Thursday, January 25, 2007

Eleanor tagged me, asking for six odd things about me - having seven children and keeping goats is kind of odd, but I figured y'all already know about those things, so I tried to come up with things I've never blogged about before.

1. A fun date-night for us is driving into Fredericksburg to go to Lowe's, the Tractor Supply Store, Wal-Mart, or the health food store. We go into town two or three times a month, and really, it's a nice time because even though I don't much like shopping (a rather odd thing for a female!) we have a good two hours of driving time when we can talk about anything at all.

2. I can tell it's going to snow by the smell on the air up to a day before it arrives.

3. Speaking of smells, I often dream smells, though I've read that this doesn't happen.

4. Speaking of dreams, I'm a lucid dreamer, meaning my dreams are very clear and detailed I know that I'm dreaming [thanks, Eleanor!]. They're nearly always in color and usually have too many people in them, but if something starts happening that I don't like, I can back up and make it go the way I want it to.

5. Now I don't actually place any store in this stuff, but I always thought it was funny that the single verticle crease between my eyebrows, called "the suspended needle" by face-reading folks, signifies that I will most likely die young, but my life-line on my right hand runs all the way down to my wrist and wraps more than half way around the back of my hand, signifying extremely long life.

6. Hair oddities: I've had a grey streak in my hair since I was 13 years old and I started coloring it when I was 16 - using henna because I always wanted auburn hair, though I had to change to a regular semi-permanent color after a year or two because Daddy told me it was getting too brassy looking. I think Mike fell in love with me because he thought I really was a redhead, even though I told him I wasn't. I also learned to cut my hair myself when I was in my early teens. I had a very kind and understanding hairdresser who gave me tips on those rare occasions when I went to her. Just a couple of years after we married, Mike wanted me to start cutting his hair, so I got a book out of the library, bought some clippers and learned on him. Brave man, isn't he? Nowadays, I cut everyone's hair in my family except for my own. Four years ago I quit cutting it. Well, I've cut it once since then, but that's because two and a half years ago I quit coloring it, so in November of 2005 I cut off a foot and a half to get rid of the last of the color. I wear it in one kind of updo or another every day, and believe it or not it's so much easier to take care of this way than it was when I had to shampoo, blow-dry, and style it every day when it was chin- to shoulder-length. It's also prettier and healthier - no split ends. One more odd thing about my hair - the top layer is wavy, but the underneath layer is corkscrew curls.

I love being tagged, but I'm always afraid I'll bug other people if I tag them, so if you wanna be tagged post a comment and let me know. :-)

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Update - I just realized that the comments are still down, but I'm easily contacted by email. It's over there in the sidebar near the bottom - just be sure to take all the numbers out of the address.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My little Hobbit
This morning, Baby Princess brought a package to me, saying, "Happy birthday, Mama!"

Only, it's not my birthday... it's hers!

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Putter's Wife
Heather P., who comments here on occasion has started a blog, Putter's Wife, a Reformed wife of a physicist and homeschooling mama sharing her "thoughts on motherhood, home-making and home-schooling."

Be sure to check her archives - there's a link there to a lady who sews modest clothing that Heather has been pleased with.
The Epiphany of Our Lord
in which we celebrate that Christ came, not only for the house of Israel, but for the Gentiles also.

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.

Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.

The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.

All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.

Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?

Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.
Isaiah 60:1-9

Friday, January 5, 2007

Chicken quesadillas for lunch today
We favor Tex-Mex foods around here and today when trying to figure out how to use some leftovers for lunch, I came up with this, which turned out pretty good, so I'm sharing it.

-leftover roast chicken, cut up into tidbits
-leftover chili con queso, a tasty concoction Mike came up with trying to imitate the chili con queso sold at Mexico Chicito, a restaurant in Little Rock (it's cream cheese, chili powder, cumin, and I don't know what else, with a little milk added to make it softer)
-whole wheat tortillas

Mix chicken and cheese together. Melt a pat of butter in an iron skillet. Place in one tortilla, spread some of the chicken/cheese mix on it and cover with another tortilla. Cook till it starts browning on the bottom, then flip and cook on the other side. Remove, add more butter and make another one. Keep warm on a preheated plate in the oven if needed. Heat a can of black beans, and serve with sour cream and salsa on the side.

