Friday, July 23, 2010

Where Has Summer Gone? A.K.A..... A Wicked Long Post So Get Comfortable

WOW! We have been so busy this summer. Here are some highlights from this summer, so far.....

I've already mentioned in a previous post that our big living room window was replaced, and the house painted, and that we put in a new totally wicked AC unit in the living that has been wonderful this summer.

When you live in a house, if it isn't one thing it is another. We had some suspicious water in the basement, and when we had the gray water and septic tanks pumped, discovered it was way past time to replace them. Oh, goodie. Of course, the pipe from house to the new tank had to be replaced as well. We can't complain, as the old system was 40 plus years old.

I know, I know... everyone was just on the edge of their seat just hoping for pics of a septic system. Glad I could oblige. NOT!

We have been blessed to get some veggies out of the garden. This is a pic of the first of the zucchini:

We haven't put any in the freezer as we have been eating it up as fast as we can pick it. It is so good steamed, raw in salads or on a sandwich, on pizza... the options are endless!

We have done up about 6 of these bowls of green beans:

A couple weeks ago we were able to squeeze in a fantastic visit with some long-lost friends who we reconnected with over the last couple years. We met while we were both out walking trying to induce labor when I was expecting Benjamin. They moved from our area about 11 years ago, and we hadn't seen them since. It was so good to catch up with them. We met at a park on a wicked hot day, then made our way to this public fountain. It shot up about 20 feet in the air then rained down. The area around under it was that matting that a lot of places use in playgrounds so it doesn't get slippery when wet, and kids won't crack their heads on it when they wrestle around (notice I'm not mentioning any names such as Kyle,Kody, Benjamin, or Steve).

Earlier this summer Isaac was introduced to the pool. He seems to like it okay. :)

Ohhhh, yeah, and we got a new toaster!

I know, that is almost exciting as the septic tank.

A few weeks ago the older kids came running in during nap time and said that they had found a kitten by the neighbor's pond. Apparently someone had thrown it in the pond to drown it, but it got out, and was shivering and hungry and tired. They begged us to keep it.

Don't worry, we said "no." One of the other neighbors ended up adopting it.

I have been working on the sewing pile. Lots has gotten done!

Jeursha's swim dress:

The boys' swim pants (Not pictured... Benjamin.. somehow I haven't cornered him yet!)

I had fun on Ebay checking out swimsuit material and ended up to experiment a bit, so here are two swim dresses for me:

If they appear to be a little short and boxy, that is because... well, I am a little short and boxy. :P

A T-shirt dress for Jerusha (which came out too long! Easily fixed...)

Here is a detail pic of the fun stitching around the neck line I did with the machine:

I got the following tablecloth below a dog's age ago, and finally got around to hemming it for use:

A close up of the fancy stitching for the hem:

And FINALLY the valance for the boys' room:

There was quite a bit of fabric leftover. The reason why I didn't make it as long as the window is tall is because my children have a nasty habit of catching/pulling/somehow-yanking on the curtains and bending/breaking/turning-into-a-pretzel the curtain rods. I have long since decided to have shades and valance for simplicity's sake.

But I digress...

The leftover fabric (an Indian motif) is screaming out to be made into a wall hanging with Seminole piecing in the border. I dug through my stash and found some that will work, so this coming week, that is what I will be working on. I know, I still have quilts to finish ( and start!) but they will have to wait. When inspiration strikes, you just have to go with it.

Looking ahead....

Monday the 26th, we are blessed to have the Heritage Singers from Maranatha Baptist College in Wisconsin doing a little concert at our church. This weekend will be spent in prepping for that... I will have 8 extra people to bed and feed for the day! Where I am going to put everyone, I'm still not sure, but have several options. The menu has yet to be planned, but that is easy. Something good, and LOTS of it! LOL.

We are looking forward to some family visiting on the 3rd of August for the week. So excited to see this particular branch as we haven't seen them in a LONG time! There are a few younger nieces and nephews involved in this, so it will be fun to have the cousins get reacquainted with one another.

The following week we may (or may not) be attending a VBS at a like minded church that we have never been to before. The problem is that I was thinking about starting school that week and not sure we can do both. Mama may not have enough energy for that! The VBS time is 10 to 12pm, so it would mean the entire morning is used up until after lunch and nap time. Usually we don't start out with much... maybe just math and english to get the synapsis refired and ready to go. Then each week we add in a little more. So, we *could" do it... the ones old enough to work on schoolwork would be doing it during nap time. The question is, how much do we really want to pack into one day? We will still have the garden to deal with, and hopefully some nice summer weather to enjoy.

