Thursday, March 18, 2010

Family Mission Statement

Last week I posted about RJ and I working on a Family Mission Statement. Something to keep our eyes on what matters, to remind of us our goals, and encourage us to put first things first and not sweat the small things.

I found this excellent resource on SimpleMom. We asked ourselves some of these questions, the ones that seemed most pertinent to us, and then wrote up a statement summarizing what is most important to us. Then I went back over the answers to our questions and added some things about service and goals. I highly recommend it.

We, the Barnett family, believe that our purpose is to make the most of the unique resources, knowledge, skills that God has given us, and to share them freely with others, by:

• being open in our relationships, being open to new experiences, and
being open to following God's plans when they are different than ours
• giving more than we take in our relationships to one another and to creation
• living as if physical and temporal things have spiritual and eternal import
• working to reconcile broken relationships with God, people, and creation
• being filled with joy so that we are a blessing to those around us

We will serve one another:

Addie will serve RJ by making a clean and orderly home where the bed is made and his projects are easily accessible. She will provide the family with meals and meet the needs of the children by caring for her own body, changing diapers, feeding them, and playing.

RJ will serve Addie by providing for the families financial needs, washing the dishes, taking care of his body, and playing with the children. He will provide his family with quality time together, and encourage each person's spiritual growth.

We will work together to clean and put away the laundry, and to provide nutritious food from the store and the garden.

We will serve our community:

We will welcome others into our home to share meals and life. We will serve our congregation and other ministers of the Kingdom of God using our unique gifts and skills. We will make our part of the earth a beautiful place. We will be kind to people who are not kind to us and our loved ones. We will share wit others the stories of what God has done for us and the things we have learned about serving him.

In ten years...

We would like our home to be financially sustainable. RJ will be able to provide for our needs by working at things that he enjoys and finds fulfilling. Addie will find ways to make additional income without taking from the time she spends adequately meeting the needs of her family.

We would like to understand more about our identity in the family of God. We would like to be more knowledgeable about sustainably providing for our families needs and the needs of others. We would like to watch our children grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and men.

Addie will have more peace and not worry about things. RJ will communicate with others about how he is feeling, what he is learning, and what he wants from his life.

We hope that we will facilitate a trusting comeraderie with our children, where they know that we understand and care about what is important to them.

Addie & RJ will still make each other laugh every day, and give themselves frely to one another. We will be more one each day than the day before.

We will meet with the Church daily, being devoted to the teaching of the scriptures, to sharing meals and fellowship, to prayer, and to the sacraments of the Lord's Supper, Servanthood, and Baptism into the person-hood of Christ.

My Cute Laundry Washing Husband

So since I read Under $1000 a Month, RJ has been wanting to hand wash our laundry. Although this is a great thing to know how to do in case we end up somewhere without a hook-up and would have to pay for a laundry mat, but I have not recognized the appeal when we have a washing machine already. Does it really cost that much to run? I like putting the clothes in, leaving to do other stuff, and coming back to find clothes that I really trust to be clean.

I do however love to hang clothes to dry. It is so romantic and bleaches the stains out of the diapers. I have been asking RJ to hang a line on the porch since we moved in. It's amazing how guys finally get around to doing something when they decide they want it too.

Gilmore Addiction

Yesterday I had to run to Hastings to rent a couple of discs of Gilmore Girls Season 6. I have been doing well for a few months watching only things on Netflix, but I missed my Gilmore Girls. It's my therapy. I love them! Especially season's 5 and 6. If only I owned them I could watch them whenever, but TV series are so expensive. For now I'll rely on my 99c per disc whenever I want.

Menu Plan

I failed to mention one of the things I have been working on, which is a meal plan. I have done this a few times before. Basically we go through experimental phases, where I am always learning new recipes, trying new ingredients, shopping on whim. RJ loves these times. He was particularly fond of the lemon parsley pork. After a while, however, I get tired of the disorganization and the erratic grocery bills, and I get hungry for some of my tried and true favorites. There are a few other reasons to plan your meals as well.

1. We can learn, one meal at a time, how to make things more from scratch. Instead of experimenting with completely new recipes each week, we get to perfect one thing at a time. I would rather have the perfect homemade tortillas, than a new mediocre meal every Sunday.

2. It is rare that I go to the store without buying Lettuce, Tomatoes, Avocados, and Onions. This makes these natural choices as we start our garden. Instead of standing in the seed aisle trying to figure out all of the ways I can work radishes into our menu, we go with a plan, knowing that when those plants come up, they will be eaten.

3. When one of our favorite ingredients goes on sale I can stock up, confident that we have several recipes for it to go in, so we won't be sick of eating the same thing over and over.

So here is our plan: I will work to add these recipes over the next few weeks. You will see they are all very simple. My family loves to cook that way. We are not very fancy.

