Encouragement For The Week

Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow is yet to come.  We have only today.  If we help our children to be what they should be today, they will have the necessary courage to face life with greater love.
Mother Theresa


Revisit-Motherhood and Our Attitudes

I have this quote taped to the inside of my household binder which holds a collection of recipes, homemaking ideas and tips, gift ideas, and most importantly, notes to myself that I've made every few years that I label "rules of life". 

Lately I've been thinking so much about how this quote applies to motherhood, and how our attitude shapes our children's lives and our experiences as mother.

Our children don't have a choice about how they are cared for, but we have a choice when we become mothers about how we are going to embrace our new role.  We have a choice about our attitude towards motherhood and that attitude will make our life and our children's life and our spouse's life stressful or wonderful.  Over the last twenty one years of parenting, I've observed many different attitudes towards mothering and I think attitude truly is more important than circumstance, money, giftedness, skill, education, or appearance as it can make or break a family.  

By definition attitude means "a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically reflected in a person's behavior". I think in this day and age we must be purposeful in cultivating a good attitude through our thoughts and feelings about motherhood as our culture today doesn't send messages that support us.

We've been told, unlike past generations of mothers, that in so many ways raising children can put a cramp in our style, make daily living inconvenient, ruin our careers, drain our finances, and surely we have better, worthier, things to do with our time, energy and talents. We are expected to have and do everything all at once-we are bombarded with materialism and live a faster-paced life then years ago, the opposite of a "settled way" of being. When we realize this way of life is lie, that it is impossible to have and do all, it can easily allow resentment to build. If we expect our children to fit in on the sidelines of our life, and when we demand that they to conform to that lifestyle, they retaliate by being unenjoyable and needy, and we throw up our hands in frustration. Or maybe it's just simply the posturing trend today towards comedic sarcasm and self-pity-a "these darn kids" eye-rolling stance-that can permeate our way of viewing of parenthood if we allow it.

I've had times in my life when I had to remind myself to find some time to step back and take the time to switch my brain from heading down the wrong attitude path. I have attempted to jot down some of the things that have helped me over the years, and some of the characteristics and lifestyles of fabulous mothers I have observed over the years who have maintained a beautiful attitude towards motherhood and family life.

I think cultivating a beautiful attitude towards motherhood means truly surrendering ourselves with a purposeful attitude of gratitude towards our new role.  By that I mean, allowing ourselves to fall in love with our babies, letting ourselves be reformed into something new and start on a brave new learning journey of reshaping our old lives to build a joyous family life together.  It requires letting go of keeping up, shaping up, showing off, moving up, getting away, going out like we did before we became responsible for another's life and it requires giving our energy to something far more important than worldly desires-the child we brought into this world.

Our attitude really comes down to embracing and accepting hard work because motherhood requires this during all stages of parenting. "Work is love made visible" says a famous philosopher.  We must find a way to make this hard work enjoyable and if not, to just do it, knowing we will bear the fruits of our labor. Sometimes it helps just to expect that we will always be required to do hard work and stretch ourselves beyond what is comfortable at all stages of our children's development. We must know and trust that nothing in this world is more more worthy than our service.  It is okay for us to serve our families-sometimes serving them means showing them how they can help us, and other times it means just that-doing the work that is needed to care for our families. 

It comes down to developing a tender connection and a deep bond-knowing mother is important and irreplaceable, and that which there is no substitute-which takes the gift of time given freely, and sacrifice for many years. We must change our lifestyle so that our babies and children are able to flourish and thrive, and we accept that it's not just about what is best for us anymore. 

It comes down to guarding our hearts carefully every day-by that I mean rejecting the sarcastic attitude that makes parenthood seem like a long tortuous journey of interrupted sleep and sticky fingers and too long summer breaks. There's a child on the other side of that sarcasm wondering why he's thought of as a curse instead of a blessing. We must attempt to avoid this attitude like we would avoid the co-worker who constantly zaps everyone's day with her complaining negativity and pessimism. We must choose carefully who we spend our time with as mothers and what we allow to creep into our brains. Attitudes are catching. We must search out positive affirming messages about motherhood. We must find what fills us up, not what tears us down.  

"I get to do this" is a phrase that changes every task from a bother to a blessing.  Whether it be to rock a crying baby in the moonlight, soothe a frustrated toddler, help a slow learner with homework, or stay up late talking to a moody teenager, we must recognize that there are many fellow women whose hearts break daily because they desperately want to be given the gift of motherhood and some that have had it ripped away from them.

I've told the story before of a young mom who lost her toddler in a terrible accident while on vacation-she had said that before she left she was mad about the hand prints left over the newly washed windows and walls that gave her one more thing to do during the hectic time before the trip, and how when she came home without her daughter she searched everywhere to find just one beautiful, precious hand print to treasure. She shared this story to say, stop, slow down, strive to be grateful.

