Sunday, April 29, 2012

Get Transparent!

Since Pinterest has been on the rise in the domestic, homemaker arena of social media I have also noticed an upswing of "I-can't-do-it-all-make-the-madness-stop" syndrome. This epidemic is sweeping through modern suburbia at an alarming rate and we may need to start a foundation for it. Or at least hold a bake sale with elaboratly decorated petit fours and fondant icing layer cakes.
This is one of those pins on Pinterest that makes me say outloud- COME ON! Any invitation or note that starts with blowing out an egg is never gonna happen in this household. So inbetween invites I guess you have to also look for a Pin/recipe for fabulous omlettes to make with the leftovers? (If you want to do this, you have to also be able to read Spanish, because this was the blog this references back to:  )
If this is your forte, then I am in awe of you! Rock on!
What is it in our society that makes Moms constantly feel in competition while also feeling like we are completely lacking? And maybe it's not even competition with eachother, but competition with ourselves to prove some sort of notion that we can have it all, do it all, organize it all, breastfeed everyone (for a minimum of 12 months!), make every cute craft, use only natural, organic cleaners to clean it all, and still throw on a pair of pearls and have a hot, delicious, nutritious and under-budget dinner on the table when our husbands get home, which is really just a prelude to a wild and fabulous evening in the bedroom (complete with Victoria's Secret lingerie and candles) before we rest our heads on our cleaned, ironed, lavender-scented, 1000-count Egyptian cotton pillow cases so that we can do it all again (and maybe more!) the next day. And the day after.

Ladies. This is not real. This doesn't happen in anyone's home. And everyone needs to stop prentending like it can happen. And it didn't start in the social media age. For our moms is was Martha Stewart-syndrome and for their moms it was Harriet Nelson-syndrome. And that's where my cultural knowledge fizzles out, but I'm sure there was another icon even prior to Donna Reed that made women feel like they had to step up their game.

I've been struggling with these thoughts and feelings all week long. I, myself am guilty of only posting photos of the fun, creative, look-at-what-I-did photos. Lately I've felt as if I haven't been totally transparent about my life. I do want to encourage other moms to do fun and creative things with their families. Have their own Wacky Wednesday, or fun dinnertime ritual. I really do believe these things are important to family identity, but I don't want you all to thik that these things happen on a daily basis in my house! That's 1 meal a week that I plan, strategize, shop for and prepare. And it's super fun and the kids love it and it's worth every minute of prep work. But y'all should see my kitchen where those dinners are over. That's the photo that never gets around to being posted.

So here's last night. We had a fun, Silly Saturday dinner instead of Wacky Wednesday (this momma worked on Wednesday). It was my sister-in-laws suggestion to do a Colors theme and have brightly colored food. I planned and prepped, but then once dinner prep time came around we had 5 kids in the house and they couldn't even go in the backyard because my husband was building a deck (which I am grateful for, sweetheart. Not discounting that blessing!) It was pretty chaotic. But still the fun, throw your hands up in the air and laugh kind of chaos. Had my sister-in-law not been there to help with the kids we would have broken down and ordered pizza. And in retrospect we probably should have done that anyways!
Silly Saturday Colors dinner

Silly Saturday aftermath (hubby took over here- praise the Lord!)
So I went to church today and was totally convicted by the message. We have been doing a Love Is series on Corinthians and today our Pastor talked about what love isn't. Specifically, love isn't jealous or boastful or proud or rude (1 Corinthians 13:4). And I felt convicted that maybe I post things out of being boastful instead of encouraging others to acts of good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24) But the message went on to talk about how each one of us are an original and that we shouldn't  compare ourselves with eachother (Galatians 5:25). So I may have certain strengths when it comes to preparing a meal, but the very thought of organizing my closet, or my desk, or my cabinets, or my kids toys makes me break out into a cold sweat. We all have different strengths and we should celebrate these strengths (Romans 12:6-8) and we should encourage one another through our weaknesses. And if that means being more transparent in all aspects of my life- include this one online, them that's what I'm going to do. 