Brisket with Party Potatoes and Green Beans
Gore family Beef Tacos on Corn Tortillas
Chicken Alfredo with rolls or pasta
Katy's Chicken Tacos
Sausage with Squash and Potatoes
Mexican Chef Salad

Steak with Sour Cream Potatoes and Asparagus
Oven fried Chicken with fresh fruit
Barnett family Burritos on Flour Tortillas with Beans
Chicken Fried Steak with Mashed Potatoes and English Peas
BBQ Chicken with Black Eyed Peas and Deviled Eggs
Tristan's Pizza (RJ's new favorite)

These are not strictly assigned to days of the week. We usually eat at small group one night a week right now. Everything is flexible. We can try new things for RJ whenever we want, but this provides two week's worth of meals that we can cook well, and that share a lot of inexpensive ingredients. It brings order out of chaos, and makes me say yum!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lucy Clothes

One bonus of having our babies so close together is we really don't need much of anything for this one. We have almost everything we need, because we had it already for Efrim. The main exception is clothes, if it's a girl. Even with Efrim we didn't need many clothes since we had so many hand-me-downs from friends and family.

Fortunately for us, we have gained some baby clothes expertise. With Efrim I have learned that you basically need about 5 onesies, 3 or 4 pairs of pajamas, and just 2 or 3 cute outfits per size. in Newborn you can trade all but one nice outfit for more pajamas. So here are my daydreams for baby girl clothes.

Dedicating Efrim Celebration

I obviously can't post a lot of pictures yet since E's dedication hasn't happened yet, but I will let you know how things are developing.

First we decided to do this because we still hadn't had a dedication at our church, and I suddenly realized that a baby dedication didn't have to be just what people normally do. It could be whatever I wanted it to be because it's my baby. So I decided we would have a party and ask close family and friends to pray for him- like the fairies in Sleeping Beauty, but less creepy- but our family schedules are so crazy that that is about as far as I had gotten.

Then I finished The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood one morning and was totally inspired. I just love my southern heritage of hospitality and terrific backyard picnics. Also I love Fairy Godmothers.

I guess to fully understand you have to know what Godparents mean to me. Mostly they are someone who holds you accountable for the spiritual formation of your children. Molly already knows, as do most of our family, that we want her to take our children if anything happens. This is a lot to ask of a young woman who is not even married yet, but we know she will have lots of help. I have another category called Fairy Godparents, which to me means the other people who love you unconditionally and you can talk to them or go to them when you don't feel like you can go to your parents. Like it or not all kids need these. I wish we lived in a perfect world where kids could tell their parents everything, but even if there is not a barrier or problem, it is usually easier to talk to someone a little less invested in you, when you are having a hard time. So we want to ask Rebekah to be our childrens' Fairy Godmother along with Molly. They will be guests of honor at this shindig.

So it will be in my Granny's backyard the day before Easter. I figured it was a day most people had free, and we will be at my Granny's anyway. My Granny's house is just the place you go to to feel safe and loved and festive and to relish the wonderfulness of family.

Our theme will be simple cream with green E's. I have been collecting pictures of parties that inspired me for years, but my computer deleted them all a few months ago. We will have grilled chicken salad and french bread, and my mom is making an oatmeal cake with cream cheese icing. it will be simple and small and perfect and everything I love.

Prayer Necklaces for PLC

A little over a month ago (or it may be two now) my amazing friend Mary Beth Vasquez, had an idea to make prayer necklaces (inspired by a rosary) to pray for our friends at the Preemptive Love Coalition. They would be a tool and a reminder for supporters, as well as another way to raise funds. Since I have been designing clothes an jewelry as long as I can remember, a design immediately popped into my head and I stole her idea and ran with it. I later asked her permission and she and my sisters are helping to plan this endeavor.

Each of the main color of beads on a necklace are divided into sections of 5 to remind you to pray for 1-The kids who need and are getting surgeries, 2-their families, 3-Preemptive Love workers, 4-the Doctors who perform the surgeries and follow up, and 5-the reconciliation of peoples and cultures. Each section also has a bead of another color which reminds you to pray for a specific aspect of PLC's mission. These themes were stolen from the T-Shirt designs on their website. Blue for Justice Restores, Red for Hope Transfusion, Green for Peacemaker, and Yellow for Heartmender. Then there will be a heart charm at the bottom of the dangle. Each would come with a card explaining how to use it.

We want to host parties where people make these necklaces, pray for PLC and make a donation exceeding the cost of supplies, to the Preemptive Love Coalition. It would be terrific for a church's Women's Ministry to do together. We would love to just buy everything and the participants not have to worry about the cost of supplies, but as two college students, a young professional, and two newlywed parents, we don't have the overhead.

Our first setback was finding the supplies at all. I looked at all of the craft stores in Abilene and on Etsy. All of these were hit or miss about getting what we wanted, most had limited colors and numbers, and were going to drive the expense way up. Finally I found Fusionbeads. They have everything we need at a reasonable price. Now we just have to get the funds to start with. Hopefully the ladies at our church will be willing to commit up front to the project and we can go ahead and order that small amount to run a trial party next month. If the party thing doesn't work out as a long term method, we may just make them and sell them.

Chicken Alfredo Soup

Also known as Spinach Dip. I don't know what to call this recipe. It is served as an appetizer at our favorite local Italian Restaurant, but we have it as the main course. You dip your bread in it, but it's so much more than dip.

