Tuesday, April 27, 2010

An Ordinary Day

I discovered this video today on one of my favorite blogs -- Joyfulmomofmany.  I was unprepared for the way it would grab my heart.

I watched it while the children were outside for PE time.  I could hear them laughing and squealing as they rode their bikes and played some crazy game that they invented.  Savoring their break from the morning's school work, they tried to get in some of their required 60 minutes of daily exercise before I called them in for lunch.   Just an ordinary moment of an ordinary day . . . a day that will soon be nothing but a memory.

I grabbed a Kleenex and my camera, and went out to give them hugs all around.  Now, while they eat their egg salad sandwiches, I had to share this with you.  Please grab a tissue, and push play . . . .

Healthy Habit #10 for 2010: Get enough sleep

Sleep.  Who gets enough of it?  Even children don't get enough sleep these days!

We call my 5-year-old daughter, Bethany, the "queen" because she doesn't wake up before 10:00 or 10:30 most mornings!  She definitely needs her sleep, and unlike her older brothers and sisters, who grew up in a home where bedtime was strictly enforced at a fairly early hour, she is usually up far too late at night, and makes up for that with her "queenly" behavior the next morning!  :)

However, according to this WebMD article, children of her age need 10-12 hours of sleep a night, so she's really just getting the sleep of any average princess. 

My goal for this year is to be in bed by 10:00 or 10:30 pm most nights, so that I can get up at 5:00 or 5:30 am, and get at least seven hours of sleep. In a busy household dominated by young adults, a high school athlete, and a couple college students, the day becomes slanted toward the night time hours, and this isn't always possible. However, consistently going to bed late makes it nearly impossible for me to get up as early as I would like, which negatively affects many of the habits I am working to establish this year. So, establishing a reasonable bedtime is an important key to my success.

According to Jordan Rubin, in Perfect Weight America, "A nationwide sleep deficit means that we're packing in as much as we can from the moment we wake up until we crawl into bed sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen exhausting hours later.  American adults are down to a little less than seven hours of sleep each night, a good two hours less than our great-great-grandparents slept a hundred years ago."

Rubin goes on to say that "a lack of sleep boosts the appetite, especially for high-calorie, high-carbohydrate foods.  What happens is that sleep lowers leptin, a hormone that tells the brain that it doesn't need more food, and elevates ghrelin, a different hornone that triggers hunger."  (p. 172)

Diana Schwarzbein, MD, emphasizes that getting enough sleep is essential to having a healthy body and maintaining a healthy weight.  She mandates getting at least eight of hours of sleep every night, and more if one is sleep deprived!  She also recommends getting ample downtime during the day to let our minds rest. 

In her book, The Transition, she says, "Sleep is anti-aging and more important than you realize because while you are sleeping, your body does most of its rebuilding.  Also, all three levels of the major hormones -- insulin, adrenaline, and cortisol -- are higher when you are sleep deprived.  Therefore, if you do not get enough quality sleep, you may end up with a degenerative disease of aging at an early age."  (p. 340)

Schwarzbein also asserts that the seasons affect our sleep patterns, which I found very interesting, because I've always had my own theories about that!  She explains how light and dark affect the normal circadian rhythm of our wake and sleep cycles.  "When it is light, you produce more serotonin and are awake.  When it is dark, you produce more melatonin to sleep.  It is easier to make serotonin in the summer and harder to make it in the winter.  You need less sleep in the summer than you do in the winter because more sunlight increases serotonin production.  You need to honor these daily and seasonal cycles by resting when it is dark and being active when it is light.  If you constantly overstimulate yourself at night to stay up longer, you will disrupt this normal sleep rhythm."  (p. 340)

She further states, "I cannot emphasize enough the importance of getting enough sleep, since it is extremely difficult to change poor nutrition and lifestyle habits when you are sleep-deprived.  For example, if you are sleep-deprived, you may start comfort eating.  Comfort foods usually contain or are carbohydrates, and the more carbohydrates you eat, the more carbohydrates you will want."  She also cautions against using stimulants to make up for a lack of sleep, which sets you up for a hazardous, hard-to-break cycle.  (p. 343)

"The bottom line," according to Dr. Schwarzbein, "is that one of the most important risk factors for accelerated aging that you have control over is getting enough quality sleep.  The term 'beauty sleep' is more than just words.  You will feel more beautiful after a good night's rest because your body will rebuild during that time."  (p. 344)

The mirror tells me I could definitely benefit from more "beauty sleep!"  So, I'm trying to work on getting a decent amount of sleep, but getting eight or more hours a night seems almost impossible in this day and age, especially for homeschooling moms of many, who have way more to do in a day than they can ever get done, and often allow their workloads to spill over into the night.

