Thursday, January 31, 2013

My almost 4 year old

This girl. She really is a bundle of joy. She is enthusiastic and happy.  She is a pleaser who is easily saddened if I am not happy with her.

She loves her big brothers. She loves to sing, run, and play outside.

Last Sunday morning while she was eating breakfast, I told her that she needed to eat and then get dressed because we were going to church. Her response gave me great joy!
She simply said, "Thank You!"
She loves going to church - she loves going to her class and she loves coming to the worship service - especially the music!
So thankful for this special girl and can't believe we are in the last week of her 3's.
It's just going by so quickly. I pray that I will not forget to cherish all these sweet little moments as she and the boys grow up. I'm so blessed!
Praise God! He is worthy to be praised.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sibling Love

While, my children argue with one another just like every other family out there ... I am thankful that they are best friends and love each other the way that they do. I love the sweet bond that they have with one another ... and how each of them have distinct and special relationships. It encourages my mother's heart to see special hugs and pats of comfort. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Snow Day

It's pretty unusual to see snow around here ... so even if we barely get a dusting ... these kiddos are going to find a way to make a snowball!

And of course...the favorite part of the whole day is coming inside to drink homemade hot chocolate!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gluten Free Brownies - RIDICULOUSLY GOOD!

I made these Gluten Free brownies yesterday. I was enormously skeptical that they would be any good, but I went for it anyway. I used a recipe from the gluten-free goddess blog. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.
I did not have almond meal, although I had almonds. So, I made my own almond meal. I did not love making my own almond meal. It was tedious and frustrating. The next time I make this recipe, I would prefer to have a bag of already prepared almond meal.
They were super chocolately, moist, and the texture was outstanding. Rich thought they were very good, but a little loose. I'm not sure yet how I would tweak it to make them stay together better. I, personally, don't mind a brownie that is a little loose as long as it has a deep dark chocolate taste. This one definitely did!
So, if you are looking for a great brownie recipe that is gluten free - look no further. This one is tried and true!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Treating Croup - The Healing Power of Herbs for Croup

Croup is a fairly frequent visitor in my home. 2 of my 4 children know the barking cough all too well. Aaron used to get croup with every upper respiratory virus that came his way. By the time he was 5 years old, he stopped getting the croup with every cold and virus, but did have it once last year. Jonathan at 6 years old, still gets croup with every upper respiratory virus. What is croup?
Croup is a condition that causes inflammation in the upper airways - the larynx and the windpipe. It leads to a barking cough and hoarseness. Jonathan gets terrible cases of it. Once it starts, he coughs incessantly for about 4 days. It keeps him up most of the night every night. I am up with him those nights as well because when a child has croup it's very important that you are close by to hear their breathing. Croup can become very dangerous and require a trip to the ER - so constant monitoring is necessary. After 4 days of it, you can imagine that we are both exhausted!
There were several things that I would do for him that helped a little, but it would never get him a good night's sleep and the help was fairly temporary. I would sit in the bathroom and run a hot shower for about 15 minutes, take him out into the cold night air, (as long as it was cold and not in the middle of summer!) and I used essential oils in several ways. I would put lavender and eucalyptus on his feet and chest. I would also run a hot bath and put the oils in the hot water and have him breathe in the oils for about 20 minutes. 
After the last bout of croup that Jonathan had last summer, I decided that I was going to  make some tinctures for him. I had no idea if they would work. I was ready to do just about anything to help him, though. Doctors will typically give steroids for croup and I didn't want to go that route, although as bad as croup is I can understand why anyone would choose that! Last fall I ordered some high quality herbs from the bulk herb store. I ordered a bunch of different ones, but I am highlighting these two herbs in particular. I made a tincture of Wild Cherry Bark and Mullein. Making tinctures are surprisingly easy! 
I used alcohol to extract the medicinal properties from the mullein and I used vegetable glycerin to extract the medicinal properties from the cherry bark.
After the tinctures were done and ready to be used. I waited. I am so thankful to say that Jonathan went 6 months without having croup! I had no idea when he was going to get croup again, but I was prepared with those two tinctures and I was ready to see if they would actually work. 

