Life Lately

Pumpkins, acorn squashes, buttercup squashes, and butternut are adorning the inside and the outside of our house. Slowly they make their way into the oven, meanwhile, we still have a fall harvest farm stand. We have small decorative pumpkins for sale too!


Doesn’t fall inspire you to get in the kitchen? Butternut cream soup, snickerdoodle bread, maple pumpkin pie (here’s the recipe), beef stew, homemade chai lattes, fresh apple cake…Ahhhh. Our tummies are warm and full. Baking season is in full swing in our farmhouse kitchen, and no one’s complaining. I’ve been putting some muffins and sweet loaves in the freezer for when the baby comes. A little prep will come in handy : )


The crisp air is uplifting, and since the evenings are shorter, we’ve done a couple day outings with Nathan. Even the flower colors are stunning! We hope to get out a few more times before the northern frigid temps settle in.


The older five children are in fall sports. It’s really low-key, but it’s so fun to get out there and kick the ball on cool Saturday mornings! They play a game of soccer followed by flag-football.


Just throwing in a delicious baby eating doughnuts, because he’s irresistible : ) Nothing speaks fall cozy like waking up on the weekend to enormous doughnuts Nathan’s picked up fresh from the bakery!

with love. Damaris


Third Trimester: Researching Water Birth

The third trimester comes with lots of decisions! It’s not the nursery colors, travel systems, or baby monitor model that I’ve been attempting to decide on this time around. Although I have picked up a few small precious items for this baby which I’ll be sharing with you soon, a couple of things needed to be decided within the next couple of weeks. I’m referring to questions like: Epidural or unmedicated labor? Should we go to a birthing center this time or deliver at the hospital? What should we name the baby?

Today, I wanted to share with you what we’re thinking and how I have been preparing. By this point you know that we’re planning on having a water birth. This choice surprises me a little too (I’m not a water person), but my midwife does lots of water births which gave me confidence. Why we picked a water birth?

  • Pushing stage is easier and shorter.

  • The water also reduces the feeling of pressure.

  • Provides privacy which means more calm and quiet.

  • Encourages a gentler arrival and transition for baby.

  • Warm water is soothing, comforting, relaxing.

  • In the later stages of labor, the water has been shown to increase the woman’s energy.

  • The effect of buoyancy lessens a mother’s body weight, allowing free movement and new positioning.

  • Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and improved blood circulation resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.

  • Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.

  • The water seems to reduce stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins which serve as pain-inhibitors.

Sources American Pregnancy Association, mamanatural.com, bellybelly.com.

How have I been preparing?

As you can see, we’re slowly addressing all the big third trimester decisions. But the baby’s name…well, that might just be a delivery day surprise!

with love, Damaris


Family Currents: August Abundance

August has been lambing season! We had marked the week on the calendar as to when the two ewes were due, but the exact day would be a surprise. On the last evening of our trip to Washington DC, we got a little text from a friend who was coming to count the barnyard animals once a day. We were in the outdoor hotel pool, and everybody was out of the water so fast to see pictures of the new addition. By the next week, the second ewe had her lamb, and now one cannot tell the lambs apart. We were surprised at how fast they are and how soft they are. Pure white little beauties!

Our mature pig Holly is due to have her litter in early September! Did you know a female pig’s gestation is 3 months + 3 weeks + 3 days?


Nathan found a swarm of bees in the work shop this week and rehomed them into a hive box. We’ll give it a couple more days to call it a success! Hopefully they like their new home. Then we’ll move the box to join the other hive. This will make a third hive. All of the mid-summer honey has been bottled! Feel free to email us, contact us through this post, Facebook, or Instagram if you’d like to enjoy some raw, unfiltered honey.


We love to go blueberry picking! This U-pick farm has a high bush variety which makes it very easy to reach and fill your bucket without bending low to search for the little fruit. It was a later in August than peak season, so we were left with smaller berries and fewer clusters. We ate our fill while picking and still gathered 8 pounds of blueberries! We enjoyed them all weekend and froze 6 quart bags with the rest.


Samuel’s birthday was mid-August, and it was so much fun to celebrate this sweet baby boy! We cannot handle all his sillies! You can read about his special day here. Since chocolate is his favorite food in the entire world, Eva baked this delicious cake. He was so tickled to open presents with trains, tools, and tractors!


