Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Santa Claus 2016

Maybe no one will cry next year? Sophie was proud of herself that she didn't cry but she sat as far away from Santa as possible!

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Friday, December 23, 2016

2 Posts in 1!

You get two posts in one today...

First, one of the beautiful things about teaching the faith to your children is that in your moments of darkness your children preach it back to you. We were driving to the library to meet some friends yesterday, and on the way we passed the lighted holiday decorations on the posts at the intersections. There are snowflakes, Santas, angels, wreaths, etc. Annie says, "My favorite lights are the dove and the candle. And the angel. And stockings. The dove because it reminds us that Jesus is our Prince of Peace. And the candle says that He is the Light of the World. And the angel...the angel came to tell good news, Mama. To Mary and to the shepherds..." And I heard that familiar refrain in my head...I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. Annie picks back up, "...and the stockings, Mama, Santa fills them with gifts to remind us of the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus." Whatever else I'm doing wrong in parenting, we've got this part right. Her soul is filled with Truth and it overflows to all of us.

On to the second thing.

This Christmas has obviously been difficult for us, as joy and grief are so prominently mixed together. I have focused much this season on Advent--the waiting for Christ's coming, the traditional candles of peace, joy, hope, and love. Perhaps especially hope. All that is now is not all that will be. Redemption has come and it is coming again in it's fullness.

These words of Jon Bloom summarize a lot of what I've been thinking (link here):

"We too are caught in the cosmic crossfire of Christmas. We experience both “joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8), as well as burdens so great we despair of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8). Both are beyond our powers to comprehend because there is so much more going on in reality than we can yet understand.

The thrilling joy of Christmas and the hard realities of life are both beyond our powers to comprehend. When the deep darkness falls and never seems like it will ever lift again, that’s when we must pray for strength to comprehend what is beyond us (Ephesians 3:18), and trust in the Lord’s promises, not the way things appear to us (Proverbs 3:5). For this is what Christmas is all about: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

No matter how dark the current chapter, all our stories in this age will end in everlasting joy in the omnipotent Light that shone first from the little town of Bethlehem."

Christmas is really about the Light of the World, coming down for us. And when the night seems blackest and the world seems to grow darker in sin and hatred and evil by the day, the Light shines all the brighter. And the darkness will never overcome it.

I should ask Annie to sing "This Little Light of Mine."

May you know the peace, joy, hope, and love of the Savior this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Picture Catch Up: Thanksgiving and Nick's Birthday

Honey hosted us this year
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all gathered around the table
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Nora thought Nana's pie was finger-licking good
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and Sophie agreed
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pre-Christmas presents
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showing them off to Nana
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family picture featuring mostly uncooperative children ;)
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and happy birthday to our middle puppy, Nick!
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Friday, December 16, 2016

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This is my favorite Christmas carol this year. If you don't know the story behind it, try a quick Google search and read about Longfellow's life as he wrote this poem.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth, I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Mama 5 Months, David 20 Weeks

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We tried a little 4D ultrasound at my appointment last week. David kept throwing his hands over his face, but if you look past his arm you can see sweet little nose, lips, ear, and eyes. He looks like he's pouting!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Nora: 22 Months

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Her ponytail and boots kill me. This precious girl keeps us laughing, especially when she starts her pterodactyl squawk. Nora is finally learning to sleep under a blanket and always wants to wear shoes (girl doesn't like to be barefoot, like her mama). She carries her dishes to the kitchen and loads her own plate in the dishwasher like her big siblings. She still loves baby dolls and Curious George books and likes to cuddle. She does not like to do anything she does not want to do. She will be fun to watch this Christmas; I've already caught her trying to unwrap presents early!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

You Don't Always Get What You Want

You don’t always get what you want. I know you know that. And I tell my kids that often. What do I want? My healthy baby, of course, who comes home with me from the hospital and lives a charmed life with no pain or suffering.


We can’t escape it. As Christians we often experience more of it.

Many minds much more brilliant than my own have grappled with this question of suffering. I really don’t grapple all that much. When Noel died, I was angry with God (which is okay, He can handle it). This time around, I accept that suffering is part of life and I am not exempt.
I explain it to my children this way. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, when they refused God’s truth and chose their own, sin entered the world. We say that man fell (from pure communion with God), but really the entire world did. Creation and all of mankind with it was broken. Our hearts, our bodies, our genes. Decay enters. Death enters. There are now tornadoes and earthquakes and blight and famine and cancer and babies who don’t grow correctly. But through all this, God had a plan. His own Son, who was with Him at the creation of the world, would put on flesh and move into the neighborhood and become fully man and fully God. And He came to suffer greatly on our behalf, so we could be with Him forever. So we could be redeemed. So He could wipe away our tears and make all the sad things come undone. So He could restore us and our world, so He could make us whole and new and perfect. So we could live with Him forever.

