Monday, May 20, 2019

Motherhood Needs

I need time away from my kids yet I hate time away from my kids. What is wrong with me?

Lets back up a bit. Last week I decided to hire a babysitter so I could work on my YouTube channel a bit. It needs help, as in videos. Because I don't post anymore. All week long I wrestled with guilt over scheduling two hours for me time. I wrestled with feeling like a bad mom and for "wasting" money on a babysitter.

The day came and I legit tried to cancel three times--each time never sending the text message. The hour came. I stress-loaded the kids into the car and drove to my friend Brooke's house whose teenage daughter would be watching my wonderful neurotic angels for two hours. I worried all the way there that I was making a big mistake. Becky would miss me. She would cry. She would feel like I'd abandoned her. I was abandoning her. Oh my goodness, she might never get over this. She could get PTSD from me leaving her. What was I doing? Why had I done this? I needed to turn around. But I couldn't cancel five minutes before, could I? Who does that? What was wrong with me? Why was this so hard?

I got there and left them quickly, so Becky wouldn't have to see me stand there and fret over her fretting. Reuben ran off easily, but Becky was hysterical. I cried all the way to Starbucks.

I got a text that she was doing fine about 15 minutes later.

I know I need space from my children. Space to still be me. Space to be creative, to breathe, to plan and work on my own spiritual walk. This is healthy, this is good. I KNOW this yet leaving my kids with someone else is SO HARD. I don't understand it. Why do I feel like such a bad mother for hiring a babysitter once a month? I mean, I would never judge another mother like that! I need to give myself the same grace. It isn't wrong! I'm not a bad mom. It's just my anxiety, my stress, and my own unhealthy desires to "meet all my kids needs" that triggers these feelings.

I can't even meet all my own needs, much less my kids.

I shouldn't try.

Only God can meet my own needs. Only God can fulfill me. Only God can fulfill my children. And I need to give myself permission to step back and work on my own dreams.

I've found I have this problem of letting motherhood be all-consuming. I let it completely overwhelm my "role" as wife and my identity as my own entity because I worry so much that if I slack in one little area in regards to my children, I will ruin them and start a cycle of abuse that will cause them to have miserable lives.

Instead, I need to show them how an healthy adult handles relationships. And that is not accomplished by letting my title of mother obscure all my other titles--but letting "mother" bloom in it's time and place like a garden of beautiful truths.

This is easier said than done.

So today I'm giving myself permission to step away. To have space from my children when I need it--not as a reaction to being overwhelmed or burnt out, but as a right, as a repose--so that I, too, can grow and find peace and return to "motherhood" invigorated.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Our First Family Vacation

Our first family vacation and we didn't snap any group photos?! We are failures. Oh, well.

We have been on vacation before, sure--but only twice; and there was a holiday involved each time (first our anniversary, second time Christmas). This was our first real family vacation where the only goals were travel and fun. Although our travels did coincide with Mother's Day weekend. That was inconsequential. I have an extreme aversion to Mother's Day that I will have to address in another post.

It was fun. We went to the beach. It's only four hours from our home! Reuben would see the ocean for the first time! (Rebekah too, but at 15 months I don't think she'll remember it) I was excited, my husband was excited, Reuben was excited and Rebekah was excited just because everyone else was. We woke up really early Friday morning and loaded everyone into the car, drove to the coast and went directly to the beach. It was a beautiful; cool and breezy with a partially overcast sky. I hadn't been to the beach since 2011 and was extra stoked to lay on a blanket (I hate swimming) and read a book while my husband managed the kids. Or you know, watch them play in the immense amount of sand while reclining on my $10 rental chair.

It did not go as expected. First, I left all the snacks in the car. The car that we parked really far away. Why did I do this? I have no idea. If you can please go back and slap me with a wet fish for my faux pas. I deserve it.

Second, the rental chairs were not for rent. It wasn't late enough in the year. I had no chair to rest on. And thus no way to get out of the sand!

No sooner had we arrived then both kids began whining for snacks. Luckily we were able to find a banana to split between everyone. Also, I DID remember to bring sunscreen. Go me! But I forgot to apply it until we had already wandered onto the beach. And applying sunscreen when your skin already has sand on it is not pleasant.

Reuben was afraid of the frigid waves and only wanted to climb on the man-made dunes. I kept taking pictures trying to document everything, and I am glad I did but for some reason it was causing me stress.

It was at this point that I realized I hate the beach. I have always hated the beach. That is why I haven't gone since 2011. But CLEARLY time obscured all memory (or having kids and being sleepless in Lynchburg has addled my brain) because I had not recalled this abhorrence to sand, salt-water, tourists and overpriced bottled drinks until just this exact moment while standing toe-deep in the Virginia coast.

Clearly I need help. And a reminder program on my phone.