I have had a friend who had to work for the first year of her daughter's life tell me through tears that she had an acquaintance who complained to her constantly about how difficult her days home with her children-"warning" her against her desire to be home.  But my friend cried often when she pulled out of her driveway to go to work, wondering how she could desire so badly what someone else took for granted-somehow that made it hurt more.  Finally the day came when she was able to be home and she rejoices every morning when she doesn't have to rush off and appreciates being the one to see her children change and grow and learn all day long, and says she soaks it all up, thanks God for the opportunity, even if it is indeed hard work.  "I get to do this" is her attitude-an attitude of appreciation and thanksgiving.

Each of our children is a wonderful blessing from God and we are being entrusted with this little being to raise-and receive joy and love and affection that will never be found elsewhere in that process.  It comes down to reminding ourselves to possess overwhelming gratitude towards the gift of being able to raise a child, and to do that we must slow down and unwrap that gift daily with care.  


Encouragement For The Week

I don't recall now whether the ironing was always finished early in the week, whether we had pie or cake for desert, whether the dusting was done each day, or whether Mother canned five or five hundred quarts of fruit, but I do remember that she took "time out" to play with us.

July 1937.

The Farmer's wife 1930's Sampler Quilt
Laurie Aaron Hind


Our Favorite Craft and Art Supplies

A few of our tried and true favorite simple and easy (not messy, no prep) craft and art supplies.  These are the things I say "Go do..." when I hear "I'm bored".

I've mentioned this before-so fun to use, like glue sticks but glide on with color-no stickiness or mess.  We have given these as gifts several times and they are hits!


Great inexpensive art case-I bought one each for Patrick and Janey and they use them all the time.  (And so do I.)

This has always been a favorite (you can see how old and beat up it is) and is NOT for little fingers, but as soon as kids can learn to be careful, they will spend hours cutting book marks and all sorts of things.  For $7.99 it is worth the time of occupation it buys!  I've only had to replace the blades once.

For stories and illustrations.

Fun activity books.  
This is Janey's (7) and she loves it.

These are smaller (6x9) so perfect for toting around to soccer games and football games etc..
Patrick keeps one next to his bed.

Mentioned these a dozen times but love them.

My parents gave me a little set of chairs and a table when Isaac was young two decades ago and we have used that set into the ground.  They seem to contain more than an easel and have a multiple of uses.  (I garbage picked another table because Janey needs extra space for her "work".)

7 Rules

7 Rules Of Life, motivational poster print

Life is good, even when it doesn't go our way, or is difficult or has obstacles you'd least expect to have.  No one chooses hardships-but I have found that those who don't experience them aren't very deep people.  In other words, the hardships in life make you-they make you real, just like the Velveteen rabbit story.  They make you compassionate and happier, and more content, and more empathetic and easier to talk to and more genuine and loving and forgiving.  And they do that by putting you through hell first and when you walk through that, one tiny baby step at a time, you become.

Gratitude is always the way out of darkness.  Noticing the littlest things and being so so grateful for them-sparkling eyes of children and the smell of babies, and gorgeous nature everywhere and to taste and smell and see and hear and walk and talk-if we can do any of those things, we are lucky.  We are all lucky to be alive experiencing life, there are many people who would trade a day with us.


Ordinary Days

My favorite month-September.  Quiet days, and fluttering leaves and brilliant sun, and cool mornings.  What is there not to love?  (Allergies?)

This is Ohio in September-beautiful!  (Thanks for the photo Jillian.)

From my garden.

I love this place.

Aren't these grocery store roses gorgeous?   Why don't brides just buy these and cut them and put them in pretty vintage containers and call it a day for a billion less than they usually spend?  (Why didn't I?)

Lots of birthdays around here.

Apple pie instruction class.


This is SO SO true.  Why does everyone ask me where things are before they even look?  


Encouragement For The Week

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!  
I say, let your affairs be as two or three, 
and not a hundred or a thousand instead of a million count half a dozen, 
and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.  
~Henry David Thoreau


Favorite Things

Some of my favorite things:
I've been using this lately on my face and it's wonderful.  The jar is huge and lasts forever and it's only $12.10! It feels like a much much more expensive moisturizer.  (I also use my favorite oil.)

Premium Pizza Cutter Wheel by Mozzbi, Pizza Slicer cutter - Super Sharp - stainless steel with Protective Sliding Blade Guard, locking blade cover for safety
Our pizza cutter broke and I bought this one instead and love it.  It would be ideal for cutting up little bits for babies to eat if you don't do baby food (which I hardly ever did.) . I use it for waffles and pancakes and even shredding salad in a bowl.

I finally bought some microfiber cloths for cleaning and love these.  

No excuses to not drink enough water -or to pretend you have!


