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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Roller Coaster of Marriage

I hesitate sometimes in becoming too personal on my blog. But today while contemplating whether I should delve into my personal life I realized that if I don't then I am always giving the illusion that my life is all peaches and cream. No one has a perfect life, and it's okay to admit that. It doesn't mean that you are doing something wrong in life, it just means you are human.

I equate marriage as a ride on a roller coaster. There are ups and downs and some real high points, and very low points. And in the end, that is what makes a roller coaster a ride worth riding. I think it is the same with marriage. While the highs are fun, the lows are there for a reason. A point in which to learn and grow and change. While I don't think disagreements or flat out verbal fights are fun or even always necessary I do think they happen because you reach a point in your marriage where something has to change or you have to adjust something to make it work well again. If a roller coaster, or marriage, was just a straight ride through life, it wouldn't be fun and it wouldn't be worth it.

So for the last week, my marriage has hit a low point. Nothing for you all to worry over, but enough to make me have to focus and rearrange some of my thoughts. I'm still at the very low point in this period and we haven't resolved anything yet, but we are both still here. And my thoughts have been swirling around in my head and getting no where. But this morning, when I read on another board of someone elses problem with their marriage and someone stated a question from a book which said "What if God didn't intend for marriage to make us happy, but holy?"

It made me stop in my tracks. When I am going through a rough time and whining to myself about "not being happy", what if instead, I am supposed to be making my marriage a holy one, which in turn will make it a happy one.

It is something I have to dwell on more. I need to sort my feelings out. I can not change anyone but myself. My husband and I need to resolve this. And we will. But what it proves to me, and what the above quote really hit home about, was that this is what marriage is all about. And if we can look at what marriage was intended to be by God, then we can realize that even at the lowest points in life, we can learn that being happy isn't going to happen 100% of the time. And that's okay. Because as long as you stay on track there will be another high right around the corner.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who Are You?

It is so easy to get caught up in being a wife and mother that you only define yourself by those two words. But who are YOU? Give me five words of who you really are.

1. a dreamer

2. a writer

3. a hippie

4. a loner

5. a giver

Friday, January 29, 2010

Frugal Friday: Cloth Diapering

I typically use disposable diapers in the colder months and cloth diapers in the warmer months, since I like hanging the diapers on the line and not using the dryer for them. But the stash of disposable diapers that I wrote about here is now exhausted of it's size 5 diapers and the size 6 are still too big. So this week I switched back to cloth diapers. I'm happy to know that spring is on it's way (or should be, but I'm starting to wonder if it will ever get here!) and that I will only have to be drying them for a few months, at best, before I can start using the clothesline for them. There are two reasons I dislike using the dryer on cloth diapers. 1. It wears the diapers out faster that way. 2. The sun bleaches all the stains out of them. I do hang the diaper covers on my shower bar to dry though, as using a dryer on those is a no-no since it breaks down the waterproofing quite quickly, as well as any elastic.

I have a wide assortment of cloth diapers. Some I bought from stores or on ebay, some I got free for doing reviews, and some I found at garage sales. I don't have any pre-folds. I just do not like the hassle of them, but some people find those to be their favorites. When considering cloth diapers I advise you to get one of each style (all-in-ones, pocket, fitted, and pre-folds) and figuring out which ones you like best before buying your whole supply.

Two of my favorite diapers are pocket diapers. The covering has a small insert in the back to insert the "stuffing". Some people use pre-folds in the pockets but I buy the inserts that come with the diapers. You can double up on an insert for a heavy wetter or nap or bedtime.

Fuzzi Bunz is my favorite pocket diaper because it is thin and doesn't add as much bulk as typical cloth diapers. The fleece which lines the diaper is so soft and the insert is an ultra absorbent material which seems to wick away all wetness from baby's skin. Fuzzi Bunz close with snaps which are adjustable, so fit all types of babies from skinny to ultra chub! You don't need to worry about leaking with these diapers.

Happy Heiny's are another pocket diaper which I like. They also have fleece material inside which helps baby feel dryer. The inserts that I have are a thick cotton/hemp material which stops leaks but is a bit more bulkier. I do like using these for nighttime and going out and about the best. The designs are cute too...I have a zebra print, baseball, and dolphin.

Kushies is an all-in-one diaper. There is nothing to stuff into a pocket and it needs no cover. These are such soft cotton and hold leaks pretty well, though they do leak if I don't catch a wet diaper in time and leave it on too long. The designs are adorable and the velcro tabs make changing just the same as a disposable.
Once my babies start to go to solids I like to use these Kushies disposable diaper liners. They are like a thick piece of toilet paper and you just set a piece in the diaper. If baby has a bowel movement it is easy to just shake the liner and poo into the toilet.
When it comes to diaper pails, I do the dry pail method. I have a dry bucket which I stick all the dirty diapers in. Once it is full I dump into the washer, do a rinse cycle on cold, and then do a normal hot water wash. You can use a wet pail method, but then you need to have a secure lid as it posses a threat to small children in the house. I've tried both methods and find the dry pail much easier.
I use my homemade laundry detergent or whatever detergent is on hand to wash the diapers. Sometimes I will add a sprinkle of baking soda to the wash water. If lingering odors are beginning to be a problem you can add 1/2 a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.
I then hang the diapers out on the clothesline, or in the wintertime dry the diapers in the dryer and hang the covers (when I use the fitted diapers with a cover) on the shower curtain. Once they are washed and dried I keep them in a laundry basket and pull one out when needed.
Cloth diapering is not like it was even 15 years ago. There are so many options and changing the diapers take about the same as it would if it were disposables. Washing them a few times a week doesn't take a whole lot of time either. It saves me money and is also better for the environment (did you know a disposable diaper will sit in the landfill for 500 years?!). The beginning outlay when buying a stash of cloth diapers can be a couple hundred dollars (or less if you are buying on ebay or other cheaper sources) but within a year you have saved that much and more by not buying diapers and you can use this stash for future children or sell it for some cash, as even used but good condition diapers bring in good money.

