Hidden Art Friday

Happy Friday!  Here in SoCal, we’ve been baking in the 90s and 100s all week (and last week), so we have the kiddie pool out and in heavy use.

poolA new friend of mine is struggling with some long-term health issues, so I’ve been trying to make her a meal every week or so to give her a bit of a break.  Many of the meals my kids love (like chicken pot pie) are a bit more labor-intensive, but it’s often not that much more work to do double.  So whenever possible, I try to make double and freeze or give away one.  One meal that doubles (or quadruples) well is Cheesy Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole from Picky Palate.  And I always give bonus points to something that can be baked in the crockpot on days (like today) when it’s too hot to use your oven.  We love this recipe for Chicken Mirabella from foodlets.  I always triple or quadruple it when chicken goes on sale!  Though the recipe tells you to bake in the oven, I’ve found that it works just as well in the crockpot for 3-4 hours (or until chicken reaches 165 degrees).  (Don’t forget that we have a crockpot recipes board on pinterest!  Follow us there for more ideas.)

What are your favorite double-and-give-one-away meals?

Posted in Good Food, Hidden Art Fridays | Leave a comment

When Mom Leaves: Attachment

Have you ever seen this sign outside a day care?

“Available openings. Now accepting babies from 4 weeks.”

If you go search on mommy forums, you’ll find that plenty of women are thinking about putting their babies in day care. Maybe not quite this early, but most before their baby’s three-month birthday. If you peruse these boards, you’ll find the mothers deeply conflicted, wondering if their baby will be all right in day care. Will he be sad? Will he get used to it? Unfortunately, the all-too-common response on these boards is from women who have also put their babies in day-care this early, assuring the new mother that everything will be fine.

Why are new mothers so conflicted about this? If we believe what the feminists tell us, that anybody can change a diaper, we should be eager to pass off this mundane task to somebody else and pursue our careers. But most women know, instinctively, that this is wrong for their babies. They are tortured by the decision, and only the chorus of encouragement from other working moms gives them reassurance.

So today, I want to talk about what all women know instinctively: that something important is going on in the early months on your baby’s life, no matter how mundane caring for him may be.

The National Institute of Health describes attachment thus: “Attachment is where the child uses the primary caregiver as a secure base from which to explore and, when necessary, as a haven of safety and a source of comfort.” Helpguide.org tell us, “The secure attachment bond is the nonverbal emotional relationship between and infant and primary caregiver, defined by emotional responses to the baby’s cues, as expressed through movements, gestures, and sounds. The success of this wordless relationship enables a child to feel secure enough to develop fully, and affects how he or she will interact, communicate, and form relationships throughout life.”  A baby’s ability to attach to one single caregiver will be one of the most important factors in their future emotional well-being.

We know now that the first years of life are critical, and that what happens in the early years will affect a human being for his whole life. (Dreskin, 124)

So how does attachment happen? It starts before a baby is born.  Babies begin attaching to their mothers as soon as they can hear and recognize her voice, and become accustomed to her movement pattern. After birth, this process of attachment continues through physical touch and care. All the little, repetitive tasks that a mother does for her baby encourage the baby to trust her: diaper changes, feeding time, bath time, walks in the park. All these tasks, that truly anybody could do for her baby, are one-by-one helping her baby to trust her, and through that trust, to learn that people are trustworthy.

What seems to feminists the most degrading job in the world is actually teaching a tiny person how to trust, first and foremost, his family.

It is important to remember that the care of the child under three is the care of the developing personality, not the formed personality. It is the ongoing emotional relationship and bond established between the infant and mother—and later between the infant, mother and father—that becomes the basis of the formation of the whole personality. Secure children are much more able to establish themselves as unique individuals than insecure children. (Hattemer, 79)

It makes sense that a task this big—the forming of a child’s ability to trust—would not be a quick job. The nature of the tasks that must be done in the first few months of a baby’s life exclude the idea that quality time can trump quantity time. There is no way to change a baby’s diaper in a ‘quality’ way. It is only through quantity that the baby learns to trust.

The sum of the thinking of these authorities is that attachments and quality of care influence learning from birth into the school years. The strength and quality of attachment is principally determined by the amount and kind of care given by the mother or mother figure. For those mothers who suggest that they give “quality time” in lieu of quantity of time, we feel constrained to ask if they or their husbands may do that at the office. The affectional bond gives stability to children’ uncertain world and contributes to a healthy independence. (Moore, 102)

Through the next few years, the child continues to learn that he can trust his parents. This base of trust enables him to safely start exploring the world around him. It gives him a base of security from which he can become independent.

