Monthly Archives: March 2011

Not Enough Time In The Day

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It is so frustrating to want to be home with my kids, having experienced it throughout my maternity leave, and knowing, that as a working mom, I’m missing out on that.  I’ve been hoping, praying, wishing fervently that it would be possible for me to be a SAHM.  I’ve explored many ideas, scoped out many opportunities, and dreamt of all the possibilities. It remains to be seen what God will do with me.  I am so overwhelmed by life right now that I’ve forgotten the little things, run out of interesting stories.  Every day is a monotony, a repeat of the last, and weeks go by so fast, while I desperately wish for the weekend to come again, but then I think… thats another week of my life gone, that I didn’ t spend enough time with my kids.  I feel like I’m missing out on SO MUCH.  I wish wish wish there was a way.

Oh well.  Back to work tomorrow.

Friday is only 2 days away.

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Work It! For Working Moms: Cooking With The Fam

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Many people think young children can’t help cook.  There are lots of reasons why not:

  • Dangerous heat
  • Sharp knives
  • Juices and Oils (Pepper residue anyone?  Wipe your face after cutting those puppies… I have! Its not pretty!)
  • Waste of ingredients/improper technique
  • (This one is mine) Its MY alone time! Why let children ruin it?

Well, despite all these very good reasons why not, there are many reasons TO have the rascals in the kitchen while you cook.

  • Teaches them safety: They’re gonna have to learn sometime! It is more dangerous to chase them out, and have them run into a hot stove, or Mom carrying a hot pot unexpectedly, than to have them stick around, and teach them how to avoid these things permanently.
  • Teaches them math and measurement in a practical, experiential way.
  • Teaches them self control: Don’t lick that! It has raw eggs in it! OR: Only ONE testing cupcake!
  • Teaches them following directions: Put wet ingredients together, then dry ingredients together, then combine the two.
  • Helps fine motor control: All that stirring. Ever had a 3 year old try using tongs?
  • Teaches science: Chemical reactions anyone?
  • Good bonding time: I have my kids sprinkle love into things before we cook it.

Now, we don’t have to have the kids in the kitchen EVERY time we cook, but as a rule, its a good idea.  On holidays, on weeknights, I usually have my kids in the kitchen with me.  At first it was out of necessity, my husband worked second shift, I did not, and I needed to supervise my wee hellions closely, but then it grew into a wonderful bonding time.  I found little ways to include them before long, and it was fun!

  • Have alternate activities! I have in my kitchen, the following: a kids kitchen set and play food/dishes, coloring books/crayons/glue/scissors/stickers all stashed in a drawer, pandora station is always playing on the laptop, and homemade playdoh/cookie cutters/rolling pins in one cabinet.
  • Think of little jobs as you go: I have my children clean veggies, strip them of nasty parts (taking ends off of green beans for instance.) retrieve/put away/dump in ingredients, knead dough, place things on cookie sheets, stir, mix, pour, push buttons as needed, get needed utensils and things, put dirty dishes in the sink, and watch the timer while they color.
  • Cook from scratch: My kids HATE opening a few cans and then setting it out.  I know it takes extra time, but making flour tortillas from scratch is fun, easy, and something my kids LOVE doing.  It is built in bonding.  Don’t skimp on the amount of time you commit to your children, they know when you do. You’ll eat healthier too.  Some recipes we love making together: salads, baked goods, homemade tortillas, vegetable soup, meatloaf/meatballs, and eggs in a hole.
  • Involve children in decision making: They love to eat a dinner they’ve not only cooked, but chosen for themselves.  You’d be surprised the great choices kids make when given the chance.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try try again! oh, and make good friends with All Recipes.

Good luck and happy cooking! Here’s a recipe to get you started: (I highly recommend clicking on the link, it contains step by step directions. Cooking playdoh for the first time can be a bit difficult to master.  After you’ve cooked it once, you will not need step by step directions anymore, but for the first time, its a good idea.)

Homemade Playdoh

Playdough is a classic childhood toy everyone can have fun with, and it’s so easy to make at home you’ll never buy that stinky store variety again.

Basic ingredient ratios:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)

food coloring (liquid, powder, or unsweetened drink mix)
scented oils

It is Truly The Little Things

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Tonight, as I carried each one of my exhausted babies up the stairs to their bedrooms, I thought over the day.  One thing stuck out to me, the word celebration. Today was a celebration of family.  There was no party, no decorations, nothing spectacular or particularly memorable, but a cluster of little things that mattered.  One of my friends said to me, on facebook:

“i love how you celebrate everything. it makes my heart happy!”

We did celebrate everything today.