Do you cloth diaper or use disposables? What brand(s) do you use?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Are You A Drinker?

What is your drink of choice? For me it is tea all the way. I enjoy soda (or pop, as we in the Midwest like to say) but am trying to steer clear of it more and more so go back to my old standby of tea.

My parents are also big tea drinkers, but don't dabble much in flavored teas. They introduced me to tea as a child when I was sick or wanted to feel like a grown up, but I never really liked it. I didn't realize until later that I didn't like it for the sole reason that my parents put milk in their tea, lots of milk. When I experimented with tea as an adult I found that I like tea just as it is, seeped in a hot mug of water until strong. No milk or sugar for me. I also grew up in a household of Lipton tea drinkers. No experimenting with flavors there, it was mainly just black tea or orange and spice. My mom will now try different flavors but most of the time you can find them drinking just those two teas.

When I went to Florida to be a nanny for a few months, there was a cupboard stocked with tea at their house (Hi Jacki!). They were from Republic of Tea and those flavors were what turned me onto tea for good. My all-time favorite was Cherry Blossom (or was it Spring Cherry?) and every once in awhile I will splurge and buy a container of it. If you want to really indulge your senses, stop by your local Borders or Barnes & Noble Bookstores and look at all the flavors that Republic of Tea makes.

I pulled out several of my teas to take a picture for you. You will see some Lipton, some Republic of Tea, and some herbal teas. I drink a wide variety and am always trying new flavors. Tea isn't just a yummy drink to warm you up (or cool you down with iced tea) but is also good for you. Tea has many health benefits and the different types of tea (black, green, white, red) all have different health benefits. Herbal teas are in a whole different category entirely and can help certain ailments and improve your quality of life. When I am pregnant I drink several cups of Red Raspberry tea which helps tone the uterus and makes for a quicker birth, I believe. It also helps shorten the bleeding time after birth and tones the uterus up more quickly. It is a huge help when it comes to any female reproductive issue and I often drink it to help relieve cramps during my cycle. It also tastes good so I drink it when I just want a good tasting cup of tea. The Cranberry tea I keep on hand for when I feel as if an urinary tract infection is coming on. We also have Mullen tea for when we are sick with a cold, peppermint tea to help digestive issues, Melatonin tea for before bed if we are having troubles sleeping, and more. And they work! I believe God made different plants to help us with different ailments.

So you won't find me drinking coffee, rarely find me drinking soda or alcohol, but when it comes to tea I have to have it at least once a day.

What is your favorite drink and flavor?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: No Poo

There is a movement called "No Poo". It isn't what it sounds like. It is a movement against store bought shampoo. Shampoo is chock full of chemicals and while one would think that it must be safe since it is out on the market, many chemicals and additives in our beauty products are not safe. It is not common knowledge that anything we put on our skin is indeed absorbed and cycles through our blood and organs. In fact, our skin is our largest organ (who knew skin was an organ?!) . In tests it has been shown that what we put on our body can be found in our body within minutes. So those who switch to natural soap and beauty products often also switch to "no poo". Many others who are not on the natural body care movement just do not like how their hair feels with regular shampoo. They say it weighs it down and that they actually have increased hair loss with the use of regular shampoo.

I tried this movement over two years ago. I quit within a week because I didn't like the way my hair felt. But those on the "no poo" movement swear that within a couple weeks your hair adjusts to the new cleaning regimen and is easier to manage and better looking than when they used shampoo.

What do no poo users use? Some use natural shampoos that can be found in stores, but most make their own hair cleanser with baking soda and vinegar. Take 2 tablespoons of baking soda and while in the shower mix it with a tiny bit of water to form a paste, then massage this paste throughout hair and rinse. Then take a couple tablespoons of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is recommended, though white works in a pinch) and mix with a little water, pour over hair and rinse out. Your hair will smell like vinegar until dry but then no smell lingers. It is recommended to just comb and let air dry.

The first few days that I did this I loved my hair. It was not frizzy and easy to comb. But then it started to feel greasy and weighed down. I went back to regular shampoo after that. From what I read, this happens in the normal transition period. You either need to cut down on the baking soda, skip the vinegar to only every other day, or pour it just on the ends of your hair instead of the roots. I am considering trying it again to see what my hair is like after several weeks of no poo. For now though, I just use the baking soda and vinegar cleanser about once a month to strip all the hair styling products out of my hair and it does an incredible job at that.

Whether you want to try going fully no poo or not, I suggest you try this baking soda and vinegar cleanse at least once. I bet that you will notice a huge difference in your hair that day!

Are you a no poo follower? Have you ever tried a baking soda and vinegar cleanse? I'd love to hear your thoughts, and would love to hear back on whether you tried it once and how you like your hair now!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Should Stay-at-home Moms Just Stay Home?

