Motherhood

10 Ways To Be Kind to Your {Postpartum} Self

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I am so happy I’m not pregnant right now. (These past 9 months haven’t exactly been a cakewalk.)

But with this truth comes reality…

I am now postpartum.

If you’ve been postpartum before, then you are familiar with that time of transition. Going from the joy and wonder of pregnancy and birth, to the time of healing afterwards.

The squishy belly. The aching you-know-what. Swollen ankels. Aching back. The after birth contractions. The super attractive mesh panties. And the fatigue. The list goes on!

The postpartum stage is rough. As a first-time mom, it can be hard to prepare for this. I surely had no idea what to expect when I gave birth to my son 6 years ago.

Even as a 3rd time mom, this transition is still a little new to me. So when I was at the hospital I thought to myself, “how can I, and how can other women be kind to ourselves as we recover from having a baby?”. I actually wrote the rough draft of this post at the hospital!

One thing that has always bothered me about having a baby is the lack of attention that a mother gets after she births a baby.

Medically, we may be taken care of. But sometimes it feels like no one really sees us. Maybe we even lose sight of ourselves a bit during this time.

But just remember…the baby may be important, but you are important too!

 

10 Ways to be Kind to Your {Postpartum} Self

 

1. Embrace your body, your image of postpartum, no one else’s.

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Women’s bodies are all different. So our post-birth bodies should be no different. Be proud of your body and what it has done for you. Love that squishy belly because it has done some amazing stuff!

 

2. Know yourself.

No one can advocate better for you than yourself. Keep in mind your likes and dislikes. Inform the nurses of your emotions and mental health if you have concerns.

I struggle with anxiety and I struggled with it at the hospital too. I let my nurse know and she helped me through it. And the important part is that she asked how she could help me through it. I had to know what would help best in that moment. (And everything turned out just fine. ☺)

 

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3. Communicate your needs.

Both at the hospital and at home, it can be frusterating to not be able to do things. 

But especially at the hospital, it’s important to communicate with your nurses and let them know your needs. It’s their job to help you and to support you while you heal.

It can be hard to express what you are feeling, not only physically but emotionally. But the better you can communicate, the easier it will be for others to help you.

Trust that others will help care for you and baby while you both adjust to this new phase of life.

 

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4. Let people do things for you.

You are not superwoman and I’ve learned the hard way that it is important to open up to accepting help because doing everything will only wear you out.

While at the hospital, let the nurses take over and help you. It’s important to let them help while you heal, so you can sleep and take care of yourself.

And at home, let a trusted adult help you with the baby. Someone to assist you so you can grab a shower, some food, etc will be a lifesaver. Even big siblings can be great helpers for fetching this and that for you.

No woman can do it all! And rest is more important now than ever.

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5. Do what you can to sleep at the hospital, even though it’s hard.

A hospital setting isn’t really anyone’s idea of a restful environment. I think the most rest I got was after I got my epidural. Then it was all downhill from there.

It can be hard to relax. And then once you finally manage to fall asleep, there is an “interruption”. I struggled a lot with sleep, which is normal. Towards the end of my stay I got a blessed 3 hour stretch of sleep in though. And it was awesome!!

 

7. Eat.

While at the hospital, eat as much of your meals as you can. Protein and other iron-rich foods are good. Eat what you crave. (I loved cheeseburgers and tons of fresh fruit.)

And make a mental note of what you like and crave so you or others can buy and prepare it when you get home.

Also, snacks from home can be a lifesaver! Or just recruit one of your visitors to smuggle you in some treats 😉

 

8. Take a long shower.

Enough said. Baby will be ok in the nursery, feed ’em and send ’em. Those first few showers after birth are glorious.

And find a way to get those showers/baths at home. I’ve found the best time for me is when all the kids are in bed for the night, or in the morning before they wake up. Otherwise, have your significant other, relative or trusted friend help watch baby.

 

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9. Take it easy.

I know, I know. Definite no-brainer right? But it can be hard to do, especially if you were used to being active before.

Take it from someone who overdid it much sooner than she should have. Take it easy. If it is at all possible, let someone else do it. Let someone else go out for diapers. Let someone else take the kids for a walk. Overdoing it will only give you added fatigue and other unwanted issues.

 

9 1/2. Indulge in pampering.

This doesn’t need to be elaborate. Think small. I love lip balm, so I packed some up in a little coin purse to use at the hospital and at home.

Some other ideas are special lotions, a favorite book or a nice cup of tea.

