Thursday, December 11, 2008

Top 50 Eastern Medicine Blogs

Imagine my surprise when I found out that my humble little blog was added to this amazing list! I have bookmarked it for my own edification, and if this topic interests any of you, I urge you to do the same. This list is compiled on, and contains topics like acupuncture, yoga, meditation, herbal medicine, holistic health, midwifery, massage, and general health topics.

Anyway, thank you to those who included me... I will try to live up to your expectations. You can find the list at

And don't forget to check out our website:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thank you

I want to thank everyone for voting for us in the house contest. I was notified by George Tran, the man running the contest, that the State has contacted him and demanded that the contest be stopped. So, no contest, no house. But thank you so much for your support... we were in the lead with 94 votes. Our closest competition had 14 votes. Your show of love and caring touches my heart! Thank you so much for wanting this for my family.

We are now on the hunt for a place to move. Probably by February. If anyone has any leads on an affordable place in the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon for a large family, leave a comment for me and I'll get back to you. We do have pets, but can pare it down to our two cats, who both prefer to live outdoors.

Thank you again... I am so touched by your generosity.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Rakestraw Family Story

I am a contestant for a free house giveaway. For more information, go to I can be contacted at To vote for us, please go to this URL: and click on the yellow square that counts our diggs.

We are the Rakestraw family. My name is Toni and my husband's name is John. Our journey began long ago in a place far from Eugene, but along the way, we have been entranced one by one by our eight wonderful children. Yes, I said eight. We are the proud parents of four boys (Callum, Ian, Tristan and Ellis) and four girls (Morwenna, Ostara, Niamh and Midori) who are the reason we strive as hard as we do every single day. Having a home we can all call our very own would provide us with a security we've never had before.

John is a school bus driver. He loves working with kids. Maybe he's driven some of your kids home from school. Three years ago in December, we almost lost my beloved husband due to a congenital heart defect. One of his heart valves wore out and needed to be replaced. Fortunately for us, they did the surgery just in time. Despite the health issues that still exist from this situation that he deals with on a daily basis, he devotes the vast majority of his day to making sure kids get to school and back home safely. When he gets home, he spends time with us and works on our website,, helping to build a business of our own some day… if he isn't so exhausted that he goes right to sleep. His stamina just isn't the same as it once was, but we just buckle down and do the best we can. He is an amazing man, and I don't ever want to imagine my life without him.

I spend my days writing articles for other peoples' websites for an article service. I begin from the time I get up in the morning, and often don't finish until I'm ready to tumble into bed at night. But it is worth the long hours for less money to be here at home with my kids. In my spare time, I also work on our site and maybe get in a bit of studying or work on my artwork. I have been studying midwifery for several years, and it is my dream to one day help other women bring their babies into this world in a safe and loving way once my children are grown. Having kids changed our lives… to share what we have learned, we are trying to build a business helping women learn about birthing choices. This is a passion for us that developed through our own experiences birthing our children. It is going slowly, but I think eventually it will help contribute to our family's needs. We have been a part of the Saturday Market community as well, offering handcrafted natural fiber items, artwork and providing reiki treatments when they are requested, even for those who can't pay. We know what it is like to not be able to take care of your own needs because the money has run out. John and I do everything we can to make ends meet and keep our children happy and healthy… whether it is earning as much as we can at our respective jobs, returning cans to the market, or just spending some time to listen to one of the kids tell us about the cool project they stumbled across.

Our children are amazing (but then, what parent doesn't think their children are like no others?). Morwenna is our oldest daughter. She is very talented artistically and will someday make a living with her manga comic artstyle. Callum, our oldest son, is already attracting the attention of those in the video game world for his insightful reviews and comments online. Ian, who's next in line, enjoys a lot of physical activity outdoors as well as games. He is exceptionally good with babies and small children. Ostara had some health issues when she was smaller due to seizures from an undetermined cause. She has grown into a willowy pre-teen who loves to draw and is becoming an expert at origami. She is also very talented with math. Niamh, the next youngest, is exuberant and loves everything. She is developing a good drawing style, and she especially enjoys drawing our cats and rabbits from life. She also loves to run, ride bikes, and plant seeds in the garden. She is just learning to cook a little bit. Tristan is rather serious, and takes his play as seriously as any other tasks he does. His little brother, Ellis, is so full of love. He adores giving hugs and will often sit beside me as I work, just happy to lean on me. He loves the outdoors as much as Niamh and Tristan do. Our youngest, Midori, is almost 2. She has already figured out how to climb the bunk bed ladders, much to our dismay. She is one smart cookie, and she loves playing outside with the animals and her brothers and sisters.

This house would be a great boon to our family. There would be room for everyone to have bikes and have a lot of fun… from our 1 year old to our 17 year old. With an entire acre, the kids would be helping us raise food as well as providing enough room for our pets. The garage looks large enough to house a play area for the kids as well as possibly creating more bedrooms in the future. The large beautiful kitchen would be a great area for a few of our older children, as they love to cook and try new things. Even the leftover shed foundation could someday become an office or maybe a detached apartment for our older children… or maybe an art studio! I see endless possibilities with this wonderful property! Our home has always been very central to our family… we spend the vast majority of our time together at home. The house we live in now is similar in size (with the exception of the yard, which is much smaller), but with the economy the way it is, our chances of financing a mortgage in the next few months has been shot out of the water. We need to look for another place to live… and that is not an easy accomplishment with a family our size. We recently found out that the home we are renting will be going into foreclosure in a few months. When I have searched for a place for us in the past, many of the people I talked with just hung up when they found out our family size. Not ever having to move or go through the blatant rejection by people who don't even know us would relieve us of an enormous amount of stress, which would do worlds of good for John's health.

Owning a home free and clear would help us provide our family with lots of essentials that are beyond our reach at this moment, like a car that fits everyone inside at the same time. Our current car only seats half of us, and desperately needs to visit the mechanic when we can save up enough. It would also make a huge difference on those months that a school district job just doesn't pay the bills. We have a few of them every year. By eliminating the rent, those months wouldn't be so stressful and trying... we could make it on what I earn. Owning this house that George is so graciously offering in this contest would be a dream come true for the entire family. Please consider voting for us. Thank you!

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