So, tell me, how much sleep do you get a night?  Are you able to get those valuable eight hours of shut-eye most nights?  Or does sleeping eight hours a night sound like a dream to you??

Monday, April 26, 2010

Healthy Habit #9 for 2010: Replace Processed Foods with Whole Foods

I did not anticipate dragging out this series on Healthy Habits quite so long!!  Life happens . . . and then when I have time, I want to blog about those life events. . .  and this series keeps getting pushed to the back burner.  But, I am determined to bring this up to a front burner and get this series off my stove!!!   :)

My ninth Healthy Habit for 2010 is to replace processed foods with whole foods, as much as possible.

What does this mean??  I have heard it expressed in different ways.  One that I like is to eat those things that theoretically I could have grown, picked, gathered, hunted, fished, milked, or made myself with such ingredients.   Another way of looking at it is not to buy or consume anything that has a long list of ingredients I don't recognize or can't pronounce.  Whole foods are also referred to as God-made foods vs. man-made foods, and are the foods typically found around the perimeter of the grocery store, or at farmer's markets.

You may wonder what is wrong with eating processed foods anyway??  After all, this is the 21st century, and we expect convenience and quick, low cost foods, right?   This article sheds some light on that issue.  Also, I found this explanation from The Schwarzbein Principle to be very enlightening: 

"In simplified terms, the food chain depends on the transfer of energy in the environment from one system to another.  Humans, like all living things, are made up of essential elements -- oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon (to name a few).  These elements get recycled from the earth to us through the foods we eat and the air we breathe. In turn, when we die, we return these elements to the soil.
We humans, as living beings, are made up of dynamic tissues, such as nails and hair, that are constantly being replaced. . . This regeneration process is made possible by the fact that we eat the very same biochemicals of which we are inherently composed.  In other words, we are made up of the same elements as those in the plants and animals we eat.  We are not made up of the elements that go into nonfoods and other substances that are not found in nature.
If we could see with the naked eye the intricate biochemical processes going on within our bodies, we would be appalled at the damage we do to ourselves when we ingest chemicals. . . . The biological food chain has been altered in a devastating way by the Industrial Revolution.  We now rely on invented technologies to manufacture the food products we eat, and many people automatically assume that these substances are healthy to consume.  But the introduction of chemicals as food -- instead of eating real food -- has harmed human beings at the cellular level, resulting in accelerated metabolic aging and earlier chronic degenerative diseases."  (p. 30-31)

I have been working hard to make progress in this area, doing lots of research and learning new ways of doing things in the kitchen, while trying to clean some items out of the pantry and fridge, and restocking with healthier items.   Yet, the junk food always finds a way to creep back in!  I think it is an ongoing battle to get and keep the junk out and requires me to re-educate my family on what is Healthy and Why and patiently Wait for them to get on board.

Unlike many people, I have a rich heritage of healthy, good home cooking, as my mother was a wonderful cook, who made just about everything from scratch!  She utilized many of the traditional methods that I am learning about from the Weston A Price website, without even realizing the immense value in these cooking methods!  She just did what her mother taught her, and employed many strategies to help stretch her food dollar while providing her family with superior food, such as baking homemade bread and pizza, making broth from chicken and turkey bones, and using traditional fats.

