Where the Bruised Cucumber meets the Sippy Cup!

A Loud Mama with a loud family, living imperfect lives glorified through God and breaking free of the bondage of politically correct Religion. We do things differently around the Viking Homestead, and hope that, by sharing our lives, we can help others feel more comfortable with their differences as well.

28 February, 2012

Mourning March 31st

I should start by saying that, in all honesty, this is really a big 'ol pity party!  Really.  Nothing particularly wrong is going on, nor do I have anything to mourn over.  However, for me, March 31 signifies SO many things I will be saying goodbye to as this chapter in my life comes to a close.  March 31 is my due date.  At some point around then(give or take a couple of weeks) I will welcome a new, beautiful little girl into my world.  I'm ready to meet her and see her face and start my crazy, beautiful, slightly scary life as a mom of 3!  However, once that day comes, there are things I will have to come to terms with.  One is that this is my last pregnancy.  Part of me feels like I haven't enjoyed it enough, but part of me knows that I wouldn't revel in another pregnancy any more than I have in this one.  I have children to raise and life to get on with, so, I just have to enjoy it the best I can and take it day by day.  Also,  while I have a great support system in place so I can nurse this baby, it saddens me that this will be the only time I do this.  That while I can nurse this baby, there won't be another after her to nurse.  While that might seem a bit of a silly reason to consider having another baby, other mama's will completely relate.  Its a lot like having children in general.  It can be a pain, and totally inconvenient and by the time you think you've got the hang of it, they are out of the house and you're wondering where in the heck the time went.  Of course, so much goes back to having Little Valkyrie when I was so young.  I was totally ignorant and completely uninformed and it took me quite a bit of time to recover from the pregnancy and crazy postpartum issues that followed.  Now, you can't go back and change the past.  Nothing I do now will put a band aid on issues stemming from that.  With each pregnancy, though, I find myself wanting to do things a little differently and hoping that at least I can feel better about doing what I know is best with the information I have at the time.  Also, being able to lay about in the evening and feel this baby move...I always dread the first postpartum shower when the baby isn't there and my beautiful bump has been replaced with something that most closely resembles the effect of someone having put a king size sheet on a twin size bed.  And bringing home another baby when Little Viking is still My baby....well, that part will sort itself out, but it has kept me up a few nights wondering how he will take the change.  It goes without saying that potty training and giving up the sippy cup have fallen by the wayside as he has noticed all the changes going on.  Now, onto the two, totally crazy things that I ALWAYS wanted to do while I was pregnant, but never did and now, never will.  First, I have always wanted to swim with dolphins while I was pregnant.  Don't ask why...can't really explain it.  I just always have.  For whatever reason it never happened and now, at this point, its really too late for it to happen so, this is it.   Second, and stay with me on this one, I always wanted to get married while I was pregnant.  Pregnant brides are adorable and its always just the most wonderful thing to see.  Now, I don't mean shotgun weddings where teenagers are only getting married because the girl got pregnant.  No, I mean two people who were going to get married anyhow and just happened to get pregnant before the wedding date.  A bride with a bump is a beautiful thing.  I always wanted to be one.  Obviously, that is not going to be happening here.  Of course, none of this will matter when the baby arrives.  I'll jump into the deep end of the pool and go about the wonderful task of getting to know her and all of this won't matter in the least.  For today, though, it does matter, but for today, while I may be mourning all the things i'm 'losing', I have some wonderful things to be thankful for!

My Journey in Homeschooling: Preparing for next year

Wow!  I can't believe that we're over halfway through our first year of homeschooling!  And what an adventure its been.  Its been quite a rollercoaster ride!  Ups and downs and starting over more times than I can believe.  However, its been wonderful to see firsthand how my children learn best and to be the one who helps them to have those 'a-ha' moments!  I can't believe I'm already starting to get ready for next year.  However, I definitely feeling MUCH more confident about going into next year than I was starting out.  I have a MUCH better idea of what we actually need vs. what will just sit in the bag or box, untouched for the duration.  I'm starting to look at where I want the course of my children's education to go and what I want them to learn.  At this point there has been a LOT of prayer and discussion over the curriculum I want to use, where I feel God is leading us and, of course, what the children are most interested in.  I've asked them, and given them options, regarding materials I buy because they will be using them and I want them to be involved in the process.  Now, its not a free for all.  I usually have been looking at something and, once I get it narrowed down to a few choices, will let the kiddos pick from those.  Right now I have TONS of bookmarks for different ideas and programs.  I go back to them daily and delete a few as I find some are so similar that there would be no benefit to choosing one over the other which makes it easy.  Luckily, I have the time and, in the meantime, Little Valkyrie and Little Viking are not only getting a 'book' education, they are also receiving a biblical education AND a life education.  Seeing a house being run and me being pregnant, they are experiencing things they NEVER would if they were away from home several hours a day.  One Homeschooling mama that I've been getting QUITE a bit of motivation and inspiration from is Amy at Raising Arrows.  Amy has been homeschooling for over 9 years and shows how she makes it work in this wonderful homeschooling series.  So, shortly, I'm hoping to be able to post the direction we've decided to go and the curriculum we'll be using!  Until then send some extra prayers for my sanity and my budget!!

23 February, 2012

Raising Modest Daughters

Just bringing up the issue of modesty can REALLY bring up some strong emotions!  When it comes to modestly, I try to do what works for my family and not judge others.  I said 'try'.  Sometimes, I'm on the receiving end of the judging...I don't wear hair covernings and I'm ok with tank tops.  Some women feel convicted to only wear floor length skirts, head/hair coverings and also to keep at least their shoulders covered.  If that is what God has called them to do, then I'm respectful of them following the will of God in their lives.  However, I haven't been led down that path and I don't feel convicted to dress my daughter in that manner either.  So, I understand that modesty CAN be relative.  However, when I see girls running around attempting to be 'sexy' or trying to get attention with their bodies, I want to scream from the rooftops that these girls deserve better!  Toddlers and Tiaras anyone?!  These moms are ENCOURAGING their VERY young daughters and teaching them that they are ONLY valued for how much they can degrade themselves and 'sell' themselves.  I don't think outfits like that have a place on anyone, much less little girls.  When girls are getting their ideas of how to dress from Jersey Shore and get the impression that the more they can hide their intelligence and go out in public in little more than glorified knickers instead of proper clothing, its making it harder for women to raise their daughters to view themselves as a gift vs. a commodity.  Our daughters ARE gifts from God and its up to us Mamas to teach them that they ARE worthy and they ARE beautiful and that they deserve and should expect SO much more than what society says they deserve or should accept from men.  Modesty is NOT just in dress. Now, the guidelines I try to follow when getting dressed or when picking out clothing for my daughters are as follows: no shirts that are so low cut that you can see cleavage.  I don't really restrict tops or shirts, and I'm fine with tank tops, but if they are so low that you can see cleavage or not wear a bra without it showing, then its not appropriate.  When trying on a shirt, I bend over.  I'm always having to pick up a kid or my purse or something so I bend over to see if the shirt droops and would allow others to see down my shirt.  If so, then its back on the rack.  Now, as a girl who came of age in the time of grunge, I'm not terribly fond of showing TOO much skin anyhow.  I want to look like a lady, but don't need to show a lot of skin.  So, there's no length limit on dresses because I'm a HUGE fan of leggings or jeans under dresses and skirts.  Dress too short?  No problem!  Hem it a little shorter and you have a nice LONG shirt to wear with your jeans.  The only real rule I have when it comes to that is that if you're wearing leggings under the dress or skirt, then the skirt can be no shorter than the middle of your thighs.  As far as skirts go, I prefer maxi length skirts because these are just easier to deal with in general, especially in the summer!  They are lightweight, modest, and quite frankly, mean that I don't have to shave daily.  Aside from that, for myself and my daughter I keep our appearance simple in regards to hair and makeup.  Of course, we pay attention to our hygeine, but Little Valkyrie is FAR too young for any makeup other than lipgloss.  As far as her hair goes, she likes to have it curled or ironed so I will indulge her that little bit.  Especially the ironing!  With her thick hair, I can iron it and acutally have her hair stay manageable for a couple of days.  For myself, makeup is minimal if at all.  I'm a big subscriber to doing it only for myself to make me feel a little perkier and prettier, but that it has to be natural looking.  If i'm to receive a compliment, I want it to be about me, not about my makeup.  I keep my hair simple as well, and usually keep it pulled back.  Aside from this, I want to model for my daughter that yes, modesty is SO much more than outward appearance.  You could be covered from head to toe and still be an immodest person.  If your body language or words are trying to attract negative attention, or if you are making a point to go out in mixed company and act in a manner that is going to make you come across as a total skank, it doesn't matter HOW covered up you are.  Those coverings can't hide who you really are.  Modesty is much more a heart issue than an appearance issue.  There are LOADS of great resources out there that also address this issue.  This GREAT post from Raising Homemakers is a very informative post on raising daughters to be modest. Also, this post from Generation Cedar andthis post from Raising Godly Children which applies not only to modesty, but to the task of raising daughters in general.  Its not an easy task we are charged with when we are called to raise daughters and it is not a call to take lightly.  However, God will not give us more than we can handle and, blessedly, God does NOT expect perfection when it comes to raising our children.  We will make mistakes, thats a given.  However, for my, my first and foremost priority is to raise children to love the Lord ahead of everything else.  While I'm fostering their relationships with God, I can use that as a means to explain the 'whys' in relation to scripture.  Its made it much easier to explain modesty to my daughter, in addition to other, more sensitive, topics.  I don't know exactly what God has in store for me as a parent or for Little Valkyrie but he brought us to the point, and He will convict and lead us and change our hearts so that we can each become the women He wants us to be.  For today, that's all the reassurance I need.

