Posted in Mom Life, Women

Revisiting feminism

I am an unlikely feminist.  I am a stay-at-home mom of five kids, who does the majority of the daily house-work and childcare.  I could be a good 1950’s housewife, since I am somewhat of a homebody and I actually like to clean the house (except when too many children spend their day undoing my work.)  Most feminists in the world would look at me and shake their heads to see me falling straight into the stereotypical roles set out for my gender by society in days gone by.

It’s funny, though.  In many ways, I actually identify as a feminist.  I believe women should be educated and have the opportunity to work in various capacities.  I believe women should be paid as much as a man for doing the same job.  I admire women who are doctors and business-women and nurses and teachers and who use their brains, and I will give my daughters the opportunity (Lord-willing) to pursue one of those jobs, if that is what they are called to do.

But– I also believe that part of the problem that feminism fails to address is that the work that traditionally has  been done by women is, in itself, undervalued.  Taking care of kids and taking care of a home are extremely important jobs that society values very little because it is humble work.  It is necessary, but ordinary, and earns no money and gains no awards or accolades.   In fact, being a homemaker can be kind of dirty.  (I seem to spend a lot of my day just wiping dirty things.)  But, I know it’s essential.  When I take a break from this “mothering” gig and can’t fulfill the role I have been filling, there are definite repercussions at my house.  My kids’ attitudes are worse, the garbage stinks, and the children will happily spend their day rummaging the cupboards for candy and watching T.V.  It’s not that I am the only one who can do this job, but I am doing it, and I am making a difference in my kids’ lives and in our home.

What’s sad to me is not that I am unable to leave my home to pursue other things.  I am grateful that this is an option for me if I am called to do so.  It’s more that society in the postmodern era is telling women that they need to get out of the home in order to do more important work.

Guys, taking care of kids and relationships and houses and wiping all the dirty things is important work, even if it doesn’t look like it to some.  It’s holy and it’s making an impact on the future in a big way.

As a homemaker (is that even a thing anymore?) I might not get a lot of applause from society and probably won’t be accepted into the feminist club either, but I am grateful for the chance I have to do important work every day that is changing the world.  So, ladies– or gentlemen, if you happen to be filling this role– if you are spending your days doing work in the anonymity of your homes, know this– you are doing great work– even if you never earn a paycheck for it.

 

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Posted in Mom Life

2 Corinthians 11 and A Mom’s Boast

So, in our recent Bible study Seamless, we were directed to read a passage from 2 Corinthians where Paul boasts about himself- seemingly to justify himself with his fellow believers who are doubting his credentials as an apostle.  It’s a very impressive resume; the man was beaten with forty lashes, pelted with stones, shipwrecked, in danger in pretty much every setting, and made unbearably uncomfortable in body, going without sleep, food, and shelter.  And yet, the church didn’t consider him as an apostle.

When I read it, I couldn’t help but want to put this passage into a moms’ manifesto.  Sometimes, moms aren’t given much credit for all that they do, sometimes from society, but especially from their own children.  (Guilty.  Sorry, mom!  My kids are paying me back, though.)  Paul writes his manifesto as a letter to the Corinthians, explaining in worldly terms why he should be respected by the Corinthians.

So here is my attempt at imitating Paul’s manifesto.

A Mom’s Manifesto to her children to be read when they are showing disrespect towards their mother:

Dear children,

For some reason, you seem to think that a “mom” is not a real person.  You tend to think that we actually lack skills and talents that other people have, because we are just “moms.”

But, dear ones, let me tell you something crazy.  You think that I am not as able as your teacher, that author, or your father? Are they intelligent?  Well, then, so am I.  Are they college educated?  (Do I really need to get into this?  This is crazy.)  So am I.   I have attained degrees, received honors, worked a job, and taken care of you since before the day you were born.

Please don’t forget that I carried you around in my very own body for nine months.  I endured nausea, bloating, heartburn, constipation, and stretch marks from your time in my womb.  I have been kicked from the inside-out  I have endured the trials of childbirth five times.  I won’t even get into contractions, vomiting, and the ring of fire!