I started off trying to cook like my mom; but, over time, I deviated from her excellent example.  I was lured away by convenience, couponing, and marketing.  By this I mean that I began to use more convenience foods as the size of my family grew and my life grew busier and more hectic.  They were readily available and So Quick and Easy.  Then, I fell into the trap of purchasing more processed foods, so that I could take advantage of the great "deals" that manufacturer's coupons provided.  Understandably, there aren't many coupons for whole foods!  Furthermore, I began to follow the dietary guidelines suggested by modern medical, nutritional, and weight loss "experts."   This led me to jump on the low-fat and fat-free bandwagon, to replace meat with soy products, and also after many years of shunning them, to start using artificial sweeteners to aid with weight loss.  All of these things took me off the straight and narrow path of nutritious, traditional foods, and onto the heavily-traveled highway of processed foods.

I have learned so much from reading the  WAP website and the fascinating blogs of Real Food enthusiasts, but I still have much to learn!   I know I can't change everything at once, so these are the baby steps I have been taking:  

I have been attempting to:

1.  Read all labels and learn what is actually in the food I purchase.

2.  Avoid all foods with high fructose corn syrup and MSG.

3.  Eliminate all vegetable oils, margarine, and trans fats from my diet, and use more butter, olive oil, and especially coconut oil.

4.  Learn how to make and use chicken stock.

5.  Experiment with soaking my grains to increase digestibility and nutrient absorption.

6.  Reduce the amount of refined sugar in my family's diet and try using alternative sweeteners, but not artificial sweeteners.

7.  Reduce the use of refined flours in our diet, and replace with whole grains as much as possible.

8.  Find a source for raw milk and replace hormone-laden, store-bought, pastuerized milk with raw milk, whenever possible.

9.  Find a source for pastured eggs and replace regular store eggs with healthy pastured eggs, whenever possible.

10.  Find a source for grass-fed beef, and replace some of our meat with healthier meats, as we are able to afford to do so.

Each one of these is a huge change with far-reaching effects.

I've also found Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Rookie Tips to be very helpful, as well as this post on 12 baby steps to a nutritious diet.  I'd love to hear what dietary changes you are working on right now, so we can encourage one another in this area!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Taking a Journey in Honor of Earth Day

Today is Earth Day.  What does that mean to you?  Do you celebrate Earth Day with your family or just generally ignore it, as I usually do?

photo taken by my niece, Anna

There is nothing wrong with celebrating the bountiful beauty and blessings of our earthly home, as long as we give all honor and glory for this earth to Jehovah God, its Creator and Sustainer. However, what we see today is a sinful elevation of the earth as being more significant than its Creator and more important than mankind, which God created to rule over the earth and subdue it.

While I believe that greedily abusing the earth is wrong, I believe that using its resources for the benefit of mankind is good and right. God gave man jurisdiction over the earth from the beginning. People have a tendency to get out of balance, going overboard in one direction or another. Promoting things like sustainable farming is a good thing, yet we need not be overcome with fear about using up all of the earth's resources or "saving the earth," because God created the earth to last exactly as long as He pre-ordained.

The earth will not last forever, no matter how hard man tries to "save it." The earth will perish according to God's perfect plan. Man will also perish, unless He accepts God's provision for eternal life. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." -- John 3:16.

photo taken by my daughter, Ashlyn

Do you really know what God's plan for the earth is?  Let's take a journey through the Bible to see what God said in His Word about the earth, because Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away." -- Mark 13:31.

This journey begins in the book of Genesis and ends in the book of Revelation:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  -- Genesis 1:1

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. -- Genesis 1:26

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. -- Genesis 1:28

And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. . . And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein [is] the breath of life, from under heaven; [and] every thing that [is] in the earth shall die. -- Genesis 6:12, 13, 17

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. -- Genesis 8:22

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth [upon] the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. -- Genesis 9:2

And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. Genesis 9:7

And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. Genesis 9:11

The earth [is] the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. -- Psalm 24:1

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. -- Psalm 37:9

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; Psalm 104:14

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? -- Isaiah 40:12

I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, [even] my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. . . For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else. Isaiah 45:12, 18

But the LORD [is] the true God, he [is] the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, [even] they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When he uttereth his voice, [there is] a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Jeremiah 10:10-13

For the earth [is] the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. -- 1 Corinthians 10:26

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: -- Colossians 1:16

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:5-7

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 2 Peter 3:10

And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. -- Revelation 9:4

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. Revelation 21:1

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Moving Reminder!

