Friday, June 29, 2007

Simple Craft: Totally Cheating French Photo Board Tutorial, Sort Of

So how's that for a long title? Elizabeth and I made this inspiration board for the craft room today. I've wanted one for a long time, but gosh, all that canvas, batting, fabric, and so on sounded like a lot of trouble, and I'm too cheap to buy one. So I came up with this.

I bought a little cork board for 5 or 6 dollars and a spool of 1/4" grosgrain ribbon for a couple bucks. I wanted to cover it in paper with shabby chic roses, but Wal-Mart (Corrected-I can't believe I actually said Wal-Mark!!! I will never live this down!) didn' t have anything of the kind. At first I thought I'd settle for just the ribbon on a plain cork board, but then I remembered to ask, "What do I have in my hand?"

My wrapping paper box yielded a scrap large enough to cover the inside of the board. I just trimmed it to fit. (Here you see the back of the paper.) I have to tell you, the wrapping paper was even used. I just ironed it. Yes, I'm cheap. But hey, I didn't have to buy any!!!

Then we attached the ribbon in a criss-cross design with flat push pins, putting one at each end and one at each place where the ribbon intersected. I meant to get better pics of this step, but we just started with a giant X, corner to corner and then added pieces to the grid.

Don't look too closely, it's not perfect! It would look a lot better if the frame was white or pink, but I'll settle for this for now. I'm really pleased with how it turned out for about $8. And it was such fun to make something with my girl.

Show and Tell Friday: Glass Doorknob

The old (100 years, give or take a few) house we're renting has been well-kept, and it's full of these old glass doorknobs. On many of the doors, the original doorknobs are still in place with a conventional modern doorknob installed underneath. However, on the closets, new doorknobs have not been added. Isn't it pretty?

Show and Tell Friday
is hosted by There is No Place Like Home.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Day in Our Life: Yesterday

I’ve wanted to blog a day in our life (especially for grandparents), but every time I start, something goes wrong. This time I decided to blog about it even though it was an imperfect day, in many ways frustrating. This is what happened at our house yesterday!

I slipped out of bed before anyone else and proofed a paper for Billy, one that had to be done early. As a mom do you ever feel like life is moving in slow motion? I do. By the time I got breakfast on the table for the kids it was 9 o’clock. We are so fortunate that Billy usually gets to eats three meals a day with us (and breakfast at a much earlier hour), but today was an exception. I grabbed a couple pieces of toast and some tea and threw on some clothes and makeup.

Then I tidied the house, made beds, made sure the kids were clothed and in their right minds...

...and helped them make a tent. (Tent-making skills are a big plus on the mom resume, you know.)

By then it was clear that I wasn’t going to make my 10:00 goal for having the house tidy, so I gave up sat down for a 10-minute blog-surfing break. Then I got back to work.

At 11:00 we folded clothes and watched Leave it to Beaver, my favorite old show of all time…Well, along with Andy Griffith and The Beverly Hillbillies. Those are a three-way tie, I think. One I was really disappointed in was Ozzie and Harriet. Sheesh!

Can you tell I had a 4-year-old laundry helper?

12:00 was lunch time. Since Billy wasn’t eating with us today, I threw some PB&J together. I took a few minutes to take some pictures for yesterday’s blog entry before I put on another load of laundry (the never-ending beast) and cleaned some more.

At 1:00 I read to the kids before nap/quiet time. Elizabeth no longer naps, she is required to have a quiet time, mainly for the sake of my sanity. It’s nice to have 30 minutes or so when I’m not on call to relax and do something fun. However, “quiet” time was interrupted many times by little children who did not want to nap OR be quiet. I changed a diaper, scrubbed marker off the wall, and did a million bazillion other little things, while trying not to lose my composure, before everyone FINALLY settled down. By then it was 3:00. I tried to proofread a letter for Billy and blog a bit between all the craziness, but I have to say that most of my afternoon was taken up with little people.

