Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Parenting with less stress {Our Style}

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of the warrior, so are the children of one's youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate."
Psalm 127:3-5

The verse above is one I very firmly believe. Children are indeed an incredibly great blessing, a wonderful gift from our Father above. Parenting is a very special job that God has given us and it is my great desire to do it well. I know I don't do it at all perfectly, I make mistakes all the time! But thank-fully God is patient with me, and he doesn't require perfect parents before He gives us the gift of children!

I have decided to write a series on parenting. I started thinking about it a lot when I have visited with my sister-in-laws and some other new mothers. They would ask questions and it was fun to share with them how we have done different things. We haven't always followed the "normal" route (The one advised by a pediatrician) and I realized how encouraging it can be for others who are contemplating going a route less traveled to hear that it did work for somebody else as well. This series will be basically a journal of what we have done, it will be a "works for me" post. Obviously that doesn't mean that the way we have done it is the only "right" way, and I hope that never does anybody feel like I am putting down their parenting style. I am just hoping to share what has worked for us in hopes of encouraging others that want to try it that way too.

Some of the topics I plan to share on are:
  • Pregnancy and preparation
  • Natural Childbirth (and for one child-a home birth)
  • Breastfeeding
  • Natural health care
  • Feeding baby and also children
  • Co-sleeping
  • Schedules
  • Child Training and discipline
  • Homeschooling
  • and much, much more!
When I was trying to come up with a title for this series I thought about calling it "Relaxed Parenting", as one of the things that has been very important to me in parenting is to not be high-strung and stressed about this job. We do need to take our job seriously but at the same time I don't think we need to be stressed out about it. God gave them to us as a blessing, something we can enjoy. I decided not to call it Relaxed Parenting because I think the wrong idea of never taking care of your children could be thought of and I didn't want that. Another term I have heard lately, and I do think it applies to our style, and that is slow parenting. It is when you avoid the often normal rushed lifestyle of many and just let the kids be kids. Don't have them enrolled in tons of educational programs (sports, dance, science club, music, etc.) but rather let them enjoy playing outdoors after chores and schoolwork are done. Have fun exercising and such as a family, not each family member heading their own direction.

In each post of the series I plan on sharing our story on the subject and then I will make a list of the specific things that work for me, like this:

  • Understanding my children are a gift from God Works for me!
  • Not following our current culture in parenting works for me.
  • Enjoying our children instead of being stressed works for me.
I would love to have you join me for this series and I also look forward to hearing your stories, what has worked for you in parenting! I will try to post this series every Wednesday but I am sure there will be days that I will miss every so often. :-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us shout joyfully to Him wiht psalms.
For the Lord is a great God
and a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountians are His also,
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
and His hands formed the dry land."
Psalm 95:2-5

We had a good week and I am again feeling very thankful to our great and wonderful God!

#561 Schoolwork going very well and the kids really enjoying it.

#562 Time to get things done here at home.
#563 Aaron learning how to sew!

#564 Sunshiny days!

#565 Daffodils, Johny-jump-ups, Vincas, Phlox and other spring flowers blooming!

#566 Trailers full of good goats manure for our garden. (Thanks Dad and Luke for bringing them!)

#567 Boys that think it is fun to help shovel it.

#568 Chives, mint and shallots coming up.

#569 Fun times with company over.

#570 Getting to play tennis with friends.

#572 Laughing with my husband.

#573 Cherry and plum blossoms.

#574 Political family discussions.

#575 Peace that comes from God.

#576 Rest.

holy experience

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pure Religion

"If anyone thinks himself to be religious,
and yet doe not bridle his tongue but decieves his own heart,
this man's religion is worthless.
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their distress,
and to keep oneself unstained by the world."
James 1:26-27

This spoke to me because something that I am always needing to work on is watching my tongue. I tend to like to talk which gives a lot of opportunity to say the wrong thing. I am glad for this reminder to keep my tongue in check and think before I talk!

I am also so glad for the reminder of what real religion is. Helping the helpless. I want to do that more.

What verses have spoken to you this week?

A rainy day bike ride

Our lives have been so busy lately with every weekend full but this weekend was free so we decided to go on a long bike ride (one of our family's favorite hobbies). Well the forcast didn't look so promising wiht a fairly good chance of rain but we decided to go anyway.

    We packed raincoats for everybody and headed off, it was sprinkling a little but nothing much.
 We feel very blessed to have nice trails to ride on. We have to ride a couple of miles to get to the trail but then we can ride on it a long way. We took it through town where we stopped at Pamida. Ken and the older 3 went in to look at bike helmets while Megan and I watched over the bikes. The shoppers came out with chips instead of a helmet, they thought they might be a nice addition to our packed lunch and they didn't like the selection of helmets.

We went on some trail that we hadn't been on before and had a lot of fun! Going up and over the highway that we have to drive on every time we go to Grandpa and Grandma's was exciting. :-)

We stopped to eat our lunch of to the side of the trail and we found a blooming tree (I think maybe a wild plum). We had such a good time enjoying all the beautiful world God has made.
As we ate it started to feel a little cooler out. I was thankful for having a t-shirt, 2 fleece sweatshirts, a rain jacket and gloves on! Ken (my hot blooded husband!) was thinking maybe Aaron and I weren't so silly after all for wearing gloves.

