The Porch Light copyright by Revka (2006-2010). All rights reserved.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Having a Mary Heart Blog Tour

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity for providing a free review copy of this book. No other compensation was received for this review. The opinions contained herein are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

I sure have been living the Martha life lately! Even though the girls have been at my mother's this whole week, it seems as though I cannot accomplish even the few "urgent" items on my short list. Obviously, taking care of a newborn trumps any other "important" item, but I must admit to getting a tad frustrated at not even being able to respond to congratulatory messages.

Mr. Incredible has been simply incredible - he has taken care of the house for me this week, and I think he has done a better job than I manage to do. I jokingly asked if I could hire him, but I know he is doing this out of love for me and not for any love of housekeeping! In fact, I think he's bored nearly out of his mind.

We did get out on Wednesday morning. Buddy Bear had his newborn checkup, and I stopped at Wal-Mart to purchase a few supplies I had forgotten I would need for a baby. I was delighted to find that a certain brand of pacifiers now packages the pacifiers in custom boxes, meaning that I can toss the pacifiers into the diaper bag and not have to worry about their being clean. I know - it doesn't take much to amuse small minds. *smile*

So what does my rambling have to do with Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World? Simply this - if I do not take care, I will always be "too busy" to spend time with my Lord. Even though I have not yet finished reading this book (it is taking me a while to ponder the concepts shared), I have had my eyes opened to areas in which I need to improve. Joanna Weaver, the author of this book, doesn't write from some elevated spiritual plateau but instead cordially invites the reader to take what is best from both Mary and Martha, encouraging us to find that necessary balance between service and worship.

About Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: An invitation for every woman who’s ever felt she isn’t godly enough, isn’t loving enough, isn’t doing enough.

The life of a woman today isn’t really all that different from that of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Like Mary, you long to sit at the Lord’s feet, but the daily demands of a busy world just won’t leave you alone. Like Martha, you love Jesus and really want to serve Him…yet you struggle with weariness, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy.

Then comes Jesus, into the midst of your busy life, to extend the same invitation He issued long ago to the two sisters from Bethany. Tenderly, he invites you to choose “the better part”–a joyful life of intimacy with him that flows naturally into loving service.

With her fresh approach to the familiar Bible story, Joanna Weaver shows how all of us–Marys and Marthas alike–can draw closer to our Lord: deepening our devotion, strengthening our service, and doing both with less stress and greater joy.

About Joanna: Joanna Weaver was voted the Most Promising New Writer of 1997 at the Mount Herman Writer’s Conference. She has authored Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World and written for publications such as Focus on the Family, Home Life, Aspire, and The Evangel. A pastor’s wife for more than eighteen years, she and her husband have counseled many couples, both those approaching their wedding and those struggling in marriage. The Weavers live in Montana and have taught young married classes and spoken on the topic of marriage throughout the northwestern United States.

Related links:
Joanna's blog: http://joannaweaver.blogspot.com
Buy the book at Amazon.com
Blog tour schedule

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Tale of Two Treasures

This is one of the loose ends to which I referred in my birth story post, but I had a lot of fun with it - as you will see.

When I married Mr. Incredible, my parents gave me a pearl necklace, bracelet, and earring set, saying that every bride should have pearls. I wore the necklace and bracelet on my wedding day but opted to wear earrings that were a bit larger than the ones in the set. (If you click on the photo, it becomes extra large so you can see all the details of my gorgeousness. *laughing*) I loved those pearls, and I tried to take good care of them. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, Pookie Bear and Miss Muffet managed to get ahold of and lose the necklace and earrings. I do still have the bracelet, but I've always been rather sad that I lost the rest of the set.

A couple of weeks ago, I was very blessed to be given the opportunity to choose a necklace or pair of earrings from PearlParadise.com. The company has a great reputation and has even been featured on such celebrity talk shows as the Ellen Show and the Tyra Banks Show. They specialize in offering high-quality freshwater pearls at affordable prices.

I selected an 18" 6.0-7.0mm white freshwater pearl necklace with a white gold clasp. I eagerly awaited the arrival of my new necklace and was not disappointed when I opened the box. The necklace is beautiful. The pearls are nearly perfectly round and have a beautiful soft luster. The necklace came packaged in a beautiful black case and included care instructions and a soft cloth to protect and polish the pearls.

