21 February 2011

New Year Resolutions

I read a lot of blogs. I love them. As 2010 became 2011, I read many bloggers' goals, aspirations, and resolutions for the new year. And so I'm going to share mine with you.

What's that you say? It's three weeks into February? Yeah, I know. Hey, everybody's biggest resolution failed on Superbowl Sunday a few weeks ago, so that's all starting over again anyway, right?

Here are the resolutions I made at the end of December:

1. Lay on the couch as much as possible.
2. Let my children feed themselves apples from the fridge and cold dry cereal from the cupboard. All day.
3. Let my husband wash every dirty dish that touches the kitchen sink.
4. Shower . . . sometimes.
5. Don't throw up.

Oh, wait. I forgot one.

6. Grow a baby.

Did I forget to tell you I'm expecting our third? Oh, well, now you know.

Either I've forgotten how hard that first trimester is, or it really is worse this time around. But I gotta tell ya: these last couple of months have been a doozy for me. I've stayed away from blogging because of total lack of energy.

But I've also stayed away because blogging is supposed to be about sharing the very best parts of my life with you. It's about showing you all the great things I do, and how put together I am, and how I always behave completely up to my ideals.

And then I got the 1500-hour stomach bug. And the person I want you to see when you read my blog (that woman who always feeds her family whole foods and keeps her home in perfect working order), well, she's just nowhere to be found, is she?

Now that I'm starting to feel better and get my energy back, I've also had to face the fact that I judge too quickly. Once something first becomes important to me (something stupid like keeping my bathroom clean at all times), I can't understand why another person doesn't follow my new philosophy with the same enthusiasm. But now I know why: SHE DOESN'T FEEL GOOD! I hope that's what people thought about me, my home, and my children for the last two months. "Oh, it looks like she hasn't swept her floor for six weeks, but I'm sure it's because she isn't feeling well."

So, it's out in the open now. I'm having a baby. And I'm not perfect. Come see the 18 boxes of cereal in my kitchen if you don't believe it.

And my real resolution this year? Stop judging. Assume that she's not sleeping well, or her kids aren't sleeping well, or a million different things are going on that prevent her life from being picture-perfect, or blog-perfect, as the new standard seems to be. Smile at her instead. Say hello. Maybe even offer to have her and her kids over for a bowl of Cheerios.

09 February 2011

Being a grad student isn't quite this bad. Really.

Last night my husband pulled me over to the computer and said, "Come here. You have to see this." And I laughed. So hard. I think I might have hurt his feelings a little bit with how hard I laughed.

01 December 2010

Homemade Deodorant Review: Part 2 (New Formula)

After noticing some coconut oil stains on my shirts, I changed my homemade deodorant recipe. Here it is. Are you ready?

1 part baking soda
1 part cornstarch

Shake together in a jar and store in your bathroom medicine cabinet. Apply with an old makeup brush after your shower. And lean over the sink, because it likes to get everywhere. If necessary, wipe and reapply throughout the day. (This is when staying at home comes in handy.)

This recipe works just as well as the coconut oil recipe. Just remember that neither formula comes close to an antiperspirant. I got a sample antiperspirant a while ago which I use if I'm speaking in public or doing something equally sweat-inducing. So I still haven't broken my promise to you that I wouldn't buy any more.

Best part: without the coconut oil, it's immensely less expensive to make!

Homemade Deodorant Review: Part 1 here.

13 October 2010

Putting My Husband Through School

Five years ago, I was nearing the end of my college degree, and my husband was still in the middle of his undergraduate program. We'd lived simply and frugally for a couple of newlywed years. Now we had a choice in front of us: I could finish school and continue working to pay our living expenses and my husband's tuition, or I could have a baby, come home, and let my husband go to school and take the financial responsibility for our growing family.

Does this one sound like a no-brainer? We had many friends in our situation. The wife graduated first, found full-time employment (with lots of benefits) and worked to put her husband through school. When he finished, he found the full-time job so she could stay home and become Mom.

That scenario sounded great, but it wasn't right for us. We skipped the money and security and instead decided to invite children into our family.

You don't have to think I'm right. Feel free to call me stupid and irresponsible. Trust me, I have days when I say those things to myself. But most days I remember that we did what we felt God wanted us to do. He wanted to send some of His children to us sooner rather than later. So we accepted them with the faith that if we did our best God would provide us with whatever we needed.

And guess what! He has provided everything we've needed! As we've trusted in Him, our needs have been met. And not just money or other temporal needs, but blessings of time, energy, wisdom and health. We're not a perfect family, but we are surviving. We feel His love and help every day.

Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if we'd just waited to have kids until we finished school. In some ways life would certainly be easier. I imagine we'd have all sorts of luxuries, like two cars, a big bank account, gym memberships, cell phone plans, weekend getaways, nice wardrobes, no student loans, and even a subscription to Netflix! But I'd sure be lonely without these two little ones to keep me company all day.

And although I'm not contributing a steady salary with a dental and vision package, I'd like to think that I am doing other things to put my husband through school. I can cook a dinner for him to come home to (with lots of leftovers for tomorrow's lunch). I can keep his shirts clean. I can keep myself from complaining about fill-in-the-blank that's hard about our current student life (this one is still hard for me). I can do a multitude of small things every day that stretch our income and resources.

Things are challenging at times, but so much easier when I remember that the Lord is on my side (Psalms 118:6).