Lately I’ve been drawn to the image of the crucifix. Protestants, we tend to focus on the cross. The empty cross. And thank God it is empty, that Jesus rose and gave us the hope of life eternal. But Jesus was there, on that cross, where He suffered excruciatingly. Why is there so much pain and suffering in our world, and what is the meaning of it? I don’t have all those answers, but if Jesus cared enough to suffer alongside us, to really be a Man and deal with all our pain and brokenness, there must be a reason. That’s enough for me.

If you want more theological answers or historical proofs for Jesus or arguments for apologetics, there are great resources out there. I’ve read a lot of them. For me, it is enough that Jesus came and suffered and died and defeated death and sin forever so I could be restored to Him. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

P.S. If you haven’t read the Bible before or in a long time, a great place to start is with the Jesus Storybook Bible. It is one of our favorite children’s Bibles and it is great for adults, too! This retelling of the Great Story is a beautiful one.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I've written before about how much our family loves and supports the work of Compassion. They work with vulnerable children and families around the world, releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name. I've heard first hand reports from Compassion graduates and visited their headquarters in Colorado. Really, the work these dedicated folks do with limited resources is incredible.

For the past several months, Compassion has struggled with political difficulties in India. The government passed legislation that has severely restricted Compassion's ability to provide finances to help the most vulnerable: children trapped in poverty with no hope of a way out.

The Gent and I have sponsored Sauram, now an Indian teenager, for several years. Sadly, his center has already been forced to close and he no longer has access to the educational opportunities and career development training he was receiving.

Please take a few minutes to read this article from Compassion, and then take steps to act!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Halloween 2016

Thought I'd better post these before Thanksgiving. Here are my munchkins:

baby ballerina
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sweet Sophie actually being sweet
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princess ballerina
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Little Bo-Peep
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no one wanted to be her sheep
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our neighbors gave them way to much candy and the kids had a blast
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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nora: 21 Months

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This girl...she is definitely her own person and does not get lost in the shadow of her siblings. For better or worse, the Gent and I do not have any compliant, wall-flower children. This month Nora has been talking circles around us, learned to sing, and likes to plop down in my lap to listen to all the big kids' read-aloud books. Nora can often be found sneaking grapes, leftover spaghetti, and anything else she can reach in the refrigerator. She still loves to take care of her baby dolls, does not like to wear pajamas, and likes Curious George stories. Two is coming up for this precious girl!

Friday, November 11, 2016

His name is . . .

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Baby Jellybean is named for his great-great-grandfather, David. David means “beloved” and though our son’s earthly life may be short he is no less loved and treasured. One of Granddaddy’s favorite hymns was “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” such a beautiful song whose lyrics have always spoken truth to my heart.

Let not your heart be troubled; these tender words I hear
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubt and fear
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me

Shalom means “peace of God.” Not just peace as in a sense of tranquility, but peace as in the promise that someday all of creation and its people will be restored to true Shalom. So as we name our son we place our hope in that promise, that all the wrongs will be righted and all the brokenness will be healed. Jesus will return and our glorious restoration is His promise.

Revelation 21:1-5a says: Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he [Jesus] who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Next Thing

Author's note: You were going to get a cute Nora update today with her 21 month pictures, but Photobucket's website has been down all day so I can't get them to load. Instead you get some sad thoughts from Mama. But happy thoughts to come--Tuesday we should be able to find out if Baby Jellybean is a boy or a girl, and then a few days after that we will make a name announcement. So stay tuned! I'll get to Nora's pictures and Halloween soon, too!


The next thing. That’s what my days are filled with now. Just doing the next thing and trusting in Jesus every step of the way. Grace upon grace (John 1:16), that is what He has promised us. Grace for each day. Grace for each new day.

There will be a time to write a birth plan, to choose a grave site, to think through a memorial service. Right now I need time to let go of the plans I had, the nursery fabric I wanted, the new car seat we needed to pick out. I need time to grieve the life that will not be, the growing up I will not see, the sibling my children will always be missing. I wanted so much to teach my baby to read. I’m teaching Annie and Jacob right now and so I’ve dwelled on that. This baby and I won’t slug our way through phonics outbursts and snuggle up to read through a Bob book together. I won’t cry as this youngest one goes off to college and those grandbabies won’t ever be.

