Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

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10 on Tuesday 6-29-11

1. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying summer and although it didn’t feel like I was getting much done, I looked around the other day and saw a multitude of small but important things I’ve gotten done over the past couple weeks, like cleaning out closets that were driving me in!  freaking!  sane!  And so forth.  The past couple days have felt like a bust though, probably do to my abysmal lack of to-do lists.  I already have my list written for tomorrow.  So for the zillionth time I won’t forget to clean and vacuum the van so I’m not humiliated every time I open the door of the beast that could also be known as the French fry mobile.  (Thanks to my brother in law for the term.)

2. Speaking of my brother in law, he had a birthday this month which reminded me how glad the rest of us are that he is in our family.  He truly is my 3rd brother.  I almost told him that he fits in so well, but I thought that might be in insult.  Ha.

3. I’ve never seen the appeal of Spanx.  Then I had my 5th child.  The end.

4. We canceled cable and got a summer membership at the Y recently with the idea that we would go swimming several days a week.  We’ve been once.  Of course there are good reasons, but…We’re going again today.  Yay.

5. My rally cry this summer has been Carpe Diem!  I’m a planner and rarely does “fun” fit into my endless plan of laundry, cooking, and grocery shopping.  So I’ve purposefully tried to be more flexible and drop all for spontaneous fun like swimming and having friends over.  I have to say that I’ve been singularly inspired by Kelle at Enjoying the Small Things.  It’s admittedly easier to seize the day with 2 preschoolers (her) than 5 children of varying ages (me), but hey—I’m giving it a whirl anyway.  We’ll never have fun otherwise.

6. I’ve been spending a few minutes in the hot sun each day.  Turning some color of beige would be nice, but mostly I notice a difference in my mood when I get sunshine without interference.  I feel so happy!  I know it goes against modern “wisdom,” but…

7. Think about it.  God made people.  God made sun.  I’m fairly certain he didn’t make people to stay inside all day.  Of course, the world is broken so I’m sure there is such a thing as sun damage, but let’s use some common sense shall we?  It can’t be all bad.  I read something by a very pale girl yesterday who was saying that we should wear sunscreen every day, even if we don’t plan to go out, because we might get sun walking from the parking lot to the store.  So the solution for this evil sun God made is a toxic stew of man-made chemicals.  Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.  I do tend to burn and so do my kids, and we do use sunscreen sometimes, but I know that for healthy people, sun is not the great satan we’re told it is.  I’m thinking about this and reading a bit, but I haven’t researched it thoroughly yet.

8. I started sketching today.  Just out of the blue.  For the first time in years.  I’m not good at it, but it’s fun.

9. I don’t often advertise it, but I’m no stranger to rigid, aberrant religious organizations and spiritually abusive movements.  I’m so thankful for a husband who truly understands God’s grace and who disciples our family to that end, for a wonderful Jesus-centered church, and for God’s healing.  Anyway, although I did participate in legalistic groups/movements through much of my early life, I was never in Bill Gothard’s ATI organization.  However, here is a very insightful letter from someone who was.

10. This has gotten long and possibly quite narcissistic.  This is probably why some people aren’t fans of blogging.  Well, consider it my stream of consciousness letter to far-away family and friends.  Maybe I’ll be back with something insightful soon!



{image source unknown}

I wrote here that I really needed to come out of the thrifting closet.

 Then my friend Chasity wrote this inspiring post about her adorable thrifted outfit.  LOVE!

 And when I hit my favorite thrift store yesterday, I knew I HAD to post.  I have found great items at thrift stores, and yesterday was a perfect example.  Silk blouse from Dillard’s, tags still on—original price $59.  For less than $1.  And then I found its twin in a different color on the other side of the rack.  Yes, please!

 Thrift stores once had a stigma as the places where poor people shopped.  Not any longer.  I read an article recently (can’t find it now, darn!) about a new book which explains that the movers and shakers in the fashion community are no longer designers.  They are fashion bloggers, many (most?) of whom create their own styles from vintage and thrifted finds.

