2015 Recap in 12 Photos

2015 was a year filled with joy and change. It had ups and downs, but mostly really wonderful ups. Here’s a quick recap of the year in one photo for each month (and BTW, it’s really hard to choose just one pic per month!):

January

My husband and I had our marriage sacramentally blessed in the Catholic Church. It was one of the most memorable and beautiful experiences of the year, made extra special because our girls and closest friends were there to celebrate with us.

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February

Miss turned six and Lass got glasses.

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March

Lass turned three, I turned 39, we had lots of fun celebrating feast days, and we learned a lot through our observation of Lent. I cleaned out this closet (below) and many other baby and maternity items. It was a painful process to give almost all of it away, but it felt like the right thing to do.

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April

We did lots of work on our house to get it ready to sell. We went to visit my parents in Kentucky right after Easter and had a wonderful visit.

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May

Miss broke her arm and lost her first tooth. Miss and Lass started soccer. My husband and I ran the Dam to Dam, a half marathon in Des Moines. We took a big “field trip” to Chicago and visited the Shedd Aquarium and Lincoln Park Zoo.

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June

Miss had her last day of school away from home. We put our house on the market. We wrapped up our homeschool year and hit the road. We went to band practice in Iowa and visited the amazing Grotto of the Redemption. And we took a great vacation to the farm, our only one of the year because of the construction that started there around the time of our trip.

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July

I made the decision to not send Miss back to school away from home for the 2015-2016 school year. It was a huge relief (for both of us I think). Super Friend and I went to the Edel Gathering. My family spent lots of time at the pool and started a new weekly tradition of heading straight to the pool after 9am Mass.

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August

We traveled to Iowa for a family wedding, at which my husband and I and several of his family members performed in the band for the reception. Lass turned five. The girls got adorable haircuts. We started gearing up for our homeschool year, but managed to squeeze every last bit out of summer first.

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September

Miss started first grade, Lass started kindergarten, and Sis started preschool. We hit the ground running with lots of field trips, including a big trip to Louisville, where my Mom met us and spent two days there with us. While we were there, I found out I was pregnant.

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October

We moved!!!

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November

We said goodbye to our old house for good and finally closed on its sale. We took a fun trip to Iowa to visit with cousins and so my husband could butcher our hog.

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December

We celebrated my husband’s birthday by baking him a cake and keeping our tradition of having the girls choose gifts for him at the dollar store. We tried to celebrate Christmas and the special liturgical days of the Church in every way we could. The girls screamed “WOW!” every time we drove past a house with even the slightest bit of Christmas lights decorating it. It was a great holiday season.
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Overall, 2015 was a pretty fantastic year. I kind of loved 2015. Even the parts that were kind of a pain (like getting our house ready to sell, and having it on the market, and dealing with the people who bought it for many months before the closing finally happened) were ultimately for good, as they helped us get to this amazing place where we are now.

I’m happily anticipating what 2016 has in store for us. And on that note, I’m going to add one more favorite photo, just because I can’t not include this one:

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I’m linking this post up with others who are doing 2015 recaps with monthly photos at Revolution of Love. Check it out.

Happy New Year!

Families – Holy and Otherwise

I have had family on my mind a lot lately. Family relationships, family blessings, family conflicts…

I have been thinking about how truly blessed I am to have been given this amazing little family I get to share life with every day.

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And I’m so thankful for the many people I get to count as members of my family.

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^Miss drew these pictures, wrapped them, and gave them to me on Christmas. The top one is our family, the bottom one is my family of origin, my Mom, Dad, brother, and me.

At the same time, I’ve been thinking about how family ties can be strained, stressed, or broken. I’ve had these damaged relationships on my mind a lot lately. I have been praying for those dealing with difficult family relationships, particularly at Christmas, a special family time of year. It breaks my heart to know people who struggle in this way.

Bringing these thoughts and prayers even more into focus, today the Catholic Church observed the feast of the Holy Family — the perfect example of family life. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph provide for us the quintessential model of how we should try to be in our own families. They were kind, loving, charitable, and always focused on how God wanted them to live, rather than on their own plans or selfish desires.

