Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Four Years

December 19th, 2003

Four Years
Three Babies
Two Homes
One Grace Ann

Countless blessings.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Family

I just have to share some recent pictures of my beautiful family.

(Moses wasn't too happy in this picture)

Okay, not that recent, but here's some pictures of Grace at a stream with Grandma this summer.Grace and Grandma Sue

Moses likes to climb into the pantry to scrounge for food. I do feed him, honest.Isn't that cloth diaper so cute?!Grace playing her favorite game with Moses: Starving Orphans. Click on the picture to get a close up of her sign. Notice she doesn't want food or money, only "household things" so that she can furnish her hovel.

My awesome babywearing hubby. "Yeah, I'm crunchy."

Waiting for Papa to come home from work

The first picture of our newest member. Another button-nosed Mailly baby! What do you think, boy or girl? We decided to wait until birth to find out.

They love to read together.

My special candle lit for Matthias on October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Playing outside on a clear autumn day.

His new favorite thing - looking at airplanes.

Grace trying really hard to get Moses in his swing.

Richard and I were talking this morning about the blessing of children and how really rich we are. It's so true. These pictures remind me of my true wealth.
"A new born babe brings
Light to the cottage,
Warmth to the hearth,
And joy to the soul,
For wealth is family
And family is wealth."
~Irish Proverb

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Photo Contest Winner!

Simply Charlotte Mason, a website "dedicated to helping you homeschool your children using the Charlotte Mason method and wonderful philosophy of education", recently held their 2007 photo contest. There were several categories, all having to do with homeschooling in the Charlotte Mason method.

For those of you not familiar with the Charlotte Mason method of education, I'll give an overview. Charlotte Mason (1842–1923) was a British educator who invested her life in improving the quality of children’s education. She developed a philosophy of education that has been adapted to modern homeschooling by many parents. From the SCM website:

You can summarize Charlotte’s approach to education in three words. Charlotte believed that “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” By “atmosphere,” Charlotte spoke of the environment our children grow up in. She knew that the ideas that rule our lives, as parents, will have a profound impact on our children. “The child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives” (Vol. 2, p. 247).

By “discipline,” Charlotte emphasized the importance of training our children in good habits—habits that will serve them well as they grow. In fact, she likened good habits to railroad tracks that parents lay down and upon which the child may travel with ease into his adult life. Good habits are a powerful influence on our children and must play an important part in their education. “It rests with [the parent] to consider well the tracks over which the child should travel with profit and pleasure” (Vol. 1, p. 109).

By “life,” Charlotte wanted to remind us that “all the thought we offer to our children shall be living thought; no mere dry summaries of facts will do” (Vol. 2, p. 277). And the methods that Charlotte used presented each subject’s material as living ideas. Here is where the reading, writing, and arithmetic come in, along with all the other school subjects. But notice two important points: first, they are presented as living thoughts; and second, those school subjects occupy only one-third of the big picture of education.

Some of the key methods include using "living books" as opposed to dry, factual textbooks. Living books are usually written in a narrative style and really make the subject “come alive.”

(having a child tell back to you something he has just read, seen or heard) is also a core component to a Charlotte Mason education. The thinking process involved in putting
something into his own words is much more complex than simply having him fill in the blank on a test.

Charlotte also advocated short lessons for younger children to help train them in the habit of attention. Along with this should come a variety of subjects, alternating the quieter, concentration-intense subjects with the louder, less-concentration-intense subjects and those that allow for physical movement and exercise.

is the method Charlotte used to give practice in handwriting skills and to help a child absorb proper grammar and language usage. The child who copies short poems, scripture passages, hymns and segments of classic literature is at the same exposed to English literature at its finest.

Charlotte spent one afternoon per week with her students outside in the fields, meadows, and woodlands. This outdoor time is the setting for nature study. Children look carefully at the viariety of nature around them and write and draw what they observe in their own nature notebooks.

So there's a very brief primer on the Charlotte Mason method. There's really so much more to it! While I don't use CM exclusively, it certainly is a main component in our own homeschooling. So when Simply Charlotte Mason announced their photo contest, I eagerly submitted a few pictures of Grace. And wonder of wonders, one was chosen as the winner to the "Child with Book or Writing" category! Here it is:

I think it really is a great picture of how homeschooling is meant to be, and I'm very pleased to have had it chosen. I got a great free ebook out of the deal, too! So to see all the outstanding photos, go to the SCM Photo Contest. And while you're there, read more about the Charlotte Mason method if you're at all interested in homeschooling. It's great.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Snippets of Gratitude

"Nothing taken for granted;
everything received with gratitude;
everything passed on with grace."

