Motherhood & Childbirth

dreams of mothering

Mother’s Day has come and gone again, and for some reason each year I just feel more and more content and happy with our life that we’re building.  I’m not sure exactly why I feel more content and happy with each year, but it may have a lot to do with the growing sense of gratitude of living this life getting to watch our children grow, love my amazing husband, and maybe just getting a little bit more mature.

I still have sin!  Definitely have to work on things at times, but in this area of mothering, even when it’s really especially hard with lots of tantrums or just stubborn behavior and lots to do, I can still see the end result in mind, especially at the end of the day (happy adults that know they were truly loved – no, adored!) and it somehow gets me through those tantrums.

Motherhood is hard at times.  Life in general has so many unexpected things come up and little struggles or trials, to me, mothering my kids just falls in line with normal everyday things to face.  There are many ups and downs with small children when they’re teething or in a tantrum phase, but I think it’s harder if you don’t really understand the fact that it is going to be hard to begin with.

There’s a new disturbing trend of moms on social media complaining about Mother’s Day, using it as an excuse to say how unfair it is that even on that day where they’re supposed to be honored, they still have to take care of their children (wipe noses or change diapers), or clean sometimes.  From reading several of these kinds of posts and videos for 2 years (posted the week before to prep women to feel jipped), it’s clear these moms don’t understand that life is just hard.  Mother’s Day doesn’t always go perfectly or smoothly, especially with small children – and it comes across as insanely immature of an adult woman who doesn’t understand this reality.  Or one who understands it, but still acts like it’s not fair and has an online virtual pity party about the duties of being a mom.

From one of my favorite books that my parents had loved when I was growing up (and got me reading before I was a teenager:

“Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.

They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them….  I know about this moaning because I have done my fair share.

Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?  Do we want to teach our children to solve them?”

                  -The Road Less Traveled

So back to motherhood… yes, it’s hard, but it’s also so beautiful and I think, really grows us as women to have to go through the struggles of mothering.  Anything hard generally (in my opinion) helps us to grow and mature.  At least it can, if we accept the struggle and go through it trying to learn from it and become better.  Unfortunately, as The Road Less Traveled points out, many people don’t allow problems and trials in their life to grow and mature them.  It’s easier to complain and have self-pity for our own struggles.

I love this quote from the 1800’s by Anne Pratt about the virtue of seeing life optimistically as a wife and mother:

“Every one must have remarked how pleasant is that household in which a cheerful spirit of energy is cultivated by the mistress and mother.

It is a pleasant thing to dwell with one who is not troubled by trifling annoyances,

who is skilled in looking at the bright side of things, and hoping for the best;

with one who believes that all the ways of the Lord are right,

and who attaches a deep importance to duty.

Such a one will work willingly, in the belief that God has appointed both her lot and her duties,

and it is surprising how many obstacles are met and overcome by such a spirit.”

~ Anne Pratt

In my life, it IS surprising how many obstacles we’ve overcome together, my husband and I, due to having such a spirit of adventure, optimism and gratitude.  In really hard times, it’d be easier to complain or fight or even blame each other, but instead we work together as a team to solve the problem and learn from it.  It really makes all the difference!

CHILDBIRTH

This is just an update on the pregnancy, but since it’s a “motherhood” post, I thought I’d squeeze it in here.

So because our first child was an emergency c-section, and afterwards we decided to not try a V-BAC, this will be my 3rd c-section.  We’re so lucky these days, even to be able to have c-sections!  I recently heard that death during childbirth affected 65% of women during the 19th century.  Obviously the risk is far less for us now, but still, having had repeated c-sections, medically we know each time the risk increases.  Then there’s always uterine rupture or tears where the scar has been cut and re-cut – these also increase with repeated pregnancies unfortunately.

Last time around I remember trying to prepare Patrick for if I was to die in childbirth during the c-section – I know it’s a slight chance, but you never know what’s going to happen and since there was that possibility, why not mentally prepare for it?  I wanted him to know that I wanted him to be happy and to remarry.  It’s been the same this time, except I’ve been having very strong pains where the old c-section scars are, which my doctor thinks is scar tissue stretching (little tears), and probably not “windows” which are where the uterus is so thin that you’re actually able to see things like the baby’s hair.  Windows are supposed to be painless, so the pain I feel at times is probably just stretching (hopefully!).  The risk of uterine rupture is still there though, even though it’s still likely very small.

Anyway, we really want at least to be able to have one more child after this, but unfortunately it depends on the state of my uterus – sometimes they can apparently become “paper thin,” or if they see windows when they open me up, or little tears, etc.  They’ll likely then advise me that I shouldn’t attempt another pregnancy.  😥  We’ll see, many women are able to have up to 5 or 6 c-sections… but it all depends on that particular woman’s genetics and her unique uterus thickness, strength, and elasticity.

