"Be thankful in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." I Thes 5:18

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Piggies Bath Day

I've not done much filming of the pigs for awhile. If you follow the youtube to my channel, you can see more older ones.
We now have five pigs (guinea pigs). Oreo and Smores were Caedmon's first two. I got them free on Craigslist. The plan was to eventually breed one of them so Caedmon could see a pregnancy and birth, and of course, see the cute babies!
We have good friends who got one heck of a handsome boar named Rusty (another great craigslist deal!). The plan was to breed and share the babies.
Thankfully, as I was doing the research, I learned something important. Females cannot breed if after 7-10 months. If they don't have a litter by then, their pelvic muscles fuse together resulting in death or the need for a c-section. Yeah, well, um...not gonna take a guinea pig in for a c-section!
So, we did get a newer baby and named her Nutmeg. Mommy got to name her since she used her own work money to buy her. She is our sweetest piggie, an absolute little angel.
Well, I needed another cage because Smores and Oreo did not like her. They tortured her and chased her around biting her in the butt. It was awful. We tried to integrate them but nothing ever worked. There was no way I was going to let her have a littler in there with them.
I tried to talk Caed into letting the first two go, but he was attached and I understood.
So I started to look for a cheap cage. We use C&C cages that I build myself but I wanted something more basic for her.
Backing up for a min, let me just say that we originally wanted to get him a male guinea pig. However, guinea pigs get depressed on their own and getting two males that you just pick up anywhere is not a good idea. They have to be use to each other from birth and one has to accept that the other is the alpha male. It's a tricky thing to pull off and just trying it out is not a good idea.
So, I was surprised when we were looking for a cage to see a cage and food and accessories that came with boars who got along. So, we took them in.
Yes, we have a guinea pig nation and the cage is huge now with baby nutmeg on top, on her own until she will one day have her babies in with her. The boys were all ready two years old so we are not sure how long they will even live. They are all fun however and make perfect pets for the kids.
So today we cleaned out the cages. My only issue has been bedding cost. I'm trying out something new. We live close to a market that puts out a ton of cardboard. I'm lining the cage with that and making a litter box as well. It's an experiment. We use to do the fleece thing but it was a lot of work to wash it all.
Enjoy the video...it cuts off because I ran out of memory.

The C&C cage I built. Girls on the left, boys on the right. Nutmeg is on top of them in a traditional pet store cage. It will be plenty big enough for her and her babies and then she get's the penthouse the girls have and they move into the little bungalow. Yes, those are rainbow Christmas lights and they light up at night so caed can watch them from his loft as he falls asleep.
Oreo...the noisy girl, in her pigaloo.

Smores looking clean and oh, so FLUFFY!
The boys were asleep, all cozied up...I was so mean to bug them. Ash and Teddy.
This was before I bugged them. Ash is asleep. They never fully close their eyes.
The little angel Nutmeg. She is so sweet and looks like a cute little squirrel.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Planning To Not Be Total Summer Bums

We are about to sit down as a family tonight or this weekend with the calendar, to map out the summer.
Some really bad things can happen to a family in the summer, especially when you live where it gets soooooooooo hot. Though we are having oddly cool weather right now.

Here are some of those bad things I don't look forward to:
  • The sleep pattern tsunami: The kids eventually sleep in ridiculously late and so do I. The cool beautiful morning is gone and the heat is at the door. This results in jamies, couch potatoes, cereal bowls everywhere and TV. They also stay up way too late and repeat the cycle again.
  • The tube of terror: Seriously, don't you know mom? Summer is for us to catch up on the whole last year of shows we missed! Who cares if our eyeballs fall out or our brains go to mush? We have been worked so HARD all year, we deserve this! It's our BREAK mom!

  • Snack attack: Meals? Who eats meals in the summer mom? Can't we just have the cereal box and eat from it on the couch? What is a carrot anyway and why would I want to eat one? Can you go shopping mom? We don't have any real food? Can you take me to the market to get chips or gummy bears?
  • Poor Daddy: The only guy on the planet who still needs normal life. Dinner at the table, a good night sleep, family time, and to top it off, he's out in the triple digits while we hibernate.