Who's in?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Eat Local Challenge

A few weeks ago I shared a little bit about my hubby's health challenges in this post and I've shared about my health challenges in this post. So not to whine about our issues again (whaaaaaah!) you can read those if you like. Well we just got my hubby's latest blood test results and we are celebrating that he has once again lowered his cholesterol without the use of medication! Yay! So it's more confirmation for us that we can't continue to sit back and blame genetics for our health issues. Yes, genetics clearly play a huge roll in the issues we have, but it's how we respond to those issues that will affect our health in the long run. Also, we have a huge responsibility for teaching our children how to take care of their bodies, minds and souls. I don't want my daughter thinking she can eat french fries and hot dogs for every meal simply because it tastes good to her. Because it's not good for her. And she and our son now have multiple strikes again them in the genetics department. So how can we prevent them from experiencing the symptoms we've experienced? We need to teach them how to eat. But to do that we first need to reteach ourselves how to eat. Over the past 2 years we (mostly meaning me, since I cook and shop for our family) have become obsessed with how to save money on our monthly grocery budget. I became more of a stay-at-home mom and we had to cut from our budget somewhere (cancel internet service, you say? Go wash your mouth out with soap!) I've been so narrow minded in my couponing ways that I have had blinders on to something even more valuable- our family's health. We have eaten more processed food and less real food. We certainly haven't eaten anything organic or local on a regular basis because I thought we just couldn't afford it. But I've discovered that we can't afford not to eat better. The saying "Pay your farmer now or pay your doctor later" really hit home with me and I felt like God has been telling us to make a drastic change.

So, over the past couple of months I have vowed to not turn a blind eye any longer.  We are beginning the process of educating ourselves more and making better decisions for the big picture! We need to make educated decisions for our health and well being and we need to know where our food comes from, how is it being raised and who we are supporting by buying it. Seems simple enough, right? Well, it kind of is. But it's also overwhelming. At first, I was researching too much too quickly and started having nightmares about genetically engineered foods chasing me through giant soybeans fields. Seriously, that happened. So, I went back to square one and just started looking into what our options were locally. That's when I discovered a really easy local challenge. April is Eat Local month in Charleston and the challenge can be as drastic as you want it to be. You can commit to changing a few things or everything. Like spending 10% of your grocery budget on local food or you can make a little bigger of a commitment like spending 100% of your grocery budget on local food. We are somewhere in between right now as we get our feet wet. We have signed up for a CSA with Our Local Foods and we have discovered some other great local products through that site. Some foods we knew about like the free range chicken from chicken whisperer Nate Davis at Thornhill Farms (which is delish!) and quite a bit more products that we didn't know about, like the low temperature pasteurized, non- homogenized milk from the Happy Cow Creamery- I'm not a milk drinker, but that stuff is ah-ma-zing!
Mmmm... free-range... well it was once.  

Our Local Foods delivery this week! Delivery right to my kitchen for a few dollars extra (so worth it!)

 We've also signed up for a CSF (That's community supported fishery) through Abundant Seafood on Shem Creek right in our town of Mount Pleasant. We haven't picked up yet, but I'm really excited to pick up fish right on the docks! The kids are going to love that! 

And we've also been dining out locally. Last week we enjoyed an incredible date night feast at 17 North Roadside Kitchen  which serves all local food and they know how to serve it up right! 
Do you see my pork chop? That's the small size portion, y'all!
And the local shopping has been a blast, too. The kids are in love with our local farm store at Boone Hall. It may be the free samples of fresh ground peanut butter. Or the fact that I don't have to strap them into those giant car carts that I hate to maneuver down the aisles.
Sure, I'll get a bunch of apples to hide the chocolate truffle at the bottom of the bag. Genius! 
Picking our own strawberries at Boone Hall
And what does an all local dinner plate look like? Well, this is what we had tonight:
New York Strip from McCutchen Farms topped with shiitake mushrooms from Mepkin Abbey, asparagus & collard greens from Boone Hall Farms, potatoes from Thornhill Farms, with a side of sourdough bread from Normandy Farms Bakery topped with pimento cheese made in-house at Kitchen Table Cuisine. And all the herbs I used to season the food were from our own backyard.