I just watched the most powerful, beautiful, and creative commercial I have ever seen after following the link on my friend, Trish's blog.   This is like WOW! when you watch it!!  It was especially meaningful to me, because God used this very instrument to help spare the lives of my entire family back in 2003, when our 15-passenger van rolled in a terrible day-before-Thanksgiving accident!  Watch this incredible reminder now!~

A Ponytail's Fate

Hannah has been blessed with a beautiful headfull of thick, dark-blonde hair!   She has been growing it out for the past three years with this day in mind. . . 

Today, she got her beautiful mane cut off, so she could donate it for the third time to Locks of Love, where it will be used to create natural looking wigs for children with long term hair loss.

First, Angie gathered it into a ponytail, then she measured off the required ten inches, and then she took her scissors and started whacking!

Here Angie works to shape up what is left . . . .

And then she styles it . . .

And here is the finished product!  A cute and stylish "do!"

Hannah loves her new hairstyle!  It feels cool and light and will be so easy for her to take care of this summer!

Monday, April 19, 2010

"He Cleans Up Well"

That is something my husband is fond of saying about young (or not-so-young!) men when they are all dressed up and looking spiffy!

My son, Joe, definitely "cleans up well!"

Want to see if you agree??

The picture above was taken Friday night, when Joe and his "special friend," Abby, went to the Senior Prom.  (Their prom was not a dance, but a formal banquet, held at a local Country Club.) 

Joe is the first one of our children to attend a prom or to rent a tux, so he got a lot of curious attention around here!  :)

I took tons of pictures, but I promise to just post a few of my favorites!  This is my top choice!

The following picture is of Abby and Joe and Abby's sister, Lilly, and her date, Pete.

Here is another favorite:

It was a beautiful evening, and they had a great time!!  On Saturday, they spent the day with other students at Wild Adventures Theme Park, where they rode every roller coaster and had tons of fun!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Renewing Your Vision for The Home

When your house is a mess and the laundry is piled up, the days long and your patience short, it is easy to become overwhelmed, discouraged, and to lose sight of the importance of your role as a mother and homemaker.  That is why it is important to have a vision to carry you through.

In today's world, the job of mother and homemaker is considered to be dispensable.  Most people don't see much value in a woman devoting her life to her home and family, and honestly wonder what a woman might do at home all day.  They really have no idea of the scope and power of a godly home.

How about you?  Do you have a vision for your home??  If your vision is a bit tarnished, may I suggest that you send your children outside for a bit of fresh air, fix yourself a cup of tea, and sit down and read this wonderful post on The Purpose of the Home!   You will be strengthened and encouraged!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

King of the Mountain

Do you know what happens when I spend a week rearranging, decluttering, organizing and preparing for a Yard Sale, then spend the bulk of Saturday holding the Yard Sale and hauling off the items that didn't sell, followed by two worship services and a dinner invitation on Sunday, and then top that with a busy week of school, baseball practices and games, and a pile of errands, including taking my MIL to see the doctor (for a compression fracture in her back), taking one son to get a haircut, buy new shoes, and to be fitted for a tux (more details coming soon) and stock up at Sams and  . . . . . on and on it goes?

Well, what happens is I keep shoveling dirty laundry into the washing machine, and then digging it out of the washer and throwing it into the dryer, and then depositing it into overflowing baskets in the laundry room, until we can no longer approach the washer or dryer without playing "king of the mountain."  Every day I announce to everyone and to no one in particular, "We Must fold laundry today!"  And then the next thing I know, the day is done, and the laundry isn't.

Finally, we reached a pinnacle.  With great determination, I ordered all laundry to be carried to the family room and deposited in a huge pile on the rug.  Then we all gathered around and had what we affectionately call a "Laundry Bee."  (A bee as in  "a community social gathering for the purpose of performing some task or engaging in a contest, such as; a sewing bee; a spelling bee; a husking bee.")

Amazingly, we had it all folded and into each person's basket to be put away in less than an hour.  Once again, we conquered "Mount Neverest!"