22 February, 2012

Celebrating Lent

Part of this is my post from last Lent. I LOVE this time of year. I'm thankful for another reverent, Holy time in which people very intentionally come together to acknowledge the birth and death of Jesus Christ. Now, I know this will get me, but the only thing I don't like about the time preceding Easter: Mardi Gras. I just can't really do a holiday that encourages debauchery and overindulgence. Of course Cranky Pirate, having worked off and on in Louisiana for several years, loves it! :) He really does and always hopes to be working there when Mardi Gras comes around. So, what follows is my original post, some updates(since our situation is much different this year than last year), and some GREAT resources from other bloggers on celebrating Lent.

Well, I'm here and relieved that Ash Wednesday is just over a week away! I always like to give ALOT of thought and prayer to Lent. I want to give up things that will be a true sacrifice...that will 'hurt' and make me NOT want to do it! I pray first, seeking His guidance into what lessons I'm supposed to learn and what I can do to put myself on the path He has for me. I really don't focus much on new years resolutions, but start planning for Lent almost immediately after Jan 1st! I look forward to the focus and contemplation and prayer and quietness and revelry of the entire season. It is intended to be a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving and after MUCH prayer and contemplation I have decided upon several things to give up or embark on. Partly because I need to separate strong wants from true needs, and also because I need to come to a place where I am completely humbled so that I might be greatful for everything I have and to learn how to be a good steward of ALL that God has blessed me with! I have amassed ALMOST all the supplies needed to see me through this period and now am just waiting for it to begin. So, in no particular order, here is "THE LIST" :D :
1)I will be following 'The Maker's Diet' by Jordan Rubin for the duration of Lent. This covers several dietary 'sacrifices' I had already planned on making such as no soda, no junk food and no takeout.
2)I will be following WW1 food-saving guidelines: Wheatless Monday and Wednesday, 1 wheatless meal each day, Meatless Tuesday, Porkless Saturday(doesn't really matter because its not allowed on The Maker's Diet!) and 1 meatless meal each day.
3)I will not be purchasing anything new. Let me clarify because I can already hear the "wait, what?!". Obviously, some things have to be traditionally purchased from a store...I'm going to buy toilet paper and such and obviously New Underwear goes without saying! However, if I can borrow something that is my top option. After that, I feel like purchasing from a resale or thrift shop is the next best option.
4)I will engage in daily exercise. This is a routine I have fallen out of, and I'm paying DEARLY for it! I want to do the Norseman Xtreme Triathlon in 2 years time. Therefore, in order to accomplish my goals AND be a better steward of the body God has given me, Its time to get off my behind!!
5)I will limit my time online to 7 hours a week. This may seem like alot to some people, but its FAR less than the amount of time I currently spend online!
6)I will put my entire paycheck into savings.
7)I will work on giving up vanity.
8)I will try to give up engaging in gossip.
9)I will have 4 no money days a week! In an effort to curb unneccesary spending there will be 4 days a week in which no money can be spent. This includes something as simple as change for a soda machine.
10)I am working on my self-care/hygeine routine. Not giving in to vanity, but focusing on presenting an image that glorifies God, blue hair and all! :D
11)Getting back into the routine of Giving to charity and church.
12)I will engage in Daily Prayer. Real Prayer, not 'oh God, if this traffic doesn't clear up I'm gonna kill someone!'
13)I will make a point to spend special alone time with each kid every day.
14)I will be purging my house of unneccesary clutter! My goal is to take at least 100 items to goodwill or friends garage sales.
15)I will stop speaking negatively. I will watch my tongue and not let negative words or harsh tones come out of my mouth. Moods and attitudes are contagious, and I don't want to pass negativaty along!
16)I will be making as much as possible. In an attempt to increase our self-sufficiency AND start working on the whole 'urban homesteading' thing I'm trying to make(or learn to make)as much as possible including: butter, yogurt, bread, coffee creamer, water kefir and other beverages, shampoo and conditioner, soap, laundry detergent, dish detergent and candles.

WHEW!! What a list. I know. The point is to turn things around completely, bring my world to a screeching halt, burn off the fluff and come to what is really important! I hope you all will consider taking part in Lent in SOME form, whether its as simple as being more prayerful or just being nicer to your neighbors.

Update: 2/21/12
Well, Lent starts tomorrow and I couldn't be more excited and ready to enter this season! Especially this year, since I'm currently entering my 8th month of pregnancy. The list I'm following this year is more or less focusing on the same ideas. I'm doing a meal plan that will(obviously) exclude wheat and dairy, along with artificial colors. I'm hoping removing the dyes will help with some behavior issues we're currently dealing with, although some of that COULD be related to the kiddos acting out because of the new baby. Also, I no longer earn a paycheck. I left work when I became pregnant so that I could homeschool my children and enjoy being at home. Therefore, I have a goal to save more money to build us an emergency cushion. The last thing I'm going to cut myself a little slack on is #16!! I'm cutting myself some slack on that until about October since I'm going to be focusing on caring for an infant, homeschooling, and shuttling kids back and forth! :)  However, I do have a few NEW goals.  One is to cut down on the waste so to ONLY take reuseable grocery bags with me and not use any plastic grocery bags.  My BIGGEST goal in the immediate future is an unmedicated water birth for my newest little.  After that, my goal is 6 months exclusively breastfeeding #3! :)  As always, I really do this for me!  I need it and it helps me to focus on my relationship with God.  If you would like some other information You can check out THIS great post at Kitchen Stewardship!!  There is loads of information on everything from recipes to decorating to sacrifice and suffering.  Also, this post from Passionate Homemaking has 24 GREAT ideas on making Lent and Easter a complete family affair!  It also has links to even MORE resources!  I hope you all find some way to make Lent and Easter meaningful and reverent for your family! 

Wordless Wednesday!

See Y'all Tomorrow! ;)

21 February, 2012

Preparing for baby: freezer cooking

Food.  We ALL need and it.  I LOVE coming home to a hot, yummy dinner!  There's nothing like a home cooked meal to REALLY nourish you.  However, I hate prep work and let me tell you, the idea of even making a pb&j is unbearable for the first few weeks(months) after I bring home a new little.  With the quickly approaching arrival of #3, I thought I would share with you some ways I'm able to cut down on my time in the kitchen, yet manage to have a hot, home cooked dinner every night.  Fast food and takeout are not only unhealthy, but a strain on the budget of a growing family.  Factor in that I don't want to feed my kids processed, refined, empty calorie filled 'food' and that limits the number of places we could even consider going for a take out meal.  However, once a month cooking is something that I just will not do.  I tried it once(with two kiddos underfoot) and can not commit to that on a monthly basis.  It was just far to much for me to do.  Then I realized something: when I cook in the slow cooker I put everything in frozen anyhow!! Lightbulb moment!  Why not just use slow cooker recipes for 'freezer cooking'!!  It's really the easiest thing ever and requires just a little extra time on the day you go to the shop or farmers market!  It only requires large resealable freezer bags and a bit of freezer space.  I use gallon sized ziploc style bags.  After that, its as easy as picking out your recipes.  My kiddos LOVE things like pot roast, beef stew, chicken and sausage gumbo and chili.  For anything requiring ground beef, I will cook the meat ahead of time, otherwise, I just put the meat or protein into the bag, and add the vegetables, seasonings, and any liquids as required.  The only thing I don't include is any kind of noodles or rice or dairy(i.e. sour cream).  You have to sort and put away your groceries when you get home anyhow, so this doesn't add that much more time given that, fundamentally, part of it is work you would already have to do!  Aside from that, when I cook, I make a big enough meal that I can freeze half!  To be considered large enough, I would make a meal that would cover two full dinners for a family of 5 and leftovers for lunch the next day.  Now the food may not be fancy, but it utilizes nourishing and nutrirional real food so you really are getting the most bang for your buck.  After I clean out my slow cooker in the evening, I simply put another 'freezer meal' in the fridge to thaw(to avoid using a microwave!) and then put my previously soaked oatmeal into the slow cooker so we can wake up to a fresh, nourishing breakfast that will usually make a large enough meal to last us through the week!  This is a GREAT way for me to cut down on the time I spend cooking and still allow everyone to eat well when I'm recovering from having a baby!  Its always a shame to me to see new moms having to resort to fast food when they are recovering from childbirth.  I love doing this ahead of time, even just 2 meals a week for a few months before the baby is due so that you can be well stocked up!  Also great to have in the freezer for quick meals: frozen stock(I make chicken and beef), soaked and cooked beans, chopped vegetables, homemade smoothie packets, ground beef cooked up as taco meat, sloppy joes and meatballs, and diced cooked chicken.  This way I always have SOMETHING I can feed everyone on a moments notice!  This has really helped me and I hope it can help you as well! <3

17 February, 2012

What your baby ACTUALLY needs!

