That is only one self in my home. That self represents one tiny fraction of the rest of my home. Sadly, most of my house looks like this. Nearly every surface is stacked with stuff…lots & lots of stuff. Hubs & I are pack-rats, stackers, borderline hoarders. And the worst part about it all is that all of it has sentimental value. We’ve been married for four and a half years and have moved to five different homes already. Every move has entailed ditching some junk; cartloads of it! We keep giving stuff away, throwing stuff away…but we still wind up with selves filled with knick-knacks of memories & special meaning. He has lots of things from his mother & grandmother that he can’t part with because they are from Latvia. I mostly have dolls & books from my childhood. All of it is “still good” but we know deep down that we just can’t keep it anymore, and that alone is stressful. Our last move has placed us in the largest space so far, and naturally it is the most cluttered. We are now in a three bedroom with full attic, basement and garage, and yet we are bursting at the seams with sentimental junk. We’ve discussed hiring a personal organizer to help us clean up our house for good, but we really can’t afford it. We’ve pondered purchasing large bins & basement shelving, but we know it won’t really solve the problem. So what DO we do with all this stuff? Certainly we can’t display it all. Certainly we can’t keep it all. I have come up with an idea. I plan on taking pictures of the stuff & finding out everything I possibly can about it like where it came from, who passed it down & why it’s special to the family. Then, I’ll write a story to go along with pictures to archive in albums. The items that just *can’t* be gotten rid of can be displayed & everything else can be sold, given away or otherwise gotten rid of. I know it will be hard for us, and I know it won’t happen overnight. But we are still young; our kids are still young, and there is a lot more stuff coming our way in the years ahead, so we need to make room for it now before we become over run with sentimentality & drown in our memories.
Women can be jerks. They can say some of the most hurtful things to each other & then wrap it all up in a sugary, fake smile. And what are women most intimidated by? Other women. Now, in a way I can understand some of this hostility when it comes to competition for dates or jobs…but outside of that, I just don’t get it. Why are women at odds with each other; judging, competing, and intimidating each other?
I’m a bit of a plain jane. I am void of fashion & style. I’ve never been into the whole hair & make-up thing. Even when I had a paying job or, before babies, went to bars I cared more about how I felt than how I looked. Please don’t take my “I don’t care” attitude toward make up & high heels as laziness; it’s just that it’s not important to me & I have a lot of important stuff going on. I’ve had very long hair for most of my life because I always felt that a pony tail was the easiest thing to do with it. But, after the birth of my 3rd child, I decided to chop it all off. I cut it short short–like a boy. At first I really liked it, but after the post-partum shed was over I started longing for my locks again. So, I stopped trimming my hair & just let it grow.
Yup. I’m at that awkward shaggy stage. Nope, it’s not pretty. But unflattering hair is just one of those things that you have have to go through when growing out a pixie cut. And besides, who exactly do I have to impress anyway?
Well, apparently my female “friends”, that’s who. I’ve endured snarky comments about my weight, my clothes, my lack of make-up, and now my hair. I get it ladies!! I’m not a glamorous super model; heck, I’m not even picture perfect. But you know what, despite your ugly remarks thinly veiled by false friendship, I am still confident in myself. You are seeing the me, the real me. Call me ugly if that’s what makes you feel prettier, but at least I have the guts to be real.
I saw the preview in the theaters for Life of Pi. It looked amazing. I read an amazing book, The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccomatios, and the back cover said that it was the same author as Life of Pi. Then I started seeing it pop up on my news feed on Facebook. Ok. I HAD to read this one!
Despite some poor reviews online, I ordered the book & dove right in. As always, I felt compelled to read the book before I watched the movie. I have learned that movies & novels are not always telling the same story…and I’m lazy so if I don’t read the book first, chances are I’ll find excuses to never get to it. And in this case, I am so glad I read the book first. While the novel & movie tell pretty much the same story, there are huge differences. There are just some things that can’t be portrayed on film, just as some things can’t be seen in print.
The novel was phenomenal! While some people found the beginning slow & dry, I was enraptured by it. It sets the whole foundation & inner strength for the main character. While I myself am not a religious person, I found this teenagers’ grit, steadfastness, and faith as a true inspiration. Despite adversary, he could stay true to what truly mattered to him.
