out there, and putting sunblock on everyone. I really wasn't in the mood for any more adventures, but decided to head to a nearby lake for some fun water play by the shore. On the way, thankfully we passed by the "Superstition Mountain Museum", which lured with its air-conditioned building. 

We toured the museum, which went very well. There were some outside buildings to tour, also, so we stepped outside. I stopped out there for a minute to help Miriam and Becky with something, when I was interrupted by John screaming frantically. Looking up, I saw him about 70 yards away from me, trying to cut across to the other buildings. Him being the child who makes mountains out of molehills a lot, I figured an ant or mosquito was probably sitting on him and that it wasn't as urgent as he was making it sound. He kept screaming, so I started wondering if he had been bit by a rattlesnake, and my walk turned into a run. When I got to him, I immediately looked at his legs because that is where he was pointing while screaming uncontrollably. 

It was not a snake. A big chunk of a cholla cactus had attached itself to his calf and ankle, causing excruciating pain. Now, you may not know what cholla is. 





All those spikes are actually more like fishing tackle, because they can poke through one way, but have little barbs on the end of each spine to prevent them from being ripped out easily. The natural instinct may be to try and brush a piece of cactus off using one's hand, a stick, or something of the sort, but all that leads to is having either your hand covered in spines, or in simply rolling the piece of cactus along the skin, where it will continue to attach painfully. 

The plant is often referred to as a "jumping cholla" because it seems that sections of the cactus just "jump" off the plant and attach to their victims. That is not quite true, but all it takes is brushing up against the cactus ever so slightly, and one will get a very nasty hitchhiker. Also, pieces of the cactus are always laying around on the ground surrounding it. 

Several years ago, on a guided walk, a park ranger taught us that the best way to get a stuck piece of cholla off was by grabbing it with a comb and flinging it off quickly. If any needles stay behind, they should be clipped first, which releases the "fish hook" on the other end for easier removal.

I carried a still screaming John back to the bench outside the gift shop, and sent Isaac in to ask for help. Thankfully, the lady had a comb, as well as tweezers, so John was fixed up again in no time. At least, it wasn't as bad as this guy.

This weekend, we decided to do the fun thing and stay home getting caught up on laundry...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Randomness

Just a quick intermission from answering the remaining questions in the most recent Q&A to share some random, disjointed thoughts.

  • Either I am getting used to the heat, or the summers here get cooler each year, or both. The weather has been balmy, and that in spite of the fact that we are in mid-May. Usually, May through October are the months with the hellish temperatures. We have been keeping the front door and back windows open all day long for a nice breeze, and leave the A/C off most days. Anna LOVES sitting in her bouncy chair by the front door and listening to the birds chirping.
  • The kids officially drove me insane this week. Not that they were being bad - they were just  being kids, and I am not the most patient of people. This morning, I felt my measure of patience for the day having expired before the clock struck 9 am. I thought it couldn't possibly get more challenging. Then someone threw up. A lot. I know my homemade banana waffles are awesome, but next time please don't scarf them down so fast that they turn right back around for a second (and much less appealing) viewing.
  • Why do so many people give Camping's prediction of the end of the world even a single thought? I have green bananas on the counter, and yes, I fully intend on seeing them turn ripe. 
  • The local news ran a story on homebirths being on the rise. I don't think there is any way they could have made the clip any more stupid than they did. Conventional maternity care is so sub-standard, all they can resort to is playing the fear card.
  • Hm, ask me how much I want to get up at 6:30 tomorrow morning to pick up our produce basket. Like, not at all? But yes, I love the produce. Except for the bananas that are always green.
  • I found an old wood and metal trunk at the thrift store a couple of weeks ago. It looks like the quintessential, stereotypical dress up trunk that kids find in the attic. It is huge, and an antique. It even has an ancient tag on the front with someone's name and address from long ago. I should probably try to sell it. Instead, I put it in the school room and filled it with the kids' costumes so the girls can play dress-up while the boys have to slave over their school books. Yes, I do play favorites, why do you ask? Being girls, they of course love the high heels even though I never wear any myself.