~ G.K. Chesterton

1. New mercies every morning

2. Enough grace for today

3. Morning hugs from my husband and children

4. Walks with the kids on crisp autumn mornings

5. Seeing my little boy learning to love and enjoy books

6. Daily Light

7. Setting the clocks back and getting an extra hour of sleep in the morning

8. Kids eating cereal together and being silly and laughing

9. Grace giving up her stool for Moses to sit on

10. Cuddling and nursing Moses in the early morning

11. Sweet open-mouthed baby kisses

12. My unborn child, alive and moving inside me right now

13. Hot coffee in my favorite mug

14. The kids playing with balloons together

15. Grace playing "archaeologist" with cans of food, proving she is listening during school and even finds it interesting!

16. Flowers from my husband

17. Spending an afternoon with my mom and brothers

18. Rubbing feet with my husband in bed

19. Rocking my "baby" to sleep for his nap

20. A little voice calling out, "Mama, Mama".

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Thousand Gifts

I found this concept at Holy Experience. A list of gifts, written down one-by-one, each day, until I reach 1000. One thousand gifts that have been given to me. A way to open my own eyes to the amazing, incredible, everyday gifts that my Lord showers upon me moment by moment. A way to stir my heart in gratitude toward a Father who loves to give good gifts.

From Ann's post:
"As the moments slip down the hour glass of time, I am scratching down the gifts---just as they happen, as they arrive, as they are unwrapped---that He has given that make my life grace, the daily graces that He gives in an infinite number of ways, that stir me.

I am seeing things I have never seen before, attuned and aware of this constant, endless stream of gifts from His hand. I am one waking from slumber....from the stupor of indifference and ignorance. I have sight, fresh and keen---the world is new and full of His gifts."

"No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best...when in all gifts we find Him, then in Him we shall find all things." -George MacDonald

This is the season for lists. Consider beginning a list of a Thousand Gifts. It has changed me and changed how I look at each day. It has awakened me in new ways to how good God is. I am so, so thankful that He knows me and is a God who delights in giving unique, simple, beautiful, extravagant gifts just for me. How can He love me like that?

Lord, I am so grateful. Make me more so.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Picking Apples

Over the weekend, the kids and I went to Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard with our friends the Musgraves and some of their friends. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day, not too hot and not too cold. We all had tons of fun and picked a load of beautiful apples. Here's some pictures:

Moses in the apple bin.

Was that apple a little too sour, Moses?

Grace was a GREAT apple-picker. She shimmied up those trees to reach the best apples.

Relaxing and enjoying the "fruit" of her work.

Thankful for a beautiful day at the orchard.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Coffee Break

I thought this old ad was funny. "It coaxes cheerful spirits and clear-thinking for the rest of the day." I wish!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Love Fall


By William Cullen Bryant
AY, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath! When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief
And the year smiles as it draws near its death. Wind of the sunny south! oh, still delay
In the gay woods and in the golden air,
Like to a good old age released from care,
Journeying, in long serenity, away.

In such a bright, late quiet, would that I
Might wear out life like thee, 'mid bowers and brooks

And dearer yet, the sunshine of kind looks,
And music of kind voices ever nigh;
And when my last sand twinkled in the glass,
Pass silently from men, as thou dost pass.

Monday, October 15, 2007

October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Many of you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month (How can you miss all the pink?? I actually saw pink ribbon-shaped bagels being sold at Panera!) October is also the month set aside for a different kind of awareness. In a 1988 Presidential Proclamation, President Reagan officially made October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the U.S. end in miscarriage, stillbirth or the death of the newborn child. National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members on work to prevent causes of these problems.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 314, has designated the month of October, as "Pregnancy and
Infant Loss Awareness Month" and authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this month.

NOW, THEREFORE, I RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

More recently, (on September 28, 2006), House Resolution # 222 was passed in the House of Representatives supporting the goals and ideals of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

Whereas each year, approximately one million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of a newborn baby;
Whereas it is a great tragedy to lose the life of a child;

Whereas even the shortest lives are still valuable, and the grief of those who mourn the loss of these lives should not be trivialized;

Whereas during the past 3 years, Governors of all 50 States have signed proclamations designating October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day;

Whereas the observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day may provide validation to those who have suffered a loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, or other complications;

Whereas recognizing Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day would enable the people of the United States to consider how, as individuals and communities, they can meet the needs of bereaved mothers, fathers, and family members, and work to prevent the causes of these deaths; and
Whereas October 15th of each year is an appropriate day to observe National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the Congress—

(1) supports the goals and ideals of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss remembrance Day; and
(2) requests that the President issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe such day with appropriate programs and activities.

