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Volume 3 (1997)


Excerpts (text only) from MC31: 14 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 3, Number 1

Submission and Blessings

"Ridiculous!" I didn't say it out loud---just to myself.

Gerald had just suggested that I consider getting a used bread machine at a thrift store or garage sale. "No way," I thought, "real homesteading women don't use bread machines." I was a little irritated because I don't like it when my husband or anyone else invades my kitchen domain. And I much prefer to be complimented on what I have done, than to hear what I might do differently.

But I concealed my feelings, and with a light laugh I replied, "That's not making bread. Bread machines are just another yuppie toy."

So began an episode of domestic negotiation which lasted a number of months. Gerald would resurface the suggestion from time to time, always in a sweet and gentle way, and I would sweetly and gently brush it aside. (It's called passive rebellion.)

Now I knew, right from the beginning, that Gerald's suggestion was hardly meant to irritate or insult. The fact is that making bread for a large family takes a significant amount of time each day, and my husband was mainly interested in reducing my workload. An experimental scientist by training, he is naturally appreciative of the benefits which can be reaped through a little automation. His view was that something as repetitive as the daily bread making chore should be turned over to a machine if at all possible. But my view, as I have already mentioned, was that real homesteading women don't use bread machines. ...

In the Kitchen

100% Whole Grain Cream-of-Wheat

Here is how I make our freshly ground cream-of-wheat breakfast cereal. ...

Bread Machine Cookery

The main advantages and disadvantages of using a bread machine which I have found are listed below, followed by two recipes (Whole Wheat Bread and French Bread) which I often use with my bread machine.

Pregnancy Diary

It is mid-December as I set about to collate my pregnancy diary notes from the past two months and as I write these words. It is a little difficult to believe that the birth of our ninth baby is now just six weeks away. You would have no trouble believing it if you could see the size of me, and I don't have any real trouble believing it from that perspective either. It is just that I feel like I learned I was pregnant only a few weeks ago.

Curiously, mixed with this sensation of the abridgment of the past is the feeling that I have borne this bulging burden more or less forever. I look forward to being able to bend again, and to being able to walk, rather than waddle, with my husband on our daily excursion around our country block. But I look forward to the birth not just for relief from the physical debilitations of pregnancy. The truth is, I am so eager to have my precious new baby in my arms.

But let me try to keep things in their proper order. I left off last issue with the sixth month (October), so I need to go back to early November.

Seventh Month

We made the long drive to Indianapolis (three and one half hours) to interview several midwives. I have left this quite a bit later than I should have, but I did not feel well enough to think about it early on. It has also taken quite a while to discover what options exist near our new home here in Illinois and to explore them as much as possible by phone.

The interview with the midwives went very well. They graciously arranged to have it in another client's home, so we would not need to drive quite so far. I am glad to have made a choice, and to have finally had a prenatal visit! Finding an experienced team of midwives was difficult, but I feel the result has been worth the effort.

When they put the blood pressure cuff on me at the appointment, having a baby suddenly seemed like a reality. All the memories of the other pregnancies came flooding back, and I got all emotional thinking about my precious baby.

The highlight of the appointment was listening to the baby's heartbeat for the first time! This made me even more emotional---I could have listened to that sound for hours. And it was another confirmation that, yes, I am having a baby! "Thank you Lord!" ...

Dear Helen

Letter:

Dear Helen,

My husband and I have two children (one 2 years and the other 9 months) and hope to be blessed by the Creator with more babies. I have a comment to make on your thoughtful article concerning birth control and child spacing (Volume 2, Number 5). I respect and admire your decision to let God control the timing of conceiving your children. I believe the scheme you described works in theory, but not always in practice and I wanted to make you aware of my and perhaps others' experience.

I am a Christian and believe that God designed our bodies with unbelievable perfection. He is the creator of breast milk and the composition of that milk is the perfect source of nutrition for babies up to one year old and beyond. I am aware that breastfeeding can act as a natural, God-given birth control leading to "one pregnancy every two to three years" (as stated in your article). However, this is not true for all women in all cases. After both of my children were born I expected to go most of a year without a period since I was breastfeeding exclusively and on demand, including several times through the night. However, my periods resumed when each of my babies was just three months old. So it is not only mothers who turn to bottle-feeding who are at risk for the demanding child spacing of 12--14 months. It also can happen to mothers who nurture their babies night and day at the breast.

Still, I recognize God's wisdom and even though I was not ready to be pregnant with my second child when my first was just nine months old (conception occurred on the night we decided to "risk it") and the first several months of my second child's life were chaotic and draining for me, I of course, adore her and would not want to experience life without her. I admit I'm not at the point where I could throw birth control to the wind, but perhaps I could work toward that testimony of recognizing God's authority and trusting Him with our fertility. ...

At Our House

I thought I'd give a short sketch of each of the eight children at present, as something a little bit different this issue.

Jennifer turned 20 in November. She is going into her fourth semester at Pensacola Christian College in Florida. She is a Music Education major with a proficiency in piano. She plays the concert harp for the college church orchestra and also sings in the Chamber Ensemble. The challenges of her studies and a full schedule keep her very busy. She made the President's List this past semester with all A's.

Jennifer was home over the holidays for the first time since May. (She worked at the college all summer to help pay her college expense.) The family enjoyed having her home immensely. It was especially wonderful for Gerald and I to have the whole family back together again. And it was nice to hear the old upright vibrating with glorious melodies once again.

I am bracing up for another tearful good-bye when Jennifer heads back to college the third week in January. She will just miss the birth of the baby, which will be hard for her and me. The baby will be several months old by the time she comes home again.

Mark will be 18 in March. He is finishing up his senior year of home high school. Mark works nights at a local grocery store, stocking shelves, unloading trucks, and washing floors. He plans to work for one year after high school, and then (Lord willing) to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago as a broadcasting major. Mark operates Star Recording which, among other things, makes audio masters and duplicates tapes for The Mother's Companion.

Mark helps plenty around the house and homestead as well. As chief mechanic he repairs our van and lawn and garden equipment as necessary.

Mark recently painted and papered my kitchen, giving my spirits a much needed winter boost. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC31: 14 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC32: 15 pages: PDF (2.0 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 3, Number 2

It's a Boy!

With great joy and thanksgiving the Aardsma family announces the birth of...

TIMOTHY EDWARD AARDSMA.

