30 January 2011

Michael's First Birthday!

On Saturday we celebrated Michael’s first birthday!  As usual we went totally overboard in planning this party!  

During the past 16 years, Christo and I have planned 37 birthday parties! Some themes are such a hit that we love to repeat them every now and then.  With Michael’s party we did it again!  It actually started with CJ. 

His 6th birthday was a Pirate party.  

Those days grandma still made the birthday cakes and she did an excellent job. 

We also made little treasure boxes for every friend and they had to dress up like pirates and princesses. 

My Dad was absolutely fond of his first and at that stage, only grandson.  He was running the tuck shop at the school where they were hostel parents.

So grandpa sponsored all the sweets in the treasure boxes!
It must have been a very memorable party for CJ,  as he suggested we repeat the theme of Pirates for Michael’s first birthday!
CJ designed the invitations. 

We added little sachets of chocolate coins to accompany the invitations.  
We made little treasure boxes too. 

CJ designed it a little smaller than 10 years ago.  I only had to duplicate the template, cut and glued it al together.  We sprayed different kinds of noodles with gold spay paint to decorate the boxes.
On Thursday we baked two rectangular cakes and Thursday evening, Christo and CJ designed the pirate boat!  
After many measurements and cuts, the two of them were satisfied with their creation and the rest of us, very impressed with the pirate boat!  Now it was over to me for the decoration on Friday!
Friday didn’t turn out as I planned, with a lot of unexpected interruptions and a little morning sickness (must have been stress!). In the afternoon was horse riding and ballet extra-murals and we only started by 17h00 decorating the cake.  Then the pasta maker broke, we had to wait for Christo to repair it (thank you Lord for a handy man for a husband!) and we could only eat by 19h30 - a little out of routine for the Lues children, resulting in grumpy little ones!  By 21h00 all the little ones was in bed and we could focus on finishing the cake.  But 30 minutes later, Michael started crying and I could hear by the sound of his cry, he wasn’t well.  My little Michael was seldom sick in his first year unless he cut a tooth! It turned out he had a blocked noise and had a slight fever.  It must be teething again, he had not cut a tooth in months!

After trying to make him asleep for another 30 minute I put him in the ergo on my back. 

In the meantime, Christo, CJ and Heidi-Mari took over decorating the cake. 

Josua and Danika was filling the treasure boxes. 

By 24h00 the cake was finished. I was exhausted, Michael was crying on and off and I wasn’t coping well.
During the night Michael was restless and still had a slight fever and a blocked nose. By 05h30 I decided to rather pick him up. With him sleeping in my arms, I had a quiet time with the Lord and read my encouraging mothering blogs, for which I haven’t had time  the past few days.  And was I blessed!  Large Family Mother had a posting that could just as well have been written for me.  It encouraged me so much and after repenting for a few bad attitudes the previous day, I was ready for a very special day with my precious family!  
Michael enjoyed opening his birthday presents with his siblings. 

But though he was making his exciting sounds and played along, his eyes wasn’t as bright and awake as usual and he still had the slight fever. We gave him Christo’s teething powder and a Viburcol suppository to control the fever.  
The morning was a blessing!

We invited two large families and all the children had friends to play with.  

The parents enjoyed the party just as much!
Michael is still fighting the fever and is not the busy baby boy we are used to, but I do think he enjoyed his first birthday!  

There are many beautiful pictures taken by CJ and a video taken by daddy!

I want to thank my beautiful family for all their creativity, support and helping hands, when mine hold little Micheal.  Without you Michael’s party wouldn’t have been!
With love

28 January 2011

Michael Started Walking

Two days before Michael's 1st Birthday, he took more than two steps!

26 January 2011

Nelba's Questions Answered

Here is the first set of questions asked with my posting Free to Ask

1.   Do you find that your previous career stand you in good stead in your current career as mom and helpmeet? 
Definitely as helpmeet.  Since Christo is now in the Health business and Dietitians is one of his biggest opposers as far as natural medicine is concerned, he has much more credibility when he tells his clients, he is married to a dietitian and she got it all wrong and admits it herself. After being the mother of colic babies and allergic children for 16 years - I know this to be true!  