Lessons from Spring

This weekend my husband and children planted our garden. When you look at it, there really isn't much to see -- some mounds of reddish-brown dirt with seeds hidden underneath, and some little tomato and pepper seedlings.  Yet, in due season, we are hoping to harvest a crop of nutritious and delicious veggies to feed our family.

This reminds me of an article which I wrote many years ago, back when my children were just young seedlings themselves.  This article was published in the Spring 1997 issue of  An Encouraging Word magazine, and is a timely reminder today.

The Springtime of Homeschooling
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven."  -- Ecclesiastes 3:1

The arrival of Spring beckons us outdoors where we are eager to enjoy the earth's rebirth after a long, dreary winter spent inside.  We often find our hearts full of dreams, our heads occupied with plans, and our hands busy in the soil, planting seeds which we hope will bear fruit.

It's much the same when our children are young.  Our hearts overflow with dreams for them; our heads swim with the plans we hope to accomplish; and our hands are constantly busy with the daily "dirty work."  This is especially true when we find ourselves homeschooling.

Some activities are an inherent part of spring.  Spring is a time for preparing the soil, for planting seeds, for providing a healthy environment, for protecting tender seedlings, for pruning young plants, for praying for the harvest, and above all, for persevering.  We are wise to discern that the nurturing of our children consists of these same activities.

Even before the first hint of spring, we should be preparing the soil of our children's hearts.  Ideally, our children are the "godly seeds" that come from generations of servants of  the Lord.  But, we must not despair if our children do not have this rich heritage.  We must begin where we are by enriching the soil of their hearts with the lives and teachings of godly men and women.  We must saturate their hearts with the Word of God and with prayer.  And we must seek to make their hearts soft and yielded, not hard and rebellious.  (Review the parable of the soils in Matthew 13.)  Biblical discipline is crucial.  A root of bitterness can spring up in their hearts if we are either too harsh or too indulgent.  (See Ephesians 6:4 and Hebrews 12:11.)

Spring is also the time when we plant the seeds we hope will bear fruit in our children's lives.  We must plant the right seeds at the right times and we must be certain the seeds we plant are truly the seeds we want to take root and grow.  Galations 6:7-8 says, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life."  Furthermore, we must be aware that the Enemy is planting seeds of his own in our children's lives.  (See Matthew 13:24-26.)

Even the best seeds, properly planted, will not grow without proper sunlight and water; therefore, we must be sure to provide the right growing conditions.  As homeschoolers, we tend to dwell on this part of spring.  Believing we can provide the best environment for our young seedlings, we are eager to extol the virtues of the home and liken it to a greenhouse for young plants.  But, are we always careful to keep pests from infiltrating our greenhouses??  We need to examine the things we allow into our homes.  We also need to monitor the atmospheres of our homes -- are they characterized by love, acceptance, and encouragement or by harshness, criticism, and contention?  Providing the right environment is crucial to the growth of our seedlings.

Spring also involves protecting our seedlings from the diseases, pests, and harsh conditions that are prevalent outside our greenhouses.  Our tender plants will be destroyed if we are not careful to protect them.  We must be vigilant.  Pests can sneak in undetected and destroy our precious plants before we realize what is happening.

Once our seeds begin to grow, we may want to sit back and enjoy the sweet pleasures of spring, but the hardest work lies ahead.  We must busy ourselves with pruning and weeding.  This requires hard work and diligence.  Weeds can appear anywhere and seem to shoot up overnight.  We must pull the weeds before they become firmly rooted or they will stifle the growth of our young plants.  We must also prune our plants regularly so they will bear more fruit (John 15:2).  We must cut away growth that is undesirable, continually shaping and training our young plants to grow in the right directions.  (This is the essence of Proverbs 22:6.)

The entire growing season must be spent in prayer.  We need to be in constant communication with the Master Gardener, praying that we will plant the proper seeds at the right times and that they will grow, praying that we will provide exactly the right environment and will protect the seedlings sufficiently without smothering them, praying for diligence as we pull weeds, and praying for wisdom and discernment as we prune and direct the growth of our plants.