Ava rolled over all by herself today, so we made cupcakes to celebrate!  As we were making them, Sarah begged to help. Since all the ingredients were mixed in, Sarah put in the one ingredient I forgot.  She sprinkled “Love” into the cupcakes.  I know it sounds corny in print, but it was the most adorable thing to see my four year old, on her tiptoes to reach over the counter, sprinkling “Love” into each cupcake. She was so proud of herself.  She declared them extra tasty too. She and Emma took turns making the icing, stirring, pouring, stirring, pouring, until it was just right, and then topped each cupcake with a sticky spoon in sticky little hands.

Emma and I enjoyed a sweet moment while watching the little mermaid, dancing together to “Under The Sea.”  I will not forget the sparkle in those blue eyes while she hugged me tight saying “Dance with me Mommy, dance with me!”

Then I carried Sarah up the stairs, through the dark hall, and into her bedroom, I sat down on her bed.  I just couldn’t put her down yet.  Holding that sleeping child was a precious moment I cherished.  How soon it will be when I won’t have that chance anymore to hold her in my arms like I did when she was a baby. I celebrated her growing up, and I celebrated all those little moments when she was a baby, holding her tight, then I tucked her under her covers, soft and sound, and heard her sigh.

I carried Ava up next, kissed her chubby cheeks, her chubby hands, her chubby toes, and her soft little head, and put her to bed. How soon will she be four, like Sarah?

Last but not least, Emma, still going strong, climbed up the stairs before me, tutu crinoline bouncing with each step of those chubby legs of hers. she crawled into bed, smiled lazily, and asked for her favorite hymn.  We sang “It Is Well With My Soul” together, and I marveled at how she knows EVERY word of it.

It is bittersweet that sometimes it takes a loss to remind you of what you have to celebrate.

I am so blessed.

Sometimes Words Are Not Enough

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Sometimes, rarely, I find myself at a loss for words.  Today I find it even more so, as I struggle to put into words just how I feel about the recent death of my husband’s uncle.

He lived far away, far enough away that I didn’t meet him, even after we were married.  I wished I could have met him, but, it wasn’t going to happen, or so I thought, and so life went on. I heard about him here and there, a distant presence everyone else knew, but I did not.

Then he got cancer.

Everyone prayed, hoped, prayed, and begged, and pleaded for his cancer not to take him.  He was given a few months, and told he would not survive.  And yet, God listened.  He became cancer free.  He came to visit, and I finally got to meet the missing family member.

I was impressed to say the least.  He was a warm, kind, caring man, had a great sense of humor.  Most of all though, his faith in Christ was inspiring.  At one point, as he was telling stories, a family member brought something up from his past, and his response blew me away. He said that Christ had kept him from going back to that, and that he was a changed man because of his faith in Christ.

No fanfare, no trumpets, no thumping sermon. Just a simple declaration of Christ’s power to heal, to change, to renew.

He felt this way about his whole life.  When the cancer came back, he wanted to go home. To be with the ultimate source of all renewal, Jesus Christ.

He is there now, being renewed. We will miss you Dennis.  Your simple example of faith rocked the very foundations of my own shaky faith.  I saw Christ in you. Thank you.

‎2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Please be praying for his family, his wife, his children, his mother, his siblings. We have all lost a special man.  A good man, strong in faith, and a source of inspiration and hope.

Check out the related post on DIYparenting

Can Somebody Think Of a Better Title?

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I am suffering from a severe case of writers block.  Blame it on the cold, blame it on the full moon, weird weather, lack of sleep, blame it on anything but me.  I’ve been philosophizing too much of late.  I need a fun and funny life experience to snap me back into passion, joy, enthusiasm, something!  Lately, (since I came back from maternity leave) I feel like work is sucking the life out of me.  Not because its too hard, the hours are too long, or the work is something I hate.  None of those reasons. I just don’t want to be there.

I know I can’t blame this general lethargy on being sick, its been there long since before I was sick.  I have no drive, no ambition, no desire to accomplish anything. Wait, I lie, I have a desire to accomplish non job related things, like motherhood, successful housewivery, and writing goals.  Otherwise, what has gotten into me? I feel like a boring piece of white bread. No spice, no pizazz, no nothing.  Just a lump of tasteless nothing.  No satisfaction, no nothing. How does this figure?

When I get my pizazz back, I’ll be posting something interesting.

I need an adventure.

Work It! For Working Moms: There Is No Such Thing As Perfect Parenting

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“I wish I was a parent like her, her life is so perfect”

“You look like you have it so well together!  Good for you! I wish I had it together like you!”

“Tell me, what is her secret? She’s so perfect! I wish my life was like hers!”

How many times do we utter these phrases, or something like them? We think that Frances over there has it perfect.  She bakes little cupcakes in the shape of something bizarre and difficult, like a cape or a bat or a baseball field, or better yet, those cupcake lollipops.  Who knows, something complicated! (You can tell baking is not my forte…) Or maybe Gertrude, She always has her nails done impeccably, and looks so well put together!  Then theres Gladys, her kids are always beautifully behaved, and she somehow manages SIX of them! AND a job! I wish my life was like HERS.