As a mom it helped a lot that while I was studying for 4 years I had 2 years of cooking classes and learned some basics in baking and cooking techniques. For that reason I’m giving Heidi-Mari the baking and cooking lessons.
2.   Can you remember when you first heard about homeschooling and what your gut feel about it was?
Christo asked me to homeschool CJ since he was 4 years old, but I just laughed at him, thinking it is totally ridiculous. I just didn’t take him seriously!  He just kept on praying. Then we went on a Walk Thru the Bible training and within 24 hours I met 3 ladies who home schooled their children. 

I immediately knew God was up to something...
3.   Have you read The Shack and what do you think about it?
No I haven’t read it.  I read a few articles about it in the early-early days just after it was published and immediately my spirit wasn’t comfortable with the story. 

I learned early in my life I must listen when I’m feeling uncomfortable and decided not to read the book.  About a year later a friend gave me the book as present, but I still couldn’t read it.  Another friend asked if he could borrow it and I didn’t see it again.
4.   What stands out from your memories of your childhood?
My dad’s compassion for me.  I grew up on a farm, my dad was a part time farmer and worked full time at the South African Railways.  Twice my dogs got hurt so badly, they would not have been able to live a decent life even if they did recover.  I could call my dad at work and he would leave everything and rush home to me and my dog.  Then he would send me off with my bicycle and he would relieve my dog from it’s misery.  When I came back he would be ready to cuddle me and buy me a new dog.

My dad and I would watch popular series on TV together into the late hours of the night. I would sit on his lap the whole evening and when there were scary scenes, he would cover my eyes with his big hand.   
Years later, after I got married, I had two miscarriages after CJ.  We lived in Cape Town and my parents were still living in Bloemfontein.  Our homeopath suggest Ozone treatment for 3 weeks, but it wasn’t advisable for me to drive after an Ozone treatment. Christo couldn’t leave his retail shop during the day to drive me to the treatments.  We called my dad and he came to stay with us for the whole 3 weeks, to drive me to my treatments, even though it was the middle of a very wet winter in the Cape and my dad hated cold, wet winters!
5.   Brothers/sisters?
I was the only child for 5 years, then my sister came along.  She was colic and my mother didn’t cope well.  Although my dad badly wanted a son, my mother refused.

It was during the early years of the contraceptive pill.  Women were now in control of their fertility!  I guess that is where I got my first bad encounter with the contraceptive pill - it deprived me of a brother!
6.   As a child, what was your role in the family structure? E.g. were you the peacemaker or the clown or the responsible one?
I was the eldest and that automatically came with the responsibility tag and the expectations to meet high standards.    
7.   What is your favourite way of relaxing?
Laying on the coach, with my children messaging my feet, messaging my head and rubbing my back!
8.   Do you have a relatively strict routine within your family or do you take things as they come?
I believe routines make a child feel safe and secure and life easier on mom. Late meals result in grumpy children.  A nice warm Epson salt bath after a long day of playing hard, make little once sleep like babies!

  But I can be a little over controlling!  Luckily I have a husband who do believe in balance and once in a while put dirty little ones in bed, to give me a break!
9.   Your favourite verse from Scripture? Why?
Rom 8:28  “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those” who are the called according to His purpose.” 
This verse in Chapter 8 follow after Chapter 7 who says: “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwell; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.”
I’m a sinner, I mess up so easily and often don’t know what is the best thing to do in a situation, but I do know God will work it out for good, for those who love Him.  I only need to trust Him.
10.   Does one colour dominate amongst your clothes or do you wear them all? 
Oh yes! I’m fond of red, for me as well as my little boys!
Thank you for asking Nelba!
With love

22 January 2011

Free to Ask!

Nelba from Cantus, tagged me! 