23 September 2010

Tuna Melts (Made With Homemade Yogurt)

(Not the most beautiful picture of the most beautiful food on the most beautiful dish. But for a two-year-old, hey! It's lunch!)

After several years of receiving WIC benefits, I think I'm starting to figure out how to transform random food items into actual meals. It's getting easier now that WIC provides some fresh produce and whole grain bread. This WIC recipe is one of my favorites because it uses some of that plain yogurt that's always around as a substitute for the usual mayonnaise.


2 carrots, peeled (WIC)
2 stalks celery (WIC)
2 dill pickles
1 can tuna, drained (WIC for nursing moms)
1/4-1/3 cup plain yogurt (made with WIC milk)
2-4 oz. cheese, sliced (WIC)
6-8 slices whole grain bread (WIC)

Finely dice carrots, celery, and pickles (I use a food processor). Mix in tuna and yogurt. Spoon onto bread, and top with cheese slices. Place under broiler for about 3 minutes until cheese is melted.

My boys each ate a piece of fruit while I put this together, and chowed down on the tuna melts as soon as they came out of the oven. *Check!* One more healthy lunch down!

06 September 2010

What Pregnancy, Labor, and the Birth of My Son Taught Me About Christ

In celebration of Labor Day, I'm sharing some thoughts on my son's birth and linking up with The Finer Things in Life.

Being a woman and having kids is hard, and Eve seems to take the blame for every unpleasant part. Sometimes I think we look at Adam and Eve and it seems that God was saying, "Eve, you really messed up. So for your punishment, you have to have babies, and boy is it ever going to hurt! Adam, you messed up, too. But since you only did it because Eve said so, I'm going to make you the boss of her."

As I've reflected on the Fall, it seems that God is really saying, not just to Adam and Eve, but to each of us, "Now that you've transgressed, there is only one way to be in my presence again, and that is through my Son, Jesus Christ. So I have specific roles and responsibilities for each of you that will help you know Him better.

"Adam, you will have the responsibility and stewardship over your wife and family. As you learn to love and lead them, think of Christ's perfect leadership of the Church." Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).

"Eve, you will have the responsibility to bring new life into the world. As you carry, deliver, and give life to a child, you will learn about how Christ carries, delivers, and gives life to His children. Your body will be a symbol of Christ's sacrifice. Like Him, you will give new life through pain, suffering, water, and blood."

These ideas about my body's fertility being a testament of Christ came late in the pregnancy of my first child. I was reading about Christ's Atonement in a talk by Merrill J. Bateman:

The prophet Abinadi . . . states that "when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed" (Mosiah 15:10). Abinadi then identifies the Savior's seed as the prophets and those who follow them. For many years I thought of the Savior's experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt "our infirmities" (Hebrews 4:15), "[bore] our griefs, . . . carried our sorrows . . . [and] was bruised for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:4-5).

The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us.

The following Sunday I sat during the Sacrament pondering these words. "Did Christ really suffer so personally for me?" My hands then rested on my bulging belly, and I thought about the baby boy inside. I already loved him so much. I was already willing to make incredible sacrifices for him.

It was in that moment that I realized Christ's suffering for me was very personal. It was not just as if He spent a few moments of His Atonement just on my sins and sorrows. It was as if He carried me for a full nine months and with great pain gave me life, so I would be his "seed."

My eyes fell to the hymnbook in my lap, and I read these words:

Oh, love effulgent, love divine!
What debt of gratitude is mine,
That in his off'ring I have part
And hold a place within his heart.

A few weeks later I was lying on a hospital bed, silently breathing through increasingly difficult contractions. I began to pray instinctively, without really even thinking, "Heavenly Father. This is really starting to hurt. Could you please make this go away?" Then I realized, Of course it's not going away! It's going to get worse! That epidural was really starting to sound good. But I thought of Christ's prayer, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt" (Matthew 26:39). For Christ, there was no epidural! There was no other way. But He was willing.

Another half hour brought me through an intense transition and I was already pushing when my epidural showed up, so I chose to go on without it. Pushing took all my strength and concentration, and I felt everything that was happening.

I remember the moment my baby entered this world. I remember the gush of blood and water that came after his body slipped out. (John 19:34) I remember the sense of accomplishment and joy I felt.

I could hear my son crying as the nurses cleaned him and wrapped him up on the other side of the room. My husband stood beside him and spoke softly. "It's okay, Baby. You're okay. Daddy's here. Don't cry. You're okay." Our son stopped crying and turned his head toward the sound. His eyes blinked slowly and he was calm. Not only had I give my baby life, I had brought him into the presence of his father. And he knew, recognized, listened to and obeyed his father's voice.

I am amazed at the privilege I have to participate, with God, in the creation of life. I am amazed at the ways my body reminds me of Christ's pain and suffering, whether I'm expecting or giving birth to a baby, or even during my cycle. Cramping pain, fatigue, and bleeding can all be reminders to me of the way Christ suffered. My body retains water as part of its process to give life, and Christ is the "Living Water" (see John 4:10, 14). My mood swings or hormonal depression feel like sadness that came from outside of myself and yet become a part of me, and I remember that "surely [Christ] hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows" (Isaiah 53:4).

It feels impossible to comprehend all that Christ suffered for me and for each of us. But I am grateful that I could bleed and suffer to a small extent to bring life to my child. It makes me love Him better, to want to depend on Him as much as my infant babies depend on me, and to be more like Him. How wonderful it is that I have been "born again" of Him and that He has given me new life (John 3:3).