 

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10. Love yourself.

Give yourself grace mama, because you are doing great! Really! Soak up that sweet baby goodness and pat yourself on the back. Because what your body has just done is amazing. And you should be proud!

Rock on, mama. Love that baby & love that body. You are precious and loved!

I ask that you bear with me as I return to blogging. Right now, my goal is 1 post per month as I take on mothering my 3 busy bees 🐝🐝🐝

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Reflections

When You Don’t Want to do Christmas Because You are Broken

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Behold, Christmas.

The most magical of holidays is quickly, quickly, oh so quickly approaching.

There are still things on my to-do list. Things that may or may not get done. At this point, I’m just weighing the amount of sanity and energy I posses against the amount of things to get done.

*Glares into the sunset* it does not look good, folks.

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I’m kidding. Truly. But sometimes, don’t you ever wish that you could be like Luther and Nora from Christmas with the Kranks?

It’s one of my favorite Christmas movies. After watching, sometimes I wish I could cancel Christmas too. But of course I won’t. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to hide from this Christmas madness?

Let’s talk about something phenomenal.

Around Christmas…and no, even before. Even preceding Thanksgiving there begins this thing which I will call “the holiday deception”.

Stay with me.

Holiday deception?? It’s where a person feels they must have x time for activities, x money for presents, and generally make the holidays incredibly special for themselves and their families.

Maybe it’s just a mom thing. I don’t know.

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But for me, my life right now is like a gigantic holiday explosion. My bank account has exploded, my purse exploded all over my car, My kitchen sink, my sanity, my life. Exploded.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store after a gruelling dentist appointment. In the process of grabbing a container of yogurt from the top shelf, another fell down and, yes, released its contents onto the bottom of the cooler.

It is how I feel about Christmas right now.

That yogurt fiasco has come at the end of a series of trials.

The furnace quit working. (It has been fixed.) Our oven quit working. I was dealing with a health concern. I was getting anxious about bills. We are down to one car.

All these things and others piled up until I was just crying out to God. Just wondering why. Why all these things were happening and why they were happening to me.

It all felt so unfair.

And yeah, it’s not a super large amount of things. But sprinkled with holiday stress and a baby on the way (you heard it!), it starts to feel that way.

And there are some out there who are struggling on deeper levels. Your hurt, your anguish, your pain speaks loudly.

And you’re wondering why. Why me. Why at Christmas.

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Let me share with you something that spoke to me just a few months after Christmas, almost 10 years ago.

I came home from college in December, and I was quite frankly a mess. There was not much room in my heart for holidays and joy and festivities.

The why is hard to explain. I was dealing with a lot of stress and some unresolved grief. But at the core, the very core of my struggle was my relationship with God. Something was broken and needed to be fixed.

I was like a broken clock, whom only God knew how to mend.

A lot of people walk around like that. Broken, hurting. At times these people wear complicated masks that disguise their deep hurt, rather than exposing it. Those who hurt deepest can appear to be the most unfriendly.

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For a time, I was one of those people. And to be honest, I can easily become a difficult person when faced with trials.

But you know what? Thank the Lord for friends who echo the love of God. For my birthday (10 years ago) I was given a Bible. Not just any Bible, it was a collection of Psalms and Proverbs.

What drew me to open up this little book, I’m not sure. I was bored and wanted something to read, perhaps. After all, even depressed me still enjoys a good book.

But even deeper and more sure than boredom was this lingering hope. This small truth, that deep in my heart I still knew. I knew it to be truth.

His Word has the power to restore.

And so I read.

This is the verse that hit my heart, like a brilliant white sliver of light shining into a forest of deepest dark.

 


“For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust.”

Psalm 103:14


 

I can tell you that two things came to mind as I read and re-read that one verse.

1) That God created me, just the same as he created Adam, breathing life into His creation.

2) That maybe, just maybe my trials weren’t a reflection of my failings, but proof that I was human, only dust.

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Dust. Feels almost like an insult, right? But God created Adam from it. Gave that dust new life.

The Bible says that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

He illuminates our life.

We can feel broken and useless, like a string of Christmas lights turned dark because of our struggles. Then God comes along and speaks light!

He knows the pattern, the bulb, so to speak that needs turned so that our light is again bright.

He can do that for you. I know because He has done it for me.

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My concern about bills. About our oven. My health concern. They are are all being taken care of. God hears all of our cries and takes care of us in beautifully indescribable ways.

