Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

   Six months ago, Mama and I found out that we were both Gluten Intolerant.  This discovery changed our lives.  I now know why, for years, I’ve had an increasing struggle with fatigue, why my body ached constantly, and I lacked the energy to carry out the duties of normal life.  This isn’t the Susan Liana we know, you might say, but it was the person I was at home.  I could put on a good front, pour all of my energy into an event, or person, or visit, but the next morning I would hardly be able to get out of the bed.  I wondered what was wrong with me.  Did I have Chronic Fatigue?  I wondered if I would live the rest of my life like this.  I knew that feeling as I did I would never be able to keep up with children, or manage a household well.  That’s when I realized that we had to do something.  Anything.  All my life, all I’ve ever wanted to be is a wife and mother, and I could see that dream slipping away from me.  

   That’s when we sought the help of an old friend of ours who, in the years since we knew her, has become a Naturopath.  Mama and I were both tested, and consequently learned that we are both Gluten Intolerant (Wondering what gluten is?  Check out this article).  Eating gluten creates inflammation in our small intestine, which destroys the villi which line it.  This interferes with our ability to absorb nutrients from our food, because the villi are responsible for absorption. We are also intolerant to a number of other foods.  Those intolerances (dairy, soy, and more) are most likely caused by the gluten intolerance and may, over time, if we carefully avoid all of the foods that we are intolerant to, go away.  They might, or they might not.  Almost certainly, I’ll live the rest of my life without eating any more gluten.  Does this bother me?  Am I upset by this?  Not at all.  On the contrary I am very thankful.  Thankful to know, at last, what causes my fatigue, and most thankful that there is something that I can do about it.  I’m thankful to know that a sovereign God designed my body and that my being Gluten Intolerant fits into His plan for my life.  Of course I miss foods that I used to love and can no longer eat, but those foods were destroying my body, and no food is worth that.   A simple diet change has changed my life, and it is completely worth it.

   I've got a long way to go before I’m back to normal.  It can take years to heal the damage done to my body, but already I feel so much better.  It is becoming easier to get up in the morning.  I can now get through the day without a nap, and I actually feel excited by the prospect of housework.  I can see glimpses of the girl who liked to get up early, to do laundry, to make dinner.  In short, the girl who liked to make plans, work hard, and accomplish a lot.  I have a brighter outlook on life and I’m excited to see what the future holds. 

   Changing the way we eat has of course changed the way we cook.  It has been a big learning curve for Mama and me, but it is actually forcing us to learn more about cooking.  We are even learning to enjoy eating vegetables!  Expect future blog posts on Gluten Free cooking, because that’s a big part of our life now. 

 “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  Psalm 139:14


Susan Liana

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Window Treatments

Since Molly Elizabeth and I repainted our room this summer, we needed some new curtains/window treatments/shades of some sort. The curtains we had before were for looks, not functionality. This time I wanted to make something that could be lowered to cover the windows and wasn't just stationary. After looking at a few different options, I decided on London Shades, a variation on Roman blinds. My friend Barbi, who has experience in making blinds/shades, graciously volunteered to help me out. I've never made shades, so her expertise was invaluable! We made them start to almost finished in one day. It was so much fun to sew together!

The next day I added cording and a knot detail...

...and hung the shades.

Barbi and Susan Liana with our finished shades

I was thrilled with the way they turned out. Molly Elizabeth is still trying to decide if she likes the fabric. Oh, well, it's too late to change them now!

~Susan Liana

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our summer...thus far

We thought this was going to be a fairly relaxed summer. Mama and I envisioned ourselves doing sewing projects, stripping furniture, painting; in short we thought we would time. I'm not sure where we got that idea.

We started our summer by attending our very first Colonial ball in Winston-Salem, NC. Along with our friends the Heritages, we spent many evenings leading up to the big event trying to memorize 20 dances. Many of the dances were new and, much to my delight(!), several were more challenging than we are used to.

The fun we had that evening was worth all of the hard work.

We painted (ah, we did get to the painting!) the kitchen blue and decorated it in soft blue and green. Don't you just love freshly starched linen?!

On Memorial Day, our family played golf together at our very own Black Creek Golf Course. This was the first time we've golfed as a family.

