Category Archives: Motherhood

Give Grace to My Children

Dear Mom Who Just Wants Grace

The child was screaming in the Target parking lot as I retrieved my own two kiddos from their carseats. The sound of her wails peirced through the crisp, morning air. I did my utmost to not stare at the child or the mother as I toted my offspring past their car into the store.  I even tried my best to look casual and to not appear like I was avoiding eye contact. I probably failed, but I did try.

As I entered the big double doors and settled my little ones in the shopping cart, I have to admit, the sweet silence was a relief. Calm is always refreshing, is it not? I lingered a moment to browse very quickly through one of my favorite areas (also known as a money pit), the Dollar Spot. My son and I both enjoy looking at all of the “eye candy”, toys for him and home stuff for me. Just as I’m wheeling my empty cart away from the dollar deals, I heard a familiar sound enter the store.

Incessant crying and sniffling. The child was still upset.

For the next fifteen minutes, the echo of the little girl’s unhappiness could be heard throughout the store, sometimes distant and sometimes not. Then suddenly it was gone. I’m not sure if the absence of her cries indicated that the child had finally calmed down or if she and her mother had simply left the store. At any rate, peace and quiet reigned again.grace for the weary mama

As I looked down at the two small faces in my red cart, a bit of maternal pride was tempted to creep in. Thoughts of “Look how sweet mine are being” or “I’m so glad that my kids are behaving”. You know what I mean – when life is going smoothly and the sun is shining on your world, it is so easy to condemn the actions of others, to judge what they should or should not be doing.

Yet I couldn’t separate myself from the vision of that weary mom pushing her sobbing toddler around. I couldn’t help but feel her struggle, her fatigue, her frustration and yes, even her embarrassment.

Why? I’ve been there.

I’ve walked in her shoes, more than once actually. I’ve been the one on the receiving end of the harsh stares and heard the mutterings as I hurried by. I’ve been the one who wished that I could just sink through the linoleum floor in Aldi. I’ve been the one with the cheeks stained a bright red as I tried desperately to calm my distraught child (and quite frankly, on rare occasions more than one child) while rushing through my shopping list. I’ve been the one to bounce a wailing, hungry baby on my hip, quietly admonishing my older two to get along and keeping the two toddlers out of the conveniently-placed-at-kid-level candy and treats while checking out with the cashier. I’ve been the one who felt the immeasurable relief to finally be back in the privacy of my own van only to realize that I had neglected to hand the cashier my stack of coupons.

a mother's plea

Motherhood can be hard, can’t it? The pressure to measure up and meet expectations can be heavy.

I mean, we all want to have the good kid, don’t we? Sure we do. But for what reasons? At what cost? Far too often, I’m afraid that its for the appearance and for the convenience that good behavior brings. A well-behaved child certainly makes us look good as parents, and the ease and laid back parental approach afforded with an obedient son or daughter makes life pretty sweet too. And while I firmly believe that a well-behaved and obedient child (or in my case, children) is a wonderful blessing, the status of my parenting and the comfort of my time should be the furthest things from my mind. Parenting isn’t all about me.

It’s all about them.

If my children leave the haven of our home and cross over the threshhold into adulthood as simply good people, then I have failed most miserably. Good people sometimes fall apart and disappoint. Mere goodness doesn’t matter in the end. Not really. And while focusing on rearing a “good” child can be tempting, for sure, it ought not be our goal.

However, if my children know God and love His Word, then I, a simple mother, have been blessed with the opportunity to change the world through five, and soon-to-be six precious people. You see, when God is the center of their lives and the guidance of His word the pull of their heart strings, goodness will pour out in the end. Let God be the reason for the additional “o”. He alone can truly make them “good”.

grace quote

Sure, the surface of “goodness” may look nice, but it doesn’t always last. Cultivate the heart of your child with love of God first. Give them time. Give them grace.

One day the fruit of goodness will blossom (along with many others fruits) and it will have nothing to do with me but everything to do with Him.

So the next time you see (or hear) a small child clearly wanting his own way, remember as I did that God’s work in their hearts has only just begun. He is not finished with them yet. Don’t pass judgment too quickly, allow children the opportunity to grow, to develop, to change.

Additionally, extend grace to the mother. Her parenting journey may be new and even if not, every child is different. No one wants to be critiqued on unfinished work. Perhaps you may remember the difficult waters of those early and yet so important years in the lives of your children. The smooth, easy moments of child-rearing are indeed precious days, but challenging, hard times are also part of the course of motherhood. Parenting stretches you.

