Compliments

It’s 1 O’clock in the morning and I should be sound asleep. The baby has had a cold, so she hasn’t been sleeping well. But she is tonight…and I’m not. Since I’m awake, and I haven’t written in ages, I thought I’d share my take on something I read yesterday.

Apparently, it is really easy to offend new moms. According to what I read, there is a whole host of things that are commonly said to moms as compliments; but the truth is they are insulting. Now, I guess I’ve just lived a sheltered life because when someone offers me a compliment, I either smile and say ‘thank you’ or I brush off what I’ve done as not being too impressive. And if the given compliment sounds a bit odd, then I assume I’m dealing with another human who, like myself, is really awkward at saying stuff to strangers.

Any way, I’d like to share my opinion of what should and should not be said to a new mom, in order to avoid any accidental insults.

First, we want to avoid casting doubt on a woman’s motherhood. So, it’s important to avoid things like “you look great!” or “you don’t look like you’ve had a baby.” These things insinuate that we are lying to boost the woman’s confidence, or we do not believe that she could have had a baby. Poor new moms may take this to mean A) that we cannot see the child in her arms, or B) that we believe she may have stolen thw child. Obviously, such insults are inappropriate. Instead, we should say “whoa! You look like you’ve been hit by a truck. There’s no denying you just spent 13 hours in labor to have a baby!”

The other common mistake people make with new moms is offering to help. When you say “let me know if you need anything. I can bring supper one night.” this sounds like you doubt mom’s ability to handle her household. Instead, always insist that a new mom jump right into her new routine. “Well, now that the baby is here you’ll have a lot to do. Be sure to cook organic meals everynight to make healthy breast milk.”

Last, new moms can be very sensitive about their weight. Telling a new mom she “looks great” indicates how fat and aweful she looked 2 weeks ago, before she had the baby. Saying anything about getting back to the gym should also be avoided — especially for women who really enjoy working out for stress relief. Instead, we should be honest. “Your pre-baby body is toast. There is no way you’ll ever get back in your skinny jeans. And forget the gym! You’ll never have time for that again!!”

Oh…wait. Never mind. Moms can just remember that the person offering compliments, usually wants to see them happy and confident. And the few sorry folks who just want to break your spirit…well, jokes on them, because moms can CHOOSE to see the good in what is said. Instead of silly lists of what not to say, we can realize that everybody says things that don’t come out just right. Smile, take the compliment, and move on.

I’m Drowning

It’s been a while since I wrote anything. I miss writing. But finding time to do so is a whole new ball game now days.

The truth is, most days I feel like I’m drowning. I had lots of people warn me how much work the third child would be. They told me laundry would multiply exponentially. They told me my hands would be full. I was warned. The trouble is, I was warned AFTER I was pregnant.

The warnings are true too. My work load feels as if I went from 2 children to 8! I love my baby girl, and I am so happy she is a better sleeper than her big siblings. But I feel so guilty too. I spend my time referee-ing fights between the older kids, trying to keep up with laundry, attempting to keep the house marginally clean, cooking, fixing juice……. The work never ends. When am I supposed to get to hold my baby?

My first born was held, cuddled, talked to, read to, bathed religiously… I was good at being a mom to one. My second child didn’t wear cloth diapers, and by doctor’s suggestion we cut baths down to just a few nights a week, but he still got cuddles and stories, and all those things. Child number 3? Oh my. She hears books some times. She wears cloth diapers when the budget is too tight not to. She gets held when she is hungry. She swings a lot!

Today I was washing a giant load of clothes, like I do every Friday. I got ready to throw some in the dryer and opened it to find a set of sheets still in there from Wednesday! By the time all the clothes were washed and on the clothes line (who can afford to dry that many clothes?!) all 3 kids had gotten dirty to the point of changing clothes!

I started “potty training” Gracie early — it took her 2 years to figure it out, but I started early. Skeet handed me a toy yesterday and said “hold dis while I go potty.” I remember how I sat with Gracie, held her hands, read her books, gave her jelly beans for going in the potty! And Skeet just took himself the first time he went… of course, that made a mess for me to clean up, so there’s that.

I’m missing things. I can’t keep up with all they do. I can’t sit and watch them learn to color in the lines. Or listen to them “read” books from memory. I barely get them all fed at reasonable times each day; let alone making sure everyone brushes their teeth! I actually had to put teeth brushing on our chore chart, just so I remember to have them do it!

I don’t know how to fit in time with them and still keep my own sanity. Most of the time I’m so overwhelmed and frustrated I snap at the poor kids for everything. I try to teach them how to behave, but it’s hard to do when I have to start by saying “I know you’ve seen mommy do that when she was mad, but…” How is that supposed to work for young minds?!