Pi’s time at sea was long…227 days long. He should have died. The reader (or viewer) isn’t thrown for a loop or ever really fears for Pi’s demise because he’s the one telling the story, so we know he lives through it. Both the novel & movie show how he makes it 227 days without being eaten by the tiger he shares his lifeboat with. Both show that he starves; that he cries; that he survives. Yet the stories just don’t compare. The movie brags with it’s cinematic talents that the book cannot. The movie illustrates the beauty and mysticism of the sea. The movie is just beautiful & enchanting. Everyone should see this movie.
But the book…oh the book! The book shows the savagery, the mental anguish, the desperate cling to humanity that the movie just doesn’t touch. The book illustrates the intense parallels between reality and imagination…and then it gloriously blurs the lines. The book, once you’ve finished the last page, forces you to think back on everything you’ve just read. You spend the rest of the day thinking about it. You’re left in shock…horror…and awe. Everyone should read this book.
Tell me, do you have a preference–book or movie?
As a mother to two toddler boys, I spend a lot of time thinking of ways to get more vegetables in their diets. Thankfully I am one of those few lucky moms who doesn’t have picky eaters, so getting them to eat at least *some* of their greens isn’t so bad. Still, toddlers are toddlers & are notorious for not consuming enough of the good stuff.
I seem to always have a baby around, so I am always making & freezing baby food. I use the silicone portion tray that came with my Baby Bullet to freeze large batches of veggies, then store what I call “pods” in freezer bags. These frozen portions of veggie mush are the main ingredient in a lot of things. I toss a few into bread dough, soups, sauces, oatmeal, cookie dough….basically everything I make gets an extra dose of pureed vegetable goodness. It is suprisingly easy to hide all sorts of vegetables in all kinds of dishes.
I make a lot of things in bulk & store in the freezer. It’s just easier to have several loaves of bread, many servings of pre-made chicken nuggets, and tons of frozen waffles on hand for those last minute dietary changes that toddlers so often make. One of my favorite things to make in bulk is waffles & I have finally come up with the perfect, healthy recipe! We top ours with things like local honey, peanut butter or hazelnut spread, or even fruit preserves. I am proud to serve these for breakfast!
Spinach & Sweet Potato Oat-Waffles *note: this recipe is doubled
3 cups flour 2 cups quick oats
6 tspn baking powder 2 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn salt 4 eggs
2 cups milk 3/4 cup melted butter
4 tbspn brown sugar 1/2 cup pureed spinach, not drained
1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1. In a large bowl or mixer, combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. In another bowl wisk together eggs, milk, butter, brown sugar, & spinach.
2. Add wet mix to dry mix, then fold in mashed sweet potatoes. Batter will be very lumpy & think. It’s okay.
3. Pour batter into a lightly greased waffle iron. Serve warm. No syrup needed!
I use the waffle iron from Baby Cakes that shapes them into sticks. This is just PERFECT for toddlers because the portions are small & you don’t have to deal with fights about cutting them. They are also super convenient for Hubs to eat in the car on his way to work if he sleeps in a bit.
I make sure that I let my waffles cool & freeze in single layers before I transfer them to freezer bags. I can put this whole recipe into a gallon size bag when they are in “stick shape”. We reheat them by throwing them in the toaster oven for a cycle on the “toast” function.
I have made several variations to this recipe, though this seems to be my family’s favorite version.
Sweetener:I have used all honey, all molasses, all maple syrup as well as various combos of the sweeteners. They all work just as well…it’s a personal preference to use brown sugar.
Butter: I have used oil in place of butter. Works fine, but isn’t as delicious.
Veggies: I’ve used all sorts of different veggies including carrots, beets, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower. It doesn’t really seem to matter what is used just as long as your proportions are right for the mix. If you use a different veggie that doesn’t have as much liquid as the spinach, you might have to add a little bit of water. We’ve loved them all!
All Star athlete, theater nerd, poet, bully, teacher’s pet, girlfriend, big sister, honor roll student, victim, prom queen, warrior… Oh, how high school was filled with so many cliques & labels!
Runner, writer, baker, reader, gardener… It goes on.