If we don't start school on the 9th, we definitely will by the 16th. I have some major organizing and rotating of school supplies to do.

In the not too far distant future it will be time to tackle my Fall/Winter sewing pile. But that is another post!

The point of all of that is that summer has gone by so swiftly, and summer break is almost over for us. Where does the time go?

Blueberry days!

Blueberry time here at the Beehive! I love this time of year.

Why I love blueberries:

Blueberries ...

~Are Very Healthy For You. In one cup of blueberries, there is only 80 calories, zero fat and only 14 grams of carbohydrates. There's also 15 percent of the daily recommend Vitamin C in one cup of blueberries.

~Are high in antioxidants, which help fight cancer.

~Are best stored unwashed. Washing causes them to decay faster.

~Should always be kept cool. They'll last 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator.

~They just taste GREAT!

There are at TON of fantastic ways to use blueberries in everyday cooking and baking. Muffins, bread, ice cream , oatmeal, pies... you name it. My favorite way is fresh off the bush. Where we pick them there are no chemicals sprayed on them, so we can quality control check as we go. :)

Here is a cute site just for kids... all about blueberries, and has some games and stuff.

Blueberries for Kids

Fruit coloring page by ABCTeach... just click on the blueberry pic to print.

Another coloring page...

I haven't thoroughly checked out all the links so if anything objectionable comes up, I appologize! I did see enough of them to find some fun and useful stuff.

Also, I LOVE the book Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. I read it to whomever wanted to listen this morning. We always laugh at the mix up of mothers in it.

We now have 35lbs. of blueberries in the freezer. Well, maybe a little less since we ate some with our oatmeal this morning. Delicious!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grace-based Parenting of Toddlers

Recently my SIL has been posting some very good stuff on grace-based parenting, and comparing different parenting styles. You can see all her hard work at The Savage's Lair.

I agree with the commenters above although I think the Shepherding book is too impressed with spanking as a disciplinary tool and I would skip over those parts, especially where he's talking about spanking babies. I don't think parents should ever do that.

I think you already know the answer in your heart, since you have wisely disparaged the mental checklist or one-size-fits-all approach. I know they are incredibly appealing. I remember feeling the exact same way when my older children were toddlers. There's a certain amount of chaos and naughtiness that goes on at those young ages and you wish there was a silver bullet to make them always behave the way they do in their best moments.

I remember being pointed to "How to Really Love Your Child" (Ross Campbell) as a good book on discipline. Taking it home and reading it, I could not see anything helpful in it. I wanted a "But what do you do when..." set of directions. A collection of silver bullets.

Years later I was asked to speak to a church group on Loving Your Children, and I wondered how best to collect my thoughts on that so I reread that book. This time, since my children were grown up or nearly so, I saw the book in a new light. His book distilled the essence of good parenting, and in my opinion, the heart of Christian parenting. It's basically what I would say if someone asked for the most important things I could tell them about parenting.

First comes relationship. All your child rearing happens within the framework of your home's atmosphere and your relationship with your children and husband. So smile at your children when they toddle up to you, make eye contact with them, touch them gently on the shoulder while you're telling them to pick up the blocks. These things build a warm cooperative family environment.

Instead of thinking in terms of "that deserves a punishment," think about the behavior as a sign that the children need to be equipped and taught to make a better decision. If they are whining, show them a better tone of voice. If they are hitting, show them how to negotiate for what they want or take turns.

And then there are the times when the instruction just needs to be enforced calmly, without rancor. You walk in your authority. Say your child doesn't want to leave the nursery when it's time to go home from church. You tell her it's time to go and she acts like she didn't hear you. You did the whole 5 minute notice thing like a good parent and still she won't leave. Well then, you pick her up and leave. You don't need to threaten, you don't need to make a scene, you don't need to give her a mini-lecture. You just be a parent and do what needs to be done. (She's probably a little strung out from being in a small box of a room with 6 children for an hour and a half. Wouldn't you be?)

If the naughtiness is at a particularly high level, think about that behavior as a sign. What's it a sign of? Yes, yes, I know all about sin natures and such. But what's the behavior a sign of? We SIN because our bent is to answer a basic need the wrong way. That's always our tendency. So what's the behavior a wrong answer to? Is the child hungry? Is he tired? Is he over-stimulated? Is he feeling misunderstood or overlooked? Have you been dragging the kids from pillar to post on errands and they really need to get home and back into their own routine and their own environment?