Still, duty called…I had to do school with Elizabeth. Normally this would happen much earlier in the afternoon, but everything so far took twice as long as I expected. I’m sure we all have days like that. In fact, I was tempted to not even blog A Day In Our Life because so many things went wrong. I mean, I’d like A Day in Our Life to make me look like Superwoman. But alas, it doesn’t. Fortunately, since I have only one student and she’s in first grade, we still got all our work done. Tomorrow will be better.

By the time we finished, it was time to grab a bite to eat and get ready for church.

I was a little frazzled and didn’t get any more pictures. I wished I had my camera with me, because after church Billy took the kids to the old-fashioned ice cream parlor around the corner. Such a cool place.

After I got the kids in bed I was able to settle down for a little time of prayer and meditating on God's Word. Somehow I think if I had done this at the beginning of the day instead of the end, my day would have gone better. I put my time with God first today.

At 10:30 my brother Samuel called from the campsite where he’s staying while he fights wildfires in the North and West. It’s a good thing we weren’t asleep yet! Always so wonderful to hear from far-away family.

So that’s our exciting day! I never did get the house as tidy as I wanted it. All-in-all I was pretty frustrated. But I still got a lot done, and the essential things were accomplished eventually. How was your day?

Vintage Children's Books

I've always loved old children's books, especially those from the 20's through the 60's, with their realistic illustrations in bright primary colors. Although I haven't urged them toward any one era in reading, I find that my children are drawn to these kinds of books as well. I think it's that they easily recognize the pictures as things familiar to their world, and I think it's the great colors too. There's nothing abstract about the illustrations. Besides, children's books from that time are typically happy and cheerful, unlike the moralistic Sunday School stories of the Victorian Era or the today's emotional and sentimental, and frequently even sad children's picture books.

This is a scene I see quite often: one, two, or all three of my children gathered around a book...

With pictures like this.

This book is "How Do We Know?" which looks like it was a textbook or perhaps just a children's encyclopedia-type book. I have used it in our homeschool, and they love to "read" it all on their own.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oh! Oh! Oh!

When did Joy, one of my favorite-ever bloggers, start blogging again?!! How did I miss this?! I just checked her blog a few weeks ago and it was the same as it was a year ago or longer, I think. Hi Joy! So glad you're back!

And thanks to new blogger Christina for putting Joy on her blog roll so I'd find her blog...And for linking me, too.

Come Tour My House! The Craft Room

Here are a few more pictures for those of you who know me and haven't seen my house yet. I'm not so delusional as to think that these rooms measure up to the exquisite decorating I see in so many places in the blogosphere...But my house may be of interest to a few of you anyway!

This is my tiny little craft room, which I guess was originally a breakfast nook. It stays neat because I haven't done any crafting lately. I hope that having my sewing machine out will inspire me to sit down and sew something one of these days.

Here's another piece I get to share as the result of marrying a bachelor with great furniture. Billy's mom told me this is a family heirloom that's over 100 years old. I love it. It makes the perfect home for my craft supplies.

Yes, that's the refrigerator next to it. Apparently the original kitchen wasn't designed for a fridge (maybe and icebox on the porch?). So it stays in the breakfast/craft room.

Anyway, I've never had a craft room and very likely never will again. It's nice for now though!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Now I Understand

When I was little we had these friends with 10 kids. They were rowdy and hospitable and we loved to go to their house. It was always happy chaos. There were kids of all ages everywhere and it wasn’t unusual to find toothbrushes in the commode and the like. One time one of their kids had spilled a bag of cheet-os on the carpet and hadn’t cleaned it up. The little kids were walking through the mess and picking cheet-os up from the floor and eating them. We were mortified.

Now I understand.

Once my sister and I babysat for a family with 4 boys while their parents went on a date. When we arrived the house was a disaster, according to our standard. Now our house wasn’t perfect, but it was never allowed to get like this. They also had a purple piano which seems really cool now, but then just seemed weird. (I was a lot more judgmental in those days about life and death matters like peoples’ paint choices.) Their boys were terrible, probably because we wouldn't let them watch TV. I was beside myself.

Friday night as I ran around trying unsuccessfully to get the house clean before the baby sitter arrived so Billy and I could go on a date I remembered how critical I had been.

Now I understand.