BORN: January 29, 1997 TIME: 12:15 p.m. WEIGHT: 9 pounds, 4 ounces LENGTH: 22 3/4 inches

Mother and baby are both doing great.

Our sincere appreciation goes out to all who have borne this pregnancy and birth up before our Father's throne in prayer.

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: Come before His presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord He is God: It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise: Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; And His truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100)

Pregnancy Diary (Includes Timothy's birth story)

At 32 weeks of pregnancy things took a down-turn due to sickness. The family came down with a combination of a bronchial cough, cold, and fever with assorted aches and pains. Each person had it in turn over a two week period, starting with Mark (17). My turn came after taking care of sick little ones for four nights in a row.

The aches and pains which accompanied this sickness were especially bad. On top of these I injured a rib or muscle from coughing which took a week to heal. My hip joints were in such pain I couldn't sleep. As a policy I stay pretty clear of all medications, and especially so during pregnancy. But after several nights without sleep I finally took an Advil on two consecutive nights. These enabled me to get some badly needed sleep.

When I was finally on the mend I found I was in a state of constant physical agitation. I couldn't relax. When I lay down for a nap I felt like I had to move my legs every fifteen seconds. It was driving me crazy.

Finally, after an especially restless attempt at an afternoon nap I went over to Gerald's office and requested/demanded that he figure out what in the world was wrong with me. He reviewed what I had been eating and drinking lately. My appetite had been very low so I hadn't eaten as much as usual. But I had been drinking many cups of hot Postum. It was soothing to my terribly sore throat and relieved my congestion somewhat. Gerald said the evidence implicated the Postum. He suggested I eliminate it from my diet and see what happened.

I had a hard time believing that Postum could be the culprit since it is made from just ground, roasted cereals. But I was certainly ready to try any suggestion. I cut out Postum for the rest of the day---and slept like a baby that night. Who would have believed it?! There is certainly wisdom in the maxim, "in all things moderation".

I was quite ill for two weeks and the cough remained even at 35 weeks. This was very annoying and painful on my tummy. Nothing seemed to help much.

At 34 weeks we had our second visit with the midwife. What a joy to hear the heartbeat once again! The midwife said the baby is head down but posterior (facing forward). This explains why I have been feeling mostly empty space up front; the baby's back and bottom have moved behind and only knees, feet, and hands can be felt up front.

The midwife gave me some exercises to do. I need to do pelvic rocks and also practice squatting with my feet wide apart---similar to a baseball catcher position. This should help turn the baby and also center the baby well in front of the cervix. (I have had one baby positioned off to the side of the cervix before delivery, which may have slowed the labor down.) I measure 35 centimeters, have normal blood pressure, and show no swelling. The midwife is pleased with my general good health.

At 36 weeks the Braxton Hicks contractions have really begun to pick up, making me uncomfortable and cranky. If I have not had a nap, the evenings are spent with whopping contractions and I just have to lay down. Sometimes I spend family devotions, which we have immediately following supper, laying down, and then I go to bed early. Most days I take an afternoon nap so I can function in the evenings.

I have not been doing my exercises faithfully. I keep hoping the baby will turn on its own. ...

Solving the Photo Shoe Box Overflow Problem!

I had been wanting to update my photo albums and catalogue all our family's slides from the last four years for some time. However, since both would be mammoth jobs, I kept putting them off. With my new baby due soon, and Jennifer (20) home from college to help, I finally buckled down to the chore.

I had previously kept formal photo albums, and had sorted our slides directly into slide trays. But these solutions had several drawbacks. I have found that photo albums: tend to ruin my pictures over the years; are expensive; stick some pictures permanently in place, while allowing others to fall out; and have only a fixed number of pages. In addition, little hands are hard on them. Slide trays: are expensive; conceal the slides when you are searching for a specific one; and are often hard to find for older model slide projectors such as ours. Also, computer technology seems about to revolutionize slide photography, perhaps replacing it with digital images taken with digital cameras. Digital images will be easy to display on a computer screen, and easy to store right on the computer. So it doesn't seem wise to spend much money on slide equipment at the present time. ...

Dear Helen

I am a 25 year old mother of two daughters---my oldest is almost 3, and my youngest is almost 1. I have been married to my wonderful, gentle, loving, and humorous husband for almost seven years. We struggle financially and live in an apartment, and I find it difficult to raise children this way.

I was raised in the country with all of God's creatures around me, with lots of room to run and play and build. My father is a large-animal veterinarian, and believe me, I never dreamed I'd raise my family with not even a cat!!! My husband, too, was raised in the country in a tiny town in Vermont. We would like to live the life that you have now of homesteading.

I share this because my perspective has changed in the last few months as I have read of your life and your previous home-renting life and the lifestyle you live now. I am finding that what I must learn first, and then teach my children, is that financial obedience, contentment with what I have, and thankfulness are more important lessons to know than all of the wonderful Little House on the Prairie visions I once had for my children. I do still hope that God will provide a way out of an apartment some day, but I am trying to refocus my desires to want more of Him and more of righteousness than the temporal things that I have wanted. You have helped me to come to this new view in a number of ways. ...

At Our House

Gerald's parents always had a vegetable garden, and he enjoyed gardening as a child at home. When we married he introduced me to the joys of gardening. We planted our first garden together in the tiny back yard of the apartment we lived in while Gerald attended university. I have a fond memory of the elderly gentleman who lived next door involuntarily puckering his face and shuddering as he watched from over the fence as I chewed on rhubarb stalks I had just pulled from our few plants. We have lived in many different homes since then and in many different settings, but from married student residence to suburb to country we have always managed to have a garden.

From some of the mail I have received it is clear that some of my readers have been inspired to try their hand at gardening by the little we have shared about ours. I think they are in for a treat, but I must warn that there is a good deal more skill to successful gardening than most suspect. I've asked Gerald, our family's master gardener, to share the advice he would give to someone just starting to garden for the first time.

Perhaps the best way to go about this is to list a few of the things we did when we started our garden here in Illinois after moving from California in 1995. This was the first garden we had to be really serious about. It would be a significant part of our homestead economy, helping to keep our grocery bill down while we launched the research and writing ministries the Lord had called us to.

