Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. ~ Margaret D. Nadald
Our Father also gifted us with the nature to nurture, keen sensitivity to the Spirit, selflessness, discernment, and heroic faith. No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord's secret weapon. ~ Sheri Dew
You know how I have some strong/"strange" thoughts on food? Well Misfitcygnet not only put them into words for me, but she added in resources! Do I love her? Why yes, yes I do. Go, read, now... you'll thank me later! http://www.misfitcygnet.com/
My son, who just turned 5 in June, has been telling me lately things like "Mom, I just love Jesus," followed by reasons why he does. I literally have been praying that he will always feel this way. He's making connections about everything lately, which has been wonderful... although, always makes you think twice about what you're doing because he notices EVERYTHING... and today's moment that made me smile was with the scriptures.
My kids have built and rearrange things in the backyard to their hearts desires, and I just don't ask questions :-) (Perhaps I shouldn't allow the 8 cement pavers going up a 2x4 in the small and only tree in the yard.... but it's so fun to see them be so creative!) Anyway, I was making lunch this afternoon and my son comes in with a long stick to which he'd fashioned a yoyo and tells me, "Mom, I'm just like the guy in the scriptures! I go out and get things for my family, and I broke my bow, but that's okay, I'll make another one!" So I replied, "You make a great Nephi!" And he tells me, "That's right, I'm Nephi, from the scriptures. I just love the scriptures, I love learning all about them!" I thought this was especially great since we've been reading in Alma lately, which doesn't so much as even reference this incident.
Am I beaming yet?? They really do listen, don't kid yourself. Even my 2 year old walks around singing songs in Latin thanks to Song School Latin. These little sponges are just SOAKING everything in, and to have my older sons focus and connections be all about the gospel? What a thankful heart I have right now!
Not really ranting here, so don't worry... just confused.
For starters, a couple weeks ago a man from my husband's squadron came by to put together my kids bunk beds. My husband has been gone since April and this guy got here in July, so we've never met and he knows nothing about us.... and in 2 minutes I was reminded so clearly why I don't get out much. The dialogue went something like this:
Him: So, are you making a list of things for your husband to do when he gets home?
Me: Nope, you and my parents (they had planned a quick trip to help me situate things) are getting all the stuff I need finished!
Him: No, I mean your list of things he has to do to make up for being gone and leaving you with the kids.
Me: I'll just be happy to have him home.
Him: Well I know, but he should like have to do all the diapers, cleaning, and take over so you can go on vacation for a few weeks.
What's sad is that this guy is married and has a couple kids... I'm pretty sure that I can guess what happens around his place after he gets home from an assignment! Unfortunately, I hear these types of statements a lot. What's confusing to me is why I should "punish" my husband for being away doing his job. He's been in the military for 9 years, this isn't anything new, I know what I signed up for, and his job provides for our family and I get to not only stay home but get supported in any and every endeavor my little heart and crazy head comes up with. Plus, despite insane days when everyone starts the day screaming and crying and mom's brain is about to explode... like today!... it's a privilege to raise my children and having my husband literally by my side while I do it is a way better gift then leaving everyone so I can go be alone. Keeping score makes me sick. I'm in a partnership with my husband and we each have our roles in our family that are supported regardless of geography.
