Monday, December 31

2012, The Year in Review

It has been entirely too long since my last post. We 're living a blessed life. We continue to keep the focus on serving God, and it allows us to keep life simple. There have been lots of changes, new and exciting things going on in our household.  We finally got the ok, in the spring, to return to church with Austin.  It had been advised, by his physicians up until that point, to not have Austin in any childcare setting.  His immune system is lower than the average child, and with his chronic lung disease it was feared that a common cold would send him to the hospital and that our time here with him could be short.  (We still have to use caution when exposing him to animals and staying away from sick people. Those common things for most people could still cost Austin a lot of harm and a possible hospital stay.)  So, finally we were allowed to go back and we returned to the Sunday school class that we used to be part of; it has been wonderful for us. We've been able to be very active in the class on Sundays as well as for get together and church during the week. Our family has thrived with this, and it has been wonderful to get that consistent spiritual encouragement from others.
When you live second by second walking with the Lord you strive to exhibit HIS traits. Correct? Bradley and I often review the fruits of the spirit from Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no such law against these things." If you have the spirit within you then your life should produce the fruits.  We pray for The Lord to continue to show us His will and know that we must continue to trust in Him and He will give us peace and grace. It's just amazing to see what our Heavenly Father continues to do in our life. It's wonderful to watch and be so positive about every little thing. Truly, when Jesus is in your heart and you surrender to Him , to serve Him, you just can't help but have a joyful heart. We're surrounded by Godly people, and its such a wonderful experience. Godly people just smile so much more. Their eyes light up with this secret that they hold in their hearts knowing that Jesus died for the to have eternal life. They're encouraging, loving, and supportive. And, yet we still have Christ who loves us more and will never forsake us.
Looking at these great verses I found about walking with The Lord- the joy, peace, love and happiness it will bring you...
2 Samuel 7:28 O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.
Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Psalm 37:5-6  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Psalm 84:12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.
Psalm 86:2 Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.
Psalm 112:7 He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.
Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
Proverbs 11:13 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.
John 14:1 Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 13:6-7 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 The kids are growing so fast. Bradley is in the first grade and thriving. He's in a new vertical program where they can go at their own pace for language arts.  Reading is a favorite thing to do for Bradley and  he logs about 500 minutes a month for his reading chart.  His reading level is above that of where it should be, which absolutely thrills Chris and myself. What parent wouldn't want that?!?:)  If the program goes well, then next year they plan to make math vertical as well. His teacher calls him a leader, giving, and helpful.  Bradley has asked to take karate for years, so we finally started that at the end of the summer. He has graduated to his 3rd belt, which is orange with his karate instructor. Bradley loves being active in church and is continuing to grow in his walk with the Lord. He strives to always make the right choices and follow the fruits of the spirit. He can recite them and understands them well.  I'm constantly told, by other adults, how well mannered he is. I've always strived to teach him these things and now he's old enough to model this in his daily life. I truly believe h e will bring many to know and love Jesus Christ.  Austin turned FOUR on Thanksgiving and that amazes me. Our child that may never walk or talk does it exceptionally well these days. He's in preschool and has done great with the new endeavor. His immune system still doesn't handle it as well as we'd hoped, but he fights through each illness. We've had to do oral steroid treatments a good bit since the start of fall, but he's done much better over the past few weeks. So, hopefully his immunities are starting to kick in. Austin has grown exponentially over the last year, in our opinion. On his 3rd birthday he was 24 pounds, and he is currently 31 pounds! We haven't gone for his 4 year well check yet as the pediatrician decided recently with all the flu and other bad sicknesses going around that we should postpone his well visit until February. She said no point in risking his health. But he is almost filling out size 4 clothes. He's the oldest in his preschool class, so I guess you'd expect him to be one of the bigger kids and he's not but to our delight and joy  he isn't the smallest which we did expect. He has grown, because we started him on an appetite stimulant a few months ago. He was not growing and finally the pulmonologist said we had to do something. I had heard about this one good medication and thats the one he suggested. So, we said lets try it and it's working! Austin participated in the little Christmas performance with his class that they do for the parents and sang and danced. Yes, I cried! (I cry when all my kids do stuff like that. FYI) Austin loves to sing and dance. He has the ability to memorize all songs and even movies and often goes around repeating the whole thing, especially when watching it. Got to get that on camera! Cameron Grace will be 3 in March. She still eats and sleeps like a champ. She loves to help me with laundry, cooking, and cleaning. I'm so blessed to be able to experience raising both sexes. I'm so very thankful for that. Cameron's favorite colors are pink and purple. "Hot pink" is her favorite though. She cracks me up with things like that... Where did she get that?!?! She is such a little Mama and helps with everything. She enjoys going to church too. She has learned so much about