Adoption process has begun...

Last night, I took a rare moment. S agreed to take the kids out for a walk/bike ride around the neighborhood, and just let me take a relaxing shower. I have been on my knees in prayer recently regarding the decisions we have to make with our adoption, and during the shower, I just felt like God spelled the whole plan out for us. I told S about it later, and he agreed. So, we made our final decisions last night, and started the process. "Coincidentally" (God arranged?) S was off work all morning--something that only happens on occasion. So I stayed up relatively late going over all the paperwork. I spent several hours filling out what I could and marking things for S to fill out, or things that have to be signed by notaries. This morning, we hit the ground running, and decided to take advantage of S's morning off. We fed the kids, and loaded up. I am ashamed to say, we were in such a rush to get out the door that I totally forgot to brush M's hair or wash JR's face (covered in cereal and milk residue!) Oh well! We started off getting our fingerprints done. You have to have several copies in order to have state and national FBI background checks done. Those can take 2-3 months for results, so you do them ASAP. Then we had to go get criminal records (or lack thereof, I should say! I have never been caught!) from the police station. That was followed by a trip to the bank to get cashier's checks to pay for it all. Few folks accept personal checks anymore! Then we put all that together and dropped it off at an office for our social worker so he can start his process. Sound complicated? It's only the beginning!

Over the next few days/weeks, I have to make copies of all our birth certificates, our marriage certificate, different ID and insurance cards, notarize forms, and gather criminal records from the last 5 years. For us, that involves 3 states (1 down, 2 to go!). We have to continue filling out mountains of paperwork. I personally, have found the written part of the homestudy is really not as bad as people make it sound. The problem is that you have to write the same things several times in some cases. There is the official agency application, then the personal profile and/or autobiography, and, in this case, the social worker has his own forms totally seperate from our agency. So I have to write some of this stuff 3 times! No one accepts copies. Then, our agency requires statements of faith since they are a Christian agency. Thank the Lord, we have recently gotten to know one of our pastors recently so he could help with that. I have to send out reference letters. By the way, if you know us personally, there is a good chance I will e-mail or call about it soon! LOL When we get all that stuff back, I then get to load up the 3 kids I have now and make a trip to the local fedex store for shipping services. Finally, the best part is when we create and order our "profiles." This is a book we have compiled that tells the expectant mother about us. We try to answer the majority of questions she might have. She will be shown several of these profiles based on her criteria for adoptive parents, in order to help her decide who she wants to choose to adopt her baby.

It sounds intimidating, but amazingly, I am so relaxed about it this go around. It is wonderful having been through it before. God gave us the fore-sight to get extra copies of many of our certificates so we don't have to worry about that this time, and we totally know what to expect this go around. I was just telling S that I have truly come to value the sense of peace I get when I/we have made the right decision (we hope! LOL). Only God ever knows for sure, but He hasn't led me wrong yet when I pay attention to that feeling. So now, if you could just keep the whole process in your prayers once again. Pray that our fingerprints and paperwork can be processed in a timely manner so the homestudy can proceed, pray for everyone involved, and pray for the biological mother of the child God is planning for us, as well as the child him/her-self. Thanks!


It's official

Well, I guess it's official...God has called us to adopt again, or maybe I should say, to be willing to adopt again.

For those of you who don't know our story, there were many factors that brought us to the adoption of little A. One major factor was a simple comment made by someone I highly respect for her Christian character and her walk with Christ. She said, "if we as Christians are going to be against abortion, then we must be willing to personally offer an alternative." God's Word specifically instructs us to "...look after orphans and widows in their distress..." (James 1:27). While I am no theologian, and I do realize that this verse is really written to elders in the church, I have come to interpret the term "orphans" to include any child, born or unborn, living in an orphanage in a 3rd world country or in a foster home in the U.S., or an unborn baby whose mother decided (for any reason) that she cannot raise her baby. Furthermore, I figure since many "elders" today are not doing many of the jobs God assigned them, somebody has to. Additonally, I have come to view the term "widows" in this verse as including not only women whose husbands have died, but any woman, young or old, who is in some kind of distress. The simple fact is there are countless children, both unborn and born, around the world who are in need of a stable, loving home, and there are countless women out there who are struggling. I truly don't know how Biblically solid this view and interpretation is. However, as Christians, it is our job to help others in whatever way God leads us to. S and I feel strongly that God has allowed both positive and negative situations in our lives to work together in such a way that we have the desire, ability, and resources to open our homes to young children and infants.

