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Monday, December 29, 2008

We Love ATLANTA!

I'm blogging to you from our hotel lobby in Atlanta. We attended my brother-in-law's wedding last night and had a great time. Hubby and I are about to be off the the airport soon, but we are sad to go! We didn't know we'd like Atlanta so much!

More updates to come...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Frogs and snails, and puppy dog tails"...

...we're about to see if that's what little boys are really made of!!

I went in by myself while hubby waited in the lobby with the girls. Our ultrasound technician was very serious at first, which made me hesitant to ask her alot of questions. So, when it seemed as though she was almost done, I asked her if she could see the gender and she said, "Yes, its boy." She then proceeded to point out all the important...ahem..."parts" so I could see for myself:) I was tickled to say the least!

After a few minutes they invited my husband and the girls to come in and she told him the news. And boy...you talkin' about a PRAISE!!!. This man stood in the ultrasound room with his hands lifted toward heaven and just began to praise God without a bit of inhibition! As we walked down the hall, he stopped every stranger within earshot and told them, "I just want to let you know I have two girls. I prayed and asked God to bless me with a son, and He did it! God answers prayer!" People laughed, smiled, and rejoiced with us as we relished the moment.

Leading up to this day, both my husband and I kept wondering, why it was taking so long for us to be able to find out the gender of this baby. Nevertheless, somehow all the suspense made the moment even more special. Now, I'm thinking that perhaps this was God's version of a little "Christmas Bonus.":)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Round 2!

On Saturday, Anonymous said...
"I don't get to see or talk to you EVER so i read your blog...So, do you know if you are having a boy or a girl?"

Well..funny you should ask! It just so happens that tommorow hubby and I go for a second ultrasound! Hopefully, what happened at our first ultrasound will not happen again.

I'll be sure to let you know the results!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My children are so helpful...



See? Even when their sleep, they serve as a great cushion for my bread products!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 13

It's day 13 of eating Thanksgiving holiday leftovers for my husband. I was done at about day 4. Although he seems to be doing fine, I'm beginning to worry. I am yet to hear of any incidencts of illness as a result of eating 13 day-old leftovers.

To be honest, I'm actually a little flattered by the whole thing because its primarily the dressing that he keeps coming back for (which is the dish I took the lead in cooking this year;) Perhaps he has really just fallen in love with my cooking?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ecological Breastfeeding


When our second daughter was about four months old, I believe it was God that ordered my steps of find out about the book, "Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: How Ecological Breastfeeding Spaces Babies" by Sheila KIppley. I already had a desire to nurse my baby on demand, but the book opened my eyes to a new way of mothering. Now, I plan on taking the ecological breastfeeding approach with all of my children.


Here is more from Sheila Kippley on "Scriptural Mothering":


SCRIPTURAL MOTHERING
In Scripture breastfeeding is usually associated with a special kind of care, a human example of God’s loving care for his people. We read of the nursing mother or of the child who is nursing or is weaned. Mothering is mentioned several times in Scripture and is often associated with breastfeeding.

What follows are biblical references to breastfeeding and/or mothering1 that may be helpful and supportive to parents, especially mothers. The Scripture quotes appear in the order they appear in Catholic bibles.

“And the child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned” (Genesis 21:8).
Here we read for the first time in the Bible of a child being weaned. Prolonged nursing of several years was common during Biblical times, and weaning was a cause for celebration of the child’s new stage in development.

Hannah: “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear to the presence of the Lord, and abide there for ever.”
Elkanah, Hannah’s husband: “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him” (1 Samuel 1:22-23)

Breastfeeding keeps Hannah with her baby. Hannah’s household planned to travel to Shiloh to offer a yearly sacrifice at the house of the Lord. Hannah excused herself because she was breastfeeding her child. Her husband supported her in that decision. Scripture then said: “So the mother remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him.” After the child weaned, she made the trip with her son, Samuel, and gave him to the Lord forever in the care of a priest and prophet.

Many husbands today support the mother-baby oneness of breastfeeding, and for this their wives are most appreciative. Hannah cared for her son during the early years of breastfeeding. When the breastfeeding ended, she then gave her son to the Lord.

When couples anticipate the conception of a new baby, they, like Hannah, can offer this child to the Lord and pray that the child grows up to do the will of the Lord. At the time of weaning, the mother or the parents, like Hannah, can offer the child spiritually to the Lord and pray that the child will grow up in the ways of the Lord.

“Thou didst keep me safe upon my mother’s breasts” (Psalms 22:9).
The psalmist describes breastfeeding as safe or protective. A nursing baby or toddler often seeks security at his mother’s breasts when hurt or insecure or upset for some reason. While this behavior is common among breastfed babies, it is also described in Scripture.

“…like a child quieted at its mother’s breast” (Psalms 131:2).
Here comfort nursing is described perfectly! One of the advantages of breastfeeding is that suckling has a quieting effect upon the child. A nursing mother soon learns that nursing is an easy way to pacify her baby into a deep sleep or to comfort her baby.

“Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?” (Isaiah 49:15)
The Sacred Author used the bond that develops with breastfeeding to illustrate the enduring bond of God to his people.

“…that you may suck and be satisfied with her consoling breasts” (Isaiah 66:11).
Comfort nursing is again described in Scripture. “Consoling breasts” is a wonderful definition of the mothering that takes place at the breast. Hunger satisfied, intimate closeness to mother, a wonderful answer to fatigue and the need for sleep, physical reassurance, pacification…many needs are fulfilled at the breast.

“…and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip, and dandled upon her knees” (Isaiah 66:12).
Here a mother has close physical contact with her nursing baby. There is much holding and carrying of the baby by the mother. The baby is described as being on the mother’s hip and being danced upon her knees. Today this type of baby care is often called attachment parenting. And it is described in Scripture!

1. The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers for Ignatius Press, 1966.
Copyright 2006, Sheila Kippley

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday-Happy Thanksgiving!




What am I thankful for today? There are so many things, but what comes to mind is:

-Turkey
-Dressing
-Cranberry Sauce
-Macaroni and cheese
-Green Beans
-Sweet Potatoes
-Sweet Potatoe Pie

Also, I'm thankful my husband did most of the cooking, while I've done most of the tasting this year. Let's just say we have not "officially" sat down to eat yet, but I'm already full. Oh well...gobble, gobble;)

Enjoy your turkey-day!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"The Modern Challenge to Motherhood..."

"The modern challenge to motherhood is the eternal challengeĆ¢€”that of being a godly woman. The very phrase sounds strange in our ears. We never hear it now. We hear about every other type of women: beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career women, talented women, divorced women. But so seldom do we hear of a godly woman--or of a godly man either, for that matter. I believe women come nearer to fulfilling their God-given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife, than to be Miss America. It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home than it is to produce a second-rate novel filled with filth. It is a far, far better thing in the realms of morals to be old fashioned, than to be ultra-modern. The world has enough women who know how to be smart. It needs women who are willing to be simple. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure. We need women, and men, too, who would rather be morally right than socially correct."

~ Rev. Peter Marshall

I found this quote at this lovely site dedicated to encouraging women who agree that virtuous living rocks!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Help for Growing Families


Have you noticed my great new sidebar button called "Help For Growing Families"? Click on the button and you will be taken directly to Mother Hen's blog. You'll see she has started a new Mr. Linky called "Help for Growing Families".

Here's how she describes it:

"A place for more experienced moms of several children to share practical advice and helpful hints with new moms just starting out and with each other.

