Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cloth Wipes- Too Simple

I feel almost silly posting about cloth wipes since our method is so simple, but maybe it will help. I put this off for so long, because of the expense and the plethora of methods and solutions.

If you are using cloth diapers there is no reason to put off using cloth wipes!

In order to save some money, since name brand cloth wipes run about a dollar a piece, I tried sewing my own according to all of the different versions, terry+terry two sided, terry+flannel two sided, flannel+flannel two sided. I learned that flannel will really not get anything off a baby's bottom, and more importantly I realized I didn't like them in two layers at all. It was too thick to get in all those little baby crevices, and just kind of awkward to handle at all.

What I really wanted was just one layer of terry, but my machine doesn't serge, and the little edges would shed threads all over the boys' bottoms. It seemed silly and tedious to hem dozens of one layer wipes, and what they were was basically baby wash cloths anyway. So I went on line and ordered baby wash cloths. I could have gotten them at the store, but they weren't any cheaper, they came in small packages, and I got free shipping ordering them with some other things I was getting on Amazon.

So we fold them in half in our old wipes box (Parent's Choice from WalMart is my favorite box because the opening is really big).

As for wipes solution, I thought it seemed rather silly to pay as much as they all seem to cost, and most of the recipes included essential oils I would have to order online and pay for shipping. It didn't seem like it should have to be complicated at all. The simplest I saw was to add Witch Hazel to water, which would soothe baby's skin and keep the water from getting musty. We did that first, but I hate the smell. Then I read that your water won't get musty if you use boiled water. Perfect since there's always a little left on the stove from making tea or coffee anyway. I just pour 3/4" or so in the bottom, set the wipes in it and squish down to soak it up, then pour in more and flip them over. If a wipe is too wet, I wring it out.

We only wet as many at a time as we use in a couple of days anyway.

So it's that simple; baby wash cloths and plain water.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Covers on Hyena Cart

Here are a few covers I want to try:

I like the look of Monkey Bunns Pattern (long wings finally!), but she has very limited color selection and only white FOE. What do you think? They are 3 for $25.


Also Squeezie Cheeks make a couple of different patterns I would like to try in cute colors/patterns, and inserts to match. So these would be like all in twos, in popular patterns designed for chubby legged babies. If I like them I can buy the patterns myself. They have short tabs, which aren't as cute, but they are still supposed to fit chubby thighs.

I want a fatty cakes cover in chocolate with blue dots, and a la di da cover in lime. Prints are $12 and Solids are $10. Inserts are $6.75.

Diaper Covers, am I too picky for my own good?

I have not tried a diaper cover I really like. Meanwhile after dozens on failed homemade projects we are constantly short, and Julian is always leaking.

gDiapers-leaked every time, pop on three different pieces, didn't hold up well at all.

flip/econobum- one size means they don't fit either boy very well. I like the stretch, and the colors, but I hate all the dumb snaps in the front.

nylon pants- when you pull them off the wet diaper is still pinned on and the wet back of their bum is laying on some surface. unless you have elastic in the legs of the diaper there is now poop everywhere.

dappi- tabs are very weird, cotton knit wicks too easily, wide back makes Efrim have a huge butt.

bummis super brite- can never make it fit well, the loop tape feels plastic-y, runs very large, gussets just look silly and are so unnecessary if you make a diaper that fits well in the first place.

homemade nylon- quits being waterproof after drying, pin holes don't reseal, wicks to cotton outer around the legs.

fleece homemade- doesn't wipe clean so it may as well be an all-in-one, have to wash every time, quite bulky.

pul homemade- they've outgrown all of these and the shipping on pul is outrageous. still wick to cotton a little.

brands I haven't tried- organic caboose and loveybums are fleece or wool, so they don't wipe clean, I would need a dozen for each boy. AMP AI2 lined with microfleece, again doesn't wipe clean. Brookiellen, Zookies, or OliveJanes on Etsy might be okay, but all have short tabs and fold over elastic. These are negotiable points since they are mostly aesthetic.

Chelory wipe-able all-in-twos are being made, I don't know about short tabs fitting chubby legged boys without being to long in the rise, but we'll see. Hers are the closest I've seen to what I want. Can't wait till they arrive. Maybe if I love them I could convince her to make longer tabs on another custom. They are only $14, which is pretty unbeatable for WAHM.

My ideal cover- bright solid knit, simple abstract prints, or pastel flannel outer; long overlapping tabs like kissaluvs marvels fitteds or loveybums; truly wipe clean and non-wicking hopefully without the use of fold over elastic; sized or adjustable leg elastic.

Is that too much to ask?

Being able to sew is a double edged sword because it means I can make things just like I want, but then it is hard to settle for less than perfect when I don't have time to sew.

Prefold Diapers

Prefold Diapers are a great place to start for beginners, since they are so inexpensive, hold up well in the wash, and if you just tri-fold them in a cover are very easy to use.

This is my experience with several different types:

Gerber-
These are the first we used. Everyone says they are not good enough to actually use as diapers, but they were absorbent enough for Efrim up to about 5 mos. They are 10 for $10 at WalMart, and stay soft after a lot of washing (we only had ten most of this time).

Dappi-
First I ordered the regulars (12 for $6.99). These are 2x4x2, so they are of course totally useless as a diaper. I made burp rags for my sister in law with them. Next I tried the extra absorbent ones because they are still only $7.99/dz. They worked well for Efrim until he started wetting more when my milk came in for Julian, but I would not recommend them for naps, overnight, or heavy wetters. Also they got really rough after about 2 months, but if you used fleece liners or something this wouldn't matter, and they are very trim. babybestbuy.com

Chinese Diaper Service Quality-
What a difference DSQ makes! Cottonbabies.com has the best price I can find on these ($24/dz for premium). We ordered even ordered regulars by mistake, which are 4x6x4 instead of 4x8x4, and they have worked great. These are my first choice for Julian. They are so soft and trim, and last him about 3 hrs in the day time, and 4 or 5 at night.

Indian DSQ-
Many sites have their own version of these, and most moms swear by Clotheez, from Greenmountaindiapers.com. I do like Clotheez, but I prefer Imagine, from Nickisdiapers.com because they are a bit cheaper, about an inch shorter (so they fit in all of Efrim's covers without folding over), and I actually think they a just a little bit softer. Either are good. I got organic, and they are my first choice for Efrim. Clotheez are $30/dz for organic mediums, and Imagine are $24/dz.

Econobum (One Size)-
I got 3 dozen of these as seconds for a very good price. If you order them in the kit they are about $1 a piece. They are crazy absorbent. I'm just not very big on one size. In medium and large covers Efrim still has to wear them sideways to fit the cover, so it is really bulky between his legs. Julian has some I trimmed the third section off, and while they are the same dimensions folded as the Chinese DSQ they are so much thicker. Also after about 6 months they are no longer very soft.

Fleece or Terry-
I would love to try some Bamboo or Hemp Fleece or Terry prefolds, since they take fewer layers for the same absorbency and the jersey is just so soft, but at $6-8 each it may be a while before I get some. Eventually though I'm going to order a bamboo 4 pack from Mandi's Menagerie on Hyenacart.com and will get a few hemp 3 layers from AMP whenever I get to try one of their duo pockets.

I trim all of my prefolds to fit lengthwise in a cover. If you use a wrap cover there is just no reason to bother with pinning, and I am not a big fan of the mess with pull on covers.

Hope this helps! Stay tuned for more cloth diaper how-to posts coming up.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I really want to do

In case you have been wondering where I am, I have spent the last couple of months pouring most of my time and energy into a two fold effort to prepare diapering needs for my soon to arrive son, and develop these items into something I can sell on Etsy, and later on my own website.

While I feel like God is really doing something in this and has a plan, I am becoming very frustrated. So far, this is looking nothing like what it is supposed to. Instead of doing what I want to do, I am spending a lot of time doing things I desperately don't want to do. What I don't want to do is spend hours at my sewing machine looking at the wall while my son plays behind me. I really don't want to sew for a living at all. I am sick of spending all of my time making diaper covers that turn out ugly and leave scratches and strawberries on Efrim's thighs. I need a break from trying to make this work without time, money, or necessary sewing skills.