So why are we so passionate about adopting? Well, first and foremost, God has called us to do so. Contrary to our modern, worldly-view society, we firmly believe"sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from Him." (Psalm 127:3) Contrary to popular views regarding abortion, God "created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb."(Psalm 139:13)

While there is a need worldwide, our passion is for domestic (U.S.) adoption. Unfortunately, there is no reliable source with updated national information, but, based on what is available, here are a few statistics:

  • According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, in 1995, there were over 10 million women in the U.S. who had considered adoption. Of those 10 million, only 1.6 million had ever taken steps toward an adoption. However, only 437,000 women had ever adopted. EVER! That's just 1.3 percent of the original 10 million!
  • Compare that to the fact that around 100,000-200,000 domestic children, age newborn-18 need adopting each year. A large number of these children wind up in the state foster care system. Obviously, it is a myth that there are no children available for adoption here in the U.S.
  • Furthermore, in some parts of the country, about 50% of newborns placed for adoption are white, with the other 50% consisting of every other race or mixture of races. In other parts of the country, about 50% are African-American, with the other 50% consisting of every other race or mixture of races.
  • Based on my research and experience, about 70-80% of people applying to adopt are caucasion, seeking caucasion infants. VERY few people are of other races, or are open to any race and older ages. Sadly, there is such a need for adoptive parents for African-American specifically, that many agencies and organizations offer grants and discounts for this race in order to help lower-income people afford adoption.
  • Obviously, when you do the numbers, they show a shortage of adoptive parents and an abundance of races other than caucasion, as well as an abundance of children older than the infant stage.
  • It is a sad state of affairs we are in. In fact, with the current economic "crisis," recent numbers are showing a drastic increase in children of all ages being placed for adoption. Biological parents are hurting, they are scared, and they may desire something different or "better" for their children. They want help. Unfortunately, worldly lies have influenced many to believe that abortion is a quick solution to a "problem." In fact, between 1 and 2 MILLION abortions are performed every year. And I won't even begin to get into the statistics of the poor women who wind up suffering emotionally and physically after an abortion.
  • We have also learned that, contrary to popular belief, many women who abort truly feel there is no other option and later have many regrets, while most women who place their babies for adoption truly love their babies. However, some women have a desire to finish school, some feel incapable of parenting, some have no support system in place (which any parent needs!), some may have dreams for their child that they feel they cannot provide, some may feel a threat to their life or welfare if they keep the baby, some may already have a child or children and fear they can't afford or handle another, some may be pregnant by rape, realizing that the baby is an innocent victim as well, and some may be battling an addiction that they just can't overcome enough to parent. Think of it this way: no matter how messed up her life or priorities may seem to an outsider, she loved her baby enough to give it life! Furthermore, many women love their babies so much that they don't want the child to be caught in the red tape of the state social system, and therefore choose to use a private individual adoption, private agency, or lawyer, where, in most cases today, the biological mother can actually choose the people/family she desires to parent her baby.
Our eyes were really opened to this incredible need through our first adoption experience. We encountered several situations, but one that really stands out was after we were already locked in with our agency. For some reason, I was on the phone with another agency. When I mentioned that we had told our agency we were open to race and gender, the lady excitedly said, "Really?! We have 2 babies right now, one has been laying in a hospital for 3 weeks, while the other was born a month ago, and we can't find parents for either one because of race! They are perfectly healthy!" While I wish we could have helped out in those situations (we couldn't because God already had little A picked for us!), I am happy to report they did soon find homes. Nonetheless, there is a need!

I would like to leave you with a youtube video slide show I found of a frequent type of domestic newborn adoption called open or semi-open (the birthmom and adoptive parents have met and may keep in touch. Communication varies based on all parties' desires. This is similiar to what we have with A's birthmom). Listen closely to the words. Oh, and you may want a box of tissues handy! If the direct video doesn't work, use the link under it.


Homeschool Advice Needed

For those of you who are a little more experienced in the homeschooling area, I need a little advice....

When I started hs 4 yr old JR, my intent was to focus on phonics and reading this year and writing next year. However, he is reading quite well already, and wanting to learn to write now. So I have started letting him use some writing workbooks in just a relaxed, introductory manner. These involve tracing numbers and letters (dotted lines), then trying to do it freehand next to the traces. It is probably worth mentioning here that JR is a perfectionist. If it isn't perfect, he will beat himself into the ground trying until he thinks it is. He just can't make himself stop. While this can be a good thing at times, it is resulting in very unpleasant writing lessons, as he sits there crying, getting discouraged, and trying and trying and trying again. Mind you, that is with no pressure from me. In fact, I have to make him stop when his frustration gets too out of hand, because he just won't let it go. But, taking it away will usually result in a complete loss of control, where I have to sit with him and encourage him to take deep breaths to calm down. What do I do?

I am perfectly content to wait until next year, when his fine motor skills are a bit more developed, but he is literally begging to learn to write. The problem is that he tends to do things backwards and/or sideways. Is there a manual I should use that will help him, or does he just have to keep practicing. Should I limit him to 1-2 a week, or just let him "play" at his own pace? I am just not sure about this one. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!


Overwhelmed by God's Grace

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just suddenly feel overwhelmed by the power, omnipotence, and blessings that our Lord God so willingly pours out? We had just such an experience this past week, and I would like to share it with you.

As you know, we had placed our car for sale about 6 weeks ago. For the quality, type of car, and price we were asking, we were really surprised to have had hardly any interest. In fact, in 6 weeks time, only 2 people were really interested, and both backed out "due to the economy." We began praying and seeking God's wisdom. We didn't want such a resource just sitting in our garage if it could benefit someone else, and we also didn't want to waste financial resources to continue paying insurance and registration on a car we weren't using. Aside from the car, we had come up with this grand plan on the best way to invest the money, and began to question if God had another plan. So we really sought God's guidance on how to handle the situation.