 Ah, baby gear!!  Everyone gets ALL a twitter at the prospect of being able to shop for baby gear.  Then the reality kick in and by the time baby is 6 months old, you're sending loads of unopened baby gear to someone else, or stashing them out in the garage because it proved to be something you didn't need at all!  When I went to register for baby gear during this pregnancy, I saw the list of baby 'essentials' which spanned 4(YES! 4!!) freakin' pages!  It was written by someone who has never had a child or was merely trying to insult mothers intelligence.  Seriously, I know that most of those lists are padded by the stores to encourage moms to register for more, but this one was ridiculous!!  Most baby 'needs' are really baby wants or baby conveniences or baby nice-to-haves! :)  Now, I understand that the list of actual needs will be longer for a first time mom.  They are starting from scratch.  For subsequent kiddos, you should be able to shrink the list substantially!!  Now, I'm sure there are lists of this manner EVERYWHERE! This list is just my opinion based on common sense and practicality! 

1) A pair of boobies-self explanatory! :)  Also, you can ditch the lanolin and just use some coconut or olive oil on your nipples if necessary.  If you want to toss in some nursing pads for good measure, then my personal favorites are from Bamboobies!!  If you are unable to nurse, then you will need to purchase bottles, nipples, a bottle brush and formula.  When I was formula feeding, I had about 10 bottles.  I would buy new size nipples as needed.  I didn't get a bottle brush because I used bottles with disposable drop-in liners.  I also had a steam sterilizer, but you can also get disposable sterlizer packs to use in the microwave if you are short on space.  As far as formula goes, I really wish there were better options available than what is currently on the market.  If you need to formula feed, apparently the best to use is ready to feed, then liquid concentrate, then powder.  Please, do your research!

2) Diapers!  Baby's gonna poop, so you are gonna need a way to catch it.  Some mama's practice elimination communication and thats all fine and well.  I've thought about it, but its just not a method I feel confident in using.  So, I use diapers.  I LOVE cloth diapers and have a beautiful stash of handmade diapers! I can't say enough good things about the benefits of cloth diapers and they really are so easy to use.  However, when baby is teething or has a tummy virus, I'm always happy to pull out a pack of disposables!   I also live in an area prone to natural disasters,  so I try to have a pack or two of disposables on hand in the size currently needed.  If you use disposables, then just go to the store, pick up a few packs, grab a box of wipes, and you're good to go for a few days! :)  Also good to have on hand: Diaper Ointment!  I LOVE A&D Diaper Rash Cream if you're using disposables.  If you're using Cloth diapers you'll also need covers!  For Little Viking I used wool or fleece longies in the winter, and wraps in the summer.  Also, I liked to have flushable diaper liners(great if your little is NOT exclusively breast fed) and a good, cloth diaper friendly ointment.  My particular favorite is CJ's BUTTer!  Its a great product and is available for those with super sensitive skin or yeast issues.  My personal favorites are the Monkey Farts and My Pixie Pie scents!  If using cloth diapers and you're hoping to really get your money's worth out of them, it would also behoove you to purchase a cloth diaper friendly detergent.  I make my own, but I know that if you look on ANY cloth diapering websites, there are several detergent options available.

3) Baby Carrier.  Yes, a baby carrier.  Wear your baby.  I have a Mei-Tai, a ring sling, and two wraps.  They are ALL great and each one is great depending on the activities you are doing.  They allow me to get a LOT more done, without toting a burdensome stroller around.  Also, my kids HATED strollers. 

4)A car seat.  You'll need a seat that will accomodate a newborn, rear facing, to the current requirements.  I don't use the infant car seats very often, because its easier, in my opinion, to get babies out of convertible car seats if you're going to be wearing them.  I didn't use a 'travel system' or anything like that beyond my first baby.  They are just bulky and, since I make big babies, I had no use for the infant seat permanently beyond 6 months.  I figured I might as well get my money's worth and purchase a good convertible seat that would last me to the point that my kiddos could transition to a booster.  Regardless of what you opt for, this is the only requirement(to the best of my knowledge) that is required by law, and it is required to leave the hospital with your baby. 

5)A place for baby to sleep.  You'll have to sort out what you want as far as this goes, but you'll have to put baby to bed somewhere.  Personally, we will let baby sleep with us OR in a bassinet(that I've used for all my kiddos...and it was free so I've gotten my money's worth!) or we also have a little cradle type rocker with an incline which can be very helpful if baby has reflux.  Some people start out with a crib, some opt for a play yard and some people never purchase any kind of special bed for baby.  Little Valkyrie slept with us, but also LOVED her crib.  However, she was out of it before she was 2.  She just didn't want to sleep in it anymore.  Little Viking is a different story.  He slept on me for ages.  He would also sleep in the bed with me and I had his crib attached to the bed.  Eventually, he wanted to just be in the crib, and have his own 'bed' so we let him. Of course, he's still in our room, but, even at 3, he refuses to stop sleeping in the crib, despite the fully assembled toy story rocketship toddler bed sitting right there! :P  Oh well, no harm no foul! :)  First time moms will need to get a crib(or whatever they are using), a mattress, some fitted sheets and a couple of waterproof mattress protectors.  If co-sleeping, invest in a couple of good mattress protectors for your bed!  Trust me. 

6)Clothing.  Baby needs something to wear.  Now, since I wear my littles, if the weather is warm, I will just take them out in their diaper because they are going to be covered and I don't want them to overheat.  At home, Its usually just a diaper in the summer as well.  I can't say how much I LOVE side snap shirts for babies!  Especially if you cloth diaper.  Most onesies don't accomodate a fluffy butt, so you can just stick to side snap shirts and the diaper cover can serve as 'pants'!  For this new little, its side snap shirts, skirties and leg warmers.  Cheap, easy, and I've made most of the things she needs from leftover fabric.  Well, except for the shirts! :) 

Ok, so, thats it!  I know some of you are thinking 'wait! What?! Hold on just a sec!!' However, honestly these are the essentials.  Throw in a rectal thermometer and a humidifier and you're good to go.  This is what you NEED.  There are lots of other things you can get to make your life easier but, fundamentally, these are the basics.  So, if you are on a tight budget and feel badly about all the things you don't have, rest assured that even at that you probably have more than you need! 

16 February, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Little Valkyrie, Little Viking and the Bun in mah Oven!

Ah, mah babies!  They alternately drive me crazy and make me happier than anything else in this world!! :)  Kids will be kids and are up for all sorts of mischief.   My lovely kiddos are NO exception.  For example, thanks to Little Valkyrie, I'm now the proud owner of the worlds most expensive earring! Seriously.  One earring, not a pair.  The worlds most expensive earring.  You can see it in the specimen cup on the
right.  How expensive, you ask?  Well, a full tank of gas, a fee to a late night pediatric urgent care, a different fee to the E.R. at the local children's hospital, betadine, neosporin, a prescription for a course of antibiotics, and a whataburger breakfast.  Why?  Because the back of her earring had become lodged in her ear, she tried to pull it through, it didn't work...see where this is going?!  Cranky Pirate and I were alternately horrified and angry!  I couldn't believe it!  Who's kid was this that thought it was no big deal and actually told the doctor to NOT use pain meds to take the earring backing out of her ear!!

Also, thanks to Little Viking, I know have some pretty fancy permanent artwork decorating my new fridge.  I swear, I turn around for 2 seconds and he's found the sharpies and the(apparently) perfect and beautiful canvas that is Mama's new white fridge.  Not content to color on the butcher paper I gave him, he felt that this would be a much more appropriate manner in which to express his artistic abilities.  However, this was after seeing his sister color on the fridge with dry erase markers....he thought it was ok and can't differentiate between dry erase markers and sharpies.  Does that make it any less irritating? No.  But does it bother me? No.  Let me explain.  I was irritated with the behavior, but I'm not bothered when I see it or that the drawing is there.  At this point, I don't even notice it most of the time! :) 

Ah, on to baby #3!  My new little girl!!  I'm still not sure what nickname to give her.  Something wonderful to keep in with theme I've started, but I'm lost for ideas.  I'll sort it out eventually.  For now, she'll just have to be #3! :)  What started out as a non-eventful pregnancy hit the wall at the 19 weeks ultrasound.  Of course, that led to a level 2 ultrasound.  I refused genetic counseling and any further testing.  She's beautiful and God meant for us to have her.  So, whether the markers turn out to mean something or she's completely healthy, she's my little girl.  As I write this, she's found a nice spot in my ribs that is apparently quite ripe for kicking!  She's definitely showing her temperment already and she's very(VERY) hardheaded! :)

However, when I'm feeling discouraged about the kiddos, or if I'm having a rough go, and really worry that I'm not cut out for this life, my kids go and do something like this!  Voluntarily holding hands and walking together....nicely!  With Little Viking very loudly proclaiming his love for Little Valkyrie.  I have no words to describe how wonderful this makes me feel, to know that my children love each other!

 Or when the day has just gone on a bit too  long and I'm really just feeling the wear and tear of the day and I come home to see this! :)  My kiddos, playing nicely in the paddling pool!  Now, granted, this lasted for about 30 minutes before they wanted to start fighting over the water hose.  Thats beside the point.  To see them doing something nice, without being told to, makes me feel better about things.  Makes me realize that they will get it one of these days.  For now, they're babies, and part of childhood is tackling the learning curve that is being in this world.  So, at this point, just getting through the day is enough!

How to cope with pregnancy when your coping mechanism fails. Or, why I will always miss Soda.

Yes.  Soda is a cat.  She is the first cat that Cranky Pirate and I ever owned together.  She's the MOST amazing cat.  She came into our lives in a way that, once we got to know her, was completely in line with her personality.  We heard a cat fussing VERY loudly outside of our apartment door.  So, we opened it to see what was going on, and she quit fussing and walked right in and laid herself down on the couch.  That was is.  She didn't urinate anywhere....she waited for us to get her a litter box, which we did the next morning.  We were impressed by the big, old soul in this little cat, our Soda.  She never got bothered except when she was left completely alone.  So, we got her a cat.  Yes, I got a cat for my cat.  A jittery, nervous girl we called Urd that made Wade Duck(you know, from Garfield and Friends!) look like a member of the Super Hero Squad!!  Soda was the mama cat and all was well.  The years came and went, we added in more cats, a dog, multiple moves and various crises.  Soda is nothing if not loyal.  She would come sit with me everynight in the bath, perched right up on the side, just sitting.  Being.  It was always a very comforting thing.  Then, I found out I was pregnant with Little Valkyrie.  I was scared and had no idea what I was doing and we were going through a LOT of stress in our lives.  Soda would come lay down with me every time I curled up in bed.  Right next to my tummy and, eventually, around my bump.  Eventually she would start sleeping with Little Valkyrie instead which I couldn't have been more pleased with.  While I was pregnant with Little Viking, Hurricane Ike hit.  As I laid in bed having contractions and freaking out, Soda laid next to me.  She didn't move until I was able to get up.  She was great the whole time.  Unfortunately, poor Urd, who would get ill from hearing a raised voice, did not deal with the stress so well and, on the day of my baby shower, I had her put down due to kidney failure.  Soda didn't cope with this well at all but, luckily, she turned a corner and pulled through, returning to normal-ish and eventually began trying to tend to Little Viking the same way she had with Little Valkyrie.  She was there for the pregnancies that I carried, and she was there for the pregnancies I lost.  Rubbing on my legs to remind me she was there, sitting on her little perch in the bathroom.  Always.  Somewhere along the way, I forgot that it wouldn't be forever.  A year ago, Soda got sick.  She stopped eating.  She stopped drinking.  She had all kinds of symptoms and lost weight.  Even though she couldn't jump, she would come sit on her perch in the bathroom.  I took her to the vet.   They were puzzled....None of her organs were failing, but bloodwork was crazy.  They would syringe feed her, but she would usually just fight it.  I consented to have a feeding tube placed and brought her home to care for her where I wrote up a medication and feeding schedule based on the amount of nutrition she needed per day.  It was scary, but we were making it work and she was showing some improvement.  We didn't have to call the emergency vet once and it was looking like we could place a mile marker at the end of the long road...that we could finally start counting down to a goal.  Soda was weak, and we were having to take care to take her to the litter box and things like that, but we were prepared for that and keeping her warm, clean and fed.  Then, one Monday, I went in and couldn't find her.  Here was this cat that could barely walk, but had managed to go hide herself in a bin in the cabinet under the sink.  I knew that wasn't good.  I knew what hiding meant.  I noticed her respiration when I fed her.  She had a follow up that day, so I was relieved knowing she was getting checked out.  I left for work and prayed to God that if she was going to die, if she was SUPPOSED to die, then for her to just die while I was gone so that I didn't have to make that decision again.  When i came home, she was still alive, but I couldn't shake the feeling that she knew it was time.  I packed her up...this time with no resistance and took her to the vet.  When they took her temperature, it was so low that it wouldn't even register.  Even after they put warm packs on her, for quite a while I should add, her temp still wouldn't register.  Her vitals were all going down....who knows...if I'd worked over that day she probably would have died at home.  She finally looked up at me, and I knew it was time.  The vet was very kind and started an I.V. so that they could bring her back in the room with me to be euthanized.  So, again, all by myself, I made the decision to have an animal put down.  It was beautiful though, as much as it could be.  It was peaceful and fast and it meant the world to me that I got to be with her, holding her, and that the tech and the vet stayed with me until I was ready to leave.  It was incredibly hard to cope, but this time I was assured that I had done everything possible to save her and that, it was just her time.  I couldn't hold on to her anymore.  If love could have saved her she would have lived forever.  She'd still be here.  I never realized how much I depended on her until this past July.  I found out I was pregnant with #3.  I was so shocked and surprised! We decided not to tell anyone due to the fact that I had become pregnant after Little Viking but had lost each pregnancy to that point.  We set a date to tell people and tried to deal with each little crisis that seemed to pop up.  One day, Cranky Pirate surprised me with a trip to LUSH!  Now, I LOVE me some LUSH!!  If you don't know of them yet, seriously, check them out.  Anyhow, we picked up some new goodies for my bath stash and I looked forward to a nice bath that evening.  So, it was business as usual, and I ran a bath.  When I got in I looked over, instinctually...expectantly.  I realized what the problem was.  The perch was vacant.  There was no Soda.  For a split second I seriously expected her to pop up on the side of the tub and stick her paw on my tummy.  And then she didn't.  Of course she didn't.  And then I had to figure out just how to cope with pregnancy and all the stress that comes along with it, while doing it without my coping mechanism.   That being said, I do have two other old cats that came along shortly after we got Soda and Urd.  Also, we have a cat that was abandoned as part of a litter just after Soda died.  We took in the whole litter, bottle fed them, and let Little Valkyrie pick out one to keep.  I have knitting and blogging and two children to look after.  So, I have things to keep me busy and 95% of the time I do pretty well at getting through it all.  Pregnancy is one of those times that is hard on me physically and emotionally.  I love being pregnant and I love having children, but feeling so detached from my body, feeling like its not my own, gets exhausting.  I do understand the blessing that pregnancy is.  I love my babies.  There are days though, when I'm hurting and tired and it gets to me that, although it might seem silly to some, the cat that I relied on(yes, relied on)to help me get through the rough times is no longer here, and I've got to actually sort out getting through this pregnancy without Soda. 