One time when I was a kid, my mom and us 5 kids were grocery shopping. We did it regularly so we had learned to be reasonably mannerly when out and about. Out of the blue a woman we had never seen before ran up to us and accused one of us of scratching her screaming son, who had been nowhere nearby. Then she shouted at my mom, “YOU THINK YOUR FAMILY IS SO PERFECT!!!!!!!”

At the time I was horrified (it was pretty shocking), but now…Well, there have been days that my kids were horrible in public and when I saw a family with well-behaved kids it made me just want to cry. She was probably having a really bad day.

Now I understand.

Come Tour My House! The School Room

Here's where the learnin' happens, or at least book work. We all know that in homeschool families learning is not limited to book time (and hopefully this is true of most families, homeschool or not). Do you think I should replace that lovely towel with a real curtain?

I always swore I wouldn't have a school room because it made it so hard to move. You always have to find a house with an extra room. And frankly, it's quite likely that we'll move several times through the years. Well, so far I've been fortunate and this house and our last one actually had an extra room. It's nice to have a place to stash my school stuff, but I don't want to get locked into it to the point that it limits my house choices.

Can you tell that books are our weakness?

On the little wall I have the Declaration of Independence (from a garage sale) and a vintage children's chalk board (free).

Since I'm all about honesty here, I will say that I purposely left out the two corners of the room that are filled with ugly boxes and storage tubs (head high at that), and also my messy computer desk. I hope to get those areas sorted and organized soon. Till then I'm not showing you the rest of the room!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What Would You Think...

If you heard your 2-year-old whisper, "Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Uh-oh," as she flew through the kitchen, grabbed a dish towel, and flew back out? Would you think that she poured half a very large bottle of skin-so-soft oil in the carpet? Me neither. But she did.

And after you got what was left of the bottle and put it in the sink for a moment of safe-keeping, what would you think if you heard your 2-year-old shout, "NO, BUBBA!" and the 4-year-old say in his most patronizing, big-brother tone, "Sarah, we need to pour the water out of the bottle." Glug glug glug... And you turn around and see them both on a stool next to the sink where the remaining skin-so-soft was. Yes, was. Sigh.

My whole house stinks of skin-so-soft and company is to arrive soon.

What would you do?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

My Kitchen

Since my kitchen corner post generated so much interest, I thought I'd share a few more pictures of my kitchen, especially for friends and family who haven't yet been to my house. Just ignore the duct taped linoleum. Come on, I said it was a great house, not perfect!

Anyone who knows me and has been in my house can testify that this is how my kitchen always looks. You believe me, right? Please say yes.

Well, OK. Here's the honest shot. This was later the same day, after cooking and eating a meal all from scratch. Since this usually happens 3 times a day at my house, my kitchen looks like this more often than not.

But it's still a great kitchen.


We're in a three-way race for the figs on the tree next door--well, the trunk is growing out of the parking lot next door, but the tree is bent, so all the foliage and fruit are in our yard. The old man across the street comes across frequently to check their progress. We check more often (see pic above). And the company next door plans to cut the tree down and reclaim the parking space where it's growing. The tree is LOADED with unripe figs, 3 and 4 to a cluster rather than the usual one. Will it survive long enough to finish its final abundant harvest? (Imagine creepy mystery radio show music.) Only time will tell. Meanwhile, we're keeping a close eye on the ripening fruit.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Blog Etiquette-Just For Fun!

Tell me, my friends, is it considered polite to respond to blog comments, or totally unnecessary? Do tell. I need to know. If I don't know, some great catastrophe is sure to occur.

Hmmm...Somehow I don't think that's a very compelling threat. So just tell me what you think, OK, ladies of the blogosphere?


Do you like an exotic look? Carrien linked to this company which sells Indian clothing. Amazing colors, and so inexpensive (although I can't find info about shipping either).

I think these are beautiful, although they really aren't my style. The kurta (below) is kinda making me re-think my stance against dresses over jeans, though. That is very cute. They have beautiful skirts too. Of course, knowing my obsession with skirts, you all can imagine that I'd buy one of their skirts in a heartbeat. Carrien likes to wear the kurta as a housedress. Ingenious, I say.