I have endured nights upon nights of little sleep.  I have shared my house, my bed, my body, my food, and my life, and with you and for you!  I have given up my clean home, my smaller clothes, my special snacks, and my ability to carry on an intelligent conversation on any given day.

I have labored and toiled over your laundry, your education, your health, your feelings and your overall well-being.  I have cleaned up vomit, brought you to the doctor’s office, to school, dance lessons, and t-ball practice.  I have picked up thousands of small toys off of the floor, made countless healthy meals, and washed an endless  mound of dishes.

Besides all of this, I face daily the pressure of my concern for you.  Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?  If I must boast, I will boast of these things that show my weakness.

Because, I love you, child, and I want you to listen to me.   I am a mom, and I am talented, tenacious, and qualified.  And, I love you more than anything.

Peace and blessings to you,
Mom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Faith, Mom Life, Uncategorized

Looking Forward

I tried to have a moment this morning.  Nicole Nordeman’s song, “Slow Down” came on the radio, and I was all set to have a sweet little cry.  It is a tearjerker, which you must listen to if you have had the joy of having children in your life.  So, she was singing, I had my coffee in hand, and I was ready to gaze around at my two sweet boys while the baby napped, and then…

The magic spell was broken.  You see, there are moments that I wish this mom life would “slow down,” but these are fleeting moments.  Right in the middle of the song, real life set in.  Timmy is man’s boy, but he has two big sisters who have deeply influenced his worldview.  So, he brings me the girls’ dance costumes and asks me to help him dress up in a green-sequined dress, while at the exact same time, I glance over toward the living room and Isaac is in that stance, which I know is not good news.  And, he’s not wearing a diaper.  So, I immediately start yelling, “Isaac!  Go to the potty, now!”  And then, of course, Andy wakes up from his 30 minute nap, crying from the bedroom, while the dog is barking because she wants me to sit with her while she nurses her puppies.  Not kidding here, and not happening, Bella. Guys, if life were to truly slow down and stay in this stage forever, I may not survive. 

I have actually been thinking a lot about time lately and how fast life really goes.  I recently lost my uncle, who has been a regular part of my life for the past 25 years.  And, we knew he wasn’t going to live forever, but it still seems a bit unreal because, in just a moment of time, he was gone.  Processing the brevity of life makes me want to hang on to life harder, cherish it more, and make time stop– or at least slow down.  And, of course, I can’t do that.  However, I think that even this worldview– this wanting my life on earth to last forever (on my terms, of course)– is wrong.  I have touched on this a little bit in this article before, but what this “slow down” mentality is forgetting is eternity.

I think heaven and eternity are hard for us to understand and difficult for us to hope for. I tend to hope more in, oh, the baby napping well, or my good health, or the kids’ good moods, or a great night’s sleep, or a great meal.  However, if I really believe in heaven and eternity and Jesus making things all right in the end, it should be easier for me to loosen my grip on my favorite things in this world.

I think that these best moments on earth, which are fleeting, are really foreshadowing of eternity.  My baby’s kisses– are a foreshadowing of something better in heaven.  My sweet boys, with their hugs and “I love yous”– are foreshadowing something great in heaven.  The best relationships, most beautiful things, best meals– on earth– are still fallen, temporary, and affected by sin.

In heaven– that’s where the best life will really be, where life will start.

Here’s a beautiful passage from Revelation that is a comfort for those who are struggling through a loved one’s death or the end of a beautiful stage of life ( I know I’m not the only one.)

Revelation 22:1-5 1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the LORD God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

If we really believe in heaven, we may sing “slow down” in the moment, but I think at the same time, we’ll be meaning in our hearts, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

 

Posted in Food

Instant Pot 101

I am usually slow about jumping on bandwagons.  When I was a little girl, I would wait for my little sister to do things first just to make sure I wouldn’t get hurt or in trouble if I did it next.  (Thanks, Leanne!)  I was also not the first one to sign up for facebook in college, nor the first one to think essential oils are cool, nor the first one to use the instant pot.  But, here I am, an instant pot user, about a year or two after the real trend-setters have mastered the appliance.  And, I kind of love it.