You may also relate to the weary moms who are out there, the ones who have attempted to do everything right and at the end of the some days, still feel like they have failed. Have you felt that pressure before? Or maybe have even experienced the mortification of transporting a tiny child who is, ahem, loudly expressing his displeasure as you wisk him out the door?grace for my children

It’s rough.

You may even understand the plea in her eyes and the cry of her heart to the watching world around her, to be offered empathy, not judgment. A simple word of encouragement can be more uplifting than you may ever know. As a mother, she desires but one thing—

Grace.

Better days are ahead, mom. Hang in there.

Dear Mom Grace pinterest

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(P.S. This post was already weighing on my heart and then I went out to run my typical shopping/grocery run in town this week only to see another struggling young mother with two very small children. At Target. Again. I guess that it just really struck a chord in my own life. Parenting is hard work, folks.

***Please also note that I am not condoning inappropriate behavior in small children. I am just wanting us to remember that small children, and even older ones, are not exempt from having bad days. Let’s extend grace.)

Blessings,

Heather

My Top 10 Pregnancy Must-Haves

Surviving pregnancy—specifically the first trimester. How does one do it? Every mother is different and suffers from her own unique set of woes during her pregnancy. Here are my top ways that I nurture my little one and tread water during those first few weeks. Hang in there, mom. You can do this.top ten pregnancy must-haves pin

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten

I simply cannot rave enough about my prenatals. I found mine on sale at Whole Foods Market just a day or two after I tested positive with my beloved Dollar Tree pregnancy tests. (I have saved a boat load of cash by buying my tests from there all these years.) I had just finished a prenatal from Trader Joes that I was taking as a lactating mother. While I didn’t mind the one from Trader Joes, I was still wanting to find something a bit more natural. I loved these prenatals from Garden of Life. They are an organic whole food supplement and were eactly what I was looking for in a multi-vitamin for this special season of my life. Whole Foods has them just a few dollars cheaper right now than Amazon, but their sale is ending next week. So Amazon may be your best price after next week.

I try my best to drink lots of water, but I often fail miserably. However, I have found that if I carry this around with me I am more apt to get my 64 ounces a day. I used my water bottle during my pregnancy with Baby Van, taking it with me when I went to Montego Bay on a missions trip. It was the only way I survived the heat of that country while 27 weeks pregnant. My water bottle also made the chaotic trip down I-85 during Baby Van’s birth. I carried it around as a nursing mama, drinking like a camel whose thirst cannot be quenched. It even made its way on its second missions trip to Sante Fe, but alas while we were there, it rolled out of the van and broke on the curb. I was so sad. As soon as I returned home, I bought another water bottle. I love them that much. They are worth every penny. (And just so you know, they typically don’t break. Mine just hit the cement curb just right. Baby Van has dropped her bottle several times and it is just fine.)

When I am tired and the fatigue of a new pregnancy is overwhelming, these hair ties make styling a snap. The glitter ones even make me feel fancy—on days when I feel nothing like fancy. I love wearing these in a basic ponytail or sometimes in a messy bun. Survival is key and simple hairstyles can still look great. At least that’s what I tell myself. This neutral set of colors can go with a variety of outfits. I just used one this morning to throw my hair up into a messy bun so that I could run forgotten homework to school for one of my girls. Quick and easy is my motto these days.

My lips tend to get very dry in the winter and even more so during a pregnancy. Burts Bees is my go-to for chapstick. I love their lip balms for chapped lips. Pomegranate is a personal favorite. And when I want a little something extra, I use their lip shimmers or crayons. This particular superfruit set offers a nice selection of different varieties for you to try. You can store one in several locations, your nightstand, your purse and your glove compartment. It never hurts to be prepared.

I am always hungry during the first few weeks and I am blessed that I rarely struggle with morning sickness (don’t hate me). However if I happen to feel a bit queasy, I put a generous dab of peanut butter on something (anything really!) and it helps me. Peanut butter on toast, apple slices, bananas, crackers and if I’m feeling really naughty, a bowl of chocolate ice cream—it’s all good.(Obviously that last option is more of treat than a measure that is take to avoid morning sickness.) It’s a good source of quick protein. My favorite is the all-natural peanut butter from Aldi. Sure it’s not organic, but you can’t beat their price for an all-natural product. Their peanut delight is only $1.69 (16 oz). However here’s another alternative for those that don’t have Aldi nearby or those wanting a sugar-free option. This peanut butter breaks down to $4.16 (16 oz) and it literally just contains peanuts and salt, no evaporated can juice or molasses. It is highly rated.