Can you really be a stay-at-home mom when you are always on the go? I think the term of stay-at-home mom has become a way to label those who do not work. You are either a working mom or a stay-at-home mom. But I know stay-at-home mothers who are away from home almost all day every day. They have to keep busy and schedule play dates and go to museums and parks and shopping and... You get the idea, it is tiring just thinking about it. It is similar to the "homeschoolers" who are gone constantly, my thoughts are always, "how can you homeschool if you are never at home?"

I think that it is important for a stay-at-home mom to have friends who we can converse with and for our children to have playdates. And I don't think that a stay-at-home mom needs to be stuck at home all day long. But I think that if we start to see a need where we have to go somewhere everyday, or do something away from home for several hours each day, we need to ask ourselves why? Why are we not content to just be, and to let our children form a bond with their own siblings rather than always needing a different playmate? Why did we choose to be a stay-at-home mom to be with our children when we are instead running to houses where our children can be entertained, several times a week? It's almost as though we are running away from the stay-at-home position that we chose.

I do wish that there was a playgroup or Mommy and Me group around here. I wish that we had a nice community center or child's place to go in the area. It is a bit isolating to be in a small town that really has nothing geared towards children. But I don't wish it to have something to do daily, or even weekly. My children get along well with one another and are best friends. I have enough to do at home without running around daily for several hours. My job is raising my own children and running my own home. Homeschooling also takes time and that time needs to be spent at home, for the most part. The extras are fun activities but are not required daily activities. There are times that I haven't left the house (except for a walk with the kids or to play in our own yard) for several days at a time. I actually need to be home to focus on my children and my duty. I know the mothers who always have something planned and are running from one playdate to the next or one store to another and they are so hurried all the time. They are restless at home too, not knowing what to do with themselves or their children.

It really comes down to balance. We stay-at-home mothers should not be stuck at home all day everyday, but we should be at home enough to focus on what the true meaning of a wife, homemaker, and mommy entail. If your housework is suffering, or your children seem to be lost without a friend around, or you seem to be spending too much money on mindless shopping or bored to be at home than I think that is a good point to ask yourself what your mission in life is and how you can fulfill it. Because you can't really be a stay-at-home mom if you are never home.

Your thoughts? What are your schedules like? Do you agree or disagree with what I said?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mail Call!

Remember here where I posted about samples? Or here where I mentioned a good idea for making samples into gifts? Well, I have stuck with signing up whenever I see a freebie listed and just last week received all three of these samples in the mail:

A little beauty bag from Glowelle with three "beauty drink" samples (truth be told, I didn't really like the one drink I tried, but the little bag is cute!).

A little packet with Lipton Green Tea (Orange, Passionfruit & Jasmine) which I am drinking right now and enjoying immensely!

And a Benefiber orange sample.

All fun little samples that would be nice to stick in a health basket for a gift, or fun to try out for yourself. It's been fun getting the mail each day seeing what is inside!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bits & Pieces

We have been having rain non-stop for the last 24 hours. It is a bit odd to have rain here in the middle of January but I guess I welcome it more than snow. The trouble is that it is making a mess, the streets and sidewalks are like little ponds now and the snow is turning into slush. And it is supposed to get colder this evening, which probably means ice. Maybe I would prefer more snow right about now above this rain.

We haven't seen sun in close to three weeks either. Seriously. The skies have stayed gray and overcast and it is really damping my spirits. My energy tank has hit the low mark and I just need some sun to perk me up. So far the forecasts are not calling for sun this coming week...that would mean a whole month without one day of sun. Can you say depressing?

One thing that did perk me up is that my aunt hosted a pajama day yesterday. While I didn't actually wear pajamas to her house (I had to make a stop at the grocery store and really didn't want to embarrass myself, although now that I think about it, I see people wearing pajamas in the store all the time around here so maybe no one would have thought anything) several of my relatives indeed did show up in pajamas. It was such a nice way to break out of the funk of winter and enjoy some adult conversation. This was the first time in, while, I think the first time since I became a parent that I was away from the kids for five hours and had a chance to sit down and enjoy talking. It was exactly what I needed to feel re-humanized. Food, games, and laughter perks up any one's spirit!

I was just going through my SwagBucks account and realized that since October I have earned $95 in Amazon cards. I spent some on Christmas presents and bought Joe's birthday gift with some, but still have $45 credit in my account. This search engine is seriously helping me buy gifts on the cheap. Don't know about SwagBucks? All you do is sign up and download their search engine. Instead of searching for something through Google or your regular search engine start doing your searches through SwagBucks. Every once in awhile you will win a SwagBuck or two when you type in your search (I typically win at least one SwagBuck a day, just doing about three searches a day). On Friday it is even easier to win SwagBucks and I have won up to five bucks just doing one search. When you accumulate enough "bucks" you can turn them in for gift cards. There are a whole list of gift cards but I am most interested in the Amazon cards (45 swagbucks for a $5 card). There is also Target, Home Depot, Sears, etc. I figure just by doing your regular searches you can earn about 45 "bucks" a month, which equals out to one $5 gift certificate, or $60 in Amazon credit a year. BUT, if you have friends sign up under you, you get a swagbuck every time they win a swagbuck, up to their first 100 points. So that is a wonderful way to get more credit. Click on the link below to learn more:
Search & Win

Both older kids slept in late this morning, but for some reason both woke up with a wet bed. So I will be doing loads of bedding along with the regular pile of laundry that I always work on. I decided to stay home from church today because of the weather and will instead be working on getting the house clean. I am thinking about rearranging the furniture in the living room today, although it will be tricky as our living room is tiny and so far the only way I have found to arrange it is the way it is right now. I'm looking at other options to make it more clutter free!

