First, thank you all so very much for your prayers.  I am so sure they have helped and ARE helping.

Now a praise.

Where I was sure there were NO options, there has opened a window for a couple.  My current OB has said he will not give progesterone until Week 22.   It’s been very stressful here lately and I’ve not been sleeping well as contractions began Tuesday early AM (around 3:00) and they’ve just been consistent for the last couple days.  It has been exhausting, not because they’re painful or even uncomfortable, but being 15w 4 d pregnant and having contractions and a cervix that dilates painlessly?  You feel like a walking time bomb.

So I called for the progesterone injections to start.  And that was when I found out that my OB won’t start them until week 22.  I found an ACOG (American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology) Opinion (#419 if you’re looking) that shows a study that has had significant impact on preterm labor using progesterone beginning in weeks 16-20.  It IS experimental.  We’re requesting a referrral to a further away university hospital where they do perform experimental work.

Moreover, last night I “happened” upon a study that has nothing to do with incompetent cervixes.  It had to do with previa.  It appears in 1993, and again about 10 years later, they did studies trying to find out if by placing a lower McDonald’s stitch ( a type of cerclage) in the cervix if they could better the rates of infant mortality and mother’s health in at risk previa patients.

The conclusion was that there was no effect.  But did you catch the important part?   They were placing cerclages in previa patients!  Moreover I then “happened” across to an Incompetent Cervix support forum – NEVER knew it existed!!!  And there was a post on there (a few actually in the Search engine) talking about previa and IC.   Several women had had a cerclage placed WITH partial or low lying previa and at least one had had it placed successfully with total previa.

Today I’m calling the OB and requesting an appointment.  I’ll need a referral to the university hospital.  I’ve already put in my request for a specific doctor specializing in preterm delivery and placenta issues.  I’m praying for a couple things – that doors would be opened, that I have the grace to pull through this.

I’m not going to kid you.  I’ve had a rough couple days and I started bawling on my poor husband’s shoulder yesterday before work in the morning… I just really don’t know that  I can hold a baby while she dies again….  Nothing about it was fast, or painless, or peaceful.  It was tragic & awful and I just don’t want to lose this little one.

So I’m asking for continued prayers please.  I firmly (FIRMLY) believe the Lord is active in even the smallest aspects of our lives, every single day.  There is not anything He does not know, including this little one He has so generously loaned us.  I pray His will be done in our lives and that His peace and grace shine through no matter the outcome.

Advertisements

I’ve given the recommendation MANY times that preschool (and kindergarten for that matter) is utterly unnecessary.

And I believe it.  I think the average child in the average home is going to pick up the skills he or she needs to successfully begin formal schooling somewhere between the ages of 6-8.  I’ve seen it work well.

That said?  If I don’t keep our little ones busy, they’ll keep themselves busy, and they are FAR, FAR more creative than I am.  For example, I know I would NEVER think of fingerpainting in toothpaste on the  walls.  I know I would NEVER think of making an animal “trap” out of all of Daddy’s zip strips from his garage.  I know I would NEVER think of making a fishing pole from PVC & fishing bobbers and for that extra special, can’t resist, secret fishing tip, stuff part of a jar of very nasty catfish bait into the PVC.  These are things I simply wouldn’t think of.  And yet, somehow, these are only RECENT examples of what my bright & beautiful preschoolers have done.  We are never bored.  And I am often sidetracked.

And honestly?  I just want to spend time with my littles.  It’s imperative I sit down with my almost 6yo and my almost 8yo and work on phonics.  We sit together as they practice handwriting.  They need help with math manipulatives.  I simply must sit down with my 10yo and 13yo each day and teach their math, discuss their writing, or read them their dictation.  There’s just no way around it.  The baby will fuss for me and just wants Mama, so she will be held and loved and snuggled.  But an almost 3yo and a 4yo?  The creative genius in them will keep them busy for HOURS.  They are both fairly content children and as long as they’ve been fed, semi-clothed, and given free reign, they’ll run amuck, playing, singing, jumping from things, amusing themselves all day long.  I’d prefer it be a wee bit more structured and a tiny bit less chaotic. 😉

Preschool gives me the excuse I need to sit down with them for a bit, put my feet up, and ENJOY them.  Preschoolers are easy to enjoy.  Happy children are fun to spend time with…  And children are happiest with something productive to do, lots of exercise, healthy food, and a routine.  There’s a reason routine works so well with these little ones… They know what “comes next.”  They can’t tell time yet, but it’s comforting for them to know we do chores, then breakfast, then Mama will sit down with you and read for a bit, then we’ll go outside.  They learn that everything has a place, that they are useful, needed little people in this family.

