Saturday, October 21, 2017

Whole30 | Saturday Night Rambles

I'd love to be a health nerd and a fitness fanatic...but it's just not me.

Before I married, Mom emptied her cookbook arsenal into my hope chest like any loving Mommy would. One of the cookbooks was called "Whole30." 

Lately, as an ailing pregnant woman, I have sprouted a sudden interest in food cleanses that generate extra energy and eliminate pesky allergies and stuff. This evening found me resignedly opening an introductory website to read what I would and would not be allowed to eat for 30 days. I fully expected to tweak the allowances here and there since a balanced diet makes more sense for growing a baby than a "juice cleanse" -- or some other such restrictive torment.

The list began with Dairy.


Like, not.

Then it whittled HONEY out of my life for a month.

Okay. That's not even funny. Life with no not funny. 


I know.

With those two eliminations, I made a third: the whole Whole30 thing. Nope.

But the concept is still great. 30 days of dedicated healthfulness. (No exceptions.) I love fitness challenges - believe it or not. I just lack the willpower to never have cinnamon rolls or pumpkin spice lattes. I need a weekly outlet for my pent up sweet tooth. But...for 30 days...and for some extra energy in this here third trimester...and not looking like a marshmallow for five years after the baby is born...

I made my own list of NOT ALLOWEDS. 

It's a secret. 

And I made a list of ALLOWEDS to make life a little easier.

It's not a secret.

I TBLSP of chocolate per day

2TBLSP of honey or maple syrup


Two cups of fruit 

So, I am resolved. No weekly sweet tooth outlet. No date night exceptions. Thirty days. And we'll see if it has any affect on crazy allergies and 3rd trimester exhaustion. 😛

If you were evaluating your ALLOWEDS and not ALLOWEDS, what would you scrap, and what would you not be able to let go of? (Note my 1TBLSP of chocolate...) 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cozying Up to Fall | Recess

I’ve finally figured out why Mom always loved to send us kids out the door before Dad came home. 

Outside, there is no ash bucket to eat from. Outside, spilled milk is nothing to cry over. Outside, the sunshine and fresh air offer the serenity of wide open spaces. 

As a former Northern girl, fall is a long ago memory in light of Carolina October. Mid Carolina October, even. It’s 80 degrees and I’m sweating. More than likely, I’m also getting a sunburn. Even though part of me snubs to itself while remembering the throw blankets and hot cinnamon rolls that would be pure torture in weather like today’s… I’m glad that Me and Haven (and Thing 2) can escape to the out of doors for an evening reprieve. 

Still though, I've been doing my best to make fall a little more fallish. Cable knit blankets on the arm of the couch...butternut squash soup...side-braid hairstyles...sweaters in the morning (before the air conditioner kicks on...)

It's not working. 

But, like I said; I'll take the extension of summer while Haven learns to dig in the flower beds and sit on top of the slide instead of emptying the cabinets and unwinding toilet paper rolls.  ((This stage of life is very entertaining, to say the least.))

On other news: NINE WEEKS TIL WE'RE FULL TERM!!! This week has crawled by. It hasn't been the most fantastic, so  I bought a pack of newborn diapers to remind myself that preggo days will be over soon. 

They're so little.

 We can do this. 

So I try not to think about the nap that I'd love to take, and the cinnamon roll that I'm dying for, and keep taking allergy medicine to squelch the killer-mean headaches. Only a few more weeks. Just a few more weeks...

Did you have any tricks to make the last, uncomfortable weeks of pregnancy more fun? I'd love to hear em.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Your Fairytale | Is It Important?

Wide-wide blue eyes, staring up into mine. Every detail of her small, perfect face resonating with great big curiosity. She lays her hand on my lap; she wants to know. Everything. 

And I smile.

When I look at her, I’m living my dream. 

Every time I remember that, it shocks me. Everything I always wanted is right here in this little white house with all its’ to-do’s and been-done’s. The tiny quiet baby who is growing inside me, the chattering, hair-bow-wearing tornado who tears into everything when I’m not looking; the tickles and hugs when Daddy’s home…This is what I prayed for. This blessed chaos that ruins schedules and makes big messes; it’s what my existence always craved. Beautiful, crazy, living. 

Breathing in, letting go — I let the reality of this peace wash over; clear out. Daily, hourly, constantly, I’m fulfilling God’s plan for me; I’m a wife and mother. 

::Reality Check::

Yup. I also have to throw crazy-mean diapers in the garbage can (sealed up in a ziplock for preservation of sensory soundness). 24/7 MOM SQUAD isn’t the most glamorous job when the baby is screeching and the floors need mopped. But who said it was supposed to be?

Servanthood isn't the number one career choice these days.  "Selfless" isn't the buzzword on twitter. There's not much back patting for the ones who quietly, knowingly keep the wheels turning in a household; lunches packed, laundry done, good night kisses pressed to tiny foreheads. 

Sometimes in the day-to-day sameness of the fight for routine and sanity, I forget how much those things mean to God. 

That's right; to God. 