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I try my hardest to be this way with all those I love, and I mess it up in various ways every single day. But today’s focus on the Holy Family reminded me that I have help with my efforts. It’s not just me, all on my own, trying to figure this out. I have a model. And I have the ability to pray for the intercession of the Holy Family and for the grace of God to help me live up to this example in my own life.

I also have Mass, and the sacraments, and the Bible.

And the Mass readings for today were especially moving and relevant to my reflections on family relationships of late. The second reading in particular (which in its entirety was Colossians 3:12-21) was beautiful and just perfect for a day focused on family. Here’s the first part of it:

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.

This. Right here is what family life is all about. I want this in myself and in my family. I want this for all families. For all relationships. For all human interactions.

I feel like I might need to print this out and carry it around in my pocket. Maybe we all do.

I know not all family conflicts can be fixed simply by remembering that God has called us to be kind and humble, to forgive and love each other. But it sure is a place to start.

I pray daily for my family. I’ll be praying for yours too.

Enjoying the Work More Than the Break

Saturday night, my husband and I went out for a nice dinner, just the two of us. It had been quite a while since we had done so. It felt like a much deserved break from all of the work we had been doing on Friday and Saturday, cutting and grinding meat from the elk he got hunting in September and the hog he butchered a few weeks ago, to get it ready for packaging into sausage.

Heading into the weekend, I had really been looking forward to an evening out with my husband. And I had really been dreading all the work of helping him process the meat. It was a given that I would help him, but I was not looking forward to it, and I figured it would just be something to offer up.

The funny thing is, as much as I had been looking forward to dinner as a break from all the work we were doing (and we did have a nice time), I actually had more fun with my husband when we were working together. I enjoyed the work more than the break!

On Friday we spent a lot of time out on our screened porch cutting meat into pieces small enough to be fed through the meat grinder. It doesn’t sound like a terribly enjoyable task, but it was actually a lot of fun. We had music playing, and we laughed and talked as we worked.

Saturday, he ground the meat and we got the whole family involved with packaging it. We had around 60 pounds of elk meat to grind and package, along with pork that had been made into about 60 pounds of brats, 40 pounds of chorizo, and 30 pounds of Italian sausage. I feel like I spent the whole day repeatedly washing the grinder and the stuffer and the huge plastic meat bins.

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But the family was working together to get it done, and it was so much fun. The girls marked all the bags, kept the tape ready to seal the bags, and stacked the filled packages neatly into the bins for taking to the freezer (in fancy dress up, even).

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The girls worked with us on the brats yesterday too, and I just loved seeing how proud they were to be able to help.

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Sometimes the things that bring me joy and help me to feel fulfilled aren’t the things I expect. The best part of my weekend wasn’t the fancy dinner with my husband on Saturday night. It was the companionship that came from working hard with him on something worthwhile. It was the feeling of being a team and being happy to support him. It was the joy of watching my girls get so excited about being able to contribute. These are the real stuff of marriage and family.

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After all the work was done, my husband fired our pizza oven for the first time, and we had a pizza party and family movie night.

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It was an extremely exhausting, and thoroughly enjoyable, weekend.

Trying on Some New Traditions, Also Known As Liturgical Baby Steps

I love this time of year.

I always have, but since becoming Catholic, it’s even more wonderful. It’s become more packed with meaning and different ways to celebrate. I’m a lover of tradition, and we’ve begun bringing in some new traditions to our family to celebrate many of the feast days that are so abundant during Advent.

There are some old traditions that I haven’t let go of, even though many will say that a true observance of Advent means that we should. We still put up our Christmas tree and decorate it fully on the day after Thanksgiving.

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Since becoming Catholic, I’ve discovered that lot of people don’t decorate their Christmas tree or do much, if any, actual Christmas celebrating until Christmas day, and then they celebrate for the 12 days after Christmas. I think that’s fantastic, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to implement that in my family, and I don’t think I really even want to.