The fact that we are so much older and wiser than our children means we need to put our greater life experience to work on their behalf. If they could simply tell you, "Don't listen to me, I know I'm being irrational about this, I'm totally exhausted and not thinking straight" like a girlfriend would, things would be different. You have to piece that together from the information you can pick up. Of course if your girlfriend said that to you, you wouldn't "not listen to her." You'd calm her down, encourage her to get some sleep, administer chocolate, whatever. You'd "not listen to her" in terms of not reacting to the drama, but you'd continue to be her friend and try and help her. Same with your kids. They can't tell that they are overly hungry or overly tired. They're just striking out in their misery. We have to see that, and fast track the root solution--get their blood sugar back up, or get them down for the badly-needed nap, or get them home to their own environment. Do it gently and mercifully, not angrily and punitively. They're just kids.)

In other situations, the parental thing to do is set a boundary and then unemotionally enforce it. "I know you don't like your car seat, honey. Up you go. I know you hate it. Let's get that buckle fastened. Ok. Here's your juice." [Child is feeling uncooperative and inconsolable and bats it away.] "Oh--you don't want your juice? You can tell me with your words. I'll put it away." [Matter-of-factly put the juice cup away. You don't need to be pulled into the drama here. These are just feelings being handled immaturely. Toddlers are, by definition, immature. Now, as you get yourself settled in the car, change the subject, help your child not dwell on what's not negotiable.] "Who will we see at the store? Will we see Mr. Steven there?"

A squall about getting into a dreaded car seat doesn't need to be punished. They outgrow that kind of stuff. You just handle it. Think about all the stuff you hate to do...God doesn't punish us for hating to face that mountain of laundry. But by our ages, we have strategies for getting through it. Young children don't have strategies yet.

So there's some thoughts for you.

I have to say I have enjoyed what she has been posting because way back when my oldest was a baby I read and reread some very popular child rearing books at the time that promoted spanking and lots of it. I have found over the years that spanking is not always the way to go, and sometimes, depending on the child, other things will work, such as a loss of a toy, or a privilege, or one child would even straighten up at just a certain look.

Over the last 15 years, 7 children, granted, still in the works, I have found that not one thing works with all children. Not one method is "right". It takes much wisdom and discernment and there is WAY more to discipline and parenting than using the rod. I could post much more on that, but will refrain for now. Let's just say I threw those first books away, turned back to the Bible and asking God for wisdom. I've also decided there is no such thing as a "child expert". Just someone who is experienced with their own children.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stress and Your Diet

Just to prove that I am still around, here is an article I read this morning. I love the tip about dark chocolate.

"Stress and Your Diet" from

When you're feeling tense, there are many ways to manage and, in fact, reduce stress levels. Your diet and nutrition choices can make your stress levels go up or down. Certain foods provide comfort and actually increase levels of hormones in the body that naturally fight stress. Other types of foods and beverages can reduce stress by lowering the levels of hormones that trigger it.

Sometimes, it's the effect of a food or drink that can help reduce stress, not necessarily its nutrients. A warm cup of tea can actually calm many people, says Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, LD, online nutrition coach and owner of Nutrition Works in Louisville, Ky. There's the soothing effect of sipping a warm drink, regardless of the flavor — but certain herbs, like lavender and chamomile, have been shown to have a relaxing effect on their own, Meyerowitz says.

Dark chocolate in the diet can reduce stress in two ways — its chemical impact and its emotional impact. Chocolate feels like such an indulgence that it can be a real treat to simply savor a piece of it, and that feeling alone can help to reduce stress, says Meyerowitz. Dark chocolate, which is also rich in antioxidants, can also help to reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones in the body, according to a Swiss study in which participants ate about 1.5 ounces per day for two weeks. Just avoid excess calories in your diet by not overindulging in chocolate, advises Meyerowitz.

Carbohydrates have been found to increase levels of serotonin, a chemical in the body that can boost mood and reduce stress. Once serotonin levels are increased, people under stress experience improved cognitive function, meaning they can concentrate and work better. Meyerowitz notes the comforting effect of carbohydrates in the diet that can reduce stress — savoring a bowl of pasta or macaroni and cheese feels soothing and can help you to relax. Just make sure to choose healthy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and whole-grains for better nutrition, and limit fat-laden, calorie-dense toppings.