My first piece of advice is choose a suitable site for your garden. One of the main things we looked for when considering potential homestead sites in Illinois was suitability for a large garden. Besides just the space requirement, "suitable" means two things in relation to gardening. Vegetable garden plants want full sun all day long. So the potential garden site must be open to the sun. Second, the roots of vegetables want a good soil to grow in. They will not grow if there is bedrock three inches beneath the surface, or if they are in water all the time. Vegetables want a soil their roots can penetrate and through which both water and air can pass. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC32: 15 pages: PDF (2.0 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC33: 15 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 3, Number 3

Grandmothers

I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. {{ (2 Timothy 1:3--5 (NASB).)

From Lois, to Eunice, to Timothy. From grandmother, to mother, to child. From Helen, to Jennifer, to

While I am not a grandmother yet, I already feel strongly about the important role grandmothers have to play in Christian families. This issue is dedicated to grandmothers. It includes five articles related to grandmothering. The first two articles recall relationships with grandmothers. The remaining three articles are by grandmothers. There is much of benefit here for everyone---from practical how-to tips for grandmothers, to insights for younger women into how grandmothers feel.

I introduce the topic with a short article from my family history.

But the Greatest of These is Love 1 Corinthians 13:13b.

I have a daughter who is twenty and a son who is eighteen. I have watched with amused nostalgia as both of these young people have, at different times, suddenly transitioned into a state marked by, among other things, a keen interest in the telephone and mailbox. I have taken this particular behavior as a sign that I, too, am about to be catapulted into a new state---that of grandmother.

My young peoples' behavior is just one sign of this impending transition. There are others. For example, some of my close friends, with children the same age as mine, have already experienced the transition. I struggle to grasp the fact that my children's preschool playmates have now somehow become mommies and daddies themselves. How could this be possible? It would mean that their mommies---my seemingly eternally youthful friends---must now be grandmothers! But we're all too young to be grandmothers---aren't we?

And there are other signs---which I have no intention of masking with hair dye.

As I come to grips with the reality which lies before me, one central desire overshadows all others. I want so much to be a good grandmother. I want to be all that God intended a grandmother should be to my children's children.

This may seem an easy thing to some, but it does not seem so to me. I feel I have one major thing against me in this role. I have never myself experienced a close relationship to a grandmother.

My maternal grandparents died before I was born. (My mother was the youngest child of 15.) My paternal grandmother was a "step-grandmother" (not my father's birth mother). She was only able to speak French, having emigrated from France when my father was a teenager. While I was raised in a bilingual home (French and English) I attended an English-speaking school. I very quickly lost ability to communicate in French, though I could understand much of the conversation when others spoke it. This language barrier, along with other circumstances beyond my control, made for a very distant relationship with my grandmother.

Unfortunately, I never knew other people's grandmother's very well either, so I had nothing to compare with. I did not recognize my loss as a child growing up, and so I did not make much of an effort to get to know my grandmother. I just considered our distant relationship to be normal.

Even as a teen I failed to perceive what I was missing, and what would soon be beyond my earthly reach. Every Christmas my grandmother would give my brothers and sister and me gifts of money in a special money card. I usually only responded with "Joyeux Noel" and "Merci beaucoup". Not much there to develop a strong bond of love. When I look back, it now seems the distance between my grandmother and her grandchildren must have been somewhat frustrating for her. I wonder how much pain and loneliness she felt. But like most teenagers, I lacked the maturity to notice or understand.

When I married, I experienced a love from Gerald that was beautiful and truly unconditional. He taught me so much about love. He practiced a 1 Corinthians 13 love towards me.

Soon Jennifer, my firstborn, entered my life, and my comprehension of love was expanded again. I felt an incredible love for her; a love that no childbirth or parenting class could possibly have caused me to understand or foresee. We were so thoroughly bonded. Where I went, she went. When she slept, she slept in my arms. Her daddy and I coaxed her first smile, her first step, and her first word. She became more precious to me than life itself.

I remember hearing sermons on "loving God with our whole heart, soul, and mind" and "being willing to forsake mother or father or child to follow God" and coming away confused. Did I love my children too much? Some preachers seemed to me to regard my natural mother-love as idolatrous. They seemed to imply that I should not love my children so much.

But the Bible says young women need to be encouraged to love their children more, not less. (See Titus 2:4.) And the Bible often speaks in a positive way of the tender love which is natural between mother and child.

Though I did not have as many intellectual answers to my doubts as I would have liked, I suspected there might be some lack of sensitivity and full comprehension of this topic by many preachers, who had not experienced mother-love themselves. I knew that the love I had for my children was a pure, wonderful thing which God had given me.

I have since come to understand the intellectual answer to my doubts. It is as follows.

It is true that it is possible for a mother to love her child more than she loves God, and this is wrong. But the wrong is not that the mother loves her child too much. The wrong is that she loves her God too little. Lessening her love for her child will hardly fix the wrong. It will simply add a second wrong to the first. And here, as elsewhere, two wrongs do not make a right. She needs rather to increase her love for God.

For any who may be struggling with this, I recommend that you immerse yourself to the full capacity of your finite heart in love for your child, and let the Spirit use this growth experience to teach you how to love God more.

Just the experience of having Jennifer and the love I felt towards her helped me understand more about human relationships and how important they are. This enabled me to reach out to my grandmother in a new and fresh way when Jennifer was about six months old. We lived about a one-day drive away from my grandmother at the time, but we made it a point to visit her and introduce her to her great-granddaughter. ...

Timothy's Diary

A number of subscribers have expressed special appreciation for the "Pregnancy Diary" column, in which I shared the experience of my ninth pregnancy in the four previous issues of The Mother's Companion. I have decided to continue this column as "Timothy's Diary" now that the birth has taken place. My purpose is mainly pedagogical, in obedience to Titus 2:3--5. I find it amazing how quickly I can forget the emotions and practical skills associated with each age. By sharing my experiences as they happen over the next months and years, I hope to offer as fresh and accurate an inside picture of each stage as possible. So, as long as Timothy doesn't mind, I plan to keep you informed regarding how things are progressing. I've checked with him and so far he doesn't mind at all. I plan to check with him again at his wedding. (Just kidding, of course.)

Even though I have given birth to nine children, I will never get over the wonder of childbirth, the creation of a child in the womb, and the delights that a baby can bring. Those first few hours after birth are a time of thankfulness and awe in the presence of the Creator of life. I feel very close to God as I look into my babies' eyes and think of God planning this little life before the foundations of the earth were built. It is a wonderful thing to be a mother.

Timothy began his postnatal life in the warmth and shelter of my arms---as smooth a transition from the womb as I could manage.

