Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring "Break"


Wow, it has been one busy day around here! Before we even left the house at 9 am, there were 8 chores that had to be done first, such as getting the bread dough going and starting dinner in the slow cooker. 

Then off to piano lessons with all 7 kids (my husband met me there and took a couple off my hands). Stopped at two stores on the way home.

Fixed lunch, cleaned up, laid the little ones down, got my bread ready for the second rise. Researched a list of 50+ library kids for the kids to check out, and then ran to the library during nap time with "only" five kids, as well as to one other store. 

Came home to continue working on decluttering and reorganizing the shed and yard (about half done as of right now). Made fresh biscuits with dinner (chicken and dumplings), baked the bread, cut hair on hubby and all three boys, showers, baths, etc.

Once the kids were all down, spent time reading the Bible with my husband. Then straightened up the house, did the dishes, got a 6-qt batch of yogurt going, mixed up batter for sourdough pancakes for breakfast, and finally sat down to relax for a minute before getting off the hamster wheel for the night. Whew! Who knew spring break could be this exhausting. 

Tomorrow: finish cleaning the shed, buy, assemble, and install new shelving in it, take stuff from the house out there to store, switch out girls' closets to summer clothes, and a million other things I probably won't get to. 

Saturday: Piano recital for Solomon and Isaac, and finish up whatever I don't get done tomorrow. Prep as much of the food for Sunday as possible. 

Sunday: My day of rest. Hopefully, I'll be able to start sewing on the girls' swim suits (the fabric has been cut out). Easter dinner of ham baked in puff pastry and the typical sides.

Are you tired after reading this? I know I am! :) I am thankful for work to keep me busy, and even more thankful for seven children to work alongside me. Family time does not have to be spent on what we typically would consider "fun" - even cleaning out a dusty shed can be quality time. 

What you do tomorrow is important - because you are exchanging one day of your life for it. Hug those babies while you can!! 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Things I like to order on Azure Standard - Part 1

I first discovered Azure Standard almost 4 years ago. The first month, I ordered through a local drop point. By the second month, I had started my own drop point, and have had a monthly order and delivery for our group ever since.

About two years ago, my drop point had grown so large that I asked one of my members to split off and start her own group with the members that were closer to her. Now, it seems as if we are back to that point again where we need to split because we are outgrowing my driveway - this month's delivery for our group totaled 1700 lbs of organic, wholesome goodness to the tune of $3200.

I am not surprised how quickly shopping through Azure Standard is growing in popularity. For one, there is the convenience of grocery shopping online, anytime, in your nightgown if you wish, without distractions from the kids, with all the time necessary to compare prices and tweak the order to fit the budget. Score!

Then, the delivery - even though we take items off the end of the truck ourselves, and distribute them by last name in my driveway, that is still a lot faster and easier than dragging the kids through the store and putting items into a shopping cart. Especially for me, who has everything delivered to my front door!

Beyond that, the experience as a whole is much more social than grocery shopping ever will be: We see what others are ordering, share our experiences, split large bulk orders, and chat and catch up - all while the kids are happily playing together and the adults work the co-op.




The prices, of course, are what initially draw many to order from Azure. I like to say it's like an online Whole Foods as far as availability of items, with a smaller price tag.

What's the downside, you may wonder? As for my drop point, it's zero customer service! Drop point managers like myself are not recompensed in any way, shape or form (beyond the satisfaction of knowing that we are helping others eat better). So people who are only there to freeload, show up late and not help unload and distribute, or expect me to store and refrigerate their goods until they have a convenient time to pick them up as if I were a for-profit store, quickly get the boot from our group. My driveway is not some sort of budget Whole Foods - and I make that clear to those who think otherwise.

As it stands, I would say we spend about 50% of our grocery budget on Azure, about 30% locally on dairy, meat and produce, and about 20% at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods to round out the odds and ends I need throughout the month.

I have often been asked about what I like to order from Azure. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will blog here and there about my favorite products. Really, though, I have yet to order anything I don't love.

