Wednesday, January 23, 2013


What do you do when your friend is grieving?

I'd like to place before you some ideas on how to more effectively help your grieving friend.  These are just some things that helped me during my grieving times, and maybe you can feel more comfortable and competent where once you may have felt nervous and unsure.

  • Don't say, "I understand" .  It's really okay to admit that you are out of your league or don't really understand.  
  • Be available to just listen. Your friend just needs a comforting presence right now and avoiding them says that, truthfully, you really don't care or that they aren't a priority in your life.  Be available to listen.  Be present to just sit with her.  Don't feel obligated to be witty or or pithy or wise.  You ought not to feel impelled to talk at all, in fact. Quiet listeners are very few and far between and a lovely gift!
  • On a more practical note, offer to clean their house, do their laundry wash windows or do dishes for them. Cleaning is probably the very last thing on their mind right now.  Helpful, practical friends are a true blessing, and dusting or vacuuming for your friend leaves her free to fully concentrate on the healing process.
  • Organize a meal preparation circle for her. Get your knitting circle, Bible study friends, or zumba group together.  For me, this was the biggest blessing and the kindest thing anyone ever did! Be as generous as you can for as long as possible. Freezer meals and crock pot goodies are some ideas for filling her house with meals so she doesn't have to cook.
  • Make a charitable donation in memory of your friend's lost loved one. When our 6th baby, Janie, was stillborn, we chose to purchase Bibles from the Gideons in her name and donate them to our hospital. On the front page of the Bible it said, "donated in memory of Janie Rose Gilchrist, 5-13-04". You know your friend and you know the causes and organizations that are near and dear to her heart. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate to be a blessing. I highly recommend donating blankets or bottles to your local crisis pregnancy center or the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep foundation.
  • Put together a basket of goodies for your friend according to her hobbies or loves.  A Quiet Time basket with a good book or devotion, hot tea or cocoa, a candle and a bookmark is one idea. Go the extra mile and include a plate of cookies or muffins!
  • The most important and best way to help your friend is to continuously pray for her. Nobody understands better than our Lord Jesus! Let your friend know you are praying diligently for her and then, do it! When her name comes up in conversation, pray! Jesus is our Shepherd and the Holy Spirit will comfort and soothe her in countless ways.
I pray that this has been a helpful post full of practical ideas to make you a more confident minister to your friend.  My friends did these things for me and I will never, ever forget their kindness, sympathy and generosity.  Don't be afraid to ask the Lord for strength and boldness to be able to more effectively console and comfort your friend!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Some Things

Here are some things about me that you REALLY must know!!

~I've realized and remembered that I really love watching college basketball and football! We don't have cable or satellite, so I never get to watch it and haven't watched any sports for at least 18 years (when we turned off the cable...satellite TV wasn't even on the radar yet).  I was in Les Schwab Tire Store Saturday and the TV was on, and an Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball game was playing, with North Carolina Tarheels playing against Maryland.  It was exciting! It was fun...but I had to remember that I was in a public store and, well....

~My girls and I watched the Tournament of Roses parade this year.  Have you ever seen it? It's on a major street in Anaheim, CA.  It coincides with the Rose Bowl every year on New Year's Day.  When I was a child, we watched it every year.  I guess we could have gone to it since we lived less than an hour away.  It was as wonderful as I remember it.  I really liked it and so did my girls.  Those floats are amazing and creative and intricate...and the marching bands were fun! Of course the day was perfect for a parade, as are almost all days in CA!

~Pennie was singing in her sleep the other night.  I nearly swooped her up and brought her into bed with me just so I could kiss on her and snuggle her...but she was sleeping.  Darn.

~I love boots.  Need I say more?

~I have a Shopping Bag saved on Shade Clothing.  I also have a Shopping Bag saved on J Jill. I'm trying to figure out how I can order my stuff!! Let's see...I could sell my first born, only son....I could have a garage sale, in the middle of winter, on a 30 degree day, with nothing...I could sell snow cones on the street corner downtown.....I could open up a traveling llama grooming service....alas, I'm afraid that I must only dream about the beautiful and cute things in my two shopping bags. But beautiful and cute they certainly, definitely are! I really love classy, well-made clothing.

