An unexpected surprise…


Here we are again!

Bun number seven in the oven warming. As if my life wasn’t blessed enough {wink, wink}, we are adding joy to our numbers. Expected to be here mid June of next year, already the kids are spending every evening meal fighting and voting over names.  So far, Rauga (from Bay Blade) is top pick for boys and Dora is top pick for girls. Ummmm….no?

Names aside, the kids are super excited. Our dinner converstion the week before (I am NOT making this up):

Them: “Mommy, when are we going to have another baby?”

Me: “Why?”

Them: “Because Eli isn’t anyone’s big brother and he needs to be a big brother too.”

Me: “We are NOT having another baby just so Eli can be a big brother!”

Guess the jokes on me!

Kitchen Staples for Healing Naturally

Healing is on my mind today as I sit here, stuck on the couch with a throat that burns and a cough that makes my head feel like it’s going to explode. At least the persistent sinus headache is gone. Everything has moved to my chest. Yeah me!

So what’s a girl to do but take a few homeschool teacher in-service days? My littles are playing outside and getting extra dirty in the morning and vegging on cartoons in the afternoon (thank you Diego and Netflix!). My older two are still doing all the schooling that they can do independently without mamma’s help. We are eating simply…cereal and juice, PB & J and fresh fruit, easy no-brainer dinners. One of my dear friends even brought me an already-made pasta bake and some fruit and veggies that we will eat tonight. Love those moments of provision that the Holy Spirit facilitates in our lives! Small, yes…but huge where it counts!

As I’m making concoctions for myself to desperately make this go away and avoid a trip to the doctor that will end in antibiotics, I thought I would share with you some of the awesome natural remedies that I have found over the years that have been essential for us when the yucky’s hit.

The kitchen is my best friend when it comes to healing us. Everyone has heard of chicken noodle soup as a go-to for healing food. But did you know it’s not a myth? I’m not talking canned soup here. The real deal made with homemade chicken stock from bones. That gelatin is magical stuff. Sauteed garlic and onions adds another layer of immune boosting properties. Too tired to make homemade chicken noodle soup? Try making ramen noodles with your own homemade chix broth instead of water. Tastes the same if you season with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder without the damaging MSG of the packets. My kids LOVE this and it is usually a cheap lunch staple in the winter time for our family.

Another kitchen staple we use often in healing is honey usually added to tea. Any tea is good (the heat is what kills germs on your throat and loosens phlegm) so don’t worry if you don’t have those fancy herbal ones. Although I have quite a fondness for Wellness Throat Care and Celestial Seasonings Echinacea Wellness teas! Throw a touch of lemon juice and some honey (both act as antibacterial agents to kill germs and the lemon juice helps cut through mucus) and you have yourself a soothing cup of meds that are gentle on the throat and uplifting to the tired soul.

You can also use honey as a wonderful basis for homemade cough/throat syrups. (Don’t forget – not on infants under one years old!) Kids love the taste of honey and it makes whatever other ingredients you are adding more palatable for them. Most everyone has honey on hand and even if you are still going to give your kids over-the-counter meds, this works well when their throat is still achy and they want something between doses. From the kitchen means no side effects!

My favorite that the kids love is a ginger honey cough/sore throat syrup that tastes good and I don’t have to force anyone to take it. Just grate a piece of ginger and squeeze the juice from pulp into a bowl. Add a touch of lemon juice and some honey and stir. I take mine and put it back into the honey bear and label for fridge. If you have raw honey it’s even better because of the enzyme action in the honey not being heated. Notice I didn’t give amounts. That’s because this recipe is very forgiving. You will get about a teaspoon to tablespoon of gingerish liquid from the pulp. Honey is about 1/2 to 1 cup and lemon juice around same as ginger liquid. I never measure. I use what I have on hand (sometimes that’s more or less honey) and mix. It doesn’t have to be precise.

You can also try this tumeric honey recipe (just as the video says or combine with recipe above) for a more potent syrup. The spiciness of the tumeric (an anti-inflammatory) will most likely make this a more adult-friendly recipe. I must say, though, this has helped my throat the most. It may be spicy at first but soothes it for much longer than my throat drops did. Combine these with the simple power of a salt-water gargle in warm water a few times a day to help kill nasty throat bugs.  I do the salt water gargle first followed by the honey-turmeric and then wait at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything to let them do their job in killing bacteria.

