Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mama Struggles

It's something I've said many times while talking to other people about raising children: "There's nothing I'd rather be doing!" But when I heard the words come out of my mouth a while back I felt convicted at how much untruth was there. Overall, there really is nothing I'd rather be doing. I'm not at all interested in a career or in having some other life; I've always wanted to be a mama and spend my days caring for my family. 
But there are moments, far too many of them, that I prove by my actions that there are other things I'd rather be doing. I say it by my choices when I sit at the computer and tune out the voices of my children. Or when I'm lost in my thoughts and making vague "uh-huh" sort of noises at all the appropriate places while Peregrine talks on and on.... and on. I nod and smile, but I'm not really paying attention. Or when I just want to finish up one of my projects, or an article I'm reading, and I overlook the squabbling when I really should get up and deal with it. I could go on, but I think you get the point.
How well I relate to Saint Paul's words in Romans: "For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do." It seems I start each day determined to do better, to not become distracted, to really be attentive. When I succeed at these things I'm so much happier, and so are my kids. They are happier because they're getting all of me, not some portion of me while the other part of me is busy doing something else. When I put my other desires aside our days go so much smoother. I enjoy my kids more, because I'm really with them. I notice little attitudes and deal with them before they become big attitudes. I take time to praise the little kindnesses and encourage them to grow. 
What it comes down to is dying to myself, of putting aside my own interests, relationships, and pursuits and pouring myself into these three small and precious people whom God has entrusted to my care. I can't imagine a higher calling, and I fall so short of it. There are so many other things that beckon to me, that call for my attention. And each day, each moment I am making choices that are shaping the lives and souls of my children. I am ashamed to say that far too often I choose me over them. 
These thoughts have been in my head for quite some time, but yesterday's sad news of the a three year old boy who died suddenly really shook me up. They are a family much like we are, three children, lovers of Jesus, homeschooling, living and loving one another. And suddenly, unexpectedly, one child is gone Home. I grieve for them, I pray for them, and I wonder; how would my days look if I knew one of my children would be taken tomorrow, or next week? I think I would be making different choices in the way I spend my time. I would spend less time doing trivial things, less time lost in my own thoughts and cares. 
I would spend more time looking into the eyes of my children, eyes that say so much ("blues-eyes like Daddy's", and "eyes like the sea after a storm" and bright merry round baby eyes that light up at the sight of me.) I would spend more time building forts and having picnics, snuggling up under blankets with books, and lying on the floor giggling together. I would spend less time creating things for my children and instead create things with them.
 I am blessed, and yet so often I brush off these blessings and chase after other things, things that won't last but will only please me for a moment. God forgive me, and God help me to do what is important. Help me to love my children as I ought, to delight in being with them, to find my life in being with them. May I truly say about raising them, that there is nothing I'd rather be doing!

Friday, August 22, 2008


I've always enjoyed tinkering with making my own "stuff". I've played around with lotions and potions of various kinds. One thing I'd never even thought about though, was deodorant. Yes, I cringed every time I reached for a stick of natural, aluminum-free deodorant, but I just figured that was the (high) price I had to pay not to stink. For a while I used the crystal mineral spray and that worked pretty well until I had Raphael. After that my hormones changed or something and it just wasn't doing the trick. So I did a little research and tried this recipe. I found it online somewhere, and would give credit where credit is due but I couldn't find it again when I tried. I used this one because I had all of the ingredients in the house and it's very, very simple.

Mix together:
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T Baking Soda
1 T Corn Starch
6 Drops each Tea Tree and Lavender Essential Oils
Store in a jar and apply with a fingertip.

Surprisingly, this works very well. I've been wanting to post about it for a while, but thought I should give it enough time to be sure it still worked. I'm happy to say that I've been using it for several weeks and it really has done the trick, even when our temperatures were in the high 90s. Erik and one of my good friends have also been using it and have found it effective.
When it came time for me to make a second batch I added some cocoa butter to make it a little more of a creamy consistency and not so soup-y. (Or goopy. Erik likes to refer to this as "Pit-Goo". He has a real way with words.) Here is Pit-Goo, version two. It's a bigger batch, but you could make a smaller amount to see if it works for you.

