Category Archives: Clothes
My days aren’t always wonderful. But, today has been smashing and I don’t want to forget it.
First, our mourning has been turned into dancing. Earlier this week, we discovered that the awful scraping sound emanating from my Land Barge’s engine was its last, dying gasp. It needed a new engine — to the tune of $3,500 or so. This morning, someone called to tell us that, essentially, he is going to pay for it. This “someone” is returning a favor for house plans that my husband designed for him. I must confess that I have groused somewhat about what I feel is people taking advantage of my husband’s generosity with his home-designing skills, which he frequently does for free, or very nearly so, on the side*. It seems to me that folks don’t comprehend the time, effort, skill, and flat-out genius that goes behind their remodel, or whatever. I have strongly suggested that he charge what he’s worth. He refuses. I pout and feel self-righteous about at least internally defending my husband. However, I will never breathe a word of complaint again. Even enters my mind I will remind myself that GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL and HE WILL ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF US and no kindness is wasted in God’s economy. I will give all future unkindly thoughts** a kick to the curb and not let them enter into the dwelling place of my ponderings. Seriously. My mind is changed FOREVER. My paradigm is permanently shifted.
Secondly, something over the last week or so, of which we didn’t hear until today:
- Last week at our dentist’s office, as always, my five year old daughter Fiala was unfailingly kind and encouraging. She told the dental assistant, Shawn, that she looked beautiful, and gave her a hug and a kiss.
- Shawn went home, and when asked about her day by her elementary-school-aged son, she said that a little girl made her day, describing the incident with Fi… They talked about the name “Fiala”.
- The son’s teacher is pregnant with a little girl and (bravely!) told the students that she would let one of them name the baby. She set up a suggestion box in the back. Shawn’s son wrote down “Fiala”.
- The teacher announced yesterday (I think) that her new baby would be named Fiala.
- Buh-bam! Darling girl is a trend-setter, spreading her sweet spunkiness and genuine affection, getting babies named after her.
*He is also paid to design houses in his full-time job. 🙂
**At least on this topic. 😉
The babymoon filled with tortilla chips* and ice cream** is over.
I won’t say that we’ve returned to “normal”, though that is what I was initially thinking… “Wow! We’re approaching normal!” There is no “normal”. And, upon further reflection, it was like thinking, “Hey, baby! You’ve upset our family’s routine! You rascal! How could you do that?? You’ve DISTURBED things!!” And, truly, I don’t think that.
But on the other hand, I have been working to re-establish a new flow to our family.
I wrote this to a friend yesterday, who probably instantly regretted asking me how I was doing:
But, just to be real, yesterday SUCKED. It was the worst mothering day in a solid year, if not more. Frankly, Jean cries a lot. That isn’t bad, theoretically. I was telling my kids that Ethan cried a lot, and he turned out just fine. Some babies are just… needier than others, and I am happy to provide that extra comfort, extra soothing, more careful… care. But, OTOH, it means a lot of time in my room with the door shut, nursing (not that I always nurse behind closed doors), soothing, trying to help Jean sleep… and then my children are like Lord of the Flies out there, unattended, giving into sin nature, selfishness, unkindness, sneakiness, bullying… Ugh. I kind of flipped out yesterday. For a valuable 45 min of time when Jean was napping, I sat the five down and we went over Colossians 3:12-17. We talked. I lectured. We prayed. But did things improve? No. I had to spank***. I called Martin. And today hasn’t been much better…. But, I’m trying. Played Bethel YouTube worship videos for four hours straight in the main living area of our home, both to worship and sing, and to just invite the Holy Spirit in our day. And I have nipped everything in the bud, as much as possible.
There would be days like these in the past and I would think that I have totally failed as a mother. The good news is that I feel like it’s a temporary failure from which we all need to recover. I need to pull the reins in on my kids after letting things coast, slide, for too long. And they need to be loving and to obey.
So, see? There’s no normal.
But, this morning represented a step in the right direction: For the first time in Jean’s six weeks and two days of life, I made myself a “real” breakfast. Granted, I absolutely gulped it down, so as to eat it hot, in case Jean awoke. But, it was: Three eggs, tomato slices, avocado slices, a cup of raw milk, and coffee. YUM. The first week of Jean’s life, I ate like a queen, because my hubby fixed my breakfast, and delivered it to me in bed. The time since then has been altogether spotty: A hastily eaten bowl of cereal (and I don’t even eat cereal!), a protein bar, a hastily-eaten pear, occasionally asking one of my boys to fix me eggs… Or, more likely, me looking at the clock at 11:00 a.m. and thinking, “Crap. I haven’t eaten anything yet today.”
Speaking of food… While I absolutely, 100% agree with the thought that post-partum mothers should not give in to an appearance-centered culture that pressures us, “How are you going to lose that baby weight???”**** I also know that I’m carrying 12 extra pounds from the pregnancy — not much, I know! — and
- It’s crazy how much even just 12 pounds can make your clothes NOT fit. Even tee shirts.
- I know that most of that wouldn’t be there had I not daily indulged in food I shouldn’t be eating in the first place: like the aforementioned tortilla chips, ice cream, and cereal.
- I just feel better when I’m trim, when I don’t to have to select clothes that hides one sloshy part or another.*****
So, unless I want to purchase a whole new wardrobe — which WOULD be nice, but
- Where would the money come from to do that?
- More importantly, where would the TIME come to do that??
I need to lose at least some of that weight.
Hence, the subtraction of the carb-laden foods, and the triumphant reemergence of healthier food…
*Organic, from Costco. I love those chips!!
**Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra. It was a lot easier to resist when I had to purchase it for $5/pint from the grocery store or wait for a coupon. In the last year, pre-baby, I probably indulged twice. But, since we discovered that the regular price at Walmart is $2.88/pint, and I got my hubby hooked on that particular flavor, it’s been MUCH harder to resist. “Babe!” he grins, coming in the door with a bag from Walmart, “I got you some ice cream!” Hahaha!!
