Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reed Photos

We had a really great photographer take our pictures yesterday. He and his wife (training to be a great photographer too - what a great couple) dragged us out to an apple orchard and made us have a really great time with some of us salivating over the apples (my dd 10 yo) and others not knowing when to jump and when to lunge (2 1/2 yo dd) . We are certainly not naturals but they made us feel very natural and I think the results are pretty awesome. I can't wait to see some of those pictures up on our walls.
Thanks Shane and Jennie. Check out their blog for lots more pictures of us!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Goodbye Good Shepherd

We went out last Thursday for the last time. They were so busy that it took us over an hour to get through the line. For 5 years they have been here in Vineland - 4 of which we have bought from them, promoted them among friends, conversed with them, watched them grow. Okay - I get sad when I see a Convenience Store close down, for goodness sakes! I think of the family affected, the financial difficulty they might be in and on and on and I am sad. Now I am glad to report that I was actually happier coming home from seeing them than I was on the way out there. All that I had heard was true. The Health regulations were getting far from what you would say was just about safety for the consumers. They were asking them to renovate, change, spend millions of dollars to upgrade things - and for what reason? To them it seemed like an unending list of demands that would only lead to more and more. They have friends, for example, that will be closing their Mennonite Smokehouse this month. These folks had just spent $3 million dollars to get everything up to "standard". Now they are demanding that they add Nitrates in to their meat. One main reason people buy from them is because there are no nitrates. They can not give in. They are closing. There are others - meat butchers, chicken farms - that will be closing within no time, that Franz (owner of Good Shepherd) knows personally of. He believes that it is systematic attack on the local/mennonite farms. It is all under the guise of healthier/safer meat but I think most people know by now that the ecoli etc. risk is nonexistent within smaller farms. It is the corporations that have to be afraid of that.
Though it is very sad and I wonder if we will go vegetarian (atleast a bit more anyway) or if I will just succumb to grocery store meat and watch as my girls develop early like their peers (??? I know this isn't proven yet but it sure is a great possibility) - all this is sad, but I was so encouraged by Franz and Denise - "We are just moving on to another ministry - He has it all figured out (God, she meant) and it's going to be okay." They are going to settle down in their 'home country' and have a small farm. "Never again retail", Denise says. Who can blame her?
He's got them covered...
Sarah jane

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Healthy meat no longer available...???

My heart is sick today. I feel like I want to scream and rant and jump up and down and hit something really hard. I don't feel like this very often. A friend just shared with me that the place where we have been purchasing our meat for the last 4 years is closing down as of this Saturday. It's not that it is just another company closing down - it is what this represents to me that upsets me. This store was so busy that we would purposely come on weekdays so that we could find a parking spot. The owners were always ready with a cheerful smile and welcoming arms. Business was good. It was even great. It was not a lack of business that closed these doors. It was not a complaint from one of their customers. It was one thing only. The government wanted them gone and now the "forces that be" have succeeded. A year ago Franz (the owner) told us that this was so and I posted something about it on my Facebook account. That's it. That's all I did. I think I didn't want to believe it was that eminent even though he told me it was - couldn't I have done more? Would it have made a difference? The Food Inspector had been there that day and had given him yet another new rule that they needed to yield to - one after another, I don't know a lot of the details right now (we plan to go out to get our 'last' load on Thursday). A quote from another helpful blog puts it this way, "our government regulations have become so blind, restrictive,obscure and expensive that they felt closing was the only option." I like the way my dh put it to the kids tonight at the dinner table. These big farms that are infiltrating our country are like small cities - so large with so many animals all packed in like sardines. Because of this the animals get sick very easily and because of that government has needed to put lots of rules in to place - to keep disease from spreading in environments like that. These rules are impossible and even unnecessary for owners of small farms to afford to follow and so they are closing down. I have even heard that the gov't is pushing for all of these farms to be closed by December of 2010. Unbelievable?? That's what I thought until today...believe me I did not believe this day would come...
What about the meat for my children? What about the meat for their children? What about these farmers and retailers that try to sell their food? What is going on in our country?
Sorry to be such a wet blanket today. I just had to rant.
Please, if you have any other ideas or links, share here cause I am up for a fight!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The War on Food...a Toddler Size War...