Stay tuned for part 2! :)


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Another nail in the coffin of "head-covering"



The sermon starts out talking about something else, but the other 90% of it deal with the subject of "head-covering." The original guest post on this topic continues to be one of my most popular blog posts. 


Friday, March 22, 2013

His prostate made him do it

This past Wednesday, Jack Schaap - the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana - was sentenced to 12 years for the statutory rape of a girl in the church whom he was "counseling."




After pleading guilty in September in a deal with federal prosecutors, both sides had agreed on the 10-year minimum sentence. U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano however passed down a 12-year sentence, saying that this was in accordance with federal sentencing guidelines. Additionally, Schaap will be on 5 years of supervised probation following his release, and must register as a sex offender for life. 


Source here

Based on the full text of his letters to the girl, which have since been released by the prosecution, as well as past perverted teachings and in particular his displays of gross sexual misconduct from the pulpit, I am certain that this girl was not his first and only victim. 

My hope is that other victims will have the boldness to come forward with their stories, so this pervert can stay behind bars for life. 

Read on below for details of the sentencing memorandums.


Source here


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Slacker Blogger

Seeing as I have been sadly MIA in the blogosphere, I thought you may enjoy reading on my husband's blog in my absence. 

He has discovered his interest in blogging as of late. And wouldn't you know it, he is in a rather popular, as well as lengthy retelling of how we met and got married. You can find my version here, but it's not nearly as cool and detailed as his. 

Alas, one day I shall attain unto the ranks of daily bloggers! :)




Monday, March 11, 2013

Naptime - The Key to Sanity

Did you know that today is "National Napping Day?" No joke! This unofficial holiday was created in 1999 to help people adjust to Daylight Saving Time. 



While we here in Arizona THANKFULLY do NOT observe Daylight Savings (and don't even get me started on the stupidity of the concept behind it), I DO think naps are key to having happy, pleasant children.

As I am typing this, our youngest three (ages 7 months, 2, and 4 years respectively) are all napping, and should be for about another hour or so. 

This is no coincidence, and has nothing to do with luck. Please allow me to explain, so you, too, can tap into this sanity saver if you have not yet discovered it. 

At our house, the rule is that anyone 5 and under (Kindergarten level and below) naps - period. Nap time is immediately after lunch, so starting around 1 pm. Even with multiple nappers of various ages, a consistent time can be implemented because even babies typically fall into a predictable pattern within months of birth. That youngest one may be too little to "sleep train," but he or she can set the tone for the rest of the sleeping crowd as to when exactly they are hitting the sack.

Consistency is key. Skipping naps on occasion because you are away from home for whatever reason is not the end of the world, especially if the younger ones snooze in the car. But skipping nap time when you are just at home, with nothing out of the ordinary going on, will give children this idea that naps are optional. That, in turn, will lead them to fight and argue about nap time every single time, rather than realizing that nap time is never up for debate, so they might as well resign themselves to their fate.

Some may say, "But my 3-year old just does not want to nap any more! How do I get him/her to sleep?"

For one, every 3-year old needs a nap. If they don't seem to need one, it is simply that they are so deficient in sleep, it is now manifesting as hyperactivity. Having a solid routine and non-negiotiable sleep times can help undo those bad patterns.

Secondly, while you cannot force anyone to fall asleep, you CAN force them to lie in bed silently without getting up. That's all you can do. But lo and behold, more often than not, you will find the child asleep in just a matter of minutes if you enforce the simple rule of "Lie still with your eyes closed and don't get up."


This leads to my first piece of advice: 

#1 Have specific rules regarding nap time, and stick to them consistently. 

Of course once the little cherubs are sleeping, you want to keep a good thing going as long as possible. For us, the rule is never to wake a napping child unless absolutely necessary. Hence, I schedule my day around those golden nap time hours by not allowing visitors between 1-4 pm, and never scheduling appointments during that time. One exception to this rule is that sometimes, my husband is able to do office work from home, in which case I love running errands by myself, while the little ones are sleeping and not even aware of the fact that I am not at home with them. 

