Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bible reading at home with children

Hello friends!
By the end of summer, I thought to myself "hm, I guess I took some time off from blogging!"

Well, I hope you are all doing wonderfully. I guess I needed some time off from this.

Lately, I have kept my study Bible open on the dining table, and have been picking it up and reading a few Psalms out loud with the little girls each morning.

Elena, who is 29 months now (!), listens with interest, and at the end of a Psalm usually smiles and says: "Another one!"

This warms my heart! wow.

So, the other day I read a Psalm, and then another, to which she replied, shaking her head "That not a good one." !! What should my response have been? I contained myself and did not laugh as hard as I would have liked to, but wow, that struck my funny bone.

Now that she knows our routine, Elena will point to the open Bible and ask me to read some to her.

I'm glad that I read about the way Ruth Bell Graham had her Bible open on the kitchen counter as a young mom, and she would snatch a verse here and there in spare moments. This new household ritual of ours, reading a few Psalms together each morning, is really wonderful and wonderfully easy.

We have long been in the habit of having Bible time from the children's several Bible story books, but this is great having some readings from the actual Bible.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Traditional Marriage Roles are Working!

This week I have been finding great refreshment in the roles that my husband and I agree to fulfill in our home. It has always been one of my greatest desires to have a home that is a haven.

The home in which I grew up was very clearly not a haven.

So I know, in a special way, how important one is. (Though let me clarify that there are all different ways to learn how important a haven-like home is!).

My husband is the breadwinner and I am not. I am the homemaker and my husband is not. He does the outside-of-the-house tasks, and a very tiny few of the inside tasks. I do not do the outside-of the-house tasks.

This agreement of ours to embrace traditional roles works SO well. We each know what our own daily and long term tasks are, and we nearly never trip on one another when it comes to who is expected to do what.

Before we got officially engaged we talked about what we hoped for in a marriage and in a home, and honestly, I was quite intimidated to bring it up - this fact that I wanted to be a full time homemaker even before children. I didn't know anyone young who lived like that. But I knew that I was called to do that. Phew. He wanted that, too! In fact, he was thrilled that I wanted that.

I get tense when I hear about couples who are trying to go into marriage without this sort of plan. But I know of no tactful way to warn them....I am not perfect, we are not perfect, I'm not in a position to tell others how to live their lives. But we can show others by quiet example how well this works, right?

When the husband is not prepared to be a provider and the wife is forced to work outside the home, my heart aches, and their home is not what it could be. But this is so normal a situation, even within the Christian community, unfortunately.

Deep sigh. I have been thinking on this lately, as some of those I love are caught up in such situations.

At one of my bridal showers all the young ladies gathered around me and laid hands on me and prayed for our marriage, and prayed that our home would be a haven. This was very moving, and those prayers have certainly been answered.

Let's pray for families!

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee, every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperence, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Book of Common Prayer, p 829.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Of Cabbages and Kings, and Whirling Dervish Heather.

My blog is fast turning into the kind of blog that used to really irritate me. You know, the kind that has a blogger who only writes rarely. I'm sheepishly grinning right now, because now I understand that kind of blog. I would read them, get interested, then, bam, the mom has another child or something else super interesting happens in the household -- and what kind of posts follow this?

Not many.

But I get it now! Of course the mom couldn't post! She was otherwise occupied.

So, to be honest, those kinds of blogs don't irritate me anymore (partly because I don't have time to read them at all), and partly because I am humbled to admit that there's another kind of blog that irritates me instead: the kind of blog that always has thoughtful posts and always is interesting. I am amazed by those women who are able to do this blogging stuff as well as keep up with their homemaking. I salute you!

I am just quickly checking in here, while one child splashes in the tub off of the office where I type, and while Baby Madeline slumbers. (I have the monitor right here by the mouse).

This morning I was someone who, according to my wise husband, I'm not supposed to be. I was who he refers to as Whirling Dervish Heather.