Again, we’ll see.

 

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Why Is Shaming Men OK, but Shaming Women isn’t?

whitenight shamer

I’m not sure when men decided that 30 was the new 15. When men thought it was better to remain independent than making a commitment to another. When men we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid to be fathers. I’m not sure when video games and “guy night” became more important than tee-ball and date night. When 4 year relationships weren’t long enough for a proposal. When staying out became cooler than showing up. I’m not sure when men became boys.

Our culture has a boy problem. In Italy, they call it Peter Pan Syndrome. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Men so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires they find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more boys. We need men who will grow up, know up, and show up. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well. To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more men.

We need more men of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love women, treat them as they would their own daughters and lead them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would lead. We need more men.

Today, I turn 31. I’m a man. And I’m proud of that. Please share as a birthday gift smile emoticon#EveryPostALesson #DaleyWisdom

So I saw this on my facebook a day or two ago, and saw some female friends reposting in agreement.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting marriage and family, most women want this (including myself, obviously), but it’s interesting that we don’t see how ugly this is in light of the legal ramifications for men who do actually want marriage.

It also is ugly in the way this man is writing it to other men attempting to shame them.  He is “the only man in the room.”  He feels like he’s better than these other “boys” because he’s taken the risk of marriage.  It’s just kind of ugly, honestly, and I doubt it’s well-received by most men in the generation Y age-range he’s trying to shame.

 

So… I took the liberty of rewriting it and posting it on my facebook to try to show how it looks when it’s written with the same tone and same self-righteous, but towards women.  It looks pretty bad.  It’s ugly.

So if it’s ugly and yucky for women to read… what makes us think that it’s ok and that we should praise this guy for doing the same thing to men?

Rewritten for women:

“I’m not sure when women decided that 30 was the new 15. When women thought it was better to remain independent and strong than making a commitment to another. When women we’re courageous in business and battle but afraid or ashamed to be mothers (and aborting their unwanted children).

I’m not sure when shopping and “girls night out” for moms became more important than getting married and raising healthy families. When putting off stable relationships till they were done with the bad boys and wanted to get married at 29 became acceptable. When staying out and getting drunk and sleeping with random men all throughout their college “careers” became cooler than raising a family. I’m not sure when women became irresponsible girls.

Our culture has a selfish girl problem. In history, they called it a recipe for society disaster. I call it immaturity and selfishness. Women so focused on their dreams, their visions, and their desires that they are starting to find themselves wealthy, known, and alone.

The adult world doesn’t need more irresponsible and selfish girls. We need women who will grow up, know up, and show up and support a functioning society with morals and values. Who will fight for romance and commit quickly and stay indefinitely. To turn their hearts toward children and work to raise them well (seriously). To be friends who grow friends. Not just by compliments, but accountability and conviction. We need more women.

We need more women of integrity and character. Those who will hold a moral code and not compromise it. Those who love their husbands, treat them as they would their own sons and follow them when everything doesn’t make sense… They would follow. We need more real women.”

“The BEST Homemaking Advice”

A few weeks ago, in mid January, I wrote a post titled “Just do the next thing,” and imparted some basic wisdom I’ve gleaned from one of our main Bible study leader women. It was nothing too profound, but sometimes I’m not so sure that what I write is always “right,” and it’s great to have confirmation that someone else thinks the same way.

I’m SO excited to bring you readers another post of the same advice that was just written this morning by an extremely popular blog Keeper of the Home, headed and run by mommy of 6 children, devoted farmer’s wife, Ann Timm.  After I read it this morning, I jumped up and ran to my husband and showed him that it was the exact same advice I gave lol!  Yay for being on track.  I know it’s silly, but I still wonder quite often why anyone reads what I write and if I should actually be writing anything at all.  🙂

Here is their post, and I know it could go without saying, but I completely agree 😉

The BEST Homemaking Advice

The-BEST-Homemaking-Advice-at-Keeper-of-the-Home-fb

By Elsie Callender, Contributing Writer

One of the best pieces of homemaking advice I’ve ever encountered was written in calligraphy and framed above our kitchen doorway. I read it every day of my life from the time I could read until it was packed away before our move to Costa Rica when I was a teenager. The words were simply this: “Doe the next thing.”

And they didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

“Doe?” A deer? A female deer?

“Do,” my mom explained. “Do the next thing. It’s an old spelling.”

Do the next thing. Well, that still didn’t make much sense to me! Don’t we always do the next thing? What else would we do besides the next thing?

Now that I’m all grown up, I get it.

We don’t always do the next thing, even when it’s staring us in the face.

Sometimes we don’t do anything at all.

