second try

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Simplify Your Thanksgiving Prep! Mouthwatering Pie Tasting and Orders For San Diego Locals

Hi friends! If you love serving quality food every day (like me!) you probably really enjoy serving delicious, awesome food for special occasions as well. However, if you are short on time to make all of your own food this holiday season I have some great news. A dear friend of mine is busy cooking up the most DELICIOUS pies just in time for Thanksgiving! It is not too late to place your order. And you are also invited to her pie tasting tonight! I will warn you, the last time she sampled her pies she was taking orders left and right. There is still time to get in an order for Thanksgiving, and you can order for Christmas parties and celebrations as well. Also, if you prefer the more nutritious route, you can order your pies with home ground fresh organic flour and rapadura (completely unrefined cane sugar).

Pie Tasting
Thursday, November 17, 2011
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
4679 Jeri Way
El Cajon CA 92020

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Love Will Remain

Having been unusually sleep deprived the last two days (sickness mixed with two new teeth in my littlest- not a good combination!) I have noticed how much harder it has been to keep my patience with my children over small things, particularly in the morning. Well, and early afternoon when I needed a nap, didn't get one and neither did the baby get much of one. Of course I apologized to my kids, but, seriously, 2 days in a row of grumpy mom? It's definitely not nice and definitely a poor reflection of the heart of my Father God for my kids.

As I was driving after losing it at the bank parking lot (in patience and kindness of tone) with my oldest over a lost shoe and a cascading effect of inconveniences resulting from the lost time, including being late to my next appointment, I somehow, at some point chose to relax. These were things that I could not control. My spirit, words and attitude I can always control. And it had been a struggle I did not win for a while because I did not choose love, which NEVER fails. My poor three year old had told me she put the shoe in the bushes, which I did look in multiple times. I think she had just been trying to suggest places it might be, even though she did not comprehend the fact that it would not have been there if she had not put it there. And so after all of that unkindness and expecting too much from a three year old I began to relax a little. 

Eventually, after the cascading effect of setbacks and their various ramifications, I chose to choose a better attitude: LOVE. 

Appointments can come and go but children do not. They are here to stay- for not long enough- and learn to handle life by how I do. I am shaping how they respond to setbacks and difficulty. I am showing them their worth in how I choose to be patient with them in their little person sized abilities and communication. I can posses everything but if I do not posses love, or become possessed by Love, I am nothing. All I have done is nothing. All I have is nothing.

Choosing love today, finally, gave me the opportunity to be thankful that God was revealing to me an untended area of my heart that is ugly and needs to be given over to Love. I think it was once a better garden, but it's the little things that spoil it, and quickly. Keeping a garden at our home has always caused me to marvel that the unwanted, ugly and pesky plants are usually the only ones that grow quickly. The troublemakers seem to grow with no care given to them. Only constant, steady hand picking will keep the weeds out that will ruin a garden. It is the good plants that grow slowly and require nurturing, patient planning and care. God showed me that the garden of my heart has a problem area. It is his kindness to do so before I joyfully welcome the night shift with a hungry little newborn in a few months. Lack of sleep is no excuse to to abstain from the fruits of Holy Spirit and the foremost thing of love. And by the way, neither is pregnancy an excuse to cease flowing with the character and nature of God! He gave us marriage, friends, family and children as a blessing and a joy, not to rob ours. It is our own shortcomings to respond in a nature other than love.

So my prayer today is, "Lord, remove from me everything that stands in the way of love every day and in every way. I trust in your faithfulness that you will consume and burn up every evil weed that has found a home in the soil of my heart. I trust in you that Love will remain, and you will remember to complete the good work you have begun in me."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Returning to Eden

Click here to listen to one of my favorite songs about Eden. Just choose the song called “The Reward” by Jonathan Helser. And be blessed as you journey back to the place we never should have left.

So I am behind, and it feels like life as usual. BUT I don’t feel as behind as usual, and that is a triumph! About a year ago I decided to quit trying and working so hard. And guess what? I have been much more productive. Some of our best things, creations or routines come out of a place of rest. Our oldest daughter, Eden, was conceived during a season of rest for both my husband and I.

Just writing her name makes perceived images of the original Eden float through my head like airy whispers of a future time to come. These same images also sound an invitation into a present day possibility. Our errant humanity may have defiled the earth with bloodshed, selfish ambitions, greed and conceit, but Christ in us is the hope of glory. At times great masses of people have been guilty of being arrogant, overfed and unconcerned about the poor (the very things which God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for.)  I would daresay that we live in an incredibly corrupt world at present. While the very earth itself is groaning under the weight of guilt and sin, entry into Eden again is offered through Christ alone. And while the physical world and humanity is polluted by dark things, we have the invitation to walk with God in the garden again, possessing His glorious light and taking on the incorruptible mind of Christ.

Any one person can choose to respond to the call to return to Eden. No matter what may come, or what demons we find ourselves facing, I am one of those who has chosen to put on Christ. Being clothed in his nature enables me, with my many quirks, shortcomings and limitations, to enter into Eden, into the garden, once again. It makes me less of me with faults, and more like He made me to be- like Himself, the one who is LOVE. Love doesn’t fail. It is not selfish or conceited. It prefers people other than myself. I thank God for marriage and mothering! What a wonderful gift I have been given to learn to put aside selfishness and put on love.

By choosing love, peace and rest I am returning to Eden. I am returning to intimacy. I was made for intimacy with God. I was made for a garden that is not racked by weeds and drought but has been given everything that nourishes soil and human life. And so was my spirit made for this reality. I can choose to step in now, in the midst of dirty dishes that are staying dirty because I need a nap now and I am feeling a bit under the weather. I can choose to enter in even though my phone is lost, and though I have not been a good steward of all my commitments (it is wonderful learning to say no to prevent this from happening again!) and even though I really have some people to get back to that need things from me I should have gotten them a long time ago. All of this is true.