Just in case there are any people left out there who are a smidge later than I am in jumping on the instant pot bandwagon, I decided to write a brief INSTANT POT 101 treatise. I know that many people find the appliances to be very intimidating, especially because I was one of them.  But, really, I have found mine to be very easy to use.

First, I will say this– the instant pot is not really something you need.  You will be fine if you just use your slow-cooker or the top of the stove like you’ve always done.  But, if you are crunched for time and need to cook something quickly for a crowd, it’s a pretty nifty tool to have. So far, I have used the instant pot to boil eggs multiple times, to make rice pudding, chicken and rice, lasagna, chili, a fantastic broccoli cheddar soup, and macaroni and cheese.

The biggest benefit that I can see to using the instant pot is that you can put you meals in the IP and walk away from it instead of staying in the kitchen and watching it.  Once you have everything in there correctly, it can finish the job on its own (and keep it warm for you for hours.)  Of course you can do that with your crockpot, but the instant pot is also FAST, especially in the meat department.  Instead of having to slow-cook a roast for at least four hours, it can cook a piece of meat in under one hour- great if you forgot to put your roast in before you leave home for the day.  You can even cook meats from the frozen state, which, admittedly, I have yet to try.

But, enough selling the instant pot.  (I’m not getting anything for advertising this here-  just trying to help fellow instant-pot lovers.)

The first step in using this device is to just OPEN THE BOX.  It is a huge appliance (at least my super-size one is) and has a lot of buttons, so I think this is the most difficult step for newbies.  It’s just so scary looking.

But, once you have it open, you’re halfway there.  The next thing you’ll want to do is to find a place to store your instapot, preferably somewhere that is easily accessible since you will be using it A LOT.  You also need to find a place where it will not damage any cabinetry as it releases steam.  I placed mine on the corner countertop right next to my stove.  That way, I can move it to the stove-top when I am using it.

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The next thing you’ll want to do is to peruse recipes for your instapot. The recipe really does matter.  Check out the reviews of the recipe as well, because the amount of liquid compared to the amount of meat/ rice/ vegetable you are cooking will either cause your dish to turn out well or to burn (in which case, your instant pot will shut down and flash with a “burn” notice.  (Ask me how I know.) Fortunately, there are a ton of them online.

Once you’ve picked your recipe, you will need to assemble your ingredients and put on the lid of your pot by lining up the lid and making sure it is in the “locked” position. At this point, you will turn the steam release to “seal.”  This position will allow your instant pot to build up pressure, which is what allows it to cook your food uber-fast.  Now, there is also a “float valve” that sits on the top of your lid.  It is just a tiny red piece of metal that is going to indicate whether pressure is build up in your pot.  If the instapot contains pressure, the float valve will rise up so that it sticks up from the lid of the pot.  If there is no pressure, it will lie nearly level with the lid of the pot.  Easy peasy.

If a recipe needs any ingredients to be sautéed before cooking, here again, the instant pot is a time-saver.  You can saute right in the instant pot itself using the–surprise– “saute” function.  You merely add your ingredients directly to the bottom of the instant pot and saute without the lid (or at least, without locking the lid.)  You will then need to “deglaze” the bottom of the pot by pouring in some liquid and scraping the bottom of the pot so that there are no pieces of food stuck to the bottom before you begin pressure cooking.  You should also let the pot cool down after sautéing.  The nice part to sautéing in the IP  is that you save yourself an extra dish to wash, as the next part of your meal can go directly in the IP after deglazing.