We all know this envious thinking is not constructive or useful. But do we ever go so far as to realize how damaging it is?

  1. First, it is damaging for Florence over there, with the perfect garden.  We’ve put her on such a high pedestal, that when she inevitably falls (and shows her humanity) we despise her.
  2. Secondly, it is damaging for us, it creates a strong sense of discontentment that makes us useless.
  3. Thirdly, it is damaging for our families.  This kind of thinking requires them to meet unrealistic expectations, and live with a discontented, frustrated, angry, nasty mother.

THEN, there is another kind of thinking, even worse:

“She is such a terrible mother, I’m sure if I let MY kids get away with that, I hope you’d tell me!”

“I don’t know how she lives with herself. She has REALLY let herself go.  At least I don’t look like that! And she’s always so antisocial!”

“How rude can you be? She only brought those gross corn muffins, and most gatherings all she ever brings is drinks! Just so its easy! She is so lazy!”

This is an even worse train of thought, one that feeds our self esteem at the cost of another woman’s. It is damaging in a whole other list of ways.

  1. Firstly it shows your young family that belittling others to benefit yourself is ok. “Do like I say not as I do kids!” doesn’t cut it.
  2. Secondly it damages the sisterhood of mothers, the little community we have at our disposal.  Do we need a faceless friend at a website to network with, or would it benefit for us to relate to our coworkers, our family, our friends at church?
  3. Lastly, it ruins a person’s reputation.  You don’t know the circumstances.  Maybe her mother just died, maybe she’s feeling overwhelmed, or maybe she’s struggling with a chronic health issue.  And don’t even think of believing or spreading the local gossip about her.  That is a whole other ball of wax. The majority of gossip suffers from whisper down the lane type of transformation.

Let us think of mothers in one light:

In the light of their humanity.

Etta may make killer cupcakes, but did you know she does it to escape the chaos in her house?  It is valueable alone time to her.

Eudora keeps her kids behaved because she works hard with them, teaching them, guiding them, disciplining them, they are not by nature “good” Eudora spends a lot of time working with them to be that way.

Lydia looks good because she found some killer deals on nailpolish and knows her stuff, rather than being impressed and silent, maybe you can invite her over to talk about what she does.  Meanwhile, Lydia is making an extra effort to look good because she is struggling with her chronic illness and deep in debt over medical bills. The one thing she CAN control is her appearance.

Winifred never brings anything “good” to gatherings because their budget is so tight, she doesn’t have alot of money to drop on food their family won’t eat.

Agatha let herself go because she lacks the information on nutrition and exercise, and she’s over there in the corner, wishing somebody would reach out to her. Meanwhile, she’s struggling with a recent health issue.

Beulah’s kids are ill behaved, not because she doesn’t discipline them, she does so constantly, but because her kids have ideas of their own, and her husband is always working.  She’s doing it all virtually alone. She’s exhausted, and wishes she had some support.

Remember the times you feel alone, overwhelmed, or the things you keep to yourself, hide at your house, don’t share with others.  We all have our times of need, obvious strengths, or hidden weaknesses.  Remember that every woman is a human. don’t put her on a pedestal and then delight when she falls, don’t despise her, and then feel guilty when you find out her true story.  We need to reach out to each other, not tear each other down! Motherhood can be a lonely job.

 

In lieu of a recipe, I give you this

On The Subject Of Opinion

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Opinion.  It can almost be a dirty word.  It can be a difficult thing to speak.  Being opinionated, and firm in your belief can offend, and even hurt others at times.  I know I’ve been writing some VERY opinionated posts.  Ones that may have lost or gained me a few readers.  I do not write these posts for sensationalist purposes, or to purposefully offend anyone. I write them because I believe them. They apply to me and my life, and my choices.

I hope that my readers, my friends, my family all know that no matter how opinionated or controversial this blog may be at times, I strongly respect the right of others to disagree, and to make their own choices.  I cannot, and should not ever be dictating other’s beliefs, that is not right. If there is a disagreement with my words, I welcome a lively discussion on the matter, and the challenge of reevaluating my thinking. I would love to receive a dissenting comment in public, than be despised in private.  If I am never challenged, I can never rethink or defend my thoughts. I am at risk of a dangerous complacency, and no matter how painful the challenge is, no pain no gain, right? Readers, please challenge me.

To all my readers, my friends, my family, my facebook friends.

I know I am not always right, and I am not afraid to be wrong.

The New Fad: Selfish Parenthood

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As I’ve been reading a few blogs and news articles recently, a few have struck me dead on as a dangerous reminder of how self centered some in our society have become, and how duped the rest of us have become in applauding them for “finding freedom” in making their own choices, and being “courageous” enough to share.