As the sun beamed cheerily down into my very light sensitive eyes I tried to make the best of it. It's only one day, I told myself. Tomorrow we are going to the VA Beach Aquarium. It's only one day. I can make it. A few more minutes passed and suddenly I was covered in sand and everything I had brought was gritty, my children were whining and I just wanted to go home. My book sat untouched; so consumed was I with answering questions and nursing and tending to Becky. I don't know why I even tried taking a 15 month old to the beach. She kept getting sand in her eyes or taking off her hat or crying because of the wind.

In short, going to the beach was not my favorite part of our vacation although I do think Brian, Reuben and Rebekah enjoyed themselves immensely.

Then we went out for lunch. I hate going out to eat on vacation. I get sick. But I always believe next time will be different. It never is. I need to just buck up and bring my own food on vacation. We went out to eat lunch on the boardwalk and ate out for dinner that night. I asked each time about gluten free food and was assured everything was fine. I don't know which restaurant it was but the next day when I woke up I felt awful. The feeling I know comes from eating something I shouldn't.

It was the severest reaction I have had in two years and it made me barely functional for the rest of the day (and the day after). Just now I am beginning to feel better and those meals were four days ago! I barely remember going to the aquarium or the ride home due to the amount of pain I was in. I had to sit down for most of the aquarium in the lobby and read a book--I couldn't walk around and enjoy myself.

And that day we drove home and hit the worst traffic ever. It took an extra two hours to arrive, and I was just done with life and everything in it by that point. I am glad to be home now and I don't think I will try to vacation again any time soon.

Were there any good moments? Yes. I really loved staying up a little late on our only night in the hotel and playing Timeline. I loved the nap I got in the hotel with Becky when she fell asleep. I loved seeing Reuben's reaction to everything and watching him swim in the hotel pool. I would do it again just for the fun times we had, but I do need to plan ahead next time so I don't get sick. And remind myself not to forget the snacks from the car.

How do your family vacations usually go?

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Governess of Penwythe Hall (review)

I chose The Governess of Penwythe Hall from BookLook Bloggers to review. It was...meh.

Cordelia Greythorne is the main charter of TGoPH--she's a gentle widow turned governess after some mystery with her husband's family. She's strong-minded and yet weak as you see her interact with her kid's tutor, the kids themselves, and Jac, the owner of Penwythe. 

So why didn't I like this book? It was stereotypical. There was limited interaction with the kids (and they are a major plot point! more about them, please). Also, the governess is the main character, so I wish we had seen more of their "governess-child" relationship develop. 

For the love interest. Jac was just too good to be true. He falls madly in love with Cordelia, cares nothing about her past, and seeks to help her out in any way possible. So much savior, so little reality. 

The drama in this book was also overdone, in my opinion. From kidnapping to characters who suddenly repent from their evil ways right at the last (and most opportunistic) moment, to an entire family of narcissistic smuggles--it was a little much to swallow. I found Cordelia monotonous, mundane and unvaried. She was flat. Her students were flat. Her love interest was flatter than the wallpaper of their sitting room. The villains were annoying instead of scary. I felt bored reading the entire thing.

I would recommend this book to people who love idealistic love stories where not much happens but everyone ends up happy.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Creamsicle Hat Pattern

I made a new pattern! I was contacted by to review their yarn, so in order to review it I had to use it. That is how this hat came about. I love the yarn (you can see my review video here) and if you would like to use the same yarn, you can buy it here (this is an affiliate link, you will receive 10% off and I will receive 10% commission) The yarn is beautiful and I already have two other colors on my buy list.

Becky loves her hat and I already have my three year old asking me to make him one "with rainbow pompoms mommy". So I may have more sizes available soon!

You can download the free PDF here, and view the video series below or on my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Rebekah Wears pt 2

Becky is now old enough to wear the hat I made for Reuben! I made them both matching hats when she was born but she quickly outgrew hers and is now wearing his. She is also able to fit into the toddler woollies I first made for Reuben when he was 2. She is growing SO FAST guys. I can't keep up, but I am glad she gets to wear these special things that Reuben also wore. It makes my heart glad.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Six Ways Living Without The Internet Healed Me And My Family

You should get rid of your internet. Yes, you. The person reading this. Get Rid of Your Home Internet.

Why, do you ask? Oh, so many reasons.

For one, do you even know who you are without the internet? I mean, really? So many parts of us are online now. In today's world our feelings of self worth spring from what is said and done online. Too much of our time is spent cultivating and curating our image online.

I just spent a few months living without internet. I hope to spend the next few months doing the same! But here are some things I have noticed and learned about myself and the world, sans internet.

  • For the first time, I have only my own voice in my head
This one is hard to explain. I grew up with the internet. We had AOL when I was a preteen. I've always had access to the online world, and as a teen and young collage adult I spent a lot of time surfing the web. Direct and ready access to the web built up a lot of internal chatter! All those voices, in my head. Telling me what to think about this or that, what to cook, what to clean, what to do with my free time... I didn't know there were other voices in there until I got rid of the internet. (not actual voices, but hopefully you know what I mean) For example, when I would get bored at home when I had internet I would just get on the internet. But now, for the first time since I was a child, I was alone in my own head. If I was bored I had only my own thoughts to entertain myself. If I had a question, I could not google it. I was able to think through it and ponder whatever question I was postulating to myself. I have learned more about myself in the last few months just by being by myself and having only my own thoughts to springboard from. At first it was scary, to be cut off from what I now know I used as a safety net--but now it is wonderful.