Sometimes grown-up homemakers like me get so overwhelmed that we over-complicate everything and end up feeling like the only thing we can do next is cry.

There are days when dirty dishes are toppling off my limited counter space, when Little Dude has half a dozen immediate needs, when the dark side of adulthood (i.e. bills and taxes) makes me want to bury my head in a book and only come out for my birthday.

Those are the “this is harder than it should be” days; the days when homemaking gets complicated and I need a simple response.

Do the next thing.

Remembering that little quote can make all the difference between feeling overwhelmed verses feeling purposeful.

It reminds me to keep on keeping on, to be a woman of action, faithfully doing what needs to be done, even if it’s a mundane task I don’t particularly relish.

Clean dishes

Image from pixabay.com

Want to try it? Here’s how you can apply this mantra in your homemaking:

1. Identify what needs to be done

Whether you’re mapping out the week ahead or just trying to get through the next hour of a rough morning, take stock of what needs to happen. This might include housecleaning, meal prep, children’s activities, work deadlines, anything. If you’re one of those list-lovers, like I am, you can write out your to-dos!

2. Prioritize

This is where I (and I suspect many other women) get sidetracked. I can have 10 million “to dos” whirling in my head at once, and all of the options make me dizzy. It’s vital to assess what the nextthing is. It’s not always the easiest thing or the most pleasant thing that needs to be done next. Here are some ways I’ve learned to prioritize in my homemaking, even when I’m in a busy season.

3. Take action

Time to “do!” You’ve accepted the fact that you need to pay that phone bill today, so sit down at your computer and do it. Or you know the house won’t clean itself and company is imminent. Raidyour cleaning arsenal and get busy!

Cleaning the floor

Image from pixabay.com

4. Follow through

Sometimes I don’t finish what I start, even if I began with the best intentions. Don’t trail off on what needs to be done around your home. You’ll waste time and have to summon your motivation all over again.

I have no idea where that original framed quote has gotten to, but I know it’s in my mind for good. When a little disaster strikes, I call it to mind. When I’m feeling depressed and my responsibilities are weighing heavy, I repeat it in my head.

And at the end of another day? I revel when the “next thing” is to snuggle into the couch with a book and a cup of tea.

Sometimes the best advice seems almost too simple, right? Here's some of the best – but simple – advice for homemaking! Being a keeper of the home isn't easy, but this advice will get you through the hard times to the good times.

What is the best homemaking advice you’ve received?

*Note from Ann: I can so relate! What a great quote to carry with you through life. It reminds me of something my mother used to say, “If you pick it up, don’t put it down until you put it where it goes”!! How many times do I handle the same item over and over in a single day? And I’m totally guilty of not finishing what I’ve started and wasting precious time. There is a reason I’m one of this list-lovers:) Thank you Elsie for remembering and sharing the wisdom that your mom shared with you as a child. 

Teaching My Son to Be Thankful When He’s Sad

The day before Thanksgiving, my husband had to work late.  He was set to get off early, but plans change fast for a Police Officer… he never knows what he’ll face, but he always does it bravely, and his faith and courage is like a light to us.

But my son was waiting for him to come home… he expected that his daddy would get off early so that the fun could begin.  Whenever daddy is home, he and our oldest son have the greatest time playing, wrestling, and just plain being silly-heads!

But the time came, and went, and after eating another dinner by ourselves, another bath and bedtime routine by ourselves, another tucking in and praying blessing over my son, while I was praying the blessing over him, he started to cry.  He told me through his tears how much he missed his daddy, and this has become something that happens more often than I want to admit.  My son LOVES his dad… like REALLY loves his dad, and he MISSES him at night to point of going to bed crying!

Being married to my Officer, I have to be prepared to be flexible, because he often has little control over what will dictate when he works or how late he’ll have to stay.  I don’t give him a hard time because I understand the greater purpose and reason behind him staying later than normal.  He’s usually helping someone in dire need, or catching a thief, or tracking down a stolen car, or intervening in a child sexual abuse situation and waiting for CPS to come.  His staying late means he’s being someone else’s hero, but that’s extremely hard for a 5 year old boy who just misses his daddy to understand.

Usually I comfort him and tell him to be strong and that his dad will come home and pray his blessing over him as he sleeps, I promise him he’ll see his dad in the morning.  But this time I had an idea… it was the night before Thanksgiving, and we were focusing on being thankful for everything in our life, so I decided I could help him use this opportunity to thank God for the gifts he DOES have, even wen daddy isn’t there.

He bowed his little head, and we started to pray, him repeating every word I said, together, we spoke thankfulness into his heartbreaking situation:

“Thank you God, that I have a wonderful dad.

Thank you that he loves me so much!

Thank you that he works so hard for us.

Thank you that he helps people who are in need, and deals rightly with evil people in our city.