I think that’s okay.

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I do try to emphasize the waiting aspect of Advent with my kids. We have an Advent Wreath. We do a Jesse Tree, thanks to Kendra and these ornaments (I did a version of Method B, printed the images provided onto printable and ironable fabric, and then ironed them onto felt – no sewing!). We open different Christmas books during each day of Advent, that I’ve wrapped in purple or pink paper, depending on the week. We put out our shoes for the feast of St. Nicholas.

These are things that I’ve gradually added in. This is only my third religious Christmas, so I’m trying to take baby steps. I’m learning what works for us and what doesn’t. I can do an Advent wreath. I can do a Jesse tree. I can’t not decorate my Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. It’s a family tradition that I love too much. Maybe some year, we’ll decide to move back the day we do it, but that’s not this year.

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This year I’m trying to add in a few new traditions. Tuesday was the Feast (or Solemnity??) of the Immaculate Conception. The girls enjoyed providing a little bit of decoration by rounding up all the Mary statues and holy cards from around the house.

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Front and center was Miss’s Immaculate Conception peg doll that she specifically requested for her birthday a couple of years ago. She was pretty excited to put that out there.

I decided to implement a new Immaculate Conception tradition of eating an all-white dinner, since the Immaculate Conception emphasizes Mary’s purity and preservation from sin. White = pure… so, dinner:

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This dinner was a last minute decision, so I chose things that I could make with minimal effort. Cheese ravioli in butter, roasted cauliflower, and poached fish. The result was okay. The fish was supposed to be halibut poached in olive oil, but I couldn’t get halibut at my grocery store so I had to settle for cod. Then I burned the heck out of my olive oil and had to start over again with vegetable oil. Cod poached in vegetable oil. It was about as tasty as it sounds. BUT, the rest of the food was good and the girls really got into the reason we were eating white food, which is the whole point, obviously. And of course we had vanilla ice cream topped with white chocolate chips afterward. Over all, I’d say this is a tradition we can continue. Next year I’ll plan ahead a bit and chose a better recipe for white food though.

Yesterday we celebrated St. Juan Diego’s feast day. This one was pretty easy to do, because our parish had a “Mary Party,” with our associate pastor in attendance as Juan Diego himself.

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The kids played games and made a craft and they absolutely loved it.

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Saturday is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I’m making quesadillas for dinner, and maybe we’ll do some sort of craft. We’ll read a book about her that the girls will open that morning.

Sunday is St. Lucy’s feast day. This one always seems like it has so much potential for fun celebrating, but I just can’t bring myself to make saffron buns from scratch. Maybe I’ll try at least making cinnamon rolls the way Lacy suggests in this post as something different and special to mark the day. I can probably even manage to craft St. Lucy crowns with my girls or something.

You can see I really plan this stuff in advance.

I think the point for me is that I’m trying to gradually add in more activities that acknowledge the beauty of all our Church has for us to celebrate this season, hoping that these things will become traditions for us and that my girls will look forward to them each year. I try to do this all year long, but this season is special because there’s so much potential.

If we don’t make funny-shaped cinnamon rolls or paper candle crowns on Sunday, I’m not going to beat myself up. We have a book about St. Lucy and I’ll print out a coloring page and call it good. I don’t want observance and celebration of the liturgical stuff to be stressful for me or for them.

Baby steps, right?

Rat Poison and a Trip to See Santa (7QT)

If you are a pet owner and are ever so unfortunate as to see chewed open, and empty, mouse poison bait boxes at the opening to your garage right when you have just gotten your children into the car for a promised and eagerly anticipated trip to see Santa, have no fear. Here is your step-by-step guide for how to handle such a situation:

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These dogs are awesome, but they chew everything.