I don’t grieve for what my baby will “miss,” so to speak, because I know my baby will be with Jesus. Baby will never experience pain or loss or suffering. Baby will be whole and complete and happy. But we who are left behind, we deal with all the losses.

In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis put it this way: “If a mother is mourning not for what she has lost but for what her dead child has lost, it is a comfort to believe that the child has not lost the end for which it was created. And it is a comfort to believe that she herself, in losing her chief or only natural happiness, has not lost a greater thing, that she may still hope to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever." A comfort to the God-aimed, eternal spirit within her. But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her son on her knees, or bathe him, or tell him a story, or plan for his future, or see her grandchild.”

One step at a time, leaning on that grace upon grace, until Christ’s glorious appearing, when “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:8).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Del Coronado

A few weeks ago the Gent and I had a chance to spend a long weekend at Del Coronado. It is a beautiful place and the time away came at a good time. Thank you to Honey and Poppa for keeping up with the munchkins, I know it was quite a task!

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Jellybean Thoughts

This is a moment I’ve been putting off. Dreading. Writing the words down. For the past several weeks, struggling through being told your baby is going to die.

When I first realized I was pregnant (and that test was positive before I’d even finished taking it), I was excited, of course. Surprised but not totally unexpected. We knew our birth control method (diaphragm) was about 85% effective, and had decided that if we were one of the 15 out of 100 couples who got pregnant we would be happy about another baby and just enjoy having a little surprise after the careful planning of our other children. We were also pretty decided that we were not going to plan to have another baby. We had four healthy children and having experienced two miscarriages and watched friends walk through very difficult diagnoses with their children, we just didn’t want to chance it.

Morning sickness set in strong at five weeks, as it has with my other healthy pregnancies. We had an ultrasound at 6 weeks and baby looked great. I was tired, pregnancy tired, and tired thinking about life to come with a newborn. Thoughts like how would I homeschool with another baby? I was just getting ready to wean Nora and I had been planning a break from the trying to get pregnant/pregnant/nursing stage I’d been cycling through since December 2009. I’m tired. Parenting five kids is going to be exhausting. Do we need a bigger house? Should I still sign Jacob up for baseball in the spring? I need to finish school before the baby comes.

Then we went in for our 9 week appointment and everything changed. We saw that tiny heartbeat and thought okay good, everything’s great, we can breathe, look at this cute baby picture. And then my doctor came in looking grave. “I know we saw a heartbeat,” she says, “and we think everything looks good. But I’m really worried about the baby’s brain. It looks like part of the baby’s brain or skull hasn’t formed properly. I know it’s early, but my equipment is good and my techs are good, and what I think I’m seeing looks like something incompatible with life.” She mentions anencephaly and asks if I know what that is. I nod. She wants us to go to a specialist to make sure. She hopes she’s wrong, but she doesn’t think so. She reassures me that there is nothing I did wrong and there is nothing I could have done to change anything. Sometimes these things just happen. Our genes aren’t perfect. She says she knows me well enough to know we don’t want to talk about terminating and that’s fine, she does not want to pressure anyone into that and she will care for me and the baby throughout the pregnancy. She’ll deliver the baby. She gives me a hug and leaves.

So much changed in those 40 minutes. The Gent and I sat in the car, stunned. We cried. We went to our church and cried some more and prayed with our pastors. We shared the news with our families and precious church community, who have loved us and cared for us so well these past several weeks.

Then began a little over a week of waiting, searching, praying, fasting. We went to the specialist. He confirmed my ob’s diagnosis. A brain/skull defect incompatible with life.

I couldn’t go home yet and see the kids. The Gent and I drove for a while and then went to my sweet cousin’s house. She has a baby in heaven, who was diagnosed with a severe medical condition and died before he had a chance to be born. I knew she would understand my hurting heart. She cried with us and prayed with us and listened to me without judgment.

We went home because the kids were up from naps and we had life to do, even if we didn’t want to. So began the one day at a time living. When you don’t know what to do, just do the next thing. Carry on with school, ballet, field trips, soccer, church, cleaning, laundry. I’d already decided I would have to do laundry every day (instead of the current every other day) when the baby came. I guess not now.