Teen Tips-What I Wish I Would Have Known

1. Don't engage in arguments.  If you argue you make yourself a peer.  Just listen.  State your case.  Understand.  But hold true to what you believe is right, even if you don't KNOW at the time it is right, you get to make a mistake, err on the side of cautiousness, and then loosen up later.  

2.  Starting loose and reining in is so much more difficult.  Also, you are allowed to take your time (hours, days, weeks and months) in spite of their immediate demands of  "can I go, can I have, etc."  Hold your ground until you decide otherwise, or if you never do, they will thank you for it down the road.

3.  Be in a good mood in spite of their moody moods.  This is hard I know, I was way too much of an empath, absorbing their moods which means you will feel crazy.  Set your mood in the morning and even if you have to fake smile at their crabbiness or tiredness or frustration or whatever, let YOUR mood influence them, not vice versa. 

4. Good grades don't always equal success.  Don't get caught up in the competition of GPA, colleges, and sports.  Is he a good kid with a good heart?  Do you see a work ethic?  Is he kind to others?  Those things matter SO MUCH more in life.

5.  Teens all make mistakes.  Don't freak out.  Unless it calls for freaking out, and then you can.  Know what's freak-out-able about and what isn't.  And then after you freak out, TALK.  Take them to lunch, sit on the bed, stay up late (because that's when they usually come alive-dad would have to do this because I had a baby always) and talk.  

6. On dating and relationships-oh boy, this was hard for me because I just felt so bad and worried and concerned over all of it, like it was all happening to me again.  And then I remembered, I survived it.  Even the surprise break ups or the "but I thought she was going to ask me to the dance",  or us really having a great relationship with boy/girl friends that didn't work out, it is a part of life and learning.  I learned to keep my distance a little with all of it emotionally because it can be a rollercoaster.  

7. This one from my mom-ask questions.  Why do you think that is the right thing to do?  What would you do in that situation?  How do you feel about this or that?  What is the end result you are looking for?  IT WORKS.  And it's a way to keep communication open.  

8. From my older kids telling me what I did wrong-when they told me something they heard about someone else or something else or had a different opinion on something I would answer immediately with a judgement instead of just listening and then asking questions.  

9.  You are allowed to take away the phone or the Ipad or the laptop.  And hide them.  And let them withdrawal.  Which might be nasty.  But then they will know what it feels like to have their brains really work again.

10. They will love you again I PROMISE.  It might take some time away (college etc) but they will.  I never thought it would be true in the thick of it, but I truly have an incredible friendship with my 3 oldest who all drove me crazy at times during their teen years, and probably said some bad words under their breath to me while they slammed a door (and I might have also).   I promise, they will come back.  And it's awesome when they do.


Encouragement For The Week

But once I had children, as any mother will understand, my time was never my own again! 
Children simply don’t fit into neat little time packages to be parceled out in advance! 
Even now, the demands of my adult children take my time. 
But I am thankful they come to me for counsel, for love, for friendship. 
Now, it is one of my best gifts to have them as a best friend. 
But relationship is built on a foundation of love given, time invested without resentment."
Sally Clarkson


Life Is Precious

This guy is amazing...and so is his family.  His mom's sister is one of my closest friends.  (And his mom is someone my friend and I both say "Let's ask what Janet would do" because she is that amazing and intelligent and faithful.) I remember the day this accident happened and how terrifying it was for everyone.  Cliff is my oldest son's (Isaac) age- seven years ago, it was just a normal day for him, going to work very very early in the morning at new job site, in another state-a good, good kid doing the right thing, working hard, being responsible.  He fell asleep at the wheel, and life changed forever for him and for his family. 

Please consider giving something, even a little amount helps this organization.


Thinking, Playing, Reading

Thinking:  My goal this school year is to do all these things-get outside, take a nap and get enough sleep at night, fresh air!, exercise and eat right.  A walk talks care of sunshine, air and exercise!
Image result for the best 6 doctors quote

Janey turned SEVEN, and we celebrated with a very simple birthday party which I enjoyed thoroughly because it was SIMPLE.  Her favorite gift from us were Legos-I thought I was finished with Legos in my life, but she LOVES them.  And I've said it before, I think they are worth every penny-concentration, step-by-step direction following, and patience.  And sorting, and neatness, and perseverance.  I (or someone around here) built the first set she got with her and then helped with the second, and now she is good to go.) . I sort of find it relaxing too, even if I am just sitting next to her "helping" (which means doing nothing but sitting next to her).  It's quiet one-on-one time that we both treasure.
(Save $26 off this dollhouse...some of the Lego Friends series are on sale for really good prices!!!!   Doing a little early Christmas shopping myself.)

Great birthday gift to stash away:


I am reading this right now and LOVING it.  The "real" not for children account of Laura's life-the prairie was the simple life but NOT the easy life.  I can't put it down.