And don’t neglect the power of Vitamin C. Most people get their 100% dose of Vitamin C per day via their foods and juices or vitamin supplements. But when your body is worn down and trying to heal from outside attacks of a virus, extra Vitamin C can really help your body repair itself faster. I keep Vitamin C throat drops on hand for my littles. These are better for sore throats than menthol drops because they don’t sting little throats and give a small extra dose of Vitamin C to little bodies. I use the Airborne for myself which is a mega boost with zinc and herbs to boot.

I also try to get extra Vitamin C naturally in our smoothies. We do smoothies at least twice a week. I take whatever fruit is looking a bit wilty and chuck it in the blender with some frozen fruit (usually blueberries or strawberries) and greens (when I have them – spinach is our favorite), some milk or yogurt (plain, full fat), vanilla, and a 1/3 cup of sugar (not to worry, that covers 8 people). My kids LOVE these and I feel it is a great way to add fruits and veggies to their otherwise picky diets!

My fave is a winter Orange Julius smoothie. Throw in a bunch of oranges (4-6), heavy cream, yogurt, vanilla, a couple of raw eggs, 1/3 cup suger (or honey) and a teaspoon of Vitamin C powder (we keep this on hand to use all winter long – and use calcium ascorbate as it allows you to absorb the vitamin C better). Tastes JUST like the malls except extra healthy for you!!!

My last tip…soak the toothbrushes in Hydrogen Peroxide (change morning and night) to kill germs during the length of this sickness. This is also good for anyone who is struggling with gingivitis.  When the cold/flu passes, throw away and buy new brushes.

Now, if I can just learn to make these:

Honey Cough Drop Lollipops @ The Pistachio Project

Or these:

Horehound Lozenges @ Frugally Sustainable

My next winter projects!!!

Red, White, and Blueberry Waffles {and other Fourth of July Pinterest Stuff}

Don’t you just love the festive color combinations of this creative breakfast my hubby came up with? Okay, maybe the breakfast isn’t that creative…we actually have this quite a bit at our house…but my husband is totally proud of his creative name for it.  Although I must say, it is the best waffle recipe we’ve ever had. Adam has tweaked it over the years to get it just right. No crunchy, overfluffed Belgian Waffles for us. We wanted something old-fashioned, classic in flavor. Slightly crisp but just the right softness when our homemade syrup is poured over top! {See Recipes Below!}

And here is a lovely shot of the one beautiful hibiscus that bloomed in our yard. I didn’t even know we were growing hibiscus! (I’ve always wanted them!) So imagine my surprise as Delilah swooped into the bathroom and showed me her treasure find. I laughed as I remembered my post from yesterday and then turned it over to show her how these flowers first inspired making fairy doll skirts out of flowers. Gorgeous! I see a girlie summer project going on. That is, if we can get the flowers to bloom before being plucked forever out of existence.

My day is pretty mellow today. I’m deciding NOT to clean the house (against all my mom instincts). Who really is going to notice my dirty floor? Besides, little kids running in and out all night with smoke powder on their fingers and feet…who am I kidding? I’d just have to re-do tomorrow! So today is a lazy day. Kids are heading out swimming and I get to sit here and right this post. Later this afternoon we will be watching Independence Day (a no-brainer!) and staying cool in the air-conditioning. Then it’s brats and dogs and smores and yumminess mingled with explosives and lots of little kids. Good combo, right?

One fun project we’re going to try tonight is glow-in-the-dark bubbles. Saw this on Jolanthe’s Homeschool Creations Blog last week and fell in love with the idea! Hopefully I’ll have some fun pictures to show you tomorrow.

Glowing bubbles courtesy of Homeschool Creations.

Speaking of Pinterest, thought I’d throw out some of the fun Fourth things to try. Check out my Fourth of July Pinterest Board. Killer stuff here! I only listed a few so, please, go see for yourself…there’s MUCH, MUCH more!

{ 1 } Sparkler Shield

{ 2 } Fourth of July Punch

{ 3 } Tin Can Windsocks

{ 4 } Cup Cake Liner Bug Protectors

{ 5 } Independence Day Paper Plate Hats

And now, for the waffle recipe (adapted from James McNair Cookbook). We double this recipe for our family of 8 as well as doubling the syrup recipe.