I did laundry, I filled the dishwasher, I fed the toddler, I popped batches of cookie dough into and out of the oven, I chopped vegetables for a beautiful soup, I invited the neighbors over for lunch, I nursed. As I did all of that joyfully and with great zeal, I felt happy and at home and at ease and capable.

I thought about how NOT to overhostess, and pulled off an impromptu lunch pretty well. Yay.

But, as she always does, Whirling Dervish Heather is now completely exhausted, and alas, she has not yet made dinner. Sigh.

The baby awakes, and I must trot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Retro-Themed Kitchen: the tea portion of the garland.

Happy little people drinking tea! This is right over the section of my counter devoted to tea-making. I often stand at this spot while pulling together everything that goes into making and serving a nice spot of tea. And this sign below always cracks me up!
And now let's all sit down for a good cup of the wonderful brew. Shall I pour?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Once More into the Breach! My Retro-Themed Kitchen: the Betty Crocker illustration garland.

Don't you just adore old cookbooks? The thing is, though, in my own experience I have not found them to be particularly great sources of recipes. However, I have a soft spot for the illustrations in them. So one day this winter, I got out my scissors and attacked this old Betty Crocker - - and made a garland for my kitchen cupboards. It is right at my eye level, and is nice and inspiring to see as I cook and clean and such around my little kitchen. Here it is:
The story seems to begin with a lady in an apron planning, then shopping,
then stocking her fridge,
then working in the kitchen,
then taking the fruit of her labor out of the oven, then presenting it to loved ones,

and then repeating that age-old process. Thus, the life of a homemaker! This garland of illustrations reminds me that I am joining the parade of women homemakers who have gone before us. They may have had kitchens that appear slightly different from ours, but they were doing the same thing: serving their families and making (I hope) tasty and healthy food. Onward, my fellow cooks, mothers, wives, homemakers! Once more into the breach!

My Retro - Themed Kitchen: the new wall hanging.

Hi! Things are going well here at home; I must say that the addition of a second child seems much more peaceful than the arrival of the first. I'm still groggy and not as organized as I strive to be, but our days are basically in pretty good shape.
Here are pictures of one of my latest projects: I've made a dear wall hanging for the kitchen. Above you'll see the before and after photos, and then close-ups of the hanging itself.

The fabric was from Fabric.com and all I did was finish off the edges, sew on ribbons, and hang it by a dowel at the top. The little retro images show ladies in aprons doing various everyday household tasks, and the motto reads Domestic Divas Do It All.

I find it greatly encouraging throughout the day as I pass by it doing the billion-and-five domestic tasks that only show if I do not do them!

Oh, and don't be alarmed by the background of the ironing close-up shot: Baby Madeline was under my attentive supervision as she stretched upon the guest bed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Heirloom Baby Card Garland (or, what to do with all those lovely New Baby cards!)

Here's a way to both keep and use a stack of special cards:

Using strong ribbon of whatever length is long enough to display all the cards, make a garland by machine stitching along the folds of the cards. Make sure they all are positioned with the front of the cards facing outward.

To the right, note the penguin toddler pajamas which I mended right before doing this craft. :o) *ha ha ha* I hadn't noticed that they made it into the picture until now.

The third photo here shows a card as it is being stitched to the ribbon: the card is all the way open under the presser foot of the machine.

I made 2 garlands - one which is made of New Baby cards, one of baptism cards. These can be strung up as decorations at her birthday if we want, or on her baptismal anniversary.

I think this is a good way to make use of the pretty cards rather than have them either get lost or languish in a file folder for the rest of our lives...this would be a good idea for wedding cards, too - I could make garlands out of them and string them up on our anniversary each year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Three Weeks Old!

Madeline is 3 weeks old today!

Rrrring! Rrring! a telephone idea....

I have always wanted a pretty telephone, but alas, along came cel phones. It seems that the designers who make cel phones don't care about the same things I do.

1. So, I cut out a picture from a Victorian Trading catalog of a beautiful (but land-line) telephone that I cannot have.

2.I taped it to the wall above the corner of our mantel shelf, where I now store my phone!

