This. That. Mom.

Some of this and some of that. Musings of an ordinary mom.


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Don’t Tell Me.

Information is good. For knowing things. Except for when I just don’t want to know.

Like, if everyone else’s living room is totally clean right now, don’t tell me.

If other moms are ironing work pants and laying out school clothes,
don’t tell me.

If I should be reading books about potty-training and disciplining,
don’t tell me.

If my yard is a problem because of all the dandelions,
don’t tell me.

If our kids should be drinking whole milk instead of reduced-fat,
don’t tell me.

If the tooth fairy always visits some kids on the first night after they lose a tooth,
don’t tell me.

If you didn’t lose patience with your kids today,
don’t tell me.

If your kids never whine, never complain, never argue,
don’t tell me.

Because I don’t want to know.

I want to trust my gut, which tells me that the kids are doing fine, that we are doing fine. That we are happy and fulfilled and enough.

And sometimes that means putting my hands over my ears and scrunching my eyes closed and saying, “nah-nah-nah-nah-nahnahnah” to shut out all of the experts and the articles and the Pins and the information that tells me that we’re not.

And sitting on the couch, in our messy living room inside a yard full of dandelions, under a blanket with our messy, whiny, imperfect children. . . somehow perfectly content.

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Are We What We Eat? Meals for the Week #4

There is a fascination today with the way that people eat. It becomes more than the food that they put into their mouths – it’s a way of defining them. People don’t “eat paleo,” they “are paleo.” They don’t “eat vegetarian,” they “are vegetarian.” Food has a lot of power!

I’ve gotten a few questions about the way that we eat, so I wanted to sum up our food philosophy.

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Okay, that’s not really a food philosophy. What I mean to say is that we try to keep it in perspective.

Generally speaking, we like to avoid the non-food-stuffs found in processed products and concentrate on the ‘pros’ – produce, protein, and probiotics. We generally don’t eat bread or pasta (once a month, maybe?), not because we’re gluten-free, but because we just think that stomach space is better occupied with vegetables and fruits. Same goes for breakfast cereal – we eat it sometimes, but we usually have eggs, oatmeal or green smoothies because we think they’re better fuel (not to mention that our kids never seem to get full from eating cereal).

We use a lot of Paleo recipes because we like that they use fresh ingredients and don’t rely on sugar or flour. We also try to eat meatless twice per week, which is a challenge for us but getting easier. The kids usually have one or two servings of dairy per day (one serving of yogurt for probiotics and either cheese or a glass of milk).

But sometimes the pizza delivery guy stops by our house, and sometimes we go out for burgers. When we are guests at someone’s home, we happily eat whatever they’re serving. The kids get to choose what we eat for dinner on their birthdays, and they almost exclusively choose pasta and NO VEGETABLES.

And it’s a good place for us. RG and I feel good about the fuel that the kids are putting into their bodies, and it’s a manageable system that lets us keep food in perspective. And the treats are so much well, TREATIER than they were before! For example, these Easter pancakes were like fluffy pillows of deliciousness straight from Heaven.

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We’re having pasta this week (kids will be thrilled!). Also, “dad omelets” are exactly what they sound like – omelets made by dad. RG likes to cook, too, and getting him in the kitchen when his schedule allows has been great for the kids to see. It helps us present a united front about the food we’re serving, and it’s awesome for me to take a night off from handling dinner questions/comments/concerns. He usually makes dinner once a week, typically on the weekend. I don’t make the bacon-wrapped chicken bites often because they take a lot of prep (one of my recipe criteria), but they are the kids’ favorite food of all time – I’ll try to prep them the night before. Also, if you make the coconut milk chicken, be sure to save a little coconut milk for the fish sticks (no half-wasted ingredients – that’s another one of my criteria).

Dinners for the Week

Monday: orange chicken and vegetable stir fry

Tuesday: chicken-bacon bites and green beans

Wednesday: quinoa pasta with cauliflower alfredo sauce and salad

Thursday: coconut milk chicken and balsamic Brussels sprouts

Friday: dad omelets and cold veggies

Saturday: fish sticks and coleslaw

 

 


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A Letter to New Moms

I was thinking about you today, and I got a little worried. I worry about new moms because well, in case you haven’t noticed, being a new mom is hard.