  • The Internet Discourages Growth 
This one stems from the above point. Because all those voices were always telling me what to think and do, and because I never had to flex any mental muscles when questions would arise, I was stagnate. Why grow when everything is right at my fingertips? Why exert myself when I can, with a click of the keys, entertain myself for hours with videos and articles? The internet enables inactivity. If you are so busy cultivating an online image, your thoughts always crowded over with whatever everyone else is posting, thinking or doing, what mental energy do you have towards your own personal growth and development?

  • The Internet Breeds Consumerism 
Taking space from the internet also made me take space from internet ads. It felt like physical relief not to see advertisements for things everywhere. No Facebook ads. No YouTube videos. For the first time that I can ever remember I felt contentment. I wasn't comparing my kids to friends kids. I wasn't lusting after new houses or new cars whenever someone posted a picture. I finally started to love my house, and not nitpick over what I didn't have. The ads on the sidebars of sites would grab my attention. I was always planning what I should buy next and falling into the trap of "this would make my life better, this would make me happier". Well, it never did before, but it did help make companies money. Now I am much more content with what I have and I see clearly the lie that the internet has fed me for years: that what I have is not enough, that I need more--or "better" things in order to be happy and content. I don't. And there is so much freedom in that. 

  • I spend time with my kids
I mean, I used to spend time with my kids when I had the internet too. But my focus was never fully on them. I would have my phone with me, just in case I received a notification. I would often sit with them but listen to a podcast. Or watch a video while they played. Or take pictures to post to Instagram to show what a great mom I was. In short, half my brain was thinking about what I needed to do/see/experience online. Now, all of my brain is with my kids. I am able to be a fully engaged mom-- and my children have responded by becoming better behaved and less needy of my attention. I mean, they need me. But as I am able to fully give them my attention more times during the day instead of half my attention a few times--their cups are filled and they are happier because of it. Our household is a happier, more playful, more joyful place.

  • I deal with my own stress
I noticed that the internet comes between me and dealing with my own stress and problems. Without the incessant noise of the internet to distract me, I am able to better settle my issues instead of just distracting myself with YouTube or Facebook. Or, as often was the case, being so wrapped up online that I wouldn't even realize I had a problem in the first place.

  • The Internet Discourages Hard Work and Discipline 
As I have healed from my internet addiction and come to understand myself in ways I didn't even know I was missing out on, I have become a disciplined person. It just happened slowly over time. I haven't given it much thought. But, how has this happened? What changed? What lies was I believing before? It's a lot of different things at once.

As I have quit being distracted by the internet I have had more time and energy to devote towards my own personal growth.. The biggest shift, for me, was becoming content with my lifestyle. As I said above, I used to deal with feelings of discontentment and frustration over my perceived lack of possessions. I was living a consumerist lifestyle, moving from one purchase to the next, and trying to keep up with the posts and ads I saw online. I didn't have a joyful heart. And when I didn't have contentment in my heart I would watch lots of videos online to distract myself from my "hard life" so I wouldn't have to think about what I didn't have or couldn't buy at that moment. This was not a good cycle to be in, because watching videos would just remind me of more things I did not have... You get the idea.

Now, without the internet I see, finally, the value in the things I do have. I don't (usually) pine for things I don't have. I don't spend hours "fake shopping" online (as in, filling up my online shopping cart but never checking out) and I don't see ads that serve only to "remind me" of what I need to be happy. Cutting out all the impressionable ads with the rest of the "junk" on the internet allowed me to invest my time into actually cultivating my own life into a lifestyle that makes me satisfied and happy.

The internet does not want you to be happy. If you are happy, you are not consuming. If you are not consuming, the internet isn't making any money. It isn't getting your most valuable commodity: your time. If the internet can keep you in a state of need, living a consumerist lifestyle, always distracted by the next post--than it can keep both your happiness, your time, and your money in it's pocket. Don't let life pass you by being enslaved to the internet.

I actually have more points to write down, but this post is long enough already. I will make another post. I would encourage all of you to spend 1-3 months without home internet and see if you, too, have an internet addiction and if living without home/cell internet can change your life for the better. Can't hurt, right? It's only been positive around here!

I don't want my children to grow up always with the internet. It's up to me to show them healthy habits and teach them to create good boundaries with the online world. To do that, I have to heal myself of my own internet addictions. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Rebekah Wears

I made this pullover for Reuben and it's crazy, but Rebekah can wear it now! It's big on her, but will be too small next winter. I am glad that she got to enjoy something that I made for her brother. I enjoyed it too.