I’m trying. I’m being more intentional now about some time with the kids (but think I might need to go back to a flip phone to help me focus better when I sit to play.) Yesterday I sat in the hall resetting bowling pins for a while. The day before we colored together. This morning I read a couple of books. I’m working on learning to swim with three kids; but most days, the truth is I barely keep my head above water. I just hope they remember how I tried.

What If…

What if depression didn’t have to be a secret?

What if we didn’t fear admitting anxiety?

What if telling others about our struggles was socially acceptable?

What if we could post “I’m having a terrible day. I want to hurt myself/my kids/my dog…whatever” on social media and our friends wouldn’t ignore the plea but would rush to help us, instead?

What if admitting post-partum depression wasn’t met with “you wanted kids.” As if by wanting kids we some how chose mental imballance too.

What if writing this blog didn’t feel like posting a naked selfie because it feels just as inappropriate?

What if spouses could vent to friends when they need support with a depressed loved one, without feeling judged?

What if we all admitted depression has touched us personally, or some one very close to us?

What if we admitted how scarey and lonely it feels?

What if we changed all this?

What if….?

New Things

My husband recently asked me to stop buying sweets, to help him loose a little weight. I just went to the grocery store, so there were sweets in the house already. I decided to put them away rather than eat them before I begin “not buying sweets.” Pop-tarts have been a breakfast staple around here for a while and they were the first to be stashed. Today I got busy making a slightly healthier alternative breakfast. Here’s what I did:

First, I put a small dot of butter in the bottom of each of cup in 2 12 count muffin tins. And placed the tins in a 350° oven, to melt the butter.

Use your imagination to insert picture here…

I have 3 kids. Taking pictures of every step did not happen.

Next, I scrambled some eggs. I really don’t know how many, because several were double yolked. I’m guessing it equaled about 9 or 10 eggs. I just scrambled the same way I normally do with a splash of milk, and seasoned with salt and pepper. By the time they were scrambled the butter was melted; this served to grease the muffin cups to keep the eggs from sticking. I then poured just a little (maybe 2-3 Tablespoons) of the scrambled eggs into each muffin cup and returned the pans to the oven.

Use your imagination again, it’s good for your brain.

While the eggs cooked, I started making biscuits. I used our family’s favorite recipe, that usually makes about 14 biscuits. But I rolled it out thinner so I could get 24, 2 inch biscuits. Of course, this meant they were thinner, but that worked out well in the end.

Imagine my model awful hands rolling out beautiful dough.

By the time the biscuits were ready to be baked the eggs were done. And while the biscuits cooked I was able to spoon out 24 perfect, little round scrambled egg disks.

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Tada! The kids were eating lunch and I took a picture of the eggs!

Ok, so now I have 24 egg disks, and 24 biscuits baking, the next ingredient is bacon. I admit to cheating this time. The only bacon in the house was a box of pre-cooked. That saved a step, and I just had to tear each piece in half. Cooking fresh bacon, or sausage patties would be another option. Adding cheese would be another option, but I want to skip those calories this time.

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Even better — by this step the kids were laying down for naps! Whoohoo!

Now this is the fun (easy) part. Just open each biscuit, put a egg disk, and a piece of bacon in there, put the top back on and presto — Breakfast Sandwich!

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Yum! Can’t say it has way fewer calories than a pop-tart, but at least it isn’t straight sugar.

And there you go, just continue making these little cuties until they are all made and looking scrumptious, then wrap them individually in plastic wrap, freeze them to make the biscuits hard, toss em all in a zip-lock baggie in the freezer; then just grab and reheat for breakfast. I planned on 2 biscuits as a breakfast, so I have 12 “servings” here.

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Yum, yummy.

These are also a great money saver, for us. We have chickens so the eggs were free, and home made biscuits are super cheap to make. Here’s hoping hubby likes them!

Writer’s Block

I’ve missed blogging the last few weeks but I have had major writer’s block. Nothing really comes to mind…at least nothing that really formulates into anything. So I guess I’ll just give an update on life as a mother of 3.

My little Laney will be 2 months old very soon! Some days that doesn’t seem possible, other days it seems like it has been much longer. She is starting to sleep better now; a huge relief after a very rough first month. She is growing, despite her odd eating habits. (She simply cannot decide if she wants to nurse or take a bottle.) And big brother and sister adore her.

Gracie and Skeet ave adjusted well. Skeet loves to say “hi Laney” over and over…and over. And he gives her kisses. Laney is the only family member to get kisses from Skeet. He blatantly refuses to kiss the rest of us. Gracie likes to be in charge of the swing and is always the one to restart it if Laney stops.

I’d say the biggest challenge by far is getting out of the house with 3 children under 4 years old. Today was a perfect example of that. We recently finished building a back yard fence (YAY!!!) and, as promised, the kids got a new puppy. Charlie pup needed her first trip to the vet today. There was no way for Brandon to get home in time to take her, or to keep the kids while I went; so off we went.

I should mention that Charlie was picked up a stray, when some one found her and her sister in a storm drain. Because of her questionable back ground and possible abuse she has been more skittish than most puppies. That being said we have been diligent to get her back outside quickly before she can make a mess in the house, thus avoiding having to exert heavy authority over her. Sooooo… she isn’t potty trained.

Gracie held little Charlie in her lap all the way to the vet. Then at the clinic we all unloaded, looking like the crazy train had just rolled into town, took her inside, and I constantly prayed not to have THAT pup that pees all over the floor. We had to wait for a bit, and Charlie did good.

When we got called back and finally saw the vet, I’m sure she wondered if I heard a word she said over me correcting and talking to kids, rocking a car seat, holding a puppy… and nodding and smiling. The good news is we managed to leave the vet’s office un-sprinkled and nobody had any serious melt downs. We even made it home with no accidents in the suburban, another huge fear of mine! I mean the Bus gets dirty, and smelly enough without puppy piddle!

In addition to my littles, and a puppy (because all smart moms bring home a puppy with a new baby in the house.) We are stepping up our efforts to remodel our house. The truth is, we don’t see ourselves living in the Texas Panhandle forever. We would very much like to move back to east Texas at some point; but our house needs a ton of work. Some things MUST be done or no bank will approve a loan, if we could even find some one willing to buy the problems. Other things really need work if we want to sell quickly. Plus, we’d kinda like to enjoy our house while we live here, instead of ALWAYS having projects over our heads. So we are attempting to knock some things off that big ol’ to-do list.

We always have brush to clear and burn. And we have tackled the basement now too. The work down there is pretty straight forward, it just takes time and focus — two things that are very hard to come by in our crazy life. At any rate we are hoping to be able to actually use our basement before long, with out feeling like we are in a dungeon some where.

So, that’s pretty much life right now. And this blog is about as organized and focused as I get too, so don’t look for any great literary masterpieces in the near future!

The Boss is Retiring

It’s not very often a college kid lands a good job. It’s even more rare that they enjoy the job so much they just keep coming back, summer after summer; and then stay in touch with their bosses long after they have grown-up and moved away. My husband and I were lucky enough to find that job. And it turns out the second of our two bosses, Mr. Joel “Kerby,” is retiring in a few weeks. With a new baby, there is no logical way to make it to his retirement party, so he asked me to send any good stories we had so someone could share them for us. Since we had so much fun there, I figured I’d share the stories with the world wide web as well.

Real quick back ground here, we started our jobs at the Overton AgriLife Research center  just a couple months apart. I was green! I wanted to learn, but there was so much I didn’t know about handling cattle, driving tractors, fencing, etc. Brandon had more experience, but some how seemed to always catch more trouble, because he didn’t do things Kerby’s way — and that is just no good.

Brandon’s worst day turned out to be one of our favorite stories. We were working cattle one hot summer day. We’d been at it all day and were pushing the stockers back to their pastures. We were all tired, and these tiger-stripes were thirsty and especially dumb. Brandon and I were out of our truck, because we had just closed the gate on our set of calves. Kerby was coming up to the pasture behind us, and as usual we walked that way to make sure none of his critters decided to pass the gate, rather than turn in. One calf acted squirrely and Brandon raised his arms, jumped a bit and “Hey”ed in his typical “listen up, cow” voice. Kerby immediately yelled from his truck “put your arms down A** Hole!” We were all shocked — even Nimr (our more crude, and direct boss). Did he really just say that? I was so mad I almost quit. At the end of that summer, Kerby treated Brandon to ribs at the Country Tavern. Brandon claims that was his, very tasty, apology… he also likes to rub it in that I never got any ribs.

Our project notoriously received the oldest vehicles; all on the verge of death… *sarcasm font* something about us driving crazy…weird. Because we got old trucks we had a few crap-out on us. One of those to die was the “project leader truck.” The transmission started to go, and apparently my sound effects, to describe it’s downward spiral, amused Kerby. He took me around to all kinds of people, the farm crew, random people down the hall, everyone who might care, to have me make the awful grinding whine of that poor dying truck. Then he sent me out with Amanda and told us “drive it til it dies.” I made it from the Center to the main gate of the south farm. Then I called Kerby and said “it died.” He and Brandon towed her back to the center and as far as I know she never moved again.

I mentioned I was green. I mean really green, but Kerby always believed in me. He sent me out to do things I had no experience with, and just trusted they’d get done. He taught me to drive a standard. Let me shred pastures for days with the little 5 foot shredder…because sending me out with the big shredder was a big, big mistake. (Hysterical phone call, and leaking eyes kind of mistake.) He tried in vain to teach me to back a trailer. And he taught me how to work cattle. Yes, Kerby was the perfect boss to force me out of my comfort zone.