There are all of these hormones and emotions and sleepless nights and questions and advice flying around, and it can be overwhelming. At least, it was for me when we brought our first son home from the hospital.

And then, sometimes a genuinely well-meaning older mom says something like, “Oh, just you wait, honey! You think you’re busy now. . . ” or maybe, “Enjoy it while it lasts – the time goes so fast!” And they mean it to be encouraging, but maybe you think, “Excuse me, but I feel pretty busy right now” or maybe, “I would enjoy it more if I wasn’t so tired.” At least, I did when I was a new mom. That’s a lot of pressure!

So, in case you’re sitting with your little baby in the quiet of the night, feeling a little detached from the person you were before, I want to tell you:

You are doing a good job. It’s not easy what you’re doing!

You will sleep again, someday. All night, even. It will be awesome.

You will mess up. It will be okay. God knew you weren’t perfect, and He trusted you with that tiny, defenseless baby anyway. He expects you to make mistakes.

It’s alright to call your pediatrician in the middle of the night. Some parents recommend interviewing potential pediatricians; I recommend calling them frantically in the middle of the night and asking them panicked questions. If you’re not comfortable doing that, it’s not the right pediatrician.

Other moms will never judge you as harshly as you judge yourself – even the perfectly-dressed mom at preschool drop-off. Give yourself a break – even if you’re in your slippers.

You will have hard days and hard nights. Those are not the same as bad days and bad nights – they can still be good, they’re just um, harder.

Your baby will probably make you mad or frustrate you at some point. Then you may feel guilty about feeling mad at something so tiny. Then you’ll get over it. It’s a cycle. And it’s understandable – they can be maddening.

No one in the history of the world will ever know as much about your baby as you do. You are the leading expert in this subject. Take comfort in that, no matter what kind of advice you get.

You are mothering. This is it – you’re doing it! Don’t give up now; just keep swimming. Keep pedaling. Keep feeding and patting and changing and worrying.

Also, even if your husband honestly believes that waking up from hearing the baby cry in the night makes him as tired as you are from actually getting up in the night to take care of the crying baby. . . all the moms in the world know he’s not.

Carry on, moms.


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Miracles and Marinara

Now that I shared our great news, please allow me to share something that happened a couple weeks ago, that says a lot about pregnancy.

I was in the pickup line at the end of the school day. Waiting to get the schooligans is usually one of my favorite times with the little kids, but not this day. I had a headache, and it was a little hot in the car. The kids were singing, and I started to feel nauseous. It was raining pretty hard, so I couldn’t put the windows down for fresh air. The line wasn’t moving, and I started to feel a bit desperate.

I’m going to get sick in here, I thought. I rummaged around for a plastic bag or bucket or diaper or basically anything (in case you’re feeling like I’ve got it together, I’ll be sure to post soon about the ridiculous state of my vehicle).

And then it hit me. I knew with every fiber of my being that if I could just get home and eat marinara sauce straight out of the jar, I would be fine.

I could not make this stuff up. The soothing thought of COLD PASTA SAUCE and some deep breathing got me through that pickup.

And I was totally right. I got home, ate pasta sauce straight out of the jar, and instantly felt fine.

Don’t worry about the double-dipping – I threw the jar away the next day because it was suddenly repulsive.

It takes a lot of miracles coming together to make a baby. And, sometimes, a little marinara.

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What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve NEEDED when pregnant or gotten for your significant other??


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Totally worth it.

Here we are before our annual “fancy Easter brunch.”

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Last year, we celebrated Easter as a family of seven. This year, as a family of eight –

And, next year as a family of nine.

Seven kids.

This is a bit well, terrifying. How can seven kids sound like SO MANY MORE than six?

May I tell you something crazy? Six kids never felt like that many to me. I mean, it was more than most other families had, but it didn’t seem like A LOT. But seven. Whoa.

What if seven kids is one more than we can handle?
What if I am too tired to be the mom I want to be?
What if I never lose the baby weight from three babies ago?
What if it is just um, too hard?