I decided to take a new approach, and try to figure out what it is I do want to be doing. This is what I came up with.

1. Sell products I really like that are already being made
Particularly WAHM made products
2. Design products I want that are not being made
Fair Trade Manufacturing
3. Emphasize affordability and environmental responsibility
Can Dappi add an Organic Line?
Can I make existing products more affordably?
4. Sell these products through local consultants providing a holistic products and services package including education and support.
Consultant Compensation and Hostess Benefits
5. Form a network of relationships among families living out these Kingdom principles.
The bottom line is the make doing the right thing easier by providing quality affordable products, and providing the support to make using them easier within the context of relationships that point to Christ as the reason for our lifestyle.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Family UnPlanning, nearly 9months later

As Julian's arrival draws nearer and nearer, family and friends keep making subtle remarks hoping a third does not follow too closely behind. So I thought I would give an update on where we are with all of this.

Oddly enough, almost as soon as we had conceived Julian, RJ and I felt that for the long term, trusting God should not involve so much a perpetual wandering in the dark, or a free fall, so much as a relationship. Not that this was new concept, but it threw family unplanning into a new light for us.

My belief that contraceptive medication is potentially abortifacient, harmful to a woman's health has not changed. The effect of these drugs is so harmful and unnatural to a woman's body. If anything has become clear to me during my life long health struggles it is that the most natural methods of working harmoniously with our body are best. Aside from my undeniable aversion to making my body inhospitable to new life, I believe that it is sinful to put things in my body that cause it to act contrary to its own natural and healthy processes.

Furthermore, I am still very uncomfortable with using a condom. I feel very strongly that this interrupts God's intended purpose for our marriage relationship. Once I started prayerfully along this journey I would be so convicted that I felt physically ill every time we used this method of birth control.

What has changed is my perspective on natural family planning. It feels so right to me for a couple to work prayerfully in harmony with their bodies' natural processes to space children as the Lord leads them. This requires us, not in some noble free fall into faith, but in a daily conversation with God, to trust his guiding in the area of our family growth and child spacing.

So this is where we are;

I am confident that, at the time of Julian's conception, God was moving strongly in RJ and I's hearts, leading us to trust him with the spacing of our children, and the result of that was this new life. This pregnancy is not an accident, or the result of naive and foolish piety, but submission to God's guidance in our lives.

I believe that the first part of God's plan for child spacing is natural mothering, or what some call ecological breastfeeding. God made my body in such a way, that when I respond intuitively to my baby's needs, and take primary responsibility for caring for and bonding with him, it will wait to allow the conception of another child until this one is old enough to meet his own needs more independently.

This said, following this model strictly in modern society can be very demanding, and our bodies' imperfect health in a fallen world sometimes keep them from functioning as they were made to. Additionally we live in a culture where serving God often means a very limited income in a very material society. Because of these things we intend to carefully watch for signs of returning fertility. If it appears that my body will return to fertility before we are at peace about bringing a new life into our family, we will use the sympto-thermal method of natural family planning, which is much more scientifically reliable than the calendar or rhythm method most former generations are aware of, to abstain during fertile times, until we again feel God calling us to make room for one more.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Telling the right story

It is no secret that RJ and I are barely making it right now. I really don't want to talk about it that much, to advertise, or place our burdens on other people as well, but it seems to always come out like word vomit.

It is just so much of what occupies my mind lately. I really try to play it down, because we are okay, but the wrong words always come out. In the midst of another story last night I mentioned not liking to leave leftovers at restaurants because we rarely have enough food at home. My mom sent me home with all of the leftovers in their refrigerator. I hate when this happens.

This is the real story. When I balance our checkbook these days, or sit down to pay bills on pay day, it is very discouraging. We seem to have an impossibly small amount left over every time. It is true that I cut our list down to nothing and we went to the grocery store the other night with $15 plus WIC (which made up the difference on a $42 tab). Our refrigerator was almost completely empty when we left home.

BUT

God truly does provide our daily bread. I often do not know what we are going to eat tomorrow, but even with an insatiable toddler and a pregnant woman at home all day we never go without a meal.

Why is this not the story that pours out when I am talking to people? I honestly don't want our choices to become a financial burden on our family and friends. If I tell you that we are broke, it is just because "being careful" is what's in my head all day. It si hard having conversations with people and they say, "Well you just need (ant poison, baby benadryl, vitamins, camera charger, a date...)" and having to fess up that we have $0, without them feeling like they should help. I want to be better at sharing that WE ARE OKAY. God provides our every need. And sometimes my parents help, bless them. I wish we were not an additional strain on their own tight budget. I don't want them to give us money, but then I sometimes don;t know what we would do without it. Sometimes God provides for our needs in ways that make us uncomfortably humble, but that is not my story today.

Do you ever find yourself telling the tough part of a story, and never managing to fit in the part where God saves the day, ever day? Why is it so hard for us to get this part out?

Where I am right now pt. 2

Our Family

So many things are going on right now.

Mary Beth moved in when school started and the other roommates moved to campus. We miss Leah, but Mary Beth is like family.

RJ starts working at Dominoes tonight. He is working 9am-2am today and tomorrow. He is going to be so tired and we are going to be so lonely. But being able to buy vitamins and waterproof nylon when he get's paid will be pretty nice.

He also turned in a resume and portfolio to Willie's Tees yesterday. This is a t-shirt printing company in town who is looking for a new graphic designer. This would be a real, full time, normal hours, degree using, grown-up job. He is pretty nervous, but I know he will do great if he gets this job.

I can't wait! I would get to see him more often. He would have more energy, and we would maybe even have enough money to do fun things every once in a while. I try not to be materialistic, but a date would be wonderful, and honestly I would really enjoy a modest shopping trip. Nothing out of control, but we could get Julian's pajamas, a Cabbage Patch Doll to give Efrim when the baby comes, and a few winter clothes for me. It would just be fun to walk around shopping together without saying no all the time. I don't know what RJ would spend money on if we had a little extra. He has pretty simple tastes, and a closet full of clothes.

Another possibility (once we pay off our minor medical loans and RJ's wedding suits) would be applying for an internship at World Hunger relief. This would be a little way off, since we really need for him to work a job that pays money for a little while and have some sort of savings. We need cushion in general, and it would especially be wise to have the $2500 for another baby put up before we get pregnant, definitely before we commit to a nonpaying position for a year.

It hope to have my Etsy shop up in the next week or two. I have some more sewing to do, and then I need a friend to come help me take pictures to get things posted. Hopefully RJ can help me make a cute banner, and then I can join the Etsy Cloth Diaper Group, which will list me in their directory for free.

Of course, now that I am in my last trimester, it is really crunch time to start getting everything ready for Julian's arrival. We have to buy the supplies kit, make bedding, and make sure he has sufficient warm pajamas and diapers waiting. I am trying not to get too excited just yet, or the wait will seem interminable. (but it's pretty hard, when he is wiggling so much, I just want to kiss his cute face.) Plus there is so much to do.

Since I am alone all day, my first instinct is to call and make plans with someone, but I think today is going to be my day to organize my thoughts on all of the things that need to be done. If I am lonely tomorrow I will find someone to do something with.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Acts 3 and 4

We tend to focus on Acts 1 and 2 when we are learning about the early church, but have you read chapters 3 and 4? They will blow your mind. Clearly I have read these before, since there are several passages underlined, but I wonder if I have ever read the whole story together before. You should read it for yourself before you go on to my commentary.

Peter and John are going to the temple, this is not that remarkable an act in itself, it was a normal practice of Jewish people and the early believers as well. So they were just following their normal routine when they are stopped by this man who is crippled. It says he is put in this place every day. Suddenly I read this short little story as I would a letter or e-mail from PLC. This is a real person, with a heartbreaking story of captivity to his physical brokenness.

When he asks them for money, which he is accustomed to doing, this is his only way to live, They reply that they have none. This is easily skipped over when I have heard it before, but when you reach the end of chapter 4 you will see that there is so much more to this statement than meets the eye. Instead they give him something better. Can you imagine, if you got a letter in the mail about a child dying of heart disease, the pain tearing their family apart, and you were able to give them something better than money?