***I probably just lost a good 10% of my readers right there. “SHE SPANKS???” Um, yes. On occasion. I can’t remember the last time I had spanked anyone, prior to Tuesday; a couple of months, at least. It’s not my go-to discipline; it’s my last-resort discipline.
****And if you haven’t read Sarah Bessey’s fabulous post on the Duchess of Cambridge’s post-partum hospital appearance, you should. Absolutely, you should.
*****And we’re not talking “skinny” here. I’m at 150 lbs now, and my goal is 140. Pre-baby, it was 138 lbs.
When I make a dish for the family to eat, it’s always my hope that EVERYONE will like it. Something that all seven people at the dinner table will adore has proven rather elusive, however. I now see this as a good thing, mostly. For instance: I made sauerkraut earlier this week, and it is done fermenting today. My 13-year-old son has been highly anticipating its readiness, and is already preparing his sandwich in his mind. He mentioned that he wishes we had ham, but we don’t. So, he’ll have turkey, mustard, and sauerkraut. Not everyone else is so excited. 🙂 But, other family members are expectant of different foods. I am roasting six bunches of small beets right now. My three youngest children are REALLY excited about that. I have received beets a number of times these last few months from our CSA and only ONCE have the beets actually made it into a dish. The rest of the time, after I roast the beets, peeling them becomes somewhat of a party, with everyone popping cooled, newly-peeled baby beets into their mouths, just like candy. I can’t say that I’m disappointed that not everyone feels this way about beets. My husband can’t stand them. My older two boys are rather ambivalent. The rest of us ADORE beets.
- Our new home is an older one, and it is an endless project. We knew it needed more insulation, as some of it was missing in wide swaths, some was thin and compacted, and some of it had shrunk away from ceiling joists and the outer walls. When we got our electricity bill for the time spanning from mid-April to mid-May, and the stinkin’ thing was north of $350 (and that is with our air conditioner thermostat set at 80-81°), that was a wake-up call. Last weekend, my husband Martin, after quite a bit of research (wet-blown cellulose? dry-blown fiberglass? fiberglass batts? do-it-yourself? or hire it out??) he decided to do dry-blown fiberglass, which requires a big machine. The blowing machine is rentable from Home Depot, or free with the purchase of enough packages of insulation. It was quite an undertaking. He purchased a head-to-toe coverall, and with goggles, mask, and gloves, ventured up into the attic. Actually, we have two attics, as part of our home is single-level, and part of it has two stories. It was hours of work. Our oldest son, Ethan, stayed at the ladder and fed the tube up into the attic as needed, and relayed hollered messages to our next-oldest son, Grant, who was feeding the batts into the blowing machine and turning it off and on as needed. At Home Depot, they supplied a cardboard measurement stick, telling us how deeply the insulation needed to be to supply a certain R-value. “How deep does it need to be again to reach R-38?” he asked Grant. “Thirteen inches,” Grant replied. “Good. We have about R-100 in most places,” Martin announced with satisfaction.
In the above pic, you can see a bit of the washing machine, with which I have a love-hate relationship. It is an LG, and when it works, it works WONDERFULLY. However, yesterday, we had the LG repairman out for the SEVENTH TIME in less than a year. Seven times. Granted, his visit on Friday was a follow-up from Tuesday’s assessment, and he was installing the parts that he had ordered on Tuesday. And two of the previous visits were — umm… — due to user error, as a quarter coin had slipped into the wash undetected, and had lodged in such a way that it was keeping the drum from agitating. BUT, this washing machine was the most expensive purchase my husband and I had ever made, barring cars and houses, in our 18 years of marriage, and frankly, I didn’t expect the thing to be a lemon. Or, I don’t know if it’s a lemon, exactly, but it just doesn’t seem that such a high-tech and expensive item should continually require repairs. So now, we are considering purchasing an extended warranty. I have kind of a moral objection to extended warranties. My thoughts are, “BUILD IT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND AN EXTENDED WARRANTY ISN’T NECESSARY!!!” And yes, this is said while shouting. I’m also kind of upset, because, before purchasing this unit, I did a lot of research to find the right product for our lots-o’-laundry family. This washer had glowing reviews and was universally touted as a heavy-duty, GIANT-capacity washer with few problems, certainly less problematic than a front-loader. However, the LG guy has been refreshingly honest with some information that I wish I had access to before I purchased. He has mentioned that, while the unit is power- and water-efficient, it actually runs better on the cycles which use more water (mostly the “Bulky/Bedding” setting). Also, the heating element in the washing machine, which allows the water to heat up super-hot (in the “Sanitary” cycle) especially for whites and cloth diapers, isn’t particularly powerful, and it takes a LONG time to actually heat the water. In the meantime, as I had observed, the washer just slowly spins, waiting and waiting and waiting for the water to heat, automatically adding MORE time to a cycle that is already THREE HOURS long. I guess I’m not the only LG customer who feels rather crabby about this, because just last night, I saw an ad for a new LG washer that heats up super-hot, but has an incredibly short cycle time. Hmph.
- Another thing I had wanted to add to our home is a clothesline. In our last home, the HOA forbade them. Even in the back yard. This house has no HOA and plenty of space. However, my husband wants to do the clothesline “right”, on its own separate poles, sunk in concrete, on the side of the yard, out of sight. But… that has been added to the very long list of to-dos, here in the house, and we have now been here ten months with no clothesline. So, last weekend, I procured four eye bolts and screwed them right into two trees in our back yard, and strung up some perfect nylon rope, handily left in the shed by the previous occupants. Voila! Clothesline. So, for a little more than a week now, I have been hanging up about 95% of our family’s laundry — everything except my husband’s clothes and the bath towels. Our handy new LG dryer (with which we have had no problems) has a great moisture sensor, and the few items from each load that go into the dryer are completed in about 20-25 minutes, instead of the 50-60 minutes each load was previously taking. A friend on Facebook (well, she’s a friend in real life, but she mentioned this on Facebook) said that she finds hanging clothes to be “meditative.” I didn’t quite understand her at the time, but now I do. I bring out a glass of ice water, put my basket of wet clothes on a chair, and actually enjoy the quiet efficiency of hanging clothes. I’m outside (which I love anyway); the sun is shining on me; it’s a gentle form of manual labor; I feel like I’m…. benefiting our family by saving money on power that would otherwise be spent on the electric dryer; it feels satisfying to provide my family with freshly sun-warmed and sanitized laundry; and it just feels RIGHT to be using the plentiful solar energy here in the desert to dry my clothes. Even when the day is hot (though I typically hang the clothes in the morning or evening), I have my ice water, and when I stand between the lines of damp clothes, the breeze cools and refreshes me… It is, indeed, a meditative activity.