Besides noisy outside distractions, there may be older siblings that need to be quiet during this time. This is where "silent time" comes in. Older kids can silently be working on school work, or enjoy entertainment such as reading. Two aspects that I find very helpful are (1) having children separated visually if they must be in the same room, and (2) encouraging them to stay put, rather than moseying up and down the house. Learning to be still and quiet are great qualities.

If you have appliances like the washer and dishwasher to run, now is a great time. Background "white noise" will quickly come to be associated with sleep. At our house, we would always need to run the dishwasher after lunch, and after dinner, simply because we would go through that many dishes. One day I came to realize that anytime the dishwasher turned on outside those times, the baby would become very sleepy even when she was just sitting in her high chair in the kitchen. Use this as a tool in your box of arsenals! 

So my second piece of advice is: 

#2 Treat nap time as a priority. Help make it a success by reducing noise and other distractions, and/or getting white noise on your side. 

Now that the little ones are down, and the older ones are productively occupied, what to do? Well, for one, you can now think for 30 seconds without being interrupted or distracted! So this may be a good time to briefly pray as you get those major appliances rebooted, respond to some urgent emails, help the older kids with school work as necessary, sit down to practice reading with a child who is new to it, or get work done online (ordering goods, looking up a dinner recipe, researching something new, etc.). You could get started on dinner so that you do not have to deal with that once the little ones wake up again. 

Whatever you do, try to stay productive yourself, because as soon as you go into a vegetative stage of "I'm just going to relax for a bit while browsing Facebook", you will soon loose all motivation to do anything, only to find yourself scrambling to make up for lost time when your little ones wake up, ready to go, while you are more tired than ever. 

Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. - Proverbs 19:15


Do you realize what that verse is saying? The lazier someone is, the more tired they get! It's true. The best way to be invigorated and energized to push through that "afternoon low" is to get up and do something. 


By having a motto of "work comes first, then the fun" you could then have time to do a craft with the children after nap time, read a story, go for a walk, or something fun of the sort. Of course, once your work is reasonably caught up, if the little ones are still sleeping, there's nothing to stop you from putting your feet up and blowing off some steam yourself.

#3 Make the best use of nap time by getting things done while younger, high-needs children are off your hands. Don't fritter away this precious time. 

Finally, here is my HUGE disclaimer: If you yourself need to nap, by all means do!!! Napping is not being lazy or unproductive. Unlike playing a video game, napping will pay its dividends by restoring your energy and re-fueling your own tank. 

So whenever possible, take a nap yourself. If all your kids are young and still napping, a nap should be a daily MUST for you - even if it's just for 20 minutes. Sleeping for 20 minutes and then working for 40, you will be able to get more done than if you slowly drag yourself through the whole hour on an empty tank without a nap. And let's face it - when all your kids are young (5 and under), your tank is always running on low!! This is a question of discipline on your part: Can you force yourself to take that nap you so badly need? If not, chances are, your children likewise will have ill-disciplined attitudes toward work and sleep.

My final piece of advice:

#4 Whenever humanly possible, take a nap of at least 20 minutes yourself. If all your kids are napping, make a rule to also nap.

There you have it. It's not rocket science. Nap time truly is a key piece of the puzzle to achieving peace and sanity in a family with little ones around. 

I hope this post has helped or encouraged you in some way. 


Friday, March 8, 2013

A Godly View of Women

Some today are celebrating "International Women's Day." I am guessing the idea is that we need a special day set aside to show respect and appreciation for women. 

In theory, this sounds like a noble and worthwhile cause. Sadly, however, our society is so far removed from God's view of women and His plan for their lives that this day does nothing to accomplish its lofty goal of improving women's lives aside from the Word of God. 