Almost all young (ok, all of us) moms are looking for helpful ideas to make their jobs a little easier or possible. When God sends us many gifts it can be lonely territory. And it can feel like you’re sailing in uncharted seas.
God has a plan for us though. He tells us in Titus chapter 2:3-5,

3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
So, every week I’ll be hosting Help for Growing Families here at Ship full O’ Pirates.

I’ll be putting the Mr. Linky post up every Monday evening at about 9pm cst.

What kind of advice and practical help am I talking about? Anything that makes life with lots of children in one family easier or more do-able. Sometimes you just need to know how to get all that laundry done and kept in orderly fashion. (Ah, laundry, my arch nemesis!) Or how about how to feed ‘em all without goin’ broke and having to give up gasoline! Or maybe you have a good way to grocery shop with all of your children with you. Any helpful, mothers-of-several type advice. Every week, girls, just write a helpful bit of advice and link up here."

===============================================

When I read that description, I thought to myself, "Okay, now you're talkin'!" I am a mother of two with one on the way and I hope to have more. Nevertheless, as a young mom, I will be to the first admit I'm not quite sure how I'm going to pull this off. So, I will be checking out Mother Hen's advice as well as all the other seasoned moms who share link their ideas to her Mr. Linky.

Perhaps you're a young mother who hopes to have many one day or you already have many and are interested in sharing your ideas and getting more tips on how to manage your home. Take advantage of this free "real life" mama advice and let me know what you find most helpful! Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pregnancy Makes Your Brain Shrink?

So, after talking to a friend of mine who recently gave birth to her 6th child, I have become more interested in the effects of pregnancy on the brain. She told me that her and another friend of ours, who is a mother of 7, are both experiencing something really weird. She explained that their memory, vocabulary, and concentration have all seemed to diminish considerably after having their last babies.

Now I know for sure I don't feel as "sharp" as I usually do when I'm pregnant (this is also why I haven't written as many blog posts since I've been pregnant;) I've always attributed that "out of whack" feeling to hormones. However, now I'm wondering if its actually related to the changes that the pregnant brain undergoes.

In my research on this subject, I ran across an article entitled, "Pregnancy Makes Your Brain Shrink". The first paragraph reads,

"The brains of pregnant women appear to shrink during late pregnancy, according to research which offers an explanation for cognitive problems some women complain of before and after giving birth. The doctors at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London found that it can take up to six months for the women's brains to regain their full size."

Another article, "Placenta Brains"suggests that if you are pregnant or post-partum and have recently:

Lost your keys.
Forgotten an appointment.
Forgotten your name.
Stopped talking, you'd forgotten what you were saying.
Felt just plain fuzzy mentally.
Gotten lost driving on your own street.
Forgotten names, particularly that of your husband, children, or pets.

you may be experiencing the symptoms of this brain shrinkage!

This is quite the explanation for alot of undone work, missed appointments, and "spacing out" that I've done over the past few years, is it not? Boy, if I had gotten ahold of this information when I was working outside the home, I might have sucked this one dry! Can you imagine me apologizing to my boss, "I'm sorry for missing our meeting. I just forgot. Its the pregnancy. Yeah, in fact, my brain is shrinking right now as we speak."

Friday, November 7, 2008

Noelle's Recipe

pie

Noelle: "Mommy, I'm using 3 cups of dirt and 3 cups of water." (as she stirs with her plastic spoon).

Me: "Really? What are you making?"

Noelle: "Ummm...pie."

Friday, October 31, 2008

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

My mom, being the festive being she is, made sure we celebrated EVERY holiday to its fullest extent! Yes, we were Catholic at the time and attended mass every Sunday; however, we participated fully in Halloween (and had alot of fun doing so, I might add:) It wasn't until I became a born again Chrisitian as an adult, that I thought about whether or not celebrating Halloween was conducive to "virtuous living."

Now that I know more and am trying to raise my own children to know what is acceptable to God and what is not, I've had to put alot more thought into the moral implications of what seemed to be innocent times of fun, such as Halloween.

The article below is an interesting one, and suggests that while Christians should stay away from the aspects of Halloween that have their roots in paganism and the occult (ie."ghost, witches, goblins") we still have the freedom to make of it what we want. For example, he explains that some families dress their children up in more wholesome costumes (ie. "princesses, cowboys, clowns, etc") and have a "Harvest Party" instead. You can read the original article here.

Do you agree with the author? What does your family do around Halloween, if anything?

"Should Christians celebrate Halloween?"

Answer: Whether or not Christians should celebrate Halloween can be a very controversial topic. Some Christians celebrate Halloween simply by dressing up in a costume and having fun, seeing it as innocent and harmless. Other Christians are equally convinced that Halloween is a satanic holiday established to worship evil spirits and promote darkness and wickedness. So, who is right? Is it possible for Christians to celebrate Halloween without compromising their faith?

Halloween, no matter how commercialized, has almost completely pagan origins. As innocent as it may seem to some, it is not something to be taken lightly. Christians tend to have various ways to celebrate or not to celebrate Halloween. For some, it means having an “alternative” Harvest Party. For others, it is staying away from the ghosts, witches, goblins, etc., and wearing innocuous costumes, e.g., little princesses, clowns, cowboys, super-heroes, etc. Some choose not to do anything, electing to lock themselves in the house with the lights off. With our freedom as Christians, we are at liberty to decide how to act.

Scripture does not speak at all about Halloween, but it does give us some principles on which we can make a decision. In Old Testament Israel, witchcraft was a crime punishable by death (Exodus 22:18; Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27). The New Testament teaching about the occult is clear. Acts 8:9-24, the story of Simon, shows that occultism and Christianity don't mix. The account of Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13:6-11 reveals that sorcery is violently opposed to Christianity. Paul called Elymas a child of the devil, an enemy of righteousness and a perverter of the ways of God. In Acts 16, at Philippi, a fortune-telling girl lost her demon powers when the evil spirit was cast out by Paul. The interesting matter here is that Paul refused to allow even good statements to come from a demon-influenced person. Acts 19 shows new converts who have abruptly broken with their former occultism by confessing, showing their evil deeds, bringing their magic paraphernalia, and burning it before everyone (Acts 19:19).

So, should a Christian celebrate Halloween? Is there anything evil about a Christian dressing up as a princess or cowboy and going around the block asking for candy? No, there is not. Are there things about Halloween that are anti-Christian and should be avoided? Absolutely! If parents are going to allow their children to participate in Halloween, they should make sure to keep them from getting involved in the darker aspects of the day. If Christians are going to take part in Halloween, their attitude, dress, and most importantly, their behavior should still reflect a redeemed life (Philippians 1:27). There are many churches that hold "harvest festivals" and incorporate costumes, but in a godly environment. There are many Christians who hand out tracts that share the Gospel along with the Halloween candy. The decision is ultimately ours to make. But as with all things, we are to incorporate the principles of Romans 14. We can’t allow our own convictions about a holiday to cause division in the body of Christ, nor can we use our freedom to cause others to stumble in their faith. We are to do all things as to the Lord.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thankful Thursday-Healthy Children



As I was going through my morning routine of fixing breakfast and changing diapers this morning, I turned on the television and caught a small amount of a NBC news story on autism. The reporter said that every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed with autism. Researchers are still trying to find out more about the cause of autism and some have speculated that there may be a connection between vaccinations and autism. Nevertheless, there are also many studies concluding that they are not connected. The medical community is still at a loss.

I thought about how many children are born with severe health problems and how much of a blessing it is to have children who are healthy. I think this is one thing that can be easy to take for granted until you put yourself in the shoes of a parent who has to care for a child who may be in pain or in need of alot of special care. I pray that God blesses those parents with the grace and strength they need. I praise God for all he has done for me including blessing me with two healthy babies!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

When there are no sick days

I knew this was coming. At the first sign of my youngest daughters runny nose, I tried to brace myself for the inevitable. When my oldest daughter came down with a fever a couple days later I thought to myself, "Uh oh. Its only a matter of time." Needless to say, yesterday marked the first day of my runny nose, head congestion, watery eyes, headache, and sneezing. What's strange is that for some reason I had this small feeling of hope that I might get a "sick day" today.

When I was growing up my mom let me stay home from school when I got a cold and just sent me the following day with a "sick note." In college, I simply stayed in my dorm room instead of going to class and I followed up by sending my professors an email letting them know I was feeling "under the weather." After college, I was given a certain amount of "sick days" from the agency I worked for. I kept track of those days and made sure I took advantage of them when needed. It all seemed to always work out. What a great invention: "sick days."

I think this tid bit of personal history would explain the hopeful feeling that maybe when I woke up I would stay in bed and somehow be temporarily freed from my usual responsibilities. However, when hubby stopped by the store this morning to buy me some tylenol and then proceeded to get ready for work, while my youngest daughter stood in the kitchen eagerly moaning and pointing to a box of Cheerios, it occured to me that "sick days" may just be a thing of the past:(

Monday, October 20, 2008

In need of a lil' simple pleasure #2



My husband has the book, " "101 Ways to Spoil Your Wife" by Ron Brown. I don't know where or when he got it. In fact, I've never even seen him reading it! So, how does he know how to spoil me so well?!... I'm at a loss.

Regardless of how he does it, I do thank God for a husband who knows what I like and can usually percieve my needs. Moreover, I thank God he likes to spoil me with those things from time to time. For example, tonight my husband will be taking the children with him to choir rehearsal, in order to give me some needed "me time." With everyone gone, this may be a good opportunity for me to enagage in a little of my simple pleasure #2: pampering!

In terms of my simple pleasures, my hubby makes sure I always get my fair share of good conversations and laughing each day. As for chocolate and iced coffee, I usually I stock up on my supply when I go shopping. Recently, I had the opportunity to take a road trip to Ohio this summer to visit a friend and fortunately, my perfume stock is doing fairly well these days too. Nevertheless, pampering is one simple pleasure that can be hard to come by. I find that alot of my "grooming" time gets lost in the shuffle somewhere between changing diapers, washing dishes, and vacuuming the floor each day. Thus, looking forward to "me time" tonight!

Have you any interesting "self pampering" ideas I can use tonight or in the future?

Image by: kitsa sakurako

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Verdict

So, just as my husband and I were yesterday, I'm sure you're dying to know if this baby is actually a boy or a girl.

Well...so are we! They couldn't tell! Can you believe that!?

After a very long day at the lab and a visit with the midwife, we finally made it to our ultrasound appointment, only for them to say they couldn't tell because the baby its too early (is 20 weeks really too early?) and the baby was moving so much.

We're hoping we have another crack at an ultrasound because they also said there were other things they coudn't see because of the baby moving so much.

This is the first ultrasound we've had that they said they couldn't tell the gender. Its also the most excited we've been about finding out. Perhaps God is trying to work more patience in us?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boy or Girl?

Today is our big day! That's right, ultrasound day! Now, pray for me, because if they announce to my husband that this baby is not the son he has been praying for, he may either have to be carried or escorted out of the hospital!

I also am hoping for a boy; nevertheless, I won't be unhappy with another beautiful baby girl!

Here's the scenario:

While pregnant with my girls:

I gained alot of weight, fast and seemed to be showing earlier.
The only change in skin I had was the "pregnancy mask."
I was VERY tired in the first trimester, but felt better in the second.


This time:

I've gained slowly, and didn't show until later.
I have the "pregnancy mask" and I also had acne in the first trimester.
I was VERY tired in the first trimester and am still VERY tired.


What do you think? Boy or Girl? Cast your vote in the comments section and I'll tell ya the news when I get back!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lessons Learned

Perhaps you are wondering, as I often am, "How do you keep your house clean when you have two toddlers who can demolish a room in mere minutes, leaving it looking as if you haven't lifted a finger to clean it in months?

Well, here are three lessons I had to learn the hard way; but will share with you in order to hopefully save you some future frustration.

1. Keep doors closed.- After your children have gotten up, keep all bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, etc doors closed and don't allow your children to go in and out of them at will. This will keep them from having the opportunity to "investigate" a room that you are not in, as well as keep them out of harm's way. It will also keep you from having to wonder whatever happened to your shoes, only to find them in the bathtub later on.

2. Only allow eating in the kitchen, or dining room (if not carpeted). -Who wants to vacuum after three meals and two snacks a day? That's five times a day! Therefore, we brought a small toddler size table and chair set into the kitchen so our little ones can eat everything they need to eat in there. This cuts down on vacuuming and spills that can ruin your carpet, furniture, etc.

3. Limit the amount of toys, books, etc that can be out at a time.- My little ones often like to bring out EVERY toy, book, puzzle, etc in the living room to play with all at once. This creates an unnecessary mess, since they can only use one item at a time anyway. So, I have limited the amount of things they can have out at a time. If they want something new, the old thing has to be put away first.

Hope you find these lessons helpful. Perhaps you have some strategies for keeping your place tidy, with small children at home? Please, do tell!

What are you thinking?

Sometimes its easy to forget how powerful our thoughts really are. We think just because we "do" right, that we "are" right. Nevertheless, God is not only concerned about what we do on the outside, but what we are thinking on the inside. While evaluating my own thought-life and doing some reading on the subject today, I came across this quote:

"Sow a thought, reap an action;

Sow an action, reap a habit;

Sow a habit; reap a character;

Sow a character, reap a destiny."

-Samuel Smiles


What are you thinking? Is it pleasing to God? Will it lead you to more godliness, or is it sowing a seed that will lead you to an ungoldy action, habit, character, and destiny?


"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"(2 Cor 10:4-5)


"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..."(Proverbs 23:7)

Monday, October 13, 2008

20 Frugal Things I do

I saw it here first. Here's mine:

1. I breastfeed.

2. I buy alot of milk when its on sale and freeze the extra until we need it.

3. I fill my gas tank up whenever I'm far out and find really cheap gas.

4. I shop at discount stores like Aldi, Walmart, and Save a lot.

5. I live on a budget.

6. I buy beverges you have to mix yourself instead of juices and soda that come in a bottle.

7. I don't have a cell phone, I use payphones when I'm out (yes, I know its 2008!)

8. We save a portion of our income every month in a seperate account to pay for annual events, like Christmas and birthdays.

9. We live in an VERY affordable apartment, so we can save up for a house. (Remember, my testimony about our place?)

10. I cook a whole chicken and then divide it up to use it for different meals.

11. I do my own hair most of the time instead of getting it done professionally.

12. I rent movies out of the redbox instead of blockbuster.

13. I try look for inexpensive or free family outings and check out free museum passes from the library.

14. I welcome hand-me-downs from others.

15. I use target brand diapers and wipes (the best generic brand I've found without comprimising feel and durability).

16. I get most of my information online instead of buying magazines.

17. I try to buy one kind of soap (like dove or lever 2000) that our whole family can use, instead of something different for everyone.

18. I do the same with shampoo.

19. I turn my car off when I get stuck by a train.

20. I buy used movies and dvds (like Veggie Tales and Bible Stories) for our children at thrift stores.

For all you cheapskates...