Our AM schedule looks something like this:

Breakfast
Chores  (sometimes we reverse breakfast and chores)
Family Bible Time
Preschool – Reading, Singing, Talking
Arts & Crafts at the table
Snack
Outdoors for an hour
Indoors – Potty & Wash Hands
Free or Structured Indoor Play
Lunch
Clean-up
Read-Aloud
Nap

And I’m sure you’re wondering what in the world the big kids are doing in all this.  Well, they’re busy.  If you can teach them in the AM before the littles get up this generally works out best.  They also know they should probably wait ’til I’m available to them for questions.  I’m available during Arts & Crafts, Outdoor play,  Clean-Up time,  and Snack.  Obviously they are with us for Family Bible Time.  And just as you’d tell a child on a standardized test, if you don’t know something, go to the next thing and then come back to it.  Essentially that’s how this works.  My oldest two children are quite independent learners and good readers and so it simplifies much of what I have to do.  The most difficult one to balance is, of course, Elizabeth, because she’s not quite on the level of a completely independent learner or reader!  And that isn’t terribly surprising at age 7.   But you’ll find you have time…   We work in concentrated blocks, much of it during naptimes when littles are down.

I can say that most of my day pivots on something important.  The first is tomato – staking.  If a child is tomato staked, they never get the opportunity to draw on the walls, get the catfish bait, OR grab Daddy’s zip strips.  I’ve become very lazy at this lately as I prepare for our new school year, and honestly?  Most of the summer.  I feel like *I* took the whole summer off as well, and that’s just NOT a good thing.  You can learn about this vital & biblical concept here, at Raising Godly Tomatoes.  The concept is very simple.  Keep your children WITH you.  If your children are out of earshot, you can’t correct their attitude or what comes out of their mouth.  If they are out of eyesight, you can’t correct their atttitudes or their actions.

Let’s pretend a child misspells the word CAT.  He spells it KAT.  When he writes it, he writes it K-A-T.  When he hears it, he visualizes K-A-T.  Nothing has led him to believe that KAT isn’t correct and without you to make the correction and to further train him in the correct spelling by reinforcement, this child will continue in his wrong belief and behaviour.

Let me add some caveats here.  Have you ever watched the Dog Whisperer?  An amazing man.  He excels at what he does because he understands pack behaviour and he knows what he can expect in behaviour and he trains to the EXPECTATION.   The problem with parenting is very few people know what type of standards to expect from their children these days.  OR they are unreasonable.  An oddity I’ve noticed is over 1/2 of his cases, the problem behaviour is fixed by the owner’s giving appropriate affection, a routine,  and lots of exercise.  I can’t emphasize enough the impact exercise has on these dogs.

Now, don’t get huffy, I’m not calling your toddler a dog.  But I’m saying we have higher expectations of an 8 week old puppy than we do of our 3 year olds.  And I certainly know MY Abigail is smarter than Legend, and he’s a German Shepherd, lol.   Children need GOOD food.  This will get rid of most of your convenient foods, Mom.  They need REAL food.  They do not need food additives, preservatives, food coloring, or most things that come out of a box.  They don’t need refined flour, refined sugar, or no-calorie sweeteners.  They need REAL food.  I’d suggest you I.L.L the book by Dr. Sears, The Family Nutrition Book.  Look, Dr. Sears, I like some of his books.  Others, not so much.  But when you start learning about whole foods, the books people recommend are OVERWHELMING.  You’re going to start reading books where you need to milk your cow, grind your wheat, grow your own food organically, make your own yogurt, and ferment kombucha.  And WHAT is kombucha?  And, are you kidding?  It’s just too much.  This is a GREAT introduction to real food.  You THINK what you’ve been buying at the grocery store is real food, but you’d be surprised.  Most of the nutrition in the checkout line is synthetic and our body just doesn’t know what to do with it.  Don’t look at the label – buy the stuff without a label…. Produce.  And don’t even get me started on bread!