Doesn't that picture just make you smile?

  • Becky also loves this ballerina outfit. She is such a ham. Reminds me of how I must have been as a child. Not that I remember any details, I just know I was trouble, and so is she. In a lovable way, of course. I love how all of our kids smile a lot.


  • We were sent a wonderful package of goodies all the way from Maine! Included in it was a bottle of maple syrup that I think was harvested by friends of the sender of the package. The syrup had been bottled just a couple of weeks before we enjoyed it on some buttermilk pancakes for breakfast two days in a row. Without exaggeration, I can say that this was the best syrup I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. If there is a place to buy it, I want to know about it, and also tell the world. Sadly, we used the last of the maple syrup today on those awesome banana waffles I mentioned. No wonder the kids were scarfing them down.



  • Speaking of which, I am super hungry right now, but unless I quit eating hours before going to bed I never manage to shed any post-baby weight, no matter how little I eat during the day. I LOVE eating late at night when everyone else is asleep - it is the only way not to be interrupted. Of course, if the apocalypse really were to start tomorrow, I would be having bacon cheeseburgers, onion rings, Coke, and homemade fries right now. But it's not, so I have to go to bed hungry. Waaah!
  • Our church's Ladies' Tea Party was last Saturday. It was lovely. I tremendously enjoyed our special speaker, a pastor friend of my husband. The girls tremendously enjoyed eating as many sugar cubes as they wanted. Later that night, Solomon surprised me with a bouquet of flowers he had bought with his own money.


  • Anna is continuing to be a perfect angel. In fact, she is so perfect, I am beginning to doubt that she is even human. Here she is, asleep in her bouncy chair after watching the chaos in the house this morning and listening to the birdies outside. I love how her little hand is still holding on to the toy. Seriously, I do not understand why people jump through all these hoops to NOT have babies. They are such a priceless treasure.



  • Anna is still 100% breastfed, but she is SO eager to eat "real" food. She tries to lunge and rip food out of our hands a lot. When she watches us eating, she chomps her cute toothless gums. My midwife doesn't think she is old enough for solids quite yet, but yesterday I finally gave in and let her suck on a piece of apple - too hard for her to eat, she just got to taste the flavor of it.



  • Well, I'm off to bed now. Busy day ahead. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Q & A answers - Part II

Diana J. said...

I've been waiting for this!!! (1) How do you deal with picky eating? (2) What homeschool curricula do you use, and does it vary by child? And gosh, I've had so many other questions and now I've forgotten them! I'll have to try to recall them. :) 

(1) Hm... I put up with a little bit, such as not liking just a couple of certain foods. Each of our children has a few items that they just don't like, such as pickles, mustard, etc. But I don't allow the kids to not like many different foods (i.e. "I don't like eggs, strawberries, gravy, melted cheese, ..."), or to not like staples, such as "I don't like fruit". How do I deal with it? I try to prevent it by giving them lots of different foods when they first start eating. I also act like "Of course you want to eat that, it is so good!" if they seem unsure of what to think of a meal. If push comes to shove, I plain force them to at least try everything they are served that is a normal, everyday food.

(2) Every child is on their own level for Math and English (which includes reading, spelling, grammar, composition, and penmanship). I use Harcourt Math for all of them, and different curricula for each child for English as their learning styles differ greatly. For all other subjects, we use "Cantering the Country" together, but they each read books and do activities on their own level.


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Chilly said...

Lookikng back through your previous blog posts I saw a bunch about the grocery game. Are you still doing this? If so, I read something, somewhere, that there were people who combined coupons and sales to get stuff for free, which they would then donate to food banks. Is this something you do or have done in the past?


No, I no longer do, just because we switched to eating 100% organic foods almost two years ago. When I did, I only bought as much of something as we needed. If I got stuff for free and we didn't need it, I gave it to others in church.

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Anonymous said...

I'd love to see a tour of your house!

Unfortunately, we have a lot of mentally unstable people reading this blog, who like to write us menacing emails. For safety reasons, I will not be able to share such a "tour". 