Brandon came in with more experience, which apparently translated to “more bad habits to break.” Kerby was hard on him — really hard, some days. The fence tools had to be kept in just the right bucket. The lariet had to be wound back up just so. Fence repairs had to be virtually invisible (difficult at best when you are patching, patches.) And heaven forbid any of the gates be chained wrong at the end of the day! Kerby was the perfect boss for teaching perfectionism at the most extreme level (that stuck too, by the way.)

But I think what we both remember best is that Kerby is always good for a laugh, and he cared enough to push us to improve. Granted the pushing was probably largely selfish because, boy did we have room for improvement, but we appreciated his efforts in the end. I’m sure I owe the boss man a pie for telling on him…too bad he’s too far away to collect on that. Happy retirement, Kerby! And Gig ’em.

 

P.S. If anyone can weasel his home made vanilla ice cream recipe out of him for me, I’d be eternally grateful.

 

Fake it Til Ya Make It

It’s my first week flying solo with a new baby. Three under four years can be a daunting task, especially since I hold myself to some standards. Yesterday went well, and so far today is going smoothly too. Some people would say I’m writing this to brag, and maybe I am a bit, but mostly I want others to know how I survive motherhood, so they can do the same things.

I learned a long time ago that it’s very easy to waste away days in a row if I don’t have some goals each day. In high school I started writing down 3 simple goals each night, that I wanted to complete the next day. It might have been “finish 2 chapters in XYZ book, take the dog for a run, and start studying for the history test.” Or it might have been something bigger. Regardless, I wrote down 3 goals each night, and the next night I would write down three things I had accomplished. Many nights the accomplishments were the same as the goals. Some nights I hadn’t completed the goals but I had done 3 other things. If you are struggling to get a grip on housework, paying bills, laundry, and all the other mom-tasks; this may be just the trick you need to get all those things done.

I don’t write down goals and accomplishments anymore (though some weeks it would help if I did.) Now, I work on a loose time schedule. I say loose, because with toddlers nothing is written in stone. My typical day looks something like this:

  • 6-7:30am get up with the kids, and eat breakfast. Cereal, moms. We have survived on a daily ration of cereal for a couple of years. It really hasn’t killed us.
  • 8-9am get everybody dressed. Make it a non-negotiable that you will put on real clothes everyday. I say skip the yoga pants or sweats and go with jeans or something instead. Look good, feel good. I’m not saying make up everyday (or even ever) but wear real clothes.
  • 9-10:30am start laundry on laundry days. Do laundry regularly. Waiting for it to pile up only makes the task worse. I wash shirts, pants, and white things (socks, towels, etc) every Monday, sheets get washed on Wednesday, and on Friday I do shirts and pants again.
  • 11-11:30am feed the kids and put them down for naps. Do what works best for you. Maybe leftovers are easy, or sandwiches. I fix lunch meat and cheese, yogurt and fruit, or something else equally simple. My kids just don’t eat much at lunch time so there is no point in creating stress.
  • 11:30-12pm ME TIME. This is another nonnegotiable. I’d love to say I read, do a Bible study and pray, or something else productive, but that would be a lie. I use this time to eat my lunch (alone, in peace) and play solitaire on the computer. Maybe that sounds awful to you, but it makes a good break for me. After a few games my brain has reset and then I can go read or something while the kids sleep… or I can nap too.
  • 1:30-3pm kids get up from nap. Some days we get a snack, or read a book together as the kids get moving again. Often we go outside to play if the weather is nice.
  • 4:30-5pm start supper to have it ready by 6pm. Notice all the free time in the afternoons? This is when I can do things like pay bills, play with the kids, or work on projects for myself.
  • 6pm supper.
  • 7pm start directing kids to clean up toys.
  • 7:30pm kids into PJs and read some books.
  • 8pm bedtime for the kids.
  • 10-10:30pm bedtime for me. Notice how the schedule gets tighter closer to bedtime. This keeps the kids on routine and makes tings go more smoothly at the end of the day, when we are all tired and cranky.

Your schedule may look NOTHING like mine, because all families are different, and especially if you have older children in school, or you work outside the home you will have other things to do. But figure out a routine so that you know what is expected when.

I’m no expert at parenting, or time management. But I have learned I can fake it until I make it. If I write down a schedule and stick to it religiously for a few weeks, then it becomes habit and I can get things done more easily. I can set some simple goals and aim to get things done. Sure enough, I get more done than if I had no plan. I encourage you to try the same. Plan your work, and your time; before it just gets away.