Saturday, March 31, 2012

Meet Tina

The girls caught their first bug pet last week! They were trying to catch butterflies with their nets, but just couldn't do it. When I went out to check on them and saw their disappointed faces, I noticed a cricket at my feet and asked if that would be fun. Oh, they were so excited! Daddy poked holes in the jar top and they were ever so diligent to feed "Tina" every chance they got. They even found a dead spider that they insisted I give to Tina so she would have a friend.

We kept Tina for a day and then the next morning Karis informed me that it was time for Tina to go out and play with her bug friends. She planned to follow Tina around and put her back in the jar after her playtime. I quickly explained that Tina was so little that she would hide under the grass and be hard to catch again, but Karis said that was ok. She wanted Tina to be able to go play. So they happily released her and followed her around til she disappeared out of sight. they are still very excited about the experience and often excitedly tell me that they see Tina in the grass.

Friday, March 30, 2012

heart ramblings and VA pics

(warning: long post)
A few weeks ago we went back to visit some friends and family in VA. I am so thankful for them. We live in a very transient Seminary town. I've made several really close friendships to young wives and mothers my age, but they have all ended up moving away after their husband finished Seminary and God called them to other places. It has honestly been really tough for me. I'm thankful for the relationships I've made and excited to have friends in so many different places, but it is still tough not to have close friendships where I am. And I feel badly for my girls, especially Karis, who is old enough to want friends. She has her soccer and basketball buddies, and all her grown-up friends at church, but none her age that she gets to run and play with and make-up games and chat with with on a regular basis. We went to the park recently and she quickly made friends with a girl just a bit older. After having a blast with her, Karis joyfully ran up to me and said, "Mama, I'm so excited to have a real friend and not just imaginary ones!" So sweet but it brought tears to my eyes as well. We try to have various friends from church over for dinner about once a week, but none of them have children her age. We've been weekly getting together with one family that we love who has an almost 2 year old, but they are getting ready to move this summer. It will be so disappointing to my girls!

I've been holding on to a faint possibility that we might be moving back to VA soon, a beautiful place where we have long-time friends with children the same age as ours and grandparents who are super eager to help out with the little ones. This week we found out that the possibility had dissipated and I was amazed at how hard it hit me. I wasn't super excited about the job possibility that my husband had been exploring, but oh, how I wanted to move back to my friends and family! After a tearful phone call to my Mom and some serious heart-probing and talking to God, I realized that I had made moving back to VA an idol in my life and viewed it as the solution to all my problems. In reality, God has blessed me immensely right where I am in this Seminary town and I just need to be content and trust Him to provide what we need. I might still get teary-eyed when I think of how I'd love to have weekly play-dates with my dear friends and have the grandparents near-by to rescue me when I'm dreadfully sick or just need a night away with Mark, but I think for the first time in almost 7 years, I am choosing to be content where I am rather than always hoping and looking for the job that will move us back.

On this journey of thankfulness, I decided to write out some of the reasons that I am thankful to be in this place:

-- My husband has the absolute most perfect job for our family. He is doing something he enjoys, he pretty much sets his own schedule, I get to stay home with my girls, and we can spend time with him at his work as well. I mean, how many moms get to send their oldest 2 kids off to work with Daddy each week and they get to play with him for 2 hours while she does housework and the baby sleeps?

-- God always sends me a friend. Each time my closest friend has moved away, God has brought a new friend into my life. Every time. It might take several months and some initial effort on my part, (because I am a homebody whose tendency is to just focus on my family when I don't have a best friend to hang out with) but each friend that has moved on has opened up the door to a beautiful new friendship that I would have missed had my other friend not left.

-- I have amazing resources at my fingertips: A pediatrician who is friends with my awesome holistic doctor and understands my crazy natural tendencies and doesn't act like I am crazy or try to change my mind. A chiropractor who loves my girls and tries to help us pay her the least amount possible since our insurance doesn't cover anything. A large network of people who like to buy natural things in bulk so that we don't pay as much. A great source of fresh, grass-fed milk and friends who take turns going to pick it up. A great Farmer's Market where I can get good quality eggs and grass-fed beef and organic, pastured chicken. A grain mill store that carries every grain imaginable as well as other healthy stuff I can grab when I need it.

-- A wonderful, loving church family who will help us at the drop of a hat if I ever get over my pride and actually ask for it. It is probably good that I am not near my parents because then I would never learn to be humble :)

--Multiple homeschool co-ops and resources that are available if I ever take the plunge and actually join one. (Which I will definitely do this fall! My Karis will have lots of friends that are not imaginary!)