President Bush has also issued a letter to those observing this day. You can view it here:
President Bush's Letter.

The goal of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is to promote awareness and compassion for families who are grieving the loss of a child through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, and neonatal death, and to provide these families with a special day to remember their precious children.
I think many women who have experienced this kind of loss feel theirs is a "silent grief", one that they are expected to "get over" much sooner than if they had lost an older child or a spouse, for example. So I see October 15th as being a day for this grief to be recognized and these children remembered as precious and valuable.

To read more about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, visit
Remembering Our Babies and Pregnancy Loss Info.

"Because EVERY life, even the tiniest and shortest lived deserves to be acknowledged and remembered. The parents of these children never forget, we would just like one day of the year for everyone else to remember then too."

So today I remember my baby Matthias, and the other sweet babies I know who are in Heaven, and I thank God for their precious lives. Among all the joys of Heaven will be the joy of being reunited with these children.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Couple More Diaper Facts

I wanted to add a few more things about CLOTH DIAPERS. To be fair, I have to add a couple more CONS, just so I don't seem too biased. But I am biased, of course.

•Many babies who wear cloth diapers potty train sooner!
Cloth diapers do not have a chemical gel to absorb wetness, so babies can feel the wetness and will be more uncomfortable wearing a wet diaper. Many times this helps a toddler become more motivated to use the toilet, and helps him associate the wet feeling with going potty. Yeah for less time in diapers!

• Most baby clothes these days are NOT cut to fit over a cloth diaper, which is going to be bulkier than a 'sposie. Even the really nice, trim cloth diapers by necessity have to be bigger than a disposable, because they're using cloth to absorb instead of chemicals. So those tiny little cargo pants for your 3 month old probably wont fit. As your baby grows and the clothes get bigger, this will be less of a problem. In my experience, I needed something stretchy to wear on the bottom half for about the first 9 months, and then I was able to find jeans and khaki pants that fit. That's about how long it took to find pants to fit Moses, too. :)

• There are so many cool, cute, fun kinds of cloth diapers, that you may find yourself "needing" a huge stash of diapers that ends up costing as much as disposables. This is a common problem among cloth diaperers. The good news is that even if you spend as much, they're still better for your baby than disposables, and they have GREAT resale value. Seems odd, but it's true. People will pay good money for your used cloth diapers.

If I think of any more, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Weeping With Those Who Weep

It's difficult to know how best to love and serve someone who has lost a baby. Even I struggle with "what should I say?" So I wanted to list a few ways we can support grieving families:

• Say, "I'm so sorry. I'm very sad for your loss. I am praying for you." Those simple words go a long way in bringing comfort to a broken heart. You don't have to say words of deep, theological wisdom about the sovereignty of God and His purposes in suffering in order to love and comfort grieving parents. Simple truths, like "My heart is breaking with yours, and I know that God is loving you and holding you right now" can be just what they need to hear.

• Be supportive. Say, "I want to help. What can I do for you?" Many times the everyday tasks of life are too much for grieving parents to handle, so make a meal, babysit their other children, go grocery shopping for them.

• Be available. Say, "I'm here for you. I'll listen as long as you want to talk. I have plenty of time." When you ask how they're doing, really mean it and be willing to listen. Being able to honestly talk to someone about the death of their baby can be very healing and comforting, so don't shy away from asking. However, don't prod if they're not ready to talk yet. Just consistently let them know you're available.

• Touch and hug the grieving parents. They need the physical assurance of your love and support.

• Remember that grieving fathers need as much (although in some ways different) support as mothers.

• Ask about their child and allow them to talk about him or her. Don't think that by avoiding mentioning their baby it will ease their pain. Thoughts of their child are always on their minds, and letting them know you remember is comforting. If the baby had a name, use it. One woman said that hearing others speak her child's name was like music to her aching heart. They want to know that others are thinking of and missing their child, too.

• Understand that the length of time a baby is carried or the amount of time a child lives does not diminish the pain and sense of loss the parents experience. The preborn or newly-born baby who dies is as significant a person as any other child or adult, and the grieving parents feel that acutely. They love their baby as a special, precious human being, thought up and knit together by God and known before time.