In a small saucepan over low heat melt:
1oz Cocoa Butter

Remove from heat and add:
1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 C Baking Soda
1/4 C Corn Starch
20 Drops each Tea Tree and Lavender Essential Oil

Let the mixture cool in the saucepan and stir it occasionally so the baking soda and cornstarch are suspended as it cools. Spoon into a jar or small container and apply with a fingertip. 

I'm very happy to say that both of these recipes have worked very well for us. They are both simple and inexpensive. And I don't know about you, but it makes me feel good to be able to make something that I always thought I had to be dependent on someone else for! Or, as Deb said in her post about making laundry detergent, it's nice to "get off the grid". 
If you decide to try it, let me know. And I hope you all have a great weekend! 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time for Tea

On Tuesday we had a Tea Party with Alethea, Peregrine, and their friends Ashley and Hannah. A lovely time was had by all, and we hope to do it again in the future.

Peregrine and Ashley.
Erik and I met John and Charisse, Ashely and Hannah's parents, in a birthing class when we were expecting our first babies. Peregrine and Ashley were born just a few days apart, and we've all been friends since!

Alethea and Hannah, the "little ladies".

Peregrine was practicing being a gentleman and helped to serve.

Three young ladies in training!

Peregrine escorting Ashley and Hannah to their car.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook- August 18

The last few weeks have been very, very busy. Here are a few snatches of life around here, and I hope to post again soon. 
FOR TODAY, August  18th, 2008.
Outside My Window... the air is cool and clean after an early morning thunderstorm. It's refreshing after a few days of sweltering heat.
I am thinking... about a good friend.
From the kitchen... we're enjoying summer's bounty in many ways. Blueberry pie and zucchini muffins to name a few. The last two years I've had morning sickness during harvest time and didn't really enjoy much from the garden. 
I am wearing... my hair down this morning. 
I am creating... a pink haven for Alethea. The painting is finished, except for a little trip, curtains are going up, and I even M0d-Podged the outlet covers with fabric. I'll post pictures soon.
I am going... to enjoy my children today.
I am reading... Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening in little snatches, usually while nursing Raphael.
I am hoping... the my friend Rachel has her baby soon. She's about to have her fourth and they've recently relocated to India and it's the middle of the monsoon. Come, Baby, Come! (I spent several months with Rachel and Chinua in India before marriage and children. I'm mildly envious that they're back there!)
I am hearing... a dog barking in the distance. Someone stirring in the back of the house.
Around the house... I find way too many toys. And books. And rocks. And articles of small clothing.  
One of my favorite things... laying in bed at the end of the day talking with Erik.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week.... a tea party for the kids and some small friends, freezing blueberries, sewing another apron, this one for my sister.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... three sweeties, all wrapped up in the quilts I've made them.

 If you'd like to join The Simple Woman's Daybook you can visit The Simple Woman who started it here

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

I've never done this before but have seen it and thought it's a nice way to keep a record of some of life's simple moments that aren't worth a whole post. If you'd like to join in you can visit The Simple Woman who started it here

FOR TODAY, August  6th, 2008.
Outside My Window... the morning is still and the birds are singing. My chickens are making happy hen sounds.
I am thinking... about all the things I could do today. And trying to decide which one or two of them I could actually do.
From the kitchen... zucchini (via the garden). In muffins, scrambled eggs, bread, burritos, salads, and smoothies. (Yep, smoothies. And no one has noticed so far!) Hoping to try this recipe soon.
I am wearing... an old work shirt of Erik's and some grungy pants for painting.
I am creating... a homeschool corner in the family room.
I am going... to stay at home today.
I am reading... The Old Schoolhouse Magazine that came in the mail yesterday. One paragraph at a time! 
I am hoping... and praying for peace and comfort for Mark and Beka.
I am hearing... the slurpy and contented sounds of Raphael nursing and the happy chatter of my older children as they watch Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Around the house... a small someone can roll over both ways. Uh-Oh! 
One of my favorite things... finding a cup of tea waiting for me when I get up in the morning.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Meeting homeschool friends at the park on Friday, cooking aloo gobi and massool dal for my sister on Thursday evening. Mmmm.... Indian food! I'd like to get my daughter's room painted. Pink, of course.
Here is picture thought I am sharing... of my boys!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Please Pray....