We rode a ways after lunch and it started to rain a bit more. We decided to turn back but still had about 9 miles to go to get home. Aaron was growing quite tired and not sure he could keep going very well. I decided to see if I could attach his bike to my rack and then he could ride in the trailer too. It worked! I tied it on with a bandana that happened to be in my jacket pocket.

Ken got the kids adjusted and then he had quite a load to pull!

We were getting more than a little wet! (and looking ever so stylish in the process!)
But really, we had fun even though it was wet. Nobody got that cold except with our wet jeans. The brand new leaves on the trees looked very pretty with the raindrops on them.

Mara was looking stylish too, she had decided to wear a sweatshirt, then a poncho and then a jacket on top. The poncho hung out giving her a little yellow plastic skirt.
I found flowers already up! They were looking so pretty and I am sure they were appreciating the water God was sending (This was our first rain in around 3 weeks I think).
And of course we had our normal "repair time". Thankfully Ken is much more prepared than last summer and he had a whole selection of things along. This time Jonathan's bike had problems several times with the chain.

After a while the rain let up and Aaron was rested (and Ken was weary!) and so he rode again.
We found more pretty scenery to enjoy!

When we arrived back in town we decided to stop for an early supper at a brand new Mexican Restaurant. We had fun eating there and were more energized for the next few miles home.

Now Ken and I are sitting around with legs that are more than a little sore! I love our bike trip adventures! I so enjoy being able to spend time outside with my family enjoying God's wonderful creation. I like the fact that we are getting some exercise which is good for our bodies too. On this ride I also had fun collecting trash and aluminum cans along the way. I was able to fill 2 grocery bags with trash and one with crushed cans (which I then threw in a donation trailer for Camp confidence). I could have picked up a lot more, I guess I will work on that on our next bike ride.

  What fun things are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Learning about Birds

 One of our recent interests is learning about birds. When I was looking through books a while back I ran across an old booklet (I think it was written in the 1930s) called Bird Stories by Wm. T. Cox and Dietrich Lange. It is a collection of stories written about MN birds that had been published in the Farmer Bird Club. I decided to add reading it aloud to our morning school starting time (when we pray, work on memory verse, sing and exercise). We have been reading about one bird each day. The kids have found the stories quite fun and it made them very interested in birds. We were trying to look up each one in the bird book ( to see a color picture) but found the bird books we had to be rather incomplete, so I splurged and spent $30 to buy a nice MN bird book with an accompanying CD that has all their calls on it.

    It has been fun to watch the kids' interest grow and watch them really observe the birds as they are coming North for the summer (a few birds do stick around for the winter too). They have been wanting to do things to help the birds too so I found a bunch of books from the library that tell how to make your yard hospitable to birds. We haven't done a whole lot yet but we do have plans! :-)

   The kids have had fun making a few bird houses lately though. Aaron started it off by deciding to make one for Grandpa for his birthday. This is it:

Then Jonathan and Megan worked together to make a bright red one. (Reading later made us wonder if that was a very good color choice.)

Mara made this tin can one. We had seen instructions in an old Ranger Rick magazine that said you could make bird houses out of tin cans, milk cartons and other containers of that sort. I am curious to see if they get used.

  The last two days a fun lunch time game is to pick out what bird we want to "be". That has caused some extra looking into the bird book to make sure we are choosing one with traits and abilities and looks that we particularly like. It has been some simple fun and laughter too as they wonder how well a Meadow Lark can mother a Turkey.

   We have a friend that is getting her masters in birding and she has agreed to take us birding with her some time this Spring. We are looking forward to that. The more we learn about birds the more amazed we are at God's amazing ability as Creator!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Megan's Birthday

Last week we celebrated Megan's 4th birthday. Birthdays are very special to us. Each life is special and important and a birthday is a fun time to celebrate life. With that said we don't feel the need to have huge parties or spend lots of money on extravagant gifts. I like things to be special but simple!

   I think that we hit a new low with this birthday of how much was spent however. The only thing that I ended up buying (all other stuff we already had around the house and was not bought particularly for her birthday) was a bucket of icecream for $5.69 that we only ate a portion of. Of course we wouldn't have even needed icecream but we just kind of like it at birthdays.

   I thought it would be fun to share how Megan had a fun and festive birthday without us spending money. We always start the birthday with gifts (they get opened at our house before we eat breakfast) so I will start off with them.
We did give her one very large gift this year, a art set. This I had won on a blog giveaway and then decided to set aside for her birthday. Obviously not everyone will win presents for their children but it worked very well for Megan this year. She has really been enjoying it but she would have been just as satisfied without it too. In fact before her birthday she had found a pinecone outside and told me that I could wrap it up because she wanted it for her birthday. I forgot to do that, :-) but it shows that little ones can often be very satisified with something simple.

Each of the older kids wanted to make Megan a present. This year it was very fun for me to see how accomplished they have become at making things. They required very little assistance from me.