Labels can be tough because they don’t necessarily define a true individual. Sometimes those labels need further defining. That last one is especially tough. Everyone wants to be a good mom, but what is a good mom these days?
The Internet is a fabulous place to connect with like minded folks, share ideas, spread philosophies. There are tons of mom & parenting groups to help with parenting and where women can swap mom stories as well as shame & ridicule. I have joined an awful lot of them in the last four years, but have never really found one to truly fit me. I have found that they can be just as cliquish as high school & feel myself being ignored or even shunned within them. They were also making me feel guilty, insecure, and inadequate as a mother.
I wasted an entire day mulling this over. How could these women, whom I’d never met, cause me to feel this way? By examining the posts & what these groups stood for, I was easily able to determine what kind of mother I am not.
I am not a dedicated ECer (“elimination communication” or early infant toilet training). I was with my 1st, busy with my 2nd, and can’t be bothered with my 3rd.
I am not that into co-sleeping. Once the babes are sleeping through the night, they get their own beds. No family bed here.
I am not a peaceful parent. I yell sometimes. I spank sometimes.
I am not a permissible parent. I am not an abusive parent.
I am not a crunchy mom. I am not a soccer mom.
I do not use only cloth diapers. I do not homeschool. I don’t follow the recommended infant feeding guidelines. I don’t even always buy organic or hormone free food. I don’t let my kids break the rules, no matter how small. I don’t always step in on a sibling squabble.
I let my kids cry sometimes. I let my kids play unsupervised sometimes. I push my kids to do chores. I push my kids academically.
What is wrong with me?!
After an afternoon of feeling like crap about myself, I figured something out. I am not a monster mom. I realized that I would never fit the criteria or mold for any specific brand of mom, as I’m sure no one does. The more I thought about it, the less I cared how others parented, and even more importantly, the less I cared how they perceived my parenting. I do what I do because it is what’s best for my family & I don’t need to justify any of it to anyone other than my husband & my children.
Just like the end of high school, I graciously bowed out of these cliques and deleted my mom groups. It was liberating. When I stopped comparing myself to everyone else, I saw that I was actually doing alright. My kids are happy, healthy, and smart. And there is no need to pigeon hole myself in any particular group. I realized that the monster mom was the one that didn’t focus on her own, that judged others, and tried to follow a model rather than go by instinct & do what was necessary. Good parenting comes from within; we know how to be good moms naturally because we all have children who have different needs. But trying to be popular about it will always get in the way of doing what’s right for the family. Seeking that validation & definition from others was keeping me from focusing on actually being a parent & that was my greatest flaw.
- Can I Be A Renaissance Mom? (iloveyoumorethancarrots.com)
I am thankful that this is the final post for the 30 Days of Thanks. Some nights it was a bit tough to get into writing, which I’m sure is more than obvious in many of the posts. Some nights were at the end of such a hectic day that it was a bit tough just thinking of something that I was thankful for, let alone staying up long enough to write about it. But I am very glad that I stuck it out. I’m very glad that I took on the project because it forced me to write something, anything, and just like anything else, practice makes perfect. Not only has this project forced me to write a little each day, but it has also forced me into thinking positively. It’s so much easier to come up with something I dislike every day; there’s so much to complain about in this world that being positive can be a chore. I’m sure, though it may be tough, I could keep doing this. And I just might (in my own personal journal that is). After doing the 30 Days, I feel better about a lot of things. There is so much good in my life!
I am thankful for all the help that has been extended to my family recently. There has been an awful lot of craziness; new baby, house remodeling, a ridiculous number of doctor’s visits….and the juggling of three kids under four years can be dizzying. I needed an MRI the other day & a friend readily offered to drive through snow & slush to come & watch my kids. My father spends the whole day in a chilly house putting up drywall in my future bathroom. Hubs & I truly appreciate the help, but we also appreciate the readiness with which friends & relatives offer their help. It is very touching & we feel loved.
I also am thankful for my kids’ help. They seem to have really caught on to all the hecticness that’s been going on & are offering their little hands in assistance. They have been offering to help left & right; making their own beds, boxing up their own toys, and even attempting to wash their own dishes. Their want to help move things along is very sweet.
To everyone who has helped us out, even in the smallest way, THANK YOU!