Avocados are not only delicious mashed into guacamole or sliced onto a salad — they're also packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy essential acids are known to reduce stress and anxiety, boost concentration, and improve mood. Meyerowitz emphasizes the importance of getting the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet for overall health, in addition to the benefit of helping to reduce stress.

Fatty fish are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and an excellent way to use diet and nutrition to reduce stress because they also offer a major benefit to cardiovascular health. Omega-3 fatty acids and fatty fish have also been found to ease depression, because the chemicals improve communication between nerve cells. Fatty fish include tuna, halibut, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and lake trout.

A centuries-old home remedy for getting a better night’s sleep, warm milk helps because it has a relaxing effect on the body. Calcium-rich foods are an essential part of a healthy diet for bone health, but they also help with stress reduction. Milk and other dairy foods with calcium and added vitamin D can help muscles relax and stabilize mood — one study even found that they can also ease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Nuts are full of vitamins, including B vitamins, and healthy fatty acids as well. According to Meyerowitz, B vitamins are an important part of a healthy diet and can help to reduce stress. Almonds, pistachios, and walnuts can even help lower blood pressure levels. According to one study, pistachios in particular were found to have a role in reducing stress levels. Just remember to limit servings to just a handful a day to avoid excess calories.

Some studies have found that high levels of vitamin C help ease stress levels. One double-blind study reported on the value of taking 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C in a slow-release formula to reduce stress and levels of the stress-related hormone cortisol. Another study looked at the stress reduction effects of taking a supplement containing 1,000 mg of C, plus B vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. Eating citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries is a good start, but you would need a supplement to reach such high levels of these nutrients.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Reality Check

My vision for this summer:

Long lazy days of gardening and playing in the pool.

A lot of barbecuing.

Working on some UFO's, because my spring/summer sewing pile was finished by the end of May.

A more sedate, slower-paced schedule.

The garden looks well enough but needs more work. Our mornings have been "late' because of several late nights.

The pool... hmmm... it's topping at about 68 degrees outside today. I have heard rumors of "summer" but this week it doesn't seem to be making an appearance. I don't mind, but there are several swimmers in the family that have been disappointed so far. Supposedly next week looks much,much warmer.

I'm still working on that sewing pile, and haven't touched a quilt in many weeks. I'm having withdrawal.

At least the bbq'ing has been good!

The pace has been very "busy" and it doesn't look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. We attended the VBS at another church, then there was a visit from Grandparents, which was awesome. In the midst of everything we started having some water problems that have resulted in half our yard dug up, a new gray water and septic tank, and pipelines going out to it. What, the old tanks were almost 50 years old! How dare they give out. :) Obviously, it was definately time to replace them. That project is almost done.

Monday night I had our Fibers of Faith group meeting.

Tuesday night we had some friends over and that was a late night.

Now we are passing around a nice little "summer" cold. Started with Benjamin yesterday, and then Isaac was up almost all night (he is sleeping on my bed and I am sitting around making sure he doesn't roll off... thus the time to play catch up on the ol' blog), and this morning there are a couple more with sore throats, sniffles, and congestion.

Thankfully we have a little breather for a day or so. This weekend I need to do some cleaning and decorating over at church. Mainly get some patriotic flower arrangements around, and decorate the bulletin board for VBS, which starts for us on the 12th.

Somehow I am going to finish my summer sewing before summer is over. I am determined. I am almost done with the boys swim pants, then I just have my own swim suit to do and I can call the list done. There are a few things I need to do for the house, but they aren't technically on the "summer sewing list" so they don't count, unless I get them done, and then of course I get the credit. So there. Ha!

We have another busy week next week catching up on some gardening, hopefully lots of pool time, and my mom is coming for a long weekend. VBS starts on the 12th, the closing program is on the 18th, Fibers of Faith is on the 19th in the evening, then I hope to be doing some more cleaning and decluttering (oh, did I mention I decluttered and reorganized our huge bedroom closet, and am starting on the junk in the basement?.... you know, in my spare time and all...) in preparation for a musical group staying at our house on the 26th, and are also doing a little concert at the church that evening.


It will be time to get organized to get ready to start school in August.

And just like that, our summer break is over. Ack. Where does the time go?

So, if I am scarce around here, you know why. I will probably post pics of some of the finished sewing projects, but if you don't see me here I'm either at the pool, in the garden, or cleaning the basement.

Have a blessed day!