Isn't she just the cutest?!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Tiny Truths Bible Review

I jumped at the chance to receive this book for free from BookLook bloggers in return for my honest review. Isn't it cute? And of course biblical! Over the last few months Reuben and I have enjoyed reading through it. I would say it is perfect for the 2-6 age range, with lots of detailed pictures and good prose. The stories are short, and they do gloss over a lot of the "murder, death, blood and gore" that is in the bible. For example, in the story of Daniel and the Lions Den, they just say that the advisers that plotted to kill Daniel got "in trouble" after Daniel was rescued from the den. And in the story of Joseph with the coat of many colors, they don't go into how he was accused falsely of rape--only saying that he was in jail for a crime he did not commit. I guess that is one way of putting it. We adults know the stuff behind the words. We all know King Darius' advisers were thrown into the pit and devoured--a little bit harsher than "trouble"! But perhaps not something you want to tell a two year old, yet? Yet it does seem a bit "too watered down" at least from my perspective. I know that there are some unpleasant things in the bible, and I know it must be age appropriate--but I think Reuben can handle most of it already. I think it is important to God's redemptive story not to remove so much of the hard things, but rather give your child the full truth (when they are ready) and talk them through it.

What things did I like? I like the cute pictures, and the diverse people groups shown. I liked how each section was short and to the point, and the binding opens easily. I hate it when I can't lay a book flat, guys. Its a struggle as sometimes I am nursing a baby and reading a book at the same time. This book is able to be laid flat without the pages closing!

I have another children's bible: the Jesus Storybook Bible. I couldn't help but compare Tiny Truthss to my Jesus Storybook Bible. I like the Jesus Storybook Bible better, but it might just be because I owned that one since Reuben was born and we have been reading it for three years now. I can't exactly pinpoint why. It feels like the JSB is more "biblical", but I would have to read them together and I don't have time for that. I know the JSB doesn't gloss over as much of the blood and gore as Tiny Truths does.

However, we are thrilled to get it and I will be keeping it in our home library just for further reading with Reuben. He loved it! If anything, it opens the door to conversations and I find myself picking up my bible and reading the original version.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Why I chose Charlotte Mason Method for Homeschooling

I have always known I wanted to home-school my kids. But I didn't always know about Charlotte Mason. My husband was taught at home using the Abeka curriculum. Abeka is what my sister used at the time with her kids as well, so I just assumed I would do Abeka. All of those thoughts I had before I even became pregnant, ever became a mother.

When I became pregnant with Reuben I was introduced to the Charlotte Mason method by my dear and close friend Melissa. At first I was overwhelmed. I had never considered different methods for homeschooling. As I researched it was like the world opened beneath my feet! There were so many approaches and they all looked fun! Unschooling. Classical. Even public school methods at home! For awhile I was overwhelmed. What was the perfect method? Who had got it right? My stress was at a all-time high and I hadn't even given birth yet.

After I delivered Reuben I went through a period where I really had to define why I wanted to home-school. I still felt lost and stressed, afraid to chose one method over another because what if I made a mistake? What if I chose wrong? I could ruin my child forever!

I can laugh now at my thoughts. Thank goodness, because my approach and mindset towards homeschooling has really changed and I feel very empowered. I realize now that I was thinking about homeschooling all wrong. I assumed that there must be a “right” way to home-school and that all the other ways were “wrong”. This public school way of thinking (because the department of education decides for public schools what is the “right” way to educate, discarding the “wrong”) was inhibiting my ability to shift through all my options.

I sat down one day and instead of thinking about all the different home-school options and methods I thought instead about how my child likes to learn. I thought just about him. How does he like to be taught right now, at three? Because even though we do not do “school” as such, he is learning and growing every day.

After just a few hours of observing him and thinking about his interests and personality, I jotted down the following. Reuben likes to read books. He loves to be outside. He can sit still a very long time at the table. He can color for hours. He enjoys learning and he wants to always be near me. He is a person and thus deserves my respect and patience. He does not want to be treated like a child. He wants to do what I do. He is naturally and insistently inquisitive. (why why why why all day long)

I stopped researching homeschooling that day. With the above things in mind I decided to cultivate a home-school method based around my child's strengths. His strengths and interests would be the tools I would use to cultivate his garden of learning. I than only had to till up my own soil and discover what foundation I had to build upon. What moral beliefs do I have about education? Moreover, what is the ultimate purpose behind learning and school?

Well, that was a simple question for me to answer. The purpose of life, not just school, is to serve and glorify God. That, I decided, was my mantra. To educate Reuben with God's will and plan and glory in mind. To teach him to love learning and to show him that he is born to learn; that he will be learning and growing forever, not just at school. Education is life. I am taxed not just with forming and educating Reuben's mind, but cultivating his whole person and encouraging him to grow good habits and learn to make his own decisions.

And just like that we slipped right into Charlotte Mason. Not only is her method about school; it is an entire philosophy about childhood! It is a way of life. I love everything about it! Not only does it fit what I believe about education, it fits Reuben's style of learning and his interests! It was like a light bulb lit up my heart.

