Loneliness In Our Journey

I read an article the other day about the loneliness modern stay at home mothers have. They had statistics and fancy numbers, but alas, I cannot find the article. However, that is likely a good thing. As the article in question suggested some very, well, in my opinion, terrible advice. But this is something that has been on my mind lately.

mom and boys

Stay at home moms often have very little adult interaction. Our Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat feeds might give that away. But little people, while adorable and awesome, aren’t always the best kind of company. They are always demanding and give very little back. This along with the fact that our work is never done, often very underappreciated, and usually overlooked- well, it can quickly lead to feeling like less than a person. Then when you take into account our inability to shower, constantly fluctuating bodies, and not a lot of time for trivial things like nail polish and facials, well, it becomes easy to see how we get depressed. The perpetual joke of the wife who “let herself go” isn’t so funny to us because we understand and feel the weight of that. It isn’t what we wanted. But life is like that, isn’t it?

lj with glasses big

 

In our current culture, many of us find ourselves living far from family. We’re far from the free help of family babysitters who just want the joy of hanging out with our kids. Date nights become costly as we factor in childcare and pizza for the kids into the expense it takes. It very quickly feels not worth it. No support. No help. Just us organizing all of this alone.

hiking kids

As Christians, we aren’t likely to move to a commune or give polyamory a try. (Which is what was suggested in the initial article.) So where does that leave us? Just treading water until the kids go to college? I don’t think so. I think we can do better than simple survival.

beach boys

First, whether you chose to be a stay at home parent or it simply happened, it is for a purpose. Whether it is temporary or permanent, there is a reason. Knowing that you have a purpose and there is reason for your labor can make the work itself seem easier. Dishes washed get dirty quickly. But dishes provide the canvas where you nourish those in your care. There is meaning in what we do. Making our house happy for those in it provides deep benefits to those living with us. It means something, even if the work is never done.

cooking

Next, we have to build community. It is okay to reach out through virtual means. Staying connected on social media is absolutely okay. (Especially when you are keeping in contact with people you really know in real life.) Just don’t forget that what you see isn’t always the truth. I can photoshop my life to look any way I want it to look. That isn’t the real day to day in my home. That is just a peak. Just the highlight reel. Just remember that. And if the comparison trap entangles you often, it is okay to say no to social media.

pip tangeled

You also have to build your real community. Real people you can talk to and count on. The easiest way to do that is through your church. Join a small group. Reach out. Know that there are other people like you that need someone. You can be their someone. And they can be yours.

race day

Practice hospitality. I know, having people over for dinner seems like the last thing you need. More work. But inviting people into your home is inviting them into your life. These are the people you know you can call when you need emergency childcare at 2 am. These are going to be the people at your door with dinner when you need them. It is a little extra work, but it is well worth it.

peace love pip

Don’t let trivial junk drive your friends away. I know you think you wouldn’t do that, but we do it all the time. We distance ourselves from those who make different choices. Homeschool moms flock to homeschool moms. Public school moms flock to public school moms. The diapers on our kid’s butts somehow tell other moms if we are worthy of their friendship. Don’t be like that. Don’t let literal crap matter that much. Friends are people who are there for you. Choose wisely, because friends can make our lives worse. But know what matters and what doesn’t. Don’t let the small stuff keep you from getting close to people.

friends

Be the friend you want to have. I wrote a whole post on this that I decided not to post. But I think the point still needs to be made. You want someone who will bring your chicken soup when you are sick? Then take a friend chicken soup when they are sick? Want someone to babysit your kid free of charge so you can have a much needed date night? Babysit someone’s kid(s) free of charge so they can have a much needed date night. You have to create the community you want to be a part of.

zoo friends

Don’t push your spouse away. It can get so easy for us to get resentful of their adult interaction and their time not spent scrubbing bathroom walls. But this isn’t an us versus them scenario. We are all working together to make this family thing work. Don’t push away your partner in this endeavor.

ag+lj

Don’t push away from God. I know you’re busy. I know you have things to do. I know the idea of “quiet time” is laughable. But you can still find ways to seek God. You can turn on music while cleaning and praise His name. You can read devotions with your kids that will feed all of you. You can pray while doing any task. Seek Him. He is our Friend.

books

You are not alone. You are doing a great job. Whether this is for a season or forever, the time you give to your family is not wasted. Now, I think someone out there is praying for a friend like you.  

Hallelujah, God is Near?

This week has been difficult for so many people. It has been painful, and disappointing. We look around and all we see is darkness. And we find ourselves trying to make sense of the chaos. Trying to make sense of the pain.

Where is God? Why is He letting this happen? Is this somehow His plan? If it is His plan, do I even like Him right now? Why this suffering? Why this evil?

And many of us don’t make it there. We’re just needing someone to blame. Some scape goat that we can speak the hurts onto that will run away with the guilt, fear, and pain and never come back. We need someone or something to blame. Because then it might make sense. And we need things to make sense. This can’t be senseless.

A friend reached out to me in the midst of this chaos, trying to better understand God in this suffering. She wanted resources to help navigate these uncertain and scary waters. I sent her lists of books and podcasts and videos. She mentioned that I should share them publicly, in case anyone else needed them. So, here, I am sharing with you resources to help guide you through the chaos. To find hope even in the suffering. To help you see the glimpses of light in the current darkness.

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

A book written by Lewis about his own grief after losing his wife, Joy. This book is more for personal grief.

The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis

A book written to answer the question, “If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?” This book is for those broad questions we are scared to ask.

When A Daughter Dies by Ben Witherington and Ann Witherington

Written after the death of their daughter, this book will help guide and come along side you in personal grief.

The Dark Side lecture by Peter Kreeft

A Socrates in The City lecture addressing Suffering, Death, and Sin. This is a free resource.

God’s Answer To Suffering by Peter Kreeft

An article written by Peter Kreeft on the subject of suffering. This is a free resource.

9 Myths Christians Believe About Pain, Suffering, and Evil by Carolyn Moore

A Seven Minute Seminary video that is a good place to start putting your brain and heart together. This is a free resource.

There are likely more resources available, but this is just a place to get you started. I pray you find Christ in the suffering. That you see the light more brightly in the dark. And that you find peace in your spirit, knowing that God is near.

*This post contains affiliate links.**

Father’s Day 2016 Gift Guide

Though I really do feel the same way about Father’s Day as I do about Mother’s Day, I’ve got a gift guide for you to help take the pressure off.

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This turntable would make an epic gift. It kind of says “you’re old” but more than that, it says, “I think you are a hip guy with super great taste in music.”

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Want to go a little more high tech? Get him an Amazon Tap! His own personal, portable version of Alexa. Stream music, news, audible books, and radio through this nifty little speaker device. Works through Wi-Fi or your phone’s Bluetooth for connectivity anywhere you are that your phone or internet works. This gift says, “I think you are a super cool guy.”

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Grab him a little personal grooming tool. While super practical, this gift says, “I think you need to trim your nose hair.” And, well, some people need to be told that, I suppose.

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This Billy Jealousy Beard Envy Kit is perfect for the hairier Dads out there. It says, “Awesome beard, dude! You’re so manly!” Because beauty products for facial hair is super manly.

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Get him a ukulele starter set! This gift says, “I respect your dreams to be a rock star but write the kid some lullabies first.”

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A portable hammock is a great gift. It says, “I know you’re a fun loving guy who needs to kick back and relax now and then.” It also says you think he is hip and active, even though you bought him the laziest gift imaginable, which he will really enjoy.

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Nothing says adulting like a letter opener. But with this letter opener, you can be a happy adult. This gift says, “You are more than a man in a cubicle. You’re cool and fun.”

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At some point every dad needs a dad t-shirt. It is just something that has to go down. Just know, he likely won’t actually wear it, but he’ll appreciate the sentiment. It says, “Yep. You’re a dad. A dad we like, but yeah, this is what it is now.”

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You can also go with the old cliché tie for a Father’s Day gift. The joke is so old that it is now fun to go with the classic tie. It says, “I know you have a sense of humor, but also, great fashion sense.”

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And last, but certainly not least, the Bigfoot Lawn Gnome Wrecker garden statue is just, well, perfect for anyone. When in doubt, go with Bigfoot and Lawn Gnomes. Definitely a winner.

This post does contain affiliate links! Please use them. If you’re still looking for gift ideas, check out the Facebook page for more gift ideas.

New Bed

This may seem funny to you, but we spent the first 12 years of marriage sleeping on a full size bed. When I got married, the idea of a huge bed was ridiculous to me. Why would I need that much room?