Frugal Hacks is a web resource and community for all who are devoted to " ...frugal living, finding deals, and spending less..." Anyone can read and benefit from the site. However, in order to be apart of the blogroll and get that nifty little badge you see to the left, your blog must have some obvious focus on frugal living.

Although I'd like to join the blogroll, (and add that nifty little badge on my sidebar;), I realize that I'm not quite "frugal" enough just yet. I might fit a "frugal hacker in training" blogroll, if there was such a thing. Nevertheless, I've decided, until I become a real-life, bona fide, money-saving, penny-pinching frugal hack, I'll just follow suit behind Kelly over at www.almostfrugal.com by writing a list of frugal things I do.


I hope this list helps you think of more ways to save money and be thrifty. Also, I encourage you to include your own list on your blog, or in the comments section under my post. Your ideas may just assist myself and others in becoming a sensational frugal hacker!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Tribute to Sisters

While I was growing up, I always wished I had a sister. Something just seemed so special about that relationship. Now, at times I think God's way of granting my desire has been by allowing me to witness and help cultivate the blossoming relationship between my girls. It is a wonderful experience for me to watch the way they laugh, smile, play, and enjoy each other. I know they will have to overcome the common sisterly "quarrels," but my prayer is that through it all, they will always be the best of friends.

I thought this quote by Barabara Alpert caught the beauty of sisterhood, while staying true to the challenges it can bring as well.

"She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she's the reason you wish you were an only child."
-- Barbara Alpert









Do you have a sister? What have you enjoyed most about your relationship? What has been challenging?

Oh, what a time we had!

As promised, here are some pictures and a small recap of the prayer retreat I attended in August.

We had a wonderful time and God really dealt with me on some things.



We came equipped with blessed oil...




We sang praises to God by the lake...



We enjoyed the beautiful scenery...




We enjoyed the fellowship...

...and of course, we enjoyed the food...oh, I mean the prayer;)

Seriously, we prayed for about an hour, 3 times a day and I needed that time to seek God and "unload" some things I had on my mind. In the first 6am prayer session, I was explaining...(okay, I was complaining) about "the usual" (too much housework, lack of sleep, lack of money, and feelings of being overwhelmed with raising kids, and cultivating a good marriage).

"Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved"(Psalm 55:22).

While I was praying, I had this thought: "Don't forget." I immediately knew what that meant. I knew it was God reminding me not to forget where he brought me from. I started to remember what my life was like pre-salvation. I thought about how lonely I was then, how confused about life, how I had no direction. I thought about the foolish, dead-end, ungodly relationships I was in, and the road I was headed down. I thought about how much God had changed my life, my mind, and my attitude through his word and his presence in my life. It kept coming to my mind, "Don't forget" you weren't always here." "Don't forget where you used to be."

"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you"(John 14:26).

I thought about what a great, godly, hard working, supportive husband God has blessed me with. I thought about the two healthy, wonderful children we have. I was reminded of how far God has brought us financially, in a short time. Also, how he has ordered our steps to work together to make alot of great decisions and accomplishments for our family.

"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jer. 33:3).

As you can imagine, my prayer soon turned from a complaining session, to a repentance session, to a praise session, and then a worship session! God is a GREAT God!

"I will bless the Lord at ALL times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth"(Psalm 34:1).

This is just one example of many ways God met me at the prayer retreat. I will make sure to share some more with you in future post.

"And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers...to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not...then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage"(Deuteronomy 6:10,12).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

On Discipline

Recently, I've been utilizing various discipline techniques with my one year old, in efforts to put an end to some of her rather ungodly habits. Needless to say, when I saw this post by Kim over at Life in a Shoe, I was immediately intrigued.

You can click here to see it and tell me what you think, but this seems like one technique that just can't fail!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Finally!!!


Just when I started to give up hope...this happens:

Daddy: Noelle, do you have to pee pee?

Noelle: Yes.

Daddy: Okay, go over there and pee pee in the potty.

Noelle: Okay. (as she goes over and sits on the potty).

10 minutes later I check the potty and to my delight...I find pee pee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We have tried a number of things including the simple line of questioning that took place right before today's blessed event. I have absolutely NO idea what made today any different. Nevertheless, instead of trying to figure it out, I will simply relish the moment!

We've already proceeded to sing, chant, dance, and eat cookies in honor of our "potty girl."

and the celebration continues...

Friday, October 3, 2008

For those of you wondering...

...Yes. I am alive and am proud to annouce that I have not, in fact dropped off the face of the earth;)

I do apologize to my faithful readership (I found out there were more of you than I thought:) for my blogging hiatus, and I want to let you know I do intend to get back to it!

In part, I have been stalling my blog post because I had hoped to have some pictures of the retreat and our family vacation to accompany the exhilarating post I planned to write. Neverthless, It has taken me until recently to get those together. So, I will continue to hold you in suspense for those updates and just share with you what has REALLY been going on with me lately. You do want the "real deal" anyway, don't you?

Well,I hope you didn't forget I am expecting! I'm already 18 weeks and counting! Thus, most of what goes on with me these days is unavoidably related to that fact. Since it would be virtually impossible for me to sum it all up for you in words, I have included some visuals that will tell it all.


So, lately I've been experiencing...



...a little of this:




...and a whole LOT of that:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thankful Thursday- So Many Things



Today is Thankful Thursday and there are so many things I'm thankful for, but I'll just give you a few of the highlights:

1. Remember my exciting retreat plans? Well, today is the day! Just a few more hours and I will be here, enjoying a 3-day sweet fellowship with the Lord and my sisters in Christ! I'm bringing a camera so I can fill you in on all the details when I return. Thanks to everyone that sent me their prayer requests...look for God to do it!

2. I am also thankful that today is my first pre-natal appointment! I know...12 weeks is a little late to be going for a first appointment; nevertheless, after watching this and experiencing that, I was completely transformed and decided I wanted to give birth naturally, with a midwife. Therefore, I had to spend some extra time finding a new hospital close to home where midwives actually deliver the baby. I'm on my way this morning and I can't wait to hear the baby's heartbeat and meet the midwife!

3. I am thankful for my gracious husband who has taken today and tommorow off to stay home and "hold down the fort" and care for "the troops" while I'm away being spirtually rejuvinated. God bless his ministry:)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Need more ways to incorporate chocolate into your diet?



Of course you do! Who doesn't?

I found this recipe for "Chocolate-Strawberry Smoothies" in Bob Greene's book, "The Best Life Diet." Perhaps this suggestion will be a healthier alternative to the chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownies, and chocolate cookies we all love so much!

I've tried it a few times and found it to be a healthy, yummy, chocolatey treat (when what I really want is a chocolate shake)! The ingredients are affordable, and the recipe easy to make. 2 servings are only add up to 192 calories!


Here it is:

2 cups of chocolate soymilk. (The book suggest 8th continent, but I like Silk Light Chocolate).

1 medium banana, cut into chunks.

2 cups (10-ounce bag) frozen unsweetened strawberries. (I use the ones from Aldi...tastes great to me!).


Place soymilk, banana, and strawberries in a blender. Cover and blend on high speed for about 1 minute. Wait until the smoothie is smooth and enjoy!


Photo by: tofutti break

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Children or Debt: Which would you prefer?

"The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing;

but in our culture, we apply for a curse and reject blessings.

Something is wrong with this picture."

~Doug Phillips

Monday, August 18, 2008

"We" Homeschool

Well...not me specifically (although I'm strongly considering it). But, "we" as in African Americans in general, homeschool our children. Although homeschooling is becoming quite popular at my local church, which is predominatly African American, I was a bit surprised to find out that the number of homeschooling, African American families was on the rise!

Here is an interesting interview from NPR that gives a little insight into why this is the case.

None of the women in the interview expressed any faith-based reasons for homeschooling their children. However, my reasons for considering it are very much rooted in my not wanting my children to be "subltly" and "not-so-subtly" molded and brainwashed by all of the anti-christian propaganda floating around traditional schools nowadays.

How about you? Are you a potential and/or active homeschooler? Why are you homeschooling and/or considering it?

Just 3 more days!

Notice the picture below. Isn't it beautiful? In just 3 days I will be one giddy, pregnant, christian, wife, and mother as I make my way there for a 3-day retreat experience!...excuse me while I jump in the air and kick my heels together!

s_index_1

Oh, did I mention to you that my husband and children won't be accompanying me at this retreat? Nope, mama is going alone! No diapers, no crying, no cooking, no cleaning. Just rest, fellowship, prayer, praise, and SLAM-DOWN worship with the Lord!

Of course, I will miss my family. I realize their not being there also means: no little hugs, no little kisses, no silly little giggles, and no "mommy look at me" requests accompanied by cool new toddler skills. These I will miss. I also know it means 3 days without the warm hugs, loving kisses, and charming wit of my sweet hubby. These will be missed as well. Nevertheless, I'm sure the absence will only make the heart grow fonder;)

The retreat is a splendid annual event sponsored by a prayer group at my local church and is known as the Noon-day Prayer Retreat. Not only is this a great place to still away to for an intimate time with the Lord, there are great praise and worship services, wonderful speakers, singing on the lake, beautiful fellowship among christian women, and (let me not forget to mention) great food too!

Prior to last year, I attended the retreat 5 years in a row and it was beginning to be something of a tradition for me. However, last year I had to forego the experience because I had a 3 month old baby at home. Next year this time, our new addition will be only be 6 months, and I think that's too young to leave for 3 whole days. Thus, this year's retreat is one I'm looking forward to immensely and I plan on savoring every moment! Any prayer requests?

Friday, August 15, 2008

"I can do it by myself..."



...is my almost 3 year old's new favorite phrase. Although not perfect, she has attempted and done a great job at:



-Putting on her shoes.
-Washing her hands.
-Feeding her little sister with a spoon.
-Making herself a ppj sandwich (she loves these!)
-Getting herself a cup of water by pulling her chair to the sink to stand on.

When she asked me if she could do these things by herself, my first instinct was to say no because of all the possible messes that could potentially be made and the extra time it would take for me to clean it, help her and/or go behind her to cover anything she missed. But, I realized if I don't let her try, she won't learn! Now, I amazed at all the new things she is learning to do.

I read an article at Ask Dr. Sears.com on this subject and found this part to be very interesting:

"By age three, a child's imagination and creativity will allow him to be able to have fun with anything. Keep toys simple and basic – building blocks, balls, dolls and blankets, cars and trucks (no batteries, please). A four-year-old alone in a room with nothing to play with will figure out how to use shoes and socks as cars and people or as cradles and dolls.

By the time your child is six, you will have reached what one psychologist we talked to calls "planned detachment." Your child will check in for breakfast, be out the door, check in for lunch, and be gone again. You'll say "You're looking well, dear," you'll write a note to remind him of chores, and finally at dinner you'll get to talk some. After dinner some card playing, singing, or other family-oriented activity reconnects you with the individual who used to stick to you like Velcro."

What! Is he serious? Is he saying that this same little person who person who once needed me for EVERYTHING, followed me around all day from room to room, literally held me at the ankle while I washed dishes, and now calls my name every 5 minutes will turn 6 and then become so engulfed in her own doings that she will only check in with me from time to time?! I don't know if I believe that one. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pregnancy Brain

This was sent to me by one of my good friends who is also expecting. It's so funny how once you've been pregnant there is a certain humor only those who have shared in that experience can appreciate:)

Thanks db!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm convinced...

You don't really know how well behaved your kids are/or aren't until you take them out to a resturaunt.

Sunday was my mother's birthday so we decided to take her out to the Olive Garden. Oh, what a time we had!

My one year old wiggled and giggled in the high chair that was brought for her. She kept on trying to stand up, and we had to keep making her sit down. She wanted to grab whatever she could get within her reach (including a hot cup of tea!). She literally "whined and dined the entire time!"

I kept thinking, "Who is this? She seems to be so much more well behaved at home." Perhaps that's because she is in an enviornment where she is free to roam and play? I'm not sure, but my husband and I realized we needed to tighten up on our discipline with our one year old. In fact, her behavior made our two year old seemed like the "picture of obedience" that night.

I do remember having similar battles with out oldest daughter when she was about the same age, and God brought us through that time. I have used alot of information from a website called Raising Godly Tomatoes and have found it to be helpful. Are others familiar with that site? Has it been helpful for you? Do others have strategies for keeping the peace while dining with toddlers? I'm all ears!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our Silly Family Photo Shoot

We took these pictures a while ago when we first discovered all the cool features on this computer. I ran across these and was thinking that soon there will be another little face in our family photos!









Confessions of a Delinquent Blogger Mother

Okay, so I have a some confessions to make:

1. I have not written a blog post in about month.

2. I've quite often been utilizing television and dvds to entertain my children while I sleep.

3. I still haven't potty trained my 33 month old. In fact, I haven't even attempted in about a month. (it gets worse...)

4. I haven't cooked dinner for my family since....uuummmm...see, I can't even remember.

5. I've been on quite the emotional roller coaster (and what fun would that be if I didn't drag my poor husband along with me for the ride?;)

James wrote: "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed"(James 5:6).

So there you have it.

What would drive me to such behavior? I'm sure some of you seasoned parents have already guessed it...

YES!...WE'RE HAVING A BABY!

I have not had my first prenatal appointment just yet (a whole other story of delinquency). However, based on my calculations I should be between 10 and 11 weeks pregnant and due sometime in March. The nausea, fatigue, and the moodiness I've been feeling are not at all unique to this pregnancy. I pretty much felt this same way during the first trimesters of pregnancy with our girls. Thus, its hard to say if there are any tale-tell signs that this might be our first son or not!

How about you? Did your pregnancies differ based on the babies gender?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Coming Home Story-Meme

Did you go from this...



to this?:



In her book, The Way Home, Mary Pride writes:

"What can a woman who doesn't have an outside job write down as her occupation? Housewife? The word conjures up a dull creature with her hair in curlers, addicted to soap operas, and possessing barely enough intelligence to wash dishes. Homemaker? That sounds a little better-cheery ineffiency in a frilly apron and high heels. Homemakers are pretty white females who approach housekeeping with zest and enthusiasm-as a hobby. Homemakers are a decorative luxury only a few men can afford...

But to be a "Working wife" is a different story. What do you think of when a woman introduces herself to you as a "working wife?" Smart effiency in a $200 business suit? Paychecks? Prestige? In the battle of words, feminist have mined the harbor. Mrs. Frumpy Housewife can't hold her own against Ms. Savvy Workingwife."

When I was growing up, I thought about being many things: a singer, a lawyer, a psychologist. I even thought of joining that United States Air Force. Never, ever, did I see myself as a housewife! Like, the previous quote by Mary Pride, I saw being a housewife or being a Stay At Home Mom as one of the most degrading jobs for women. I always wanted to be a career woman. This was what I remember being taught to me. I remember comments such as, "You can't depend on a man...get your degree...travel...take care of yourself!" This was what success meant to me: Being a strong, black, educated, independent, woman. A husband, children, and certaintly did not staying at home fit into "my plan."