Jeff Bettendorf posts a video his wife Katie made about their little girls' amazing recovery from cancer. Warning: Don't look at it if sad stories bother you. BUT this one has such a happy ending!

Dr. Scott McKnight of Jesus Creed fame wrote a beautiful and powerful piece on a personal argument against divorce: shared memories.

Meredith at Like Merchant Ships tells how to be a good house guest.

Cherry Menlove (Tales from a Pixie Wood) writes about the resurgence of homemaking in a culture where the Alpha Mom has been the ideal for some time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Kitchen Corner

This is a little vignette on top of my cookbook book case. I got the antique bread board, rolling pin, and mason jars at a garage sale for just a few dollars. The old School Kitchen Textbook (1915) came from a used book sale. I find that old homemaking books usually go for just pennies. Who needs that info anymore, right? Well, I for one enjoy them...The cloth is a vintage flour sack my mother-in-law gave me. I think this could be more artfully arranged; I'm not very good at that.

One thing I really enjoyed (and miss) about our old neighborhood are the phenomenal garage sales. The neighborhood was built in the 50's and it was the place to live back then. It's still a very nice neighborhood. The original residents are growing quite elderly, selling many of their old possessions, or they've died and their children are selling their things. It's a goldmine of vintage items. I used to load the kids up in the double stroller and we'd go garage saling on Friday mornings sometimes, just walking around the neighborhood. That was always fun. At the garage sale where I bought most of these items, the residents were selling a ton of vintage costume jewelry for 25 cents a bag. I just bought a tiny bit, and now I'm kicking myself because I see so many possibilities for such items--and so cheap! I should have gotten it all.

Ah, well. Deals come and go.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Last night Sarah was running with a fork when she tripped and fell. All we could see was blood pouring from her eye. After we got it cleaned up, we found that the tines had just gashed the upper lid. A tiny bit farther down and it would have put her eye out. It scared us to death, but we're thankful that God kept it from being a serious emergency. I wonder how many times He protects us or our children from calamity and we don't even know it.

Psalm 91

You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
Say this: "God, you're my refuge.
I trust in you and I'm safe!"
That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you're perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God's your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you,
harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they'll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!"

(The Message)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Wrapping Up This Baby Thing...

I remembered one more pregnancy tip that I forgot to include in the series. Drink LOTS and LOTS of water. Dehydration can cause miscarriage, I hear, especially a danger in the hot summer months. So keep the fluids going!

And just for fun, here are three baby items that I've never had, but which look wonderful.

This is a co-sleeper, which attaches to the side of the bed. The top image is bassinette size; the bottom one is larger. I've always put the crib right by my bed, but baby still ended up in bed with me a good deal of the time, just so I could get some kind of rest. A co-sleeper seems ideal. Baby still has his own space, but there's no up and down all night long. I'm not against bed sharing, but it never worked very well for us. I think this would be a better option.

I think this wooden high chair is so pretty. I always wanted a wooden heirloom-type high chair, but so far we've mostly had plastic. I did have a vintage wooden high chair that was very pretty, but extremely dangerous. The tray wouldn't stay attached, so it was easy for tray and baby to fall to the floor. We didn't keep it.

An Ergo! I've heard rave reviews about this carrier! I really love my Snugli, but my fat little babies always outgrow it in a matter of weeks. The Ergo looks like a super-Snugli to me. It's no secret that Billy and I want more children, so when the time comes, the Ergo is at the top of my wish list.

By the way, you can click on any of the pictures above to get to the Amazon listing for that item or one very similar.

Finally, a related subject...Or maybe not...My frugal baby posts were pretty popular, so here they are (I say after I've just talked about three pricey items!)...