Then I had six kids fairly close in age. That means we always have a toddler and a baby. And I co-sleep. And kids come pile in at night. Suddenly my full size bed was seeming a little too cramped and full.

We thought we wanted to go all the way to king size, but weren’t sure. It might be overkill. A friend of mine had a queen mattress and box springs that she gave to us. We gladly welcomed the bigger mattress, but figured we’d try it out for a bit before we got a bed for it, in case we decided the queen wasn’t big enough.

I’m not sure how it is possible, but I think my husband and the toddler are the only ones who got more room on the queen bed. I was still pushed to the edge by the numerous people always in my bed! We figured we’d make the move to a king size, but wanted to do some shopping around. Then another friend gave us a king size mattress!

The Pastor wanted to make a bed for it. We wanted a low platform bed. And we had specific needs for the color. (We have dark wood bookshelves in our room and light wood drawers, so we wanted the bed to combine both light and dark finishes to help tie our mismatched furniture together a little better.) Now, The Pastor isn’t really into woodworking. He helped my Dad build triple bunks for our boys. He has helped people do random house and wood working projects. But this isn’t a hobby for him or something he does with any regularity. We searched Pinterest and found a couple ideas that he ran with.

bed no mattress

This is the finished product without the mattress. We found this pin with a few ideas. We liked the spaced wood boards, but since we rent, we didn’t want to just nail them to the wall. The pastor came us with this headboard based on the pictures of a few we saw.

Looking through a million pins on Pinterest, we decided we wanted the platform style. We liked being closer to the floor, since kids sleep in our bed, it makes falls and getting up and down for them easier. We used this blog post for the measurements for the wood for the bed. We went to Home Depot and had them cut the wood for us. (They tell you they charge $0.50 a cut, but if you’re a nice patient person, they might wave that for you like they did for us.) With the stain, lumber, and screws, this project cost us about $150. Add the new linens, and the grand total was $230.

bed fx

It took one evening to stain all the wood and make the headboard. Then it took another 3 hours the next day to put the platform bed together and get the mattress on it and such.

I am super happy with how this tuned out. Like, really happy with it.

stuck mattress.JPG

This was the hardest part of the project, unless you count wrangling 6 kids in Home Depot while your husband gets wood cut. We managed, but it was looking almost impossible there for a second.

Now I just need throw pillows and to finish that giant crocheted blanket for it.

Oscha Caledonia Braes Review

CB front wrap

When I was pregnant with Peregrin, I saw a picture on FB of a woman wearing a baby wrap that looked so Lord of The Rings. I thought, “I NEED that wrap!” I sent the picture to a friend. We quickly found the wrap was an Oscha Caledonia Braes. But there weren’t any new ones for sale on the site. Bummer. I figured I would just have to track down a used one.

oscha cb happy

A couple weeks later, I get a series of texts from my friend. “Oscha just relisted the Braes!” “I ordered one for you!” “If that isn’t okay I can sell it!” Of course, it was okay. I sold several baby carriers to fund the new acquisition. The Pastor did not think it necessary to own 8 baby carriers. I don’t know why. 8 seems like a modest number of carriers to own. (I now have 4, which seems like not very many at all!)

oscha cb watch

The Caledonia Braes- 50% organic combed cotton, 50% linen, 230 gsm. I got a size 7, which is long enough for really pretty tails. I love long tails.

oscha cb cello

This wrap is beautiful and tough. It  was soft and wrappable straight out of the bag. Honestly no breaking in was needed at all. It was just great immediately.

CB newborn sleep

It wraps nice and snug. It has the perfect balance of grip and slip. Not too grippy, but not too slippy. You can strand by strand tighten easily. Wrap a newborn with no problems. Wrap a toddler with no problems. This is really a wrap that can work all duties. If you’re only buying one wrap, you need a wrap like this. It works in any weather. Hot or cold, this wrap is fine.

CB newborn wrap

And did I mention it is pretty and perfect for my little hobbit?

oscha cb lean

My Experience With Trim Healthy Mama

I’m sure you’ve heard of Trim Healthy Mama. It seems everyone has. I had heard about it from friends for years before I decided to buy the books and give it a try. I researched it for quite a long time before committing. I’m not really one to try diets, despite needing to loose weight. I did the Whole 30 a couple years ago with huge success. But since living that way is almost impossible for an active family, I decided to give Trim Healthy Mama a try. Everyone said it was whole family cooking and it wouldn’t leave me in the kitchen all day long.

