Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Our Magical Morning

I decided to use this week to start acclimating myself and the kids to an earlier wake up time which will be necessary for school time. Waking up wasn't so hard yesterday because I had somewhere to be by 9:30 but today is my free day--I have NOTHING that needs doing today! I stuck to it though and crawled out of bed when my alarm told me to then I WOKE UP SLEEPING CHILDREN. Crazy, huh? Little did I know, it was the start of a wonderful day. 

The kids decided they wanted to color while I fixed breakfast (it was just cereal with a side of cantaloupe so don't be impressed or anything lol). Piper happily shared pages from her coloring book with the boys and then asked, "will you please pass me a crayon?" each time she needed one from Jathan at the other end of the table. She has picked up on the fact that her mama heavily praises politeness. 

After breakfast I decided to get outside since it's such a beautiful day. It was in the 60s when we first stepped out! The kids even wanted jackets, ha ha. 

We admired the red blooms on the vine I planted by our front steps. We've noticed hummingbirds visiting it over the last few days which has excited me even more than the kids. I just love flowers and birds and butterflies. 


We all then headed to our little garden to check on our cantaloupes. There are several growing but none yet ready to harvest. I hope they make it because cantaloupe is one of my favorite foods! Of course the sunflowers at my garden are impossible to ignore. 



The bees were just in heaven crawling all over them. A happy sight! 

Jathan wanted to pick some carrots. Sadly I planted them in too small of a container, and there won't be any we can really eat I don't believe. But the kids like pulling them up and examining the little roots then sharing them with the chickens. 

 


Jathan, Ryland, and Piper checked for eggs then opened up the chicken run and went to explore it a bit. They found a lovely centipede and a good walking stick for Ryland. 


Jathan requested we go see the baby birds we had discovered the day before. We approached slowly and sure enough mama bird was on her nest. Here's a picture from yesterday though. 


The kids played on the patio until Jathan came up with the idea to play hide and seek. They elected me "it." I smiled with closed eyes and counted to twenty while three little voices giggled bounding away. 

I knew the general direction they'd gone, and when I headed that way Piper popped out from behind a bush squealing, "Yoo hoo!" It was kind of adorable. Ryland was found behind another huge bush but Jathan was further out. I suspected he was in the garden so to the garden we went. Brooklyn had to pick a (green) tomato. I pointed out the beautiful zinnias and marigolds and zinnias.



Uncurling their tongues, butterflies sipped from the zinnias and fluttered all around us. 


More gorgeous sunflowers towered over us. 


Finally we discovered Jathan in the corn! Brooklyn ran and hugged his legs as if she hadn't seen him in a month!

The pumpkin patch was calling our name next. Two rows of pumpkins were planted early and are already grown. We spotted one with bumps and a giant white one and a tiny mingled one that Jathan thought looked like cheese. 


The Indian corn has such lovely tassels. Ladybugs roamed their leaves. 


I can't wait until fall! What fun we will have picking pumpkins and gourds to decorate with! 


Some wildflowers caught our eye in the field next to the gardens. There are so many interesting plants growing! I don't know what these are but I thought they looked like cute little lanterns. 




The large rock in the field provided entertainment for some time--hopping and jumping and walking it's perimeter dreaming of picnics on it. 



Jathan just kept saying how much fun we were having and what a good day it was. He was right. It was perfect. I'm so happy to have the privilege of experiencing life with these five special people. If only I'd take the time every day to enjoy the sheer beauty of the world around me. 

















Monday, July 14, 2014

Pretty

A friend shared an Elle article about one of Colbie Caillat's new songs, Try. The article talked about how she felt pressure to change her outward appearance. Hair extensions, fake eye lashes, fake nails, photoshopping. It was getting to her. So she was encouraged to put her feelings to music and what happened what a great video. 


By the time I got to the end of the video I thought, "Wow, I don't even think we know what a beautiful woman looks like anymore." We know what a great dye job looks like. We recognize flawless makeup and polished manicures. But what if we were all stripped of that? Would we see beauty? 

I happen to really like makeup and hair (big hair to be exact). I like pretty clothes and painting my nails. I don't think there's anything innately wrong with liking those things. Except sometimes I go without makeup and I hear "Oh, you look tired." Small children have even told me I looked weird! Seriously! 

