Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anna's and John's birthdays

Anna and John both celebrated their birthdays this month. 

Anna, my baby girl, turned 4 years old. She is a real sweetheart, and has been such a blessing to our lives. She currently likes playing with her dollies, wearing her "cherry dress" on church days, playing with her friends at church, helping me cook, pretend play, playing with Stephen (we call those two "the little couple"), and other girly stuff.





As a fun activity on Anna's birthday, we visited the Arizona Science Center.




John turned the big, double-digits TEN this year. Wow, all my babies are growing up so fast! He currently loves ninjas, martial arts, learning about Japan, Legos, drawing, playing/talking with his brothers, apples, riding his bike, and other stuff typical for boys his age.


We had a joint birthday party for both of them at a trampoline park, and invited all the kids from church.








 


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thank You cards

Last month, on the anniversary of the complications with our most recent (twin) pregnancy, I sent out Thank You cards to all who had donated to our medical fund during that time.



While I made every effort to keep meticulous track of every single address from every donor as they came in, and then even went back to double check both Paypal and check images on our account for deposits,  I know some will not receive these cards. A couple of them were returned as undeliverable, some people sent money orders or cash anonymously, and yet others may have been accidentally missed in spite of my efforts.

If you did not receive a card in the mail, I apologize. Please know that your donation was and still is greatly appreciated, and that we are very thankful to have been able to pay off all medical bills, thanks in no small part to everyone's contributions. If you were one of the people who donated money and should have received a card, but didn't, and would like to get one, please leave your name and address in the comments below (I will not publish it), along with a brief note about your donation so I can find it and "connect the dots".

Thank you! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advent Calendars

My apologies for not blogging sooner. Time is just flying! Christmastime is busy around here. I am SO glad we planned to take off six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's this year. 

I am still continuing the family tradition of advent calendars each year. I don't have time to make a new one for every member of the family every year, so some are repeats from past years, but I was able to make a few new ones. 

For my husband



For Solomon



For Isaac
 


For John
 

For Miriam
 

For Becky
 


 For Anna 
(made by my friend)



For Stephen
(made by Solomon)
(we fill the same one each day, because he would otherwise try to get into them all at once)

 
 


In addition, the kids each have their own chocolate advent calendars, too.

And then, I made this scratch-off activity calendar, that has something for every single day during our six week Christmas break.


You can see why we have been so busy!




Monday, December 1, 2014

My New Blog

I recently started a new blog called "Whole Healthy Mama," where I will be sharing my Trim Healthy Mama posts, tips, recipes, and the like from here on out. I have so much to say, but I don't want to tie up my family blog with it. ;)

So if you are on the Trim Healthy Mama bandwagon, but with a whole foods approach, head on over there. The blog is still in its infant stages as I have real babies to take care of during most of my waking hours. 

Also, you are welcome to join my Facebook group, "Trim Healthy Mama - whole foods style"


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our Navajo Nanny

We have a sweet lady at our church that has been a huge blessing to our church through the years, but especially so to our family this year. 




She comes over to our house three mornings a week to play with, entertain, and care for the younger kids while I teach the older ones and juggle a million other things that demand my attention. On the remaining two mornings, the kids go to P.E. (with Dad) and on a field trip (with me), so basically she comes on all the regular, busy, "teaching" mornings.
 

She stays until the kids have had lunch and the little ones are down for their naps. She helps pick up the mess, and gets the dishwasher running. She is super creative and always has something fun she pulls out of her bag. She has the patience of a saint, dry humor, and is never shocked by stupid things my kids do, or how dirty my bathrooms may be (okay, are).


All the kids love her, but Stephen is crazy about her. In the mornings, he climbs on the sofa and looks out the front window, waiting for her to arrive. When she walks in the door, he dances around her in circles with excitement.

I cannot begin to explain what a huge blessing this is!! If nothing else, it takes so much stress off me, no longer having to constantly be  worried that I will get interrupted while I am tied up on a project. This has been our best, most enjoyable and relaxed school year yet, thanks in no small part to her.

And as if that's not enough - she does all this for free, just to be nice. Can you believe it??!? Seriously, this has made a HUGE difference for me. In turn, I am able to help my husband more with things for church, so she is actually being a blessing to more people than just our family. 

Our Navajo Nanny - standing in the gap between me and insanity.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Family portraits

Come on now, I have spared you with more family photos for, oh, two days now. Are you ready for more?

Yes? I knew you'd say that. As always, I'm happy to oblige.









Okay, there are approximately one hundred more pictures where these came from. I am really, really forcing myself not to just unload the truck all at once and run off all my readers.

By the way, trying to color coordinate ten people and the Sonoran Desert is a feat of sorts. A bunch of people have asked - yes, I sewed the girls' dresses myself (for Easter this year).

Pictures were taken by the brilliant and talented Tonya Lewis Photography. I want to have another baby just so we have reason to ask her to take our family pictures again.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Miracle Paste for staph and MRSA boils

Since discovering essential oils, and reading and learning about them in my copious spare time (bwahaha), I have been having fun making up concoctions for other people.

Here is a recipe I made up for someone at our church that had a MRSA (staph) boil that would not clear up with anything else. For the carrier lotion, I used my trusty Whipped Body Butter.


After 24 hours of using this lotion, the boil was greatly reduced, and the accompanying low-grade fever was gone. Within 1 week of applying it 3-4 times daily to the boil, and to the bottoms of the feet before going to bed, the infection was completely cleared up. 

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, CDC, NSA, SS, Obama, or any other loving government organizations concerned with your health and well being. Therefore, please understand that this blog post simply reflects my entirely worthless medical opinions, and should not be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, cure, or otherwise interfere with any illness the government wants you to have. Have a nice day! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The holidays are almost here!

Thanksgiving preparations are starting TODAY at our house! 

As I am typing this, John is in the kitchen, brining the turkey. This year, we are going to smoke it instead of roasting it. What I mean by that is that a great guy at our church, who is of Polish descent and works as a butcher (so he is the expert at this), is going to smoke it for us. He has been smoking our homemade bacon, which is simply without match, so I am sure this turkey will be absolutely fabulous.



While mincing garlic, John reminded me: "Mom, do you remember when I used to eat raw garlic? Yeah, I did that just to get some attention." Haha - kids are so funny! I had completely forgotten that when he was about 6 and 7 years old, John could frequently be found gnawing on raw garlic. One time, we were driving in the van when this pungent garlic odor started filling the cabin. Sure enough, it was John eating a raw clove.

This is also our last week of school until the new year starts. That's right, we are taking the next SIX weeks off from doing any formal homeschooling. It's a bold move on my part, because my kids can be a real handful if they are not "tied down" with school work (what child isn't?). It also means we will need until June to finish up the school year. In spite of those disadvantages, I decided to take this time off because (a) we get less than usual school work done anyway (b) I really want to slow down our typical breakneck speed and just relax and enjoy the season (c) this will give us time for family fun and activities (d) the kids are growing up so fast, and we only have a few more Christmas seasons to enjoy with all of them living at home.

To that end, I have made a "Christmas activity calendar" based on this design. It starts the day after Thanksgiving, and goes through the last day of our Christmas break, which is January 4th. I planned out and wrote down which activities we will be doing each day with my calendar in hand, so hopefully I am fully prepared to keep the fun going that long. Some things are simple, some are more involved.

Anyhow, we are all pretty stoked about this wonderful time of year coming up. Christmas is the best when it comes to slowing down, thanking God for his blessings, and enjoying this season with our loved ones. 

What kissing controversy?

Evidently, there has been some sort of "Duggar Kissing Controversy" after the latest Duggar daughter to get married posted a picture of kissing her husband. Mind you, this is after they had both saved their first kiss for the wedding day.

What in tarnation would anyone find "controversial" about married people kissing? But then, people were equally scandalized by older sister Jill, who got married just a few months ago, becoming pregnant a couple of weeks into her marriage. 

It seems that the worldly understanding is that if a couple reserves kissing and marital relations for marriage, they thereby automatically forfeit their right to enjoy any physical relationship even within marriage. Either that, or the reasoning goes: these people are enjoying this stuff, therefore they obviously must NOT have waited until their wedding day to get physical. Of course, this is complete nonsense. 



Maybe my husband and I can start our own "kissing controversy." After all, eight kids later, these same people probably also think we have no right to still be enjoying each other. 

Misery loves company, doesn't it?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Video Recording of Q & A session

Well, that was fun! :) If you missed it live, you can watch it here:



We did go into overtime, thanks to Boaz sleeping longer than expected, and being so cooperative after he woke up.

And hey, was that a sweet intro/outro or what? My husband surprised me with that. :)

So, whaddayaallthink? Should we do this again sometime? Please share your feedback below.


Reminder - live Q & A session this afternoon!




For more details, please click here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Essential Oils

I have, of late, discovered my love for essential oils. The thing that had held me back for years was the fact that the "BIG" companies like DoTerra and Young Living are all based on multi-level-marketing schemes, something I positively avoid at all cost. Each middleman = more overhead = higher final market price. No thank you!

Still, I ended up ordering some basic oils from DoTerra, as well as their flagship book "Modern Essentials", and loved their impact so much that I was positively and irreversibly hooked on the use of essential oils. 

But... still not so much on the price.

Then I discovered Eden's Garden, and life has been rainbows and unicorns ever since. Seriously - to be able to order the oils I needed and wanted - at affordable, direct marketing prices? Yes, please! I am not a sales rep for Eden's Garden, they do not pay me commission, I am simply here to say: I have been using their essential oils, and am extremely pleased with them. As are thousands of other reviewers on Amazon.




Thanks to essential oils, our family has averted coming down with not one, but two cases of the flu that were going all around. They are used daily for bumps, bruises, cuts, mosquito bites, fussy babies, stressed mom, and on and on. How did I ever live without them?

My favorite book on the subject of essential oils is "The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy." 

In addition, I have also discovered the ease and convenience of making up mixtures we use frequently (such as for mosquito bites), putting them into roll-on bottles, and having them ready at my fingertips any time.

If you have been thinking about giving essential oils a try - please do! You will likely come to love and depend upon them. But please remember - I am not a doctor. I just play one on the internet.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

More Family Photos

I don't care if I lose every reader over posting too many pictures of my babies - I can't help it. 

Just look at these guys. Has there ever been a group of young men more wonderful than this one? If you think so, that's fine, just don't tell me about it :) I still cannot wrap my mind around the fact that the sum of our parts is so much greater than either my husband or I. 



Then there is this little sprout ~

 
This photo literally made me start crying. In fact, I still have to hold back the tears every time I see it. Tears of joy for perfection, personified. Tears of grief over a big, huge, gaping hole where his identical brother should be. But ultimately, just tears of relief and gratitude that he is here, that he is healthy, and that he is the happiest and sweetest little baby. And that he is ours. 

Yes, you guessed right - there are plenty more pics to come. Please do stand by!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Recipe for Whipped Body Butter

Today, I would like to share my recipe for a decadently rich and nourishing, whipped body butter. I do not use this daily or even regularly, but it is wonderful to have in the winter when the air here gets incredibly dry, everything is brimming with static electricity (I think that's a desert-in-the-winter thing), and my skin gets itchy. 


Also, our family uses this lotion daily as a carrier / base for applying various essential oils (more on that in another post).

It is incredibly easy to make up, and keeps very well at room temperature. A small amount goes a long ways, and while it is oily at first, it absorbs very quickly, and does not leave a shiny residue.

Best of all, it smells just like a bar of exquisite chocolate, thanks to the cocoa butter in it. 

Ingredients: 

equal parts (by weight) of:

coconut oil

(typically, I use 4 oz of each) 


1. Heat the oils over very low flame until just melted; stir gently. I do this right in my stainless steel mixing bowl, which I set on my stove top on the lowest heat. 




2. Allow to cool down in the fridge until solid but still soft.


3. Whip with egg beaters on high until the body butter is white, soft, and fluffy - much like marshmallow creme. 



4. Transfer to containers, and store away from heat.



Tips:  
  • If you live in a very hot climate, use 2 parts each of shea and cocoa butter for every 1 part of coconut oil to make the lotion more robust.
  • If the lotion does get too warm, it will melt and lose its "whipped" consistency, but is still every bit as nourishing. If you like, you can whip it up again. (I have never had this happen, but I know it's possible if left out in the heat or direct sun.)