Monday, May 18, 2015

Template of my weekly to-do list

For those who might benefit from it, I wanted to share my system for staying on top of things from week to week (or at least trying my hardest to). This current system has been in use for several years now, though it has evolved during that time as my needs changed.

The basic framework for my to-do list is the same each week. Rather than writing down everything by hand, I made up a blank template, to fill in each week as necessary. Since I typically finish up loose ends and plan the week ahead on Sundays, my schedule runs Monday - Sunday.

Today, I am sharing that basic template. You should be able to download the file to your own computer, and edit it in Microsoft Word to suit your own needs, if you wish. You can find the template here.

This system works very well for me, because errands or meals that didn't get done one week, get transferred to next, and I am reminded of them as I do so. The list is small enough to keep on my counter during the day, and in my purse while out and about. 

I know you are curious to take a peek at this list in action, right? Here is this week's list. And yes, the paper was fresh and crisp just yesterday, but has seen much use already in the last 24 hours, and it shows. Which, by the way, is the reason why I use new sheets each week, rather than a notebook or planner - they would never stand up to extended use. Not to mention they are too bulky to double as shopping lists etc.

How's that for a candid peek at my life?? Some comments:

- The meal plan is not yet fully filled in, because I add to it throughout the week as I see what needs to be  used or what I feel like making. 

- The to-do and shopping lists are looking a little overwhelming already this week, but I often combine a lot of errands into one day, or stop at just one of those stores while already out and about. Or ask my husband to take a store off my hands, like tomorrow when I will ask him to stop at TJ's after he takes the kids to P.E.

- For my shopping list, if an item is sold at multiple stores, I add it to each of those lists, and buy it at whichever one I go to first. Quick shout-out to Costco: our store just started carrying organic beef kielbasa. Oh joy!!! And while we are on the subject, Whole Foods just started selling organic ground pork for $7/lb. Finding organic pork is exciting in and of itself, but that is a very good price to boot. 

- On the "things going on this week," I do not list stuff we do weekly, like the kids' P.E. and piano lessons - just extracurricular stuff that I need to be reminded of. I use this in conjunction with Google calendar, where I keep track of every single event for my husband, myself, and the kids.

Some of you may find your name on my list - you know who you are! :)

Running a family and helping our husbands is a huge job. Keeping all the plates spinning can become overwhelming, but this helps me, and I hope it helps you, too. 

Okay, off to work down that list now!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Copycat Recipes for Essential Oil blends

Below is a document I found online some time ago with a long list of copycat recipes of popular essential oil blends. I cannot now find the source of this document. To keep it from getting lost, I am sharing it on here.

I have tried several of the blends, and found them to be very much like the originals they aim to copy. I use and buy mostly Eden's Garden essential oils, and make my own blends with them.

CLICK HERE to access the file in Google Drive.

PT stands for Plant Therapy
YL stands for Young Living
DT stands for DoTerra

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Marching to Zion Full Movie on YouTube

The full version of Marching to Zion has just been released on YouTube for free viewing!!

Please watch and share this important documentary.

To purchase the DVD, please CLICK HERE.

Boaz turns One

Baby Boaz turned the Big One last Wednesday. It is just crazy how time flies! Here are some fun facts about Boaz:

- He only has two teeth - his top two incisors - which he sprouted just a couple of weeks before his birthday. They look huge in his mouth, and are very cute. 

- He does not walk yet, and I am no hurry for him to start. He does stand and cruise along the furniture, though.

- He has several words. The cutest of these is when Dad walks in, and he says "Hi!" in his chipper little voice. 

- Of all our kids, he has been the worst sleeper. Last month, he would wake up every night around 3 a.m., and want to play with me for an hour or two (giggling, climbing over me, slapping me - you get the picture). Finally, I made a roller bottle of the "Serenity" essential oil blend in some carrier oil. When he wakes up to nurse at 3 a.m., I immediately roll it on the soles of his feet, and he goes back to sleep after nursing without a fuss. Last night, the roller bottle was lost, and he was up "playing" with me for half an hour. Five minutes after I found the oil and applied it, he was happily asleep. Definitely a sanity saver!!

- Nap times are a similar story - he'll sleep in bed for half an hour, then be up and crabby. Or he'll sleep in the swing for about 3 hours, and wake up happy. So I usually put him in the swing to nap, and we all live happily ever after.

Our gift to him was a sand and water table, which was a huge hit not just with him, but all of the younger kids as well. I didn't anticipate the mess it would make on our front porch, though. Going forward, I think it will be converted into a water only table. 
It was important to me to visit the memorial garden where we buried Boaz' twin brother, Jachin, who passed away midway through the pregnancy but was born on the same day. Boaz thought the vase for holding the flowers was a great toy, and treated it just like his water table. It was all I could do to keep him from ripping the flowers out again and again.