For most recipes that I have used thus far, the simplest setting that gives you the most control over your recipe is the “manual” or “pressure cook” setting.  When you have your ingredients assembled, your lid is on, and your steam release is sealed, you merely push your “pressure cook” button and choose the amount of time you want it to cook by using the arrows to adjust time.  You also choose your pressure level, which for many recipes is “high.”  Most recipes don’t take very long at all.  Boiled eggs, for example, take 5 minutes.  A chicken recipe may take 20 minutes.  Bear in mind that you also have to wait for your instant pot to build up pressure, which may take about 15 minutes, as well.

After your instapot is done cooking, (it will beep and automatically go to its “warming” function,)  you will either let the steam release naturally or you will change your steam release to the “venting” position.  At first, this part of the process was scary for me, as the steam shoots out of the top quite quickly and noisily, but you won’t get burned as long as you don’t leave your hand directly above the steam.  Once the pressure is done releasing and the float valve goes back to its “normal” position, you can remove the lid, and dinner is served!

I hope you enjoy your IP tutorial!   Any questions?  Feel free to comment!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Books, Mom Life

Book Review- “Girl, Wash Your Face”

So, if you pay attention to what people are reading, Girl Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis, is at the top of that list. Hollis is a popular blogger, author, and speaker, whose website The Chic Site is viewed by millions of women (and a handful of men) from around the world.  Her self-stated goal in her relatable book is to help women to grasp “this one great truth: you are in control of your own life.”

Girl Wash Your Face is a arranged around a series of “lies” that Hollis found herself believing and corresponding steps in how to overcome them– lies like “I Need a Drink,” “I’m Going to Marry Matt Damon,” and “I’ll Start Tomorrow,” to name a few. Hollis  also references her faith in Christ throughout the book and premises her book with “I believe that God loves us unconditionally but I don’t think that we get to squander the gifts and talents he’s given us simply because we’re good enough already.”

There is certainly some sensible advice in the book– from tips for self-care (get some rest and find out what you enjoy doing!) to how to lose weight (cut out the diet coke!)  She also spends a significant amount of time encouraging women to not let others’ opinions or current circumstances hold them back. Her book is best summed up in her last paragraph.  She says:

“Girl, get ahold of your life.  Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid,  stop giving away pieces of yourself, stop saying you can’t do it…Rise up from where you’ve been, scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again…Girl, wash your face!”

Overall, Rachel Hollis comes across as someone who cares about women and wants them to be their best– and she is vulnerable enough to share her personal struggles along the way.  The author is relatable and the book is fun.  And, if you need a bit of a kick in the pants to get going, this might be the book for you.

However, I think she gets a lot wrong in the book, and in some ways, Girl falls short for me.

The biggest problem that I have with the book is Hollis’s over-emphasis on self-reliance.  Over and over, she tells the reader that she alone is responsible for her own life and her own happiness.  I get this– to a certain point.  I understand that if we are willing to take ownership of our attitudes and our lives, we are going to approach them differently than if we believe they are not our responsibility.  But– from a Christian perspective– I think that Scripture tells us that we aren’t fully capable of making our lives what they should be on our own.  In fact, it seems as though the Bible cautions us over and over to trust God with our lives and to give ourselves to Him in order to live our best lives, not to try harder or to do better in our own strength.

Some well-known passages like Proverbs 3:5-6 and Philippians 4:13 encourage us to trust God for our strength and to rely on Him instead of ourselves.  Lesser known verses like the following passage from 2 Corinthians again tell where our strength comes from.  Paul writes:

“Such confidence we have through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. “

So, there’s a better message, as I understand it.  It’s awesome to work hard and to be our best, but we don’t do it to achieve happiness or success or identity.  The gospel is that God loved us first, unconditionally, and now we are free from having to achieve.  Instead, we give our lives to Him and in doing so, we are free to live.

It’s a subtle difference really and our lives may not look much different from the outside, but there is a different motivation underneath, I think.  In the one mindset, we are performing and achieving, possibly for the world’s approbation, maybe for God’s.  In the other mindset, we are loved completely and because of that love, we work to love others.