And finally, spring involves perseverance.  We tend to look at the first shoots and cry out in despair, "There's no fruit!  I've failed!  I'm a terrible gardener!"  But we must remember -- in the Spring the harvest is still a long way off. l We can not look for the harvest before its season! We must apply ourselves diligently to the task at hand, trusting the Lord of the harvest to produce fruit in due season.  Galations 6:9 says, "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Break 2010

This week has been a bit of a challenge, as we struggle to resume our normal routine, with some adaptations, after being off for Spring Break last week.  Our efficiency has been hampered by the sudden and unrelentless attack of thick, yellow-green pollen, which makes us all red and weepy-eyed, sniffly, sneezy, and generally miserable.

As you may recall, we started our spring break with a Relocation on Good Friday, by moving my oldest daughter out of our house and into her own apartment.  Next, we moved the three youngest boys out of the boys' room upstairs down to Tiffany's old room, and got them settled there. 

This leaves the upstairs bedroom, bathroom and bonus room area for the three oldest boys to spread out in.  I told them that this area is their domain, and they must work out a cleaning schedule among themselves for maintaining it, just as if they were in a college dorm situation.  I will probably enter "The Man Cave" rarely, and with great fear and trembling!  (So don't expect any pictures!  I'm all for transparency, but even "reality blogging" has its limits!)

All of this moving and rearranging presented a great opportunity for a general cleaning out and decluttering, which I took full advantage of, much to the chagrin of the children, who thought spring break should be all about fun and free time!   :)

One thing I did was to sort through ALL of the clothing containers in the attic!  Years ago I developed a system for storing out-grown and out-of-season clothing.  I obtained several large plastic containers, and I labelled each with the gender, size and season -- such as Boys, Size 4T, Spring/Summer.  I only allowed myself to keep what would fit in that container.  If I was given a bag of hand-me-downs and wanted to keep some of them, I had to discard enough items from my container to fit them in.  Now that the kids are getting older, and I no longer have babies and toddlers, I seem to have far less clothing to keep and hand down, so I've streamlined my system, and just keep one container per size, which accomodates both seasons.

All of our cleaning out and organizing culminated in a big Yard Sale this past Saturday.  We sold an amazing amount of stuff, and afterwards, took two trips to the landfill and a trip to Goodwill to dispose of the rest.  I also took two armfulls of clothing to the Consignment Shop; so, our house feels considerably lighter this week!

Even though we got a lot accomplished, I don't want you to think I was a slave driver the entire week!  We had three sunny days with highs around 90 F (32 C), and we took time each day to enjoy the beautiful weather!  The children swam in the pool, while those of us who are a bit pickier about water temperature, soaked up some vitamin D and enjoyed some reading time!

Josh swam some laps and practiced his "fly."

Taylor and Joe were both out of school for the week, too, but after moving Tiffany, they skipped town before they could be put to more hard labor!  ;)  They spent the week in Sarasota, FL with our friends, the "D's".  Here are a couple pictures of their Spring Break:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Dogs may be a man's best friend, but daughters are a woman's best friend!  :)

I just posted about my oldest daughter moving out. I also have one daughter living "back home" in SC.  Well, better make that two --  my second oldest, Ashlyn, plus her best friend since she was eight, Bethany, who is my lovely "adopted daughter."  

Much to my delight, they drove down on Saturday, to spend the weekend with us and to help Tiffany celebrate her move to her first apartment!  Isn't that what sisters are for?  To celebrate those special times together, as well as to encourage and come along side during the hard times?

This is Bethany with her namesake!  I'm not sure who our Bethany misses more -- her Ashlyn or her Bethany?!!?  They are both so Special to her!

Here are Tiffany (24) and Ashlyn (22) enjoying a special sisterly moment!

Ashlyn helped me in the nursery Sunday morning, where we enjoyed caring for those adorable twins I told you about on Sunday's post.  Aren't they precious?? 

I really wanted to get a family picture after church while everyone was still dressed up, but somehow it just didn't happen in the busyness of getting home and trying to get Easter dinner on the table.  But, here is a picture of the two Bethanys!!  Aren't they adorable??

And some pictures of the whole family gathered around the table!

