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Volume 4 (1998)


Excerpts (text only) from MC41: 14 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 4, Number 1

No Lack of Gain

Proverbs 31:11.

Several years ago I received a letter from a friend whom I hadn't heard from for some time. Her letter contained a heartfelt question.

She was a young mother of two children: one a nursing newborn, and the other three years old. Her husband was a fine, godly young man---a loving husband and father. But his skills were in an industry which was depressed at the time, and he was having trouble finding steady employment. As a result the family was struggling financially.

When they were first married she had worked with handicapped children. She had a degree in this area and was well paid. But then her first baby had come along. With some difficulty she had made the choice to surrender her career so she could stay home and nurture her child. Her husband had supported and encouraged this choice.

Now, in the midst of their financial difficulties, her husband had gone to the pastor and elders of their church for help and advice. They had suggested that he needed to get his wife to work to bring additional income into the home.

She shared with me that she was willing to help bring in additional income, but she did not feel right before the Lord about leaving her children. She had considered various home business ideas, but she wondered if she would be able to make these work. She felt "maxed out" already just taking care of her two children and her husband. How could she possibly do more? Did I think she should try to start a home business?

Many of us moms-at-home face financial pressures and stresses. We have turned our backs on the world and made a commitment before the Lord to be home to nurture our children, husbands, and other extended-family members. With this choice has come a loss of potential income to the family. As a result many of us frequently experience how hard it is to make ends meet on a regular basis.

Many of us have large families with toddlers and nursing babies. We have added home schooling to the traditional homemaking tasks, so our children might receive a godly education in a safe environment. We know very well that our responsibilities of taking care of meals, laundry, and education are more than a full-time job. Should we undertake a home business too?

Let me be perfectly clear that we are not talking about mom earning a little extra spending money through the occasional sale of a few extra dozen eggs from the henhouse here. We are talking about mom diverting a significant fraction of her time and energy each week from nurturing her family to running a business.

One can certainly find plenty of advocates out there of mom doing so. But I disagree with them strongly. I mistrust both their motives and their judgment. Being "just a mom" has lost much of the honor it once commanded in more God-fearing days of old. Now a woman's worth is measured, not by her contribution of honest, hard-working, skilled citizens to society, but (rather myopically) by her contribution to the gross national product. And so we are encouraged, if we positively must stay home, to at least exchange our aprons for the more respectable garb of the home executive. ...

The $64,000 Question

Amy Dacyczyn, The Tightwad Gazette (New York: Villard Press, 1993), 172--173.

After extensive experimentation I have hit upon a method to get extra use out of a used [vacuum cleaner] bag. ... .

In the Kitchen

Helen's Homemade Wheat Drink

I had been wanting to learn to make a hot drink to replace Postum (a commercial cereal drink). Postum has become too expensive for my large family. Since we don't drink coffee or tea (except for Gerald, who has an occasional cup of tea), I wanted to have an inexpensive hot drink for the winter months. I got out all my back-to-basics books, but I could not find anything suitable. So I called on Gerald for help.

He went to the encyclopedia and read about how coffee is roasted. Then he suggested we try some experiments with wheat. After several tests, we found a method that worked.

We were surprised how much our roasted wheat drink smelled and tasted like coffee. Gerald said, "I didn't realize the flavor of coffee is mainly just burnt beans!"

I love the smell of our wheat brew, but the smell during roasting of the wheat is not very pleasant. It is much too strong. You will want to have the exhaust fan running during roasting.

The hot beverage is made from the roasted wheat using a percolator. I purchased an electric, stainless steel, nine cup percolator from a local consignment shop for $5. (They sell for about $80 in country store type catalogs, but I often see them at thrift shops for about $5.)

Here is how to make it...

Poor Man's Pecan Pie

We all love pecan pie, but pecans are an expensive luxury. When I discussed this recipe from Reminisce magazine with the children they looked at me and said "Gross!". I assured them not to worry, I would eat it if they didn't like it!

I had all the ingredients in my cupboard and decided to give it a try. As it turned out the children were pleasantly surprised by how good it was and how close the taste was to the real thing.

This tastes marvelous with ice cream or whipped topping (both optional). And it's as easy as pie to make! ...

The One Room Schoolhouse

I always appreciate hearing from subscribers. In June of last year I received a lovely letter from a subscriber named Katrina. With it she enclosed a few articles her friend, Helen True, had written for their monthly home school group's newsletter. I wrote Helen and asked her for permission to use some of them in this column, which she graciously gave. The following piece, "No Rest for the Weary?" was written by her.

Helen True lives in Washington. She is a home schooling mother of six children.

No Rest for the Weary?

Tne day, while out shoe shopping, our children struck up a conversation with a waiting customer. (There's no lack of "socialization" with these children!) They told her we were home schooling and she asked me one of the Top Ten: "How do you find time for yourself!?"

I imagine every mother teaching her children at home has felt this question burning itself into her mind at one time or another.

I find that my predominant attitude is one of selfishness when this question weighs upon my shoulders. With tunnel vision I am overlooking a great deal and seeing just a poor, wilted Momma.

There's no question each of us needs time to refuel. But where my attitude is involved, I do well to make Scripture my first refreshment. There I am reminded that I am not my own--I have been bought with a price (such a price!). 1 Corinthians 6:19b, 20. I am reminded that Jesus will give me rest for my soul, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, Matthew 11:28, 29. that His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9a. ...

Book Review

Here is a great new resource book on cloth diapering! Everything from where to get good quality cloth diapers (even patterns), to how to pin them on, to what do with the diaper when you take it off. ...

Timothy's Diary

"The clock ticks slowly, but it's persistent", Gerald often says. I am feeling this in my heart these days as I see Timothy's first birthday approaching. I cannot help but feel a bit sad. I wish time would go on hold for a while so I could hang on to Timothy's innocent, sweet, baby ways.

Timothy, at ten months, can now get to a standing position without holding onto anything. He takes halting steps, which usually end with him in a pile on the floor. He is all giggles as he takes his baby steps, because he knows everyone is delighted to see him do it. I know it will be just a matter of days before he will be walking everywhere.

I don't bother with shoes yet, since they don't really help much. I think it is healthier for the child to be barefoot until they need shoes to actually protect their feet. Since we are inside most of the time at this time of the year, there is no real need. Even when we go outside for a walk he is in the stroller. I just put adult-size socks on him, all the way up to his thighs, and then I put a smaller pair of socks over the top of these. This keeps his feet nice and warm. It also saves money on boots and shoes. I use several big socks for mittens also. They work out well because he can't take them off.