-- I have a super-sweet mother's helper who comes to play with my girls every other week and will soon be our #1 babysitter :)

-- Many friends back home in VA who drop everything to make time for us whenever we come to visit. Honestly, we probably see them as much now as when we lived there because we all went to different churches and had so much going on. But now whenever we visit, we all get together! My girls LOVE their children and talk about them all the time and look forward to our get-togethers with great excitement.

So obviously, I have absolutely no reason to complain. My God has given us over and beyond what I could ever ask for!

And now I have pictures of our most recent trip to VA:

We met our friends at the zoo! It is a very small zoo, but perfect for the girls to get excited about but not actually wear us out completely :)

There was a funny mirror that made them all look like midgets and they thought it was hilarious:

The older kids (who were not in the baby carriers :) What a sweet bunch of girls!!!
The cutest animal ever: a red panda!

The other girls were enamored with our Joovy stroller and they all took turns riding on it:
Excited about the tiger statue:
Climbing on the life-like tiger statue!
Visiting with Great-grandma Connie:

Abbi liked her hair:
Daddy and his girls!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Just singing in the rain....

We scored an awesome playhouse at a recent consignment sale (many thanks to Nina and Papa!) and the girls have had a blast playing in it. Earlier this week, it was a rainy day so I said we'd have to skip outside time. The girls gleefully reminded me that they had a house outside that would keep them dry! How could I argue with delightful logic like that? (I did, of course, insist on rain coats because I know the odds of them actually staying in their water-proof house were slim to none.) But they sure had fun just singing and dancing and running in the rain!
I couldn't find Abbi's coat in a hurry, so she wore a 4T from last year. It swallowed her but was awfully cute! She has her paci in her mouth because we were just getting ready to go down for naps when they talked me into a quick dance in the rain.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

High Mineral Sports Drink and Coconut Milk Tonic

I promised that I would post the recipes that my holistic doctor gave me for Karlie. I am still collecting the ingredients for them, so I don't know yet if she likes them but I will update eventually. Also, she was just spouting off ingredients from memory and I was frantically writing them down as I tried to keep the pen away from Abbi, who was bored and strapped to my chest in the Beco. So I am hoping that she didn't forget anything and that I wrote down everything correctly and I will update as I refine the recipes :)

High Mineral Sports Drink: My doctor told me that as long as you get the best quality mineral salt (she actually recommends Redmond Real Salt over sea salt ), this drink is more effective than most mineral supplements that are super expensive. Thankfully, this drink does not cost much to make. She said that it would be good for all of us and Mark would especially like it after playing sports. It is also very healing to the gut because it contains aloe vera juice, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of baking soda.

The first thing you have to do is make a "sole" (a super-saturated saline solution). She said that you boil water, pour it in a pint jar, and then add heaping spoonfuls of high-mineral salt, stirring and adding more and more until the water is so saturated that the salt will no longer dissolve and it starts sinking to the bottom of the jar. Even if you don't make the "high mineral sports drink," it would still be very good for anyone to make the sole and put 5 to 8 drops in a water bottle each day.

Ingredients for the HMSD:
Fill a 16 ounce jar with:
1 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
a pinch of baking soda
a serving of Aloe Vera Juice
a capful of Sole (super saturated saline solution)
3 oz. strong Concord grape juice (not plain, not from concentrate, not Juicy Juicy! This is the real deal and will be considerably more expensive than regular grape juice but you only need a tiny bit so it will last a while)
fill the rest of the jar with good quality filtered water (no fluoride or other chemicals!)

Coconut milk Tonic -- Here is the basic recipe for the coconut milk tonic. My doctor recommended making a simple chocolate syrup (from cacao powder, a natural sweetener, salt, and vanilla) to get Karlie to like it more. She also wants me to add in an egg yolk from a farmer I trust to increase the protein count. I would also like to add in probiotics to help heal her gut and eventually cut down on the water to give her more fat.