...for Mark and Beka as they grieve the loss of their tiny sweet baby. 

Thirty-Three Years Ago

We have a guest blogger this morning! My Mom was kind enough to type up the story of my birth. I appreciate these stories a lot more now that I'm a Mom. Thanks Mom, not just for giving birth to me, but for putting up with me in all these years and loving me so much! I'm truly blessed. 

Every woman who has ever had a baby, it seems, loves to hear or tell the story of their birth experience. This is the story of Rebeca Kathryn.  Rebeca was one of those wonderful “planned by God” surprise babies (as I believe all of my babies were). We were living in the wilds of British Columbia in our 6 sided log house with the wonderful skylight up above. Huge fir trees surrounded our “little house in the woods” and how I loved the sound of those trees rustling in the breeze. It was quite a romantic spot!
Early in my pregnancy, I thought how nice it would be to have another girl. Alyssa would be 5 years old when the new baby arrived and Jacob would be 2 1/2. After having a boy and a girl, it seemed that little girls were easier for me to deal with. Boys had so much mischievous energy! But of course, I loved them both so much and would be happy with either one. 
I had no morning sickness the first time around and all day “morning sickness” the second. This third time was not too bad- I had learned a few tricks that helped. I kept in good shape with all the rigors of living in the woods with no electricity.  The “simple life” actually required a tremendous amount of work! Our gravity fed running water would occasionally freeze up in the winter. Wood had to be chopped and the stoves fed. The cow had to be milked.  Doing the laundry was the hardest chore. Diapers, baby clothes and light wash were done by hand or in a hand crank type washing “machine”. Or we would haul the laundry into town once in a while- an hour’s drive away. I have to laugh when I hear people express their dream of “living off the land”!  
Back to Rebeca! The months dragged by slowly- they always do when you are waiting for a baby. July finally came and it was so hot. I remember sitting in the kids wading pool to cool off! By this time in our lives, we had both become Christians. We met regularly with our other Christian friends for Bible study, worship and prayer. On the evening of July 28th that is where I found myself- sitting in a circle of friends- heavy with child and longing to have that baby in my arms. I asked my friends to pray for me and several women surrounded me and laid hands on me. As they prayed I experienced four contractions. I mentioned that when they finished praying. I remember noting that it was close to 9:30 PM. David and I drove home and the contractions kept coming. It felt like more than the false labor I’d been having and I told him we had better go to the hospital as it was that long hour away. We dropped Alyssa and Jacob at the neighbor’s house and started out. The contractions were pretty hard and I said I hoped we were going to make it! 
We actually stopped and picked up a hitchhiker on the way! I’m not so sure of what she thought as I got up with each contraction and leaned over the back seat. I had learned my 2nd time around that staying upright helped ease the back pain.  When we got into town, David asked if he had time to get coffee. I said yes- I relaxed now that we were so close to the hospital. 
We checked in shortly before 11:30 and the labor kicked in good and hard. I could hardly believe it when less than an hour later I had to push! I walked into the delivery room (this was in the days when labor and delivery were in separate rooms) and with just a few pushes, out came a perfect and beautiful baby girl!! The doctor never made it in time so Rebeca was delivered by a nurse at 12:20 AM. Everyone remarked on her thick, long, black hair. She was a beautiful baby- everyone thought so. David was beaming with pride. 
I had rooming in- a new innovation where they actually let you keep the baby with you for the five days they expected you to stay in the hospital. David had to sneak Alyssa and Jacob in for a visit as they did not allow children in those days. Alyssa held her baby sister on her lap and Rebeca made a funny noise. Alyssa exclaimed, “She squeaks like a mouse”! 
There is so much more to tell- how we battled with this strong willed girl from the beginning and how the Lord graciously got a hold of her heart and transformed her into the beautiful woman of God that she is today! But those are stories for another time. 

And the Winner is....

...Mimi! Congratulations Mimi! I had fun making this apron and I hope you enjoy wearing it! Thanks to all who left a comment.