Oh, but I found that God had other plans! (doesn't he always?). I ended up falling in love with my best friend of whom I believed God confirmed was "the one." We ended up getting married two weeks before our graduation from undergraduate school. God blessed us to concieve our first child eight months after we were married. So, there I was, thinking I was on my way to a doctoral program, when I became faced with this huge, life altering decision to stay home with my baby or not!

To make a long story short, I will tell you that after much fighting, crying, confusion, questioning, reading, praying, counsel etc, etc I decided to give the whole "Stay at Home Mom" thing a try. I began to seek God's mindset on women, marriage, mothering, and homemaking. I began to have a change of heart. I renewed my mind with scriptures such as, "...they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed (Titus 2:4-5) and "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies...She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her" (Proverbs 31:10,27-28). Eventually, I began to have more peace about following my (I believe God-given) desires to be the primary caretaker of my children.

I would be lying if I told you that this was not the MOST difficult job or task I've ever done (including graduating from one of the most academically rigourous universtities in the U.S.) There have been times I would have traded in my mothering and household responsibilities for a 20-page research paper anyday!

Nevertheless, as I have grown, I realize that this work has eternal rewards! God has enrusted little souls to me that will live forever. My job is to take care of them naturally and to train them up in the way they should go, so when they are old they will not turn from it (Proverbs 22:6). I can't fanthom any greater or more important task for God to give me.

Were you a working mom who decided to come home? Or, have you always wanted to be a homemaker?

What's your coming home story? You can write it in the comments section if you don't have a blog.

For those who have a blog: This is my first meme meme ever! Here are the rules:

1)Answer the question: "What's you coming home story?" in a post on your blog.

2)Link your post back to this site.

3)Tag more people by posting their link in your post, and commenting on their blog and/or emailing them to let them know you tagged them.

I tag:

1. KAAH @www.homeschoolblogger.com/kaah
2. Katie @http://everydaylifeofahousewife.wordpress.com/
3. Molly @ http://counterculturalmom.blogspot.com/
4. Victoria @http://homeschoolblogger.com/victoriacarrington/

Thankful Thursday-My Summer Gig!




Today I am thankful for a great first week at my summer gig!

In case you haven't noticed, I haven't been blogging much in the past week or two. That's because there's alot going on over here! (I'll update you in due time;) As for today, I will tell you that part of my blogging absenteeism is a result of my starting a summer instructor position at the Chicago Freedom School on Monday. The Chicago Freedom School (CFS) is a non-profit organization that provides programming and fosters dialogue, coalition building, the study the work of past movements, and the understanding of current social problems between young people and adult allies. The Freedom Fellowship is a one-year program that features a summer institute that includes popular education courses and support for the development of an acition goal plan. "CFS defines popular education courses as those designed to allow youth to become more aware of how their own personal experiences are connected to larger social issues." I am facilitating a popular education course for 10 high school students on the relationship between racial and economic inequality and youth violence. I will meet with them for about 2 hours, twice a week, for four weeks this summer.

Here's a picture of me and some of the CFS staff being silly during orientation week:




Monday was my first "official" day facilitating the class. I have 10 bright and energetic freedom fellows in my class who are between 14-16 years old. We spent our first day getting to know each other better and setting the tone for our class. We made agreements as a class and watched two video clips on the issue. Soon we got right to business, engaging in a very thorough discussion about what has been going on in Chicago in terms of violence, why its happening, who its affecting, and what we can do about it.

As a young person, I was involved in alot of activites and programs similar to the Freedom Fellowship. I can't stress enough how invaluable the experiences and relationships I made during these programs were. They both helped to mold my outlook on society, myself, and my possibilities. Thus, the work I am doing at CFS very important to me. I hope to do, say, or be something that will cause these young people to think deeper and motivate them to go further than they may have gone before our interaction. I remember one of my favorite preachers saying some years ago, "You ought to cause someone to be something that they would not have been without an interaction with you!" -J.L. Jones

After leaving my full time employment to stay home with my first daughter, I was concerned that I would not have the opportunity to do anything "professional" until all my children were grown and out of the house! Neverthless, I let God know that my desire was not to be gone working a 40-hour plus job, but to spend the majority of my time raising my own chlldren and taking care of my household. Nevertheless, I told Him "It sure would be nice if I could somehow stay involved in the youth development/violence prevention field even though I am choosing to stay home." I'm so glad God honors those, "It sure would be nice..." prayers, don't you?

Not long after having my first daughter, God opened up the doors for me to start doing independent consulting. I have been able to do flexible jobs, in my field and volunteer at my convienence ever since! I am thankful to God for continuing to be so mindful of me, giving me the desires of my heart, and the ability to accomplish those desires!

"And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark 10:29-30).

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"Building your Life on Christ's Mission"

With all we have going on in our daily lives; work, family, friends, bills, hobbies, cleaning, travel, church, ministries, etc, its easy for us Christians to get a little sidetracked from time to time. This following message preached by my pastor, Bishop D. Rayford Bell, admonishes us to build our life on Christ's mission.

Jesus knew the purpose of his life. He came to seek and save the lost. After he died, rose, and sent back the holy ghost, he charged us to make that mission our own. When Jesus saved us he didn't just save us to go to heaven, but we have recieved the ministry of reconciliation. God has charged all of us to "go ye into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost."(Mattew 21:19).

Whenever you need a little reminder of your mission as a Christian, feel free to remind yourself by clicking on this powerful message! I know I will.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

"Bats"




Bats

Echolocation.
Two different kinds of bats.
Wonderful creatures.

Written by: Laila H.(9 yrs. old)





Bats are wonderful creatures.
Amazing mammals.
Terrific animals.
Scary-looking species.

Written by: Laila H.(9 yrs. old)

Genius in the making!

My nieces spent the night at our apartment last night. While they were with us, they decided to show off their literary ability.

Here's a taste:

I love my daddy

I love my daddy because he loves me.
I love my daddy because he’s sweet.
I love my daddy because he helps me.
I like me daddy because buys me stuff.

Written by: Alyssa H.(7 yrs. old)


Soon to come... "Bats" by:Laila H.

Thankful Thursday-Our Place




Whoa...Is it Thursday again already?

Well, this Thursday I must tell you that I had quite the praise going for the Lord this morning! With a husband, children, and many responsibilities, sometimes its difficult for me to concentrate during my morning prayer to the extent I would like.

Yet, today God allowed me to think back to last spring when my husband and I were looking for an apartment. We were residing on the Northside of Chicago in a one-bedroom apartment. However, we needed to move to the Southside so my honey could be closer to his new job. I was pregnant with baby #2 so we really needed another bedroom and we needed to pay less money! In addition to this, we wanted to be in an area where we would feel safe and that was populated mostly by families.

My husband put all of those request before the Lord (and I added in there that wanted new carpet and fairly new kitchen. The cabinets and appliances at our old apartment where so filthy from past tenets, I desired something newer that we could have the first crack at dirtying it up ;) So, My husband and I prayed and looked at many apartments for about 3 months and nothing seemed to work out. There was one landlord who seemed very kind, but had just rented the apartment we wanted to someone else. However, he told us that we seemed like nice people and because was important to him, when choosing tenets. He said he'd give us a call if something opened up in another one of his buildings. We were really disappointed that things didn't work out with him.

We continued to ask God to order our steps to the right place, and the whole situation was a really big faith test for us. Sometimes we'd stay up all night on online apartment hunts! We had to fight worry alot, especially after we didn't renew our lease and the date we need to move grew closer. God wanted us to trust him.

