Thursday, December 31, 2009

Master Schedule, January 2010

Here is a Master Schedule I made for my Home Management Binder, we'll see how it goes. Obviously some days will vary depending on planned activities, and of course tweaking is expected.

Early morning
Get up, dressed
Personal Devotional Time
Fix breakfast
Children up, dressed
Breakfast and Morning Devotional
Morning chores (kitchen, bedrooms)

Late Morning
1st Workbox rotation
Break/outdoor time
2nd Workbox rotation
Break, Lunch

Early Afternoon
Afternoon Chores (Kitchen, Living Room)
Nature Study/Art/Project time (hands-on)
Quiet Time/Nap Time (Start short, work up to 30-45 minutes)

Late Afternoon
Break/Outdoor Time/Playdate
Music Review Practice (Concert Time--regular practice is part of the workbox rotation)
Dinner Preparation (children help)

Family Dinner and Scripture Reading
Evening Chores (Kitchen, Bathrooms)
Family Time—reading, games, walk, etc

Bedtime prep begins between 7:00 and 7:30, when children are in pyjamas, teeth brushed, prayers said Mom/Dad will read stories until 8:00
8:00-8:30 children may listen to recorded music or stories
Parents bedtime routine—quick sweep of house, journal writing, discuss day, plan

Decade in Review

It didn't occur to me that we are at the end of a decade until I read Decade in Review posts on other blogs. The first decade of the 21st century has been an eventful one for me, and certainly deserves a review.

I will start with where I celebrated New Year's day for each year of this decade:

2000: Fukuoka, Japan
2001: Managua, Nicaragua
2002: Utah
2003: Kiev, Ukraine
2004: Texas
2005: Utah
2006: Stockholm, Sweden
2007: Texas
2008: California
2009: California

Now for what I did in between:

Completed a term of missionary service for my church.
Got Married.
Graduated from college with a BA in Anthropology.
Was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force and moved to Texas.
Had a baby.
Left the Air Force to be a full-time mother.
Moved to California.
Had two more babies.
Started homeschooling.
Experienced countless challenges and times of trial and and was blessed with immeasurable growth and joy.

I look forward to the next decade.

New Years Resolutions

1- Gain some weight. Based on where I am right now, adding about 25 lbs by June would probably be good. Of course, loosing said 25 lbs between June and December would also be good, but realistically it tends to take me at least a year to get back to more or less pre-pregnancy weight (the exception was the year I tandem nursed--I think I lost all my pregnancy weight in about 3 months, and did it while eating a good 4000 Calories per day...)

2- Enjoy my children.

3- Love my husband.

4- Keep a more orderly home. This is the one that is going to take the most work. If you've ever lived with me you'll understand...

A Happy New Year to everyone! May the challenges and blessings of 2010 bring true growth and joy to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


You know how exciting it is when you go in for a prenatal appointment and get to hear that racing heartbeat that says your baby really is alive and well inside? I hate waiting between appointments, so I got myself a fetal stethoscope, also called a fetoscope, to listen at home. I heard the baby's heartbeat for the first time today using the fetoscope--I must have caught the baby just right, it's hard to get a heartbeat consistently with a fetoscope until the third trimester, and I'm a long way from that.
Hi baby! glad to know you're happy and healthy in there!

Birth Choices Part 2

I blogged a few weeks ago about my need to research and carefully review my birth choices with each pregnancy. At the time, I had not yet settled on a birth setting and provider for my current pregnancy that I felt comfortable with. I interviewed several homebirth midwives and found one I liked, a CNM with lots of years of experience and a great reputation among mothers. Unfortunately, her usual back-up doctors practice at a hospital at the far north end of her delivery range, and I am at the far south end--further than I was comfortable going in an emergency. We live less than 3 miles from a hospital, but none of the OB's there are willing to provide backup for home birth midwives. I went back to my OB from my last two pregnancies, who I like very much. She was willing to be my back up if I chose a home delivery and agreed with me that I was probably as low risk for complications as anyone, but the hospitals she delivers at are still about 45 minutes away (which is part of why I didn't want to go back to her for this pregnancy-that, and the fact that she missed the births of both my last children).

