Monday, June 29, 2009

Check Out My Interview With the Botkin Sisters!

I'm so excited! Miss Jocelyn gave me the opportunity to ask these girls some questions, and she's posted their answers. This is my very first interview!
To learn the what Anna Sofia and Elizabeth have to say on how they got the idea for The Return of the Daughters, what their devotional times look like and how they've kept their releationship as sisters strong, go to:


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Our Card Playing, Cherry Picking Weekend

For the last few days we have enjoyed the company of our grandparents and good friend Thema.

We played cards (I love Phase Ten!)...

Thema seems to be having fun.... Grampy must have had a bad hand that round...

In the end, Gram got a pretty good score!

The next day we went cherry picking.

Learning how...

We had lots of eaters,

but many pickers too.

All in all, we ended up with sixty pounds of cherries and a good time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Camera!

Yes, we've got a new one! Ever since Baby MIT dropped our other camera into the water-filled sensory tub, it's been taking and uploading pictures fine, but adding grey-ish 3-D lines on top of them (weird - the camera messes up, but it does it perfectly :b ).
It was old and slow anyway, so we got this one. It seems great so far! It's much faster and high-tec then our other one. :)
I'm lovin' it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer and Spaghetti Straps are Here!

"Summer is here again – without a doubt, the most 'modestly challenged' season! When I was in the process of changing my style of dress and committing myself to dressing modestly, I was a bit anxious about how I was going to handle the summer. Wouldn't I simply boil if I didn't allow myself to walk around with bare shoulders anymore?"

Interested in reading more? Head over to Domestic Felicity: Modest summer

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Freedom in America...

A while back I saw this on a lovely blog, Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound. Carrie mentioned it was pretty timely. I agree.

I think it's also interesting that this was on TV only about sixty years ago. Hm. Now, that certainly wasn't the greatest thing you could let your children watch, but it's a far cry from witch families and talking sponges with underwear, don't you think?

Sponsoring With Compassion

For about two years I've enjoyed the privilege of sponsoring a girl in Honduras. "What is sponsoring?" you ask? Well, in a word: blessing.

God has given us many things. But, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48)

By looking at the context of the verse, we see that Yeshua was telling the parable of the servant who is entrusted with taking care of all the servants while the master goes away. If the master found the servant fulfilling his duties correctly when he came home, he would be rewarded. But if he wasn't, he would be beaten. Thus, "the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

I'm sure you've heard this story compared with the picture of God entrusting us with the earth, and everything in it. Now, there are a million different ways that I could expound on that, but for now let's just touch on M-O-N-E-Y.

Being young ladies still living in our father's house (well, most of us anyway), we don't have bills. We have no house payment, no electric bill, no insurance premiums... not to mention the hunk our families pay for groceries. Despite this, most of us have a little income. For me, it's babysitting for my parents and decorating an ordered cake here and there. I don't earn much, usually about $100 a month, respectively. I know other ladies who clean houses, have little in-home baking businesses, babysit for other families and do garden work. Depending on how much time they put into these things, some girls end up making $500 by the end of the month!

Being girls, most of us can very easily spend all our earnings on shoes, a new purse, makeup, a new addition to our wardrobe, or maybe even a subscription to a magazine. But think about it. What kinds of things should we really be spending it on? Here's an idea that would only take about $35 out of your budget each month: bless a impoverished child who could use a little help, hope and encouragement. Sponsor a child!

" He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done." Proverbs 19:17

"He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses." Proverbs 28:27

" He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31

Like I said above, I've been sponsoring for about two years now. Oh, it has been such a blessing! I loved corresponding with Sonia Berenice (thirteen years old) for those years, and now that her family has been able to get a bit more on their feet, her mother has taken her out of the program (a little sad for both of us, I'm sure, but very happy too!). Now I'm starting a new friendship with eight year old Dania Lizeth!

Through becoming a sponsor, I've been able to provide Sonia and Dania with the opportunity to

  • hear the gospel and learn about Yeshua
  • have regular Bible training and encouragement through the local church in their community
  • receive an education
  • be healthy through teachings on how to maintain good hygiene, and be monitored and given additional care as needed
  • receive food as needed
Not only do I get to help with these things, but I am able to write as many letters as I like encouraging these girls to be strong women of the Lord! What more could I ask?