The first hour after birth was a very important time for Timothy and me. We were getting to know each other. I examined his little face, looked into his eyes, and caressed his soft skin. My heart was bonding with his. A good book on bonding is: Klaus and Kennell, Maternal-Infant Bonding (Saint Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1976). Timothy was quiet in my arms. He was taking in his first impressions of me and his new world.

I wrapped Timothy a little more snugly in the towel and he and I enjoyed a nice long nurse in bed. He nursed from the crook of my arm while I lay on my side, resting. I took mini-naps---I was much too excited to really sleep yet. I kept a close eye on Timothy to make sure I could hear him breathing and to watch he didn't choke on mucous.

I spent some time with Rachel (2) and Rebekah (4) after I had an hour or so to settle in with Timothy. They climbed up on my bed and I read to them and looked at the pictures they had made for the baby and me. Rachel then taped her pictures up all over my bedroom walls! The little ones' needs were understandably high after my lengthy labor. They missed me and I missed them too. A few minutes of a favorite story and listening to their recent adventures was all it took to refill their "emotional tanks". We all soon felt "connected" again, and they were off to play, leaving me to rest and enjoy sweet Timothy.

To help make things easier for nighttime mothering, I put a little night-light on an extension cord by my pillow. This enabled me to see the baby to help him latch on properly when nursing, and to check on him frequently during the night. I used a bed rail on the side of the bed. I could then put the baby right up close to the edge of the bed, leaving more room for Rachel (2), Gerald, and me. (When our first child was a few months old we replaced her crib with a king size bed, a decision that has reaped happy, rested, trusting children ever since! Our little ones remain in our bed until they are four or so and then they transfer into another bed with an older sibling. A good book on this topic is The Family Bed by Tine Thevenin. Tine Thevenin, The Family Bed (Minneapolis: Tine Thevenin, PO Box 16004, 1976).) Rachel slept between Gerald and me---I was "a wall of defense" to Timothy. ...

At Our House

The long but relatively relaxed winter is over at last, and now it is time to get busy on all the outside projects. We have moved the morning wake-up call forward one hour in an effort to keep up with the busy spring schedule. This also allows Mark (18) who works nights at the local IGA to join us for family devotions each morning.

Stephen (15) and David (10) have completed installation of a permanent underground waterline to the garden. The goal was to install two water faucets, one on the north side of the garden and another 180 feet away on the south side of the garden.

Last year we ran a hose from the house across the lawn and garden. This made for a lot of connecting, disconnecting, winding, and unwinding of garden hose. It also meant the shutoff valve was an inconveniently long distance from the user. And the water pressure at the end of all that hose was, predictably, not too good. For the most distant sections of the garden there was not enough pressure to get a spray out of our hand-held sprinkler---all that came out was a fast trickle.

The trench for the waterline had to be dug three feet deep to protect the line from freezing in winter. While we have lovely (for digging) clay subsoil, with almost no rocks, digging is always backbreaking work.

Mark (18) suggested we try running the water line inside a drainage tile we had installed across the width of the garden two years ago. It was already three feet deep and would save us having to dig another trench across the garden. We weren't sure it would be possible to push the waterline, made of a flexible black plastic, such a long distance through the corrugated plastic drainage tile. But, as it would reduce the length of trench which needed to be dug from about 270 feet to just 60 feet, we all felt it would certainly be worth a try. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC33: 15 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC34: 14 pages: PDF (0.6 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 3, Number 4

Meet Nancy Rowe

Mary Keillor first subscribed to The Mother's Companion in the fall of 1996. She gave a gift subscription to her younger sister, Nancy, at the same time, and she wrote me a brief note about Nancy. I was encouraged by what she shared. I wrote back to Mary asking if she would be willing to write about Nancy and her family for The Mother's Companion. She was happy to do so. She wrote the following article after visiting Nancy to help her after the C-section birth of her eighth child, in the summer of 1996.

Nancy and Darrel Rowe live in a small farming community in Southern Minnesota. Darrel works for the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, repairing the highly technical equipment that is used at that hospital. Nancy cares for their eight children, home schooling four of them.

To me, my sister, Nancy, is a beautiful example of a godly woman. I had a chance to observe her first hand with her family while helping in their home for ten days last summer.

While Nancy was still a young girl she began to have many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia syndrome. Symptoms of fibromyalgia include constant muscle aches and the presence of eleven to eighteen tender points. Sleep patterns are irregular making it difficult to enter the deep-sleep state at night. A lack of oxygen to the brain causes unclear thinking and a loss of energy.

When Nancy first began noticing these symptoms fibromyalgia was virtually unknown, and there is still not much that can be done to relieve the problems associated with it. Even so Nancy, with the support of her husband, Darrel, has given the area of family planning over to God. And He has blessed them with eight children ranging in age from fourteen years to six months.

As you can imagine, it has not always been easy for Nancy to keep her large family on a regular home school schedule. In October of 1995 the family moved from a small town to their current home on fourteen acres. Right after the move Nancy became pregnant with her eighth child. This was an especially difficult time. But Nancy insisted that even on days when they couldn't do anything else they would at least read the Bible and sing some choruses together.

This year Nancy is focusing on three main subject areas: an abacus-based math program, Winston Grammar, and American History using a time line, biographies, and the Rose Wilder books. Nancy also includes occasional art classes using a cartooning book. Each child has his or her own notebook to keep completed pictures in. Nancy says that it's fun looking back at the work the children have done. Missy (8), Heather (5), Heidi (4), and Amy (3) are already very artistic. ...

In the Kitchen

Mail Order Spices

I am happy to have finally found a company from which I can mail order specialty bulk items without having to meet a large minimum order requirement. ...

Canadian Butter Tarts (Recipe and Directions)

When I asked the family what recipe I should include in this issue of The Mother's Companion they all voted for the Canadian butter tarts we had recently enjoyed.

When Gerald and I were first married we lived in Canada. (I am Canadian born.) I was not too accomplished in the kitchen at the time, but with just two to feed we could often afford store-bought baked goods. I used to buy butter tarts especially for Gerald's lunches.

As the children came along we could no longer afford this luxury, and so this dessert disappeared from our home menu for many years. But a decade or more later, when we lived in California, I taught a young mother's class in our church. One of the things we did in that class was to put together a recipe book. Included in the book was a recipe for these Canadian butter tarts from the pastor's wife, Mrs. John Redman. She had gotten the recipe from a missionary teacher in the Philippines. I never learned whether the missionary was from Canada, but I was quick to try the recipe, and I found that it did approximate those we used to buy in the store in Canada. ...

