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Candle in the Night

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Merry Christmas for Me

This morning, I received an email from the American Family Association that included the "Naughty or Nice" list.  This list contains businesses that are "pro" Christmas, "anti" Christmas, and those that marginalize Christmas.  I know that Christmas in general has been marginalized whether people use the term "Christmas" or not.  The actual reason for Christmas has been so twisted about that as a fifth grade teacher, when I asked my students  what the reason for the Christmas holiday was, most of them had no idea.  (A little disclaimer here, we were discussing the beginnings of all American holidays.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day...  Not just Christmas.)

It is a sad world we live in where so many people can't tell you the story of Jesus' birth.  Not to mention His life, death, and resurrection.  Growing up, we celebrated Christmas with all the garlands, greenery, and gift giving that everyone else had, but since becoming an adult, I've realized that most people don't have the same associations to all those things as I do.  For us, each thing had a meaning.

The Nativity Scene would go up first and it was the focus of everything.  Set atop the entertainment center in the living room, it was not to be missed.  We were raised to know what was most important about Christmas.  As my sister and I (and later, my brother) unwrapped each piece, we would look at them in awe.  It was always exciting to see what would come out of the wrapping next.  A sheep?  A shepherd? Or perhaps the baby?  We'd take turns placing those pieces in the stable.  The wise men would go over in a different part of the room until about a week after Christmas.  Then, we'd move them to the stable as well to represent the time that lapsed between Jesus' birth and when the wise men arrived.  Since this was always the first part of the Christmas decorating, it really ingrained in me as a child the importance of the Christ Child.  The presents, the lights, the tree...they were all secondary.  The point of Christmas was the Child.  Our Lord and Savior come to Earth as a tiny babe in a manger.

After the the nativity was the tree!  I don't remember the discussion happening specifically, but I always remember thinking about how the tree pointed to Heaven.  Maybe those thoughts came from the story, The Three Trees.  I don't know, but the tree was always there to remind us to look to Jesus.  If you haven't read that story, read it here.  It's worth your time to read!  The evergreen tree also reminds us that Jesus came to earth and is living with us still.

The star at the top of the tree was like the star of Bethlehem.  It was a constant reminder that God led the wise men from afar, that He leads us still, and that Jesus is the light of the world.  In later years, our tree was adorned with an angel.  Of course, this always reminded us of the angel that came to the shepherds and told them they would "find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" and then proclaimed "Glory to God in the highest and on Earth, peace, goodwill to men!"

The lights on the tree were there to remind us of Jesus being a light for all mankind and the garland that beautified the tree made me think of the gold that the wise men brought.  The ornaments had many special meanings.  Some were just family heirlooms, some handmade, some just pretty ornaments collected over the years, but many of them held pictures of Jesus or a nativity scene.

I know that not all people agree with celebrating Christmas, and I'm sure they have good reasons.  Some don't agree with setting up a tree, or decorating with garlands, and some probably don't think it is right to have a nativity scene depicting the birth of Christ.  I have nothing against these people.  Mostly, I'm just sad for them.  What a thing to miss.  The wonder of Christmas has nothing to do with gifts or lights or trees.  The wonder of Christmas has everything to do with The Gift, The Light, The Life.  What a shame to push that out. To miss out on that joy.

So this Christmas, I will focus on Jesus.  I will remember the Gift He gave us on that night so long ago.  And as a side note, I'll support those stores that also proclaim Christmas.  Not "holidays" or whatever else they say.  Christmas.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010


If you like modest skirts and are looking for a new one, here's the place to go!  These skirts are beautiful and well-made.  I love 'em!  Enter to win what I think is the cutest skirt on the site!!

(Oh, and Photos by Jessica did the photography too!!)


GIVEAWAY! Scentsy Candle Warmer

The Modest Mom is currently doing a giveaway of a candle warmer and a $10 gift card for Scentsy products.  I checked out these candle warmers on the website provided and they are absolutely beautiful!!  It'd be a great thing to have in your home this holiday season!  Check it out at the link below!


Monday, November 8, 2010

Ferberizing or "The No-Cry Sleep Solution": What Works for My Baby

Well, the title of this post is a little deceitful  because it makes it sound like I've figured out what works for my baby when in all honesty, I have not.  I have now at least partially read three books on helping your baby sleep and am still at this point, exhausted.  I ought to start by giving some background on my daughter's sleep habits.  H is not a bad sleeper, she's just not great either.  She used to be great when she was small enough to swaddle in her Miracle Blanket, but since outgrowing that, we've woken up a lot in the nights.  

When I read cases of babies waking up every hour and a half during the night, I think, "Wow, I should be thankful that H sleeps better than that!"  But at three in the morning, I could really care less how other people's children sleep.  I want MY child to sleep through the night!  And I don't mean the medical definition of sleeping five hours.  I mean until at least six in the morning.  I don't care if the sleep starts at 7:30 pm or 11 pm.  I want it to end after six.  

I also know that her naps are not great.  I know from my reading that a complete sleep cycle is at least 45 minutes and if they wake up before that is up you're in for what the third author mentioned here calls a "disaster nap."  H has a lot of these.  She sleeps 30 minutes or so and wakes up too rested to go back to sleep, but too sleepy to be happy.  And I end up with a cranky baby much of the day.  

