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.

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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….?

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 centerĀ  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.

 

One of THOSE Days

It’s been one of those days. You know the ones, where everything you touch gets messed up. Where your day is just one frustration after another. I have so had one of those days. I even managed to mess up taking a nap today!

My rough day actually started last night when i couldn’t go to sleep. When i finally did get to sleep the kids woke me up. Then I couldn’t get back to sleep. And the night ended early with both kids wide awake at 5:45 this morning.

I tried to get the day going right. We ate breakfast and the kids asked to watch a movie. I snuggled Gracie and dozed for a bit. Then I started one of three loads of laundry for the day. With the washer doing it’s thing I wanted to get started on a pan of fudge to take to church tonight. I’ve had my mouth wrapped around this fudge for a week! …I couldn’t make fudge. I had purchased 2 cans of Eagle Brand 2 weeks ago in anticipation of holiday baking. I needed evaporated milk. I had none. I’ve been to town every day this week. I was NOT going again.

Okay, so now what to take for potluck at church? I decided on making my grandmother’s super yummy lemon pie recipe. The one that does call for Eagle Brand milk. I got started on the crust. I had no oil. Melted margarine it is. I’ve never tried it that way before, but here we go. The crust looked fine. I began beating an egg white to fold into my lemon pie. Wouldn’t get stiff. I beat it on high. Still not getting stiff. I beat it by hand…. I gave up and poured a not stiff white into the pie. I started beating egg whites for the cow slobber (yea, I’m from the south, y’all.) I’ve made dozens of pies, people. I know how to make cow slobber. Those egg white refused to get stiff. I beat them until my mixer smelled hot…given how my day was going, I gave up before the mixer died, or caught fire. I poured very un-stiff egg whites over my pie and baked it. It came out looking awful!

By now, it’s 10 o’clock and both kids are super cranky. I fed them a snack and put them down for naps. Then I ate a bite and tried to lay down too. Couldn’t sleep. I had a tension headache like no other, and closing my eyes made it worse. I tossed and turned. Finally, I scooped up a puddle of Gracie to snuggle. That calmed my headache enough to let me at least doze.

It’s after 4pm now, and I’m telling you my day is still not looking up. I made a meatloaf to take in place of the fudge, and pie that were both failures. I painted a chair. I put clean sheets on beds. Those are my accomplishments so far.

Here’s hoping the last 6 hours of the day before bed time, go better than the first.

*** Edit: My day did not get better. It got worse. I ate a piece of the ugly pie. Apparently, pregnancy has made me allergic to lemons. We got half way to church and I had to puke my guts out. Eating hurt. We left before Bible study even started.

The Awesome Side of Pregnancy

There are plenty of places to find scary, gross, weird, or unusual pregnancy side effects. But how often do we talk about the awesome parts?! Like, never. Maybe because they can feel few and far between; but since there are some pretty cool perks to being pregnant, why not celebrate?

Before bed snacking is not only allowed, it’s even encouraged! Okay, so we probably shouldn’t binge on Ben and Jerry’s every night, because if we spend our money on that we won’t be able to afford any more super cute baby clothes! But, seriously, I just ate a hot dog, and a bag of chips at 9:30 — just 3 hours after I ate supper! I don’t feel the least bit guilty…actually, I still feel hungry. Anyone have a slice of pizza?

You just might luck into 9 months of significantly less shaving! Who wouldn’t love that?! I didn’t get so lucky this third time around, but with the first two kiddos, I could go a week without shaving my legs. Whoohoo! Especially by about week 30 when bending over is a full blown aerobic exercise!

People are always saying you look cute! Come on, admit it, compliments are great. And even if most people mean “it’s so cute that you are wearing a beach ball instead of me;” they still say it as “awe, look at her belly — So cute!” They compliment outfits that show the bump, and later they love that your shirt disguises the bump. If you can wear heels, folks just eat that up! It’s great!

You get to be a little bit whiny on Facebook. We all tend to whine occasionally anyway, but as long as you can disguise your preggo whining under some good sarcasm; it goes over a lot better than just complaining that the mail ran late.

Eating. Wait, I already mentioned that, huh? Never mind, I’ll just eat another hot dog and hush on that one.