Even though Hollis gives a bit of lip-service to God and living with his strength, the book as a whole does not really show that reality.  Instead, those who follow Hollis’s advice may end up with a beach house in Hawaii, along with a warped sense of identity and a whole lot of stress.

So, go ahead and read Girl, but don’t expect it to give you much beyond some practical tips for bettering yourself; if you want to read something deeper that will change your life from the inside out, I would suggest a different Book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Country Living, Uncategorized

Green Acres, The American Country Countdown, and Why I’m Glad I’m a Country Girl at Heart

So, we have been sick in this family since Christmas vacation started.  You name it, we have had it.  Strep, the stomach bug, colds all in the space of a week and a half.  I was spared most of it, but I started out my day with ginger ale for breakfast.  So there you have it.

Anyhow… we have been home and glued to the t.v. for way too many hours a day.  We discovered that Amazon Prime has the show Green Acres streaming for free! and I heard the American Country Countdown on the radio today.  Which brought me back to my childhood– in a good way.

I think that most people upon first meeting me would not think of me as a country girl (although I could be wrong?)  I have a feeling that I don’t give off that vibe, at least on first meeting, possibly because I tend to be a reserved person or maybe because people have a certain stereotype of what a country girl looks like or talks like, and I probably don’t fit it.

But– truly– I’m a country girl at heart.  Country life for me meant cleaning out the calves’ stalls on a Saturday morning, wearing my favorite pair of holey jeans and my favorite green sweatshirt with a cow on it.  It meant walking out all over the fields to get the cows at the end of a school day.  It meant twilight meetings, driving to cow sales with my dad, talking about genetics and cow breeding (perfectly normal conversation in my book,) along with attending 4-H  meetings and showing cows.  And it meant the American Country Countdown.

Y’all.  I am an expert at 90’s country music.  I like to torture my children by turning on random country songs from the 90’s and showing off my ability to sing every word.  They think I am weird.  But, I am proud of it!  My especial favorites are George Strait, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson (although I thought he talked too much during some of his songs.  I just wasn’t into the talking/singing.)  Oh, and Billy Ray Cyrus!  “Don’t Break my Heart!”

I loved everything about growing up country.  I thought it was romantic and fun and cool.  Now that I’m an adult, I realize that it was a cool way to grow up– and a unique one.  Growing up country gave me a love of nature, animals, and hard work that not everyone is able to develop.

For those of you who didn’t grow up on a farm, one thing you might not realize is how much work is involved.  Farming is so daily.  A good farmer is up early taking care of things in every kind of weather.  Depending on the set-up, there are no vacation days or sick days, and you can never schedule anything at chore-time (often at 5 in the morning and 5 at night.)  It’s tough.

At one point, I told my dad I wanted to be a farmer when I grew up, and he kind of discouraged me from the idea.  I have no regrets that I listened to him.  The dairy industry in this area of the country is a hard business to be in right now.  Milk prices have been bad for an extended period of time and farmers are really struggling or going out of business entirely. It is what it is.  I was lucky to experience a small part in a very positive industry and I’m so grateful for what it taught me.

You know, I’m still living in the country even though I’m not farming and growing up country will look different for my kids than it did for me.  Beef cows, not dairy cows, more often dot the fields, and more and more barns stand empty. And it is sad to see things change, but, I think we “country people” will still maintain our heart.  We will still be hard workers, maybe with different animals or in different fields (like gas ones.)  We will still be close to nature and the essentials of life.  We’ll still make a living somehow. (If you can do it with dairy cows, you can do it with about anything, I think!)  And, we’ll (or at least I) will still be listening to the American Country Countdown on the radio (or maybe the internet, as long as it is working.)

Truly, I don’t like 2018’s country music quite as much as I did like the 1990’s.  I’m not sure if it’s because I have changed or the music has changed– or maybe it’s a little of both?  But, the kids and I still enjoy a few songs.  Like Thomas Rhett, for example. The kids love his song “Life Changes,” and overall it’s pretty decent (although certainly not as classic as King George!)  But it reminds me that change is inevitable, and the best way to live is to hold tight to the values that are important to you and loosely to the particulars of life.  And, to be grateful for every moment.