What have you been up to lately?

Saturday, January 23, 2010


This little guy is just as surprised as I am about how easy weaning has gone. 4 days out and going good.

No, his hair didn't disappear due to the lack of mommy milk, he got a haircut and now looks even more like a big boy. My baby is growing up!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Frugal Friday: Fruits and Vegetables

In our family we go through a lot of fruits and vegetables. Just last week I bought a 3 lb. bag of apples and the very next day it was gone. The kids know they can munch on healthy foods as often as they want throughout the day and I am glad to know that they love a variety of fruits and vegetables, but I cringe sometimes when I am at the grocery store and see the prices. It is just darn right expensive sometimes to try to eat healthy foods. There are ways to save, even on fruits and vegetables.

My biggest help is that our local grocery store marks down all their fresh produce when it is close to the expiration date. Their bowls of already cut melons and fruits are often marked down in the morning for only 99 cents to $2.99 per bowl, and they often contain a couple pounds of fruit that is already prepared, so you are paying for all fruit and no rinds or peels that add bulk that you pay for and just throw away. The kids love it when we come away with watermelon, cantaloupe, or the huge fruit trays of strawberries, kiwis, pineapple, grapes, and melon for $2.99 or under. They do the same thing with vegetables, I am often able to get a package of broccoli and cauliflower for under $1 and it is at least 2 pounds of just the heads. Delicious just sliced up with some dip. Their bananas are marked down before they spoil and you can often buy a bag full of apples or potatoes for $1. I have seen these same markdowns at Super Walmart and Target so I'm fairly certain all grocery stores have these markdowns. The key is to figure out when they do the markdowns and to get there right around that time.

Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are another way to save. They are less expensive but often the same quality as fresh so don't pass them by. Watch for sales and stock up when they hit their bottom price.

Grow your own. In the summer we get the majority of our vegetables from the garden. If you have more space you can grow enough to can and preserve some for the winter months. We planted strawberries last year in hopes of having a small harvest of them this coming year but hubby accidentally pulled them up last year, not realizing that they were going to come back. But we have hopes of growing some type of fruit this year. We are debating between melons or raspberries.

Go to U-Pick farms. Apple farms and strawberry farms often are quite cheap when you go and pick your own. We know someone who charges just $1 per pound for his strawberries when you pick them. They are delicious and we get several pails for, mainly just for fresh eating but I do freeze some for later as well. Look in your local newspapers or call around to see if there are any U-Pick farms in your area.

Go to Farmer's Markets. They are often cheaper than the grocery store, the food is fresher, and you can haggle with the farmer to get a better deal if you feel like it. If you go towards the last hour you can get some great deals as the farmers like to get rid of everything by the end of the day.

Buy in bulk. Many grocery stores will sell flats of peaches, strawberries, and other fruits at a discounted price. Call the local growers in your areas to see if they will sell flats of their produce. Some things will keep for awhile (apples, potatoes, and squash for instance) and other things can be canned or frozen for later use. Buy in season and prepare it so it will keep.

You can find deals on the majority of your fruits and vegetables. You just need to shop around, find out when markdowns happen, and sometimes buy in bulk and prepare it ahead of times. Healthy food can be frugal food!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why Would Anyone Read About Your Life?

That is what my husband asked the other day. I had been telling him the stats of my blog and how I have about 200 readers a day and 45 google reader subscribers. And he just flat out asked "Why would anyone read about your life?" Uh...

I asked what he meant and he replied with "Well, you are just a mom." If looks could kill...

He started to back pedal the moment he saw my expression and went on to say "I mean, you know, there are more interesting things to read about than the day to day happenings of a mother." Too late buddy, you are just digging yourself deeper and deeper.

But you know what, it did get me to thinking. I do have close to 200 readers a day. Only about 10 of those are people that I know, so that means that an average of 190 people find me interesting enough to visit each day. Why? Who are you and why do you find my blog worthy of reading?

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that complete strangers find my words interesting enough to read. Whether you agree with me or not on certain issues I find your comments fascinating. But I wonder, what makes me fascinating enough to draw you in?

Believe me, I will be sharing your comments with my hubby.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: Fluoride

Fluoride, it's probably something you don't give much thought to. You get it on your teeth when you get them cleaned at the dentist, your toothpaste has it, and your drinking water has it in. But what is it and is it safe?

For years I have been concerned with fluoride in our drinking water. I just don't like the fact that it is there and I haven't found a water filtration system that filters it out (at least, not one that I can afford). Contrary to previous belief, fluoride has minimal benefit when swallowed. According to the Centers for Disease Control, fluoride's "predominant effect is posteruptive and topical". Meaning, any benefits that accrue from the use of fluoride, come from the direct application of fluoride to the outside of teeth (after they have erupted into the mouth) and not from ingestion. There is no need, therefore, to expose all other tissues to fluoride by swallowing it. Yes, we continue to drink our city water, which is fluorinated, but I am not happy about it.

Once I turned 18 I stopped getting fluoride treatments on my teeth during a cleaning at the dentist office and have never had my children get them. The main reason for it is because I have dental fluorosis (which is now estimated to affect around 30% of American children and adults), which is the first visible sign of excessive fluoride exposure. It results in whitish or dark flecks and spots on the teeth. I have been able to get them bleached (at $200 a pop) but only did that once, as they come back due to not being stains, but rather marks on and in the teeth. I don't want my children to get that and it just proves that fluoride isn't exactly a good thing.