Peek-a-boo is a favorite game of all babies. Timothy can now play it back to us as he hides his face and then peeks out. It is adorable. Today, at ten months, he said "Boo" back to me. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

We converted the back half of our garage to a heavily insulated, temperature-controlled "pantry" at the beginning of 1996. In practice this functions like a large walk-in refrigerator. I keep groceries and all my canning in there. (In fact, I have no fridge in the kitchen anymore since, with the pantry in operation, the floor space in the kitchen is more valuable to me than the fridge space!)

One of the main uses of the pantry each year is storage of our potato harvest for home consumption. This year just over a half ton of potatoes from our garden were stored in crates on shelves in the pantry.

We were concerned about how well the potatoes would keep in the pantry. Through much of the late fall and early winter the temperature averages about 45 degrees F in there, dropping below 40 only when it gets cold enough outside. For optimum storage of potatoes it should really be close to (but not at or below) freezing.

Here is an entry from Gerald's journal, dated February 15, 1997, describing what we found for the three varieties we grew and stored in 1996. ...

At Our House

Though November was gloomy---we had only about two sunny days for the entire month---my heart was singing. My oldest daughter, Jennifer (21), would soon be home from college for the holidays. I had three very good reasons why I could hardly wait for us to be together. First was the fact that I simply missed her. Second, driving Stephen (16) back and forth to his Driver's Ed class each day was putting me way behind in my housework and everything else. I needed Jennifer's help to get dug back out. Third, it had been evident for quite some time that my daughter was falling in love. She would be bringing a young man named Steve home with her for a short visit. I was eager to participate in their joy.

Home schooling is now in full swing with all the children making good progress in their studies.

Mark (18) is now working for a computer company. He is writing software, which he very much enjoys. He has to drive one and a half hours each way to get to work! We don't see much of him these days and miss having him around. I am still finding the process of letting go to be a learning experience.

Stephen (16) and David (10) have been raking many leaves for people and bringing them home for our garden. Gerald built a straw bale enclosure against the trailer to store them in for the winter. This has become a great playground for the children. They jump off the straw-bale walls into the pile of leaves. The best fun is always free! ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC41: 14 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC42: 15 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 4, Number 2

Woman to Woman

I set aside the medical research article I have been reading as I have rocked and nursed one-year-old Timothy to sleep, and turn out the light. The house is dark, and quiet. The children are asleep. My husband, Gerald, will soon be in from the office.

I carry Timothy, asleep but still attached, to my bed. I slip beneath the quilt while gently holding him to my breast. In a few moments I am settled, cuddled comfortably with my baby beside me. He is still nursing as he sleeps. I see him faintly in the dark. I feel him breathing against me. I smell his baby sweetness. I hear his soft, contented sighs.

Normally I drift off quickly---nursing is a natural relaxant---but tonight sleep won't come. I am deeply disturbed by what I have been reading about these past several months. Soon my cheeks are wet with tears.

I am silently weeping for the appalling destruction of womanhood and motherhood in our culture and in our churches. I am weeping for women with an empty nest at age thirty-nine; their fertility surgically destroyed; their hormones artificially regulated; their physical and emotional health in shambles. I am weeping for infants left to cry alone in a darkness they do not understand; wooden bars in place of mother's warm flesh; inert rubber to suckle in place of her living breast; the smell of butadiene and detergent in place of her God-given scents. I am weeping for one and a half million pregnancies terminated by abortion in the United States each year---one and a half million motherhoods which will never be. I am weeping for the little children, herded together into day-care centers, the economics carefully calculated, each apportioned their proper square footage like turkeys on a turkey ranch, and full of penicillin and streptomycin like them too. I am weeping for one million marriages per year rocked and shattered by divorce, children as flotsam on a raging sea.

Mothers cheated of their children; children cheated of their mothers.

Oh, Lord God, when will this holocaust of mothering end? ...

Grandmother Brown's Hundred Years: 1827--1927 Harriet Connor Brown, Grandmother Brown's Hundred Years: 1827--1927 (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1929), 126 & 214.

[An illustration of traditional mothering practices.]

Whatever the work to be carried through to completion, whether for the dead or the living, one's children must not be neglected.

Gus used to follow me around sometimes, those first years on the farm, saying doggedly, "Mother! Mother! I've got me some tiredness, I want to be took [i.e., taken up and nursed]". Poor little fellow! ...

It seemed as if the only time when I felt justified in taking up a book or paper was when I sat down to nurse my babies. I always nursed them till they were pretty big. I couldn't bear to wean them---they kept so fat and pretty as long as I fed them at the breast. And so it happened that Frank would sometimes pull at my skirt and hand me a newspaper, as a hint that he would like to be taken up and nursed. ...

Dr. L. Emmett Holt: 1855--1924 L. Emmett Holt, Jr., The Care and Feeding of Children: A Catechism for the use of Mothers and Children's Nurses, 14th ed. (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1929 [1st edition published 1894]).

[Illustrating the rise of male mothering theories.]

How frequently should an infant be nursed?

The rules for the average infant are given in the following table. There are, however, many infants who do quite as well when nursed only every four hours from the very beginning. [Table: at 1--2 days, 4 nursings in 24 hours, only 1 nursing between 10 P.M. and 6 A.M.; at 3 days to 3 weeks, 7 nursings in 24 hours, only 1 nursing between 10 P.M. and 6 A.M.; at 3 weeks to 3 months, 6 nursings in 24 hours, only 1 nursing between 10 P.M. and 6 A.M.; at 3--12 months, 5 nursings in 24 hours, 0 nursings between 10 P.M. and 6 A.M.] [p. 32] ...

Timothy's Diary

As I type this today (January 29) it is Timothy's first birthday. For the last few days I've been saying, "Last year at this time...".

I don't like to remember Timothy's birth; it was one of my more difficult ones. But I revel in my memories of the moments immediately following the birth: newborn Timothy, the thankfulness, the joyful tears, and the children's awe and delight with their new baby brother. I feel a gentle nudge in these memories, as if the Lord were saying, "remember my goodness". It helps me not to complain about overflowing diaper pails and noisy mealtimes.

Timothy has been a constant joy this past year. You can see by his footprint how much he has grown. He's really not little at all any more! He weighs twenty-five pounds and is thirty-two and a half inches tall. That means he has gained sixteen pounds and grown eight and three-quarter inches in this last year!

I can remember when Jennifer, my firstborn, turned one. It amazed me to think that she had had only breast milk for her first year, and yet she was so visibly thriving. I had never known anyone else who had nursed that long and not supplemented with other foods. (Since then I have met many, many other women who have done so.) It thrilled me to think that this healthy, happy, chunky, active, capable little toddler had grown to that point on my breast milk alone!