Every time my Bible falls open to either of these passages, I remember what an important job He has given me; what a blessing it is. 

"And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Nobody will be interviewing any of us moms on ESPN for cleaning the bathroom today. You can bet the family farm that there won’t be a round of applause after we finish balancing the checkbook - but I promise; “Little is much when God is in it.” Doing what He has asked will never be more than you can handle, or less than important in His eyes. He came to be a servant.

So what's my point? Embrace this. Slow down and focus. Replay the scenes that melt your heart. Remember the gentle hug from your husband and his secret in your ear. See the freshness of a new morning. Hear the giggles, see the smiles. Think on the "excellent" and "praiseworthy."

Most women can only complain. The negative is always there, broadcasting from worn-out, thankless creatures; but who says we can't focus on the happiness of this living; this calling to minister to "The least of these?"

Just a thought. But after all, you do have eternity to reap the benefits. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Everydayness | My Cup Of Tea | Journal

Haven, today you have been into everything. 

You threw a handful of dirt on my new white rug.

You found a pop tart box full of protein bars in the snack cupboard and have been throwing them around the kitchen floor for the last few minutes. 

You snagged my scarf and having been happily traipsing around the house with it trailing between your feet. 

You didn't want to take a nap, so you can't decide what you really want or need or feel. 
You have "pruned" the bottom quarter of the leaves off of my plant.

And you are still the most beautiful, hilarious child I have ever met. 

I can't get over your sweet, random hugs.

You melt my heart when you laugh for me.

"Mama" is my favorite word, now. 

Even though you do think you're old enough to drink mommy's hot tea.

I love you sweet baby.


Friday, September 22, 2017

The Hanging | Our Living Room Continued

I’m a Do-It-Yourselfer.

I mean…As long as the tool list only involves a hot glue gun and scissors.

Which is to say that, really, I don’t like to measure.

Which is to say that, really, I’m not good at measuring.

Which is to say that, really, I HATE ANYTHING TO DO WITH A MEASURING TAPE.

Or an instruction pamphlet-y-thing.

Or a drill.

Hammers are okay, but not my favorite. 

Problem is, Ethan is a man’s man.  He lives in a world of fresh air, gear oil, heavy equipment, and people managing. He hates decorating. He’s wished for patience, but even picture-hanging wriggles uncomfortably all over him. You can almost see his misery without him saying a word. 

Resolutely pushing the kitchen chair over to the windows, I gave myself a pep talk on how “I’ll never get any better with a drill and screws if I don’t practice, and really, what better place to start than on a job that neither of us particularly like to do? He will be proud; so proud, to see his wife taking initiative and sparing him the torture of a house project.”

Bad, Bad, Bad idea…

It took me three hours to hang the first rod. I gave up after that. Not sure what part of my brain is missing, since I did pass math class in high school…but curtains and fractions are nowhere close to similar. Even though they’re supposed to be. I mentally promised that I would never try this again. Ever. 

Uneasily, I waited for him to come home, silently pleading for him not to look too close…see what a struggle I’d had…see the extra screw holes…the couple that I wasn’t strong enough to drill all the way in…

He walked in the door, and saw them. He eyed up my hanging job, looked back at me and smiled. and smiled. and smiled, until finally he just shook his head and laughed. 
“You.” He grinned. 

So he helped me. He and his Mom, who are both amazing with measuring tapes. They’re all hung now, and the echoey coldness of our pre-curtained room has been replaced with warmth and cozy. But I died at least thirty times that night.

This is only chapter 934 in the classic novel “I Tried”, written on the life of our recently departed, who expired from excruciating embarrassment. 

On another note: Here’s a little vignette that happened above our fireplace the other day. In honor of fall and winter, you know. I’m not super crazy about winter colors…but white is kind of like snow, right? Sorry. I love my flowers. I can’t give them up for a vase of cotton or a boxful of pine needles. Twinkle lights with winterize this, I hope. 

Oh, yeah - and these antlers are from a deer that Ethan killed last year. He didn’t think they were impressive enough to do anything with, but they turned out to be just what I needed to add a little “rustic” to the ((somewhat)) “refined” look. 

Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Fall Has Come | The Shed Must Go

I couldn’t shake the edgy feeling, while walking down the hill to the shed. Locusts sang in their sultry hot-weather buzzzzzzzz. Every nerve was tense. Any rock, every doorway; I always looked.

Nobody else would have thought a thing, around here. Snakes are a part of life. I chided myself for being so nervous. Still, feeling the grass under my feet, I remembered the other creepy crawlies that had been all too real and close lately: the slimy orange salamander, the darting striped lizards on the porch, that thing that was gnawing on the wood under our house…the huge black spider that had made me stomach-sick for an hour after finding it in the doorway…

Who knew what was crawling around in the scrap pile. 

And I found myself silently at the edge of it, with the metal in my hand. My pulse came hard, while sunshine smiled kindly, caressingly down; reminding me that things weren’t all that bad. I would live. 

I looked hard — but at the same time tried not to see anything. There was an upturned metal something-or-other a few feet away. Sweet. I wouldn’t have to go any closer. Gratefully, I made a good, swinging toss. 

The metal clanged hard and exploded in black, writhing ribbons. 

It’s not an easy thing to run when you’re 24 weeks pregnant with an aching sciatic and two swollen feet. It was all I could see, as my heavy feet took me up the hill. The loud report of the metal, the flying blackness - and there was some kind of noise that ran with me; something between a scream and a Trojan battle cry . It was ugly. It was terrifying. But it was me. 

He grinned, as I finished by declaring that I was never going outside again. 

 “Maaaaaaaannnn I wish I coulda been there.”

This is the difference between a Northern Girl and a Southern Boy. Fall has nearly killed me this year since my two favorite creepers (Spiders and Snakes) have had a very long growing season and are pretty fat and sassy. Worse, they’re seeking winter homes in the old nasty sheds that the former owner of our property erected and left for us. We live waaaaaaay out in the country, so that means the mice and field rats are also pretty excited about warm woodsheds that are out-of-the weather. 

As the leaves slowly turn to vibrant splendor, Hotel La Shed is filling up with residents. Three times I have declared “I AM NEVER SETTING FOOT IN THAT SHED AGAIN!” And this last time was, actually, the last time. I have problems with spiders as round as Starbucks Muffins. (If it’s even lawful to compare something as nice as a muffin to something as nasty as a spider…)

Ethan is unphased. He told me the bigger ones that he’d seen were wrapped around 2x4’s under houses when he used to do HVAC. 

Winter, I beg of thee: COME SOON. 

The most wonderful news is that we’re tearing those nasty, pointless sheds down and disposing of the scrap pile. Which is to say; that ETHAN will be tearing down those nasty pointless sheds and disposing of the scrap pile. I suggested dynamite, but he’s sticking with the conventional, sane versions of building demolition. I’m glad my husband is braver than me. (Yes. I know. But I used “braver” instead of “more brave” because it sounds better.) 

If I die of sheer terror before frost nips those snakes into their holes for the rest of the year, please serve cappuccino at my funeral, and DO NOT let some stranger fix my hair. 

Por Favor. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Are You A Good Mom | How To Know

Home. The night light sent a warm glow across our sleepy room. We looked down at her tiny form, overwhelmed with gratitude for our first baby. His hand slipped around my waist as relief and thanksgiving washed over my tired, aching body. Our baby. 

I was so excited about being a mother when I first brought my little girl from the hospital. I wanted to be her everything; the comforter, the fixer-upper, the all-knowing, all-providing thing that I always thought “Mommy” was. I had held her under my heart for eight long months, brought her into this world, felt all the pain and emotion that the experience of new life brings… I was her mother.  Or at least, that’s what I thought. 

All of a sudden I realized that everyone from the grocer to the 7 year old at Piano lessons had an opinion on how my baby should be brought up.

I thought nobody trusted me. 

Further down the road, I’ve seen women with their kids all grown and gone turn solemn and slowly shake their heads, thinking of everything that they weren’t able to do for their kids when they were young. “We never really took vacations…” “I spoiled them. I know it.” “I was the worst homeschool mom ever…” “I wish I would’ve taken time to play with my kids more…” All dripping with discouraged failure - the same atmosphere that us new moms feel after somebody has raised an eyebrow over ‘the forgotten blankie.’

At some point we all ask the question: “Am I a good mom?”

Washing up a pile of dishes in the sink during nap time one afternoon, an answer came creeping warmly, kindly over my racing mind. The harder I thought and the longer I prayed, the more I realized that it was true. Undeniably, but unpopularly true. 

It was then that I finally understood that it’s not what you buy them for their birthday; or if you bottle fed or nursed them. It’s not if people agree with everything you decide; or whether you do white bread or whole grain. L O V E is what makes you a good mom. L O V E  I S. Not brand names, or perfectly packed diaper bags, or pats on the back from other moms. 

You’re not a good mom, because you’re perfect. You’re a good Mom because of that overwhelming care that aches for the pinched finger and cries out to God for wisdom at night when they’re sleeping. It’s that deep, deep love that holds the sick baby close and falls asleep nursing. That’s what makes you a good Mom. The finger pointers aren’t looking at the selfless love in your heart - but your child feels it, and God is pleased in it. 

Now don’t get me wrong! Today’s view of love is way-off compared to real Father-God love. It’s not an every-once-in-a-while emotion (when the kid isn’t embarrassing or a bother). God’s love is corrective, and careful, but also easy to be entreated. It’s an unselfish thing that doesn’t beg for “me time” or push the kids off in front of a screen to get a break. God’s love is there on the hard days; the humiliating days; the days when your last nerve is twitching, and there’s been no sleep. Even on the days they don’t deserve it - it’s still there; seeking the best for your family - not what’s best for you. 

Look hard inside yourself. What do you see there?

Whether you’re still in the trenches, or your baby is grown up with babies of her own, there will always be days when you don’t feel like enough - often because people want you to feel that way. But remember what God sees. Never forget how He loves you - or the love that makes you Mom.