 The Sartorialist took street-style blogging to an art form.  Bluebird Vintage is another good example of this, I think.  I love Jen’s Frugal Fashionista posts, which are really more realistic (and not as cutting-edge trendy) for the average girl. There are thousands of these blogs, and as people have learned what amazing finds are waiting to be discovered at the thrift store, it’s become mainstream, even trendy, to thrift.  The shaky economy contributed, I think.  Seriously, why spend $60 (or $100…or more) when you only have to spend a buck?

 I hardly ever set foot inside a retail clothing store any more.  The other day I went to New York and Company, which has historically been one of my favorite brands—their clothes have always fit me well.  But I’ll tell you a little secret, I’ve never bought anything from the store.  I’ve gotten it all at thrift stores.  I looked at all the pretty clothes, even the clearance racks and thought, why should I pay retail prices when I can thrift this brand for next to nothing?  When I set aside time to shop thrift, I almost always find brand new things with tags still on.  Beautiful, beautiful clothes, one time expensive European shoes for my daughter, even house wares.

 So if you haven’t tried thrift store shopping, don’t be afraid!  It’s addictive.  I’m no fashion diva (which is why I’ll never be a fashion blogger), but I have had such fun putting together cute outfits on the cheap.  Thrifting has been a fun and creative way to be the best possible steward of my family’s clothing needs.

 What about you?  Do you thrift?  What are your favorite finds?


Body Image

Thinness as ideal beauty has been on the American scene for a long time.  Girls have been pressured for years to be very thin.  I know people who let their morning weigh-in determine whether they have a good day or not.  Our identity is so often wrapped up in how skinny we are.  In a culture with so many eating disorders and so much pressure to look a certain way, how can we help our girls to have a healthy body image?  I have more questions than answers.  But with 3 duaghters, I think about this a lot.

Beautiful women weren’t historically portrayed as super-thin.  This painting is by Mary Cassatt.

And Rubens, of course, is known for his substantial beauties.

But even in American culture, the pressure has mounted.  Here’s Doris Day…

Eva Gabor…Slender but not skinny…

Sophia Loren.  Wow!  What a beauty!  But she’s pretty heavy by today’s standards.

And of course, Marilyn Monroe.  She wouldn’t get a second look today.  Instead of being a sex symbol, she’d be selling Nutrisystem with Kirstey Alley.

By contrast, today’s fashion magazines that our girls read tell us that they should look like this.


And this…This girl should be the poster child for anorexia, not working as a model in the “beauty” industry.

Most celebrities are skinnier than celebrities used to be.  Look how tiny Kelly Ripa is.

Even Jennifer Garner, one of my favorite ever actresses…How adorable is she?  But is this degree of thinness realistic or even desirable for most people?

When celebs put on a few pounds, our culture views them as fat.  Back to what our girls see as “ideal”.  Tyra Banks is a Victoria’s Secret supermodel.  That’s what our culture values as beautiful.  So when she gains 30 pounds, she’s considered “fat.”

Does Jessica Simpson look fat to you?  Me either.  But the media had a field day with her weight gain.   They scream in our daughters’ ears that if you weigh this much you are fat.  And ugly.  Doesn’t that break your heart?

As much as I disagree with her beliefs, I think Oprah Winfrey is a great example of someone who is confident and beautiful without  having to be a size 0.  Isn’t she pretty?

I wonder, as moms, how we can help our daughters.  Certainly we want them to be healthy.  Obesity isn’t good for anyone.  And whether we like it or not, we are influenced by our culture to some degree.  There is a weight where we all feel pretty–we just want to make sure that, for our girls, it’s not unrealistic and that they don’t base their self-worth on that.  They need to know that they are beautiful even if they aren’t at their “perfect” weight.  And for younger girls, it shouldn’t even be on their radar (although it probably is because they hear so much about it, no matter how sheltered they are.)