Mara made a pillowcase for Megan. Megan has a smaller than normal pillow and we don't have a very big selection of pillowcases that fit it (and they are kind of boyish) and Megan likes pretty pillowcases so Mara made one that worked perfectly! Mara also made Barbie clothes for her to play with as Megan enjoys playing with barbies.

Jonathan asked me for some white fabric (We used some from an old shirt) and proceeded to make this little doll (Petunia- Megan says Atunia) for Megan.
Megan appreciated it very much.

Aaron decided Megan would need a boat for her Barbies so he went to the craft cupboard and made one complete with life jackets, paddles and much more. It was fun to see his creativity.
Aaron and I also worked together to make a special box for Megan to keep her stuff in. She had previously just had a plain old box that she kept under her dresser with her "special stuff" in. (Special stuff like outdated coupons that she thinks are valuble, candy, and finger puppets.) We used a shoe box that had a hinged lid and modge-podged flower, bird and other nature pictures all over it. Then I also glued a ribbon around the rim and added a few ribbon roses. Megan was happy to use it to replace her old box. I also placed a couple other little treats I had on hand in the box.

I also made a busy book for Megan. This one I did in a bit of a hurry and it has quite a few flaws but Megan didn't seem to notice and she liked it quite a bit. The above picture is of the outside and I sewed a zipper around the edge to keep things from falling out. I was able to make this completely out of things we had on hand, most of it was stuff that was recycyled -for example the zipper had previously been used in a dress.

Here are the pages inside:

This page has a little doll I made from wire, yarn and felt tucked into bed. The sheet is sewn so it is a little bag and then their are two blankets on top that are only attached at the bottom of the bed so she can make and unmake the bed.
I made 4 dresses and one nightgown that Megan can change on the doll.
This page has a mirror and barrettes and a funny looking girl that can have her hair fixed.
This next page has a house shaped pocket that holds a car, that can drive to church. (The car was one we had around the house so I didn't have to go buy a new one.)
This page has finger puppet Jonah in the boat with a big fish nearby that is a pocket so Jonah can go into his mouth and be insde the big fish.
The last page has pockets for art supplies.

These books are nice for taking to church to entertain kids during services. Megan enjoyed hers quite a lot on Sunday night.

On birthdays another way we make things special is to let the birthday child pick special foods to eat. Megan chose to have coffee cake for breakfast (along with scrambled eggs), Mac and cheese for lunch (that is a pretty normal choice for birthday lunches as they don't get it a lot otherwise) and then she didn't choose anything for supper so I decided to have our Vietnamese meal.

Megan had requested a Little girl cake, with the little girl holding her own cake. I baked the cake but was glad to have my sister Keren frost it as I was running behind on supper when she came over early to help.
Megan was quite pleased with her cake and we all enjoyed it.

 Well that is some of the projects that have been keeping us busy lately! What have you all been up too?
This is linked to:
A soft place to land

Frugal Friday at Life as MOM

Multitude Monday

holy experience
 "They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness and will shout joyfully of Your righteousness." Psalm 145:7

It has been a crazy busy but fun week. Here are some of the things I am thanking God for:

#546 Celebrating 4 wonderful years with our daughter Megan. What a blessing she has been to us! She keeps us laughing, smiling and loving her and her sweet cuteness.

#547 Simple fun.

#548  A new supper experiment that was well liked by all. (I will try to share the recipe soon)

#549 Encouraged by the hundreds of others in our town who want our country to be under a godly leadership and standards.

#550 Being involved in politics as a family.
#551 Lots of wonderful art being created lately.

#552 The wonders of Spring like new little leaves,
#553 daffodils,
#554 mayflowers,
#555 Vinca flowers
#556 and the wonderful sunshine that draws us out each day.

#557 A fun game of croquet (and almost winning!)

#558 God's help to make it through each day even when I feel overwhelmed.

#559Living in a community where I can know so many people.

#560 God's overwhelming goodness towards us.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Speaks to me Sunday ~ 1 Peter 3:1-4

"In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
Your adornment must not be merely external-- braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."
1 Peter 3:1-4

This is a verse that has come up in my reading several times lately (at church and in private study) and it is one that I have really gained from. I don't know that this verse is a very popular one, but it is in the Bible and that makes it worthy of our attention. I actually am very glad to have verses that instruct in how I am to act as a wife, to be perfectly honest I find it freeing. When I know what God wants of me, I can do it without worrying (not to say that I always do that perfectly!) and trying to figure out the best way on my own.

So I am encouraged once again to be submissive to my husband (God has given him the leader position in our marriage) and to be chaste (okay I found that word to be a little old fashioned- not one I use very often- so I looked it up. Basically it means pure) and respectful.

  The next part of the verses talks about how we look. I wonder if there ever has been a time when women have not concerned themselves with how they look? I love the reminder in this verse that it isn't the outside that we need to be working hard to make beautiful- it is the inside. That doesn't mean that we don't want to look nice but we need to be spending far more time working on making sure our heart is beautiful, loving and kind. I really want to work on that! Being gentle and quiet is something I am working on too!

What are your thoughts on these verses?


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