Life changes, y’all.  And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Our Year in Review- Merry Christmas- 2018

So, it’s that time of year again!  Time to wind down the old year and take a moment to reflect before a new year quickly begins again.  Looking back, I would classify 2018 as a year of surprises and adventures and activities!

We started our year off right with a trip to Orlando, Florida where Stephen attended a yearly small animal conference in early February. We had the opportunity to explore Disney World and Sea World with my mom and Stephen’s brother Dann and his family. Of course, we enjoyed the Florida sun  and made some good memories together.  While in Florida, we were also saddened to hear of the unexpected passing of our Sunday school teacher, Ron Herr.  We were honored to have him as a teacher and mentor and continue to think of him and his wisdom often.

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Cousin Joe, Isaac, and Timmy at Sea World

We continued our year at home with our four kids– doing our usual activities of work, school, and play, along with some extras like dance lessons for the girls, t-ball for Timmy, and church and Sunday school.  We celebrated Isaac’s 2nd birthday on March 9th and also took time to celebrate my parents’ 40th anniversary with friends and family at the North Orwell Hall at the beginning of June.

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Mom and Dad’s 40th Anniversary (They were babies when they got married!)

Our next big adventure for 2018 was a trip to Alaska!  We visited Dann’s family in Alaska for 2 weeks at the end of June, traveling up and down the Kenai Peninsula in an RV, visiting a wildlife refuge, hiking many trails, and looking out for bear.  Thanks to Dann for always packing heat and making us all feel a little bit safer!  (One person from their town was eaten by a bear while we were visiting, but Dann assured us that this is not a common occurrence!)  We also went on a marine tour and Stephen and Ruth went on a halibut charter, catching enough fish that we brought 70 pounds home and put it in our freezer!   It was truly an “adventure-vacation” and I was very happy with how our kids did on the plane rides both to and from Alaska.

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Stephen’s King Salmon (Want to make your fish look bigger?  Hold it as far away from your body as you can when you take a picture.)

While in Alaska, our little niece, Briana, made her appearance, so after a brief stop in Connecticut to attend Stephen’s brother Ethan’s dissertation of something very scientific, we went home to meet the new baby!  (We also added a new niece in Elva Jane – Stephen’s brother Ethan and sister-in-law Beka’s first child was born in April.)  (We also added a new nephew with Stephen’s sister Noelle and brother-in-law Mike’s Hosea being born this spring, but we are still looking forward to meeting him.)

So, we returned home to enjoy our fun and hot summer favorites of swimming, visiting the Troy Fair, celebrating Stephen’s 33rd birthday, my 33rd birthday, and Julia’s 7th birthday respectively.  We also managed to squeeze in a brief trip to Portland, Maine, for a work trip and weekend getaway , a visit to the Syracuse Zoo, and finally, sent the girls off to 3rd and 1st grade before baby #5 was born!

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The kids and me at the Syracuse zoo

Andrew Roy Laudermilch made his appearance nearly 5 weeks early at the Arnot Ogden hospital in Elmira, NY, after a normal pregnancy, possibly due to preeclampsia.  The jury is still out on that one.  Andrew weighed 6 lbs even and was whisked off to the NICU shortly after birth to monitor his breathing and to provide respiratory support as needed.  Andrew stayed in the NICU for one week before coming home without any restrictions.  We were very appreciative of my mom and mother-in-law for taking care of our other kids at home and for all of the love and prayers (and diapers) sent by friends and family.  Andrew has been a champion nurser since birth and is determined that he will make up for lost time in order to grow as quickly as possible.  He is succeeding very well in his ambition.

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Andrew Roy Laudermilch– Aug. 26th, 2018

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With Big Sister Julia (Almost 4 months old!)