He is faithful. (Psalm 33:4, Lamentations 3:22-23)

God has not forgotten you. (Hosea 11:8, Psalm 94:14, Joshua 1:5)

He remembers, and He sees. (Psalm 139:16, Ephesians 3:17-21)

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Books

4 Things Ma Ingalls Has Taught Me About Life

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This post is an edit of the original, written in 2017. 

Little House on the Prarie (and I know I’m not alone when I say this) is one of my most favorite series.

Sure, it’s a kid’s book and sure, the events took place a long time ago. But like all good books, there are parallels between daily life that transcend time.

Ma (or Caroline) Ingalls is something of a superhero. I have no doubt that she had her faults, as we all do. But in reading through the series, her character as told by her daughter Laura has helped me realize some things.

First of all, that my house is incredibly messy and could stand to be cleaned more often. But secondly, each of the following four themes gradually developed in my mind as I mulled over the series: words, bravery, creativity and self-care.

Join me as I take a look at a well-loved series and a character that has inspired me for quite some time.

 

4 Things Ma Ingalls Has Taught Me About Life

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Strong Women Speak Softly

All throughout the books, Ma almost never raised her voice. And her family heard her better that way. There was strength in her quiet word, although there were times when she did raise her voice and for a good reason.

(Such as in Little House on the Prarie, chapter 2…when the girls needed to be quiet and still when the family was crossing a rushing river in a covered wagon.)

I try to remember this when I struggle to keep my voice even out of frustration. Soft words will come through loudly because of their power. A person has power, or control over themselves when they speak softly. And those they are speaking to have to listen carefully.

 

Fear Nothing…Slap the Bear

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Ok so I’m not advocating for literally going out and pressing your luck by hitting a real live bear. However, if you happen to do so…you can pretty much declare that you have no fear in life.

“Ma was trembling, and she began to laugh a little. “To think,” she said, “I’ve slapped a bear!”.

-from Little House in the Big Woods, Chapter 6, Two Big Bears, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

 

Hard Work and Creativity Will Get You Far

One thing about Ma (or Caroline) that always inspired me was her incredible work ethic. She was such a hard worker. Most of this was probably due to the sink or swim mentality that pioneers by nature had to posess.

Pioneers had to constantly be thinking of ways to reuse things. Ways to get or make what they needed from raw materials. Trash was almost unheard of, because they used everything. Oh for simple days like those!

We have more options and resources at our disposal nowadays. But the fact remains the same: We can do little with much if we put on our thinking caps.

One example from Little House in the Big Woods is when Pa Ingalls makes a grater for Ma out of an old pie tin. She uses this to grate carrots, so she can add a bit of color to her homemade butter!

 

Be Pretty, Even When You Work

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Caroline is often decribed by Laura as wearing a pretty calico dress, which she never got messy thanks to her trusty apron.

“Then [Ma] rolled the sleeves of her flowered calico dress above her elbows, and she knelt by the tubs… Ma looked pretty…while she scrubbed and rubbed the corn in clear water. She never splashed one drop of water on her pretty dress.

-from Little House in the Big Woods, Chapter 12, The Wonderful Machine, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

And it makes me think. Isn’t life, even life spent within my own home just a whole lot better when I make the effort to look nice?

Please understand that I’m not against pajamas. Because life happens, and we sometimes need a break.

But I think self-esteem, and consequently what others think of us is tied to how prepared we are for the day. When I take just a little effort and get showered, dressed and fix my hair just a bit before the kids wake up…I feel so much better. A little bit of self-love goes a long way 😊

 

Just a little bit of Little House to brighten your day ☺ Stay warm out there!

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Reflections

Poetry in (E)motion

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Hello my lovely readers & happy Saturday to you!

Today isn’t my typical day to post but I’ve been in a canning flurry lately. The garden and produce stands are booming! Gotta take advantage of it 😉

You guys seem to love the poems I share so I thought I’d share a recent one. It’s hot off the press haha just scribbled it down last night.

This poem expresses a lot of what I’ve been feeling lately as a mother and just as a woman in general. In this I’ve folded in several topics. Work ethic, time, serving others and confidence are the themes here.

In spite of the business of life, I am content and I am happy just being me.

 

Sugar and Bliss

 

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Spin

Spin dear spider

Spin sure

And tell me how

You spin

And never tire

Never cross

Your eyes.

 

Be aware of the lies.

 

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Run, run

Run

Little mouse.

Chase your tail.

Hurry, scurry.