  1. Go ahead and let your kids get in their car seats. Put Christmas movies on their car DVD players. Don’t tell them about the possible deadly poisoning of their beloved pets yet. This will keep them contained and un-hysterical while you proceed to dealing with potential poisoning.
  2. Call your vet. Get a little freaked out when they tell you that knowing the type of poison and its active ingredient is essential for correct treatment of your dogs (because of course you don’t know this information). Get a little more freaked out when they tell you that you have to induce vomiting in your dogs, as you imagine the horror of sticking your finger down poor dogs’ throats… Get relieved a little bit when they tell you that you just have to give them peroxide.
  3. Get bottle of peroxide. Thank God that you have peroxide. Wander around for a few minutes trying to find something that will work well for administering peroxide to dogs. Thank God again when one of the men at your house working on your kitchen backsplash (who overheard your conversation with the vet) mentions that he had to do the same thing with his dog and that it worked well to put the peroxide in ice cream.
  4. Put leashes on your dogs and take them outside with bottle of peroxide and a spoon. Realize you need bowls and ice cream. Start to take the dogs back inside to mix up a concoction for them. Answer questions of your now-starting-to-get-a-little-impatient children with a (mostly) cheerful, “Please be patient girls. Mom just has to take care of something with the puppies before we can go.” Get bowls and ice cream and mix the prescribed amount of peroxide into each. Take dogs outside on leashes again with bowls of peroxide-laced ice cream. Feel a little guilty as the dogs eagerly lap up the ice cream. Walk around with them until the desired result starts happening. Smile and nod at the roofing guys working on your house when they look at you like you’re nuts as you’re holding your retching dogs on leashes.
  5. When the purging is completed, go inside again and put dogs into their kennel (just in case they aren’t quite done vomiting). Go back out to put in a new movie for youngest daughter who has informed you that she needs a new DVD (Christmas movies are so short!). Realize that her DVD player has stopped working. Bite the inside of your cheek to keep from swearing. Try to fix DVD player and fail. Continue to resist the urge to swear. Again plead with children to be patient as you go back inside and call exterminator who placed the bait boxes in your garage many months ago. Thank God again that he answers his phone and provides the information you need.
  6. Call vet’s office with the active ingredient of the poison. Wait for receptionist to speak to vet. When she says the vet is with a patient and will have to call you back, use the time to Google the probable course of action and go out and address the DVD situation. Explain to children that you might have to postpone the visit to Santa because the dogs ate some mouse poison and you will probably have to take them to the vet. Deal (mostly) calmly with the wails and protests and cries of “Are the dogs going to be okay???”
  7. When the vet’s office calls back and tells you you will have to bring the dogs in to be weighed so they can get some medication, put them back on leashes, load them in the car, drive 25 minutes to the vet’s office, get said medication, drive 25 minutes home, leave kids in car, take dogs inside, give them medication, and go back out to car to take kids to see Santa, even though it is now over two hours after your intended time for leaving to do so. Offer up the fact that your kids (and you) will again be skipping nap/quiet time (for the fourth time that week). Take a snack out for kids since it’s now lunch time and you have a 30 minute drive to the mall. Relish the cheers that come from your back seat when you tell the kids they’ll be going to see Santa after all. Thank God that your dogs will be okay. Then enjoy the heck out of the rest of your day.

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I’m linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes Friday. Even though it’s Saturday.

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A Little Secret…

Well, now it’s officially out there – my little secret that hasn’t really been much of a secret because I’ve only halfheartedly been keeping it one. Anyone who has seen me in person in the past two months is well aware of it, but I made it “Facebook official” this morning, so I’m happy and excited to finally write about it here as well.

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^^ This was me at approximately 4 weeks pregnant, so clearly this “secret” hasn’t really been very secret.

Baby #4 is due to arrive sometime in late May or early June. My actual due date is May 31st, but none of my girls paid any attention to that and were always late, so I’m anticipating a June birthday for this little one.

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^^ 13 weeks ^^

I feel really at a loss for how to adequately express the joy and gratitude I feel about this baby. Of course, I’ve been overjoyed each time I’ve been pregnant with one of my girls. Obviously. But this time it’s just sort of different.