I kept praying to know what birth situation would be best for me and my baby. I really wanted to feel right about choosing a home birth, but I didn't. And I knew I needed to feel confident going into labor. A friend mentioned that she had heard of one doctor who delivers at the local hospital who was more friendly towards natural childbirth, but she didn't know the name. I decided to take the maternity tour at the hospital and see what I could learn. At one point during the nurse's presentation, an OB walked into the room to steal a cookie and made a couple of comments. The minute I saw her, I thought "I like that doctor". During the tour of the unit, I asked lots of questions. At one point I asked about squatting bars and if any of the providers who deliver here did squatting deliveries--the nurse said "you just met Dr. W". Bingo! When everyone trooped back to the classroom I hung back and went to find Dr. W, who cheerfully agreed to talk to me for a few minutes. We talked for several minutes and my first impression was confirmed--I like this doctor. She told me her philosophy is that doctors should not intervene in labor and birth unless it is truly necessary, and she is very supportive of natural birth and of letting women labor and birth as they feel best. Of course working within a hospital environment still means some limitations, but having a provider who is supportive is a huge benefit. I suppose you can never really know in advance how a doctor will act at the actual birth, but I feel confident in trusting my instincts on this one. I feel like I've found the right provider and setting for this birth, and I'm not stressed about it any more.

Monday, December 28, 2009

8 Years Ago...

I have many reasons to love the month of December. Today is one of the most important. Eight years ago we became husband and wife, and a new family was born. We were surrounded that day by our families, and I remember seeing our joy mirrored in their faces and feeling the approval and encouragement of generations. The dress I wore was my grandmother's wedding gown, made for her by my great-grandmother; I knew that as we worked to forge our own link in a family chain, we would always be upheld and supported by those who loved us.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thoughts about Christmas

Every year, we have a marvelous opportunity to celebrate not only the birth but the life and atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I have always wanted Christmas in my family to be centered on the Savior, on his life and gift to us. Our secular world, of course, twists Christmas around: instead of gratitude, we are offered greed. Instead of worship, we are offered parties. Instead of the Son of God coming to earth to be born in humble circumstances, to live, die and rise again in fulfillment of the ancient promise of Salvation, we are offered a "magical" Santa with flying reindeer, bringing trivial gifts of no lasting significance.

I don't believe that Christmas needs to be stripped of fun. I enjoy singing "Jingle Bells" and reading "The Night Before Christmas". I enjoy decorating a tree and exchanging gifts. But it seems to me that the "fun" of Christmas can all to easily overshadow the true joy of Christmas.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about ways to make Christmas in my own family a time of rejoicing in the birth of our Savior, a time of gratitude and giving. We intentionally make the receiving of gifts a low-key event--our children were delighted to find that Santa (they know that means mom and dad, but it's still fun to pretend) had filled their stockings with a few small gifts. We didn't have a gift exchange within the family--my family always had the children draw names and exchange gifts, but I had decided to have them exchange gifts for their birthdays instead. Christmas Eve was spent taking Christmas music to a friend and reading and acting out the Nativity story. I felt very, very content on Christmas day. But I feel that there is a lot more we could do, especially in the area of GIVING at Christmastime.

I liked this post over at Choosing Joy. This family thought a lot about how to invite Jesus to his own birthday celebration, and came up with some wonderful ideas. Instead of exchanging family gifts on Christmas Day, they chose to focus on a birthday celebration for Jesus and their gifts to him. In addition to any private, internal gifts, every family member had a budget they could use for charitable gifts to various organizations. I like this idea and see it as something that even small children could participate in a get excited about--could they donate chickens to a family in the third world? Or blankets to an orphanage? There are various organizations that make such gifts possible. In addition, it would be really nice to do some hands-on work: perhaps sewing receiving blankets, knitting baby hats, putting together hygiene kits or school kits to be sent where they are needed. I would also like to find more local ways to serve--adopting a family for the season, sharing musical talents, anything we can think of. I would love to have input from others on what they have done that has worked with small children, or what they think might work.

