Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Natural Remedy

Sometimes, the "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" adage is for me. My children bicker and pester and whine (as all children do), but I'm the one who needs to put on my noise-reducing head phones, listen to uplifting music, and go about my day saying as little as possible.

Today, I think I need to break a sweat too.

Turns out, I do this faithfully once a month for about a week.

Which reminds me, I have a theory.

Waiting with bated breath for another installation of Mommy Theology, are you?  If so, it's your lucky day. 

What if the junk that is common to human kind has natural remedy?  Garlic can rid the body of parasites and bacteria (and keep vampires at bay too, I hear).  Grapefruit seed extract is a personal favorite for all manner of things.  Lavender is another miracle of God's creation.  So it would only make sense to me that the remedy for some of the other junk we deal with - insomnia, anger, depression, PMS/PMDD, etc... - has a natural remedy too.

I think the remedy is a weed.

Finally, a Goody Two-Shoes who advocates smoking pot.  

Um, no.

Literally, weeds... that grow in the garden, threaten beauty, endanger nature's bounty.  You know, weeds.

Don't you think that God knew what He was doing when He cursed Adam to toil the earth?  Sin, evil, disappointment, disease, and separation from God entered our realm that day. To cope with all of the stress associated with The Fall, we have the privilege of working hard for our food.  Taking it one step further, in a culture where we sit in front of computers all day and cultivate the aisles of our grocery stores instead of the rows in our garden, is it any surprise we have so many "issues"?

What if weeds (literally, those things festering in my garden) are not the actual punishment?  What if the separation is the punishment, and weeds (well, working really really hard to remove them) are the built-in coping method?

Deep, huh?  Deeper than those [insert favorite expletive] dandelion roots.
Ironically, even the weeds have useful properties too!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Breaking Plates

rehashing a previous post...

Maybe I'm just a little slow on the uptake. 
Maybe my BS (bachelor of science) didn't actually give me any CS (common sense). 
Maybe my Pottery Barn catalog world just doesn't exist.

I feel overwhelmed a lot of days.  I mean, come on... I have five children five and under.  I've been mistaken for some kind of Supermom.  Please let me dispel that myth once and for all:  Do Supermoms raise their voices?  Hide in the bathroom with the fan on?  Call their husbands in tears two or three times a week?  Have puddles of spilled milk on the floor... from yesterday?  Well, if they do, sure I'll go pick up my Wonderwoman uniform from the cleaner's.   

Spanx don't fail me now.  

I always admire the Mommas who always have clean houses, home cooked meals, pretty blogs, Gap Models for children, and a smile to boot.  I aspire to be like her (she's not a myth, I met her)... I want shiny floors, homemade whole wheat bread, a cupcake blog, children whose shoes are on the right feet, and a shower at least every other day. 

But I don't always get what I want. 

This hit me a while back after I let my son watch Blue's Clues after he got home from preschool.  I told my husband because I was so excited by this revelation:

When my patience runs short
and my to-do list is long,
my kids can watch TV.
(told you I was slow)

I know many of you have lived by this principle for years.  I, however, am eating my typed words.  I never wanted to be the Mommy who sits my children in front of the television as a way of avoiding them because I don't want to interact with them.  On the contrary, I love my children and I wish I had the energy to keep up.  Instead, I find myself losing it because

 I can't keep that many plates spinning.

Photo credit.

We all have them.  We all have plates we keep spinning. 

Clean floors. *spin* 
Hot meals. *spin*  

Never raise my voice. *spin*
Complete Pinterest projects. *spin*
Homeschool. *spin*

These are not bad plates.  But whose plates are they? And where did they come from?  And let's call these plates what they really are: unrealistic expectations. 

I have a few plates from being an oldest child.  I have a few my mom handed down, others I borrowed from my mother in law, a few more from girlfriends, and I just picked up a couple more from that lady with seven kids at church who homeschools and has it all together and even looks cool. 

I stopped spinning my "no TV" plate and it hit the floor and shattered.  Now, my kids watch TV three or four times a week.  Sometimes, I nap while they watch the Man with the Yellow Hat... you know, the negligent one with the mischievous primate.