This way my phone is in a fairly central location in our household - no more missing calls or voicemails because the phone was at the bottom of my purse, in the closet, under a pile of sewing! And, this way I get to see the beautiful phone I would love to have all the time.

After Church today

If only it were easier for families to be in photos all together! My husband took this snapshot of our Elena and I still dressed up from church earlier today. Don't you looooove her little white dress with the smocking? This was probably her last time wearing it, and I just had to document it.

Things are going along nicely near our hearth! Newborn Madeline seems to prefer sleeping to eating, so my night feedings have felt luxuriously well-spaced. This is an incredible blessing.

And, we might soon have a completely new household schedule, as it is very possible that my husband will be working the night shift for only a few more weeks!

By the way, all those nesting issues regarding where various nursery - related articles ought to go really did end up ironing themselves out. Hmm, that wasn't a perfectly constructed sentence, was it? do forgive me.

If you are wondering what that thing is right behind my head in the photo, stay tuned, and in an upcoming post I will reveal a useful new idea of mine that has made my life a great deal simpler!

Painting My Childhood Dollhouse Part 2 (the end)

Here it is! I finally was able to choose the paint, do the work and take a photo of my newly-painted childhood dollhouse!

My 23 month old daughter now keeps her small dolls inside it, along with her collection of correspondence from her Maine grandparents.

This project spanned many more months than I thought it would, as we moved across the country and then I gave birth...and painting a dollhouse is a rather low-on-the-totem-pole of importance type project.

Anyway, I'm very pleased with the results.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Smart Sewing

I just love this quote:

"It is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew: especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied."
--Nathaniel Hawthorne

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The stork: Welcome, Baby Madeline!

Hip hip hooray! Wonderfully, our newest little daughter was born at 12:46am Tuesday March 15.

We have named her Madeline Abigail, and she is sweet, healthy, and full of grace.

Thank you for your prayers regarding the timing of her delivery. I had been so concerned that our eldest daughter be looked after at home by someone I completely trusted - my sister. My sister Aimee flew in from Massachusetts for the 9 days surrounding my due date, in hopes to be of service (and she was soooooooooo helpful in all possible ways!)....and the days crept past with nary a true contraction or much of anything labor - like. I grew tense and restless, and although I myself was not tempted to do the whole cod-liver-oil labor inducing trick, I certainly began to understand why some women want to take matters into their own hands! Anyway, on the last day of Aimee's visit, I sort of resigned myself to the thought that our new child would not be born during her visit and we'd just have to be ok with that.

On Monday the 14th, in the morning Aimee made a strawberry pie called The Old Boy's Strawberry Pie. It was the same recipe I'd made the day before our Elena was born (back then I was crazy enough to actually entertain guests while I was 39 weeks pregnant!), so it seemed fitting to have it. Maybe it would help, and at the least it couldn't hurt. Then my husband and sister and daughter and I headed out for a day at the zoo. I especially enjoyed the giraffes and the expressions on my daughter's face during the monkey forest exhibit. I had a teeny bit of back pain, but otherwise felt nothing unusual in the whole Going Into Labor department of my life.