With the Crooked Sky Farms CSA I host, I feel like we have a good plan for what’s going to happen when the baby comes. The sixth week of the summer season is on Wednesday, June 26, and the baby is due on the 27th. And… the baby could come at any time, really. I’ve been anywhere from 11 days early (twice!) to eight days past my estimated due date. While there have been a number of people offer to help, the most promising person is, ironically, a woman with seven kids. She hosts a raw milk pick-up (where I am a customer), so she is rather familiar with the ordeal of people coming to her house over the course of an afternoon and picking stuff up. 🙂 Also, she’s a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom whose oldest is 16. Just like me! She said that she would be happy to either come to my home and host the CSA for a day, or to even have it at her house. So, the plan is that, if I have the baby on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, she will have the CSA in her home. If I have the baby Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, I’ll probably just tuck myself upstairs with the baby and she will stay here for the afternoon, with my kids helping her. If I have the baby on a Sunday, it could go either way. That’s at least the plan. Another woman, who participated in the spring CSA season, sent me an e-mail yesterday saying that she would like to help around the time the baby comes, if need be. I was quite touched by her thoughtfulness. She isn’t participating during the summer because she has her own garden which is being very productive right now — no need to pay $20 for organic veggies if you grow an abundance of your own! I sent her a reply sketching out the basic plan, and asked if she’d like to be back-up, or perhaps be the host (as her home is much closer to mine, and would be less of a deviation from the regular plan for the other CSA members). Anyway. It just feels nice to know that things are taken care of, and that people are kindly offering to help out. 🙂 I feel surrounded by wonderful folks.
- We’re almost done with school. Kind of. Three of my kids will be finished on June 7th, in less than a week! My oldest, who is a sophomore, won’t be done. He got himself behind and will likely be playing catch-up until the end of June. I’m rather displeased with that because, as a homeschooling mom, if he isn’t done, that means that I am not done! But, as he is a sophomore, we can’t just say, “Ah, well. We’ll come back ’round to it in the fall.” There aren’t really any do-overs once you’re in high school. So, he’ll keep working until he’s finished with the year’s curriculum… I will admit that I am very ready for summertime, and I’m very ready to focus on the baby. Two weeks ago, I told my middle boys (8th grade and 6th grade) that they will finish the last three weeks of school primarily on their own. Normally, I do about 60% of their work with them — reading to them, discussing assignments in depth, having conversations about the topics at hand, reviewing their work, etc. But, in order to help me be able to have time to prep for the baby, I was straight-up with them: “Listen, I know and you know that you learn better when we do school together. Having an actual teacher helps you glean so much more out of the material than if you just cover it yourself. However, you will be doing virtually all your remaining work for the year on your own, reading to yourself or reading to each other, because it’s either that or nothing.” That is one of the benefits of homeschooling: You can make it be flexible when you need to. They would learn more if I was more highly involved, so I feel kind of badly. But, three weeks of independent work within a 35-week school year won’t kill ’em, I guess. It’s better than just stopping school. That sounds like I’m setting the bar rather low. Perhaps I am… But, that’s what is necessary for these last few weeks of school. 🙂
I’m 36 weeks pregnant today.
That’s rather a milestone, because Arizona law only “officially” allows home births between 36-42 weeks. So, I’m IN!!
In general, I’m not feeling miserable. Well, I kind of am… And part of me thinks that must be my age (I’ll be 40 next month!), but another part of me well-remembers the last weeks of pregnancy with my first, at age almost-24, and I think that, perhaps, I was even MORE miserable than I am now. So, I can’t blame it on age. Really, I just don’t enjoy pregnancy. My body resists it, and all the more so as the birth approaches.
I do enjoy the birth itself — so satisfying, so joyful! — and I adore having a newborn.
I’m not going to have a water birth.
It’s kind of funny, because with most of the home birth pics I see — like on the ever-encouraging Birth Without Fear — inevitably, they’re of a vernix-coated brand-newborn being pulled straight from the water into the mother’s waiting hands. And I just don’t… want that. I don’t know why, exactly. I just don’t. Every time I’ve had the opportunity to labor in a tub — with all but one of my five previous births — I have gladly done so. And I do envision myself in labor in my swimming pool and in a bathtub here in my home. But, birthing in the water? I just don’t want to. Part of me feels like I should have a birthing pool on hand, just in case. But, I have successfully, joyfully birthed five children while NOT in the water, and I think I’d feel a lot more comfortable doing the same with baby #6. I don’t like the feeling of NOT feeling… grounded while in the water. My midwife and her assistant (who is a friend of mine — a doula training to be a midwife) assures me that, with a rebozo (basically just a long, cotton shawl), they could wrap/loop it around me in such a way that I wouldn’t feel like I was floating away. But that makes me feel even more twitchy — having fabric looped all around my body and two women holding it while I push out a baby. I don’t want that… much touching me. And I’m just not a fan of plastic touching me, either. A rented pool is a blow-up plastic pool with a thin plastic liner. Not a fan of the plastic-to-skin sensation. No, thank you.
Plus, the pool rental is another $100 that I’d rather not spend, and my husband is worried about the second story of our home successfully supporting that much weight — and WET weight, at that — in the corner of our bedroom.
So, a birth pool is out.
For other baby-preparations…
Friends have POURED out love and blessing and baby stuff on us. I’ve received:
- A gorgeous crib. (Actually, two of them. I’m going to give one away.)