Inspired by my pearls and the birth of Buddy Bear, I created a short (one minute and thirteen seconds) movie - A Tale of Two Treasures. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

video

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Early It Is


Yes, the question has been settled - Buddy Bear was an early baby. So excuse me for having been absent for a few days and for any sporadicness sporadicity continued absence *laugh* from posting over the next few weeks. I won't be completely gone because I still have some loose ends to tie up and I enjoy blogging, but I'm not promising how much I will be here.

Mr. Incredible said that Buddy Bear made up for coming early two weeks early by taking his time getting here, and he wasn't joking. This was the hardest and longest of my four labors - over 24 hours. So much for what I've heard about each labor being shorter and easier! If you wish to read more about it and don't see the rest of this post, just click the Read More link. I promise I won't be graphic, but I know not everyone wants to read long, wordy birth stories. There are more pictures after that link, and you can always just look at those but not read the post. If you continue reading, consider yourself warned. :)

I had a regular doctor visit on Friday, June 13; I was 37 weeks along. Braxton-Hicks contractions had been increasingly bothering me, but I just tried to ignore them since I was sure that Buddy Bear would be born sometime in July. My doctor thought that he had finally turned head down instead of being in a breech position, but she scheduled an ultrasound for the following Thursday's appointment, just to make sure. I left her office resigned to several weeks of increasing discomfort and pain.

Mr. Incredible had already decided that he needed to go ahead and get the baby's room painted and ready, so Friday night (6/13) he painted the ceiling. Saturday, he painted the trim and walls, and on Sunday he put together the crib. We didn't have a mattress for it, but at least the crib was together! I'll post before and after pics in another post; it turned out really well.

I noticed that every day after my Friday appointment I had some contractions and that they seemed to occur more frequently. I still didn't pay too much attention, figuring they were just the annoying practice ones. I complained a bit to Mr. Incredible, who told me that the baby couldn't come until after Wednesday; he had to go to class for his work that day, and the class was about 100 miles from home. He really did worry that I would go into labor while he was away and not have anyone to watch the girls or take me to the hospital. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

Monday morning, I cleaned out the excess junk that had accumulated in the baby's room and made everything as ready for him as I could. Monday night, my church had a baby shower for me. It was nice, and Buddy Bear received so many lovely, thoughtful gifts. I was thankful that I had cleaned out his room and had somewhere to put the presents.

On Tuesday night, Mr. Incredible took the girls to spend the night at the farm while he spent the night with his parents so that he wouldn't have as far to travel to class on Wednesday morning. He called me at lunch on Wednesday to see how I was doing, and I told him I was okay. The girls had a blast at the farm that day. They were so excited about going fishing that Mama couldn't hold them off past 9 a.m. They ended up fishing for about 2 1/2 hours and caught 40 fish during that time! I was glad they had a good time, and it was nice to have some alone time, particularly since I was feeling increasingly yucky.

Thursday morning found me helping my partner Linda with a difficult design. I worked with her until it was time to get the girls ready to be dropped off at Rosie's while I went for my doctor's appointment. I was feeling worse all the time but tried to ignore it. Since I was feeling miserable, I decided to go ahead and take my suitcase in the van and also leave the girls' car seats with Rosie - just in case I didn't come back from the doctor. (Rosie wasn't feeling too great herself, and I really appreciate her keeping the girls for me anyway.)

I was on time for my 1:45 p.m. ultrasound. After the ultrasound confirmed that Buddy Bear had turned, I waited in the exam room for my doctor. I was feeling really miserable and was nearly crying. When my doctor came in, she immediately noticed that I was very uncomfortable and asked me about it. I told her that I had been having contractions since the day before but hadn't been timing them since I figured they were just the fake ones.

Since her exam revealed that I was 2 cm dilated, she decided to hook me up to the monitor to find out how often the contractions were coming. The results showed they were consistently 3-4 minutes apart. She told me that I was actually in labor and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. I gave a decidedly affirmative answer. I had been about 1 1/2 cm dilated when I went to the hospital with the girls, and they were all born in about 12 hours, so I figured Buddy Bear would probably be born around 2 a.m.