We go in spurts when we buy fluorinated toothpaste and unfluorinated. My husband seems to have very thin enamel and tends to get cavities when we use the unfluorinated toothpaste. The children typically use the unfluorinated and we have just had to deal with one cavity in my daughter, which I doubt is due to the lack of fluoride but more to the fact that I have started to let her brush her own teeth and I think she didn't do such a great job. I am not as worried about the toothpaste as it is not ingested.

There are other health affects of fluoride than just the dental fluorosis. According to the National Research Council (NRC), fluoride can damage the brain. Animal studies conducted in the 1990s by EPA scientists found dementia-like effects at the same concentration (1 ppm) used to fluoridate water, while human studies have found adverse effects on IQ at levels as low as 0.9 ppm among children with nutrient deficiencies, and 1.8 ppm among children with adequate nutrient intake.

People with kidney disease have a heightened susceptibility to fluoride toxicity. The heightened risk stems from an impaired ability to excrete fluoride from the body. As a result, toxic levels of fluoride can accumulate in the bones, intensify the toxicity of aluminum build-up, and cause or exacerbate a painful bone disease known as renal osteodystrophy.

According to the NRC, fluoride is an endocrine disruptor. Most notably, the NRC has warned that doses of fluoride (0.01-0.03 mg/kg/day) achievable by drinking fluoridated water, may reduce the function of the thyroid among individuals with low-iodine intake. Reduction of thyroid activity can lead to loss of mental acuity, depression and weight gain.

Less known to the public is that fluoride also accumulates in bones. It increases the risk for bone fracture and has even been linked to a serious form of bone cancer (osteosarcoma).

Fluoride hasn't even been proven to be the direct link to prevent cavities. No difference exists in tooth decay between fluorinated & unfluorinated countries.

We do try to avoid fluoride as much as possible.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Isn't this frost beautiful? It is actually Hoar Frost which on clear frosty nights in winter soft ice crystals might form on vegetation or any object that has been chilled below freezing point by radiation cooling. This deposit of ice crystals is known as hoar frost and may sometimes be so thick that it might look like snow. The interlocking ice crystals become attached to branches of trees, leafs, hedgerows and grass blades and are one of the most prominent features of a typical 'winter wonderland' day. The amazing part is that it usually melts or burns off by mid-day but we have had it for two full days straight! Lovely!
*Photos brought to you by my older brother, Dan. Thanks!*

Getting Married Young

The other day my older brother and I were discussing marriage and he said that he thought it was a bad idea to get married at a young age. His reasoning is that you are too immature at that age to realize the serious matter of marriage, and too immature to work at a good marriage. He stated that it usually ends in divorce.

I disagreed with him. I got married three months shy of my nineteenth birthday, and am still married almost nine years later, to the same person! Looking back, I can realize what a little baby I was and how immature but I don't think it has harmed our marriage. We grew up together and I think it is our marriage that helped us grow up. We knew that we were responsible for our union and that my husband was responsible to provide for his wife and I was responsible in keeping the home fires burning. We had children young too and that makes you grow up even quicker.

Yes, I think that we became responsible because we made a responsible choice. We knew we wanted to be together, I knew my calling was as a wife and mother, and we chose to get married because we do not believe in living together before marriage. Did I realize how difficult marriage can be, or comprehend the seriousness of the fact that I will be with my husband until death do us part? No, not totally, but I think that until you are in a marriage, at any age, you don't grasp it totally.

I, personally, believe that age has nothing to do with how mature you are. Yes, at eighteen I was much more immature than I am now, but I still look back and think I was mature enough to handle marriage. I see 30 year olds around me who are still in the party stage of their life and couldn't handle caring for a goldfish, much less a marriage. I see 20 year olds who can't balance a checkbook or figure out what a balanced meal is. I see 40 year olds who are selfish beyond reason and wouldn't know how to care for another person because all they care about is themselves. Maturity does not always come with age. Responsibility doesn't always come with age.

I have heard the excuse of "I was too young when I got married, I didn't know who I was" for the reason of a divorce. I don't buy it, you don't "find yourself", you create yourself. This can happen when you are in a young marriage, along side your spouse. The way to fix a marriage is to never turn outside your marriage to fix it. You work with your spouse, not against them. Yes, young marriages don't always work, and either do some marriages when the couples married at an older age. It has nothing to do with the age, but more to do with the people themselves.

What do you think? Where you married at a young age? An older age? How do you think that helped/hurt your relationship? I'd love to hear your opinion!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not Me! Monday

Yesterday, for the first time in almost two years, it was not I who was able to be alone with my husband and go on a date! We did not talk non-stop in the van and were not able to browse in a bookstore without children hanging on us or pulling books off the shelves. I did not see a mother who reminded me of myself, with three children who were causing a ruckus and wouldn't let her shop and I did not think "How dare you bring children into a bookstore, this should be a place of peace!" (Seriously, I'm just kidding on that one!)

We did not enjoy a romantic meal of McDonald's food (hey, we were pressed for time!) We did not do a quick shopping trip at Walmart and then talk non-stop on the way way home as well. We did not realize that we need to do this A LOT more and how stupid we were by not doing this sooner.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blog Stalkers

It has become more and more apparent to me that there are very nosey people in the world. I'm not talking about my readers, as so far I haven't had any scrutiny thrown my way. In the past months I have ran across two blogs that I frequent often that have almost a cult following. They have readers that just LOVE them and then a whole handful of readers that scrutinize everything and go to great lengths to dig up some dirt on them. Quite frankly, I find it odd.