- The first six months of clothing — really, really nice clothing from a friend whose baby girl was born in August of last year. She works for a mall development company and I’m confident she spends WAY more time shopping at WAY nicer stores than me… Plus, she has two boys and her family was thrilled that she had a baby girl, and of course, everyone gave clothes. And she has passed them all down to me. And we’re going to meet up soon and she’s going to give me a Boppy (which I love), a breast pump, and some other items, too.
- A really nice car seat.
- A bouncy seat.
- Baby toys.
- A play pen.
- Some cloth diapering supplies.
- Some baby linens — like bath towels and blankets.
I already owned a nice, big, rocking, oak bassinet. I purchased it second-hand when Fiala (who is now 4.5 years old) was not yet born, and it has been making the rounds, so to speak, ever since. I’m kicking myself for not having all the mothers who have borrowed it write their baby’s names in pencil with the dates the bassinet was used. I think the count is at seven. Seven babies who have slept in that bassinet between the birth of my four-year-old and this new baby. I think that is such a rich, sweet history. And now, the bassinet has come back to me from the most recent baby (born in November) who had it… Along with the bumper I made for a friend who used it for HER little girl, who will be four in August. It’s still in great shape, still super-cute.
All I have purchased are:
- More cloth diapering stuff.
- A pail liner for said cloth diapers.
- Another wet bag (a friend already gave me one) for cloth diapers on-the-go.
- A diaper bag.
- A Moby wrap.
And with all of that, I have spent less than $200.
For diapers, I have purchased all-in-ones, pocket-diapers, prefolds, diaper covers… I have nearly enough diapers and supplies to last from newborn until potty-training. Craigslist is a GREAT source for cloth diapers. Thankfully, cloth diapering is quite trendy right now. However, countless mothers have spent HUNDREDS of dollars on pricey, new cloth diapers, tried it for a week or two, and freaked out and decided to stop cloth diapering. Then, they offer their nearly-new stash on Craigslist for 10-50% the cost of new. And I come in and scoop everything up, happily. 🙂 There are also die-hard cloth diapering moms who keep meticulous care of their cloth diaper supplies and have great items to sell — even if they’re older — that have been so well-cared-for that they’re worth buying. I’ve also purchased a number of diapering items from eBay. I’m still bidding on some more infant-sized prefolds… And I still need a few additional items, but I’ll still probably end up spending just under $200.
And that’s even with my pricey diaper bag.
NOTE: I am so NOT trendy. I’m really not. I have zero interest in being a stylish, hot mom who uses her baby as a public indication of her ability to spend loads of money on the best, most expensive brands.
So, on one hand, I’m kind of embarrassed about my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag. This brand, in “touring” style I purchased, retails for around $150. Discontinued fabrics — such as the one I purchased — can be found for $75-105, typically. That just seems so, so, so pricey. Like, ridiculously so.
On the other hand, I absolutely ADORE my new diaper bag. I adore it. I can’t wait until it arrives. I bought it used, for about $40, and I literally cried with joy. Though it is a fraction of the cost of a new bag, it still seems crazy-expensive to me. But, once I saw that diaper bag… I just felt like I had to have it. Me, the immensely practical, pragmatic, penny-pinching mother of almost-six, “had to have” a $40 diaper bag. And I was willing to spend more! Ack!!
I consoled myself that I had been so frugal with my other purchases, and overall, have spent so little for this baby, that the $40 was justifiable. 😀 It’s my one baby-splurge.
So… with me now being 36 weeks, and with procuring — in one way or another — almost all of my baby supplies, I’m feeling almost-ready for the baby to come. She could come any day and we’d at least not be in a panic, though everything is not quite ready…
It’s not quite two p.m. as I type this, but today has been one of the sorts of days that I hope for, but rarely occur. To me, a “good day” is one in which I get things done in the home, outside, with the kids’ school, and that something pleasant happens for me, too. It has a nice pace: Filled, but not frenetic. I hate busy, deadline-driven days. I hate days where I feel like I’m doing stuff all the livelong day but nothing gets accomplished. I hate days in which there is an abundance of strife amongst the children. Today has been good, full of the things I like, and with little to none of the things I don’t. So, I thought I’d document it, if for no other reason, than to encourage myself.
- Let the day begin! The day started just as I prefer: On the back patio, with a cool breeze blowing, coffee mug in hand, reading the Bible. I have an odd (?) affinity for Old Testament prophets, and was reading from Zechariah. Then, my four-year-old, Fiala, came outdoors, sleepy-headed, and crawled up into my lap. It was just right. What started as a bright and breezy morning has turned into an all-out windy, dusty day, but that’s OK. It’s keeping the temps down to the high 70s, which is fine with me.
- Gardening. I am out of large and medium pots, now! In what I semi-affectionately call my “fake garden”, I now have 10 medium or large pots filled with plants and seeds, in addition to my two, 2′ x 4′ planting boxes. Today, after creating a mix of native “soil” (clay, really), compost (from a bag; my homemade stuff isn’t ready yet), and vermiculite in a wheelbarrow, I transferred two large heirloom tomato starts into my last two medium pots. I planted cilantro seed around one and cumin seed around the other. I also transferred three small tomato starts (not ready to plant outside) into larger containers. In related news… I thought that with such a small garden, that there was NO WAY I’d forget what I had planted. Wrong. I have three different kinds of squash (I think) plus a few cantaloupe plants and a couple of cucumber plants, and they all look identical. I have no remembrance about what is planted, exactly, and where. Around each larger plant, I also planted smaller things like chard, scallions, various herbs, and flowers. Some things are pretty easy to tell: Chard, for one. Scallions, too, are pretty apparent. But the various herbs and flowers??? I have no idea. AFTER I had planted cilantro seed around one tomato plant today, I noticed that some seedlings in another pot were getting real leaves. “That looks like cilantro!” I thought, “Or is it parsley??” I sampled it. Cilantro. From now on, I am making markers for each pot.