How can you

Run

Without the hum

The tick and the tock

Of a runaway

Clock

 

Run, telling clock. Away.

 

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Sing

Oh do

Sing

Sweet little

Bird

Warble and tweet

Hop on those

Feet

Fill the air

With your sweetness.

Give back

And take less.

Such a song you sing

 

A song of love.

 

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Dream big

Little butterfly.

Delicate

In beauty

Flutter

Flutter

Soar.

Life is worth living

It’s worth living now.

Trust your wings

To take you

Where you need

To go.

Don’t answer to

No.

 

Trust your wings.

 

This poem is my own. All photos are from pixabay. 

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Books

Summer Reading Goals {what I’m reading right now}

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Hey everyone!

Summer. Sweet summer. When I think of summer I think of books.

Oh yes. Books.

Give me all the books. Let me go out and get more books. Let me sit in the a.c. and read all those books.

Mountains of books!

Ahem.

Worked myself into a book frenzy. Anyways.

I have this habit of starting so many books and then not finishing them for some reason or another. 

To help resolve this issue, I decided to narrow down my list to 5 books I want to work on finishing. I am more or less actively reading these books. And lets face it, I probably won’t finish them all by August but this is a start.

 

My Current Reads This Summer

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1. Fountain Creek Chronicles, by Tamera Alexander

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 689.

  • book #1: Rekindled
  • #2: Revealed
  • #3: Remembered

Why I love it:

This particular series is set in Colorodo Territory (western US) in the mid- to late 1800s. I enjoy this particular time period and westerns have piqued my interest lately.

It’s hard to put into words exactly what I love about these books. Maybe its the fact that the characters are so real, so genuine in their struggles. They are committed to their faith.

The author walks a fine line here with providing just the right amount of detail to make the story flow. I also like her gutsiness to write about topics that not every Christian writer would. And she does it with eloquence and grace.

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2. The Magnolia Story, by Chip & Joanna Gaines

Genre: Biography.

Pages: 184.

Why I love it:

Most people are familiar with the dynamic duo that is Chip and Joanna Gains through their show, Fixer Upper. One of my friends (who is a fan) loaned me this book.

Chip and Joanna have a cute story. Joanna is so…Joanna and Chip is so crazy! I’ve enjoyed reading about the “ages and stages” of their lives…and how they got to be famous!

 

3. The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman

Genre: History/ World War I

Pages: 368.

Why I love it:

This one. This one is very deep and quite detailed. I’ve found I cannot do this book justice by reading it quickly. So, just like the classics I’ve been reading this novel slowly.

The book is based on the true story of Jan and Antonia Żabiński, a Polish couple who manage the Warsaw zoo during the Holocaust. What is so special about them? The synopsis says that “..[they] managed to save over 300 people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages”. Although I haven’t yet reached that point in the story.

I can tell that this book will be heartbreaking and beautiful. It is full of rich detail and I know that it will touch my heart.

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4. The Cranford Novellas, (Girlebooks) by Elizabeth Gaskell

  • Cranford-16 chapters.
  • Mr. Harrison’s Confession-31 chapters.
  • My Lady Ludlow-14 chapters.

 

Genre: Novel

Pages: 134 pages.

Why I love it:

Earlier this year I finished Gaskell’s North and South and I liked it (for the most part).

My thoughts on Gaskell’s works are hard to explain. I like her books, but they can be slow and the characters not as easy to like as say…Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet.

When I read that Cranford was supposed to be her best work, and saw a preview for the BBC series I decided to read it. The show came out in 2007 but apparently I missed the boat haha.

I am currently having some difficulty following the storyline and need to find some sort of spark notes to help me.

I did really enjoy the beginning of the novel. I found it to be quite humerous and entertaining. This book seems much more…easygoing? than other novels of hers.

 

5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Genre: Fantasy.

Pages: 306.

Why I love it:

It’s J.R.R. Tolkien. Need I say more? His writing style is beyond amazing. And it’s no wonder, when he devoted such a large portion of his life to the series.

I don’t read much fantasy at all but I can definitely make time for a little Tolkien ☺

 

Any books on your summer reading list? Now’s the time to knock them out! Stay cool out there! ❄☀🌻🌺

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Reflections

Letting Go {amidst the purls and the knits}

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I must confess…

Letting go has never been easy for me. I hold too tightly, keep myself from change.

But in knitting…

If you hold too tightly, if you don’t let go, then you will never make a stitch. You can’t make any kind of progress at all.