Don't get me wrong, the way I found out about the stalkers is by seeing these other sites that were basically a place to "dig" at the blog and it's maker. I looked through them and read with interest, and may have even agreed with some of what was said. It isn't the fact that these other women disagree with or are talking about the one blog, it is the fact that some of them go so far as to try to find out the exact address of these bloggers, drive by their homes, find out where the hubby works, bring up police records, foreclosures, and more. It's creepy. If it were me, I would feel threatened.

Some blog stalkers go as far as to try to discredit everything that the blog writer has said. Calling them fakes or saying they are just trying to drum up a bigger readership. Some make horrible allegations of child abuse or say that CPS should be called for no other reason except they think they "see" a danger in the house by furniture or items that are maybe not placed in the best location or because someone is actually feeding their child unprocessed and homemade food! It's unnerving.

I had some qualms about starting a public blog. Anyone can run across the pictures of your kids or get obsessed with learning more about your life. I like to think that I am too boring or "normal" to have a cult following. I do try to protect my family somewhat by leaving out a few main details, such as my last name, city, or even state. But I do know that it is easy, too easy, to find information on the internet and with some good detective work I know that even I could be found.

I feel for those bloggers who just started a blog to have an outlet or way to connect with others and gained a big following, only to have some stalkers invade into their private lives. Does it just go with the territory or are these people crossing the line? I don't know, and I hope that I never have to deal with it. Though I guess any dirt that stalkers could dig up on me wouldn't be worth the time and wouldn't add any fuel to the fire. These blog stalkers really need to get a life!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Prayers Are With Haiti

I can not believe what I am seeing on the news coverage about the earthquake in Haiti. It truly is mind boggling and horrendous. I ignored the coverage the first few days after the earthquake happened and didn't even realize how big and serious it was. On Thursday I watched some footage of the scene and was saddened, sickened, and angry. Last night I saw more coverage and at this point am trying to stay away from the news because it is upsetting me and I feel helpless. Imagine how those in Haiti are feeling...the rescue workers, the ones who still have loved ones buried in the wreckage, the ones who are still buried alive, the injured, the homeless. It is overwhelming and impossible for us to imagine the emotions and feelings that are happening in Haiti.

The pictures of the injured children are especially tugging at my heartstrings and my only question right now is why? Why did this have to happen to a population that has already been battling such tremendous odds stacked against them. People who have already lived their life in such hardship. Why does God allow such pain and sorrow and why do some people never get even a little break? It is something that I can't even begin to wrap my mind around right now.

I am praying for Haiti right now. Praying that those in pain can get some comfort. Praying that those who are still buried and alive can be rescued or or at least have a sense of peace. Praying that those who lost everything and everyone can cope somehow.

It shows us to never take for granted anything...everyday of being healthy, having our loved ones with us, or having food and a home is a blessing. Today, I think, shows us how lucky we are. And please pray for those who are not as lucky.

For those who can do more than just pray, please consider making a donation in any amount to any of the charities that can help those in need. One of the many good organizations is Compassion International.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Frugal Friday: Reducing Household Bills

Did you realize that you can often get a better rate on many of your household bills just by asking? Most companies offer an introductory rate or specials for new customers, but also have offers to entice current customers to stay with them if they are considering leaving.

One example is the phone company. When we first moved to this house four years ago I was able to sign up for a landline phone and internet for a decent price through a new customer special. That special was set to expire one year after activation and the price was to rise dramatically. I called before the price was set to go up and went through the cancellation department (speaking to the regular reps usually does not get you a good deal, you need to go as far as the cancellation department). I told them I was considering switching to another phone company because of the price and they gave me another special set for another year. I have continued this each year, calling to cancel unless they can give me another good deal, and I would cancel if the deal wasn't good enough as there are other specials in the area. Each year they are able to set me up with a nice package for my phone and internet, just to keep me as a customer. Right now for a landline phone which includes 60 free long distance minutes a month, caller id, call waiting and DSL internet I am paying just $45 a month. It has been the best deal that I have been able to find so far and is actually far cheaper than the first deal that I got four years ago which was costing us around $60, so I have been able to get them down in price!

Newspapers are another area in which you can save. Most newspapers want as many customers as they can so will offer tremendous savings if you just ask. I am only interested in the Sunday papers and mainly for the reason that they include coupons. The cost for a Sunday newspaper around here is typically $2 but I usually am able to talk the newspaper company into Sunday delivery for $1 a week. So that is a $1 a week savings.

Cable bills can usually be reduced by using the same strategy as the phone one above. By considering switching cable companies your current cable provider will usually reduce your rate to keep you as a customer. I haven't been able to test this because we don't have cable but I have heard from several people that their bills are lowered this way. When your contract is about to expire is the perfect time to get another special.

Cell Phones. We use a pay as you go service so pay just $25 every three months for a cell phone. We basically only use it to carry with us in the car in case of an emergency or for a quick trip to the store in case we have a question. My husband takes it to work with him in case I need to get a hold of him and also uses it in place of a watch. We just don't want to be tied down to a contract and don't use it enough to warrant a monthly charge. But I imagine you can save on even a regular cell phone by either dropping some special features, reducing your minutes, or asking for a special rate.