The good:

  • The meals were made for large families in mind. I didn’t have to double and triple recipes, which was refreshing. Most family meals feed 6-8. They do have lots of single serve recipes in the cookbook for things like breakfast and lunch, too.
  • I found some ridiculously yummy recipes that my kids love in the cookbook. Swedish Meatballs in Cream Sauce, Slim Sloppy Joes, Blackened Chicken with Mango and Black Beans, Lentil Soup, Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup, Tomato Chicken Bisque, Nacho Stuffed Peppers, Trim Healthy Pancakes. Amazing food. Really.
  • I found most of the sippers to be awesome and I love them! Good Girl Moonshine & Singing Canary are staying. Period.
  • The Pastor lost lots of weight in the first month.

The Eh:

  • I lost minimal weight. Very minimal. Likes, in 3 months maybe 8 lbs.
  • While it was a whole family plan, you have to tweak every single meal for every single person. This meant adding cheese to kid food but not adult food. Adding an extra side for kids. So while I was only cooking one “meal”, I was having to adjust at the table.
  • While they claim you don’t have to use specialty ingredients, I found that they were necessary if you don’t want to be completely frustrated. So, you’re buying special flours and weird stuff that are really hard to find and expensive.
  • They also claim you can do the plan without Stevia. After reading their stuff, I just started using the Stevia, even though I really didn’t want to. Cutting it out is a bigger deal than they make it.
  • You can have brownies! they say. Then you make the brownies exactly like the recipe and they are gross. The online community then tells you that your taste buds are just messed up from years of real sugar. You’ll adjust. But chocolate should never taste like chemicals. I don’t want to get used to that. So these beloved desserts are apparently all acquired tastes that will eventually be okay to you once you forget what real baked goods taste like.
  • Despite saying you can be a food purist to stick to the plan or a “drive through Sue”, I found that I was having to make a lot of concessions to food purity. I was eating things that didn’t seem normal for me to eat. So, I’m sure there was a way for me to not bend on my food standards, but they weren’t easy if they were available.
  • There are a lot of rules. It takes time to understand and properly implement the plan. While there is good support through their Facebook pages and such, you have to be careful what you say so you don’t offend the plan. (Really just never critique the plan. Just watch how much hate mail will come from this post. And not all of the groups will be like this. You’ll also find a lot of encouragement and a lot of help. Just don’t complain- they don’t like it.)

The Bad:

  • My milk supply tanked, despite doing crossovers as described for nursing moms.
  • My immune system plummeted. I had eczema and then Shingles. The nutrition just wasn’t there.
  • It was expensive. The specialty ingredients are very pricey. They say you don’t need them, but over half the recipes call for them. Want to price them yourself? Whey Protein, Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend, Stevia, Super Sweet, Gentle Sweet, MCT Oil, Gelatin, Collagen, Glucomannan, Not Naughty Noodles. Now, some of these things will last quite a while, like the Stevia and the Glucomannan. But some, like the baking blend and the super sweet will be monthly expenses at least.
  • I was eating more meat and less veggies than usual. While they say vegetarian and vegan options are available, I don’t really see how.

My Conclusions:

I have seen lots of people loose weight and have great health on this plan. I will still be using my cookbook, despite my not using the plan because some of the food is really yummy. But this plan is clearly not for me. I had so many health problems that started when I switched to this plan. I did not see results anything like I would have liked to see. And my family was just eating too many things I wasn’t really super comfortable with. So, I am going to take some of the recipes, but leave the plan. It just didn’t work for us. It certainly isn’t for everyone. It worked fine for my husband.

Do I recommend you try it? I don’t know. I don’t recommend you NOT try it. I’m just not a fan because it really wasn’t a fit for me and my family. I had really high hopes and it just did not deliver.

I also think I am somewhat biased in my attempts. I’ve never been a Stevia fan. In fact, I think I might actually be allergic. I’m not a fan of processed foods. I’m not a fan of casseroles or crock pots meals. It isn’t that I am picky. I’m just more of a whole food, clean food person. So telling me no potatoes and limit carrots isn’t ever going to sit well with me.

**This post contains affiliate links.**