We could make Christmas day purely a celebration of the birth of Christ, and choose another day for a gift exchange. In many European countries, Saint Nicholas leaves his gifts on his feast day, December 6th. Maybe we could do our Christmas stockings then. Epiphany, or the feast of the Three Kings, celebrates the coming of the Wise Men on January 6th--this might be a good day for an exchange of family gifts. I know some families that exchange only home-made gifts, and I like this idea too.

I like the idea of celebrating the 12 days of Christmas from December 25th through January 5th. Maybe this could be a time to focus on special family activities and acts of kindness within the family and beyond. I also like the idea of paying special attention to the Advent season before Christmas. Formal celebration of Advent seems to originate with the more liturgical church traditions, but many other Christians seem to be adopting aspects of the celebration of Advent that help them focus on the coming of Christ. I like the idea of studying the prophecies about Christ's coming, and making the weeks leading up to Christmas a time of expectant waiting for the great miracle of His birth. In addition, this can be a season to remember that, like the people in ancient times who awaiting the First coming of the Messiah, we should be just as ardently awaiting and preparing for his Second coming.

So--my mind is full of thoughts and ideas about celebrating Christmas. I would really love to hear what others are doing or would like to do to use this season to truly center our lives on Christ.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Making A Home Management Binder

Home management is on my mind today, and someone pointed me to this blog article on how to make a home management binder. I think I will try it.

Christmas Day

We kept Christmas simple--Santa brought only stocking stuffers, there were a few gifts from family members. Everyone was happy. Lily enjoyed decorating the gingerbread village, Esther's favorite present was her pink mittens, and Luke spent hourse making playdough eggs.

Funny quotes:

Lily, going to bed on Christmas Eve, to mom: "Santa, don't forget to fill the stockings!" (Yes, ma'am. I won't forget. Why is it you assume I am responsible for that job and not dad?)

Luke, on Christmas morning: "I gave my jelly beans (from his stocking) to Esther because I'm trying to stay off of sugar."
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve

We stopped by a friend's house to share some Christmas music with him, then went to the Los Angeles Temple to enjoy the lights and read/act out the Nativity story. Esther played the part of the angel, repeating the words I whispered to her very seriously: "behold, I bring unto good tidings of great joy!"

Good tidings indeed. We are grateful not only for the birth of our Savior but for his ministry and especially His atoning sacrifice.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Me''y Guguff!!!

That's Merry Christmas in Esther language. She says it often and enthusiastically these days.

I hope you all have a joyous Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Somebody is TWO!!!

Wow what a difference two years can make! Here's Esther in December 2007

And 2009 (Actually, I think this was November, but I don't have any more recent photos, oops...) Happy Birthday princess!!!

Gotta love the two different shoes. She's convinced that's how shoes are to be worn--I haven't been able to get her to wear two from the same pair together in months! OK, so I admit to not trying very hard. I think it's cute, and definitely not worth fighting over...

We didn't even celebrate today, I was too exhausted after being up all night with a sick 4 year old--Luke caught the stomach bug that Lily and I had earlier in the week; I think he threw up at least 10 separate times last night, about every half hour for most of the night. Poor kid...he's been sleeping all day. I'm going to have to go wake him up in a bit to get some juice or something down his throat, I've had trouble getting him to drink more than a couple of tablespoons at a time, but at least he's keeping it down now.