• Allow parents to grieve. It is a long process that doesn't end as soon as the funeral is over. Losing a child is a tremendous loss, and parents need to be able to feel the pain of it and have time to work through it. Don't try to "help them get over it" or "make them feel better".
That is not to say that there is no place for words of encouragement, comfort and hope! Just let those words be mingled with the tears. We are sorrowful yet rejoicing, grieving yet with hope.

• Remember anniversaries and holidays. Mother's Day and Father's Day are never the same for bereaved parents, especially the first one after the death of a child, even if it's 11 months later. If the baby died very early, his or her predicted due date can be a very difficult time. Remember the yearly anniversary of the baby's birth and death, and even the first few monthly anniversaries, with a phone call or card. These days are full of tears - though mingled with love and joy - and to know that others are thinking of you and your child on these days does much to ease the pain.

• Finally, remember that God uses His Church as a means of bringing comfort to those who are suffering. Paul says that we are comforted by God, "so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." Your support, love and involvement during this time will be a blessing God uses in the lives of His suffering people. He will use you!

This is something we have experienced this first hand. The outpouring of love we received from the saints after we lost Matthias was a great comfort and strengthened our faith when we were "in the fire". Our mailbox contained cards full of words of love and comfort for weeks and weeks. I am so grateful for all of you!

More resources and information can be found through the links on the side bar.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cloth is Cool

September has been a busy month here, with getting back into the swing of school, co-ops, field trips, golf lessons, choir... but I'm so glad fall is here! I love autumn and wouldn't mind if it lasted 4 months of the year!

I wanted to post a little something about cloth diapers. I have a few friends who recently started their journey into cloth diapering and a couple others who have expressed interest. Well, maybe interest is too strong of a word. Perhaps it was more like morbid curiosity. But yeah, I really do love cloth diapers. A few of my reasons are as follows:

1. COST -
Yes, I will admit that this is the #1 reason for us using cloth diapers. The savings are really, really huge. I mean huge. I've read several different sources that have figured the cost of cloth vs disposable, and while the amount varies, it is always a big chunk of money. So far I've spent a grand total of $420.90* to diaper Moses. He is now almost 15 months old and he may or may not need one more batch of toddler-size diapers before he potty trains (about 2 dozen). That will run about $40.00/doz new from an online store, or $30.00/doz new from eBay. So add $60-$80 and our grand total for diapering one child is $480-$500*. Now figure in that I'll be reusing all these diapers once our new baby is born, and the cost is now only $240-$250* per child! (Feel free to email me if you want to see an itemized list of my costs). The only downfall is the initial up-front investment is a lot with cloth. At least with disposables, the cost gets divided up over the years, whereas you'll have to drop a chunk of money all at once with cloth. However, it certainly pays in the long run!

*This doesn't include the cost of laundering and detergent, because I have no idea how to figure that. It's probably between $100 and $200 a year, give or take. Even with those costs added in, we've still only spent a fraction of what it would have cost to use disposables. The figures I've seen put the cost of using disposables for 2 years between $1,200 - $2,000. And of course not every kid potty trains at 2, so it can be much more. So the cost of cloth is pretty cool.

Here's some links showing cost comparison of cloth vs disposables:

Diaper Pin Cost Calculator
Very Baby Dollars and Sense
Do Cloth Diapers Seem Too Expensive?
Cloth Diaper Review
Save Thousands of Dollars with Cloth
Diaper Decisions
The True Cost of Diapering: More Than Money

The health benefits play a big role in our decision to use cloth. Because diapers are in contact with your baby's skin pretty much 24/7 for at least 2 years, and because they're covering such a sensitive area, it's probably a good idea to know what's in them! Here's some info from the Real Diaper Association:

Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical, listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S.

Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) - a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.

Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. A similar substance had been used in super-absorbancy tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome.

In May 2000, the Archives of Disease in Childhood published research showing that scrotal temperature is increased in boys wearing disposable diapers, and that prolonged use of disposable diapers will blunt or completely abolish the physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for normal spermatogenesis.

(Sources for this information are listed on their website).

No studies have been done on the long-term affects of these chemicals being in constant contact with a baby's skin (and reproductive organs) for several years. That's scary!

Having a little boy, I'm especially concerned about the link between disposable diapers and increased infertility in men:

Pediatric Updates: Diapers & Infertility?
In boys, the scrotal sac is marvelously designed to maintain the testicles within a narrow temperature range, just below normal body temperature. When it is cold out, the sac constricts and draws the testicles close to the body for warmth; when hot, the sac is loose to keep them cooler.