Soon after we got the victory over our fears and began to trust God to bless us, the landlord we liked called us back! We came to see another one of his apartments and it wasn't in very good shape at the time. However, the landlord let us know that he was in the process of doing a lot of work on it and we could come back to see it when it was closer to being finished. We were feeling that with the way everything worked out, God seemed to be behind this particular place. Needless, to say we took the apartment! We ended up in an area that fit our preferences, with an extra bedroom, brand new wall to wall carpet, fresh new paint in every room, and the best of all...a newly remodeled kitchen! Hallelujah! My faith in the Lord was strengthened yet again through that experience! He keeps on doing great things for me!

I'm reminded of Matthew 6:8:

"Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Girls are Back in Town!

My nieces are here visiting from Virginia for the summer. Although they've only been in town for about two weeks, they may very well have seen more of Chicago than I have all summer!

Here are some pictures of their recent undertakings:



On their way downtown via Chicago's "L" train.




More fun downtown Chicago.



Welcome to the Taste of Chicago!


Hubby and I plan to accompany my brother and nieces when they go to Taste of Chicago tomorrow night for the annual Indepednece Eve Fireworks! Attending the fireworks was always an annual tradition in my family since my brother and I were toddlers. As we have gotten older, and its been more difficult for my parents to get around, we haven't been as faithful. So, it will be nice to be together with our own children this year. What are some of your family traditions?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Five Reasons Why Mom Blogs Are the Blogs to Watch

Read an exciting article below to find out why Michelle Mitchell from Scribbit believes Mom Blogs are so "hot" right now! You can read the original article here.

If you read my first post, you will see why I blog and how my reasons are in alignment with Michelle's perspective. Are her ideas consistent with your reasons for blogging?

Five Reasons Why Mom Blogs Are the Blogs to Watch

In the Wall Street Journal’s April 10th issue Sue Shellenbarger interviewed Heather Armstrong (known to millions of fascinated fans as Dooce) and a gasp of surprise went up from print media around the country (even my hometown paper The Anchorage Daily News picked the article up off the AP wire).

But I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing surprising about Dooce’s super-stardom and in fact not only is it to be expected but other mom blogs are following in her wake. Mom blogs are poised to become the next big “It” when it comes to the internet–they’re gathering power like no other blogging niche and will only get bigger and better. Here’s why:

1. Moms can blog at home

You don’t need a PhD, an office or a small business loan to start up a blog and this especially appeals to mothers who are looking for ways to bring in extra income while they’re at home with their children. It’s a job that they can do while the kids are napping or away at school and allows women like me who have left the work force to raise a family to feel part of the tech age–always a benefit when your days are filled with diapers, dishes and drool.

Mom bloggers don’t have to leave their day jobs and they don’t have to make enough money to live off of–all they need is a little extra to pay for soccer lessons or a family vacation.

2. Moms need the sociality of the net

I couldn’t possibly count the number of days that I’ve spent without the live interaction of another adult (except maybe the clerk at the grocery store). Women want–no we crave and demand–social interaction and for those of us whose office is our home the internet and blogging opens up a new world of friendship, debate, learning and conversation. No longer do we have to pretend to hold conversations with Steve on Blues Clues just to talk to another adult, now we can blog. Women need to read about other moms’ struggles and disasters–it’s how we feel that maybe our own traumas aren’t so bad–and there are more and more moms daily that are discovering how the world of mom blogs helps them feel connected to other women.

3. Moms have a wealth of material to use

Tech blogs are just about technology, celebrity blogs are strictly about celebs but a mom blog could focus on parenting, protecting the environment, politics, crafts, food, homeschooling, gardening, household products, design, travel or just funny stories.

They’re usually written with an emotion and personality which connects with readers in ways that other niches often can’t and they speak about subjects that naturally carry strong emotions: home, family, marriage, children, the environment–all of which encourage dedicated readers. A blog about the latest techy gadget, while interesting, doesn’t carry the emotional weight that a post about home and family does. While other bloggers may sneer over moms posting stories about life with little ones and the oddities of every day life there have been plenty of writers from Erma Bombeck to Dave Barry to Jerry Seinfeld that have built careers on noticing life’s quirks and inconsistencies and mom blogs are cashing in on this.

4. Moms are record keepers

Blog means “web-log” and most blogs are started as online journals. Moms naturally tend to be the record keepers for their families whether it’s a newsletter, scrapbook or photo album and more and more women are turning to blogs as an easy way to keep their family’s diary. Staying in touch with Grandma, recording a child’s growth, these are the reasons women are turning to blogs and even though 99% of them will never see traffic outside of their family those who blog read other blogs. And who are they going to read? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not TechCrunch.

5. Mom blogs wield economic power

In Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point he writes of the importance of mavens–those who are trusted for their opinions and who pass along information on what products, services and ideas are the best–and mom blogs are the maven nesting grounds. Moms want to know which products work and which don’t; they want to give an opinion on what’s worked for them and share their experiences with others and advertisers are just beginning to discover this advertising pot of gold.

Because women are generally the buyers for their homes in everything from clothing to food to minivans mom blogs talk about things that can be bought and sold, products that can be promoted and services that most households need. Proctor and Gamble, Sony or General Electric can throw up their logos on PerezHilton and that might make them look rather hip but if they can get Dooce to say she liked their stuff that’s when the sales start rolling in. You’ve heard “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”? Well she who does the shopping then blogs about it rules the net.

Mom blogs are growing and it’s not going to be too long before Dooce stops being an anomaly in the blogosphere and becomes the matriarch of mom blogs everywhere.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I Believe!




clipped from www.cnn.com

Fact Box

The Urban Prep Creed
We believe.
We are the young men of Urban Prep.
We are college bound.
We are exceptional -- not because we say it, but because we work hard at it.
We will not falter in the face of any obstacle placed before us.
We are dedicated, committed and focused.
We never succumb to mediocrity, uncertainty or fear.
We never fail because we never give up.
We make no excuses.
We choose to live honestly, nonviolently and honorably.
We respect ourselves and, in doing so, respect all people.
We have a future for which we are accountable.
We have a responsibility to our families, community and world.
We are our brothers' keepers.
We believe in ourselves.
We believe in each other.
We believe in Urban Prep.
WE BELIEVE.
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This is the creed that the young men of Urban Prep, Chicago's first public charter academy for all men, recite together every morning before going off to class. The school was founded in 2002 in response to alarming realities and statistics concerning the state of young black men. Only 1 in 40 black males will finish college, and 50 percent will drop out of high school (CNN). If that wasn't enough, Chicago youth are facing gang and gun violence on a regular basis. Almost 30 Chicago Public School students have been killed by gun violence this year alone. Thus, Urban Prep's mission is to: "produce responsible, nonviolent, college-bound men"(CNN).

"Against all odds: School offers hope, opportunity for young men," is the title of the recent story done by CNN on the school. You can click here to view it.

Urban Prep is located in Englewood, one of Chicago's most violent neighborhoods. Not only did my husband and I attend high school there, but it is where my husband grew up. There has always been alot of talk about how terrible the area has become. Nevertheless, It’s more than refreshing to see people who are now doing more than just talking about the problems, but actually doing something to solve them.

My hubby has served as Urban Prep's Director of College and Community Partnerships since the fall of 2006 (I know...handsome and noble. I told you I had myself a keeper!). Consequently, I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know some of the young men. In addition, I have gotten a chance to witness first hand the way the faculty and staff at Urban Prep genuinely care about the young men. They go above and beyond the call of duty to make sure these young men succeed. I'm sure I am not alone in being proud of the work this school is doing! Go Urban Prep!