Butter Rich Waffles

  • Melted butter for greasing
  • 2 Eggs, room temp, separated
  • 1 1/2 Cups Milk, room temp
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Stick Butter (1/2 cup), melted
  1. Preheat waffle iron.  Grease grids with melted butter.
  2. Beat egg whites to form stiff (but not dry) peaks. Set aside.
  3. Combine egg yolks, milk, baking powder, flour, and melted butter till smooth.
  4. Fold in egg whites.

Homemade Syrup (cheap and easy!)

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Water

~ Boil 10 minutes, turn to low and stir in:

  • 1 pad butter
  • splash of vanilla

Have a wonderful, safe, and happy Fourth everybody!!!

Letting Go.

I had this vision when we bought this house and I learned it already had a garden going in the back…that it was already landscaped out front and around the sides. A vision of beautiful flowers crowning the privilege of owning our own home. I daydreamed of picking these most gorgeous flowers and adorning my tables and Victorian rooms with their beauty. Spring came and plants came to life. The excitement grew as I learned what was planted where. I pictured in my head these Monet-ish bursts of pastel color clouds beckoning me from a long drive home of grocery shopping.

Then reality set in.

I have three boys who like to bash things, two dogs who like to trample things, and three girls who like to pick things. I mean they really like to pick things. And soon my poor, defenseless flowers started looking bare and sparse. There were vases adorning the table but only in a poor attempt to save some of the almost petal-less flowers from their oh-so-shortened lifespan. And we had to get creative on arrangement style as stems were a rare oddity!

At first I seethed inside. I tried reasonable explanations.

You know, if we pick the buds before they bloom then we will never see the pretty flowers they were to create.”

I tried cajoling.

Baby girl, how ’bout we wait till everything blooms and then we can pick some together…just you and me. 

Finally I resorted to sharp, not-very-loving, mamma-commands.

DON’T PICK THE FLOWERS if you want to live!”

Nothing worked. I fretted and worried and my garden just became more naked. I fumed and tried to ignore the smashed down Lily patches with buds that never came to fruition. And then the Lord started speaking to my heart.

Let go.”

NO! I can’t. It’s not fair. These are MY flowers. I’ve waited 37 years to finally have this house and this garden and MY flowers. It’s not fair. Did I mention their mine? I selfishly pouted.

Let go.”

He nudged gently as He reminded me:

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” ~ Matthew 6:19-20

AND

The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. ~ James 1:11

AND

As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades.” ~ 1 Peter 1:24

Is this what I was doing? Was I holding on to this temporary treasure here on earth, desperately trying to make something so fleeting last longer than it was ever intended?  Was I robbing joy from my girls who already knew the secret of living in the moment? This feeling I had in my heart…it felt very familiar, like my old friend jealousy. When you try and control your hand squeezes until the love is squeezed out with it. It was not until I learned to open up that hand, let go of that control that the jealousy left and allowed love to grow in it’s place. I needed to let this go too. Stop squeezing my possessions. It is all temporal. He made this for us to enjoy in the moment. It was never intended to last beyond that.

I heard Him whispering to me how it was Him who made little girls to love flowers so dearly. He put that desire in them to collect these momentary bursts of beauty. “If that is so, Lord,” I prayed, How do I let go?” 

And the answer was so simple. I have a gift of the lens. A photograph that can capture that first perfect bloom before the physical realm fades. So here are my beauties. A perfect shot of loveliness captured in a singular moment of beauty.

I’ve let my garden go.

Now I snap a picture when I first notice blooming (if they get to that stage) and inhale deeply of any fleeting perfume aroma. And when I drive home from grocery shopping to my balding backyard, I am no longer tense with anxiety. I even left a few weeds to grow around the poor, barren flowers adding some beautiful, unexpected wild flowers into the white space of our lives! Slowly this momma is learning.

 

Breaking Words

I need to break.

This blogging has got my mind tied up. I think about it too much. It seems like such a good thing…these words I write here. And they are…good words. But He is only concerned with heart motivations. What motivates me?

Audience.