For cake, I whipped up a jelly roll right before church, which we filled and ate after we got home from the service. It was a bit late by then, but Boaz certainly enjoyed it.

Boaz is such a sweet blessing in our lives, and we are beyond thankful for him. I am excited to see the plans God has in store for him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A glimpse into today

The kids and I finally finished putting the garden in - yay! We are only growing a handful of fail-proof, heat resistant crops - cukes and zukes, some basil, a couple of melons. Hopefully, we will be able to harvest a crop. Some years, we do. Other years - not at all. This spring/summer has been the mildest, coolest, and rainiest we have ever seen here, and many others have told me the same.  I am hopeful God is changing the climate in our neck of the woods on a macro level, and this desert will soon be lush and green all the time! :)

I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
(Isa 41:18)

In other news, our cat Ninja is in labor today. The kids are pretty stoked, and did not want to go to P.E. this morning lest they miss the birth. Of course, I still sent all of them, because I figure it will take a while yet and I enjoy those 2+ hours of complete silence each week while their Dad takes them. I did let Becky stay home because she is our "cat lady," and was ***so*** wanting to be here in case the kittens came this morning.

Lately, now that he is getting to be so big, even Boaz has been going to P.E. Can you believe he is going to be 1 tomorrow?? How did that happen? If the weather holds, we will be going peach picking for his birthday. If it's hot again, maybe we'll do the lake instead. 

Well, all the kids are growing up. One of the things we want to do in the next few months while we discontinue most school work is to hone their cooking skills. The older boys are comfortable making a number of dishes, but the girls are just starting. It would be nice to completely pass off the cooking to a team of able and willing budding chefs! 

I found this book at my local bookstore, Changing Hands, and cannot recommend it enough. Not as crazy zany as some kids cookbooks (which I find distracting and confusing), but with clear, illustrated, step-by-step directions that help the visual learners or those that are still learning to read.

Even just by reading through them, I can tell the recipes are delicious. It's like Pioneer Woman for kids! BTW, if you have connections to her (as I doubt she read here...) - can you put in a request to her to make a kids' cookbook? Please??

Just in the last 24 hours, the oldest five kids have marked up the book with recipes they want to try, and Miriam made dessert last night, and Isaac breakfast this morning. 

When I went online to leave a positive review on Amazon, it said the book has not yet been released, so I'm not sure why my bookstore already had it on the shelf. However, it's coming out in just a couple of days everywhere else. If you need a gift, or have been looking for a kids' cookbook, you will love this one! 

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cute and Covered Modest Swimwear Fashion

After a couple of very busy weeks, with lots of help from a few great friends who were certainly put to the test during this time, I am EXCITED to announce the launch of my new online store, Cute and Covered Modest Swimwear Fashion.

What started out as an idea to start selling my custom-designed swimdress patterns online has sort of taken on a life of its own that I had not anticipated. 

If you are looking for a beautiful, fashionable, yet modest swimwear alternative, please stop by Cute and Covered and take a look around. 

And stay tuned for an exciting giveaway in the coming days!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reminder: Live Q & A this afternoon!

This time, I ask that you send in your questions either through the comments section in the live stream, or by texting them to a number I will announce at the beginning of the event.

(Note: This number will not have any call-in capabilities. It is being set up for texting in only, for this event. It is not my cell phone number.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sneak Peek on my little enterprise

A couple of weeks ago, the girls and I went shopping for material for the swim dresses I sew them every couple of years (see here and here). 

Each time I make the swim dresses, I have to make up the largest of the patterns from scratch for Miriam, who is the oldest. The patterns I have made her in years past still work for the younger girls. 

For years, I have been wanting to make these patterns available to others, as I get asked about them quite frequently. Not to mention, if I had the pattern designed once and for all in all sizes, it would save me much time and effort down the road.

With all that in mind, I set about starting a new little venture of selling my patterns online. I am hoping to have it all up and running, ready to take orders by next week. In the meantime, I just wanted to give you all a heads-up why I will not be blogging much in the coming days. 

This is just a little prototype pattern in its envelope. In all, three multi-size patterns will be available, for ladies, girls, and toddlers.

Stay tuned for the official launch! :) I'll have to think of a fun giveaway.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Upcoming Live Q & A

For those of you who enjoy the live Q and A sessions I do every few months, I am excited to announce another one! It will be streamed live next Wednesday afternoon, April 22nd, starting at 2 p.m. MST.

This time, I ask that you please submit your questions primarily through the chat feature on the video, as I did not get around to answering any of the live questions last time.

If you have a pressing question, but will not be able to tune in next week, please leave it in the comments below. I will try to answer it, but will give priority to those coming in during the live stream.

Below are my previous Q and A sessions:

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Our Easter

We had a lovely Easter celebration last week.

To make our Sunday less hectic, we had the big ham dinner on Saturday night. This also provided plenty of leftovers for Sunday's lunch, without the hassle of having to cook at all.

For Sunday breakfast, I made hot cross buns the night before, which we served with hot cocoa.

Some of the buns I made into "bun-nies" (thank you, Pinterest), which was particularly popular with the younger kids.

For gifts, we continued the tradition of new dresses for the girls, and swim clothes for the boys.

I love this little dude! He is so precious!! 

In addition, all children received new towels, so they could better keep track of them when they go swimming each day. I made these on my wonderful new embroidery machine. The kids decided that since the towels were so nice, they wanted to keep these as their "bathroom" towels, and keep using last year's beach towels when they go in the pool.

I'd like to say this officially opened the swimming season for us, but with Easter coming so late this year, it didn't. The boys have been going swimming every day for about a month now.

The girlies were all sweet and beautiful in their new dresses. I love having daughters! They are so precious to us.

Our church had a new record attendance of 172 that morning, which meant ice cream for all after the service. We also had a baptism.

It was a great day, and full of wonderful memories. And ham. Ah!


P.S. Here is a video for all the "Easter is pagan" folks that might be reading this:

Of course, you are free to disagree - I just really don't wan to hear the arguments from that camp again because it gets old.

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. (Romans 14:5)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jury Nullification

The info in this short video is so vital to our liberties, and to putting an end to judicial tyranny. Yet the vast majority of Americans do not know this.

If you are on a jury, and even if the defendant is clearly guilty of breaking a law, you as a juror can still say "Not guilty" if you think the law is unjust, and does not serve justice. For example, just because the government passes a law that we cannot breathe, you as the juror can rule "not guilty," and the defendant walks free in spite of clearly breaking the (unjust) law. This safeguard was intended to keep an abusive government from enforcing wicked laws. While my example is extreme, what about unjust laws that do affect us, such as in the areas of taxes, activism, preaching/soulwinning, raising our children, etc.

Then there are laws regarding things that are wrong, but should not be up to the government to punish, such as drugs, etc. It is NOT the government's job to punish every sin, or else we would all be in prison - which pretty much is the stated goal of our government at this point.

Personally, my rule is (and should be that of anyone): No victim, no crime. By that standard, 90% of convictions in this country would not stand.

Jurors, know your power!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Birth Hypocrisy

If there is one thing those of us in the natural/home birth community (dare I say, movement?) hear over and over and over again, it is:

The most important part about giving birth is making sure that mom and baby are healthy and safe! It shouldn't matter how we get there, or what sacrifices we have to make. 

Of course, I completely agree with this statement. However, I don't take it to mean what the OB crowd wants it to mean: that mothers should be happy to put up with sub-par and dangerous care, or with a traumatic birthing experience, so long as mother and baby walk away with their lives spared. 

That would be like saying we should not strive to stay safe on the roads for the sake of preventing accidents and trauma, except for fatal accidents only. Lived to tell about it? Must have not been that bad, so shut up, get over it already, and BE THANKFUL!

Sigh. I better slow down before I get worked up.

And for the record: 1 in 3 babies being born via C-section is definitely what I would consider "sub-par and dangerous care." If that makes you angry, please stop reading now, or else spare me from the fallout of your indignation, and comments telling me why YOUR C-section was necessary. They all are! All 33% of them! I am still waiting for that OB to finish up suturing a mom, and then declare: "Coming to think of it, that really was an unnecessary C-section. Ooops! My bad! Better luck next time!" 

So we can all agree that delivering 1 in 3 babies surgically, with the supposed goal to save the life of mother or baby, is too high. I mean, that's a no-brainer, unless you want to argue that (a) God didn't know what He was doing when He designed reproduction, or (b) evolution is bent on self-destruction. Yet nobody ever wants to acknowledge any single instance where a C-section, especially THEIR C-section, was unnecessary. 

That's fine. You make your choices, I'll make mine.

What today's post is really about is the hypocrisy put forth by the OB crowd, when a planned home birth ends up in the hospital, and possibly, likely, in a C-section. 

My first thought is:

CONGRATULATIONS! The most important part about giving birth is making sure that mom and baby are healthy and safe! Boy, am I glad they made the necessary transfer, to ensure a safe birth!

Is that what we hear from the OB crowd? I sure wish it were the case, but that's rare.

