Sweet baby #7 is due to arrive in 26 days. I know that is not an exact time, could be more, could be less, but I love countdowns so I'm doing one. :) Actually I've been counting down the days since we reached 100. If you've ever wondered if the mother of a large family loses excitement by the seventh baby or so, the answer is a resounding NO! Every chance to see baby on ultrasound, every kick, squirm and hiccup, is still exciting when you've had this many. And you never feel like you are a "pro" or that this is something you've experienced before. It's like new every time. I've had so many people during this pregnancy comment that I must be a "pro at it by now" or something like that, and really nothing could be further from the truth. Each pregnancy, each birth, each child is so unique. I really feel like a first time mom, each time. So yes, there is tremendous excitement in my heart over meeting sweet Silas Keith in around 26 days. :) Without further ado, 26 things to share. . .
1) Why the name? I'm glad you asked. :) I like boy names that are strong. Other considerations were Titus, Jesse, and Ephraim. All from the Bible, all strong sounding, all good meanings and connotations. But Silas won my heart for a few reasons. It means "asked for", and we asked the Father to bless us with another boy if He was going to bless us again. So when I found out I was pregnant, although it was unexpected, I knew it was a boy and I knew he was the one I had asked God for. Sam and Silas are good brother names. Also our girls' children will have an Uncle Sam and an Uncle Si, which we think is pretty cool. :) We chose Keith for the middle name because Brian's dad's name was Keith, and Brian's middle name is Keith. So he will be the third Keith Rodgers in the Rodgers Tribe.
2) How do I have time to write today? Once again, glad you asked. :) During the last trimester I've been super abundantly blessed to have a sweet, godly young friend of our family coming over two days a week to help with the kids and the house while I get extra rest. I wanted to be proactive in having a healthy, blood clot-free, bed rest-free pregnancy, and I knew I would need extra help accomplishing that. I've been on bed rest at this point in pregnancy with the last four. And with the last one, Bethany, I had a DVT that is still not completely healed. I knew that if I didn't take action and get more rest, I would be headed that way again. Thankfully, Gabriella has been an answer to prayer, and I have made it to 36 weeks without complications. The only annoying thing is that about a week ago I started having lots of contractions, probably Braxton-Hicks, but they keep me up at night and if I'm not careful, bring a lot of anxiety. Today I have my feet up, staying hydrated, and writing about all the things that whirl around in this mother's mind while my hands are too busy to write. Thank the Lord for Gabriella and time to rest and write.
3) Speaking of hands, I'm so glad I discovered this gem from Copywork for Little Girls by Sandi Queen. If you homeschool girls grades 1-3, please consider getting a copy of this. Here's one of the lessons my Maggie is copying to practice cursive:
"To my mind, Jennie Higgins has the most beautiful hands of any girl in school," she said quietly.
"Jennie Higgins!" exclaimed Nettie in amazement, "why, her hands are rough and red and look as if she took no care of them. I never thought of them as beautiful."
"I have seen those hands carrying dainty food to the sick, and soothing the brow of the aged. She is her widowed mother's main help and she it is who does the milking and carries the wood and water, yes, and washes dishes night and morning, that her mother may be saved the hard work. I have never known her to be too tired to speak kindly to her little sister and help her in her play. I have found those busy hands helping her brother with his kite. I tell you I think they are the most beautiful hands I have ever seen, for they are always busy helping somewhere." -taken from Beautiful Girlhood by Mabel Hale
4) We have happened upon similar gems in McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader and The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett. Maggie was reading about the one-room schoolhouses in the 1800s and it mentioned how great an education the students of all ages got from reading the McGuffey readers. Then I remembered I had picked one up for like $2 at a yard sale/farmer's market in Lacey's Spring so I opened it out of curiosity. I couldn't put it down for the rest of the day! Such beautiful words kids used to read in school! The stories and Scriptures and poems and hymns in them are a great challenge for language studies, and elevate the mind to higher, nobler things at the same time. If you can get your hands on a McGuffey reader, you will have a treasure. There's an excerpt from "An Old Fashioned Girl" by Louisa May Alcott, written in 1870, and an older lady advises young Polly: "Well, dear, I'll tell you. In my day, children of fourteen and fifteen didn't dress in the height of the fashion; go to parties as nearly like those of grown people as it's possible to make them; lead idle, giddy, unhealthy lives; and get blase at twenty. We were little folks til eighteen or so; worked and studied, dressed and played, like children; honored our parents; and our days were much longer in the land than now, it seems to me."
