Real Housewives of E2S: 2:50 pm

As soon as they heard the chocolate chips bag crinkle, they were right there in the kitchen to help me make muffins.  If only their sense of hearing were as acute when I’m hollering through the house for everyone to get ready to go to Bible study/swimming lessons/doctor appointments/church/etc…

 

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Hidden Art Friday

I was listening to a podcast on the way home from taking my husband to the airport at 4 am, and when they started discussing Edith Schaeffer, I knew I needed to dust off the old HAF tradition and recommend it to you, dear readers!  Plus it’s been a while since I’ve shared recommendations and links.

First of all, I am loving the What Have You podcast, featuring Rachel Jankovic and Bekah Merkle, both of whose writings inspire and encourage me.  The hosting is funky, and I haven’t been able to download them with my BeyondPod app, but you can download them directly from the site.  I love how these sisters share the domestic details of their lives (strategies for washing socks, finding the perfect piemaking cookbook, reglazing windows) as well as practical parenting strategies, and, in the most recent podcast, a great discussion of why homemaking and college education are not at all incompatible.

On my own domestic front, I had a couple epiphanies about my struggle to keep house yesterday.  My amazing in-laws are in town for the week, and yesterday, they and my husband took the kids on a hike in the afternoon while I stayed home and puttered around.  I was able to put things away, tidy up the entire main floor of our house, reshelve dozens of books, sweep, run the roomba, start dinner prep, start a load of towels, call one of my best friends who I haven’t talked to in weeks and get an update on her (difficult) pregnancy, put away a few things from our last moving box (which is very slowly being unpacked, finally, up in our bedroom), and then sit down, relaxed, in a clean room that had stayed clean for over an hour!  I realized what a great help it is to have family around.  I think those of us who struggle with keeping houses and children together while living out-of-state from family should cut ourselves some slack.  It might not seem like much, but having local family who could take my kids for a couple hours, not just when I have appointments or need to run errands, but just because, would drastically change my life.  If you do have local (helpful) family, be thankful!  Also, having all of my kids gone for the afternoon gave me this little picture of what my life as a SAHM would be like if I weren’t homeschooling.  I definitely feel the call to homeschool and would be heartbroken if my kids weren’t home with me, but my house would definitely be a lot cleaner and I would be a lot more put together if I didn’t have my crew around, undoing my housework, 24/7.  If you’re a homeschooling mom like me, please remember this when you compare yourself to friends whose kids are out of the house seven hours a day.  Maybe the rest of you all don’t struggle with my insecurities when it comes to judging your housekeeping skills, but I need to remind myself constantly not to compare apples and oranges.

And while we’re talking about housekeeping, I want to share a cookbook recommendation with you!  Some friends just gave me Better Baking, a new cookbook by a friend of theirs.  If you’re the kind of baker who likes sneaking in more whole wheat flour or cutting down on refined sugars but finds those “healthy” dessert recipes you pinned on pinterest underwhelming or downright gross (my husband still complains about the chocolate chip cookies I ruined with chickpeas), this is the cookbook for you.  There are a lot of recipes that call for specialty flours or ingredients, but she has actually explained WHY she uses those ingredients and what properties they add to a baked good.  Don’t get me wrong, these foods are not guilt-free (though our family joked that since I used whole wheat flour and fresh squeezed orange juice in J’s birthday carrot cake out of this cookbook this week, it was “health food”), but I personally have found the recipes I’ve tried to strike a good balance between positive nutritional content and having a dessert that actually still tastes yummy.  Bonus: if you have dietary restrictions, she has plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, and vegan options.  Anyway, stick it on your list, and maybe someone will buy it for you for Mother’s Day!

On to recommended links to read!  This one on what research (and common sense) tell us about raising children (hint: letting them get out and play, a lot!) confirms to me why I’m homeschooling my kids, particularly my son, right now.  Best line: “Most of us spend hours each day sitting at work. Science says it’s killing us, and we have developed all kinds of fads to combat it–from standing desks to smartphone alerts to get us up and moving.  Armed with that knowledge, however, what do we force our kids to do each day at school? Sit still, for six or eight hours.”

And along the same lines, I loved this Circe blog post about how not all good and valuable things can be measured by a standardized test!

Did you catch this beautiful piece on embracing the sacrifice of motherhood?

And I need to read and reread this post on Motherhood as a Craft: Cultivating Wonder.

Okay, my kids are up and want to snuggle before breakfast!  Have a beautiful Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Posted in Hidden Art Fridays | 1 Comment

Motherhood as Sanctification

Today I was going through old posts on our family blog, and I came across this post from five years ago.  I’ll copy it in its entirety:

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E suddenly entered the terrible twos this week.  Butter in Daddy’s coffeemaker.  Dumped out all her tiny choking hazard elastic bands on the floor right in front of the baby.  Emptied half a brand-new container of clorox wipes into the toilet.  Got into the fridge and ate the tips off of a bunch of strawberries.  Got into the hand lotion I’d bought for our stocking for a soldier and spread it all over herself, her clothes, and a bunch of toiletries for the stocking.  Dropped her sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich on the kitchen floor and ground it in with her heel.  Tore open the granola bars for the soldier stocking, and when my back was turned, egged T on to cut the tags off the baseball cap I’d bought for our Operation Christmas Child shoebox.  Whereupon I announced tartly that it was quiet rest time and everyone had better wash their hands and get into bed.  At which point she pooped in her panties and sat down on the potty, smearing it everywhere, and wiping it up with the hand towel.  This was all in under five hours.

By the time everyone was down for naps and the poopy clothes were in the washer, my sinus headache had grown to a full-blown throbbing body ache.  I just had enough energy to cry out to God, “Please help me.  I can’t keep doing this!”  What a way to start a week that will have my hubby gone Tuesday evening for a candidate dinner and out of town Wed-Sat for a conference in DC.  One or two instances of severe naughtiness in a day don’t phase me anymore.  It’s the cumulative effect (plus fall colds) that knocks me off kilter.  (The afternoon included incidents with a pencil sharpener, the toilet bowl brush, the rest of the clorox wipes, more poop, an overripe banana, stickers, and two more wardrobe changes.)  Several times lately, I’ve been so tempted to just shout, “I’m done!  This is too much!”  Rachel Jankovic recently had a great post on this whole phenomenon.  She notes,

I think it is common to have this mental ideal of what your days as a mother are supposed to be like. We think that if we were doing it right, then it wouldn’t be this hard. Of course there are a lot of ways to improve what we do, that make things easier. But it is like improving the form of a runner. They still have to run in order to use it. It still won’t be easy. You can continue training to the point that you are no longer puking in the bushes and all red in the face by the end of the first block, but you aren’t ever going to take the running out of the running.

She’s great at reminding me that right now, motherhood is instrumental in my sanctification.  I keep thinking I’ve been at this for almost five years and shouldn’t be surprised by anything now, but I guess I have a lot more growing to do!

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I thought I’d share this blast from the past with all of you to say a few things.  First, toddler days are hard.  I think my life is crazier now with my kids being older and having to juggle activities and tween issues and whatnot, but it’s not harder.  Two year olds are hard.  The two year old in the scenario above was by far my easiest child.  She is generally a cheerful, helpful, sweet right hand woman.  But even she was difficult at two!  Moms of toddlers, you are in a hard phase.  I promise that you’re not stuck there forever.

Second, with five year’s distance from that crazy day, I can see the progress of sanctification in my children and myself.  I’m writing tonight with a horrible cold that has knocked me out of commission all week (while my husband has been busy at work), but I’m managing to hold it together better than the Emily of five years ago would have.  I see that as God stretching and training me to keep my temper, to have patience, to feel compassion for the child who is really just pushing all my buttons.  And while my kids did bicker and act up today, I see the progress in their lives, not just in basic maturity (which helps!), but in growing to want to please God (and please me).  I’m not saying that motherhood is no longer a challenge for me or that I don’t still lose my temper way too often, but that when I look back over the past decade, I can see progress in my own heart and mind.  When you’re in the trenches, it’s hard to see that growth, but I want to encourage you, dear readers, that it’s happening, slowly but surely.

Third, I was reminded by my 29-year old self that whatever crazy stuff my kids throw at me in a day, I can choose to be complain or look for the blessings.  It’s hard when we’re sick and tired and our kids are sick and tired and we probably let them watch too much PBS Kids and the house is a mess and there’s nothing for dinner.  I’ve been there–we all have been there!  We don’t need to pretend we love cleaning up kid poop while hacking our lungs up and breaking up fights over stupid toys.  It’s not fun.  But we can check our attitude when we respond to a super stinky day.  And after the fact, we can try to laugh at how crazy it was and how we all survived.  I have wise friends who encourage me to laugh about these things.  Do you have friends who will listen sympathetically and help you react to your rough days in a positive way?  Can you use your own experiences to empathize with and encourage others?

We’re all in process, my friends.  Press on!

Posted in For New Moms, Friendship, Home Life | 1 Comment

Real Housewives of E2S: 11:40 AM

Yes, why don’t we go ahead and pull out every type of math manipulative game we own and play with them all at once while all of our schoolbooks and art supplies are still out, especially while your brother has a building project in progress and the electrician is coming to work in this kitchen in 20 minutes.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this great idea myself!

About the Real Housewives of E2S Project

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Posted in Homeschooling, Real Housewives of E2S | Leave a comment
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