living eco-friendly on a budget + ​natural parenting + fresh takes on theology

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In 2015, Mothering.com published a piece I wrote on Mommy Wars (also on the MG4LG blog). In summer 2016, I got to turn that article into a 45-minute talk for Mommy Con DC called Declaring War on Mommy Wars: Graceful Communication in the Midst of Conflict. Mommy Con is a nation-wide natural parenting conference that attracts over 1,000 visitors to its DC stop. Not only was it awesome to speak, but I got to hear information  on other interesting topics and visit all sorts of vendors, including Jessica Haney of Mindful Healthy Life who interviewed me early this summer.

Photo Credit: Mindful Healthy Life

Photo Credit: Mindful Healthy Life

Here’s the premise of the talk: Read more…

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DIY: Homeschool Car Magnet

Our family started considering ourselves homeschoolers last year, but this is the year that my oldest, V, is Kindergarten-eligible so we are “official” in the sense that we have declared our homeschooling status to the county. Last year, the kids wanted a school name and we settled on Fontanafax Adventure School. This year, their request was to have a school magnet to put on the back of our car. So, we made one! Magnets made to cover air vents are large and heavy-duty, so we used that as our base. Through a couple of discussions, we came up with this design:

Homeschool Car Magnet

The overall arrow shape represents Read more…

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Snow Day Fun: Mining for Gems

DC Blizzard 2016/Snowzilla actually happened! We got over 24 inches at our house. With the drifting, our cars became mere lumps in the driveway. Dave and V spent hours digging us out (not that a snowplow has come by yet).

Baby T’s first time in the snow was one for the record books in terms of snowfall. It was also memorable for us. T is the smiliest baby I have ever known, and it was a hoot too see him take that personality outside. At first, he just sat with curiosity as brothers dumped snow on him brought him snow, then he started reaching out to touch and taste and the smiles started. After awhile, he tipped  himself over on to his belly and scooted across as much of the sidewalk as he could with glee, just as he does inside the house. 

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As for indoor fun while snowbound, we decided to “mine” for “gems” by Read more…

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Sharing Gifts, Sparking Imagination

At the beginning of January, I got to give my first sermon to an all-adult audience. I’ve done plenty of gospel-sharing to kids and families, and I’ve taught other material to adults, but this had new nuances for me. So, yay!

My congregation for the day was folks in a memory impairment unit of a nursing home. What dear, dear people. I taught on the Christmas story since I knew they had not had a church service since November. I had some props like a fiber-optic angel (our tree topper) and a stuffed lamb (thanks to my kids for sharing their toy), but the most awe-inducing thing was the baby doll wrapped in swaddling clothes. There were audible gasps when I held it because they thought it was a real baby, which clearly was a wonderful idea to them. No one was concerned that I had pulled a baby out of a bag, instead it was just sheer wonder that a baby would be there with them.

Baby Doll

 

Babies transforms everything, right? Read more…

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V Turns 5

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Five years ago we were blessed with our precious son V after a hard road to parenthood. He experiences the world deeply and notices things that others might miss. Read more…

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The Christmas Story in Pictures


Luke 2:1-:20

In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  Everyone went to their own town to be listed. So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby.

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While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. That’s because there was no guest room where they could stay.

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Read more…

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The Future

I started 2014 with a heaviness inside. I couldn’t pinpoint anything wrong, yet I knew it was that heaviness that comes from not living fully within God’s best for my life. A friend at work shared that she went through a similar period of questioning during a sermon series on Jabez years before. She prayed that God would expand her territory and she began to seek out wise people to ask their opinion on what was missing. Shortly thereafter she left her life in academia and began her path as a pastor. I loved her story, but I was scared of it. I was not ready for that kind of prayer. What I needed was just margin to hear God more clearly, so my friends prayed that for me. Within an hour, I received a phone call from my two little boys’ babysitter saying that she was quitting. Rather than seeing this as innocuous event—a teen moving on to a different path— I was ravaged with emotion. The depth of my feelings convinced me, that very day, that the answer was that I should work less.

It made no sense. Why would I work less at a ministry job that I love, that I feel called to over and over again, that I’d been longing for even further professional growth at? Yet, I knew that this was the beginning of God answering my prayer. Shortly thereafter I reduced down to 30 hours of work, but I knew I wasn’t to stay there. The next thing on my heart was to begin teaching a class for adults. It was another thing that didn’t make sense on paper: why cut back work hours only to add them elsewhere? What about creating that margin? I said yes to this calling despite it not making human sense. With that yes, God laid four additional goals on my heart: Read more…

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Upcycling Craft: Wine Cork Boats

Years ago, I had a dream of making one of those cork boards made from wine corks. Since I don’t drink much wine, I asked others to pass on their corks. I’m about 9 years out from that request, and we might have enough wine corks to cover a wall. I went to Pinterest for ideas, and finally got to work. In honor of E’s third birthday, big brother V and I teamed up to make boats for the kids in our family plus the two local cousins. We thought these would be fun for the pool, creek, and bath. I am creative, but not really an artist and definitely not spacial, but these were doable and fun. We had a good time making them together.

Wine Cork Boat

 

Step 1: Hot glue a bunch of corks together. Lay them out first to make fairly even lines, I liked pairing them up  length-wise with glue and then gluing the “columns” together. Read more…

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I am a huge fan of Dr. Laura Markham and her website Ahaparenting.com, so when she put out a book on sibling relationships, I was thrilled. Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings (PPHS)is a welcome addition in the world of positive parenting. Really the only other similar book I know of is the wonderful classic Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, but I needed to do a lot of adjustment to the concepts in that book to make it work for the baby, toddler, and preschool set, especially when I was living in the world of two-kids-under-two. PPHS fills that gap and addresses how to apply gentle parenting concepts for the younger ages.

Peaceful Parents Happy Siblings

Part One of PPHS explains Read more…

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The Home Birth of Baby T

Baby 3 is here. It’s a boy, and he is now eight weeks old!
Baby T 8 weeks

 

Baby T was born on Father’s Day and is a dream come true in every way. To be a mother to three (three!) children is such a mind-blowing thing after a road to parenthood that involved loss and infertility. We are so grateful for our sons. They teach us and grow us every day. Baby T’s birth was also a dream come true in another way: he was born at home. This had been a dream of mine since I was a teenager when I babysat for a mom of three who was a lawyer, Bradley Birth instructor, homebirther, and later went on to be a midwife. When the kids were asleep, I would peruse her educational bookshelf. These readings left a deep impression on me. I learned that birth need not be a unbearably painful, drama-filled thing like in movies. I learned that birth is a process that harnesses the amazing design of the female body and our incredible hormones (the classic Childbirth Without Fear is a good read on this).

Fast-forward many years: for V’s birth, we finally settled on a hospital birth versus home birth in the 3rd trimester for financial reasons.* The hospital, even with a doula, ample preparation, and self-advocacy, was not a fit for me.  For E’s birth, we knew we’d find a way to make the money work, as certified professional midwife (CPM) care was a vastly better fit for processing birth trauma as well as pregnancy with pelvic instability. But, with pending construction at our house, we opted to deliver at a freestanding birth center rather than home. It was an amazing home-away-from-home birth, with all the same (lack of) equipment as home, but we still had to load up, drive to get there, drive home, etc. So, for the third time around, we knew we wanted to be at home for the whole thing. Provided baby and I were healthy, it was time for the dream to come true! Now, here’s the story.

*Check out this irony: a hospital birth cost $11K-$30k+ but our part is $0 with insurance. In contrast, non-hospital pre-natal care and the birth is about $4k, but our insurance covers none of it.

 

The Birth of Baby T

Disclaimer:  this is a birth story. It involves bodily functions. I have not shared anything here that I am not comfortable saying aloud to you face-to-face. But, if you aren’t interested in such details, stop reading now. Read more…

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