I made some calls from the doctor's office parking lot and a few others from the hospital parking lot - to Mr. Incredible, Rosie, my parents, my in-laws, and a few other people I needed to let know what was taking place. I then carried my suitcase and purse with me to the admissions area. The admissions lady looked at me rather strangely and asked if I was there to be induced. I replied that I was not - that I was already in labor. She remarked about me carrying my suitcase, and I told her that I had driven myself there and had no one to carry it for me. She got the few items of info she needed from me and had me wait for a nurse to come take me to Labor and Delivery. When the nurse came for me, she didn't have a wheelchair and didn't even offer to take my bags. I walked and carried my own suitcase, which I found both mildly amusing and annoying.

I had two nurses attending me; one was new to the hospital, and the other was helping her learn the ropes. The new nurse started asking all the admissions questions while the other one took care of the other things, like putting in an IV. It is important to know that I hate needles and particularly despise IV's. My veins are knotty and tend to roll; I have never had an IV placed in less than two tries, and I was already dreading that part of the labor. The nurse did get the IV placed on the second try, but it felt painful. When I told her, she just said that was normal. I had always known them to ache, but this one actually hurt; however, since the nurse didn't seem concerned, I didn't say anything else about it.

It was nearly 5:00 p.m. by this time, and my parents had arrived. (We had already planned that they would keep the girls while I was in the hospital and that they would meet us at the hospital to get the girls.) My doctor had given orders that I be allowed to walk until she came to check on me around 7:30 p.m. The nurse told me to be back to my room by 7:15p.m., and my parents and I went down to the lobby where Mr. Incredible soon arrived with the girls. His parents arrived not long afterward. We all visited for a while, and then my parents took the girls and went home, expecting that they would see the baby when they returned in the morning.

At 7:10 p.m., Mr. Incredible and I headed back to my room as instructed. Shift change occurs at 7:00, and when my new nurse came to check on me, she noticed that the area around my IV was red and swelling. She asked how it felt, and I told her it hurt. She realized that the IV was not actually in a vein and that the fluid was just going into the skin. My heart sank when she told me that the IV would have to be redone. She tried a couple of times (which brought the number of times I had been poked up to 4) and then told me she would give me a bit of a break before trying some more. Considering that each attempt to put in the IV left me shaking violently from nervous tension and had me nearly hyperventilating, that was a good idea.

My doctor didn't arrive until 9:30 p.m. I still didn't have an IV in place, though there had been attempts made by the best nurses on the shift, and additionally discouraging was the news that my labor had not as yet progressed. After more time and two more attempts, the IV was finally placed on the eighth try. It ended up being put in a vein that crossed my right wrist bone - a weird place but the only one that worked.

I had intended to walk some more once the IV was in place, but after all the poking, I decided that I was ready for the epidural after all. Unfortunately, the anesthesiologist misjudged the depth of my epidural region on his first attempt and went completely though it, meaning that he had to try again. The second attempt was successful, but he warned me that the botched first attempt could result in an epidural headache. I didn't really care. I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up when the baby was ready to be born; that was what had happened with my previous three labors, and I saw no reason why this one should be any different.

Several more hours passed. I did sleep for a while and was surprised to discover that it was nearly midnight. Another check revealed that I had still made no progress, and that was with Pitocin being administered. I realized that Buddy Bear might not be born in 12 hours like his sisters had been. Poor Mr. Incredible's parents were still there; they decided to try to get a little sleep in their van.

Time passed without my notice - until the epidural started wearing off on my right side, and I started increasingly feeling the contractions. I really don't remember what time it was. I know it was mid-morning because my parents came breezing into the labor/delivery room with the girls in tow. When they came in, the pain was pretty intense, and the contractions were coming 2-3 minutes apart. I was struggling not to lose control and told them that now was not a good time to be in there. I particularly didn't want the girls seeing me like that because I knew it would frighten them.