  • Exercise shmexersize: This is a problem for my kids anytime of the year but especially in the summer. Even at 8pm they claim it's too hot to ride their bikes. Frankly, I have the same problem. Summer is the hardest time for me to work out. The kids are around, I sleep in, and it's hot till evening and I'm no evening work out queen.

  • Does My Sister Still Live Here?: This is the sleep over till I'm adopted phase. It an happen here or there but too many sleep overs reek stress on us and the kids even though they don't know it.
So I think those are the main ones. I don't look forward to all that. I am determined to have a fun but healthy summer. I'm looking for ideas but here are some of my thoughts:
  • Scheduled Family Hikes or Beach Days: This is about the only fun free thing we can go do this summer. We are looking at the calendar and planning ahead to take these times away as a family, no mp3's or DS allowed. We are trying to keep some close to home and others we will drive a bit for.
  • Craft Days: I'm planning out one craft a week this summer to pull away from the TV on a hot afternoon. One or two may not be exciting for Caed so I'm going to try to come up with boy alternatives. I'm not planning more than one a week though because I can tend to go overboard in this department easily.
  • I'm Getting Up: I'm not going to let myself sleep in this summer. In fact, I'm going to stretch my get up time to walk in the cool morning. I do plan to let them sleep in a bit so I can enjoy the morning quiet with coffee and reading before the craziness. This will also help me sympathize with my husband as he is on a normal schedule. Maybe even plan a few early morning breakfasts on the porch.
  • Temp Induced Screen Blackouts: The TV will not come on unless the temps reach a certain high. The only exception will be if mommy needs a nap. We have not decided what range that will be but the screen times need to be when it's hot.
  • Regular Meal Times: Yes, I'm going to keep an eating schedule and snacking limits.
  • Bum Your Heart Out Day: Since I do understand that part of the fun of summer is not having any routine, planned meals, places to go... I will have one bum day a week. This will also allow morning cereal and pjs and TV. If' it's not bum day, don't ask me to be a bum.
  • Movie Themes: For scheduled family movie night we are taking the theme of musicals this summer. So yes, on the calendar we will plan which ones to watch so we have them from the library in time or from netflix.
  • Plan to Move: Pool time is the easiest one for my kids. This year it's only free for them and only on certain days. One exercise a day requirement for screen time. I' also am going to plan short evening bike/walks as a family. I also am going to plan wii fit family nights.
  • No Chores Gone Wild: I usually get way too relaxed with chores in the summer. It's just a natural digression after letting other things go. In fact, I'm switching some things up this summer and planning to teach them some new house, cooking and cleaning skills. I may even plan a skill day...if I get trigger happy.
  • I Do Still Love My Family: We ended up setting a sleep over limit last summer. For both here and away. As kids get older, they would rather do things with their friends than their siblings. So, this summer I'd like to take this up a notch by having sibling sleepovers. Sounds silly since they all live here. Yet, if you pop up a tent in the yard and they have a sibling sleepover together that way, it makes bonding more fun. Besides, there is not a lot of your stuff int he tent that your little brother could get yelled at for getting into....right? We hope?
One way we will start is to sit down and have the kids do some brainstorming. What activities would they like to go to? Places? What foods would they like to make that are good for summer? (no bake cookies, smoothies, smoothie pops, family size sub sandwiches, etc) What friends would they like to get together with? What shows do they want to catch up on? What movies do they want to see?

Comment if you have ideas or tips! I'm all ears for more ideas!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Of Plants And People

I've been thinking about plants lately, and the life lessons hidden in them.
How eager we are when we begin, we vision the product, the healthy full fruitful plant.
That vision can make us impatient and maybe even do harsh things like over water and drown our little plant. Giving it too much that it cannot adsorb.
But our motive is hope.
And the days crawl by, especially the days when seeds are still underground and we cannot see at all if there is progress.
Until.. one day, a tiny green pops out, and we are thrilled. But we still have to be patient.
The sun must do it's work, the roots must stretch down and that takes time.
So we should celebrate every new bit of growth and be joyfully satisfied in it.
And sometimes move a few leaves to find surprises underneath we did not take the time to see before.
Because, with patience, care and faith in that which we cannot even provide...