Sonograms are also really cool. I don’t know, maybe they weird some people out, but I just love seeing baby wiggle and watching the heart beat. Such neat technology!

People tend to baby the pregnant women a little, too. I’m a very independent person, so this one can get annoying, but hey, if some one offers to do work for me so that I can rest…I’m pretty much already asleep.

Speaking of sleep, pregnancy means nap time! The first few weeks naps are pretty hard to avoid. Your body is just gonna take that nap whether you are ready or not. Driving down the interstate? Body don’t care. Better phone a friend. Watching the kids? Naw…I’m asleep on the floor. Snuggling the hubby ZZZZZZ (it’s not our fault men are so warm and cozy!) But even a few months in, when you really could stay awake all day, every day, people don’t blame you for napping. After all, growing a baby is hard work.

Pregnancy is so cool! I don’t know why women only tell the bad parts. I mean, duh, morning sickness is the pits. And of course, labor hurts and there are strangers in the room. Yea, there are some pretty weird side effects to pregnancy, but it’s just so cool. In fact, as much as I may whine on the bad days, I’m secretly a little sad that my baby carrying days are numbered. We don’t plan to be the next 19 Kids and Counting family, so there will be a last baby. There will be a last breath catching, giggling moment of excitement when that little line turns pink. Some day I will feel a baby kicking inside for the last time. I’ll nurse one last night before all my babies are weaned. It’s kind of sad to think about it. (Lucky for me, we don’t plan to stop at 3, so I should get at least one more turn to eat hot dogs at 9:30 at night.)

Don’t believe the negative hype. Pregnancy is such a beautiful thing.

What’s in a Name

Baby number three is getting ever closer. While we still have almost 4.5 months to go, it feels like that may not be enough time to pick a name for our new little one.

Our first two children practically named themselves, since we had friends and relatives we wanted them named after. Baby three has not been nearly so easy. While we do know the baby is a girl (Yay for adorable baby girl clothes!) that hasn’t exactly helped us settle on a name.

Right now we remain in a stalemate, mostly brought on by a middle name that I am incredibly attached to. I came across it by accident a couple of years ago, and fell in love. Joell. It’s so sweet. Feminine, but not overly “girly.” I just love it. But every name I come up with to use it is shot down. Summer Joell was “too hippy.” Molly Joell doesn’t have a good “yell factor” (???). And Samantha Joell was “eh.”

We have even reverted to comparing the meaning of all names to see if we can agree on a name meaning. Hubby wants Sarah Faith which means “princess; faith.” Joell means “Jehovah is God”… so I can hardly see how that isn’t a fitting name. After all our first children are “divine; gift of God” and “Beloved friend; swift.”

At any rate, I am glad we have 4 more months to settle on a name. And Brandon is still hoping we find out baby is really a boy…too bad we don’t have a boy name picked either!

How to be a Female

This week I have seen several articles and post about how hard it is to be a woman in the 21st century. How there are so many pressures. How life is generally harder on women. How we need to drink to dull the pain of our own existence. How media portrays an impossible image and asks us to reach the same perfection. I’ve read these things with some interest…and some complete wander. I mean, can it really be THAT hard to be a female?

Here is what I have deduced from my own meditations on these works: Women (in the U.S. and other first world countries) feel constant pressure to do more, and be better. Women should not feel this way.

I’m going to write about first world women, because that’s where most of the focus was in the things I read this week. I will not pretend that women in many other countries around the world make up their problems, or that their problems could be solved with a new way of looking at things. But I am going to assert that both of those statement are primarily true in the developed world. (If you think that is going to anger you, or cause you to need counseling, you may wish to stop reading here.)

Before you start throwing “women’s rights” stones at me, I do believe women in the U.S. are entitled to some of the basic rights of men. But as far as I know, there are no states that forbid women to walk alone with no escort, prohibit women from voting, keep women from attaining drivers’ licenses, or disallow women from seeking any degree, career they wish, etc. But, I do not believe men and women are created equal. We aren’t from a biblical view. We are not the same from a scientific view. We are really not the same.

