I’m Back

Yikes. I haven’t blogged since Oct 27! That’s 2 months!

I didn’t mean for that to happen… but… (yep, here’s my list of excuses)… 1) I was going through some nasty morning sickness with Baby #7 that left me down and out on the couch, 2) when I finally did start feeling better, I got hit with a nasty cold (flu?) that, once again, left me down and out on the couch, 3) my laptop died and my hubby had to get me another one, and then 4) the holiday’s struck.

So here I am, two months later, still pregnant (nearing 14 weeks!), done with the morning sickness, almost over my cold (flu?), the proud owner of a “new to me” laptop, and the only holiday on the horizon is New Years. Wait, we do have one more family Christmas this coming Saturday, but that’s it.

*huge sigh of relief*

You should seriously see my long neglected to-do list. It’s staggering. Survival mode is for the birds, man. It was a chore just to get food on the table these past two months. But I miraculously was also able to do school (from my perch on the couch) and prep and participate in Christmas (mostly from my perch on the couch as well). We are so far behind we haven’t even mailed out our Christmas family photo cards yet. Well… better late than never I suppose. Hope to get on that tonight.

During my many on-the-couch-perch-times, I’ve had a lot of time to think about things. One of those things being this here blog… Hubby came to me the other day about whether or not to pay for the renewal of this site… do I want to continue blogging? I honestly didn’t know what to tell him.

That man… he actually went back and read ALL my posts here on Momma Duck… all the way through, no skimming. He was so impressed that he decided on his own accord to renew my website for another year. He didn’t wait for my response. Later he came to me and strongly encouraged me to keep writing.

He says I have a gift. A GIFT! That’s pretty cool to hear because it seems like the only things I’m “gifted in” is diaper changing and maybe cooking.

But writing? He thinks I’m gifted at writing? Wow…

Honestly, at any given moment I have SO much bumbling around in my head. And I write in my journal all.the.time. But so many articles go unpublished. Why?

Fear.

I fear putting my thoughts out there because… I hate rejection. It’s so hard to put yourself out there and possibly face ridicule. Perhaps that’s just how any artist must feel. Your draw, cook/bake, sculpt, sing, write music, etc and many will be touched and encouraged and blessed by your work. But it won’t be for everyone. Not everyone is going to like the same work of art or the same song.

So it goes with writing.

I HOPE that what I say here will reach and warm the hearts of others. But I have to accept the fact that my blog isn’t for everyone. If they don’t like me or my writing, or they’re offended by what I have to say, etc then apparently this blog is not for them. And I need to be ok with that. I just need to write from the heart, write about what inspires me, write about what interests me… and let the pieces fall where they will.

I must let go of my fear.

So with that thought in mind… I’ve decided to take my hubby up on his words of encouragement and WRITE. Starting January 1st, I plan to have new material posted here 2x/wk (still deciding which days) and to keep up weekly/regularly with my Instagram account and my Facebook page. (All those social media links are on the right side bar–>.)

So yeah… that’s what’s been up these past two months… and now you know where I’m heading blogging wise in the future. 🙂

i_m_back

Photo Cred: the-angry-scot.blogspot.com/

Married and Still Dating

A couple of years ago, my husband and I were living with his folks for a time as we saved up money to purchase our first home. It was really neat as we had a full-sized apartment and a huge, beautiful property in which to enjoy. The best part was having grandparents living right there: an extra set of eyes to watch what was going on… an extra set of hands to help out… and an extra set of arms for the kids to cuddle into. And it was also very good for my husband and I, too, as it strengthened our relationship with them. It was a precious time for our families.

While we were living there, nearly every Thursday evening was scheduled Date Night. We LOVED it! We both could have had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week… but we could hang on till Thursday because THEN… if only for a few hours… my hubby and I could leave (kid-less) and enjoy each others company.

And his parents would babysit.                    *glorious sigh*

I can’t state enough what a blessing it was that they would do that for my husband and I!!! What they did was amazingly precious and selfless and giving. Those were especially trying times in our marriage and having that opportunity to get out alone together almost weekly was one of the most precious gifts they could have given us. We desperately needed those evenings!

Date Night’s were usually nothing terribly romantic. Honestly, we spent most of our dates at Applebee’s eating off their late night 1/2 off appetizer menu. Then we’d venture out to Walmart to shop (usually for diapers!)… or just to walk around holding hands… and talk about absolutely everything and nothing.

We made some sweet memories…

A little over two years ago we were finally able to purchase our first home. It was nice to finally have our own place and it was an answer to our prayers… but we all did (and still do) truly miss our parents’/grandparents’ company. We still see each other since, thankfully, we live in the same town. But it’s not the same. We miss them.

Our Date Nights now have taken on a different flavor. Whereas we used to go out, now we stay in. It used to be buffalo wings and Walmart… now it’s a glass of wine and some fancy cheese from Aldi’s… or a movie… or coffee and hanging outside by the fire pit… but always cuddles and hand holding and TALKING.

Oh man, talking is HUGE in marriage. I’m not kidding… I can’t think of a single thing my hubby and I can’t talk about. We talk about what’s working, what’s not working. The good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. Parenting. Business. Finances. Politics. Christianity. Our futures. Our dreams. Our goals and aspirations. Our struggles. ALL of it. In fact, I keep a running list of “things to talk about with my hubby” so come Date Night we don’t miss any topics. If I don’t write it down, I lose it (mom brain), and then we forget to talk about it.

Now I’m not saying we only talk to one another on Thursdays. That’s silly. But sometimes life gets busy and time slips away far too fast. That’s when it’s especially very important for me to write down what’s on my mind so we can talk about it later. It doesn’t HAVE to be Thursday. But there have been weeks here and there that Thursday was the first time all week we’ve both come up for air and we’ve had the undistracted time to really talk about important issues.

Our marriage has been far from a walk in the park. We have had to really work at it… especially as we went through some pretty tough experiences: honeymoon pregnancy, quitting my career to be a stay-at-home mom, embracing homemaking and childcare (which I was not accustomed to), hubby starting a business, financial strains, more babies, moving a couple of times, a miscarriage, a stillbirth (at 37 weeks), homeschooling, changing curriculums until we found what we liked, changing churches, etc. We NEEDED Date Night’s in order to stay on the same page and to weather the difficulties of life together. We very easily could have grown apart during some of these trials. But we didn’t, I believe, in large part because of Date Nights. That was our time to cleave to one another, share our burdens, pray, and seek God.

But even if/when things are “boring” and seemingly stagnant or we’re not finding that time throughout the week to really communicate and connect… we always have our Thursday evenings to do just that. We covet that evening. We plan around that evening. We hold strict bedtimes for the kids that evening. We try very hard to protect and maintain that evening from other activities.

It’s been great, too, since it’s turned Fall. Hubby and I will oftentimes make a cup of coffee and just sit outside by the fire pit and just hang out. We’ve had some amazing conversations.

I will say, I do enjoy it better when we can get out of the house for Date Nights. It’s a tad tough being in the house with all the dishes and laundry and toys. I try hard to get the house in order before the kids go to bed, but there’s ALWAYS unfinished work or projects that seem to leer at you. It takes more effort to ignore it and just focus on the date. When you leave the house, everything is out of sight out of mind and much easier to deal with. But we are currently making do with where we’re at. 🙂

This phase of our lives will shift pretty dramatically in the next couple of years. Our oldest kids are 12, 11, and 9 and they are already super capable. Give them a couple more years and we can start actually “going out” without needing a babysitter. That time will come before we realize it, I know.

So anyways… I say all this because no matter WHERE you’re at in life and marriage, you CAN (and should) make time regularly to DATE your spouse. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy-schmancy. It certainly doesn’t need to be expensive (it could even be free!). You don’t need to leave your house. It doesn’t even have to be at night: you can meet for lunch dates if your schedules both allot for it better. Shoot, even if your hubby travels a lot you can STILL make Date Nights work. FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Viber, Tango, and ooVoo are great for face-to-face chat.

Dating is simply carving out specific time to be together… alone… undistracted…

Life and family and kids and jobs keep us SO distracted these days. We need this time to “just be” with our spouse. Dating should never stop with the words “I do”… or with kids… or with financial strains… or with an empty nest… or with old age… or with busyness. If anything, as the busyness of life increases, the need for Date Night increases as well as it becomes SO EASY to lose that precious connection.

If you are currently dating your spouse regularly, I’d LOVE to hear about it! Especially if you stay home for Date Nights In. What sort of things do you do together?

If you’re currently not dating your spouse, could I encourage you to make an effort to start? Talk to your spouse and pick a day and time that would work for the both of you. If you start, let me know how it goes and what you think!

Happy Dating!!!!

**Awesome podcast/transcript from Focus on the Family!

Couples-holding-hands

Photo Credit: https://www.asku.co

Dealing With a Mild Illness

I always hesitate a bit to share with people how to naturally treat illnesses from home. For a number of reasons. Some think it’s load of hooey. Some are anti anything-having-to-do-with-alternative-health (very pro doctor). Even if people are into natural healing, there are SO many differing approaches (herbs, homeopathics, essential oils, etc). And many people are quite passionate about their beliefs, to the point that some individuals turn nasty if you or someone else holds a different belief system. We seem to live in a very touchy/easily offended world. It honestly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me why people feel personally attacked when someone has a different view point or set of beliefs. That’s just life. That’s humanity. It’s really nothing to get upset about or take personally.

Alas, because of the backlash I see so many people get when they speak up, I’ve chosen to remain quiet. 😦
I’ve never really been a big wave-maker or pot-stirrer.

But as I grow in my faith with God, though, I’m beginning to understand a few things more clearly.

Number 1– this “remaining quiet” thing is actually rooted in a “fear of man”. And I should fear GOD more than I fear man.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?
If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Gal 1:10

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…
Col 3:23

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Prov 29:25

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Gal 2:20

Number 2– if God has entrusted me with knowledge and wisdom and spiritual gifts, He wants and expects me to share and use those gifts to bless/encourage others for His glory.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Rm 12:6-8

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Pet 4:10-11

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, …
1 Cor 12:4-11

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, …
Eph 4:11-16

Number 3– I’m now an “older woman” to several ladies. I’m nearing 36 years of age and I have lived and learned a decent amount concerning marriage, motherhood, roles of womanhood, homemaking, etc. I was trained to be a worldchanger through education and having a career– so I started this road of homemaking and mothering as a newbie. I learned (mostly through failure, unfortunately) what I know now in regards to being a godly wife and mother (still learning, always learning, love learning). It is actually a biblically based mission for me to come alongside younger ladies and teach, help, strengthen, and encourage them as they establish homes of their own.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Titus 2:3-5

Number 4– I have gone through some pretty dark days as an adult. Frequently I battle depression… and this last year specifically: anxiety (so not fun). We had major financial issues early on in our marriage, and so, had to live with family for many years in order to get grounded. We had a miscarriage in July ’07. We also had a stillbirthed daughter born at 37 weeks (Miss Baby Rose) in April 2010. Adulthood has not been a walk in the park for me. It’s been real and it’s been tough. But God… He’s ALWAYS been there for my husband and I (and for our kids). He’s comforted me in SO many ways. I can, and most definitely should, comfort others with the comfort that I have received.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.…
2 Cor 1:3-5

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Ps 55:22

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Ps 9:9

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Ps 46:1

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Pet 5:6-7

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Ps 30:5

I could go on and on and on with all the MANY verses there are about “comfort” in the Bible!

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Ok, so wow. All that to say: I’m gonna share with you a *quick tip* on how to naturally heal mild illness in your family. LOL

I’m not going to fear man.
I *do* have knowledge and wisdom to share.
I am an older woman that can help a younger woman.
And maybe (hopefully) this post will be an encouragement and comfort to someone!

My 2 yr old daughter, Miss Pebbles, came down with a low-grade fever yesterday. Other symptoms: runny nose, lethargy, mild cough, and sneezing. She just has a little bug that’s getting her down.
Before I knew a thing or two about natural healing, I would simple “wait it out” and let the bug “run it’s course”. Or I would give over the counter (OTC) medicine that would only relieve the symptoms.
About the time we had our 3rd child, we started looking into natural/home remedies.
Now hear me out: we are NOT anti-doctor! We *do* take our children to the doctor if they are really hurt or if my home remedies aren’t working. Doctors truly have been given the gift of healing from God and if the situation warrants it, we’ll go! But… if I can treat it from home (like sniffles, chickenpox, mild cuts and wounds, vomiting, diarrhea, etc), I will.
As I learned about natural healing, I realized that the best thing you can do is *boost the immune system* when someone gets sick. As *soon* as symptoms of any kind start rearing their head, I am ON IT. I do *not* wait. I aim to boost that immune system as quickly as possible so the body can more quickly recover.
~~What I did for Miss Pebbles is the following:
1- rubbed a good lather of garlic oil on her chest, feet (put on some socks!), neck, and around (and in) her ears.
2- rubbed Baby Vicks on her back (yes, I still use OTC stuff– someday I hope to experiment with homemade baby vicks, but not today).
3- gave her 1/2 a tablet of chewable vit C (I like Puritans Pride brand).
4- gave her a bit of Tylenol for the fever (yes, I know… another OTC *wink*).
5- mixed a few drops of liquid echinacea (from Nature’s Sunshine**) with her juice and had her drink that.
6- kisses and cuddles and lots of touch.
7- prayer for healing.
8- put her down for sleep
The garlic gets into her bloodstream and starts attacking/killing the virus or bacteria or whatever’s getting her down.
The Baby Vicks opens her airways so she can breathe better.
The vit C and echinacea boost her immune system.
Touch has clinically been proven to aid in healing.
Prayer changes things. God is the Great Physician!
Sleep rejuvenates and heals the body.
I will give the garlic & herbs about 3x/day until the illness subsides… and then for a day after (or maybe 2 if it’s a tough bug) just to make sure the bug is really gone.
Guess as illness presents itself in our home, I’ll share other things that we do naturally.
It’s just so comforting to know that I can do *something* to aid in the process of healing (and not just relieve symptoms) and that I don’t have to wait for the bug to just take it’s course.
**If you open an new account with Nature’s Sunshine in order to purchase herbs, please let me know beforehand! You can “become a member” and earn 33% off retail price. I’ll share with you how!

Apples!

Several years ago, my hubby and I went to the local orchard and bought a bunch of seconds apples and turned those bad boys into melt-in-your-mouth apple butter (an old family recipe from his late grandma). It’s SO yummy. Afterward, we had all these peels left and we felt it a shame to simply just throw it all away. That’s when we found a super easy, super yummy, super not-so-good-for-your-blood-sugar-levels recipe for Apple Peel Jelly. It’s a-ma-zing though. It’s probably our most favorite jelly recipe, only second to homemade strawberry jam.

So like I said, it’d been YEARS since last we made these recipes.
But this year, hubby wanted to make some more– so we pulled out the dusty old recipes and decided to have another go!

My hubby bought me this for Christmas to make it easier—> and apple peeler/corer:

Victorio

It’s a Victorio, which is a *wonderful* brand of product! I was a happy wife. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Here is what the apple peel jelly looked like this batch:

apple peel 1 apple peel 2

Aint’ it pretty?!

Every time you make it, the color is so different, depending on what type of apples you used for the apple butter.

On top of making apple butter and apple peel jelly, we also used apples to make pre-made bags of apple pie filling. (Can you tell we love apples over here?!) You simply cut up the apples, throw all the apple pie ingredients into a freezer bag, and freeze. Voila. Simple. Then all you have to do when you’re ready to make pie is to cut the bag and throw the frozen ingredients in a bowl and allow it to thaw. It’s a pain in the rear to thaw it *in* the bag as all the spices cling to the bag and it’s difficult to get it all out. We just found it’s abundantly easier to dump it frozen into a big bowl and thaw that way. Don’t want to lose all the goodies. It’s a great treat to pass out to people as gifts. Just add crust!

apple pie

Besides making something yummy for the fam and to share with loved ones… I just LOVE doing projects with my hubby.
He actually *likes* cooking and canning all this. I *love* being side by side with him and working together. We’d put the kids to bed and promptly get to work… and it was kinda like date night in because we’d talk and share and discuss and joke and play. And of course sample the final product on a piece of bread. My love language is “quality time” so this definitely filled my love tank. 🙂

I don’t have time to post it now, but I will *def* get to posting the recipe for apple peel jelly later. I’d gotten it online years ago but the web address got cut off the copy I have. So I’ll just write it down and share with you when I get the time.

If ever you make (or have made before) apple peel jelly, what did you think? Did you like it?