Next thing – EXERCISE.   I am not saying introduce your 4yo to pilates.  I’m not advocating a treadmill for the 5yo.  I’m saying GET OUTSIDE!  Get them plenty of fresh air, let them yell, let them climb, let them jump and run.  If you do NOT do this things, you are asking for what you get….  I am a FIRM believer that children can and should be taught to sit and sit quietly, but just as every year has a season, every child should have a healthy time to play and run and get out physical energy.  THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE IF YOU HAVE BOYS!  Oh, I’ve had people argue that point, but I’ve got 2 boys and they are entirely (ENTIRELY) different.  They were made to work.  They were created for physical exertion.  And they desperately NEED to get out the physical energy.  Also, it is an important sidenote that this will also destroy the Mom Guilt factor when you require them to sit still and be quiet and you’ll be a better trainer and more consistent.

Now, let’s get to the bottom line.

I know what you’re thinking.  I BARELY get done the minimum.  How in the world do I work all this in?

I can almost guarantee if you have untrained preschoolers and toddlers, a huge percentage of your time, more than realize is, in the words of FlyLady, spent “putting out fires.”  In other words, you’re inefficient.

Oh I’m NOT saying you’re not busy!!  Quite the opposite.  I’m saying you’re busy with busy-work and not with what needs to be done.

For example, let’s say you have to make lunch, and in the meantime, Little Junior dumps out the legos, and the play-doh, and tosses the pillows and blankets on the floor in a mini-fort.  After lunch, you have to clean all that up.  If you had had Junior WITH you helping make lunch, none of it would have happened and after lunch you could have read aloud or gotten something else done.   Let’s say your Little Monster, er… Junior doesn’t take “rest” times or naps.  Instead he goes upstairs and you spend the next hour yelling at him to lie down or cleaning up whatever mess he made.  Please, close your eyes and dream with me for a moment….  At 12:30 you tell Junior it’s naptime.  You read to him, kiss him, tuck him in.  In ten minutes, Junior is sleeping and will continue to do so for about 1-2 hours.  And you can concentrate on what you need to do.   Let’s even say Junior isn’t a sleeper…. That’s fine.  My 5yo isn’t a sleeper either.  She has a choice.  She may either quietly look at books or she can sleep.  What she can’t do is get out of her bed, fuss, wake up her little sister in the same room, or in general move for 1.5 hours.  She’s been given a choice – books or sleep.  She may make either choice.

So you’re thinking, “Must be nice…”  And I’m telling you YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSS!  I deeply appreciate what I’ve got.  But please don’t kid yourselves that it came easy.  Ah, no!  The reason why I appreciate it so much is because I had the little terror that wouldn’t nap and would destroy her room and I’d yell upstairs, and occasionally flip out. 😛  And her name was Ana.  And she was awful.  And I only had TWO children and I got less done at naptime than I do now with all of them.

So, how do you train for something like that?  First you exhaust them.  You feed them well.  You create a routine.  And you be CONSISTENT.  You tuck Junior in and you wait, like a cat… Because you know he’s going to do something.  And then you pounce.  🙂  Okay, it’s slightly LESS dramatic than that, but the truth is, correcting behaviour isn’t about waiting until you can’t ignore it.  It’s about catching it right away and correcting it immediately.   It’s setting clear expectations in YOUR head and then training them to it.   It is REASONABLE to expect a five year old to rest or read.  We stop with naptimes when they have graduated to learning phonics.  Then they are expected to do Phonics with me and then quietly look at books.  If I find they are not old enough to do this, they revert back to naptime.  This includes whispering.  I LOVE my naptimes and I will not give them up.  I refuse.  It’s a hard and fast and necessary rule to making our house work smoothly… Or at least as smoothly as it does, lol.

After nap?  Snack, activity, lots of outdoor time.  Our afternoons are FAR less structured than our mornings.  But they cannot have lower expectations for behaviour.

Our chore charts turned out beautifully by the way.  I think I gave the inspiration link on these a couple posts ago.  The “check-off” pictures attach via velcro.  A hint?  Buy the velcro dots at somewhere OTHER than the fabric store… They were expensive!