It’s a simple enough concept, but I keep coming back to it. When I started knitting, my kids were sick with the flu. My son got it first. He was so sick. Sick with a high fever every night until Advil calmed it down.

Holding tight to our babies-that’s what mamas do best. I’m not suggesting letting go in any sense. 

But for me, I had to let go of the fear. The worry of, “Will he be ok??”. I wasn’t in charge of his healing. I had to trust that my prayers of petition to God and my limited ministrations would get him through.

And he did. He got over the flu. In spite of my fears and the paranoia fed by constant news updates telling me how horrible the flu is for children. (Thanks NBC.)

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But back to knitting. I know I’ve been talking about knitting a lot. And that’s just because I’ve been doing a lot of it.

On vacation I knit square after square. It’s so grounding and therapeutic and easy to do while riding in the car, visiting with family. As a person who fidgets, knitting is bomb.

When I began learning how to knit, my work was a tangled mess. My stitches were loopy. I couldn’t figure out the direction of the needles. I would get nervous once I had formed thread on the needles, dreading letting go. Dreading the wrong stitch.

Isn’t that just how life is? We don’t want to mess up. So we hold on to things. We hold on and hold on, telling ourselves,”I can’t do that. I don’t want to fail. I don’t have what it takes”. 

But that’s wrong. I’m in the wrong for thinking that. I can’t is powerfully debilitating.

I can’t

It can cripple your life.

Your will.

Your desire to grow.

To be a stronger & better version of you. 

I’m not saying that who you are is not good enough. No, never. 

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What I mean is that you will fulfill whatever prophecy you proclaim for your life.

If it is “I can’t do that“, then you won’t.

If it is “I’m afraid to try“, then it will keep you from new experiences.

I say these things from experience. I say them because I’ve believed “I can’t” about things for far too long. Because I’ve allowed fear instead of a desire to be vulnerable and different and broken to pervade my life. To control me.

I’ve feared letting go.

And I can fear it no more.

It’s time for change.

Bring on spring.

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This poem is my own.

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Motherhood

Stinky, Poopy Diapers {and what they’ve taught me about being a mom}

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I really hate poopy diapers. Not always, mind, but much of the time.

It happens at inconvenient times. At least, inconvenient to me.

As if to prove this point my daughter, reeking of dirty diaper, sat down right next to me as I began this post.

So I got up to change her, as I always do. As must be done. As is my duty as a mother.

But let me ask you. As a mother, do you ever feel resentment when confronted with this? Frusteration? Feel inconvenienced?

Sometimes I forget that my daughter is not toliet-trained like her brother. And giving her the care she needs seems hard.

Maybe that’s the seasonal depression talking. It happens in the winter. I know I’m not the only one in that. I know that January is a hard month to be a mom. Fyi It’s often difficult to blog during this month. When its cold and when isolation and sickness bring challenges.

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But that is not the point of this post.

Awhile ago I started reading Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I fought with the idea of reading it. I knew reading would push me, change me. And I didn’t know if I was ready for that.

But finally, 10 chapters in I feel like I am getting somewhere. And I feel like I’m maybe beginning to learn.

Ok, but what’s that to do with poopy diapers?

“The ability to last in motherhood requires giving up expectations for our own lives, deciding that sacrificing our desires and wants for the sake of our family is our gift of worship to our heavenly Father.”

-from Desperate, Chapter 10 by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

One day after reading the bulk of chapter 10, I looked at my daughter who had decided to fill up her britches. I was im the middle of something, but instead of feeling inconvenienced I felt a mental shift. I found I could manage a smile instead of a frown.

This is not always the way of things. I am no Mary Poppins. Human I am, human I will remain. But that brief blip. That small, slight shift. I hope it will become more and more a part of me as I seek to treasure my children. Treasure not just the happy and the beautiful moments but also the difficult, the hard times.

Not because I’m some kind of higher-than-thou person. But because to learn to treasure my role as a mother I need to continually learn the art that is shining light where there is dark. A smile in the face of a challenge. Gladness of heart in the face of trying circumstances.

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Motherhood is balance. And I think what I’ve most struggled with is the idea that to be a good mom, I need to give up on taking care of me. Which is misplaced. I don’t have to give that up to be a good mom. It’s not my time or my self-care that needs to go but my negative thinking that damages my relationship with these sweet babies I love so much.

Perfect mom syndrome? Haha far from it! (A fly on the wall today would have seen something else entirely.) But I’m learning. One step at a time 🙂

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All photos are from Unsplash.

Books, Lessons In Literature

5 Things Meg March Taught Me About Being a Wife & Mother {from author Louisa May Alcott}

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Honestly speaking…I don’t like Meg. I love Alcott’s Little Women. But I’ve always had a fondness for Jo. She seems more likeable for her blunders and awkwardness. Meg is kindof…prim, proud and careful about everything. Perhaps being the eldest such things were ingrained in her mind.

But even though Meg is not my favorite I was in for a shock when I began part 2. When I read chapters 28 and 38 I thought, “My goodness. Our stories are remarkably alike.”

Join me as I thumbed through these much loved pages to find 5 common, yet unique pieces of advice that Louisa May Alcott has hidden within this most beloved novel.

5 Things Meg (March) Brooke Taught Me About Being a Wife and Mother

 

Cook What They Love

At the beginning of her marriage, Meg struggled with cooking. She made too much, or made too little and didn’t know quite what to make.

“She was too tired, sometimes even to smile, John grew dyspeptic after a course of dainty dishes and ungratefully demanded plain fare.”

Little Women, Chapter 28

It took Meg awhile to find what worked for her family and how much was just enough. She had to budget wisely.

 

On Saying “I’m sorry”.

One of my most favorite parts of Little Women is when Meg decides to can currants. She attempts to make currant jelly (with currants harvested from her own garden no less!) with disastrous results.

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Meg is distraught. And even more so when her husband comes home from work with a friend to stay to supper! Everything is a mess. Meg can’t understand why her husband John could think she could make supper in her sorry state. John doesn’t understand why his wife can’t just put forth a bit of effort and make them a small supper.

And then he appears to laugh at Meg for getting caught up in her failed jelly. This proves more than she can take and she declines to make supper.

Long story short, she remembers her mother’s words of advice and everything is made right when she makes up her mind that

“(She) will be the first to say, ‘Forgive me, John’.”

 

How To Live Within Your Means

It was Meg’s job to “keep the books”. She dutifully kept track of every penny she spent. Meg could be frugal when she had mind to be. But sometimes it got to her.

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Meg was often in the company of Sallie Moffat. She was a good friend but a rich one. Meg on the other hand was not rich and felt it. She was not envious but merely hated being pitied.

Because of this she bought “trifles” here and there until the trifles increased to the point of a length of not-so-trifling silk fabric.

It was $50 then. Hard to figure what that translates to today with inflation and whatnot. But apparently it was worth as much as a man’s new winter coat.

Because that’s exactly what her husband denied himself because of Meg’s frivolous purchase. In the end, Meg sets all things right. Sells the silk to Sallie, buys her man his coat. Peace restored and wisdom gleaned.

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The Babies and the Beloved

The question of affection is a common issue. One I have struggled with many a time. It can be so hard making sure everyone gets your time, your love.

Meg found this out too.

She made her twins, Demi and Daisy, her world. She didn’t cook (they hired an Irish lady for that) and she was always in the nursery. When the babies stopped teething, stopped needing her so much, then she turned to her husband.

But he was not there. He was at a friend’s house. An environment that was welcoming, friendly and most importantly not lonely.

John had not given up on his wife, he had waited 6 months for things to change. But because of Meg’s decision be a solo parent, she and John were drifting apart.

The solution? With Marmee’s advice, Meg was determined to 1) ask for her husband’s help with the kids 2) make time for John in the evenings and chat about his interests and 3) start going out more with John on dates!

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On Taking Care of Yourself & Accepting Help

How easy it is to not do these things. And how quickly it can destroy you. Self-care and the occasional help are vitally important as a mother. All people need this. We are not solo beings but creatures who need people. Need community, support and advice. We need each other.

Meg here relies a lot on her mother. She gives advice and is a seemingly bottomless pit of motherly wisdom. She reminds Meg that Hannah is ready and waiting to be a help with the kids.

I want to say, “Duh Meg of course you need help girl! You’ve got twin babies!” But I know it takes a lot of reminders for me to get it too.

Pockets of alone time, girl time, excercise time even grocery shopping time (haha); these are all times that are necessary for a good mom to become a healthier, stronger and even better one.

 

Conclusion

Meg is a good girl, really. She’s smart and gentle and giving. She still seems a bit too perfect to me but I loved looking at all the issues we have in common. I wonder if Alcott knew that 149 years later, people would still identify with and greatly adore her little book?