~We just found out yesterday that one of our dear, dear young friends is being courted by a really nice young man...but he lives in Maryland.  NO!

~Daddy is off this week.  I know he'll be so busy that maybe I can chat with him on FB!

~We have three girls who have birthdays in January and they've all decided to have a Birthday Bash together! It's coming up and it's going to be so wonderful and fun!

~I sang opera yesterday.  In my home.  And the curtains waved in the breeze! I watched Beverly Sills, who was an operatic soprano and founded the New York Opera, and Danny Kaye, a comedian who was in White Christmas with Bing Crosby.  They did a two-et (his words) together and it was hysterical and so, I decided I was going to dust off my opera voice.  Yep.  Opera is a LOT of work!!

~I am probably going to have my favorite coffee drink today, thanks to my wonderful friend who gave me a pre paid card for Christmas! My husband lets me refill the card sometimes....I can't wait for my little indulgence!

~It's really, REALLY hard for me to notice that my girls are growing up.  It starts happening first at around 6, when they start losing the little girl look, and then again at around 9, when they start thinning out and getting tall and elegant and looking like young ladies, and then, the sword in the heart really stabs at 12, when they start looking womanly....HOW am I going to give them away??

~I love my van.

~I'd love to have a beautiful, restful bedroom that is a retreat.

~I love Pottery Barn.  

~If I turn on the oven a bit when I wake up in the (early) morning when it's 23 degrees, it warms up the kitchen and dining room rather nicely.  I really like to be warm and cozy but not hot.  It's really hard for my legs and feet to get warm... 

~On that note, I'm a bit obsessed with socks.  Warm, thick socks.  I buy them at thrift stores (don't worry, I wash them!).  However, it seems that as soon as I buy a batch of socks, the Little Sock Troll sneaks in and steals them and we're left with a bunch of socks without matches.  If you see this Troll, please arrest him and take our socks back! I love to wear socks around the house as we have wood floors, but....

~I was contemplating getting a bathrobe.  However, then I would never want to get dressed because I'd be too snug and comfy! So that's probably not going to transpire!

~If there was one random thing, just ONE, that you would want others to know about you, what would it be?? TELL!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Lucie is almost 4.

I can't believe it.

She's very light blonde with sky blue eyes.

Her eyes remind me of the sky on a perfect spring day.  I always marvel at the unusually clear, blue beauty of her eyes!

She really is the sweetest 3 year old I know. She's never been a brat.  She never went through the requisite "terrible two" stage.  She's always had a very mellow personality. And I'm ever so thankful for that.

I love her laugh! She can go from zero to hysterical very quickly.  It's such a unique laugh, woven through with pure bliss and contentment.  When she laughs it makes all of us laugh too! It's what I imagine an elf's laugh to sound like.


That's my Lucie.

Recently she received an early birthday present.  It was a gift card! She had never gotten a gift card before and she felt so grown up!

Last night she got to go on a date with Daddy, just her and Daddy, to spend her card.

She came home with a bag full of goodies.  Licorice.  Mints.  Fruit leather.  Chocolates.....

And she proceeded to pass them out to her sisters and her brother!

On her own.

She was so delighted.  She was so humble.  

Everyone was so surprised! It was like Christmas again and everyone opening their stockings, one by one!

She displayed the shine one gets from doing something nice for someone.  You'd have thought the Lord sprinkled glitter over her.  She fairly glowed with love and satisfaction.

She even got something for Pennie.

I wondered, what 3 year old would ever do something like that?

I can't wait to see what this year holds for her!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I saw this quote this morning.

And my heart instantly came undone.

"Keep dreaming......
Even if it breaks your heart."

And I asked myself.....

Do I dare??

Friday, January 11, 2013

About Me

This post is going to go in a totally different direction that my usual posts.

The reason: I want all of you, my friends, to know that I am a totally random person!