Peter heals the man and he goes walking around, people are naturally astonished, and Peter responds to them, "It is Jesus' name, and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him." Some times we try to make things so complicated, but all of the power is in knowing Jesus. Peter goes on to share a powerful gospel message with the people who are gathered around, and the scripture says that, in spite of guards coming in to bring Peter and John before the religious officials, many believed- probably several hundred since in addition to the 3,000 from Pentecost, and those who the Lord had been adding to their number daily the total is now counted at 5,000.

When Peter and John appear before the Sanhedrin, and are questioned about their behavior, they are given words by the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus promised in Luke 12:11-12. Thank goodness. Annas and Caiaphas are sitting right before them. These men crucified Jesus probably less than 2 months ago. Can you imagine what they would have said if they had prepared something on their own? Probably not something very spiritual and uplifting. However, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter again shares the gospel, very simply. The Sanhedrin are appalled that after killing Jesus to keep themselves safe from Roman suspicion of rebellion, people are still calling attention to his name. They threaten John and Peter, but are not sure what to do because so many people are excited about the miracle which they have seen.

This is the part I have never noticed before, even though I have a few verses in it underlined. Although we are given insight into the thinking of the Sanhedrin and their bewilderment, Peter and John clearly did not see their threats as empty, in light of the persecution that follows shortly, neither should we. They go back to the other believers very aware that, although they know that God has given them a word to share, the threat is very great if they do so. So they pray.

Their prayer goes something like this:

Lord, you are all powerful, you made everything, and you control it all, you even knew that this would happen. So why does everyone still plot against you? It seems like every earthly ruler has taken a stand against the name of Jesus, all that we stand for.

As a matter of fact they just killed him, and you allowed them to do it.

So, Father, consider all of the things against us now, all of the threat that we face. We don't pray that you remove these dangers, Lord, but that you give us boldness to act in spite of them and continue to reach out and heal people in ways that cannot be denied.

And he did, and they did. They were again filled with the Holy Spirit, just as they had been a few days before at Pentecost (so this is not a one time thing, the church is to pray for and receive this filling over and over), and they went out and spoke the words he had given them boldly- in the face of every kind of threat and opposition.

Is this not where we are today? We can gather in our churches and live a life that looks close enough to following Jesus, but is not offensive to anyone. Everyone will like us, and we can all be happy. But the truth is that Jesus, the truth about him and all that his life means, is a stumbling block. If we place the truth before people they will fall, either in submission or defeat. If we live as Jesus truly called us to live, people around us will be offended in one way or another. If we truly follow Christ we are surrounded by threat.

Will we ask the Holy Spirit for the boldness to live the word that God has given us in the face of all that is in opposition to his truth?

I think the next bit is there just to show how radically opposite they were to those around them, how much their obedience was likely to draw attention all on it's own. It says, "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had."..."There were no needy persons among them." In a culture, that just like our own, revolved around an economy of want and consumption, where the money was the god, Peter truly had no silver or gold. I think a lot of time we pass over verse 3:6, because it is not uncommon for us not to have any cash on our person, or even to "be low on funds". But this is not a day of checking accounts and debit cards. If Peter had no silver or gold, he really had no financial possessions. It was all given to the collective body. They met a man who's only hope was money to spend, and gave him instead a father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills, actually on every hill. Today as our financial burden seems impossible to bear, and resentfully it seems that is sometimes all we ever have to think about, this means everything.

This is another way in which God both made the believers so offensive to the culture around them, and simultaneously made them immune to it. They had nothing to lose.

I always end up with no words to explain. Just read it for yourself and see the power of knowing (the name) Jesus, and the Kingdom that is born in the hearts of those who believe.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Where I am right now. pt 1

So, I am obviously never going to be a consistently interesting blogger. I just don't have that much to say,and so I get busy and drop off for long periods. Sorry, this is my life.

So I just wanted to update you about what exciting hings are happening in my life/family/church.

Life- God has just been speaking to me so much lately. Not in clear things I can explain to you, for the most part, but giving me a hunger and filling it, in a way that hasn't happened in a while.Two main things;

I am so hungry to be a believing person. This is a phrase made up by a friend, Brian. His wife Hailey spent several months living in a 24/7 prayer community home. He will start a story by saying that the group is somewhat charismatic, but then correct himself by saying that they are believing people. They pray with boldness, confidence and power, believing that God not only can, but will, answer them. This is something I want so badly in my own life.

I have been convicted that my spirit does not show the truth of who God is. I believe in my head all of these things about his compassion, his joy, his extravagant care for people. Everyone we know says that when they visit our friend's Bill and Leslie's antique shop like they are the favorite customers. I want people to feel like that when they enter my home. I want to spend my day glorifying God, even if it's just to my one year old as I fold laundry. Bust so often I feel so tired and humdrum, or when people come over I am so shy and intimidated by them

Basically I try so hard to achieve these things, but seem to always fall short. At least I am making progress by believing that if I ask God to help me glorify him, he will do so.

Saturday morning I went to a worship service at the school, where a friend, Brooke Holloway, spoke on the Holy Spirit. And here all of the pieces started to come together. She read Acts 1:8, the focus verse for the weekend event she was preaching at, and then asked us to write down our experience of the Holy Spirit. I realized I know the Holy Spirit who is a comforter and a counselor, but I have never known the Holy Spirit who brings power. (note: I am not saying here that these are two different spirits, but rather using the word know in reference to personal acquaintance. I have not experienced the Holy Spirit who give us power to follow God's plan) I need his power to believe when I pray, and I need to be filled with his fruit to be able to pour it out on others.

Since I have been wanting a guided Bible study for a while, I am reading through the New Testament either acknowledging my experiences with a certain aspect of the Spirit of God, or praying to experience (know) him in this way. I would encourage you to join me. We can not be his witnesses until we are filled with his breath.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Clothes, again




Today I want to suspend reality for a minute and talk about the things I would have to wear if we had the money or the time to sew.

At home:

First of all, I have been obsessed with these pajamas since Gabrielle posted about them on DesignMom. I want them in every color they come in. I have a pattern that I could make them with, but I never actually get around to sewing with Efrim under foot and the dishes and laundry constantly piling up. Either way I want about 4 outfits like this for wearing around the house.

Also these pants would be great for mixing with any shirt, especially with plain logo tees when I don't feel like looking so girly.

Delia*s has the best logo tees.

This one reminds me of my favorite shirt growing up. I don't really care anything about basketball, but the color is amazing.

Looking pretty:

I have to start with jeans. I have this determined plan to get in shape after Julian comes and I am going to reward myself with a pair of really sexy jeans. I'm not sure where they will come from, but I will look until I find them.

I like dresses. Pretty much any cute black dress will do, but I especially love this one from Victoria's Secret. They pretty much have the best knit dresses. Huge selection, reasonably priced.


I really want a Little Star Dress from Emersonmade too. Somewhat less affordable.

Lastly I love the look of v-tee and dirndl skirt in black and white (white tee/black skirt or black tee/black and white floral skirt) with bright jewelry and lady like shoes. so simple, so comfy, so classy.



A few more cute dresses:


My friend Hailey is the master of dresses and jeans. I can never make it look as cute as she does.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dreaming

This is a polyvore set I made a long time ago. Ever since Chris and Shannon's wedding it seems like anything is possible and I've been dreaming again. It reminds me of this family that the guys live with in Dharma Bums, and I love it.

Where I want to live...Fashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Where I want to live... by AddieLore featuring Manhattan Portage bags

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Emersonmade

I am pretty sure I have posted about Emersonmade before, but I have one question; Can I be Emerson when I grow up?
Emersonmade Again
Make Grow Gather just had a post featuring her favorite summer day.

Her and her husband live on a farm in New Hampshire and she has the most amazing style.

Design Sponge just covered her in a Sneak Peek.


EmersonMade Great Style

You can check out her home made flowers and new line of clothing at her store here>




More EmersonMade

Or find even more images at her blog here>


Emerson PicnicFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore



Love these WWII food posters at the Smithsonian. Linked by Food Renegade, who just had a beautiful baby!

Children are a Blessing

I just wrote a long entry on here, that I couldn't post. When I am hurt it is so easy for me to act just as sinful and unloving as those who have hurt me.`

Lately I feel I am so surrounded by people who despise babies. Why is this so culturally acceptable? In a culture where almost any kind of -ism is detestable, where a person is shunned for disliking poor people, or people of a different color or sex than themselves, or old people, it is perfectly acceptable to be repulsed by small children, and to tell their parents so.

The other night we were at my sister's house with a large crowd for the birthday of a friend. Efrim is going through this phase where he plays with his food; putting it into, and spitting it out of his mouth. We are doing our best to teach him this is unacceptable, and progress is being made. Meanwhile, at this party, my husband is sitting on the couch with a young married couple. They grew up in a Christian private school together and were high school sweethearts, married a few months ago. The type of couple who everyone lauds for saving sex for marriage, because this is it's proper place. When Efrim spit out a mandarin orange offered to him by my sister, the young man literally gagged and said, "Let's not have one." As everyone in the room begins to laugh and agree with this, I am becoming more infuriated, when my sweet husband says, with no judgment, only as a testimony. Babies are fun, they are a blessing, you should have one."

Does anyone else face this? Do you have close friends putting off children until who knows when, or if they'll even be able to conceive, once they finally are "ready", because one or both of them find children repulsive, badly behaved, or just too inconvenient? Do you, no matter how you try, take it personally?

Over and over people act as if I am a saint for tolerating things like the drool of a teething six month old. They don't really think I am a saint. They think it is disgusting. My sweet child gives them shivers and makes them gag. But God says children are a blessing. He made them, and we all used to be one. Can we stop acting like this is a matter of personal preference, and say that it is rude and wrong?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Parenting- Still Thinking

I have been looking around a lot today and want to clarify where I am on this.

I do not hate James Dobson's methods. I do not think that Michael and Debi Pearl are responsible for those people beating their 2 year old little girl to death, and I don't think there is anything morally wrong with scheduling the sleep patterns of an infant or training them to sleep through the night early on. I do not find any scriptures which prohibit spanking in letter or in spirit. Rather I find that the spirit of the scriptures leans toward strict, albeit richly loving, parenting. I do not think it is wrong to let your child cry on occasion.

On the other hand:

While I did not lose trust in my Dobson style parents, I never felt like they trusted me. Although it is clear that Michael and Debi Pearl have a wonderful living relationship with their adult children, I wonder what this relationship was like when the children were 2 or 3.
I tried Babywise and my first son fought being scheduled in any shape or form tooth and nail, did not sleep through the night until he was 7 mos old, and still will not sit still/stay awake for a full feeding.

The children whose behavior I find pleasing have very strict, yet mostly very loving parents. The children whom I cannot stand to be around have parents who do not believe in spanking, or letting their children cry.

I believe that you can spank your children without what many Gentle Christian Mothering Forum users call a combative or us vs. them mentality. I believe that you can occasionally let a small child cry, especially when they are throwing a fit, without losing their trust. I do not agree with those who do not think a child has any reasoning capabilities until he is 8 or 9 months old. I have seen a ten month old intentionally manipulate his mother with my own eyes. While it may be nonsense to strictly "schedule" an infant, I certainly agree with the Ezzos that babies are happier when their parents show that they are in control of the situation, and are insecure and miserable when they are expected to set their own routines and anticipate their own needs. Again, I have seen it.

I know that God is a very strict God, with very particular rules and high standards for our behavior. I also know that he is infinitely loving and tender; never breaking our spirits or breaking our wills, and forgiving to the point of suffering our punishment in our stead.

A terrific resource, at last

Efrim eats so much! He eats constantly and yet remains in the lowest size bracket for his age. You would think he was starving.

On the other hand, they say that a baby's stomach is the size of their hand, and they shouldn't eat more than that at a sitting. Oops. He usually eat way more than a baby fist size.

Since my June WIC meeting was about portion control I have been looking for information on changing portion sizes and dietary needs of young children. WIC gave me a plate with children's portion sizes explained on it, but I was pretty sure that they were different than what my 10 month old should be eating, and I figured these amounts change pretty often at such a young age when they are growing so fast.

Saturday I finally sat down and looked on BabyCenter. This website is so amazing as a comprehensive resource. I almost always start here when I have a question. After a search I finally found one community forum entry asking for resources on infant/toddler portion sizes and one mother responded with this link:

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Child and Adult Care Meal Program Meal Patterns


Sounds complicated, but it's just the guidelines for what day cares, nursing homes, and other care providers should include in meals in order to meet proper dietary guidelines and get government reimbursement if they qualify. This was so helpful!

I copied down a simplified version of the information and made a chart to record what I feed Efrim for the next three weeks (until his birthday) just to get in the habit of being more aware, and to see how his diet actually measures up. Like I said in the previous post; I like to be super organized and methodical. Usually though this only applies to the planning process and our reality is much more organic and messy.

Creative Photo Ideas

With Efrim our photo-journalism has been very random and sporadic. We have lots of pictures of some times and few of others. I have tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to at least get a picture of him on every month birthday.

Those of you that know me, however, know that I am a very methodical person and like to always have a plan. I have worked little by little on developing more organized systems of recording our families growth in photos.

All this to introduce these two cute ideas for recording a baby's monthly growth in the first year.

I love basically everything that Ruby Ellen Bratcher does on Cakies. Their family is the most adorable and creative.

Soul and Boogie: 7 months
. I presume Boogie is the name of the chair.

This I found while researching birthday party ideas for Efrim on PartyPerfect. What a cute little boy with his little numbered ties. Of course RJ would prefer bow ties.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Discipling Your Children

As I have been reading parenting books the last year or so, I feel I end up with more questions than answers.

I have read To Train Up A Child and Home Grown Kids, skimmed James Dobson's Answer Book, and started Parenting Isn't for Cowards.

The James Dobson books were given to me by my mother. I won't go into all of the reasons why I read his work skeptically here, but I have not been bothered by anything I have read so far in these books.

This is my dilemma: I love to be around families where older children are respectful and obedient. I am inspired to be around teenagers who are so much more godly than many adults I know. I crave this for my children. However, in the books I have read where this is the goal of parenting, so much focus is placed on a child's strong will, quest for power, and sinful nature. While I don't dispute that these are facts, I dislike the attitude that this builds between my child and I.

Efrim is 11 mos. old. Can anyone tell me how to train him to follow God and grow in godliness without regarding our relationship as a battlefield? Efrim is very strong willed, already, and so often I find discipline taking over our whole life together. I had a relationship with my mother that looked very much like this, and while I have grown and been blessed by the things she taught me, and we have a good relationship now, I don't want that for my family. I want to have joy in our relationship now, not only in 20 years.

Can anyone tell me how this is possible? I know it has to be, because I know the way that God loves us, and I believe he wants this for us.

Baby Wise

I wanted to post a little note on a couple of the links.

I was really encouraged by reading Jessica's post on using the Babywise system with her newest little boy, Moses.

We tried this system with Efrim and it went terribly for us. Efrim never would nurse for more than 15 minutes or so, and always wanted to eat again immediately. He would always fall asleep while nursing and if we woke him up he wouldn't go down for a nap later.

I think we will try again with Julian, but Jessica's perspective helped me realize that it is the order that is important, not having a schedule.

We also will have to figure out how this fits in with the Ecological Breastfeeding model described in Natural Family Planning literature, since this is something we really want to try. While we trust God with the spacing of our children and are open to having many little ones around, I would really like to be unpregnant longer than 6 months this time. It is not the babies, but the pregnancy that wears me out.

So pray for us as we weigh all of these important decisions about our newborn's care and our family, and I will keep you posted about our thought processes and the results.

Mothering Links

This blog has so many interesting posts. Most of them are ahead of where I am right now, but the food for thought is fantastic. After all, it is best to know how to live with 3 or 4 little children BEFORE you have them all.

Large Family Mothering:
Life with little kids
The Herding Principle
Pregnant Life

I have been reading Jessica's blog for over a year now, and am always so encouraged by her practical how to posts with lots of little ones. This latest entry makes me so ready to meet Julian, but I can wait 4 months until he is ready.

Making Home:
Preparing for Baby #4
Preparing for Baby #5
Chronicling Babywise

This is a blog my friend referred me to recently. This is the kind of post you want to take your time with.

Passionate Homemaking:
Training Little Disciples

Life is more important than food

I want to close this series by giving some perspective on where I am in this process personally. All of this stems from my belief that every decision we make, no matter how mundane, has spiritual meaning, even how we eat. In 1 Corinthians that if we are a believer, our body is a temple of God. A large portion of the Old Testament is a law that was laid out for the children of Israel, I believe mostly for the purpose of showing them and us that everything we do is important to God, and also that we can never do enough right. So I do my best to make choices in every part of my life that honor God, that fulfill his true purpose for me, and that bring glory to him and spread his kingdom, but I do all of this knowing that I can never get everything right. Christ came adn died so that I have freedom from the impossible standard of being all that God created me to be as long as I live on this earth. So here are two important things I have been learning on this journey:

1. Ultimately we have to understand that God is in control.With so many varying opinions, among experts and scientists even, about what is the best nutrition, The best any of us can do is make the choice that seems best withthe knowledge and wisdom we have been entrusted with, and follow it to the best of our ability, trusting that God's grace is enough to bring good from our efforts. At the end of the day it is God who gives us health and sustains us, and it is our hearts that he judges.

2. In Matthew 6 and Luke 12 Jesus tells us not to be anxious about our bodies. "Life is more important that food", he says.Although we all understand that food is necessary for life, and keeping in mind the principles of stewardship listed above, we need to remember that we honor God by living abundant and joyful lives, enjoying his creation, not by doing everything right to the letter. This means that while I should definitely do my best to provide nutrition for my family, even bringing food from far away, like the Proverbs 31 woman, Our diet should never overwhelm or burden me. If I ever become a slave to our nutrition, instead of to God and his kingdom, something is very wrong in my spirit, even if we are doing everything right.

Raw and Lacto-Fermented Foods

I have very little to say here. I guess that most of you are aware of what a raw food is, and are aware that more nutrients are available in fresh fruits and veggies before they are cooked than after. It is just a matter of the effort to find a source for organic varieties and incorporate more of them into your diet.

As far as lacto-fermenting is concerned, all of the "real food" and "nourishing" websites have me sold that they are tremendous for your health, and a terrific alternative to modern canning methods, but until I can afford to buy Nourishing Traditions I have very little information about what exactly this means or how the process works.

Dr. Price discovered that in traditional cultures, people ate 60-80% of their diet from raw and lacto-fermented foods. Start with what is a reasonable goal for you and work your way up.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Grass fed, Pastured, and/or Wild caught Meats

This may be where we start getting more controversial. the majority of diets in our current culture will tell you that most meat is bad for you and too high in fat. Eat chicken if you must, but certainly not beef or pork. Fish is also considered okay if you call it a meat (I'm not sure why so many people don't). However, research shows that on the contrary to many popular ideas we do need the nutrients that are in meat. What is killing us is all of the unnatural ingredients given to animals to keep them "healthy" outside of their natural environment so that they can produce an enormous amount of meat at the most efficient rate. Just like toxins in the human body animals store these growth hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides in the large fat reserves that result from a mostly grain diet. That is why traditional research will show that high fat meat is so dangerous to us. It's not the fat itself, although I am sure we could all use less of it, but the chemical poisons in the fat. We need meat, but we are eating the wrong kind of meat. I know it is not easy to come buy in certain areas (erhem, central Texas) but what we need is a moderate amount of beef, chicken, pork, and especially wish that is not only raised, but finished in a natural habitat. Grass fed beef, free range chicken, pastured pork, and wild caught, short life span fish. (short life span relates to how much mercury is built up). Also in most of Dr. Price's healthy cultures people ate at least 10% of their protein from organ meat. This will take me some getting used to, but it surely something I can handle.

This is not to discredit legumes and nuts as a source of protein, since they are excellent, only to say that we do need meat too as long as we are careful of it's source.

Dairy. Dairy too has gotten a bad reputation in modern diet trends, and we try to substitute for it or at least cut out all the fat we can. Here I could repeat most of what I said about meat, only that with dairy there is, in addition to how the animals are raised, an issue of pasteurization. Pasteurization, or rapid heating to kill dangerous micro organisms, hardly seems like a bad thing. In fact, at the time it was invented, before knowledge of infectious disease and sanitation was widespread, it was a lifesaver. However, in our present age, of high sanitation standards, pasteurization is only necessary to kill pathogens resulting from poor living conditions in highly industrialized over packed dairies. Raw milk from organic dairies is consumed safely all over the world. Unfortunately this is even harder to come by than pastured meat, since there are still a lot of misunderstandings. Work to find a source for raw dairy products and eggs, and campaign to make them more available in your area, but if this is unavailable to you at least make the switch to organic. The health of your family is more than worth it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Excitement!

Tent Revival Supply Co. News Flash:

My materials are in the mail and I did a scale drawing of my patterns last night, which I will cut out today from poster board. I am SO excited! (that exact sentence is in my journal entry at least three times.)

I have set four goals for myself.

August 1
Have tester kits together for Cheri (boy, small), Rebekah (1 boy, 1 girl, smalls), and Melissa (girl large). Include Instructions page and survey.

September 1
Have Julian's stash together with 6 neutral and 6 bright covers, plus 2 dozen inserts. Also make 12 doublers for Efrim.

November 1
Have Etsy shop up and running with the following products.

1. Organic Knit Cover
2. Bright Cover
3. Tester Kit
4. Complete Kit
5. Dozen Inserts
6. 3 Doublers

February 1
Add to shop.

definitely
1. Dozen Wipes
2. Wet Bag
3. Pail Liner
4. Diaper Bag

maybe
5. Stroller Bag/Changing Pad Clutch
6. Pouch Sling
7. Travel High Chair Ties
8. Diaper Shirts

This is going to require a realignment of my weekly chore rotation.

Refined Sugar and Flour

This is a huge one for me. You can do your own research and find out that basically refined white sugar and refined white flour are poison. They are so high on the glycemic index that they create a huge blood sugar spike and through all of our endocrine system (hormones that regulate all of your internal functions and equilibrium) into chaos. No wonder we all feel like crap all the time. These are are both, at least for me, the most important and most difficult to change.

Sugar. When we start talking about eliminating sugar from our diet everyone's first thought is to what we are going to replace it with. There are some options, but if you are thinking this way I think you are setting yourself up for failure. We are way too dependent on sweets in the US (and I am the worst) and what we call a sweet tooth is actually an addiction, where our bodies will require more and more to be satisfied. It may be like getting off drugs for some people, but we have to break our addiction before we do anything else. In the end most of your sugars should come from plain raw fruit, with a little bit from whole cane products for a treat. I can go into a choice by choice explanation of what's wrong with other options, but you can find it a hundred other places. Basically anything that is modified using high heat or enzymes is something your body doesn't need. Honey is the most popular substitute, but it is 96% simple sugars, so while it is a natural product it will still cause your blood sugar to spike and fall.

Grains. Most of us know we should be eating whole grains instead of white flour, but we probably aren't very good at it, especially for deserts or when eating out. What we also don't know is that whole grains come with their own set of problems. In the Bran of the grain are "anti-nutrients" which keep us from getting the whole benefit from this food. The solution is to soak or sprout flours (I hadn't ever heard of this either) like people have been doing for centuries. This turns the grain into something like a vegetable which our body digests much more easily. There is a wealth of information on how to do this yourself, or if you can afford it there are grain products available (like Ezekiel Bread) that are made with sprouted grains. However for most of us, this is going to be a really long process of transition and experimenting. In the mean time please eat whole grains. They are still so much better for you than white. I think the biggest part of this whole type of diet is to quit compromising on the things we already know. We can't start trying unusual things until we are willing to commit to what we already know is best for us, and make use of the good nutrition that is already available to us.

Did I mention that many people who have trouble digesting grains, and resultant health conditions like Celiac Disease, often have no trouble eating sprouted grains?! This is enough good news to convince me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Market Research

Without going into boring ad nauseam detail, or giving away too much about our product, I wanted to share with you a few exciting products I found this week while perusing the cloth diapering world for Market Research.

Envibums

This is a really amazing company. I am intrigued more by their business model than by their product although the design is really cute. These ladies give $2 from the sale of each all-in-one diaper to a specific cause which is incorporated into the design of that diaper. Their bright solid colors and simple velcro symbols create a really neat look, and I love that they took something practical (the lap velcro to fit a smaller baby) and incorporated it intentionally into a great design. They also make covers, and for every one purchased, they donate one to a mom in need. They have really incorporated the giving back lifestyle very holistically into their product line in a very innovative way. These look pretty bulky, and I'm not a fan of one-size diapers or all-in-ones, but I think they are definitely worth a try.

Tiny gPants

You have all heard on here how we had so many problems with this company initially. After further reflection, a lot of our problems did result from having a seriously deficient stash. In any case, there are some things I really like about this new product. This newborn diaper has fabric sewn to the nylon waterproof liner, which should eliminate the issue of the crummy elastic. Because gDiapers uses nylon instead of PUL, this should be a very trim option for tiny babies, and while they still use velcro I really don't know of another option for newborns. Snaps would just be too bulky. The awesome thing is that these still use the inserts for a small gPant, so if you invest in gCloth, the really expensive part of their system, or if you make your own like I did, they will still fit in a small cover. The deciding factor will be their affordability. Right now tiny gPants are only available in the large gift pack which includes 12 pair. When they finally become available individually we will see whether this is a reasonable price for a product you will only use for about 6 weeks.

SoftBums

Every time I search for cloth diapers I find a new online store and more companies I have never heard of. There are so many different options and some are only carried by one or two stores. These unique one-size diapers are supposed to be very slim, and they adjust with a hidden drawstring instead of fold over snap layers, which I like a lot. They are called an all-in-two system, but I find that most people who use this name are actually just an all-in-one with a removable insert, because the cover is cloth inside and will get wet or dirty and not be reusable. This is another brand I think is worth trying though. Their covers come with three inserts and a doubler a piece, which makes a lot more sense than covers that come with one, so they obviously believe that their cover can be re-used.

GroVia

The only company I have found with more options than CottonBabies. In addition to all-in-one, cover and insert, and hybrid varieties, this company also manufactures a bio-disposable. There are a few other things that set this company apart though. They have very high standards of production and incorporate more organic fabrics in their products. It is always strange to me that so few cloth diapering companies are organic/sustainable. I guess it just shows that most people are in this for economic more than ecological reasons. I really love a company that offers both. When most companies offer higher ecological standards, it comes with a steep price tag, but this is not true of GroVia. Each of their diapering systems is priced competitively with other brands on the market. Finally, GroVia stands out to me because their branding and website are designed so well. This seems like a small thing, but so many diaper websites are created for such a niche market. I like a company that sets themselves on equal footing in the marketplace, it makes their product more appealing to those who aren't already looking for cloth diapers.

Additives and Modified Foods

The first, most basic, and most urgent step is to get rid of chemically modified foods that have permeated our diet. These are unnatural ingredients that our bodies do not recognize or process as food, especially in the large quantities in which we have come to consume them. Specifically this means eating no hydrogenated oils, nothing high fructose, and no MSG, but the basic idea is to quit eating food with ingredients on the label you don't recognize and foods preserved with high amounts of sodium. Kristen at Food Renegade says you should ask yourself whether this food is something your great grandmother would recognize.

Healthy Natural Fats

This is related to the previous point, but worth expanding on. Any type of vegetable based oil is a modified food. It is a Polyunsaturated fat which your body does not recognize or know how to digest, so it just stores it as fat. Stick to butter, ghee, olive oil and other saturated or mono-unsaturated fats. More on why butter is okay later. But just trust me and quit eating fake fats.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tent Revival Supply Co.

For a long time I have been wanting to post about this dream that God has given me. For as long as I can remember I have been designing clothes and furnishings. When I was 9 I started actually labeling my work as fashion design, and when I was 11 my Granny got me a subscription to Vogue, and my education began.

Since going to college, my worldview has widened and my interests become more deep and complex, but my love of design has only grown. Through studying economics and aesthetics in Interdisciplinary Christian Thought, and reading The Beauty of Life by William Morris in Victorian Literature, my hobbies have taken on meaning. Design is about giving people an opportunity to participate in creativity in their everyday lives. It's about how beauty and creation draw us all nearer to God. And it's about the way that our lifestyle choices have spiritual meaning, and effect the lives of people around the world.

During my senior year in college, I took a course in Entrepreneurship, and wrote a business plan for a clothing company using organic and sustainable materials, and fair trade practices to make clothes for the mainstream culture. My idea was that ecological and human rights responsibility shouldn't be only for hippies.

Also at that time an idea began to grow as RJ and I learned more about a biblical theme of simplicity. We were reading works by Shane Claiborne and other New Monastics, but so much of their lifestyle seemed out of reach. While I believe that following Christ should always be radical, I also think it should be simple. That's when a phrase came to mind that I have heard my father say a thousand times. When he is talking about parenting, he refers to a horse trainer friend who says his job is to "Make the right thing easy, and the wrong thing hard." This is where everything starts to make sense for me.

While I don't think it's my job to make life heard for anyone, I believe that the easier it becomes to make the socially and ecologically responsible decision, the harder it becomes to ignore or make excuses for living the way of the ungodly world.

For now I am starting with cloth diapers. This is really practical since I am cloth diapering Efrim and will be adding another shortly, and I am dissatisfied with a lot of the products available to us. We will expand slowly to include a wider product range, making all of the things RJ and I enjoy creating and want to share with others. There are so many great opportunities that I dream of with this that one post cannot hold them all, but I hope to share with you my hopes and dreams, as well as some of the companies that inspire me, in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned. For now here is our companies mission statement, or to the business world our "elevator pitch"

Beginning with a comprehensive range of cloth diapering products, Tent Revival Supply Co. seeks to make a simpler, more responsible lifestyle accessible to young families from all backgrounds.

Stability

Over the past few years RJ and I have wrestled with the concept of Stability, as in the vows of St. Benedict. It seems that the most effective ministries take place when a missionary, a pastor, or a family makes a commitment to a community, and fully invests their lives there. At first this was hard for me because I grew up moving a lot and traveling constantly. I don't really like to stay in one place. But as I have been more convinced of the merit of investing one's self this way, and especially as my family grows, I find myself wanting to find a place to stay for a little while.

This is where so many questions begin to arise, mostly "where". It seems like so many things keep holding us in Brownwood. I wanted to stay until this baby comes, so we could stay with Betsy, and then this opportunity to minister from the Nexus Community Home (parsonage) has been such a blessing. But after being here for 6 years I still feel no attachment for this place. Nothing about it makes me want to stay here forever.

As I start to think about what we do like her, and what would make me and RJ want to stay some place, it really is all about the people who live there. More than anything else RJ and I want to live near the people we care about. We want to invest our lives in particular people.

What does that look like at our age when most of our friends are not settling down anywhere yet, and when they do they are more and more scattered? I guess only time will tell. We will stay here until God sets us free from the ties that bind us here, and then who knows? Maybe we will pack up all of our belongings and go on a trip like in Away We Go. We can prayerfully visit the cities of those dearest to us until, like Abraham, God tells us to stay.

Until then we will continue to build the relationships that God has given us, and see what doors he opens us. Ultimately I think the lesson is that, for us the opportunities to follow will be relationships, not jobs, even though that can be a little scary.

For the next few months I would like to have some of the people we hold most dear over to share a meal, and then I will share with you about the time we spent together, and even more importantly what inspires us about who these people are and what hey are passionate about.

Congratulations Chris & Shannon Taylor!