So, I went in search of a technique that would work.  I did an internet search and found several recommended books which I proceeded to check out from the library.  Below, I give a brief overview of each book and tell you how they worked for us.  The overview is in red and my thoughts are in green.  That way, if you've already read the book, you can skip the overview.

Solve your child's sleep problems [Book]
This is the first book I read.  It drew my attention for several reasons.  First, the site where I found the recommended books stated that Dr. Ferber is the only one who has done extensive sleep research.  Second, I confess that I was impressed by the "M.D." on the cover.  Third, I knew that Dr. Ferber advocated the "cry it out" method and H was already to the point that no matter what, she was crying.  Even if I tried nursing her to sleep, eventually, she'd pull off and start crying.  And even if I did get her to sleep, as soon as I laid her down, she'd wake up and start crying.  So I figured, what could it hurt?  She was crying anyway.  Why not cry herself to sleep?  If she would just SLEEP!!!  

Dr. Ferber's method is for babies about 4 months and up. It's main purpose is teaching parents to break sleep associations. For example, H associated nursing with going to sleep. Therefore, if she'd wake up in the night, or even as I was laying her down, she couldn't go back to sleep on her own, she had to nurse. It's not that she was hungry, it's just that that was her association. Some kids associate watching tv, being rocked, having a certain bedtime story or song, having mommy lay down with them, and the list goes on and on, with falling asleep. 

To break that, Dr. Ferber says the best way is a progressional method. You don't put the baby in their own bed to cry and cry all night. That just leaves you and your baby exhausted. Instead, you lay them down, say goodnight, and leave the room. You let them cry for 3 minutes, and then go back in, reassure them (without picking them up), and then leave after 1-2 minutes. Then, you wait 5 minutes. If they're still crying, you go back in, reassure them again (same as last time) and then leave the room. Then, you wait 10 minutes. If they're still crying, you go back in again. After that, you continue to wait 10 minutes and go back to reassure them for as long as it takes to go to sleep. 

That's the first night. The next night, each time is a little longer. I believe it's 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15 minutes. Then the next night longer until eventually, the baby knows how to fall asleep on their own. 

At first, I couldn't believe how quickly H caught on!!  I was thrilled!  The first night or so, she probably cried for about 20 minutes and then was back to sleep!  It was great!  Our only problem was those three to four a.m. wakings.  I was following the method and going in at increasing intervals and she would cry and cry and cry.  Sometimes for an hour.  When she did go back to sleep, it would only be for ten minutes or so before she'd wake up screaming again.  So, I decided she really was hungry.  After all, she'd normally been asleep for eight hours by the time she woke up and she's so little!  So I got her up to feed her.  It worked pretty well.  If she woke up after that early morning feeding, she'd go back to sleep fairly quickly.  

I thought I'd solved H's sleep problems!  ...until we went on vacation.  You see, when you're staying with your grandpa, or with your little brother in the next room, you can't let your baby just scream.  It tends to bother people.  And H wanted to scream much more than normal because we were at a new place.  The vacation wasn't that bad though and I figured when we got home, it'd all be back to normal.  Not so.  She was back to crying all over again and it was worse than it had been even when we'd just started.  I wasn't sleeping and she was crying, and worst of all, her two or three hour naps had transformed into thirty minute naps.  NOT okay!  I discovered that instead of getting rid of her "sleep attachments" all together, she'd become attached to crying herself to sleep.  She couldn't fall asleep without crying first.  That's when I decided it was time to get out some of those other library books I'd checked out.  

The no-cry sleep solution: gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night [Book]
This book is very appealing not only because it seemingly promises no tears, but also because of the sweet, sleeping baby on the cover.  If that baby can sleep deeply enough to have his picture taken for the cover of this book, the method inside must work, right??  

I must confess, I read very little of this book.  The beginning of it was enough to make me question if it would really work.  Basically, according to the author, if you have a solid routine and use the right methods, your baby will not cry when going to sleep.  Ever.  She offers different ideas to try with your baby to help her to fall asleep easily and says that if you use some of these methods, for example, getting your baby so sleepy while you're rocking her that when you put her down, she'll fall right to sleep, when your baby wakes up, she'll fall back to sleep on her own.  

We got busy on this right away.  I set in place a solid routine.  At night, I'd bathe her, nurse, read a couple books, sing, and then rock until she got nice and sleepy.  Then I'd lay her down and she'd go right to sleep.  Sounds great, right??  Only problem was that it didn't work.  Not the first night, or the second, or the third.  In fact, H was getting worse, not better.  Now, I'm not saying this wouldn't work for some children, but it sure didn't work for us.  As I would rock H, she'd get more and more agitated.  She'd squirm and push and struggle.  I think she knew that if she got too sleepy I was going to put her down and she didn't want that.  When she would finally calm down, I'd lay her down and she'd wake right back up.  