Mr. Incredible was my rock. He let me squeeze his hand, wiped my face with a cool washcloth, encouraged me, and did everything he could to help me. I was so glad he was there. I didn't really get to rest between contractions. In the first place, there was only about 30 seconds between the time one ended and the second began; in the second, every time my uterus quit contracting, both of my calves started. So it was like waves of pain that started in my abdomen, went to my legs, and then mercilessly started all over again. I tried using breathing techniques to help manage the pain but ended up whistling through the contractions instead. (Mr. Incredible thought that was really odd, but for many years I have whistled when I am hurting.) I really wanted to cry but felt like if I once started, I would lose what little control I had and things would turn really ugly. The nurse did her best to help. It took two increases in the epidural before I finally received some relief. The pain never did completely subside like it had before, but it was manageable.

Through all of that, I was still stuck at 4 cm with contractions ranging from 2-4 minutes apart, and it was already 10 or 11 in the morning - about 20 hours since I had been to my doctor's appointment. I was beginning to wonder how much longer they would let me go before deciding I needed a C-section. I didn't want a C-section, but if it was the only way to have the baby safely, I was okay with that.

My doctor decided to try to trick my uterus and ordered the Pitocin drip to be turned off for 20 minutes and then restarted. I also tried shifting positions - sitting up for a while and then lying on my right side for a while. Whatever the cause, when my doctor checked me again not too long after noon, I was almost completely dilated and ready to begin pushing. What a relief!


I had been up since 4:00 a.m. on Thursday - about 32 hours, hadn't eaten in 24 hours, and had been in labor for at least that long, if not longer. I was a little worried that I might not be strong enough to push like I needed to, but thankfully I was given the strength I needed. His head emerged in about 5 pushes, and the doctor quickly told me to quit pushing. I didn't know it, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around Buddy Bear's neck, and he was purple and blue. (Mr. Incredible told me about it later.) Dr. F. quickly placed two clamps and then snipped the cord in between. She told me to push again. One push saw him completely out, and Buddy Bear was born at 1:13 p.m on Friday, June 20. They suctioned his nose and mouth, and he let out that beautiful newborn cry. He weighed 7 pounds, 5 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Mr. Incredible got to hold our son first while the medical staff cleaned me up. He had so wanted a son, and I was happy to see him holding his heart's desire. I was also happy to learn that I had no tears or other problems that would cause me discomfort! After the long labor, it was wonderful to have an easy delivery and the expectation of a quick recovery.

Once I was taken to my room and little Buddy was brought to me, everyone came to see the baby. Pookie and Miss Muffet were really excited. Pookie kept telling everyone that she had prayed to God for this baby, and that was nothing less than the truth. I let each of the girls sit by me in the bed and hold the baby. Baby Bear was so funny! When I placed Buddy Bear in her arms, she got this look on her face that said, "What is this?!" and immediately shoved him back at me. I had to laugh as I took him from her.

Because my water had been broken for over 16 hours, the pediatrician wanted to observe Buddy for 48 hours to make sure that he had not contracted an infection. May I just say that a hospital is a boring place to be? We were all ready to go home when we were given our release on Sunday morning!

Buddy Bear and I are doing well. Other than the expected tiredness, the only problem I am having is that I did, indeed, end up with an epidural headache. The doctor prescribed some medication that really does help, and I hope that this will be gone completely within a few days.

Thank you for all of your prayers and concern. I appreciate each and every one of you.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

I hope you guys had a wonderful Father's Day. Too often, we take you and your influence on our children for granted or discount it altogether. The reality is that your presence and guidance has a profound impact on our children, and they suffer tremendously without your presence and involvement in their lives.

I ran a Google search for "study of fatherless children" and came up with a disturbing array of articles and studies showing the terrible effects children suffer when they do not have a father. Here are some of the statistics pertaining to fatherless children:

From July, 2003 Idaho Observer (visit the article for complete stats and sources)

  • 63% of youth suicides are fatherless children
  • 71% of pregnant teens
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders
  • 80% of rapists motivated by displace anger
  • 85% of all youths in prisons

Those are a very few of the statistics cited. One of the saddest ones I read was that "only 11% of mothers value their husband's input when it comes to handling problems with their kids."

I'd like to pay tribute to Mr. Incredible and thank him for being a father who cares about and loves his children. While he was gone at school, I learned how inadequate a parent I am without him. Our children need both of us. God knew what He was doing when he created the family structure with one man and one woman.