It seems that there is a notion out there amongst unbelievers that God has a poor view of women, or that if we were to follow His law, women would end up with the "short end of the stick", at the caprice of evil men who would take advantage of them. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

This blog post is not long enough to disprove that false idea. But I did want to share a small interesting point I came across as I was reading the Proverb of the day with the kids earlier this week.

Proverbs 7:

4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:

5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.


If wisdom and understanding could be embodied, how would we treat them? Would we not use respect, honor, courtesy? Would we not seek after them, and work hard to earn their favor? Would we not look up to such a person, and hold them in high regard?

When God draws this parallel in verse 4 above, we are told to treat wisdom like a sister, and understanding like a female relative (kinswoman). This means the same is true the other way around: treat your sister and other females in your family the same way you would treat wisdom and understanding if they were embodied in a human. With courtesy, great respect, humility, honor, kindness, and so forth.

Proverbs 8

1 Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?

2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.

3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.

[...]

14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.

15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.

16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

18 Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.

19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.

20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:

21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.

[...]

36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.


Does this view of godly women void the part of God's law that says wives are supposed to obey and reverence their husbands? Of course not! Rather, it balances the relationship: the husband lays down his life for his wife, realizing that she is the greatest treasure God has bestowed upon him, and given him responsibility over safekeeping. The wife, in turn, defers to the husband as the loving, self-sacrificing authority over her and her life, second only to God. 


I Peter 3

1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.


Are we as Christians supposed to obey and respect God? Certainly! Does that mean that God will be ruling over us to our own detriment, using us for His selfish purposes, and treat us unkindly and hurtfully? Of course not! Marriage is a picture of that relationship. 


A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. - Proverbs 4:7 

A crown is the ultimate symbol of a king's power. If you want to be married to a king, you have the power to do so. You need only strive to become a beautiful crown, adorned with a meek and quiet spirit yourself. 

Ladies, if you want to live a truly liberated life, one where you feel loved and appreciated for being a woman, follow God and his Word. The more you follow it yourself, the more your husband and other men in your life will treat you with utmost respect and honor. 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Another day with Becky

Sweet little Becky is a darling of a child. We love her dearly, just as we love all the children. She can be a perfect angel most of the time, but she also has her moments. Which remind me a lot of myself, so in raising her, I feel like I am challenged to also grow myself. If God ever sent us a child to teach us more than the child, she is that one. 

Sunday night the kids got to bed on the late side, as they often do after a church day. Since my husband is the pastor, we don't usually get home from the evening service until about 9 pm. Around 10, the six oldest were finally tucked in for the night, in jammies, teeth brushed and all. Yes, it is a logistical challenge! :)

Anyway, I had gone to bed with Stephen to nurse him to sleep. My pattern is to get him down, then do my chores. He was just starting to fall asleep when Becky started screaming/crying from her room. She tends to be very dramatic, so I wasn't overly alarmed, just waiting for my husband to go see what she needed. He didn't come, though (I didn't know he was taking a shower), so I left the baby to check on Becky. Stephen promptly woke up protesting loudly. 

Becky told me her ear was hurting - as it turned out, she had shoved something into the ear canal! It was a little plastic stick-on jewel from a craft kit. ARGH!!!! Thankfully, my husband was out of the shower at this point, as I was majorly upset by this. We could see the little jewel in Becky's ear, but when I had her lie down with her head on the bed, and tried to grab it with tweezers, she screamed and writhed in fear. All this, while Stephen is loudly screaming in the background. Solomon had come back out of bed to hold and comfort him, but baby was tired and having none of it. 

We did the only logical thing we could think of, and called the pediatric urgent care to see if this was something they dealt with. Thankfully, they said they could try. So off I went with Becky, at 11 pm on a Sunday night. She was calm and happy - as long as she didn't touch her ear, the jewel didn't bother her. Stephen had calmed down, so I left him home with my husband, who promptly got him back to sleep by pushing him in the stroller in the driveway. 

