Monday, May 30, 2011

Home made bath products

I was inspired recently to look into making my own bath products. Not only does the idea of making my own bath products sound fun, I also love the flexibility that making things myself gives. Whatever I want in there goes in, whatever I don't want in there stays out. No worries about whether some of the ingredients are things I don't want to put on my skin.

I also love the process of learning how to make it myself. I've always enjoyed learning the "old arts." While spa products aren't exactly the things I expect our pioneer mothers were making in their spare time, it still gives me the feeling of self-sufficency.

Then there is the matter of cost. Certain spa products are incredibly marked up in the store--the individual ingredients can be purchased MUCH cheaper. With a little bit of effort, FUN effort, they can be mixed together to suit my personal needs.

With visions of homemade soaps, lotions, creams , salts and scrubs dancing through my head, I was sure choosing a starting place would be quite difficult!! Much to my surprise the choice seemed to practically make itself, and was based on some very practical and very current needs I have.

What was the choice, you ask? With all these beautiful possibilities?

Well, you'll just have to check back later this week, when I post about my first experiment in the field of luxury homade spa products!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Baby

A few hours ago my sister-in-law, Amanda, gave birth to her first baby, Abigail Nicole. Baby is 7lbs and 10oz, and was born after 37 hours of labor (there were no complications--just a very slow labor). Both mama and baby are doing well, but tired.

Abigail has a SERIOUS set of lungs, and I suspect will be soprano. :-P

Everyone here at the manor is moving slowly. Due to staying out late Wednesday night (Amanda's "bachelorrette" of motherhood) and Thursday night, out of the last 90 hours I got about 11 hours of sleep. A grueling 4 days, but worth it for my niece.

We are all very happy about the new little one, particularly the newly-made grandparents (this is the first grandbaby for either side of the family). Abby chose to skip her due date of the 25th, and instead arrive on the 28th. This meant she was delivered on the same day (with the same midwife) who delivered her daddy 22 years ago. Praise God for a safe delivery!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

When seasons change

It's 5 minute Friday again!!! I'm joining LisaJo over at The Gypsy Mama for another linkup. Here is a recap on the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat for pure unedited love of the written word.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Go buck wild with encouragement for the five minuter who linked up before you.

The prompt this week is, "When seasons change...."

Start: 8:56

When seasons change I greet them with joy. I love every season that comes, as just another perspective of my God's creativity. In winter there are cute sweaters, fun holidays and evenings spent with a book around a toasty fire. There are also two of my favorite drinks--Apple Cider and Eggnog. Spring means the world comes back to life again, a change in wardrobe (always fun!) and my birthday. Summer means children free from school and fun in the pool. Fall means a relief from the summer heat, and the beautiful oranges and reds of the leaves on the trees--it also marks the anniversary of my wedding.

I love the changes in seasons so much, but I need to remember that other changes in seasons are good too--the changes in life seasons. It can be easy to be afraid of change--I like life the way it is now, and what if the next change changes TOO much? What if I don't like what the new normal will be?

But God is in control of more than the awesome changes in the earth's seasons. He's in control of the seasons of my life. When I look at the seasons of the earth I see only beauty, and God can work that same beauty into the seasons of our lives if we let Him.

Time!!! (9:01)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to Train Your Dragon

A few nights ago my hubby and I had an evening to ourselves and planned to watch a movie.  He asked me if there was a particular movie I wanted to watch. Usually I don't, but I'd seen signs announcing that How To Train Your Dragon was out on DVD, and as I'd greatly enjoyed it the first time I wanted to see it again. Much to my hubby's chagrin, when he went to rent it online he found that it was available on DVD only at the moment. None of the rental places carried it. So he proposed checking out the audio book instead.

Don't expect this book to be like the movie. It isn't. Pretty much the only similarity between the two is the main character. However I found it quite enjoyable, like reading a second book in a series instead of something that is a rewrite of another story.

Hiccup is the son of a viking chief, and destined to be his tribes next leader. Or at least, destined to be the next leader IF he should he survive into adulthood--which appears less and less likely with each chapter. Known as Hiccup the Useless, Hiccup is a slight, red-headed, frecklefaced boy who, unlike his Viking tribe, prefers peace to war.

When the time comes for the boys of the tribe to be initiated into full-fledged tribe-members, Hiccup is in trouble. The first step in this initiation process is for each of the young boys to enter the dragon nursery while the reptiles are sleeping and steal a young dragon to train.  Easier said than done, considering there are several THOUSAND dragons, both young and adult, in the nursery. Despite a series of comical mishaps Hiccup manages to survive the first step of initiation, only to be faced with increasingly difficult challenges.

While this kids book isn't exactly the usual sort that I review here, it was a lot of fun to listen to.  The humor throughout had me giggling, and my husband alternately raising a brow and laughing. 

Follow Hiccup as he learns to be a viking and becomes a hero the hard way--by learning how to train his dragon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

Last night a dear sister and I were up till the wee hours discussing the ways we'd seen God work in our lives. Much of the conversation we spent discussing our testimonies--where we had been headed, and how radically God had changed our direction. The thing that really grabbed me was that while our struggles were in totally different areas, the progression was the same. Distance from God. Friends that were not interested in the spiritual. Obsession with the world. Addiction. A path to destruction.

Both of us reached the point where we, with eyes wide open, had to choose between the world and God. I say our eyes were "wide open" because it wasn't a slow, meandering almost unconscious drift into worldliness. It was a moment of deliberate decision, a moment we hung in the balance, and we were aware that the decision made in that moment would define the rest of our lives.

Then entered the Grace of God. Then entered His forgiveness, his mercy, his love. And the decision was made.

As a good church girl it can be very difficult for me to take off the masks I've worn all my life when I brush with the world. Few people know my testimony, and I think that's true of a lot of church goers. Simply put, sinners are a dirty mess, and that means that telling people how God changed us can be dirty. It's just easier to not even go there. 

But maybe the world needs us to go there.

 Maybe the world doesn't need a cleaned up Christian, but a filthy, dirty sinner saved by grace.  Maybe the world needs to see that under that polished exterior and neatly lined up set of convictions we are the same as them--except for the blood of Christ.

And maybe, just maybe, the church needs us to go there too.

Maybe the church needs to remember it's made out of the same stuff the world is. Maybe the church needs to remember that it's okay to be a sinner saved by grace--a real sinner, a filthy dirty sinner. That it is good and right to glorify God through Christ for having saved us from our own wicked selves.

I'm glad I stayed up till the wee hours last night. It is good to remember where we came from. It is good to look at the depths of human sinfulness, and to realize--not just in the head but in the heart--that...

There, but for the Grace of God, go I. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Brain that Changes Itself

I can honestly say I have never read a book quite like the Brain That Changes Itself. The topic? Brain Science. Not exactly my usual cup of tea. However, when my dad recommended this as one of the three top books he recommended for engaged couples, I knew there had to be something to it.

One word to describe the book? Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. The general topic would be brain science, but more specifically Norman Doidge is focusing on Neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change, adapt and learn under differing circumstances.

Each chapter of this book focuses on a different aspect of neuroplasticity, and most chapters use the story of a specific  individual to illustrate that aspect. I appreciate the focus on individuals, because it makes the whole topic more interesting and personal.  I also appreciate the wide variety of other case studies and experiments that Mr. Doidge includes as well. By including other case studies he illustrates that while individual lives have been changed by the concepts, these things apply to all people.

This book widely varies in the content. We start, in the first chapter with an experiment to teach a woman whose sense of balance was destroyed by a medically perscribed drug how to stand and walk normally. It was successful. One variation of this experiment included: teaching the congenitally blind to see. Results? Again, successful. We're not talking 20/20 vision here, but we are talking genuine sight. Another chapter talk about stroke victims and some positive results they have seen by using the principles of neuro-plasticity. Other chapters deal with autism, retardation, and even the "phantom limbs" that many amputees experience.

There are two things that I came away with from reading this book. The first was an awe of God's creation, and a better understanding of the wisdom of scripture. For example, one chapter teaches, through a number of experiments, that there is surprisingly little difference between imagining something and doing something. Just as physically doing something produces learning, and therefore changes in the brain structure and the nuronal connections, so imagining something changes the brain structure and nuronal connections. These changes in the brain are identical. As I read that I immediately began thinking of Jesus' words, "whosoever hateth his brother has committed murder already in his heart." and "whoso looks at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart." When Jesus said that he meant it, both in the obvious spiritual way and in a not-so-obvious physical way.

The second thing I came away with was a better understanding of some practices that will be helpful for both our children and us. A few examples:

Did you know that excessive white noise (whether purposeful noisemakers or environmental background noise such as traffic or trains) in the first few years of life greatly hightens the liklihood of a child developing autism?

Did you know that for every hour a child three and under spends each day in watching TV (regardless of the type of show that is on) increases his chances of developing an attention disorder by 10%?

Did you know that frequently walking around barefoot over a variety of surfaces (indoor and outdoor) lessens the likelyhood of falling when elderly?

 There is so much more in this book than just those things. It's amazing how incredibly practical a book on brain science can be!! My final verdict on this book is that it is a great book for any adult or highschooler*. It is very educational, and yet still fun to read.

* There is one caution I want to give about the book, because I'm not sure exactly who will be reading this review. There is one chapter, "Aquiring Tastes and Loves" that is on sex. Anyone mature enough to be interested in this book will probably be mature enough to read most of that chapter, but for younger readers (esp those younger than high-school age) I would highly recommend parental guidance. There are some parts in the last third of the chapter that deal with sinful sexual practices that would be inappropriate for younger readers. I do not, however, recommend skipping the entire chapter. About a third of the chapter deals with the effects that pornography has on the brain, and explains why pornography addictions can be instantaneous (it only takes one picture to get addicted, if it is the "right" picture). I think this information could be incredibly helpful to young men who are entering the stage where pornography becomes a temptation, particularly in the context of parental openness and guidance. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May Reading Challenge checkup

You know, I might just not be cut out for making a reading list a year in advance. It is nice at first to have some pre-thought-out goals, but there are so many good books I find throughout the year that making a list ahead of time can be frustrating--I want to accomplish it, but I can't always forsee the most "important" books for me to read at the beginning of the year.

All that to say, I haven't made any further progress on my "list" but I have been doing lots of reading (and I'm behind in my book reports).

So far I have read Meet Mr. Smith, by Eric Ludy, Real Food for Mama and Baby (nina plank) and The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. I am close to finishing The One thing you Can't Do In Heaven by Mark Cahill. I am also still reading The Bravehearted Gospel (another Ludy book), but that one is on hold until I finish The One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven.

  I'm still planning to work through the study, "Quieting a noisy soul" (God is More Than Enough was taken from that study), however a couple friends expressed an interest in joining me for that and I could use the accountability. So we'll probably get that going sometime next month.

To sum up my goals for the remainder of the month:
The One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven
The Brave Hearted Gospel
Answers to Prayer

Calm My Anxious Heart

I've edited my master list to reflect the changes (and added a "bonus book" list, which is basically the books I haven't had time to read because I've read other ones instead).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pregnancy smiles

Thus far I've had none of the "typical" pregnancy complaints, in particular no cravings or morning sickness. That has been such a blessing!! I know better than to judge the entire pregnancy by the first 6 weeks, but I would LOVE for the next half of this trimester to generally go as well as the first half has gone.

 Lack of food cravings aside, I had to smile when I saw my "dinner" this evening. As my family can attest, I've always had a tendency to match odd foods together--basically if I like the foods I'll eat them, regardless of whether they "match" or not. I do try to spare my husband this eccentricity, but he is out this evening. I was not particularly hungry, but I knew I should eat something so I pulled a few light things out of the fridge. Here's a picture of my dinner this evening:

Yes, outside of the grapes that's homemade icecream and a pickle. I may not have been craving pickles and ice cream, but I had to roll my eyes at myself  when I realized what I'd grabbed. I guess I really AM pregnant!! :-P

(and not-to-worry, I didn't eat that WHOLE BOWL of icecream!!! Just a few spoon-fulls)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Baby, mine

(Typically I think through posts, write them over the course of a week or two, and sometimes schedule them a week in advance so that I can come back and re-proof read them a few days later. Typically the subjects of my posts are things I've been planning to write about for awhile, and I let them sit in my mind until I can get everything out on paper at once. But not today. Today I'm just putting words on paper as they come, because somehow this post surprised me, even though I've known it was coming for a couple weeks.)

I'm expecting.

I'm expecting a baby. 

And I've just celebrated my first-ever Mother's day.

My husband and I are both excited. If we were surprised (and we were) it wasn't the sinking-in-the-pit-of-the-stomach sort of surprise, it was the "is it finally true??" sort of surprise. The stunned, googling "do pregnancy tests give false-positives" sort of surprise. The double checking 6 more times sort of surprise.

I found out two weeks and two days ago. The next day was Easter Sunday. One easter ago my now-husband had taken me out for my birthday and proposed to me. I told him that Saturday that, spur-of-the-moment I'd decided to do an impromptu anniversary celebration. His dismayed reaction still makes me smile--"Dear, I can remember the anniversary of when I proposed marriage, the anniversary I proposed courtship, the anniversary of when we got married, your birthday, and about a half-dozen other little anniversaries, and get you flowers for all of them--but you surely can't expect me to remember Easter is a anniversary also!! Why, why that's a moving target!"

I could only chuckle at the time, because I couldn't explain that I was inventing an anniversary so I could serve a nice dinner before telling him.

When I did serve him dinner he didn't notice the theme--though that was more for me anyway. He saw Ribs, carrots and salad--the same things I would have seen if I hadn't planned a Baby announcement. But I knew serving Baby-Back ribs, Baby carrots, and Baby greens would be a subtle clue I'd have fun pointing out later.

Sometime this week I would like to post the book that I used to tell him, but right now it's much to late for this mom-to-be to be up (though the 3.5 hour nap I took after church today is pretty much the only reason I can be posting at nearly midnight).

Good night!!!