What's a MOM to do?

I just did this card for my dad for Father’s Day, Shutterfly will give you 5 cards free and the quality is great.

5×7 Folded Card
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Here is a copy of our 2010 Christmas Card I did on Shutterfly. I really like using their site for the quality product and the ease of use.

Dazzle And Shine Christmas 5×7 folded card
View the entire collection of cards.

I love Christmas cards, sending and receiving.  I love the process of picking out just the right photo and then just the right card to coordinate with the photo. I have used several different companies in the past but this year I am planning to try Shutterfly thanks to their promotion of 50 free cards!  (I really like the quality of their photo books and their customer service.) I enjoy sending a Christmas message updating friends and family or sharing a message about Christmas and what it means to us. Shutterfly has a great selection of Christmas cards and what I especially like this year is their collection of Religious Christmas Cards since this is of course a religious event. So far, my favorite is this card but I have to find the perfect picture and see if it works with this design.

Dazzle And Shine Christmas 5×7 folded card
View the entire collection of cards.

So if you are interested in this great promotion from Shuttefly, share on Twitter, Facebook, or in your post: Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly… sign up: http://bit.ly/sfly2010.

So get your camera out, take some great photos and then get to work picking out your card and your message.

Annalise and I 4 days before she was hospitalized

Annalise and I 4 days before she was hospitalized

I read a daily devotional a few days ago in a best of Our Daily Bread book, that really struck me. I wanted to find it online to post and have not had luck so bear with me as I summarize the story. There is a ship out at sea and it runs into heavy storms and high seas and is capsized, but rights itself, though it sustained significant damage. A coast guard cutter ship comes to help but is not able to get close enough to rescue the people on board because of the stormy seas, so the cutter pulls alongside the damaged boat and positions itself in front so that it takes the brunt of the storm, of the waves that would otherwise pound against the damaged ship. That is what God does for us when we go through the storms of life. I have really wondered a lot over the past year about how people get through difficult times without having the hope that God gives me. I know that during the storms of my life, God has been the cutter protecting me from the worst and getting me through and escorting me safely back. It doesn’t make the storms fun, or something I look forward to, but I know I am refined by them and that God is with me. When our daughter, Annalise, was in the hospital last year for 18 weeks, I had some talks with God about the storms and the ship out at sea. At the time, I had not read the devotional previously mentioned but I kept remembering the story in the new testament gospels where Jesus is in the boat with the disciples and he is sound asleep. A terrible storm has come up and they are afraid and the boat is being tossed around. They wake Jesus up and ask if he doesn’t care about what is happening to them?! I had those same conversations with God, “God, I know you are here but why won’t you wake up and calm this storm, heal my child, give us a diagnosis, let us go home and be with our other daughter, Help, Help, Help!” On Oct 6, Ananlise came home from the hospital, finally the storm had subsided, but it had taken its toll on all of us, here is a picture of Annalise the day she came home from the hospital, look at the difference after 18 weeks in the hospital and not eating for 14 of those weeks.

Annalise with her Gaga the day she finally came home

Annalise with her Gaga the day she finally came home

God delivered us through that storm, but we were all still battered from it. I now think of it somewhat like the stones you find on the seashore, how smooth they are after being tumbled by the waves, against the grains of sand, an abrasive action that smoothes off the rough edges. Even though I questioned God and his motives, his plan and why he would put our two daughters through that, I always knew he was there. I always knew that He loved Annalise more than even we did and that he plans for her, for all of us, plans to prosper us, not to harm us. Though, these plans could have included calling her home to heaven for her healing. I am so thankful beyond words that He chose to give us more time with her here and even to heal her! I pray I never take that for granted. Annalise was battered when she came home, but kids are so resilient, here is a photo of her 5 weeks after she came home, what an amazing recovery.

5 weeks post hospitalization, with her big sister

5 weeks post hospitalization, with her big sister

If you or someone you know is going through a storm in life, cling to God. If you don’t know how or what that means, please post a comment and let me know if  you don’t want it published and I will respond to you. “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save, He will take great delight in you, He will calm you with His love, he will rejoice over you with singing” Zep 3:17

If you would like to read about other families battling illness in a child, I would point you to this link for a friend of mine’s story about her daughter Charlotte and she also has links to many other families. I believe this can inspire you and let you know you are not alone. http://jenntousey.blogspot.com/2008/02/baby-girl-tousey.html

Please feel free to share your stories of the storms you have or are experiencing.

Please read this article if you are concerned about what is happening to our children and their education. This is scary and sad, another reason I believe we will be Homeschooling our children.

Perspective: It’s time for us to fly, Christian teachers (OneNewsNow.com)

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Is this safe for our little one's?

Is this safe for our little one's?

Becoming a mom has transformed me into a “green”,  healthy, and frugal person that I don’t even recognize. My husband (of almost 5 years), a biologist, shakes his head in disbelief, but, I think, in a good way. :)  Having had a chronically ill child has really opened my eyes to the impact our environment and what we put into our body, on our body, in our house, etc has on us and our vulnerable, developing children.  One of the hot topics about a year and half ago was BPA and it use in sippy cups and other disposable type products. That topic is resurfacing as it seems Coke and some other big manufacturers are trying to cover up the inherent risks in these products, rather than incur the cost and hassle of changing the containers they use for their products. But I digress, as I have researched the BPA and other harmful environmental contaminants, I discovered an organization that has been very useful for me, it is called Environmental Working Group at  http://www.ewg.org (sorry I can’t figure out how to add a hyperlink, feel free to advise). Recently they tested 1611 sunscreens and found 3 of 5 either contain hazardous chemicals or don’t protect as they claim. I hate to over-react, but as I am currently following 7 Caring Bridge sites, I can’t help but wonder where all these mystery diseases and cancers come from. I know our ability to detect and diagnose diseases has improved, but I don’t really believe these cancers, insulinomas, and mystery diseases have always been around. Actually, we know they have not always been around, reference your bible, until Genesis 3 where sin entered the picture, there was no disease. If you read through Genesis (http://www.biblegateway.com), you will see that the life expectancy is progressively reduced and that seems to have continued. It saddens and surprises me to contemplate the number of children under 5, who I have met or been connected with and praying for over the past 2 years. So, my intent is not to incite fear, but just caution, lets take a look at what we put into and rub all over our kid’s bodies (and our own). This site has also developed a great shopping guide (http://www.foodnews.org) that ranked a total of 47 different fruits and vegetables as far as pesticide load, this is a great tool to print out and take to the grocery store and help you decide when it is worth the money to buy organic. For instance, the “Dirty Dozen”, the ones with the worst pesticide load: #1 peaches, #2  apple, #3 bell pepper #4 celery #5 nectarine #6 strawberries … Tell me what you think and have a blessed day!

My friend Alisa suggested I share my fruit smoothie recipe so here it is. Great as a meal or for a snack.

10 oz yogurt or kefir, plain or vanilla, (I do not use lowfat or skim, but this is personal preference)

1 Tbsp raw organic coconut oil (this makes it taste like a Pina Colada)

1 Tbsp flax seed oil

1 Whole raw high omega 3 egg (optional, but good for protein)

1-2 Cups fresh or frozen fruit (if fresh, add some ice to thicken smoothie)

1 Tbsp raw organic unheated honey

Dump all contents into a blender, mix and enjoy.

This recipe is adapted from The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin, If you are interested in healthy, non processed, natural eating as I believe God intended, I would highly suggest the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.(http://newtrendspublishing.com/SallyFallon/index.html) Each page contains, in addition to a recipe, education and information about food and preparation and health. It is a fascinating read. Many of the ingredients are best found through local food co-ops and the Health Food grocery stores such as Whole Foods, Earth Fare and locally in Raleigh, Harmony Foods.

After my younger daughter’s long hospitalization and illness, I began a quest for ways to improve our family’s health. This lead me to these resources and include changes like not buying processed foods, shopping mainly the perimeter of the grocery store and not the aisles, grinding grain and making most of our bread at home, soaking grains and nuts and oatmeal before using and other techniques our ancestors used. I will share more of this in upcoming posts, email me or post a comment if there is something in particular you are interested in along these lines. Keep in mind that I am fairly new to this so you can learn along side me.

If you have other recipes or resources along these lines, please share here and I will post for the readers.

Thanks for reading and for your comments and suggestions.

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An Inspirational Storm Story: Charlotte Ruth

http://jenntousey.blogspot.com/2008/02/baby-girl-tousey.html

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Dazzle And Shine Christmas 5x7 folded card
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