And here is a picture of Ashlyn and me, taken later in the day.

The girls didn't have much time at home, but they tried to squeeze every bit of fun they could out of the time they were here.  Sunday afternoon, they took all of the kids out for a "special time" together, and then they all played some backyard football and wiffle ball. 

I totally love this picture of the girls, looking triumphant after their miraculous tackle of Taylor!!   :)

And here are a few scenes from their wiffle ball game:

What a fun weekend!  If only I could have slowed down the clock and made it last a little longer . . .

Little Josie Goes Home!

I am rejoicing to hear that little Josie Duggar was finally released from the hospital!  What a homecoming she will have!  Click here to read more.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Moving Experience

Mothers love to notice and record many milestone moments with their babies -- that first precious smile, the first tooth, those first baby steps, the first day of school, the first loose tooth, and more!  What they don't typically realize is that each of these little "firsts" is taking them one step closer to a day they don't want to come -- the day their little babies are all grown up and establishing homes of their own.

Friday was a turning point in the life of our family, as our oldest daughter, Tiffany, moved out of our home and into her own apartment. This was not something we had anticipated happening any time soon!  We have always encouraged our young adult daughters to live at home until their wedding days, so that they can safely move from the authority and protection of their fathers to that of their husbands.  But, circumstances sometimes work out differently than what we envision . . .

Anyway, Tiffany had been happily living in our home since her college graduation, where she has been keeping busy teaching school, working on her MAT, being our church pianist, and taking advanced piano lessons.  Over the last year, she has become very serious about the piano again. (She was a piano performance major in college.)  Translated, that means she has been practicing three or more hours a day, starting at 6 am (before school) most days and not ending until 10 pm!  Because we have a large family in a house with hardwood floors and only one family room area -- this was becoming increasingly problematic.  Finally, after exhausting other options, Tiffany decided that the only way for her to accomplish her goals without alienating her family was to move to her own place.

After praying about this decision and researching apartments and discovering that the place she felt drawn to was full, Tiffany put her name on the waiting list and continued to wait on the Lord to reveal the next step she should take.  God seemed to be confirming that she was headed in the right direction, and sooner than we expected, she received the call that there was an opening!  So, she excitedly accepted the apartment, while I struggled to accept the inevitable changes to my home and family . . . .

I knew it was the best thing for all involved, and I knew that God had given Tiffany a peace about the move, but it was still hard for me to accept, because Tiffany and I are so close, and I knew I would miss her companionship and her help!!  It did comfort me to know that God had given her a "rhema" way back in early January, that seemed to confirm this decision.  One morning, while doing her daily reading, this verse "jumped off the page," and she knew God was speaking to her through it, even though she had no idea at the time what it meant.  She knew He was preparing her heart for a change . . .

Genesis 12:1-2:  "Now [in Haran] the Lord said to Abram, Go for yourself [for your own advantage] away from your country, from your relatives and your father's house, to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others]."   (Amplified version)

That's pretty amazing, isn't it???

So, Friday was the Big Day, and I didn't shed a single tear!  I guess I was too busy to cry, and I had already shed my tears a few weekends before.  Plus, I really am excited for Tiffany as she starts this new adventure!  Here are some pictures of Moving Day.

Tiffany was blessed to have so many big, strong brothers to move all of her stuff, especially her beloved piano!  I don't know what she would have done without them.  One of Alan's friends, who worked for a piano company during college, also came to help with the relocation of the piano.

Hannah was a big help too, as she carried lots of little things to the van to be moved, and she also helped Tiffany unpack boxes in her new apartment.

These are the stairs that the boys had to get the piano up . . . it was a challenge, but they put their strong arms and legs to good use!

This is Tiffany in her new apartment.  It is small, but cozy, and has lots of light.  She is excited about having a place of her own and fixing it up cute.

Ashlyn and Bethany Cookie (Ashlyn's BFF and my adopted daughter) drove down from SC for the weekend to share in the excitement!  They wanted to be there to celebrate this milestone moment with Tiffany!

How about a quick tour?  Here are some glimpses into Tiffany's new place!

Fortunately, she is only fifteen minutes away!   :)
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