God bless you fathers, and please continue to invest your time in your children.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Skizzer Blog Tour

Thanks to LitFuse Publicity for providing a free review copy of this book. No other compensation was received for this review. The opinions contained herein are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Skizzer is A.J. Keisling's debut novel, and I think she did a great job. The title is what the author, as a little girl, called her sister, being unable to properly say the word sister.

Since I love stories with mystery and a touch of romance, I really enjoyed this book. When Claire's sister, Becca, disappears, Claire is determined to find her. Each step that brings her closer to Becca also reveals more about a long-hidden family secret. The author uses flashbacks to reveal history and information pertaining to both the secret and to Becca's whereabouts.

If you are looking for an easy-to-read novel that grabs your attention and keeps you guessing, try reading Skizzer. You can purchase it at Amazon.com.

To see what other bloggers have to say about this book, visit the blog tour schedule. While you are there, leave a comment answering the question, "What's the most important thing you ever lost and then found?" Your comment enters you in the contest for a $40 gift certificate to the restaurant of your choice. A.J. Kiesling will select the winning response based on originality and sizzle.

A.J.'s bio: A.J. (Angie) Kiesling grew up loving trees and words--trees because they formed the natural backdrop and playground for her childhood years in rural North Carolina, and words because they captivated her from as far back as she can remember. When she wasn't romping through the woods with her siblings, she might be found with her nose in a book--or lost among the shelves at the local library.

She has worked in the Christian publishing industry since 1985 as an author and editor. A former religion writer for Publishers Weekly and Religion BookLine e-newsletter, she frequently reported on spirituality trends and religion book publishing. Angie is the author of numerous books, including Skizzer (a novel, Revell), Where Have All the Good Men Gone? (Harvest House), Jaded: Hope for Believers Who Have Given Up on Church but Not on God (Revell), and Soul Deep: Prayers and Promises for Cultivating Inner Beauty (Barbour). She also ghostwrote Live Like a Jesus Freak (Albury), the popular follow-up to D.C. Talk's bestseller Jesus Freaks.

Beginning her career as a staff editor for Charisma magazine, she went on to cover industry news and book trends for the award-winning trade periodical Christian Retailing, followed by an editorial position on the startup website iBelieve.com. Over the years she has worked as an independent book editor and writer for some of the leading names in book publishing: Baker Publishing Group, Jossey-Bass, Thomas Nelson, Honor Books, Harvest House, Creation House, Barbour Publishing, and Xulon Press, among others. Today she heads up the editorial department at Xulon Press, a print-on-demand publisher based in Orlando.

About Skizzer: After receiving news of her sister Becca's abrupt disappearance, Claire Trowling must piece together the shadowy remnants of a past she's long forgotten in order to find her. A cryptic note scrawled in Becca's handwriting leaves more questions than it answers. When a stack of mysterious letters bound by a rare necklace is found, Claire races to discover the secrets that hold her family captive. Suspenseful and full of intrigue, Skizzer takes you on a transcontinental hunt for answers, weaving seamlessly between the distant past of childhood and the urgency of the present.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Disney Fine Art Show

My girls love all things Disney. Their room is decorated with Disney princesses. I cannot imagine what they would do if were able to go to this show I am going to tell you about.

Trevor Carlton, a showman and an artist, is going to be to be presenting a Disney fine art live performance in Ogden, Utah on September 20, 2008 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The show is said to be a mix of art, music, and dance - all presented with great energy. At the end of the show, you will have an opportunity to purchase your own original paintings. If you pre-purchase your artwork, you can have it personalized by the artist.

Like I said, all three girls would be thrilled to attend this event. Too bad we can't go, but maybe you can. If you do, would you mind letting me know what you thought about it?

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Practical Steel Buildings

Our church is in the process of attempting to purchase some property from a different church that has closed down. The new property has two large steel buildings on it, and if we can figure out how to configure them, we will have both a church building and a school building. Of course, all of that is contingent upon our getting the property first.

I must admit the buildings are ugly; however, I have seen first-hand what can be done with prefab steel buildings. The church we attended before we moved down here had been meeting in a school. A new highway was being put in across town, and an automotive parts store was directly in the highway's path. It was auctioned off with the understanding that the purchaser would move the building.