So what will our grocery list look like after the Eat Local Challenge ends in April? I'm thinking we will be working a lot of these things into our budget on a permanent basis to help improve our overall health. And showing our kids that the food we eat can come from right down the street instead of the produce section at the big-box grocery store may just set something in motion. Good habits start young. 

So who wants to join us in this challenge? You can register here and print out this scorecard to help you come up with goals and keep track of them. 

We're having a blast! And I feel better than I have in a LONG time. My joints aren't inflamed and I have more energy than I've had since before I had kids. My long term goal is to get off my super-crazy once-a-week-injected, possibly cancer-causing medication. With the assistance of my doctor, of course. But for the first time in years I see a light at the end of that tunnel. I see it as a possibility. And that's a straight from above miracle right there. Can I get a A-men?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Worthy Giveaway

The other night at work (I work part-time at Barnes & Noble in case you didn't know), I was checking out a cute little girl who seemed extremely excited to be getting a stack of books. It was the normal assortment. A Barbie-themed I Can Read Aloud book, a Disney princess coloring book, and a Rainbow Fairies chapter book. When I made the comment that she had a whole weekend's worth of reading ahead of her, she told me it was a very special weekend. I then asked if it was her birthday. And her mom chimed in that it was even more special than a birthday. The mom beamed with joy and said "Six years ago today she was adopted by us. So we are celebrating!" Then I looked at the girl who way equally as joyful and told her, "Happy Adoption Day!" After talking to them a bit more I found out this precious princess had been adopted from China. I was struck and immediately told them about my friends Jessica and Travis who are going through the adoption process as well!

After they left I started to imagine what it will be like for Jessica and Travis to have their very own 'Adoption Day'. When biological parents are pregnant they know almost from day 1 about when they will get to see their baby. If you've ever been pregnant yourself you know it's usually the first question people ask, "So, when are you due?" (And let's just hope that you are full-on belly-busting-out-kind-of-pregnant before someone has the courage to ask you this question.) And without a doubt you can tell them an exact date. April 3rd, September 7th, December 1st. Whatever day it might be, you know that around that time you will be greeting and meeting and snuggling and loving on the newest addition to your family.

But when you're going through adoption, you don't have that luxury of being able to circle the date on your calendar, or answer that question with any degree of certainty, or tell your friends how many weeks left until you welcome a new life into your family. There is paperwork to file and grants to apply for and fingerprints to give (yes, fingerprints!), and backgrounds checks, and money to raise and fees to pay. But it's all being done in faith that somewhere in the world there is a child who needs a mommy and a daddy to love on her and care for her and snuggle her and kiss on her like only Jessica and Travis can. And they will have that day! Their own Adoption Day! And I'm sure it will be a celebratory occasion each and every year. And I can't wait to meet their little girl and watch her light up with joy and tell me that day was even more special than a birthday.

But before that joyous day arrives, Jessica and Travis need our support. First, they needs prayer throughout this whole process. So if you are a prayer warrior please lift them up and pray for each step of this process. To follow along with their story please subscribe to her blog so you know what to pray for.

Click here to go to the blog
Secondly, they need to raise funds. They have a goal of raising $2500 by May 12th (the day before Mother's day!) and they need our help. Jessica is so crafty in coming up with awesome fundraising ideas. This month they are doing a giveaway and there are lots of ways to enter. Please check out her latest post (and yes, an American Girl doll is involved!!)

Please prayerfully consider how you can best help The Carpenters. There is a child out there who needs to come home to a joy-filled, loving, nurturing, expectant mom and dad. And YOU can help make that happen.

'Learn to do good.Seek justice.Help the oppressed.