Let me start off by saying, that in the two cases I am about to discuss, this is a large load of steaming cow dung.

First, the courageous woman who makes her own form of motherhood: Rahna Reiko Rizzuto.  I am at a loss as to the “courage” of choosing to leave your young children, because motherhood just isn’t for you.

Secondly, the woman who loves her son more. I don’t understand how anyone can think like this, or why posting this train of thought “takes guts” as some commenters said.

Overall, I am personally in shock and awe of this new phenomenon, selfish parenting.  I am a parent, and not a (cliche alert) perfect one at that, but who is? I believe in Parenting By The Book, and Free range parenting. I believe that children should learn with the goal being independent, and  achieving successful adulthood, not dependence and extended childhood.  I believe that parenting is not about self gratification, but about teaching, guiding, disciplining, and trusting your children to grow up, and become fulfilled adults. That takes sacrifice, be it sacrificing time, dignity, popularity, date night, or a clean house.

I also believe that parenting is, by nature, a selfless act.  Nobody chooses to be a parent because they are lured in by the joys of potty training, or lusting after the fun of stomach viruses and two year olds. No one is exclaiming over the joys of diaper pail smells, or the wonders of never being able to pee in peace.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Everyone knows that.

It has its bountiful joys, beautiful smiles, baby giggles, ah-ha moments, and big hello hugs, proud-you’re-my-kid moments. But I believe it is an insult to those yearning to be parents all over, to those who have prematurely lost their chance at parenthood, to forge this “brave” new kind of parenting, this “honesty” and level of “confession” meant to “empower” parents.  All it does is encourage selfishness, and excuse making. Parenting is nothing simple, nothing small, nothing easy.  It is a glorious challenge, full of amazing adventures. I resent this “new kind of parenting” that diminishes the true joys and struggles of thoughtful, committed parenting.

I also believe that this “new kind of parenting” cuts our kids legs out from underneath them, and no matter if we are free rangers, or attachment believers, can’t we all agree on one thing? We want what is best for our kids, thats why we do what we do, despite the “I hate you Mom” moments, the slammed doors, the crumb filled kitchens and chocolate handprints on our laptop, and the peanut butter smears on the windows. We don’t do this because it makes us feel good (lets be honest moms, it does NOT make us feel good 24/7.)  Parenting is not about feeling! It is about good hard work and elbow grease, because it is the right thing to do, and because no matter how Junior makes us feel, we love him ANYWAY!

I know I am thankful for the unconditional love and sacrifice my parents exhibited for me.

Its A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

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Thank God for the beautiful weather, its been one of the few bright spots in my day today.

And what a day.

Woken up early this morning by two kids with fevers… followed by another wake up via phone call from a family member, who is very ill.

Armed with a healthy sense of worry, I headed off to work, to find an exhausting day full of changes in routine and the norms.   I am one of those routine craving types who eats tuna sandwiches every Wednesday, so it wasn’t much of a welcome addition to today’s adventures.

All in all, the workday ended, an update from my hubby on our family member and a healthy dose of prayer, and made for a more peaceful ending to the day. Still a rough day.  But I know whose got my back.

Please be in prayer for those members of my family, including my family member for a speed recovery and wisdom for the doctors.

What Do I Believe About Education? (Mom, Not Teacher)

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Tonight I had the pleasure of attending a MARS meeting, one which I hope to repeat (Babysitters welcome!) The subject was one, which to some, is very controversial.  I know each of my forays into the topic of education have been VERY controversial.  However, it was such an encouragement to be affirmed and reminded of why I believe what I do about education.

What do I believe about education? (Not the teacher me, the Mom me.  The teacher me is limited in my beliefs by my job.)

  • I believe education is ultimately the responsibility of the parent.
  • Teachers and schools should act as an extension of the home, and not the other way around.
  • Education is more than imparting knowledge, it is teaching children how to live life.
  • Education is more than academic, it is also physical, spiritual, moral, and should contain elements of self control, discipline, and the finality of truth. In fact, the academic part of education is a mere bonus.  The meat is in the how to live life part.
  • I believe the best education for my children is one that encompasses academic knowledge framed in Biblical beliefs.

I know this is a hard pill for some around me to swallow.  I’ve recieved criticism, hostility, and outright resistance against the choices made on my children’s educational futures.  I also feel that as much as it is a controversial subject, I need to make a stand about my choice, and not back down, no matter how many people in my life kick and scream about this decision.  I cannot apologize for a directive that is not mine.  Allen and I make decisions about our children’s futures based on the biggest authority we know, the Bible.  I know this is not a popular viewpoint, but there it is.

2 Timothy 3:16

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

Proverbs 22:6

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

I believe that all my children’s knowledge should be based on the most important knowledge of all, that of God and his word, and what he offers us. I cannot make other families choices for them, nor should I, but I reserve the right to choose for my family.

Joshua 24:15

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”