5) Another habit I've gotten into lately to be proactive in keeping my mind on the right things (because truly. I need help thinking on things that are true and pure and lovely every day, don't we all?) is reading and singing through an old hymn book. We picked up some old hymnals when we started having church here, and I'm so glad. It's rare to find a church that sings the hymns anymore that I was fortunate enough to grow up singing every Sunday. I don't want them to be dead or foreign to my kids. I mean you just can't beat "Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth!" and "Just to rest upon His promise, and to know, 'Thus saith the Lord.'" If you ever need a quick pick-me-up, break out an old hymnal and start singing your way through it. You may be thinking, why go to all this trouble to read an old one-room schoolhouse reader and sing the old hymns? And I know. It sounds pious, sanctimonious, a little holier-than-thou. Again, I wouldn't know these things are so great if I didn't need stuff like this in my daily life. To keep myself from going insane some days. Just try it. As one of the texts in the McGuffey reader says, "When we aim at a high standard, even if we do not attain it, we still shall secure a high degree of excellence."
6) Two weeks ago, I had a really rough day. The kitchen sink was full of dirty dishes on both sides, so after unloading the dishwasher I needed to rinse the dirty ones off and then put them in to wash. I turned on the water to rinse, but instead of going down the drain, it started to rise. So I turned on the garbage disposal, which only made it worse. The disposal was throwing up instead of swallowing in. :) Before I knew it the dirty dishwater was spilling out both sides onto the kitchen floor. I left it to tend to a vomiting 5 year old and a poopy 1 year old, only to come back and find that my phone, which I had placed in the window over the kitchen sink, had apparently fallen in. Had probably been in the sink for 15 minutes or more. Obviously, it died. We tried to dry it out and revive it, but after a few days of attempts, we gave up and sent it in for a replacement. Luckily it was still under warranty. Anyway, for about two weeks I didn't have a phone, really, except for the extra one we have around for emergencies that makes and receives calls. For the first few days I was bummed out, as my smart phone is virtually my only access to the "outside world". It's also my camera and my radio, which I missed tremendously. But after a few days I began to enjoy the hands-free experience and was really challenged by it. I took a walk one morning, and usually on my walks I listen to Pandora, but this day I talked to God as if He were walking right beside me. One of my favorite sights along my walk is an old barn. It's probably 100 years old or more. It's out in the middle of a pasture, and on this particular morning the sun was just coming up over it. I wanted so bad to capture it with my camera. :) Immediately God brought to mind why I love that barn in that pasture so much. To me it is a picture of something so pure and so lovely. Which reminded me of the Scripture, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue or if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things." -Philippians 4:8 I thought that when I get my phone back, and have a camera again for taking pictures, I want to start a gallery of Things that are Pure, Things that are Lovely. Maybe someone else will see them and be reminded of beautiful things as they go through their everyday. Life can be so difficult, I love to think that I could share something with others that would lift their spirits. I follow a mama on Instagram who describes herself as a "beauty finder" and "joy chooser". Why not? Aren't those the best things to aspire to be? The alternatives would just be sad.
7) I'm into essential oils. But even if you are not, please at least consider getting some Tea Tree and Lavender oils for your home. Especially if you have kids! This time of year my kids can just think about going outside and they get ten mosquito bites. On a few of mine, these bites become welps and look and feel just awful. When they come in from playing outside, we have a routine of washing them off with a cool wet rag that has Dr Bronner's Lavender soap in it, then putting tea tree oil all over the affected areas and finally, my homemade Mama Salve. :) More about the salve later. :) But I think the tea tree is ESSENTIAL in getting those bites to go down. Within an hour of that treatment, you can hardly even tell there was a bite at all. And the itching is gone. Last weekend, we went camping, and Penelope got into some poison oak. I knew because it was everywhere and she is my explorer. I looked at her once and saw that her face was getting red and swelling up. When I asked her, she said she had touched "that stuff" that was poison oak, and then had been wiping her hands on her face. Minutes later it was redder and more swollen. I washed her hands and face with Dr. Bronner's, then put tea tree oil wherever there was any redness. Within an hour it was gone, never to return again. I always wish I had a before and after when stuff like this happens, because it's remarkable. But I never think to stop and get a picture when it's bad. Not something I generally want to share. :) Get you some tea tree and keep it for mosquito bites, poison ivy, cuts and scrapes that need help healing. Lavender oil can be used to treat burns and inflammation from the same types of things. It really does reduce anxiety in children and adults, too. I bathe the kids in epsom salts and lavender oil, then put lavender oil on the bottoms of their feet. It really does calm them down! It's my favorite. I made a lavender spray out of lavender EO and witch hazel. I use it now and plan to take it to the hospital for during labor. I noticed that Ruth's Nutrition now has a small oil diffuser for a small office space, like a cubicle, that plugs right into your computer. So if you need to stay calm at work, go get one! :)
8) Ruth's Nutrition also has a delicious, refreshing drink recipe that boosts immunity. You can get all the ingredients at Ruth's: Lemon Ginger Echinacea juice, Elderberry syrup, and lime seltzer water. It's delicious as it is, but I sometimes add Vitamin C powder and/or Daycare Defense, something else you can get at Ruth's that has probiotics, vitamin D3, and colostrum powder.