I have been thinking about this recently and figured that I had better get my thoughts together since the way my memory is working lately, in a year it will all be forgotten again!
Food is an incredible gift. We have such a variety and easily accessible choice of foods in our society that there really is so much to be thankful for. With that variety, though, comes many detrimental habits that can very quickly become instilled in to our vulnerable little people. You all know what I am talking about - the habit of grabbing a bag of chips instead of an apple, or a chocolate instead of a few raisins - whatever it is for you, it is only going to be that much more difficult for your child when they are our age...Food isn't just food anymore - a high percentage of it is processed, refined, enhanced, enriched, great tasting (sometimes) 'substance' - a lot of it I don't even class as food. Now I am not going to give you all kinds of scary stats about Cancer and Heart Disease, Diabetes and Mental Health Issues etc. But suffice to know that these 'diseases' or 'symptoms' are on the increase - we are not winning these battles and as we continue to consume the way we have been consuming, in North America, then we are never going to win them. Nuf said.
Now - that is my heart. That is what I go to my battle with - as I begin to transition from exclusively breastfeeding to feeding my babies solid food - usually not till after 9 months old (I have researched and decided that their little tummies are much better at digesting foods after then- the later the better so I just up my intake so that baby gets enough from me, until I am sure we are both ready) Anyway, when I go to introduce foods in to them I don't mean that I am ready to fight them tooth and nail to eat - that only rarely has to happen - it is more that I am protecting them from other foods that I know are harmful (ie.icecream) or even not healthy/void of nutrition (soda crackers for example) and I am protecting them from caring friends/family who try to feed them these foods too. I think of them as this beautifully pure baby, and every time I have something on the end of that spoon, I imagine it either harming or benefiting my baby and that is how I decide what to feed them. So to start a baby of mine would have just vegetables - steamed (by me) and ground up with the steaming water so that it is a nice consistency. I do not 'do' pablum. Pablum was created in the 50s/60s or so by Heinz and it was a brilliant marketing scheme but it has not been proven to be beneficial or necessary for a breastfed baby and is highly processed. What did we do before then? Well, a long time ago, the mothers would chew up their own food and then spit it out and give it to the baby - that was the first baby food. I am not saying that we should all start doing that but just think about it - why do we have to have this processed powder in the first place? Many babies start with constipation/tummy aches when pablum is introduced. So, I go with veggies first, and then (real) meat and then maybe starches/fruit by 12 months or so - and always whole foods - now I don't mean Dempster's Whole Grain Bread either - read the labels! If there is a word in it that you can't read, then it is not healthy! (for you or for babe!) and very soon after that she/he just eats what we are eating, since our family makes healthy choices most of the time anyway...Oh yes, and food combining too - I don't give them fruit right after a meal - the fruit is much easier to digest and when it sits in the tummy with the food from the meal, you can have a very gassy baby, which no one likes - especially little the fruit for an hour or two after the meal and by itself.
Now, what got me thinking about this - Boo is 2 years old and I will have to say that she has been my most difficult baby to feed. I know that it is because I am busier, having 4 others to chase, and I have not stuck to my rules as strongly as I did with the others. I have let her have crackers and things earlier, or milk before or with a meal (that is another thing - kids will fill up on their milk and not eat, so cutting out the milk for a while can retrain those tummies). So recently I felt like all was lost with her but alas I would not give up! I went back to this other little strategy that has worked well with the kids that I have had to use it with...Okay so let's say we are having Lentil Soup which I know she likes but she doesn't love and with it we are having some bread - which I know she loves. If I give her the whole chunk of bread then down it goes and then 'more mommy' I want more, I sit right beside her with her bread and break her off one peice at a time. In order to get the next bite of bread she must have one - or more - bites of her nutritious soup. Now, generally this is done with quite a bit of screaming and lamenting - at least for the first week or so with her, that was the way it was - and I did have to put her in to her crib for a timeout once,but now I just start to threaten it and she immediately gets herself together. Now I can say that I am victorious! She gets it and she goes with it and she is eating so much better even since implementing this method. I have done this method successfully with younger children, too - Lise was just over 12 months when I had to get tough with her when she didn't want to eat her beets - she quickly learned to love them. I am certainly not the first mom to do this - I have friends who have kids that are great eaters and they have implemented similar methods. My oldest - now 10 - thanks me for giving them such weird food - she loves the variety and she notices the way she feels when she eats over at a friend's and doesn't like it. I have tried to naturally educate my older kids so that it is not like I am just saying 'No, you can't have that' without any reason other than your mom is a Kook - I want them to understand what is happening in their body when they eat those foods and make the choices for themselves. I am careful about what movies they watch, who they hang out with, what books they read, why would I not care what food they eat too? These are my precious ones and I am going to do the very best with them for the time they are given to me.
Happy Eating...spring is a comin'!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Nature Study With Art and Music Appreciation and A Giveaway!

This is one of my favourite websites and what a perfect time to get excited about studying Nature! Spring has sprung! Check out their newest affordable products and be inspired!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Potty Training and Growing Up

Okay. I have been blessed with 5 wonderful children. Truly I feel so blessed, and yet I can't help to feel sad right now. My baby is growing up. She is two now. Two. Where did those two years go? I have watched 4 other children grow up and been in awe but yet this little dd is taking the cake. Somehow she seems more mature, less baby, so much more independent, less needy for mommy (although she is still nursing...I'll keep that going as long as I can ;). I know it is no different than the others - each of them had a baby sister or brother by the time they were her age and of course they seemed big then. It is just that she's my last. It all seems so final. Do I really have a right to feel sad?
Okay - so about potty training. This was the big leap in to twoyearoldhood and certainly part of why I feel sad - I know, I know - I brought it on to myself. I have trained all my children at this age and lots of people have asked how, so I am going to lay it out for you. I know I am considerably narrowing my audience with this introduction but hey I probably already lost them on the title - I'll catch them on the next post perhaps. ;)
A disclaimer - I use cloth diapers. I therefore HATE two year old poops. I would much rather deal with a week or two of messes on the floor than in the diapers. So - you will see this is MY motivation. It is very important for mommy (and or daddy) to have a motivation. If she is not committed to this than it is not going to be successful. So as much as I might like to think I have brilliant little children that potty train themselves at 2, I know that 80 percent of it is me getting them there. You must be committed. Think of the money, the landfills, whatever gets you moving.
Another disclaimer. We have hardwood floors. Virtually no carpeting - just in the basement. It has been the same for the last 4 kids although for my first we were in an apartment that had carpeting and I used the same method - but I didn't care as much about that carpet as I would my own.

Step one : Choose a treat. This is where friends have chosen things like smarties or other candies but I just can't use a treat like that for my baby to put in to their little body so I choose raisins or dried little fruit of some sort or whatever you can come up with. The key is to not allow the baby to get that treat any other time of the day other than when they sit on the potty or pee pee on the potty or whatever with the potty. You can't be dishing out raisins to them at snack and expect them to get excited about getting it again when they go pee pee. It MUST only be allowed in this relm.

Step two: No pants. I know that sounds so scary and risky, but this is for good reason - My experience has taught me that as soon as a child of this age has 'something' on their little bum bum, they pee in to it and drench it completely. They don't stop, they just go ahead - they figure they are in a diaper. As soon as they go 'pantless' that triggers something different in to their brains and helps them to control their bladders. As a side note I would never use pull ups. What a waste. As soon as you put that pull up diaper on them guess what happens? They pee in it - except the only difference is that it cost you a dollar instead of 30 cents - or whatever the cost difference would be - I really have no idea cause I haven't bought them recently. The only use for them would be for later when the child is already potty trained and you are going on a long trip or for overnight or what have you. By using them at this critical potty training time you waste your time and effort and will not experience success anywhere near as quickly.

Step three: Make it fun. Don't let them be afraid of the potty. You sit on the big one, get a book, invite them over, offer them their favourite treat - and when they just sit down - give them the coveted treat - make it a really big deal at first when they just sit down! That's all you want at first, just an introduction. (even the first week could be spent this way if all they are doing is sitting and not peeing) And then when they just sit down and you give them the treat, you praise them for how amazing they are and wow wow wow...who can resist such royal treatment? At our house everyone gets involved - brother, sisters, daddy - Horray for baby for sitting on the potty - of course she wants to do it again!

Step four: Set the timer. The first few days you will be figuring out your baby's bladder - unless you have already taken note (I never do). They will follow a cycle. She will go pee pee at 8 am and then suddenly again at 8:30 but then not again until 10 am. Watch her, write it down if it helps. When she does make a little pee pee on the floor, don't scold her - just say oops and bring her to sit on the potty again reminding her that that is where we go pee pee. The first few days you will have lots of messes but as you figure it out you will get ahead of that cycle and just before she is about to go pee you get her on the potty and she suddenly goes and so the fan fare begins again...if she doesn't 'go' when you think she should need to go then you put her on every 5 minutes until she does go. Most of my babies need to pee about every hour in the morning but every two or so in the afternoon.

Step five: Be consistent. You go out to the mall, you go to a friends - are you going to leave her naked? I don't. I diaper (unless she is starting to get it) But when we are at home and unless she is having a nap or sleeping at bedtime, she goes underwear free and we keep doing the same old thing. When the baby gets to the point where she starts to pee on the floor and stops herself that is when you are very close to completing this project! She recognizes how to control that bladder and there is no limit to your success now. Next thing you know she is telling you when she 'has to go'. Oh and NEVER ask a child if they need to go - instead you say "okay honey Let's go to the potty," and you just pick them up and go. If you ask them you will inevitably get a big "No- I don't need to go!" Just don't set yourself up.

My two year old learned this within two days and is now (one month later) completely trained. No, she isn't dry at night - I don't find that to be a determining factor. I put diapers on at night and soon I will start to get her up at 10 when I go to bed, put her on the potty and then put a diaper back on her just in case. Once that is dry for a week or two, then we will be done, but I find that usually takes a little longer than I expect. My babies go to bed at 6:30 so that is just too long to hold it for little ones.

So there you have it - I know it is contrary to some practices out there but that's okay - I love that I have no more muss and fuss anymore! Perhaps you would like to join me? Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!
Sarah Jane

Deja Vu anyone??

I know I had it(deja vu) - have it - am having it presently. When I wrote the post last night I had this nagging thought - hmmm something in this sounds familiar to me - and then it finally came to me today! (am I really getting that old?) I posted a similar eureka a few months back - same theme and idea but about how having a schedule gave me more freedom. This has been one of my fears about blogging - repeating myself - and now here I am doing it already! I shared my embarassment with a friend today and she said very wisely - sometimes we need to hear something more than once to really get it in to our brains - and so yes - especially me - I needed to hear it again, to explore again, and this time delving more in to God's Word for some clarity and confidence. Maybe you needed to hear it again too - but either way, I know I did.
I promise to right something a bit more fresh next time ;)
Thank you for your patience with me...
Sarah Jane - mom of five ALIVE