I mean, I CAN hold a thoughtful and orderly mind goes 150 mph usually and I want a record of some thoughts.  They aren't going to be very earth-shaking, but they're in my mind, so here goes:

Today I am wearing: a long black skirt, an Old Navy long-sleeved red shirt, and an ivory hooded sweater with toggle buttons down the front.  My feet are bare and my hair is down and I haven't yet put on any makeup. My only jewelry is my wedding ring and my necklace.

I am praying for: a young 16 year old girl named Anna who has leukemia.  I'm also praying that the vacation calendar at Husband's work is open for the weekend of April 25 so that our family can, for the very first time ever, go to our region's homeschool conference.  Actually, I'm almost BEGGING God!! Have you ever done that??

Outside my window: It is foggy this morning outside my window, with a temperature of 30 degrees.  It is a damp morning, so there isn't any frost. The forecast is for sun and 39 degrees.

In the school room: Lucie, who will be 4 at the end of the month, has started a new thing: she is working on one letter of the alphabet a month.  She's started the yellow level of Hooked on Phonics, but she seems to need a slower, more concentrated approach, so I came up with the idea of just working on one letter a month.  In other school room news, I came up with the idea of a Memory Verse flower.  I made it out of construction paper and placed it on our front door.  As our kids memorize verses, we will write them on the petals.  We will include poems that they memorize also.  I've asked each kid to pick 4 verses or passages in the Bible that they would like to memorize.  I just got a KONOS curriculum and have NO idea how to start or use it....I'm trying to figure it out!

I'm reading: I'm trying to finish the Caledonia series by Michael Phillips.  I'm almost done....The Invisible Woman by Nichole Johnson......

My house: my house is a bit chilly right now, as I didn't have the fireplace going.  We have natural gas and I LOVE IT!!! I have a natural gas oven/range, a water heater and our fireplace.  We switched over in 2001 and have never looked back.  I can turn on the fireplace with a switch and the fan blows the hot air out, and I can adjust the flame to be low, medium or high. It looks just like a regular fire and we just love it.  Right now the living room is in somewhat of a disarray because it didn't get straightened up last night before bed.  The kitchen is clean and the dining room...well, it's semi-okay! I'm trying to get the girls up to start the day...where are they???

Dinner: Tonight I'm not sure what we're having! YIKES!! That won't do, that just won't do AT ALL!!! I meant to take something out of the freezer last night but didn't and nothing else is thawed....but I'm the Queen of Last Minute, so I think it will be fine.  This year I want to work on making more food at meals so that everyone gets enough to eat and then some, and I also want to see our grocery budget go up so that I can afford to buy lunch stuff because we like to have a big, good lunch.

In other areas of randomness:

~I really, really LOVE Green JalapeƱo Tabasco Sauce! Now, this is a surprise because I don't love really spicy things.  This sauce is the perfect combo of a tiny hint of spice and a really fantastic tangy that I love.  May I confess to you that I, I alone, yes ALONE, BY MYSELF finished a whole bottle of the stuff in one week??? Hmm, I wonder if they make a larger size?? I also love Frank's Red Hot Sauce for its tangy/tiny bit of spice.

~My dear, dear friend gave me a pre-paid card to my very most favorite coffee place in the world.  Let me tell you that I am doing pretty well at rationing my drinks over a period of time, but this week, oh this week......I have been craving chocolate and gals, there is just not a hint of a bit of chocolate to be had in the whole house, and it sure does make it hard not to run over and get a drink every day.....BUT I am committed to having my favorite drinks as treats ONLY!! And yes, I can be pretty determined and steadfast. But how I crave a drink right now, and I had one only yesterday!!

~My wardrobe is sad.  Pathetic.  Unbelievably sparse.  I mean, I only own two long-sleeved shirts! Gals, I'm still wearing a nursing bra, and I haven't nursed Pennie in 6 months! I am a Goodwill/cute thrift store junkie....if only I could indulge my love! 

~My husband is off from January 21 through the end of the month.  YAY!