I could ask her any 10 (or less) questions and she had to answer them.  It was great fun, as well as interesting! 
Those of you who can read and understand Afrikaans, pop over to her blog and read all the questions she got and the answers she gave!
Now I have to tag 5 people.  You can ask me 10 or less questions and I have to answer them. Then you must tag 5 people, (if you don’t have 5 people to tag, don’t let that keep you from playing along) who must ask you 10 or less questions!
I’m looking forward to your questions!
I Tag:
Sonja from ‘n Sagte Landingsplek
Mignon from Freedom Mothering
Donette from The Journey
Esther from Huis Tuis Skool
Nelba, although you already got tagged, you may ask me a few questions too.
With love

20 January 2011


Just a short posting to announce:

"We are expecting Baby #9!"

My dear husband was still waiting for his wives' PMS, when I told him last night I bought a pregnancy test. He smiled and it was such a natural part of our life together - knowing this is why God made us one:  "Because He seeks godly offspring"

The children are so excited.  CJ, as well as Heidi-Mari were not surprised at all, they said they were expecting it, with big smiles!

Dear Andrew couldn't believe his ears, he got a shy smile and looked down to my tummy!

This afternoon David asked me how big the baby is, and I told him: "Still tiny, tiny small."  That was good enough for him and he kept on playing with his cars.

Little Danika is praying for a sister (like she's been doing with the last four pregnancies) and it seems like this time Josua is going to pray with her! How special!

I'm so blessed! As I was watching the second line on the pregnancy test appear, this morning, I felt like Mary, full of praises to the Lord!

God Almighty visited me again and put a new soul in my womb.
A soul that will live forever. A precious new life that will bring God glory and be part of God's army that will destroy the dark works of the enemy! 

Wow! Isn't that awesome! 

I want to sing with Mary:

“For He who is mighty had done great things for me, 
And holy is His Name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
Thank you Lord, I praise Your Name!"

With love

17 January 2011

Obedience: Safe & Secure?

This posting from Large Family Mothering really spoke to my heart:
"We are a planning, plotting, goal-reaching people. We are taught to strategize and have all of our ducks in a row. 
With all of the danger and uncertainty in the world, people are looking for more ways to feel secure; with seminars on how we can make our money work better for us, how to stay out of debt and how to nail-down every aspect of our fiscal existence. 
But we just don’t see it—at least not yet. God is not impressed with all of our vain efforts. Of course, Biblical principles will never steer us wrong—but if we miss the God that speaks these principles, we will still miss the greatest blessing of relationship with Him!
Life is not easy—no matter how one tries to make it seem so. I know some people who live what I call “prophylactic” lifestyles. They don’t just live—they are making sure that they have accounted for every contingency. They exist according to a plethora of checklists for everything from leaving the house to preventive medical tests and exams.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have observed that those who love God don’t usually live “safe” existences. I am reminded here of all the saints in the Word who followed God not by "sight" but by "faith" alone. King David certainly loved God—he was declared to be a man after God’s own heart! And yet, he went through so many trying circumstances—fleeing from King Saul after he was anointed, even living among the Philistines for a time, posing as a madman. 
Even Moses was not without trials because he chose to walk with God.
We should not (and can not) plan for every contingency. Safety should not be our preoccupation. Obedience should be our focus with our gaze on Christ! 
Obedience--not sacrifice! 
Instead of looking to experts, we should be training our spirits to tune in to the voice of the Holy Spirit--following His lead.”

The past two weeks was to say the least a shock for my system. It all started the night after my first day of school for 2011. I was in total despair!  That evening as I was laying in the safe arms of my husband, I uttered my fears, my frustrations and my insecurity for home schooling my eight precious children!
Many a day over the past two weeks, I couldn’t get to every child with all their different assignments.  CJ will turn 17 this year!  Theoretically he has only two years of “school” left. I just love the work he’s learning and don’t have a problem helping him, but oh, to find the right time is such a frustration! For his work we need exclusive time for sometimes up to an hour or longer.  

Try to do that between a baby and 3 toddlers!  Then there is my fear, will I be able to teach him everything he needs to know, for whatever he want to do in the near future?

Little Danika is turning 8 this year and needs a great deal of individual attention, with learning to write, read and doing basic maths! (I am a ‘rather late than early-Mom’) 

It just doesn’t come easy!

Heidi-Mari and Josua are at a stage where they can work more by themselves, but I still need to explain new Math’s concept, English grammar, test spelling and find time for their Science narration! 

There’s also Andrew and David who eagerly waits for their share of stimulation every morning. 

Oh, I have the most creative ideas in different areas on how to teach my children, but it isn’t always possible to execute it in real life!
One of my biggest frustrations is my inability to multitask!  Yes, I know mothers can all multitask, but I can only do this to a certain extent!  Let me give you an example.  At this moment Christo and I are both working on our computers.  Christo love to work while listening to music, but I’m totally distracted the moment he turns on the sound. I just can’t concentrate to order my ideas and words.  Now imagine 3-4 little ones, each telling me something while I’m trying to teach Danika a math concept!  Crazy! Or doing laundry and cooking while helping CJ with Physics.  Just not possible for me.
So, I’m a little out of control, with no hope to get back in control in the near future!  Until I read Shelly’s posting and it called me back to basics and gave me peace. 

Why am I home schooling my children?
Because God appointed me to home school my children, to train and teach them in His will and purposes for their lives.

Why do I have this large family?
Because God made me a Mother, with the purpose to raise godly children, who will one day change the world for Him and bring Him glory and praises into everlasting life!
I’m out of control, but God is in control. My life is in no way safe and secure, but living life through God in obedience is the only safe and secure option I know!  Every moment of every day is a surprise and I can plan as much as I like to, within minutes it can all change due to unexpected events in a large family, with many small children! But this way God can work out His plan for our lives.
I can get distracted to easily!  And I thought of it as a vice until Christo showed me it is a virtue, if I hand over control to God in this area.  I feel secure when I’m in control, so if I could multitask and keep my hand on 8 things simultaneously, I would suffocate my children with ‘school’ and we would miss out on many fun moments.  

Since I get distracted so easily, I can very easily decide that “this is it for the day”, lets go bake a cake or play a board game and through away the schedule!

And then I’m a sinner, in whom God still have to do lots and lots of carving and shaping,  polishing and submitting, to make me holy. Some days I can only bow down my head and cry out to God: “I’m a mess!”  Every day has so many stress situations and temptations, during which I mess up big time, especially on relationships. 
There isn’t many places I can turn to for help.  Other large family mothers are busy with their own trials and challenges.  The only place I can turn to, is my God and in such I’m a blessed woman!
God called me for this purpose in life and I need to trust Him with every second of my day!  There is no better place than being in the centre of God’s will, and in having a large family, and home educating them, I know I am!   

God asks obedience and my missing part is whole hearted trust!  I have to recommit myself to whole heartedly trust Him for this year!  Many a day will not be as I wish them to be, but God will pull as through for His glory and at the end it will be nothing to do with me, but all about God!
My Lord can lead me through the fire without burning, and through rivers without drowning! 
(Is 43:2)
Like Peter I need to focus on Jesus and not on the storms around me.
"God knows that, in our heart-of-hearts, our motivation was to know Him, to trust Him, and to obey Him, no matter how it seems to others and no matter what the cost. And so, even if some days it looks as though the Philistines are winning, we are sure that those things we have entrusted to Him, He is able to keep for us and for His everlasting glory."
With Love

09 January 2011

My First Tomatoes and Some Tips!

On Wednesday night we picked our first tomato!

We picked it, cut it into 9 pieces and every one of the family (except little Michael - who didn’t mind) had a taste of a ripened on the vine, organic, non genetic modified tomato! 
And it tasted totally different, even compared to the organic tomatoes we receive from the Ethical Co-op!

This year my tomatoes are doing extremely well!  I guess I had to go through the trial year,  I made mistakes (some bigger than others), I had disappointments but got the hang of growing a specific vegetable.  There is a difference in reading all the right books and websites on growing a specific vegetable and to learn by experience! That is what happened with my tomatoes.  This year I’m in the trial of growing my own pumpkins, watermelons and corn (more in another posting).

Last year my tomatoes was doing relatively good for a first time, but although we planted almost the same amount of tomato plants as this year, the harvest wasn’t nearly big enough, to last us during summer.  This year I foresee that we will not need to buy any tomatoes, once they start to ripen!

