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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Timeless Glamour... now 15% off!

Check out the sale going on at Christa~Taylor!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Finding Mommy Support

moms and babies group

A friend wrote:
I was doing research for play-groups...and I came across Mocha Moms...I wanted you to view their website and possibly do a post on secular play-groups that have christian based values. After visiting the website I found that they have stay at home mothers who work from home, mompreneurs and moms who home-school; but all of them have decided to focus on the building of their home. They have educated women and women of varying socioeconomic backgrounds. I definitely saw a lot of the attributes of the virtuous woman. As you can see I am excited about it but I wanted you to look at it and tell me what you think.

Mocha Moms, Inc. is a support group for mothers of color who have chosen not to work full-time outside of the home in order to devote more time to their families and communities. Mocha Moms serves as an advocate for those mothers and encourages the spirit of community activism within its membership.

Although I am not a member of this group, I have considered joining it and/or others like it since I stopped working full-time in order to be the primary caretaker of my children and to devote more time to my family in general.

I think that the question above in very interesting, in that it raises the issue of being apart of a group that might not profess to be "Christian" but obviously supports ideas that are in alignment with Christian values, such Mocha Moms.

There are many things to consider in this situation. My mush brain caused a delay in my posting this, but here's my 2 cents:

Isolation Can Drive You Nuts!

Its no secret that having a shared-experience can help individuals create a bond with one another. In the workplace, even employees usually have an opportunity to talk, share ideas, and to bond around their work with the their co-workers. These types of interactions and bonds are the things that help "work" seem a little less like "work."

However, the STAHM is usually the sole adult at home working during the day. This level of isolation and can be very difficult to cope with day after day. Nevertheless, having time to connect ith other moms who are in the "thick" of motherhood can break up the monotony of diapers, dishes, and dusting!

Thus, being apart of a support system like Mocha Moms and/or other organizations like it, can serve as an outlet and an opportunity to combat some common downsides of isolated work: burnout, depression, and loneliness.

Being able to get out of the house and just go to the park, the library, or for a walk for a hour or so with another like--minded mom or group of moms can be rejuvenating!

Life is a Classroom...

...and it helps when classrooms have teachers!

I remember waking up about 3 months after resigning from my full-time employment in order to stay home with my newborn and having an "identity crises." "Who am I? What in the world am I doing here? Why would I ever quit my job? How can we afford to live on one income? What about all the blood, sweat, and tears I put into getting an education? Did I just throw that away? What should I be doing with my time?

Many of us desire to devote more of ourselves to our family, but don't have a real sense of what that looks like on the day-to-day. Moreover, for moms who have recently decided to take the plunge and quit their full-time employment to stay home, work seasonally, part-time, or from home, may be in a very uncomfortable and scary place!

However, not only does becoming a member of Mocha Moms and/or other organizations that open you up to a network of other women who are in the same place, but some of them may be "old pros" who have learned valuable skills related to finances, scheduling, health, cooking, hospitality that can empower you to be a better helper to your husband and mother to your children.

Also, being apart of a network like this can open up you mind to the endless possibilities of being a STAHM such as, starting home-based businesses, part-time work, homeschool, volunteer work, and other ideas that you may have never even thought about.

Eat the Meat and Spit Out Bones

Obviously, while Mocha Moms and many other groups like it do not profess to be "Christian" in their values, their values seem to be alignment with the biblical priorities for godly women that are described in the bible such as, Titus 2 and Proverbs 31. How do we navigate through a situation like this?

Personally, if I were to join a group like this for the support, I would still be prayerful and cautious and keep in mind my purpose for being there.

Although I may agree with most of the women there that staying home with my children is the best decision for my family, I may not agree with them on why it is best.

As a christian mom, I see my not working full-time as one decision I have made in efforts to fulfill God's calling on my life as a wife and mother. I believe that decision is supported by scripture (Titus 2, Proverbs 31). Nevertheless, I have to be aware that women stay home for other reasons that may be related to religious beliefs, upbringing, cultural norms, race, political views, and socio-economic status.

As a result, while we may agree on some priorities, we may completely disagree on other areas such as, child-rearing, media, politics, marriage etc. I think its unrealistic to think that those beliefs and values may not also be expressed and/or promoted in the conversation, speakers, and/or activities that the group may offer.