I know there is no perfect school, and thus no perfect home-school. I know one method is not better than another. You can, obviously, make Jesus and God the center of any method of home-school you choose. One of the things that makes homeschooling great is that it can be molded to the child who you are educating. It is not supposed to look the same in every home, or even for every child. Each home-school should be evaluated separately for each mother (or father) is the principle, counselor, teacher and nurse of her own classroom. Unlike a public school where they must (due to time constraints, budgets, and personnel/staffing issues) create a status quo, home-school lets us mothers choose individual interest-led approaches that can vastly improve the education and life of our children.

The more I read about the Charlotte Mason method the more I love it. I am currently listening to three podcasts that I highly recommend to you if you are also interested in this method! The first is Wild and Free. The Wild and Free podcast has been so encouraging. My fears over homeschooling have been soothed and I feel so empowered as a woman that I CAN do this, I CAN learn alongside my son and teach him. I have also been listening to Charlotte Mason Says. CM Says is a podcast where John and Crystal are reading through the second Charlotte Mason book with some discussion involved. I don't have time to read her book right now, so listening to it on the podcast is really helpful. The third podcast was recommend to me by my friend Melissa (the one who introduced me to this method) and it's called A Delectable Education. Check them all out!

We are loosely doing a Charlotte Mason preschool with Reuben right now, and I can't wait to start him with "year zero" (kindergarten) when he turns five.

Will you be homeschooling? What method would best fit your child?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Wisdom comes from the Lord, not Facebook

One of the things I have slowly learned as I take more and more space from Facebook is that wisdom comes from the Lord.

I was a Facebook drama queen. I loved my Facebook groups. Responding to all the bickering about marriage, kids, broken washers, lost puppies, spouses and jobs felt purposeful. I liked polling the masses through a well-worded Facebook status when I had conflict. I even enjoyed giving and receiving likes. Is what you said witty or thought provoking? Like.

I felt good about myself when I received likes on my status too. And comments. I checked my notifications like it was part of my religion.

In short, I created on Facebook a whole little world just about me and what I like and my opinions, complete with pictures.

I am sure there are people out there who use Facebook with boundaries in place and update their status intentionally. I was not one of those people. I know most people who use Facebook are not  those people. Or Facebook would not be the gossip-centered cesspool that it is.

Here is what I have learned. Instead of posting in my Facebook mommy group about how upset I am about my husband doing X Y or Z, I should instead talk to my husband. Venting about whatever my husband did that infuriated me with a bunch of strangers on the internet won't solve or defuse the situation. So why did I participate in this style of gossip?

I have realized that the reason I make those types of posts is because I enjoy simmering in injustice against my husband and having people tell me I am “so right” to feel that way and “they completely understand” my anger. I have found it's easier to feel justified about how hurt I am than it is to actually talk to my husband about the problem.

Today I was reading my bible (you should try it sometime) when I was hit by a bombshell revelation. No, not the biblical kind (I mean, I am not adding to the word) but a personal growth kind of revelation. All this time I have been going to Facebook like it's the source of wisdom. Do I have a problem? Make a post about it. Receive feedback. Am I bored? Check my notifications, groups and messages. Am I angry? Happy? Sad? Update my status with the appropriate emoji and wait for people to comment. Do I need to vent? There is a group for that. And I am in it.

Instead my process should look like this: Do I have a problem? Pray about it. Communicate with the people that the problem actually pertains to. Am I bored? Seek out God and his purpose for me. Am I angry? Happy? Sad? Read my bible and thank God for my blessings. Do I need to vent? Pray. My prayers should be that I don't speak in anger.

Now I am not saying that Facebook is the cause of my problems. Clearly that is my heart. But it has provided people with an easy way to indulge in gossip and selfish behavior.

I could pray and make an edifying post that glorifies God, for sure. But do I? Has that been my track record? Maybe 2% out of 98%. Honestly, it is so much easier to vindictively type away on my computer than it is to go to God with my problems! Facebook allows me the ease of throwing God to the side and gratifying my flesh in the comment section.

Well, I am done with allowing this idol in my life.

Take a good look at your own Facebook habits. And the types of comments you see on your feed. And perhaps log out and see how you feel.

I'm not going back.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Diet Woes and a Health Update

If you have followed my blog for awhile, you know I have gut problems. I finally found a diet that works (dairy and gluten free, preservative free and low sugar) for my myriad of problems. I have a wheat allergy, a dairy intolerance, insulin resistance (prediabetic), and chronic constipation. When I don't change my diet I have the following symptoms: brain fog, joint pain, anxiety, tired all the time, constipation, miscarriages, sugar cravings, stomach pain, eczema, itchy flaky scalp, ear issues and low immune system. Wehww, even I am tired after typing all that.