I use coconut oil for everything. If the kids have a dry patch, I grab the coconut oil. A bug bite? Coconut oil. Need to whiten teeth? Yup, coconut oil. I use a dab of it every morning as a facial moisturizer and part of my skin routine and make-up application. Coconut oil is antibacterial, so it is a tremendous way to clease your face. It has been known to smooth out color tones, reduce fine lines and shrink pores. I love this stuff. Seriously. A little bit goes a long way. Like I said before, I tend to have drier skin while I am pregnant and it needs a bit of extra love during this time. Often I will rub some coconut oil on my arms and legs as I’m getting ready for bed at night. It is an amazing moisturizer. This is a great Christian-based company to purchase coconut oil. They run great sales all the time and if you look at their website, you’ll find that they sell much more than just coconut oil. (I even use coconut oil on my furniture!)

I love drinking hot drinks. While my husband may have converted me to becoming a coffee fanatic, I still love my herbal teas. I drank a special mother’s brew of loose leaf tea during my last pregnancy. Perhaps it may be one of the contributing factors to my easy delivery? I don’t know. All I know is that I wanted to drink something that supports a healthy pregnancy again. For this pregnancy, I am trying to drink this mother-to-be tea once a day, either in the morning or in the evening. I have been purchasing this from Whole Foods Market, but the next time I will just buy it in bulk from Amazon. This is a much better price

Vests. They hide a lot. They hide a postpartum tummy, they hide just plain ol’ tummy flab and they hide a sweet little bump until you are ready to announce to the world that you are with child. I have used the latter technique for my past few pregnancies since my miscarriage. After suffering the heartache of a loss, I now keep my sweet news “under wraps” until I know for sure that all seems well. With Baby Van, I did a terrible job hiding my pregnancy and by the time I was ready to tell the world, I think that just about every one knew. Ha! I think that I did better this time around. (My AWANA shirt was my giveaway shirt with Baby Van. You couldn’t hide anything under that thing.) I love puffer vests like this one. Vests have become a staple in my pregnant and non-pregnant wardrobes. (Plus if I wear them all the time, it keeps people guessing. I don’t want people to automatically assume that just because I’m wearing a vest that I am pregnant. Sometimes I really do just like to layer my clothes. Really.)

Oh sweet slumber. My eyes droop whenever I sit, even if only for a minute. Fatigue was really overwhelming me during this first trimester. I don’t remember it being this bad before. I’d like to say that it’s not old age at thirty-three, ummm..so let’s just agree that it’s not, okay? Napping and sleeping well at night was essential to having the strength to serve my husband, my children and my church like I needed to every day. A number of years ago we began replacing all of our pillows for feather pillows. Now I am spoiled. I miss my pillow (and my bed!) whenever I am away. A good pillow, similar to this one, is important for obtaining the adequate rest needed for a healthy pregnancy. (I cannot vouch for this particular pillow, so be sure to read reviews before investing in a quality pillow.) Get all of the rest you can… while you can. You will need it. Trust me, I know.

Vinegar was my top craving during my first trimester. Pickles, banana peppers, relish and just so people wouldn’t pick up on it while in public, salt and vinegar chips helped satisfy my taste buds. I don’t think that any of my husband’s family noticed me hoarding the bag at our family Christmas get-together. Now they may have noticed my large plates of food, but I was hoping that they would chalk that up as merely eating extra calories as a nursing mom. Little did they know that I was eating for three and not just two. So to say that my appetite was huge would be an understatement. It has thankfully slowed down a little as I have now weaned Baby Van (sniff, sniff). Here’s a healthy option on a large jar of organic pickles, however I am able to get mine from Whole Foods for a better price. Hubs and I are hoping to grow a garden this summer and I am planning on attempting canning pickles. I am not at all sure about the process and have even less confidence in my ability to produce a delicious pickle. Mine may rival Aunt Bea’s pickles. Who knows?

(And yes clearly I had pickles on my brain when I chose my word for 2015.)

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So …anyone else have tips or tales to share about surviving their first trimester. Please share. I’d love to hear and your advice may also help some other struggling first time mom-to-be.

Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post.

XO,

One-Half Dozen

The week before Christmas I received an unexpected, yet joyous gift.

