24 Days of Giving

It’s almost that time of year again!  Our family tradition of doing a giving thing every day for 24 days!  Starting December 1st, we’ll be picking things off of this list to give every single day.  We hope you’ll join in and do your own giving throughout the month!  It’ll be hard to top last year, we had some AMAZING giving opportunities last year!  But we are so excited for this year and know that God will bless our efforts!  Here is a list of completely random ideas!…

-Pick up a messy toy aisle at a store.

-Put Gospel Tracts and a handwritten note on cars in a parking lot.

-Put DVD’s on windows of cars in a parking lot.

-Write notes to neighbors that have nice lights displays telling them you enjoy seeing their display.

-Exercise to earn clean water for orphans.

-Do a giving thing for our tenant and children at rental property.

-Pick out some of your toys to give away to other children nearby.

-Donate Action Packs to Voice of the Martyrs for persecuted Christians.

-Leave $1 near an item at the dollar store.

-Take cookies to police or firemen.

-Leave a sidewalk chalk message on a neighbors sidewalk.

-Pick weeds for a neighbor and sweep their sidewalks.

-Leave the mail carrier a gift.

-Give a gift or treat to the trash truck driver.

-Hand a nice note to a cashier at a store.

-Give drinks to construction workers.

-Send a care package to a soldier.

-Buy a meal for a Veteran

-Buy a beverage for a Salvation Army bell ringer.

-Send a gift to a child in the hospital.

-Offer help (babysitting or a meal) to a special needs family.

-Take a meal to someone in need.

-Leave a gas card and note in the credit card slot at a gas station pump.

-Find a dirty car and leave a car wash certificate on it.

-Tip larger than normal at a restaurant.

-Give a grocery store gift card to someone.

-Bake goodies for neighbors.

-Leave candy and a note on a public bathroom mirror.

-Doorbell and ditch a treat.

-Leave random kind notes on cars in parking lots.

-Leave a note and $5 gift card on someone’s car at church.

-Leave a note and quarters at a laundromat.

-Order dinner for a friend and have it delivered to them.

-Send a friend or family member an old photo or memory.

-Mail a Christmas card to a prisoner.

-Clean an elderly person’s home or someone who just had a baby.

-Go caroling dressed like Christmas presents and take treats to give

-Go caroling at a nursing home and take gifts (fleece blankets are a hit)

-Send a gift to someone who might be lonely this Christmas.

-Children can make or buy goodies for Dada’s co-workers.

-Send a note or gift to a widow.

-Give a gift or treat to a single mom.

-Donate baby gear and/ or diapers to a Crisis Pregnancy Center.

-Buy a goat, chicken, or mosquito nets for children in Restore International program.

-Buy a goat, chicken, or mosquito net for children through Compassion International.

-Do one nice thing for each family member.

-Give a gift or treat to someone who has lost a loved one and still grieving.

-Pray for people before sending off a Christmas card to them.

-Donate to Women At Risk International to fight human sex trafficking..

-Pack an Operation Christmas shoebox.

-Donate to A Child’s Hope Int’l to fight world hunger.

-Make homemade ornaments out of last year’s Christmas cards and give them away.

-Act out the Bible Nativity story with your children and some of their friends (maybe even be willing to do it in a public place!).

-Mail a card and/or treat to a missionary.

-Pick up trash at a park.

-Make special crafts for the elderly and take it to them, even if just elderly people at your church.

-Leave 50 cents and a note on a toy ride-on machine in the entry way of Wal-Mart.

-Leave note and change on a vending machine.

-Buy Bibles for people in China.

-Give a gift to someone and tell them they have to give away half of it, just so that they can experience the joy of giving.


10 Years of Vaccine Research

Sha-ZAM, this reseacher nailed it! So many powerful points she makes! Whoa!

In case you don’t click on over, these are my favorite points from her article

4. Vaccines are not mandatory for school.
Why oh why is this still not common knowledge? The greatest myth of all myths within the vaccination world (besides the myth of herd immunity) is making vaccines seem like they are mandatory for a child to receive an education. As if. But how crafty. First we are going to create “well-baby” visits, where you are “required” to bring your “well” baby to a sick place at 2 months, 4, 6, 12, 15, 18 months… for what? To tell a parent how much their baby weighs? No, the joke’s on us. Why aren’t they called “shot visits”.  And when the 2 month shots give the baby chronic constipation and reflux, then at the 4 month visit, the baby can get more shots and a prescription to help with the 2 month shot side effects.  These “well-baby” visits (part of our healthcare system) have nothing to do with health, nothing on breastfeeding, proper nutrition, etc… Just scheduled visits, so that these babies have now conveniently grown up to meet the “requirements” they need to go to school.

I’ve written oh-so-many posts on this topic, the latest being Shots Are NOT Mandatory for School. Please parents…know at least this…your child CAN go to school regardless of whether they have received all 49 doses of 14 vaccines before your child reaches the age of six (which is roughly 12 times higher than the number of vaccines administered to children back in 1940). Your child can also go to school whether they have received NO shots, or even if they have received a modified/delayed schedule (still not compliant with the “CDC recommended schedule”), your child CAN go to school. The word “mandated” does not mean mandatory. See there is this thing called exemption. Know your rights. Know your state’s exemption laws. Find them HERE. The fact that vaccines have to be mandated is a sign of their failure. Because if they were truly safe and effective – guess what? We’d alllllllll be lined up. No need to mandate. I’d be the first person lined up with my children. Who doesn’t want to keep their children safe and healthy from “vaccine preventable diseases?”

Since when are we so brainwashed as a people, that we can’t even see truth for what it is? YES, Vaccines CAN & DO cause harm and injury. #cdcwhistleblower. Wake-up people! And rock on Thinking Moms Revolution. You guys have my heart!

Dr. Andrew Wakefiled… “To the parents I would say, trust your instinct above all else. When considering how to vaccinate your children, read, get educated, and demand fully informed consent and answers to your questions. When you are stonewalled or these answers are not to your satisfaction, trust your instinct. I say this as someone who has studied and engaged in the science and who has become aware of the limitations of our knowledge and understanding of vaccine safety issues.”  Trust your maternal instinct on vaccines.

Every single day for the past 10 years I have watched maternal instinct get stripped from mothers. One. well. baby. visit. at. a. time.
Guess what? NO ONE. Even well meaning doctors and family members who love your kids like their own, NO ONE has maternal instinct like a mother. DON’T IGNORE IT!

Every day, instinct is being stripped from mothers. I hear the stories. I get the emails. I get the desperate letters filled with shame and guilt and the “what-ifs”. If I could only give mothers one piece of advice, it would be: FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCT. Sometimes instinct comes in a still small voice, other times it’s an overwhelming feeling…but as mothers we know. We know. Follow your instinct. If something is telling you vaccines aren’t safe, follow your instinct. If something is telling you your child reacted oddly after the first round of shots, follow your instinct. No one else knows your child better than you. And at the end of the day, the only person who will answer for your child is you.

And we can continue to blame every outbreak on that teeny tiny small percent of unvaccinated children (don’t worry about the adult population that hasn’t been vaccinated in years). Does herd immunity only apply to children at the age in which “well baby visits” are scheduled and getting an education “requires” shots? How convenient. You can read more here about the Myth of Herd Immunity. (This is one of my most “loved”/hated posts ever).

Oh hey, did you know that the CDC did a study on parents who don’t vaccinate? They event published it in the Journal of Pediatrics. Here’s what they found: children who hadn’t received any shots at all tended to come from educated families with high incomes. The study ended saying: ”It’s an excellent example of how more education and awareness translates to better health. Parents are gradually waking up to the dangers of vaccines. Those who have a university education and a well paid job, are in a better position to research vaccinations and know their rights. Education is power and they and those most invested in health and research are most likely to avoid vaccinations at all costs, a trend that is welcome and timely for future generations”.  -Dr. Mihalovicis a Naturopathic Doctor who specializes in vaccine research

Vaccines DO cause injury despite what you may think… “there’s this thing called vaccine-injury. Hello National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (that title alone points to fact that vaccines can injure children) in 1986. This released all manufacturers and administers of vaccines from ALL liability from any injury caused by a vaccine. Ever heard of VAERS? Our governments database on vaccine injury claims.  Our government has awarded over $2 BILLION dollars to vaccine injured children, paid out in vaccine court. Did you know there was vaccine court? Only 1% of actually cases even make it there. Did you know there was a Vaccine Injury Compensation Program?”

Did you know the current vaccine schedule has NEVER been tested? Not for safety or efficacy? Did you know that the combined doses of vaccines we give infants has NEVER once been tested for safety either? Yikes! That’s a lot of untested vaccines we are giving this generation of children. In fact, according to a Harvard study, we are the most highly vaccinated population in history, yet we are sicker than ever before. Is This The Best We Can Offer?

If you WANT to believe in vaccines, all you have to do is turn on the tv, open a parenting magazine, visit the CDC website, or take your baby to a “well baby visit” to find the answer you are looking for. Finding truth takes a willingness to be openminded enough to consider that maybe not everything we are told is true. Finding truth takes dedication and diligence. Not everyone wants to do that.

The time you put in to researching cribs and carseats and planning your nursery, put that same time and more into what you will be injecting into your baby starting when they are just a few hours old and for the first year of their life.

And if me sharing this information makes me “anti-vaccine”, then so be it. Educated, informed, thinking moms call it called something else. We call it…..informed consent. A choice. Imagine that? Being truly informed so that you can make an educated decision. Why aren’t we called “Pro-Think-for-Yourself?” Think about it. We have chosen to believe in a mindset that goes AGAINST what we are told to believe in. Last time I checked, that’s the not the easiest or most popular road to take. Going against the status quo involves a conscious decision. A decision that goes against what is considered “acceptable” and “right” and involves a mindset that is aware, well researched,  and confident. Every mother wants to protect her child. Even the educated mother who chooses not to vaccinate. Yep, that decision was made to protect her child. Thank God for choice.
This is why the topic will continue to be a debate. Because vaccines aren’t about choice. They are a bullying, scare tactic, propaganda, fear driven mandate, given with NO informed consent. Ever read a vaccine package insert?

Top 10 Vaccine Resources (a simple list to get you started on research):

1. Package Inserts. Who knew? Who knew a product that has been declared “unavoidably unsafe” would also come with package inserts that state that “adverse events reported during post-approval use of Tripedia vaccine include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, SIDS, anaphylactic reaction, cellulitis, autism, convulsion/grand mal convulsion, encephalopathy, hypotonia, neuropathy, somnolence and apnea. Events were included in this list because of the seriousness or frequency of reporting”

5. Vaccine Illusion. Written by a Harvard PhD immunologist. I love her forword: “I never imagined myself in this position, least so in the very beginning of my Ph.D. research training in immunology. In fact, at that time, I was very enthusiastic about the concept of vaccination, just like any typical immunologist. However, after years of doing research in immunology, observing scientific activities of my superiors, and analyzing vaccine issues, I realized that vaccination is one of the most deceptive inventions the science could ever convince the world to accept”

10. The Thinking Moms Revolution Book. Should be a pre-requisite read before having a baby. Go buy it. Now.


Measles, Vaccines, and Childhood Cancer

This is a post from Thinking Moms Revolution (many more great articles on their website!)

“I read with great interest the recent ‘measles epidemic’ articles that addressed the vaccine debate from the point of view of a cancer parent. My interest is the result of being a cancer parent myself – my little girl has been battling leukemia on and off for the past 10 years. I read these articles, and I became angry. Very, very angry. Once again, the government and drug companies are exploiting the plight of children stricken by cancer to achieve a profit-driven end without actually helping them. In fact, this profitable end could cause great harm, even increasing the rates of pediatric leukemia, if their obvious goal of a federally mandated vaccination protocol is achieved. I am a seasoned Momcologist, a term the research-driven cancer parents call themselves.  We are the cancer equivalent of  Thinking Moms, critical thinkers. I have done extensive reading on the etiology of leukemia, its connection to autoimmune disease, and how vaccines and natural disease may influence these sorts of childhood illnesses. Come connect the dots with me.

Clearly, I empathize with the raw fear the parents in these articles have that their children may contract an illness that could be devastating to their immunocompromised children. I have walked for years in their shoes. I get it. However, the parents in these articles are either grossly misinformed, or their comments have been edited with bias. Let’s get some facts straight about cancer treatment and infection. One of the first things we were warned about after my daughter’s diagnosis was live-virus vaccination. No one in the family was to receive a live-virus vaccine while my daughter was on treatment because these viruses can and do shed (1, 2, 3, 4), some for as much as four weeks (5), potentially infecting the immunocompromised patient with disastrous results. That includes the measles vaccine  (MMR II and ProQuad), the intranasal flu vaccine, and the chicken pox shot. In fact, my other children were able to get medical waivers not to receive vaccines because of my daughter’s illness. I know my child is much more likely to encounter a peer at school who has been recently vaccinated with a live-virus vaccine than she is to encounter natural disease from an unvaccinated child.

If my child were at a stage of treatment in which she was very immunocompromised, she would not be in school. My daughter missed most of fourth grade and a good portion of fifth, not because she was so sick, but because others were sick. Despite a nearly 100% vaccine compliance rate at our school, there were regular outbreaks of shingles, occurring after chicken pox vaccine boosters, influenza and other illnesses. Please note that, even in areas in which vaccine compliance is extremely high, there are still outbreaks of disease that are not caused by the unvaccinated (6).

The most deadly threats for a child during intensive cancer treatment lie right within his or her own body. Immunocompromised pediatric cancer patients are far more likely to die from opportunistic infections that originate from overgrowths of fungi, mold and bacteria(7) than they are from vaccine-related viral infections.  When I searched to find the last recorded incidence of a child dying of measles (because that is the hated disease du jour) while undergoing cancer treatment, well, I couldn’t find one.  I did, however, find at least one death in the immunocompromised from the measles vaccine (8), with no indication of when it or they occurred. There hasn’t been a recorded death in the U.S. from measles in the past 10 years. (9) In fact, measles infection may actually be curative of some blood cancers (10, 11), presumably by initiating normal immune system defenses.  The measles virus as an actual treatment has also been explored in other malignancies (12, 13).

There is evidence that the “hygiene theory” of the immune system may have some relevance to to vaccines. It has been found that more “hygienic” populations, i.e. kids who have had fewer exposures to everyday germs, are at higher risk for some illnesses. The idea being that the immune system needs to “learn” how to respond appropriately by coming in contact with common bugs in order to develop properly.  Industrialized countries that have a decrease in infectious burden over less developed nations nevertheless show an increase in allergies and autoimmune disease.  “The leading idea is that some infectious agents — notably those that co-evolved with us — are able to protect us against a large spectrum of immune-related disorders.” (14) Are we trading benign, transient illnesses that were once considered normal childhood rites of passage, illnesses that appear to be protective for more serious disease, for a lifetime of chronic illness, even death?

A discussion of the peculiarities of leukemia is in order, its relationship to the immune system, and the and the idea that vaccines can act as a possible trigger for the cancer itself. Leukemia begins with the development of immature white blood cells in the bone marrow, when one of these baby white blood cells mutates into an abnormal, leukemic cell. The more actively the body produces white blood cells (which are infection-fighting cells), therefore, the higher the risk of mutation. This is the explanation given for  increases in the incidence of leukemia after a flu virus passes through an area (15), and why children who exhibit hyper-stimulated immune responses in the form of asthma and eczema also have increased risk for leukemia (16). It may seem contradictory to discuss infection as a preventative for leukemia when applying the hygiene hypothesis, while also pointing to infection as a cause.  It’s apparently all about the maturity and status of the immune system.  “Timing is critical, as early infections are likely to positively modulate the immune system thereby reducing risk of leukemia, whereas later infections in children whose immune system was less well modulated may increase such risk.” (17)

Time to stop and connect more dots.  What are American children exposed to that deliberately hyper-stimulate the immune system? Vaccines. Our children are subjected to an incredibly aggressive vaccine schedule, the likes of which no other country sees, from the day they are born (and we have the highest first-day infant death rate of any first-world country, by the way) (18). Could we actually be triggering leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer, with these vaccines? Particularly when we give them to children who already show signs of abnormal immune response?

Vaccines are not calibrated by weight or age or health-risk factors; potency levels of vaccines are standardized (19), which may cause hyper-stimulation for a child with a highly sensitive immune system.  Isn’t it interesting that less industrial countries have lower rates of autoimmune disease,  yet when those kids come to industrialized countries, in one generation they match our rates? (20) Could this possibly be related to the fact that these immigrants are required to submit to more aggressive vaccine schedules?

Acute lymphocytic leukemia is also less common in third-world countries, despite their children’s otherwise more debilitated state.  Children in industrialized nations experience a sharp rise in leukemia between two and six years of the age, the vaccine years, which does not occur in less developed nations. (21)

It is so very obvious that this potential connection requires exploration, yet the only studies to be found merely compare leukemia in more vaccinated to less vaccinated kids. The data from children who are completely unvaccinated is critical in uncovering the true reality of overall pediatric health.  We may very well find many interesting discoveries. Read this study from Germany (22), for example, which shows less acute and serious chronic illness overall for unvaccinated children, though they did not include childhood cancer. Why are we merely chasing a cure when a likely cause is sitting right under our noses?

One word: Profit. As of 1988, vaccine makers and the doctors who administer vaccines bear no liability for vaccine injury (23). They cannot be held accountable by law for adverse events from vaccination. In fact, the entire adverse event reporting system (VAERS) is voluntary! This means that the more aggressive our vaccine schedule, the more profitable it is for vaccine makers. But what about the Centers for Disease Control, don’t they direct the vaccines our children really need? Please note that the CDC uses worldwide disease data to formulate our policies, which makes no sense at all. How could one possibly compare a malnourished child living in unsanitary conditions and subsequently exposed to illness to a child exposed to that same illness in a first-world country? I invite parents to take a look at the resumes of some of the heads of pharmaceutical companies and members of the CDC like this one (24). One can very clearly see those in charge of vaccine policy have a dangerous conflict of interest with those who profit from that policy. Remember, pharmaceutical companies contributed $34 million dollars in campaign funds in 2014  (25). It would behoove anyone attempting office these days to err on the side of ‘big pharma.’

I must add additional comment about parental trust in the government as it concerns our cancer kids.  Once parents recover from a cancer diagnosis, they have a strong desire to  help their children – to participate in activism in some way.  It is then they discover a disturbing reality about the state of pediatric cancer research and funding: In a united front, the major cancer fundraising organizations, our government, and the pharmaceutical industry ignore pediatric cancer. Why? First, kids don’t vote.  Second, kids don’t get cancer in rates high enough to warrant good profit returns. There has not been a novel drug developed for the treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, in 20 years (26). Oncologists are forced to use the same horridly harmful chemotherapy and radiation; the only variability in protocols is in the combinations, dosages and timing of the same archaic drugs. And while ‘cure’ rates have increased, childhood cancer incidence is still on the rise (27).  Over and over again, however, these organizations will exploit the pitiful stories and pictures of our kids to tug heartstrings and solicit funding.  The National Cancer Institute directs a pittance (4%) at pediatric cancer research versus other, more common and profitable, cancers (28).  When  will health research be directed by the needs of the people rather than the greed of corporations?

If any parent wants their child to be safe from preventable illness, it is a cancer parent. Yet I also stand with scores of cancer parents who have seen their children become stricken with leukemia shortly after vaccination.  My little girl?  She was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after her pediatrician “caught her up” on her shots almost 10 years ago.  That “catch up” schedule matches the regular schedule for a toddler today.  Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to untangle true childhood cancer statistics or ‘cure’ (as in survival) rates (29).  The SEER database includes only five states and ten cities in the U.S., and one cannot readily backtrack to the time before the mad rush of vaccines. (30)

It is time to ask the hard questions for the sake of our children.  Are we actually causing leukemia and other childhood illnesses with these vaccines?  Could we even prevent leukemia by allowing natural disease?  The current measles “scare” is clearly a push for a federally mandated vaccine program.  Measles is highly contagious, yes, but benign (even potentially helpful) for the vast majority in a first-world country. If the current vaccine schedule could be harming our children, what will happen when pharmaceutical companies are given carte blanche?  Do we really want to relinquish our parental rights to a government that has shown itself to be both corrupt and callous in their treatment of our cancer kids?  What data is critical to either prove, or disprove, the hypothesis that vaccines can lead to increased chronic disease, particularly those related to the immune system like leukemia?  An independent study of the overall health of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children must be undertaken.  It is past time to finish connecting the dots to reveal the true picture of vaccines and childhood cancer.   Though it is too late for my vaccine-injured daughter, this Momcologist stands against vaccine mandates, for the health of future children.

~ Jean Ghantous

2014 Goals

Oh me, oh my.  Just have baby #5 and watch your goals slide to the back burner!  It’s totally okay though, babies are way more important!  Here are my results on my 2014 goals (posting a little early so I can clear my head to start thinking about 2015 goals)…

Mothering/ Marriage/ Homemaking:
Make a Proverbs list.  We got half-way through this, which has been great though!

One handwritten note per month to someone in family (husband, child).  Done each month!

Two read-a-loud chapter books per month with older children.  We completed 24 this year!

Bible with children- Read at mealtimes, Continue to add new memory verses, Read Bible story book and role play.  We’re working through Proverbs.  We’re still adding new Bible memory verses often.  And we finished  101 Favorite Stories from the Bible.  So we hit this goal!

Do at least 25 Children’s Crafts/ Activities with my children.  My children really like doing crafts so I want to make sure I do this for them.  We have done 54 crafts this year!  Some were super easy though.  We might have a couple more before the year is over.

Every Saturday, have a planning session for each day of next week.  Done.

Personal Growth:
Read 1/2 the Bible- I actually finished the entire KJV Bible this year, my fourth time to read completely through it!  Amazing!!  God is absolutely amazing!

Read 24 books- I’ve read 52 books so far this year and am nearing the end of 3 more!  So 55 most likely!  This is huge, I’m so excited about this one!  I’ve learned and grown so much because of the books I’ve read!  (But before you think I’m super-woman, 20 of these have been e-books, which are shorter than regular paperback books).  🙂

Record 1,000 Gifts- things I’m thankful for.  I’ve recorded 1,820 things I’m thankful for so far this year!

Try to live more minimalist and keep clutter to a minimum by getting rid of 7 things per week.  I stopped counting but I did do pretty good with this.  Just made a large thrift store drop-off the other day.  My hubby would say though that I need to work on this one some more. 

Pray genuinely for the needs of others at a set time each week (10 minutes, morning time).  I’ve got a prayer wall with lots of people’s names and needs from around the world up on the wall going up our stairs!  Yes, kept up on this for the most part.  So neat that my children’s eyes are being opened to needs all around the world.  And oh my, do you get icommittopray.com emails?  Oh my heart, such huge needs for prayer for persecuted Christians around the world.  I recommend signing up and praying for those that are being beaten, burned, displaced, and murdered for the name of Christ.  Even now, in our day and age.  It’s horrific.  And the least I can do is pray.

Pass out gospel tracts at least twice per month.  Finally more in the habit of this!  I keep some handy and the children each leave some throughout stores when we go out!

Pray for the entire world using online calendarDid this!

Do 3 months no sugar.  I’m still allowed to have my natural sweeteners- honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and coconut sugar.  I use no other sweeteners.  Done in Jan/ Feb/ March.

Do a separate 3 months with only 1 sugar insult per week- Did this for April/ May/ June.

15 salads per month- I’ve hit this goal every single month, and them some!  Yah!!  This was such an awesome goal, I’m so glad I did it!!  I now crave my salads and want them more than 15 times per month!

Briskly walk on treadmill (or outside) at least 4 times each week for at least 49 weeks of the year, at least 30 minutes each session.  October and November were my not-so-good months.  I only exercised 7 times in October and 12 times in November.  But with a newborn, I just didn’t make time for it.  I did hit this goal all other months though and am on track to hit this goal in December.

You ready to set 2015 goals???  I’m excited to do so but am also prepared to lower the bar since I have five children now!

What Do You Have Against Santa?

Re-posting this from last year…

I have a few issues with the “Santa game,” here are some of the main points.

What do I have against Santa?
-It takes away from Jesus.  The focus of this time of year should be on Jesus.  He should get ALL the attention, it’s HIS birthday.

-Telling our children that Santa brings them gifts and all the stories that go with that (reindeer, chimneys, milk and cookies, North Pole, elves, etc) are fun, but they are lies, Santa isn’t real.  When is it okay to lie?  Especially to our children.

-And for some children when they get a little older and learn that Santa is not real can feel deceived by their parents and have a sense of mistrust.  By this time we have told them dozens of lies to cover up the fact that Santa is not real.  I don’t ever want my children to wonder when I’m telling the truth and when I’m “fibbing” to them.  I want them to know Mama will always tell them things that are true only.  This builds a solid tower of trust.  When they discover that I’ve lied to them about Santa, will they also think I’ve lied to them about Jesus walking on water?

-I want my children to know that I got them those gifts, that I handpicked them out of my love for them.  They are tokens of my special love for my child.  They are not from a magical man with unending resources, this breeds the “gimme’s.”  Their gifts (and the handwritten special note I always include for each child) that are laid out for them on Christmas morning are from Dada and Mama out of love for them.  Santa can’t make my children feel as loved and special as I can.

I’m definitely not a Scrooge, I know that the whole Santa story is all fun and games.  But let’s be truthful with our children, let’s tell our children it’s “all fun and games,” “it’s just a pretend story for fun,” “it’s not really real.”

Keep Jesus the focus of the season!

Here’s an article I liked:

Question: “What should parents tell their children about Santa Claus?”

Answer: Although Santa Claus is a mythical figure, his creation is based in part on a great Christian man named Saint Nicholas of Myra, who lived in the 4th century. Nicholas was born to Christian parents who left him an inheritance when they died, which he distributed to the poor. He became a priest at a young age and was well-known for his compassion and generosity. He had a reputation for giving gifts anonymously, and he would throw bags of money into people’s homes (and sometimes down their chimneys) under the cover of night to avoid being spotted.  Nicholas passed away on December 6 sometime around the 340s or 350s AD, and the day of his death became an annual feast in which children would put out food for Nicholas and straw for his donkey.

Many Christian parents are torn as to whether or not they should play the “Santa game” with their children.  The focus of Christmas should be on Jesus Christ and how much He has already given us.

Parents need to use their own judgment in deciding whether or not to include Santa during the holidays, but here are some things to consider: Children who believe that the gifts they receive Christmas morning are from a magical man with unending resources are less likely to appreciate what they have been given, and the sacrifices their parents make in providing them. Greed and materialism can overshadow the holiday season, which is meant to be about giving, loving, and worshiping God. Children whose parents are on a tight budget may feel that they have been overlooked by Santa, or even worse, deemed one of the “bad” boys or girls.

An even more troubling aspect of telling our children that Santa comes down the chimney each year to leave their gifts is that it is, obviously, a lie. We live in a society that believes that lying for the “right” reason is acceptable. As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, it is not a problem. This is contrary to what the Bible tells us.  Of course, telling our children that Santa is real is not a malicious deception, but it is, nevertheless, a lie.

Although it is probably not typical, some children honestly feel deceived and betrayed by their parents when they find out that Santa is not real. Children trust their parents to tell them the truth, and it is our responsibility not to break this trust. If we do, they will not believe more important things we tell them, such as the truth about Christ, whom they also cannot physically see.

Parents can still take the opportunity to tell their children about the godly qualities of the real Saint Nicholas, who dedicated his life to serving others and made himself into a living example of Jesus Christ.

Source:  http://www.gotquestions.org/Santa-Claus.html

Golden Chickpea Soup

This soup is surprisingly really good!  It’s a regular meal at our house that we make often.  Even in the summer!  Enjoy!

Golden Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Soup:
6 Garlic Cloves, chopped
5 cups Vegetable Broth (I combine water with Rapunzel Veggie Broth Powder)
3-4 cups Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas) (I soak dried beans for 24 hours, then rinse, and cook before using in this soup)
1 Large Onion, Chopped
2 Tbsp Parsley
4 Medium Carrots, Diced
2 Bay Leaves
3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
2-3 cups Pasta Noodles (any kind, we usually use spaghetti noodles broken in thirds)
Salt and Pepper to taste

If you have a pressure cooker!… Throw everything except the pasta in and cook up to pressure for about 12 minutes.  Cook pasta separately and add to soup once done.  Remove bay leaves before serving.  Easy peasy!

The Regular Way:
Sautee all your veggies.  Add liquid and spices.  Let simmer for 15-30 minutes.  Cook pasta and add to soup.  Remove bay leaves before serving.

Option:  Before you add your pasta, you can remove about 4 cups of soup and blend in a blender.  I used to do this, but now to shortcut things, I don’t blend at all!

For the pasta, I even use regular spaghetti noodles, I just break them into thirds before cooking.  Yummy!

May and June Goals Update

Time for another 2013 Goals Update.  This will be my last goals update for a while though.  My family is completing the process of adopting a little boy from China!  (Leave me a comment if you’d like the link to our adoption blog!!)  So I’m going to wait until the end of 2013 to give you my next progress update.  I’ll keep chugging away at them though, but you won’t hear from me on goals until the end of the year.

Since the last update, I’ve read more about goal setting from Michael Hyatt and Money Saving Mom.  I’ve been reminded of some tips on goal setting and am excited about tweaking some of my goals to be more achievable.

Meal Plan at least once per month. Did this.  I should probably up this to twice a month.  But am afraid I won’t stick with it if I do that… just being honest.

Read the Bible daily with children at mealtimes plus continue with Memory Verse work and Bible story time.  Doing well!  We’re in Ephesians, James, and Proverbs- we like to be in multiple spots at once!  Children have an incredible ability to memorize, my three and five year old boys blow me away with their dozens and dozens, and dozens of memorized Bible verses.  You can’t start too young!

Follow homeschool lesson plans (make lesson plans every 6 weeks).  Doing great!  I recently read about a family who enrolls their children in college classes by age TWELVE!!  I bought and read their e-book and am SO inspired!  Not inspired to send my children to public university, but inspired to let them finish high school early!  Surely it doesn’t take four long years to get through basic high school material, that’s the faulty public school way of doing things!  Homeschoolers can do whatever they want at whatever pace they want!  And that usually means accelerated learning!  By the way, you’ll really enjoy their e-book if you decide to purchase it!

Read through the entire KJV Bible for my third time (three chapters per day) (On target, even ahead by a little!)

Record 1,000 gifts from God- His grace and love and blessings in my life.  Going wonderfully.  I’m on number 1300 for this year already!  So much to be thankful for!

Pray for every country of the world with my children.  Pray for the needs of others both locally and globally.  We’re following along with an email program to pray for countries around the world and we cover other needs, our friends, and family in prayer as well.  We recently made a prayer stick cup.  For each of our friends and family, we put their name on a colored craft stick (blue for my one son, red for the other).  Then put all the craft sticks in a cup.  Each day, they get to pick one of their sticks and that’s who they pray for that day.  LOVE doing this!

Follow my daily routine and weekly checklist. (This is my list of things I need to do each day like exercise, take vitamins, homeschool, housework, etc) I’ve let a few things slide in the past two months, but it’s been a nice break.  I will get back to them though.

Read at least one book per month.  I read four books in May and finished nine in June!  That puts me at 25 so far for the year.  But that’s about to slow way down with our upcoming adoption.  And it’s no where near Money Saving Mom, at the beginning of June she was at 63 for the year!  Learn and grow, learn and grow!  Everyone can at least do ONE book a month, right!?

Hand-write a special, personal note to either my husband or one of my children each month.  I sure love doing this.  My children love seeing special things Mama wrote for them and I make sure to save them so they can read them again when they’re older.  My husband is not as mushy, but I write him occasional ones anyway.  🙂

Do one healthy detox thing for my health each month.  Well, I did do one in May and then for June I at least experimented with Activated Charcoal from Bulk Herb Store, good stuff!

Go on at least one field trip each month with my children.  For May we did three things (a farm, a cemetery Memorial Day service, and a vehicle festival thingy where children can learn and experiment with trash trucks, police cars, army vehicles, city buses, tractors, etc!)  For June, we went on a mini-vacation and did a museum, two ferry rides, and some ocean fun too!

Meet exercise goals.  (This includes walking, rebounding, and doing strengthening exercises).  I exercised 16 times in January and a measly 7 times in February.  In March it was only 9 times and then 15 times in April.  May was way better coming in at 21 times!  June, ugh, back down to 11.  I am still working on my push-ups though and on my last test I did 43 modified (girly style) non-stop push-ups.  I’ll take it.  Gotta up my number of exercise sessions though!  Does chasing a baby around count?  🙂

Share the love of Jesus with at least one stranger per month by having a one-on-one conversation with someone I’ve never met! Yah!  This goal has been great.  Not counting brushing shoulders with people and saying little things, I’ve been able to conversationally share 7 times this year for a total of 17 people!  So precious to talk about Jesus and people actually listen!  I walk right up to people (I prefer groups of young people, way easier for me!)  The other day, I saw a rough looking group at our local park.  My palms got sweaty and my heart raced.  “Grrrr,” I first thought.  “Holy Spirit, I don’t want to.  Can’t I just play with my children at the park?”  But let me tell you, I was the one that walked away blessed.  Here were these tatoo’d smokers swearing and carrying on with girlfriends and boyfriends hanging on each other.  Then Mama of three trots on up and says “Anyone want to earn $5?”  I always witness Ray Comfort style!!  This group of people (I’d say ages 18-28) were so nice.  I mean, I did get huge whiffs of cigarette smoke, but they were 100% polite and nice and respectful.  They listened and responded and seemed like they took it to heart.  I wanted to cry, they were so open and I was almost unwilling.

Have an awesome marriage by reading marriage books together, having date nights, speaking honorably to each other, doing nice things for each other, etc.  Here’s one of those goals that Michael Hyatt would tell me to make more specific.  I’ll think on that and get it tweaked.  Hubby and I watched a marriage DVD series together over the course of a few weeks in June.  That was really fun actually.  We stayed up and watched “Amazing Grace” (whew, what a movie) the other night, and also in June I enjoyed spoiling him for Father’s Day.  Hubby’s doing great at this goal too, I love how when he can tell I’m flustered, he’ll ask “What can I do to help Mama?  Take the children?  Do dishes?  Switch out laundry?”  So sweet!  I LOVE it when he asks those questions, hint hint honey!  🙂

Go on at least one family vacation to build memories and enjoy each other.  Woo Hoo, went to Galveston, Texas and enjoyed the ocean and beach for hours and hours on our 4 day, 3 night trip!

Do one month of NO sugar (I can still have my healthier homemade sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, etc) (This goal is for no white sugar and all its disguising ingredients like dextrose, fructose, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup,etc.  Also, no fruit juice sweetened items or fruit juice itself).  Did this for the whole month of January and February and for 2 weeks in April.  I don’t buy white sugar so I never cook with anything except my natural sweeteners anyway.  But… when Newman O’s are on sale, this girl has a hard time resisting.  Sugar is so addictive, which is the reason I’d like it to be completely out of my diet.  I will continue to decrease this more and more.  Sorry Newman O’s, you have GOT to go!  Oh, and you too Alden’s icecream.  Oh, and you too Back to Nature cookies.  🙂

Do a 3-day raw food diet.  (Send me your tips if you’ve done a raw food diet before!!)    I’m so excited I’ve changed this goal!  The new goal is:  Eat at least 20 salads a month!  Raw lettuce, raw veggies, and my ‘mostly raw’ dressing!  I started this on May9th, so for the rest of May I ate 13 huge salads and for June I ate 23 huge salads.  When I dish up a salad, I get out my mixing bowl!  It’s a smaller mixing bowl, but still a huge bowl for a salad.  If I’m going to go through the work to wash and chop and blend, might as well make it a big ole bowl!

Hospitality/ Having a guest over- do this at least 12 times in 2013!  Did not do this for May and June completely, but did deliver some meals/ food and extended invitations and met a couple families outside the home.

Reduce my computer time.   (Hmmm, this goal needs tweaked to be more measurable also, I’ll tweak on this one too).

That’s all for now!  I’ll update again at the end of the year, hopefully.  I’ll continue to keep track on my calendar though so I can report in December!

How are you doing on your 2013 goals?? 

2012 Goals Re-Cap

These were my 2012 goals and the progress I made on them.  I’ll share my 2013 goals soon!  How did you do in 2012?

Finish reading through the KJV Bible by the end of November.  (DONE!)

Read at least one book per month.  (I read 39 books in 2012!)

Record 1,000 gifts this year (a thankfulness list)- Keeping a list of His love for me.  (I wrote down 2,027 things!  I had so much fun doing this one!  I love LOOKING for things to be thankful for and then writing them down so I’ll remember them).

Bible reading with children- Continue 1 excerpt from Matthew per day at breakfast, 1 excerpt from Proverbs at lunch, 1 excerpt from Genesis at dinner, Memory Verses, and Bible Story Book during homeschooling time.  (Did well at this!  My five year old has somewhere around 120 verses memorized by heart and my two year old knows most all of those same ones pretty well also!)

Pray for the entire world with children in a year using online calendar- one country at a time.  (DONE!  Our eyes were really opened to the needs of others around the world, and we learned a lot of geography too!  We’ve prayed for countries I’d not even heard of before!)

Make homemade laundry soap for the fun of it.   (Did this multiple times, it was an easy recipe that worked great!  I’ll share the recipe soon).

Do a 1-day raw food diet at least once, if not more.  (Did this once.  I wanted to do it more, but instead just was more intentional with eating more raw food snacks/ salads/ veggies each and every day).

Do a 3-day raw food diet at least once, if not more.  (Nope.  Didn’t do this one.  Rats).

Do one month with absolutely no sugar (white sugar, “organic” sugar, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice, dextrose, fructose, etc.  Natural sweeteners are allowed- honey, maple syrup, etc)- do this twice.   (Did this in February, July, and then two weeks in October.  I think the one day raw food challenge was harder b/c I really didn’t have too hard of a time with this.  I only use natural sweeteners at home anyway, but I would often pick up a box of “natural, organic” cookies from the health food store and they just disappeared way too quickly.  It was out of hand).

Get better at menu planning and having a meals rotation.  (I made some good progress on this, but still need to improve).

Continue to follow daily checklist that lines up with life goals/ homeschooling goals/ child training goals.  (I have done well at this, I follow this list like a machine!)   (This list helps me stay focused on getting things done daily.  Some of the stuff on my daily list includes:  our homeschool checklist, exercise, remembering to take my vitamins/ supplements, etc).

Go through each room of the house and become a minimalist.  (I did the whole house in January and had a huge garage sale in February!  After that sale I just kept gathering bags of things to drop off at the thrift store.  I’m constantly getting rid of anything we don’t want/need. Ah, a de-cluttered home is so freeing!  I’m not a true minimalist, I call myself a minimalist wanna-be)!

Email account de-cluttered and then maintained that way.  (I did pretty well at this, but still have some saved emails I need to revisit and sort).

Go through computer desktop files and sort better/ delete old.  (Completed this in June and I’ve kept up on it since then!  I had so much old stuff and documents that weren’t in any folder, just all over the place.  But now… Ah, everything in its proper electronic place!)

Go mostly paperless (Get rid of stack of old papers that need gone through (it’s about a half-drawer’s worth) as well as some old filing cabinet folders of papers).  (Okay, I do still have a small handful of old papers from my college days that I’d like to sort and discard.  But other than that, DONE!  I did get rid of everything else!)

Update our wills.  (DONE.  Glad to have this out of the way).

Home Improvement Projects- Replace faucets in master bathroom (they are not in good condition- haven’t found a good deal on faucets yet).  Repaint baseboards and trim in house (didn’t do this and don’t plan on it now, what a chore, forget it!)  Sell front living room furniture and convert the room into a homeschool room (Done!)  Get rid of conventional mattress in guest bedroom.  (Done!)

Have an awesome marriage.  (Read marriage books, have monthly date nights, do at least one special/ nice thing each month for my husband).  (We grew a lot this year and are more intentional about focusing on each other and our marriage.  I tell ya, I have the sweetest husband.  He loves God with his whole heart and has a heart for those that are hurting, I love that about him!)

Do one sort of healthy detox (detoxification) per month.  (Kind of failed at this one in November/ December).

Write at least one of my children a special letter each month.  (DONE!)

Have someone over/ show hospitality at least once per month.  (DONE!  I love meaningful friendships and fellowship!)