This time it’s a little more intense, because it took so long to get here. After two and a half years of doctor’s appointments, and injections, and procedures, and many negative pregnancy tests, and two miscarriages… this feels a little miraculous.

Add to that the fact that I now have an understanding of and appreciation for the hand of God in creating this new life (which I didn’t have with my girls since I had all of them before my conversion), and it’s all just really amazing, and I don’t know how to explain the overwhelming emotions I have about all of it very well.

Here’s one way to illustrate it a bit:

We told the girls about their sibling about a month ago, after I had my first doctor’s appointment and ultrasound. The ultrasound tech happened to print out three pictures of the baby that all looked just about the same, so we gave each of the girls one of the printouts and asked them if they knew what it was. They made a few random guesses, and then one of them said, “Is that me in Momma’s tummy?” “Nooo,” I said. “That’s someone in my tummy, but not you.”

The dawning realization that was flickering across Miss’s face as she began to understand, and then the pure joy on all of their faces when we confirmed for them that they were holding pictures of their sibling was absolutely priceless.

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They’re pretty excited.

They tell everyone we see, from their gym teachers, to the pastoral associate at our parish, to the grocery store checkout lady. They are constantly hugging and talking to my belly. Miss has checked out books from the library about how babies develop in utero. It’s all quite adorable, and I’m soaking it up.

I’m trying to savor all of it, even the exhaustion, lower back pain (already!), weird cravings (anything with eggs, especially sandwiches with eggs over easy and sausage/egg/cheese biscuits, McDonald’s french fries, and Indian food, all different from the cravings I had with the girls if you’re wondering), and other pregnancy symptoms.

Joyous. Amazing. Miraculous.

I think that sums it up.

 

P.S. Thank you all so much for the wonderful outpouring of love and support we have received with this new blessing. I appreciate every hug, smile, and kind word from each one of you.

Lasts and Firsts, Old and New – A Little Nostalgia

I’m feeling sentimental tonight.

In the past few days my husband and I pretty much finished cleaning out our old house, in preparation for closing next week. We will be pre-signing the papers tomorrow.

I’m thrilled that our old house is almost sold.

I’m also a teeny, weeny bit sad.

Sunday and Monday I took the girls to the house to play outside while I got some work done, and watching them spend their last moments playing on their old play set and in our old yard nearly made me cry. Nearly.

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^^ A last picnic lunch on Sunday ^^

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^^ Monday they played in our old yard for the last time. Ever. ^^

It’s funny that I don’t really feel like I’m going to miss the house, but I have so many memories of my girls in that yard, and my husband with my girls in that yard, and our family with our friends in that yard, and I’m all nostalgic about it.

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This is somewhat nonsensical, because I obviously have tons of memories with them in the house too, but that’s how it is.

Fortunately, we are always making new memories, and we have a pretty great place for some wonderful ones.

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We are so blessed and have so much to look forward to in this new home, and I’m certainly not going to spend my time pining for an old house that I’ve been quite happy to leave.

Except for a few minutes tonight. Tonight I guess I’ll remember and miss that old place just a little bit.

Tomorrow we’ll go back to making memories here.

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Country Living

I’ve mentioned before that I was raised a definite city girl. My Dad is kinda country, and so I grew up knowing a little about camping and fishing, and had a dead animal hung in my garage for a few days each fall (which I think gives me some major country cred, if there is such a thing). But overall, growing up in a suburb of Detroit left me pretty citified.

My husband, on the other hand, is a born and bred country boy. I think he has been longing to live in the country forever, and now that we’re out here, he’s like a pig in slop. Me? Let’s just say, it’s growing on me.

Country living is pretty different. We have satellite internet out here and no more TV (which has actually worked out just fine). My husband went out back a few weeks ago and chopped up an old tree so we would have some fire wood. Now we have mornings like this:

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We’ve even been doing our morning homeschool reading in front of the fire.

It’s so quiet and peaceful here. And dark. Man at night it gets dark here!!