We just might be surprised with how far they have come.

And more than anything, make sure to appreciate their simple beauty and appreciate the time they took this journey with you.

Caed and Riley's Birthday Party Pics

Honestly, we did not take many pictures..we were too busy trying to stay warm!

As ordered, very blue cupcakes!

Somehow, the candles managed to burn in the wind enough to be blown out.
Picking your cupcake is serious business!
Lego smiles..

Emma is only there for the sweets...:)

OH, and teenagers DON'T like their pictures taken .... lol

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Decision, A Poem

The Decision

A path, lain in rough terrain,
Reaching up where fog forbids i see,
This is the road you say that you
Did once lay out for me.

Eyes that strain dare call it as such
A "road" seems far gracious a name
Fainted winding through rock and toil
It argues to your claim.

Reaching up, looming over me
It makes no sense to tread
To step one foot on such a ground
No matter what you've said

Where it leads is mystery,
What I see fights my logic,
My options feed an angry mind
And cause me to sit so tragic.

Still in the mist I hear you call
Your voice is calm and sure
With a power working against my mind
A sweet and sound allure.

One step is all i need to make
One moment to decide
To trust a promise though I see
No reason for this stride.

Yet as my feet put to the ground
Another step comes clear
In fact it lights up soundly
And wins battle ore my fear.

My limbs are burning now to stretch
But somehow growing stronger
Becoming anxious to move on,
To journey ever longer.

Then, oh, the lifting fog revealing
What I could not before then see
A place to sit in green and sun
To rest and drink and breathe.

More still than this I turn to look
And gasp how high and far
Each little step in cumulation
Can bring one to where you are.

The journey brings it's promise
To life with every stride
Just one foot and then the other
With stability you provide.

More than all my heart is pounding
My lungs are bout to burst
My mind grows clear and focused
More than ever at the first.

I am living! I am striving!
I am joyful in the way!
How could I have wanted other?
To sit and sulk and stay?

So step into the toil my feet!
Enjoy each burning stride!
Till finally the last fog lifting,
In peace and pasture hide.

(Please ask permission for any copying... thank you).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Make Ahead Freezer Burritos

Makin' stuff today!
Thought I'd share about the burritos. I don't know why I never thought of doing this before, it's so easy, cheap and helpful.

I'm also taking our left over grilled chicken breast from our Memorial Day BBQ and making a Pasta salad with chicken, fresh red tomato, feta, and basil. This is for lunches this week, and hungry kids who need food constantly.
If I'm feeling spunky, I may make pancakes to freeze.

For desserts, I'm making pudding pops (pudding poured into popsicle makers), brownies and cookies. Trying to get some baking in while it's still cool.

Sorry the quality is bad.. and the sound. I shrunk it to make it faster loading.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Faith and Her Sister Suffering

What is faith?
I woke up with these thoughts just pouring into my mind like someone watering my soul (thanks Lord..love how you give to your children even in their sleep:). Sometimes, the simplicity comes back to me and I love it.

We talk about faith a lot, we throw the word around like we do the word love. I don't think we understand what they really mean.

Someone wise told me a few years ago when I was feeling God call me to take my kids, who were being homeschooled, and put them in public school. She told me that God does whatever grows our faith. His goal is to grow our faith in him.

Well, if God just came down and showed himself to me now, would I have faith in Him? No, why?
Heb 11:1
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Heb 11:17
By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

Yet He tells me:
Heb 11:6
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

So, without my having faith, I cannot please God. Basically it's related to what I talked about in my vlog yesterday as well. We are part of a story for God's glory, he is wooing us back to himself. He has not made us to robotically love him, our faith is the "magic" that allows us to love him in a situation where we logically should not or we cannot see tangibly or hear audibly.
People say they have faith, or that they lost faith. Well, what they have or had may just be a nice little rundown of what they think or thought. Or they may have truly made that leap to believe in Him.