As a christian, I have to ask "Are there ungodly messages that may be influencing me(ex: another wife's disrespect toward her husband) and/or my children (ex: another child's disobedient spirit) in a negative way?

Remember that Seasons Change

It is important to find out the financial and the time commitment that joining a group like this calls for. There are usually membership dues and outings and activities may mean planning and/or committee work for you in the future. Keep in mind that seasons of life change, and that the level of involvement you are comfortable with at one point, may completely change somewhere down the line.

I have done both unpaid and paid work and have volunteered in different capacities since leaving my full-time employment to be a STAHM. Nevertheless, what seemed like a good idea and went very smoothly when I wasn't pregnant, became quite challenging for me to maintain during the times I was pregnant.

That is mainly because when I'm pregnant, even taking a shower seems like a daunting task. So you can imagine about how much enthusiasm I have for paid, unpaid, or any kind of work at all, during that time!

One should consider these kinds of life changes as well before making a commitment to being apart of a group like this.

Finally, whether or not someone joins a formal STAHM support group or not, having the encouragement, empathy, understanding, and insight of other women who are on the same path is an invaluable component to our success as homemakers!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mush Brain

Tiffany wrote:

I'm still here!

Haven't commented lately because my brain is mush right now, but I'm still reading:)

That makes two of us.

You see, I've been writing the same blog post for about a week now, and have yet to post it. I can't quite seem to get my thoughts together. I try and try to no avail.

After reading Tiffany's post and her reason for not commenting lately, I concluded that we are suffering from the same condition: mush brain.

Let's try for a definition, shall we?

Mush Brain: A condition in which, despite sincere effort, one fails to convey thoughts, ideas, and/or sentiments in a way that can be understood by another individual.

I usually suffer from mush brain when I'm expecting a baby. Tiffany is expecting. That explains her mush brain. But, I am not. So, that doesn't even leave me with a good excuse.

Nevertheless, I'll continue to work on the post in hopes to complete it soon. Maybe tomorrow...maybe.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Truly, I'm Honored

Most bloggers use their 100th post as a reason to celebrate. However, seeing as how I somehow managed to completely lose track of when that happened, I'll celebrate the fact that I now have 50 Followers!

If you have a blog or read other blogs, you know that before Blogger introduced the Followers widget, there were 2 kinds of blog readers: Lurkers or Commenters.

Lurkers are folks who read your blog, but never commented. As a result, you never had any idea they were around.

On the other hand, Commenters made you aware of their presence by at least occasionally leaving a comment. Some did this more than others; however, any comments let one know that at least someone was still "with" them.

When there were only Lurkers and Commenters a blogger really didn't have a chance to know who was reading faithfully or who was even interested in reading occasionally. Oh, but then came the Followers feature!

"Do you have a favorite blog and want to let the author and readers know that you are a fan? Well now you can do that and more with the Blogger Following feature," explains the blogger help center.

The Followers feature allows readers, regardless of how often they read, a chance to say; "Hey! I've seen your blog and I like it!"

Some people just don't like to comment. As a result, the Followers application allows those would-be Lurkers a chance to say; "Hey! I may not be saying anything, but I'm with you!"

Thank you Blogger for the Followers Social Application. It means so much to be able to know that others are "with" me.

And, thank you Followers for "following" Virtuous Living. It brings me warm feelings of writing-inspiration to be able to look over and see you in my sidebar! (all 50 of you;)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

County Line Orchard~Hobart, IN

Apple picking and donut eating...need I say more?

Among other things, both contributed to the great time we had last weekend at the County Line Orchard!

We, along with my parents and our good friends the Grimes family, drove about an hour to visit the apple orchard in Hobart, Indiana. Although it was a bit chilly, we enjoyed everything from apple picking to riding the "moo choo" train!

Hubby and I took the kids to the same orchard last September and wanted to go back because there is plenty to enjoy! There is a kid's farm, a corn maze, wagon rides, live music, face painting, shopping, good food, and apple picking, of course! If you haven't visited an apple orchard like this before, I highly recommend it!

Below are some pictures for your viewing pleasure!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Raising Godly Tomatoes

Have you checked out Elizabeth Krueger's Raising Godly Tomatoes site?

I discovered it shortly after our first daughter turned one years old during a time that I was desperate for some advice on discipline!