Frugal Baby, Part 1

Frugal Baby, Part 2

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

I have such a great dad! He came to know Jesus when I was a baby, and he’s lived his life committed to Christ. He has always put family first above his career. He has a great work ethic, which he taught us. His philosophy is that he’s there to make his employer succeed. He goes the extra mile for those he works for and other people in his life. He keeps his word. If he said we were going to do something special a month from today at 8am, you could bank on it. If he tells you he’ll do something for you, he does. He’s always led by example. I remember when I was very small, waking at 5am to find him reading his Bible in the living room before he left for his hours’ commute to work. My dad is kind and diplomatic. I learned a lot about getting along with people by watching him. He’s easygoing, easy to work with, and unselfish. His work ethic and good word make him well-respected, but his diplomatic ability, his reasonable nature, and his unselfishness make him well-liked. I’m so glad that my children have a grandpa like him in their lives. I love you, Daddy!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Preparing for Birth, Part 5

Include your husband

Keep him in the loop. If he’s not able or willing to attend appointments with you, make sure you tell him what the doctor or midwife said. Discuss options with him. You’ll do a lot better if you have his presence and support, and he’ll be much better able to help and support you if he knows what’s going on. Remember, he never has and never will be pregnant or give birth, so all he has to go on is what you tell him! One thing that was especially helpful to Billy was understanding the stages of labor. You know, "OK, this must be transition!"

Know what you want and stick to your guns

While I try to be an easy, undemanding patient, there are some things I’m not going to budge on regardless of what the doctor says, barring actual danger to me or the baby. (I’m not stupid—I do want my baby to be safe.) These non-negotiables will vary from person to person, so just know ahead of time what they are so you’re prepared to stick up for yourself. Again, remember that the doctor works for you.

Keep the goal in mind

Remember that pregnancy and birth aren’t ends in themselves…They are the means of bringing forth a tiny new life, an eternal soul made in the image of God. You are partnering with God in a holy experience!

Preparing for Birth, Part 4

Keep a good attitude

To be honest, I hate being pregnant. It’s not fun, it’s uncomfortable, I feel fat and unattractive, and I’ve had some pretty low times during pregnancy as well. But when I’m pregnant, I can choose not to focus on the bad, and instead remember that this isn’t about me and my feelings, it isn’t about being pregnant in and of itself, it’s about the creation of a priceless new life.

Don’t listen to horror stories

Ignore people who want to tell you how terrible their births were. Don’t troll the internet reading bad birth stories. Don’t watch Baby Story. Birth is a natural, wonderful experience which can go well most of the time. Listening to scary stories will only open the door for fear. If you must, kindly but firmly say, “I’d rather not hear horror stories,” and change the subject.

Pray for birth and baby

Strangely enough, I realized midway through my pregnancy with Sarah that although I was spending a lot of time worrying, I had spent very little time praying over my baby, my pregnancy, and my birth. I had to remedy that quickly. It sounds silly that I didn't think to do that, I know. But somehow I did...I believe prayer is essential for the optimal experience.

Preparing for Birth, Part 3

Write a birth plan

Think about your specific desires for your birth and put them on paper. Give one to your doctor for your file, and send one to the hospital well before your estimated due date. That way it is clear, in black and white, what your wishes are. It lets the hospital staff know that you have thought through your birth and that you are informed.

Here and here are good places to learn more about making your birth plan.

Practice relaxation

The more you can relax, the less painful your birth will be. My goal was to give birth naturally. So in the months leading up to my birth I practiced relaxing when I lay in bed at night…from head to toe…every muscle…limp as a rag doll…breathed deeply, imitating sleep. For more complete instructions on how to do this, see one of the excellent books available on the Bradley method of childbirth, or take a Bradley class. I’m not strong willed enough that sheer determination could make me get through birth without pain meds. However, relaxing has helped me learn to manage the pain. I can honestly say that with Sarah’s birth I never reached what I’d consider my pain threshold. Yes, it hurt, but I didn’t get the point where I thought, there’s no way I can take any more.

Read, read, read--be informed

Some great books are:

Husband Coached Childbirth by Bradley (somewhat outdated…I’ve heard that more current Bradley method books are better)

The Complete Well Pregnancy Book by Samuels and Samuels

Parent Project by Dr. William Sears (and pretty much anything else in print or online by Dr. Sears)

Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by Sheila Kippley

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League International

(I don't have time to link the books right this minute, but I'll be doing that soon. Anybody else have good book recommendations?)