~The other day I took a very quick bath because I decided that I wanted to look pretty for my husband.  I wanted to pick him up from work NOT looking like the greasy, pony-tailed bag lady that I usually look like.  So, I took that bath and blew my hair dry.  I then decided to curl it.  I put on makeup!!!! These are things that I rarely do.  I walked out of the bathroom and all the kids were like wow, you look beautiful....your hair looks good look so pretty.....and I felt SOOO good! Now, if I could only fix my wardrobe situation and get a teenie bit more makeup....needless to say, Husband was impressed!

~I really do like looking really nice, even when I don't have errands to run or places to be.  I have a bit of a unique style that is slightly vintage, sort of a 40's ish/70's ish thing, and I do like to shop and I wish I could!! I adore boots and long skirts and cardigans and fitted T's and denim skirts too.....IF ONLY!!!!

~My hair is naturally very, very dark brown, which is interesting because I used to be VERY blonde, and then blondish-very light brown. I ask you to believe me that I haven't colored my hair in over 6 years.  For real.  All of my gray is hidden and yesterday I looked in the mirror and realized I'm getting a streak of silver down the right side! I thought it would look cool, kind of like Miss Alice Henderson a la the old Christy TV series.....and my son told me he loved silver/gray hair.  On the very cusp of 40, I think I've decided to leave my hair color alone!

~I'm craving Mexican food, like a taco bar or taco salad. I love everything about Mexican food! I love all the fixins and I love to squeeze lime over my Mexican food.

~I could eat a loaded salad every single day.  I simply adore salads.

~I love chocolate.  I'm not necessarily a junky but I do love brownies that are really dense and moist and gooey. is tough when there is not chocolate in the house.....

Monday, January 7, 2013


Well, 2013 is upon us.

Usually, I feel a huge let-down, and a huge sadness, to see the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons leave for another year.  It always seems that after we get all of our holiday decorations taken down that there is a hollowness, an emptiness, left behind.  It usually is sad to see the joy and fun and festivities go away....

But this year it seems different.

I think it's because Daddy was home for the last two weeks of December, which has NEVER happened.  He was home for Christmas AND New Year's and it was like one continuous party with him here.  

This year Christmas was so unexpectedly wonderful, and that feeling hasn't gone away yet.

So far, the new year has been wonderful too.

And we have lots of fun things, and major milestones, to anticipate this year.  Here's a brief list:

  1. In February Pennie turns 2!
  2. In April, our firstborn and only son will turn 18.
  3. At the end of June I will celebrate my 40th year on earth.
  4. Shortly after that, 6 days to be exact, my husband turns 45.
  5. Then, our second born, who is also the first in a long line of daughters, will turn 16 at the end of July. AND she will get her driver's license.
  6. In September it will be our 20th wedding anniversary.
You see, we have some very major things to look forward to this year.  It helps to have those things, because right now, when it's 40 degrees and raining YET AGAIN outside, being able to look forward to things makes this, the rainy season in our area, easier to live through!

We don't have Big Plans for any of those things yet, but we will.  And speaking of Big Plans, that reminds me.....

We have three daughters who all have birthdays in January, and this year they've decided to have a Together Celebration! So we get to have a party and invite our people and live it up for a day! And yes, the excitement in our home is at Almost-Fever-Pitch right now!

Listen, if any of you have any great and unusual ideas for a girl on her 40th birthday, leave me a comment, will you??

Friday, January 4, 2013


Who wants to read about how we do laundry?

We have a big family and in a big family, things need to be organized and run smoothly in order for chaos to be absent.

I didn't say our system is absent of chaos!

But it does work for us.

I instituted this system many years ago, when Russell and Hannah were small, because our present system was NOT working at all.

Now, let me just warn you beforehand: my laundry area is ugly.  It will NEVER find itself modeling in Better Homes magazine.  It is sadly in need of improvement.  It is no picnic to do laundry out there.  It is frigid in winter and hot in summer.  The flourescent tube lighting is broken and out of date and affords little to no light in there. By "in there" I refer to the garage.  It is dark and cold and anyway, we do laundry in there, to the tune of 8 or so loads a day.  Please, don't send me comments on how we ought to improve the space for safety reasons and this and that, because the simple truth is we are unable to improve that space, or any other space in our home, for the simple fact that there is not one penny for those purposes.