And that's okay.  I am letting go of unrealistic expectations.

I remind myself often that...

  • Studies show that dirt builds immunity.   
  • Meals from a box won't kill anyone.
  • It isn't a sin to be angry.  Be angry but don't sin (Ephesians 4:26).
  • Kids are simple.
  • And don't pick up everyone elses' plates.  

Here's what I've found about myself... when my unrealistic expectations aren't reality, I'm disappointed.  When I'm disappointed, I get mad.  When I get mad, I get loud.  And I don't want my children to be afraid me.  I also know that God hasn't given me a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).  If having trouble spinning plates is messing with my peace, God probably didn't give me those plates to begin with.

His yoke is easy.  His burden is light.  
Matthew 11:30

So let me say it again... If keeping up with [unrealistic] expectations is causing strife, it isn't what God expects. 
Besides, God didn't send His Son to die for a plate-spinning circus seal to entertain Him.  I'm a dearly loved, adopted daughter.  I guess that means I can stop performing (and teaching my children to perform) all together.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Letters from the Armory

It must be a rough day at our house if I liken motherhood to a battle. And while many of my days are spent battling Chaos, I'm not talking about those losing battles in the ongoing war of Order with 5 - 5 and under.  While many of my days are spent battling Grime in my 100 year old house, I'm not talking about the dust bunnies that have retreated under my couch to strengthen their numbers and attack my (almost) crawler another day.  I'm not referring to the Battle of Wills or dirty diapers, I'm referring to the battle against the forces of darkness.

"Oh, you're just being melodramatic."

Am I?

We live in a world that values nothing less than children.  As Rachel Jankovic observed:

Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything.
When I agree with what God says: children are a blessing, I am bucking the system.  I am challenging convention.  I am looking my enemy square in the eyes and saying: you're wrong.   

When I do that, I am starting a battle.  Them's fightin' words. 

And when I am the aggressor and my opponent has nothing to lose, my opponent will fight harder.

Wouldn't it stand to reason that if I value what God values, The Enemy hates it even more?  So what's going to happen?  I am going to come under heavy fire.  My enemy is going to pull out every stop.

As Mothers, so many of us deal with depression, fear, doubt, anxiety, money problems, ridicule, lack of support, unfaithful husbands, and so on.  Why are Moms facing all of this?  Our biggest problem should be what's for dinner and keeping snotty noses wiped.  We're some of the hardest working members of society under "normal" circumstances, but I think we face more than our fair share because we're dangerous.

We are our enemy's worst nightmare because we are responsible for the honing of weapons... arrows.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.  Blessed is the [Mommy] who fills [her] quiver with them! [She] shall not be put to shame when [she] speaks with [her] enemies in the gate.  Psalm 127: 4-5

Arrows aren't cute little accessories. 

Our children (cute as they may be) have a role in God's kingdom and my role, as a Mom, is to help them find their role and equip them to do it well. 

Once those arrows, my children, are released with precision, they will pierce the darkness.  They will bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, and comfort all who mourn.  

It might look like I'm washing plastic plates and folding tiny tshirts, but I'm working in the armory getting ready for battle.    

Photo credit.

So I'm changing my blog title (again).  The content will stay the same: funny stories, stories of God's faithfulness, frugal stuff, and more.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