Case in point: The news today of Jill Duggar Dillard delivering her son has the internet ablaze with snark, sarcasm, outright hatred, and worse, all because of the above photo being released, without any more specific details on her mode of delivery. Jill is a midwife, and was planning a home birth, while the photo was clearly taken in a hospital. Of course, the possible scenarios are literally limitless, but that is not stopping the internet sleuths from speculating about the tiniest details to piece together the puzzle regarding the mode by which this child was born. Scrubs? High-risk wrist band? How tired is she looking? What is that makeup hiding? Is she holding the baby like someone avoiding a tender incision site? And on and on and on. 

Of course, delivering in a hospital, and having your FIRST child, also makes you the target of well-deserved hate, such as comments about her headband, how her uterus will fall out eventually, that they won't be able to think of 20 names starting with the letter "I", how she put her child in danger for even attempting a home birth, etc.

Truly, misery loves company. Many of those women who have had an unnecessary C-section (which is the majority of women today) seem to have become bitter to the point where they now take pleasure in the possibility that someone else also might have had to undergo a C-section. In the meantime, the haters seem to be overlooking the obvious (and stated) fact that mother and baby are healthy, that the little guy is super cute, and that the parents are obviously in love with each other and their newborn. All that doesn't matter, and cannot be acknowledged, until we know how this child was born. Because evidently, in their minds and contrary to their stated ideals of worrying only about the health and safety of mom and baby, that IS what it's all about.

I wonder how these birthing hypocrites would feel if I started expressing no surprise at the fact that their induction led to a C-section (it does in 3 out of 4 first-time moms), scolding them for not getting a doula, reminding them of the fact that VBACs are near impossible any more due to legal woes, and outlining how  they will still be able to recall their traumatic birth experience decades from now. 

And that, dear reader, is birth hypocrisy at it finest.

Monday, April 6, 2015

"Beyond the Mask" movie

For some time, I had seen the movie "Beyond the Mask" advertised in various homeschool magazines and mailers. The movie is produced by a couple of Christian brothers who are both homeschool graduates. The ads were intriguing enough to have me look up the trailer online. It seemed like at the least, the kids would enjoy such action-packed yet wholesome entertainment. Not to mention, we had been learning about the East India Company in our history studies, so this fit in perfectly with that theme.

We purchased our tickets online a few weeks ago, and the oldest five kids (plus baby Boaz) and I went to see it on the opening day today. Yes, this happened to be on the same day as "Marching to Zion" was screened at the theater, which was purely coincidental. I don't go to the movies for a decade, and then I go twice in the same day - ha!

Well, we all loved it! Having seen other Christian films, I was expecting it to be corny and dull, but this movie was neither. The story line, and message behind the film, were both well thought out and superbly executed. I would consider the movie appropriate for all ages, though I doubt anyone under the age of 8 would really be able to follow the plot. Still, even Becky at only 6 years old enjoyed watching the movie, maybe only for the many special effects. There was no questionable content or attire at all, and the most risque thing shown was the couple briefly kissing once at the very end, after becoming engaged.

Even after today, the movie is still playing in many theaters around the country. If you are interested, you can buy tickets here (tickets not available at the door). I highly recommend and fully support this movie, and think adults as well as children will greatly enjoy it. I am really tempted to go see it again on the big screen, and we are definitely going to buy the DVD once it is released. 

If you have seen it, please share your comments with us below!

Watch "Marching to Zion" on the big screen

Calling all local readers! 

Please join us tonight to see 
Marching to Zion
played at the theater.

Admission is free.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Birthday Tea Party

Last Wednesday, I turned 36 years old. Many sweet friends and relatives wrote me cards, sent gifts, left messages, and otherwise made my day special, all of which I am ***so*** thankful for. The kids made me different gifts - I had specifically asked them not to buy anything, because I absolutely love seeing what they come up with. 

On my birthday, my husband treated the whole family to breakfast at Panera Bread, which has just recently come to Arizona. Until now, I could only enjoy their food on trips to California, so this was a special treat. Then, we took a trip up to the Mogollon Rim a couple of hours northeast of here, to scope out a possible camp location for our church camp this fall. 

The day before my birthday, the girls put on a tea party for them and me, since they knew we were leaving early in the morning on my actual birthday. We had strawberry scones and tea (the latter of which involved lots of cream and sugar cubes). It was so lovely! We all thought we should have tea for breakfast at least once a month from now on. 

 Little flour handprints on my top - classy! :)

This cute little guy joined us, and we certainly didn't have the heart to tell him no.

Many, many thanks to everyone who made my birthday so lovely and special. It really means a lot to me!