Thank you that he prays a blessing over me each night as I sleep.

Thank you that he’s off for Thanksgiving this year, and that we’ll have him all day tomorrow all to ourselves!

Amen!”

 

A strange thing happened when we started praying, as he repeated back each sentence in his own prayer with me, I noticed that his tears stopped!  His voice tone changed.  He went from being legitimately heartbroken over missing his dad, to being filled with true, unabashed thankfulness for having such an amazing, wonderful dad!

It was a light bulb moment for me as well.  Oh how our world changes when we move from complaining about our circumstances to being thankful and joyful despite them!

And for you dear reader, I’m not sure what you’re going through right now, what trials you may be facing… but I do know this, praying that prayer with my son was a miracle.  The way it changed his entire outlook, and helped him to not go to bed with tears yet again, was such a blessing to this mommy.

I challenge you, sweet reader, to try to thank God in your tough times, to try to remember the things He’s blessed you with and take back the joy that Satan has stolen from you.

Much love and blessings!

Women Are Scary!

I was wondering through a bookstore a couple of weeks ago, looking for a new book to celebrate my birthday, when I found it… it was out of place, sitting there on the shelf with it’s front cover exposed, and it caught my attention right away with it’s hilarious and ironic title,

Women Are Scary

I laughed out loud, “You BET!”  Picked it up and leafed through it to see if it would be any good.  Two little cake pops on the cover with female heads looked like they were fighting; one had bitten off part of the other’s head!

This book… is the one!  

It’s been a funny read, cataloging the author’s awkward journey to understanding female friendships, especially other mom friendships.  She’s socially a little awkward (who isn’t?), she’s got her own weirdness, and she’s had a lot of disappointment and heartache in trying to have women friends over the course of her life.  Her journey is an interesting one to read, I laughed, I underlined in the book, and I even cried when it came to the stories of betrayal or loss of friendships the women in the book had gone through.

I understand, I’ve been there, too.  I’m lucky to have found my niche so to speak with getting to love women and mommy friends who are in our weekly life, but I haven’t always had this, quite the opposite at times!  I’ve been the enthusiastic, extroverted, crazy girlfriend, and I’ve been the socially awkward, weird one out because I couldn’t find anything to connect to someone with.  I’m sure all of us have had experiences like that – where you just click with some people, become immediate friends, or where the friendship never even gets off the ground because you’re too different.

In high school and college, I was a social butterfly.  I had friends that were gothics, friends that lived in mansions (we lived in a rich area), friends that lived in trailer parks, male friends that played video games and listened to Marilyn Manson, and a close female friend that was the Co-Captain of the Cheerleading squad.  I was always just a little bit weird though, and even I thought it was odd that I could connect with so many different kinds of people… like a sign of my weirdness.

With mom friends, anything goes now!  I have never had so much fun connecting to women of all sorts!  We all have our pasts of what we were in college, and it really doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is how willing you are to open up, be yourself, and be extroverted at least in the moment it takes to find someone new to talk to that could end up being a great friend!

Here is an excerpt from the book that I thought was especially cute.  For all you mommies out there looking for a sweet, easy read or for ideas on how to expand your inner circle:

“So for you, who are your people?  If you’re looking for moms with whom you can go running, let’s get you out on trails chatting up girls about their jogging strollers.  Do you love baking brownies?  Let’s find you a friend who loves eating brownies.  Do you struggle with confidence?  You need a friend who excels at encouragement.

Finding friends also means learning how to be a good friend, so we’re also working on our own stuff too.  As we seek to encourage and support the moms around us, we become exactly the kind of friend we want to have.

Where are you going to find your people?  The library for story time, a “mommy and me” class, the preschool pickup line, a young moms’ group at a church, or the sidelines at a soccer game.  Moms are everywhere, and most of us are a little bit lonely and starved for adult conversation. If you work outside of the home, you may spend time with other adults professionally, but yu stil need other moms to talk to.  Stay-at-home moms just need people to talk to, period.

My favorite relationships are the ones that start out bonding over our kids but transition to talking about books we’re reading, our thoughts on different issues, or just straight up laughter about something absurd.  I love coming together with other women over coffee to solve the world’s problems while a few feet away, our children learn how to share.  My girlfriends make me a better mom, a better friend, better wife, just… better.

I’d met Martha through another friend and really liked her. She was pregnant with her fourth child and looked like a supermodel.  No, seriously.  Picture the hottest pregnant chick you’ve ever seen.  She was always draped in something fabulous, and her third trimester looked better than my six months postpartum.

One day I was crying about my dog, and I needed a friend.  I should mention that at this point Martha was a cat person.  But something made me call her and invite myself over.  She is gracious and kind and makes hospitality look effortless, so I rang her doorbell.

I quickly learned that even though she had four kids, Martha was a voracious reader who had delightful opinions about everything and was going to change the world.  As I got to know her, the phrase, “just a mom” catapulted out of my head never to return.

I drove back to her house again and again, and she helped me decorate my messy new place.  We talked of books and writing and faith and events and ideas.  She showed me that as a mom I can still take interest in other things besides my kids.  Isn’t that a relief.

We have different friends for different aspects of our personalities.  I have my sci-fi-loving friends for movie watcing.  These are my “get my references” friends.  And I have the friends I call when I’m cracking down the center and need someone to pray for my brain.

So figure our who your people are, then start trolling (for moms).”

(Quoted excerpt from Women Are Scary by Melanie Dale)

Perspective – Reaping & Sowing

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective … in general, having the right attitude toward life and people, a sense of the long-term as well as being present in the now.  Perspective that births forth the much needed character development and perseverance able to get us through various life seasons.  I’m talking about seasons of all kinds, seasons of growth, seasons of waiting, pain, blessings, loss, and renewal.

Things like infertility, miscarriage, job loss, mental illness, your kids having a hard time in school or enduring sickness, relocations, new jobs, new churches – anything that we may all face in one way or another, or help friends who are in that season.  Do we keep a godly perspective on these things?  Are we prepared to face them when life throws them our way?

Its been on my mind lately, how important it is that we are sowing in the different seasons of our lives, and not sitting stagnantly by in times of hardship, or when our cup is overflowing.  Even in the most difficult times, we need to be actively sowing into our families things that we will eagerly await to reap when the time comes.  It matters so much, what we choose to sow.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD.

For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream,

And will not fear when the heat comes;

But its leaves will be green,

And it will not be anxious in a year of drought

Nor cease to yield fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

What do you want to sow?

In our family, I want to actively sow goodness, faithfulness, hard work, optimism, perseverance, joy, patience, kindness, peace, teamwork, and affectionate love.  I’m always being watched by my children, in a very real way, this knowledge that I’m being watched and looked up to by them in order for them to learn these valuable life lessons through example (my example), keeps me accountable.  I’d better do right by them, they deserve no less!

Its a constant feeling of excitement that God is growing me, maturing me, into someone better than before – better than last year, better than the year before that.  Constantly evolving, having a clear picture of the kind of woman I want to be.  Its not an anxious pressure that I feel breathing down my neck or anything, but more of an appreciative anticipation towards maturity.

You reap what you sow.

“Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies Because you have trusted in your way, in your numerous warriors, “

Hosea 10:12-13

I love the analogy of reaping and sowing, of planting seeds in soil, even the soil itself matters.  Is it fertile soil?  Is it receptive, rocky, or too acidic?  The soil represents our hearts, and what we sow matters just as much as the purity that is already present in our hearts in order to receive it.  Sowing, in a broader sense, is more than merely planting seeds, its taking the time to tend and nurture those seeds and seedlings.  Its taking care to nourish the soil, making sure it has the right nutrients that it needs in order to be receptive, as well as the seedlings under our care.

Its important as Christians that we are sowing responsibly – spending our time, money, and resources on what is benefiting our personal (spiritual) growth.  Are we going where we’re supposed to go?  Are we engaging in activities that are helping us to become better women of God (or men of God)?  Or are we doing things that are counter to what we desire to be sown?  Are we falling by the wayside and letting our life just pass us by?  What am I personally sowing into my life, and as a result, the life of my children?

There are different seasons of time when you can focusing more on sowing, or reaping … or both….  we’ve entered into a very busy life season, with my son going to an exciting but difficult school, being involved in a sports team way more intense than your average YMCA, raising a new baby, managing home and social life, doing something (hello, anything) with my shop, and planning on getting pregnant again next year.

The school and sports are what are really life changing… this school is difficult, and will take a lot of time, but hopefully will be worth it for him if he enjoys it.  The sports team is also a big change, as they’re going to have practices 3 nights a week.  These people are hardcore and intense, the Y just wasn’t cutting it for him anymore because it was too easy, created a non-competitive environment where even the worst kids got trophies, or only provided unknowledgeable coaching.  We’re waiting to see if the busy schedule will work out well, trying to keep a balance and peace sown into our life is a high priority.

Lots of changes… a very busy life season!  Yet even with all the new change, or the constant spending of our time and energy into these activities, I still need to be aware of what I’m sowing into our life, no matter the season.

As far as school, my son loving it, and having a blast just being there… I told him that i missed him that first day (and again after the first week) and he just said, “Well, Mom, I haven’t thought of you at all!”

YES!!!!!  GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!!!!