After adjusting to life with a new baby (again) and celebrating Ruth’s 9th and Timmy’s 5th birthday in October, (Oh– and welcoming another niece with a very cool birth story– Rosalee was born in a truck!) we are celebrating the holidays with too many parties and too many cookies and so much love with our family and friends.   2018 was a blast and we thank God for our many, many blessings!  Now, looking back on our year, the one thing I think I am looking forward to the most in 2019– is a nap!

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Merry Christmas and much love from our family to yours!

Love,

Stephen, Elisabeth, Ruth, Julia, Timothy, Isaac, and Andrew Laudermilch

 

Posted in Marriage and Family, Uncategorized

No-man Cold

My husband never gets a man-cold.  In fact, he never, ever gets sick.  If he is coughing and bleary-eyed, I can ask him how he is feeling, and he will always say he is fine.  It’s like he has the opposite of a man-cold.  He has a superman cold.

Now, if I am sick, on the other hand, I am the whiny one, the one who is down and out, coughing, sneezing, complaining, and wondering if death is at my door.  In comparison to my husband, I get the woman-cold.

And it’s a million times worse than the man cold.  Because, you see, people in this day and age expect men to get man-colds.  It’s humiliating when people complain to me about their husbands being babies, because, as I listen, I have to confess that I am the weaker partner when it comes to illness.

So, I  suffer through my sicknesses without sympathy from my better half and without even the comfort of superiority.  The next time I get sick,  send me a card or well-wishes or say a little prayer for me.  Just don’t let my husband know that I asked for your sympathy.  He wouldn’t understand.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Secret to Successful Shopping with Children

I know the secret to nailing a shopping trip with children in tow. Want to know what it is?   Read further, dear reader.

First, let me tell you my credentials for my expertise in taking kids shopping.  You see, for most of my mothering life, I have taken the kids shopping by myself.  I am not a masochist exactly, but with my husband working long hours and my parents only recently retiring, I mostly just did it.

My very worst experience in shopping was when I was going for groceries with my two little girls, aged two and six months.  My second baby girl was a screamer– I actually used ear plugs at times around my little sweetheart.  On this particular shopping trip, I made it to the end of the store, with my grocery cart heaped up with essentials before my baby was screaming at the top of her lungs and my two year old was actually crawling away from me on the floor and laughing.  I abandoned that cart while a nice lady consoled me, saying, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have more of them?”  (I was, by the way.)

Fast forward to approximately seven years later, and those two baby girls go to school every day, which would make my shopping experience easier, except for the fact that we have added three boys to our family since then.

Do you want to know what is more difficult than shopping with two screaming baby girls??  Of course you do.  The answer is simple: shopping with three rowdy little boys.  Since baby Andrew was born, I have avoided taking all three shopping for obvious reasons.  Usually, it works to leave at least one of the boys with my mom or sister or even to send them with their dad to work.

Yesterday, my sweet little Timmy begged me to take him shopping with his brothers.  And silly me, I relented.  I took those boys to Walmart first– and waited at the return counter for approximately twenty minutes, trying to return ballet shoes.  The baby was okay, but the little boys were puppies and fighters and sharks the whole time we were waiting.  They were basically two jumping beans that I had to corral in a corner while I tried to accomplish my task (while holding the baby, of course.) We survived, with just the usual “You have your hands full,” comments.  I wisely did not divulge that I had two more children at school.

Next, on to Aldi.  Aldi is a little easier to shop with kids because it is smaller with fewer choices.  I also shamelessly bribe my children with food.  I opened up a package of pepperoni to get little Isaac to stay close to me (because, of course, there was no room in the cart for him because we buy food for a horde of hungry children now.) I pretty much treated him like a (real) dog, telling him to stay close to get another pepperoni.  So, the boys stayed fairly close to me, but chattered to me the WHOLE ENTIRE TIME.  My kids are talkers.  People looked on indulgently and I was so glad to be out of Walmart that I was pretty patient with them and we accomplished our mission.