The One Room Schoolhouse

I am often asked how I started home schooling. The answer is an interesting example of how God arranges circumstances to accomplish His good purposes in our lives, when we commit our way to Him.

I began to home school in 1983 when my oldest child, Jennifer (now 20), was entering second grade. We lived near Toronto, Canada at that time, and home schooling was virtually unheard of. The world simply didn't work that way back then---at least not that part of the world. Everybody "knew" that teaching was a business for professionals only. Parents automatically turned their children over to the state-qualified professionals at the proper time, and I was no different. I never would have begun to home school back at that time if God had not specially arranged for me to do so.

I hadn't been thrilled, mind you, two years earlier, about sending my little, four year old daughter (she would be five in November) off to school when it had come time for her to enter kindergarten. Jennifer was bright, so I had no qualms about her ability to survive in the classroom. And I had done day care in our home since before she was born to aid the family finances while my husband, Gerald, attended university. So even though she would be the youngest in her class, I knew she would be able to fend for herself among other children. But it didn't seem fair that I should profit so little from the investment I had made in my daughter to that point. I had worked with her day and night through all of the hard things: toilet training, obedience, manners, sleeping through the night, and so much more. Now that all of that was behind us and she was getting to be so much fun and we were becoming such good friends someone else would get to enjoy her all day! ...

Make the Best of a Sleepless Night Rev. F. B. Meyer, Religion In Homespun (Fleming H. Revell Company, New York; 1904), 117-118.

You have been kept awake by the caterwauling of a dozen household pets, discussing their grievances under the moon, or by raging toothache, or by the baby who awakened when every one else is endeavoring to go to sleep, or by the mice which have scampered round and round your room. Now, be careful, when you come down to breakfast. Remember that there are five or six at the table, whose day will be largely influenced by your behavior. There is no need to say that you have had a good night, when you haven't; but there is no necessity on the other hand, to dwell too largely on your discomfort. Remember how contagious our emotions are. Without meaning to do it, we unconsciously quicken or retard our neighbor's heart-beats, and affect his entire circulatory system. ...

Timothy's Diary

Timothy's third month opened with his first hug and kiss from his big sister, Jennifer (20), as she arrived home from college for the summer. He seemed pretty oblivious, but Jennifer was delighted.

I have been teaching Timothy about tickling and laughter. At first he was startled when I tickled him, but as he watched me laughing he soon learned to laugh too. Now at three months he giggles and laughs when I tickle him. Isn't it strange that they naturally know how to cry without being taught? God must have built in this natural alert system.

On May 17 (3 1/2 months) Timothy rolled over from his back to his stomach. His arm got stuck underneath him the first few times, but he soon figured that out. He is still learning how to roll from stomach to back. I frequently put him down on the floor so he can practice.

Timothy's baby hair continues to fall out. Unfortunately, I am experiencing the typical post-pregnancy molt too. Hair loss following pregnancy is normal. It has something to do with hormone changes apparently. Use of a good quality shampoo and conditioner seems to help reduce the loss. Otherwise there doesn't seem to be much one can do about it.

Timothy is learning to "play" with baby toys. He is not able to grab them yet himself, but he will play with them if I put them in his hand. He keeps dropping them but he is getting better at holding on to them each day. He will briefly visually examine whatever I place in his hand, then practice getting it to his mouth where he can learn how it feels with his lips and tongue. This occupies him for a few minutes at a time. (If he starts sucking determinedly on a toy or his fist or fingers, I know it is time to nurse him.) ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

Gerald keeps a journal of practical matters on the homestead. Most of the entries are just short notes. They describe, for example, garden experiments we've tried and how they have turned out, better ways of doing things, and sometimes the rationale behind policies we have adopted. This journal of homestead notes is Gerald's way of trying to keep us from making the same mistakes twice, and to keep our goals before us.

It is clear from the mail we get that many Mother's Companion subscribers have an interest in homesteading. Gerald has agreed to let me publish notes from his journal here. These will give you more of a glimpse into our homesteading lifestyle as well as providing some tips you may find useful. I am planning to include this as a fairly regular column in The Mother's Companion for the next while. ...

Dear Helen

I thought I'd share two letters this issue, neither of which needs any response from me. Both letters are unique in the sense that every family is unique, but I think you will find much that you can easily identify with. They picture, among other things, a few of the ups and downs of everyday homesteading, home schooling, family life.

Dear Helen,

I subscribed to The Mother's Companion sometime back in January 1997. I received an intro pack and then ordered all your back issues. I have read them all at least four times. I cannot begin to tell you what an encouragement and blessing The Mother's Companion is to me.

We currently have ten children (I'm 40) and have had a total of thirty-six children. My husband and I are foster parents. We always wanted a large family but the fulfillment of this desire came to us in a very different way than we had planned.

My pregnancies were very difficult, but I did manage to deliver three birth children out of six pregnancies. They are quite wonderful. Through much pressure from my doctor and ignorance on our part we were convinced to have a tubal after my sixth pregnancy. I have since come to regret that decision and have confessed it before my God and He has graciously given us more children (i.e., foster children) than we ever hoped for! So you can see how God has truly blessed us. ...

At Our House

A (Rainy) Day in Late Spring

I drag myself out of bed at 6:45, get dressed, do my hair in sixty seconds or less (I simply brush it and put a barrette at the back), change the baby, wash up, and begin poppy seed muffins for breakfast. Mark (18), recently home from his night job, chats with me as I work about the kitchen. I enjoy this time alone with my oldest son. I pop the muffins in the oven as Gerald rises and wakes the children for family devotions at 7:00.

(It is always a discipline to get up. We all feel like we could use a few more hours sleep. I often think of Oswald Chambers who wrote the well-known daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest. He slept very little because he always had so many ministry responsibilities to tend to. How did he manage to get out of bed so early despite fatigue? "Get out of bed first, and think about it later." David McCasland, Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God (Michigan: Discovery House Publishers, 1993), 172. That advice always makes me smile and helps me get out of bed.)

Gerald leads in family devotions. He begins by singing a hymn. (This song sticks with me for the rest of the day.) Next he reads briefly from They Walked With God, a compilation of daily readings from some of the great preachers of the turn-of-the-century. They Walked With God (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993). I nurse the baby and cuddle sleepy little ones while Gerald goes on to read a brief portion of Scripture and make a few comments about it. Prayer requests are shared and Matthew (7) is asked to pray about them. He prays: for a friend's son who was injured using a lawn mower; that we would have a better day tomorrow (it is overcast and raining outside); and that Jennifer and Mark would do good work at their jobs. He then thanks the Lord for all the mail we got yesterday, and prays that we will all be safe and get lots of work done today. ...

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The Mother's Companion Volume 3, Number 5

The "Windmill Thing" in My Back Yard

Illinois is windy in the spring. The local folk say this is easy to understand---there's nothing to stop the wind between us and Wyoming.

Last spring my two oldest boys decided to set up a sort of windmill. It was not anything like a traditional windmill. Imagine a forty gallon drum standing up on one end. Now cut the drum in half vertically. Now keep the two halves in contact with each other, but slide them out until they only overlap by about half their diameters. Now put a vertical axle through the center of this so it can spin freely when the wind blows, and you have what they made.

Only they didn't make it out of a forty gallon drum. We didn't have a forty gallon drum, and they would have had no way to cut it even if we had. They used scraps of plywood and a few old bicycle wheels instead. And they built a frame to hold it up from some used two by sixes.

They set this "windmill thing" up in the back yard. It was over six feet tall, and easily visible from the road in front of our home. I suspect this made us the talk of Loda for a few weeks. The UPS man nearly drove his truck off the road with curiosity the first time he saw it spinning away in the back yard.

It was fun to watch. And it was certainly a fine conversation piece---everybody who saw it was curious to know what it was (just a sort of windmill thing) and what it did (it turned in the wind, that's all).

A friend came to visit and saw this contraption spinning in the back yard. We went through the usual preliminaries.

"What is that thing spinning around in your back yard?", she asked.

"It's just a sort of windmill thing."

"Oh. What does it do?"

"It spins when the wind blows, that's all."

The conversation was now ready to move into potentially unexplored territory.

"Oh. Did your husband make it?", she asked.

"No. My older sons [17 and 15 at that time] made it just for fun."

"Your sons made it? Where did they learn how to make it?"

"Well, they got the basic idea for that type of `windmill' from a book they were reading. They did the rest on their own."

And then she asked a question which I had no immediate answer for.

"How do you get children to do such creative things?"

I was momentarily stumped. My consternation resulted from the fact that, to be perfectly honest, I've never had to try to get my children to do creative things. ...

Bubbie's Inheritance

Here is a great read-aloud story for the whole family. I ran across the original several months ago in Cottage Connections, Cottage Connections "exists to uplift one another and to publish the work of moms at home and homemakers and those in support of them." For more information write: Cottage Connections, 11113 Radisson Court, Burnsville, MN 55337. a publication by Mary Bevis.

The author, Dawn E. Rutter, presently lives in Australia and is seventy-five years old. When I wrote asking her permission to share this adaptation of her original story in The Mother's Companion she graciously consented. She wrote, "I lived in Dublin California and was writing poems on my front porch when suddenly this nudged me. That must be 15 years or more ago."

The water curled against the boat as the rower dipped the oars, scattering the moon's reflection. He was a slight man steering toward the lights across the river, and yet his rowing was even and the craft never faltered.

Bubbie was a bayou man and only came to the river store for staples every couple of months. He lived alone, surrounded by the creatures who survived in an almost primeval place, where the call of birds carried over the unending water. The screams of creatures dying so others could live was common. Now and then the crack of a rifle would be heard. Sometimes a motor boat echoed through the leaves of the cypress trees.

Bubbie fished and hunted and bartered his catch or his furs at the river store. ...

Timothy's Diary

Where did my tiny baby go? Timothy is now five months old, but he seems the size of a one-year-old! I feel like he was an infant for only about three weeks. I am already looking at tiny newborns with longing!

Timothy can now roll over from his stomach to his back. This enables him to get around a little, so I have to watch him more carefully when he is on the floor. He is learning to pick things up off the carpet, and these go straight into his mouth. I have to watch that there is nothing within reach which he might choke on such as little pieces of Lego or bits of paper. He can easily pick up toys now and still enjoys learning all about them through his mouth.

Timothy is beginning to learn about the world around him. He is drinking it all in. Gerald brought him out to watch the chickens the other day. He was fascinated. But then the rooster crowed and startled him so badly he started to wail---and that was the end of that visit. He also gets startled when his daddy sneezes, but he is learning to take this in stride. Whenever he is frightened I am there to reassure him. I gently talk to him as I rock him in my arms telling him that it's OK. In moments he is ready to explore the world some more.

Timothy's eyes are turning a lovely dark brown. That makes six sets of brown eyes in our family. He has had his first haircut too. His baby hair was all at different lengths, making him look strange. I gave him a brush cut with my electric hair shears. I sat him in his baby seat and talked to him and smiled. He didn't seem to mind.

At almost six months Timothy sometimes chomps on me when beginning to nurse. This is not a sign that a baby wants or needs to wean, as it is sometimes misunderstood by young mothers. Sometimes it is the first sign of teething---it feels good on baby's gums to chomp down. Sometimes it is just baby trying something new. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

Soil is the basis of garden productivity. Gerald has conducted a number of experiments to learn more about our soil. We want to know as much about it as possible so we can do the right things to make it as highly productive as possible. Here is an entry from Gerald's journal which was written early in our first summer in Illinois.

Soil Experiments

June 04, 1995

I half-filled a quart jar with soil from the northeast corner of the garden where it is naturally high and well drained, and did the same from the southwest corner where it is naturally low and wet. I have observed that the soil from the high, dry corner works down into lovely crumbles fairly easily, while the soil from the low, wet corner has a sticky, clay consistency and will not work down even when dry, but rather stays in hard clumps. I wanted to determine what made the difference between these two soils. I thought perhaps that the high soil may have contained more large soil particles (e.g., sand) than the low soil. The low soil gave every indication of being predominantly clay. ...

Dear Helen

There is room for just one letter this issue. It is from a subscriber in Colorado.

Dear Helen,

I really enjoyed the most recent issue of TMC [Volume 3, Number 3].

My own grandmothers are so dear to me and I look forward to the day when I am a grandmother myself. I made my mom a grandmother at age 37 and she never complained that she was "too young to be a grandmother". In fact, she had two other children after I had my first, and my youngest sister is 20 years younger than I.

I totally agree with what you wrote about a mother's love and I have felt exactly the same way! Until you experience motherhood you have no idea what it feels like to love someone so much!

My Gramma also had a china cabinet and she collects figurines of all sorts. I remember in particular three lady figures with long, flowing dresses and bonnets on. I used to look at them and daydream that they were my sisters and I! I have not seen any like them in a shop or I would purchase them without hesitation. I did however find pictures of Pinky and Blue Boy at a flea market for a few dollars each. They are hanging by my daughter's bed, like the ones in my girlhood bedroom.

I was sooo excited to read "Timothy's Diary"!!!! I got more and more excited as I read!!! I love my babies so dearly and newborns are so precious. What excited me so much was your loving heart toward your children. I am so tired of hearing of all sorts of ghastly "techniques" to control wee, little ones and my heart breaks each time I hear of someone implementing them. I read some books by Dr. William and Martha Sears on babies after I had my fourth child and was finally relieved to hear an "expert" approve of what I believed in and had been practicing with my own babies, although sometimes secretly for fear of disapproval. ...

At Our House

The nights are growing cooler, the pumpkins are turning orange, and the corn stalks have already been shredded in the garden. And all this says that summer is coming to an end.

Have we been busy this summer! Each year I think we couldn't possibly get any busier, but somehow we always seem to manage to do so just the same.

The rhubarb plants that Laura (12) and David (10) divided and transplanted in the spring are doing great. They look like second or third year plants already. I am looking forward to lots of rhubarb next year both to freeze for pies and to have to sell.

The new portable chicken cage has worked out well, though there are a few lingering problems to iron out. For example, when Laura and David were moving the cage just this week, one of the dollies slipped and a chicken got bonked on the head and was killed. We had "chicken coop special" for lunch the next day.

The broody hen that was sitting on five eggs did not hatch out any live chicks. We would like to try again next year. ...

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The Mother's Companion Volume 3, Number 6

And a Time to Laugh

I introduced my close friend, Pam McDonald, to the newsletter family in the Volume 1, Number 2, March/April 1995 issue. There, in "A Time to Weep", Pam shared about the loss of their pre-born son, Joshua, at thirty-five weeks gestation in 1992.

Last summer Pam's oldest son, Chris, got married. When she told me about her experience I laughed and cried in turns. I asked her to please write it up so I could share it with you. She kindly consented, providing the following update on the McDonald family to June 1996.

For those who don't have access to the Volume 1, Number 2 issue, let me just mention that Pam lives in sunny San Diego. She is a home schooling mother with nine children (including Joshua in heaven).

"Life has been more busy and exciting even than usual for the McDonald family these past several months! To the normal activities of school, church, piano and violin concerts were added preparations for the wedding of our firstborn son, Chris, to his childhood sweetheart, Challais. In addition we have been preparing for our daughter Carrie's high school graduation. Oh, and I should also mention that as I write I am nine months pregnant with our ninth child, due next week.

The last two weeks before the wedding were a whirlwind of activity. Challais had three girlfriends fly in from South Carolina, Maryland, and San Jose to help her. Almost every night they and Chris and one of his groomsmen would come over and we would work until around 1 a.m. Actually, we spent quite a bit of time laughing and having fun. It seemed that the more people who showed up to help, the less work actually got done.

Jim (my husband) would get home from work around 10 p.m. He would often bring party goods or fish to cook for us all. (Jim heard that during the last trimester and first year of a nursing baby's life the fatty acids in fish are good for baby's brain development. Since he is a fish man now at the grocery store where he works we find it easy to eat a lot more fish.) We had an absolute blast! But I could never wind down enough to sleep until around 2 or 3 a.m., and then I would have to be back up early the next morning to do MY work.

For Mother's Day, and my birthday, both the same week in May, Challais and Carrie (my oldest daughter) teamed up to surprise me with a beautiful new dress to wear for the wedding. They also gave me a gift certificate to have my hair done on the day of the wedding at the beauty shop with the bridal party. I was so honored!

Challais also invited me to go to the bridal luncheon with the girls from the bridal party. I was tickled. During the luncheon, at the Olde Spaghetti Factory in downtown San Diego, she presented me with a silver tea set. Words could not express how I felt at that moment, and I did not know what to say.

The luncheon was on the Tuesday prior to the wedding on Saturday. Thursday and Friday were even busier with so many last-minute things to do. My list was getting longer instead of shorter and I was becoming quite tired. Among all the other aches and pains associated with the ninth month of my ninth pregnancy, my ankle was hurting quite badly. Thursday night I didn't think I could go on any more at all. However, Jim insisted I go to bed at 9 p.m. and after a good night's rest I felt much better. ...

Which Shall It Be?

--by Ethel Lynn Beers

"Which shall it be? Which shall it be?" I look'd at John, John look'd at me. (Dear patient John, who loves me yet As well as though my locks were jet); And when I found that I must speak, My voice seem'd strangely low and weak: "Tell me again what Robert said." And then I, listening, bent my head. "This is his letter: `I will give A house and land while you shall live, If, in return, from out your seven, One child to me for aye is given.' " I look'd at John's old garments worn. I thought of all that John had borne Of poverty and work and care, Which I, though willing, could not share, I thought of seven mouths to feed, Of seven little children's need. And then of this. "Come, John," said I, "We'll choose among them as they lie Asleep;" so walking hand in hand, Dear John and I survey'd our band. First to the cradle lightly stepp'd, Where the new nameless baby slept. "Shall it be Baby?" whispered John. I took his hand, and hurried on To Lily's crib. Her sleeping grasp Held her old doll within its clasp; ...

The One Room Schoolhouse

Teaching Your Child to Read

I began to teach Matthew [7] to read only this fall. He had expressed some interest in learning to read for at least a year, but I am of the "better late than early" philosophy when it comes to reading.

I started him using We Learn About God, Unit 1 of the Bible Nurture and Reader Series published by Rod and Staff. I expected him to be able to handle reading without any difficulty, but after about two weeks of instruction he was having trouble with sight words he was required to memorize. It just seemed too difficult for him to remember them all.

I was about ready to give up and try again in another six months---an option which I have taken with some of my other children. But I was surprised that Matthew was having trouble. He shows every sign of being a "quick" learner, and I wondered if I might be doing something wrong. I discussed the problem with Gerald. He suggested I slow the pace down, reviewing with flash cards more and introducing fewer new sight words each day for a short time. We would then see how things looked after another two weeks.