1 can whole coconut milk
2 1/4 cups water or coconut water
2 Tbs maple syrup, a pinch of stevia, or other natural sweetener
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. dolomite powder (for calcium)

Directions: Heat on stovetop on warm and powder is dissolved. Cool before serving

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Karlie's food sensitivies

We took Karlie to see our holistic doctor yesterday. I had wondered if she had sensitivities to wheat or gluten because every time she gets ahold of white flour, she gets constipated. Every single time we go out of town and I don't watch what she eats as much, she has trouble. Even if we just go out to eat at a restaurant, she gets constipated. It does not seem to affect Karis the same way. My doctor tested her and said that yes, she indeed did have sensitivities to both wheat and gluten. She was not reacting to them as much at home because I was soaking my flour, which was making it easier to digest. But she greatly recommended that I try using gluten free recipes as much as possible. She also said that Karlie was highly sensitive to mold, which can also affect her gut. Certain foods can harbor mold, such as grains and some nuts, particularly peanuts. We had not been giving her peanuts at all because of Karis, so that was not a problem, but I am going to try to switch to gluten-free bread products. We tried out a recipe for buckwheat pancakes this morning and everyone liked them. I also tried a recipe for buckwheat tortillas, but they were not so good... I definitely have some experimenting to do! Please let me know if you have a gluten-free recipe that you love!!!! My doctor also said that too much dairy can be a problem for Karlie which was very disappointing. She is so picky that she doesn't like many meats so I was relying on milk, cheese, and yogurt for much of her protein and fat intake. My doctor gave me some suggestions for using coconut milk to make a drink full of fat and protein, so we will be trying to get her to like that to cut back a little on the dairy. Laura also said that her food sensitivities were causing her to not absorb her minerals and vitamins as well and she gave me a recipe for an inexpensive drink that will be easily digestible that will be really good for healing her gut and for filling her with nutrients and also making her more thirsty so she will want to drink more (which will help with the constipation). I will post those recipes soon for anyone else who might want to try them.

We are planning to try this route for April and May to see if there is any improvement. When we travel for Easter and the beach, I will bring my home-made gluten free bread products to give her so the grandparents don't have to worry about what she will eat. Brown rice pasta is fine and I have heard that Udi's gluten free products are good as well. Oats generally have gluten unless specifically stated otherwise.

It is hard to have to be so particular about what she eats but she was definitely having digestive issues and I am really hopeful this will help her. My doctor said that we may even see her gain weight or get taller after she has been off gluten and dairy for a while. She also may begin to be less picky once the detox stage is over. My doctor said that a lot of people really crave the things they are most allergic to and that seems to be true of Karlie because all she wants is bread and dairy. But after being off them for a while, the craving can dissipate and she will like more things. But this this going to be tough because right now she doesn't like many other things. My biggest fear is that she will not drink the coconut milk or vitamin drinks that Laura wants me to prepare so please pray that she will be excited about them so that she will get the nutrients she needs right now.

I would really, really like to do the GAPS diet with her because I know it would heal her gut, but I am certain that she would refuse almost everything permissible in the diet right now. I also do not want to take the chance on her losing any weight because she is such a little munchkin to begin with. So I'm going to just start by cutting out the gluten and hopefully dairy and try to find GAPS-friendly recipes that my family will enjoy. Eventually, I hope to have enough recipes to do the GAPS diet with her for several months.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why I haven't been blogging much lately...

With weather so pretty....

And kids this cute to play with...

Why would anyone stay inside on the computer?

Please excuse me while I go make some more memories! :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Blast ball and the littlest dunkeroo!

This session, we let the girls try out "Blastball" (T-ball) at their Daddy's work. They are in the same class and really enjoy it! The bases squeak when they run over them and they think that is hilarious. I haven't talked them into wearing the uniform, though, because it is a bright yellow rather than pink and they would rather wear their favorite colors (Maybe Daddy will order purple shirts next time he places an order, hint, hint :)

I took this video of Karis the last class because she is hilarious to watch... she has such an incredibly fun time but hasn't caught the spirit of competitiveness yet. If you listen to the comments during the video, you will hear how all the other Mamas get a big kick out of her skipping and hopping around the bases :) It sure makes me smile to watch my joyful and silly girl!

Abbi decided that she was feeling left out without a uniform so when I was folding clothes, she picked up Karlie's basketball shirt and tried to put it over her head and demanded that I help her do it:

Ever so proud of her big-girl basketball shirt!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dear Friends

Our dear friends, Paul and Laurel, and their precious little baby, Noah, came to visit last weekend. It was a super sweet but way too short visit that served to remind us just how much we love this special little family. They've been studying French in Switzerland for the past year and will soon be heading off to Africa to help create a written language for a tribe that does not have one in order to give them a Bible. Such an amazing and precious little family and we love them dearly.
We joked amongst ourselves (when the big girls weren't around, of course) all weekend that we are going to have an arranged marriage between this handsome fella and our sweet Abbi Grace:
Monday night we enjoyed having them over for dinner along with another favorite couple who had left to plant a church in another area. Oh, it was so wonderful to be with them again and felt just like old times when they would come over for Bible Study every week. My girls were on cloud nine to have some of their favorite people around again! They loved on Noah every chance they got and when Mark put the girls to bed, Karis called him back in and whispered that she hoped Noah and Abbi would get married someday. So sweet. (I promise that we had not mentioned it in her presence and she came up with it all on her own!)
Paul and Laurel and sweet Noah, we love you guys so much and will be faithful to pray for you!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Super-easy, 2 ingredient shampoo!