14 February, 2012

Being Christian Vs. 'Talking' Christian

Before I start, let me just say that I am NOT a Bible Scholar.  I don't have a degree in Theology.  I have my beliefs and opinions and I have my own convictions and paths to travel based on what God has placed on MY heart.  This post is not being put out there to disrepect anyone, but to get people thinking!  It is not enough to call yourself a Christian, you actually have to BE Christian.  Its hard to look yourself in the mirror and realize you are, in fact, NOT a Christian....Trust me! I know!  However, better to realize it now and get right with God than to live your entire life based on a lie and find out just how wrong you are.  Also, while I try my best to do the appropriate research necessary and I do check my facts, there are SEVERAL resources available on Christianity today and there can be differences from source to source.  My beliefs and convictions come from my experiences, my time in the Word, and my relationship with God.  So, with all that being said, here goes!!
There are MANY great resources available today for those who are curious as to what it means to be a Christian.  Many so-called Christians are surprised to find out that they're getting it wrong according to Scripture.  However, many churches, in an attempt to be 'trendy', come across as trying to accomodate(and even encourage) living in a manner that goes against scripture.  Of course, I do take issue with most churches these days.  The church as Christ designed and intended is a beautiful and wonderful thing.  It is a place for children of God to gather and receive His message.  To give Him praise and worship for the Grace we so undeservingly receive from Him.  Its not about religion or man-made politics or rules or any of that.  It is broken, sinful, fallen children of God, coming together united as brothers and sisters in Christ.  The first and foremost resource on living in accordance with Scripture and being a Christian is, to me, The Bible.  I've been guilty of reading a bit, and then leaving it to the side for ages, only picking it back up when I'm having a rough go.  If this season of my life has taught me anything its that the Bible is like fuel for our soul.  You wouldn't constantly let your car run out of gas.  You keep it fueled up properly so it runs its best.  I don't want to let my soul run out of the spiritual nourishment that the Bible provides.  I don't want to become full of dispair and worry and fear, lacking even the faith to believe that God will get me through the day.  No, its much better, in my opinion, to stay 'stocked up' if you will.  I do find that there is quite a bit of, well, division when it comes to reading and interpreting the Bible.  Its sad that the Bible has become somewhat divisive when it needn't be.  Here's what I mean when I say that:  There are those who take the Bible literally and those who view it more metaphorically.  People who follow the old testament and those who seem to disregard it entirely(until they want to start in on me about evolution...but that's another post entirely!).  Here's the deal(in my opinion): You can put ANY book in front of two different people and they will come away with the book from two different things.  Sure, you could direct them and have them come to a similar message, but not everyone is going to get the same thing from it.  To me, its the same with the Bible.  I can read my Bible and Cranky Pirate can read his Bible and we may come away with two different messages from the same verse!  It doesn't mean I'm right....nor does it mean that Cranky Pirate is right.  We're neither right nor wrong, honestly.  God has a plan and a path for every person.  He needs for each of His children to get on the path He has created for them.  Therefore, not everyone can come away from the Bible or from prayer with the same messages.  Sure, you could guide their prayer or influence them to see the message you've recieved from Scripture,  but, at best it should be shared in a loving, conversational manner.  Not to be used as judgement or to show superiority.  The Bible is not an instrument of judgement or hate.  When people who pick apart Scripture and use the Bible as a weapon, slinging acid at those from behind the Bible as if they were entitled to judge anyone get going, it pushes people AWAY from Christ and only harms Christians in the process.  Blessedly, as all Christians know, no mere Human has the place to judge any other person.  God will convict and judge us all as he see's fit.  I'm thankful for that.  I've failed and fallen short many times in my life.  Not just according to man, but according to Scripture and to God.  However, God knows my heart.  He knows that His son lives within me.  He knows that I am patient and walk the path that Has put me on.  The life I live is NOT to the benefit or convenience of myself or of any person.  I live my life to the glory of God, so that He can be honored in everything I do, even if on some days, its just laundry! :)  I'm rich here because I'm blessed.  I'm charged with raising children to His glory and on building my life in Heaven.  Everyone dies, but through Christ, I get to live again! 
Another great resource, in my opinion is 'A Savvy Christian's Guide To Life' by Tracey D. Lawrence.  Even though I've been a Christian for YEARS, I still consider this to be not only a great read for 'newbie' Christians, but for the old school as well.  Its got GREAT ideas for navigating sometimes tricky social and ethical situations, while giving the information in a warm, non-judgemental and often humerous manner.  Its a good 'breaking-in guide' if you will!  If you're REALLY looking to get in to some VERY deep reading and wanting to reflect on the true state of your relationship with Christ, then I have to recommend 'The Christian Atheist' by Craig Groeschel.  Now, to let you know, this book can be a very hard and draining read.  Its beautifully brutal and will quickly help you to realize if you are 'walking the talk', so to speak. 
Now, to that effect, I should, at the very least, offer up what I believe in so that it is known where I am coming from.  I believe in The Apostles Creed.  To me, I just don't see how I could be a Christian without believing in it.  I believe that, if you were to be 'accused' of being Christian, then there should, accordingly, be sufficient 'evidence'!  Do people see the light of God shining through you.  Do your works and your nature draw people to God and reaffirm that Christ lives in you?  Not that good works alone are the way to heaven, as honestly, there is no 'do'.  It is done.  God purchased my ticket into Heaven with the blood of His son, Jesus Christ.  However, once I accept that ticket, my life should reflect my commitment to Christ.  Doing good deeds, while good, won't Save me, but will follow being saved.  Your Christianity is not just an aspect of who you are.  It IS who you are.  It is a active relationship with God.  The keys to salvation are right there in the Bible.  In Acts 26:18, when Paul is describing how God called him to preach the Gospel message, he explained that God told him to preach the Gospel which was comprised of a person hearing it and realizing it was given  "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."  When you become a Christian, you acknowledge that there is one true God and that Jesus Christ is his Son.  You invite Christ to live in your heart and turn your life over to the direction of God.  This is what being a Christian means to me.  Notice, nowhere did I mention that it means showing up to church once a week in your nicest clothing and taking part in a social event.  In my opinion its not about showing up to church to show off new shoes, or on listing Christian as your religion on your social networking site.  Its not about saying it.  Its about BEING Christian.  I don't want to be a 'Sunday Christian' that goes to church on Sunday and sits blankly the whole time, then leaves church and starts cursing people on the way out of the parking lot! Yes, it happens, and I'm still amazed every time.  I want there to be sufficient evidence to build a case to prove my Christianity.  Not based on my collection of bumper stickers or crosses or Bibles, but based on my salvation and how I live my life, striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman and drawing more people to God and to salvation.  I want to walk the walk and talk the talk all the way and one day be rewarded with riches beyond compare when I'm called home.  Everyone has to find their own path, their own calling if you will.  Or, I suppose, has to find the courage to answer when God calls.

11 February, 2012

My need for routine

This always seems to surprise people,but I NEED routine.  I LOVE having a routine in place.  Now, this is NOT the same as having a strict schedule or anything of that manner.  I'm really not fond of especially strict schedules...I never have been.  When I was pregnant with my Little Valkyrie, someone gave me a copy of Babywise.  I read about 5 pages before I chucked it in the bin.  If I couldn't strictly schedule MY meals, naps, thoughts, allergy attacks, bowel movements, etc., then how in the heck would I want to do that to a baby?!  I will casually mention that we don't follow a schedule and they picture chaos.  Some days, it is.  However, is very organized chaos! :)  I tried, for a brief season, to do a household schedule.  However, as usual, life happens and I was left feeling defeated as I watched my 'perfect schedule' become a burr in everyone's bottom.  It works for some families, and if it works for you, thats great.  It just doesn't work for my family or I.  However, routine, for me, is like a warm blanket, a nice cup of tea, and a good book(a REAL book, with pages and everything!)!  Cranky Pirate works a very unpredicatable schedule, and Little Valkryie and Little Viking, being 8 and 3 respectively, LOVE to spend time with their dad when they can.  I encourage this and love to see them having fun with their dad.  So, saying they HAVE to be in bed by 8 when I know their Dad isn't going to be home until 9pm is torture to them.  So, I just arrange things for a late nap, let them stay up to have some cuddle time with their Dad and then he will put them to bed.  I'm blessed to be able to homeschool the kiddos, so if they don't go to bed until 10 so they could have time with their Dad, I don't have to get them up until 9 or 10 the next morning!  Like I say, I get that its not the ideal for many people, but it works wonderfully for our life.  Like I said, its all about a nice, general routine.  Every day of the week has a task assigned to it.  For example, Friday is grocery day, Saturday=Farmer's Market, Tuesday=story time, and so on.  I have a list of resposibilies for each child to accomplish by bedtime,which includes things such as making their beds, putting away their toys, etc.  I also have a list of chores for myself to help remind me of what I need to get accomplished in a day or any appointments that are coming up.  Our routine is flexible.  In general, everyone wakes up around 8 or 9.  The kiddos come into the living room and I put on a cartoon for them to watch while I'm getting the coffee ready and preparing breakfast and vitamins/meds.  We usually have breakfast within an hour of waking up, except for me.  I have to wait at least an hour after taking my meds to eat.  After breakfast, its time to clean up and get to work.  Schoolwork, that is! :)  I get Little Valkyrie settled into her lessons for the day, and try to keep Little Viking occupied with busy bags, water beads or, when all else fails, foam soap! I set up Little Valkyries lessons quite a bit ahead of time, and have them set out in folders by the week and day.  So, she is able to work ahead if she likes.  Some days the lessons take longer than others, but we're currently looking into some things that may be causing that.  Its not a big rush though! We take a break for some outside play time about 2 hours after breakfast so everyone's tummy has a chance to settle.  Then its back inside to more school work.  We have lunch whenever the kiddos get hungry.  Usually, its about 4 hours after breakfast.  After lunch, regardless of whether schoolwork is finished or not,we have quiet time.  Everyone helps to clean up, Little Viking goes for a nap, Little Valkyrie is allowed some reading or video game time and I usually try to do a load of laundry and then curl up on the couch with a book.  Little Viking usually wakes up from his nap after about 2 hours, but likes to spend a bit of time 'waking up'.  I can hear him from the living room, cooing and laughing and 'reading' a book or playing with a train.  He will spend anywhere from 30-45 minutes doing this before he asks for me to come get him.  While he is waking up, I sort out any work that Little Valkyrie may have left unfinished, but this usually isn't the case.  We will then have a snack and its out the door for any errands we may need to run.  I try to make sure they have PLENTY of playtime in the evenings, so they will be good and worn out for bedtime.  Then I'll make dinner, and after that its bath, story time and bed!  Sometimes bedtime comes at 8, sometimes it doesn't come until 11.  It just depends on the day and the current circumstances.  I try to stay as flexible as possible, especially since I'm having a baby soon.  This gives the kids a sense of stability, without putting strict requirements on anything.  For now, it works for us, and for me, the priority is keeping a happy house and running it to the glory of God.  This is my calling and my mission, and I do things in accordance with what I have been convicted to do for my family and the plan God has for me.  This is all I can do, so even though it may not look ideal from the outside, for now, its exactly how its supposed to be.