I may not be superwoman (she’s overrated and unattainable) but I am Christ’s, and in Christ ALL things are possible. In Christ I can lose my stinky nature and take on his perfection- in stages.
J In Christ I can ask forgiveness of the people I have been delinquent with and thank Him a lot that I have been keeping it more simple. I might not be able to run a business right now without having child care but I can love and nurture my family, keep the house as clean as possible, take care of laundry that never ends, teach my pre-schooler, keep our 20 plus small animals and one big dog fed and alive, and sort of barely keep my garden up. Oh yes and make three meals from scratch every day. And of course I have friends I make time for too. And getting ready for our newest baby to be born… well, I have a few things to do in the next few months. I could be overwhelmed but instead I am cherishing reflecting on a key verse which helps me enter into the garden again:

"Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-17

God wants you and I to live in Eden. It is His will. Paradise was His original intent. In ALL circumstances we can function in joy, prayer and thanks. Hand placed in a fallen world to reflect the glory, life and light of Christ, we can choose to make Eden our resting place, one day or one hour at a time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10 Month Old Lisa Irwin Abducted This Morning

A baby girl, Lisa Iriwn, was abducted from her crib as she slept in her Kansas City home this morning. All appearances point to a stranger abduction, which is extremely dangerous. Please pray for her as if she were yours. Both the father and mother have reported her missing. Please pray for all those who love her and are heartbroken.

And please also use this urgent reminder to pray for the ending of the plague of pornography, abortion and violence that has found a home in our nation. Too many children pay the price for a nation who has let it's morals deteriorate. May Lisa be one of those who has a true miracle, and may God protect other children from such incomprehensible actions.

Praying for her safe return and that the US would become a safe place for our children again. Truly heartbroken.

Neighbor may have seen suspect.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Top Picks from the Web This Last Week: Facebook, Google, Pre-Natal, Infertility, Vaccinations, Judge Ruled We Have No Right to Produce or Consume Our Own Food, Raising Kids, Justice Issues, Etc.

Top Picks for the Week


A conversation with a convicted murderer highlights the faith a young girl gained from her parents. Let us never underestimate the power of our lifestyle and testimony before our children.



 Nutrition: General

Nutrition: Fertility, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

What to take while preggo… Good stuff. My only comment to her advice to take Garden of Life’s raw pre natal is read this first.  I am very careful about my vitamin a and d ratio since the wrong amounts can be toxic and harmful to developing babies. And also, she mentions fish oils, and says not to take cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is one of the most important things a pregnant woman can take. However, she is addressing taking quality fish oils for omega 3’s and such it seems. While cod liver oil is taken for mainly vitamins a and d, it is not a good supplemental fish oil for omega 3's. Costco also sells a Pure Alaskan brand of Alaskan salmon oil, also unrefined. It is not as high quality as the Vital Choice brand, but it is easier on your wallet and one of only a handful of fish oils not destroyed in refinement. Refined fish oils are pretty much worthless. 

Health Care:


RED FLAGS TIMES A ZILLION: CDC plans on phoning every household in the US with children to grill us about our children’s vaccination history. Then, they plan on asking for their doctor’s information and contacting the doctor directly for these records. Massive collecting of personal information.

Surprise knock at the door: In Novato CA visits are made to immunize school children on the spot, with parental consent of course. 


Science and Technology:

Did you know that Facebook is tracking your online movements even when you are not logged in? RED FLAG again… How can we fix that if we don’t even know about it? I learned of this several days after I decided to move my personal life off facebook…. mostly. I will never forget several years ago when I purchased a movie ticket, not logged into Facebook, and the purchase showed up in my news feed. So much for privacy.

9/29/2011 UPDATE: Facebook says it has fixed the cookie issue that was able to track online movements of logged out users. Just need to post what they are saying...

Justice and Prayer:

180 The Movie See what changed these minds in just minutes. Please do not show to children without viewing prior and weighing with their age and maturity because of some disturbing images.

Follow Prayers For Noah Facecchia on Facebook if you are not; also, read here to learn about his case. The hospital wanted to remove this six year old’s breathing tube against the consent of his parents. Thankfully after much prayer and vigilance, he has been granted a tracheotomy. 


Friday, September 23, 2011

Rest, Rythym and Routine

I love how relaxing following my new pre-school and fall schedule has been for me. I learned flexibility when I was pregnant with Eden; now more than ever I am getting to walk out what I learned. I think the key to being able to enjoy both the days when all of our plans work out and the days when almost nothing does is just being able to say, "It is well with my soul." If we can learn to appreciate the achievements of the day no matter how slight they might seem, and the disappointing for what we can learn and the good character we can choose to develop, we are well on our way to operating in peace and and always having a successful day. After all, when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter if we cook from scratch or get take out that day, or whether our little one decides they don't like the alphabet anymore. It matters if there was love in how we went about our relationships. I have had success and failure in the love department this week but am so at peace with where I am and the fact that I won't stay put, but God is moving me forward. I am learning to function in rest, and in rest I can better love for love is not in a hurry or impatient, or unkind. It never fails.

Matthew 11:29

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

In the last year I gave up trying to accomplish the many things I have to do. Instead, I decided to simply do what I can and call it a night when it's time. In the process I have learned that I can accomplish more from a place of rest. Instead of doing the usual wake up at the crack of dawn and just work until I dropped into bed, I began to rest more when the kids went to bed. The awake kind of rest, not the sleeping kind of rest. And I felt so much better for it. 

Now that I have once again been starting my days at the very first with my favorite four books and prayer, I am so much better prepared to start my day with peace and love than struggling to find it in the midst of busyness and toddler energy. The best thing any of us moms can do for our kids is to give ourselves wholeheartedly to Jesus. I am coming back to that place of undivided focus. His presence is what enables me to love my kids, my husband and the others around me.