My husband has worked 80 hour weeks since April or May. He leaves by 5 or 5:30am many mornings, and does not get home until 8-10pm. He works outside. His pick-up is his office. The world is his bathroom. He takes a lunch and bottled water every day. It’s hot. It’s dusty. It’s sunny. He runs on very little sleep. I COULD NOT DO HIS JOB. Let me make that very clear. I have done long days outside in the heat, and humidity. I have worked long hours in the sun. I have lived on a sandwich and chips. I COULD NOT DO HIS JOB. By this time in the summer, after months of his schedule, I would very likely be in a hospital. The sun, the dehydration, the stress, the hours, the lack of sleep — they would all become to great for my female body to bear.

I stay home with our two children, and work on incubating our third child. I deal with fits. I clean up the same messes every day, sometimes more than 3 or 4 times a day. I change diapers. I wash dishes. I cook meals. I wash laundry. I read stories. I haul children around town, in and out of car seats in hot, cold, rainy, windy parking lots. MY HUSBAND COULD NOT DO MY JOB. Sure, there are many stay at home dads. But mine would go insane. after the third melt down of the day he would probably need the nut house. He has stayed home before. He’s cleaned up puke. He has fixed little lunches. He has changed some rank diapers. But he could not do my job, day in and day out (nor would he want to. I’ve asked.)

So, there ya go. Two little differences in men and women. Now, I know there are plenty of differences between women, alone; and men, alone. I have female friends who could not and would not do my job. And I know many men who could not, and would not do my husband’s job.

But this blog is about women, so we need to get back to that subject. According to what I have read this week, the only way for many women to even survive their life is to drink, and to fight light wild beasts in the work place. I disagree with both statements. A) I don’t drink at all, never have. And B) We are not the same beings, so why do we hold ourselves to the same standards in the professional world? To me that is like asking a giraffe and a lion to perform the same functions in the ecosystem. We really aren’t the same. Do I keep repeating that point? That must be because I want YOU, yes YOU women on the other side of this screen, to quit comparing yourselves to men. WE ARE NOT MEN. We are strong! We are bold! We can make other human beings inside our own bodies! (Try that, dudes!) We can turn heads with our confidence and grace! We can change the world in so many ways! But we can’t do any of these things if we are all wrapped up in trying to be something we are not! Just think about that…

Moms, wives, teachers, professionals, hairdressers, nurses, waitresses, mail carriers, artists — women, we need to just stop trying to be anyone besides ourselves. We need to quit competing with men, and more than that we need to quit competing with one another. I am no fashion model. (Unless boot cut jeans, tennis shoes, and t-shirts are a great trend they just don’t mention in fashion magazines, and on the runway…Could I be so lucky???) I know women who always look adorable. No matter what they wear. And they make bold fashion choices. I’m scared of clothes. I have no idea what pieces go together, and when I can wear fall stuff, or if I need to stash my winter things and wear spring, or maybe it’s still too early?! I just never know. But you know what I have learned? None of it matters. Not to say i don’t have days where I hate every garment I own, because I have more days like that then I care to admit. But wearing what some one else wears, will not make me that person. Besides, there is something very striking about a woman who can dress in plain, ordinary clothes, and still wear a confident smile.

I am not a secretary. I could never do receptionist work. I HATE talking on the phone. I really don’t like people. I can’t stand stupid either. Why would I compare myself to another woman her loves her job in that role? I love to be home with my kids (most of the time.) Why would another woman who doesn’t even have or want children compare herself to the things I get done at home while she is working a job she enjoys? Horses scare me. Why would I compare myself to accomplished riders? You see my point? We are always looking around at what everyone else is doing and thinking “they have it all together. I need to be like them.” Mean while those same women are thinking the same thoughts about us, or about the lady across the street, or about whoever!

You know what makes it hard to be a first world woman, in the 21st century? Women. We do this to ourselves. And it’s ridiculous! I am not you. You are not me. I am not my sister. She is not my cousin. My cousin is not her coworker. The coworker is not her friend. Her friend is not me (unless it is ME. ha!)

Quit trying to be who you are not. Quit trying to dress to impress a certain crowd. Don’t break yourself at work for a promotion you don’t even want. Quit spending money you don’t make to look like some one who has more. Just quit. Just be you. You, the strong, bold, head turning woman who is passionate about what you are passionate about instead of chasing other people’s dreams. Just be you.