Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Summer fun.

I had no idea when I last blogged that I would end up taking the summer off writing. I haven't even used my handwritten personal journal for the last few months. It seems like I haven't had much to say.

We have all been well. Aiden is potty learning. It is probably the one thing I have least looked forward to. It is going slowly, but our wonderful first born is a boy who will not be rushed into anything. So we follow his lead and look forward to when it is finally over and he actually uses the potty consistently.

After 3 months of being stuck in reverse, Seth figured out how to crawl forwards about a month ago. He is loving his new found freedom and I often have to extract him from under the dinning table. We celebrated Seth's first birthday last Friday and had a party for him the following day.

We are excited to be starting a new adult bible study at church. Rob is the main teacher, with a little co-teaching from me by filling in some of the geeky details I love to revel in and share when I can. We are starting with a 6 month survey of the entire bible, timeline style. Then we will systematically work through the New Testament and later the Old Testament.

Now that "summer" is over and life settles back into the more regular routine I plan to be back blogging more regularly.

Meanwhile here are a few pictures from this summer to enjoy.

Fun at the beach

The warm end of the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf Stream

Our jolly, funny, almost 1 second born son

Aiden loves to build and destroy

Look at me, going forwards

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Quick Update

I just wanted to quickly update on why this blog has been so quiet lately.

Life happens. And when your life involves a 2 year old and a 9 month old along with Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease it happens is a very overwhelming, not a minute to spare kind of way.

June was a busy month for us. Aiden turned 2 and had 2 parties, 2 cakes and lots of fun.

The following week he got sick with the aforementioned Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease. The biggest challenge was trying to keep the boys apart so that Seth wouldn't get it too.

The week after, as Aiden was getting better, Seth got sick.

Then as Seth started getting better, Mamma got sick. Fortunately I didn't get it very badly and was still able to care for the boys without my amazing husband taking time off work.

Having only little children, and sickness really emphasized just how far away my family is. I really missed having my own Mum to lean on. And I know she wished she could have been here to help too.

Now that July is here (still can't believe its July already) we are all back to being fully well. Seth has learned to crawl, although he is still stuck on reverse. Aiden is learning new words at a rate of 2-3 a day. It is getting so much easier to meet his needs when he can actually tell me what he needs instead of asking questions to get a yes or no answer.

And now I'll share some of the cuteness with a few of our recent photos.

Seth's curls have finally grown back

Story time with Daddy

Aiden's birthday banner

All excited while we sang "Happy Birthday" to him

Seth standing up

That meatloaf, mashed potatoes & green beans was really yummy Mamma

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Motherhood and Feminism

I'm taking a break from my staying home series. I will get back to it soon, but for today I wanted to ponder something else.

I recently got a copy of The Way Home by Mary Pride. While I have found it a great encouragement and confirmation that choosing to be a wife and mother is my calling at this stage of my life. I waited a long time to be blessed with this stage, living until the age of 35 as a single woman.

It also has got me thinking at the same time. It has focused much of my previously rambling thoughts about how much our lives and culture are shaped and influenced. Even amongst those who claim the name of Jesus Christ, and who give voice to seeking to live according to God's will there seems to be more of this world than of God influencing life choices.

Before I go further I will openly admit that I am NOT perfect. I haven't got it all figured it. Part of the reason I am writing this post is because I am working on this in my own mind and life right now. Most of my time and energy is poured into my children, as it should be with little ones, and this blog is my creative outlet that helps to keep me from being totally absorbed by the world of toddlers and babies. It is also the creative outlet that prevents me from talking the ears off my wonderful husband every night because I need to express to process.

The Way Home looks at how feminism has undermined biblical womanhood. It doesn't surprise me either. I can remember the conversation I had with the career advisor when I was a teenager. I was asked the question of what I wanted to do when I grew up. My answer did not compute. I said that I wanted to get married and have children. I was asked several times and I always gave the same answer. I was told each time that I must want to be something else, as just being a wife and a mother was such a waste of my talents and abilities. This was about the same time as Mary Pride's book was first published.

I didn't really understand what feminism was back then. All I knew was that what I really wanted to do with my life was to be a wife and a mother. I had always known that was what I wanted to do, what I was created to do. I guess that is part of the reason why I could never make up my mind what kind of career to have. Even after college once I entered the working world I could never settle down to one particular profession. So every few years I would try something new. Yet everything I did do helped to prepare me for the job I will have for the rest of my life. No matter what else happens I will be my husband's wife and my children's mother.

I feel so blessed to be in the position I am in. It was not so long ago that I was trying to accept that I may never be a mother to my own children. As I type this I have two incredible little boys asleep in their cribs for nap time.

Still I come back to how far even the Church has strayed from God's plan for families. Every time people find out that we want more children they act surprised. We already have two, isn't that enough. And this is from the very people we worship beside on Sunday mornings. When people find out that I stay home and we choose to live on a single income we are told that we are very lucky. We are not lucky at all, nor are we wealthy. We have chosen to live without many things that others think are necessities so we can live on a single income. We sacrifice the good so we can have the best, God's best.

God's Word says plainly that wives are to look after the home and bear children, yet even conservative Christian radio stations air programing that assumes wives are also working in full-time jobs outside the home. When couples are preparing for marriage it is not shocking to hear them be advised to wait a few years after marriage before starting a family. They "need" to get to know each other for a few years before they add children, or they "need" to save for a home, or establish their careers, or, or, or. Even in the face of biblical counsel that a newly married couple be freed from civic responsibility in their first year of marriage for the very purpose of starting a family together.

There are also those who say that we cannot teach that wives should stay home, because there are those families who cannot survive financially unless they have two incomes. Until less than a year ago on paper we could not afford for me to stay home, yet we have survived and even flourished on our single income. Living by faith will not always make sense on paper, but it will work in practice when our trust is on the Creator of the Universe.

I don't know what the solution is. I don't know that there is an easy solution to combat compromise. All I know is that God has made clear His will in His Word. We each have to choose day by day and moment by moment to either obey or disobey. I will admit there are moments when I long to rebel and do my own thing, but somehow I come back to the point of obedience in the long run.

I know that obedience is rarely politically correct these days. Our secular culture is so very far away from obedience to God's Word. I know even most Christians will wonder away by compromising with the secular world. Yet there is something so incredible waiting for us. When we wonder and stray God is still waiting with open arms to welcome us back to that path of obedience. He is ready to forgive us when we come before Him with repentance. He desires to show us the way that may be more difficult but that is also more blessed.