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rain boots and puddles

Okay. I am not one of those parents to have inspirations of spiritual object lessons every day. In fact I probably don't even have them every month. And so today, when I went for a walk with my 7 yr old boy, I was so grateful to have received this little insight that I had to share. So here's the story:
Spring has sprung - everywhere there are signs of spring!- and just after a huge dump of snow a week ago. So you can imagine therefore we are living in a beautiful sunny but wet, muddy, slushy mess. Because of that I have been encouraging my son for over a week to wear his boots - either his rubber ones or his snowboots - either ones would be fine (although he did leave his snowboots behind at curling last week and so was limited in his choice). For a week he has fought me on it - insisting on wearing his sneakers - repeatedly coming in after 5 minutes with soakers, changing his socks, putting on yet ANOTHER pair of "too large" shoes and heading out again. So stubborn. This morning he wanted to take a walk with me but I insisted he could only come if he wore his rubber boots. And so he did. We walked a good distance, sloshing in the snowy slush, splashing in the puddles, enjoying the day that the Lord had made for us to enjoy!! And then it hit me. I started to talk to him about how much fun we were having and how good it was to not get our feet wet and how if he had worn his shoes like he wanted to then he would have been soaked and cold and we wouldn't have had such a good time. But because he listened to his mom he got to enjoy the walk so much more. And then I explained how GOD gave us His word and we could look at it and say - argh - why do I have to do all those things? Those things are just silly - I'll just ignore all that God said to do and do what I want. But we have to stop and say - wait - God gave us His "plan" for our benefit. It is only when we recognize that and 'submit' to it, that we can truly be FREE - free to splash in the puddles, live life abundantly. Because he loves us so much. And this is where my son chimed in - "To keep us SAFE!" he said understanding very well. Yes, my boy, to keep us safe. To some outsiders perhaps it seems as though Christians are just a bunch of goody goodies, running around trying to follow a bunch of rules because we follow Jesus (and sadly many Christians do have it mixed up and do live out their faith that way) but really the secret is that we are truly free. He loves us so much. He just wants us to follow his plan for our lives. He knows so much more than we do about what we need. He made us. He loves us. When we follow His plan, we reap great rewards. Rewards that never pass away.
John 8:31, 32, 34"Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free... I tell you the truth everyone who sins is a slave to sin...So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (also for further study Romans 6:1518, 8:2 and Galatians 5:1-4)
I am so grateful for the freedom I have in Him. WHAT an awesome gift!
Thanks for listening. We really need to do this more often.

Friday, January 15, 2010

How I survived an 18 day trip out East with 5 kids, a small budget, no GPS and no DVD player.

This is an article I wrote last summer. It is the one that inspired me to start a blog in the first place...though it is a bit out of date it gives my readers a good idea of the kind of nutty person I am. :)

(For clarification – My husband and I have 5 kids age 9,7,5,3 and 1) Okay – to start out I would say the most valuable asset for me was the advice of other friends – those who had gone there before me. Let’s face it – I have never done this before – we have taken 6 day trips – to the same location – before but never had we travelled this far, stayed in this many different places and had to bring this much gear in one vehicle before. So the advice of others was invaluable!! I made notes on where others had gone and liked, we changed our plans to include driving straight through the night due to one family’s experience, and I organized our clothing with the help of my “always organized” sister-in-law (God bless her!). I am not saying that I accepted any and every piece of advice given to us – I don’t think I could count on my fingers how many well-intentioned individuals advised us to have a DVD player available for this LONG and tedious trip. We rejected that one (as you can see from the title). Call me old fashioned, but I believe in watching the scenery, playing a word game as a family, reading, listening to music, doing math drills – whatever they can do to keep from being bored without resorting to the mind-numbing action of a ‘screen’. Besides that, do you think I wanted ANOTHER thing for them to argue over and whine about? “MOM, when can we watch another MOVIE?? MOOOOMMM????” I don’t think so. I will say a bit about organizing things for a moment. This was the part that overwhelmed me the most – we only got our ‘new’ minivan 2 weeks before departing so I was plagued with the question – will we have enough room for everything? Not only that but will I be able to keep things organized once we go? After much collaboration and trial and error, we settled with this. Bedding and tarps up top in the car carrier. 3 totes in the back trunk space – one for pantry items, like dishes and cereal, 1 for the childrens clothes (in which we packed each child’s in a separate reusable grocery bag – not a lot of clothes either – 2 shirts, 2 pants, 2 sweaters kind of thing – we can always do laundry!) and 1 for Bill and my clothes. Worked like a charm. Fridge, basin and coats and swimsuits went on top of these. I did have a small cooler at my feet at all times but I didn’t mind that. Kids had their knapsacks beside them or at least close by, filled with books, games and toys. We placed the playpen on the floor with the tents – thank goodness the kids legs are small and it doesn’t bother them at all. We were quite a sight I am sure – all crammed in, under our pillows! So – this is how it worked. We took off from Welland at 10:30 pm Sunday night– literally ‘stealing’ the kids out of their beds, placing them on the toilet, and buckling them in their seats. This was a sweet way to begin. No potty stops, no hungry bellies, just the sweet sound of snoring in the back seat. We made it to our campground in Quebec City by 9 am the next morning. We did not prearrange any of the campsites, by the way – two reasons – this was ‘off season’ ( ahh the perks of homeschooling!), so there was very little competition for good sites, and also we like to do some ‘flying by the seat of our pants’- it suits us well. I had prepared some food for our trip and much of it did last us through the first week. (Muffins, cookies, power bars, granola, bannock mixture, dehydrated ground beef) We visited grocery stores frequently and stored food in our plug in cooler (another thing borrowed – God bless them!) and we also have a Coleman stove with 3 elements on it – came in very handy. We stayed at friends 3 times – totalling 7 nights over the trip, (that makes 8 nights camping out, 1 night in a cottage and 2 nights driving right through) managed to only buy dinner out 3 times during the whole trip– either we stopped on the side of the road (those picnic spots are very handy) and cooked or made yet another set of peanut butter sandwiches for the road. We often got little things like fries or ice cream, or one order of fish and chips – to share, so it didn’t seem like we were depriving anyone too much – We prepared great meals; beef stir fry, spaghetti, quesadillas, beef vegetable stew, mac and cheese – somehow food tastes better when you’re on the road – maybe we were hungrier?? Was this a vacation for me too? Surprisingly it was – I said to a friend before we left that this vacation was not for me – it was for the kids. I needed to have that in my head to avoid any disappointments I as a mom might have over it. Really, this was the kid’s time to see a bit of our country, learn a little about our history and other cultures, have some fun and see some old friends. After about the 3rd day in I realized not only was I NOT exhausted or overwhelmed, I was having a lot of FUN!! And I continued to do so…now we did have great weather – only rained 3 times while we camped and that was always in the night and not before having to pack up, so that made it good – but it was more than that. The kids were relaxed (I have read that moms see ‘changes’ in their kids during “No-TV week” – less arguing, less stress, more compliant – and I wonder at that), generally pretty easy going and genuinely amazed at how beautiful their country was. Also, my husband and I did not argue – he succumbed to my crazy ‘budgeting tactics’ – though towards the last day he did say, when referring to the word ‘economical’ that I had apparently used a time or two “If I hear that word again – so help me….!!” And so I did let him buy us ALL dinner out and I DID NOT make the noodles and sauce that I had planned to make at the next picnic spot to get us through. Ah compromise – I know - you are probably thinking – is she crazy? Does she expect ME to travel like that? No restaurant food? No fast-food? No easy life? See for me – I love to cook – so it is not a stress to cook fresh food, I also love to save money so that is another automatic reinforcement for me, and I also see how fast food effects my family – my husband gets migraines, my kids get irritable, and I don’t feel that good either - so why put that on myself? Much better to go this way, I think. I guess the reason why I am writing this blurb is not to have you say – kudos to me – I want you to say – hey – I can do that – hey I don’t need to spend loads of money to go on vacation and I certainly do NOT have to succumb to peer pressure (or even kid pressure) to use the DVD player in the van!! What DID we do before those things anyway? Something like family time I think it was called… By the way, both my 9 year old and 6 year old love to read maps now – I worked hard to include them as we planned our route and even when we got lost – they are now much more interested in seeing a map – would that have happened with a GPS?...likely not. Anyway those are my thoughts so far about the best trip I have ever taken – and oh – if you are wondering – the best part was PEI, Lunenburg NS and Cape Breton – Cabot Trail – wow – must see and must go!!