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share." 1 Timothy 6:17,18

Of course, there are many, many sponsorship programs out there. If you are wondering which one to go with, here are some reasons why I chose, and like sponsoring with Compassion International:

  • When I went onto to sponsor, I was able to do a search for a specific age, gender and country if I wanted. I like being able to sponsor an older girl!
  • I am able to communicate through letters with my sponsored child.
  • Through, I can see what is going on in my child's area, and learn more about their life.
  • Compassion International is very upfront with their money situations. A financial statement is available at all times.
  • If I have a question, I can call their number and talk to a real live person in the US, and they will readily give answers.
  • If I book a trip to Honduras through Compassion, I can visit my sponsored child! This is something that I'd like to do in the next five or six years - definitely on my "before I get married" list!
  • Compassion works exclusively through the local church. "We want sponsored children to experience the benefits of Compassion sponsorship as a direct expression of God's love for them. We also want to equip the Body of Christ in the countries where we work with effective child development ministries so that church leaders and members around the world can become effective child advocates in their communities." they say in their FAQ booklet.

What a wonderful way to not only put our money to work, but to also personally know and be able to encourage the person you are helping! If you are interested in knowing more about sponsoring a child, go to and check out their Frequently Asked Questions, or feel free to prod me. :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Help For Removing Blogger's Title Off Your Blog

**Thank you to everyone who replied so quickly! As you can see, I've fixed my title problem, thanks to some help from Johanna and a little actual "looking" from me. The answer was right under my nose! For future help for you other lovely bloggers, to remove Blogger's title off your blog, so you can replace it with a picture, follow these steps:

1.) Go to your Layout page.
2. Click to edit the box with your blog's name in it.
3. Upload the picture you want to use as your banner.
4. Underneath the photo it will say "placement." Mark the "instead of title and description."
5. Press Save, and you're done!***

As everyone can see, I've done a little changing around on my background here. Also, today I played around with my first banner! That's been fun, although I need a little advice. How do I get Blogger's title for my blog off, so that it's just the banner? Hopefully someone has an answer!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ways to Spend Quality Time With Younger Siblings

The other day, after I wrote about being a big sister, one of my friends emailed me this question:

"Do you have any friendly tips or advice... I really want my siblings to think of me as their 'big sissy' who loves them selflessly and who would take time out of her busy schedule to help them."

So, I'd like to expand a little on spending time with your siblings.

Really, it's not hard! Our little brothers and sisters think the world of us. For us to do even the tiniest thing makes their hearts swell and the sunshine come out! Here are some practical things I've included in my schedule, to make sure time with the Darlings is spent wisely each day.

Spend a 1/2 hour: ages 2-5

Start a "preschool" time. Go to the local teacher's store and buy (or make your own) a big calendar set, weather poster and days of the week cards. Use fifteen minutes for "circle time" by talking about the days of the week, the weather, the date, etc. Add songs like the days of the week song, a weather song and any other kiddie songs you'd like to add. Be sure to use all your new stuff! Read a story. Then, spend the next fifteen minutes doing an appropriate activity for the age levels you're dealing with. You can paint, glue, cut, play with sand in a sensory tub... the options are endless! The internet is a great source for ideas and songs, too.

Another good thing to do is to plan a whole (school) week of your preschool times, and theme them. You can use themes like colors, dogs, the grocery store, police men, etc. Here's what one of my half hour might look like if I were doing a color theme:

-Do calendar time like normal -Read a book about colors -Sing a song or two about colors -paint with water colors or play with colored shaving cream at the table

Spend a 1/2 hour: ages 5-10

When my siblings are getting bored with preschool time, they usually get moved up to spending a half hour with me one-on-one. Currently Creative Genius and I are together from 1:30 to 2 o'clock while the little ones are napping. We do whatever he chooses. Sometimes it's a game, a walk, helping him organize something... and sometimes Mom puts us on a job (today we made rhubarb crisp for snack). For the last few months, though, Creative Genius has chosen to read through chapter books. Right now we're about half way through one of the American Adventure books. He likes going through series!

Spend 45 minutes: ages 10 and up

While Active Boy and I don't do things together every day, once in a while we'll go on a long bike ride or walk through our neighborhood. It's a good time for us to talk about personal things, and usually he ends up sharing some of his deep thoughts. These are wonderful times - ones that both of us will fondly remember! We also enjoy jumping on the trampoline and playing board and card games. All in all, whatever we do, it's still one-on-one time spent with one of my best friends.