Mid-afternoon I had an OB appointment, and my doctor calmly told me that I was at 4.5 and he thought I should head for the hospital right away. My first thought was :
"Yay! Aimee's plane leaves tomorrow afternoon! There is still time for the baby to be born while she is here so she can look after Elena!!!"
(I realize this is prosaic, completely one-track-minded, and kind of boring. But, sometimes that is life.)
So, we drove home to get my overnight bag and check in with Aimee, then headed to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital around 5pm, and I felt nearly no contractions of the traditional sort until I was very far along into labor - 7 cm or so at 11:30pm. Beautifully, God answered all my prayers about nurses: He sent kind, wonderful, calm, intelligent and attentive nurses to care for me during and after labor, it was absolutely divine.
The first nurse actually remembered me from my bout of pneumonia last fall! And when her shift ended, the next nurse was - if its possible - even more wonderful and full of calm soothing suggestions for dealing with labor naturally. I truly know that God hand-picked these nurses for us, it was beyond amazing. And He threw in some humor, too! A team of a resident physician and a medical student came in early on to do something simple, and they were great, but the funny thing is, they were named Heather and Amy, just like me and my sister! The next day I had 2 nurses named Leah and Rachel!!! Isn't that priceless? They joked about it and said "all we need is Jacob to argue over!"
And so, the end of the story is that labor got super intense and hard to handle, and my husband was so supportive and wonderful, and then I knew it was time to push, and ta-da! Baby.
(my husband pipes up just now, that it was maybe 12 pushes! I hope this isn't too much information for the squeamish among us...but know that I too am in that squeamish camp, and I find only relief in the fact that I had to push for such a small amount of time. In fact, pushing was over so fast that the dr. who was supposed to come help didn't make it!)

Thank you so much to all who prayed for us, I am so grateful for you. I hope all is peaceful and bright by your hearthside.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prayer Request

Dear Friends,
Would you please pray for me? Tomorrow I will be 40 weeks pregnant! Please pray that our baby would be born before Tuesday.

My sister is in town visiting us and helping out tremendously with my toddler and with around the house everyday things, and she leaves on Tuesday! I am very hopeful that the baby will be born while she is here so that a) my sister can meet her new niece or nephew, and b) so that our little Elena will have someone familiar to look after her while I am in labor.

It feels rather selfish and anxious to ask for this, but I am asking anyway. I have been having false labor mild contractions (2 days ago) and yesterday I had dreadful bouts of back - labor - like pain consistently for a few hours....but nothing came of it, I was so disappointed. Yet, I know God is in charge of all of this and as the author of all life he's got it under control - so hard to be peaceful and not concerned about the timing of this, though. Ach, I'm so very human.

May all go well at each of your hearths, readers!
Love, Heather

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Speechless(ishness)...here behind the scenes

Do you ever feel completely humbled by the amazing blog-o-sphere? I'm so excited that so many completely fabulous, creative, articulate and tech-savvy homemakers have joined forces to create a sort of online universe of togetherness! It is a big treat for me to occasionally read/ soak up the blog posts of others and discover new-to-me blogs, and to know that we homemakers are like a Behind the Scenes Feminine Army of Wholesome Influence....well, ok, that title needs work.

Anyway, until I became a blogger myself, I didn't know how little I have to say. I have no idea how so many ladies running homemaking blogs are like unending wells of wisdom, how they have time to think up their posts, include adorable photos and manage to be super up to date in their site graphics and get plenty of rest each night. I'm impressed and humbled.

A timer is about to go off in the kitchen, and I'm exhausted. So, I'm calling it a night, and hope that you are all well and flourishing in each of your homes!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Baby preparations: any advice?

I would love some advice from some ladies who are planners and are understanding about this sort of thing! Please, I love your comments and always read them, so send some ideas my way if you have any suggestions.

In preparing for our new little baby, due March 13 - yikes! - I am considering a whole bunch of unusual situations:

My husband works nights, so during the day when he is sleeping I need to keep things reasonably quiet. Also, I try to stay downstairs with our daughter or outside - both of which help tremendously.

The baby's bassinet will be in the master bedroom, upstairs, where the baby will sleep near me and I'll be up several times a night no doubt nursing and changing diapers (and wet pajamas now and then, too!).

The downstairs guest bathroom is where I currently give our daughter baths, and the adjoining office serves as a de facto pseudo changing area because of this. We'll be getting a pack and play with a bassinet attachment so that in theory the new baby can do daytime napping in the office. This way I won't be trekking up and down stairs to the nursery or the master bedroom a lot.

But right now I'm in full-on nesting mode and I have various baby-related articles of clothing and blankets and burp cloths and such that I am ready to put in place, and I am puzzled about where to store things.