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk, or 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 8 oz. can powdery parmesan cheese (the fancy/real kind that is just grated doesn't melt as well)
2 cloves or 1 tbs. garlic
1/4 cup butter
handful of dried parsley
1 cup fresh spinach
1 lb. grilled chopped chicken
opt. 2 fresh chopped roma or plum tomatoes or 1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes no salt added

1 dozen rolls with garlic butter melted on top.

Heat the first five ingredients in a large sauce pan until butter is melted.
Wilt in the spinach leaves and add chicken.
Scoop into 2-4 soup bowls and serve with bread for dipping.

So easy and delicious. Growing up, my mom's Fettuccine Alfredo was my favorite food (I ate most of a recipe by myself when I was two.) Just add 8 oz. of egg noodles instead of the Chicken and Spinach. It will serve up to 6 as a side dish. I think this is just the more grown up version.

(I will add pictures after our dinner party tonight)

The Courtneys

I love this family. Jeremy and Jessica Courtney, along with their kids Emma and Micah, live and work in Northern Iraq.

I started to say that they work to get heart surgeries for the thousands of children in that area born with debilitating heart defects, but their work is so much more. They develop relationships with these hurting families, showing them the love and healing that only Jesus Christ can give, and they create an environment for dialogue between communities which have known only enmity; between Kurds and Arabs, between Christians and Muslims, between Muslims and Jews, between Turks and Iraqis, between Americans and Middle Eastern peoples.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 says, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." Jeremy and Jessica, the rest of the Preemptive Love Coalition team, and even Emma and Micah live out this reconciliation every day. What is reconciliation but healing broken hearts?

Why the Silence?

I've been a little busy being PREGNANT!

RJ and I are expecting Efrim's little sister (or brother) in November.

So in my early pregnancy exhaustion my priorities are shifting a little. If I only have so much energy in a day. I would rather spend it on the real house and the real baby and the real food than talking about them. Especially the baby, since I am a little down about having to share my time with him. He is so little to have to share mommy so soon. So my number one priority this pregnancy (besides surviving and getting a healthy baby at the end, of course) is to just pour my time into Efrim, enjoying every minute of him.

So here is what I have been spending my time on:

Getting Efrim's six month portraits taken by our friend Chris Taylor (if you live in Texas and need a photographer he is the best)

and also ordering prints of my favorite pictures I have of him thus far.

I have been keeping the mess in our house to a minimum, learning to make crock pot bread, planning a fundraiser for Preemptive Love Coalition, planning a very late dedication party for Efrim, making my Easter Dress, Having friends over for Spinach Alfredo Soup, and Explaining to all of my family why I am pregnant again. If you were doing all of these things would you have time to blog about them too? I'll work on it. (i.e. posts on fundraiser, dedication party, and spinach alfredo soup to follow.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just Trying to Figure Things Out

This will be a short post as I have been totally unproductive in all areas of my life today. Some days it is just harder than others to get off the couch.

I just sit and ponder. I like to be an organized person, purposeful and planned. It is frustrating to me when my baby cries every ime I put him down and I don't know what to do about it. Why is he such a discontent little fellow? What did women do who had so many things to do around their homes to make them run? Did they just listen to screaming all day? Did their babies just get over it? Where did they put them? We know that wealthy women had nannies, and women who worked for others just tied them on, until they were too big, but what about the women who cared for their own homes? What about the babies who were too big? There were no daycares, but women working at home worked just as surely and busily as those who go to an office. What did they do with their babies?

This is the main thing I am trying to figure out, but there are others. I thought about posting today about Family Missions statements. There is a good link at a blog called SimpleMom. A friend named Terri Price told me that she and her husband set out an idea of what they wanted their home/family to be like and then they pray and work toward that end. I want RJ and I to work on this. He has agreed, but seemingly never has time.

I confess that I look for checklists all day, but never find other people's to be very satisfying. A family friend once said that I spend my time making lists. This is the truth. I want everything in life to boil down to bullet points I can check off. I know it is not like this, probably better that it's not, but I often wish for it. I know that the messiness of life makes it beautiful, but it also makes it so damned hard to figure out. If I don't have a checklist how am I supposed to know what to do next.

Sitting here listening to Efrim scream is torturous, but I don't know what else to do for him. He's been fed, and napped, and changed, and I've held him nearly all day. Why does a baby with all of his physical needs met lay in a field of toys (such a mess) and scream?

I am so behind on so many things I need to do, and I can't find the motivation to catch up. I just want to take a nap, but when I lay down I can't sleep. This is just me whining now so I'll go.

What do you do when you feel like this?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I just found this website today in an article I almost didn't read, because it was just another lady explaining her own diapering method. The people who make Dappi Nylon Pants make a lot of other diapering products too. They are REALLY cheap and everyone gives good reviews. I will not be ordering anything right away since I have stuff coming in the mail from CottonBabies already, but when we do order something else we will go here. Check it out for yourself.

The best thing is their Newborn Comfy-fit Cloth Diapers. Like I said in the previous post, most cloth diapers do not fit newborns. Dappi Nylon Pants and Flip/Econobums Covers will fit a newborn, but the prefolds are too big, so most people use Kissaluvs fitteds* in a size 0. These are $12.95. For those of you with no diapering experience, a newborn can use 14 diapers in a day, so these are an enormous investment that you will only use for a few weeks. The Dappi Newborn Comfy-fit Cloth Diapers are a contour diaper*. They come in a two-pack for $2.50! This is unbelievable. You have to see the website for yourself to compare the other prices.

These products would have to be really terrible to make the savings not worth it, and I almost missed it, because I thought I knew what I needed to know already. I also learned from her that you can make doublers out of old microfleece blankets.

Lesson for the day: You always have more to learn.

*Contour Diapers are just shaped like a diaper instead of rectangular like a prefold, but are often still quite a lot more expensive. They save you the trouble of folding and are maybe less bulky, but that's about it. I feel like the extra layers of a folded diaper add absorbency. Most people who use contours also have to use doublers in every diaper. A Fitted Diaper is just a contour with elastic around the edge, and they run nearly as much as an All-In-One Diaper. All-In-One Diapers are just like a disposable made out of cloth, they are waterproof and have fasteners. Everything I read says that they have too many layers to wash and dry effectively and so don't last as long, as well as losing their waterproof-ness with machine drying. They can cost as much as $18 and you need as many as you would inserts which cost about $1 each of you use prefolds. This doesn't make sense to me. Once you are washing diapers anyway you are not really saving a lot of trouble by the fact that they are all one piece. Also Prefolds will fit a baby from 8-35 lbs. Contours, Fitteds, and All-In-Ones come in many sizes so you have to buy them over and over as baby grows.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my wonderful dad's birthday. His name is Jeff Gore and he is a home missionary to rural and ranching families all over Texas and the whole Western United States. When I talk about traveling all the time when I was little it is because we were on the road with my dad. Sometimes he was preaching, often he was singing, but mostly we were sharing life as a family with people who had little or no access to church, or who had been told that they weren't welcome there. We would do revivals at small rural churches where the congregation was prone to forget that each of them was ministers to those in their community who needed Christ. We built relationships over the years with Cowboy (read folk not country) singers and poets and Cowboy Poetry Gatherings. We set up hospitality stations, prayed, led the national anthem, and the early Sunday church service at Ranch Rodeos (which by the way are much more interesting and authentic than any PRCA rodeo you've been to.) My sister and I are who we are because we grew up in a home where ministering to people's needs-needs of all sorts- was what you gave your life to. It wasn't a mission project, it was who our family was. My dad never set out to be a preacher or pastor, but there are people all over this country who live 100 miles from a church, and they call him when they need prayer, when they need someone to perform a wedding or a funeral, when they need someone to visit a family member in the hospital. Many times my dad would get discouraged at how hard things were, and pray and ask God if we were doing the right thing, and someone would come out of no where just to say, the way you live your life showed me Christ and changed my life.

That's my dad. Happy Birthday! I love you.

I Win!

I wear cardigans a lot, so it's important to have them to match things. I don't like to wear sleeveless or spaghetti strap dresses with out them, but I hate it when I look mismatched and thrown together, just wearing a neutral cardigan with an outfit that already has more than one solid colored piece. My main colored cardigan that I wear to things is fuschia, but I have cool colored outfits too and no cardigan to match.

Since I got pregnant I have been looking for a teal cardigan. I have an Old Navy card because it earns me rewards where I would normally get all of my clothes anyway. I looked and looked, and never found just the right cardigan for the right price, until the other day.

This image is tiny because it is now out of stock. Right as I went to order it yesterday Old Navy's website went on the fritz, and when it was working again, 15 minutes later, this cardigan was no longer available in this color. If you order with Old Navy or Gap you know this happens a lot. I also know that things frequently come back, but you have to act fast, so I have been checking back constantly. When I logged on half an hour ago, it was still gone. I gave up and started looking at Delia*s and other places online. Nothing Teal. Everything was about $40. So I come back to see if any mediocre cardigans are offered in this color, and what! One the sweater page, the main icon for the cocoon cardigan is once again "New Zealand" which is the name of this exact color. I click on it, and it is only available in a Medium. I added it to bag and clicked check out immediately, and HOORAY! It went through before that dreaded little note came up to tell me it was gone. Incidentally I also ordered it in "Goodnight Nora" and they will be shipped to me shortly!

I am smiling.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cloth Diapering, Six months in.

I wrote on here when I was pregnant about all the research I was doing and my journey to choosing all of the very best products for our baby. Needless to say, working with a real live individual baby is a whole lot different than online. Here is what we have learned about cloth diapers.

When I was pregnant and reading all of the reviews gDiapers seemed like all around the best bet. They were simple to use, they came with a disposable/flushable option, they were soft knit instead of swishy nylon, and they came in cute solid colors- not boring like white, but easier to match with clothes than prints. I read thousands of reviews and forums, and read only one negative review. I remember it was only one, because I thought the lady must be nuts. Everyone else loves these. We were big time disillusioned.

First they only fit 8 lbs and up, so Efrim was in disposables for nearly a month, an expense we had not expected, since we thought that most babies were nearly 8 lbs or bigger when born. This is just first time parent foolishness. They now come in a new baby size.

Second, the liners, especially the flushables, always crunched up in the middle, so the snap in liner, and even the outside cover, always got dirty. Since the covers are $17, we didn't get enough of them to have to wash a cover nearly every time it was worn. I was pulling my hair out washing diapers like twice a day for a long time. They said you needed 4-6 covers, this was very reasonable, compared to the dozen or so I had heard you needed of others, gDiapers claims if you put them on right they will be clean for several changes. This was just never true for us.

The other problem we had was the quality. Everyone who wrote reviews was using the same ones on their second and third babies, everything was so simple and well-made. The size smalls we used for Efrim, until he was about 4 months old, are already severely worn out. We did wash them a lot more than they say you should have to. The velcro is all filled with gunk and sticks to everything but itself, and the elastic on the outside edges of the snap in liner is all cracked and distended. It won't hold in any leaks any more. The snap in liners are cheap to replace, but they do this in only a couple of weeks, so you would be getting more constantly. There goes sustainability.

We went on like this for a while, obviously for more than 4 months, simply because I didn't know what else to use, and until RJ graduated and started working more we had no disposable income. Remember this baby was planned for January or February, not August. My mother in law kept asking why we didn't just use plain plastic pants like she did (thank goodness they are nylon now) but I had only found them for $7 a piece. We just couldn't start our diaper stash over like that.

Finally our income improved and I found some better diaper deals. The two best websites I have found are ThanksMama and CottonBabies. All the ones I found when I was pregnant had only one or two kinds of diapers and they were very expensive. Besides the nylon bloomers (my mil's "plastic pants") none of the covers we are trying now existed when I was pregnant. The cheapest ones were $12-13 and came in wildly printed swishy nylon.

My first lesson, Gerber prefolds from the store work just fine. Websites will tell you that these are useless, or only good for burp rags. I could only find chinese or indian cotton prefolds for around $20 per dozen plus shipping and handling. This was just something we couldn't do most of the time. But we also couldn't keep going with 6 gCloth inserts, so I had to try something. The store bought prefolds worked just as well as gDiapers' 6 for $24 gCloth made with hemp and microterry. Gerber are 10 for $10 at Walmart. I had to cut and re-hem them to fit a small gdiaper, but they fit the mediums fine. I now have found that CottonBabies has diaper service quality prefolds at really reasonable prices and no shipping.
Second lesson- "plastic pants" are not so bad. This is a really cheap and simple option that anyone can do. CottonBabies has Dappis brand which are 2 for $5. I don't even have a snappi yet, or real diaper pins. you just pin the diaper on (there are millions of videos on how to do this) and pull the cover over. Order the covers small because they tend to run huge. If the diaper is really soaked, put a changing pad underneath their bottom, because when you pull the cover off the wet diaper will still be pinned on and it will get whatever is underneath the baby wet. The covers dry super fast, if there is only a little poop on them you can usually get it off with a wipe, and the elastic edges are covered in plain lycra cloth so no splitting and wearing out like the gDiapers liners.

Third Lesson- Econobums and Flips. These are two kinds of prefold covers, made by the designers of bumgenius all-in-ones. CottonBabies is the home webpage for this company, but they are available on many others as well. These are two price points for a one size snap on cover. We have one econobums cover, and two flips in the mail. These are great for a few reasons. 1. one-size means if you don't have to keep ordering new ones as baby grows, and if you have two babies in diapers at once, there is no sorting, all of the diapers fit all of the babies. 2. snaps don't wear out like velcro, and you don't have to pin. you just unsnap them and dump the prefold in the diaper pail. 3. since these are adjustable you can double layer the inserts to make it through the night. 4. they have soft fabric on the outside so they aren't so swishy.

The econobums cover we have has worked great. It wipes out and drys fast like a nylon pant, but has all of the features above. The main things that make a flip cover different are vertical snaps- you will have to see the pictures on the website to understand this, but it means they don't fold over at baby's middle. they also have a lip on the front and back that serves as an extra barrier to keep moisture from wicking out around the edges if a diaper gets really wet, and they come in colors. Flips are 13.95 and Econobums are 8.95. This is more than a plastic pant, but I am finding I need fewer of these than gDiapers, not more like I had been told. You can also get them in big starter kits for a cheaper unit price. These come with their own prefold inserts, but it is really big and I'm not sure how to fold it, so I just use it as the changing pad with the nylon pants. They fit regular prefolds really well.

I am getting a snappi, some real diaper pins, the flip covers, and a pail liner in the mail soon, so I will let you know what I think of them. Also, I would like to switch to cloth wipes at some point, so more on that later.

Basically the difference has been made by our desperation to try cheap things, and by the helpful information on these two websites. Like I said I did not find nearly as useful information before. If you are completely new at cloth diapering check out Cloth Diapers 101 at CottonBabies. They answered every question I had.

trying new foods

Efrim is starting solid foods. He has been eating rice cereal for over a month and we started adding fruits and vegetables on his six month birthday, March 17. We were going to make our own, but we got on WIC to help with our normal grocery bill, and jarred baby food is free. It doesn't have preservatives or anything, so I'm fine with it. RJ is trying to figure out some craft to make with the jars.