And now, twenty years later, I feel the same way about Timothy. He has had no vitamins, water, baby juice, baby food, or any other supplement of any sort. (He is only now beginning to sample whatever we are eating. He does this to satisfy his curiosity, not because he is hungry. He chews on tiny bits to learn about the taste and then spits most of it out, causing all the other children to say, "Gross!". I remind them that they all did the same thing.) And he's as chunky and healthy as can be. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

We grow and eat many potatoes. In a few weeks we will be planting about 2,000 seed potato pieces in as many feet of row---without the aid of a tractor.

"How to Garden" books invariably say to dig a "flat-bottomed furrow 6 to 8 inches wide and 3 to 4 inches deep" to place the seed pieces in. Once the seed pieces are all in place you are supposed to move all that dirt back into the furrow to cover them up. For 2,000 feet of row, that's a lot of dirt to move twice---several tons in fact! Gerald's reaction to these instructions is, "Who are they trying to kill?"

Here is a 1995 entry from his journal detailing the method he uses. ...

Dear Helen,

How I enjoy hearing from you, dear readers! Thank you for your sweet encouragement. It means more to me than I suspect you know. Sadly, time does not permit me to answer all your letters. But they are read and treasured just the same. I am keeping a file of the most frequently asked questions and I hope to answer them one by one in this column as time and space permits.

Dear Helen,

It's time to renew my subscription and I feel I must enclose a personal note to express my appreciation. If your goal is indeed to "encourage Christian women..." then I think you're meeting your goal!

Yesterday, I found myself questioning, "Should I get an `outside' job? Should the children go back to public school? Should my house be spotless? Should we want new furniture and energy-saving appliances?" But, a little voice kept niggling away, "God planned for the woman (mother or not) to be in the home. You have plenty to eat, decent clothing, loved and treasured furnishing, still working appliances."

Then---the [Jan/Feb 98] newsletter came! What a coincidence(?). I thought now with renewed conviction, yes, my place is here with my children. No, we don't need public school. Every one notices my children's intelligence (not to brag), so we're obviously getting enough of the basics. We also get a lot of reading, home-ec, life skills and personal relations (a required high school class in our area). ...

At Our House

February has been like spring this year! My irises and rhubarb are up at least a month early. The children have been playing outside without winter coats and the boys have been busy making kites to fly.

This has reduced our "cabin fever" this year, but we are wondering what effects this early spring will have on our vegetable garden. The local farmers are predicting insect problems. We would appreciate your prayers---the vegetable garden is a big part of our family economy.

Our family is normally very healthy, but it seems we can count on some sickness each February. This year we all came down with an intestinal virus, and then, about a week later, nearly everyone had bronchial colds with lots of coughing day and night. It was a difficult time for me, as usual, with little sleep for several nights. But we are all on the mend now, and hopefully we are clear of these winter ailments for another year.

Things definitely got backlogged in the house and office while everyone was sick and feeling so rotten. It was all Laura (13) and I could do to get meals on the table and try to keep up with the laundry. Dusting and vacuuming, which don't happen often enough even at the best of times, had to be let go entirely.

Gerald has been busy organizing our garden and getting our seed order off in the mail in his "spare time". He has begun comparing prices between various catalogs and has found some significant savings on items we order in bulk quantities such as strawberry plants and onion sets. So comparison shopping is definitely worthwhile.

We will be starting over 400 transplants indoors this year. We plan to set up a table with fluorescent lights in front of the large, south-facing, living room window for this purpose. It is becoming clear that we really need a greenhouse. Maybe next year.

School has been going smoothly. I make this my first work priority each morning so it gets done before I get distracted by other things. Matthew (8) continues to absorb his schooling like a sponge. Stephen (16) has been doubling up on his schoolwork to try to complete it before his yard work business picks up at the nearby lakes in the spring.

Stephen got his driver's license early in February. He was our first child to pass the driving test on his first attempt! Taking the driver-ed class at the local high school was a positive and beneficial experience for him. Among other things he got to see how much time is wasted in public school each day! He is now able to do most of the errands for me and for the business which enables me to stay home almost all the time. This is truly wonderful!

We planned a surprise engagement party for Jennifer before she went back to college. Eldora, a dear family friend and adopted local "grandma", made the cake and provided flowers and treats. I made two tablecloths and a set of eight napkins for Jennifer. Stephen hand carved a lovely set of black walnut napkin rings to go with the napkins.

It has been exciting to watch Jennifer and Steve's relationship growing. Gerald commented the other day, "The eager anticipation of marriage which we are seeing between Steve and Jennifer is the New Testament model of our present relationship to our Savior. We should be longing for the return of the Lord in that same way." That pricked my heart and made me ask about my own soul's longings. Yes, even so, come Lord Jesus. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC42: 15 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC43: 15 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 4, Number 3

Meet the Mills Family

A few months ago I received a letter from an older (though not elderly) sister-in-the-Lord. This sister and her husband have, through a series of God-ordained circumstances, come to occupy a special spot in Gerald's and my hearts. I would describe this sister as intelligent, sensible, and vibrant in the way that a life on fire for the Lord always is. In her letter she pointed out something I agree with very strongly: that you don't have to live in the country to raise children for the Lord. She wrote:

"City families cannot take part in a lot of the physical activities you share with us, but they can share the attitudes and values. My own daughters cannot live `country' lives, but they can make city adaptations according to the godly life principles you live out, and I want to encourage them and all the others who may feel discouraged and fear that such a life is beyond their attainment. Don't look at the details. Grasp the principles and ask God to help arrange the details. Letters and articles by city dwelling moms with examples or testimonies of their lifestyle would be a real encouragement and I hereby suggest this for future newsletters."

As I read this sound admonition my mind went immediately to Debby Mills and her family.

I met Debby only at the end of 1994, when our family was about to leave Southern California and make our way to our new home in Illinois. Debby was one of the attendees at a seminar I gave on household organization for home schoolers just before we left. This seminar constitutes "The One Room Schoolhouse" audio cassette tape sold through The Mother's Companion.

Debby and her husband, Jim, are busy raising a godly family in a difficult environment within the city limits of San Diego. This environment is not Debby's first choice for her family, as you will see, but she has set her heart to be faithful to her Lord where He has placed her.

In addition to a difficult environment, Debby's oldest child, Trevor, is seriously handicapped both physically and mentally.

So I felt there was much we could all benefit from by a peek into Debby's life. I immediately wrote to Debby, asking her if she would write an article sharing a bit of her life in the city with us. She kindly consented.

Jim and Debby are childhood sweethearts who have been married for twenty-five years. They have eight children: Trevor (18), Lydia (16), Meredith (10), Brayton (8), Hillary (7), Garrett (4), Allison (24 months), and "Tootsie" (the family's generic name for brothers and sisters before birth) due in October.

Jim is a District Manager for all the Southern California Paper Plus stores. Debby is a full-time homemaker. She also writes, speaks at conferences, and does Special Education consultations. Together, Jim and Debby are local Support Group Leaders for Special Children-Special Blessings and they are the state coordinators for NATHHAN (National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network).

"My husband and I live with our children in a modest ranch-style house located in a working class neighborhood of East San Diego. This once pristine suburb is often defaced with graffiti; thankfully the city Graffiti Patrol quickly paints it over most days.

The community park, directly across the street from us, is family friendly during the day, but after dark it becomes a hang-out for local gang members. Our park is the site of family picnics, Pop Warner football practice, and occasional drive-by shootings aimed at neighboring gang members. The local gang members wear black and white; the neighboring gang red and black.

The neighborhood was different twenty-two years ago when Jim and I first moved in. It was a quiet community then. Children walked to school unharassed, mothers pushed their babies in strollers without fear, and preschoolers played on the lawns in front of their homes, sharing toys with their little friends. Most of the mothers were at home with their children during the day.

But the children in this multi-cultural community are now grown. Many have fallen prey to the worldly values and sad consequences which characterize our nation today. It is a vastly different world for us as we come home to life inside our barred windows and locked doors. Yet, this is where the Lord would have us for now, so it is where we must be content to live. ...

C. H. Spurgeon

"I was delighted, one Sabbath evening in the year 1853, when driving from the village where I had supplied for a minister, to see in one place a father, with four or five little ones about him, sitting on a small plot of grass before the cottage door. He had a large Bible on his knee, and the children also had their Bibles; and he in the midst was holding his finger up, with all solemnity and earnestness, in simple style endeavouring to enforce some sacred truth. ...

A little further was a house which had a small workshop adjoining it. The door was open, so I could see that no one was inside; but there stood a chest, and on it lay a Bible of the largest kind, and on the floor below was a cushion which still bore the imprint of knees which, I trust, had been bent in wrestling prayer. Perhaps a mother had there been begging at the Redeemer's hands the souls of her dearly-beloved children; or, possibly, some son, in answer to that mother's prayer, had been secretly pouring out his heart, and crying for mercy from the hands of God.

Yet once more, I saw a little girl spelling over to her parents the word of the Book of Truth, and I felt constrained to pray that the daughter and the lowly pair might all be able to read their titles clear to mansions in the skies.

I have seen hills and forests, vales and rivers, fine buildings and romantic ruins, but never, never have I seen a sight more simple, more beautiful, nor more sublime.

Best households, of which these things can be written! May you not be solitary instances, but may God raise up thousands like unto you!

Household piety is the very cream of piety. There is no place in which religion so sweetly opens all its charms as in the family gathered round the hearth. ...

In the Kitchen

When Gerald and I were first married we had the joy of visiting some friends, Kathy and Paul, at a New Tribe's Mission Boot Camp in Ontario, Canada. We slept there for the night and enjoyed a yummy breakfast of homemade granola in the crisp, clean air of the wide outdoors the next morning. I asked Kathy for the granola recipe and she was glad to share it with me. I have used it ever since. In the summer it is a standard breakfast in our home.

Kathy's Granola Recipe ...

Product Review

Vacuum Cleaners

I have gone through several vacuum cleaners since we moved to Illinois three years ago. These have been used machines I have picked up at garage sales (for under $5.00) or have been given (free), or have scavenged from the junk yard ($1.00). My "track record" with vacuum cleaners can perhaps best be conveyed by Gerald's comment when I brought the last used machine home. He remarked dryly, "Ah, another victim".

After Christmas Gerald said, "I want you to purchase a new vacuum cleaner. The dust in my office is ruining my books and is causing trouble with the office machines. We need something that can get the dust out of the carpet. Find out what would be a good machine for under a couple of hundred dollars and buy it." I couldn't believe it---we don't purchase very many things new! I was delighted.

This led to an investigation of the merits of currently available vacuum cleaners. It also led to a reevaluation of my vacuum cleaning practices. All in all I feel I've learned a few things which others may find helpful.

I began by calling the public library in Champaign. I asked the reference librarian what models Consumer Reports recommended. She was happy to read me the information over the phone. ...

Food Slicers

Well, would you believe it? No sooner had I got my new vacuum cleaner than Valentine's Day rolled around and Gerald said, "I would like to buy you a meat slicer as a Valentine's Day present. Please look into available machines and let me know which you think would be best." (He knows I like to shop!)

So I went into research mode again. I immediately got out all my catalogs to begin the search. We were thinking of a machine to slice meats and cheese nice and thin so we could stretch these items a little further around the dinner table. Gerald figured the meat slicer would eventually pay for itself by savings in the food bill on these items.

As I read the catalogs I discovered that there are several food slicers on the market, some claiming to also slice bread! We had been searching for a bread-slicing machine to rapidly cut uniform, thin slices of bread (which would fit in the toaster) for a long time. We had not even thought that a meat slicer might also serve this purpose. ...

Dear Helen

I received many letters in response to last issue's lead article, "Woman to Woman". Knowing this is a controversial topic I had braced myself for the worst. But I have been pleasantly surprised to find that the mail has been overwhelmingly positive! It appears the Lord has been using the article to open many eyes and to encourage many women. My prayer is that He will continue to use it to restore the transmission of the womanly arts to its proper biblical basis in our homes and churches.

A number of representative letters follow. I respond here to the last two only.

Dear Helen,

Thank you for your rational and wise teaching on Biblical motherhood. I too have been troubled by the attack from the inside of our fellowship on nurturing and nursing babies. Granted, we perhaps need some Biblical teaching to counter years of overly permissive parenting, but we have gone too far and abandoned the nurture in pursuit of training.

I found your last newsletter so encouraging that I thoughtlessly copied it to pass on to a new mother to whom I was providing dinner. I apologize for this and am including an extra $3.50 to cover the cost of a reprint, in addition to my other order.

More often than not, my husband will find me both laughing and crying as I read your letter. I have five children, ages 15 to 2 years. I look at my 15 year old son with bittersweet tears, proud of the young man he is, and sad because all too soon he will leave. I am so thankful for my little ones, who have benefitted from all the mistakes I have made over the years. My prayer is that I can pass some of my experience from bad judgment to new mothers. I was so ignorant 15 years ago---and there was no one to tell me. I am thankful you have brought the need for a true Titus ministry into focus for me. ...

Dear Helen,

I was just wondering why the latest issue of MC hadn't arrived yet and today it arrived and I realized why it had been a bit late. Thank you for your careful and thoughtful study on Biblical mothering.

I was unable to put the article down! I have never heard this topic approached on the basis of women teaching women Biblical mothering. I don't know why this hasn't been said sooner and often. I've only heard all sides saying their way was best. (Including myself!)

You have given me renewed resolve to encourage the new and expectant moms that I minister to as Coordinator of our church's Cradle Roll Ministry. Right now there are about 25 moms! I am almost 35 years old and have six children. My baby, Doran, is 15 months old and LOVES to nurse.

I am going to share this article with the lady who is in charge of our Women's Ministry. She told me she never could let her babies cry it out. She spoke so tenderly to our moms at our last Cradle Roll brunch about loving our children. ...

Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for writing "Woman to Woman" in this month's newsletter. It is exactly what I was needing to hear.

I've tried some of the harsher "methods" of mothering. I really regret not hearing your advice sooner. My oldest son is four. When he was an infant, he would not sleep unless I was nursing him. I would stay up until 2:00 a.m. before he was sound asleep enough to put him in his crib without waking him. I never even thought to just take him in bed and nurse him there! ...

C. H. Spurgeon on Spoiling "The Child"

How often I have gone to [my grandmother's] kneading-trough; for it had a little shelf in it, and there would be placed something for the child!" A bit of pastry, which was called by me, according to its size, a pig or a rabbit, which had little ears, and two currants for eyes, was carefully placed in that sacred shrine, like the manna in the ark. Dear grandmother, how much you laboured to spoil that "child"! ...

At Our House

Apple blossoms, bare feet in green grass, dandelion crowns on little girls' heads, laundry flapping on the line, fresh asparagus, rhubarb pie, sounds of rototillers and lawn mowers, fragrance of lilacs, dirty fingernails, crumpled bouquets of wild violets... it must be spring! And, oh, it is glorious!

With spring comes an increase in our pace of daily activities. We are getting up earlier to take advantage of the morning daylight hours. Every minute is carefully planned and administrated. Gerald has been compiling a perpetual homesteading "to do" list on the computer since we moved here three years ago. This is especially helpful for keeping track of all that needs to be done for the vegetable garden. Gerald gives me a printout of current tasks each week, and I decide which member of our work force (i.e., the children) will do the various tasks and when they will do them.

We added ten more new asparagus plants to our asparagus bed this year. We have been slowly adding new plants each year since we moved in. This is the first spring we have had lots of asparagus for the table. But we don't have enough for our whole family yet---it is just too yummy!

We have also been adding to our rhubarb row each year. We do this by digging up an existing plant and dividing it into individual crowns. Each small crown produces a new rhubarb plant when transplanted.

Our potato crop is also on the increase. Each year we store our harvest in the temperature-controlled pantry. The biggest and best potatoes are put aside in the pantry to be used as seed in the next year and the rest are for eating. This year we ran out of eating potatoes at the beginning of March, showing that we needed to grow more potatoes. So when we had some seed potatoes left after the usual garden space had been planted this spring Gerald had the boys turn the sod on a new portion of the yard and plant the remaining seed there. I am hoping to have potatoes for the whole year from this year's harvest. (I don't know what they do to the store potatoes but my family has trouble getting them down---they just don't compare to the ones we grow ourselves.) ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC43: 15 pages: PDF (0.7 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC44: 16 pages: PDF (0.8 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 4, Number 4

The Young Mothers Class

I had announced the class in front of the whole church the previous Sunday. I had explained that this would be a class for young mothers, and that it would be modeled on Titus 2:3--5. They could bring their infants and toddlers with them. They should come prepared to learn what the Bible teaches about how to be a godly woman, wife, and mother. I would be starting a series on the womanly arts from a book called Mastering Motherhood. Barbara Bush, A Woman's Workshop on Mastering Motherhood (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981).

Now I waited nervously for the women to arrive, wondering how many would show up for this first "official" Sunday of "The Young Mothers Class". But I didn't have to wait long. As the Sunday school hour approached women began to arrive. Soon I had welcomed twelve women! My heart rejoiced.

We were about to begin when another, obviously frustrated young mother entered the room. As Vikki sat down she said, "Well, I better learn to master something here, because what I'm doing just isn't working!" No one offered to argue with her---we all knew Vikki and we all knew that her two young sons were definitely not examples of cherubic behavior. I smiled and welcomed Vikki, and then opened the class with prayer.

How did "The Young Mothers Class" get its start? It began rather humbly and quietly. A new mom stopped me at church one Sunday. At the time I had five children, and my oldest was thirteen. She said, "Helen, what would you think of the idea of meeting with my baby and me during the Sunday School time each week? I haven't been coming to church much because I really don't like leaving my baby in the nursery. I know that you wander around outside during this time with your baby and toddler. How would you like to meet with me and give a small devotional and then maybe we could share together and pray?"

After discussing this with my husband, Gerald, the new mom and I began to meet each Sunday morning during the Sunday School time---just the two of us, she with her baby and me with my baby and three year old.

We met in a small corner of an unused classroom. I read from one of Mae Miller's books on mothering Ella May Miller, I am a Mother (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1976). and we shared and prayed and took care of our little ones as needed.

Our "class" was informal, relaxed, and unnoticed by the church folk. She was delighted to be able to come to church with her husband each week and still meet the needs of her baby. And I was happy to share in this young mother's life while still meeting the needs of my baby and toddler. Besides, it was lonely all by myself in the parking lot!

After meeting in this way for about a month, another woman joined us. I don't remember how she found out about us.

Shortly thereafter an elder began popping his head in the door each week to take attendance. Our "class" had somehow achieved official recognition.

We now had three stay-at-home moms sharing together and encouraging each other. But somehow word was getting out, and we wouldn't stay at three very long. ...

The Christian School:The Hope of America

What is the purpose of education? One view which has been widely held is that the purpose of education is to enable a man or woman to earn more money ...

A better view of education is that education ought to broaden a man, ought to keep him from getting into the narrow rut of any one aptitude or activity. ...

Book Review

I always enjoy reading books to the young children that model loving, nurturing parents, and they, of course, love them too. ... .

Timothy's Diary

So much has happened in little Timothy's life since I last wrote about him two issues ago. The most exciting thing for Timothy has been getting to be outside for much of the day. He loves puddles, mud, dirt, bugs, worms, pulling the cat's tail, swings, strawberries, walks, and chickens. He dislikes loud lawn mowers, strangers (vegetable customers), being left behind when the older children go ride their bikes, being shooed out of the strawberry patch, getting off the swing when it's time to go inside, and being scratched by the cat.

We fenced off part of the yard near the house in the fall to keep the chickens off the sidewalks (for obvious reasons). This spring, when we would normally have taken the fence down (the chickens are not allowed to range free during the summer), I decided to just keep it up. It made a nice little play yard for Timothy. That way I could see him easily from inside the house, and he couldn't wander into trouble in the garden or elsewhere in the backyard. This has worked reasonably well, though he is now getting bored with this little world. He cries every time someone goes out the gate because he would like to get out there too. Next year we should be able to take the fence down come summer.

Family meal times are definitely becoming a part of Timothy's life. When Laura or I call for everyone to "come and eat!" he promptly goes to the door and yells in his language for everyone to "come and eat!" too. Then he quickly waddles over to the table and urges whoever is nearby to put him in his booster chair. He insists on having a small plate and spoon and a little serving of whatever we are eating or he feels left out.

He likes to taste everything, and actually swallows much of what he samples now. He loves spaghetti, soup, crackers, granola, apples, oranges, strawberries, chicken leg bones to chew on, and rice. He dislikes potatoes, applesauce, and anything hot. I don't give him milk, cheese, or chocolate, and I limit the sweets as much as possible. I nurse him just before we eat so his appetite is satisfied by breast-milk rather than solid foods. It is just so much better for him. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

Our management of the yearly chicken flock continues to change as we learn more each year about what works best for us. The following is from Gerald's homestead journal, December 9, 1997, explaining his thinking for our 1998 chick order.

In 1996 and 1997 we purchased assorted heavies. Helen is not happy with the quality of the meat from these birds. They are taking six months to raise to freezer size, and then only dressing out to 3 to 4.5 pounds. We also need a larger number of meat birds than the sixty or so we raised last year. ...

Dear Helen

appreciated your article "Woman to Woman" in the March/April issue and was interested in the response in the May/June issue. I have thought a lot about it. I intended to write sooner.

I wonder where you would draw the line between mothering and fathering? I doubt you would say that child rearing is solely a womanly art and not the man's. Certainly Scripture indicates otherwise. (Eli, the priest, is an example of a father's accountability before God for the results of his children's training in 1 Samuel.)

So, then, would you say child rearing is the mother's realm up to a certain age, after which a man (father or other) may legitimately contribute? Or that certain areas of child rearing are mother's only? Is it ever appropriate for women to read for guidance the writing of men such as Henry Clay Trumbull, Michael Pearl or William Sears, or are we to take counsel from only older women?

The issue of the man's authority in the home is relevant here. Is the woman learning from male teachers without her husband's approval? I have done this, though the question of getting my husband's approval hadn't occured to me until recently, while I've been thinking about your article.

Those I'd quote regularly, my husband would refer to as my "gurus." That annoyed me, but I didn't think how my husband felt with me wagging "(Mr. Expert) said (this or that)" at him. To make matters worse, sometimes I appreciated that other man's opinion over my husband's. (Thankfully, the Lord opened my eyes to that last week and I confessed it to him.) I intend to go through my favorite teachers and ask my husband one by one if they "pass inspection."

Anyway, perhaps my questions would be answered by another reading of your article. I need to "digest" this further and put aside "But I like the Pearls" protests in my heart. ...

At Our House

Rain, rain, rain! Wind, thunderstorms, threat of tornadoes. Rain, rain, rain!

That's what has been happening around here for the last several weeks. I expect that these late spring storms will end soon as summer comes into full swing. And I'll be glad.

The crown of our big tree, the one the children's long rope swing hangs from, got broken off by one of the bad wind storms. Gerald took the opportunity to teach the boys how to cut the tree branches safely using the chain saw. Our corn was only a few inches high at the time, so it was not seriously damaged by all the branches which fell on it. The swing is still there, but Gerald says the big tree is no longer safe and will have to come down this fall. It is definitely not very pretty any longer, and it dropped another large branch in the last storm a day or two ago.

Jennifer (20) came home for two weeks in May for a brief "vacation" from college. We purchased her wedding dress while she was home. It was a delightful time of trying on many different dresses, taking pictures, and then finally finding the "dress of her dreams" as she called it. It is being stored at the bridal shop awaiting the big day---still at least a year away. Jennifer is now back at college where she is working for the summer to earn her tuition for next year.

Mother's Day was special with all my "olive plants" (Psalm 128:3) gathered around the table. The children all pitched in and bought new linoleum for the dining room and hallway. Stephen (16) took out the old carpet and installed the new linoleum for me. This was a first for him, but he did a wonderful job. The dining room floor is now much easier to keep clean. This has definitely reduced my work load and brightened my life. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC44: 16 pages: PDF (0.8 MB): $9.99 U.S.

Excerpts (text only) from MC45: 16 pages: PDF (0.8 MB): $9.99 U.S.

The Mother's Companion Volume 4, Number 5

Encouraging Words

Some weeks ago I read through my bulging ideas file, trying to decide which writing project to work on next for The Mother's Companion. Nothing seemed quite right.

I discussed the problem with Gerald as we took our daily walk together. He suggested I share some excerpts from various authors who have been a specific help and encouragement to me in the past. This immediately seemed right to me, and I quickly got excited about the idea.

As I now set about to write, my desk is covered with piles of open books and articles. Where to begin? So many authors have helped to encourage me and keep me on track through the years. These have been my mentors, my teachers, my counselors. I wish I could share all of their encouraging words with you. Well that's impossible, but pull your chair over here close to mine, and let me share at least a few things with you from these authors. ...

Why I Choose to Home School

Home school takes a lot of my time and energy. There have been times when the idea of shipping the children off to public or private school all day seemed alluring. But there are several reasons why I will never willingly do so.

My most important reason for choosing to home school is that I have a responsibility before God to teach my children about God (Deuteronomy 6:6,7). Gerald and I take the spiritual training of our children very seriously. We firmly believe that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom". Proverbs 9:10. We do not have our sights fixed on raising a sports star, a Harvard scholar, a business magnate, a beauty queen, or a U.S. president. The "fear of the Lord" is our goal. The major teaching resource in our home is the Bible. I want to saturate my children's thinking with the Word of God. I want my children to be thoroughly prepared to live godly lives for His glory. Home school enables me to surround my children with the Word of God all day long.

Another reason I choose to home school is that I really don't want to be separated from my children. I enjoy my children. I want to have them be a part of my life on a day-to-day basis. I miss them when they are away, and they miss me too. ...

Adaptation of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 for Home School Moms

--by Helen E. Aardsma

Listen up,
O dedicated home school Mom!
The Lord is our sustaining God.

And you must love the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your might.

As a mother, and His child,
you must be committed
to His directions
in your own heart
and embrace them fully.

And then
you shall teach His rules to your children
even though it mean
blood,
sweat,
and tears. ...

Product Review

Two issues back we were introduced to Debby Mills and her family, who live in the city of San Diego. Helen Aardsma and Debbie Mills, "Meet the Mills Family," The Mother's Companion 4.3 (May/June 1998): 1--6.