I would so much rather he be so involved, so focused and happy there that he forget me and not worry about him missing me.  Even days later though, I still miss him.  I miss his loudness… his happiness… his crazy energy.  Our classroom/game room just is not the same without our oldest in it.  And I really really miss him.

But I am so elated that he doesn’t miss me… not even a little bit!  😀

I’ve spent these past two years pouring time and effort into teaching him in the mornings just to prepare him for going to “big school.”  I’m so proud of him, but I’m proud at what he’s accomplished in the past two years as well.  I’ve spent two years sowing discipline, love of learning, practice of writing, math, reading, a little science and geography/culture, and music, and now he’s more than ready to take on Kinder.  And he’s taking it on with a happy attitude!

He had his first homework yesterday, and he finished his daily homework for Monday within about 1 minute.  I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been really – it was very easy compared to the level he’s attained with me at home.  He was already doing first grade activities when he was 4 years old.  He was elated that it was so easy, so he went on to complete his packet for the rest of the week’s homework in one sitting!  I’ve created a scholastic monster!

His heart has been prepared, I tried very hard to make sure I made learning pleasant and fun, setting him up for success back then – the small successes – and in hindsight, it was really setting himself up for future success by learning to love school and become a high-achiever.  He enjoys doing homework (hopefully that can last through his teens lol 😛 ).  He seems to be reaping what we’ve been sowing in his heart and mind, and it touches my heart, making me want to double down my efforts and apply this lesson in other ares of our lives.

I want to sow kindness, so that he will learn to be kind.

I want to sow discipline, so that he can learn the immeasurable importance of having discipline in his life.

I want to sow joy in his heart, so that he can carry it into his future and weather the storms that will come.

And so much more.

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Yesterday we went out as a family… it was a nice break from being cooped up inside for weeks from the rain and flooding, Texas has been in a vicious cycle of floods and thunderstorms now for weeks, with even a tornado that almost touched down in our city, only a few miles from us.

Getting out to experience the sunshine and water was a welcome change!  Finally some Summer!

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Turkey, Cheese, Tomato Lettuce Wrap… cold and fresh tasting in the hot sun

We always pack lunches and snacks… cold sandwiches, or wraps, salads, cups of cold applesauce, pudding or yogurt.  Anything really cold… it tastes even better in the heat & humidity.

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One tuckered out little guy!

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Where we usually eat lunch and snacks… over the lake water

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Someone loved the lake breeze when he woke up!

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Summer Foods for Your Health & Body

So I’ve been a health-food nut for awhile now….  I grew up eating pretty healthy, my mother was the one who cooked, and even though she worked a full-time job she still made sure we ate low-fat, non-greasy, mostly homemade foods.  But because she was working so much, about half the food we consumed was packaged and processed foods – foods that are low in nutritional value and protein, but high in salt & fat (making them addictive and easy to over-eat), additives, and preservatives.  Now that I’m a wife and mother, I’ve managed to largely cut out most of the processed foods we eat daily.  Sure we still have some crackers in our pantry, I still sometimes cook with flour, and we let our son eat white bread, but the majority of the food we eat is as close to homemade or natural as we can get or make.  We eat this way because our health is a priority to my husband and I.  We are an active family, constantly going, and I want to be active even in our old age together, and that starts with what you take into your body.

We are also that family that eats healthy regularly at home, but doesn’t think twice about eating a donut every week, or eating out at our favorite fast food places sometimes.  When eating healthy is simply your lifestyle, you aren’t worried about ordering a pizza, or eating a high fat, high calorie burger with fries sometimes.  So we are those people who look really fit, but who you’ll see eating out and enjoying ourselves regularly, we don’t believe in sticking to a super strict diet.  This means that around the holidays, we do tend to indulge in those incredible comfort foods more often than not, and then modify our exercise and diet lifestyle come January.  Our love is to enjoy the seasons, and we’ve embraced that the holiday season in particular, is one filled with foods that we normally don’t eat year round.  We embrace the tastes, the pleasures of eating those gustatory delights, but we equally embrace eating clean again come the New Year on.

Europeans (especially the French) tend to live that way.  They aren’t as obsessed with cutting out all carbs or certain food groups, wine, or doing insane diets for short periods of time, because the way they eat daily is beneficial to their bodies – they aren’t gaining weight because they typically just don’t over-eat.  They also stick to natural, mostly unprocessed foods… even their chocolate is healthier because it typically has no high fructose corn syrup, modified starches or milk products, and more cocoa %).  When French women in particular, do happen to notice they might be gaining weight, they simply step up their daily exertion – like taking the stairs instead of the elevator when they feel a shirt or dress becoming tight.  They self-moderate their weight because they are in tune with it and their bodies, they eat slower as well, which helps them feel when they are full.

Summer is the season when our food lifestyle starts to be really harrowed down to the necessities for survival, however, we still eat so that we don’t feel deprived.