The other day I had makeup on, and Piper asked why. "I just like wearing makeup sometimes," I told her. She told me I shouldn't wear makeup. However, Ryland (who you can always count on to speak his mind) chimed in and told me I should wear it to church because it looks pretty. 

Later the same day that I read the article I referenced earlier, Piper requested to put on a "princess dress." We don't have any actual dress up clothes; every dress is a princess dress to her. At first I didn't want to, but I'm working on saying yes to my kids whenever reasonable. She chose a dress, I helped her put it on, and watched her twirl around proclaiming herself Princess Piper. She ended up sleeping in that dress because she just loves it so much. 

I remarked to Jackie how happy she was. She clearly felt pretty--like a princess. I tried to think of something that made me feel that way. You know what? I couldn't come up with a single thing. How sad that I've either outgrown or given up on the concept of self-beauty. I'm not saying that I think my face ory body is ugly necessarily but nothing inspires me to glow like my bare-faced, messy-haired little girls. 

I couldn't help but be reminded of 1 Peter 3:3-4 which says, "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 

Therein lies my real problem. I greatly lack a gentle and quiet spirit! My spirit is rather loud and boisterous within me. 

Gotta work on that. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

How Hobby Lobby Got It Wrong

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby today. This ruling was a huge deal in that it supported both religious liberty and personal freedom. While I am very happy with the outcome, I have been bothered with many of the details of Hobby Lobby's stance on contraceptives. See, the whole case is about how Hobby Lobby refused to comply with government mandates on providing certain drugs through insurance. Hobby Lobby does not want to provide "emergency contraceptives" because they believe them to be abortifacients. It is their position that life begins at conception therefore they do not support the use of drugs which could abort a fertilized egg (after conception but before implantation--which is when it's generally agreed upon that pregnancy begins). Here's a screenshot of an article I read where their representatives express this viewpoint: 


Specifically they refuse to pay for the contraceptives Ella and Plan B as well as IUDs. I agree with them on their stance that life begins at the moment of conception and that these two drugs could cause a fertilized egg (the earliest form of a baby) to be unable to implant and therefore die. But why are they okay with the use of the 16 other mandated contraceptive forms which work in the same way?

Let me share my personal story with you. After Jackie and I married, I chose to use birth control because that's what married people are supposed do. We were advised by many well-meaning friends to wait to have children and enjoy the freedom of our newlywed days together. Had I known then what I know now, I would have delighted in focusing on our new relationship as a FAMILY instead of indulging in the "freedoms" of being a COUPLE, however I listened to what culture dictated. I chose to use the Mirena IUD because I liked that I didn't have to think to take a pill everyday, and it was also appealing to me not to have a period at all. Eventually we decided to have a baby, I had my IUD removed, and several months later I became pregnant with Jathan. After his birth I again used the Mirena IUD. Then I began hearing talk among Christian circles calling IUDs abortifacients. I did the research and decided I was not comfortable with the way that the IUD prevented pregnancy. So I researched other forms of birth control to see which would be suitable for me and my religious beliefs. Much to my surprise ALL forms of hormonal birth control worked in the same three possible ways. First, they may work to suppress ovulation so that no egg is released to be fertilized. Secondly, they may work to thicken cervical mucous making it difficult for sperm to enter the cervix and head towards an egg. Thirdly, they may thin the lining of your uterus so that in the event that an egg is fertilized (conception), it will not be able to implant and will die. 

I went ahead and did that research again today and took some screenshots for you guys. 

Implanon (implanon-USA.com) is a implant that goes in your arm. Here's what it's website says about how it works (note: "it changes the lining of your uterus):


Nexplanon (nexplanon.com) is also an implant that goes in your arm. Here is a screenshot of its website:


It changes the lining of your uterus.

Othro-Evra is "the patch." (Orthoevra.com) It changes the lining of your uterus to "reduce the chance of implantation." 


Nuvaring is a vaginal ring. (Nuvaring.com) No page on its direct website said that it worked to change the uterine lining but if you read the prescribing information (the stuff the doctor is SUPPOSED to tell you) then you would find this under mechanism of action:


And of course if you choose a Mirena IUD like I did, please read their prescribing information (because your doctor probably won't). It indicates that it does indeed work to reduce the likelihood of a FERTILIZED egg implanting. 


Birth control pills come under many brand names but they all generally work in the same way. Here is a list of common brands and an explanation. You can visit your brand's website and read it there directly if you wish: 


So what about emergency contraceptives? I took the time to visit Ella.com, planbonestep.com, and mynextchoiceonedose.com as well. Can you figure out what they all have in common? 

Plan B:




Ella:


Next Choice:


They are all shouting, "Chill out! There's nothing wrong with us--we work in the same way regular birth control does!" 

Christians, we have been fooled into believing hormonal birth control is safe and morally upstanding. If you believe life begins at the moment of conception when egg and sperm are united, hormonal birth control is not for you. If you would not use an emergency contraceptive because you belief they work as abortifacients, none of these hormonal birth control products are for you. Please, please prayerfully consider what you are putting into your body and research how it achieves it's goal. 

Please, please, please also understand that using hormonal birth control increases your risk of cancer (especially breast cancer). Every single website that I visited mentioned this, and cancer.gov mentions this as well. We wonder why so many young women are being diagnosed with cancer; I believe this is a huge contributing factor. This is why I found the President's response to the Hobby Lobby decision so absurd. He asserted that this was putting women's health at risk. Quite the contrary, Mr. President, any woman who takes these drugs is at an increased health risk! (Interestingly enough do you know what cancer.gov lists as a way to REDUCE your cancer risk? Having "many" children and breastfeeding them!)

I am not sharing any of this to judge anyone for their choices or to try to push my personal beliefs on anyone else. I am sharing this because I wish someone would have told me. 

If you would like to hear more of my personal story or learn about alternative methods of birth control, please feel free to contact me! 



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Two Things

Two thoughts have been rolling around in my head lately. 

First, Proverbs 22:6. "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." If when you look around this world you see a lot of people who are not going the way they should be going, then you can almost be certain that no one trained them as children. Then you should not make that same mistake. TRAIN your children. Every day. Intentionally. 

Second, when considering grown ups who make decisions contrary to decisions you would make it's important to remember that they are grown ups. And grown ups have the right to make their own decisions. And most likely that doesn't affect your life as much as your lack of self-discipline and faith. Example: Christians who want to point out how everyone else is not living right but who have yet to ascend to heaven as a result of having achieved perfection themselves. (Talking to myself, too, here.) I say, live and let live. But REALLY live! Empty yourself of self and be filled then pour out the Spirit of true love. Others will have to deal with the consequences of their actions should they choose to reject the love you offer them through Christ but don't get hung up trying to micromanage people's lives. 

I guess what I'm saying is be real. Live fully. And leave a legacy worth sharing. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Keeping Toddlers Busy

I've seen and pinned lots of ideas on Facebook and Pinterest about keeping babies and toddlers busy. I love the idea of sensory bins and busy bags and water tables but today I thought I'd share a few things that have been working for us. 

If you have toddlers you might...

Keep a basket next to your bed filled with books you'd like to read, your journal, etc. and of course pens. 


Skip cabinet locks.


Keep your costume jewelry in a low drawer.


Hand them a coloring book and crayons. Watch them throw them down one at a time saying uh oh each time. 


Sadly I didn't get a picture of their banana smashing adventure or their favorite educational activity: tearing the entire toilet paper roll into tiny pieces and/or putting an entire roll of toilet paper directly into the toilet. 

What are some of your favorite ways to keep baby busy? 

Anyone want to babysit? 



Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April Fools!

The kids didn't get to have a 100th Day of School party on the actual day, so I told them we would do it for April Fools Day. Here are some pictures of our revelry! 


We started off the day with bacon and pancakes.



Then Jathan and I did a 100 number grid activity. This is his super happy face. Yes, he is a total goofball!


Next we all headed outside to hit the piñata. It wasn't the prettiest thing in the world but the kids loved it and miraculously it survived several hits from each of the kids!



After lunch we sang happy one hundredth day to you and ate cupcakes.


Next we used 100 toothpicks and 100 marshmallows to build with. 



Here Ryland and Piper are dividing their Fruit Loops up by colors into 10 groups of 10. Jathan ate a hundred fruit loops!


I had this worksheet for Jathan and Ryland to complete then Piper really, really wanted one. It was the first time she had actually listened to directions and colored! She didn't complete it but I was totally impressed.



Then last night we had fun with the low sticks from the piñata! Even the babies enjoyed hanging out in the dark with us. And Ryland made this 100 completely on his own having recognized this number from all our activities that day! 


It was a fun April Fools Day! We even played a *few* jokes on Daddy including hiding his root beer, stuffing the toes of his shoes, and coating the toothbrush with sticky toothpaste so it'd be gross when he grabbed it. I think he was glad when the day was over, ha ha! 

Did you do anything special for April Fools? Trick anyone?















Sunday, March 23, 2014

Too Many Kids?

I joke with my mom that she has asked me if I'm pregnant every month since I was 15. Five times I've said yes. 

A couple of weeks ago my mom shared her heart with me. "I hope you don't have any more," she told me. She explained that she wanted me to have a life of my own, things of my own. "It's a big sacrifice being a mother," she remarked. 

My mom is seeing me be a mom. Seeing me struggle. Seeing me feel overwhelmed at times. Seeing me do without. And I know that's hard for a mom to see, because as parents I think we all want our children to have nice things, good experiences, and a happy life. It's pretty common for parents to want "better" for their kids than they had. For many, "better" means bigger houses, shinier cars, more stuff. If you haven't guessed by now, it's hard to keep up with the Jones with a large family.

There are a number of reasons I've heard as to why people shouldn't have "too many kids" but many of them go back to finances. They simply cost too much. (Believe me, I know. We have no money!) Some people have also said they just don't have the patience. Even my mom pointed out that I get frustrated and ill because there are "so many of them."    

To be honest with you thinking about it all can get discouraging. But it's during times of discouragement that I do best to take refuge in the Lord.  Sometimes it's best to turn a deaf ear to the world and tune in to what God has to say. 

The world says, "Children are a burden! They're hard work and cost so much." 

God says, "Children are a blessing. A reward. A heritage!" (Psalm 127:3-5) 

The world says, "Accumlate as much as you can. Not only do you NEED a new car, a big house, expensive clothes, and vacations, you DESERVE it!" 

God says, "Value what is eternal. This life is just a tiny stop on the journey." (1 John 2:17) 

As I remind the kids when they are fighting over toys, people are more important than things. A while back we noticed that someone had misspelled Ryland's name ON THE SIDE OF OUR VAN (hint: It was Ryland.) You know, the van where countless drinks have been spilled, kids have thrown up on the seats, and there's enough crumbs hidden to sustain our entire family should we be trapped in a Georgia snow storm.  But you know what? Even if I managed to keep our van nice and clean for 100 years, some day it will be garbage. Every single thing we own will! Don't waste your time and money loving garbage. 

The world says, "It's hard having a bunch of kids. They're loud and annoying and want to eat, like, every single day! Keep calm by removing potential stressors from your life!"   

God says, "Lay down your life for others. Be a living sacrifice." (Romans 12:1, John 15:13) 

"But you're just not a patient person!" the world reminds you. 

God says, "Be kind! Be patient! These are attributes Christians have because this is how I am!" He is the vine and we are the branches, remember? 

God doesn't give us suggestions. He gives us commands. He expects us to be patient and kind and slow to anger. But don't worry, we don't have to do it by ourselves! One of my favorite verses is posted on our fridge so I can read it every single day: "Surely God is my help, The Lord is the one who sustains me. (See also Philippians 4:13, Psalm 46:1 and a bazillion others) 

What an encouragement to know that there's more to life than just what you can grab as you pass through! There's more to you than what you wear or where you live or what you drive. You are eternal and important to the Creator of the universe! You can make a difference not only in other peoples' lives but their ETERNITIES by valuing them. The hardships you go through right now are worth it. They are not meaningless but have massive potential. 

And as a side note I'd like to mention something the Lord used to encourage me one day. We Christians are supposed to be fishers of men--making disciples! It's a lot easier to fish for men when you have a big aquarium at home! ; )

This post isn't really about children. It's about taking God at His Word. He has given us the answers; we don't have to look to the world or try to figure them out on our own. We can have so much peace and joy if we look at things from God's point of view instead. Wherever you are in life, whatever that means for you, try it!