~Rachel

Reflections

Bravery in Motion: 10 Ways to Help Overcome a Panic Attack

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Here is a subject that is not easy for me to talk about. And yet I feel a super-strong pull to write about it.

To be transparent.

I have been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks for 2 years. It came back with a vengeance fairly recently. I felt so defeated and broken. Alone. And scared. I realised I needed a game plan. Change. And a greater push back in the area of self-care.

I say “push-back” because that’s what it is. As a mom I literally have to push back against the heavy burden of day to day demands and carve out a bit of time for me.

I research. I claim time to be alone while others watch my children. I invest in me. I seek out wise counsel. I realise that mind, body, spirit and emotions are connected.

And I look at all the things that have helped me fight against the pull of an attack.

This is my list of things I have learned throughout the years. It is by no means a complete list. But I hope it can be a help to get you thinking about what best benefits you. You are not alone in your struggle, my friend.

 

10 Ways To Help Prevent a Panic Attack

 

1. Deep breaths.

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The simple act of focusing on your breaths and nothing more can have a calming effect. Oxygen flowing to your brain & body is a good thing 🙂

2. Focus on magnesium.

Add magnesium through diet. Many many Americans, myself included are deficient in magnesium. It helps so much to add more magnesium-rich foods. Ancient-minerals.com states that “Magnesium-rich foods include whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds.”

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Lately I love drinking nettle and chocolate mint tea and eating pumpkin seeds to up my magnesium. There are tons of foods to choose from…most nuts and seeds, black beans, bananas, avocados, brown rice. All good.

3. Cut that sugar.

Decrease or cut out sugar completely. This article is one among many that explains how a high fat and high sugar diet does not work in your favor. Sugar depletes magnesium and cutting it out, hard as it may be, will work in your favor and help decrease your anxiety. (Trust me I have a huge sweet tooth and this is hard for me too but it helps!)

4. Epsom salts.

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A good soak in the tub with 1-2 cups of Epsom salt (depending on your body weight) is very beneficial for mind and body. I purchsed the book Epsom Salt: Natural Remedies for Health, Beauty and Home, by Josephine Simon a few months ago and I have enjoyed learning more about this stuff.

Epsom salt soaks will relive aching muscles and will give your body a good dose of magnesium via absorption through your skin. Just don’t use soap as it interferes with this absorption.

5. Chanting (out loud or to yourself).

Chant a soothing short phrase and focus on it completely. Sometimes I choose a scripture and other times its just whatever helpful phrase comes to mind.

6. Carry a small object with you.

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I kept a lavender sachet in my pocket for awhile. Something that gives you comfort and peace. Things that engage one of your senses is good for diverting anxiety.

7. Herbs can help.

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This tea is very soothing. A bit on the strong side if seeped for too long. I also love Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea.

Camomile and lavender are well known for their soothing properties. Passion flower as a tea, supplement or tincture can also be helpful. I’ve also heard good things about valerian root capsules. Check with your doctor and do your research to find what works best for you.

8. Aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy can work wonders. Again chamomile and lavender are great. I also love the Skin Restore synergy blend. Formerly called anti-scar stretch blend, it is a lavender and neroli combo from Plant Therapy.

I use it in my car diffuser or simply smell it straight from the bottle.

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Love this stuff.

There are tons of resources out there for essential oils to use for anxiety, calming and sleep. All of these categories will help with anxiety.

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For me, the best and most soothing essential oil has always been lavender 🙂

9. Get a pet.

Since we got a cat I have felt more calm & at ease. I love my kitty Stella. She gives me much joy.

Did you know that cats purr for different reasons? They purr when they are happy, but also purr to calm themselves or to help heal themselves. I can’t help but wonder if a cat’s purr can soothe and heal the human spirit as well.

10. Guard your thoughts.

An episode can sneak up on you so easily. 9/10 times I notice it happens when I let my thoughts totally run away with me.

I have to focus on what I am thinking about. Know when I am feeling overwhelmed and know how to put a halt to the anxious thoughts. It isn’t easy.