First, carrots, which he thinks are great. Next, bananas, even better. We started giving him peas on Friday, not so much luck. We were going a week between adding new things, but I read somewhere that four days is good, which is a lot better. He hates peas. he makes gagging faces and then locks his lips and moans at us. This is not so unexpected. A lot of people don't like peas including RJ. I only bought 4 jars, so it's not a big waste if he never eats the second two (we only could force half a jar down him a day.)

So today we started applesauce. And he's not crazy about this either. APPLESAUCE? Who doesn't like applesauce? I bought lots, because I figured it would be a good staple through trying other things. He isn't so opposed as with the peas, but he's not really loving it either. He will open up wide, but makes a sour face and then grunts/growls as he swallows. Is he just not used to the sour flavor? Will he adjust? Is he going to be a picky eater? I thought that you could just make kids not be picky eaters, by feeding them lots of stuff and making them eat it, but I've been wrong about a lot. Molly and I eat nearly anything, and my cousins who don't are generally pretty spoiled. Does picky eating start with baby food?

I was also told that eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies while breast feeding a 3-5 month old would help them to like more foods. The people who I know who did this, their kids eat anything. So what happened? Why does Efrim not like Applesauce?

I worry too much.


I finally found what I have been looking for.

All over Etsy people had birthstone charms on custom necklaces that were flat swarovski crystals set in a ring of silver, or gold. Most called them crystal charms or birthstone drops or something of that nature, but if you search these terms, you get little to nothing in supplies, or in a google search. I looked in all of the swarovski pendant and bead sections on every jewelry supply website I could find, nothing.

Finally today I discovered they are called Swarovski Channels, and are in the components section of supply websites, not pendants or beads. Also I learned you can get them with two rings. Obviously I have seen jewelry made with these, but didn't know it was something you could just buy. You will be seeing some projects with these in the future. Here they are on my favorite supply website Fusionbeads. And here is a little etsy round up of my favorite ways to use them:

I love an offcentered necklace like this

you can use the two-ringed ones mixed with other beads and chains to make all sorts of necklaces

and you can make simple earrings

or add them to other findings to make something unique

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kids don't need that many clothes.

And neither do grownups.

This is a quote from Like Mother, Like Daughter- a very practical blog started by a mother who was always giving her young adult daughters advice on making a home.
"Here is what your pre-adolescent children need: a few, five at the most, bottoms (say, two pairs of jeans and two corduroys). A scant week's worth of tops. Two light sweaters. Possibly a vest. For boys, a good pair of pants for Sundays, and two good shirts. For girls, two nice dresses or two church-worthy skirts and two ditto blouses."

So here are my practice wardrobes for a boy, a girl, a man, and a woman. Specifically my boy, my man, and me, along with my imaginary one-day daughter.

Looks a lot like my travel one, after all Diane von Furstenberg says, "When you figure out your suitcase, you figure out your life."

Unqualified Ministers

I sometimes have a fear, as more and more grassroots ministry movements take hold, of one thing. While I enthusiastically believe that every believer is called to be a minister and each member of a congregation has something to offer, someone has to have more theological training than a 12th grade Sunday School class.

The doctrines in the Bible are very complex and loaded with cultural meaning from times and places very foreign to our own. To have someone lead a body of believers, a local incarnation of The Church, who has not even studied Ecclesiology in an academic setting is somewhat foolish, if not completely terrifying. So much is at stake. Think through the history of all of the horrific things done in the name of Christ. What is more to blame for these than ignorance.

I attend a church lead by well meaning, godly men, who did not have an undergraduate training in theology, and only one of them has taken a semester of seminary. Believe me, although there are many wonderful things about our church, this costs us something. Those with the most theological training in our church are women, who do not hold the high leadership positions, and because of that hierarchy, are not the voice listened to in major decisions.

By all means, be the church wherever you are. Dream and build and seek the Kingdom of God. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and fill you. But please hold yourself accountable to someone who really knows the word of God, and how to interpret it into right doctrine and practice.

You can read further on Plainly Pagan.

First Interview- Rebekah Reed

For my first interview I chose to interview my "fake sister". Rebekah has been my sister's best friend for twelve years, and over the past 4 or 5 years has become mine as well. Our families spent a lot of time together growing up and so we are like family. Most of my family and closest friends I will interview during the week of their birthday and kind of spotlight some of their interests, but since I was already highlighting some very Rebekah things this week, I skipped ahead.

I wanted to have this section on my blog, because I feel that as women we learn so much from one another. Since I am reading Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood my mind is revolving a lot around mothers and daughters, so we'll start there. Tell me about your relationship with your mom as you were growing up. What are some things you are really blessed to have learned from her? Were there struggles you seemed to have over and over?

For most of my life, I’ve viewed the relationship that I hold with my mother as one of opposites. My mom was raised in a family that mostly stayed to themselves. She was not allowed to participate in after-school activities and knew little of slumber parties. She and my aunt always grew up at least two years behind their young contemporaries in clothing and fashion and were not allowed to decorate their own room.

Now a mother herself, my mom strove to make sure that I had every opportunity to express myself and cultivate my own personal identity, while still staying inside the basic box of decency and decorum.

While mom was a teenager, my grandma became severely ill and bedridden. Though she was the youngest daughter it was Donna (my mother) who cleaned, cooked and took care of the rest of the family. Since then she has quite faithfully taken care of my father, my brother and I since the beginning. Looking back at the past and seeing how much my mother has done and does for us continually blows my mind. She did everything, and even when she asked one of us to help her, would end up doing it herself to make sure that it was done correctly. Never really being forced to any form of responsibility, I saw no problem in letting mom do all the work, and felt very little consequences for disobedience.

My parents also made the strong decision to begin homeschooling my brother and I, even though it ultimately cost my father his ministerial position and our home and forced us to move. I can attest to the dramatic difference this choice has made on my life as opposed to where I would be if they had chosen the easy road. I was told recently that the way in which my brain processes information is not understood in the public school system, and my intelligence would not have been allowed to be cultivated the way it was by homeschooling. I now look back at the struggles my mother endured while encouraging me to complete my schoolwork and shudder to consider who I would be if she had not be there to cheer me on and endure my complaints.

In the book, several generations of women have terrible relationships with their mothers which cripple them in some way being mothers themselves. While I believe we are made by who our parents are, I tend to be a little less gloom and doom. What kind of parenting legacy have you received from your parents? What things are you afraid you will repeat, and what things can't you wait to do with your own children?

I humbly cling to what attributes of my mother can be found in my character: extremely hard working, a boldness and willingness to step out in faith when called by God, a strong protection for free will. I also seek to be aware of the negative parts of her that I posses: a fear of conflict, an incapability to hand off work to others for fear it won’t get done the way I think is right, and emotional insecurities. By the time that I have put on the mantle of motherhood, I hope I will allow my children to express their individual personality but also make sure they understand the great importance and responsibilities of communal and family life, which requires a bit of bravery for a mother.

Let's talk more about where you are now. I remember when we were probably 17 and 12 you read Josh Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and were talking about it's principles. I told you you were crazy, but have wished that I had been more guarded with my heart. What do you think you benefited from the concept of courtship? What were the good and bad consequences of relationships where you gave yourself away? What did you do differently in your relationship with Ben?

Dating history for me has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. One that has even wrecked a few times! I do wish that some principles in courtship had been applied for the protection of my heart, but it’s almost difficult passing judgment on the mistakes that have ultimately brought me to where I am now. Some of the mistakes though, which have made very deep emotional and psychological scars and truly hindered my present relationships, I would never want my children to have to experience. Now I can see how some of the motions of courtship are set to protect young minds that don’t have a complete understanding of what love is and all that is needed when building a healthy marriage.

My relationship with Ben has been the greatest learning experience of my life. The fact that we were simply friends before being romantic stands out starkly from the rest of my relationships. My feelings toward him held high contents of trust and admiration, rather than simply lust and selfish emotional motives. This was definitely new for me. There was a point in our relationship where I even attempted to end it, feeling like we were too different to understand each other. Ben, heartbroken, said he would allow me to end it, but was still committed to me and would be even if I wasn’t. Talk about conviction! Because of him I understand what real love looks like, even if it isn’t convenient emotionally. I look back on old relationships and appreciate so much where God has put me.

I always feel like I can't describe myself without explaining a lot about my past, and a lot about the future I dream of. I am not myself without those things. What parts of your childhood do you think had the biggest part in making you who you are? What future do you envision for yourself and your family? What values from your past drive you toward your future?

I find myself constantly dreaming up mine and Ben’s future! We’ve even discussed what sort of dog we’ll adopt first. Ben and I both have passionate gifts and talents for Jesus’ ministry that we’re ready to start using. He is theologian and preacher extraordinaire, and I want to be a minister and counselor.

Having listened to my father’s teaching most of my life, I have always remembered his insistence on the idea of “adoption” as an important attribute to God’s character. Western modern culture is so individualistic and families tend to not look far beyond their picket fences or apartment walls. Jesus instructs that we treat people, no matter what relation they may be, even better
than we treat ourselves. We are all members of a family. God has pressed the word adoption on my conscience for years, and I’ve gradually, with the help of numerous variables come to understand my future as including children who might not have been born by me, but who my husband and I choose to call our own. I dream about holding these beautiful babies often.

The reason I decided to interview you this week instead of your birthday week, like I plan to do with most family, is because of the Women in Ministry emphasis. Growing up in a conservative evangelical home, like myself, we were generally led to believe that women could not be pastors, that it was unscriptural. What have you learned about this since coming to Howard Payne? Describe for me your journey to your calling.

My first semesters in college opened up a vastly different world that I did not know was acceptable, or that it even existed. Serving, loving and leading people was one thing I definitely understood growing up. I remember deciding that I would rather continue living in a pastoral family for life, and understood this as a call to be a pastor’s wife. Howard Payne University introduced me to professors and students who believed that women could be more than nursery workers and secretaries, but actually lead congregations and preach! Being taught how to properly interpret the Bible, I came to believe that in Jesus’ Kingdom male and female are equal, though they might have outward and inward differences. Ben and I strongly hold to both egalitarian and complimentarian views, and want to live our marriage out in such a way. This includes our roles in Church ministry, though we are not sure what exactly God has planned for our vocational futures. I now hold a ministry position as a youth minister and have preached a handful of times. I am always searching for the best ways to execute my personal ministry. Another providential way I am able to show love to people is through my Mary Kay cosmetic business. You would be amazed at what a woman will tell you when you’re in her home and she has her make-up off!