I admit it. There are days when I don't want to read, or walk or play a game or be a happy, fun sissy. This is when SELF CONTROL and A GOOD ATTITUDE comes in. These are your siblings. The people who will be a part of your life for the rest of your life, even after you all have families of your own. Let them think of you as a happy, fun Let's-Bake-Cookies-Darling type of sister!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Last week I made this cake for our Bible study that meets every Saturday. Spice cake and cream cheese frosting - yum!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ladies, Behave Yourselves

Okay, I admit it. Our family actually has a Bathroom Reader. There. Now you know what my life is really like. *exhale*

And I was reading it. BUT not in the bathroom! ~The living room, actually~ And in it I found some interesting quotes on etiquette... thought they were quite insightful. :)

"It's a great idea to file your fingernails in the street car, bus, or train. It's certainly making the most of your time. The noise of the filing drowns the unpleasant noise of the wheels. But it is the act of of an ill-bred person. Who but an ordinary person would allow her epithelium to fly all over? I think that one might as well scatter ashes after a cremation, around the neighborhood."
-Manners for Millions (1932)

"The perfect hostess will see to it that the works of male and female authors be properly separated on her bookshelves. There proximity, unless they happen to be married, should not be tolerated."
- Lady Gough's Etiquette (1863)

"No matter what the fashion may be, the gloves of a well-dressed woman are never so tight that her hands have the appearance of sausages."
-The New Etiquette (1940)

"A lady-punster is a most unpleasing phenomenon, and we would advise no young woman, however skilled she may be, to cultivate this kind of verbal talent."
- Collier's Cyclopedia of Commercial and Social Information (1882)

"Girls, never, never turn at a whistle, to see if you are wanted. A whistle is usually to call a dog."
- Good Manners (1934)

"A beautiful eyelash is an important adjunct to the eye. The lashes may be lengthened by trimming them occasionally in childhood Care should be taken that this trimming is done neatly and evenly, and especially that the points of he scissors do not penetrate the eye."
- Our Department (1881)

"Still less say of anything which you enjoy at the table 'I love melons,' 'I love peaches,' 'I adore grapes' - these are school-girl utterances. We love our friends. Love is an emotion, but not one of the palate. We like, we appreciate grapes, but we do not love them."
- The American Code of Manners (1880)

"Sending out a letter with a crooked, mangled or upside down stamp is akin to letting your lingerie straps show."
- Good Housekeeping's Book of Today's Etiquette (1965)

"Fingernails are another source of feminine excess. The woman who goes about her daily avocations with blood-red finger-nails is merely harking back to the days of savagery, when hanks smeared with blood were a sign of successful fighting."
- Things That Are Not Done (1937)

"Immoderate laughter is exceedingly unbecoming a lady; she may affect the dimple or the smile, but should carefully avoid any approximation to a horse-laugh."
- The Perfect Gentleman (1860)

"Large hats make little women look like mushrooms."
- Everyday Etiquette (1907)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sisters In Christ - Lovely "Things!"

I've been awarded! Thanks so much, Hannah. I'm enjoying our growing friendship.
I'd like to pass this on to Akeret HaBayit. We've recently started emailing, and through the few emails and chats, I've really liked getting to know her! We've got a lot in common, I think. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bible Verse Idea

Sometimes you're having a tough time, feel like you're in the "dooms of despair" and really don't know what to do about it. Of course turning to the Bible always helps, but reading the first few verses of Genesis probably won't make you want to rise and shine again (get it, shine? God made light? Tee hee. :) Sarah Mally has come to the rescue. In the "Bible Study" section of the personal Bright Lights notebook (you can check out the Bright Lights group she started here), Sarah shares a testimony from a Bright Lights girl.

"One time in Bright Lights, Sarah shared with us that when she was 11 years old, she started to read her Bible everyday. She gave us a study idea that has been very helpful for me. She suggested that we get a stack of 3x5 cards, and write verses on the cards which we found in our daily Bible reading. Then, she said to label each card with a topic, such as "Patience," "Baptism," "Greed," etc. This would be our own topical index system. I was about 11, and I thought this sounded like such a good idea. I went home and set my alarm clock for 7:00. The next morning I got up and read my Bible. I found a verse and wrote it on a 3x5 card. Then I put the card in a box and set it on my dresser. Now when I need a verse on a specific subject, I go to my box and find a card on that topic. This system has benefited and encouraged me a lot."

I like this system too! Whenever I need a quick lift up, I can go to my little verse box and find a verse on the subject I'm struggling with. If it's not there, I make it a mental note to be on the "special" lookout for specific verses addressing the subject.

Also, this is good for praying scripture back to the Lord. When you're happy and you know it, grab a card filed under "Joy" or "Thankfulness", try to quickly memorize it and continuously pray it to Him throughout the day.

Joyfully (Psalm 9:2),

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

Challah Time!

Challah is the braided bread used in the Friday evening ceremony that is done to sanctify the Shabbat, and I am currently the "Official Challah Bread Maker" of the family. Here is the recipe our family has used since we started celebrating the Sabbath on the seventh day (as commanded in the Bible) and held the little Sabbath ceremony in our home.