Within days of us beginning to pray about it, several things happened. The first was quite nerve-wracking. We both began to feel a calling from God to open our home once again to adoption. Seeing as how A is only 6 months, I really questioned this calling. We prayed some more, and a picture began to take shape in our heads of becoming a family of six. I tried to compromise by researching toddler and older child adoptions (thinking it would make things easier). Then, I thought, we could request a little girl to make our family "even"--2 girls, 2 boys. Not to mention, it just makes more "sense" because our house can more easily accommodate that setup than another boy. God seemed to have other ideas though. He seems to be giving us pretty specific instruction to just be open, once again, to age and gender, to following Him, and allowing Him to be in control. When we/I finally submitted, we realized that our asking price for the car would more than pay for another adoption, and that perhaps adoption was God's plan for the money, rather than our ideas of investing. At the same time, we felt led that we should be willing to accept a much lower price on our car, if it meant helping someone. So we began contacting a couple of churches to put out word that if anyone was in need of a reliable car, to talk with us. That is when the second thing happened. Almost immediately, we received 2 responses to our advertisements, one of which was from a church (I'll call them Person A). Person A came to look at the car, and really seemed to genuinely have more of a need. However, they were somewhat embarrassed to not be able to afford the asking price. We prayed about it. Though Person A did not make an actual offer at that point, we told them we would accept their offer, whatever it was. Just for fun, I did some calculations. I found that if we could get just X amount for the car, we would have exactly what we needed for an adoption. Person B, who was still considering his offer when all this occurred, finally called and wanted to come see the car. We told them that they were welcome to come look, but that Person A had priority, as they were already in the process of working out the financial details. Person B chose to come anyway, and made us an offer of our asking price. Right then, our phone rang, and Person A reported that they had the money. It was less than our asking price, but EXACTLY what my calculations had shown we needed for the adoption. S apologized to Person B and sent them on their way. In a way, we felt as though it was a bit of a test by the enemy to see whether we would follow God's calling or accept the higher price. That evening, as we sat down and discussed the occurrences of the day, I was just overcome with the wonderful feeling that results from helping another, overcome with the peace that results from submitting to God's will--or at least showing that you are willing to follow Him, even if it could potentially result in discomfort, and overcome with the abundance of blessings God has poured out on us as believers.

I am learning that God's grace is something we will never, in our mortal minds, be able to fully grasp, but OH! what a wonderful thing it is. God loves us so much, and it takes so little effort to see signs of that unconditional love and grace. And all He asks for in return is that we follow His will. He doesn't promise comfort or ease or popularity, but He does reward for that faithfulness in His own way and time.


Going directly to the Word

I have been convicted recently about showing our children exactly how the Bible instructs us, so that they can begin to grasp that we are following God's word in our obedience rather than just Mom and Dad's. This task has caused me to hesitate somewhat though, as I am not good--in fact, I am downright terrible--at remembering actual scripture references. This is something I am working on currently, but decided that for my children's sake, the best way to teach would be to dive right in (and become really good friends with my Bible's concordance and reference index!)

Today we had a situation where JR disobeyed my instruction. Nothing major, but as a consequence, I made him stop doing his activity entirely. He is a very sensitive child by nature, so, because he wanted to continue so badly, this consequence caused the tears to flow. It was almost lunch time. So I briefly explained his disobedience and the resulting consequence, and then left him alone to calm down while I prepared lunch. It occurred to me what a prime opportunity I had to take him to the Word of God. So, as we sat down to lunch, I grabbed the Bible. I asked him about what he had done wrong, ensured that he understood his actions, and then asked if he understood why I had to discipline him when he disobeyed. He explained to me, "No, mom, obeying is ugly! I can't do that." This statement shocked me and as I delved deeper, I realized that JR had a total misunderstanding and confusion regarding the terms obey and disobey. BTW, these are terms I use regularly, so it had never occurred to me that he didn't understand them. I was so incredibly thankful I had taken the opportunity to talk with him. So after some explaining, defining, and clarifying, I then asked him why he needed to obey. As expected, he answered, "I don't know." I then told him that God gives us instructions that we are to obey. I asked who wrote the Bible, and he answered, "GOD!" So then we went to Exodus 20:12 and Matthew 15:4, and discussed God's instruction that we are to "Honor our mother and father," and the fact that God promises rewards such as a long life if we obey. Then I asked if he understood why I have to discipline if he disobeys. When he didn't seem confident in his answer, we again turned to the Word of God and looked at Proverbs 22:6, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it." We discussed the meaning of that verse, and the fact that I have to teach my children, because God instructs me to do so, and I have to obey God. Discipline is how we learn sometimes. I used some examples of disobedient acts he had committed in the past and their resulting consequence, and he quickly seemed to catch on to how he learned through those experiences. We discussed what kind of little boy would treat his parents really ugly. JR replied that an "ugly" boy would. I asked the same about a boy who treats his parents nicely, to which he replied a "nice" boy. We then turned to Proverbs 20:11, "Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right." We discussed different kinds of people and their actions and whether or not they are likely obeying God.