After two weeks Matthew was doing great! He was even reading short passages with little difficulty! The best I can explain this is to say that Matthew solved the problem himself. I think that temporarily slowing the pace gave him a chance to sort things out so he did not become overwhelmed and conclude that reading was hopeless. I also changed my flash card drill. Instead of drilling one card at a time, I began to put six or eight cards on the table face up and side by side. I would then read a word on one of the cards and ask him to point to the card with that word on it. This also seemed to help. But ultimately I would have to say that in that two weeks Matthew "caught on" to reading. In any event, we are now back up to the speed set by the textbook.

When Matthew first started having trouble I went to my home school supplies catalogs to see if I could find some books on how to teach reading which might help. Even though I have taught reading from the Rod and Staff books for over fourteen years, I have never really studied the how-to's of reading. I have always just followed the instructions in the teacher's books---and, if necessary, delayed the reading curriculum (and the rest of school) until the child could proceed without significant difficulty.

I looked in the Farm Country General Store catalog. 1-800-551-FARM. (I love browsing this catalog---I find I have to focus my attention on what I am supposed to be looking for. They have great stamping supplies!) In the "Educational Resources for Parents and Children" section I found Dr. Ruth Beechick's "The 3 R's Series" listed. I had heard many good things about Ruth Beechick, so I was interested to see if she could help with my current problem. Since I like to see what I am getting before purchasing, I requested A Home Start In Reading, one of the three booklets that are part of the 3 R's series, through inter-library loan at our village library.

I have been thoroughly delighted with this little book. Dr. Beechick has made a wonderful contribution to the home school community in it by her practical, simple, and to-the-point ideas on teaching children to read. I also appreciate the low-cost, do-it-yourself approach she advocates. ...

A Bright Country Craft Idea

Stephen [16] is taking Driver's Ed at the local high school. Recently I decided to look around one of the local antique shops while waiting for him to get out of class. (I never buy, only look!) I was in need of a lamp for my bedroom and another for the living room and hoped I might get some ideas.

My search was rewarded. They had darling lamps made out of old blue canning jars (quart size) with zinc caps. I have many old blue canning jars which I still can with, and several zinc caps. These have been given to me by older women who no longer use them. I determined to try my hand at turning one into a lamp. ...

Timothy's Diary

I was convinced it was teething, but Gerald wasn't so sure.

During the second week of September, when Timothy was seven and a half months old, he had a high fever, was very sleepy, and extremely cranky. I spent two days rocking him while he slept for hours. I tried several times to put him down, but he would just wake up and cry. So I sat in my room and rocked him and read the Elsie Dinsmore books. (I had been wanting to read these for some time since Laura [12] had said how good they were.) I also sang many songs to Timothy---until my repertoire ran out. Then I got an old hymnal out and sang hymns to Timothy. (I love the old hymns. I was surprised to find that I knew many of the tunes to otherwise unfamiliar hymns.) The reading and singing with Timothy made the time go by, and actually gave me a bit of a mini-vacation.

After two days of fever I noticed a rash all over Timothy's head and neck. Could it be chicken pox? Our family had been exposed to chicken pox in August, but it had been longer than the usual exposure time, so I wasn't sure. The rash was rapidly spreading, but it didn't really look like chicken pox. I researched the matter in my Nursing Care of Children Eugenia H. Waechter and Florence G. Blake, Nursing Care of Children (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1976). textbook and ultimately concluded that he had roseola.

After the fever ended Timothy became increasingly cranky, and I resigned myself to constant care of him in my room. The seclusion gave me much time to think. I thought about how God loves us so tenderly and gives us comfort during our times of pain and hardship. He is always there for us when we need Him. Should I do less for my baby? ....

Gerald's Homestead Notes

The need to erect temporary fencing arises occasionally on the homestead. We keep a supply of metal T-posts (also called T-bars) and several old rolls of wire fence for this purpose. (I purchase these whenever I run across them at garage sales if the price is right.)

Installing T-posts is not too difficult in our clay soil. The boys use a post-pounder. This is just a length of steel pipe capped off at one end. It slips over the T-post making it easy to drive them into the ground by repeatedly raising and pipe and letting it bang down on the T-post. But getting the posts back out of the ground is another matter.

Here is an entry from Gerald's journal dated July 23, 1995 showing how he does it. ...

Dear Helen

For reasons known only to Him, God sometimes calls on us to shoulder unusual difficulties with one or more children. The following two letters relate such cases. But adversity, as you know, has a way of exposing our true colors. These letters touched my heart because of the dedication to motherhood and breastfeeding which they display.

Dear Helen,

I am a first-time mother at age 32. I've been a Christian for about a year now.

I thoroughly enjoyed your pregnancy diary, but am hanging on every word of your Timothy diary. Your diary is truly an answered prayer, because, as you say, everyone seems to forget what those first few weeks are like.

Peter was born March 19th, 4 1/2 weeks early. I was pre-eclampsic. He was breech, so the doctor performed a C-section. I was on muscle-relaxants for 24 hours after delivery to prevent seizures.

We are first time parents, we weren't ready because of his pre-maturity, recovering from major abdominal surgery, his size: all were strikes against breastfeeding.

I had always known I would breastfeed. Intellectually I knew it was the best way, and God's way. However, I was not prepared for the huge task before me/us. ...

At Our House

I love the late fall and early winter weather, especially the cool days. The garden signs are down now and I no longer have customers "honking for service".

There is a certain sadness about this time of year though. The trees are bare, the garden empty, and my front flower bed looks forlorn and dejected. No more barefoot children running down the corn rows; no more happy shouts at the discovery of a late strawberry.

School is back in full swing. Teaching five children is keeping me very busy, especially teaching Matthew [7] to read. This is Matthew's first year of school. He is beginning first grade. I teach him right after breakfast when we are both fresh. During this time the older children do jobs and help with the little ones. Teaching Matthew takes me about an hour a day.

I am really enjoying teaching Matthew to read. He's so eager. He is a sight learner and catches things pretty much the first time around, making my job relatively easy.

Laura [12] prepares lunch in the morning, and while Timothy [9 months] is having his nap I teach David [10]. While this is underway I drive Stephen [16] into his Driver's Ed class at the local high school, and then back again an hour later to bring him home. All of this driving is about to drive me crazy! But I look at it as an investment---once Stephen gets his license he will do all the shopping and errands for me. ...

4
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