Preparing for Birth, Part 2

Find a doctor or midwife you’re comfortable with

Do not, I repeat, do not settle for someone you aren’t comfortable with unless you absolutely must. Just because you started going to one does not mean you can’t find a different doctor. Of course, if you switch too late in pregnancy it’s harder to find someone who will take you on, but probably not impossible.

I always thought I wanted a woman doctor. I tried one and she was awful. So I switched to a grandfatherly, experienced, laid-back gentleman who had delivered a zillion babies. He was the best. When I moved, that’s what I looked for again. I asked around until I heard of someone that sounded like a good fit. As it turned out, he was.

I have a litmus test for my doctors. He can’t perform abortions. I’m sorry, but I just can’t handle the thought of someone who kills babies helping mine come into the world alive. I’ve always had Christian OB’s which has been a great blessing too. I feel more comfortable with someone who believes in the power of prayer and will hopefully be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Remember, the doctor works for you

I’m leery of the medical profession because I see so much playing God among doctors. A nurse told me recently that they tell them point blank in nursing school that half the time doctors are just guessing at diagnosis. So be informed, do your own research, and remember that the doctor is working for you in this natural process of birth. I’m grateful for doctors who save so many lives, but in low risk situations, understand your options and stand your ground. In short, don’t be bullied by a doctor or medical staff.

A personal example: Unless my baby is in distress, I won’t be induced. Do I get pressure? Of course. But having done the research, I believe that—barring a medical emergency—baby should come when he or she is good and ready. Having a last birth at just 2 hours solidifies my view even more. I believe it’s easier when nature takes its course, and I’m willing to take a stand for this.

Use a birth environment you’re comfortable with

If you’re having a hospital birth, find a doctor who delivers in a hospital with a good reputation. My doctor mainly delivers at a huge, usually overcrowded hospital in town that frankly has a reputation for inadequate care. (Blunt version: We hear horror stories.) However, he personally has a stellar record and is willing and able to deliver at the small Catholic hospital down the street. That’s what we chose, and the care has been personal and excellent.

Of course there are other options too: birth centers and home. Seek the guidance of God and determine with your husband where you should deliver. My mom friend Jenny (who has birthed 8 babies) reminded me, “Jesus is in the hospital too.” My hospital births have been great, but I attribute it mainly to choosing good ones and being informed and proactive. And I believe that God has led us to the places where he wanted me to give birth.

Preparing for Birth, Part 1

So many people I know have just had babies or are supposed to have babies soon, that I thought I’d jot down a few things that have been helpful for me in preparing for birth. (And to those who have been asking or wondering silently--no, I'm not pregnant!)

Don’t be afraid

The Bible tells us not to fear 366 times, I’m told, one for each day of the year and and extra one for leap year! As expectant mothers, I think it’s common to worry over our little one inside. Will the baby be OK? What if something goes wrong? What if I can’t manage the pain? What if I’m a bad mother? Trust God. He wants us to be at peace. He is Lord over birth just as over every other part of life.


I was especially overwhelmed with the temptation to fear during my pregnancy with Sarah. As an antidote, I meditated on Psalm 139 for weeks before her birth. Ahhh…Sweet peace…

Eat well

Did you know that it’s believed that a child’s palate is influenced by what you eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding? Aside from that, healthy foods result in a healthier baby and a mama who’s in better shape after birth. I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting when I was pregnant with Elizabeth, and I have to say that I was overwhelmed by all they said you had to eat. They even included instructions for how to stuff yourself with all the required servings if you were full. Now I’m no doctor or nutritionist, but my personal opinion is that it’s more about what you eat than how much. If you have an excellent diet, I don’t understand why you should max out your calorie intake just to squeeze that extra dairy serving in. Personally, I focused more on general healthy eating and didn’t worry so much about counting servings.


Birth is the hardest work you’ll ever do. You’ll perform better if you’re fit. One book likens it to training for a marathon.