So we do laundry in there and we are so glad to be able to have our own washer and dryer!

When I noticed my old laundry sorting system wasn't working, I went to my local store and bought three tall laundry hampers with patterns cut out of the sides, pictured below.

Our laundry baskets

It's hard to see them, but these are the baskets that we use to sort our laundry.  Each basket is labeled.  There's a basket for sheets, towels and burp rags, one for dark colors, and one for lights and whites. I used a large Sharpie marker to write on them. Each basket has pictures that I cut out of a catalog of what goes in the basket, for my children who aren't able to read yet. I taped those pictures on with regular packing tape. The baskets are at least 10 years old and the pictures are still holding fast.  We start our children doing chores very early.  For example, Lucie, at 3, is already sweeping and trying to fold clean clothes. So the pictures help the non-readers know in which basket things go. We also have a basket in the hallway, outside of the bedrooms, into which we throw our dirty clothes.  

Each week we have one person do laundry.  The schedule starts on Monday and goes through Sunday.  Whoever is in charge of laundry takes the basket out of the hallway and into the garage and sorts the clothes into their respective baskets.  The laundry person then brings in any clothes that are in the dryer and folds them, then goes out and puts a load in the washer.  This continues throughout the day. Each child gets a turn doing laundry each week, as we rotate chores each week.

Here's a picture of our washer and dryer:

These are high efficiency machines.  However, there are only two settings on the washer which are high efficiency settings.  High efficiency means they use less water in order to conserve more water, but if there are only two settings and I don't use those settings hardly at all, how is that saving me money?? And let me tell you, I went through each of the 20 or so settings on this washer, and there are really only two settings that save any water at all.  And each month when my $360.00 water bill comes in, I'm not super happy with this washer! My advice to anyone out there looking for a new washer: get an old one!

There is a shelf above the washer and dryer and that's where we keep our detergent and our OxyClean, plus our dryer sheets.  

My new favorite detergent is Wisk.  I love it.  Of course I use the HE formula.  It is not very expensive and it is a wonder and a joy! I had been using Kirkland brand Environmentally friendly formula for years, but recently I noticed my clothes appearing very faded and worn looking, and stains were not coming out.  So, I tried Arm and Hammer.....ewwww. Worse! I hadn't been buying 
OxyClean for quite some time, like maybe a few months, and believe me, I noticed the difference.  OxyClean is absolutely necessary for us for our laundry!

When I saw how gross Arm and Hammer left my clothes looking, I set out to find a new detergent to love that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg.  Now let me tell you, I am snooty! When it comes to things like detergent or sponges for dishes, or things like that, I'm pretty loyal and I think I know what I'm talking about, as I've tried many, many things out there! So I've come by my wisdom by trial and error!

In the past I had used Tide for many, many years.  That's the best detergent, but the price leaves me cold! Before that I had used Cheer for years.

Recently I saw that Costco had Wisk detergent in their coupon book, and I did some online research on the stuff.  I liked what I saw so I decided to take the plunge and when I was laid up last month I had Russell and Hannah go to Costco to shop for me, and they picked up some Wisk, as per my request.  It wasn't ridiculously priced to start with, and it was in the coupon book, which made it an even sweeter deal!

To make a long story short, I have found a new favorite.  I LOVE Wisk. A bottle of Wisk for 120 loads lasts us about 3 weeks or so around here, and I think it was $15.  It's also available at Target in case Costco decides not to carry it anymore down the road.  Also, we use Arm and Hammer Mountain Rain dryer sheets and we're happy with them.  They eliminate static and don't leave behind a very cloying, strong perfume.

So, now you know how we do laundry and where we do laundry.  

What is your favorite detergent? Do you use liquid fabric softener or sheets? I think it's fun to catch a glimpse of how you all do things!