Yard work. I am happily transforming our back yard. Our home, into which we moved in July 2012, needs some serious work to the back yard. The front, too. But, the back is where the living and the gardening takes place. We have plans to seriously overhaul the back yard, but one bad thing about this being a larger property (almost 1/2 acre) is that the bigger the yard, the more it costs to re-do. We need a pool fence, a completely redone drip irrigation and sprinkler system. We need more trees. We need to install my REAL garden (which, blessedly, my husband does consider a high priority!!). We need to re-do at least some of the landscaping so that grass is not growing right next to the swimming pool. The cool-decking needs redone. We need gutters. The whole yard needs to be Roto-tilled, as the clay soil is VERY compacted. The list goes on. But for now, we’re doing small things. For instance, every Monday, I’ve been moving a sprinkler around the yard. I let it soak a spot for an hour, then move the sprinkler. It has very much greened-up the yard. Regrettably, a good half of what’s growing is weeds. But, when the collection of grass and weeds are mown, as my 15yo son did on Saturday, the yard is looking quite nicely. There are a number of bare dirt patches, still, though. I decided today to start aerating them, to see if that will encourage the grass to spread. Today, I only did a maybe 5′ x 20′ section with an aerator we already had. It’s just a four-prong step-on device.
- Homeschooling. In spite of the above, I still got school done with my four school-age children. Actually, I’m sitting at the dining room table with my son Ethan (who is a sophomore) while he works on science reading and questions… I read in several subjects to my 11 and 13-year-old sons, and gave them instructions for further self-directed work. For my first-grader, Audrey, well… I should have done more with her. I only had her do her workbook items (phonics and math) and then let her play with her new Play-Doh contraption all morning. That’s fine motor skills and creativity, right?? (It was her birthday on Saturday… Can’t believe she is seven!!)
- Laundry. I also washed, dried, and folded a giant double-load of laundry, and loaded the machine with a new load to start tonight, after the electricity rates go back down for the evening…
- Food, etc. I noticed that some red oak leaf lettuce, obtained from the CSA on Wednesday, was looking decidedly water-logged this morning. So, I sorted through that, as well as some CSA spinach, and started a small salad for my lunch, and a large salad for our family’s dinner tonight. And I used up the rest of the Red Russian Kale I had on hand, too, though that went on top my eggs this morning. It feels good to use something completely. I also harvested ten small-to-medium-sized Red Rhubarb Chard leaves this morning to add to the salads. It was the first chard harvest of this spring… I love my organic CSA veggies, but there is nothing better than plucking something from the back garden, which you’ve grown from seed, and nurtured into maturity.
Birds! I finally positively identified a hummingbird that has been flitting around our back yard for the last couple of weeks. It’s an Anna’s Hummingbird. I got to get quite close. “Male, medium-small, short beak, red gorget, throat, and head, green back, wingtips not quite as long as the tail… Think it’s an Anna’s.” Then, I went back inside and checked my Sibley guide. It was an Anna’s. Those are fairly uncommon here — I usually see Black-Chinned or Costa’s hummers. It wasn’t quite as satisfying as ID’ing a new-to-me species, but still very nice.
- Pain. The ONE bad thing about this pregnancy — I am now 28 weeks — is that I have a mass of varicose veins running up the back of my right leg, from my knee area up into my rear. It sucks. It is often incredibly painful. I am WAITING AND WAITING on a stupid, expensive, girdle-looking “pregnancy support garment” that I purchased about two weeks ago. I hope it works miracles. I do take Horse Chestnut Seed extract for leg vein support and pain, as well as cod liver oil to thin my blood. That worked brilliantly until about six weeks ago… Some days are better than others, and today, even though I’ve been on my feet for much of the day, has been good.
- The one bad thing about today: Last week, we took my truck — I call it The Land Barge — in to get fixed, as the RPMs were revving with little corresponding power to the engine. The shop found a cracked gasket somewhere that was letting air into the system. Problem fixed. Except that it wasn’t. On my way to the zoo on Friday (a 25 mile trip), the truck started to lose power and we had to pray it into the zoo parking lot. My husband came to our rescue and traded out vehicles. (Originally, all five children were going to go to the zoo with me, but my husband said that Ethan, our 15yo, needed to stay home and work on school. I wasn’t quite in agreement, but did go along with it. Well, if Ethan HAD been with us, we wouldn’t all have fit into my hubby’s small commuter car! As it was, myself and the four kids fit snugly but fine…) The truck completely broke when my hubby was driving it, and he had to get AAA to tow it back to the shop, which is closed on the weekend. (I don’t mind single-owner, small businesses that close on the weekend and give themselves and their employees a break.) Today, we heard from the shop that they had to take it out for a spin for a good 20 minutes to get the truck to repeat the problem, as no codes were showing up on the computer diagnostic system they use. The good news, I guess, is that the truck DID lose power and they DID determine the source. The bad news is that we need an entire new transmission for the truck. That’s an expensive fix! 😦 One good thing, though, about being 39 and gaining the perspective of years, is that I have seen provide for us NO MATTER WHAT, and I wasn’t worried. No, I don’t know where the money will come from — we’ve been saving money for a tax bill and the midwife — but that’s OK. God still provides, He still takes care of us, and I found myself saying, “At least it broke down now, not on some big, long summer trip.”
- Now, I’m blogging, which I’ve been working at, off-and-on (mostly “on”) for the last hour and 20 minutes… I’m always happy when time allows for that.
- Next, I will sort through Sunday’s coupons and plan my four-store grocery trip, which will be this evening, after my husband comes home from work with the car, instead of this afternoon…
No matter what happens the rest of the day (it is now 4:00), I can look back and say, “Today was a good day.”
Please read this post, a short-but-slightly-snarky response to Suze Orman, a financial adviser who recently told a couple that they couldn’t afford a baby, with its $700-1000 monthly expense.
I agree wholeheartedly with Connie, the author.
Having a baby in America CAN be expensive, but it doesn’t need to be. I’ll never forget when I told a former neighbor that I was pregnant with my third and she sighed and said, “You’re so lucky. I’d love a baby, but we just can’t afford it.” It was all I could do to not let my jaw hit the sidewalk. She and her husband lived — by themselves — in a 2500 s.f. house, had an RV, brand new vehicles, two ATVs, two Jet-skis, expensive mountain bikes, and who knows what else. In other words, they could totally “afford” a baby if they got their priorities straight. AND, yes: it can be difficult and expensive if you have to have everything new and fancy and trendy, bottle feed, use childcare for when you go back to work at 6 weeks, and use disposable diapers. But, heck. Even name brand disposables will run you about $40-60/month. NOT $700-1000.