When I was pregnant with Elizabeth, I hadn’t exercised in awhile, so I started with just 5 minutes. The next week, 10. By the end of the second trimester I was exercising about 45 minutes day and I was in the best shape of my life (except my abs, for some reason…*G*). I had a very successful, though long, first birth, and I was back to my prepregnancy weight within a week. (Yeah, blows me away too. That never happened again!)

Subsequent pregnancies I simply haven’t had the time or ability to exercise that intensely. It really worried me at first, but someone encouraged me that the strength would be there when I needed it. It was. I do think that if you can work out vigorously (using common sense and the green light from your doc of course), that’s great. But if a brisk walk is all you can do, that’s great too. The bottom line: just get moving.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Women and Home

When we left our old house, I cried. This puzzled Billy very much. “It is a nice house,” he said. No, more than just a house. More than four walls and a roof, a shelter, a place to house our furniture and keep us warm and dry. More even than a building to decorate attractively (which I never even did). It was home.

“Why?” Billy asked. Why was I so upset? I didn’t really want to talk about it then. I would have cried for hours if I’d tried to explain. So he asked me to write something sometime to help him understand why women become so attached to their homes.

It’s universal, I guess, although I can’t seem to find anything written on it. Maybe I’m the odd one. You know the saying Home is Where the Heart Is? That’s true. I pour my heart into making a home for those I love best. Creating home is the number one way I express love to my family, which I suppose is also why I become so frustrated when I fail. I spent most of the time there for four and a half years. It was my haven, my nest, my safe place. More than that, every square of floor, every wall, every window had a memory attached. I had to hold back tears as I cleaned the empty house. Every scratch, stain, and crayon mark told a story. Here’s where two of our babies first came home. Billy and I spent a lot of hours resting in front of our favorite feature of the house, the huge back window that looked out into a wooded yard. That’s where I held tiny Silas in his diaper and rocked him in the sunshine for hours to combat jaundice. In the kitchen I cooked many meals, labors of love. Here’s where my little ones took their first steps, said their first words, read for the first time. Here Billy and I snuggled to watch movies late at night. Elizabeth cooked her first dish in this kitchen. Looking out the window I could envision my babies at play, so tiny, now so big. I always wanted a house with big oaks in the yard. This one more than fit the bill. I remember evenings we spent outside, playing with the dogs, planting the garden. This place was special because of the memories attached to it and the love it had housed.

This was also the house where we had the great paint fiasco. Elizabeth’s room, which was supposed to be pastel yellow, turned out neon yellow-green. The poor child lived with that hideous color for 4 years. Finally I painted it pink, just 2 weeks before we learned we might be moving. That made me heartsick. She had wanted a pink room for so long.

I’m not just a housewife. I’m a homemaker. That’s why it’s so instinctive in women to make homes, and once we do, once we pour so much love and emotion into a place, why it’s hard to leave. There’s more to it than that, I think, but that’s the best I can do. All I know is that home means a great deal to me. Leaving my home to try to start a new one is hard. Much as I love my new place, I still miss the old one. I fell to pieces the other night when I thought I might have to see our old place again. I said my good-byes. I don’t want to go through it again. Then I cried again when I thought about leaving our new home. It’s a mixed-up mess, but for some reason that’s how I am.

Home can and should be a little foretaste of heaven. I suppose that’s where the grief comes in. We’re hard-wired to live in a perfect home forever. We aren’t made to pull up roots. But in a broken world, we do. One day we’ll be in our perfect home, and we’ll never have to leave it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Just For Fun

I created a poll just for fun, just to see if I could do it. I had a more profound question in mind, but when I went to make the poll I couldn't remember what it was...Something about housework. Play along!




There have been things to hate about every place I’ve ever lived. Sometimes I succumbed to the temptation to hate those places. I really hated Texas for a lot of years. I know that extenuating circumstances influenced my feelings, but honestly, those circumstances never really had anything to do with Texas or most Texas people. I just made up my mind that since I wasn’t happy (for good reason) about a lousy situation, I’d take it out by hating the state where I had to live in said situation. Later, I changed my attitude, but I think an unbearable situation would have been a little easier if I’d chosen to enjoy my surroundings. (For the record, I love Texas now, and it tops my list of places I’d like to live.)

Loving where you live really is a choice.