No, I don’t need a huge audience. I’m not trying to “grow” my blog. But I noticed a subtle change of shifting thoughts. As my posts ruminate in mind words I’m thinking of others reactions. This space has gone from a sweet capturing of my littles to a me space. A space where I promote my own thinking.

This has been a place I’ve been running from for a while now. For almost nine months I’ve heard His voice quietly beckoning me awayaway from here and back to my littles…back to my household…back to life. My first gut reaction was to delete. Delete the blog. Delete the internet from our life. But that is not dealing with my heart any more than staying is. Blogging is not wrong. Yes, it may be a bit narcissistic but there is good here in this world. There are lives touched and information shared and it is a good thing. Technology is not bad.

I think of the verse ~

Everything is permissible ~ but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible ~ but not everything is constructive.” ~ I Corinthians 10:23

I think on Jenny’s very poignant post and the listening she did. She heard:

It’s not the blogging…It’s the browsing

It’s not the writing…It’s the wandering

It’s not the time spent…It’s the time wasted

She listened and her blog A Minute Captured is a beautiful thing because of it. So then I thought maybe I could blog just a little bit…put up some boundaries. So I scaled back. My posts were fewer. And that time back did help. Things started coming together around the house. I was thinking again. Not about what others think but about what I should be doing for my household.

But still I heard His voice. Scaling back is not what He is calling me to. And isn’t that what it’s about? Listening to Him? For Jenny it was about writing and ridding of unnecessary distractions. For Elizabeth it was about her gift and not burying that talent. But for me? My season of life has me raising six littles who have very tender receptive hearts that need lots of mommy. I have a household full of toddlers who are right in the midst of training and need structure and routine. I have a house that is in utter chaos and needs habits laid down. I have work to do right here.

I love this space and all the information that is here for the having. I really don’t want to give it up. There are some who are called to share and help others learn. There are some who are called to take up the fight and politically or socially start grassroots uprisings. But it is not for me to share. It is not for me to uprise. This is not my season. My place is here…now…as mother.

This blog has been such a beautiful outlet for me to share my favorite hobby of photography and it is not a door forever shut. I will be back. There will be a season where it will be my turn to share. But I need to turn my camera inward. My babies are looking at their scrapbooks I’ve done for them. And I realize my art is there. It is art with meaning by the only audience who matters. My kids care that I scrapbook. They care that I take pictures of things that are important to them and me. They want to see them finished. They want to see their life chronicled in a way that will matter when they are older and start forgetting. I can always reread a blog and remember. But for them, they need the heft of that real book in their  hand to turn pages and smile as they remember and ask questions about what they don’t. And those are the stories I need to tell. The real that needs to be passed down.

My blog will stay put for now. I will be utilizing my Homeschool Free Resources page often as I continue this homeschooling journey. I will continue to answer any comments that happen to come my way. I will be visiting other blogs during scheduled free time to read of other wise words who should be here right now. I will continue to learn and grow. I will be back one day as a seasoned homeschool momma with loads to share.

But for now I am going home to my babies. For now it is simply necessary to let this blog go in order to focus on my necessaries.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  ~Proverbs 14:1

~ MY STORIES ~

Many people have said to me ‘What a pity you had such a big family to raise. Think of the novels and the short stories and the poems you never had time to write because of that.’ And I looked at my children and I said, “These are my poems. These are my short stories.” ~ Olga Masters

~ Cookie Comfort ~

How do you bake cookies while simoultaneously holding a whining infant who may have RSV and has been clinging to you desperately all week day?

One hip…baby. Other hand…cookie scoop. Wasn’t this such a clever invention? I used to see it as a needless tool (my hubby wanted it) that I avoided just on principle. But, I’ll admit, today it has greatly come in handy.

We should be dosing up on meds and trying to clear out this sickness pervading our house. I should be packing the last little bits of our house. But there is something ultra comforting about home baked chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the afternoon! I mean, seriously, look at all that sweet, warm, fresh gooey goodness!

I’ve adapted our recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. The only change being that I use all butter. No shortening or margarine in this house! And Adam has taught me to add the flour slowly at the end testing for that just-right-consistency. That has made all the difference in cooking the perfect cookie!

I cook mine at 350 degrees for exactly 9 minutes. No more, no less. Always pull even if you don’t think they look done! Everyone’s oven is different so that part may take some experimenting.