The winning bid happened to come from a man in our church, who then turned around and donated the building to the church. With the help of some missions teams, our men took down the building, moved the pieces to our 24 acre property, drew up and had approved new plans, and put the building back together.

If you were to see the church today, you would not know that the church was a steel building - unless you looked at the back half. The front half is stuccoed outside, and the inside has sheet rock and all the finishing touches any stick-built building would have. It's beautiful. The back half is used as a recreation/fellowship area; therefore, there was no need to make it "spiffy." I have pictures of the completed building, and if I can get my scanner to work again, I'll share them with you shortly.

Steel buildings are not only more affordable as large buildings but are also practical and cost-effective in smaller sizes. Both our old house and our current house had a small steel storage shed on the property when we purchased it. Ironically, both buildings were old and soon fell down, meaning we had to replace them. While we replaced them with wooden structures, it would have cost us less to replace the old sheds with new steel sheds.

Steel buildings are available for many different uses. Have horses? You might want a metal horse barn. I've seen people with RVs and other large vehicles store them in a portable garage. Steel buildings can also be used as airplane hangars, workshops, and carports.

Do you have a steel building on your property? What do you like or not like about it?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Are You Optimistic about Our Soon-to-be-elected President?

First, did I miss Hillary's concession speech? I still haven't heard that she has formally conceded the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.

Second, I can tell you that it's going to be a long several months until election time. I had hoped that once the Democrats had a nominee, we would get a break in media coverage of the Presidential race. No such luck. Now Obama and McCain are are bashing each other's economic plans. I'm not thrilled with either candidate, let me tell you.

Yes, our economy is in a mess. People are hunting for jobs in Los Angeles, New York City, Minneapolis, Brownsville (TX), and everywhere in between. The housing market is still pathetic, and gas prices continue to rise, creating a ripple effect that has not come close to reaching its peak. Times are already hard and will only continue to get worse.

I do not think it really matters which candidate gets elected. I believe the effects of our current situation will last for some time, no matter how our next President tries to improve the situation. And I don't believe that increasing our tax burden would help the situation any, no matter what a charismatic politician says.

What do you think of the Presidential candidates? Do you see any reason for optimism regarding either one?

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Hodge Podge

I've been busy with designs this week - I've already created a new blog design and three Mommy Cards. My favorite card so far is the Leslie card pictured above. To me, it exudes classy sophistication and makes me think of an impeccably groomed mother who always wears pearls and high heels in public. But that's just my imaginings. *smile*

Mr. Incredible's back is doing much better and continues to improve as his treatments proceed. I'm glad we opted for a chiropractor instead of an M.D. for his injury.

I now have 3 weeks until Buddy Bear's due date. I told my design partner that I would soon post an eviction notice for him here at The Porch Light. *laugh* I'm tired of carrying him and of all those fun special pregnancy symptoms. More than ever, my face looks like it is in dire need of some kind of acne treatment, and of course there are the other aches and pains that come from lugging around a huge basketball tucked in your tummy. Yeah, fun.

Last Saturday, Mr. Incredible's parents and brother/SIL/nephew all came down. Mr. Incredible and his brother/SIL went to the air show while the girls, their cousin, my in-laws, and I stayed home. It was a nice day. The air show attendees got pretty badly burned from not wearing sunblock, but they thoroughly enjoyed watching all the plane shows, particularly the Blue Angels' routine.

There's not a whole lot else going on right now, but I thought I'd write a quick post to fill you in. I hope you have a great day!

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Natural or Not?

When I posted about Mr. Incredible's back problems, I was glad to see the comments elicited by the post. I like to hear what other people think and to get different perspectives on a situation. In the comments, I stated that I lean more and more toward natural remedies. My experiences with doctors have eroded and continue to erode the degree of confidence I have in them, and we've never had a doctor I would call "bad."

I grew up in a home where the menu was quite a bit more "natural" than that to which my friends were accustomed. (In fact, after coming to our house, they would often remark on the food and drinks they received; some remarks were positive, and others were negative.) Because of Dad's being border-line sugar diabetic and Mom's earlier health problems, she opted to feed her family fewer refined and processed foods.