Doctor, Dentist, Eye Doctor, Car Repair bills. Often times if you pay at the time of service you get a discount, usually of around 5%. Ask to see if this is true, as you can save a lot just by paying in full at that appointment.

Remember, it never hurts to ask and the worst thing they can do is say no. If you haven't tried doing this yet, try to see if you can get one household bill reduced. You can save up to several hundred dollars a year with just a few minutes on the phone.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Followup to Yesterday's Post

"You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion." ~Garrison Keillor

I enjoyed reading through all the comments of yesterday's post and seeing what everyone else thought. Even when I don't agree with what others write, it makes it easier to understand the other points of views.

It is difficult when writing an opinion to not sound judgemental. Because in a way, all of our opinions are judgements. But please realize that while I am against the pill because I believe there is the possibility that it can cause a fertilized egg to be "aborted", it does not mean that I think anyone who chooses that form of birth control is a horrible person. I just wanted to express my views because it is what I believe and I also think that there isn't enough information out there on the pill. It is actually a little known fact that regardless of what type of hormonal birth control pill you take, there is always the chance (however slight it may be) that you could ovulate and fertilize an egg, only to loose it due to the harsh environment that the birth control pill has created in your uterus. That is not something that doctors typically tell you and you have to read the pamphlets carefully to even find that info...which the majority of users probably do not do. If you understand that and decide that the pill is still right for you, then that is your choice. I wanted to raise awareness.

It is also true that due to some medical conditions sometimes the only thing that does work is the pill. There truly are pros and cons to the pill (as with any drug) but I feel that too many people are just apt to go on the pill because it is a quick fix. Those newly married couples or others who plan on becoming sexually active sometimes just automatically go on the pill, without researching the pros and cons and making an informed decision. That is what all these "Wholesome Wednesday" posts boil down to - making an informed decision. Whether you agree with my stance on circumcision, breastfeeding, or now birth control...to get to whatever your decision is I hope that you are doing loads of research and not just "going with the flow".

My posts on my blog are my opinions, thoughts, and beliefs. You know the saying about opinions and how everyone has one. I knew birth control was going to be a touchy subject and it was. But my main intent was not to judge but rather to get some lesser known information out there. I figure that many more of my "Wednesday Posts" will be controversial and a bit "out there" but it is a way to speak my mind about what I believe. I have passion in what I believe and will stand up for and defend it. It isn't about telling you that you are wrong if you choose differently. If you agree with me, feel free to share your thoughts. And if you don't agree, I want to hear from you too! I think it is wonderful when people can agree to disagree but learn something in the process. I look forward to future hot button issues to discuss with you!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wholesome Wednesday: Birth Control

This topic is not to start a debate about having children or not having children, about barrier methods or NFP. While those topics may be brought up in the future, the topic today is strictly about the birth control pill. And why I am against it.

My biggest objection to the birth control pill is that it kills babies. While on the pill there is still a slight chance of ovulating and actually conceiving that month, only to have the fertilized egg move down to the uterus to implant itself and not being able to do so due to the thinned out lining of the uterus (thanks to the pill). Which means, in fact, that the pill just aborted your baby. Now if you were on the pill you apparently didn't want to get pregnant at that point anyway, but did you expect to find out that you could be the mother of a dead baby (babies) while on the pill? For those of us that believe that life begins at conception, that is a startling thought if you had never heard it before.

The main purpose of the pill is to stop ovulation. But the pill has many back ups and one of those is to thin the lining of your uterus so that if you do indeed ovulate and conceive the fertilized egg will not be able to implant itself on that thinned lining. While the majority of the time the pill will stop ovulation and therefore prevent an egg from getting fertilized, there is always the slight chance that you could ovulate. Which means there is always a slight chance that within a certain month you could have an egg fertilized and pass through you without you even knowing it. A baby, of your own, gone. If you believe that your birth control pills do not give you the opportunity to ovulate, ever, please read the information packet that comes with your pills and look for the information on the thinning of the uterus to prevent implantation. Birth control pills do not just stop you from getting pregnant, they also stop you from having a baby. I couldn't take that chance with a child's life, even if it was just a 1% chance of that happening.

Birth control also messes with your body. The hormones in those things are insane. Some types of birth control proclaim you should take it for a shorter and lighter period, or to skip your period altogether. I, personally, believe that we have a period for a reason. To try to skip it does something to your body and I think that we will be seeing a lot more female cancers or other health issues in the future due to the wide range of use. It isn't natural. Even if I wasn't against the pill due to the abortion factor, I would be against it for the health reasons. Many people go on the pill for bleeding issues or to regulate a period. This is not "fixing the problem", but only masking it. Someone wanting to take charge of their health would dig deeper to see what the problem is in the first place. There are many supplements and herbs that help the female reproductive issues and I think those should be the first things we go to when there is an issue. But supplements and herbs are not making drug companies money, so the doctors aren't pushing those, or even recommending them. Mothers are putting their own teenagers on the pills for "medical reasons" without looking at other alternatives, and we wonder why the teenage "angst" has gotten worse? Why would we be subjecting our teens to these artificial hormones just to lessen the duration of their cycle or control some bleeding issues without looking for the source of those issues? *Edited to add: I do realize that sometimes birth control pills can be the only resolution to a medical problem. I do think that they should be the last resort though, not the first. I do not have much of a problem with the pill being used as a medication for a health issue, as long as other resolutions have already been looked at and tried.*

I also think that birth control pills can cause, at the very least, a few months of fertility problems when they are first stopped. I know several couples who decided to get pregnant so stopped the pill, only to get pregnant and loose the baby. Is it possible that the pills lingering effects in the body had a part in it? I'm not sure, but it seems like that happens too much to just be a coincidence.