It may have been a little overkill, but it was the first time (I am truly ashamed to confess) that I have approached such a situation in this manner. It really felt good. Furthermore, JR truly seemed to enjoy the conversation, and even seemed to grasp the majority of the concepts we discussed. M was at the table with us the whole time, just listening. I have no idea how much she understood. After our conversation, however, she started her own conversation with JR about good people, bad people, ugly, nice, and spanks, so she obviously picked up a little from it.

Hopefully, as I am getting deeper into the Word myself, as we learn memory verses together, and as I take the kids to the Word for teachable moments, I will quickly get better at it. Some mom's make it seem so easy! Nonetheless, I can't think of a better way to spend a lunch hour, then with my family, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and the Word of God!


New Homeschool Activities

Since we started homeschooling, I have become somewhat discouraged by the fact that I seem to have such small amounts of actual "schooling" time. On the best of days, where we cover many subjects, it only takes about an hour and a half to two hours of our day. Also, I was having some difficulty teaching because M could do very little, so I would often put her in front of a pile of toys in the playroom or pop in a Veggie Tales so I could work with JR on reading. However, knowing she was watching Veggie Tales would distract JR, so he couldn't focus on his reading. Then, after lessons, the kids get bored, often wind up watching Veggie Tales, and so I began researching new ways to do this homeschool thing. I began learning more about Montessori schooling, and have learned to appreciate what it is about--particularly for younger children. What little I know of it is this: you basically give children activities that involve one or more of their 5 senses, instruct them how to do it, then allow them to figure it out for themselves. In the process, they learn focus, independent play, coordination, and a number of other skills (depends on the activity). Now, I must mention here that I do not consider the Montessori method to fit with Biblical principal in some of its practice, and therefore, it will never be the basis of our curriculum. However, I think some of the activities involved can be very beneficial. So, since I am not very creative myself, so I decided to duplicate a few items to save some money, and unfortunately must confess I did have to settle for plastic in some cases. Anyway, today was a huge success, and the kids LOVED their new activities.

Sorting Activity: They really enjoyed the challenge of this activity. You simply need a bowl full of items to sort (i.e. coins, stones, marbles, toys, etc.) and a container to sort them in. I found these "non-choke hazard" v-shaped glass stones in the Wal-mart craft section, and got a couple of packs of childs bracelets and rings. You can change the activity by changing the item they sort or how they sort (color, size, shape, etc.). You can increase the challenge (and thereby, the skill lesson inadvertently learned) by not allowing the use of hands for sorting. Use an age-appropriate tool such as tongs, bag clips, or chop sticks.

Measuring activity: Of the things we did today, this was no doubt the favorite. You just need a tray a couple of inches deep, a couple bags of split peas, lentils, decorative sand, or aquarium rocks, etc. Then put a few extra kitchen items and measuring tools in the tray. I used a small plastic measuring cup, a tall 1/2 cup measuring glass, measuring spoons, a funnel, and a formula scooper. I found the split peas sometimes stick in the funnel, so I also added a bamboo chopstick to help stir the peas through when necessary. I think they would play with this for hours if I let them. Although they are too young for learning much about measurements, they are already learning the basics--it takes x number of formula scoops to fill the tablespoon, x number of teaspoons to fill the funnel, x number of funnels to fill the glass, etc. They also learn hand-eye coordination for pouring and preventing peas from coming out of the tray.

We also did some painting today. I had the kids paint some clothes pins for an activity I will discuss when it is completed, as well as their Halloween pumpkins.

You can tell the kids are still into the "mixing colors" phase! I drew these pretty little pumpkin faces for them to paint, and they just covered them up with various shades of mostly gray. What appears to be a painted face on the one is just my bit of fun when M finished her pumpkin.

I love homeschooling! You just have to learn how to assign a category to all your activities. So we can play in split peas and call it "Math" and paint pumpkins and call it "Art"! Isn't that fun?!

I have pretty much decided to take a break from JR's computer phonics for a while. He advanced pretty quickly, and he isn't quite ready for the next stage. So, probably once a week or so, I will have him review a previous lesson, but otherwise, we are going to just have a lot of read-aloud time in his Bob books. We also pulled out the United States puzzle map and JR learned a new state. He now knows each state he has lived in, the states his relatives live in, plus one.


An evening at home

I just wanted to share what an evening around here looks like (though not every evening, it is one of our favorite types). Sorry, it is kind of a dark pic, we don't have a lot of camera-appropriate lighting in this house, but we do have fun! I get such joy watching the smiles on their faces as they interact with their father, and see the love of music that seems to be developing inside them. Oh, and just for the record, I have no clue what JR is singing! LOL

Daddy's Little Princess

My baby girl is growing up. Daddy and her have developed a special bond, although Mommy gets her moments too. This week, I treated her like a "girly-girl" and painted her finger and toe nails. She actually sat still for the whole thing. I couldn't believe it. She was so proud!

Unfortunately, this past weekend, we began to fear the "special-ness" was going to her head when her and JR were tussling on the floor. At one point, JR tackled her and she said, "Don't hurt Daddy's little Princess!!" Oh boy, I think we are going to have our hands full with her!


Banana Nut Bread

This recipe has become a tradition around here for whenever the weather turns cool. I LOVE the smell that permeates the house, and this bread is so moist, filling, and just downright delicious!