My second item of confusion stems from a bit of frustration over time. I know I do stuff! However, today as I've been making baby food, shampooing couches, sweeping my patio, and striving to finish moving in before my husband gets home... almost in vain so it seems... I was finding myself annoyed that no one taught me how to keep a home! Sure I can clean everything and make it sparkly, but not in an entirety like I want. While I know some of you out there don't care for books like Laddie *cough* my mind rushed back to the description of their home and how they functioned as a family. The mom in that story had her stuff together! Yes, it's a story, but women before our time for the most part really had their stuff together (and yes, June Cleaver is my hero!) What happened! I'm getting rid of "things" in my home because clutter makes me nervous, but I SO don't have my act together! Once upon a time I'd like to say that at least my living room and kitchen were presentable even with a gaggle of small kids, but nowadays it goes from lovely to disaster in 2.5 seconds flat, and always minutes later someone shows up unexpectedly at the door! People see me as a strong, confident person, who's rarely shaken.... all it takes is my home in visual chaos and I'm a wreck! (Now you know my kryptonite :-D). Anyway, so I'm confused as to why I can't keep up with things the way I want. Yes, my kids help out. Yes, I'm taking the time to teach them what to do. Yes, they're little and it's okay to have messes... yah, that phrase still causes me to cringe/convulse when applied to my home... so not acceptable! Women before our time had way more back breaking labor (like more than take the clothes to the washer, add soap and push the button), and yet they not only had the pride of running their home but they stayed on top of it in ways that I've yet to master AND accomplished a lot more tasks. What gives??
So, I wrote this post yesterday but made it publish today so ya'll would think that I'm a better blogger than I actually am, but I'm so excited with my experiment that I have to take a minute and write an update!
As last night was quickly approaching I was getting kind of nervous about my new endeavor. After all, there was so much that I had to do! (As if that's different from any other day?) But I decided that I was going to do this, so that was it, it must be at least attempted! My kids had a late night on Friday talking to dad, were up early Saturday, and didn't take quiet time, so they all crashed around 5:30. There was still some light coming into their room so I was able to read scriptures to them without too much eye strain and without having to light a candle. Then my evening really began:
Knowing that I had only so many daylight hours proved to be a HUGE blessing to me! I absolutely recommend you give this experiment a try in your own home. It's amazing how your priorities and desires get a good shake down when there's literally a tangible deterrent to trying to run faster than you should. For me, I knew that I had to make laundry soap. So, to avoid having to do that by candlelight, which would be doable but not ideal, I had to not waste any daylight and get right to it! I didn't have the greatest visibility because my kitchen gets darker before the rest of the house, but I got it finished and had a greater sense of accomplishment then I ever had before. From there I looked at my clothes drying racks that I really wanted to put together, but then I had to tell myself that in order to do that I would be taking time away from getting my candles situated and night lights in before dark and as I wouldn't be doing laundry today (Sunday) it could wait. After getting all of my new light sources in place I needed to feed the baby who was now awake for some odd reason. Then after getting him to bed I went to my own room, lit some tea lights in little metal lanterns I bought at Ikea a few years ago (I'm sure I never thought at the time I'd be using them like this!), and opened a book of essays by Wallace Stegner on the West. I was so relaxed! And I know why...
I literally thought to myself this morning that there are so many illnesses that could probably be reversed just by more and better sleep. Disagree with me if you will, but as I know there are many mom's reading this who are like me.... how many nights do you/have you stayed up into the wee wee hours of the morning doing something?? Be it household work, reading, a craft project, whatever! There's always something that must be done. I'm am absolutely guilty of this as I can't tell you how many hours of sleep I've foregone in order to get something finished. (Waking up with babies is totally different). Anyway, I know that bodies don't run well on inadequate nutrition and lack of movement and I'm pretty good about humoring those, but I also know that bodies need rest just as well and I'm pretty bad at following that need. There's so much to do after all! The moral of this paragraph? Bodies shut down, get sick, or attack themselves when they're not taken care of correctly, and inadequate sleep (yah, sleep, as in when our bodies get the chance to recuperate?) is absolutely going to take us down that road.
I laid in bed last night ready to sleep hours earlier than ever before. The only reason I didn't do so right away is that I had to wait for it to get a little bit darker so that the chickens would be "ready for bed" and I could go out and shut the door to their coop. From there I came in and was able to just relax and fall asleep! There was no to do list running through my head, there were no options to "go and get one more thing done," it was night and I was ready to retire. This has never happened! I always go to bed with regrets. Last night I had a concrete knowledge that there was nothing I could do until morning and I was able to let everything go! This is why I recommend this experiment for you. I know you're like me. I know there are nights when you're so tired but you find yourself in front of one screen or another telling yourself you're tired, but you spend hours doing what is sometimes kind of useful (reading through inspiring blogs etc.), but you're nowhere near recharged in the morning.... and this vicious cycle continues... and finds ice cream and cookies for companions.... and a favorite show... and a new project.... you know what I'm saying :-).