I am finding that the new routine I created is amazing for us. Just having it there to fall back on is a great feeling. So I had to run a lot of errands today? Ok, well this is what we will be doing tomorrow. No brain power required, as it is already on paper. Don't know what to make for lunch? My list makes it easy! An unexpected plus to this schedule is finding so much rest in getting more disciplined in ministering to the needs of my growing girls and our family at this time. Already I am seeing improvements in Eden. She is so worth a little extra structure and order in my life! This afternoon I actually let her watch a movie even though right now I only want that once a week. But I had a slow start... So there she was, and a little ways into it she wanted to turn it off and come cook with me. In fact, she cooked the entire meal with me: oven roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and tabbouleh salad. She picked out the salad recipe while I was rinsing the chicken in the sink. And we did subtraction as she handed me each potato to peel. She is a little sponge enjoying soaking up all the new brain stimulation we are giving her. Both of my girls are loving their new children's poetry books and asking to read them more often than just in our morning reading times. I am so happy that they love our lives right now, and they are doing so well. I am equally as happy that in the midst of all of this I am in rest, rythym and routine. Surely God gives us grace for what is required of him. We only need draw near and hear his heartbeat to receive of it.

Busyness means activity which produces nothing, or lively but meaningless activity. I used to be busy and I quit. Thank God! My hands are full of blessings, my time rich with that which is eternally and presently productive. I have much less problem saying no right now. I am saying yes to God, to cooking, to husband and children and those around me. I keep our animals fed. Everything else is not priority. Not even sweeping the floor (which I did just do) or having a spotless kitchen (which is always my goal in the midst of messing it up three times a day.) Being productive is better than busy. Productivity often happens at a slower pace than busyness. And I wouldn't have it any other way, as I thank God for his rest.

Hebrews 4:10

10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,[a] just as God did from his.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Masterpieces

When Eden was 18 months and Iris was 6 months in the belly, I met a second generation artist who was successfully creating art pieces, and thriving at it. She did metal sculptures, big pieces, and had a huge workshop any artist would love to create in. However, as a young girl, she always knew that her mom resented the children she had birthed and the time they took away from her work. She never wanted to make her kids feel that way. So when she had hers, she ended up dropping her art. For years. And it sat and sat. She once told her mom, who didn't understand why she wasn't putting everything in to becoming the "successful" artist she had the talent to become, that she was working on her biggest masterpieces ever, and if she messed those up, she lost everything.

Last night, as I went to bed, I was pondering her words. I am surrounded by things I simply can not find the time to create. Passions I have chosen not to pursue right now because they have been dwarfed by passions that run with tiny feet and laugh with adorable baby chuckles. Not creating for me is a slow and painful death. I feel alive when I create, even if it is as simple as planting vegetable seeds. Yet from scripture I know that death for the purposes of God is the gateway to resurrection life. I am still trying to carve out a place, a space to create in, even if only sometimes- just for me. I have absolutely given up on developing photography any further at this point. It was a nice idea, a life long idea. And I love taking photos. But I have not even had time to take photos of my own kids much this year.

Some people eat out a lot. Some people buy boxes at the store and in five minutes feed their family out of it. That lifestyle is rarely mine, and that is how I prefer it. I know too much about nutrition (though I still have much to learn!) to get away with that. After all, I am creating human lives here. I better give them the building blocks they need to have healthy brains and properly functioning, healthy bodies. If I had no access to quality food I would just pray and trust God with the whole thing. But I do. I know that processed food is bad, so why give it to my family and expect God to give them amazing health? If I was ignorant, I could do that. But I know better, and God has entrusted them to me. I am building my family, one bite at a time. And they are worth it. And I enjoy cooking. And so I invest my time into their future, and their health.

As far as child care? Sure, there is a lot I could do if I had child care even one day a week. What a nice idea. But how could I justify child care (which we can not afford, period) when my husband and I have only had three "real" childless dates in a year and a half. I can not neglect my husband in order to pursue my artistic passions. I would much rather have a real date with my husband than paint. We are building a life long marriage, and that takes effort and creativity too. Not to mention, it is eternally significant.

And then there is pre-school. There is nothing that I would rather be doing with my three year old right now than creatively going after her education and learning. She loves it. She needs it. And both of my girls need me. Our new baby needs me, and will need a lot of me when he/she is born around the beginning of the year. And I will eat it up. I can't wait to take care of my little newborn, and watch them grow up just like we are watching Eden and Iris.

My masterpieces are not on canvas right now. One is tall, and we are learning how to make a beautiful marriage. One is three feet, and soaking up the love and learning. One is around two feet and is just delighting in me delighting in her. And one is maybe a foot, safely inside my belly, bouncing and jumping and working his/her little baby legs. These are all my treasures. I will not bring my paintings or photographs to heaven with me, but  if I succeed in helping these get there at their times then I know I was a successful artist.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Birthdays and Babies- Minimize Stress and Get Creative!

Anyone can create a birthday party for their little ones that they love and it doesn't have to cost much, or anything at all, if you are willing to be creative. A friend mentioned the other day how it seems almost every child these days has a character themed party. While characters have their place, and by the way their napkins, cups and plates are expensive, they don't have to be around to have an amazing, small sized bash. Following are some tips to keep get your creative juices flowing and suggestions on minimizing the stress that can accompany planning and organizing a party.


Small Guest List: My firstborn's birthday party was huge. It was fun, it was beautiful, but it was also tiring. We enjoyed seeing lots of friends, but on a day to celebrate her, I don't think she would have minded if anyone was there or not! Since then we have scaled way back for adult and children's birthdays. If you have lots of friends with children, invite the ones your child plays with most often, or the families with a child the same age.  It is a lot different feeling if you are running late on food preparation with 30 people waiting than having your best friend over who you know will understand and will not mind helping at all. Smaller parties can definitely cut cost and stress.

The Cake

To Bake or Buy: From experience, I would say a birthday is not the time to experiment with new cake recipes, but if you choose to bake something you have enjoyed before it will be hard to go wrong! Sometimes when time is an issue you can save yourself some stress by simply ordering a cake. Although you might be compromising on ingredients, it is only once a year, so who cares. And, you want to enjoy the process of your little one's birthday! Baking your own can definitely save money. If you are artistic even in the slightest you can also decorate it as you desire, but if it tastes good and their is love in your family, you child will have a great day no matter what it looks like.