At the end of this shopping experience, a nice lady approached me and asked me, “Are you a Christian?”  I replied in the affirmative, and she responded, “I can tell by your demeanor. I just wanted to encourage you that you’re doing a good job.”

I will say that I did genuinely appreciate the kind words.  But– underneath, I thought… “I must look like a saint for taking three kids shopping.”  Or crazy.

So, now, I’m ready to reveal my secret to successful shopping with kids.  Drumroll, please….

Two sweet little words: online shopping.  Happy shopping!

And just to add to the reality of this post here, this is my referral link for the new Walmart pickup that is now local to our area: http://r.wmt.co/mC7Im.  You’re welcome.

 

 

 

 

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If Famine Hits (Losing the Baby Weight)

If a famine hits, I won’t be the first to go.  It’s a comforting thought.  Something about turning 30 or maybe having lots of babies kind of destroys your metabolism.  It must be an adaptive measure so that you are around long enough to raise your kids and you can give the majority of the food you find to them.  (I’m grateful, truly.)

At one point in my life, I could eat ten cookies a day, go on a long run, and it wouldn’t even affect the scale.  Now, I eat two cookies, go on a long run, and the scale goes up two pounds the next day.  It’s a little bit ridiculous.

I gained about 25- 35 pounds with each prenancy I have had (five now, if you are counting,) which is within the recommended amount, but after the baby is born and my body returns to “normal,” I still have a good 15-20 pounds to lose.  For me, it doesn’t just “come off.”  I think my appetitie is a little too hearty for that method.

And so, I have tried various ways to lose the baby weight.  With my first baby, I overexercised.  I took that little girl on runs uphill and downhill every day if the weather was good in her jogging stroller.  (The neighbors thought I was crazy.)  With my second baby, I used good, old-fashioned stress to shed the pounds.  I distinctly remember someone asking me in the church nursery how I had lost the baby weight so fast. I responded with an explanation–“You see, my two year old was just flown in a helicopter to the hospital for what appears to be some sort of asthma attack.” (I have found severe stress to be the most efficient way to lose weight fast, but I don’t recommend.)

After my third baby, I reached a turning point.  Overexercising was no longer possible because I no longer had the time or energy to spend hours a week exercising.  I had heard friends tell me before that diet always trumps exercise when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, but it took me a long time to actually change my eating habits to try this out.  After reseraching and experimenting with diet, I learned a lot about how to lose weight in a healthy way.  I went from eating granola bars and chocolate chip cookies for breakfast to oatmeal, fruit, and peanut-butter or maybe eggs with tomatoes, or even– avocado (shudder.) I went from eating a flavored yogurt to plain Greek yogurt with real fruit.  Instead of potato chips, I would eat some nuts or maybe pistachios.  I would try to eat more protein and fewer carbs.  Just the basics.

During this last pregnancy, I indulged too much.  Old habits die hard and all that.  Eating better is difficult and, unforunately, I was not as motivated as I might have been.  I will always be a devoted fan of chocolate chip cookies.

But, I am motivated post-baby because I do want to be healthy and I really enjoy being able to be physically active, so I’m back on the clean eating bandwagon.  Which, for me looks like eating mostly healthy meals with some pizza and dessert on the side.  If anyone is wondering, I don’t do this alone.  I have found that the number one factor that helps me to make healthier choices is to engage with a community of people who are doing it better than I am.  Personally, I think you can find this community in lots of places.  You can join a weight loss challenge at work (or even make a bet with your parents!) There are tools like a fitbit if you’re a techie, or myfitnesspal, if you want to track your calories.  (You will be shocked, I promise!)  I also have to give a shoutout to Beachbody programs, which do a great job with online social groups and support and which I have been a member of off and on.  Really, there are lots of different options.

But– before the holidays hit and temptations surround us, can I encourage you to find something or someone who motivates you to be healthy?  Because I don’t see a famine on the immediate horizon.   Just fat turkeys and Christmas cookies, begging me to store up for one!

What are your tips or go to strategies for making healthy choices?  Feel free to share!