The Mother's Companion Volume 1, Number 1
Habits that Hinder
At our weekly family council meeting (where we have a quasi-democratic discussion of current family issues) my husband asked me to keep the radio completely off for one week. He even included my favorite program, "Focus on the Family". (He had recently begun to call this "Fracas in the Family", perhaps as a subtle hint regarding the impact my listening habits were having on our household.) He asked me to try it for one week and report my conclusions at our next family council. ...
From the Bookshelf
Don't Wake Up Mama is another Five Little Monkeys story by
Eileen Christelow (Clarion Books). ...
In the Kitchen
Here is one of our family's favorite homemade treats. It's great for birthdays and holidays. The recipe was given to me by Barbara Willis of Lakeside, California.
Caramel Corn ...
"I always buy three or four pair of stockings just alike for each of my
boys. This is a savings in both time and money. ...
Here are a few helpful words of advice from the book Let's Bring Them Up Sensibly by Mae Carden.
Cultivate [in your child]:
- An obliging quality which is the willingness to do for others
when the need is obvious or the request is made;
- A genial attitude which creates a pleasantness in social
What is "family devotions"?
Family devotions is a time set aside each day for the entire family to meet for Bible reading, discussion, and prayer. Usually these times are led by the father.
Our family meets for breakfast at 6:40 a.m. each weekday morning. As soon as we are all gathered at the table my husband reads some Scripture or other devotional material. (Just now, for example, we are reading from a ninety year old book called Religion in Homespun by F. B. Meyer.) He follows this with prayer for the matters of the day, thanking the Lord for the night's rest and a new day. This usually takes less than ten minutes. ...
by Leslie Pinckney Hill
Lord, who am I to teach the way
To little children day by day,
So prone myself to go astray?
At Our House
Well, we are on the move again!
This will be our tenth move in twenty years of marriage. My husband is leaving his job of eight years at the Institute for Creation Research. ...
About The Writer
I (Helen) am forty years old, and have been married for twenty years. ...
The Mother's Companion Volume 1, Number 2
A Time to Weep
[I first met Pam McDonald eight years ago, shortly after we had moved to California. I quickly discovered that we had many things in common: we both had larger than average families, even back then, and we both anticipated having more children. Our children were of comparable ages. We both home schooled, we both had home births, and we shared a common desire to please the Lord in our personal lives and through our families.
The following incidents took place after our friendship had grown for more than five years. They occasioned many heart wrenching emotions -- and a deeper bonding of soul to soul.
Find a quiet corner as you read the following true story. It was written by Pam only a few weeks after the events it describes. There is much here to meditate on: much to put our petty, routine annoyances into proper perspective; much to remind us we have much to be thankful for; much to help us grow and reach out to others.]
I could hardly wait for the birth of our seventh baby. I envisioned it much the same as our other home births; the waiting children all giggly and full of smiles, the rituals of making tea, changing bed linens, setting out the Crockpot with the olive oil and washcloths, the hard but exciting contractions and finally, the warm, wet, sweet babe in my hands and snuggled close to nurse and kiss and caress.
God had a different plan, however. At thirty-five weeks gestation, just as we were getting into the old "homestretch" and our anticipation was rising to full peak, my sweet baby stopped moving. No kicks, no jabs, no hiccups ...
Hide and Find
Here is a good game to play while the children are waiting for company to arrive, waiting to leave to go somewhere, or when you feel in the mood for a game that is simple and suitable for the whole family. ...
Children and Nature
The following quotation is from a book which was written nearly a century ago by Rev. F. B. Meyer called Religion In Homespun Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1904, pages 47-48.
One of the most necessary Conditions of Child-life is Acquaintance with Nature
If your home must necessarily be in the great city, you can grow plants in your rooms, have fish or birds, horses, rabbits, cats or dogs; you can walk in the parks and open spaces; you can arrange long happy rambles on Saturday afternoons, starting from some place outside the wilderness of brick, to which electric or steam cars shall have carried you." ...
Do your children like paper dolls? ...
At Our House
We had been on the road for a week and were finally nearing our destination -- our new home in Loda, Illinois. And I was beginning to feel a little nervous.
We had purchased this home (a double wide trailer and a single wide trailer together on one acre in a rural setting) sight unseen; we had worked from pictures sent to us in the mail. Economics, time constraints, and distance had dictated this mode of operation.
Now my mind filled with questions. Had we done the right thing? Would our new home be suitable to our needs? Would we be happy there? ...
The Mother's Companion Volume 1, Number 3
With the birth of my first child, Jennifer, (now eighteen) I encountered a curious and unexpected personal conflict. Looking back, I realize that the conflict really boiled down to a simple question of what constitutes true spiritual service in God's eyes. At the time, however, the problem seemed far from simple, and I struggled with its solution for some time. The problem presented itself most forcefully every Sunday morning.
Before I had children I was very active in my church. I was there just about every time the doors were open. I sat at the front and took notes on the sermon. At one time or another I taught a Sunday School class, sang in the choir, visited hospitals and nursing homes with other church members, and helped out in the church nursery. Whenever the pastor preached about our responsibility to be involved in Christian service, I felt good -- I was clearly doing my part.
Then I had Jennifer. Overnight my life was changed. I quickly found that mothering was a full time occupation, and then some. My discretionary time was suddenly drastically reduced. My mobility was hampered (I now had a baby to tote along). My concentration was necessarily divided, and frequently interrupted.
I felt that even my welcome was considerably lessened. Now when I went to church I had to sit at the back and be prepared for a quick exit should my baby start to fuss. The more my baby grew, the more frequent my exits became. In a few short months I found myself spending the bulk of my church time wandering the halls and parking lots -- happy, noisy baby in my arms, but a growing feeling of resentment in my heart. I felt like an outcast. ...
Recipe for Play Dough
Take a break from your housework and enjoy a fun time making this recipe with your children. They can help pick the color, mix the ingredients, and knead the dough. ...
What curriculum do you use in your home school?
Elementary Grades (K-8)
In the elementary grades I use a Mennonite curriculum called Rod and Staff Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc., Crockett, Kentucky 41413 (R & S) for teaching Reading. This is a straightforward, plain, inexpensive curriculum. ....
Mother is a Gardener
by Marjorie Cooney
Mother is a gardener, planting precious seeds.
Sowing for the Master, in loving, tender deeds. ...
Ten Traveling Tips
Here are some practical suggestions you may find helpful next time you have some extended car time with children. They worked well for me in our family's week-long move from California to Illinois in January.
Have a Walkman or other portable audio cassette player with ear phones for each child if possible. They can then play their own favorite tapes over and over and not drive everyone else crazy.
Have a different colored knapsack for each child to keep their things in (toys, books, crayons, snacks, cup, water container, change of clothes, sunglasses, audio tapes, Walkman, etc.) ...
At Our House
It's been a rainy spring here in central Illinois, and with the rain has come mud. Alas, the mud -- not only on the boots and shoes but in them too, and on the clothes, and on my rugs, and in the washing machine and bathtub when the water has drained.
But, oh, it's so beautiful here when the sun shines. The green grass; the budding trees; the fresh, clean country air; the peas peeking out of lush, black soil; the white laundry blowing on the line; the children skipping across the yard, or stopping to assemble a dandelion crown -- all conspire to wash away all thoughts of mud on a sunny day.
It will soon be Mother's Day. It's hard to believe this will be my twentieth. I can still remember my first Mother's Day quite vividly.
Most people didn't even know I was a mother at church that day. I was still keeping it a secret -- our first child's birth was still a half-year away.
Years earlier I had daydreamed of how I would inform my future husband that we were going to have a baby -- the candles, the lovely meal, and then the news, "Darling (sigh), we're going to have a baby." ...
The Mother's Companion Volume 1, Number 4
A Crown of Glory
"A gray head is a crown of glory; it is found in the way of righteousness." (Proverbs 16:31).
I love to meet new people of all ages, but it is always a special treat getting to know older women whose families are grown. They harbor such a wealth of experience. It is a privilege to learn from them; to compare their mothering methods with mine; to see today in the light of yesterday.