9) Yes, speaking of colostrum, a man approached me at Costco last week asking the usual questions: are they all yours? do you also homeschool? y'all don't have a farm do you? I guess we must look the part. Anyway, when I told him we milked goats, he asked if I ever had extra goat colostrum because "it's so good for you!" He swears that he started drinking goat colostrum when he developed thyroid cancer a year ago, and he is cancer-free now. Who knew? (by the way, we don't have colostrum right now because Stella, our one doe that is giving milk right now, was just weaned off her baby. And if she gives birth again in the spring, I plan to let her baby get that liquid gold. Sorry! :))
10) Many days, we have PBJs for lunch. And something simple (from a can :)) at dinner. But every once in awhile, I get a little overachieving and make something like Chicken and Dumplins. It literally takes two days to make, but it is SO WORTH THE EFFORT. Day 1: Take a whole organic chicken. Stuff it with garlic and onions. Put it in the crock pot with a little water and herbs like rosemary, thyme, parsley in the bottom. Let it cook all day long. In the evening, take all the meat off the bones. Put the meat in a big Ziplock in the fridge overnight. Put all the bones and skin in the bottom of a big pot (or two big pots, if you have a big enough chicken. I made two big pots this time and ended up with 2 extra GALLONS of stock!) On top of the skin and bones, put whole carrots, celery, onions, garlic, more herbs, and cover it all with water to the top of the pot. Let it simmer on the stove all night long. Day 2: Use a heavy-duty strainer or cheesecloth to strain out all the chicken stock you made! Rinse out the crock pot to use again all morning. Put in a whole stick of butter :), 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, some cumin and parsley, diced onion or onion powder, and all the chicken and chicken stock you can fit into the pot. Slow cook until lunchtime! About an hour before you are going to eat, take 2-3 cans of refrigerator biscuit dough and break it up into pieces for your dumplins. This part isn't very homemade, but it tastes delicious. :) Enjoy! Perfect comfort food for fall.
11) Why are we doing Classical Conversations this year? Glad you asked. :) There are a zillion reasons why I like the classical model, but I always thought it didn't really fit our family's personality. Generally we trend more toward unschooling and a very relaxed, learning through daily life kind of atmosphere, with a more relaxed schedule. I always thought of CC as way too structured for our style, too much emphasis on academia and strict memorization. But I visited a few different CC campuses and educated myself a little more on the type of things they were learning. Honestly it's the CONTENT that I like most about CC. We will spend our days learning, whether we mean to or not. We emphasize the outdoors, farming, Bible, and character education a lot without the addition of CC. But the rest of the time they are learning either beautiful things in a God-centered context, or basic colorless facts without meaning or with man at the center of it all. I LOVE the fact that in every subject we're learning about God- His divine order in numbers and Math; His genius in Grammar and Latin; His attention to detail in creating the human body in Science; His hand in History and how the events of the Bible coincide with other events in history. My oldest daughter Allie is reading classics I never read and writing persuasive essays about each one. She's doing research papers and learning Latin and Geography at an amazing rate. I'm loving it. If it's possible, we are a Classical Unschooling Family. We are learning lovely things, at our own pace, in our own way. How? There are weekly things they learn in each subject: Timeline, History Sentence, U.S. Geography, English Grammar, Latin Grammar, Math, and Science. My three Maggie, Penelope and Rosemary learn those same things each week and review them together with their class on Mondays. At home, I can do as little or as much with it as I want. We could just memorize the facts each week, or we could go to the library and check out books to learn more, or do experiments and projects at home. It's completely up to us and how much time we want to spend on it. And once a week we get to join with other families who are doing the same thing. It's working for us this year. I'm excited to sit back and watch it.
Stay tuned for the next 15 things soon. . .