The chore charts were made from Googled images and Excel, very simple.  We also made Activity cards to go into each child’s folder.  The activity cards – again Googled images and Excel.  We cut them out, laminated them, and all was well.

I’ll add pictures in the next post as I can’t get the camera to work right now.

I hear the slogan, “We will not forget” an awful lot.  And mostly, I think of 9/11 and think, “But we have.”

And when I ran across these articles today, they same slogan and knee jerk reaction came to mind.

Why do you homeschool?  Do you remember why?  Do you remember how you ended up on this journey and where your original destination was?

For my husband and I we each had different destination points.  While we’ve managed to maintain a grip on one (the easier), I feel we’ve allowed ourselves to forget the greater purpose.

As I’ve spent the last few weeks, researching and comparing curriculums, cores, books, guides, and articles, I’ve been searching for the answer to our families need for all things academic.  It is not that these things are not important, it is that they are not the most important thing.  Why do we homeschool?  To raise up strong and capable children for God and to further His kingdom.  Obviously for this we need children that are well educated, well spoken, and capable of presenting themselves and His word.  That said, we tend to lose sight of our real goal in all this.  We end up with children that are well educated and are well spoken, but they don’t understand they were created and made for HIM.  They were never educated for the goal of education, but educated only to further His purpose.

And so I ask you, what good is all that education if you’ve fed your children a steady diet of the world and raised them for the world?  All is lost at that point.  They will serve the master they’ve been taught to serve.  You must choose Mother.  You must choose Father.  Whom shall you train your child to serve?  You can only have one master.

It is acceptable to utilize a curriculum to acheive your end goals.   It is NOT okay to allow that curriculum to take the place of active, living faith… Your children are a witness to your day to day priorities.  If math or reading or history should take place above the daily Bible reading and teaching they will KNOW what is more important to you.  They’ve seen how you prioritize.  If the computer or the blogging, or your research or your email takes the place of your morning time alone with Him and His Word, they will KNOW what your priorities are… Even if you have fooled yourself.  I am very guilty of this.  Sometimes I think through our failings, we are able to bless others.  Is that not why we’re allowed hardships?  I struggle with this on a daily basis as the world competes with God for my attention, my focus, my teachings…..

That’s all I’ll say on it for today, but I ask that you please read the two links today.  And when you are planning for this fall, I ask that as you write down your priorities, you place Him at the very top of the list.  And much further down, list your priorities and make sure each is accountable to the first.

Homeschooling is Not About Education by Chris Davis

Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling: Exposing the 7 Major Blindspots by Reb Bradley

Thank you so much to Paula’s Archives for the links to these two vital articles.

It’s a common enough theme.  I’ve been asked how we can afford it.  I’ve been told by others that they would have more, but children are too expensive.   It’s a common discussion on MOMYS, on Quiverfull, on any large family forum.  Bottom line, either people want to be assured it’s very affordable or that’s it’s completely unaffordable and therein they are not compelled to have another child.

Bah humbug.  The question never was, “Can you afford it?”  It never should be.

I’ve tried to address it in my various forums.  And, mostly because I’m lazy and I want to get onto the rest of my day, you’re just going to get a copy and pasted response.  Enjoy.

Okay, well, there’s never enough. Period. I know people who have their 2.1 children, who make $100+ K, and who don’t feel they make enough $$. I know another family that makes approximately $30K/year, they have four children, they have paid off all their debts (NOT that they never had them, but that they paid them all off!), and only owe about $30-$40K on their house. It’s new too, they built it about 5 years ago, and no, it’s not LAVISH, but it certainly is comfy and they love it, on an acreage to boot.

A lot of “comfort” depends on what area you’re in. You might make the big bucks on the east or west coast, but I’ll GUARANTEE you won’t be able to buy as much (housing, food, gas, etc.) as we can here in the Midwest. Here you can buy a NICE house in a NICE neighborhood for $125K. And a gorgeous house, newly built for less than $200K and you’d have a REAL yard, unless of course you’d like acres, and then you could do that too.