Here are some of the snacks or sides we use during the year that help us eat clean:

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1) Fresh cut fruits …. The best way to ensure that your fruit won’t go to waste in the basket is to, as soon as you get it home from the market, find some time to slice and dice it into portions that are easy to pull out for a snack or for the lunch sides.  It saves so much more time and will keep you from reaching for packaged snacks like goldfish that are just empty calories.  Make sure you have a variety of fruits and veggies stocked up and sliced each week so that your family doesn’t get bored.  We do bananas (obviously no need to slice except for smoothies if you use them that way), apples, kiwis, peaches, oranges, watermelon (we cube it – also easy for smoothie throw-ins), and anything that piques our interest while out at the store.

2) Ready to bake Veggies fries or chips …. Same principle as the fruits, cut them into slices or fries or “chips” as soon as you can so that they are ready to go.  This works well with sweet potatoes which are one of the super foods for your body, zucchini, butternut squash, or kale (kale chips).  When they are cut like this and are ready to go, it makes getting dinner on the table so much easier – and rather than reaching for some prepackaged or processed dinner side, you’re getting something natural and raw.

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Coat fries in olive oil lightly.  Bake until crisp.  Use Kosher salt (lower Sodium content) while still hot

Coat fries in olive oil lightly. Bake until crisp. Use Kosher salt (lower Sodium content) while still hot

3) High protein snacks, lunches, or side dishes ….  Two words, Greek Yogurt.  I usually grow our own yogurt during the Summer when it’s hot (I do it a med-evil way… I suggest you buy a yogurt maker!!), and separate out the whey so that it becomes the “Greek yogurt” sold in the stores. It is INSANELY cheaper to make your own yogurt (I make about a half gallon for $3 every week) rather than buy the individual cups they sell at the store.  I once had a woman trying to sell me the store brand of their yogurt, and I told her I had started making my own.  She was excited, asked me how to do it, and told me that when she used to live in Italy, a family next door used to do that, and it tasted incredible.  More proof in my mind that Europeans understand how to eat better than Americans.

Another plus about homemade yogurt, you don’t have to worry about the preservatives added, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, or fillers.  If you do have to buy it, make sure you buy it plain, as close to natural as possible, and try to avoid a brand that has High fructose corn syrup.

Greek yogurt is delicious and one of the super foods because of the high protein and fat busting properties it has… eat 1 to 2 cups a day replacing one of your normal snacks to see a noticeable difference in your body fat % (it will mysteriously go down) 🙂 .

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The way my son eats his nutritious, protein packed Greek Yogurt… with a little chocolate sauce, and dark chocolate (anti-oxidant) chips! Dress it up however you like… I usually make a vanilla kind or black cherry yogurt (sooooo delicious). You don’t even know you’re eating healthy, it’s like eating ice cream. Limit it to one cup though, and that’s your dessert.

How I eat my chocolate Greek yogurt?  With apples to dip 😉

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Another great high protein snack/lunch/side dish is tuna or chicken salad… I simply avoid using the fattening sauces when making them and typically opt for 1 tbs of mustard, or for chicken salad… 1 tbs of yogurt to substitute for mayonnaise.  The tuna or chicken salads are great for lunch by themselves, or in wheat pita pockets, or as snacks served on crackers.  Huge boost of energy if used as a snack!

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Super Delish!

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4) Handy veggie snacks …. Cut carrots or baby carrots, celery sticks, etc… the key again, is to keep these things cut and sliced, ready to go in your fridge so that you are more motivated to actually eat enough of them during the week before your next trip to the market.  We also do use dips, you can create your own easy yogurt dips or just use 3 tbs ranch… a little ranch is great if it will help you or your kids to get down some veggies they’d otherwise never want to eat!

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Our family’s secret weapon???  The Super food smoothie. Say good-bye to fat as it melts off of you!

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You get SO MUCH energy from these simple, cheap drinks you make in your own home!  This was berries blended, carrots, and peanut butter.

5) Frozen fruits and spinach, kale, and carrots for drinking in smoothies ….  This is probably the most unsuspecting thing our family regularly does in the Spring and Summer months.  We drink loads of fruits and veggies in smoothie drinks (water or yogurt based), it is kind of like juicing except we really do blend the fruits and veggies.  It is hard to describe what it feels like to drink these icy cool concoctions… when I’ve been doing it regularly (daily), it’s like my veins themselves feel cool and refreshed.  The fat in your body melts away, your energy is magically increased… it really is our family’s best kept “secret” of the one thing you should be eating (or drinking) in the Summer.

Blueberries, Sweet Pineapple chunks, water, and protein powder, 1 tbs sugar

Frozen Blueberries, Spinach, Sweet Pineapple chunks, water, and protein powder, 1 tbs sugar

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Green Drink…. not as tasty haha… but still so good for your body!  