Okay, so we didn't all play. Mom and Molly Elizabeth just came along to drive the carts...

At the beginning of June, we had a small English Country Dance at the Fresh Air Home on Tybee Island. The beachy setting was perfect for an informal summer dance, where I taught our Savannah friends some of the more advanced dances we learned for the ball in Winston-Salem.

This year it was Grandaddy's turn to host the Sisco family reunion (he is one of 12 children). His children and grandchildren pitched in to help him pull together a weekend in Chattanooga packed with great fellowship, lots of yummy food, and a fabulous family history lesson. Above: Granddad and most of his children and grandchildren

The Sisco Gang. I think we had around 75 attending this year.

Mom and Dad celebrated their 31st anniversary on June 21st. We helped them celebrate by serving dinner for two on the veranda.

Our whole family joined our church's youth mission trip to Live Oak, FL, where we did construction on two houses and built a playground for a local church. Daddy worked on building the playground (which was huge!). Mama and Molly Elizabeth painted, Benjamin and Andrew hung Hardie-board siding, and Clay led the soffit crew (the stuff that goes under the eaves of a house). Susan Liana led the vinyl siding crew on the house pictured above.

Our week long camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with the Hobson family was tons of fun! We usually camp in Cades Cove, but this year we switched it up a little and went to Cosby. During the week we did some hiking, went tubing, played lots of games, visited Cataloochee, ate a lot of food, didn't take many showers, and had an all around wonderful time.

We started camping with the Hobson family in 1999. At that time we had a combined total of 10 kids. We've now grown to 15!

A few days after our camping trip, we painted the girls's room a coral pink.
We also painted the dining room and lots of white trim (thanks to Granddaddy!) this summer.

Mom and Dad have worked hard in the garden, and we've enjoyed many meals that have included our very own produce. Peppers and squash have been particularly plentiful, because the deer don't care for them.

Clay has been our traveler this summer. So far he has spent a week in New Hampshire staffing a TeenPact Survival class, and a week at World View Academy. He leaves Sunday for three more weeks, staffing TeenPact Survival classes in Montana and Alaska. Molly Elizabeth has worked two weeks at our church's day camp, and right now we are enjoying our friend from Texas, Courtney Hebert, who is visiting us for a week.

It might not have been the relaxing summer we expected, but, so far, it has been a good one. It isn't quite over yet...maybe we'll still get around to stripping that furniture.

~Susan Liana

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two In One

5:30 rolled around with no supper on the table or even the finished end in sight. Mama had two things in mind, squash and spinach, both hardly even filling enough for sides. Yet we most definitely wanted those. The squash was still on the vine so it couldn't get any closer to being 'fresh off the vine', while the spinach was withering in the drawer.

One of the over-abundant veggies was ready, but the others weren't quite 3" long, and yet an early death was in sight. Let me state this upfront: Mama and Daddy are the only people in our family who like squash. There you go, the cat is out of the bag. Away with the healthy front of the second sentence. However, being southern, we will eat most anything fried! And eat it with a vengeance we will, too. There was the ticket away from the mushy, squishy, over-cooked vegetable. Fried was the answer, so I put my plan into action. Out of the house, I made a bee line to the garden and guess what I found! A squash with two heads (so to speak). They had grown together! It made my day. Instantly I thought of a blog post. I know. I know. It shouldn't have taken me an hour to cook 'em up for dinner, but I had to take pictures for the blog like every other good blogger (I was disappointed because the pictures didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but, oh, well).

By the way, I love fried squash! And what we had last night was delicious, if I say so myself. Now that the fresh produce is rolling in, I suggest you cook some up, too!

"Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it." -Proverbs 15:17

~Molly Elizabeth

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Floral Beauty

Our flowers are blooming and the smell of spring rain is hanging in the air right now. It is all so beautiful! I am going to share a few of my favorite pictures that I took the other day in a random streak of photography enthusiasm. Hope they make you as happy as they do me :).

"28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." - Matthew 6:28-29

~Molly Elizabeth

P.S. These photos are non edited.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Williamsburg: Six Years and Still Going Strong!