If you missed Esther's birth story, you can read it here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pay thy debt, and live

When we were first married, my husband was working in the mortgage department of a bank. He saw firsthand the problems people ran into with debt. It was so easy for people to take out a mortgage larger than they could really afford, or with terms they didn't understand. Others took on debt with payments that were manageable until something in their life circumstances changed, and they found themselves unable to keep up. I credit that job experience with turning my already frugal husband into the most debt-averse person I know.

Within a few months of our marriage, we moved to Texas. Real estate was inexpensive, and after some consideration and prayer we decided to buy a home. It was nothing fancy--a small but pleasant home in a cookie-cutter subdivision. We signed our names to the 30 year mortgage note, but committed immediately to paying down our debt as quickly as possible. The intervening years have brought their share of challenges. We faced periods of unemployment, and other times when the money coming in could barely stretch to cover living costs. A job opportunity brought us to California, and knowing the (truly outrageous) state of the real estate market when we moved here, we chose to rent out the house in Texas and move into an apartment here. But over the years we have also been greatly blessed, and our means have mostly been more than sufficient to cover our needs. We live frugally, and we have continued to make additional principal payments on our home loan as resources have allowed.

This week, we celebrated my husband's birthday and the children and I were able to present him with this:

Yep, that's the original promissory note from our mortgage. It's been worth every small sacrifice. I don't know what life may throw at us in the future, but I know that if we need it, we have a home to go to.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Luke (still in pyjamas): "I can't even find pants"
Mom: "Have you looked in your drawer?"
Luke: "No, I haven't looked in my drawer."

Hm, that might explain why you can't find your pants...

Kids and Food

Luke has moved into a picky eating phase. I remember Lily going through a similar phase--she would reject most foods without tasting them. Often, if she could be lured into tasting, she would like the food.
Last night we had baked potatoes for dinner, and Luke wouldn't have anything to do with them. This morning, I cut up some of the leftover potatoes and cooked them with a little butter, salt and pepper. He looked at them and said "I don't like potatoes", in his best whiny voice. I put some on his plate anyway, along with his fried egg. A few minutes later he came and found me in the bedroom. "Mom, those potatoes are really good, thank you!"
You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Education for young children, part 1: Teaching children to love and serve God.

When my oldest child was about 3, I started reading books on educational methods and philosophies, and especially on home education. I discovered there are a lot of methods and theories out there, all with their own adherants. Some are commonly identified by the name of a principle proponent--Montessori, Ruth Beechick, Charlotte Mason, etc. Others are given names supposed to describe their methods or philosophies: Classical Education, Leadership education, Unschooling...and of course there exist both variations withing these methods and overlap amongst them.
Drawing on what I have read, on discussions with others, and on my own experience and philosophies, I have developed my own ideas about what my children's education should look like in the early years, up to about age 8. I'm not saying this is what it does look like; rather, it is the model that is in my mind, and that I am working towards. If I had to give a name to what I am trying to do, I would call it Service Education--I want my children to grow up with both the desire and the abilities that will equip them to serve God, their families, and their fellowmen. This post address my first goal: preparing my children to love and serve God.