I think that there will come a time that the birth control pills are ruled unsafe. And I hope that those Christians who believe that life begins at conception can realize that their form of birth control could be leading to the deaths of their unknown babies. It is not a safe drug to take and not a moral one. There are other ways to avoid a pregnancy without the chance of conceiving and aborting.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thankful Tuesday

No, this isn't a new theme day, just a Tuesday that has started off in a good way. At the moment I am enjoying the aroma of the roast which is in the oven and will soon get the ingredients popped into the bread maker (which was $5 at a garage sale last summer and looks brand new!) so we will have fresh bread with supper.

This morning has started off busy and the rest of the day will continue on that same track, with several household chores needing to be done and then arriving early at my TOPS meeting tonight to learn my new job there as weight recorder.

The highlight of my day? The big reason I am thankful today? My aunt owns a consignment shop in town and twice yearly she has a huge sale in order to empty out the store and start anew with the next seasons clothing. Last week all merchandise was 50% off, yesterday it was 75% off, and today was $5 a bag for anything left. I dropped my three little munchkins off at my parent's house this morning for my thirteen year old sister to babysit and my mom and I headed off to the shop. We waited outside in the cold for fifteen minutes and soon a crowd of other shoppers surrounded us waiting for the store to open as well. There is always a rush to get into the doors and warm up when they finally open up! I headed to the kid's clothing section and found just two sweatshirts for Becca for next winter as that section was really picked over. I found a couple t-shirts for Jacob and several things to store away for Joe. I was actually able to look at the adult clothing before it got too picked over and found a couple sweatshirts and several pairs of jeans for myself...even a pair of "Seven" jeans which fit. I was able to get a small pile of books for the kids and an adorable Discovery Toys wooden airplane rocker for Joe. All this for $10! The jeans that I picked up that ended up not fitting me can go in the next garage sale and maybe I'll even make my $10 back by selling them! So I am thankful to find such good deals and get things that my family needs at amazing prices. I am also excited about them re-opening in a few days with all new spring merchandise!

As a reminder, this is the time of year when most consignment shops are having big sales so don't forget to call the ones near you to see what their sales are. Maybe you will even end up finding out about a bag sale in your area.

Monday, January 11, 2010

T-shirt Winner!

Winner of the t-shirt is *Jess*! Please e-mail me!

Not Me! Monday

When our temperatures outside reached 15 degrees above zero for the first time in weeks I did not usher our whole family outdoors to play. I did not allow my children to go without snowpants and real boots because they didn't want to wear them, for the sole fact that I kept telling myself that 15 degrees is a heatwave compare to what we have been having, and that they didn't need them to stay warm.

When I noticed that my 20 month old was nursing less and less I did not decide last week that it was time to wean and actually manage to go for close to 48 hours of not nursing with zero tears, only to cave because he was being so good and I felt sorry for him! Isn't that the way that weaning is supposed to go?! It isn't I who was so ready to wean for months, only to miss it when I stopped. What a weirdo!

I was not the one wrestling our 120 pound dog to the ground trying to get her nails trimmed. She does not hate getting them trimmed with a passion and I have not put it off for much too long because of the fact that it is such an unpleasant task. I did not almost win the wrestling event only to have her get away with one nail untrimmed. That nail is not driving me crazy every time I see it, and I am not too tired to try to get the job finished. I think this chore should be a paid entertainment event; if I got paid to do it I may find it worth it!

How has your week been going?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's a Heatwave!

After weeks of temperatures hovering around 0, or even below zero, we may reach a high of 15 degrees today. That is indeed a heatwave to us!
We all went outside to play for awhile and get some of our pent up energy out.
We have been dealing with some cabin fever issues of late so it was a relief to get some fresh air and exercise.

The dog even seemed more livelier with the sun shining. This weather has been affecting us all.

I hope that you, too, are enjoying some warmer temperatures and sunshine today.
Don't forget to go here to sign up for the giveaway that ends tomorrow at noon!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ever Have One of Those Faces?

Are you the type of person that has complete strangers walking up to you saying "I know you from somewhere, don't I?" I have had this happening more and more and I'm starting to wonder if I have an evil twin out there, who happens to live in the same town (or I'm the evil twin of someone else?!).

It happened again today. We went out to eat at a local restaurant (thanks to my brother, Michael, and his Christmas present of a gift certificate to there!). We sat down and a lady across from us starred at me and said "I know you." I shook my head in question and said "I'm not sure but I don't recognize you." She looked at me strangely and asked my name and then said that it must be someone else she was thinking of. This happened a few weeks ago as well. I was at the grocery store and the cashier asked where my other child was. I glanced down at my three and said they are all here and she said she thought I had four. Then she asked didn't I drive a red truck? Nope, I replied, not me. She looked at me as if I was lying and said "I must be thinking of someone else" but then she personally took my grocery bags out to the van, even though a bag boy was waiting to do that, as if to see if my vehicle was indeed a red truck. Or the lady who works at Walmart and is constantly confusing me with someone else.

Just who is it that I look like? Would I think that person looked like me if I were to see them? Does that person have other people confuse them with me? It is making me awfully curious!


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