I hear that we as moms should be good role models.  Do we constantly fuss about our weight, check ourselves in the mirror, smooth our tummies, and talk about our thinness or lack thereof?  Do our little girls grow up believing that they are less if they weigh more?  Do we tell them they are beautiful no matter what, and then sabotage that message by our intense, vocal dissatisfaction with ourselves?  It does no good to try to shelter our daughters from society’s lies if we believe them ourselves.

I hear that we should simply focus on healthful eating and make sure our kids are active.  I’m a low-energy person, especially after having 5 kids in 10 years.  But one of my goals is to be active with my kids, to play sports with them and just have good physical fun.  I want my children to see me making good choices.  I fail at this a lot.  But I hope that most of the time I’m able to pick myself back up without too much drama and make better choices the next time.

So, like I said, these are the things I hear and the things I hope to do–but I have more questions than answers. 

So I really, really want to hear from YOU!  Tell me what you do to help your daughters be healthy and secure with a healthy body image!

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Thrifty Curtains

Excuse the horrible picture quality.  I’m such a novice with my camera.  But I wanted to talk a little bit about thrifty decorating.  DISCLAIMER: I’m no decorator, as anyone who has been to my house can tell you.

I’m learning.

I have never been good at decorating, first because I just didn’t know how, and secondly because I didn’t feel I could justify the cost.  I wrote once about how I spent a lot on some bedroom drapes once and vowed never again.  I have read a lot of blogs by women who have created beautiful homes on the cheap for their entire lives (one of my favorites is The Cultivated Nest).  They encouraged me that I could do it too, so I started trying to think outside the retail box.   At Christmas I created some pretty window treatments with clearance curtains and ring clips and I was happy with the change but it was a lot of red.  For $9 I could live with it, though.

The other day I was at the thrift store.  Yes, I shop there.  I will have to write a post one day about coming out of the thrift store closet.  I have found so many treasures (often new with tags) for pennies on the dollar.  Anyway, Tuesday the ladies were putting out their new stock and one of them asked me “Are you looking for curtains?  These just came in.  They’re $12.”

Well, I wasn’t sure but I grabbed them anyway.  Nice curtains and drapes go quickly at the thrift store and I wanted to have them in my hands in case anyone else was looking too!  In the end I decided that since these curtains would go well in our room and they were clean and in perfect condition, I’d shell out the $12.

I’m SO glad I did!  I washed them and hung them the next day.  They were too thin and filmy to block out as much light as I needed, so I did sew a double lining on the back, using flat sheets I had.  (My kids hate sleeping with flat sheets, so yay me, when I buy a sheet set I have extras for projects like this.)

There’s no real profound purpose to this post except to encourage you all that we can make pretty changes in our homes that don’t cost a lot.  I constantly hear women say “I can’t decorate because I don’t have much money.”  I am realizing that is not true!

While I was at it I gave the rest of my room a mini makeover, mostly just decluttering and changing a few items from darks to light, neutral colors.  Let me tell you about this rocking chair.  When my oldest was born, a friend gave it to me.  She had used it in her son’s nursery.  (He is in high school now!)  My babies and I have logged MANY hours in this chair!  The denim upholstery had become faded and worn and didn’t match anything else I had, and I thought about replacing it.  But since this little one is our last, I wanted to use it for sentimental reasons.  It’s sweet to rock my littlest fella in the same chair I’ve used to rock all my other babies.

Throwing a (wrinkled) sheet over the chair works and extended the life of my favorite rocker.  So again–cheap and easy.  I like it and that’s what matters.  I’m no designer, but I’m trying to keep open eyes for inexpensive ways to make home a pretty, comfortable place for my little family.  To me, that’s the fun of homemaking!

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10 on Tuesday

1. I love hydrangeas. They are my favorite flower of all time. I almost lost my beloved hydrangea bush to drought this week. Caught it just in time!