I want my children to learn to know and love God, and desire to serve him. This means I take them to church with me on Sundays, we read from the scriptures daily as a family, we pray together daily as a family and teach the children to pray individually as well. Scripture memorization is important, and can begin as soon as a child begins to talk. When my oldest was about two and a half, I sat down with her one day and taught her a scripture that I wanted to make our family theme for the month. The scripture was Moroni 7:45 from the Book of Mormon: "And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Not a particularly short or easy passage, but within about 15 minutes she could say it perfectly. I would say a few words, she would repeat them, I would repeat them again, after doing this a few times I would add on a few more words, until both of us had the entire verse memorized. She can still repeat this verse today. We have since memorized other scriptures and passages as a family, ranging from the short and sweet (John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.") to the more complex (the parable of the sheep and the goats, Matthew 25:32-46). Don't underestimate you children's ability to memorize. Ideally, I would like to learn at least two new verses each month, and continue reviewing as a family memory work we have done in the past. We're not there yet, but I figure whatever we do learn together will benefit every family member.
Music is particularly powerful and memorable, and children will naturally learn to sing what they hear. I love to hear a toddler singing "I am a child of God" or "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam". They may not understand all the words, or be able to pronounce them correctly, but they are starting to build in their minds a storehouse of sacred music that will bring them comfort and encouragement throughout their lives. We sing at home the songs the children learn in Sunday School, as well as hymns and other songs I want to share with them. For small children, adding in hand motions or some sign language to make the music more interactive is always a bonus. I love to hear my children making up their own songs. With Christmas music in the air right now, my toddler has started making up her own songs about Baby Jesus; I can't think of anything sweeter to listen to.
I have been blessed with a husband who takes seriously his responsibility to be the spiritual leader in our home. It is Daddy who presides over family prayer and scripture study, who makes sure we are at church every Sunday, we hold Family Home Evening (almost) every week, and who makes sure the children are saying their personal prayers in the evenings. I take the lead in morning devotionals, which we try to do at breakfastime (after Daddy has already left for work). During devotionals we read from the scriptures or from scripture story readers, we practice memory verses and songs. When we start the day this way, everything seems to run more smoothly.
Above all, I believe in the power of example. As children see father and mother trying to model their lives on the Savior's teachings, they will naturally seek to do the same themselves. Our testimonies are transmitted most clearly in the way we live our lives.

Birth Choices

Every time I am pregnant, the question of where and how I will give birth looms large for me. During my first pregnancy, I mostly studied how to have a natural birth; I didn't want any unnecessary medical interventions, and especially I did not want to do/have done to me anything that might increase the risk of having a c-section. I believe operational deliveries can save lives, but I also believe many are not necessary, or would not have been necessary, had it not been for a cascade of prior interventions. I didn't really have an option at the time, or didn't know I had options, regarding where to give birth. I assumed my autonomy as a patient would be respected in the hospital setting. It turned out I was only partially right. I had a birth plan, and things I specified on the birth plan were generally respected--but only things I had spelled out specifically. Otherwise, the medical personnel apparently felt they had free reign to manipulate my body however they pleased--at least that was how I felt when the Dr. who attended the delivery reached inside me five minutes after the baby was born to manually remove the placenta, a procedure that was both extremely uncomfortable for me and a potential source of problems such as infection or partial retained placenta. I was astounded that someone would take such liberties with my body without consulting or even informing me. The experience made me much more cautious regarding future births, and taught me a lot of new questions to ask--and new things that might need to be included in my birth plan!
Now with every pregnancy I carefully evaluate my options. I tour hospitals. I interview OB's. I interview homebirth midwives. I need to go into labor feeling confident not only that I have the medical support I need to birth my baby safely, but also that I will treated both supportively and respectfully through the labor and birth process. I am not comfortable checking my autonomy at the doors of a hospital.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I stumbled upon a blog yesterday written by an OB. In one post she defended the escalating c-section rate in the United States (currently over 30% of births,) arguing that many countries with high c-section rates also have low infant and maternal mortality rates. She acknowledges that many c-sections are performed in which the baby could have born vaginally without problem, but considers these justified by the few infant lives that are saved. By the way, I'm not really arguing with that premise, nor am I anti c-section; I recognize that this procedure does save lives and I may need one myself some day. I do think our c-section rates are unnecessarily high for a number of reasons, but that is not what this post is about.
What shocked me was that, after reading this post about how critical it is to use every intervention possible to save a few infant lives, I came across a post on the same blog in which this same OB justifies the elective abortion of children with Down's syndrome because of the burden they pose to their families and to society.
In other words, we should use every possible technology and intervention that might possibly save the lives of a few babies, unless of course the babies are genetically sub-par in which case we are better off killing them outright.
I'm sorry Dr., I really don't follow your reasoning.