Maybe this is inflammatory, but I also believe our American culture which values independence over community is partially to blame. We’re disconnected from our extended families, we don’t root ourselves in a church family either, and we value income and material wealth over family. Even things like baby showers and hand-me-downs are most often provided by our extended community, which we as Americans have less and less of.
I have a wooden cradle that is “making the rounds” between friends from church. This DELIGHTS me. I bought it for $40 from Craigslist, used it for my fifth baby (as I had given away a previous cradle), and now a third friend is about to use it for her her newborn, due in Feb. But, if you have to keep up with the Jones’ baby who had a $2,000 Bellini crib (or this $5,800 one!), you’re going to have a pricey infancy. However, if you breastfeed, raise your own child, and don’t mind having used or hand-me-down things, it’s really quite inexpensive to raise a baby.
EDITED TO ADD: One other thing… (can you tell this has struck a nerve???) I’m not suggesting that selling baby things is wrong, but I have learned that you get back what you give — sometimes literally, sometimes from elsewhere. I have given away cribs, strollers, swings, clothes, countless other baby items, partly because I saw someone in need, and partly because I thought I was “done” with having children. But, whatddya know?? It has ALL COME BACK to me. I have, in return, been given cribs, clothes, toys, slings — I don’t use swings anymore! 😉 — everything I need for a baby, when I did have need. My youngest is three and the goods still keep pouring in. Someone just gave us three bags of virtually brand-new girls toys — voila! Christmas for my 3 and 5yo girls. Whether you call it karma or attribute it Luke 6:38, or whatever, if you give, you will receive. We are a panicked, hoarding society, and often fail to recognize that if we are generous, we’re going to be provided for.
- Fourteen upper cabinets. Twelve lowers. Fifteen drawers. All cleaned, inside and out, sorted and re-organized. Plus, as they don’t go all the way to the kitchen ceiling, the tops are cleaned off, as well as all the decorative items that reside up there. ~sigh~ That is a sigh of exhaustion. And relief. In our nearly six years of living here, I have never done all of the kitchen cabinets in one fell swoop. It had been nagging at the back of my brain daily, each time I took something out of a cabinet and saw an accumulation of crumbs, dust, and/or greasy grime. Note: Gel Gloss looks fabulous for about ten minutes, but then that gleaming shine washes off super-easily with soap and water! Not great for quartz countertops in a kitchen that gets regular
abuseuse. Bummer. Anyone have a favorite stone countertop product they love??
- Have you ever tried my Thai Chicken Noodle Soup? I just updated the recipe. I can’t believe it’s been almost four years since I originally posted the recipe. The soup — more of a meal-in-a-bowl than an actual soup — is a staple in our home, even in summer. Lots of fresh veggies, tasty and fun. Mmmm…
- I turned seven pounds of London Broil into beef jerky the other day. Smoky-garlic and soy-garlic. It’s in preparation for our vacation. Jerky comes in handy for snacks and meals-while-driving, as well as made into various recipes (which I learned from this fabulous cookbook for hikers/campers — it’s a shame it’s out of print! One review says “Invaluable! Wore out library copy — had to buy my own.” That is exactly what I did!!)… Anyway. What wasn’t fit for jerky got put into a pot of what was supposed to be red chile stew. Which it was, sort of. But, I got enticed by a Really Big package of dried chile de arbol at the grocery store last week, and thought, “Oooh, those are the chiles in Cholula [my fave hot sauce],” and I bought it, really knowing nothing about them. Well, it turns out they are REALLY HOT. I removed the stems, seeds, and… pith (or whatever it’s called), and my hands burned for hours, even though I think I only used five chiles. Also, the broth was SO HOT that I had to scoop out all the beef chunks and — sadly — drain the broth, which seemed like such a waste, but I knew if I kept it as it was, it would be inedible for my kids. I added water to cover the remaining beef (to which some crushed chile still clung), added a chopped onion, sea salt, and about eight cloves of chopped garlic. After it had simmered for nearly three hours, I thickened the cooked-down broth with some corn starch, and served it with some Spanish rice (which I had made earlier in the week) and some refried beans (from Trader Joe’s — my favorite). It was good. Still, lesson learned: very judicious use of chile de arbol in the future.
- My computer contracted a nasty virus, somehow, a few weeks ago. It died. Actually, it would power up, but Windows wouldn’t start. The virus was called Windows Repair Module, which — obviously — was a fake. How insidious. I kept getting warnings from Windows, and it turns out that each time I clicked the “OK” button, I was unknowingly activating the .exe file associated with various aspects of the virus. A friend of my husband’s took my hard drive home with him and worked on it every night for four nights. He was able to pull most of my documents and pictures (THANK GOD! I cried when I thought they were unretrievable), and save them to an external hard drive. Then, he reformatted my hard drive. Now, I just have to load a bunch of software that got wiped out… but that’s OK. I then thanked my oldest son, Ethan, who will be 14 later this week. Why? Because “…with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Ethan worked a hot and hard day at the home of a friend, laying tile and cleaning… and with that measure of service and giving, it was returned to us, in the form of a repaired computer.
- If you’re still reading… today is my birthday. I am 38. 🙂 The only thing I really love about growing older is the history, the perspective that it brings to my life. I freak out less, because I can say, “Look. We had that really rough patch five years ago, and God brought us through.” When I was younger, everything was new and untested, and every challenge threatened to topple me. Now, I’ve had years of tasting God’s goodness, and seeing His faithfulness first-hand. To me, that’s a really, really valuable birthday present.
I am a firm believer in NOT manipulating one’s children. Someone I know used to tell his daughter, when she was much younger, that everything was “chicken,” because the girl refused to eat anything except for chicken. So, rather than telling her it was, say, watermelon she was eating, or a hot dog, he’d say it was “chicken.” Hm. Not into that.