1 T active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 oil
4 eggs
9 cups flour
2 T salt
poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)
1 additional egg for the glaze

1. In large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the sugar and oil and mix well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Beat in four of the eggs and gradually stir in 8 cups of flour and salt. When you have a dough that holds together well, it's ready for kneading. Kneed about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. You can work in up to another 1 - 1 1/2 cups of flour as needed.
2. Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, until it's about doubled it's size.

3. Remove it from the bowl and punch it down. Be rough! The dough loves it!

4. Return to bowl and let it rise again for 30 minutes more.

5. Take it out of the bowl and make six equal balls of dough. Make each ball into a rope about 14 inches long. Pinch three together on one end and braid. Do it again for the second loaf. (Want to make a six-stranded braid? Go here for a great tutorial.)

6. Let the challah loaves rise another hour, uncovered. Fifteen minutes before putting the loaves in the oven, beat the remaining egg and brush it gently over them. Five minutes later, brush them again. Sprinkle with the seeds.

7. Preheat the oven to 375 and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack.


To Freeze: Stop at #5. After braiding your bread, but before letting it rise again, double wrap it in plastic wrap and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When you are ready to use it, take it out 5 hours before you want to glaze and bake.
Want to learn more about the Sabbath ceremony? Check out my uncle's blog for an in-depth study in parts one, two and three of the simple steps to go through.

Shabbat Shalom!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Today I am a Big Sister

Early this afternoon I decided to make Snicker doodles for afternoon snack. I found the recipe, tripled it and started to mix the batter. Half way into the dough making Active Boy comes in:
"Seren, it's time to go over to Tom's so he can show me how to care for his pond while he's on vacation. Let's go."
"Okay, hold on. Just let me get this dough in the fridge, then we can go."
So we go, learn how to take care of the neighbor's pond, see where to put his mail for the ten days and hear all about how his fish almost died the night before. Mission completed, I returned to my cookies.
Right after that 'Lil Active Boy comes in, apparently up from his nap. "I'm awake. What are those? Are you making cookies? Can I help you?"
At the same time, Creative Genius comes asking the same questions.
Now, I'm really trying to get at least one pan done before the whole family awakes, so I reply with, "No, I'm just going to do these by myself today. Thanks though."
Then I hesitate, thinking of what a bad sister I sound like, and how baking cookies are supposed to be bonding and memorable... and I'd really like them to think of me as nice sister, so I say with a little sigh, "Wait, no, you can help me. Here, see these balls of dough? Roll them in the cinnamon-sugar and put them on the pan like this. No, no, don't lick your hands. You can do that when we're done. Good job. Yep, that's the way!"

Today I was a big sister. But I would have been a big sister whether or not I went with Active Boy to his job consultation, or let the little boys help with cookies, or helped with phonics, or read a chapter book out loud to someone, or helped with baths... or complained about putting the littles to bed. You see, being the big sister is a big job. We have responsibilities whether we like it or not. We can do them happily, or with an attitude. We can show our siblings we love them, or give the impression that Rilla of Inglside or an email or *gasp!* getting that day's to-do list done is more important than their lives, feelings... or even them themselves.

Did you know that how you treat your siblings is how you will eventually treat your children? A little scary to think about, I know. To be honest, I'd like to go into marriage and mothering with as little issues and bad habits as possible. That means I've got some work to do. Reversing bad habits and dealing with issues isn't easy and quick! Learning to be patient, loving and really, truly interested in my siblings (and my future children) is something I've decided to put a lot of work on during my single years. And it IS HARD! They're not always kind and loving (sometimes they can even get downright bratty) or sweet and helpful, and sometimes I've just got things to do. But that's when I, and you, have to challenge ourselves to keep being that nice, "Shall we bake cookies, darling?" type of sister.

But it won't always be so hard as the beginning.

In Galatians 6:9 it says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Pursuing these good habits, if we don't let up, will be rewarding! After a while your siblings will see that pushing Sissy's buttons won't make her lights flash or sirens scream, so they'll stop the little game (You know they're only trying to get your attention - they crave it.) Instead, they'll discover their sister doesn't react to those types of things. She only gives attention to kind, thoughtful and polite things, and psst! did you know she she's even good for book reading, school help, listening to adventures and hey! even participating in them??!! Let's put it plainly: kids are smart. They pick up on things quite fast. If you act loving towards them, and overjoyed to be with them, they'll do the same and give you lovely results. Savannah Grace proves my point beautifully,

"We have discovered that if you treat boys (even little ones) like men, and tell them that you look to them for protection, then suddenly they will act like men and will want to be your knight in shining armor." [Read the rest of her post here.]

Let your siblings know you love them and want to make them happy. They'll start to do the same.

Today I am a big sister. Yesterday I was a big sister. Tomorrow I will be a big sister. I'd like to make it count.

Maybe I'll bake Gingersnaps next.