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When I first married I always needed to follow a recipe, make a shopping list, and buy all the ingredients in order to do meals. It's taken me a long time to get to the point of being able to use what I have on hand. I guess the first step was to learn how to make soups using leftovers - after making lots of soups following recipes I began to figure out what foods and seasonings work well together, but it took years, really. There's probably some way to teach young ladies how to cook like this, but I don't really know what it is.

Kelly M. told me once that sometimes her mom (maybe on the day before grocery shopping?) will point out that they have a little bit of this and can of that and dab of something else, and will tell Kelly to make a meal out of it. Sounds like a pretty good practice for full-time homemaking to me.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

In spite of the fact that most of you have probably already taken down your trees, I thought I'd post a pic of ours, because I thought it looked especially pretty this year.

And, by the way, we're still on Christmas vacation. I go back to homeschooling on St. Distaff's Day, which, since it occurs on a Sunday this year, means that we'll start back on Plough Monday.
Books finished in 2006
I meant to read more on Church history, but got bogged down in Eusebius and never went back. Still, this was a pretty good year - I read some helpful books on health and nutrition, and for the first time ever read several books by agrarians. This list includes family read-alouds, but not books I read only to the little ones. Also absent are the scores of books I dipped into but didn't read cover-to-cover. Some of these were books I'd read before and simply wanted to reread certain passages, and some were poetry and anthologies, but many were good books I meant to finish but just didn't - like Eusebius, and the Christopher Dawson I've been trying to finish for a couple of years now.
* denotes books read before

Anderson, Arden - Real Medicine Real Health

Austen, Jane
Emma *
Mansfield Park *
Northanger Abbey *
Persuasion *
Pride and Prejudice *
Sandition and Other Stories
Sense and Sensibility *

Berry, Wendell
The Unsettling of America (very good)
Nathan Coulter
A World Lost
(these novels by Berry were unlike anything I've read before - disturbing and tragic, but so good)

Botkin, Anna Sophia and Elizabeth - So Much More

Buchan, John
The Thirty-Nine Steps *
Mr. Standfast

Dreher, Rod - Crunchy Cons

Gillman, Dorothy - The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax

Jones, Diana Wynne
Dogsbody (good)
Howl's Moving Castle (lots of fun)
Castle in the Sky
Charmed Life
The Lives of Christopher Chant
The Pinhoe Egg (not recommended)

Kains, Maurice G. - Five Acres and Independence

Kimball, Herrick - The Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian

Kliment, Felicia Drury - The Acid Alkaline Balance Diet

Kuiper, Benjamin - The Church in History

Logsdon, Gene - Living at Nature's Pace (very good)

Postman, Neil - Amusing Ourselves to Death

Sparks, Nicholas - A Walk to Remember (dreadful - will never read this author again)

Tolkein, J.R.R.
Farmer Giles of Ham (love it!)

Trapp, Maria Augusta - The Story of the Trapp Family Singers *

Trollope, Anthony - The Warden (surprisingly enjoyable - I didn't expect to like a Victorian as much as I liked Trollope - can't wait to read the rest of the series!)

Truss, Lynn
Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Talk to the Hand

Vasey, Christopher - The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health

Weaver, Richard - Ideas Have Consequences (very difficult book - need to read again)

Williams, Charles - War in Heaven (very good - would like to read more by Williams)

Wodehouse, P.G. - Leave it to Psmith *

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Last month Kelly P. emailed me asking for advice on helping her then-four-month-old be content in church and I sent her a lengthy response. She suggested I post it here in case others might find it helpful. I've removed personal references for privacy's sake, but otherwise, the remainder of this post is copied and pasted from my emailed response to her. :-)

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I think about four to five months was when my babies stopped being content just sitting in church and needed real training. Our youngest, Baby #7, is the only one of ours who's never been in nursery before. We decided to keep all ours in church with us just before Baby #5 was born, about eight years ago, and I wound up putting her and Baby #6 in the nursery on occasion, mainly because we were in a church where, while young children were encouraged to be in service, noises from babies were frowned on. We were in a much more baby-friendly setting for #7, and that made training easier.