Last weekend RJ and I along with many friends had the privilege of attending the "family union" of some of our best friends Chris Taylor and Shannon Kelly, in Denton, Texas. Their wedding ceremony was possibly the most beautiful event I have ever experienced, but more than that, the entire weekend was just overflowing with the Spirit of God, as we joined many wonderful friends to share in the love that Chris and Shannon have for one another and for God. It was one of those times when I could truly say, "My cup runneth over."

Chris has been one of our closest friends all throughout college, and as we have come to know Shannon more, I have fallen more in love with her beautiful spirit every time I see her. I cannot wait to share life with this beautiful family for many years to come.

Real Food/Nourishing Traditions

I have been doing a lot of research lately on diet and nutrition. There is so much subjective information; So many PhDs in Nutrition and Professional dietitians have varying opinions on what is truly healthy. I think we all just have to find out what we believe makes the most sense in regards to stewardship of our family's health, and trust God with the outcome.

What makes the most sense to me is what some people call real food, others call slow food, and some call a nourishing lifestyle. Mostly it stems from the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, and the cookbook Nourishing Traditions, but there is oodles of scientific information to back it up. Basically Price got sick of his patients having more and more disease and went to research the cultures around the world where there was no diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. There are many around the world. What he found was that in these cultures the people ate for the most part the same diet as their ancestors had for generations. They had not added all of our modern convenience foods to their diet. He took note of what these diets looked like and Sally Fallon wrote a cookbook called, Nourishing Traditions, that pretty much encapsulates what this looks like. Over the next few days I will be posting about the main aspects of this type of diet. I hope you will find it informative and helpful. If you have any questions feel free to ask. I may not have the answer, but I would love to find it with you. If you find yourself offended or discouraged by the information presented, please know that that is not the intention and hang on until the end where I will sum up what God has been teaching me about what it looks like to care for our bodies out of faithfulness and devotion to him.

It's a BOY!

This is just a little post to say: we had a sonogram on Friday and baby #2 is another boy. Julian Russell Barnett will be the sixth great grandson (with no granddaughters) on my mom's side of the family. Every one was really hoping it would finally be a girl this time, but I have a feeling that everyone is going to love this special little boy so much.

Moved!

So we moved again! This has been a process, but it has been so long since I've posted it may come as a surprise.

The little apartment we were living in is owned by our friends Tristan and Melissa who are selling their place to move to Austin. We were looking for a new place and around the same time our pastor at Nexus resigned. Shane & Katy felt like it was time to move onto new things. When the parsonage became available the lead team at our church started thinking of things to do with it. We could rent it, but it has been a really good resource for the church to have a place for our ministers to live when they were in transition or needed a place. Also RJ and I have been doing our best to have our home always open to the congregation, but at our little apartment it was always very crowded. Since there is a new baby on the way we had been looking at two bedroom apartments, but it was going to be nearly impossible to afford.

All that to say, the lead team proposed to the church that RJ and I live here to make this resource available for the church to do ministry and to share life together, the church voted yes, and here we are! In a three bedroom house, with guests in the spares. Efrim will finally have a real room. We have so much space, and once we fix up some things (something we haven't been able to do in rented spaces) it is going to be so beautiful. We are so blessed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Postal Protest

At least once every couple of weeks I get a solicitation from Capital One in the mail. I did at my old house, even though RJ never did, and now we've moved and I still get it, and he still doesn't. This has been happening for over a year. The ridiculous part is that the back of the envelope says Please Recycle. As if the people who send me unwanted mail really care about the environmental impact of wasted paper.

So my mom has been telling me that my Papa says you should tear up the inside pieces and mail them back in the postage paid envelope. Supposedly they won't want to spend money on the postage if they're not getting business so they'll stop sending you things. Has anyone else ever heard of this? Have you tried it? I gave it a try today, but I have a few questions. Do they really care that much about wasted postage if they're already sending me unwanted mail on a regular basis, when I have never showed any interest in their product? If the papers are torn up are they really going to bother to find my name on it to take me off a list?

So next time I am writing a letter to send back. I am going to tell them how hypocritical it is for them to ask me to recycle when they are wasting so much paper. Also I am going to explain how the entire credit card system is a scam and the mindset that perpetuates it (of buying things I can't afford) is destroying our culture. Maybe they'll get annoyed and leave me alone. Maybe they'll even think about their policies, but I doubt it.

Toddler Room

We don't really have any definite leads, but we have to find a place to move soon. Our friends will be selling the property we are renting by the end of June. This has got me thinking a lot about setting up a toddler room. We will be getting our first two bedroom apartment/house since Efrim is almost a year old, and Baby #2 is following shortly. Although Little Baby will share our room until Efrim grows into a big boy bed, I want to set the room up like it is for them both. I will finally make Efrim's quilt when I make the new one, and it will be on the big boy bed waiting for him.

Area #1 We have a simple platform style twin bed, which will have the gray bedding I used in my college dorm along with his starry quilt, inspired by one in the movie Little Women that I have always loved. Above his bed will hang his star light fixture, and the mobile aunt Katy ordered him from Finland on Etsy. Also he has black gray and white sheep from Bath and Body works.

Area #2 At first Efrim will still sleep in the crib with the bright yellow sheets my mom made and his cuddly gray blanket, but then Baby will move in. For little baby I want mostly cuddly off-white things, with splashes of color. The inspiration is all of the cute pennant and balloon things around lately. I will make a beige quilt with pennants, and I want to find some sort of pretty spherical lanterns in bright colors to hang like a mobile above the bed.


Area #3 I have a rocking chair, but if I am going to be spending a lot of time in this room with the kids, I would like a softer nursing chair and an ottoman with storage. I have looked online and not found anything I really like, so I may find an old chair at a garage sale or something and recover it with my mom. She knows how to make a storage ottoman to match. I love this one from Target, but it was a few years ago, and I don't think armless is going to cut it.

Area #4 I have a beautiful antiqued dresser that matches a bed and bedsife table I used growing up. Someday I want to use the set in a girl's room or guest room, but for now I don't have mattresses for the bed, and it's not very little boyish. The dresser however will be perfect for the kiddos to share and to set up a changing station on top. I haven't had a changing station because I thought I wouldn't use it, and it's true I change diapers pretty much all over the house. But I am thinking that with cloth diapers, and especially with two it might be nice to bring the baby to the diapers and wipes instead of gathering everything up from four corners and bending over them in the floor. Bending over Efrim in the floor or in his crib has been wreaking havoc on my back being pregnant again. I want a clean simple changing station like June Blair's on DesignMom. Once again I love the creamy softness with just a little color.

Domestic Doldrums

I cannot even begin to tell yuo how much I hate washing dishes. I will put them off and put them off until everything else in the house is done, and then I will run errands, or take a nap. If I can convince myself and my friends that it is bad for my health to do them because it dries out my hands and makes rashes, I will decide they are RJ's responsibility and let them pile up until everything is molding and we have nothing left to use, because he comes home from work every day too tired to do anything, and if I am annoyed because the kitchen is too dirty to cook in I will blame him.

At this point it is sin. There are no other terms, and no excuses. I have been so ashamed, and still not motivated to fix it. Only God can make me a new person in this area of my life. I have been so convicted lately of the way I use my health problems, pregnancy, and lack of experience as excuses not to do the things that God has called me to do as the caretaker of my home, and that I owe my sweet husband, who works so hard so I can stay home to take care of our children and our home.

Prayerfully overcoming this has been my top priority lately. Then right in the middle I have days like yesterday. Days where I can't find the motivation to get off the couch. Days where I cry all day for no reason. Days where Efrim catches on to my bad mood and cries all day to, which only makes it worse. I know this is hormonal because of being pregnant. I had hoped it would pass with the first trimester. I don't know what to do. I push myself to do as much as I can, and dream of a little break, a little escape.

The trick is to keep moving as much as I can, and not let a bad day keep me from getting things done on the next day. Not to fall into a rut. The key is to recognize sin as sin and hormones as hormones, and respond accordingly. Every day I start with prayer is better than it would be without.