One of the things we learned about the Mills family is that Debbie's oldest son, Trevor, is seriously handicapped physically and mentally. We also learned that Debbie and her husband, Jim, are the state coordinators for NATHHAN (NATional cHallenged Homeschoolers Associated Network).

I have subsequently received several requests from subscribers for more information about NATHHAN. ...

Gerald's Homestead Notes

The following is from Gerald's journal, dated June 26, 1997.

Why Homesteading Makes Sense for Large Families

Large families generally face the problem of how to feed and take care of everybody. They usually have only one income because:

1. they know Mom is needed more at home by her children than any income she might produce working outside the home, and 2. it wouldn't make economic sense for Mom to work outside the home anyway---the day care expense alone would be outrageous. Thus, large families are generally cash poor. ...

Dear Helen

I received a pretty card with the following note about six months ago.

Dear Helen,

My heart aches. I'm on my knees to our Lord. I have a twelve year old who has said some pretty mean things to me today.

I have sent him to his room to pray and I have taken his skate board away. He still comes to me every ten minutes saying sorry but I will not let him skate. Then the rough words come back.

My husband is out of town. I can not get in touch with him.

I do not want to cry on someone's shoulder that knows my son, then later judges him. He is a good boy at heart, just very hard to home school and always wants the attention over his two younger brothers and sisters. I guess I have failed him. The other two (8 years and 5 years) are not disrespectful. I started late in home schooling him and I have matured late in my Christian walk.

I have been strong today more than I ever have been. I have kept cool and prayed. But I'm so hurt, my dear friend.

I love you and respect your family. But I cannot be like you. I do not live in the country. I can get my children to clean bathrooms and floors but I cannot get them to be working outside like your family does. Anyway, I need prayer and I guess I needed to write my thoughts down.

My husband feels maybe school would be good for him. But he (my son) tells me he will make life miserable for his two siblings if he goes to school. Next year is junior high. I feel maybe I'm not doing the right thing. Is he getting enough Science?

This card is too small. I'm just plain scared and need faith. I have faith, but where is it? Romans 1:17. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, `But the righteous man shall live by faith'." ...

Dear D.F.,

Thank you so much for writing and sharing your heart with me. I know that raising children is a difficult task at times, and one that sometimes means hurt and pain. I understand how you feel---I have been there too.

I think that what you are experiencing is very common, but not expected because we think, and often we are told, that if we do all the right things our children will not rebel. This, unfortunately, is not true. ...

At Our House

The big news at our house---beside the fact that I am expecting #10, which I have already shared---is that #2 (Mark, 19) has flown the nest.

What a turbulent time this has been, from repeat visits to the doctor's to meet medical requirements, to last minute financial snags! But Mark is now at Moody Bible Institute, and he appears to be settling in well there.

I had very mixed emotions about Mark leaving. His departure has not been as drastic as was Jennifer's. He has been engaged in full-time work outside the home for the past year, and has been gone much of the time as a result. Nonetheless, I was sad to see this part of our lives over. But at the same time I was so happy to see him go off to a new challenge, expanding his horizons and laying a larger foundation for his future. And I was happy to see him have this opportunity to share Christian fellowship with others of his age, for which he has longed.

The night before Mark left we had a special time of prayer together. Matthew (8) played a song for Mark on the piano to the tune of "God is so Good". He sang, "I love you Mark, I love you Mark, I love you Mark, I love you Mark." He did this spontaneously, which brought tears to many eyes. Mark hugged each one and said his goodbyes that night, since he would be leaving very early the next morning.

There is so much I could share about Mark that has happened over the last nineteen years, so many joys, and yes, difficult times too---so much I had to learn about being the mother of a teenage son. ...

Excerpts (text only) from MC45: 16 pages: PDF (0.8 MB): $9.99 U.S.

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The Mother's Companion Volume 4, Number 6

Sterilization: Does it Deliver?

Dear Helen,

Thank you for your informative, humble-tone newsletter. I read each issue eagerly because your newsletter meets a need no other publication I've read can. I have especially appreciated the Bible-focused, straight-forward articles addressing letting God have control of the number of children and child spacing. Your words have influenced me to prayerfully wrestle with a decision about our "family planning".

Here is a brief synopsis of our situation. I am 27 and my husband is 35. We've been married nine years and have 5 children (ages 7, 5, twins 3, and 16 months) I am currently expecting child number six. We also home school.

Recently, my husband and I made the decision to let God have control of our family. We do believe children are a gift, blessings, joys! However, I admit deep inside I have a fear. If our family continues to grow in the same pattern with a birth every 23 months or so, I could have 12 children by age 40. I also know my chances of having fraternal twins again are dramatically increased with subsequent pregnancies.

I know God isn't "out to break me". I am trying to trust completely my loving heavenly Father. But is it "common sense" to say at some point... "I can only handle "x" number of children and no more"? I am not morally or physically comfortable with any of the acceptable artificial birth control methods, but a tubal ligation at some point seems to be an "easy solution".

What do you think? If you were me how would you pray and seek God? I can't find any godly advice and would sincerely appreciate a brief response.

Your reader, J.B. Missouri

Should Christian couples consider sterilization?

It is clear from the letters I receive that many Christian couples are struggling with this and other birth control related issues. And it is also clear that they are often finding little by way of biblical counsel to assist them in making vital choices in this area today.

I have previously disclosed some of my personal odyssey relative to the broader topic of artificial birth control in the article, "God, Birth Control, and Me". Helen E. Aardsma, "God, Birth Control, and Me," The Mother's Companion 2.5 (September/October 1996): 1--4. That article, and the more recent "Woman to Woman", Helen E. Aardsma, "Woman to Woman," The Mother's Companion 4.2 (March/April 1998): 1--8. stand out as our most frequently ordered back issues by far---another indication that Christian couples are groping for biblical answers and godly advice in this area.

The present article is intended to provide additional information, by way of first-hand testimonials, to those couples who are seeking help with the question raised by J.B. in her letter: what about the option of sterilization through tubal ligation or vasectomy?

Couples consider sterilization for many reasons. As J.B. has shared, it seems such an easy solution. A simple surgery, and one's worries are over. No more uncomfortable pregnancies disrupting one's routine. No more difficult labors. No more worries about one's ability to cope. No more drain on one's physical beauty. No more contraceptive pills and devices. No more fears of genetic mishaps. Relief from the censure of adult peer groups: immediate family, church family, and the culture at large. Relief from the financial strains of bearing and rearing children. And the vision of uninterrupted sex "till death do us part" besides.

Up front, sterilization seems to promise so very much for so very little.