I tried to work on it in two ways, and can offer these suggestions. First of all, have some training time at home each day, preferably at around the same time of day the church service happens. Put on some music or a story or sermon tape and just sit quietly with Baby on your lap. You might want to give this time a name like "sitting time" or "listening time" or something, so you can tell him cheerfully that it's sitting time now, and tell him how you expect him to behave. Yes, tell a four-month-old. Also, during family prayers, do your best to keep him occupied and quiet. I don't advocate any kind of corporal punishment during prayers, since you want him to enjoy the time with you and Daddy, so instead, have him start out sitting quietly with you, kneeling when you do (well, at four months, he'd just be on the floor near you), and hold him when you stand, and have something quiet that he likes that you can amuse him with when he becomes restless. Also, if you sing during prayers, sit him on your lap facing you, clapping his hands if appropriate.

However, a thump on the leg might be appropriate during your morning "sitting time," since that's more of a training session. For the first few days, just see how long he can manage to sit quietly before he gets restless, and see if he's sitting longer each time. If he starts moving around too much, just firmly but gently put him back into the position you want him in. This doesn't have to be rigid - you just have to decide how much movement you think is acceptable. You probably wouldn't want him leaning upside down over the edge of the chair, or standing up, but changing from one sitting position to another is going to be normal. At some point, you may feel it's appropriate to flick his thigh if he starts kicking around, but I wouldn't suggest it right at first. What you really want to aim for is to lengthen the amount of time he can sit quietly before getting restless. You do NOT want to sit so long that he starts crying. So at first, have him sit with you, with nothing in his hands, just cuddling with you, and when you sense that he's beginning to grow restless, give him something quiet to distract him. If that does the job, then sit just until he begins to be restless again, and if he's not very, very easily distracted, go ahead and tell him that sitting time is over, and praise him for sitting and listening so well.

You want him to succeed at this, so aim for ending the time (both training and prayer times) on a successful note. This is a big mistake I made in child-training in general with my first few. I thought that if I did anything as I've suggested here, I was letting the child direct the training session, and so he was only learning how to get what he wanted. I thought that if I hadn't corrected disobedience, then I hadn't really trained in obedience.

So, training at home is the first thing. Training during the actual service is the second. Generally speaking it's not too much different from your prayer times at home, with the exception that you should give him a little more leeway (you might even let him sit on the floor, or crawl around a bit in the pew, as long as this helps him stay quiet rather than encouraging him to get rowdy), and that you'll have to be ready to leave the room if he gets squirmy or noisy enough to bother other people. If you have to leave your pew, it's better to go sit in the back of the church, or someplace where you can still hear the sermon, rather than to go to the nursery or a cry room where there are other moms and babies, particularly if the moms are chatting and letting the babies play, so that you can continue the training. Also, I know that in most Presby churches, the families with young children nearly always sit in the back of the church, but I've found that our kids pay attention better if we're sitting as close to the front as possible, since they can see better, and have fewer distractions.

With #5, we bought a little seat sort of like this one, only it was collapsible, so it was more portable. We took this to church with us, and when she was tired of sitting on laps we'd put her into it and give her a variety of quiet things (one at a time, of course), like a board book, or a cloth doll, or a few of these Lauri puzzles. If you do this, I recommend having these items be special Sunday-only items, so they're fresh every week - not something he's used to playing with every day. This doesn't rule out bringing along his favorite everyday quiet item, though.

Reading over what I've written so far I realize that I haven't said anything at all about keeping them quiet in church. This is because I haven't figured that out yet! During training I try to put my hand over the mouth and give a gentle "Sh," but sometimes that just makes them louder. If that's the case then you'll know not to do it in church. I generally allowed finger-sucking or pacifier usage in church, even when I was trying to discourage it elsewhere, simply to help the baby stay quiet. Naturally, this means they'll be sucking their fingers or whatever for much longer than they would be if you were discouraging it consistently, so it's your call. Sorry I can't be more help there!

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Mrs. P., I think it would be helpful if you'd add your experiences over the past month in the comments, since all my suggestions to you were going off of things that we did over the past few years and, well, my memory ain't what it used to be.