This is my view out my bedroom window every morning (though usually not so gloomy):

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The girls and I have watched eight turkeys walking across in front of those trees back there, and I’ve seen a coyote heading into those same trees.

Today a stray dog wandered into our yard and just hung out on my back patio for the better part of four hours while I tried to track down someone to come and get him (and while my own dogs howled from their kennel, because I wouldn’t let them out while the stray was here).

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Country government moves a bit slowly, for sure. I had to call the town chairman at his house and he wasn’t home. His wife said she’d have him call me, and when he finally did he gave me the home phone number of the town dog catcher. I was surprised, and pleased, that the “dog catcher” was a little old lady who has her own set up for taking in lost and/or stray dogs.

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It’s kind of nice having no visible neighbors, but a bit isolating too. I mentioned in an earlier post that we really aren’t that much farther away from most of the places we frequent, but somehow I feel like I’m so much farther from everything and everyone.

I suppose I’m just getting used to this new normal.

It really is so amazing here. I feel like I need to start canning and chasing chickens around or something. I guess that will come soon enough once we plant our garden and get chickens in the spring. Before you know it I’ll end up just like Ma Ingalls.

Country living indeed.

 

Is the “Competitive Mom” a Thing?

We’re having some landscape work done at our new house, and the guys doing the work like to listen to a local radio station while they’re here doing their thing. The other day I was outside wiping my dogs’ muddy feet (for the 1437th time), and I happened to hear the DJs on the radio station commenting about what makes a “competitive mom.” The DJs were two men and a woman, and they seemed to be reading a list of things they had found somewhere about what supposedly makes someone a competitive mom.

I was a bit surprised to hear these radio personalities discussing this topic, and as I was listening to their conversation, I was thinking to myself what a ridiculous thing it was for them to be talking about. I’ve heard of the concept of a “competitive mom,” I suppose. More often I’ve heard disparaging remarks about “Pinterest moms” and “overachieving moms.” Whoever compiled the list these DJs were reading on air seemed to have combined all of these mom stereotypes into one to create this inventory of seemingly offensive things a mom can do to qualify her as “competitive.” Here are a few that I remember (paraphrased):

  1. Spend weeks making costumes for your kid’s school play
  2. Bake over-the-top baked goods for your child’s school bake sale
  3. Make sure your child always has the latest and greatest gadgets
  4. Arrive a half and hour early to save front row seats for your child’s performance in something

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There were a few more they mentioned, but these are the ones that stuck in my memory. For each one, the male DJs would read the offense, and the female DJ would scoff at it, as if it was a completely ridiculous thing, and basically say, “No way, I would never do that.” As if actually baking items for a bake sale instead of buying them from a bakery was a terrible thing for a mom to do.

I attempted to look up the list, and found what seems to be the same one (interestingly on a different radio station’s website). Here are a few more of the “offenses”:

  • Make fancy desserts for your kids to pass out on their birthday
  • Throw amazing parties for events such as Halloween, Easter, and Christmas
  • Make the most amazing and expensive party bags for favors
  • Enrolling their kids in extracurricular classes like music or computers

You can look at the rest of the list here if you’re interested.

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So, here’s what I think about this list, and other lists like it: they are utterly stupid.

Now, I’ll say that I can probably think of a few characteristics or behaviors that might lead me to think of someone as a competitive mom. Most moms have probably experienced interactions with or heard stories about the “one-up” mom or the pushy mom who insists you do things the same way she does or you’re wrong.

But honestly, ridiculing moms for going the extra mile for their kids is just a jerky thing to do. Maybe there are some moms who go overboard to try to compete with other moms, but I have never had the feeling that another mom was baking cupcakes or PTA-ing at me. Most of the time I think that moms do the things they do for their kids because they love them and they want to show them in ways that they might just to be especially talented in.

I happen to really enjoy throwing special birthday parties for my kids, complete with fun favor bags that go with the party’s theme.

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I also love sewing and/or otherwise crafting cute decorations for my kids’ bedrooms. It’s just my thing.