Another thing, these are not the high-fat, sugary smoothies you’ll find at Smoothie King or other smoothie shops.  These are no-fat (unless you use an Avocado base or yogurt base – good fat), they have no cream and very little (1 tbs tops) sugar added.  They are pure fruit, water, and vegetables.  You can make them into a meal replacement for lunch or dinner (or breakfast – I like hot breakfasts so I usually don’t) by adding the recommended scoop of a high quality protein powder.  We use Muscle Milk Protein Powder, but there are many good brands out there.

You can do so many different kinds of healthy smoothies… “chocolate, spinach, berry blend (my favorite),”  or a “berry blend, carrots, and peanut butter (really delicious)”  you just have to get creative and try different ways to drink your veggies and fruits.  Strawberry, banana, kiwi, + protein powder…  Chocolate, peanut butter, spinach/kale blend.  The possibilities are endless.

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Our homemade pizza - making the dough from scratch.

Our homemade pizza – making the dough from scratch.  It’s nice to eat bad food in a healthy way (homemade)

What we ate tonight... Chicken cooked with onions and garlic, mixed with veggies

What we ate tonight… Chicken cooked with onions and garlic, mixed with veggies

And then just make sure to create healthy dinners of low fat (lean) meats, use noticably less starches like rice and corn meal,… use more protein-packed sides like chickpeas, beans, legumes, and grains like quinoa.  And eat 1/3 to 2/3 of your dinner in vegetables for a healthy, rejuvenated Summer.

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For Tracy Anderson’s chili burrito recipe (above)

I love this tiny woman, and this chili recipe was amazing.  I altered it to add my own black bean recipe because in my mind, they taste amazing together in a wrap or burrito.  We use those large spinach tortillas since they are our favorite, but you can also get tomato or even jalapeno tortillas to go with this and any kind of wrap you’d want!

CHILI INGREDIENTS

  • 1-1/2 lbs grass-fed ground beef

  • 3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced… (CLICK HERE)

Water Fights & Breezy Days

My grandpa’s dementia is progressing.  When we go to see him, and we are still trying to weekly, I never feel like it is enough.  A couple of hours pass by too fast, whether it’s reading to him, talking to him about things, or singing to him, it just all goes by too fast, and it sucks that I only see him once a week.  I’ve thought of making it twice a week, and for the second visit just to drop by to see how he is and say hi.  At least keeping him apart of our life is somewhat doable, but he also misses so much of it.

He was such an incredible man.  He and my grandma took care of me when my mom went back to work when I was 6 weeks old.  I still have the strongest affections for scrambled eggs and sausage, the way he would make it, and my grandma’s particular toast with butter & strawberry jam.  The tastes of those foods immediately remind me of the joy I spent being raised by them.  My grandpa was crazy!  So fun and unpredictable – wild for a grandpa, honestly.  This last Friday when I took my sons to see him we teased him about all his tattoos… he’s still proud of them.  He was a sailor in the Navy after the time of WWII, and his tattoos are an ever present reminder of a past we can only imagine from his animate stories and pictures from when he was younger.  He was so handsome – so uninhibited and funny.  The tattoos still visible on his forearms and upper arm, go so well with his personality and masculinity, even as an 87 year old.  He was one of my favorite people growing up.  It’s hard to see him deteriorate in front of me, like watching a beautiful disaster that one can’t prevent, and yet, he tells me he looks forward to Heaven and gets this excited, boyish gleam in his eyes talking about it.  Sometimes he forgets who I am, but I love how he smiles so satisfied when he finds out I’m his grand-daugher, and that these kids are his great-grandkids.  He smiles, tears up sometimes holding the baby, or laughs his sweet laugh that I miss so much when my son does something comedic.

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This weekend has been full of love and family, spending time together, playing outside together – going on adventures.  Water guns, water fights, baseball and soccer, deep conversations with my dad, seeing my mom cuddle the baby, my dad playing catch with my older son in our backyard.  The beautiful weather we’re having.  It’s just a time of a lot of fullness.  There’s always something to do, always another thing to attend, always a party, always something to clean, or cook, but I love it!  I love embracing the fullness of our life right now.  We are so busy, and yet so happy.  It makes me incredibly grateful for the quiet moments.  My oldest out playing in the sunshine, wearing a king’s crown and wielding a super-soaker, the baby swaddled and sleeping peacefully on his play-mat in the living room.  And me at the kitchen table, drinking an afternoon cup of coffee surrounded by an ambiance of peace.  Such a beautiful place to be in.  Such a beautiful, wonderful life.

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My brother with my son

My brother with my son

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He has my eyes!!!

He has my eyes!!!