That faith is kinda easy though don't you think. "There is a big spirit up in the sky that loves you and has your best interest at heart. He watches you when you sleep, does things good for you and protects you." Sounds as easy as believing in Santa if you ask me. A lot of people come to God on these terms. Sometimes it's not their fault, their childhood is pumped with one sided messages about God.

THEN...life hits.
THEN comes the bad stuff. Some Christians refuse to go there at all, they may stretch to some middle ground where tough stuff happens and they start spewing "it's okay, I'm all good, God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him." They are right but many times they have not had something really really hard happen to them.

They have not had a child die.
A parent die in a state of no faith.
A spouse take away suddenly.
An illness where they cannot function as they use to.
Complete and utter loneliness.
They have not been abused or demoralized.

So, along comes pain....

At this point their faith is tested. Their original faith in God is put to question. Here is where a proper understanding of God and his purposes is crucial. In a day of trial or testing, they will support us through this and allow us to bend a knee and worship in the middle honestly looking at God for who he is FULLY.

See, I believe, as Randy Alcorn concludes in his book "If God Is Good" that pain and suffering have a very specific purpose in the story of God. He did not start out right, fail and then have to correct course. He did not fail at all. He intended for things to go as they did for one very important reason.
God could have kept things all good. He could have chose to make that the plan. We would hardly have had a choice toward his goodness then. You know? I mean really, what's not to like? He is good, he brings us good, we live in good...all things are hunky-dory...except we don't fully understand Him.

For, by God allowing suffering he allows us to for one time in eternity, see a small glimpse of the opposite of Him. Suffering, death, selfishness, immorality, pain..all of these are the opposite of God's character of goodness but how could that goodness shine bright to us if we did not see the darkness for a while? People ask how we can love a cruel God. I ask how you cannot love that plan of wanting us to see Him fully. If we come to him in pain, in a suffering world, we have true faith. This is loving suffering, but I don't think we can see it if we don't come okay with his plan. If we come angry and rebellious and thinking we know more or better, we won't see.

That person remains in suffering forever. Not just eternally, but now. They are miserable. If they truly think and reach out to see who God is, which does mean seeing his side that we disagree with that I mention here on my old blog, and come to him (which takes humility as all the scripture states) their suffering will have purpose. It will be the catalyst of their faith. Their faith will be refined over and over and over. They will enter eternity knowing more about their God than they would have had he not allowed them to experience suffering. They will rejoice and their reward will be so much sweeter, their eternity more full in the full knowledge of who God is.

If they do not, they suffer here, and for eternity, and I hurt for them.

Let us not forget that God suffered too. He did not just decide that we should suffer, he decided that he would too. In fact, I believe he suffered more than we ever will. He chose the worst time in human history to come and die. He died a death not many men will have to know so his physical pain was at probably the worst it could have been, and he chose that. Yet more than this...he descended and broke fellowship with his Father for us. Knowing that He and the Father are one, could we not even say he broke himself wide open for us? It's too much to understand. We cannot imagine the pain of almighty God breaking loving fellowship with His Son because we do not have the capacity to understand love like that, perfect completion like that and how it was broken for even a moment. Though it was only for a time, he did choose it.

So, when you really break it all down, God choose to suffer so we could see Him for who he really is. That IS LOVE. That is not a cruel God who should be screamed at in our anger and selfish discontent.

I also really think understanding Heaven, our reward, helps strengthen us as we suffer here. If you look forward to singing hymns all day, then yes, I can understand why you don't want any of this. Reading Heaven, by Randy Alcorn changed my walk with God.

I just feel it's appropriate to end these thoughts today with Paul's words. Even what Paul suffered is more than I ever will. He did what I want to do, come face to face in my heart with the God who gives and takes away and bow to call Him holy. Not out of blind stupid submission, but out of an understanding of his righteous motivations of love I cannot comprehend.

Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.