I willingly turn my back on the philosophies of feminism, and secular humanism. I don't think either have done me any real favors. How I respond to those who are my sisters in faith but who openly embrace these things I am still working through. Maybe one day people will once again cherish the role of wife and mother, as they did before feminism tainted our culture. Maybe one day this will not be a difficult and misunderstood road to walk along. Until then I will continue to whole heartedly embrace my role, and pray more will join in this blessed and joyful life.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Staying Home, Part 3 - Food 101

Aiden learning to make a healthy version of Chocolate Cake
If you haven't read Part 1 or 2 of this series you can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

In this post I am going to focus on cooking and eating at home. I love to cook and create tasty meals for my family. I am blessed to have had a Mum who let us help her in the kitchen from a young age. She was not much of a cook when she first got married and was still learning while raising us. She had a tight budget and few of the luxuries of today, but she managed not only to feed us good healthy meals, she also managed to raise 3 children to be really good cooks themselves.

Sadly I meet a lot of people who cannot say the same thing. Too many women I talk to about the home will confess that they can barely put a meal together, never mind make healthy nutritious food from scratch. Feeding their families is a chore they would rather avoid, so avoid they do. Instead of simple but delicious food cooked at home they resort to take out, frozen convenience foods and the most expensive of them all, eating out. Many of these same women also confess to a longing to be homemakers, but cannot afford to give up paid employment. It is to these women (who are sadly too many in number) that I dedicate this particular post.

If you can find a way to control the spending on food life on a single income becomes a lot more possible. Glean what information is useful to you and your circumstances and let the rest be. Below are some of the things that have made living on a single income while still enjoying good food possible for our family.

Set a budget

This may seem simple, and in many ways it is. You might be surprised at how much money you will save just by setting a budget for food/groceries and then sticking to it. We currently have a monthly budget, but there were times it was fortnightly, as that is how often my darling husband gets paid. Once the budget is spent then no more trips to the store until the next allotment comes around. Now that we have children to consider we make extra effort to not run out of budget for the essentials like milk or eggs.

Eating Out

Make eating out and take out food a special treat. Try not to allow for weekly trips to restaurants as it will encourage too much overspending. There are ways to have easy to prepare meals if you are at work all day without having to go out to eat. In our 8 Week Menu Plan we have one night designated for eating out or take out food. We are in the process of expending to 10 or even 12 weeks, but we will still only have one night for this treat.


Become a copy cat

Learn how to make your favorite restaurant meals at home. I have found Allrecipes.com a great resource for new recipes. Then there is always a Google search for the recipe of a particular dish. The Internet is full of people ready to share recipes they have made or found that taste just like that dish you always have to have at your favorite restaurant.

Quality

This is a big one in our home. My husband and I both enjoy really good food, and really good food starts with really good ingredients. There are many areas in our life where we are willing to cut corners, but quality of food is not one of them. We both would rather have less quantity lying around our pantry in favor of better quality. It will also help remove the temptation to eat out more if the food at home tastes really good.





Buy the best quality ingredients your budget will allow for. It really does make a difference to the taste. Growing up in Scotland meant that grass fed and finished meat was just ordinary meat. It took me a while to realize that one of the reasons beef and chicken both tasted so different to me was because they were corn fed. We are slowly switching one food item at a time to a better, healthier variety. We recently switched our beef to grass fed and finished. We can only afford to do this by purchasing half a cow at a time, as the cost per lb is significantly less when bought in bulk. My next target will be butter from grass fed sources only. I haven't even began my research yet, but I will try to find a local source before I resort to imported Irish or Danish butter.

This is a process with a lot of learning along the way. Probably the easiest way to start is by choosing organic produce. Start with those items that are most important to you. We use a lot of potatoes and onions, and these are also 2 of the worst vegetables for absorbing chemicals from the soil. As a result we made these our top priority for switching to organic. Next we focused on "The Dirty Dozen" that we use most frequently. Once Aiden started drinking regular milk we also made sure to only buy organic milk. I would like to switch to raw organic milk, but have not yet found a source.



Water

If you live in an area like ours then you probably don't drink the water that comes from the faucet in the kitchen sink. Our water quality is so bad we don't even use the ice maker in our freezer for making ice. When I first arrived in 2008 my darling husband was using bottled purified water for cooking and drinking. This quickly became prohibitively expensive when there were 2 of us. We decided to make the switch to filtered water. We did not want an expensive plumbed in filtration system, nor did we have that kind of money to spend. Neither did we like the idea of the plastic jug filters that required regular replacement filters and could only filter small amounts at a time. We knew there had to be a solution and we set ourselves a budget of $250 to find it. After a lot of searching online we found The Berkey Water Filter. It comes in various sizes. The filter elements are cleanable and the tank is stainless steel. Once of the sizes was priced at exactly $250 and came with free shipping. We have been using our Berkey for over 3 years and we have cleaned the filter elements twice in that time. It still works really well and the water tastes great. One of my favorite aspects to this particular filter system is that is leaves the essential healthy minerals in the water. After the initial cost it has cost us nothing and provides enough filtered water every day for both drinking and cooking.

Spend money to save money

It may seem counter-intuative that to save money by cooking at home it is wise to invest some money on good quality key kitchen items. I highly recommend investing in a few really good quality stainless steel pots, a cast iron skillet, a slow cooker and a few good baking dishes. These items are important to me because while I like to cook I don't particularly relish the cleaning. Having good quality pots makes clean up easier. Easier clean up means you are more likely to actually cook food at home. It is important to remember that this does not have to happen overnight. Use what you have and slowly replace with better quality as you can afford to.

Our most recent purchase was a stand mixer. I have wanted one of this particular brand for many years. When I first arrived we could not afford one. So I waited. After almost four years it is finally in my kitchen. Now as someone who likes to cook and bake it is not going to change what I make, but it certainly takes a lot of the elbow grease out of bread making for me.

That woman's touch!

Try to make your kitchen a beautiful and cheerful place. This doesn't have to cost much. Decluttering the counters and adding a favorite picture or photo collection can work wonders. Personally I made sure this was the room our CD player/radio was placed in. I enjoy singing while I cook, so having a source of music is important for my kitchen. More meals will be cooked at home IF you enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

Grocery Lists

We have found that keeping a running grocery list is really useful. We try to avoid going to the store for 1 or 2 items. To combat that temptation we keep a running list. When either of us notices that we are getting low on a particular item we add it to the list. By adding before we run out we are able to wait until a scheduled trip to the store before replenishing our supply. Our scheduled trips are staggered between the 3 stores we regularly use, with each one scheduled once a month. We also have a scheduled milk and produce store trip once a week that Rob will do on his way home from work. By having a list AND staying out of the stores we avoid the temptation to spend more money on items we don't actually need.