A couple of weeks ago, our family went on a road trip to Washington DC where we attended the Bible Family Conference, visited nearby Arlington Cemetery and Mount Vernon, and of course enjoyed the national monuments, the Smithsonian, and the Museum of the Bible. Wrote about all the trip adventures here. We can’t wait to go back and learn some more! It was a great place for families – and large families too : )


The first Saturday in August always gets marked on the calendar early in the year. Our family doesn’t want to miss the Highland Games! It is such a summer highlight for us! The St. Andrew’s Society of Detroit puts on a full day of Celtic dance competitions, scone and shortbread shops, kilts, swords and traditional jewelry booths, Border Collie dog races, Shetland Sheepdogs and long-haired cattle for petting, caber toss, tug-o’war, hammer throwing, and other traditional Scottish games. We came home with a dozen lavender-lemon shortbreads that were Mmmmmm.


Farm fresh produce are available every day at the farm stand. We pick heirloom tomatoes by the bushel. The dark purple eggplants, sweet corn, okra, bell peppers and jalapenos are glossy and gorgeous. The spaghetti, buttercup, and butternut squashes are perfect, huge, and at the stand. All restocked daily. We also have real maple syrup and raw, unfiltered honey for sale at the farm stand. Come stop by the farm!

with love. Damaris


For the Love of Books: July

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these book. They all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God

by Courtney Reissig

The small, often unseen work is necessary work. It is work that God sees as integral to his work in this world. This book gives a vision for a distinctively Christian work ethic. I particularly enjoyed learning about how attitudes towards the home and family have changed and morphed throughout history. You’ll find encouragement in that ultimately our purpose is to glorify God and that actually those day to day efforts of work can reflect Him even when they are routine and ordinary.

“Our work isn’t giving us any points with God, but it is telling the world about the God we worship. It’s telling what we value most. It’s telling what we hope in even when it is hard.”

“You also image him when you care for the details of your home. As God cares for the seemingly mundane details of creation, so you care for the seemingly mundane details of a home that needs to be kept in order.”

Upgrade: 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child

by Kevin Swanson

This book makes a clear call to focus on Biblical education – that of the character. The importance of a healthy parent-child relationships and having a biblical foundation, regardless of whether or not a child is homeschooled is so inspiring! The author focuses on the 10 factors of a successful education which are Biblical principles found mostly in the book of Proverbs.

“Education is the preparation of a child intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically for life and for eternity.”

“A successful education is achieved when a child is prepared to make maximal use of his God-given talents and abilities in the accomplishment of the child’s calling.”

with love. Damaris


Family Currents: What we've been up to

Happy August, dear friends! The sun is hot and the tall straight grasses have been cut down. Haying time came in July, and now the hay bales are stacked and stored in the big red barn.


We’re certainly enjoying going through the summer bucket list! We recently went to the Henry Ford Museum and to the lake. Packing a lunch and calling it an adventure day is by far our favorite summertime activity.


Isabel had a birthday in July. She’s now 8 years old, and she’s so happy about it! Isabel has always been the most easy-going, low-maintenance, even-keeled child. She only requested cupcakes, and we made these filled with vanilla pudding. Filled with jam or any pudding is always absolutely delicious.


The two younger ewes are a mixed breed and shed most of their winter coat, but not all of it. After some time of high temperature, we realized we’d need to shear them. Nathan bought a pair of shears online and had his first successful sheep shearing experience. One of these ewes follows him like a dog when he’s in the pasture. Really, all the sheep (even the ram) are gentle and skittish.

By the way, the two older ewes are due to lamb in just a couple of weeks, and I’m giddy with excitement!


We’ve been at the pool everyday (all morning) for swim lessons. I couldn’t get all the children to swim in the same timeslot, so we bring books, a basketball, snacks, and I plop myself by the poolside until lunchtime. A couple of times we’ve taken a walk though the neighborhood, but it’s easier to just play and read while we wait.


Nathan and the boys did a mid-summer honey harvest this past week. We have about 7-8 gallons of raw, unfiltered honey. Couldn’t be more fresh! It tastes so different than the late summer/early fall honey! The color is very golden and the flavor is light and mild. Our honey bees can be spotted at anytime of the day feasting in the herb garden (hyssop, thyme, oregano flowers), the white clover in the pasture, and the vining plants in the garden (cucumber and squash flowers).


We opened the farm stand again this year! Farm fresh produce are available everyday. Eggplants, cabbages, red cabbage, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, and jalapenos are looking good! The tomatoes are not quite there yet. We also have real maple syrup and raw, unfiltered honey. Come stop by the farm!

with love. Damaris


For the Love of Books: June

For a little while now I’ve been trying to maintain a reading regimen. I try to study through two or three books each month. There have been a few reasons why I’ve found this to be a valuable effort – first, it helps me grow my ability to cook healthy and nourishing meals, to be better steward, and most importantly to grow in godliness and Christlikeness. I think it will be fun to use a bit of space on the blog each month to review some of the books I’m reading. Of course, while I don’t necessarily endorse all things written or said by the authors, I have been encouraged by these books and they all come recommended to me. I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too! I hope you will share with me your recommendations, too!

The Family (Home Making)

by J R Miller

This book is a hidden treasure that I’ve owned for a long time but had never read. Each chapter covers the family life and rolls of family members such as the wedded life, the husband’s part, the wife’s part, the children’s part, brothers and sisters. I’ll share a couple of quotes so you can get a taste of the rich language the author uses:

“No other work that God gives any of us to do is so important, so sacred, so far-reaching in its influence, so delicate and easily marred as our home-making. This is the work of all our life that is most divine. The carpenter works in wood, the mason works in stone, the smith works in iron, the artist works on canvas, but the home-maker works on immortal lives. The wood or the stone or the iron or the canvas may be marred, and it will not matter greatly in fifty years; but let a tender human soul be marred in its early training, and ages hence the effects will still be seen.”

“The parent’s life flows into the child’s life. We impress ourselves upon our children less by what we teach them than by what we are.”

The Most Important Place on Earth: What a Christian Home Looks Like and How to Build One

by Robert Wolgemuth

Covering all aspects of a home, this book is full of encouraging and practical ideas on how to have a Christian home that is warm, loving and points others to Christ. The author gives so many great ideas he warns in the introduction you must pick a few at a time to implement and then come back for more. You won’t be able to read it and not be inspired to build a strong Christian home. Especially if one didn’t grow up in a Christian home, this book will give hope and a vast number of ideas. Here are a couple quotes:

“As creative as store-bought toys can be, homemade laughter is more fun than anything else.”

“No screaming or yelling. No bullying or foolish threats, just simple, thorough explanation of the rules and your expectation that children follow them.”

“Doing discipline leads to the sheer pleasure of having discipline.”

with love. Damaris


Happy Independence Day!

I trust your celebrations are loud, fun-filled with a dose of relaxing. Maybe the lake? A bbq? We’re all loading in the van as I write this to join in the local 4th of July Parade festivities.

I read this recently and thought it was an interesting fact to share:

“John Adams attended the Second Continental Congress, which began meeting in Philadelphia on July 1, 1776. The next day, the delegates voted in favor of America’s independence.

On July 3, Adams wrote to his beloved wife, Abigail: ‘The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.” He added: “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.’

He was off by two days.

On July 4, the delegates in Philadelphia adopted Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. History would celebrate their decision as the birthday of the new nation, even though they only formalized what they actually decided two days earlier.

John Adams did not understand the future significance of this day in 1776. But he knew how to face an uncertain future with certain faith: ‘I must submit all my Hopes and Fears, to an overruling Providence, in which, unfashionable as the Faith may be, I firmly believe.'”

Let’s join him.

Excerpt from Denisonforum.org. You can find the post here.

with love, Damaris


Family Currents: Niagra Falls, Birthdays, Doll Making

My cousin’s visit from Spain was undoubtedly the highlight of the month of June. Before he came, we had given some thought to what fun things he may have never tried or seen before, so we ate hard shell tacos, s’mores, had a bbq night, and roasted hot dogs over the fire. We took a short trip to Niagra Falls which will be memorable for everyone.

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Both Nathan and William had birthdays in June. We usually celebrate at home and let the birthday boy or girl pick a favorite meal and dessert.

William picked this cake from a Pinterest picture, and it was delicious! Here’s the recipe if you want to make it for your crew.

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Nathan’s mom came over a couple of days and taught the girls some basics of the sewing machine and a few stitches. Their diligent labors produced these beautiful dolls! Thank you, Grandma for teaching, helping, and guiding the girls!

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In the last few weeks, I also found a little bit of time to work on a couple projects. These outdoor ticking pillows and the linen throw brought be so much joy to make!

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Watching all the plants come into their full glory with big bright blooms and tiny vegetables brings us whoops of joy. We’re enjoying delicious kale salads, but nothing else yet ready for harvest.

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There are 20 new young pine tress on the farm! Ten are Norway spruce and ten are white pine. They’ll be replacing dead ones and being added to the perimeter of the pasture.

with love. Damaris


How to Survive the First Trimester

I’m enjoying the second trimester especially since I don’t even have episodes of heartburn. Must be this baby is going to be bald : ). But I had been thinking of several things that I still wanted to add concerning the first trimester and specifically how to survive it.

My ‘morning’ sickness never went away during the day, and it worsened in the evenings. It started just before 6 weeks and got worse from 8 weeks to 11 weeks. It slowly calmed down during the daytme but was still bad at night until 14 weeks. Mine wasn’t just nausea but stomach pain. Although I was more sick than I had been with any other pregnancy, it certainly was not hyperemesis gravidarum. Everybody is so different and each pregnancy can be so different, but I can share my experience with you and maybe it can be of some use. What helped me to cope with nausea?