Five turns into six

 

I felt so blessed—a sweet new life to nurture and love.

I reached thirteen weeks yesterday and praise the Lord for a healthy pregnancy thus far. My biggest issue this time around has been extreme fatigue, more so than I remember. Perhaps it’s because I’m older or maybe because I have five children to care for during this pregnancy instead of four. My prenatals really seem to be helping as well as the fact that those first few weeks are now behind me.

I’ve had my first OB appointment with my midwife and all went well. However she was unable to capture a heartbeat with the hand held fetal doppler and thought that I measured a bit earlier than twelve weeks. (Three months is the threshhold where a fetal doppler can be used to pick up the baby’s heartbeat.) We also did not have a solid due date because of my weaning Baby Van which had resulted in an inconsistent cycle.

The birth center typically does not encourage an ultrasound other than the anatomy sonogram at 18 weeks or so, however they sent me to a local hospital to establish a due date for this new little one. My appointment was scheduled for Monday, February 2nd. I tried not to fret as my mind filled with very vivid memories from three years before.

August baby

My heart was in my throat as I entered the sonogram room at the hospital and I was so tempted to close my eyes and not watch. I couldn’t do that though, I had to see.

Tears of relief and joy filled my eyes as I took in the precious sight of a new little life, kicking and flipping and waving at me. The sound of a steady heart beat filled the room.

(I measured just at eleven weeks that day which was why my midwife had been unable to get the heart beat on the doppler a few days before.)

I was thrilled to have a little picture of our precious baby and to hear that new heart beat for the first time. It just never gets old. I couldn’t pull my eyes away from the screen, watching the flipping and waving  arms and legs going everywhere.

February 2 holds so many memories now—tears of grief and tears of sadness.

God is so good.

Coming August

August 23, 2015 (or a day around that time!) is a greatly antipated day for our family. We look forward to welcoming this new bundle into our family.

One-half dozen here we come. 😉

XO,

10 Easy Meals Your Daughter Can Cook

My kids are growing up. It’s such a bittersweet realization. Bunny and Fuzz have really shot up and changed their looks in recent years.

I sometimes struggle with an awkward mix of pride and tears when I look at them, a feeling of maternal pride and thankfulness for the sweet young ladies that I see developing and at the same time, a welling up of a mother’s tears that her babies—her first ones—are no more.

I’m definitely getting the hang of smiling and crying simultaneously. It can be done.

Hubs and I are wanting to do our utmost to raise mature and responsible young people. Young adults who are hard workers, honest, intelligent, prepared, and above all else, love God with all of their heart.

All of these are vital, but did you happen to see that one little word up there? The “p” word? Yes, prepared.

We are working on preparing them with not only the skills that are necessary to succeed in life, but also with the tasks that are fundamental to life itself. The bare bones of living.

In the instance of today’s post, it’s called eating.

Both of our older girls are now getting quite the list of things that they can make on their own. They love cooking and baking in the kitchen, and I have enjoyed working with them as they mastered each culinary skill (cracking eggs isn’t as easy as it may look). Many, sweet memories have been made at our kitchen counter and it certainly makes this mama heart smile as they dish up their “own” creations at dinner time. And to be bluntly honest, I’m also enjoying the occasional evening off.

10 Easy Meals Your Daughter Can Cook

Here’s a list of meals that your daughters (and sons!) should be able to cook. This list is made up of meals that are free of knives and boiling water. Sure, my girls are learning these skills and are certainly capable of making some of them, such as spaghetti. However, the following meals are ones that I don’t need to worry about being on hand constantly and am free to come and go from the kitchen during the process. The girls can make these meals completely on their own from start to finish.

Note: These are simply an assortment of simple meal ideas that would be great for little beginners in your kitchen. I have included the basic steps for each meal to demonstrate the simplicity of the meals, please keep in mind that this is not a list of recipes. I may eventually do a post on each of these meals some day. For now, this is a post to help inspire you as a parent to begin preparing your older children for the road ahead. I hope that it will inspire you to either create your own list of simple favorite meals to pass to the next generation or even to build off  of my own. Enjoy.

 

1. Scrambled Eggs and Bacon

Cracking eggs. From the time that they were just little tots standing on a kitchen chair by my side, my kids have always been fascinated by the cracking of eggs. Well, they have since found out that it is not as easy as it looks. Once this skill is mastered, scrambled eggs is a breeze. Fuzz, my eight year old, can make them just as good as I can. We bake our bacon on parchment paper in the oven. (and it typically doesn’t require flipping over.) If you wish, you could have them call for you to remove the bacon from the oven for them. (if you are worried about grease) The bacon takes longer than the eggs, so this is a perfect dinner to begin teaching them about timing your dishes so that the entire meal is hot and finished at the same time.

2. Pancakes

Pancakes require very few ingredients and are easy to make in a pinch. All of my kids love them, so we have them for dinner occasionally (we try to make enough for leftovers for breakfast the next morning too). Flipping the pancakes can be challenging at first, but they will get the hang of it quickly.

3. Baked Potatoes

These are so easy and filling. Simply scrub, pierce with a fork, rub with some sea salt, wrap in foil and bake. Even though I may sometimes remove the potatoes with a potholder, an oven mitt is easier—especially for them. This is great meal to have them prepare with any leftover bacon from breakfast or or to even top with crockpot chili. Or if you’d prefer, steamed broccoli is delicious as a side to complete this as a meatless meal.

 

4. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup

A little butter and organic cheese taste wonderful on toasted whole wheat bread. The hardest part, like the pancakes, will be the flipping of the sandwich for them, but as my girls have learned, practice does help. As far as the tomato soup goes, simply dump in pot and heat only until warm. (No danger with handling boiling liquids here.)

5. Crockpot Chili

Chili in the crockpot is a no brainer and such an easy meal for beginners. We use ground venison in the place of ground beef for our recipes. These are frozen into one pound packs which makes it easy for my girls to know how much meat they need. They simply drop the meat into the crockpot to brown for an hour or two and then mash the cooked ground meat to break and crumble it up. Then it’s just a matter of adding the remaining chili ingredients, stirring and letting the crockpot do it’s magic.

teaching young girls to cook

6. Meatloaf

Have them set out the meat to fully thaw (or if you are in a pinch, the microwave does work…we refrain from using it if we can). Combine all ingredients for your favorite meatloaf recipe and have them mix well. If you don’t mind, have them wash and rinse their hands thoroughly and mix the meatloaf mixture with their hands before shaping into a loaf or miniloaves. (Obviously teach them to wash their hands thoroughly AFTER this technique as well BEFORE touching anything). Bake as instructed.

7. Tacos

Simply brown ground beef in pan (venison doesn’t need draining as it is very lean…so no grease worries) and 1/8 cup of our homemade taco seasoning with some water. Turn heat to low while they bake the shells for a few minutes in the oven and set out desired toppings. Tomatoes can be avoided if you have a “no knife” rule for right now and lettuce can be washed and torn or both veggies can be left off of the menu. Simple, easy and safe is the motto for new cooks.

8. Pepperoni Rolls

This is not the healthiest meal on the planet, but it does taste great. Set out a one pound loaf of frozen bread dough. As your dough is thawing, the butter and seasoning mixture can be prepared. Roll out the dough and brush with butter. Spread with pepperoni slices and sprinkle with cheese. Roll as a jelly roll. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Brush top with a bit more butter and bake. This is so quick and easy (and it freezes beautifully).

9. Bacon-Wrapped BBQ Chicken

Wow. This is certainly a family favorite. Wrap chicken with bacon and bake. When both the bacon and chicken are nearly done (show them how to check to see if meat is done), top with BBQ sauce and even a bit of shredded cheese if you’d like. Bake just a few minutes more.

This is my all time favorite BBQ recipe.

10. Beans and Cornbread

Does this ever bring back memories of my childhood! We would occasionally feast on beans and cornbread doused with a generous squirt of ketchup. Believe it or not, I actually looked forward to my slice of sweet cornbread with a heaping spoon of pinto beans poured over it. While my mom typically prepped from dried beans, warming up canned lentils of your choice may be easier or perhaps grabbing a bag of precooked beans from the freezer would be a can free (and boil free) option for your young cooks. Quickly mix up a ban of cornbread and bake at the same time that the beans are heating and you are all set. This is another meatless, yet nutritious option to incorporate into your menu rotation.

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There you have it. A simple list of 10 easy meals your daughter can cook.

And if all else fails and Mom needs a helping hand or is sick, PB & J sandwiches or cold cereal works well in a pinch. Both of these quick meals tend to be HUGE hits around our house, at least where the kids are concerned.

10 Easy Meals Your Daughter Can Cook

Raising older children? Are you doing anything to help prepare them for the future? It’s not always something that we like to think about. Young adulthood comes before we know it.

 

Blessings,