Make ahead

When you are cooking, make extra and freeze it for later. Rob prefers freshly cooked food and would rather take left overs the next day for lunch. However I have found that freezing side dishes works well for us. I do this with stuffed potatoes, mac'n'cheese, cooked rice, mashed potatoes, soup and stock. I'll cover instructions for these in another post dealing specifically with cooking from scratch.

Have fun

The most important part of cooking and eating at home, for me, is to have fun. If being in your kitchen and preparing meals feels like a drudgery then you won't do it. If you have fun while you work, and enjoy what you do, you'll begin to look forward to meal preparations. As I already mentioned I like to sing while I cook. I will also dance to the music if I'm in a particularly playful mood, or if Aiden needs entertaining at the same time. He finds my silly dancing quite amusing and will watch and giggle while I work.

If you have made it this far you might be feeling a big overwhelmed. I never intend for these posts to get so long, but that is usually how they turn out. I'll leave the details of how to cook from scratch for the next post. Meanwhile I hope you can start to enjoy your kitchen and make it a place where you have fun and create wonderful food for the whole family.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bread, one of the simple pleasures of life.

This is only a kind of break in my staying home series, as home made bread is actually a big money saver for us. I've loved to bake my own bread for a long time. Once I moved Stateside it became essential to bake my own bread as I found all the commercial breads too sweet for my palate. These recipes are for 2 loaves. I usually double the recipe then split into 3 loaves as I use 2lb loaf tins. I will then slice up 2 loaves and pop them in the freezer while we enjoy the fresh one. This way at our current useage I only bake bread about once a week. However as the boys grow, and their appetites with them I know it won't be long before all the bread is eaten fresh.

I should also probably mention that this freshly baked bread will not keep like the commercial breads do. In the hot humid climate of South Florida we will start seeing mold after a few days if the bread is left at room temperature. It will also start to go stale after only a few days too. This is normal. Home made bread doesn't have all the preservatives that you will find in commercial breads. Bread is not meant to stay fresh for more than a day or two.

So here are my 2 favourite bread recipes.

Sandwich Bread

2 cups warm water
drizzle of honey
1 1/2 tablespoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup oil
5 cups flour (I like 3 cups bread flour & 2 cups wholewheat)

Dissolve the honey in the water. Add yeast & mix. Leave for 10-15 minutes (until it starts to froth)
Add the salt & oil.
Gradually work in the flour. Keep working until it forms a smooth dough. Leave to rise for about an hour.
Knock back the dough and knead for a few minutes.
Divide in 2 and place in loaf pans. Leave to rise for about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350f for 30 minutes and cool on a wire rack.


Whole Wheat Bread

drizzle of honey
1/3 cup of oil
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons dried yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
6-7 cups whole wheat flour

Dissolve the honey in the water. Add 2 cups flour and the yeast & mix. Leave for 10-15 minutes (until it starts to froth)
Add the salt, gluten & oil.
Gradually work in the rest of the flour. Keep working until it forms a smooth dough.(about 7-10 minutes)
Divide in 2 and place in loaf pans. Leave to rise until double in size, (about an hour.)
Bake at 350f for 30 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

Once the bread has cooled, cut and enjoy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Staying Home, Part 2 - How we live on a single income


In Part 1 I shared why we chose to live as a single income family. Now we will cover some of the practical realities of our choices.

Reduce & Reuse

We reduced in some areas and reused/re-purposed in others

Areas we reduced:

We sold one of our vehicles and became a one vehicle family. This saved us on insurance, maintenance, gas/petrol and time. The gas/petrol and time is saved because instead of my making a special trip for groceries during the day while Rob is at work he picks up groceries on the way home when he is driving by or close to the store anyway. With Rob doing grocery shopping alone we are able to stick to our list and he gets in and out quicker than when we have the children at the grocery store.

We cut down on packaging. We buy fewer prepackaged goods than we did at first and stick to produce etc that doesn’t come prepackaged. We also buy bulk quantities of some dried goods which also cuts down in packaging. This saves money and time. The packaging costs are built in to the cost of items so the less we have the less we are paying for. It also saves us time sorting through recycling too.

Eating out. This is a big saver for us. We both like to cook and we both like to eat good food. So when we want a fancy meal we make it ourselves. It is now rare for us to eat out unless we are on a trip somewhere, and even then we like to buy groceries and prepare food if we can. Even a visit to the dollar menu can quickly add up to more than the cost of a much healthier home cooked meal. If you don’t know how to cook invest in a couple of good books that will teach you step by step, or invest in a cooking class. It will save you money in the long term.

We moved closer to where Rob works. Reducing his commute by 30 minutes each way every day saves us a lot of money when fuel prices continue to rise, not to mention lower maintenance on our car as it builds less wear and tear. As an added bonus it gives Rob an hour extra every day to spend playing with his children instead of sitting in the car.

Areas we reuse/repurpose

Clothes never get thrown away in our home. If they are too worn to wear they go in the rag box. When I’m looking for fabric for a project I’ll check the rag box first. When I was pregnant with Seth I decided to make some newborn sized fitted diapers/nappies so we would not have to buy throw away diapers until he was big enough for our stash of prefolds. I used a large pile of old t-shirts to make some very cute diapers/nappies. The total cost of 24 fitted diapers in newborn size was less than $10. The only supplies I bought for this project was Velcro and elastic. I had everything else. I recently looked at the price of these items to buy premade and they ranged from $15-$25 each. Even though Seth was a big baby and quickly outgrew them I still saved the money for the 5-6 weeks of throw away diapers/nappies. We saved at least $50 even with just that little use.

We also are always looking for ways to repurpose/reuse in the kitchen. I buy dried goods in bulk and store in old jars that were once the packaging on something else. I have a row of flour and sugar jars that originally contained biscotti. In the pantry I have rice, pasta etc in old catering size mayonnaise jars. I wash out jam/jelly jars and reuse to store sauces in the freezer. If it can be cleaned out and is re-sealable then we will find a use for it. I even reuse old laundry detergent bottles to store my homemade detergent. Empty spray bottles of cleaning fluids are refilled with homemade versions to do the same job (those recipes/tips are a whole post in themselves.)

Plan a menu

Early on in my blogging life I shared an 8 week menu plan we were in the process of implementing. It has since had several revisions and we are currently looking at expanding it to 10 or 12 weeks, with only a few firm favourite meals repeated (who wants to wait 12 weeks for pizza or burgers.) Having a menu plan works for us. We like a lot of variety in our meals. We like to cook. What we don’t enjoy is having to think about what to cook. Now that we have small children it is even more important to take some of the thinking out of the process. I’m even working on a menu plan for breakfast, lunch and snacks for myself and the children. I like knowing what to take out of the freezer, what to put on the grocery list and what to do when my almost 2 year old has a hungry day and wants to eat every 30 minutes.

We’ve been using the menu plan for about 3 years. We know almost instinctively what to buy at the grocery store. I still keep a running list on the fridge that we use to do the actual grocery shopping. Rob will take it with him on the days he has to pick up groceries on the way home. Otherwise we shop for groceries once a month, which is generally how long it takes to have a list big enough to justify a special trip for groceries. This strategy has saved money in another way. We stay out of stores, so we reduce the temptation to impulse buy. When we don’t go to the store for only 2 or 3 items we are not tempted to buy another 10 items we don’t really need, costing us money we had not planned to spend (even if the item is on sale, it only saves money of we would have bought it regardless of the sale.)

Menu planning has also helped us to avoid the temptation to eat out or order take out food. On those days when I can’t get even 5 minutes in the kitchen without a meltdown from one of the children it isn’t a disaster. We both know what is ready to cook and either of us can have dinner on the table just by following our menu. I will say at this point we are not slaves to the plan. We will readily swap around meals within the same week, especially for a meltdown day. Having crockpot/slow cooker meals has also been a blessing on those days too.

I’ll have to do a post just on food, as this is a big area of spending for us, and also an area where we can really save when we need to. I’m sure it will be the same for you too.

Go Green

Some of the choices we have made that make us kinder to the environment are really areas where we save money, and being green is just a happy side effect.

When we were pregnant with our first born we had no spare money. I already knew I wanted to use cloth diapers/nappies. I knew it was kinder for the baby and their delicate skin. I also knew it did not have to cost a lot of money to get started. Rob was sold on it as I explained how we could build a stash of cloth diapers/nappies cheaply and just how much it would save us financially over 2 years. We used a gift card to buy our initial 5 dozen cotton prefolds, then we just paid for the waterproof covers and fasteners. Total outlay for us was only about $30. The actual cost if we had not had the gift card would have been about $90. We did end up using throw away diapers/nappies for  the first 6 weeks until Aiden was big enough for the prefolds. Again we used gift cards for most of that cost, but it was more than $80 for that 6 week period, almost as much as the cost for a complete cloth set up. We did add 4 pocket diapers/nappies later to use overnight, and then we bought more covers and 4 more pockets when Seth was born. The pockets cost about $20 each. Add in a few extra fasteners and for 2 boys we have spent less than $300 in cloth diapering supplies in the last 2 years. We also have enough supplies to last several more babies, as we currently only use about half of our supply since we wash 3 times a week. The more babies we have the more we will save in this area.

Homemade detergents and cleaners are another money saver that has the added benefit of being green, but since I’ve already promised another post on this topic I won’t go into details here.

We have a small car, a Nissan Versa. It fits the same number of people as most of the larger vehicles we see on the road. However it not only cost us less to buy it, it costs less to operate too. It is more fuel efficient than the larger vehicles. With the right kind of car seats we should be able to fit 3 children in the back, which is exactly the same as those fuel guzzling SUVs we see on most of our neighbours drives.

So this has turned into a much longer post than I originally intended. I’ll continue with posts on food and cleaners, and a few other things we do to make that single income count.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Staying Home, Part 1 - Why?

While Rob and I were preparing to get married we had several conversations about me working after we got married. We agreed that I would in fact stay home, even before we were blessed with children.

Yet during the first year of our marriage I did work outside the home. I worked part-time. I did not at that time work at home (our marital home) at all. Truth be told during the first year of our marriage I never stepped foot inside our home. Rob lived there, in Florida, and I continued to live with my parents, in Scotland. We were going through the immigration process and it took a full year to get my visa that would allow me to move in and live with my husband. While we were waiting I continued to work.

When I immigrated to the USA and finally got to live with my precious husband I no longer worked in paid employment outside our home. This was not always an easy a choice. Less than a month after I arrived Stateside my husband had his hours cut at work. Living on a single income became a very tight squeeze. We again visited the idea of me finding paid employment. Again we made the decision that I should stay at home.

Why was this important to us, especially when we were not yet parents? There were a few reasons for us. I'll start with the least important and then go on to the more important reasons.

Firstly Rob was given some advice from one of the friends who led him to the Lord. This friend shared from the wisdom of being married for nearly 20 years, and living on a single income while growing and raising a family with his wife. He told Rob that if we were planning on having children and for me to stay home with them it would be wiser for me to stay home from the start. That way we would not get used to having a second income, even if we chose to save all of that second income. This was one of the best pieces of advice we received when we got married. It was not always easy to live on one income, so how much harder who that have been if we had to make a bigger adjustment from 2 incomes.

The second reason for us was that we did indeed want to have children. We were older when we got married and knew that we could not take fertility for granted. We had both seen friends and family struggle with fertility issues. The reasons for this struggle were many, but one that seemed to be shared by all those we knew was that the wife not only worked outside the home, but she also had a lot of stress from both the job and trying to juggle keeping the home and other outside commitments too. We wanted to given ourselves the best possible opportunities to be able to have children, so adding a stressful outside job did not make sense, even in the midst of a very tight budget. It was also much easier for both of us to stay healthy when I am home cooking everything from scratch instead of eating mass produced convenience foods or resorting to eating out (which also makes it more difficult to stick to a budget.)

More important than either of these good reasons, was the most important reason of all. We understood that God's will was for me to stay at home. When we searched the Scriptures we could find no evidence that the Lord desires women to work outside the home. In fact we found very much the opposite. Women who were busy outside of the home were always portrayed as wicked women, rebellious and discontent. In the New Testament women are clearly instructed to be "keepers at home." Even widows of child bearing age were instructed to remarry rather than rely on welfare. Widows who are older were to be looked after by their adult children/grandchildren rather than resort to welfare. Those widows who had neither of these options were to receive welfare from the church only if they had proved themselves to be hard working at home, and not prone to laziness.

But what about the Proverbs 31 woman? I have heard that used as justification for working outside the home. Yet this woman, who is worth is above rubies, is not shown as working outside the home. Rather she looks well to the ways of her household. She uses her spare time to be industrious for sure, but the things she does are at home industries. She buys land to provide more food. She makes clothes for her family, and makes some extras that she can sell to merchants. She prepares food to feed her family. She is indeed the ultimate stay at home wife and mother. She uses all her waking hours for the benefit of her family, while being home to look after her family.

I will continue with Part 2 - How we live on a single income. I'll share some of the things we have learned to help us live within our means.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Heart and Soul

I first started this blog as a new immigrant to the United States of America. I wanted a place to write about and record my journey as a new wife and new immigrant. In the process there are times when my faith has come across loud and clear. I felt that it was time to explain why that faith is so important to me, how it was formed, and what it means to my daily life. It is good to take time to look at where we have come from to know where we are heading.

My earliest memories of church, was being sent with my brother so we would have Sunday School. It was around the time my sister was born, so I would be 6 years old. Growing up in Scotland our local parish church was Presbyterian, Church of Scotland. It didn't take long before my parents were taking all of us to church as a family. And so it was part of our life from that point on. As a child I didn't think too much about it, it was just something we did on a Sunday. I enjoyed the Sunday School lessons, the singing in services, and the Saturday coffee mornings where we got cakes to eat.

It remained that way until I was 13 years old. Something I did, but didn't actually think too much about. Then our minister left. After several months we got a new minister. One of his first few sermons explained that going to church didn't make you a Christian. For the first time since I started going to church at the age of 6 I found out what it really means to be a Christian. It was a real defining moment to realise that at that point I was not a Christian, I was just someone who attended church. Now I already believed God was real. There was never a time I can remember that I didn't believe God was real. I also believed Jesus was real, but now knew that wasn't enough.

It was another 9 months before I was ready to take that final step of faith. As I went to bed one night I just knew heart and soul that it was now or never. I had to choose to accept that I was a sinner, that Jesus took the punishment for my sin by dying on the cross, and asking Him to be in control of my life from that point on. The next morning I woke up feeling so much lighter, like a heavy load had been taken from me. I now knew that if I were to die at that moment I could be confident I had a home in Heaven waiting for me. That was 25 years ago this week.

A lot has happened in those 25 years. My understanding of what it took to pay the penalty for my sin has broadened and deepened. I am more committed to my Lord and Saviour than even before. He was the only one who has even lived on this earth totally free from sin. He willingly stood in my place, taking my sin upon himself, so that I would not spend eternity separated from God. His death and coming back to life 3 days later is the reason why I will always have hope, always have peace and always have a place in the very presence of the thrice holy God. I am still a sinner. I was born a sinner. It is my very nature to sin. I am a wretched being indeed. Yet thanks be to God I am covered by the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on my behalf, and on the behalf of all who are willing to accept it. It is only by grace that I stand as righteous in the throne room of God, and by His mercy I have been saved from the punishment that rightly belongs to me.

As the Easter season approaches, and hearts and minds are drawn to Calvary's cross, I stand ever thankful that I know the power of that amazing love shown by God himself in the form of the Son. As we look at the promises for salvation that were shown in Passover, and the accomplishment of that salvation on Calvary, may it fill our hearts with thanksgiving. For those who do not yet know the reality of that salvation, may this year, this Easter, be the time where it becomes real and personal to you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mythical Sleeping Babies

Mythical Sleeping Babies - its all about personality.


My darling husband and I both giggled the first time we heard the term "mythical sleeping babies" as we have been blessed to have two of them. I wish I could share our secrets to this success, but I can honestly say it isn't all about us. Sure there are things we do that have encouraged sleep, and I will share those below. But more importantly it is about their sleep personalities.

Both our boys appear to have their father's sleep personality. They wake up when day breaks. They nap when they get tired. They go to sleep when it gets dark. Rob is 46 and largely still follows this pattern. When he is at home all day (weekends, vacations etc) he will often have a nap in the middle of the day. Most often all Rob has to do is lift his feet off the floor, stretch out on the sofa, close his eyes and yes, he is sound asleep. I rather envy this ability to sleep any time and any place. I on the other hand take a long time to fall asleep, so naps don't happen unless I'm very ill. I will naturally stay up late and then sleep late. I take forever to actually wake up mentally too. My family never speak to me in the morning until I've been awake for at least an hour.

One thing Rob and I share though is that we like our own space when we sleep. We are not one of those couples who can fall asleep snuggled up to each other. When its time to go to sleep we both turn away from the other person and curl up on our own sides of the bed. It turns out that unsurprisingly both our boys are the same way. There was a large part of me that wanted to have snuggly babies. I like the idea of my baby sleeping next to me during the night so I don't have to get out of bed for middle of the night feeds. I also like the idea of night feeding as a benefit to both the baby and me. When Seth was born I tried having him in bed with me. Even as a newly born baby he didn't like the idea as much as I did. Sure he would fall asleep as I nursed him, but to stay asleep for more than 10 minutes he had to be put down, in his own space. I can tell you that having a newborn wake up after only 10 minutes of sleep makes for one very overtired baby (not to mention exhausted parents.) As much as I like the idea, so far with the children we have, co-sleeping has not worked for us.


What I have learned so far that the issue of sleep is different for each of us, both as babies and adults. Like so many of the "rules" of parenting it is never going to be a one size fits all. We are too unique for that. Instead the best success for us has come from parenting each child as best fits their personalities as well as ours. Sleep really is no different.

So what has worked for us:

1. The most important one by far for us has been to not allow them to get overtired. When it does happen it is always a recipe for disaster. My sons don't sleep well when they get this way. They will often wake up after only 20-30 minutes of sleep if they have gotten overtired before going to sleep. The saying "sleep begets sleep" is definitely true in our home.

2. Giving them their own space to sleep in. Just like us, our boys want and need their own space to have a good sleep. While other babies may prefer to sleep snuggled up to mama, in our experience it has been the opposite. I still dream of having a baby who wants me so much that they love to sleep on me, but so far the ones I have prefer some space, and like having their own crib.

3. Being home for most of their time. Just like their mama, these boys are home bodies. They like to be in familiar surroundings to sleep well. They just don't sleep as soundly or for as long when we are anywhere else. They like their own bed for sleep. This is also very true for naps, especially given that they won't nap on me past 8 weeks of age.

4. Routine. They both respond best to a steady routine. While we don't have set times for anything for the most part, we do have a reasonably predictable routine. It starts when the first one wakes up and goes from there. The only day our routine changes is Sunday, when we have church, and they have to change out some of the routine around the time of the church service.

I know many mamas of young children around the same ages as mine. I know from talking with these women that there are as many variations as there are children. Some have children that all have different sleep personalities, and that is probably the most challenging aspect of both parenting and sleep. Some have babies that will catnap all day long, just as long as they are touching their mama. Some have babies that don't nap at all even at 6 months old. Some have babies that awake every hour or two throughout the night. Some babies love to snuggle and nurse to sleep. Some like being rocked or swayed. Some like to just be put down and left alone. The other thing I have learned is that some need more sleep and some need less.

The most important lesson I have learned about sleep from my boys is to do what works for them rather than what I thought I would do before they were born.

I have a feeling this is going to be a lesson I learn over and over again throughout this parenting adventure.

This post is linked up with
A-Wise-Woman-Builds-Her-Home

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

I've joined in with a link up over at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

A-Wise-Woman-Builds-Her-Home

Why not drop by and link up too, or find some encouragement from a new blog or two.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Heart of the Home

In my life I have so many identities and roles. I'm a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend. Each of these have a wonderful and welcome place in my life. Yet above all of these I am also the heartbeat of my home. I set the atmosphere within the walls of our family sanctuary. I decide if this is a place of welcome or a place to be avoided. I am responsible for the pace of life day by day.

Realtors/Estate Agents know that to sell a home to a family they have to market to the wife/mother. They will tell you that the single most important room for this is the kitchen. The woman has to see herself comfortable in the kitchen. Once that is done the house will sell itself. Why is this? It is because deep down as women we know that we are the heartbeat of our homes and we like to beat in the heart of the home, the kitchen.

I know for me, in all the different homes I've lived in over the years, I have always gravitated towards the kitchen. I love being in the kitchen and being busy. I love to bake and cook. I love to organize and plan from the kitchen. It is where I am usually to be found if the children are sleeping. I love the rest of my home too. But I always come back to the warmth and vitality of the kitchen.

At present we have a small table in our kitchen that I use as an extra work surface. It has become my baking station. I have a baker's rack against the wall near this table that holds most of my baking supplies, so it is a natural place to mix together something wonderful. It is also the only real heat proof surface in the kitchen, so it is also the place where hot tins fresh from the oven are placed before the contents are removed. Already this morning I have completed 3 loaves of bread and a batch of cookies. A loaf of banana bread is currently in the oven. This afternoon I plan on making some apple turnovers to use up the last of our organic apples before they get too old. I can't think of a nicer smell than fresh baked food.

My love of the kitchen extends to my collecting instincts. I love to collect small kitchen gadgets. I love to find those wonderful little curiosities that make the life of a cook or baker so much easier. From the measuring spoons that go down to a pinch and a dash, to the scone cutter and flower petal maker. For Christmas my wonderful husband even surprised me with a few new ones in my stocking, including a chocolate mold and a new cookie cutter.

I remember with great fondness the wonderful aromas of my childhood home. We did not have shop bought cookies/biscuits in our home very often. Instead we always had fresh baked cake available. In the winter there was usually a very large pot of home made soup on the stove. My brother and I were the most popular children in our respective classes at school when we turned up with cake. Mum would give us two slices of cake instead of candy or chips/crisps for the morning break time. We would half one slice and swap it for a candy bar or a bag of chips/crisps. Mum thought she was helping us to healthier having home baked treats. We on the other hand had a captive market amongst children who never had home baked in their homes. The other children craved the cake we had, not just because it tasted good (and it tasted so wonderful we always kept a slice for ourselves) but because of the love that went into making it.

Knowing that I am the heartbeat of my home I want my children to have the kinds of lasting memories I had growing up. While they may not have the daily or even weekly visits with extended family, they can have the wonderful treats that feed their souls as well as their bellies. I can fill our home with the sweet smell of food prepared in love, or I can fill it with the foul aroma of convenience that says there are more important things than them. I can be the agent of peace and love that makes our home a welcoming place to all who enter, or I can busy around keeping it so perfect that nobody feel comfortable to spend time here. I can embrace my role as the heartbeat of my home, or I can let my home fall into ruin.

I love that I get to choose my response to my role in our family. I only have myself to blame if I get it wrong. I am glad to choose to stay at home every day, and make our home a wonderful to stay in. The memories my children take with them from here can be wonderful, filled with the sweet aroma of foods prepared by loving hands, only if my hands are filled with love while they work.

A wise woman once told me that no matter what happens in life my reaction is my choice. Now that I get to stay home every day this is still true. I could choose to be discontent and want to be out somewhere, anywhere on any given day. I could disregard the needs of my children and be busy out and about doing things outside the home with them. I could even choose to find employment and put them in daycare so we could have more things or travel to more places. Instead I choose to stay home. I choose to plan around nap times, diaper/nappy changes, snack and meal needs, nursing, cleaning, cooking, baking, and occasionally writing. This is being a heartbeat, a steady constant rhythm that keeps our lives moving along, slowly, carefully and at peace.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A New Church Home

Last October/November we moved into our current home. It is a very well laid out townhouse that will give us plenty of space for our family no matter how large the Lord decides to make it. The size however was not our biggest reason for moving. This house is less than a ten minute drive from Rob's place of work. It frees up an extra hour a day on work days for Rob to spend with the boys. This is proving to be a huge blessing for us.

This move had only one down side. It made attending our Church very difficult. The journey on a Sunday morning was now forty five minutes each way. Rob was still teaching Sunday School, so we would have to leave about 9am and would not get home until nearly 1:30pm. This may not be a big deal for some, but for our boys it was. Seth was only two months old, and still sleeping most of the time. He did not take to having to sleep on the go. (Even now at six months old he likes to be in his own bed to sleep.) Even Aiden was beginning to have a difficult time with going all morning and into the afternoon without a nap. So Rob decided to give up teaching Sunday School and we would try just attending one of the two morning services.

Then we went to the Christmas Eve service with the boys. We thought we might have issues because they are not usually out in the evenings. My boys like to go to bed when it starts to get dark (like their daddy) and the service didn't start until 5pm. We did end up leaving before the service was over. We tried everything we could to keep Seth calm, but even after changing his diaper/nappy and nursing him he was still unhappy and let us know all about it. He was tired and he wanted to go to sleep in his own bed, not in my arms. So we got the boys into the car and drove home. By the time we got home forty five minutes later Seth was so beyond over tired that he would not be consoled and he would not go to sleep. Rob was left to see to Aiden, unpack the car and start getting ready for Christmas morning on his own while I tried everything we could think of to try and calm Seth enough to fall asleep.

I spent over two hours rocking, walking, swaying, singing, swaddling, nursing, and everything else that might even bring just a moment of calm. Finally he passed out from sheer exhaustion. As I joined Rob back downstairs to finish preparing for the morning we talked, and talked, and talked about what had just happened. The only conclusion we came to was that we could never put Seth through that again and changed our plans about attending Christmas morning services. We decided I would stay home with Seth on Sunday mornings until he was old enough to deal with going to Church again.

Over the next couple of weeks Rob struggled through taking Aiden to Church by himself. Aiden missed having his Mama around. He missed his "Bubba" too. So we tried having Rob go to Church on his own. After the first week of that Rob knew it wasn't right for him to go to Church without the rest of his family. We needed a better solution. We talked and prayed and talked and prayed together some more. We asked the Lord to show us where to go if He was moving us to a closer Church. That Saturday we drove by a sign across the street from our neighborhood. It was advertising church services in a school on a small strip mall. There was a website address included. So after we came home we wrote down the website to check out after the boys were asleep.

We continued to pray for another few weeks. This was a big decision and one we were not going to rush. Rob continued to go to Church alone. I continued to stay home with the boys and tried very hard to not feel isolated. Church had always been my one time of the week to speak to other people face to face, so staying home seven days a week was not easy. Rob was the only adult I had proper conversations with.

After a few weeks of listening to sermons on the website and continuing to seek the Lord we decided to email the Pastor and ask to meet with him to find out more about the Church. We met at our local doughnut shop on the Saturday morning, then visited the Church on the Sunday morning. We liked everything we found out and saw at Church. We went back a second time the following week before finally making the decision to transfer our membership to this new Church home that the Lord had led us to.

We are sad to leave behind so many wonderful friends in our old Church home, but we are still close enough to drop by for special events and to keep up the friendships out of Church. At the same time we are excited to be a part of this new family of believers. Our new Church is indeed a new Church. They have been meeting for just over a year, and are still small in number. We meet in the cafeteria of a private school. It is the most integrated Church I've encountered. The children are part of the main service. They worship together with their families. There is a room set aside for very small children to go and play if needed, but it is very much optional. The cultural diversity is about the same as the actual diversity of the surrounding area. I'm not the only one going through the immigrant experience of raising a family far away from my extended family, as there are several other immigrant families in Church too. The Pastor and his wife have been married about the same amount of time as we have, and with a very similar love story to us too. They also have a daughter who is only four days older than Aiden. The two children were actually born on each others due date. They are already firm friends too which is so nice to see.

We are excited to be a part of the work the Lord is doing in our new community. We are excited to see what the Lord can do through our new Church home and the new friendships that are developing there. I'm personally excited to be walking distance from Church, and to have new friends that live within walking distance too.

Have a great weekend, and may the Lord bless you as you meet together with other believers this coming Lord's Day.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lemon Shortbread

I've only recently been able to get back to experimenting in the kitchen. First on my list was Lemon Shortbread. I first tasted this wonderful delight many years ago when visiting a dear friend who at the time was living in Cardiff. We were both just learning about organic whole foods and eagerly shared new finds with each other. And so I was introduced to Duchy Originals Sicilian All Butter Shortbread. It was and is for me the perfect treat.



Since moving to Florida it is a treat I've been without, and missed. So I finally decided it was time to make my own version of this light, sweet, tangy treat.

This is my own original lemon shortbread recipe. So far I have not found anyone who hasn't liked the taste of it.

1 cup butter
1 lemon (juice and grated rind)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon of sugar to garnish

Beat the butter until light and creamy (this step makes everything else easier.)
Beat in the juice & rind of 1 lemon.
Beat in the sugar. (All this beating does make a very light crisp shortbread.)
Add everything else and mix thoroughly.
Form into marble size balls.
Place on a baking tray (cookie sheet) and flatten each ball to about 1/3 inch thick.
Bake in a moderate (350f/gas 4/180c) oven for about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle with sugar while still warm, and leave on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Allow to cool and enjoy. These are very complimentary to a nice warm cup of Earl Grey tea.

This post and recipe are dedicated to that wonderful friend mentioned above. She knows who she is and I know she will enjoy trying this recipe for herself.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mothering and Guilt

There is one thing that seems to be certain when we women become mothers, that we will feel guilty about the choices we make for our children.

False Guilt

At Bible College I remember one of my teachers saying that all guilt is false guilt. It comes from the enemy of our faith, trying to stop us from being more effective in our lives. And in the area of parenting there is no shortage of guilt to be found.

Passing the Baton

Tragically the most common form of mother guilt seems to come from other women. I’ve heard it often referred to as “The Mommy Wars.” It stems from women sharing often unwanted advice about how we should do exactly what they do or did as a mother. Then as we begin to feel under attack and the projection of that mommy guilt, we get defensive and start attacking back to make the other women feel the same way.

Guilt or Conviction

Sometimes it is good for us to feel uncomfortable about decision we make or actions we take. There are occasions when we learn something new and realize that we need to make a change. This is when it is easiest to feel guilt. Yet it is not guilt that motivates us to change. It is conviction about the mistake made that motivates change for the future. This is where the difference is made. Guilty feelings will immobilize us and make us defensive. Conviction will motivate us and help us to make the necessary change.

Living Guilt Free

I have tried to live a guilt free life for many years. Now that I am a mother it is even more important to me to refuse to carry the heavy burden that guilt becomes. I am by no means a perfect mother. I’ve been doing this mothering task for less than two years. I have so much still to learn, and my children are very good teachers. Still I live guilt free. Why? Because I refuse to accept that false feeling of guilt. Instead I focus on keeping an open heart and mind in learning new things. I welcome conviction when I make mistakes. If I get it wrong I want to be able to change it rather than defend it.

Real Example

When I first started introducing solid foods to Aiden at almost six months I had done some learning and decided to start with fruits and vegetables rather than cereals. However like most mothers in our culture I started by serving these foods as mush and on a spoon. I was only a few weeks into this process when I started to learn about what is called Baby Led Weaning. It was so different to anything I had experienced before. After a few more weeks I felt convicted that this new way (to me) was the right way for our family. I liked the idea of Aiden learning to chew before learning to swallow. So I stopped spoon feeding mush. I started giving him food in pieces that he could hold in his tiny little hands, and choose for himself how much he ate. It has worked very well for us, and I plan to go straight to real solid foods with Seth and any other future children when the time comes to introduce solid food.

Instead of feeling guilt and defending my decision to spoon feed mush, I kept an open mind and with the motivation of conviction I made some changes. Now this is just an example from my own mothering journey and is not shared to force anyone else to make that same change. I write to help remove the guilt not to add to it.

No More War

The best thing about leaving guilt behind as a mother is that it puts an end to the “Mommy War” mentality in my life. I don’t have to defend any of the decisions I make. I don’t have to justify myself or make another mother feel bad about the decisions she makes.

There are so many issues that seem to fuel the war mentality. This is so sad. We are just trying to do what we think is best for our children. None of us set out to bring harm to our children. We all love our children. More importantly what is right for me, my children and my family is not necessarily right for every other mother and her family. You are the only real expert on your family, just as I am on mine. You know what works best for you, even when it is the opposite of what works for me.

Leaving Guilt Behind

So I for one am leaving guilt behind, in the dust, as I walk forward in my mothering adventure. May I encourage you to do the same. Refuse to let guilt control you. Be the mother only you can be to your blessings, and let us together bring an end to the hostility of the “mommy wars.”

Have a blessed and guilt free day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dealing with reproductive health choices?

Today I got fed up with reading about how terrible it is that Susan G. Komen for the Cure had withdrawn funding from Planned Parenthood on my Facebook news feed. So I wrote a status update to counter it.

My gripe is not against Planned Parenthood on their own. They are under investigation for good reason. They support pimps who use under age and illegal immigrant girls. They encourage young girls to lie in order to carry out some of their abortion work. Yet this is only a tiny part of it. My gripe is a much bigger picture than just Planned Parenthood.

I have a gripe that extends to all those who push population control at the same time as encouraging sexual activity outside of marriage. It seems ironic to me that the same people who want to control population growth, also actively encourage the very behaviour that leads to growing the population. This is a problem to me, and why I have such a gripe about the subject.

I am no expert. I'm not medically trained. I'm a stay at home wife and mother. I am also a disciple of Jesus Christ. I believe in a literal creation that took only 6 days and happened only 6 or 7 thousand years ago. I say all of this to make clear my context as I share this post. I have no hidden agenda. I do however believe that the Creator who made us knew what He was doing, and knows best how our bodies work.

Reproductive choices is very personal. It is also a very emotional subject. Everywhere you turn it seems like every side (there isn't just 2 sides in this one) is on the defensive, trying to justify why they are the ones with the high ground.

The choice my husband and I have made is one that is not very popular right now, but it used to be the most common one. We simply do nothing other than enjoy our marriage and let the children come as they come. This has not always been an easy decision. The most difficult time for us, and when our convictions were tested the most, was just after the birth of our wonderful first son. Aiden was a home birth turned hospital transfer than ultimately resulted in a c-section. The first thing we were told about another child was that we should wait 2 years before getting pregnant again. We researched and found no evidence for this advice from the nurse who gave it. At my 6 week post-op appointment with the OB/GYN I asked about it. I was told that they prefer a longer gap for a c-section mother, but 6 months would be safe and as long as we were 3 months postpartum it shouldn't be life threatening. So were did the 2 year wait advice come from? I later found out they tell all their maternity patients to wait 2 years, not just the c-section ones. Rob and I had already discussed our options. We talked about doing something to prevent another pregnancy too quickly. We prayed about it too. We came back to the same decision as always. We trusted the Lord. We trusted Him to not open my womb before it was ready to be opened. We trusted Him to heal me from the surgery too. We trusted and we got a 6 month gap between pregnancies, but both pregnancies and birth stories are available in previous posts here on the blog.

The need for population control is a lie. This planet is not over populated. It can actually sustain a much greater population than most people realize. Sexual activity outside of marriage is not a given either. It is possible to choose abstinence. It is possible to only have one sexual partner for life and for that person to be your spouse and for you to be the only one for your spouse too. What about those who don't marry young? I've heard that one too many times and I am here to say even for those who don't marry young it IS a valid option. My husband and I both chose to wait until marriage, and have only been married to each other. We were not young when we got married. I was 35 and he was 41. We didn't meet for the first time until just 2 years before our wedding. We both made choices along the way on our journey towards each other that allowed us to be in this position. Everyone has that choice too.

I think what it basically comes down to for me is that I am tired of hearing about "the poor" and how they are always the ones who end up being victims. I don't want to be harsh, but what about taking some responsibility for your own choices for a change. If you choose to be sexually active outside of marriage don't expect others to pay for your mistakes. They are your choices, so live with them. You have chosen to take the immediate pleasure, but don't want the long term health implications. You chose to do things to your body to stop babies being born while still enjoying the pleasure of sex. Then live with the consequences.

Abortions, hormonal birth control and sterilizations all cause a dramatic increase in risk to reproductive cancers. Prostate cancer is much more common among men with vasectomies. Ovarian cancer is much higher amongst women with tubal ligations. The list could go on, but it does seem that the less children we have and the less we breastfeed the most cancers women are at risk for. Sexually transmitted diseases bring about even more health risks.

I have seen too many friends struggle because of the choices they have made earlier in life. Infertility is on the rise. Reproductive cancers are on the rise. Yet too few want to admit that abstinence is a valid choice before marriage.

I had to watch as a friend took a painful journey through infertility and trying to become a mother. She made some bad choices as a teenager. It did not take a lot of sexual activity to leave her infertile. All it took was giving in to the pressure of 1 boyfriend at the age of 15. She got a STD that scarred her fallopian tubes and left her with just one working ovary. Many ears later when she got married and tried to start a family she couldn't. They chose to seek treatment. Finally they tried IVF. The second time she even got pregnant. But the baby implanted in her fallopian tube and didn't survive. She eventually got to a point of accepting that she would never have biological children. It was all because she made a bad choice at 15. If you ask her if it was worth it I know she would tell you no. She would also tell you that she wishes someone would have told her about abstinence when she was a teenager, instead of assuming and encouraging sexual activity.

I've also watched others battle with infertility, mostly due to bad choices. Some are as simple as using hormonal birth control within marriage until they felt ready to start a family. Then when they felt ready the family never started. Years of artificial hormones have left their bodies confused and unable to conceive.

There are also too many I personally know that have chosen to make themselves infertile after only 2 children. Then within only a few years their marriages begin to fall apart, unable to stand due to the change in the partner that was sterilized. Sterilization does change people, not just physically but emotionally too.

I know I'm not going to change every mind that may read this article. I may even offend some. For me this is a pro-life issue, but it isn't as simple as being an anti-abortion issue. I do believe that life is life from the second of conception, and that all life is precious. I know many couples who would adopt those unwanted babies in a heart beat if they were not hand-tied by overly expensive legal costs. If they cannot afford fertility treatment then they are not going to be able to afford a $30,000 price tag for private adoption either. But the pro-life issue is bigger than just birth and babies. It is also about preventing people from dying needlessly because they didn't know their choices would dramatically increase their risk of a more deadly cancer.

This is not as simple as being pro-life or pro-choice. You cannot truly be either if you only have propaganda from either side to inform you. You can be both if you start looking for the truth that is out there to be found. I am pro-choice. I am pro choosing life by making truly informed decisions that leads to life for me, my family and every other person out there.

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Baby Mordecai

Our blessed first baby, Mordecai, gone to heaven on July 23, 2009 at 13 weeks gestation.

You will never be forgotten by us.