When an undescended testicle is left untreated (especially beyond a year), its higher temperature causes an increasing risk down the road of infertility and testicular cancer.

Here’s the news -- disposable, plastic-lined diapers keep testicles hotter than core body temperature (and as much as 1.8 degrees F higher than testicles in cloth diapers)! The October 2000 issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood speculates that perhaps the significant rise in male infertility over the last 25 years is due to the widespread use of diapers that keep kids too warm. This has certainly not been proven, but time will tell. For now, the reasoning makes a lot of sense to me.
Dr. Alan Greene MD FAAP

Diaper rash is also more common in babies wearing disposables. Here's a quote from an article entitled "DIAPERS! DISPOSABLE OR COTTON?",

"Widespread diaper rash is a fairly new phenomenon that surfaced along with disposable diapers. Reasons for more rashes include allergies to chemicals, lack of air, higher temperatures because plastic retains body heat, and babies are probably changed less often because they feel dry when wet."

Here's some great articles on the health concerns involved with disposable diapers. If you read nothing else, please read some of these!

An Apple a Day
Diaper Rash: Comparing Diaper Choices
Are Disposable Diapers Dangerous?
Health Concerns of Disposable Diapers
Cloth Diapers and Your Child's Health

Disposable Diapers Linked to Asthma

I'm not what I would consider "green". I don't drive a hybrid car or use solar power in my home. However, I do take seriously God's command to be good stewards of the earth, so this is of some importance to me. "Reusing" instead of "disposing" seems to be a good idea in many cases. We don't eat off paper plates (much). We use cloth napkins instead of paper. I don't stock my diaper bag with those handy disposable bibs and changing pads. We use washable cloth toilet paper (JUST KIDDING!!) But seriously, cloth wins in this department. Here's some of my concerns:

A study prepared by The Landbank Consultancy for The Women's Environmental Network shows that single-use diapers use 3.5 times as much energy, 8 times as much non-regenerable raw materials, and 90 times as much renewable material as cloth diapers.
(The Landbank Consultancy Limited, "A Review of Proctor & Gamble's Environmental Balances for Disposable and Re-usable Nappies" July 1991)

The fact that landfills are being filled with billions of plastic diapers that don't fully (if ever) biodegrade is not a happy thought. Then add in this fact: All disposable diapers in landfills are supposed to be free from solid waste! Read the small print on your package of diapers. It instructs you to rinse the diaper and dispose of the fecal matter in the toilet before throwing the diaper away!! Sending human waste to the landfill is a violation of the World Health Organization standards. This is raw sewage, a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, being left untreated and posing a serious risk of contaminating groundwater. Poop is needs to go to sewage treatment plants. So do you rinse out your diapers before you toss them? I know I never did!

Here's a couple of articles that look at the environmental issues:

An Apple a Day
Real Diaper Facts
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS: What Do They Mean For You and Your Baby?

Yeah, I know, not the greatest reason, but it's true. They are so cute. I just love putting soft, poofy, fluffiness on my baby's cute little behind. I mean, look at some of these diapers!

Wouldn't you want to put your baby in one of these??

Some Final Thoughts -

The convenience factor: I will be the first to admit that cloth diapers are NOT as convenient as disposables. And in a culture where convenience is the #1 thing everyone wants and is willing to pay up the wazoo for, that's a definite downfall for cloth. However, I think it's important to look at the real of this convenience. Yes, disposable diapers are easy. But toll on your budget, the health risks and the questionable stewardship of resources make me view the inconvenience of cloth as minor in comparison. I've decided that I don't mind having to change diapers more often because it means healthier skin for my baby. I don't mind rinsing poopy diapers out in the toilet, because now my conscience would make me do that with disposables as well! Plus, with today's technology, cloth diapers are easier than ever to use. My diapers don't leak or smell yucky. I have a diapering "system" that works great and really is not a burden for me. I'd be happy to explain it (or demonstrate it) to anyone who's interested.

Check out "These Ain't Your Grandma's Cloth Diapers", "Cloth Diapering: Simple and Sweet!" and "The Top 10 Cloth Diaper Myths" if you're not convinced.

If you want more info, I've listed some great resources on the side bar. There's a lot of time and research that goes into switching from disposable to cloth, so if you're interested but feel overwhelmed, I'd love to help in any way I can!

Happy Diapering!