You might ask us why, after six years, we are still going to Williamsburg. The short answer would be, "We love Williamsburg!" But, there is more to it than that. We go every year with a group called the MOMYS group (Mothers Of Many Young Siblings). The group is composed of Christian homeschooling families from all over the country. Some come to see Colonial Williamsburg, some come to just hang out and spend time with the other families, and some come to do both (that's us!). What we did this year (generally speaking) was very similar to last year. And no, we don't get tired of it. Walking the streets of Colonial Williamsburg in period clothing, catching up with old friends and making new friends, and doing English Country Dancing are the some of the reasons we keep going back.

This year two other families from Savannah came with us, the Heritages (who came with us last year), and another family from our church, the Boatrights. We were also very excited to have Granddaddy join us for the week. Benjamin and Andrew came the last few days, as did our friends from Richmond, the Martins. The Martin girls stayed a few nights and jumped right into the swing of things. We had so much fun being Colonial all together!

If you've wondered what we've been doing for the last two months, the pictures below will give you some idea. We make all of our own period clothing, and as always, there were new things to make this year. Molly Elizabeth grew and needed new outfits, we wanted to make a few things more period correct, and we were outfitting the Heritage family with their own set of period clothing (they borrowed some of our old things last year). We sewed like crazy up until the day we left and really thought at the time that we might never want to sew again. But, after spending a week around so many beautiful examples of period clothing, we left more inspired than ever and determined to make our clothing as authentic as possible.

As always we wish the trip had not gone quite so fast, but at least we have wonderful memories and some beautiful pictures for you to enjoy along with us.

The week always starts with an All Together Get Together (ATGT) where we meet all of the families and then have a dance. This was taken after the dancing (L to R: Susan Liana, Molly Elizabeth, Anna, Courtney)

Walking the streets of Colonial Williamsburg.

The lovely Mamas
(L to R: Miss Jane, Mama, Miss Kay)
(photo credit: Anna Heritage)

Agh! What did you do??
(Mama and Granddaddy in the stocks)

Some of the guys went to Military History Through The Ages which was held at Jamestown. Here Benjamin is sword fighting with a Medieval weapons scholar.

Mr. Boatright, Hunter, Daddy and Granddaddy at Jamestown

We had fun one day doing a photo shoot. Here are a few of the shots:
Susan Liana
(photo credit: Anna Heritage)


Molly Elizabeth

The boys posing with style...
(L to R: Hunter, Mr. Heritage, Christian, Andrew, Clay, Kevin)
The girls being girls...
(L to R: Hope, Molly Elizabeth, Susan Liana, Anna H., Ruth, Courtney, Anna M.)

Counting the days until next year...
~Molly Elizabeth and Susan Liana

Friday, February 18, 2011

Decorating Hats

I love hats. I love decorating hats; working with the ribbon just makes me happy. Every time I see a promising hat at a thrift store, I can't help but pick it up and add it to my collection (I have quite a few now). My latest find was red and purple (yes, a Red Hat Society hat); mama walked right past it. I bought the hat, because what was under the red and purple was beautiful. The above picture is what it looks like now. You have to look past the decorations and see the potential in the hat itself. Hats are like people-it is what's underneath that counts.

Wrap a ribbon loosely around the hat, twisting the ribbon a couple of times, and tack it down in a few places. It always takes me awhile to make ribbon fall naturally. Play with it until you like the way it looks.

Make a bow and tack it on top of the band. I chose to place the bow at about 4 O'clock (if the center front was 12 O'clock).

I next made a couple of yo-yo's (I only ended up using one, but I was making it up as I went along, and I thought at first I would use two). To make a yo-yo, run a gathering stitch along the bottom of a length of ribbon and pull to gather. Shape the gathered ribbon into a circle, tie off your thread, and sew the ends of the ribbon together.

I stuck an old clip on earring through the hole in the yo-yo...

for added interest and to tie the colors together.
I made three more yo-yo's, one out of the same ribbon as the hat band, and two out of a third colored ribbon (it usually looks better when you add that third color) and sewed them together as you see here.
Sew the red yo-yo to the other three...
so that it looks like this.
Sew into the middle of the bow, and you're done!

Why not try re-decorating an old hat of your own? You might be surprised at how satisfying it is.

~Susan Liana