Soaked German Chocolate Cake Recipe

It was Sunday morning. Everyone was up late the night before, and slept late, including me. But even so, I still got up before everyone, as usual. I had begun soaking* my favorite Original Baker's German Chocolate Cake recipe the night before as I had decided it was time to get around to modifying it into a more nutritious version. I was sincerely hoping my experimentation would work well and that the soaking I incorporated would work out. Since the house was still quiet, I decided to finish what came after the overnight soaking process. The results were a success! It was moist, yummy and cooked well. I served some mini cupcakes at a pot luck and made the traditional three layer as a treat for our family. Here is my adapted recipe:

(If you want to know why to soak, check out this great blog by Kimi Harris at, or this second blog  of hers about how soaking makes grains more digestible.)


Ingredients List:

4 ounces of sweet or semi sweet chocolate (I prefer semi-sweet for less white sugar content)
1/2 cup filtered water
4 eggs, yolks and whites separated (preferably from pastured chickens)
2 cups of white whole wheat pastry flour, freshly ground if possible (if using sprouted flour you can skip the soaking step)
1 teaspoon of baking soda (aluminum free)
1/4 teaspoon of unrefined Celtic sea salt
1 cup of virgin, unrefined coconut oil, softened (or substitute with butter)
2 cups of rapdura or succanat
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of raw buttermilk, or substitute raw whole milk with 1 tablespoon of added raw apple cider vinegar added (if using the milk make sure to let the vinegar stand for five minutes in the milk before adding. Raw kefir  also makes an excellent substitute)

Frosting Ingredients List:

4 egg yolks (preferably from pastured chickens)
12 ounces of raw, whole milk (you can start with 24 ounces and over gentle heat reduce it to 12 ounces, or substitute with one of these or a combination: raw cream, sour cream or whole milk yogurt starting with 12 ounces only and not using any reduction)
1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of rapadura or succanat (you can decrease the sweetener content if you like)
3/4 cups butter, softened (preferably from grass fed cows)
7 ounces of unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups of pecans, chopped

Directions for cakey yumminess:

Mix: flour, buttermilk and half of your coconut oil content. (1/2 cup) Mix well. Dough will be wet, nice and smooth but not sticking to the sides or your fingers. Leave in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.

The next day- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease 3 9 inch round cake pans with coconut oil, or substitute with butter. Beat egg whites in bowl until stiff peaks form and set aside. Melt chocolate with the water on low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when completely melted and set aside. Beat coconut oil and and rapadura until pretty fluffy, then blend in your sea salt and baking soda. Then drop in the egg yolks, one at a time, blending all the way. Next blend in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture, blending well and going slowly. Gently fold in the the egg whites by hand and pour into your three ready pans.

Bake: 350 degrees for 30 minutes**. Check with a knife to make sure they are done. Cool on racks for 15 minutes before removing them from pans to cool on rack. When completely cooled, fill the layers and top with frosting. don't worry about cracks as the frosting will hold it together.

**If making cupcakes, check at 20 minutes.

To Make Frosting-

Beat the milk and vanilla by hand over gentle heat. Add rapadura and butter, cooking until thickened. Stir constantly to avoid sticking. Remove from heat and then add in your pastured egg yolks, stirring until well blended. (If using regular egg yolks from the store add them into the milk and vanilla and stir on the heat.) Next, add your chopped pecans and coconut and gently mix.

Enjoy with a nice glad of raw, whole milk and some good company!

If you would like to try adpating your own favorite recipes to a more nourishing version, Lyndsay Edmonds of wrote an excellent, short blog on how to do just that!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Life Without A Phone

Technology. I have a distinct love/hate relationship with it. I am appreciating it as I type on this computer, happy to be writing a quick blog. I loathe it when life feels like a jail cell because everywhere I go, I am attached. I can be found. I am expected to answer my phone, among other things. As my friend once said when a friend of hers was upset she didn't get that cell call, "My phone is here for my convenience, not yours." I love that. My husband might like the convenience of getting in touch with me almost 24/7, and such possibilities do come in handy. But before I lost my phone in Colorado last spring, and hundreds of numbers in it, would I seriously need to be on call for hundreds of people who might one day happen to call me? Um, no. Do I have time to talk to all those people, even once a year? Um, no. Not at all.

Traveling quickly is to be loved. Experiencing giving, receiving and pouring out in other cultures, on other continents, is amazing. Not having to say goodbye to friends and family for the rest of my life to board a ship that may not make it and travel treacherous paths possibly without roads to do so is honestly nice. Very different than boarding a plane for an 18 hour plus flight. The crazy weapons our government keeps rolling out  and inventing for purposes like crowd control and such, like the Active Denial System and the Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio... not so much. Can they please just go away? That does not make me feel safer, it makes me feel threatened. It is just plain creepy. Perhaps that paints the picture of my dilemma. There are things to love, things to hate.

A week and a half ago we were going to show a screening of the new documentary Nefarious, about the plague of human trafficking, and hope for an end. To me, a project like that is an excellent use of technology. Then the power went out  in parts of Arizona, all over San Diego county,and into Mexico and it wasn't shown in San Diego. Many people no longer had clean water, or any at all to drink. We were fine, but the long running power outage just illustrated the woes of our dependence on technology. All of the sudden, millions of people were at risk of losing water, clean water and emergency responders could not perform to normal capacity. Early on there were over 50 traffic accidents that had to be ignored if no one was dying or seriously injured, essentially. Sewage leaked into rivers. Few of the general public even bother to have generators, not to mention food on hand for emergency situations. A lot of people did not have dinner in their homes, not to mention meals going beyond a few hours. Our dependency on technology handicaps us for when it is not available or is used against us. And, it can make us more effective at what we do. And on and on it goes, the pros and cons.