The Raising Godly Tomatoes site and book offers parents a biblical approach to discipline and dealing with issues of the heart with our children. Kruegar writes in a no-nonsense, practical tone that allows parents to easily grasp her point and suggestions.

Soon after discovering the site, I employed the very practical techniques that are outlined and saw results right away! I have gone back to refer to the site on various occasions and have directed others to it.

Below is a short excerpt from the site.

7 Quick Steps to Toddler Obedience

Okay, now that you’ve pondered some underlying principles, and prepared yourself somewhat for the task of parenting, here’s the stripped down, shortcut method for teaching toddler obedience. If you have a toddler who is old enough to understand you, and who is capable of following your instructions, you can and should teach him to obey. In almost every case, the following general steps are all it takes:

1. Watch your child and notice when he is doing something you disapprove of. Each time this happens, stop what you are doing and call him over to you. Make EYE CONTACT.

2. Tell him clearly what you expect him to do or not to do. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN.

3. WATCH to see that your instructions are carried out.

4. Correct him (with some immediate, negative consequence like a firm “No”, or a small swat on the bottom) upon the FIRST refusal to obey. MEAN WHAT YOU SAY.

5. Direct your child to repeat what you asked him to do, correctly this time.

6. Repeat all of the above as many times as it takes, until the child obeys with a good attitude - one of cooperativeness and willingness to obey. OUTLAST him. This is mandatory.

7. Keep your child with you and watch him diligently, correcting every future misbehavior of any kind, in similar fashion. Be CONSISTENT.

Now those are the bare bones basics. I'm going to tell you many more things to help you along the way, but if you keep your toddler with you and follow these few short steps each time there is a conflict, you’ll be well on your way to success in no time. Always remember to encourage and enjoy your child whenever he is responding well to you and living as a godly child should.

But above all, my brethren,...let your yes be yes, and your no, no... - James 5:12

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Differences In Girls & Boys

Many are embracing what they believe to be the innate, God-given differences between boys and girls.

Dr. Meg Meeker is a mother of four and a pediatrician who is supporting parents and others who are interested in building a better understanding of those differences.

In her books, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know and Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons, Dr. Meeker uses clinical experience and data to present insight into the different needs of girls and boys and how parents can best address those needs.

On Family Life Today, Dr. Meeker spoke more specifically about boys. She explained that she asked the question, “Have they [boys] been victims of a war that has been fought culturally in the United States?” Are they sort of the casualties, in other words, of feminism?

She explains that with the feminist revolution, much of our focus has been put on girls, and boys are feeling marginalized. In fact, our school systems and society in general often devalue authentic "boyness." Boys are being misdiagnosed with learning disabilities, ADHD, and other behavioral and learning deficiencies as a result.

She argues,

....There is a real subtle sense in which we parents dislike boy activity. Boyness! It is not politically correct to let your five year old boy play with a squirt gun, or any kind of a gun, because he will be violent. But, if you allow him to play war-games, if you allow him to have sword fights, if you allow him to jump over couches…… We don’t want wild out of control violent boys! Of course not! But we have gone the other way. We want our boys to sit in classrooms and when the schools get budget cuts, what do they cut? P.E. ! When the boy acts up in class, what do they do? They keep him in from recess. YOU CAN’T DO THAT WITH A BOY! You must get him outside!...

Furthermore, Dr. Meeker suggest that as boys get older they differ in how they bond. Whereas girls tend to bond through talking, boys tend to bond through spending quality time doing physical activities. She says it is vital that boys have a relationship with their father and/or some male role-model from who they can see masculinity in action and then and internalize it.

I found Dr. Meeker's interview very interesting and I agree that there are innate, God-given differences between girls and boys. In fact, the broadcast made me think about what a difference having a father present makes in the lives of sons and daughters and how vital that relationship is! It is so sad that so many of us grow up without that.

As a mom, my prayer is that the Lord will continue to give my husband and I insight and wisdom as we are raising our children, when it comes to their gender-specific needs. I pray he will also help us know when we need to step-up or step-back as they mature and those needs change.

How has your family addressed this?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Plans Gone Wild

"Honey, 3 things...

First, please make sure you coordinate our family so they know what to do when church is over.
Next, make sure that you leave out of service early enough to nurse and dress the baby because I don't want him to be crying and fussy during the blessing.

Finally, please make sure everyone is ready to go as soon as they call for us. I want the baby's blessing to go smoothly."