Having a large family is NOT affordable. I’ll say it again if you’d like. A lot of people want to know that it is easily affordable and you’ll be able to have all the toys and all the frills that a family would have if they only had one child. Well, you won’t. A long time ago, when I first started on Quiverfull digest, I latched onto this saying, “Children aren’t expensive, lifestyles are.” I think that’s an awesome saying and I think all young couples should latch onto it. Because by the time they find out it’s not true, lol, then they’ve figured out what’s really important.

Yeah, that’s right. It’s not true. Lifestyles are expensive. So are children. No, they really are. If you have seven children, I can almost guarantee at least 1-2 trips to the ER per year. Not to mention paying for a delivery every 18 months. It’s true. While little ones don’t eat much, let me tell you, by the time they start to hit pre-teen, teen years, you’re left thinking, “But I DOUBLED that recipe? Where’d it all go?” No matter what your lifestyle is like, six children eat for six children, not for one. That’s a fact.

Let’s go onto the “but” though – C’mon, you knew there would be one.
We won’t be paying for our childrens’ college. Evil aren’t we? But the Army paid back $64,000 in student loans of dh’s and then put him through over $35K in more school and we took on another $30+K in college loans while we were in. We found a way. And our parent’s didn’t pay for it. Let’s take our own children for example. When they’re little you have visions of doctors and lawyers dancing in their heads. But as you have a half dozen, you’ll see, hopefully, that they are VERY uniquely gifted. As a rule, U.S. couples have 1-2 children that they just KNOW are little geniuses and even if Little Junior doesn’t “apply” himself, they’re still willing to fork over $40K to send him to get the paper degree in Dances of the Northwest Cultures. As parents of a large family, we are in a unique position. We can see that some of our children are going to be very academic, some are very industrious, more than academic. I know in our culture we prize academia over every other thing, but it only leaves kids feeling short. Why would we do that? Is not a happy, hardworking child’s worth valued as much as a bitter, sour child who always fell short of their parents’ goals? Our oldest is VERY academic. She knows she is expected to get scholarships. She gets up in the AM and she is very devoted. She is going into the 8th grade is narrowing her focus already. We’ve geared her schooling towards her PSAT with the goal being a National Merit scholar. My goal isn’t to pay her way. It’s to EQUIP with her what she needs to succeed. That can’t be bought.
Our oldest son is not as  academically inclined as our daughter. But the child has a heart a mile wide and two miles deep. His love for his God and his country is pretty awesome in a 10 year old. He wants to serve. He has no academic goals, but of course our duty is STILL to equip him… both by building him up with strong character, his academic abilities still need to be strong, and he needs to be willing to serve.  Again, OUR job is to equip our children to use their unique GIFTS.  God wired them each in a different way.
Our third child only wants to act. It’s been that way since she was three. We really are at a loss what to do with it – It’s a gift, I have no doubt. I’m just a little clueless how we can use it for good instead of evil. Sigh.

And the rest, we’re waiting to see. But my point here is not only should you NOT pay for your child’s college, but that NOT every child SHOULD go to college. We, as a culture, consider it the end all be all, and it leaves an awful lot of kids, who could be hard working, happy, and strong and feeling good in their unique GIFTS, feel stupid, worthless, and short changed. And those children who have vision, know where they want to go, what they want to be, are driven, and are academic – well, they’ll get scholarships anyway.

As for house space, we’re working on stacking them. Our oldest shares a  bed with her “beloved” Abigail (2) and while there were some shortfalls (while we potty trained) they get along VERY well when Abby doesn’t pee on her blanket, lol. Truth is, Ana, if given her own room, would be hyper-protective, and rude about it to her sisters. This is a built in character builder for her. On the other side of the room is a set of bunk beds for Rebecca and Elizabeth. Underneath that is going the trundle for Miss Sarah who will be moving up there in approximately 5 months. Now, if we need to, we can switch the full bed AND the twin bunks to twin over fulls and put trundles under each of them. The girls room CAN hold at least eight, reasonably, lol. We hang and color code almost all of their clothing. And we don’t keep extra. Ana has learned that good clothes are for good and you take care of your things. If all girls had to share a room (AND BE NICE) with their little sisters we’d see girls who take care of their stuff and assign value to them. And it’s good for the little girls to learn that things are special and belong to someone else so they can’t treat them badly and can’t touch everything they’d like. The boys share twin bunks. There are two bedrooms upstairs, one is more like a glorified large hallway. The boys don’t care. I love boys. My goodness they’re easy.