2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, slighty beaten
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbs milk
1 cup (about 2-3) mashed bananas
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup crushed pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Blend butter and sugar; add eggs, vanilla, milk, and bananas. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix just until smooth and moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour mixture into greased loaf pan, and bake about 1 hour or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. This is even more delicious served warm with butter on it. Enjoy!

There are a few things worth mentioning about this recipe. First, The more ripe the bananas, the sweeter and darker the bread. I often bake it just to use up my over-ripened bananas. Secondly, I have made this bread in 3 different ovens, and baking time has varied significantly--anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour and a half. If the center jiggles AT ALL, it is not done. When done, the crust will be a very dark golden and somewhat crisp around the edges. Only insert a toothpick or knife when you are pretty confident, otherwise your center will collapse. It will still bake, it just won't be as pretty. Thirdly, this bread is a fairly heavy, quite moist bread. As a result, if it is not COMPLETELY cooled AND in a VERY well oiled pan, it will fall apart when you try to remove it. This is what usually happens to me, as I am never very patient for the cooling step! LOL After smelling it for an hour, I just can't wait to taste! I just think of what my Grandmother used to tell me, "The more it falls apart, the better it tastes!" I don't think this is exactly what she meant, but it makes me feel better anyway. Nonetheless, despite these quirks, this is the best banana bread I have ever had! Try it and let me know what you think!

A Good Day

So far, we have had a really good day today. Not that we don't usually have good days, but most days seem a little monotonous, I guess. But today, not counting the little accident M had to start off the morning (let's just say it involved urine, underwear, and carpet), we have really enjoyed each others company, stayed busy, learned a lot, and generally had fun. After starting the day with breakfast and a Bible story, JR did some read-aloud time in place of his computer phonics this morning. I got some cleaning done, and M and A played. After A went down for nap, M, JR, and I decided to bake my favorite cool-weather recipe: Banana Nut Bread.

While the bread baked, the kids worked in their activity books while I cleaned.

At one point, I began helping JR with a page that involved looking at an object and then circling the items that did not belong. For example, the object below was a fire truck. He had to choose from an ax, fire extinguisher, firefighter, ball, and banana.

As any well-educated adult knows, he was supposed to circle the ball and banana as NOT belonging with the firetruck. Right? When he only circled the ball, I questioned him about it. He quickly replied, "The fireman has to eat and the banana is his food, so it belongs!" Few things are as humbling as a just-turned-4 year old telling you how things are in a manner that you can't argue with! I don't know what kind of school teacher I am, but at least we seem to have mastered the art of deductive reasoning! Fortunately, the oven timer sounded soon after, allowing me to escape facing my humility for too long. And, as always, the bread was delicious!!


What brought us to this point

I had a conversation with my mom recently which got me thinking about why we are heading in the direction that we are. Why are we seeking to go to the extreme of raising our produce and meat, and cooking our food from scratch? Why are trying to collect rainwater to drink and bathe in instead of using the more easily accessible tap or well water? Why do I want to homeschool my children instead of utilizing the schools that my tax dollars are paying for? Am I denying myself and my family by living the simple life? As I got to thinking, I reflected back on some of the reasons. I know exactly why, and it is not just a whim. It is a result of many factors, but, in an attempt to keep this post to a controllable length, here are a few:

  • I am an animal fanatic, and always wanted to live on a farm with lots of animals.

  • My husband is an environmental tree-hugger (to a point) who seeks to take care of the creation that God has given us.

  • As a diabetic, I used to drink a lot of diet soda, as it was about the only non-water drink I could have. Although I drank them in moderation, after years of this, I began to get headaches shortly after I drank more than about half of a diet soda. I reduced my intake, and shortly thereafter, the study was released in the news that linked the artificial phenylalanine chemical that was predominant in artificial sweeteners to many health issues due to its chemical nature. That's when warnings began appearing on the can.

  • In 2004, my first son was born with many health problems. His non-stop screaming resulted in us being exhausted and frustrated. At just 3 weeks old, he screamed for 8 straight hours with no sleep. As a result of his condition, I was forced to supplement him with formulas. He was starving all the time, and I spent most of my day feeding him. His frequent and copious vomiting resulted in his classification as a failure to thrive, and we were on the hairy edge of being monitored for neglect. We were forced to medicate him to help control the vomiting so he could gain weight. Consults with multiple doctors and nurses left everyone baffled. When I realized he was having mild seizures, we convinced a doctor to refer us to a neurologist. By now, he was about 7 months old. Although he was on track developmentally, we were at our wits end with the screaming, vomiting, and seizures. No one would babysit, the church nursery always had me come and get him. We could hardly go anywhere. We were miserable. We knew there had to be a reason. While we were awaiting the referal, we continued to pray. After a great deal of prayer, God led S to some results from a recent water testing in the area in which we lived. While the results were within "normal" range, we saw that many of the toxins in our water were on the high end of normal. S began to do some research and found that some specific toxins in water caused a particular type of infant seizure. Symptoms of these seizures included abnormal vomiting and screaming. As an experiment, we decided to switch to bottled spring water. Just 3 days after switching water sources, it was like someone flipped a switch. EVERYTHING stopped...no screaming, no vomiting, no seizures. Just like that, he became a "normal" happy baby who began to thrive--the child that everyone knows and adores today.

  • When JR was about 18 months old, he had a severe allergic reaction to penicillin. The reaction was so severe, the doctor ordered that we remove every trace of penicillin from his environment for one week to get it completely out of his system. This involved switching to all organic dairy products (organic animals cannot be fed antibiotics). After a week or so, JR was fine, but this led me to begin researching the benefits of organic.

  • At the same time, I was having multiple infections. Although it was common for diabetics to have such infections, I didn't have a history of it and I didn't fit the profile of the diabetic who typically gets them. We were also working with service dogs and it seemed like every puppy that came into our house got sick. We watched one who almost died after being with me only 3 days. The only common denominator was the water. We switched the dogs to spring water, and I began to take brief showers instead of baths. The pups quit getting sick and my infections diminished significantly.

  • As a precaution, when we moved shortly thereafter, we purchased and installed special filters for our tap water and our showerheads. Amazingly, my infections were eliminated.

  • In 2006, I began to itch with no explanation. It started in my joints, and spread up and down my arms and legs. It was like my skin was crawling. If I scratched, I broke out in hives and left huge red welts. It was the strangest thing. I evaluated my diet and living conditions. We were in a new area, so I assumed I was having an allergic reaction to something. Since I had no history of allergies though, I was puzzled. I saw two doctors, one being an allergist, who, again, blamed it on my diabetes. I wouldn't believe that. My sugars were good, I was healthy, and I had NEVER heard of itching and hives as a diabetic complication. They put me on an antihistamine and told me I would likely be on it the rest of my life. The meds controlled the itch and at least let me sleep, but everytime I tried to wean myself off, I started itching again. Remembering what I had learned with JR's organic experience, we decided to experiment. We switched to a more natural, somewhat organic diet. Amazingly, the day we officially switched our diet was the last pill I had to take. I have never had another issue with itching and hives. We are convinced it was a build up of chemicals in my body.

  • I used to irritate S because I did not like drinking out of a plastic cup. I always used our glasses. Of course, with young children, this meant occasional breakage. When he would beg me to switch to plastic, I always told him, "I can't really explain it, but my tea just tastes different in plastic. I don't like it. I like it out of a glass." We occasionally had this discussion until last year when the study results came out about the BPA contained in most plastics. Let's just say that, not only does S not mind me drinking out of a glass anymore, he drinks out of a glass now too!! If it breaks, we get out the vaccuum! LOL

  • I put JR and M into preschool for one semester while I finished my degree. It was a great little private preschool, and certainly offered a great deal for them. However, within a week of attending, JR began having a serious attitude. Other mothers told me, "don't worry, it is totally normal when they start school." I had to ask why? Then JR began coming home and telling me about what some of the kids would do in class or how so-and-so didn't listen to the teacher. After attending a couple of field trips with his class, it was quickly apparent that his attitude was deriving from his peers and the fact that the teacher was limited in her ability to discipline. I did not want my child to learn those negative lessons at such an impressionable age.
Well, there you have it. I don't mean to scare anyone, but no one can deny we have encountered some pretty impressive situations and "coincidental" (try THANK GOD!) outcomes. A few other things worth mentioning....I have noticed since we began the changes in our diets and environments that I have not had a single migraine, rarely get so much as a cold, the kids seem healthier overall, we feel better and I have way more energy, and my blood sugars are actually easier to control. I will admit that I really have no "hard" black-and-white proof to my claims about our water and diet, however, I will never be convinced otherwise. My children, at least for now, seem to be heading down the path S and I desire for them, with a love for the Lord and a compassionate nature. I thank the Lord for showing us how to help ourselves in most cases, and for making it as simple a solution as just practicing what the Bible teaches! Are we denying them? Possibly. However, I can live with myself denying them material possessions and fun "things" if it will help them learn to keep a focus on Christ, develop a love for family and helping others, and an understanding that hard work and earning your keep is a Biblical and desirable trait. I do pray that I can have the wisdom to balance these lessons with fun and enjoyment, and that we provide them sufficient opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. But, I can confidently say that I feel comfortable and at peace with these principles as priorities.

So, in closing, I want to share two things with you. One is my most recent sewing machine creation. While nothing impressive to an experienced seamstress, I am pretty excited about it.......

My first cloth napkins, and to make it even sweeter, I used some extra fabric I had laying around!

And secondly, something I even more proud of, JR reading during today's lesson. (If you can't view now, try later. Processing is taking a while!)


Waste...a fact of life?

My eyes have really been opened lately to how society as a whole is wasteful of money, paper (natural but limited resource), water, and so much more! I firmly believe God has entrusted this earth to us, albeit for a time, and He expects us to be good stewards of his resources. Along the same lines as my "plastic" blog, I thought I would share a few other areas where I am hoping to make some changes in an attempt to do my part to care for God's precious creation:
  • Wean us off of papertowels and move toward cloth napkins. As an extra money-saving step, I hope to make my own with some of the excess fabric I have collected over the years.
  • Learn to repair clothes with minor defects.
  • Grow some produce. Ok, so I can't really start this one until next spring, but I am excited at the idea of at least trying. I have never grown anything to eat, so I think I am going to attempt tomatoes, strawberries, and one or two other things. It won't be much, but it will give me an opportunity to learn for the future.
  • Throw away as little as possible. First I will attempt to sell, give away, or recycle.