Friday, May 21, 2010

unblogging

I haven't blogged today I know. I am baking for a bake sale for our youth, which I am late to because baby is sleeping. My sister came over who just got back from Spain yesterday. I am reading a lot. I guess today my need to learn things was more than my need to share. I have learned a lot of things to share. I will post them sometime in the next few days.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Interesting things about my baby

I opened this page twenty minutes ago to write about how I have organized my clothes recently. Then Efrim crawled in my lap and we have been snuggling, being drooled on, getting whacked in the face by a ruler RJ left on the couch, playing Pat-a-Cake, copying growls and squeals, and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

So I thought I would let you know just a few cool things about my baby, Efrim.

Efrim speaks almost exclusively in growls. RJ thinks he will talk like Batman when he learns English. He has six teeth; four on top, two on bottom. The first arrived exactly on his six month birthday. He is very ticklish and always giggles when you pinch the top of his chubby thighs or walk your fingers like a spider on his chest.

Efrim has a reversible belly button. When he is chubby before a growth spurt, or right after a meal it is an inny, but when he is slimmer, or when he arches his back and sticks out his ribs it is an outy. I love to give this belly button kisses, whether it is in or out.

Since Efrim is crawling everywhere the tops of his feet are dirty instead of the bottoms. This looks very silly. His favorite song is You Are My Sunshine. He will almost always stop crying if I play pat-a-cake with his hands. We say "for Efrim and me", "for Mommy and me", "for Daddy and me", and "for Baby and Me"

Efrim's favorite activity lately is to put foam bath tub letters in his mouth and crawl around the house with them. When he is eating a biter biscuit he holds it up in the air and dances. He has discovered that he can crawl over things, but prefers to push them if they are not too heavy. He is slowly learning that I will swat his leg if he goes in the kitchen, and finally deciding that it is not worth it.

He makes more new faces every day, and wants to walk so bad. He prefers putting food in his mouth himself to being fed, and wants what we are having. He may never learn that crying does not get him picked up if I don't keep giving in.

My Little House

The irony in the previous post is that the lifestyle I often champion, and indeed am seeking, is considered by most people to be a sort of super home. Some ind of crazy high standard. It will include a lot of work, and so it is ironic that I do so much research and dreaming about this kind of living while I am not even vacuuming or washing my dishes.

I admit I'm a mess. So many contradictions, but I am working on reconciling them all. I am trying to teach myself how to care for my home. Until I find a real life teacher and role model I will have to stick with what I've got: Ma Ingalls.

Some of you may have seen me twitter about My mom and Ma Ingalls having it out as my shoulder angels as I look through a pile of stuff deciding what to give away.

It's not like Ma is even very vocal on the subject of housekeeping in the Little House books, but when I read them I dream of a home where we get up and work in the morning, we meet all of our needs, and we go to be at night tired, but with everything in order. Part of this is in the simplicity with which the Ingalls family lives. Some of my favorite parts in the books are when they move to a new house, or fill a store room for the winter, and it describes everything around.

Something deep inside of me wants a three room house where everything I own is in it's place and there are no piles of clutter and boxes in the corner. I am tired of bags of what-not around the perimeter of every room, or realizing that I haven't looked in that box of office supplies I thought was so necessary since I moved in to my house three months ago.

However, there is something else inside of me that thinks it's terrible to give away something in perfectly good condition, that doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings by getting rid of something they just gave me that I didn't want at all, that is pretty sure one day I will be getting dressed and really wish I still had that necklace.

How do I reconcile these things? I don't know. Any advice is welcome. Until then I can dream. Maybe if I dream enough of the simple things I want our home to be I will want the other things less. So this is my "little house" designed on Polyvore.

Obedience

I washed the dishes yesterday.

This may not seem like such big news if you don't know me very well. For two years it has been our family arrangement that RJ does the dishes, because the water dries out my hands, adn I sometimes get rashes because of my excema. I do (however poorly) all of the other chores, so when we explain to our friends that RJ is responsible for dishes, no one has questioned this, even though I stay at home and RJ works full time.

The dishes are not the only problem. Because I was often sick growing up, and chemicals and dust are irritants to allergies, I was never expected to do much cleaning, besides picking up (which I am very good at). The problem is I know very little about how to do other household cleaning tasks. My mom, with my best interests at heart and in love, has encouraged RJ to take on more than his fair share of household tasks, and I have felt entitled to his doing them. When I get sick, or experience fatigue like I have with this pregnancy, I use these things as an excuse to accomplish hardly anything. And when I tell me friends that I am exhausted and only get one chore done a day, they are understanding and don't think anything is peculiar with this arrangement.

Making this home is my job. RJ works as much as 45 hours a week to provide for our family, and I do not even make a home for him to come to. I have read Proverbs 31 and Titus 2. I read A Woman After God's Own Heart. I know that doing caring for my home is what God has commanded me to do, but I always had really good excuses.

How often do we do this with one another's pet sins? We claim to be accountable to one another, but as long as we have good reasons... I can't really tell her what she should do if I don't always do what I should... Every one has hard days and we can't really expect any better...

How long will we help each other make excuses not to do what God has commanded us to?

Dreaming Again

My husband RJ was asked to come to a church staff meeting a few weeks ago. We used to go to staff meeting every week to help plan the worship gathering, and discuss the life of the church, but since it is at nine o'clock, after Efrim goes to bed, we have not been since we moved away from the house where it is hosted.

When RJ finally got back, around eleven, he told me that our pastor is leaving our church. He and his wife, my best friend, have looked at several places to move to and continue ministry, and although they are not sure where they are going yet, God has led them to feel that their season at Nexus has come to an end.

My first thought was honestly that I didn't care that much, and I didn't know why RJ said it so seriously, since we are planning to leave too. I was pretty sleepy. Then I started to wonder what will happen to Nexus without Shane and Katy? They have been there since the beginning, Brian and us are the only ones left that have been trying to keep our church alive.

When we went to a staff meeting sans Shane and Katy later that week, I was kind of wondering why I was asked to come, and really not optimistic about the next steps for our church. To explain the first, I have tried to be involved in Nexus, and very committed, but have never been asked to be involved in any leadership decisions. To explain the second, we have very few core members. Most of our church is down and out middle aged people who have come to Brownwood after leaving prison or drug rehab, and are struggling in poverty, or college students who don't want to be involved in a "traditional" church. These people strongly rely on the figurehead of who Shane is, even though the vision he casts for our church is the dream of a larger group of us.

However, this meeting went so differently than I had expected. Almost immediately I was filled with peace as we opened with prayer, and I was filled with excitement and vision as we all discussed the gifts God has placed within our body. For a while now, and none of us has anyone but our complacent selves to blame, we have all been laying aside who we felt God calling us to be in order to be who Nexus needed right now. Although we all felt that Nexus is where God wanted us to be, we didn't feel like it was the place for the ministry we were created for, and that for whatever reason God had us here right now, we had to put that part of ourselves on hold. Many of us even go to other Churches throughout the week because we had a deep need that Nexus wasn't filling. We didn't complain, because we didn't want to be self centered church members who felt that the church was there for our benefit instead of us there for the church. Oddly none of us knew that the others felt the same.

For whatever reason God has called Shane and Katy to move on, he has opened our eyes to do what Brian is calling "Dreaming Again". We are seeing that we do not serve some abstract concept named Nexus, but that Nexus is us. We all believed that a church should be a place where we equip each other to do the ministry God has called us to do, but when Nexus wasn't that it never occurred to us that we were in control, that we could start over, or that if Nexus was not serving the purpose of a church there was no purpose in us serving it to keep it alive.

Now we are dreaming of what our church will look like when it is made up of members who are being who God called them to be. We are looking forward to having the Lord as our Shepherd, and discovering that we don't want for any good thing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cutest thing ever (for today at least)

My friend is reading Radical Homemakers and referred me to their website. From there I found HomegrownEvolution.org, a blog by the authors of Urban Homestead, another book on my wishlist. Where I saw this amazing clothesline:


FYI: Another amazing book in this genre is Backyard Homestead. My friend Siobhan got it for me for my birthday! Full of practical advice such as the best breeds of meat, egg, and dual purpose chickens.