Then I remember this.

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And I think, Totally worth it.


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I Had a Moment

I had a moment this morning.

It’s the morning before my favorite holiday, the sun was shining, my kids were all safe and healthy, and I had a moment.

I was tired. I hadn’t eaten breakfast.
The baby was crying.
Two sisters were bickering.
One brother was looking for a lost jersey.
One brother had to tell me a Harry Potter spell rightthatminute.
The three-year-old was yelling my name from the bathroom because he wanted to be wiped.
And then the crying baby knocked over a container of wallpaper glue, and it spilled all over the kitchen floor.

And I had the moment. The moment when I felt completely alone, and I closed my eyes and thought
Please. Let me be anywhere but here. Let me be in any moment but this one. Let me be anyone but this mom. Let me do anything except clean up this mess, put my hand in someone’s poop, settle this argument. I honestly believe that I might not survive this moment.

Thousands of years ago, there was a young man. And before He died on the cross, before He rose, before He showed us what Love was, He had a moment. In a garden, when He felt completely alone, and He closed His eyes and thought
Please. Let me be anywhere but here. Let me be in any moment but this one. Let me be anyone but this man. Let me do anything except sit here while they arrest me, torture me, put me to death in front of my mother.

In those moments, He and I have a choice: we can run and live – or we can stay and die. Die to ourselves, to selfishness, to worldliness. In those moments, you and I have a choice: to live for ourselves or to live with Him. To allow ourselves to be crucified with Him in that moment. To show the world what love is. To rise with Him.

These moments aren’t beautiful at the time. In fact, for me, they’re some of my ugliest moments as a mother. Impatient, tear-filled, close-to-temper-tantrum moments that I hope no one sees.

But these are the moments that refine us, that move us from what we were before to what we’re trying to be.
These are the moments that unite us with Christ.
These are the moments that make this a vocation, not a job.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some rear ends to wipe.


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I think you’ll like it: Meals for the Week #3

You know when six young kids feels like a lot of kids? At a party with a buffet. At a salad bar. At the froyo place. Anywhere that each person is to pick out his/her own food. Parents walk around *patiently* with each child, as he/she makes the most important decisions of his/her young life.

Do you want mashed potatoes?
“Well. . . ”

Would you like some applesauce?
“Hm. . .”

What else would you like?
“I just need a minute. . . ”

Times six. It’s the Sophie’s Choice of food. Times six. With a line of hungry on-children behind you. So, we get suggestive.

These peas look good! I’ll put a few on your plate.
You love sprinkles! How about a few?
Oh, I don’t think you’ll like that.

That last one. That’s the one. We were so guilty. “I don’t think you’ll like that; it has nuts” and “Remember the last time we were here, you didn’t like the asparagus?” or “That looks like a food for grown-ups.” When we were going through buffet lines, these comments made perfect sense. They were time-saving, eliminating some of the hemming and hawing. And they were TRUE. There were (and are) plenty of foods that I don’t *think* the children will like. But they’ve proven me wrong lots of times. So, now we try to go with suggestive comments of a more positive vein.

You won’t know if you like it until you try it.
I know you didn’t like it last time, but you literally have grown new taste buds since then.
The worst thing that will happen is that you won’t like the taste in your mouth, and you can take a bite of something else.

And it works. The power of positive suggestion has gotten our kids to try more new foods. And honestly, like everything with kids, sometimes it doesn’t work. But it’s always worth a try. As for the buffet/salad bar/froyo problem, I’d suggest not getting stuck behind a family with six young kids – especially if the parents are using it as a time to encourage new foods!

Dinners for the Week
Monday: loaded cauliflower and chicken casserole and green beans
Tuesday: Asian meatballs, stir-fried cabbage and garlicky snap peas
Wednesday: potato bar and broccoli (I’ll skip the bread crumbs)
Thursday: chipotle bowls
Friday: pan fried chicken, mashed cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
Saturday: garlic balsamic pork tenderloin and grilled peppers

When was the last time your kids surprised you by liking something you thought they wouldn’t??