To this day, years later, he laughs over that season in his little girl’s life. But to me? That’s too close to lying. And, too high-maintenance. My style is more along the lines of, “Eat it or go to bed hungry.” And, well… I guess both sides have merit, though mine is particularly less merciful, so perhaps I shouldn’t be patting myself too hard on the back for my honesty.
There is certainly a fine line there, I’m discovering, especially for little ones for whom appearance and perception truly matters. In our home, that would be Audrey. She’s almost five (gasp!), and this has been the case since she was very young. I have to be careful not to wield unwisely my power to get her to do what I want her to do.
- She used to fight me tooth and nail when it was time to wash her face. I had a little revelation, and, appealing to her vanity, I solemnly explained that she had so much muck on her face that I couldn’t see her “pretties”. As I gently rubbed her cheek, nose, and chin, I started to exclaim that, bit by bit, her pretties were shining through!! Audrey was genuinely excited. After I washed her, she insisted on looking at her glowing face in the mirror, happily admiring her pink, clean little self… It stuck. We’ve been uncovering her pretties, after mealtimes, for years now. It works with Fiala, too. Fi is not quite 2½, and has never been quite as enamored with the idea of beauty as Audrey. So, getting her pretties to shine through isn’t quite as effective, but nearly so.
- About a year ago, I bought a pair of brown jeans for Audrey. I couldn’t pass up the deal — the cost was less than $2 for them, brand-new! I anticipated a bit of a struggle, though, with Audrey. Brown, according to very small girls who have a very persistent “girlie” streak, is not a very feminine color. She looked very dubiously at them, and proclaimed brown to be a “boy” color, because it is the same color as dirt. “Oooh,” I cooed conspiratorially, smoothing the rich brown fabric, “These aren’t dirt-colored. They’re chocolate-colored. These are chocolate jeans!” Instantly, Audrey’s face was all delight; she changed her tune completely. “Oooooh! Chocolate jeans! I looove chocolate jeans!” And, she’s loved them ever since, calling them “chocolate jeans” every time she wears them.
- I bought Audrey a pack of undies, not too long ago. There was an assortment of patterns and colors, most a variety of pinks and purples. One, though, was not to her taste: The pair featured a number of different sizes of elephants, colored various shades of blues and reddish-pinks. Elephants, I could hear her thinking, are boy animals. And, to make matters worse, some of them are blue. Blue is a boy color. Everyone knows that. Disdain clouded her face, and she opened her mouth to protest. Preempting her, I pointed out, “These aren’t just elephants. They’re elephant families. Look. The larger blue ones are the daddy elephants. The lighter blue ones are the brother elephants. The bigger pink elephants are the mommies, and the littler ones are the sisters. And, look!” I continued with a tiny, tender gasp, “There are itty-bitty elephants, too! Those are the babies!!” I do know my daughter. “Ooooh!” she squealed, eyes open wide, anticipation filling her whole self, “Baby elephants! Elephant families! Oh, I want to wear them right now!” And the pair of underpants which, at first blush, she would have gladly chucked into the trash, unworn, became her favorite in an instant. They are, still.
- Audrey takes a nap on my bed. The two girls share a room, and while that works fine for night time, when they both sleep, room-sharing during naptime is not nearly as successful, especially since Audrey actually sleeps only once out of every three or four days. Normally, I time it so that I’m not doing laundry when she goes down for a nap; somehow, I knew it would bother her if the sheets were missing. But, on a recent Saturday, it just happened that the linens were in the wash when it was time for Audrey’s nap. She walked into my room and balked. “I can’t sleep on that bed. It has no sheets.” Now, I could have put on an old set of sheets just for her nap, but I balked at the extra work. Instead, looking at the mattress pad — a new one, bright white, soft and puffy — I whispered conspiratorially to Audrey, “Look!” I patted the bed. “You get to sleep on a cloud!” Instantly, her eyes lit up, and I knew I had sold her. “A cloud?!?” she asked, dreamily. “Oooh, it’s so soft. Just like real clouds. Do you think real clouds are soft like this?” She napped, like a dream, on a cloud…
Manipulation? Yes, a bit. Spin? Definitely. Lying? I hope not.
From the couple of articles I’ve read, and the excerpt of her book, I can tell I’m not nearly as feminist as Peggy Orenstein. But, I still put her brand-new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, on hold at the library. We seem to think very similarly, at least on some things. In one article, Orenstein recounts how her daughter’s tastes radically and immediately changed, upon entering “preschool” at the age of two, discarding her formerly beloved pin-striped overalls and love of Thomas the Train and taking on a new, rabid adoration of pink tulle and Disney Princesses. For now, let’s skim past the part where people feel compelled to SCHOOL THEIR CHILDREN AT THE AGE OF TWO, to the part where marketing and peer pressure have so adversely affected our society that our two-year-olds reject their “first loves” in lieu of what’s being shoved down their teensy throats by Madison Avenue!
You think I exaggerate? I do not, fair reader! It starts even earlier than that!!!
Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.
In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com.
The above excerpt is from a New York Times article dated February 6, 2011, my emphasis added.
Another disturbing tidbit:
Disney estimates the North American baby market, including staples like formula, to be worth $36.3 billion annually. Its executives talk about tapping into that jackpot as if they were waging a war. “Apparel is only a beachhead,” said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.
For those who may wonder about Disney’s intentions to further infiltrate your home,
1. A position on an enemy shoreline captured by troops in advance of an invading force.2. A first achievement that opens the way for further developments; a foothold.
I am stridently opposed to marketing directly to children. I praise the likes of my cousin, Romney, who has campaigned to rid her own preschooler’s school of its McDonald’s affiliation, in which the school receives money in exchange for “events” where children attend mandatory pep rallies with Ronald McDonald, and are given Happy Meals, all without parental consent, all built into the school day. (And people wonder why homeschooling school days are so short. Why, because we actually LEARN STUFF during our school day — apparently trivial, outdated stuff like math, and literature, and grammar, and history — and don’t attend baldfaced marketing sessions given by the McDonald’s corporation!! But, I digress.)