Now to the important questions. I love to post on this blog about food, and I am totally a recipe junky. What is your favorite food? Do you have a different favorite food to cook than your favorite food to eat? I don't know anyone who doesn't love sharing a meal with friends. What does your fantasy dinner party look like? What foods, activities, and guests would you include? What if you could invite people who you don't know, or who are no longer living?

My favorite food to eat would be a chicken sandwich involving a shocking amount of mayonnaise, or perhaps chicken fettuccini with mushrooms, olives and vegetables! My favorite recipe to make right now is my grandmother’s baked chicken and rice. It’s so easy and tastes so goooood. People always seem to feel special when I make it for them.

At my fantasy dinner party we would definitely be outside! The sun would still be on the horizon as we sat down to dinner but would be replaced by candles in jars hours later as we still laughed over dessert. The menu would include this fantastic Lebanese Panini I had once in Morocco that had chicken, spinach leaves and spices inside and was dipped in a marvelous avocado sauce. Side dishes would include fruit and potato crisps. We’d finish off with cheesecake and chocolate pie. Guitar/mandolin/banjo required. Guests would include Benjamin, Molly, You and yours, Ben’s three best friends – all of whom are named Joshua, Siobhan and Elliott (I imagine Elliott and Efrim about five years older and very interested in climbing the tree that overlooks the table), and Stefanie Beckwith. There are many who I do not know or have died that I would love to entertain, but it is so rare that I see those who I consider dear friends that I must save my pretty dinner party for them.

You know I am also crazy about clothes. Tell me about some of your favorite stand by pieces, that you couldn't live without. Where is your favorite place to shop?

My deepest fashion fantasy involves a warm beach town where underwear is always exchanged for cute swimsuits that peek out of soft, flowy cotton clothing. *sigh* My old standbys are well fitting camisoles in black or white, tasteful shorts, and all kinds of dresses! Though I use pretty standard clothes most often, I have a large assortment of ridiculous items that no one in their right mind would wear (which explains why I have them). I believe in purchasing clothes from resale shops, and would love to wear more vintage. My feet are social creatures, so flip-flops and Grecian sandals are preferred. Or shoes I can slip off easily in the winter.

Most of us have a dozen or more handbags in our closet, and my theory is that it is because we all have a perfect one we are looking for and buy so many almosts that just don't cut it. What would be your ideal handbag in a perfect world?

Your handbag theory is so true!! I AM looking for the perfect bag, and I simply cannot find it. I want something that can hold a binder and keep my constant necessities (the big three: keys, wallet and phone) organized and separated from things like receipts, lip glosses, sunglasses and miscellaneous junk. I also want the strap to be big and comfortable enough to sit atop my shoulder while my arm rests against its body. I really like dark leather, with a small amount of brushed silver hardware. I know you’re out there bag, and I won’t stop looking for you - and when I find you, I just might buy two.

Thanks again for helping with this. I love you so much and just can't wait to share you with the world.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Mary Kay Love

I commented on my Traveling post how I don't actually own any of the things I "packed" in my imaginary suitcase. The exception to that rule, of course, is the Mary Kay.

Besides that Mary Kay has so many great products- which I have always known thanks to our first Mary Kay lady, Miss Sue, who lived across the street from my Granny as far back as I can remember- I have always loved to do things in the most orderly fashion. I love that one company has all of the beauty products I need, and I can get them all from my sweet "sister" Rebekah.

Rebekah will be the subject of my first blog interview post, this weekend, but for now I will answer the question I know is in all of your minds.

So what products are on my shelf? What beauty supplies can I not live without?

This is my wishlist:

I also like these Eye Colors. I can't ever decide about eyeshadow...

Preemptive Love Coalition

I hope to talk about Preemptive Love in more depth on many occasions, but don't wait for me. Go check it out for yourself....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

my love/hate relationship with headbands

and thoughts on my hair in general....

though i try and try i can never quite figure out my hair. my mom the cosmetologist says it's great hair, still it never quite behaves as i would like. after trying a rather short style before i got pregnant with my son, my hair is finally getting longer, and i recently cut some deep tapered bangs.

i am pretty old fashioned and prefer updos (i have sensitive skin and wearing my hair down is always itchy), but with a lot of accesories. i love pretty hair flowers, and make my own. i bought some more flowers recently, and will show how i put them together soon.

I would like to learn how to fix it like this:

is that too crazy? i really don't mind looking like an old pentecostal lady.

so more to the point with headbands. i always buy them, thinking this is the one that will look like i want it to, and they never work.

i would love to try this style:

but i'm scared of the headband.

lately i have been really wanting one of these:

but will it work on me at all?

i even have a pattern

I look forward to the day when my hair is long enough again to braid wet out of the shower and just let it dry wavy. then i can just be like an old woman. but i may not be happy then either...

in the mean time do i perm it?

or just razor the ends to give it a better shape?

while your thinking about it, check out this awesome tutorial on how to make a perfect messy bun: