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.)
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Another sneak peek

We are still awaiting the finished images from our family photo session, but received two more teasers. I can't resist sharing them as they trickle in because you know once I get all the files, I will want to publish them all, which would make for one heck of a long blog post. So here goes today's dose of showing off my loves!



Wait, there's a child missing...

Ah, there he is, cuddling mama like a good little baby! 


Funny tidbit: I wear glasses - very rarely. Usually, only to drive and while I'm out and about. At the beginning of the photo shoot, I took them off, and put them in my husband's back pocket since the family had already been arranged and posed and I didn't want to leave and go to my purse. Alerted the husband they were there.

An hour and a half later, after having been all over the desert at South Mountain, we get in the van and I'm like, "Okay, I need my glasses back now." You can guess the rest - they were no longer in his pants pocket.

Now, if these were any old glasses, maybe I wouldn't have cared so much. But these glasses are very special to me because they are (1) indestructible - I have had them for over 16 years now - no joke (2) irreplaceable - they don't make this particular model any more, and (3) very expensive to replace. Although considering that they have lasted this long, and are still literally not showing any wear, they really are not expensive at all. 

Anyhow... for a half an hour, we retraced our steps and looked everywhere for them. It was dark by now, and all we had was the light from my cell phone. Talk about looking for a needle in a haystack - after all, the glasses are designed to be as minimalistic as possible. We were about to give up when I wanted to just once more check over the spot in which we had started. Sure enough, God answered my prayers, and my flash light caught a glimpse from one of the lenses. Found - YES!!!! They had apparently never made it into my husband's pocket. 

I am not only thankful that I was able to find the glasses, but also that we did not discover they were missing until the shoot was over. Being upset about my glasses would have made me so upset, it would have ruined the whole thing. Had we stopped to look for them, we would have run out of day light. So, the way it went down was perfect. 

Anyway... I hope to be posting the remaining pictures next week! Can't wait!!



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Another Q & A - with a twist!

My previous Q & A posts have always been popular, and I really enjoy doing them. The reality, however, is that writing up answers and posting them in a blog post is very time consuming, and I don't get to do them as often as I would like. 

Sooooo, I thought of a fun and much faster way to do this. I will be hosting my first (and possibly only!) LIVE Q & A session. It will be streamed through YouTube on my husband's channel next Tuesday, November 18th, from 2-3 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.



To submit a question for me to answer, please leave it in the comments below. In addition, I will also be taking as many questions as I can from those submitted live during the event in the comments feed. If you submit a question here, but will not be able to watch the session live, you can still get the answer on the video recording which I will put up on the blog to view later. Does this all make sense??!? 


Hope you will be able to join us during that most restorative of all hours - nap time!  




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Important update on Dr. Kent Hovind

During a live streaming phone interview my husband conducted with Dr. Kent Hovind yesterday, he explained to the listeners about new charges being thrown at him. These charges bring with them the very possible reality of more jail time.




Please support Dr. Hovind during this time, and pray that he will be able to be released home in February 2015 as originally expected.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sermons now streaming live!

The sermons from our church have been published to the internet pretty much since the very beginning, and have been dowloaded and listened to hundreds of thousands of times since then. Of course, this has always been 100% free of charge, as all of the documentaries co-produced by my husband have been.

As of this past Sunday, we have upgraded the system to where the church services, as well as some special events, will now be streamed live. While tuning in online is not a substitute for being part of a local congregation, this is a great tool for those in other time zones, our members that are home sick, shut-ins, out-of-town relatives tuning in for weddings, etc.  



To tune in live, please click on the above player, or go to this page during any of our service times, which are:

Sunday morning: 10:30 a.m. until about 11:45 a.m.
Sunday evening: 6:30 p.m. until about 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday evening Bible Study: 7:00 p.m. until about 8:30 p.m.


Once the live events are over, videos will then be published for later viewing as they have been all along. 

This upgrade was both expensive, as well as very technically advanced and time consuming, and brings with it the ongoing cost of high-speed internet service. It was made possible in no small part thanks to the donations from online listeners. So if you are one of those donors - thank you! This is just one of the many ways in which our church tries to re-invest any monies received in ways that will spread the truth of God's Word even farther.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Boaz' half birthday

Little Bo is six months old today - already! Once again, I am shocked at how time flies. He is a very sweet and happy little sprout that brightens all of our lives. 

 
Nothing like a baby to make mom look younger! That, and grainy cell phone cameras ;)

The kids all love dragging him around and playing with him. Here he is, sporting Miriam's doll glasses.


Playing with a plastic baggie. No worries, it's too small to pull on his head, too large to choke on, and he was being closely monitored. Only in America does every little plastic baggie come with a half dozen warnings on how life-threatening said baggie is. This one reminded me (amongst other things) that a 3" x 6" plastic baggie of air used for packaging DOES NOT work as a life safety device in water. Whew! So glad that was on there! It said nothing against being used as a car air bag, so I'm thinking it could double as that...



Being "fed" by big brother off an ice cream scooper. Notice how Stephen is using the little plastic baggie for a disposable food glove, like the ones we use at church whenever we serve ice cream. :)



This week was the first time we have been back to the cemetery where we buried little Jachin. Sadly, we were there for the funeral of another little baby in our church that passed away after being born extremely premature, too young to live. This poor mom endured the loss of twin girls due to TTTS this same time last year, and now, her rainbow baby joined his sisters in heaven. This couple has no other children on earth yet, and my heart just breaks for them. If you remember, would you please pray for them during this time, and for a healthy and safe pregnancy to come?

 Boaz doesn't really sit unsupported yet, he just did for this picture. 

Thank you again to all who prayed and supported us during my pregnancy with the boys. The fact that after all the complications, Boaz was born completely healthy and at full term is nothing short of a miracle. As I write this, I am daily praying for three other moms (all friends-of-friends) who went through pretty much the same as us: twins, TTTS, laser surgery, loss of one twin. However, unlike in our situation, all three of the other moms went into premature labor following the loss of one baby, and delivered their tiny, tiny survivors between 24 and 26 weeks. All three of them are currently in the NICU, growing and fighting for life. 

Little Bo is a very special miracle, and a double blessing to us even just all by himself. Happy Half Birthday, Bo!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Family Photos - sneak preview

Last week, for the first time in two years, we had professional family photos taken.
 

The pictures will not be edited and ready for another couple of weeks, but the photographer has shared a couple of sneak peak images.

The black & white picture of the girls is simply stunning - though I am admittedly biased. :) I can't wait to see the rest of the pictures, especially the ones of Baby Bo.

These were taken by Tonya Lewis Photography. If you like what you see, we highly recommend her. You can also check out and like her Facebook page here.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wedding sermon on Psalm 23

We had another wedding at our church this week. While I have not yet had a chance to download the pictures, I wanted to share the sermon itself with you all.

My husband preaches a brief, unique sermon at every wedding he performs. This one was probably my favorite one so far.



I'm thankful to be married to a godly man who exemplifies what he preaches.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Little Buddies


Stephen and Boaz are funny little buddies. Anytime I set Boaz in the high chair (just to watch us, not to eat yet at this point), Stephen pulls up a chair from the counter, sits across from him, and "chats" with his baby brother. They go on and on, back and forth. It's really cute and funny.


video

 Boaz definitely loves all his brothers and sisters, who dote on him daily.