The Gent talked with a friend who is a child psychologist about how to tell our children. We decided to go ahead and tell them about the baby, before they overheard it from someone else. At breakfast one morning, he said “Kids, we want to talk to you about something good and some sad news. We’re going to have another baby. There’s a little tiny baby growing in Mama’s tummy.” Jacob and Sophie were excited. Annie, my thinker, says “What’s the sad news?” The Gent told them that the doctor said the baby’s brain hasn’t grown right, and the baby won’t live very long after it’s born. Jacob and Sophie didn’t have much reaction, but “oh.” Annie cried. I took her upstairs to the nursery and rocked with her and cried with her. I told her I was sad about the baby, too. After a few minutes she sat up and dried her tears and started looking for reasons why it was a good thing the baby wouldn’t be coming home with us. In her sweet firstborn way she was trying to fix everything for me. Maybe this is a good thing, Mama. Babies are a lot of work. And we don’t have room at our dining room table for another baby. I assured her that we could always add leaves to our table to make room for more people. She said she was ready to go downstairs and finish breakfast.

Another sweet friend gave us a lovey for the baby, a little lamb to remind us of our baby lamb and of the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world to make a way for us to be with Him forever. The kids take turns sleeping with it each night, taking care of the lovey for our baby. They have questions that we answer as honestly as we can. Jacob wanted to know if we could spray pink or blue silly string when we find out if the baby is a boy or a girl. I assured him that we would. They have been suggesting names for the baby, and we told them we would consider all the names they give us. Jacob wants to know if the baby’s body will be buried in the cemetery. Yes, buddy, it will. But the baby will be in heaven, right, Mama? Yes, sweetie. The baby’s soul will be with Jesus. And like we studied in BSF last year, some day Jesus is going to return and we will have new, perfect bodies that won’t ever get sick or die. And Jesus is going to wipe away all our tears and all the sadness is going to come undone.

But when I think they get it, they ask something that shows they don’t remember death is permanent. When the baby comes home, it will sleep a lot, right, Mama? Babies take lots of naps. Yes, buddy, babies do take lots of naps. But our baby probably won’t come home with us. They put their hands on my tummy, wanting to feel the baby kick. You can’t feel the baby yet, he or she isn’t big enough. But when the baby is bigger you definitely can! Sophie wants to know if she can hold the baby when it’s born. I hope so, baby girl. That’s the plan, but we will have to wait and see what happens.

Wait and see, wait and see. It seems that is our life mantra right now. At first it was let’s just get to the next appointment and see if there’s still a heartbeat. Now it is let’s wait and see if it’s a boy or a girl. Let’s think about names. I need to go buy some silly string.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Tomorrow is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I really wish we didn't have to have this day, but I am thankful that our generation is choosing to honor those tiny lives and remember along with their families. Oh, how I long for the day when all our tears will be wiped away by our Savior and this broken world be healed and restored!

While we wait for that glorious restoration, I did want to point others to this informative link:
Your Rights During a Miscarriage

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Nora: 20 Months

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20 months! This was a big month for Nora. All the sudden she seems more like a little girl than a baby. She is speaking more sentences now and does not hesitate to express her wishes. Nora loves books, shoes, baby dolls (but they must be dressed), and balls. She likes to eat but has slowed down a tiny bit this month. She also weaned this month. This funny girl keeps us laughing and busy keeping up with her!

Friday, September 30, 2016


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This God--His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30

What a joyful surprise to learn we were expecting an Easter baby (little Jellybean until we know the baby's gender)! After our two miscarriages, we always hold our breath for the first several weeks. Morning sickness set in strong at five weeks, and at six weeks we saw that beautiful heartbeat. At our nine week ultrasound we still saw that tiny heart beating strong, but our doctor gave us some heartbreaking news that was confirmed with a visit to a specialist this week. For reasons unknown to us and the medical people, but not unknown to God, the baby's brain has not formed properly. Baby's condition is not the "classic" anencephaly, but is similar. The specialist called it cranio something or other. But in medical terms it means "incompatible with life." Both my regular ob and the specialist told us that while a pregnancy loss is always possible at any stage, typically the pregnancy proceeds normally and to term, but our baby is expected to live only a few minutes to a couple of days, if baby survives the birth. Of course we are heartbroken. There really aren't any words.

Would you pray with us? Many of you already know our news and have been praying with us, and we are so thankful for you. Our family and friends and sweet church community loves us so well, and they are showing us what it means to bear one another's burdens. Pray for peace and comfort and wisdom as we seek to celebrate life yet plan for death. And pray for wisdom when we talk with our children in the next few weeks. They do not know anything about the pregnancy yet. I'm sure I'll have many more thoughts to share later. We know that God has always been faithful, and He will be again.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

First Stitches

Last week Sophie hit her head on something in the bathroom. Time for her ER visit and stitches. According to Daddy, she just sat there and let them stitch it up. She's our brave and stoic child! Now they are almost healed. Hoping she won't have much of a scar.