I came down with the flu a couple days before Christmas and it slowly worked it's way through the entire family. When Jonathan got it ... I was certain that he would also get croup ... but 4 days went by with no croup symptoms. On day 5, the croup symptoms set in and I was ready and armed with a mullein tincture and a cherry bark tincture. I had used both of the tinctures casually before this point for the mild coughs that my children and I had. I didn't notice that it helped at all. So, I didn't have high hopes for it.
I decided that I would give the tinctures to him intensively throughout the day hoping that giving him many doses over regular intervals all day long would give him relief. His coughing was every bit as bad as it had been in all of his other croup attacks that resulted in 4 days of incessant coughing. He was coughing incessantly most of the day as I was giving him the tinctures.
I gave him a mixture(about a 1/2 tsp or so of cherry bark and about an 1/8 to a 1/4 tsp of mullein) of the two tinctures every 30 minutes to 1 hour from about noon - until he went to bed. I gave him more cherry bark than mullein - and I mixed it because the alcohol mullein tincture is really hard to take. The sweet cherry bark masked the taste a little.
His terrible coughing peaked in the afternoon at about 3 PM. I didn't think the tinctures were going to help. I assumed that we were in for 4 days of miserable coughing.
However, by about 5 PM his coughing had slowed down a little bit. It was no longer constant. The barking cough had become less barking.
By bedtime, he was feeling a lot better. I put him in the school room to sleep - with the door wide opened and I planned to sleep on the couch where I would be able to hear him if he started coughing. I was prepped and ready not to sleep that night and to spend it trying to make Jonathan comfortable and keep him calm. (He has learned the hard lesson that getting worked up and crying makes his croup worse ... he has to talk himself into staying calm, though!!)
I gave him one last dose, said goodnight and told him I'd be listening for him. From the time he fell asleep until I went to bed, he only coughed a couple of times. I was stunned. Usually about an hour after he goes to sleep the attacks begin and last all night. He coughed a couple of times! No attacks at all. So, I went to my own room and slept in my bed with the door open, so that I would be able to hear him if he woke up. He woke up one time coughing, so I took a dose of the tincture to him, he took it, and fell right back to sleep and slept until morning!
I was amazed! The only thing I did differently was give him the tinctures.(and I assume because of that I didn't have to do all of the other things I normally do to survive the night!) This was the first time in croup history that the croupy child slept for more than 1 or 2 hours. His cough was not incessant. It was a mild cough that wasn't prevalent. I continued to give him the tinctures the following day. The following night he didn't even wake up once coughing! The 3rd day I gave him the tinctures, but not intensively. I can't remember how many times I gave it to him, but it was only a handful of times.
The croup was gone. I *think* the tinctures worked!
I have to mention that I am not an expert on herbs and dosages. I shared the dosage that I gave to my 47 pound 6 year old and what worked for him, but I am not a trained homeopathic doctor and I am not giving medical advice.

Wild Cherry Bark Tincture:
1 quart Mason Jar
Wild Cherry Bark
Vegetable Glycerin

Fill the Mason Jar halfway with Wild Cherry Bark
Pour about a 1/2 - 3/4 cup of boiling distilled/filtered water until it barely covers the cherry bark.
Pour in the Vegetable Glycerin until it reaches the top of the Mason Jar.
Cover with wax paper and screw on the lid tightly.
Method 1: Let the mixture steep for 2 weeks. (shake daily)
Strain the herbs after it has steeped and the liquid remaining is your tincture.

Method 2: Use a crock pot on the lowest setting and keep the tincture warm for 3 days to help extract the medicinal properties of the herbs. Put a towel on the bottom of the crock pot, put the jar on the towel, then fill the pot with water so that it surrounds the entire jar. If you have a smaller crock pot you could use smaller jars, so that the water can completely surround the jar. Run the crock pot for 3 days, then strain the herbs. You can shake the jar or stir once each day. (before straining)

Mullein Tincture:
1 quart Mason Jar
Vodka (I used 80 Proof - but most people say you should use 100 Proof)
Fill the Mason jar half way with Mullein
Cover the Mullein and fill to the top with the Vodka.
Cover with wax paper and screw lid on tightly.
Let steep for 2 weeks. (shake daily)
Strain the herbs and the remaining liquid is your tincture.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Even his play is intense!