I've also gained an appreciation for the light that I never had before. There are only so many daylight hours and how you use them absolutely matters when all you have is a meager amount of light after the sun has gone to bed. In only using candle light the idea that God rested on the 7th day came to mind. My eyes have been more open to the fact that we can only do so much, and if God rested, so can I! Not only that, but he wants me to! I need to work harder during the day on needful things, and then retire at night just as the sun/Son retires.
So, the blessing I've found is multiple fold as I've learned to appreciate what I have, to cherish my body's needs, and to ultimately say goodbye to things that didn't need to be in my life because I literally don't have the time for them anymore!
A few things:
-You'll be amazed at how many times you unconsciously want to "flip a switch." I had to get my laundry stuff from the garage (which was pitch black dark) and had to catch myself. Same thing with my laundry room, but what was funny about that particular room is that I could actually see reasonably as it was, but I'm so used to adding even more light that I just automatically reach for the switch. I'll be happy to break that habit and even to see the financial savings from not being so dependent on adding light to places unnecessarily.
-The nightlights I picked up are from Walmart. Here they were about $3.50 for 2 and are a green/blue flat screen surface. They're put out by GE and are called Electroluminescent Night Lights. They were a great find and worked wonderfully! From the package: "This energy-efficient, electroluminescent nightlight operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using just pennies worth of electricity per year! The technology uses a lighting material that is cool to the touch, and there are no bulbs to replace. It provides a bright and uniform light across its entire surface and is easy on the eyes."
-I'm looking into more lighting options. My ultimate desire is to get beeswax... from my research that's the best candle to burn, but I'm still looking into pricing. We looked around the internet a lot last year but again... something about nausea and moving kept us from getting as serious as we wanted to. I LOVE the West Ladies that put out "how to" movies through Franklin Springs Media called "Homestead Blessings." Their candle-making episode inspired us and I highly recommend it! The candles I'll be making this week are soy... I'll look into the toxicity of those. I also want to get kerosene lamps because they give more light, don't melt and I think they'd be great as the winter approaches and we're looking to be up a little bit longer then sunset (within reason of course.) That coupled with the fireplace, some cold nights, reading as a family, hot chocolate, soups, warm baked goods.... are you catching the vision! I'm excited. However, as the husband has been out of town he's not quite so sold on my visions, but he'll get there when he sees it in action! Who wouldn't want a candle lit dinner every night and kids in bed when the sun goes down?
I'm pretty sure that I wrote a quick post one day after I watched No Impact Man, but here's a recap. There is a writer in New York who decided that he'd try to live "no impact" for one year. The rules for all of this were pretty complex, and a lot of what he was able to do was largely because he lived in a large city like New York, but I thought it was compelling. They used bikes for transportation, bought nothing new, turned off their power (6 months in), were only allowed food grow within a certain radius, used cloth diapers, did their clothes washing in the bathtub... you get the idea!