Well, maybe I’m not digressing. One of the unintended benefits of homeschooling is that my children feel much more free to develop into the people God made them to be. They’re not mocked (at least, not regularly!) for their interests, nor pressured away from something — anything, be it their Christianity, to their choice of clothes! — just because The Herd does not endorse it.
So. I’m sure Orenstein, in her book, is not trying to make a case for homeschooling. But, since that’s a passion in my heart, I can’t help but see that part of the problem might be the pressure to place our children in preschools as early as the tender age of two, schools which aren’t so much a center for real learning, but a hotbed of social conformation, where our wee ones are unknowingly being sucked up into the “invading force[s]” of the likes of Disney Baby!
ALL OF THAT SAID… Part of me is really pleased that my four year old, Audrey, feels very free to be a girl. I was startled when she began exhibiting true girlie-girl behavior — coyly flirting with Daddy and having a passion for shoes — before she could even crawl!! And, I’m glad to give her a home in which she feels confident in her super-girliness.
Just this morning, I laughed delightedly over the Pillow Princess she made. Onto the floor, she laid a (hand-me-down) Disney Sleeping Beauty dress-up dress, under which she placed various throw pillows, to give it a plumped-out appearance. Another pillow, fringed, formed the Pillow Princess’s head, onto which she placed an Ariel tiara (also hand-me down), and cut-outs, made from white paper, colored with Crayons, which formed the eyes, nose, and very pink mouth.
There’s a fine line there… I know I’m treading it with care, trying to give my daughters the freedom to express their femininity — even if it does include an excess of pink frilly stuff! — without exposing them to so much marketing that they feel like they’re “supposed” to love Disney Princess, and they need to discard anything not-pink.
- Wish I lived in Minneapolis! Well, not really, but if I did, I would DEFINITELY be going to this: A Procraftinator’s Delight, hosted by one of my favorite bloggers.
- When I was in the process of choosing which college to attend, I automatically disqualified any whose promotional literature had misspellings, glaring grammatical errors, sloppy art layout, etc. With that in mind, one might be leery of a website called The Best Colleges when it publishes articles rife with the same. Still. This article, The World’s 15 Most Extraordinary Homeschoolers, is well worth a read. Tim Tebow? Who DOESN’T know he was homeschooled? The Jonas Brothers? Knew that, too. But Condoleezza Rice? Francis Collins (the evangelical Christian and renowned scientist, appointed by Obama, no less, to be director of the NIH)? The list is inspiring and profoundly interesting.
Weird things make me feel old. Yesterday, it was the fact that my pressure cooker apparently needs some parts replaced, the gasket and lift pin assembly. Why does this make me feel ancient? Because these parts are made of rubber, which becomes brittle (and ineffective) with AGE. ~sigh~ Finding out that these parts would cost me $21 plus shipping made me a wee bit upset. Doing some searching to find out that
- a) a replacement pressure cooker would run me upwards of $50, and
- b) doing some price comparisons online would save me $10 or so (from here) made me feel slightly better about my purchase. I still feel old, though.
- I am THRILLED to report that Fiala is doing much better. The infection on her face is gone, though it’s having a hard time clearing up, as she keeps scratching the still-healing spots. The bed situation that I wrote about a week ago or so finally came to pass; I set up both girls in their new beds yesterday — Audrey in her new-to-us twin bed, and Fiala in the toddler bed that used to be Audrey’s. Fiala fell out of bed once last night, in spite of a guard rail, and she did not nap well — well, didn’t nap at ALL — in her new bed yesterday, but that was really due to the visit of our beloved nephew Nick and his darling girlfriend PLUS it being a new bed PLUS us working on potty-training PLUS her having diarrhea every 10-15 minutes because of horrid Augmentin due to her ear infection. I don’t think I wrote about that. Her eardrum burst on Friday. Apparently, the bacteria which caused it were not covered by the antibiotics that she’d already been on for more than two weeks. In spite of the fact that the Solaray BabyLife probiotics that we have for her contain rice maltodextrin, and she’s previously demonstrated that rice is an allergy problem for her wee body, I had decided that an eczema outbreak from the maltodextrin was the lesser of two evils, even though her skin is finally starting to clear up from the six weeks? two months? of outbreak that she’s suffered through. ANYWAY. I was remarking to a friend that the “good news” from her having diarrhea is that it seemed to be giving her a greater awareness of her… elimination process, of which she was blissfully unaware, which made potty-training heretofore impossible. We’re not all the way there yet with toilet adeptness, but we’re getting there. I have hope.
- Having local gluten-free friends ROCKS. These may seem minor to most of you, but I am so thankful for:
- a neighbor, whom I “met” through the Phoenix Celiac Yahoo group (and subsequently discovered we live a couple of streets away from each other), dropped off a darling little box of goodies: three truffles, some oat-almond candy crunch, a mini pumpkin pie, and a mini cheesecake. Usually, treats received from loving friends and well-meaning neighbors receive wistful glances from me, as I give them to my two gluten-eating children, Ethan and Grant. I can’t recall ever having something dropped off to our home where I could eat every single thing. I meant to only sample the goodies, but, I confess, I schnarfed down ALL of them.
- Last night, at the grocery store, I called my friend Kim. We live across town from each other, but she feels closer. 😀 Even though she was sick, the poor raspy-voiced thing, we chatted about teff and millet, and grinding our own grain, and what grain works well in which application, etc. She looked up some stuff online for me, as I shopped. I had a goofy grin the whole time, because it is SO NICE to be able to just pick up the phone and talk with someone about things that are akin to a foreign language to most people…
- I am thankful for: At least $300 in new or nearly-new jeans, given to me by my sweet friend, Brenda, who had been given them by her sister. Her sister had recently lost a lot of weight, and now, two pairs of Lucky jeans, a pair of Guess jeans, and five or six other pair, are now nestled happily in my drawer. 🙂 I’m set. That’s a good thing for me, because I wear jeans virtually every day of my life. I have to lose more weight for some of them to fit better, but that’s a good thing, right? Motivation.