But does it keep its promises? ...

The Blessed Life

The first step into the Blessed Life is contained in the one word, consecration. It is enforced by the significant exhortation of the Apostle: "Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." (Romans vi: 13.)

It is not enough to give our time, or energy, or money. Many will gladly give anything, rather than themselves. None of these will be accounted as a sufficient substitute by Him who gave, not only His possessions, but His very Self for us. ...

Consecration is only possible when we give up our will about everything. As soon as we come to the point of giving ourselves to God, we are almost certain to become aware of the presence of one thing, if not of more, out of harmony with His will; and whilst we feel able to surrender ourselves in all other points, here we exercise reserve. Every room and cupboard in the house, with the exception of this, thrown open to the new occupant. Every limb in the body, but one, submitted to the practiced hand of the Good Physician. But that small reserve spoils the whole. To give ninety-nine parts and to withhold the hundredth undoes the whole transaction. ...

Special for the Holidays

Normally in this space I talk about home school, or share something special to make in the kitchen, or do a product review, or share a craft idea. This issue all four of these are, in one sense or another, rolled together into the following special article.

Sonya and Joe Contreras are special friends of our family. Sonya worked as a graduate student on a research project with Gerald in his lab before she and Joe were married, when we were living in California. We had Sonya (and eventually Joe) into our home a number of times, and a special mentor-mentoree relationship quickly developed.

Sonya is talented in a number of areas. She has added chuckles to my day on numerous occasions by her artful letters describing their homesteading adventures (and misadventures) in California. She writes open verse poetry, For a sample of Sonya's poetry see "Master of Security", The Mother's Companion 2.2 (March/April 1996): 3. gardens, bull-fights escaped steers (all 110 pounds of her) while carrying her baby on her hip, teaches home school, wards off scorpions and rattlesnakes, ... and works diligently at the art of living frugally so she and Joe can share with others in need. Sonya has four boys, and is due with baby number five in February.

About a year ago Sonya, Joe, and family dropped in for a brief visit. Sonya left a special, home-crafted present for us when they left, which is how the following invited article, from Sonya's typewriter, got its start.

Made In... Your Home!

It's the one thing that we can't live without (at least our neighbors wish we wouldn't) yet once we get it, we wash it down the drain. It's one thing that my boys need, especially behind their ears. Ahh, but the feeling of freshness and cleanness after the ordeal can take the pain out of sore muscles and weary bones!

The process of making it is like following a recipe---with some precautions. Nothing difficult, nor time-consuming, just a couple of minutes here and there throughout two days and then it's made for several months.

I guess I don't need to tell you that this thing we need is soap, but maybe you didn't know that you can easily make it yourself. ...

Timothy's Diary

With baby number ten just a few months away my milk supply is greatly diminished. Timothy has had to transition more and more to solid foods. He loves potatoes, eggs, cheese, milk, toast, apples, peanut butter, butter (straight from the butter dish to his mouth if he can get away with it), and spaghetti. He doesn't like onions, green peppers, or spicy foods---which is true of the rest of the family as well.

Timothy is wearing a size four now. I think he's going to be a big fellow! Gerald and I measured and weighed him the other day because Gerald couldn't remember any of our other children growing so fast. We found he is not off the charts, but he is right at the top of them for both height and weight. He is definitely in the "fast grower" category. And he definitely has a "fast grower" appetite! He eats about six meals per day. He is so hungry when he wakes up in the morning he can hardly wait for his homemade cream-of-wheat to cool enough to eat it. See recipe for homemade 100% whole grain cream-of-wheat in The Mother's Companion 3.1 (January/February 1997): 5. I add lots of milk and stir it all together. He is too hungry to use his spoon so he drinks it from his bowl!

I'm still nursing Timothy for his nap and at bedtime. This is our special time together, and nursing provides an easy way to put Timothy to sleep. He's happy to nurse even though there isn't much there. I get quite sore if he nurses for more than about a half hour, so I make sure he is tired and ready to go to sleep before we begin.

He doesn't nurse at night now---he gave this up on his own. I cut him back on nursing during the day because I was finding it just too painful. The idea of nursing Timothy during the day for shorter periods, but more frequently, has just been suggested to me as this issue goes to press. I plan to try this over the next while. Hopefully this will rebuild my milk supply while preventing soreness. This was easily done by offering him other foods instead of nursing. He didn't seem to mind too much. I would have liked to continue nursing him longer during the day. I usually weaned my other children at this point in my previous pregnancies, but they were all older---this is the shortest spacing between pregnancies I have had, with the result that Timothy is only twenty months old. I plan to nurse Timothy for sleep times until the next baby is born, if he doesn't wean himself before then. We'll see how things go from there. I'd like to give him the benefits of nursing until he is three if possible.

I am very pleased with Timothy's progress in the toilet-training department. I introduced the potty to Tim at about eighteen months. This seems to be the ideal age for most children. ...

At Our House

A Typical Day in Late Fall

Rise time 6:00 a.m. The sun is just peeping out above the horizon, and Saddleback, our family rooster, is there to welcome it. It looks like it will be another bright, and gloriously cool fall day.

I put water on to boil for cream-of-wheat and then wake up the children. No one jumps to my wake-up calls except Matthew (8), who is soon eagerly working from his math book at the living-room table. (He likes to finish his work early.) While the cream-of-wheat is cooking, everyone else lazily gets dressed and cleans their rooms. I dress the younger girls and do their hair.

Breakfast at 6:30. We are eating more hot cream-of-wheat and less granola now that the weather is getting colder.

Family devotions immediately after breakfast. Then a brief family meeting to discuss homestead work for the boys for the afternoon. (They do home school in the mornings until lunch.) I write the projects Gerald mentions on my clipboard list. Some discussion ensues. Should we butcher the remaining twenty-two chickens today or wait for another day? Stephen (17) and David (11) have yard work for some of their customers today, so we'll have to wait another day on the chickens.

Stephen (17) heads back to his room to do his school work. Laura (13) does the breakfast cleanup. Rebekah (6) helps clear the table. She sweeps the dining room floor and then gets a pile of books to read to Timothy (20 months) while Laura begins lunch preparation.

David (11) does chicken chores and then starts his school work. He comes to me to correct his work and with questions. I begin teaching Matthew (8), listening to him read and helping him with his workbooks. I correct each page as he completes it. Rachel (4) plays doctor's appointment or school at my feet. I spend a few minutes getting Timothy (20 months) interested in playing with some blocks on the floor, then head off to put some laundry in the machine. David (11) reads to me for a few minutes at the laundry machines before completing his workbook lessons.

At 10:00 I make a big bowl of popcorn for the children to eat outside. Everyone takes a short break, then it's back to work. ...

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