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But with focus and practice it can happen. Don’t discount what you are worrying about. Recognise it as a real issue but rationalise it. Sometimes I get to thinking that an issue is the most important thing in the world when its not. What is important is my health and balancing self-care with responsibilities.

~~~

I want to add that it is ok, completely ok to seek help. Go to counseling, take a perscription for awhile if your doctor agrees it is needed. Do not be afraid to seek care for yourself. You are not a failure if you need outside help to get you going. I know it can be so easy to feel defeated but you’re not alone. There is help & hope ❤

~Rachel

Books

Book Review: The Homemade Housewife

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Introduction

This e-book was written and published this May by Mrs. Kate Singh. Because I loved it and found it to be a valuable resource I wanted to post a review on my blog. I will share a summary, things I loved, a small critique, and little tidbits from my favorite chapters.

Summary

This book is a marvelous collection of thrifty tips and wholesome advice. The chapters cover topics like decorating, cleaning, self-care for the mama, urban farming, parenting resources, homeschooling and ideas for free fun.

About the Author

Kate Singh writes both motivational and fictional books to inspire and entertain. She currently resides in California with her family.

Visit the author’s blog here.

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Review

What I Loved…

The reasons I really enjoyed this e-book are similar to the reasons I loved 2 other books of Kate’s. (I read The Lazy and Cheap Housewife and The Funky and Frugal Housewife previously.) From the first, I saw that this book was relatable. Kate is honest about the fact that she is no Martha Stewart and doesn’t want to be. I breathed a sigh of relief. Me too.

I loved her encouraging tone that was coupled with her unique and fun style. I love things that have a different slant and this book definitely falls into that category.

But what I loved most? Her books are built around this tiny seed of an idea. This belief that I could live a full and happy life while practicing frugality. This intrigued me.

Not So Much…

I can only think of two areas for constructive criticism. They are minor things but I feel that 1) a bit less repetition and 2) a bit more organization would improve readability. The repetition increased the length of the book, which was 3,368 pages on my kindle. I loved the huge collection of all things thrifty but there was quite a bit to go through. The chapters and headings were good but sometimes there were parts that were hard to follow because of a change of topic.

My Favorite Chapters

My favorites were chapters 6 (care for the mama) and 8 (about gardening). But I also enjoyed parts of chapters 3 (food), 5 (cleaning), 9 (kids) and 10 (free fun). This book is a compilation of tips from all of Kate’s previous books so some things I had read already. But regardless of this and the fact that I’ve been practicing frugal living for 5+ years I still found quite a few new things to put into practice.

Chapter 6 is mostly about self care, which I found to be so relevant and helpful. Kate titled this chapter “Beauty for the Lady of the House and Ways to Avoid Burn Out”. There are many helpful ideas about exercise, primping, investment in hobbies, me-time breaks and ways to make homemaking easier.

I loved reading about boredom busters and ways to reduce burnout. There were ideas for staying emotionally and physically healthy and many ways to improve one’s image with little cash.

The part about self-love and pride went straight to my heart as I remembered that yes, I can still dress up and look nice even though I don’t go much of anywhere. This quote also spoke to me:

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All things gardening was covered in chapter 8. I found this particularly helpful as I had just planted my garden when I read this book in early June. I loved the tips about where to find free gardening supplies, re-growing plants and how to make compost without fancy equipment. I love gardening and saving money in this area makes me so happy. I’m learning how to get the most of my plants by dividing and regrowing them. It’s a lot of fun 🙂

And here are a few things I loved about chapters 3, 5, 9 and 10.

Chapter 3 is all about food and the kitchen. I made a mental note of the snacking tips, ways to make meals healthier and reminders of cheap and healthy ingredients. I was suprised to learn I could save money on cat food without compromising too much on quality.

Chapter 5 pertains to cleaning. It’s a challenge for me to make cleaning fun but Kate inspired me anew. I was (and am still) going through a decluttering process here at home. Kate had a lot to say about this and helped me to see it as an easier job instead of a never endingly difficult one.

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Chapter 9 reminded me of what kids really need for health and happiness. There is a lot in this chapter. Minimalist baby care and food, homeschooling help, fun kids activities, preschool ideas, help establishing a first aide kit, preventative care and ways to make birthday parties cheap and fun are all included here. Sometimes I forget how little kids really need. How much they love simple things. And how I’m killing it as a mother even though most of the time I don’t see it. 

Lastly, chapter 10 was full of great suggestions for places to go and have fun without spending much $. There were so many activities…some that we do now (like the library) and others that I hadn’t thought about in awhile (such as a picnic at the park). Some of these ideas are for the family and others are more geared towards just the mama.

Conclusion

This book is full of so much goodness. It was motivating and encouraging to read. An excellent resource for any homemaker practicing or seeking out ideas for frugal living 🙂

Check out The Homemade Housewife along with Kate’s other helpful books here. All of her books are $0.99, which I love!

~Rachel