Jonathan is one intense little boy. There is no wonder that he has been known to fall asleep in strange positions and places. He puts so much energy into everything he does, when he does finally sit still he falls asleep. He doesn't do that as much now that he's getting older as he used to do it when he was younger.
I'm thankful that Jonathan puts his energy to good use (most of the time). It's not uncommon, though, to hear several times a day, "JONATHAN!" Sometimes the sound effects and humming and constant moving get the best of all of us.
He's so full of life, imagination, and energy! Whatever he does ... he does it with everything he's got. When he goes out to play he comes in covered from head to toe in dirt or mud.
His iron will is not the best match for Kindergarten and he is having to learn that to be an excellent leader (which is ultimately what he wants) he has to learn how to be an excellent follower. This is exceedingly difficult for Jonathan. In the picture above he is staging a battle with many of his army toys. He pulled all of this out after he did school earlier this week while I was doing school with the other two boys. It occupied him for quite some time.
He is also super creative with Legos! When it gets quiet in the house, it usually means that Jonathan is occupied with legos. He builds the most creative space ships and other objects with a general set of legos that we have. I love how his mind never stops!
He may challenge me to the very depths of my patience, but he is an amazing little boy and I am thankful for his energy and joy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sickness, sickness go away!

This is how we started the week...happy, playing and enjoying dressing up like Minnie Mouse!
This is how the rest of the week went. Rosalie started with a fever last Wednesday(early in the morning around 2 AM) and it hovered at about 103.9 for over 24 hours. I slept next to her on the couch that night, so that I could monitor her fever throughout the night.Thursday her fever was about 101 throughout the day and on Friday it was about 100. Saturday she was completely back to normal.
She did a lot of laying on the couch and a lot of watching television. We'll have to detox from that now that she is healthy again!
I did not bring her fever down. I stayed with her and monitored her carefully while her fever was that high, but I intentionally did not bring it down. This is a great post on why a fever is your friend. Even though, I almost always refrain from bringing down a fever and know all the reasons why I shouldn't bring down a fever ... it's not the easy thing to do. I battle it out in my mother's heart about what I should do. On one hand, I know that if I give them a dose of tylenol, they will feel so much better. On the other hand, I will be inhibiting the immune system response and confusing the healing process. It's a hard choice to make, folks! It's also been my experience that when I bring a fever down, my children start feeling so much better that they start running laps around the living room. The problem with that is that they need to be resting - and the meds have fooled them into thinking they are all better.
If I have a child that has a high fever with severe body aches and a very bad headache that keeps them from being able to sleep, I will give a dose of tylenol. However, we try not to do it and just let the fever run it's course. 

So, whatever virus it is that has been traveling from person to person in our home is hopefully coming to an end. Rich started with a fever on Saturday and I'm hoping that this will be an end to this craziness!
Have you all been staying healthy in this crazy wave of sickness going around the last month?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Martin's First Band Concert

Martin began playing the trumpet with Capital Christian Homeschool Bands, in September. He is really enjoying it! He had his first band concert in December and we were all so excited to hear his band play!

I am so glad that we decided to sign Martin up with this organization. I am impressed with the organizations as well as the instructors that work with the students. It's been a great experience and I look forward to many more years of working with CCHbands!

Monday, January 7, 2013

December in our home

December of '12 was a joyful time for us. It has taken many years for me to figure out how to "do" December in our family. It has been a genuine struggle for me. The questions that are constantly floating around in my head is: How do I be in this world - love the people around me - but not be of the world? How do I teach my children what really matters? How do I teach it without causing an heir of self righteousness about how we do things? It's taken me several years to figure out what works for us, but I think I finally have found peace with how to do December in our family. Instead of focusing on what we don't do. I want to focus on what we do. I am going to give a detailed description of what we do in the month of December. 
Every night after our evening meal, we sit down and read the scriptures together. We read through many of the prophecies that tell of the promised savior and we read the passages that give a detailed account of His birth. We also do a craft that corresponds with the scripture reading. When we are done with the craft ... we hang it on our advent banner.

I was able to be a little more sophisticated this year with our crafts and all four of the children had a great time making the crafts. I love that all 4 of the children were engaged and enjoyed our time reading through the scriptures.