10 February, 2012

My feelings on nutrition during pregnancy

Ah, Pregnancy!  Its a wonderfully chaotic time in a woman's life!  The more children you have, the more important it becomes to try to be as intentional as possible about the choices you make in general, but especially during pregnancy.  Of course, like with many other things, people tend to fall on a bell curve in regards to their feelings about tending to oneself during pregnancy.  On one end, you have people that(say they) excercise every day, never let one bite of anything processed or un-organic cross their lips, faithfully take their prenatals(or not, since some believe that if your diet is good enough, you don't need a prenatal), and, in general, must be the women that 'glow' throughtout their pregnancies! :)  Then, on the opposite end, are the people who feel that they can do as they please while pregnant because they've seen 'healthy babies born to crack-addicted mothers' so therefore, eating fast food and continuing bad habits such as smoking can't be THAT bad!(uh, someone get these ladies some proper prenatal education, STAT!).  In the middle, thankfully, are women who do have their babies best interests at heart, but also live in the real world.  I'm sure that if this blog had TONS of readers, I might catch the wrath of some overly-zealous foodies out there.  Luckily, its just a few of us and these are just my opinions.  We're all entitled to them.  I find myself getting jealous at the preggos who say that a bite of junk food NEVER crossed their lips and kombucha or homeade kefir soda tasted much better to their pregnant palate than Dr. Pepper.  However, with every pregnancy, I have absolutely horrible nausea.  I can't stand smell.  At all.  Food with a smell absolutely cripples me for about the first 4-5 months.  No cooked foods and I can barely tolerate grocery shopping.  I have to go early in the day before the deli is really cooking.  Also, I'm off gluten on the orders of two doctors.  That can make navigating nausea and cravings a tricky thing.  Now, luckily, for the most part, I wanted things like pickles, watermelon, iced tea and yummy smoothies!  I had LOADS of fruit salads, caesar salads with homeade dressing, and DELICIOUS peanut butter cup protein smoothies!! Throw in some homemade yogurt and all the coconut milk and it wasn't a bad diet.  Of course, like most pregnant women, I had oddball cravings! For chocolate covered bacon, chocolate chip bacon pancakes, lucky charms and Dr. Pepper were the big ones! I'm big on moderation and know the importance of proper weight gain throughout pregnancy, so I kept the crazy stuff in check, but didn't deny my cravings.  If all I REALLY wanted for dinner was a HUGE bowl of lucky charms or some flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, then I went ahead and had that.  I think part of it is listening to your body.  So many people have, through years of improper diets and disordered eating habits, learned to ignore their body so that they can continue abusing it.  I did it for YEARS.  If you want cookies, and are satisfied after two cookies, then there is no need to eat a dozen.  There isn't something magical in the bottom of the cookie jar.  I promise.  Except, at the very least, a massive belly ache.  I've eaten my fair share of bacon, snickers and Dr. Pepper during this pregnancy, and I have to say I don't feel bad about it at all.  Of course, I don't feel bad about my coffee addiction either, but I cut back a bit when, discussing the amount I drink with my midwives, I noticed them all flinch! (For the record, its about 30oz. daily...thats two of my coffee mugs full.)  However, I know when to draw the line and what the ultimate goal is!  While Pop Tart bacon sandwiches might SOUND nice, I would never eat one.  Wheat+sugar=big hot mess!  I knew it would make me ill, so that was one craving I just fought my way through.  Listen to your body!  Realize that, at the end of the day, what is best for your baby may be really rough on you.  Think of it as training for parenthood.  Children are NOT convenient or easy.  They are wonderful and life-changing.  However, at some point you(hopefully!) grow up and realize that your child's needs come before your wants.  What is best for your children may be difficult and time consuming for you.  I want a new sewing machine.  My old one works just fine. I just want a newer, fancier one or, at the very least, a serger in addition to my sewing machine.  I can get by with the one I was blessed to get.  Thank God, because, while I may want these things, my children NEED to go to the dentist, have needed to go to the doctor, need nutritious food to be cooked and put on the table and need to be raised to the glory of God.  Therefore my top priority is to focus on their needs.  There are days I would LOVE to just lounge about not really worrying about getting things done because I have an 8 hour block of time to tend to my chores daily.  However, what is best for my children, via conviction from the Lord, is to be homeschooled.  It takes time and sacrifice to homeschool.  Yes, it can be inconvenient from some peoples point of view, but since this is what I am called to do, really how inconvenient can it be?  What is best for my unborn baby it to ensure that I do the best that I personally can to take care of her.  I don't subscribe to the end of the bell curve that figures their body, placenta and baby can take one for the team and that the baby will come out fine.  I know better than that so to act in that manner would be to throw caution to the wind and, in my opinion, act in a very selfish and self-destructive manner.  Now, while I may like to be sitting out on a chaise lounge and having a margarita, thats just not realistic or healthy or necessary.  Nor do I fall on the other end of the curve that says you must live pregnancy in a bubble and eat nothing but organically grown wheatgrass shakes and filtered water during your entire pregnancy.  However, I do fall closer to that end of the curve. For full disclosure, I should state that I'm NOT a medical professional of any kind and this information is not to be construed as any kind of medical advice.  This is merely my opinion based on my personal experience. I do believe that about 80% of the time one should strive to eat a really good diet.  Foods that your great grandmother would recognize is a good place to start.  Now, in my opinion, this is the ideal diet to follow during pregnancy.  Some consider it controversial and there are aspects of it that I don't follow, such as drinking raw milk.  Not because I have an issue with raw milk or those who drink it.  I did before I got pregnant, but the cost and distance I had to go to procure it became too prohibitive.  If I had a cow on my property, you bet your bottom I would get my fill of raw milk daily.  Same goes for raw eggs.  I've never had a problem with them, but food poisoning when you're pregnant is the suck, and I don't have my own chickens so I avoid raw eggs.  This is what works for me and I can easily follow it.  It focuses on real foods, which is easy enough.  Now, you will see that is advises against sodas, commercially fried foods, refined sugar,etc.  So, obviously, I haven't followed it to the letter, but, as I said earlier, 80% is my focus.  This is another good prenancy diet that many women have followed.  Again, the focus is on real food and ensuring that you get the appropriate amounts of the right foods.  Of course, there are several other nutritional plans that can be followed such as: The Maker's Diet, GAPS, Paleo/Primal, etc.  While I am familiar with those, I have not ever followed them strictly or during pregnancy and feel there are others far more capable of discussing them that I am.  So, in my opinion, during pregnancy, you should do the best you can.  Better than usual since you are growing a baby.  However, you shouldn't beat yourself up if you have some kind of complication or illness that makes you only want to eat lucky charms.  Pray Daily and follow the convictions that the Lord places on your heart.  Drink plenty of water.  Do some yoga or pilates daily(trust me!)! Take a vitamin.  Don't feel bad if its NOT some fancy prenatal.  Sleep as much as possible.  Enjoy this short season in your life.  It really IS a blessing and the outcome is WELL worth any trials you may go through during pregnancy!