Scratch Real-Butter Ultra-Comfort Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter (slightly softened)

~ Mix with beater.

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp real Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs

~ Mix again with beater.

  • 1 3/4 Cups – 2 1/2 Cups Flour 

~ Mix in 1 3/4 Cups flour with beater. Slowly add 1/4 – 1/2 cup more at a time till dough is still sticky but can be squished together in hand and keep shape.

  • 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

~ Stir in chocolate chips.

Cook, eat and enjoy!

And, by the way, the other cool secret about this recipe? You can use it for any type of cookie! Making peanut butter cookies? Add peanut butter and adjust flour accordingly. Making oatmeal cookies? Add a handful of oats and adjust the flour accordingly. As long as the dough has that same consistency then you’re good to go! This helped me in memorizing just on recipe and ditching the rest. Ultra simple for this overly busy mom!

Slow Reading ~ The Gentle Art of Domesticity

As sometimes happens, I am walking along the bargain aisles at Barnes and Nobles hoping to catch that great homeschooling find when out of the corner of my eye I spy this cover.

I know you are not suppose to judge a book by it’s cover but I am a visual person by nature and, unfortunately, this is too often the case with me…at least with books! And this one didn’t disappoint! It’s all in the title: The Gentle Art of Domesticity {Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art & The Comforts of Home} by Jane Brocket. What’s not to love? For $10 I found a homey book that I can curl up with at night or on the weekends and enjoy in my new home!

Sometimes in this bloggy world we adults develop a bad case of attention deficit disorder. We get so used to perusing and looking and envying that we never take the time to stop and read and do the things we are looking at. Or is that just me?  I often need to force myself out of this destructive pattern. This book is a breath of fresh air in that department. It’s like reading a blog (beautiful pictures married with wonderful content) but in long form. Instead of sneaking a 5 minute reading blog break, you can take an hour and read on the comfort of your couch.

This isn’t a how-to book so much as a how-I-got-here book. It is all those homey ideas I want to ruminate in for a while. And her take on our culture is spot on. Take this excerpt for example.

For the gentle arts are just that: gentle. They do not demand to be practiced. No one is obliged to pursue them. They have not been taken up by any government department and regulated and repackaged with health and safety messages and warnings. They are a matter of individual and personal choice. They can be enjoyed by anyone with an interest and the ability to thread a needle, break an egg, choose a color or wield a pair of scissors. They don’t require complicated skills, qualifications, training or equipment…What they do require, though, is a consicious choice to do something ‘old-fashioned’ and ‘quaint,’ to choose not to buy and consume endlessly, but to make and create for a change…It’s the awareness of the worth of the gentle arts that counts, the ability to see that the feminists of the 1970s were misguided when they thought that teaching young girls to devalue domesticity constituted progress.” {emphasis mine}

Wow! And this from an author who was, herself, a proclaimed feminist! It was her journey through that process of attaining a family and struggling with careers that landed her in this ever-so domestic world. I love this for two reasons. One, the book reads like a blog journal ~ interactive with you while at the same time maintaining that personal awareness and growth that only comes with writing things down. And two, you don’t have to be that traditional Martha Stewart-y crafty girl to enjoy this book. You can be that career momma or retired grandma with time on her hands or even the mom who longs to do crafts but is up to her elbows in a dirt-colored-snotty-nose season of life and still resonate with Jane’s writings on domesticity. It is that inherent domesticity in all of us women, designed by God himself, that connects us as a collective whole despite our individualistic bents.

I long to recapture my own domesticity amid the potty training, homeschooling, disciplining, and laundry pile ups.  I know this art will take intentional slowing down on my part, as well as intentional thought about how I want our home atmosphere to look and feel. It’s not about the keeping up with the Jone’s I’m interested in, it’s the comforting feeling of hospitality I long for my family and guests to feel when they step through my door. I’m excited to glean some valuable nuggets of truth in this area from Jane’s book. I hope this one stays on my shelf for years to come!

{Update :: The wonderful reason this book feels like a blog in print is because Jane actually has the most wonderful, beautiful blog right here in this cyber world. It is called yarnstorm and is just lovely. Please, go check it out!!! Plus, the book is turning out fabulous. The perfect read to take slowly in bits over sips of coffee during those rare free moments.}

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