Once I baked really ugly pumpkin cupcakes for Miss’s kindergarten Halloween party. I’m a terrible baker, and I was so excited that I actually used real pumpkin in them, that I mentioned this to a few other moms.

Did they think I was bragging or trying to compete with them? I sure hope not, but maybe.

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I’d like to think that instead of rolling our eyes at or ridiculing moms for doing things we might not choose to do, we could just say instead, “Wow, that was such a cool party she threw for her kid, she must really like doing stuff like that,” Or “She has such a skill at baking, how cool that she shares it in that way to support her kids”?

I think it’s awesome for a mom to spend extra time doing something special for her little ones. And I’ll bet that 99 times out of 100, that mom is only thinking of the joy her efforts will bring to her kids, and not about anyone else at all.

The idea of the “competitive mom” is probably not a complete myth, but I do believe it is a highly overblown and misrepresented notion. What do you think?

Home At Last – The Move and a Few Kitchen Photos

So, it’s been over a month since my last post. Between packing up our old house, unpacking in the hew house, homeschooling through it all, and losing my ability to wake up at 5:30 every morning, blogging lost out in the juggling of my time. I’ve wanted to blog, but a few other things have had to come first for a while. However, most of the boxes are unpacked, and I’m finding a bit more time here and there now to squeeze in some writing, so I’m back.

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And we’ve moved finally! Our moving day was October 10th, and the big day was kind of surreal. My husband comes from a large family (three sisters and two brothers), and he decided that, instead of hiring movers, he would call on his siblings to see who could help us. Many responded to the call, so we rented the biggest U-Haul available and got almost everything in the house packed, labeled, and ready for their arrival.

They descended on us like and army, and under the direction of my father-in-law, they moved like a well-oiled machine. The old house was cleaned out in what seemed like a matter of just a couple of hours. They ordered me to stand at the door of the new house and direct all items coming in so they would go to their correct place. It was quite an awesome spectacle to see, and I was humbled by their willingness to help. Not only did they spend an entire Saturday doing heavy lifting, they drove over five hours to get here on Friday night, and they left around dinner time on Saturday, because some of them had to be back in Iowa for other commitments on Sunday. That is some family dedication there.

So, we are in the new house. It’s amazing. It already feels like home, and I love it. I’ve had to get used to being a bit farther away from the places I usually go. We’re out in the country now, and though my drive to most of my typical destinations (the grocery store, church, Super Friend’s house) is only five minutes longer, it feels like we’re sooo much farther away, and so I plan trips “to town” instead of just going quickly to grab whatever I need whenever I need it.

Here are some photos to give you a quick preview of the new place and some of my favorite things in my new kitchen.

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^^My big farm sink with a nice wide window sill above it for all my things.

I debated for a long time whether to get this big single-basin sink or to stick with a double basin. I was nervous that I would miss having two separate sides to my sink, but I don’t at all. This sink is huge, and I just love it! I also like having the disposal button right on the counter just behind the sink (it’s the small round button to the left of the soap dispenser). I didn’t plan for this and didn’t even know it was an option, but one of the electricians asked if it would be okay to do it this way and I said, “Um, okay.” It’s so handy, I’m glad he suggested it.

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This picture includes several of my favorite things all together. The range. The pot rack. The book shelves with my beloved cookbooks. The panes of slightly wavy glass in the very top of the cabinets, so my special things can be displayed. The island with one of the pendant lights barely showing on the edge there. This is honestly my dream kitchen. I haven’t done any really major cooking yet, but I’m looking forward to many wonderful meals prepared and shared here.

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We waited so long for this house, and I feel so incredibly thankful to live here. We started trying to buy land to build a home over four years ago. Prior to finding our current place, we had accepted offers on three different properties, that all fell through for various reasons (Divine intervention, obviously). Then the purchase of this land took many, many months because of driveway and road frontage issues. Finally, the actual building of our house hit a few significant delays and took almost 15 months to complete.

But it was all worth it. It’s just what we dreamed of, and we’re home at last.