09 February, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Nutella Lava Brownie Mug Cake

Ok, y'all! Before I go any further, for full disclosure, I should state just how much I LOVE Nutella.  This stuff has saved many a person from my wrath.  Its that good.  If there was a 12 step program for it I wouldn't go, because its that good.  Seriously.  Nutella.  I can't even do it justice with words.  There are so many ways to enjoy it.  Cupcakes, Hot chocolate, cookies, straight out of the jar! However, I stumbled across a lovely blog that had a recipe that seemed to do Nutella its proper justice!  By now everyone has heard of mug brownies or mug cakes or some variation on that term.  A few ingredients, a couple of minutes and BAM! A mug of happy!  However, this recipe went above and beyond!!  I mean, it has Nutella so its ALL good! Seriously...its all good.  It can only get better if you've got some ice cream stashed in the freezer or some nice whipped cream!  Otherwise, make one of these bad boys, sit back, and forget about what a crappy day you had!  If you don't have Nutella(say WHAT?!) or you're just odd like Cranky Pirate and Little Viking, you can sub peanut butter for the Nutella for more of a peanut-butter-cuppy type of thing....or you could respect the sanctity of Nutella and this recipe and leave it as is! :D You're welcome! <3
Kirbiecravings.com Nutella Lava Brownie Mug Cake!

07 February, 2012

Headfirst into Homeschooling

Homeschooling.  Just saying the mere word can evoke all sorts of opinions.  I had my own opinions.  Several times when I met someone who was awkward in any manner, I was somewhat relieved to hear that they were homeschooled.  'Ah', I would think, 'so thats why they are odd and sheltered and can't have a normal conversation.'  Now, that being said, we're talking about people who are in their 30's so these would be some of the 'original' homeschooled.  Yes, people did it before then, but quite frankly, it wasn't a luxury that everyone could take part in.  After the oil-bust and stock market blech of the '80's, it was a generation of latch-key kids who saw their parents after 5pm during the week and, sometimes, for a stretch of time on the weekends.  Parents of that time period were of a generation that heavily bought into 'me' time.  Children of parents who came out of the Great Depression, they were hoping to live 'better' lives that the ones their parents endured growing up.  By better, I mean more fun.  More indulgent.  More focused on what was 'supposed' to make them happy: things.  This required 2 working parents so that there would be more money for more things.  Homeschooling during this time would have been considered something that only super conservative evangelicals or total fringe of society nutjobs would do.  However, It's been quite a few years and over that time, public opinion has softened....to an extent.  Now that children who were homeschooled in the '80's and '90's are grown up and are homeschooling their own children, people are starting to realize that not all who choose to homeschool are wackjobs or super sheltered religious hermits.  People decide to homeschool(or not) for several reasons and there are pros and cons on both sides.  Ultimately, its a family decision.  You have to do what is best for you and your children.  There is no one right way.  There are several paths and its only right if it works for you.  My Little Valkyrie went to some form of school from the time she was 18 months old.  She went to a Mothers Day Out program which we both loved.  It's at a local church and she loved her teachers.  The nice part was, they actually cared for the children.  It was a very nurturing environment and we were both happy with that setup.  She would actually cry when she had to miss a day.  I was going to college at the time, less than 1/2 mile away, so it was a great situation for me.  Little Valkyrie continued to go there through to their pre-k program during which time I gave birth to her brother, Little Viking.  It was wonderful during this time for her to be involved in the program, to get to see her friends every day, and to allow me some time to recover and tend to her brother, since he had a rough go adjusting to being earth side.  After her pre-k graduation, I alternately dreaded and longed for her to start kindergarden.  She had been looking forward to going and riding the bus....she'd seen it come through the neighborhood daily for 2 years and couldn't wait.  So, when the time came, I registered her for kindergarden and she was so proud that, on the first day, she didn't cry like some of the other kids and found her class all by herself.  I was working at the time, and would leave work daily in time to meet her at the bus stop with her little brother.  This worked so far, but it was a huge drain.  She loved her teacher and had a fun time so I didn't worry too much about it.  However, I soon learned that she was having a much harder time than I thought.  One day I was speaking to the school nurse and learned that Little Valkyrie was in the nurse's office more often than not...usually at least 3 days a week if not more.  For nothing serious....stomach aches, head aches, etc.  I talked to Little Valkyrie to make sure that nothing bad was happening at school and I was reassured by her, her teacher and the nurse that she was doing well, had several friends, no 'mean girl' situations, etc.  She just really didn't like to be away from home for 8 hours a day, especially being that we have crazy circadian rhythms in our house.  It was a strain on her entire system when, left to her own sleep rhythm, she would naturally fall asleep around 10 or 11 and wake up around 9.  To wake her up at 6 knowing she wouldn't be allowed a nap during the day was a huge shock to her system.  Even now, with Little Viking being 3, he is now starting to fall into a similar pattern as his big sister.  He now prefers to go to bed around 8 or 9 and will wake up on his own around 7 or 8 the next morning.  (if only I could get the baby to do a midnight-6 stretch as soon as possible, then I might actually get some decent sleep!!)  I even took her to the doctor just to rule anything out, and her pediatrician reassured me that all was fine, and the biggest problem was that Little Valkyrie was a people pleaser at heart...she was putting pressure on herself to make everyone else happy.  I pondered homeschooling as I had several friends who did it, but due to some strain on my marriage, some of it from outside influences, I felt pressure to take a new office job, farther away from home instead of staying home with my children.  I, for whatever reason, left a job I loved with co-workers and a boss that I considered to be my friends, and took a job an hour away from home and therefore had to also put my son in someone else's care.  Luckily, I was able to get him a spot at the same Mother's Day Out program that my daughter went to and so, at the start of the next school year, I began dropping two kids off and school.  It was hard, but they both seemed to adjust really well and were thriving.  Learning new things, making new friends.  However, I was miserable.  I hated being so far away from my kids because, as you know, kids like to get sick at the absolute worst of times.  One time Little Viking asked me to carry him, which was unusual behavior for that particular time of morning and that stage...he didn't want to be restrained at all.  So I picked him up and he proceeded to throw up all over me.  several times.  It happens! :)  However, when it happens after you drop your kids off at school and you've already made it to work and there is NO ONE else available to pick up your suddenly sick child so you have to drive an hour to get there while they are sitting there feeling unwell is a horrible feeling.  Initially, the plan was to go back to my old job after the summer, however, that didn't work out.  I didn't know how much longer I could take it, but I jumped ship the first chance I got.  Once I took a job where I was in town, and only about 20 minutes at worst from both schools, I was much more relaxed.  I could go have lunch with my daughter, and there wasn't such a rush in the mornings.  On days that I didn't have to go to work, I wouldn't even bother taking Little Viking to school....we would come back home and play in our jammies until naptime and then go wait for the bus to greet big sister.  I thought that things were really good at that time, and that maybe they could get even better.  I really started to get even more interested in homeschooling the littles during this time. After much prayer and thought, I realized that keeping my children home and homeschooling them was what I was being called to do.  So, after this past school year ended(with my daughter spending even MORE time in the nurses office than the prior year :/), I sent in a note withdrawing my daughter from the school district.  I was especially pleased with my decision when I learned that they had re-zoned and she would have had to switch schools anyhow.  However, I was terrified to have my son home all the time.  How on earth could I manage that? I was also going to go to college, so there was no way.  So, I enrolled him at the same Mother's Day Out program for the year.  God had other plans! :)  Before school even started, I turned up pregnant! :)  I was amazed!  I didn't really think we'd have any more children, and over the span of time since I'd given birth to my son I had a miscarriage and two chemical pregnancies.  However, this one stuck!  I felt like hell and it was so reassuring!! However, I knew there was no way I could handle everything I'd put on my plate, so had to reprioritize!  I decided that college would have to wait!  Homeschooling and working were going to have to be enough.  That was not to be the plan though.  Little Viking NEVER settled into school this year the way he had the year prior.  He NEVER had a good drop-off and, even though he had good days, he got to the point where he didn't even want to leave the house in the morning because he thought I was trying to take him to school.  Shortly after school started, I was so ill that my manager agreed to let me take leave from work until after I give birth.  So, I cut Little Viking down to two days a week.  However, even that wasn't enough and started to feel like a waste of money.  Other parents weren't following the rules for keeping sick kids home and, consequently, Little Viking had his share of whatever went around.  So, it was also starting to feel like a waste of money since some weeks he wouldn't even make it at all.  I also found that, once I learned how to deal with him being home, I actually enjoyed having him around!  Thats part of where school will get you....society expects you to enjoy having your children gone more than you enjoy having them home.  It just doesn't work that way for me.  For now, while they are little, I LOVE having them home.  So, on November 1st, I officially removed my Little Viking from the Mother's Day Out program and was a homeschooling mama to my two littles!! :)  I definitely couldn't do it on my own.  I'm cranky and impatient and, more often than not, VERY tired.  Not just 'I'm preganant and have two kids tired' but as I have health issues on top of that, pregnancy makes me EXTRA tired.  It is only by the grace of God that I can do this.  I don't know that I will do it forever and there is a steep learning curve!  I'm lucky to have input and help from several fab mama friends, some who homeschool and some who don't, to help me get through this period.  There is quite a period of adjustment to homeschooling, especially when your children have been in public school.  A good rule of thumb I've heard is to not expect to have things really settled for 2 or 3 years.  This is NOT a bad thing.  I've never done this before and I don't know what will or won't work for my children and for me as well.  We all have to settle into this together and so things will get changed, added or taken away and it takes TIME to sort all of it out.  It takes time for me to sort out how my children learn best, how to engage them, how to balance teaching what I want them to know with what they want to learn.  I still have moments where I fear I am doing them more harm than good by homeschooling them, and pray daily that I am doing the right thing....that they won't grow up to be socially awkward and uneducated.  My daughter, well, I'm not So worried about her because she's had so many experiences in a school or church setting of meeting new people and making new friends.  My son, however, well, that scares me.  I know I'll find a balance, and that I have time and that its not like he never plays with other kiddos, but its still hard to be reassured that I'm doing the right thing for my family.  However, I feel at ease when I realize that I'm doing this for reasons above and beyond textbook education.  When Little Valkyrie pointed out with dismay that they didn't pray before lunch at her new school, or that they didn't have bible stories, it really upset her and me.  I knew that she wouldn't be allowed to hear Bible stories at snack time anymore as long as she was in public school.  At home(or where ever we happen to be) we are free to pray openly before eating, to read a bible story while playing at the park or just to discuss God in the context of whatever we are learning for the day.  This was the push for me to homeschool.  My children are smart, and my daughter is gifted.  I will find a way to get them the education they need but I'm not going to sacrifice raising my children to the glory of God by sending them somewhere that isn't going to first and foremost encourage and teach based on a Christian worldview.  For now, the best way for them to get all of that is for me to homeschool them.  Its not always easy.  I feel like I've stumbled and started over a million times and its only just been 6 months.  However, I constantly tell myself that If God brought me to today, He will get me through today.  The past is done.  The future doesn't exist.  God will get me through today.  And for today, that is enough! <3