Baby Jesus and tells us all about him often. Cameron Grace also likes to sing and dance too. She is already in love with our new house. She insisted on going upstairs as soon as the stairs were in to see "my room". At just 2 years old I'm just amazed with how much she already knows and understands. And, when we went downstairs she said, "bye room, bye. I love you" and blew kisses! Ha ha. She loves her baby cousin who was born in July. She begs to hold him and love on him. And, in case you're wondering. She has asked to be called  "Cameron Grace" and since we think its a beautiful name we oblige. All girl! ( she does like playing with cars though:)) Davis is walking and talking. He's growing so fast! People ask if the 3 little ones are triplets; that's a little bittersweet. Davis is a wild man and thinks he is as big as everyone else. He does everything the others are doing such as singing and dancing. I'm soaking up every bit of the baby stages that are slipping away too quickly... Some days they are flying by when he does things like refuses to be carried, because he wants to run after his older siblings. By spring I'm sure he will actually be running! He tries all kinds of foods, and his most often used words are cookie and cracker. He is already starting to string together 2 words. His speech reminds me of how Bradley's was at this age, so if that continues he may surpass Cameron Grace if she doesn't watch out. (Her speech is coming along nicely too) Davis does best at church when he's with everyone, but he has gotten a lot better in nursery now that he's waking. Walking has made him happier all around just like his older brothers. He also gives the sweetest hugs and kisses.
Other Wicker whereabouts . . . We sold our home and moved during the summer to a house that we are renting while we build a new home. The new house is coming along nicely. We designed it specifically for our family. It's the same square footage as the old house, but it works much better for us.  Less formal space,  because that isn't "us" at all. Things such as a laundry ROOM and not closet, walk in pantry, and drop zone will help this family of 6 run more smoothly.  With 4 kids we have lots of laundry, food, and "things" that need homes. I can't wait to get organized again, because there isn't much of that going on in the rental house. We can't wait to share it with our family and friends.  We continue to spend lots of time in the new neighborhood having picnics, walks, and playing with old and new friends. The kids love it there. Cameron Grace begs to see the new house... She loves being outdoors, well all the kids do, and we spend so much time outdoors there. Chris' job is keeping him busy. I hate to call it a job, because its really more of a lifestyle.  It's way more than a job. It takes a lot of commitment from him. It's never just a weekday, 9 to 5 job. It doesn't include breaks, lunch breaks, nor always weekends and holidays off. It requires commitment from me as well. There are long hours of running solo with our crew. The kids are learning that if someone is sick Daddy has to go help them instead of staying home with us. It's good for them to know that there is a world beyond them. God definitely led Chris to this career, and I see it more and more the longer he practices. We took a few trips this year. We went to Isle of Palms in June, and it was great. We had a few different friends come visit us while we were there for the week. We ate great food, enjoyed afternoons by the pool, walked to get ice cream, spent long hours on the beach,  and just enjoyed being together as a family. In August, we went to Pigeon Forge with Papa and Nanny Wicker.  It was such a nice end of the summer treat and break away from the heat of the Midlands. We enjoyed the aquarium, bear exhibit, and this cool parrot place while eating lots of yummy food and spending family time together. We can't wait for our trip next year with them.  A few days before Labor Day weekend Chris and I decided last minute to pack up the kids and surprise them with a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte. It was absolutely awesome. We were just there one night, but it was magical. We ALL loved it.  The water park is great fun, then there is the mini bowling alley, arcade, and craft area. And, even the food is fabulous. We highly recommend it for a night or 2 away . . . So much so that we decided to take Austin back for his 4th birthday. His birthday was onThanksgiving this year and truthfully both of those days are bittersweet because of Brayden and Lexi, so we decided to just do something extra special this year. We extended an invitation to our family to go with, so my parents and The Wickers packed up and got their own rooms and celebrated with us.  Another fun trip! Chris and I said perhaps we should go away every Thanksgiving. We took our normal trips this year to pick strawberries and apples a couple times each. Chris and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and 17 years together! Wow! Davis followed our family tradition and was baptized on Mothers Day. All 6 of our lives have been dedicated to our Heavenly Father on Mother's Day.  Bradley's 6th birthday was celebrated at the bowing alley with an Angry Bird theme. Cameron Graces 2nd birthday was an ice cream social complete with an ice cream buffet. Davis' big number ONE was a pool party with snow cones provided by Kona Ice. And, Austin got his monster truck cake as he wished at Great Wolf. 
It has been a great year. I can't believe that 2012 will come to a close in a few short hours. I pray for my family in 2013 as I always do. I pray for us to continue to serve The Lord first. I pray that we seek His will in all we do, big and small, and continue to grow in our walk with Him.  I pray for our well-being and health. This time next year I pray that I'm able to reflect on the year warmly and with a heart full of joy as I am right now about 2012.  I can't believe this time next year I will have a 7 year old son, 5 year old son, 3 year old daughter, and 2 year old son.  How incredibly blessed!
I look forward to what the new year will bring to our family. I know it will hold many sweet memories. Thank you for catching up with us. I hope to post more often, after all this is such a great way to remember this most special season of our life. I pray for all our friends and family to have a wonderful New Year. May God bless you!

Tuesday, December 11

Homemade goodness

I've been making my own laundry detergent for about a year, and it's been great. Saved lots of money, no skin issues, works with HE and regular washers, smells good, and exposes us to less unnecessary chemicals. Have you ever read the labels on things such as this and wondered how much of it your body was absorbing???? Yuck. So, I was asked to share the recipes. Here you go:

1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha, grated ( I use 1/2 bar instead for extra scent)

½ cup washing soda (found in the laundry aisle in most stores - Arm & Hammer makes it)

½ cup borax powder (also in the laundry aisle - look for "20 Mule Team" brand)

~You will also need a 5 gallon bucket with lid.  I use bucket to mix then i have 3 old laundry detergent containers that I use to hold all it makes.

Put the grated soap in a sauce pan. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. I pour immediately into my containers. Let the soap sit for ab an hr and it will gel. You use ½ cup per load.

Fyi: This soap does not foam, so don't be surprised when you first use it. Also, if you want more scent just use your favorite essential oil. I don't use any bc of using more of bar soap. I've found all things above at walmart

So, since I had such success with the laundry detergent I recently researched and made my first batch of fabric softener. I've been using it for about a month and it's great. I do use the essential oils for this to make the vinegar smell not so strong which the vinegar smell does go away with wash regardless. My favorite essential oils are orange and lemon.

Fabric softener :
1 cup baking soda
6 cups white vinegar
1 cup of water
10 -15 drops of essential oil of your choice. I like orange or lemon
a bucket
wooden spoon
* Add the baking soda to the bucket
* Add the water to the baking soda in the bucket
* SLOWLY add
 the vinegar to the bucket, take care though as it’s going to bubble up like a 5th grade paper-maché volcano
* When all of the vinegar is added to the baking soda and has settled, stir it a bit so that the majority of the baking soda dissolves.
* Get a large empty plastic bottle and pour the vinegar/ baking soda/ water brew into it, add the essential oils.
Use 1/4-1/3 cup of mixture per load of laundry.

PS. I've been working on a new post of our whereabouts so check back soon for that. Gotta get thru Christmas cards and shopping first. :-)