Billy and I joke that we somehow always end up living in places no one else wants to live.

When we married we lived in a tiny town in the Mississippi Delta. Most people I knew who had moved their from other places never grew to like it, although most locals were fiercely loyal to their community. It was so remote that the farming segment of the population were a very tight-knit community, old-fashioned in many ways. Their July 4th celebration could have happened 100 years ago. It was like stepping back in time.

On the other hand, our neighborhood had deteriorated into a crack town. We could throw a stone from our front porch to three street corners where cocaine was sold in broad daylight. Drunks and drug addicts walked by our house at all times of the day and night, and we once had a gang fight in the street in front of our house which left someone laying in the street. When I called 911, no one responded. (That happened more than once.) The sheriff couldn’t even carry a gun—he was a convicted felon who was elected to his second term from prison. The local judge was named one of America’s six worst judges by Reader’s Digest.

We were an hour from the nearest Wal-Mart, which was located in a city that had the highest murder rate per capita in the nation that year. The church had actually had ministers turn them down because it was too far from Wal-Mart. (That blows my mind to this day.) I had to drive an hour and a half to the hospital where I had my first baby, like all the other women in the community.

The previous “pastor” had murdered his wife in the church parsonage (where we lived) and passed it off as suicide. He came to trial while we lived their and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

But in spite of all the drawbacks, we loved where we lived! We cried a lot of tears when we had to leave. Some of our sweetest memories are of that place. When we got married we knew that we wouldn’t be there forever, and we determined to enjoy our time there. That was the sweetest little church I’ve ever seen. Someone described it as an oasis, and that’s exactly what it was. The people were beyond wonderful. They loved us in spite of our many faults, and welcomed us into their families since our own families were so far away. We still miss our Mississippi family! We enjoyed the farming culture and endless fields (which most outsiders hated). The pace of life (for us) was slow and idyllic. “Ministry” happened on the field, or perhaps I should say in the fields. Billy had great hunting opportunities in some of the nation’s best national forest. We got to live in an amazing, unique culture.

It was all about attitude. Although there were many drawbacks, we chose to see the good. And there was plenty of good. I’m glad that we chose to have that mindset, because we’ve been able to take it everywhere we’ve gone. We’ve loved each place that we’ve lived, even though we do usually end up in places no one else wants to go, places that are considered less than desirable. Our last location wasn’t as undesirable, but we had plenty of other challenges that made it a tough assignment. Our new spot is another one that most people don’t want to come, and most who do don’t want to stay. It’s not always easy to choose to see the good, but each time we have, God has honored it. (I don’t know how else to explain it.) Instead of focusing on all the reasons to hate where we live, He’s enabled us to enjoy the wonderful benefits and unique culture of each location. We’re strangers, missionaries, sojourners. And that makes us international tourists of sorts, able to enjoy God’s best about any place He sends us.

For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”

Hebrews 13:14 (NKJV)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Out and About

Here are a few blogs--some old, some new--that I've been enjoying.

Simply Victorian I have a love-hate relationship with the Victorian era. However, Mrs. Wilt's new blog is beautiful. And I can't wait for Victoria magazine's re-launch, of course. I guess it's more love than hate.

Large Family Mothering Wisdom from a mother of 14.

Gracious Hospitality Since I believe hospitality is a wonderful gift, it stands to reason that I'm drawn to this blog.

There is No Place Like Home
Couldn't agree more.

Lula's Hardt A beautiful blog!

The talented Cherry has another lovely and inspirational blog.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Old House

The house next door is coming down. Our house is old; this house is much older. See the cypress shingles that were under the rusty tin?

I wonder what the view from these upstairs windows looked like when the house was built. I'm sure the landscape was a lot different than the downtown we have now. This house might even have been the first one on the block.

I love the front door's wavy glass.

I would love to go inside and take pictures before it's all torn down, but since it's now officially a demolition site, I don't suppose that will be allowed.

One thing that makes me feel better is that it's being torn down slowly, because someone wants to use the old materials. I'm happy that a hundred years, and probably more, of history aren't being bulldozed.

Goodbye, old house.