This is the "talk" given to me by hubby before we left for church on Sunday. We had invited our extended family to stand with us as our pastor prayed for and said a special blessing for the baby directly after the service.

Hubby's "talk" was one of those "I want you to understand that I'm very serious about what I am saying to you. However, I am going to speak very slowly and choose my words and tone very carefully in order to make sure you don't feel as though I'm talking down to you" talks.

He does those "talks" pretty well and I always appreciate the effort.

I really had no problem with hubby's requests. I had thought about all those things. I had a plan.

I had even considered and included extra time for the archenemies of all that is orderly and harmonious: meltdowns, vomit, and poop.

I used Saturday night to prepare. I set out clothes, gave baths, brushed teeth, packed bags, and cooked for Sunday.

On Sunday morning, I fed everyone and made sure the grandparents, the great-grandparent, and the sibling we invited knew where to go and what to do. I worked my plan.

I left out of service in enough time to nurse and change the baby and to account for any unpredictable glitches.

It was almost time for the baby to be blessed. I was almost done preparing him when I realized that little Bella needed a change. But, it was cool: I had a plan.

I quickly whisked her away to the bathroom for a change. By the smell of her, I knew it was a pretty bad poop diaper. No problem, poop was accounted for in the plan.

As I tried to change her, I realized that her dress was actually stuck to her back by a layer of poop that extended from her bottom all the way to her neck. "How in the world?" I thought to myself.

I went into problem-solving mode. But, I didn't have an extra dress for her. I tried to improvise. But, my time was winding down. I couldn't think straight anymore.

I could hear the words of my husband's "talk" ringing in my mind. My palms started to sweat. My plan was no match for a mishap of this magnitude!

So, I did the only thing that was left for me to do. I prayed one of those quick and powerful "Lord, help me!" prayers and then I called my mother-in-law in the bathroom for back-up.

Thankfully, her brain and problem-solving skills where sharper than mine at that point. We cleaned Bella up and then my mother-in-law tied her gray camisole straps in knots so that it would look like a little dress on Bella. We covered it with a blue-jean jacket so no one would see the straps and then we went upstairs just in time enough for the blessing!

I'm not quite sure what the lesson was in all of this. However, I do believe I handled the situation better than I would have in the past. I mean really, I didn't even shed one tear! This is a sign of new levels of maturity on my part;)

Here are a few pictures of us after the baby blessing.

Bella has on her "custom-made" dress in this picture.

Noah and his godparents.

My mother-in-law and Noah.

My mom and Noah.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Pleated Poppy GIVEAWAY!!!!

Click here for a chance to win this very cute checkbook cover and more!

Standing Against The Schemes of The Devil

"...the bigger picture...has to do with this epic story that God is writing. 

He is a God of life, and when we cherish and value life, when we cherish and value children, we’re really standing against the schemes of the devil, who wants to cut off that next generation.

We’re being counter-cultural. We’re swimming upstream, and we’re saying, “'No, we want the baton of the gospel to be passed on intact to the generation to come, so that they can declare the goodness and the redeeming work and acts of God to the next generation.'”

~Nancy Leigh DeMoss in her interview with Carolyn McCulley, 9/4/09.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Being Busy and Getting Older

The past week has been SO busy. Among many other things, I had a birthday! 

I turned 27 on the 29th and yes...ahem... that means I am yet again, one giant step closer to 30!

The day began with delightful birthday wishes from hubby and my 2 favorite little ladies. Noelle and Bella literally jumped into my room with huge grins and shouted, "Happy Birthday Mommy!" That was a priceless moment.

Later that day, Hubby came home from work with cheesecake and white roses in hand. Everyone ate cake and then Hubby and I were off to a Fred Hammond concert and dinner at a Thai restaurant! 

I received quite a few calls from friends and family and the day was very special. Perhaps one of the most special aspects was hubby writing a version of the What I Love poem for me:) 

Here it is:

I love the way you walked into english class when we were 14.

I love to see you go crazy over things that smell good. 

I love the way you relentlessly care for my children.

I love your creamed spinach. 

I love it how you celebrate Christmas earlier and earlier every year.

I love your big pretty smile. 

I love it how you always order food that I wished I'd ordered at a restaurant.

I love how you are passionate about family. 

I love to hear you pray. 

I love the way you love me.

I love loving you.

~Happy Birthday