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~SALLY~ said...

I know your husband has the "Repentance Black List" and am wondering the reason for this. My pastor is on it and I have yet to meet a man who studies, reveres and knows the Bible more than him. (No, we don't worship him...LOL!) The Bible does say to "Repent Ye and believe the Gospel". So, I am wondering why you are so strongly against Biblical Repentance. I believe that if one does not repent of their sin they are not truly saved...so what are your thoughts on this issue?

The Bible is clear that the only requirement for salvation is "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved". Repentance is never one time in the Bible equated with "turning from sin", a phrase never even found in the Bible. Repenting means changing, or turning. The person repenting most often in the Bible is God. If it meant turning from sin, it would mean that God sinned, which we know is not true. The only repentance necessary for salvation is to turn away from whatever else a person was trusting for salvation. For instance, a Catholic might have thought that good works was the way to heaven, but he repented and now believes it is all by faith. He was trusting works, and is now trusting Christ. It doesn't even make logical sense to say that repentance is turning from sins - nobody is trusting their sins to get them to heaven! To say that one must stop sinning, or at least give up some sins, in order to be saved is works salvation. 

Jonah 3:10  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.

I could go on for much longer, but there is a ton of information on this on our church website, such as this sermon.




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Karen said...

Along with what Chilly wrote, I would like to know more tips about how you can afford to eat organic food at bargain prices, and what stores you frequent to get some of these deals. Thanks! 

We do not eat organic food at bargain prices. If we were eating conventional foods, I could feed us all on half of what we are currently paying, or even less. The post on this subject is almost finished, I promise!


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Albie said...

A couple personal ones, hope you don't mind!! I notice your girls in dresses. Do girls not wear shorts or jeans in your faith? Do you wear them? Ummm, trying to put this nicely...in your marriage and faith, are couples supposed to enjoy sex? Maybe to put it better, (since men always enjoy it) are women supposed to like it?

We do not wear pants of any sort, which includes shorts, except as undergarments for certain activities. I have nothing against denim, but I personally never wear denim skirts because they are so not flattering on me.

Women are certainly supposed to enjoy the marital act, which is why God designed it the way He did.

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Jessi said...

Yay another Q +A! I love pictures, so I was wondering if you could post some of your wedding and dating pictures? 

We do not have any wedding pictures because we eloped, and they wanted something like $40 for just one snapshot. No, I would not generally recommend getting married that way, but it was what was the most practical solution at the time. 

There are pictures of us dating, but that was before the digital age, so I'd have to scan them individually. Maybe I'll post those for an anniversary post. 

Here are a couple that were taken within the first month of us being married. The first, from a reception that our church had for us. The second, from portraits that we had taken in lieu of a wedding photo. Wow, I used to be young AND skinny. 


 


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Anonymous said...

How can I get my husband to lead his family spiritually. He works about 60 hours a week and all his waking hours at home are watching tv on the couch. I can't even get him to eat meals with us at the table. I am sure all I can do is pray and keep my attitude in check but I struggle with this because I just want so much more for my family. Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

The truth is: You can't. That is a decision he must make for himself. The more he feels pressured or cajoled, the less likely he is to want to do it. After all, who wants to be pushed into being a leader, when the whole point of being a leader is to decide for oneself what to do and when? I know this is frustrating.

Kids do not have to have a dad who sits at the table (my husband doesn't unless we eat in the dining room, but we prefer to crowd the kids around the counter, and he eats on the sofa), leads Bible time (my husband rarely does - it is me who reads the Bible to the kids most days. He already preaches to them in church.), or does whatever else  you think he should do. They need parents who love them and each other, and who are a unit rather than trying to undermine the other. You can teach the children from the Bible yourself, and make sure that the TV stays off when he is gone. If you are faithful in trying to do right when you are in charge of the kids' time, God will answer your prayers.


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Renee said...

(1) I know you are into healthy and natural living. Do you also use "green" cleaning supplies, toiletries (soaps/shampoos), etc? What is your approach to these kinds of things? (2) Are any of your kids anxious/nervous types? My oldest child has a tendency to get anxious and worry. For example, when I take him to swimming lessons, he worries if he doesn't see me the whole time watching him in case I may have left. Have you ever had to deal with this and, if so, what was your approach?


(1) Yes.

(2) One of our kids is very cautious, and worries about everything from eating healthy, to natural disasters, fire, and the like. We just try to be reassuring. They will grow out of some of it, and the rest is just a difference in personality and temperament.

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TheCanuck said...

1) What kind of music do you enjoy? Religious, secular, etc. 2) What do you think of the Westboro Baptist Church (the one that pickets the funerals)? I know you're not affiliated with them. Where do you stand on their theology? Their actions? 3) I recently attended a service where the pastor stated that married couples should not have sex when they cannot get pregnant, eg when the woman is already pregnant, has reached menopause, or if they cannot have children. Furthermore, it should be serious, with the focus on getting pregnant and nothing else. The gist of it seems to be that marital relations are just for procreation (I mean 100%), and not for strengthening the relationship of a couple. Where do you stand on this?

(1) Hymns, and classical music. I love to listen to my husband or Solomon playing the piano. The next three youngest kids are just learning to play the piano.
(2) I think they are freaks, and most likely undercover government agents with a goal to make people like us look bad by grouping us in with them. I think that everything they do is despicable. 

(3) Sorry to be negative yet again, but that pastor is sadly mistaken at best, and perverted at worst. There is no verse in the Bible to support his opinion. The Bible makes a point to tell us that Joseph and Mary did NOT have marital relations while she was pregnant with Jesus because that is what he had been commanded by the angel, because Jesus was to be born of a virgin. It obviously made the point of telling us that because normally, married people can and should engage in such actions.




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Spooky said...

I too am curious to learn more about your life in Europe and how you met your husband and how you like living in America. I hope I do not come across as nosy, I am just interested

I blogged about that here


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Andrea B said...

I would also like to know how you handle picky eaters... My son has roughly 10 things that he eats. It is NOT junk. Cheese/yogurt/apples/chicken etc. I do not allow him to "get full" with junk food. He is very polite when he turns down food and will even try new things. He just doesn't like anything else. I do not want to make eating a stressful time for him, but it's hard when he never eats our planned family meals. UGH! Thanks.

Well, as long as it's not total junk, and at least somewhat balanced (dairy, produce, meat), I wouldn't worry too much. Just keep encouraging him to try new foods. One thing that I have found helps a lot is to have kids help with the cooking, or to let them pick out something new at the store that they'd like to try.

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Leslye Romero said...

When do you stop nursing if it is not when you get pregnant? 

I have breastfed every baby until I got pregnant with the next. Then I encourage them to self-wean within about one to three months.


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Anonymous said...

Hair Is there a rule on how long it must be for the girls and how short it must be for your boys in your household?? And also do you think it's wrong for a women to dye her hair?? And How do you feel about makeup??

No set rules, just long for the girls and short for the boys. I do not think that dyeing hair or wearing makeup are sinful/wrong, but I don't do either, nor would recommend others do.


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Anonymous said...

Oh, I forgot one - when you pray, is it in German or English? If German, do you use du or Sie for God?

I think, dream, and pray exclusively in English. If I were to pray in German, I would say du.

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Anonymous said...

1. What are your thoughts on pacifism? 2. If a new neighbor moved in next door and was a gay couple with a small child would you still witness to them? Would you allow your children to play with theirs? 

1. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. There is peace in heaven. Peace is a wonderful thing. I believe we should only engage in wars to defend our own country when under attack. I am against pre-emptive strikes, offensive wars (as opposed to defensive), and meddling with other countries' issues.
2. We would move.

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Anonymous said...

I know you believe in letting God determine the size of your family but what if subsequent pregnancies would put the mother's life in danger? Having faith is one thing but standing in the middle of the highway and saying you trust God not to let you get hit by a car is foolish, so would becoming pregnant after being told it could kill you. What is your opinion on this? 

Becoming pregnant is a natural life process that one has to make an effort to interrupt. Standing in the middle of a busy freeway is not. In fact, one would have to make an effort to do it, not to prevent it. Every single pregnancy puts the mother's life in danger. I don't really think well in hypotheticals.


To be continued...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Q & A - Answers, Part I

Karen R. said...

YES! ok...Thoughts on courting vs. dating and what you want for your children? -and- What age and how to tell the kids about the birds and the bees. (Anything biblical on this? I am already having cold sweats over this one!)

The whole "courtship" vs. "dating" debate is one of my pet peeves. In short, I believe that the purpose of dating is to find a spouse. Therefore, anyone too young to be thinking about marriage, or "disqualified" from marriage by a previous divorce, need not date.

I also believe that dating people should not be physically engaged other than normal, everyday gestures that they would be comfortable doing around anyone. My husband's advice is always: if you would not feel comfortable doing it with someone of the same gender, don't do it with the pposite gender. Physical intimacies are to be reserved for marriage only. Furthermore, I think young people would do well to only date either with other people present, or in a public place (i.e. meet at a restaurant for dinner, at a park, etc.)

As far as "courtship", to some people it means the same things as what I just called dating. Our job as parents is to function as a gatekeeper - we can control who is allowed within our boundaries, but obviously the child gets to pick whom they want to marry.

But as far as arranging marriages for our children - I am 100% against that. Any prudent child will seek the advice of their parents if they are godly Christians, but the decision and responsibility is theirs, not ours. Hopefully, if we as parents have done our job right, our children will know how to make important decisions on their own as adults. Parents should not control the lives of their adult children. I am also 100% against this new thing of "not falling in love until marriage". True, young people should guard their hearts, but they would do well to be in love with the person that they are wanting to get married to. To say otherwise is insanity, and will only lead to marital problems later on.

Birds and bees: I don't think we'll have some big, isolated "talk". Our kids ask questions here and there, and I answer them honestly and on their age-appropriate levels, using terms that I would feel comfortable about them repeating. It is not a shameful subject, only a delicate one, so I am not afraid of answering their questions appropriately.

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Anonymous said... Favorite scripture verse and favorite "Bible story," please.

My favorite verse is John 12:24: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." That one verse, for me, really sums up what life as a Christian mother is all about: dying to self for our children. I have thought long and hard about my favorite Bible story, but I really don't have one. I like both the books of Ruth and Esther a lot, and of course Psalms and Proverbs which I try to read daily. I like reading about all the things that Jesus said and did, and his miracles. How about my favorite hymn instead? It is "Be Still My Soul".

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Sarah said...

Brilliant I love Q&A posts! I would like to know how else you encourage your children in their faith. I would be particularly interested in any materials you use (I think I asked this in the 'One Year Bible' post) Thank you...looking forward to your post!

Hm, not really sure. I just try to be real with the kids. They know both of us parents have faults and are far from perfect, but they know God is real, and that we love Him and them and try our best. I just have faith that God will make up for our shortcomings and "fill the gaps". Our children love listening to sermons, holding their own preaching services, acting out Bible stories, making related crafts, and playing with their Bible felt set. They also earn prizes for memorizing Bible verses. For penmanship, Solomon is copying the book of Proverbs right now, and although he initially was not always excited about writing in cursive, he did enjoy getting the deeper understanding that copying the Bible gave him. He tells me stuff he learned from it all the time. I will have Isaac start copying a book of the Bible of his choosing next school year.


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Anonymous said..

Do you have any brothers or sisters? What did you think of college life for the short period of time you attended? How do you choose your children's names? Do you go on biblical significance or simply the ones you like the sound of?

I have two older brothers that have the same parents as I do. One is one year older than me, the other two and a half years older. I love and miss both of them, as I go for years without seeing them (or any of my relatives, for that matter, since they all live in Europe). Sadly, my parents divorced, and both remarried, so I also have a (half) sister and brother on my mother's side, and a stepbrother and two (half) brothers and one sister on my dad's side. Confusing, huh? My family tree is like a tumbleweed... 

College was interesting. I took cultural anthropology as my major, and political science and journalism as my minors. I did some things I regret doing or would not condone any more today, so "fun" didn't always equal "right", but overall I was one of the "good" kids and just enjoyed being a young adult and living in one of Europe's most beautiful cities (Munich), traveling, and living a carefree life. Being a mom is so much harder, but so much more wonderful!

We pick our children's names based on what we like, and think sounds nice and fitting. We usually toss around a few ideas while I am pregnant, and don't "name" the child until we settle on a name after birth. A couple of times, once the child was born, we picked something entirely different from what we had been considering (John, Anna).


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Deana said...

I have a question about polygamy, how would you tell someone it's wrong, from the Bible. I think it is wrong and disgusting, but just wouldn't know what Bible verses to refer to. If you could explain it please. 

Well, for starters, God gave Adam only one wife: 

Mat 19:4-5 (4) And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, (5) And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 

I think that the only reason why some condone polygamy is because the Bible talks about people who had multiple wives. However, it is important to distinguish between the clear teachings of the Bible, and the stories. Just because the Bible records people doing certain things, does not mean that they were right in doing so.

I should add that today's wife-swapping (i.e. divorce and remarriage) is no better than polygamy. It means having multiple wives one after the other, as opposed to concurrently, but it is still against God's plan of one man, one woman, until death separates them.


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Liv said...

I'm wondering how much, if any, computer teaching you do with the children. Personally, I think it is highly unnecessary for children below high school age. Even then, I question the necessity. When you do introduce computing, what skills will you teach first? Typing, using a specific program, educational games....? 

I agree with you that young children should not spend much time on the computer, if any. That is one of the many reasons why we do not enroll our children in free public school online/distance learning classes, which are often wrongly considered home education. Kids, even in preschool, are required to spend hours a day in front of a computer screen.

So far, only our two oldest (who are 9 and 8) are allowed to use the computer, but it is rare. I don't even think that either one of them has even spent an hour total on the computer in the last month. Solomon learned how to type using a teaching software for kids. He likes writing stories on the computer, so I thought knowing how to type would help him. Isaac is just starting to learn typing. Other than that, I detest most "educational" games - they are just too loud and zany. We have "Rollercoaster Tycoon" and "Zoo Tycoon" for the kids to play on very rarely - they usually go months without playing at all, and then have a week of building on a certain project every day.

I will admit that the kids like to sneak off and play games on my phone, but that is a different story...


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Mikayla said...

I believe in God being in control of my family size, but something I have always wondered about is your stance on birth control, when you use co-sleeping to prevent your cycle so you can't get pregnant for around a year. It seems like that is still taking steps to prevent children. People who don't use this method have more children. Co-sleeping makes it so you have children when its more convenient for you, not just God giving you them when he sees fit. To me it doesn't seem much different than natural family planning method. Co- sleeping is purposely doing stuff just right, so your cycle doesn't return. I'm not tring to be rude or disagree. I really just would like to hear what you have to say about it, and if you have any Bible refences to back it up. 

Well, I wouldn't say that I use co-sleeping to prevent my cycles. That's almost like saying that I use breastfeeding to prevent my cycles. Obviously, if I wanted to, I could just feed the babies formula and have a baby every 9 months instead of every 2 years (give or take), but God designed breastfeeding as a natural way to space pregnancies at healthy, safe intervals. Allowing God to be in charge of how many children we have does not mean that I need to crank out babies like an assembly line, as long as I stay within the means He designed for naturally spacing pregnancies.

Anna right now only nurses once or twice a night, and usually snuggles up against my husband the rest of the time and only sticks her feet into my rib cage. My delicate milk supply would probably if I did not have her in bed, not to mention all the sleep I would lose. Many mothers would benefit similarly from having their baby in bed with them, and I think feeding our children enough, and having energy to care for the rest of the family, should be high priorities for moms.

As far as a Bible reference: I do not believe it is a Biblical mandate to have children sleeping in their parents' bed. That is just what works best for us. The Bible story that comes to mind is when a man goes to borrow bread from his friend at midnight, and his friend answers: "Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee." (Luke 11:7) Since the "friend" represents God in the story, I think God must be okay with cosleeping if that is how he portrays himself in this parable. 

All that aside, sleeping with my babies is one of the greatest joys of motherhood. I look forward each day to getting to snuggle up with my husband and baby every night after a long day of work.


To be continued...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gardening update

This morning, as every day, I spent some time watering my plants and looking at them. The boys like doing the watering for me, but I try to do at least one of the two times daily myself just so I can keep tabs on how everything is doing. Today, I enriched some of the beds with more compost, and sprinkled a natural fertilizer around all plants.

 Bell peppers


cherry tomatoes

tomatoes


 banana peppers 


all the peppers and tomatoes


 Remember I tried growing three kinds of corn? 



Well, for some reason, only four stalks came up. I read that melons make good companion plants for corn, so I put one watermelon and one cantelope in the spots where the corn should have been. There is tons of room for them to spread into in front of the planter.

 


I had also put out four different kinds of bush beans:


Becky plucked a few of the seedlings, but mostly, they are all thriving and going into bloom now. I have NEVER before gotten to the flowering stage with my beans, so this is success for me! 




I had started some zucchini, melons, and cucumbers indoors:


 After a couple of weeks, they were ready to go outside, where they have been thriving ever since. To accommodate them, I built two of these 4x4 ft planters which I hope will be large enough as these plants spread like crazy. There is lots of growing room all around the planters, so hopefully this will work out.


 



In the planter right in front of the house, we put out some flower seeds that are not in bloom yet. We also bought some flowers to put in the window planters on the playhouse:


In the fall, I am hoping to put a little picket fence around the front yard, and remove all grass (really, it's all crab grass and weeds we have left). Instead of the "lawn" (haha....), I would like to put in more planters, but this time make them recessed into the ground, and also recess the ones I have already built. Basically, the only thing I want to have left in the front yard is just planters in various shapes and sizes by using edging, wood planks, pavers, etc. around our trees and other plants, and cover the walkways in between them with mulch. I so badly want to be successful at gardening, but my skills, time, and finances are limited. One can dream, right?

Anyway, just wanted to share how things are growing so far.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hello? Is anybody home?

Wow, two whole posts in the last two weeks - I am such a terrific blogger! And it's not because I can't think of anything to write about; quite the opposite, actually.

This spring has just been so incredibly busy. I am still working on putting the finishing touches on the boys' room. I would so LOVE to show more pictures of the progress, but I am using great restraint and not showing any more until it is all finished. Maybe another week, and it will all be done? Who knows.

Earlier this week, we made a quick trip to Southern California. We met with my husband's brother and his family, and one of his cousins and his family, at Legoland. Three pairs of parents, 12 children, nine of which were 6 or under. It was a lot of fun. We got to visit with a lot of other relatives of my husband on this trip. There were children everywhere!!

Gardening and tending the chickens has been keeping me busy for another half hour to one hour each day. I am just so excited about my stuff not just growing, but THRIVING!! Seriously! We have one bed with flowers, everything else is vegetables: beans (4 kinds), tomatoes (3 kinds), peppers (3 kinds), kitchen herbs, watermelons, pumpkin, canteloupe, muskmelon, zucchini, cucumber, and corn. Really, it would be so nice to finally succeed at gardening in the desert. 

Tomorrow is our church's annual Mother's Day tea. Lucky me, I get to take THREE beautiful daughters there!!!

Anyway, I better go off to bed. Have a nice weekend everyone.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Family portraits

It had been over a year and a half since the last time we did family portraits. Well, we finally managed to have some taken again! It's quite an act of congress, really. In retrospect, it was of course worth the trouble.

The whole family



Just the kids

Dad and boys


Mom and girls



 Anna 
(She had never had her portraits taken yet, so we took some extra of just her.)