My wonderful husband also watched it later and we "compared notes" afterwards. The one thing that we both thought we'd like to try was not using power after dark (namely lights, cause we do live in the desert and I personally don't know of anyone that sleeps well while they're sweating :-D). Anyway! Something I read yesterday sparked some interest in my mind to revisit this interest of ours. I'm fairly certain that I was reading over at http://beingamotherwhoknows.blogspot.com/ because there's something very satisfying about reading my thoughts come out of someone else's head (if you haven't been over to her site, go, now, don't wait! She is able to form complete sentences unlike moi at the moment, it's worth your time!) Okay, again, anyway, I was reminded of the notion that we have so many more waking hours then our predecessors, often doing a whole lot of nothing if we're really honest with ourselves... sorry catching up on tv and pop culture is considered nothing in my book.... so in that regard electricity isn't so much a blessing. ***However, making bread in my oven for a set period of time at a set heat in the middle of the day with the a/c on is totally okay in my book!***
In trying to find a proper balance between the old and the new I'm going to take the plunge and try to keep lights off after dark. We're thankfully blessed with some large skylights in the living room where we normally are, so that helps during the day, but at night I'm going candle powered (well, probably save Thursday's when colloquium meets here). I bought some taper candles for the dinner table and have a large candle making set that my mom bought me for my birthday last year that I haven't been able to play with yet... something about being ridiculously nauseous and moving, I don't know! So, despite the fact that it would be way more fun to do with the hubby, I'm making a point to make a few candles next week! In the meantime I have a bunch of tea lights in our storage stuff that I'm sure would love some love!
I also purchased some drying racks today for my laundry. I had a wonderful clothesline when we lived in TX, but am not quite so lucky here in NM. While I can run my line across the pillars for my patio, the sun doesn't hit that area at all, so "bleaching" diapers is out. I suppose it'd be good for other things, like darks, but that's a project in and of itself. In the meantime I'm trying to give my dryer a break (as well as my power bill and the wear and tear put on our clothes), and I'm hoping that I have enough energy to keep it going!
So, I'll be reading tonight by the candle light and hoping to calm myself to sleep in good old fashioned Little House on the Prairie style! (With the option of lights in case of emergency). Oh, and to be fair, I picked up some small night lights that stay on and cool for 24hrs that will go in hallways/bathrooms while using minimal power "pennies a year." I figured that'd probably be the best compromise seeing as how I have a bunch of little kids at my house who probably shouldn't be playing with fire or having to light a candle for a nighttime run to the bathroom.
In other "no impact ish-ness," we still cloth diaper, make our own laundry soap, have a garden, have chickens, support organic farms whenever possible, and try to keep driving to a minimum. I would ABSOLUTELY ride a bike everywhere if I could, or a horse, or walk, or... Yah, still dreaming of not having to rely so heavily on "stuff." I don't like the feeling of knowing that "I have to" go get something in order to function. At least my children know where the food comes from and have an understanding of the earth to a certain degree. I think the further we are from nature the less able we are to understand how our specific actions impacts those around us. It's almost like our ability to empathize gets diminished. More on that later!
I took my children on a walk last night around our neighborhood and had a couple "ah hah" moments. Granted, my "ah hah" moments aren't anything new, more like seeing an experience in a different context that relates to something else I've been thinking about, but I felt like it was blog worthy.
I have a 3 year old daughter (4 in a couple weeks), who has, with all the persistence in the world and on her own prompting, learned to ride her brother's bike. She decided to take said bike on our walk last night, and while I tried to sway her into taking her scooter, ultimately the bike came (even after she had a couple nasty spills close to our home just minutes before leaving). I tell you this because I observed some interesting things as I watched my two older children but especially her. Collectively, I watched them sway, I watched a few more pretty bad falls, and I watched them go in directions that they thought were right, but were ultimately wrong because they didn't know the way we were going.
After my daughter fell hard twice within about 10 feet (still surprisingly getting back on without any prompting from me but crying a little and a bit scraped up), I asked her where she was looking. What wasn't surprising was her answer, "I was looking at the street." Well, I'm sure you know where this is going, she was consistently falling into the street. And whenever each of my children swayed or veered off course it was because something had caught their eye and they no longer were looking forward.
I love the picture at the top here.... while I don't think they're considered a gaggle since they're ducks, it shows exactly how I feel about my "gaggle" and often how we look when out in public! Anyway, the best advice I gave my daughter last night was to look at her brother. He was in front of her, and as long as she was looking at him and not at the silly middle school kids running amuck and being goofey, or in the street, she stayed right on track. Interestingly enough, I also noticed that when my older son would look back at me he would start running off the sidewalk as well. From this it reminded me that we always have to be moving forward. We have to leave the past in the past, and keep our eyes focused ahead or else we aren't going to make it!