We were not allowed to have anything made with refined sugar. Soft drinks were not often seen in our house, and the few times we did get them, they were of the sugar-free or all-natural variety. Snacks were either fruit, homemade cookies and bars, or sugar-free store-bought treats. Honey was the sweetener of choice for everything from tea to cakes and cookies. Only unbleached flour was used, and Mom made much of our bread herself, without the aid of a bread machine. (Sometimes she tried adding wheat germ to her baking, but we could always taste it and revolted.) Chocolate was not used in our house; carob powder was its substitute.

Mom made most meals from scratch; in fact, instant potatoes were such a rarity in our house that they were actually viewed as a treat. Nearly every morning, Mom got up early and had a hot meal ready for us when we got up. A typical breakfast would include hash browns (made from real potatoes Mom had peeled and grated herself), scrambled eggs or an omelet, and made-from-scratch (not using self-rising flour) biscuits with honey and butter. Other oft-seen breakfast dishes included made-from-scratch pancakes and/or French toast and hot breakfast cereals. Non-instant oatmeal, bear mush, and Cream of Wheat are the three cereals I remember - I didn't like any of them; oatmeal even made me throw up. Crepes were a rare treat, and I loved them stuffed with bananas or strawberries and drizzled with honey.

Mom gave us multi-vitamins on a regular basis, and we loved when she would buy the chewable cherry-flavored Vitamin C tablets from GNC. We would eat them like candy; it's a wonder we didn't break out in hives from eating so many. But we rarely had to go to the doctor.

I'm not "natural" to the same extremes as what I was accustomed to when growing up, but I do avoid convenience foods for the most part and make many of our meals from scratch. Rather than rush to the doctor for every little sniffle and ailment, I prefer to give the body time to heal itself, helping it along with natural or over-the-counter remedies as appropriate. I am not yet ready to go hard-core natural (no colon cleanser for me, thank you very much!), but as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I continue to discover that natural is often better or best for you. It just goes to show that God knew what He was doing when He created us and our world.

How about you? Do you think natural remedies and health foods would or do benefit you and your family, or do you think these things are made and promoted by quacks who delight in stealing your hard-earned money? Perhaps you, like me, fall somewhere in between.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Scooby-Dooby-Doo!

I was working on a design project yesterday when Pookie Bear frantically alerted me to the fact that Baby Bear, who is not quite three years old, had gone outside to check the mail by herself. Not being adequately dressed to venture out in public, I asked Pookie Bear to go get Baby Bear.

Since Pookie didn't have her shoes on, she opted to stand at the front door and call Baby Bear. When that didn't work, the next thing she tried cracked me up.

"Baby Bear, I've got Scooby Snacks!"

The ironic thing was that the lure actually worked, even though we don't have any such thing in the house. They love Scooby Doo!

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pain and Relief

Mid-month Every Month at PENSIEVE
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I'm finally participating in Pensieve's Poetic License again. I can't believe the last (and first) time I participated was back in November! My apologies, Robin!!!

The poetic form for this month is Diamante, an Italian form which consists of seven lines and forms a diamond shape when complete.
subject
two adjectives describing the subject
three words ending in "ing" telling about the subject
four words, first two describe subject, last two describe opposite
three words ending in "ing" telling about the opposite
two adjectives describing the opposite
opposite

Robin gave us two possible theme choices: the great outdoors or emotions. I'm not sure I've really used either theme, but my diamante was inspired by end-of-pregnancy/labor/post-birth feelings. I guess that may qualify as emotions. *smile*

pain
dreadful merciless
aching stabbing unrelenting
inescapable spasmodic desired anticipated
soothing relaxing comforting
restful welcome
relief

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5 Ways to Save on Car Insurance

illustration courtesy of fotosearch.com

Don't we wish money grew on trees? With gas prices and the price of everything else rising, many families are having to make their money go as far as possible. In April, I posted 5 Ways to Use Less Gas. As I think of other areas where we can save, I'll post those as well.

Today, I want to share 5 ways you can save on car insurance.