Since baths will be taking place in the downstairs bathroom, I'm wondering if I ought to just store the new baby's clothes in the office closet instead of the upstairs nursery closet, since that's where I'll be needing them most.

And I'm wondering if I should just move the existing changing table from the upstairs nursery to the office, since we spend so much of our waking hours downstairs. But my husband hates this idea, and although I feel that he really doesn't understand, I really want to honor his preferences because that's the right thing to do. I'll be setting up a small changing area for the baby in our bedroom on our dresser for night-time use as well.

Sigh. Am I over thinking and overcomplicating this? I'm feeling embarrassed, because when I try to talk this over with my husband he starts to listen, but then sort of glazes over a few sentences into it. Thus, I need some female input, and maybe a little empathy too. I don't like feeling a wee bit crazy.

An alternative plan that I have involves clearing space in the walk-in office closet for the whole changing table, which would hide the table completely between use, and then maybe Jeff wouldn't be so opposed to the idea of having the changing table in the office.

Does anyone else's husband work nights? I'm happy that he's employed and that's what we dwell on, so I don't mean to sound complain-y. The week before our first baby was born he was laid off, and was unemployed for an uncomfortable while before we were blessed with this new and wonderful job of his, so we know what unemployment is like. But right now, it is hard to only see him when one or both of us is completely tired out. And I know babies. Babies are loud, even the sweet ones. Its the way things work. So I am a little intimidated by this new task of mine: learning to mother a 22 month old while mothering a newborn while keeping us all quiet enough so my husband can sleep? whoa, I'll just keep focusing on those stories of God's miracles from the Bible, I guess.

So, I am hoping for some input on any of my aforementioned wonderings. How have any of you dealt with any of this before?

When preparing for my first baby, I just put things in the nursery. This feels a lot more complicated.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

All Systems Go!

Our household is pumping like a steam engine this evening!

The dishwasher is churning, the dryer is thumpety-thumping a load of cloth diapers, the oven is cooling down from a batch of cookies, and my kitchen is smiling back at me.

Heather, are you nutty? Your kitchen is smiling back at you? you ask.

Yes! Today during my daughter's naptime I made a pretty new paper craft garland to adorn my cupboards, and I am so pleased with it.

This week I have been settling our family into our new home with all kinds of prosaic projects: re-organizing closets, hanging up pictures on the walls, installing hooks for aprons and mops & brooms, boxing up various gifts for friends, setting aside cast-off goods for charity, clearing out the garage.

This interdisciplinary art of homemaking has me joyful and exhausted by turn.

Right now I'm 34 weeks along in my current pregnancy, and its becoming a challenge to keep up with my active 20 month old in addition to getting our household all settled/moved in.

Have I mentioned that our movers left us with 49 boxes in the garage which they labeled with only the words "Basement misc."???? I am proud - and tired - to say that I have finished dealing with all but 3 or so of those 49 boxes. That has something to do with why I haven't been blogging much.

I am also incredibly happy to say that my pregnancy-related arthritis is gone! I am only 31 years old, by the way, and never had arthritis before this pregnancy. Wow, that is a side effect that I am happy to bid goodbye. I am so grateful for the blessing of children despite these side-effects, however. We know so many couples who would love to be blessed with children and are not, so I'm especially aware of how blessed we are.

My darling husband has been working nights for several months now, and I am finally used to our wacky household schedule. This is such a good thing!

And, although it sounds like a tiny tiny insignificant thing, I was able to begin sorting out my crafting supplies and moving them into a closet in an orderly fashion. This is a freeing, wonderful, marvelous thing - being able to see at a glance what I have and being able to begin or complete a project at once simply because I know where my supplies are. Ah, order!

I hope you are doing well, too, friends! This isn't a particularly focused entry, I know, but I wanted to check back in and reassure you that all is well and on the verge of running smoothly in our house.

(I need to check in with my husband about some computer complications that are preventing me from posting any photos. Thanks for your patience at my low-tech blog.)