My last little thought came from my two sons that I pushed in the stroller who were watching my older children. Every move that the older kids made was observed and cataloged by them!
I know we were just out for a little evening exercise/fun, but what I came back with were life lessons. My little ones are absolutely looking to my older children for cues on how to act and where to go... and my older children, without a focus, will head into pathways that will be hard and painful... which ultimately will be unfulfilling because they won't be where they want to be in the end (how's that for a run-on sentence?).
So, where are we looking? Are we following our older brother and learning how to walk straight down the road? Are we consciously choosing to look at and take in the things around us even though we know that the only outcome is falling? And who is following us?
Well fans... and those I've lost from my lack of posting :-). Here's the inevitable "I'm sorry for not writing, I will try to do better." Honestly, I have wanted to write, there's so much on my mind! I'm just suffering from the lack of hours in the day and too few braincells in my head. Life is somewhat getting back to normal with the newest addition being 6 months now and sleeping through the night, but getting here without a spouse and with 3 other children under 5, hasn't been without its challenges. Needless to say I've been behind in every facet of my life and am doing my best to crawl to the top of my game again... which is where I hope to be when hubby comes home next month so I can be there 100% for him as he transitions back into family life.
Anyway! A few quick thoughts/updates then I have to prepare the house for tonight's colloquium... more on that later! My mind has been so full of thoughts on parenting, motherhood, and self improvement that I can hardly unravel all of the things that are on my mind. Hopefully time and taking the opportunity to write here will help iron them all out sooner or later and perhaps help you as well.
As for my goals that I have had since I was a consistent blogger: I ran the 5k I had signed up for in 33 minutes, and then completed my very first triathlon in under 2 hours. I'm an addict now! It doesn't hurt that it's also gotten me in great shape and that I weigh less now then when I got pregnant last year! I'm planning to do another one in December and am sending out my training plan to others in my area. Should be fun!
I also was asked to join a Ragnar Relay team and there was one extra slot left after me, so guess who's husband has agreed to take on a physically grueling challenge with his crazy wife?? I LOVE MY HUSBAND! He can literally run circles around me and despite being deployed still runs at least 5 or more miles everyday, but that he's willing to train for this relay with me is pure love! The race is with a 12 person team that covers 202 miles from Prescott, AZ to Mesa, AZ. Oh, and there's only two women and we refuse to be the weakest links, so I have to up my game for that too! Just as a side note, you may want to pray for our next child because his/her mom is determined to run this race at the end of Feb even if she's pregnant... so they may want to hold off coming until after the race or else be prepared for a bumpy first trimester!
So, as for everything else that's been on my mind... that's more tricky! I've been a big proponent of womanhood, and the joys of being a wife and mother (yes, the title and position of wife trumps that of mother in my home because my relationship with my husband teaches my children more about everything than anything that I can sit down and tell them about). In accordance with my beliefs I like to read other blogs from women that share a similar goal for their families: exaltation. How we get to this goal and our efforts to fend off the world in order to get there can feel so complex sometimes! I love the opening of minds and willingness to see past ignorance that these women take the time to write about. While I share their views, I'm not quite as diligent at writing my thoughts. What wonderful reads! I'm glad to be raising an army of truth and righteousness alongside such strong women! I look forward to their posts and love the thoughts and questions they provoke within me that allow me to take ideas and request to the Lord so that I can better prepare my children for the days ahead. Anyway! I must tend to another load of laundry (I'm almost organized! Only took me 10 months :-D), but take a minute to peruse my blog list to the right here and see if there is something there that will help you to put down the idols and light mindedness this world has to offer and take up the strength and power that can only come from God and being in tune with His plan!