06 February, 2012

What it means to me

"God is Love".  My Little Valkyrie tells me this ALL the time! :)  All the time.  Every day.  She likes to remind me especially often when I'm feeling cranky! :)  Cranky Pirate and I work especially hard to raise our children to know, love and serve the Lord.  Thankfully, when we were called to be parents, there was never any burden to be perfect.  To my knowledge, God doesn't expect perfection, thankfully!  I would fall short of that marker constantly!  As a parent, my main priority is to teach my children to serve and honor God.  Now, not everyone will have the same religious views or will subscribe to the same church doctrine(but thats a subject best left for another post at another time!), and even Cranky Pirate and I don't always agree on how to best handle the spiritual upbringing of Little Valkyrie and Little Viking!  It can be hard, especially when you've got two people who were raised on pretty opposite ends of the spectrum!  I was raised by a mother who attended what I considered to be a church that was only a few steps away from being a cult.  It was VERY intense in a very bad way.  I always suspected that if Jesus actually showed up to this church, he wouldn't be allowed in.  My father was the total opposite of that.  Not quite athiest, he acknowledged that there probably was something greater out there, but completely shunned the idea of church in any form.  Cranky Pirate on the other hand, was raised by older, very conservative parents who attended a Southern Baptist church and, of course, let that dictate many of the decisions they made.  Of course, this is all said as information, not to judge anyone.  Everyone did what they thought was best at the time or what they felt they could cope with.  However, it left us both searching and with more questions than answers.  I was NEVER one to accept the old 'because I said so' or 'this is how its always been done' answers for the most part.  I hated going to church leaders and asking questions about Christ or the Bible or anything else and being told one stock answer in response.  I firmly believe that there are as many interpretations of the Bible as their are people in the world.  When I sit down with my Bible to read and pray and sort out my life and my relationship with God and address any issues that are going on, He isn't going to give me an answer that applies to anyone else.  God is going to point me in the direction meant for me.  He will convict me to do the things that will put me on the path he has set aside for me to travel.  Before I was even born, God knew every decision I would ever make in my life, every mistake I would make, every tear I would shed, every massive screw up, every triumph, every wonderfully imperfect bit of it!  He still decided that I was worth dying for and that I was worth existing in this world.  He felt that about each and every single person walking around out there.  You are so amazing, even with everything that is so human, so naturally imperfect about you, that He died for you.  That He deemed you worthy.  I'm most certainly NOT worthy, or at least I don't always feel that way, but God is love.  He loved me enough....like a father, I'm good enough because I'm His! In searching out our relationships with Christ, Cranky Pirate and I don't always feel the same things or agree on all the semantics....because our relationships with Christ are individual.  If you have more than one child, you will have a different relationship with those children, even though you love them all the same.  Therefore, I may not be convicted or called or led or understand or feel things the same way as any other person, because that is not where God wants me to be.  He has a plan for all of us and, as hard as it may be to have the patience and peace that His will will be done in His time and in His way, I try.  I pray for grace daily, for forgiveness, and for the ability to be patient.  I try very hard not to ask God for 'things' or for Him to get to the point already.  I figure He's God, so He knows whats going on.   There have been many times that I prayed for something and finally realized that, whatever it is that I had prayed for(a thing, a change of scenery, etc.) would've actually been horrible if it had come through! :)  That, to be where God wants me to be and to be the person He wants me to be, He has to test me, to break me.  That He will change my heart, soften and break me, so that I can serve His purpose in His place and His time.  Cranky Pirate and I don't always agree on things, but the one thing we DO agree on is that our children do need to love, serve and obey God.  We can only lead so much and after a certain point we feel that they have to begin pursuing their relationship with Christ on their own.  This past summer, my daughter went to one of several VBS programs.  She LOVES attending church and she looks forward to filling up her summer with as many VBS programs as she can.  This summer we tried out a new one and are so VERY happy that we did.  At this program they discussed baptism quite in depth.  How, accepting Jesus into your heart was the way to eternal life and to be a brother or sister in Christ was to become a part of something larger and wonderful.  They sent home lists of questions and answers to make sure that anyone interested in baptism could be fully educated and understanding of just exactly what it is they were doing.  My Little Valkyrie came home after the very first day, and BEGGED to be baptized.  For me, it was awkward because I'd had both of my children baptized as infants.  Through my various religious exposures over the years, I felt that my children needed to be baptized as infants and then could decide for themselves when they were older if they were going to be confirmed or whatever was appropriate.  For my husband, it was different because, growing up in a Southern Baptist household, they believe in 'being saved'.   Now, I'm no religious scholar.  I don't know much about most religions.  I can name off several, but don't know the ins and outs.  However, for me, it was a case of believing in original sin and needing to have my children baptized as infants.  Therefore, they were.  Cranky Pirate, however, believed that children didn't need to be baptized properly until they reached the age of reason and could choose it for themselves.  However, ultimately we came to the decision that if Little Valkyrie was choosing this for the right reasons, to publicly acknowledge that she was making the choice to welcome God to 'live inside her'(as she put it), to be a part of God's family, to show that God is love and loves her so much that he would accept her knowing that she isn't perfect(I've got a pretty deep kid, y'all!) and to start accepting responsibility for her relationship with God(even though its baby steps) then neither of us felt we had a reason to tell her no.  It would be like telling a kid they couldn't buy apples at the store.  Apples are good for them.  I wouldn't say they couldn't have apples but then buy frozen pizza.  Doesn't work that way.  Little Valkyrie loves God and I couldn't very well tell her, after the very deep discussion we had about what she was undertaking, that she couldn't go through with being baptized.  So she was.  On a warm summer evening, in front of her little brother, her little sister(whom I was still not telling people about) and myself, my oldest proudly proclaimed that she accepted Jesus into her heart and was baptized in water.  Funny enough, at that moment, my feelings about it didn't matter.  None of the discussions or worries came into play.  That she had a heart big enough for God and only wanted for His love to shine through her was everything I needed to know.