Do you believe? Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thankful Thursday-My Church Home




Iris over at Sting my Heart started a meme called Thankful Thursday. Here's what she has to say on it:

"Why be thankful on Thursdays? We tend to just give thanks on Thanksgiving; why not share your blessings on a weekly basis with us? You don’t have to participate every week; do it as often as you can. The road of life is hard, let us count our blessings as we travel this road…"

I completely agree with her, so I have decided to join in on the Thankful Thursday fun!

This week I must say that I am extremely thankful for my local church home. Last night, I attended the weekly bible class at my church and after about 3 minutes into the lesson, my husband and I turned to each other in amazement. We realized at the same time that our pastor was up there teaching on the very same issue we have been discussing and seeking God about for the past couple of weeks! This particular issue has been an area tied to many of our test and trials. Thus, my husband and I have been desperately trying to understand God's mind on the matter. We were thrilled to unsuspectedly attend our weekly bible study, only to find the answers to our questions coming right over the pulpit! Hallelujah!

I must tell you, this is only one of the many times something like this has happened for us as a result of attending the weekly meetings at our church. Actually, I was just discussing with some friends yesterday how I wasn't to enthusiastic about being a member there initially. Nevertheless, I have come to appreciate the teaching, the leadership, and the members there so much. I honestly, can't see how I would have made it this far in my Christian walk without it. God knew just what I needed when he ordered my path and saved my soul through the fruit of this ministry.

Go ahead. You can join in too! What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bringing me iced coffee...


...what a wonderful way to say, "I love you."

Yesterday was my first day back to what I would call my "normal" life. Last week was an exceptionally busy week. Besides the day I spent being present for the birth of my friends first child; I spent every other day at an orientation for a summer instructor position. Yes! You heard(read) me right!...My dream of designing and facilitating my own social justice class has finally come true! I will be leading a group of high school age students through a four-week course about the effects of social and economic inequality on youth violence. Obviously, the possiblities for this class are endless.

But, I digress. "Normal" life for me entails all of the classic highlights of mommydom: diapers, crying, correcting, dishes, vacuuming, dusting, folding etc. Certainly, one should not be expected to deal with such things without at least one good cup of coffee! Right?

Nevertheless, my coffee cravings were slight in the morning and began to grow as time went on. It wasn't until 1pm, when both of my little ones fell asleep, that the "itch" for iced coffee became really strong. Thus, I was torn between crawling in bed to catch up on my own sleep, or walking a few blocks to Dunkin Donuts for my sweet iced treat. Needless to say, as much as I love iced coffee drinks, after chasing after two toddlers all morning, the nap won.

After nap time, I cooked, picked up a bit, and then we were off to visit my brothers and my nieces who are in town for the summer. As day turned into evening and evening into night, I still yearned for my iced coffee. However, I found it hard to still away. At about 9pm as I traveled back home, I figured it was getting too late and gave up on any hope of getting my iced coffee delight.

Finally, after being home and working my my blog for about an hour and a half, in walks my hubby from choir rehearsal with a unexpected surprise: a hazlenut iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts! Not only did he get major points for bringing the cofee, but also because it was specially made just the way I like it: a little coffee to go with my cream and sugar! I hadn't told my hubby about my iced coffee craving. He just decided to take the opportunity to make a random and very sweet gesture of love. Well... It looks like I got myself a keeper!

When was the last time someone "made your day" by some small thoughtful act of kindness?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Saturday, June 21, 2008

She came, she saw, she conquered...















...the business of being born.

So you've been wondering where I've been eh? Well, among other things, I've been delivering babies!

On Thursday, June 19, 2008, my friend gave birth(naturally) to her first child! Notice the picture above of the handsome little fella. I had the pleasure of having a front row seat as I played the role of the "doula" during his birth.

I can admit openly (now that its all over) that I was a bit nervous about being in the delivery room with my friend and her husband for the birth of their first child. Although I have given birth to my own two little bundle of joys, neither were without the aid of an epidural. I have only felt contractions without any interventions until about 6cm dilated, so I knew I would have to search for more insight into natural birth if I was going to be of any help to my friend after that point.

Fortunatley, I felt much more prepared after finally viewing the The Business of Being Born documentary in its entirety(everyone should see this!). I prayed and asked God to make me a blessing to the expected parents and interestingly enough, I seemed to have a "knowing" that she would go into labor when she did, and everything I needed to happen to make me feel prepared seemed to have fallen into place by that time. God never ceases to amaze me!

When I arrived at the expected parents home at about 5am Thursday morning, my friend had already been in labor for about 5 hours. The expected dad and I worked to keep her comfy and encouraged for as long as we could at home, but when we begin to notice signs of her being in the transition stage of labor(vomiting, hot/cold flashes, and hicupps), we made our way to the hospital.

Now, I don't know how "normal" this behavior is for someone giving birth naturally, but my friend's goal was to have a birthing experience that felt calm and natural. She didn't want anything to interfere with her expereince that may cause her to feel as though she was in some type of "medical emergency." Hence, she trucked down 3 flights of stairs with no assistance, decided to forgoe the wheel chair they offered her as she came into the hospital, worked her way down a long hallway at 6 and 1/2 cenitmeters dilated to the room she would give birth in, requested a heburn lock instead of IV, and believe it or not, never raised her voice much higher than normal conversation tone. To say the least, the nurses, the midwives, and the hospital staff were amazed at her behavior. Silly me, what was I thinking? I should have tied a cape around her neck and put a gigantic "S" on it so people would not have mistaken her for someone else;)

The expected mom moved from 6 and 1/2 to 10cm dilated in about 3 hours and then it was time to push. At that point, she was very tired and wanted to know when all of this would be over! But, she pressed on with no drugs. After about an hour and a half of some very intense pushing the moment we all had been waiting for finally arrived. There was this little person, with ten little fingers and ten little toes! Both of the parents were elated and I think everyone in the room felt a host of emotions: relief, joy, love, wonderment, and admiration. Afterward, the new mom said her pain was minimal and that although there were times during the labor that she wouldn't have minded the good Lord taking her onto glory, natural birth was: "doable."

The proud mom said that prayer and having so much support really helped her. She found www.birthingnaturally.net to be a great resource. She also saw the Business of Being Born which I think made her and her husband even more determined about having a natural birth and gave them some ideas to make that possible in a hospital setting.

Seeing my friend give natural birth awakened my mind even more to the feasiblilty of it. In addition, I believe that there is something about that challenge that evokes a greater sense of value for the process of birthing and the life that enters the world as healthy as God designed for him/her to be as a result of the hard work done during that process. I'll leave you with these quotes on birth that reflect my sentiments on the the issue at this point:

"We've put birth in the same category with illness and disease and it's never belonged there. Birth is naturally safe, but we've allowed it to be taken over by the medical community."

-Carla Hartley, founder of Trust Birth and the Ancient Art Midwifery Institute

"...experiences have clearly shown that an approach which "de-medicalizes" birth, restores dignity and humanity to the process of childbirth, and returns control to the mother is also the safest approach."

-Michel Odent, MD

"We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong."

-Laura Stavoe Harm

Another friend of mine recently gave birth naturally and you can read her birth story at: www.babynumberthree.wordpress.com
Thanks to her and everyone who commented and shared their natural birth experience in the comments section of my "The Business of Being Born" post!

Do you have an interesting birth story? What helped you during labor and delivery? Please share your experience in the comments section, or type a link.