Mrs. Florence Weaver is the mother-in-law of my new Illinois friend, Erika. Mrs. Weaver is an eighty-four year old mother of seven, grandmother of seventeen, and great-grandmother of twenty. I had greatly anticipated meeting Mrs. Weaver. I was not disappointed.
Erika was hostess. The guests were Mrs. Weaver, myself, and baby Rachel. Despite failing eyesight, Mrs. Weaver, a petite woman with lovely white hair, had prepared herself quite becomingly for our visit. The lake, which Erika's home borders, was serene; the food was sumptuous (generously portioned homemade black-bottom pie and apple cake doused with real whipped cream); and the company nothing short of delightful. We chatted as Rachel played with Erika's measuring cup on the floor at my feet.
Helen: Mrs. Weaver, I understand you had seven children all together, and one of your children is dead. Can you tell me about the child that died?
Mrs. Weaver: I was pregnant with my seventh child and close to having the baby. I was coming out of a store and I tripped and fell over the step. They rushed me to the hospital and took the baby by Cesarean section. The baby had brain damage due to the fall. He died when he was seventeen years old.
I almost bled to death. I've never told anyone this before but the doctor gave me a blood transfusion from his own body to save my life. They didn't have blood banks and such things in those days. That's the kind of people we had back then, they really cared about people. ...
When rocking my little ones to sleep at night, I sometimes sing them this song to the tune of "Are You Sleeping, Brother John."
Do your children help with work around the house? Do you pay them for their work? What system do you use to organize your housework?
Yes, my children help with the housework. They also help with most other work that needs doing around the homestead. They begin to do regularly assigned jobs when they reach age five. ...
At Our House
I fear many people have a very idealistic view about homesteading today. The "back-to-nature" movement of the late 60's and early 70's did much to promote the idea that nature is naturally good and all its workings are pleasant and harmonious when left to themselves. Experience soon shows otherwise. ...
As spring has turned to summer, my thoughts and prayers have often turned to my sister in the Lord, Sharyn Manning, who has been fighting a serious battle with bone cancer. Sharyn has four children, the youngest two being home schooled teens. I would like to dedicate this issue of the newsletter to her. ...
The Mother's Companion Volume 1, Number 5
The children are finally asleep! A quick pick up around the house, and to the computer for some uninterrupted writing. Ah yes, the article on the joys of babies. This is going to be fun.
Several sentences already---my thoughts are spilling over like popcorn from a hot-air popper tonight. Oh dear, is that baby Rachel crying? OK, save the file, shut down the computer.
Hi baby, here's mama. Come nurse to sleep in the rocking chair again while mama reads her book. Great book this---what a fascinating life this lady led. Things sure were different back then. (reading...)
Baby finally asleep! Then in bed you go baby, and I'm off to the computer again.
OK, where was I? Oh yes, the part about the sacrifices and responsibilities. Boy, no writer's block tonight---my thoughts are running faster than I can type. This is great. I love writing so much. (Whaaaa!) Oh, come on Rachel. What is your problem tonight? You never do this. Shut the computer down again. ...
Just to Be Needed
by Mary Eversley
"She always seems so tied" is what friends say;
She never has a chance to get away.
Home, husband, children, duties great or small,
Keep her forever at their beck and call. ...
In the Kitchen
Our family enjoys homemade yogurt. I find it fun and rewarding to make, and doing so can serve as a good science or home economics project for the whole family to participate in. The end result is a nutritious, money-saving treat.
Homemade Yogurt Recipe and Directions ...
How do you buy all the clothing for your large family without going broke?
I learned how to dress well for less from my mother-in-law (before I was even married)---shop the thrift stores.
Mom Aardsma always looked like she was dressed from Nordstrom. No one could believe, and most never knew that she did it for pennies. (She was smart; she just took the compliments with a smile. She never said, "Well, I only paid seventy-five cents for this Dior dress from the Salvation Army.")
Here are a few additional tips. ...
At Our House
Soon after we had moved to Illinois from California we invited Gerald's brother and family (wife and two children) who live in Virginia to come spend some time with us. Our respective families had been separated by a continent for nine years. We mutually agreed to the second week of August as a vacation for both families at our homestead. We looked forward to their visit with great anticipation.
About a week and a half before their arrival date, we began to gear up to do a number of cosmetic projects around the house, plus a major cleaning in preparation for their six-day visit. I planned to purchase some sheets at the local thrift shop, dye them and make some balloon type curtains for the living room, dining room and kitchen. We had taken up the carpet in our bathroom a few weeks previously (can you imagine carpet in a bathroom with eight children?) and Mark (16) was scheduled to paint the now bare plywood with some left-over porch paint we had brought with us from California. Meanwhile, I was up to my ears canning beans and dill pickles; I planned to get much of that harvest processed before their visit. I also planned to finish preparing two workshops I will be presenting this fall at the Indianapolis Hearts at Home conference, and get my outlines in to the conference organizers. All in all we had a pretty long to-do list, but as I prepared the children for bed Saturday night I was relaxed---we had a week to get everything done.
Then Gerald came in with a curious smile on his face. He relayed a message he had just heard on the answering machine---our relatives would be arriving in the morning! ....
The Mother's Companion Volume 1, Number 6
Thanksgiving---Then and Now
I purchased the smallest pre-basted turkey I could find, stove-top stuffing, pumpkin pie mix, whipped cream in a spray can, Brown-n-Serve rolls, Sparklin' Cider, and all the trimmings. This was our first Thanksgiving as newlyweds. We would celebrate it alone, but so happily together in our little apartment next to the university.
Preparations went smoothly. Gerald studied for classes as I made the pie and cooked the turkey. Our little table looked lovely with its spotless table cloth, two matching place settings (from my hope chest), candles, and ornamental gourds. I slipped the rolls into the oven just before we sat down to our private little banquet together. We bowed our heads and gave thanks to the Lord from our hearts for our new home and our blossoming love. ...
In the Kitchen
Recipe: Angel Biscuits (Made With Yeast)
Every time I have used the following angel biscuits recipe with company they have taken a copy of it home with them. I like it not only because the biscuits are so yummy, but also because the dough can be made up ahead of time and stored covered in the refrigerator for one to two weeks. Because the dough keeps so well in the refrigerator you can just bake what you need, which makes it convenient for families large or small. ...
How to Make Yummy Pumpkin Seeds
Our pumpkin patch was a great success this year. We planted two varieties, Early Sugar and Jack O'Lantern. From a seventeen foot row of each we harvested dozens of pumpkins, big and small. I processed many of these after the first fall frost had killed the vines, freezing the cooked flesh for pies, muffins, and cookies over the next year, and turning the seeds into a special treat our family really enjoys. ...
A Christmas Memory
One Christmas season when Jennifer was around six or seven she wanted a real Christmas tree very badly. Gerald said no. We were students at the time, living below the poverty line, and we simply couldn't afford the luxury of a real tree. We had an artificial tree which we had bought when we were first married. We had used it each year since, and Gerald said it would do just fine once again. ...
Five Holiday Tips
The day after Thanksgiving, sales are usually excellent. This is a good time to purchase candy and stocking stuffers. Read the ads ahead of time, compile your list, plan your route, and start early. ...
Ten Books for the Holidays
We try to set aside some extra time to read to our children each holiday season. These are special events in our home, usually scheduled for the hour before bedtime. Daddy reads while the children munch popcorn or snickerdoodles and sip hot chocolate.
We also find that books make excellent Christmas presents; they expand the family library and are read and reread not only by the original recipient of the gift but also by the younger children as their reading tastes mature.
Here is a list of ten books, suitable to the holiday season, which our family has come to enjoy. They are listed in order of age suitability, from younger to older. ...
At Our House
The late fall is a busy time for farmin' folks in the midwest. Combines crawl across the fields, filling trucks and grain wagons to the brim with corn and soybeans. Town grain elevators bustle with renewed activity. Workdays are long.
We have been pretty busy with our little harvest and preparations for the impending winter too.
Once Jennifer left for college, our van was finally home long enough for Mark and Gerald to do some serious repairs on it. The automatic transmission had needed attention for over a year. It was very slow and somewhat erratic about shifting into first from neutral or reverse. This didn't create any problem while driving on the road---but did create some embarrassing situations in parking lots. ...