For some reason, Becky thought that everyone at the urgent care was there for the same reason as us. We were the only people in the waiting room, but a couple walked out with their baby while I was filling out the paperwork. The Dad had HUGE black gauges in his ears. Exclaims Becky: "Mom, I think he fell asleep laying on those, and they got stuck in his ears!" Nice! :)

The doctor tried grabbing the jewel as I had, and got the same reaction from Becky. She then sent the nurse to wash the jewel out by squirting warm water down her ear with a syringe, which successfully removed the jewel on the second try, without any discomfort on Becky's part. I know this because she would have let me know otherwise by screaming! We were offered to keep the jewel as a souvenir, but I declined. No, thanks! Who knows what Becky would dream up next! 

On our way out, yet another child walked in. Says Becky: "Wow, Mom! I didn't know so many kids shove things in their ears!" HA! We got home sometime after midnight, and all was well. 

Anyhow - seven kids and 11 years of parenting later, this was a first. As a child, I remember my older brother shoving a candy wrapper up his nose. My mom ended up having to take him to an ENT specialist. I don't remember much besides my brother screaming, and the kidney dish under his nose filling with blood after the doctor successfully removed the wrapper. That incident more than cured me of ever wanting to shove anything up my nose, ever!

I asked Becky if she remembered me telling her and her siblings not to put anything into their noses or ears. She told me she didn't, except just sometimes. How many times did she think I should have said it?? Ah - little kids! I have to remind myself she is only FOUR. 

I can laugh about it now, but my heart must have stopped for a second when it happened. Moms don't need aerobic exercise, just kids to make their pulse change erratically!!

~~~~~~~~~

P.S. On a side note, for my local readers, I would like to recommend Goodnight Pediatrics in Gilbert. That is where we take any of our children if they have a medical need after hours, and we have only ever had good experiences with them. All the pediatricians are very professional and courteous, they have never made an issue about our children not being vaccinated, and there is hardly ever any wait time. They have a branch closer to our house, which is always overrun, so it's worth making the drive out east to go to that particular branch. 




Sunday, March 3, 2013

Total Makeover, church style

Our church moved into a larger building back in September of last year. As it often happens with moves, the least desirable areas to tackle and move get neglected the longest. 

Such had been the case with my husband's office, as well as the storage room. During the move, both just kind of had everything that belonged in those respective rooms thrown in them, with the intent of organizing them properly when the pressures of moving were off. 

Well, with the busyness of Thanksgiving and Christmas, birthdays, and life in general, these areas were still neglected by February. So as a surprise for my husband, I decided to redo those rooms for him, with the help of others from church, when he would be out of town on business.


That was last week. It took us (5 adults, plus my 7 children) from Thursday afternoon until Saturday evening, but we were able to get it all done.


Here are the BEFORE (left) and AFTER (right) shots:


Office


 Notice the picture above the sofa? That is a canvas replica of the mural at our last building.



The canvas seen in the "before picture" was an acrylic painting of the cover of "After the Tribulation" done by the boys, which now hangs in our church's break room.





Storage Room


 And some of the behind-the-scenes shots:

 Furniture shopping - we needed two carts, two flatbed carts, and the double stroller. 

 Isaac thought it was hilarious how long the receipt was


Assembling furniture

This project was WAY more work than the pictures suggest. I am so thankful for the volunteers who helped us pull this off.

And as for the presentation? I didn't tell my husband anything because it was supposed to be a surprise. Wanting to see his face when he realized what we had done, I came up with the idea of hiding out in his office. So this morning I headed to church early, before my husband, under the pretense of needing to stop for gas. I hid the van in a secluded part of the parking lot, and then silently sat with the little kids on the new sofa in his office - lights out, doors locked, as always. When he got to church and opened the office door to get something before the service, he was shocked to find it so different than he had left it, with us sitting on the sofa yelling "Surprise!!"



Anyway, it was fun. Many thanks to my tireless helpers!! We will be breaking the new place in in style tonight, talking with a sweet young couple about the plans for their upcoming wedding.