  1. The first way drivers can save more is by comparison shopping for car insurance online. Don't just get one quote and be satisfied with that. Even if you have been with an insurance company for a zillion years, there might be another company that can give you the same or better coverage for less. It might be a good idea to shop around every year just to make sure you are still getting the best insurance coverage for the lowest price.
  2. Be a safe and responsible driver. There are times when accidents are unavoidable, but driving defensively and obeying the rules of the road are two ways you can do your best to avoid accidents and traffic tickets. No accidents and no tickets means you will get a cheaper insurance rate than someone who has accidents or tickets on his record. (Sidenote: Speeding is not worth what a ticket and court costs would run, it burns more gas than does abiding by the speed limit, and it doesn't gain you much time, either.)
  3. Ask about multiple-car or car-house discounts. My insurance company offers a discount for insuring multiple cars with them. A previous insurer gave both the multiple-car and a car-house discount.
  4. Opt for an older vehicle. If you are purchasing a vehicle, instead of buying the brand new model, see if you can find a gently used late-model vehicle. My experience has been that the newer the car, the more you will pay to insure it. Our Suburban is a prime example. If we had purchased a newer model, we would be paying quite a bit more in insurance right now.
  5. If you pay monthly, find out if your company charges a fee for that privilege. If they do, switch to paying quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. If that seems too hard, divide the lump sum payment into monthly payments, and put that amount into a savings account each month so that you will have the money on hand when the bill comes due.
Here's a bonus tip: review your policy every time it renews. Do you use a vehicle for pleasure that was once used for work? Did you overestimate the miles you would use in a year? Do you still need comprehensive coverage on that older vehicle? Let your insurance company know of any changes you wish to make, and your rate should drop a bit.

Do you know of any other ways to save on car insurance?

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Interesting Child Care Option

I am blessed to be able to stay home with my children; therefore, I do not need to worry about child care - whether my children are receiving the kind of care I want for them, whether they are being influenced in ways I do not want them to be, whether I can afford the cost of having them in child care.

I know that many, many families are not blessed in this way, and I have watched others as they struggle to find child care that meets their desires and is affordable, too. It's a big responsibility deciding who is going to raise your child when you are unable to do so yourself.

I recently found out about au pair care, a program that matches European young adults (18-26) with American families who need help with child care for children between the ages of 3 months and 12 years. The au pair is basically an exchange worker who commits to live with a family for 12 months, agreeing to take care of no more than 4 children for up to 45 hours per week (no more than 10 hours per day) in exchange for pocket money, some time off, and the chance to learn about America's culture.

Apparently, having an au pair in your home is not an unusual occurrence in Europe. It seems like it could be a beneficial arrangement for both the au pair and the host family. If I remember correctly, my mother went to Europe as an exchange worker, picking strawberries as the contract required and then traveling. Being an exchange worker gave her the opportunity to see places and people she would never have had the chance to see otherwise, and being an au pair gives these youngsters (well, some are not much younger than I am *laugh*) the same chance.

Have you heard of this or know of anyone who has hosted a foreign exchange student or worker?

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Which Do You Prefer - Internet or Yellow Pages?

Linda and I are constantly coming up with ideas for new products to offer at RS Designs. We will soon be offering custom business and blog cards (the blog cards are custom made to coordinate with your blog) and pre-made mommy cards (see picture at left).

Another new service we will be offering is business website setup. We will handle everything from start to finish. The package price includes our purchasing a domain name and hosting for a year, setting up the web site platform, creating the design, putting in the content, performing Search Engine Optimization, and submitting the completed web site to appropriate search engines and directories. While we are not yet offering this service through RS Designs, both Linda and I have approached a few local businesses to test the waters.

Here is what I am finding: despite the growth of the Internet, many businesses do not have even a simple one-page static website offering their location, business hours, and contact information. That means that they are missing out on potential customers. For example, a friend of mine recently recommended that I contact a local business regarding setting up a website because she searched for them on the Internet, wanting to find out their hours of operation, and came up with nothing.

I think I am a pretty average Internet user (ignore my blogs and my business - that's not what I mean). I think I conduct business searches on the Internet almost as much as I do through the yellow pages. If I need information or a non-local product, I am more likely to turn to the Internet - to find out about a diet pill, for instance, I would probably search for a diet pills review site. If, however, I want to find a local business, it is a toss-up whether I turn to the yellow pages or to the Internet.

So we finally reach the question asked in my title - which do you prefer: Internet or Yellow Pages?

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