 Defend the cause of orphans.' Isaiah 1:17

Friday, April 6, 2012


Ahhhh, spring!! It abounds with newness! Birds sitting on egg-filled nests, flower buds swollen with the promise of vibrant blooms, even the insects seem to to have descended upon us with a smile on their multi-eyed faces. And the eight-or-more-legged crowd seems to be fruitful and multiplying as well.

This past weekend we attended a birthday party at a county park. The kids had a great time and were playing well with all their friends. But at one point my daughter alerted me to the fact that there was a spider under the see-saw, teeter-totter, whatever it's call.
My little insect detective
My natural inclination is to tell her to leave it alone. Spiders are our friends. They eat mosquitoes and annoying bugs. I am actually unlike most 'girls' in the fact that I like spiders. Yes, that's right. I like spiders. For the reasons that I mentioned, but also because I find them fascinating. We have a backyard with lots of trees and every spring we see an abundance of golden silk spiders (or banana spiders as some may call them.) Before I had children I would work outside in the yard and watch these spiders throughout the season. The large female spiders reach 3-4 inches in diameter and are beautiful. One year I watched one through it's whole life cycle. She would spin her large web daily and then sit on her perch in the middle waiting for any food to find it's way into her web and then she would attack it. She would leap down and stun the critter and quickly begin wrapping her golden silky web around it until it was immobile. She would then leave it hanging there until she was hungry so as to not ruin her petite orb-ish figure. I actually was so concerned she didn't have enough to eat that I went and bought crickets at Petsmart and threw them into her web. No kidding. She was kind of our little pet that summer. And when she wove a little egg sac to our siding I couldn't wait to see little baby spiders. And I did get to see them! They jumped right out of that egg sac and flung themselves all over the backyard riding on their tiny yellow silky strands. A few hung out in the web for a few days.
Charlotte with a baby riding piggyback
After she birthed her babies Charlotte climbed back into the trees where she was born to live out the remainder of her days. She was a beautiful creation of God's and it was a privilege to watch her.

So fast forward a few years to that moment this weekend on the playground. I looked under the see saw where my children had been playing and saw this:
I see you!
Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but I was kind of freaking out a bit. It was a brown widow spider momma hiding behind 3 spiky egg sacs in her web. I knew she was a brown widow, because that same summer I loved watched Charlotte I also eradicated many other poisonous spiders after I googled them to find out what they were, kind of a spider genocide, but poisonous venom is a deal breaker for me. Also, I knew she was protecting her little babies so she would be defensive. But guess what? I was protecting my little babies, too. So I cleared the kids out of the area and got a stick for my weapon of choice. I scraped her off and she was fast and furious running around on the stick so I threw the stick into the woods. (Or so I thought) I got the egg sacs and stepped on them. I was kind of proud of myself, Supermom, for saving the day. Go ahead kids. Play on. Supermom saved the day.

So... after I got home that afternoon I noticed a strange bug bite on my shoulder. Kind of like a mosquito bite, but with 2 bumps in the middle instead of one. Great, I knew what that meant. Spider bite. I guess she had the last laugh after all. The next several days my muscles had a inflammatory response to the bite. First my shoulder, then my elbow, then my neck. It's really a bummer that my body always fights back with inflammation instead of super powers. I guess when Peter Parker talked about his spider sense tingling he probably wasn't talking about a burning, radiating pain down his arm. Finally I went to the doctor and started some antibiotics and the bite is just about healed. But I am sharing this with you so that you know to be careful and look under playground equipment to see what lurks out there! And most importantly- get one of the big, strong dads at the birthday party to go spider wrangling!

My days of being fascinated by spiders have come to an abrupt halt (I hear my mom cheering!) Charlotte and I will always have the summer of '05, but now I am the protective, defensive momma and spiders better watch out! Instead of eating bon bons and watching soap operas in their web all day, they should keep just one of their many eyes looking out for me! Because I do walk softly and carry a big stick... covered in Raid.