But enough of that, the real deal is, I lost my phone Wednesday morning. Maybe one of the kids ate it. I don't know. It was around the house, but it wouldn't work all day Tuesday so I didn't even bother to bring it with me when I went out Wednesday morning. And I have not seen it since. It bums me out when I want to call a friend, or my husband, but honestly, I don't really care. I'm free! I have gone about my business the last few days with less stress, anxiety or care about the time. I had A LOT of messages on my phone I think and I don't know if I will ever hear them. But if  they are from someone who really knows me I think they will know how to reach me aside from that. My good friends know where I live and have dinner with us sometimes. They know my email and most of them are on FaceBook.

I feel free from feeling stressed from not answering an unknown number. Free to hang out with my kids at the library and wherever else we want to go without feeling on call, and oh no, what if I miss a call that was important? What if it was at the bottom of my diaper bag and I should have heard it and didn't? I am just being. Just here, living life. A small bit more simply for a few days, and it is inconvenient at times but also really nice. So here is to not having to go with the full technological flow, even if just for a few days. It's almost like a vacation. Not complaining!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pre-School- Our Journey, Including What We Own and How It's All Going

The Journey

It's true, this is only our first week of pre-school. We have no years or months or experience behind us, only these few days. But so far, so good! Eden loves pre-school and wakes up asking to start it. Of course, I make her wait until after we have all eaten breakfast. Although I am no expert I am pleasantly pleased with the curriculum I did purchase and the activities I have her engaged in.

This morning I spent some time appreciating the fact that other people who know how to teach kids spent time creating curriculum I can just pick up and use. I just buy it and I can do my job. Easy. People have asked me for a couple years if we will be homeschooling and I have just said I don't know. The stress of having to figure out the foreign was just a bit overwhelming. At the same time, I didn't know of any superb schools I would want to enroll or admit her into. For a while I thought Montessori schools sounded amazing, and I still do. Yet after seeing what types of homeschooling curriculum are available, I think that mostly one on one attention, or even a ratio of me with three or four or more, with someone else's outstanding expertise and brain in the curriculum can top my other options.

Why Wisdom and Knowledge Will Thrive in a Christian Educational Environment

After all, education in the US did thrive when we had simple one room schools, large or small, and many children being taught at home. Clearly the answer is not government money or huge populations of school campuses, though they can well serve many. When US education was the least funded, we were sending off diplomats to foreign countries starting at 11 and 12 years of age and children were ready to enter Harvard at 12. I guess I used to think that perhaps they were not required to know what is now required of Harvard freshman, but when listening to a talk by David Barton of Wall Builders I learned that they actually were better educated entering Harvard at 12 or 13 than our post graduates are today. Though many of these kids at the time did not have the dollars of the US government behind their education, what was common was prayer in classrooms and Primers (like the New England Primer) built off of scripture. As Proverbs 9:10 so accurately states, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." This ensured the early success of US education, and the removal of such from the same has resulted in studies showing students in secular education do best in kindergarten and then slide downwards the longer they are in school, and that Ivy League students today enter the university with more knowledge than when they graduate. The trend is loss of ability and knowledge all the way through. What I learn from this is that with the presence of God in our home, knowledge and understanding will thrive in my children.


So now that I have arrived at the place where the fear of teaching my own child is gone, I am super excited! I am thinking doing 4 year old pre-school and kindergarten not only sounds fun, but possible. I actually considered teaching elementary school once, and sat in on a class to see if I wanted to pursue that career. Getting into Eden's world and on her level in this area just reminds me how much I love being with kids.

Spending Less: How I Incorporated What We Already Owned

Even though I am inexperienced at teaching children, and am limited in what I can offer, I will share how I utilized what we already owned.

Books: Immediately upon deciding to start pre-school, I cleaned out Eden's bookshelf and left her only with books I didn't plan on using for school. I moved the school books to a bookshelf she rarely accesses, wanting to keep these titles fresh and interesting specifically for school time. This is what I compiled:

Science books, previously purchased at a garage sale for almost nothing.
Theology books, also known as books about God and our infant Bible, along with Iris' beloved teddy Bear Bible. :) (These are so simple that I did order a new children's Bible that will be more suitable for Eden's older age.) In this section I included poetry books about God and story books about how God loves us, etc.
Poetry books, including several Christian children's volumes. My friend Lori donated one to our garage sale recently that I snagged upon second thought. (Thanks Lori!) After reading it with the girls yesterday I realized it was one of my absolute favorites as a young girl. It has tons of sweet, short poems and a plethora of adorable little animals, bees and characters on all the pages. I LOVED this book as a girl! Yay.
Animal books, those for early toddlers like Iris and older pre-schoolers like Eden. For Iris I pulled all the touch and feel animal books that she just adored, and photo animal books she loves equally as well. Eden's included a lot of more educational books with extra details about specific animals I had also bought at a garage sale and been saving.
Story books, just fun ones that we can read together, and Eden's favorite wordless book (Good Dog Carl) that she loves to "read" aloud, narrating as she goes.
Reading books, things like "the cat sat", those types of things that we will use when I am actually teaching her how to read words. I bought a handful of these at the same garage sale.
Numbers and Shapes books, I just had several on hand.  These are the kind that both Eden and Iris enjoy.

Toys: After our first morning of pre-school (which Eden wanted to continue through nap time and the entire day) I attacked the toys in her room. Having already cleaned out a lot and either sold or given them away, I now hunted down anything I could possibly use for teaching and learning. I came away with a nice pile, quite pleased.

Math: I snagged our nice, colorful wood abacus. We used it that very same day for about 2 minutes of addition and subtraction, which Eden aced. :)
Creative/Artistic: In a small bin I gathered all of Eden's present art supplies, glue, papers, scissors, paints, etc. I found craft projects I had stashed away and forgotten about, things she has not even seen that will be great to do and a lot of fun, while helping her learn. I recently purchased a stamp kit on clearance that will absolutely delight Eden when I decide to break it out.
Science: We just returned from our little vacation with a butterfly garden from my mom. I am thinking that in the spring it will be a great time to send away for butterflies, and watch her little creatures develop and morph. I plan on pairing that with The Very Hungry Caterpillar book that we love to read.
Animals: We have some beautiful wood animal magnets made by Melissa and Doug that both Eden and Iris will enjoy for different reasons. (I love their products, and buying them on Craig's List and at Ross!)
Motor Skills: I have been saving a clearance priced wooden bead set that I will save for a time it is just the two of us and I can really help her. This went into the big box of school only toys along with some Lace and Trace Animals that Eden used today. (I was really excited because we have not used them for several months at least and her coordination is already so improved. Before she laced the laces through holes quite a few apart and not necessarily in order. Today she perfectly put the laces through each hole and in order, leaving only a few undone near the end.) Also into the box went her Lacing Beads.

Method to my Madness:

I decided it would be best if we keep the school toys and books largely separated from regular every day play toys so that they would remain just a little bit novel. I think that pulling them out at special times only will keep them desirable to the kids, mainly Eden. If most of them are things that she can not just pull out at any old time I think she will have more excitement when I do.

What We Are Doing:

We are doing our prayer and reading time first and I am training Iris to sit still just for a few minutes, and planning on increasing that time as she grows older. She loves sitting in child sized seats, so I let her do that or sit on my lap. We do not have childcare in our church service and unfortunately sitting still for short but extended times is a skill Eden still needs to be taught. I don't want to wait so long with our other children! Reading isn't Eden's favorite part of the morning, and neither are songs. The only song I see her enthusiastic about is the alphabet song, but we are doing a little of all of it first thing after breakfast. It is extra fun for her when she gets to "read" a story or pick a poem for me to read, and we move on to the other "subjects" fast enough that she does enjoy the whole experience.

I went to Target and picked up a laminated spiral bound alphabet and number book that Eden uses a dry erase marker to practice all of those things on. I think that may be one of her absolute favorites! Not only is she learning her letters and numbers, but she is learning to trace and make fine motor movements with her pen. Next we are using Developing the Early Learner  to develop motor, visual, auditory and comprehension skills. Today she requested to do three pages instead of the one I had planned for her. She is so young that I do not want to push her, but she is exhibiting a need and a desire to learn and so I am happy to let her continue, if she is happy about it. Accidentally I gave her a higher workbook but she still did great with it. I will start her on the first level tomorrow.

We have worked on a special GeoPuzzle with which she learned where I was born and saw where our friends and family live. She does need some help with it but it is one of those things that will still get used when she is older. Why not throw some geography in there? :) She will be doing some science experiments about once a week, and painting either with water color or other paints each day. She loves painting! Crayons are also a part of every day, and Iris has just begun to enjoy using them too. We will also be using the craft and motor skill toy items every day as well, but those things I plan on mixing up so she always has something fresh to look forward to.

Still To Come 

Because of how well she did with her workbook, I stepped out today and ordered her her own math book, made just for three year olds. We are also awaiting something I am incredibly excited about, Language Lessons for Little Ones. We have a math tool coming in the mail as well, and some others things not quite here. With how well Eden is soaking it all up, I expect that we will have enough variety to keep her going through next year, and enough that she will still be able to find it fun and new. We shall see, but I do believe that the best is yet to come!

P.S. Many of the products I have mentioned can be found for discounted rates online. And also, I know this was lengthy and I plan on being much more concise in my next blog!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Looking Forward

Even when I am not pregnant, I watch birth videos and read other people's birth stories. I simply love birth. Nothing weird about that; God does too! Because he loves babies, and because he loves giving humanity good gifts. When I was little I learned that good things come in small packages. Surely, babies are one of the best gifts to humanity. God could keep them to himself, but in kindness that we do not deserve, he chooses instead to share them with we who are not worthy of them. He entrusts people who may not be trustworthy with his prized jewels. He gives us a chance to mature, to rise to the occasion of love. A chance to put aside childish thinking no matter our age and live selflessly even if we already thought we were.

God teaches us humility in the fact that he once entered our flesh and blood world squirming, messy and wriggling, totally dependent on his mother to nourish him until he grew older. The most worthy of all once arrived this way, and he is the only one who is the King of all kings and has the one Name above all names. I hope the whole world over will someday learn that worth is gifted to us in these small bundles. How many little ones has he longed to bless us with that we have refused? Only eternity knows the answer. Even so, one thing is clear- he does not refuse those who have refused his children. He has open arms for all who call on his name. Yet I imagine it brings his heart joy each time we say yes to a child, by birth or the spirit of adoption. I am humbled that he has chosen me, unworthy of such gifts as I am, to carry yet another human soul. I contain the laughter of another, the personality and destiny of another that I can bless and impact but never own for myself. I am carrying life. I remain forever awed that God chose me to conceive and carry his creations whom no one else ever may. What a joy; what a gift!

Now that I am over halfway in the "approximate" gestational timeline of this new child I feel the nearness of that time deeply. I am so looking forward to this new birth experience because it will be very different than my others, including our early miscarriage. The first was a different kind of birth, one I don't think God desires us to experience. I grew closer to God in that loss and never counted him unfaithful because he is not. My firstborn I have always said was a promise fulfilled, and as much as ever, I know God is faithful as I raise now two sweet girls. They are each unique, as were their births. I loved the experiences I had with each of them. Was thrilled with them! But this third one is different, and I am so excited. It is so much more low key and calm, easy-going. This is such a relaxing time for me in so many ways as I look ahead.

My husband said this week, "It doesn't take faith to look in the past and see how good things used to be, it takes faith to look into the future and see the possibilities of how good things could be." Hebrews 11:1 It hit home with me for this upcoming birth. I have great experiences to build on and have walked in God's faithfulness with my girls, for which I am thankful. But as every mother knows, each time you go to birth, you have to give it all, you have to ignore and refuse to hear the fear and focus instead on the positive. I have prayed through God's promises to pregnant and birthing women in scripture with my last two, and now with this one. But living out the blessings the last two times is one thing; walking it out again, this time is fresh and requires faith of me once more.

I believe that God designed us to have children simply. He gave us what we need to do it. Unfortunately, humanity has messed up his designs and we regularly ruin our bodies and how they function with what we eat, what we are exposed to and are affected even by how our grandparent's ate. Even so, it all comes back to my faith in God's faithfulness. He doesn't need us to fix what is outside of our control, only to believe that he loves to give good gifts to his children. Good gifts that come in little wiggling packages. Good gifts that maybe genetics or environment did not bestow upon us but he can and will, with gladness.

In looking back I look into One who is full of Faith and spilled it all over me with two beautiful births. In good faith I look forward and do almost always all that I can, trying myself to be faithful with what I know is beneficial practically, but my reliance and security comes not from my own attempts at functioning well in a fallen world but in the power of the Word and Blood of Jesus Christ. He is the Word who was made flesh for us, who was beaten and bruised for us (Isaiah 53) so that we, as women, can invite his true words to live in us    and posses the way we conceive, carry and birth our babies. I am looking forward to not just a natural birth, but a supernatural birth, covered by the very hand of God.

One simple way we as women can train ourselves to believe what God says about birth and children is to stop the ready American flow of negative words about both. God says that children are a blessing in scripture. Those are his words. When we come into alignment with how he thinks we no longer need accept that children are a curse in the womb and we will be miserable while they are inside, as if children are only a blessing when they are out. There are practical things we can do to be healthier, to be more comfortable carrying the extra weight out front and all of that, but the biggest thing we can do is receive the true words that children are a blessing. If we really decide to believe God, that truth will change the confessions of our mouths and the outcomes and emotions we experience. Quite honestly, if we believe all the people that say being pregnant in the summer stinks then we will likely have an experience that agrees. If we think in the opposite spirit, chances are much higher we will enjoy the summer! Life and death is in the power of the tongue.

In looking forward we can use our tongue to build up or tear down are birth experiences. I always say that in the midst of it we ought to take where we are, be flexible with our expectations and choose whatever decisions will keep us in peace. We are blessed with nine months of carrying preparation within us. My prayer is that we would use the time wisely and cling to the words of God in the midst of it, for his words are the very words of eternal life. In building our pregnancy and birth on the solid rock of Christ we can rest on a sure foundation where the voice of fear has no hold. We can look forward to peace, love, joy and kindness in the midst of any circumstance. We can look forward to a beautiful gift from a beautiful Father who loves us. Whether we have heartbreak behind us, joy or both, we can all choose to look forward in faith. God's promises to his children await us there.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fall Schedule! Meals, Fun, Pre-School and Chores!

I am a big planner. I find it makes my life run smoothly and I don’t function well without lists and plans. Not at all. Really. Now if I could stop losing my lists my life would run as smooth as butter! After needing to come up with a new plan for at least two months, and endless fantasizing about when I would actually be able to give time to creating a new one, today surprised me with being an incredible day to do just that.

Why do I need a new list, a new schedule when I have already made so many? Because family needs and schedules change like seasons, and ebb and flow like tides. My last schedule consisted of family times in the mornings and almost immediately my husband’s working hours shifted again. Scratch that morning thing. This summer Eden, turned three… and well, her needs have changed too. She isn’t getting the interactive time with me that she needs, nor are her creative and intellectual capacities given the attention they are begging for. So I have been needing to make a new schedule, but was stuck at the process of how many days and weeks it would take me to research and figure out what in the world I need to do with a pre-schooler who wants to learn her letters, numbers, pretends to read, would paint every day if she could and likes to cut with scissors. A lot. Child scissors, that is. I was overwhelmed at the idea of coming up with craft and art and letter ideas to keep her busy and engaged every single day, even for just half an hour to an hour. And she needs that kind of time, and structure. And that is where is stayed… stuck and overwhelmed, with a little one who is constantly asking me about when she will get to go to school.

Last week, I decided I must get unstuck and get something on paper. And so, when I pulled up this new blog at Passionate Homemaking written by my favorite blogger in the world, Lindsay Edmonds, I think my whole being was singing glory, hallelujah! One of the learning resources she mentioned was on my to buy list already, and others that I looked into looked like great investments. So, I did some online shopping for bargains and got to work on what would work for Eden’s age range and present interest and abilities. Now I get to go to sleep one satisfied momma, looking forward to mail deliveries this week and next. Yay! All of this without having to spend days or weeks figuring out what in the world I should be doing during our days with a budding learner... in just one day, I love what I have. Thank you for the help, Lindsay! That blog entry saved me weeks and ended months of mental anguish.

Here is what I came up with. Some has been on many of my prior schedules, but most of the educational type things are new. I know it will change again in about four months when we have a newborn, but I expect that in that timeframe we can work some kinks out and have a solid foundation to go off of even with adjusting to the new demands of a tiny little bundle.

General Weekly Schedule

5 am Mom time: Get showered, dressed and ready for the day.

Filling Time: Eat a protein and fat rich snack, listen to quiet music, read: my beautiful Bible, Blessing Your Children Every Day, devotional (currently Jesus Calling) and Supernatural Childbirth (for this pregnancy and to prepare spiritually for an amazing childbirth)

At our church service tonight Mark Baxter said, “Because I choose to make God first in my day I can love my wife and my children the rest of my life.” That’s almost verbatim, and it really hit me. I can’t do what I want to do or need to do empty and dry. I must not choose to disconnect from the One who is love, else how can I expect to love, cherish and serve my family the way I was meant to? It can be so hard as moms of little ones to sit in stillness, but even if all I can muster is five minutes, five minutes Living water will fill my soul with glory and light which does not quickly fade. Being focused on Christ’s presence and nearness is the very thing which empowers me to love the ones who require everything of me. Being focused on Him makes me love pouring out for the smallest. I used to be better at just being with God and I am choosing this path again even as I seek out the how in this demanding season of my life. It is different, but all things are possible.

5:45 or 6 am Emails and Messages: 10 minutes tops

Morning Routine (can be done even if I missed the mom time)

Breakfast Prep
Last minute kitchen clean up if any
Laundry folded, ready for rooms and sorted- Start 1 load each morning
Make our lunches- pre-pack in cooler if going out that day
Prep dinner if desired

7:00 am Get Eden (3) dressed, make bed, open curtains and make sure room is clean
Mom and Eden time (put muffin batter into cupcake papers, etc., feed and water the chickens, collect eggs, have her stir the eggs on the stove)
Set the table for breakfast

8:00 am Wake up Iris (17 months), change her night diaper, put her on the toilet and dress her

Eat Breakfast
Clean up: Load dishwasher, put away food, wipe counters and table
Remove Iris’ diaper if staying home so she can use her toilet
Make sure rooms are clean, including the nursery
Put outgoing mail in the mailbox

Discovery Time in the Nursery

9:15 am Gather in the nursery for a comfy (it’s carpeted) discovery time. Give Iris her own book or doll to hold. Read the kid’s Bible, look at the world map and pray for each other and the world,  read another story, and sing a song if they like. Learn about animals and other interesting things.

Pre-School in Eden’s Room

9:45 am 10 minutes: Seat Eden at her desk and do one lesson from Language Lessons for Little Ones. (She loves practicing her letters already!) Give Iris blocks or stacking things.

5 minutes: Next, spend a few minutes counting on the abacus, or counting obedience beans. (Obedience beans we add to her jar when she does great at obeying. A full jar results in a special award like a date day with mom or dad, picnic at the park, etc.)

10 minutes: Chalkboard easel time: practice recognizing and drawing the numbers Eden was just counting. Give Iris some crayons and paper at the desk if she is bored with blocks, or she can just play with what interests her.

10 minutes: Have Eden draw on her paper at the desk with crayons a specific number of objects she chooses. (Example, five bananas, five dogs.) During this time focus on Iris with identifying animals, foods, etc. in baby books. Once a week during this time do a lesson with Iris from  Slow and Steady Get Me Ready.

10 minutes: Have Eden learn something fun about science from Let's Read and Find Out Why, or another creative source and do a hands on project as much as possible.

Free Time

10:30 am Park, library, play date, back yard or play time in the house while I do some chores or something not usually in my schedule.

Lunch and Afternoons

11:30 or 12 noon: Eat lunch, clean up, pick up rooms before nap time

1:00- 4:00 pm Nap time for Iris
1:00- 2:00 pm Nap time for Eden

During Naptime: Mom time: rest, nap, read, or relax… or clean if I really want to. Get dinner in pots on the stove and ready to be heated, and everything cleaned up and in the dishwasher. Preemptively set the table with water, (which I always forget!) Spend time with husband.


Eden: Set the table

4:30 or 5 pm Eat a family dinner, clean up and hang out.

Bedtime Routine

6:00 pm Baths, brush hair, pajamas and a walk
7:00 pm Bed time snack, brush teeth, story
7:25 pm Prayers and bed time song
7:30 pm Down and going to sleep! Pick up a few things, start one load of laundry, relax or read a book and go to bed by 8:00 or 9:00 pm at the latest

Daily Specifics:

            Make one gallon of yogurt with fresh, raw milk, whey if needed
            8 am Family breakfast, clean up
            9 am Family morning walk with dog or outing
            10-12 Occasional alone mom time for planning, etc. if it works with husband
            Lunch, naps and clean up
            Bake or cook dish for potluck if not done during the week
Family morning when possible
            Leave after naps to church service
            Bedtime when we return
            No special chores!

            Play date or play at home
            Clean Bathroom
            Afternoon: Movie time for Eden
            Outdoors at home
            Early morning grocery trip with Eden
            Mop floors
            Weed or harvest
Afternoon: Eden- Kumin Workbook on cutting with scissors; measuring out the oatmeal to soak for tomorrow’s breakfast; Iris- Baby Einstein dvd while I mop

            MOPS- 8:45 to 11:15 Mothers of Preschoolers group (including time for child care arrival, etc.)      
            Business phone calls and emails
            Afternoon: Eden working on a scrapbook project
(Once a month evening women’s group; also a monthly morning pick up from our bulk order at

            Outdoors at home or nearby park
            Afternoon: Eden- painting with acrylic at the easel or watercolor at the table
            Weed or harvest the garden
            Wash bedroom sheets

8:30 am Special breakfast, family time
Milk pick up at some point
            Family day
            Husband barbecue’s for dinner
            Weekly dessert night
            8 pm Pray for a babysitter for our date night!
            No special chores!
(twice a month: pre-natal chiropractic care and possibly farmer’s market in the am)
            (Once a month free kid’s clothing exchange at 9 am)

Breakfast Meal Schedule:

            Sunday: Eggs, fruit and soaked pancakes
            Monday: Quiche and fruit, maybe soaked muffins
            Tuesday: Mexican eggs, black beans and fried bananas
            Wednesday: Oatmeal, smoothie and bacon or sausage
            Thursday: Leftover- Quiche and fruit
            Friday: Leftover- Oatmeal, smoothie and nitrate free bacon or sausage
            Saturday: Eggs, potatoes and greens, and fruit

Lunch Meal Schedule:

            Sunday: Wild Salmon Salad Sandwiches and green salad, smoothie
            Monday: Nitrate free grass fed hot dogs, watermelon or fruit, green salad
            Tuesday: Soup, grilled cheese and green salad
            Wednesday: Egg salad sandwiches, green salad, pickles and apple
            Thursday: Kipper snacks, cheese, crackers and fruit
            Friday: Lunch meat sandwiches, green salad, apples
            Saturday: Wild salmon sandwiches, green salad and fruit

Dinner Meal Schedule:

            Sunday: Pot Luck
            Monday: Fish or Seafood
            Tuesday: Beef
            Wednesday: Chicken or other poultry
            Thursday: Vegetarian or Beans/Legumes with Beef
            Friday: Fish or seafood
            Saturday: Beef on the barbecue!