Thankfully after suffering for years I know what to do. If you have followed my journey I tried a bunch of things and went to a lot of doctors (and got nowhere) before stumbling upon the paleo diet 5ish years ago. The paleo diet solved 90% of my problems. Than I went keto after that. Keto solved the problem the paleo diet did not solve: my brain fog. However, keto made my constipation worse. So still not ideal. Also keto isn't very fun and I didn't like it.

Now for the last 6 months I have just been dairy, preservative, low-sugar, and gluten free eating almost 100% from a cookbook called "Nourishing Meals". Eating this way solves all of my issues most of the time as long as I make sure to not eat a lot of carbs or honey (because of the diabetes) and exercise. I have to exercise twice a day, every day. I usually do after breakfast and lunch as these times are the easiest for me. That only leaves dinner, so I try to eat something low carb for dinner so my blood sugar is not high. I do yoga after breakfast and go for a walk with the kids after lunch (bonus: it puts Becky to sleep for her nap). I do check my sugars with my monitor, and if I don't exercise it is usually 140 or higher two hours after eating. That is not good.

I have learned that I can't eat out. Maybe once every 2-3 months. I also can't eat food other people make. Mostly because they are not gluten free and a tiny bit of gluten destroys me. And also preservatives, sugar, dairy... they can be hidden in a lot of things that someone without my range of issues is not aware of. "Person A" can tell me "its gluten free" but the last thing they cooked in the dish had gluten in it, so I'll be in a world of pain. I have two good friends who are also gluten free and I do eat after them, but I am no longer going to eat anything after anyone else. It makes events hard sometimes. And it makes people bringing me meals almost impossible. 

It does not help that Reuben seems to have inherited a lot of my issues. Poor kid. Sometimes when he tries a new food or has a lot of new things he gets sick and throws up. I don't think even he understands it. Becky does not have any issues that I have noted thus far, and I am so happy for her! I never wanted to pass on my health problems to my kids, but like everything else I don't get to choose. It just happened. At least I know how to help him deal with it so he is not in a world of pain like I was in my 20s. 

I am very lucky that I am strong enough to babywear. I am lucky that I found a diet that works for me so I can function. I try to remind myself of this at potlucks where I can't eat anything or when someone offers to bring me food and I have to turn them down. My health comes with a price and that's okay. I have to make my health the number one priority so that I have energy and vitality to live. 

I am learning to make everything from scratch this year. I now make bread and all nut milk from scratch. To supplement for calcium, I eat egg shells (properly cooked). This week I am making sourdough (gluten free) and ordered a yogurt maker. I also make my own salad dressing, but I have only been doing that for a month. It takes a lot of time but I feel great. Preservatives do drain my energy and hurt my gut. So does soy. Those last two things are in most prepackaged foods, so I try my hardest to avoid them. Bonus, we buy less plastics! Although that was not intentional!

How are you doing on your health journey, friend? 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Jesus holds Motherhood Together

Sometimes I feel like I am the only thing holding the world together. My world is small. About the size of my house. But within this tiny domain, I reign as one of two ruling monarchs (I'm the Queen). But I also moonlight as the scullery maid, so it's not all crowns and silk.

I do the dishes. I wash the floors. I nap the babies. I pick up, haul, schedule, list, change, and regulate in many different ways and sometimes on an hourly basis.

I make no money. I do make happy memories, fun messes and a lot of life discoveries.

On top of the tangible drudgery, I do a lot of emotional and mental work. I set the mood of the house. I support my husband, not only physically but emotionally as well. Daily I am teaching my small humans how to manage their own temperaments. And there is the delicate transaction that is responding to a tantrum in just the right way. I try to deescalate it by methods that not only teach my son how to better manage his emotions but to cope in a way that leaves the glass “half full” instead of “tipped over shattered on the floor” for the rest of the evening. If you have a toddler you will know of what I speak.

Today I was sitting exhausted in my recliner chair watching my non-napping one year old dump out a box of toys and feeling very out of touch with my world. The dishes were half done, Becky (the one year old) was wearing only one sock and my son (3.5) was whining for me to get up and retrieve a puzzle for him. All I wanted was a hot pot of tea and a nap and some quiet.

All of a sudden I remembered a book a friend had given to me when I was researching homeschooling. You see, I wasn't home-schooled and I was dealing with defeating thoughts that I couldn't do it. She gave me this book called “Teaching From Rest” that I still need to read (it's on my shelf, next to more Charlotte Mason books). But it was just the reminder I needed at this moment. Because yes, I do want to home-school from a place of rest and peace. But more than that—I want to parent from a place of rest and peace! I want the peace of God to just envelope my whole life and become my foundation so that it springs out of the wellspring of my heart. I need Parenting for Rest and Peace, the book. If such a book exists.

'For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,'declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” ~Isaiah 41:13-14 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”…He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you…For he will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways…“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him…” ~Psalm 91:1-16

I also need to stop living like I hold any part of this world together. Jesus is the only one who holds the world together. He is supposed to be my strength. And he is the glue that fastens everything. In him I rest and only by his strength and by his mercy do I accomplish a task. One of the reasons I get so run down and tired is that I try and rely on my own willpower. This is a lie. I am who I am only by the grace of God.