I feel somewhat limited by the changes I can make at this point. We have done a lot over the last few years to simplify our lives and conserve where can. But I will try to do more. I would love more ideas!

Plastic..A fact of life?

I have recently been convicted about being hypocritical. It never occurred to me before, but it was true. Here we are, claiming to live a simple life, and striving to protect the environment, and yet, we are polluting the earth--not to mention our bodies--with plastic, plastic, plastic. Assuming I have my facts straight, plastic is one of the few substances that takes upwards of 70 years to even begin decomposing, kills countless animals every year in different ways, contaminates our food and water that we consume daily, and yet, it is everywhere. It is used to produce kitchen utensils and dishes, condiment bottles, wraps, dog tags, cleaning bottles, furniture, and so much more. As a result of my internal conviction (not to mention a tremendous eagerness to start doing SOMETHING to work toward my goal of being self-sufficient, healthy, and more natural), I began to notice the items that surround me everyday that are a>made of plastic, and b>could be changed to another material. At first, I thought it would be an easy transition--just work toward replacing all my plastic with glass, ceramic, wood, or metal, all of which are naturally occuring substances. The more involved I become with this idea though, the more realistic I become as well. I have, sadly, realized that either I can't or am just not willing to give up EVERYTHING I have that is plastic. My van is full of plastic, but I consider it something of a necessity. I also can't give up things like carseats, strollers, toothbrushes, medical supplies, and several other things which offer no alternative. There are 3 big items I have struggled with, however, as I COULD give them up, but have basically decided I just am not ready at this point. One is my cleaning wipes. I LOVE those too much, and must admit, my house is SOOO much cleaner with their regular use. Unfortunately, they come in a plastic container. Another is ziploc bags. I use them for tons of stuff, and in the case of air travel, they are considered a necessity. Finally, is disposable diapers. I feel REALLY bad about this one, but I have used cloth diapers a bit when I potty-trained, and I HATE them! I hate cleaning them, I hate the frequency with which they have to be changed out, I have yet to figure out how to get a child to go through a night with drenching through them. So, for now, I must confess, I like my disposables.

WHEW! OK, now that the truth is out, I don't feel so hypocritical. That all being said, here is what I am planning to change:
  • Switch all my plastic kitchen cook/bakeware to metal or wood.
  • Switch my plastic food storage containers to glass (unfortunately, most of these still come with a plastic lid, but at least it helps!)
  • While I won't get rid of the kids' current plastic toys, if I must buy a toy, I will aim to start buying wood or other natural type toys whenever possible.
  • Become more faithful about using my re-usable cloth grocery bags, as well as try to re-use the plastic produce bags (just to prevent sending more to the landfill).
  • Try to start making my own baby food. A is getting old enough he can eat more variety, and although I will still have to use our plastic ice-cube trays and ziploc bags to freeze the stuff, at least I will cut down on baby food in plastic container purchases (and save some money in the mean time!)
  • Use a refillable water-bottle instead of using disposable plastic water bottles.
  • As we make purchases in preparation for the setup of our farm, I will avoid plastic whenever possible. There are many ways we can do this!

I have realized there just aren't many alernatives today for some items that we use regularly. My desire here is to prevent contamination of my body, my family's bodies, and our earth where I can though. Every little bit helps, right? If you have any additional ideas, I would LOVE to hear them!! Leave me a comment!


Presidential race 2008

As many of you know, this presidential election could make history for many reasons. If you are like me, however, you may be having a little trouble having peace with making a final decision on who to vote for. I came across a neat little website that could help and thought I would share. It seems legitimate based on my limited research. You fill out a multiple choice questionairre regarding the hot topics of today. You don't have to register or create an account or anything, and it only took me about 5 minutes to complete. Then, based on your answers, it shows you the candidates whose beliefs are most similiar to yours. It rates each candidate on the percentage of issues that are similiar. You can then read through a summary of quotes and discussions made by the candidates that support their decisions. I thought it was really neat, and actually found "my" candidate to be very interesting. You should try it, and see where "your" candidate stands:


Could the end times be near?

I accidentally happened upon this video tonight, and I am troubled by it. On one hand, I am so thankful I found it so I can prepare, but on the other hand, I almost wish I were more naive and trusting, because it is frightening how close this is to becoming reality. Most people are familiar with pet microchips. For some reason, I have always been hesitant to use them, and therefore never have. Call me crazy, but I just couldn't help but wonder if it was getting a little too close to the "mark of the beast." I didn't want to support science going in that direction. My dad always warned me that the predictions of the Bible would be introduced to the world gradually by the master thief (Satan), and they would sound good. If they didn't, no one would agree to them. I have always felt so silly about avoiding something as silly as a microchip for my dog, but not anymore. The video starts out discussing microchipping livestock. Even if you aren't interested in that though, continue watching. I hope you will be as aware as I feel about what this could mean for us as humans, individuals, families, communities, nations, and specifically as Christians. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89QC-s5uYzk

And if you have trouble believing this video, just google verichip.

Farm Life..at least for now

It has been a busy couple of weeks! We celebrated JR's 4th birthday and took our annual vacation during that time. It all started the night before JR's b-day, when I stayed up quite late assembling Nana and Grandpa's birthday gift of a Black and Decker Workshop and tool table, complete with power tools and birdhouse-building project. When the kids got up in the morning, they were all smiles with the excitement of celebrating a birthday. JR walked in, saw the gift, and with a huge grin on his face, said, "What is it?" So much for that surprise! No fear though, Nana and Grandpa! As you can see in the following pic, it didn't take them both long to figure out it was designed for fun!
That was followed by a field trip with our homeschool group. Since S had to work, and we were leaving that afternoon for our vacation, there was no time for a party. However, it just happened that the field trip was to a do-it-yourself kid's bakery type place, so it worked out perfectly to have a little birthday recognition there.
Flattening the pizza dough

Spreading the pizza sauce

Reaping the benefits of a well-earned, handmade, freshly-baked pepperoni pizza

The true fun began when they got to ice their cupcakes!

This pic says it all!

At one point, just as JR had finished icing and sprinkling his cupcakes, the "chef" came over and took one of his cupcakes. She returned with a candle in it and the whole homeschool group sang "Happy Birthday," much to JR's delight! He loved it!

Then came the big trip to the farm. We decided to make a road trip of it, which is what we have done in the past, however, this time, it meant a 25 hour drive ONE-WAY with 3 kids and a 95 pound dog. No doubt we put our little minivan to its first big test! It is so hard to believe that I haven't been in almost a year! We so look forward to our trips there, as it is so peaceful, relaxing, quaint, and generally just feels like we are stepping back in time. Of course, I must mention that "relaxing" is a relative term, as we work harder there than at home, and typically end our vacations more exhausted than we began them! But we enjoy every minute of it. We picked apples from the apple trees, did some real-life based schooling, mowed the extensive acreage, hiked in the woods, played on the tire horse swing, picked more apples, cleaned and washed the front porch, and back deck, scrubbed all the windows inside and out, went grocery shopping for a family gathering, watched some deer and turkey graze in the manger, weeded and mulched the garden, celebrated JR's 4th birthday.....and that was just the first day!
One of the apple trees
My 3 favorite guys!
JR's party at Grandma's
My little farm-girl

This was the first time I had a new appreciation for homeschooling and utilizing real-life experiences. Throughout our time there, we tried to really give the kids some experiences. We went hiking in the woods and looked at different types of trees, berries, and plants (including an emphasis on the overly abundant poison ivy!). We took the kids to visit a friend with cows and chickens where the kids were able to pet the chickens and collect warm, freshly laid eggs that we then took home and cooked up for lunch. It just happened that one of the cows was in labor, so JR got to learn a bit about where calves come from, and he watched our friends as they checked her udder for milk, and educated him on how the calves drink (in case you are wondering, don't worry, we didn't go into too many details! He is only 4!! LOL It was, however, an eye opener for him I think, as, since all 3 of my kids were c-section babies and he has seen pictures, I think he just assumed everything got cut out of the belly!) As the week progressed, we did some gardening, during which time, the kids found and learned about snakes, crickets, snails, spiders, and frogs. As a mom, let me tell you, this will be the part of homeschooling I do NOT enjoy!! With the intention of (hopefully) developing a healthy love for science, I must swallow my EEWWW factor, put on a brave face and actually get close to these things! S even showed the kids how to make homemade applesauce. As if that wasn't enough, we also spent one whole morning at a historic, 1800's era village, where we watched the blacksmiths work with metal, the coopers make buckets and wood products, women cook over an open fire, sew, spin wool, and make lace, and since the setting is as original as possible, the kids got to see first hand how small and simple houses once were, and how modest the dress used to be. They also got to play some games from that era. I learned something too....Did you know that the bright orange color of carrots today is not natural? Even many organic varieties legally use a special dye that is absorbed by the carrots. I am going to have to research that! Oh, I do digress....now, where was I......JR fell in love with the games, a coon-skin hat, and a harmonica. We went ahead and bought a game and a harmonica, but I will have to think about the hat! M was obviously a little to young to appreciate the village much, but it was fun nonetheless.
The results after a day on the farm:
As always, some of my favorite moments of the trip are laboring alongside my wonderful husband, getting to go on rare dates with the man of my dreams (also my husband!), watching the deer and turkey wander around the yard, and sitting on the front porch and just reading a book or doing something quiet as I enjoy the stillness of God's creation. This trip, however, my all time favorite moment occurred after JR had gotten his harmonica from the 1800's village. Being a music lover, he loved this particular toy, and later that afternoon, I glanced out the screen door to see him sitting alone on the front porch, quietly looking out over the front yard and pasture, and playing his harmonica. It was one of those beautiful moments that represents so many of the gifts God has given us (nature, stillness, and music being just a few) and the life he intended for us (humans) before sin came into the picture (hard but enjoyable work, tranquility in nature, the innocence of a child, etc.), and I wish I could experience more of those moments.