DH & I share a cubby hole that was meant to be the computer room. There is enough room for our bed, for our dresser, and he can even walk on his side of the bed! Since it’s our bedroom and we SLEEP there, we’re not too stressed about it. Our living areas are huge. But see this all changed with the culture of America. This was an old farmhouse. The people congregated in the kitchen, which of course, was eat-in. This is where they lived essentially. The living room is modest sized. The bedrooms are small because children and parents didn’t retreat there… The family stayed together, worked together, and played together. And then SLEPT in their bedrooms.
DH mentioned to me the other day, I’ve been morning sick and the house isn’t exactly spotless. Well, that might be an understatement. But, he mentioned, with the chaos, that maybe this house WAS too small. It’s not. As a matter of fact, I feel we have more space here than we did in town. Because I can cook a huge meal and have elbow room. Because the kids go out and run and jump and scream and then come in and sit still. (I like that part of living in the country.) So, living space isn’t very relevant.

Yes, money is tight. It always is. Mostly because we’re not great with  money.   But, we’re listening to good ‘ole Dave and we’re getting there. This last year I really wondered if it would be responsible for us to get pregnant before the end of the year. Due to the year change, our surgery will be in 2009, but the baby won’t be born until 2010. Which means we’ll max out our deductible this year and then turn around in January and max it out all over again. Sigh. But you know what? I’ll bet you in 20, or 10, or 5, or EVEN 2 years from this January, I won’t look at that little face and see the hospital bill. I bet I just see the face of a child, a blessing, that I’m so grateful to have that I don’t even notice the cost.

So,  I’m pregnant. And it’s going to cost us a mint. Did I mention I HATE being pregnant? Hate it. I hate that I have to have surgery every single pregnancy. I hate that I throw up from the anesthesia. As a matter of fact, delivery is WONDERFUL compared to week 14.

Things that are precious have a cost, a high cost. If they didn’t cost a lot, monetarily, emotionally, or physically, they wouldn’t be considered precious. If you could walk out in your backyard and pick up a handful of diamonds, they would be worthless. Afterall, they’re just shiny rocks.
It is their COST that gives them value, that makes others consider them precious. The U.S. does not appreciate their children. The years gone by from disease and poor medical care has made children fairly easy to raise.
They are no longer precious. But ask an infertile couple what they would give to have a child.

In 2001 we gave birth to our daughter, Hannah Elizabeth. Unfortunately she was 26 weeks along and less than 2 lbs. She had decent chances, statistically speaking and did really well for a little while. On Day 12 we held her while she died. It wasn’t a short death. It wasn’t a painless death. It was long, and they gave her several morphine shots. You know your life has been changed forever when you stop praying for your child to live and instead pray for her relief through death. Life is precious. Her life was all of 12 days long. Sometimes it is not the length of time you live, but the impact of your life on those around you….. And if that is so, her life had true meaning.

Housing, space, money, college, it all means very little. If you have a house, it is enough. If you have space, it is enough. If you have food, the money is enough. If there is a will to get to college, it is enough. These things are very much not relevant compared to the preciousness of one life. And if you have the opportunity to give the world one precious life, it is a trick of the mind (and more as I know many Christians would believe and attest) that it should be denied because they might have to share a bedroom, or you can’t pay for four years of college.

Someone asked me that today.  A someone who would be genuinely interested in the answer.  So it stopped me and I thought, “Well, how AM I?”  Truth is, I walked around here yesterday afternoon with a bad attitude… You know, the teen angst thing, where “nothin’ goes my way and everyone hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms” kind of an attitude, lol.

I had a Nemo day.

nemo

What?!  Yes, a Nemo day!  I’m always surprised when most people don’t know what I’m talking about…  But there is that possiblity that our family made this up in our heads, lol.

Do you remember in the movie when the Dad is talking to Nemo and he’s frustrated with him and Nemo is angry and they’re talking about going out in the ocean, but Marlin doesn’t think Nemo can, because of his special fin?

Marlin says, “NEMO!  You think you can do these things, but you CAN’T Nemo, you just can’t.”  I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t remember all the words, I haven’t seen the movie THAT often!  But I have Nemo days.  I think I can fit big, adventurous things into one day and then I get really frustrated when I find out I can’t.  This was yesterday.