Other than that, we're trucking along with school and our fall activities. Next month I will try to get back on a more frequent blogging schedule.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

First Day of School 2016

We had a great first day, despite our schoolroom/playroom floor still being under construction (school is happening mostly in the dining room right now) and Mama having a cold. We plan to have lots of fun and enjoy our kindergarten and preschool year!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nora: 19 months

19 months yesterday!

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Nora thinks she can definitely do everything her older siblings can. She is able to do a lot of it! She is speaking more and more in sentences, has her favorite books (Freight Train and Goodnight Moon), and knows what the tv remote is for (considering the limited use that thing gets around here, I'm impressed). She loves to eat and holds up her plate for more after every meal and snack. She is nursing just at bedtime and we plan to wean this month. She is starting to get interested in the potty so maybe we will potty train soon after her birthday...we will see. We love this sweet girl and her big personality!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A few summer pictures

I know it has been a little quiet on here the past few weeks. We are enjoying the last of summer and getting ready to start school soon. Jacob has passed his swim test and is so proud, and the older girls are about to begin ballet classes. Lots of reading going on, as usual, and some sensory play (aka mess-making) and lots and lots of games the kids make up. Happy end of summer to you!

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Jacob and Daddy: the boys have to stick together!
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Psalm 33:20-22

Our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Recent Reads

Been doing lots of reading myself lately. Two notable books:

Hope Heals, by Katherine and Jay Wolf
Beautiful true story of how Katherine and Jay and their family survived a stroke that should have left Katherine dead, rebuilt their life, and learned to trust God fully as an anchor for the soul even in times of suffering and desperation.

Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control, by Holly Grigg-Spall
This book has been on my list for a while. I have lots of thoughts/opinions about birth control and this was an interesting read by a woman I likely have nothing in common with except our desire to not use the Pill (including the ring, patch, implant, Depo-Provera, and Mirena). My favorite quote: "Neither pregnancy nor fertility should be viewed as an illness that requires treatment with pharmaceuticals or surgery" (p. 74). The author made this point over and over again. Why do millions of healthy women take a Pill every day for 20+ years of their life, a Pill that impacts every part of your body (not just your reproductive system)? Hormones are not bad. Cycles are not bad. I don't think Ms Grigg-Spall shares my spiritual views, but as a Christian I know that my body is working just as God designed it. Fertility is not a disease and there are plenty of non-hormonal birth control options that most doctors do not offer as options to their patients, they just push the Pill because that is what you do. IUDs (copper and Mirena) cause a constant state of inflammation in the body. And the Pill can have some very serious side effects. I think women are often afraid to discuss these because they think "everyone takes it and I'm the only one who has this problem." The author also touched on the use of the Pill to treat all kinds of "female problems" like acne, heavy periods, irregular periods, etc, and how using the Pill only covers up the problem instead of actually treating it. A woman's cycle is a primary window into her whole body health. Tricking your body with fake periods and a fake hormone cycle can cover up health--and especially fertility--problems. Overall, there was plenty in this book I disagreed with, but plenty of food for thought mixed in.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Book Lists

I'm a sucker for a good book list. I keep a running list of books I want to read and another list of books I read each year. There are so many book lists out there for kids and the list-checker in me wants to do them all. And we do read out-loud an awful lot! But my two favorite resources are Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson and Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. My mom used the first editions of these books when she was homeschooling my brother and me, and they've just gotten better with time. There's too much fluff out there and not enough time to waste on that--read real, living books that actually interest you and your kids!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Nora: 18 months

side ponytail
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sweet little profile!
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trying to find her siblings
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A year and a half already. Nora thinks she can do everything her older siblings can, and she does get to do a lot of it. She's had way more cake and cookies than they ever had at her age, that's for sure. :) This month she has started speaking short sentences. Her favorites are "Where's Mama?" and "Where's Dada?" Sometimes she is calling us Mommy and Daddy. Not sure I'm ready for that quite yet. She is wearing Puddle Jumpers at the pool now instead of using her baby float. She has cut all her 1 year molars and 2 more teeth in the past month and a half. She still loves to play baby dolls with her sisters and read Freight Train. She is down to nursing once a day most days, so almost weaned. I love being Mama to this sweet and spunky girl!