Jesus holds motherhood together. He created it for His Glory. Motherhood is not about what I want, or what I envision for my kids or my family now or in the future. It's for one thing and one thing only: the Glory of God. And I don't know what that looks like but I do know what it does not look like. It's not me whining. It's not me giving up. It's not me carrying the weight of lists and toiling alone. 

It is me, day after day working in abject surrender to Christ and his will. No matter what comes my way. 

So stay strong, sweet mom, strong in his word, strong in his presence and point those little ones to Christ.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” ~ Luke 12:22-26

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Bone-Numbing Tired

I have had a string of good days lately. No one has been sick. No back to back appointments, no rushing, and we didn't forget any food at the grocery store.

But still in the evening I am worn out. I do a lot. With allergies and our budget, I cook everything at home from scratch, even bread and milk now (we do nut milk). I have been able to heal a lot of my autoimmune problems with food, a fact I am extremely grateful for. But it takes massive work and planning. On top of Reuben and I being dairy and gluten free (and preservative free) and low sugar--my husband is keto. So I usually batch cook keto for him, since he likes a lot of cheese and dairy in things and that helps keep the fat content high for his meals. I make my husband breakfast most days and lunch every day, keep the kids entertained, clean the house, teach Reuben a bit of preschool, keep up with friends and devote myself to studying God's word and muddle over God's will in my life (spoilers: its raising kids).

Today I wanted to spend some time with my husband because we get so little time together. His work hours are crazy this year and on top of that I still am not sleeping through the night (Becky wakes up 3-5 times a night). But I am so tired in the evenings that I struggle to put a sentence together. I also feel like I have nothing to talk to him about besides how tired I am or what the kids did that day. We used to discuss politics, world events, dreams, books, and history, but I honestly don't have the mental prowess to deconstruct an argument, much less form an opinion when I am so out of the loop on current events!

I signed out of Facebook again, pausing my account--or whatever it is called. Facebook and me just don't get along. I have tried twice and each time fall back into really destructive habits, feeling like less of a mother because I don't have "what Sally has" or spending too much time clicking on ads and wanting to buy things. Also, I hate the drama and the arguments. I don't have the mental energy to get angry over social media anymore. I just need to stay off Facebook once and for all. I am a better mother without Facebook. I am a happier and more joy-filled person without Facebook.

But let me get back to the point. I am tired. Short of sleep training Becky (and she isn't ready) I don't know what to do. I try to take time to rest during the day. I am working on balancing out-of-the-house occasions and cultivating long stretches at home. I am creating good boundaries with event invites and I am fully accepting that this season of crazy cooking and small children requires me to stay home as much as possible for my mental health and to promote healthy parenting.

I'm an extrovert learning to love long days at home.

But the next thing I really want to tackle is working some rest into my life. I want to create a atmosphere of repose, a home and a heart of peace and tranquility. Instead as the end of the day draws neigh, I find myself stressed and anxious and worn out. I'm ready for bed at 7pm, usually right as my husband arrives home. After 3pm I am tired all the time and fighting fatigue. I need sleep. But I also need to spend time with my husband and do the dishes, so...tired is the new fun? I don't know. Do all moms go through this?

Wondering. Let me know what your experience is or if you have any tips.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Shō ga nai when your husband works late

From the beginning (even when dating) the hours my husband puts into his job has been a constant source of marital contention. He works so long! My husband is a electrical engineer and is supposed to work a 40 hour week and is supposed to get off work at 5. This would put him home by 5:30. 

He has been home by 5:30 perhaps 12 times in our entire marriage. In fact, the last time he came home "on time" I, in shock, asked him if he had been fired. 

No, he had not been fired. He had just arrived home on time. 

I wrote "how to be happy when your husband works late," a blog post that contains practical advice to help you deal with a spouse who works long hours during the weekdays (and sometimes the weekends depending on issues). I myself practice all of my points that I make in that post.

After six years of late-night husband, I can now make it through the day and evening without wiping myself out. But even though I have learned to expect him to come home late--even if I have practical tips to help me through it--still I harbor feelings against my husband in my heart as 6, 7 or even 8 o'clock strolls around without the noise of the door creaking and my husbands footsteps descending into our home.  

In sort, I still struggle with accepting my husbands work hours.

I finally realized that I need to deal with my resentment. So, as the weeks went by, I prayed for God to open my eyes to my husbands struggles and to shift the viewpoint from my own woes to whatever God was trying to teach me.  

God has taught me two things so far. One is I no longer view my husband's work as "outside" the scope of family life. I used to pine for him to come home so he could help with the kids and be with me, but now I see that he is fulfilling his purpose towards our family as he works. His job is not something that gets in the way of my plans or our family, but something that supports and is necessary to the function of our household. I mean, I used to just think he worked to make money, and yes, we do need money to live. But his job is much more than just making money! Just like I worship God by loving and raising my kids, my husband is worshiping God as he pours out his time and his energy into his job to support me raising his kids. He works for our family, yes, but mostly he works for me. So I can stay home and raise our kids. So I better be sure to do a good job because I don't want him to be working in vain and I don't want to squander the sacrifice he is making as he works Monday through Friday. 