An attachment is an affectional bond that gives stability in a world full of uncertainties. The mother or mother figure to which the child has become attached affords a safe base from which to explore the unknown, a place to which once can return when things “out there” become too threatening. An emotional stability develops that builds a desirable independence and makes possible a child’s persevering in spite of frustrations—to stay with a task until a goal is reached. (Moore, 102) 

During the first three or four years of life, the child undergoes an enormous expansion of intellectual, emotional, and neuromuscular development. From the very beginning of life outside the mother’s body, the infant seeks to relate to, and to bond with, the mother by means of reflex actions of contact-seeking, rooting, and sucking. This bonding relationship is essential for the later development of the child’s capacity to form human relationships, thereby to become a socialized human being. It forms the basis for the individual’s ability to think clearly, to develop a sense of property, to respect others, and to learn. (Rinsley, 44)

I think it is safe the say that this is not an unimportant job. The responsibility for forming a well-adjusted and emotionally stable adult is mind-boggling. The nurture of a baby is not limited to the physical acts of feeding and changing diapers. It is through these physical acts that the baby learns the building blocks of human interaction.

Mothers who care for their own children are doing an important job. They are not old-fashioned, following some out-moded tradition. They are giving their children the upbringing which the most up-to-date research has determined is best.

There are those who say we cannot afford to have mothers remain at home. They must enter the workforce and be productive, we are told. What could be more productive than raising children to be caring, compassionate, ethical adults? (Dreskin, 135.)

Next week, we’ll look at what happens when this mother/baby attachment is interrupted.


Works Cited:

Schlafly, Phyllis, Ed. Who Will Rock the Cradle. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1990.
Dreskin, Wendy. “Daycare: A Child’s View.” Schlafly 123-138.
Rinsley, Donald B. “A Child Psychiatrist Looks at Child Care.” Schlafly 43-54.
Moore, Raymond S. “Home Grown Children Have the Advantage.” Schlafly 85-114.
Hattemer, Barbara. “New Light of Daycare Research.” Schlafly 69-83.

Posted in For New Moms, Having It All, Importance of Mothers, Using Our Minds | Leave a comment

Telos and Motherhood

Early in the days of this blog, some of you commented that it’s easy enough for Anna and me, with humanities BAs but no advanced degrees, to give up our career path or integrate it into staying home with small children. But what about a woman whose gifting (and professional training) doesn’t obviously jive with full-time motherhood? If my friend involved in cutting-edge mathematical research were to leave her job to stay home with her children for a few years, she would be left behind and could never rejoin her field at the same level. Why aren’t we saying the same things to men? Is our position unfair to women? Those are good questions, and I hope we’ve answered some of them on the blog thusfar. And they all deserve much more time than a quick blog post.

In my quiet time this morning, I was studying Ephesians 2: 8-10, where God talks about our telos, the end for which we were created:

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We’re not saved by our works, but we’re created for good works.  God gave us unique interests and gifts so that we could bring Him glory in various ways. Our salvation, our personality, and our privilege (living in a free, first-world country where we can “follow our dreams”) are all totally from Him. We honor our Designer when we do what He designed us to do.

As women, God gave us a few unique giftings. He made us physically able to bear children and, in most cases, to provide all their nutritional needs for the first year of life (or longer)! God made us to be nurturers in a different way than our husbands. (And I want to emphasize that my adoptive friends have been given just as much of a mother’s heart for their kids as I have.) What a noble and beautiful gift we mothers have been given: we have the privilege of being everything to someone who is totally dependent on us in those early years. It doesn’t stop there—of course we’ve also been given talents and interests in various other areas. The Proverbs 31 woman, and indeed many noble women in Scripture, glorify God and fulfill their telos in countless other ways as well, some of which earn money, and some of which simply bless their families and their communities. But we can’t just latch on to the part of our telos that most appeals to us and skip over the fullness of God’s design for us.

We’ve talked about seasons of life, and we believe that God may call us to different tasks in different seasons. For the single woman or the empty nester, walking in the good works God has prepared for her to do will look different than for the child, the sick pregnant woman, the young mother. I struggled with feeling helpless during my pregnancies, as they are difficult and draining. But as my pastor preached to us yesterday, I am no casualty of God’s plans.  God knew when He designed me that I would have morningsickness and back problems, that I would be spending hours and hours over the toilet or in agony on the floor, trying to force my hip back into its socket so that I could get up and change a toddler’s diaper. He gave me (and my husband) grace to get through those times, and He wasn’t calling me to oversee a public ministry or earn money (or even cook meat) during those times. I’d moan to my husband at the end of a long day of morningsickness that I’d accomplished nothing, and he would remind me that I’d kept the kids alive and safe and that I was growing a baby—pretty huge accomplishments! My illness wasn’t a mistake; God didn’t call me to be a mother and then forget to give me the tools to do my job. Maybe part of His reason was to help me see that in His Kingdom, less activity is sometimes more. Maybe He knew that I’d be writing a blog for women who wonder if “just” caring for children is enough. As a type-A, perfectionistic firstborn, maybe I had to not be able physically to “do it all” so that I wouldn’t try to. I won’t know all the reasons until I see Him face to face.

In the meantime, I’ve had to try to follow God’s lead to do the things that He’s made clear to me. I am a mother, so I’m going to do my best to bring my children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. God gave me passions and abilities that I’m not using right now, but my college degree is not being wasted even though I’m not teaching a British literature class or living in a French speaking country. Part of the reason God blessed many of us with education was not just for job training, but to shape our character. I’m using that training every day! Recently, one of my dear college friends—an unmarried historian—stopped by for a visit. She’s currently using some of her gifts to teach history and get her students to think and see their faith in the context of historical fact. While I know she’ll be a great mother one day, she’s not using all of those particular talents at the moment. She’s doing the good works that God has provided her to do right now, and those may be different than the good works God has for her in five or ten years. The same may be said of my friends who are lawyers, nurses, mathematicians, and musicians. An impressive career at the top of a given profession is not the only way to honor God with our talents. Indeed, the God who humbled Himself when He took on flesh and took on the form of a servant, washing His disciples feet, is less interested in our job title than our heart attitude, and that can be great or rotten in CEOs and housewives alike.

When we’re kicking at the goads, complaining that life is unfair, let’s refocus on our calling to bring God glory in every aspect of our lives. And as mothers, it doesn’t hurt to reread GK Chesterton’s words on the large and enormous vocation of being everything to someone!

Posted in Biblical Defense, Having It All, Philosophy of Motherhood | Leave a comment

Hidden Art Friday

Happy Friday!

LukWe have changed up the way we do school a little bit this year. Isn’t that the way it goes with homeschooling? Every year, something’s a little different.

I decided this summer that our jam-packed schedule was too much for me last year, and that I wasn’t getting to do the things with the kids that I enjoyed. While I realize that the point of school is to educate your kids in all areas, including the ones you don’t like, the fact of the matter was that we were all just too stressed out with everything we were doing for school. So this year, we dropped a lot of it.


So this year, we are focusing on doing only a few things well, and spending the rest of our time doing activities we really enjoy. In the morning, the kids and I do a quick Bible time together. Then I spend time with each kid individually working on their math. I do each child’s entire math assignment with them, without thinking about anybody else. This allows me to really track their progress well, and help them with areas that aren’t as strong. It also allows me to deal with confusion with problems or concepts right as they’re trying to figure it out. As a bonus, I love math, so doing all their work with them has been enjoyable for me.

In the afternoon, we focus on grammar. While math sometimes takes us the entire morning, grammar is usually much shorter, so it can be done in about an hour for everybody.

What are we doing with our free time? Things we love. I spend time working with our special needs daughter on fine motor skills and speech, as well as reading books to her that she enjoys. The big kids spend time doing critical thinking workbooks that they enjoy, or just picking a book off the shelf for their own enjoyment (for my son, this includes science textbooks. Bonus!). And overall, we are reading more together. I’m using this year as an opportunity to catch up on books that I wish I’d already read to my bigger kids, and books that my little kids enjoy, but are too young for the big ones. Right now, I’m reading At The Back of the North Wind with the big kids, and The Wind in the Willows with the younger set (sometimes the older ones listen, too). We are also slowly working our way through Swiss Family Robinson together, usually reading a short chapter at lunch time.

Four weeks into the school year, we are all enjoying the new schedule. I am a lot more relaxed, and don’t feel like school takes us all day, right up until dinner time, to finish. I love that we’re expanding our literature knowledge, and that I’m getting to spend time with the kids doing some of the things that I really love. I’m hopeful that this year of school will teach them to love these things, also.

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!


*this post contains affiliate links*


Posted in Hidden Art Fridays | Leave a comment
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