There are dozens of well formed, healthy tomatoes hanging from the plants!
Some things I’ve done that could possibly have made the difference:
Sown my Own Seeds

I’ve sown my own heirloom seeds, in organic worm cast. I bought seeds from Living Seeds and Being Plants.

Plant Strong Plants

I’ve made sure they are strong young plants before I replanted them. I also only replanted them when I was sure the temperature of the beds were warm enough - tomato plants love warm temperature.

The previous year I replanted it too quickly, before the soil temperature could climb and due to my impatience, I lost a few young plants.  This year I lost only one plant!

Mature, Worm- and Nutrient Rich Vegetable Beds

My beds were well prepared with mature, worm- and nutrient rich soil. I once read from Sean Freeman at Living Seeds - healthy plants won’t get diseases.  How do you make sure you have a healthy plant - make sure the soil is full of nutrients and don’t use any pesticides, ensuring a balanced ecosystem. 

Since we have only clay soil, I have to redo the soil of every single bed.  I don’t have any soil available, so the soil in the beds are made up of horse manure (I get it for free from CJ’s horse riding school), peanut shells, Phillipi sand and my home made compost.  But often when I start a new bed the horse manure isn’t mature enough and I don’t have nearly enough hand made compost.  I choose two of last year’s beds for my tomatoes, ensuring the soil is mature.  I only topped it up with a layer of horse manure, Phillipi sand and compost.  As CJ was working through the soil, there were hundreds, maybe thousands of earthworms - a sure sign of nutrient rich soil.
Liquid Fetrilizer

I periodically gave the little plants my liquid fertilizer - Bokashi.  Since I’m in my trial year for pumpkins and watermelons, I had to used almost all my Bokashi for them, but I could manage to spare some Bokashi for the tomato plants.

Finger Pruning

I constantly finger prune the small side shoots, also called suckers, growing between the main stem and the leaf stems, and gently pinch these off with my fingers. 

The side shoots only create a lot of leaves, which take energy away from the rest of the plant and few to no fruit.
In my opinion, pruning my tomato plant is one of the most important things to do towards a healthy tomato plant.

Remove Bottom Leaves

As soon as the plants was about a meter high, I started to remove the leaves from the bottom 30cm of the stem to allow air to circulate through the entire plant and light from beneath.   Removing the bottom leaves is an ongoing proses as the plant grows and the bottom leaves become bigger and tend to grow down-wards. I’ve observed these are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. They get the least amount of sun and soil born pathogens can be unintentionally splashed up onto them.
Hand Watering

This year, I only hand water the plants - no water by sprinkle system and only in the morning, at the latest 11h00.  My mother-in-law believes when you water in the afternoon, the ‘wet plant’ will more easily develop diseases in the cool afternoon air. So although it is much more pleasant to be in the garden in the cooler afternoon, I try to be in the garden as early as possible (that varies depending on the night I had with my two babies) and be finished by 10h00 - preferably 08h00! I carefully water the plants to make sure no soil splash up against the plants’ stem and leaves - this way no soil-borne diseases are caught.  

Every day while I’m hand watering the tomato stools, I make sure they are securely stacked against the trellis. 

It is very interesting to see how pumpkins and peas can tie themselves to the trellis, but not the case with tomato stools. 

Their tendency is to lay on the ground! 

I constantly have to stack my tomato stool and the sooner the better, or the plant will break when you stack it.

Old stockings works perfect to support a stalk, heavy with ripening tomatoes.

Remove Yellow or Wilting Leaves

I gently pinch off any leaves that are turning yellow or wilting on the tomato plant.
We are now only in the beginning of the harvest and I’ve learned you can lose your whole harvest within days, when it catch a disease, but I’m full of high hopes. 

Pruning and tending to my tomatoes is an every other day process, but for me it is also therapeutic and often a time I meet God and receive revelations (more of that in another posting) and now I’m starting to see a harvest I’m very proud of. I can’t wait to have a tomato salad, made only from the harvest in my garden!
David proudly showing off with his harvest of tomatoes this morning!

With love
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