We ended our time of Advent with a reading of Philippians 2, and then each child made a wooden cross to go in the middle of the banner. After all, the cross is why He came. On the very last day of our advent celebration, as I read the Philippians passage out loud I was overwhelmed with the knowledge of what Jesus had come to earth to do for us. Obviously this is not new information for me, but reading it out loud to my children after just having walked through the scriptures of God's plan for humanity - a plan that was given the first time just after Adam and Eve first sinned...I was just overcome by His mercy, grace, and love that Jesus displayed on the cross for me. I could barely get through the reading of this passage. Tears were freely flowing down my face as I tried to get the words of Philippians 2 out of my mouth clearly for these precious children to hear. I looked up as I finished reading the last verse of the passage and saw the most incredible sight. I saw my two oldest sons wiping tears from their face as well. The magnitude of what this promised Savior had done for us swept over us and brought tears of joy.
There is no greater joy than Jesus. You cannot manufacture true joy like that. There is no tradition that exists that can bring joy like Jesus can bring. There was a time when I wrestled with the idea of not putting up a tree or decorating the house, now I fully embrace the simplicity of it. (It didn't happen overnight, though! It was definitely a process)
Those are the moments that I treasure with my children.
After we read through each of the Advent readings, we give each of our children 3 gifts. We chose to do this for the symbolism of the 3 gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh brought to Jesus, and for the symbolism of Jesus being God's greatest gift to us.
As my children get older, this time of preparation for celebrating God's most precious gift to us who came as a humble servant becomes more and more special and meaningful. 
The lamb and the lion ... not only have we been given a Savior who died for us ... we've been given hope for what is to come when He returns. I'm so thankful for this truth!

I used a couple of different sources for our advent readings this year. I bought Truth in the Tinsel - an e-book. We did use a few ideas from that source. Although, I found it a bit too young for my older kiddos. It also didn't take us through the Old Testament as much as I prefer. I like for my children to see Jesus from the beginning and Truth in the Tinsel didn't provide enough of that. I love the format and the wonderful craft ideas, though!! I also used Ann Voskamp's A Jesus Advent Celebration. I used the power of google to get craft ideas for some of the readings that would be small enough and able to be pinned onto our banner.

I hope that reading about the way we do December will be an encouragement to you and mostly my hope and prayer is that God will be honored and the glory will be all His. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Toward the end of December, I came down with a fever and a cough. Although I didn't go to the doctor - what I had behaved like the flu, so I assumed that's what it was. The strange thing about it - is that no one else got it. Unfortunately, it caused some plans to have to be rearranged and it was upsetting to me.
We had to miss church on the Sunday before Christmas - that was disappointment #1. Disappointment #2 was that I was too sick to sing with the worship team for the Christmas Eve service.  Disappointment #3 was that I was too sick to even go to the service. The service that was planned - in my thinking - was going to be the perfect ending to our Advent Celebration that we did at home. I was so excited at the whole concept of this special service and how it so perfectly complemented all of the scripture study that we had done all month long. 
Once I got over my disappointment, I counted my blessings that the time we had studying the scriptures together all month long was good, rich, and fulfilling. I counted my blessings that no one else got sick!
Fast forward to about 11 days later ... Martin came down with a fever. My first thought was: YIKES!! At the rate of each one getting sick every 11 days ... we will never be done with this!! The next day Aaron was struck down with a fever, closely followed by Jonathan. Rich had something entirely different ... just a bad cold. While I never want my family to be sick - I can honestly say that I am thankful when everyone gets sick at the same time. In a family of 6 - it can sometimes take FOREVER for one virus to make it through the whole family. 
I'm glad this one - whatever it is - is sweeping through quickly!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wrapping up 2012

2012 has been a great year for our family!
We have been blessed with plenty (if not too much) work for Rich. 
We took a brief, but fun family trip to the Outer Banks.
We began a new journey for our entire family by becoming members of North Wake Church.
We enjoyed a week of Runner's Camp with North Wake Church.
Rich and I celebrated our 15th anniversary and took a wonderful 3 day trip to the mountains.
We began 5th grade, 3rd grade, and Kindergarten with the 3 boys.
Martin started playing trumpet with Capital Christian Homeschool Bands.
I started singing with the worship band at our church.
Rich took a 2 week trip to the mountains of Pennsylvania to hunt with his uncle, cousin, Brother in-law, and nephew.
We are so thankful for the blessings of this year!