I was seriously UNmotivated to get moving.  Then about noon, it hit me… What for supper?  Hmmm…. What was I in the mood for….  And then I piddled around until I decided it was too late to thaw anything out and so I came up with my brilliant plan…  I have two very fat ducks, that are messy, and begging to be eaten.  And I haven’t butchered poultry since I was 12.  So, Ana was excited, Lizzie was moderately elated, Rebecca was heartbroken, and Abigail was disgusted.  We put the kids down for a nap.  Pioneer women we were.  Er… well, that was how we FANCIED ourselves.  Not hardly.

I was fine for the “doing away with” of the ducks.  I was fine for the plucking.  About the time we dipped them in hot water for pin feathers, was about the time the smell hit me.  Yes, that’s right, a newly pregnant woman REALLY deluded herself in that it wasn’t going to bother her.  We quickly changed the game plan from nicely browned, crisp, roasted duck to skinless, marinated duck.  We skinned them.  And that’s when we discovered that while the books might advise you butcher them at 7-8 weeks, I don’t think they realize how LITTLE ducks are.  We had duck snacks for supper last night.  My husband literally laughed and laughed hard the minute he saw them.   Apparently ducks are actually mostly feathers.

Let it be said that I had a pretty good attitude all day long ’til the smell hit me and it was time to clean up after removing everything IN the duck.  Then I started feeling pretty sorry for myself.  Afterall, there was no quitting half way through. 

So, when asked, “How are you?” today, I really thought of my poor attitude yesterday.  And, honestly?  I’m a little ashamed.

How am I?

I have a beautiful, HEALTHY, little girl that is turning one today.  She has these crystal blue eyes and she loves me, ME, best of all.  She is my constant sidekick, and I light up her whole world.  I’m pretty good.

Littlest Sister

Littlest Sister

I have a beautiful, HEALTHY two year old.  She is talking and playing and becoming a whole person.  She THINKS now and reasons things out and she giggles, and she’s picky about her kisses, though I can usually convince her to share one or two with me.  Even if they are only pathetic cheek kisses instead of smacky lip kisses, I’ll take ’em.

I have a strong, HEALTHY, rambunctious boys who are good, really good boys.  They like to work and work hard.  They are the pride and joy of my life.  And they love their Mama and Daddy.

My “big” girls… 5, 8, and 13.  Each is unique and beautiful and wonderful.  I haven’t lost them to the world and they enjoy books, and outdoors, and fresh air, and green grass.  They appreciate beautiful things and nature and they really ENJOY life.

How am I?  I’m good, really good.  I have a husband that loves us, that takes care of us.  And yesterday, well, shame on me.  I should have sat down and made a list of my blessings.  More than “good”, I’m grateful.  Go forth and be grateful today.  Each day, each blessing, they are gifts from God.  A long face, a bad attitude, they are not because of circumstances, they are a lack of gratefulness.  Recognize it for what it is and purge it from your life.  Count your blessings and then kiss each one.  Serve instead of being served.   Be thankful.

I’m not a shopper by nature.  I don’t enjoy the hunt, I don’t enjoy spending money, I don’t enjoy hours of walking.  Nothing about shopping, unless it is in a bookstore, is enjoyable to me….

But, I will say that handmade holds a special place in my heart.  WAHMamas have been a love of mine since 2000 when I sewed my very first cloth diaper.  And the recognization that there are amazingly talented women out there, who choose to stay home and be with their family while they “do what they do” deserves recognition.

Most of these mamas have a sincere passion behind what they do.  The motivation is so much more than just financial, and if you look very carefully, you’ll see what that is in their products.

I will gladly admit my favorite Work at Home Mama is Lori from Beneath the Rowan Tree.  Her toys…..  They’re art, pure, simple, and amazing.  Full of wonder…..  I’ve been blessed to speak with Lori before and I know that Rowan (her daughter) has been a source of inspiration and joy.  And I wonder how someone can translate such beauty to silk, or clothing, or toys.  She did something recently that just absolutely took my breath away.  I didn’t know wool could become, well, this:

Beneath the Rowan Tree Wool Sculpture

Beneath the Rowan Tree Wool Sculpture

BTRT's "Mother & Daughters" Sculpture - Back

BTRT's "Mother & Daughters" Sculpture - Back

I have never in my life seen such a beautiful handmade object.   What Lori did with this….  It’s breathtaking. 