'Tis the Season

I am too cheap for Goodwill unless it's on sale (love me some $1.29 days). I'm too cheap for resale or consignment (unless I've turned stuff in for store credit). I am even cheap at garage sales! 
I really like Garage Sale Season!
For example: if you're selling a DVD movie for $2 and a mixed bag of plastic Easter eggs for $0.50, I'm going to offer you $2. If you tell me they're from two different families, I'll still give you $2 and tell you to duke it out as I make a swift getaway (true story). 
So... I made out like a bandit today! 
For Seth...
2 swim trunks
2 t shirts
1 dress shirt
2 jeans
2 Zip off pants
1 pair of pjs
1 pair of Teva sandals (Joel's... where are all of Seth's!?!?!)
For the Girls...
4 dresses (one of which is Gymboree)
4 pjs
1 sandals
1 jeggings
7 plates
1 fry daddy
7 My Little Ponies
1 tie rack
1 garden kneeling pad
1 changing pad
2 books
1 box of breastmilk storage bags
All of that for... (you probably won't believe me) $22.
How I do it:
I'm a planner. I scour craigslist, make a list, then make a map of sales I want to hit.
I take the kids and roll down the windows.  They wait *patiently* while I shop. 
I pass out snacks for the kids and let them watch Netflix on my phone (thank you Verizon for unlimited data... I was grandfathered in). 
I ration water thereby avoiding an early pit stop.
I make a planned pit stop!  It doesn't make sense to me to save all of that money on clothes and shoes only to get gouged on fast food faire and coffee. I like parks with restrooms or Fred Meyer's childcare and I take my travel mug (hence the planned pit stop).  Besides, Samuel still needs my undivided attention eventually.
I buy multiple items and round the prices down.  Most people take my offer or give me *seemingly* legitimate reasons why they can't (like: "it's the neighbor's I don't have negotiating power").  If it's a kid sale, I might haggle (for learning purposes) and then donate the difference to their cause (usually, kids are raising money for camp or charity or something).
I have been known to walk away. Yes, I want and could probably legitimately say "need" a 4 slice Krups toaster, but $15 would've blown my budget.  I'll wait.  
I like neighborhood sales where I can hit 10 sales in a 1/4 mile.
I always look through the FREE box... matchbox cars, tie racks, breastmilk storage bags, Easter egg dye... you'd be surprised what people think has no value. 
Prices I like to pay...
Kid shirts and shorts $0.50
Kid pants, shoes, and pjs $1
Adult shirts and shorts $1
Adult pants $2
Generally, I like to pay 90% off retail
Keep in mind, they're going to give it to Goodwill or a friend if you don't buy it, your quarter makes them happy.
And just so you know, if you're selling me something, do not under any circumstance say the price like a question, "it's $2?"  If I smell blood in the water, I'm offering you way less!
Today, my pit stop was a huge score too! 
Grocery store...
2 gallons of milk - clearance for $1.50 ea
3 lbs of 93/7 ground beef - clearance for $5.67
18 oz chicken italian sausage - clearance for 1.87 less 55 cent peelie
2 - 6 packs dahlias @ $3ea
5 books (free - Skippyjon Jones was there in the plush - Jenna hugged him)
4 water bottles (free)
4 bicycle helmets (free)
6 chocolate samples (2 of each: dark, milk, caramel she said it was okay! 3 for me and 3 for Kyle if he gets home at a reasonable hour and I don't eat them and destroy the evidence)
8 sunscreen samples (don't tell someone like me "take as many as you like"...I have 5 kids)
5 cookies
and live music
Total: 47 cents (and 2 - $3 catalinas, 2 - $4 catalinas, and 2 - 0.99 catalinas)
AND (I love this) they have a family restroom and a coffee shop with a corner table for Samuel to receive nourishment.  
A word of caution: buyer beware!  Always have a plan for items that don't work, don't fit, or have unnoticed stains.  Give them away, sell them, whatever.  If you negotiate, you won't be terribly disappointed if your $0.50 shirt has a stain on it.
Personally, once I know I can get things this cheap, I am more likely to wait on something. I've wanted a Fry Daddy for ages, but I wasn't willing to pay retail prices - glad I didn't, got it today for $3.  Have patience, Young Grasshopper, you will find what you're looking for.  Wii Resort, I know you're out there somewhere.
And to the two rude ladies, both of whom got to what I wanted seconds before I did. You two, who arrogantly rubbed my nose in it ("should've gotten here sooner" and "gotta move faster"), I'm happy for you... but you're not very nice.   One of you in particular, forgive me for giving you the stink eye as we apparently followed one another all over town all day giving me ample time to forgive you. I'm okay now, and I forgive you... 9 hours later.