My husband, much like myself, has dreams that do not revolve around his job or office. But he, like me, must set those dreams aside to work to support our family and our home. He is slowly giving his life to his work so that I can give my life to our family.

When viewed God's way my husband's job goes from a hindrance to a beautiful picture of sacrifice not only to God but also to me and our family. I mean, I can't say I love that he works late, but I no longer feel bent out of shape and frustrated with him when he does. I see it just as an extension of him doing what he feels is right for his job, which in turn would be right for our family as his job supports our family and our lifestyle. I extend mercy towards my husband and towards myself and I buckle down, dig deep into God's word and try not to worry about my own temporary comfort. Parenting, motherhood, marriage: it's all work. And it's not about getting a break or completing a list. It's about God's glory.

The Japanese have a word that embodies a lot of what I discussed above, at least for me. Shō ga nai (pronouced SHOGANAI). It means (roughly) "it can't be helped". I often think of this Japanese word when my husband is working late and I am frustrated. Shō ga nai. Accept what cannot be helped.

Right now in this season, my husband working late is part of my existence. And God is teaching and stretching me as I deal with it. Who am I to refuse a trial given to me by God? Instead, I should turn to him and accept his lessons as they come. God is good and he knows what is best for me and best for our family. 

Monday, February 18, 2019


I finally finished this scarf I crochet in 100% alpaca. I bought this yarn before Reuben was born, and started on it when he was around 28 weeks. I am so glad to finally finish it!

I love this scarf. It's so soft and just a dream to wear.

What are you making lately? I have, in the works, one rainbow sweater for myself, a bunny hat for Reuben, a pair of socks, and two other project bags sitting on my shelf that I have forgotten the contents of. I am too lazy to stand up and look.

I hope you find time in your day for a hobby or two. I know I have learned, as a mother of two, to make time when I can. Often it is while during something else--while breastfeeding, or sitting on the floor playing one of Reuben's creative "games".

Sunday, February 10, 2019

when you are frustrated

I told my husband yesterday that I felt I had no purpose anymore. My life seems to consist of watching small children and cooking, and I struggle with feeling satisfied on a daily basis. I have all these dreams and ambitions and many of them now seem hopeless when faced with the work of raising and caring for my offspring.

My husband always is willing to listen to me, a trait I love about him. He is unfailingly patient and thoughtful. I am not patient. I am like a freight train going from 0 to 60.

So he listened to me pour out my heart and my struggles and than he challenged me to really stop and think about what I was saying. To identify my goals and list what makes me feel satisfied. Doing this really helped me understand some basic concepts about myself and the way I work. I like completing things, the task of crossing something off my list, of moving on to the next task. I like seeing a finished product and holding it tangibly in my hands. I love knitting, sewing, reading and writing. I dream of knitting and crochet projects to design and could devote myself for life to creating patterns for people to follow. It makes me happy, it brings me joy and most of all I get a sense of fulfillment from doing those things.

Raising children is never "done" at least not for the foreseeable future. Children are unpredictable. They require unfailing patience, they don't listen, they take swathes of emotional and mental energy. At present, it is not a task that fulfills me. I am constantly frustrated, tired, worn thin and baffled by my children. I can parent for hours but then I need some space to recharge and small children don't understand the concept of space. At least not mine, not yet.

With my husbands help I continued deconstructing my thought patterns. What would I want my life to look like, when I looked back upon it in 60 years? Decades of making knitting and crochet patterns and YouTube videos? Or decades of dying to myself and putting my trust in God for this season of raising kids? What would fulfill me in the long run? The answer to this question required no thought. I hope to look back upon life in 60 years (I'll be 92 so this is unlikely, but I can dream) and see that I ran the race with endurance and sacrificed my selfish desires on the alter of God's Will. I want my children to know they are loved, more than any dreams or passions I have. I want them to spend each day knowing they are special and seeing God's work in my life and theirs. Yes, it would be nice if I had some time to knit, but that is not the purpose God has for me right now.

In parenting it is easy to be consumed by frustration over the fact that nothing is going my way. I am daily bogged down by the emotional and mental weight of caring for small kids, cooking, cleaning and managing a house, communicating with my husband and raising Reuben and Rebekah. It's a alpine climb, like Anne says. But it is so worth it. There is meaning in what I am doing, even if I don't feel the sense of fulfillment at this time. And what more perfect opportunity can be found for being perfected by God's fire? He is pruning me as I devote myself to his task. He is teaching me so many things, but most of all I am learning that life is not about me. Life is not leisure, life is hard work. Life is devoting oneself to God and to his plan, regardless of ones own dreams and desires.

And I know in the end I will have no regrets because God's will for me is perfect and he is without flaw.
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