2. Then it rained. YAY!!!

3. I’m so happy that school is out. This is going to be a short summer break for us, but I am savoring every moment. During the summer I feel like I actually get to have fun with my kids and be a real homemaker, instead of drilling their little heads full of knowledge all day.

4. I’m not teaching VBS this year—again. Baby is too small and still nurses too often for me to commit to whole mornings. I hope I can work in preschool VBS next year. I *heart* preschoolers!!!

5. In church Sunday, we were challenged to think about what we worship. I was thinking…It’s so easy to worship our callings instead of the one who called us. It’s easy for being a wife, mom, and homemaker to become The Most Important Thing when Jesus should be The Most Important Thing.

6. I liked this post from Parisienne Farmgirl about how expensive it’s getting to feed a family. Couldn’t agree more. When I first got married, over 11 years ago, I could buy a full buggy of groceries for about $100 (and moan and groan about how expensive it was). Now I might be able to get 1/3 of a buggy full for $100. MAYBE.  (At least at the regular store.  At Sam’s I do somewhat better.) What are you doing to save on your grocery budget?

7. My sweet friend Jen reminds us to remember the poor. Yes, groceries are expensive but I’m pretty sure most of us aren’t truly going without.

8. Today I got a beautiful set of drapes (4 panels) for $12. I also got a really nice dress for my daughter for $1. I’ll have to write a post about this sometime. A lot of smart ladies inspired me to be creative in how I buy these kinds of items, and I get a big thrill out of amazing bargains.

9. As I write about frugality, I hope it never seems that I come across as complaining. I’m insanely blessed, my husband is an excellent provider, and his employer is generous and great to work for. Nevertheless, we are a large, one-income family and these little gremlins require a certain amount of carefulness in order to cover the costs of things like swimming lessons, socks, and food for their adult-sized appetites. To me, it’s about stewardship, not some kind of poverty mentality. And bargains make me happy. I think it I were a millionaire I’d still love a good bargain.

10. My baby is huge. My arms are stronger than they have been in years just from hauling him around. But he’s oh so sweet. He “talks” to me so earnestly! I wish I knew what he was saying!

Happy Tuesday, friends!

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Simple Summer Eating

After doing a lot of research, we recently decided to eat differently—focusing on healthy proteins, fruits, and veggies, giving sugar the boot (for real), and reducing grains, especially refined grains (moderate amounts of oatmeal and brown rice get to stay).

 {Just to clarify, this is just how we are eating at home.  I never want to be the family that is a pain to see socially because they are always on some special eating plan.  When we are out, we eat whatever is put before us.  But at home, we try to stick to our plan.}   

 I was positive that this would be SUCH a pain, but to my surprise, it has been really easy.  Seriously, how simple is it to grill meat, steam veggies, make a huge salad, and finish with fruit?  In learning to eat healthfully, it seems that baking, soaking grains to make them more digestible, and coming up with all kinds of recipes really is the most time consuming part of eating healthfully.  On the flip side, dealing with carb cravings has been the hardest part.  I think I would have just about killed for a chocolate chip cookie for a few days after we started.

 Anyway, I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to shop, and how much I get for my money.  At Sam’s I can get a LARGE quantity of fresh (and some frozen) fruits and veggies, plus some meat and eggs, for around $100, as compared to about 1/3 of a buggy full of packaged foods from Wal-mart.

 I made a master menu (worked on it for several weeks), and a grocery list to go along with it.  Fingers crossed—so far that part is going well, too.

 I’m excited.  This is a great start for us.  Summer was a great time to change our eating, because produce is plentiful and cheaper.  As the months progress, I hope to add other healthful foods to our diet (such as more homemade bone broths and fermented probiotic foods).  But…Baby steps!

Now if my missing blender bottom would turn up, we’ll be set!

 What about you?  Any words of wisdom?  Have you made any healthy changes lately? 

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday.