Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything--
No gifts, no power, no wisdom--
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart--
His wounds have paid my ransom.

(How Deep the Father's Love for Us by Stuart Townend)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mama Talk

Each month our midwife is hosting "Mama Talk," a time for moms in Taipei to get together, learn new skills, and share parenting experiences.  This week I got to teach the group how to make diaper covers from old wool sweaters.  It was a great afternoon of chaotic fun...

...chaotic as we sewed and cared for our babies simultaneously... because we got to meet new friends and encourage each other.  :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Orphanage Cleaning

Last weekend, our church small group cleaned a local orphanage that serves HIV-positive children.

Caty cleaning the kitchen
Momo cleaning the shelves
Joe sweeping the office
John sweeping the patio
Dillon mopping the bedroom
Kayt and Keira cheering everyone on.  Ha.  :)

John, Kalan, Dillon removing the windows, washing them, and putting them back in

One of the little girls who lives there cheerfully helped, too (bottom left).
We are thankful for this opportunity to serve our community.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Micah Update

Some of you back in the States have been asking about Micah (or "Bing Bing," the little Taiwanese boy we fostered on the weekends for over a year).  Here's a quick update...

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

8 Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Had A Baby

Being a mom is the best job I've ever had--the most fun, the most rewarding, the most challenging, the most sanctifying.  I'm only five months into my parenting journey, and have been blessed to learn from the wisdom of family and friends, a couple of helpful books, and my own trial-and-error.  Here are a few practical things I've learned that I wish I'd known before I had a baby.

1. "Start as you mean to go on."
Choose a plan and stick to it.  Don't fall into "accidental parenting." In other words, don't do something just because it's convenient.  For example, if you plan on co-sleeping, great!  It can help you get some extra sleep, especially in those early weeks.  But, if you don't want to co-sleep with a 6-month-old, 12-month-old or 4-year-old, then don't take your baby into your bed just because it's 3 am and you're exhausted.  The things you do with your baby set her expectations for what she thinks life ought to be like. Make sure you start doing things the way you want them to continue.

2. Use common sense; don't always go to the internet for answers.
"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm" (Proverbs 13:20).  These days there are zillions of "mom advice" websites that anyone can post on.  You have no idea if happymomma73 is a wise counselor or a fool since you can't see her interact with her kids or know the result of her advice in her own children's lives.  Also, she doesn't know your unique child.  Stop, think, and pray.  You know your baby better than anyone.  Usually you can figure out what your baby needs using common sense.  If that fails you, try calling a person you trust (like your mom or an experienced friend) before turning to Google.  This will save you time and anxiety.

3. Expect nursing to be a challenge.
No one really talks about this before you give birth, but nursing does not always come naturally.  It is not emotionally or physically pain-free.  It really hurts for the first week or so (I was in tears), and your baby might have trouble getting the hang of it too.  Sleep-deprivation and raging mama-hormones can make this really stressful, especially if you expected a warm and cuddly experience.  Expect it to be a challenge. Don't freak out or give up when it's hard.  Call someone (in addition to your husband) for support.  Read a book about nursing before giving birth so you know how to troubleshoot common problems before they sneak up and attack you at 4 in the morning.

4. Plan for a long recovery.
Every woman's body recovers differently after giving birth.  I had a friend who hiked up a mountain when her baby was only one week old!   This led to some shock when I couldn't go for a twenty-minute walk until six weeks post-partum. You might not recover right away but you will recover eventually.  In the meantime, rest as much as you can, eat lots of healthy foods, and don't rush back into your normal activities too soon.

5. Consider laundry like breathing.
You must do laundry (nearly) constantly to survive, but it's no big deal.  Make it part of your daily rhythm.

6. Develop a flexible routine for your baby.
Babies thrive on routine.  It helps your baby feel secure (and helps you know why she might be fussy).  Set a simple sequence of events that you repeat throughout each day. For example: eat (30 min), play (30--45 min), sleep (1.5--2 hrs), repeat.  Watch your baby closely for hungry/tired cues and use the clock only as a guide.  And if you think your baby is having a growth spurt, teething, sick, etc., hide all your clocks in the closet and just go with the flow for a few days.

7. Be watchful for signs of overstimulation.
Babies are easily overtired, because their little brains are working so hard all the time!  Including time spent eating, most 6-week-olds can only stay awake 45 minutes at a time.  Not realizing this, I attempted to maintain my pre-baby activity level (which meant being away from home most of the day) and felt confused when Keira would only take 45-minute naps and was inconsolable come bedtime.  Little babies can't handle so many outings, so you need to adjust your schedule (and maybe start some new hobbies you can do at home).  By three months most babies can stay awake for 1-1.5 hours, and by six months they can do 2 hours at a stretch.

8. Stay in the moment and keep your perspective.
Enjoy your baby.  Marvel at the way she is growing.  Cuddle her as much as you want.  Do silly things to make her smile.  Sing to her.  Pray for her.  Kiss the top of her head.  When crazy things happen--your shirt is suddenly soaked with milk, you fail to get a diaper under her in time, you get spit up on for the seventh time and it's not even noon--laugh.  Accept your baby (and the loving sacrifice she requires) as a blessing.

Motherhood is one of those adventures that requires us to learn-as-we-go.  Thankfully we're not alone and can glean wisdom from all the mothers who have gone before us.

Moms, what would you add to this list?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Make Your Own Toothpaste

This week's DIY experiment was toothpaste.  

The ingredients and process are simple:

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
3 Tablespoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (natural sea salt would be best, but I just used this "delicious salt" we had on hand. Love those translations!)
15 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix it all together, and you will have a paste that looks like this:

If you prefer a thinner paste, add more coconut oil.

I'll be honest, I think it will take me a few weeks to adjust to the salty coconut flavor of this's not my favorite.  If you have access to some powdered stevia, I would highly recommend adding some to improve the taste.

I store our toothpaste in a recycled glass jar, and keep a metal baby spoon nearby to apply it to our brushes.

Even though it doesn't taste the greatest, I'm willing to stick with it because of the benefits:

--we will save money
--we will avoid harsh chemicals
--we will avoid those late-night moments when we realize we are out of toothpaste
--we can guarantee that our toothpaste is gluten-free without trying to read obscure ingredient lists in Chinese

That last one doesn't apply to everyone, but maybe it's still worth a try.  :)

Happy teeth-brushing!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Keira: Five Months Old

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