Well, this is the no-cry sleep solution, so I would pick her up, rock her again and start all over.  Over and over and over.  Finally, she'd fall asleep for the night only to wake up at her normal 4:00 hour to do it all over again.  And naps were even worse!!  I would rock her and soothe her and she'd finally calm down until I laid her down.  The biggest problem here was that with naps, she would get her second wind faster than at bedtime.  Naps basically stopped happening or I would put her down and let her cry herself to sleep because if I didn't, I would go crazy.  Even when I'd put her down to cry, I'd often go and get her up because she just wouldn't stop.  

This was NOT the solution for us.  It was all cry and no sleep.  So, I pulled out the next book.  

The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy [Book]

The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy.  From the introduction, this book sounded like the most logical thing I'd heard.  The Sleep Lady (Kim West) does not promise no tears.  She also doesn't tell you to put your baby down and let them cry in the dark.  Her method is a combination of the two methods above.  West also breaks down her instructions into age groups which I think is wise since little ones change so much as they grow.  She teaches parents what she calls the Sleep Lady Shuffle.  Basically, her method (for 6 to 9 month olds) is this.  

Have a STRICT bedtime routine.  About a half hour or so before bedtime (which should be around 7:30) start your routine.  Have it quiet and dim.  Go through your soothing, gentle routine and when the baby seems sleepy, lay her in the bed.  (Sounds like the no-cry sleep solution so far, right?)  If she wakes up or begins crying, which she probably will the first night, pat her, reassure her, let her know you're there, and then shut up.  But don't leave.  For the first three nights, sit right by the crib where you can pat her back and she can see you.  It may take time to get her to sleep, but that's okay.  On the next three nights, move your chair to the middle of the room.  You can still talk to your baby, but don't get up unless you absolutely have to.  If your child is hysterical or you can't handle it, pick her up (over her bed) and reassure her.  Then, when you're both calm enough, put her back and return to your "shuffle" position.  The following three nights, move your chair to the door, then out into the hall, then to where she can't see you.  By that time, she should be going to sleep much better on her own.  When she wakes in the night, go to your "shuffle" position and talk to her from there.  

I just read this book and am beginning to apply the practices for H.  I haven't seen results yet, so I'll have to update you later.  The whole approach makes more sense to me than either of the above ideas though.  Letting your baby scream in terror that you're gone is not going to help her sleep better.  Likewise, always going to her when she cries simply to make sure she doesn't is not going to teach her to be a good sleeper either.  In this method, when your child cries, it's not because she is scared, but because she's saying, "HEY!  Why are you putting me down here?  I'm tired and you've always put me to sleep before.  What am I supposed to do now?" and you can gently help her learn to fall asleep on her own.  

It sounds good anyway.  Let's just hope it works!!  

What sleep methods have you found work on your children?  

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Fall Flowers Headband

H has a brown, tan, and orange outfit that I just love and I put it on her this morning and realized people might have reason to wonder if she was a girl.  I hate people asking me, "Is that a female???" or "What's his name??" or "Is that a girl???" so I needed a solution to the problem.  Hence the Fall Flowers Headband.  Love it! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Recent Wedding Photography

Lately, I've been doing lots of photography!  It seems like I went from almost none to tons all at once!!  Which is great...if I could just get caught up with the editing.  My computer seems to be bogged down by the number of photos it is storing, so working on them is slower than ever!  So...I thought I'd just share a few of the pictures I've been working on since it could be a while before I get them all up on my website.

These first few are from David and Mariah's wedding.  It was a beautiful wedding and a wonderful reception!  Very soon, I'll have more of their pictures up!

These next photos are from my brother-in-law Andrew and my new sister-in-law Amanda's wedding.  What a blessed day that was!  It was so nice spending time with family and friends up in Maysville and marrying Andrew off!  :)  

As you can see, Andrew is a bit of a goof (and he fits right in to Amanda's family)!  For those of you who know Andrew and Amanda, I'm sure you've seen they have more silly pictures than serious ones.  That made shooting their wedding even more enjoyable!  

The last wedding I shot this season was Kenna and Jonnie's.  It was so fun to shoot for many reasons.  First, it was absolutely beautiful!  It was candlelit which gave it a beautiful touch and the black and red colors made it so elegant.  It was also special to me because their ceremony was the same place my parents got married.  I've grown up looking at their wedding pictures and it was neat to be able to shoot a wedding at the same location.  


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

GIVEAWAY! KitchenAid Blender and Smoothie

Click on this link and enter to win a free KitchenAid Blender and Smoothie!  I'd love to have one of these!!  :)

It looks like tonight is the last chance to enter, so do it soon!


Candle in the Night: A Blog for my Home and Businesses

I am so excited about starting this blog! I feel like God is really working with me to expand what I do for my family. I have had numerous opportunities to expand my small businesses and am really excited about sharing all this in blog form. But even more importantly, I want to share lessons I’m learning as a stay-at-home mommy as I take care of my husband and little girl and help to earn money for my family.

As the virtuous woman spoken of in Proverbs 31, my greatest hope is that one day, my children will rise up and call me blessed and my husband also will have cause to give me praise. But most of all, I seek to be a candle shining in the night.

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
Proverbs 31:10-31