  • quart jars full of water with lemon (very heavy on the lemon juice)

  • vitamin D drops (long Michigan winters leave one pretty depleted)

  • coconut water (I added juice or steeped my herbal tea in it)

  • eating small amounts of food at a time

  • closing my eyes

  • caffeine in the afternoon

  • pressing a pillow tightly against my stomach

What did the first trimester look like?

  • lots of joy

  • everything smells bad

  • a pooch

  • can’t sleep because I’m so hungry

  • tired

  • excitement

  • telling friendly customers at Costco

  • so tired

Cravings during the first trimester?

  • corn flakes

  • bagels

  • oatmeal

  • Korean

Aversions during the first trimester?

  • fried food

  • tea tree oil

  • all candles

I hope this is helpful for you if either you or someone you know is entering this difficult stage. Even if they’re on the other side of feeling terrible, maybe this can give you something to talk about : )

with love, Damaris


The Best Summer Reading Series For Families

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.

–Marcel Proust

As we mentioned in an earlier post, structured schooldays have ended, and we now fully embrace the new pace of summer. I confess that welcoming wide perimeters of time for each individual’s curiosities and pleasure is the sweetest gift to me as a homeschooling mother. It is satisfying physically, mentally, and emotionally for all of us in our home to rest from new lessons and long academic days. While we seek to maintain simple structures of chores, meal times, piano practice, Bible reading, family read-aloud, and bedtime, we’ve exchanged formal lessons for copywriting (from classic, favorite books that they each select) and Bible memorization. One of the ways we continue to learn is through reading which is truly the most longed for summer delight. We fill our baskets with books and also pick a long book series to listen to.

Our family loves audio books for many reasons, all of us bond with the characters, share laughs about the stories, and enjoy retelling them long after the series has been returned to the library. Sometimes the audio versions are read by the author (my favorite), or they might be dramatized. Sometimes we listened to them while the children built Legos. Sometimes we all climbed on my bed and folded laundry while enjoying the stories, but mostly we listened to the book series in the car. We took the CDs with us on road trips, to brunch, farm milk pick-up, and to the grocery store. Nonetheless, we’re never found without the next CD!

The first 7 titles that I have listed are book series that we listened to in audio form in the order in which we listened to them over the years. We listened to one series per summer. The last 3 have been recommended to me, but we have only listened to the audio book of the first in the series. We haven’t read the sequels (some may be for older children than mine are at this time).

Alexander and Eva wanted to write a short review on these book series! Here are their words:

The Magic Tree House

Jack and Annie (bother and sister) take us on countless adventures in the past. Through the 55 small books that make the series, it’s a fun way to learn history! -Eva

Ramona

The book series begins when Ramona is a very little girl and grows with her. She’s very mischievous and it’s written through her perception of life. There are 8 books in the series. -Eva

Little House in the Prairie

Laura Ingalls Wilder in the series of 9 books tells about a little girl and her family moving from the woods of Wisconsin to Iowa to Minnesota to North Dakota. It seems to be mostly autobiographical. -Alexander

The Indian in the Cupboard

Fantastic series of 5 books! A boy named Omri gets a small medicine cabinet for his 9th birthday from his brother. He thinks it’s a boring gift until he discovers the magic. -Alexander

The Boxcar Children

Four children are left orphans. The Alden siblings are afraid that their grandfather is a mean old creep. In the story, they realize otherwise. Many books have been added to the series. -Alexander

The Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. Lewis wrote the most popular children’s series (selling over 150 million copies). Four siblings, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy in order to escape the bombing of London during WWII move to a rambling country estate where they discover the secret land of Narnia in a wardrobe. There are 7 books in the series. -Alexander

Redwall

An intricately woven story with endearing characters. Brian Jacques’s realistic depiction of the animal’s stories is why the author has been compared to J.R.R. Tolkien. 22 novels in the series (we have not read them all). -Alexander

The Penderwicks

A father and four daughters take a vacation in a gardener’s cottage in Connecticut and have daily adventures with the son of the lady who owns the manor house on which the gardener’s cottage is situated. A series of 5 books. -Alexander

A Wrinkle in Time

Overpowering the evil brain with love, Meg is able to save her family from the magic’s grasp. Interesting fantasy book! 5 books in the series. -Eva

Ann of Green Gables

Ann was a girl adopted at age 11 who finds a bosom friend. It’s full of tales of dangerous dares. 7 books in the series. -Eva

with love, Damaris