My children are very blessed to own a few things Lori has made for them.  Two of the girls have matching shirts, Sweetest Pea has a handpainted dress that doesn’t fit her anymore, yet she refuses to give it up… It’s more of a smock top now, lol.  She also made us a set of incredibly vibrant playsilks.

Lori's Silks

Lori's Silks

My children don’t own many toys.  The only plastic is some Schleich animals. 😉  In our home, there is no toybox.  There are no shelves of toys.  But there is one very special picnic basket.  It contains a tea set, 7 silks, and crocheted food.  And it can keep three little girls entertained for hours….  Playing, dreaming, imagining.  I was skeptical of play silks.  I bought the first one from EllieBelly when Lizzie was just a baby – 2002.  And it became her lovey.  Now, with more, the girls can make princess dress, sling their babies, have a picnic on them, wear a turban, tie on an apron…  You are only bound by your imagination.  Open ended toys create a sense of wonder, they grow the seed of creativity into a sapling, they inspire.  With natural playthings you’re giving such a gift, so much more than a plastic something….  And moreover, it’s been created by loving hands.

Give more than a gift…. Inspire wonder. 

Two links for you today – one is the one of the finest collaboration of WAHMama artists I’ve ever seen and I’m proud to link to them…  Fresh Congo.

The other is Lori’s store at Etsy… Hours of window shopping enjoyment.  Do look through her past sales.  You’ll go back over and over again.

I know how busy ya’all are…. It being Spring and all.  You can hardly tell here today as it is a very chilly 50 degrees.  We *did* get internet back as I’ve been missing it desperately, wanting to do some writing and planning of some of new curriculum for the oldest two…  And wanting to post, but since I didn’t have any pictures, and I know ya’all LOVE pictures, I resisted the urge to post at all.

 

First a couple of my newest chickies…  DH ordered a few of every kind he could think of that were available from McMurray’s.  Unfortunately, we lost several.  Eight to be exact.  They felt it was probably my use of alfalfa as bedding as it can have mold or mildew in it and chicks are extremely respiratory sensitive.  Despite this fact, they DID honor their livability guarantee which just SHOCKED me and I was so very impressed by that.  Honestly, I’d have rather had the chickens.  But it was nice that they performed so honorably.

My favorite chicks have been the Hamburgs, which unfortunately were decimated in the last two days of death.  But, I also LOVE the Blue Andalusions!

Blue Andalusian Chicks

Blue Andalusian Chicks

 

If you look in the background of these chickies, one of which is my new Buff Orpington rooster, you’ll see the rainbow of chicks we received!

Rainbow 'O Chicks

 

We’ve been very busy creating a colony for our rabbits vs. keeping them in hutches.   It’s in the works, so I promise indoor/outdoor pictures when we get the opportunity.  Christian bought a Flemish Giant buck this last weekend and  he’s a cute little guy.  I have ZERO idea what we’ll do with him, but he is very loveable.  And Lizzie finally got to pick up her little pygmy doe.  Angel is the sweetest addition we’ve gotten so far and we LOVE her.  Wait ’til you see!!  She is too cute for words.

Legend has been growing like a weed and he has the most beautiful personality, not to mention he is one GORGEOUS German Shepherd!  We have recent pictures of him as well.

Legend, sitting like a good boy.

Legend, sitting like a good boy.

Legend on alert.

Legend on alert.

He is absolutely an amazing dog and we love him dearly.  He’s TRULY been a family addition although he certainly listens to Ana best of all. 

And finally, we prepared dandelions for a midafternoon pick-me-up.

Sauteed Dandelions

Sauteed Dandelions

We sauteed dandelion greens in butter, garlic, orange peppers, and onions.  The taste was wonderful, but way too salty.  I added a bit of extra salt and it definitely did NOT need it.  We’ll try again tomorrow.

Friday we’re making dandelion syrup for the weekend pancakes.  It should be a lot of fun for both the  kids and myself.  I’ll post pictures!  Thank you Donna from BabyWearers for the idea!!