I've been searching for the perfect natural shampoo for quite a while now. I started out dong the simple baking soda technique and it worked fine for a while. But during the winter, my scalp got a little too dry and I decided I needed something that would do a better job of moisturizing. So I reverted back to buying a more natural shampoo and really liked Hugo Naturals Smoothing Shampoo (only $8 at vitacost). But I still wanted to be able to make my own. I saw this super easy recipe on Pinterest and knew I'd like it. Just coconut milk and castile soap, two things I use regularly anyways. I used an old dish soap bottle and poured in 1 part coconut milk (I use Native Forest brand because it is the only one I know that is BPA free) to 2 parts liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner's). It took barely a minute and about 4 dollars and I have enough shampoo to last me at least 3 months and probably more.

I've been using this shampoo for about 3 weeks now and I've been really pleased with it. It is very moisturizing and I haven't even taken the time to make the recommended ACV rinse to go with it. The only downer is that I have had to wash my hair every 2 days instead of every 3 like I used to, but I think that is just my scalp getting used to the lack of chemicals and eventually I will go back to every 3 days. I've had the same issue each time I have transitioned to a natural version of a product and it usually resolves itself after my body gets used to the lack of chemicals. The fun thing about using the castile soap is that there are several scents you can choose from. I started out with peppermint because I had bought a bunch to clean with back in the summer when we had an ant problem (supposedly ants don't like peppermint smell), but I am looking forward to trying lavender the next time. I just thought I would share!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"A little child shall lead them..."

(Alternately titled, "Lord, help my unbelief!")

(Alternately titled, "Humbled by my daughter")

Our daily walk around the neighborhood is truly one of the high points of our day. The girls really look forward to it and are disappointed when it rains and we cannot go. The excitement has been heightened even more by the fact that I brought out Abbi's umbrella stroller yesterday to use on our walk. This is really the first time the child has taken a walk in the stroller (other than our sweaty trip to the zoo last May) because when she was little I liked to keep her close in the sling and throughout the winter, we kept each other warm as she snuggled against me in the Ergo! But now it is beautiful springtime weather and I wanted her to be able to get more glorious sunlight on her skin so I decided to pull out the stroller. The big girls are even more excited about the stroller than Abbi, and they take great joy in pushing Abbi up and down the street.

Today I brought the stroller outside and tried to open it but it just wouldn't budge. Now this is a very simple umbrella stroller, no bells or whistles, and there was just no reason for it to not open unless it was broken. I figured that I must have closed it incorrectly yesterday and bent it or the dog stepped on it or something and it was done for. Nevertheless, the girls were begging me to make it work so I tried diligently for a good 5 minutes. No luck.

The girls were chatting with each other about how badly they wanted to push Abbi in her stroller and suddenly Karis looked at me and said, "God can fix the stroller." Oh, what beautiful child-like faith," I thought to myself and wondered how to get out of this situation without disappointing her. Of course I believed that God could do a miracle if He wanted to, but why would He care about a stupid stroller? I nodded at her and smiled, continuing to struggle with the stupid contraption. "Mama, all you have to do is ask!" she pressed further. How could I refuse her? This was the "teachable moment" I had read all about, but the problem was I didn't really think it would work. So we bent down together and I told God how badly we wanted to go on this walk and asked him to fix the stroller if He wanted us to go on it (thinking that we would next delve into a discussion on how God knows what is best for us) or that he would make another way for us togo (I could just put Abbi in the Ergo and sweat a bit more.) So we finished praying and I stood up and Karis said, "try it Mama!" And do you know what? That crazy thing opened right up like there had never been a problem! I didn't do a thing differently! You should have seen the big smile on Karis' face when I told her that she had been exactly right -- God did indeed fix our stroller. Oh, my eyes tear up just thinking about it!
So I learned my lesson. From my 4.5 year old. And from a God who cares about something as insignificant as a broken stroller. Because He loves my little girl.