a mom’s work

Last Saturday I sat down with bryan and started giving him The List of how I was really doing a pretty terrible job with everything—I hadn’t managed to get the bathtubs cleaned this week, or work with Zu on her kindermusik homework, or write anything all month, or teach Zu letter recognition and memory verses which I really should’ve been doing by now, and bryan was like, hold on—this past week we were all sick, you were worried about things with your family, AND you are pregnant–I didn’t notice any of this or expect you to have any of this done.

And I realized that complaining about what I haven’t done is pointless. What am I looking for, sympathy? I set these goals mostly for myself. these are things I want to get done, no one is keeping tabs on me or grading me on whether or not I accomplish them.

so instead I decided to not really complain about those things to him (or to friends) unless its to ask for help with getting them done or advice on how to accomplish them. (“do everything without complaining” Philippians 2:14)

Instead of complaining, I’m going to tackle the List by taking away things that don’t really have to be done This Week (writing can wait a week if need be) and by prioritizing things I want to get started on sooner (alphabet scripture memory verses!), and just getting them done.

Sometimes I can get really firstborn must-excel-at-everything about things and feel like a failure when I’m not keeping up with things that I’m not passionate about. I love being a mom and wife—it is my calling and blessing for sure!—but I’m not as “in” to some aspects of it as other moms I see.

Like I love reading to the girls and taking them to the library, but I’m not so into cooking completely organic/gluten free/etc, my mostly(with cheating)-from-scratch method is fine enough for me. I love painting and dancing and drawing with the girls, but I’m not very good at putting together my own set homeschool plans and sticking to them every week, doing worksheets here and there and learning from what pops up in life has been good enough for me so far.

Some things I think its ok to lower my expectations—like with cooking, as long as it is healthy, I think its ok if I don’t always cook organic or grow my own vegetables. Some things I plain need to work harder at and get better at. Like party hosting—I am not one for big parties, but my kids and husband have extrovert personalities, so that means I need to work a little harder at my party-throwing skills.

What I think is also helpful is instead of looking at other moms who are doing an awesome job at something I’m doing a C- job in and getting intimidated/jealous/depressed about it, I can ask them how they do it and maybe learn a little bit from them on how to do it better.

And then when they want to learn how to write a poem, I can help with that, for sure, right?

Ultimately God has given me some good work to do and its foolish for me to complain about any part of it, especially the parts of it that I’m not perfect at yet. its sometimes overwhelming work, not so easy work, stuff I’m not good at or don’t love type of work, but it is always really really good work, and I’m thankful for it.

How To Make More Time For Your Writing (or for whatever!): Meal Planning

I know a lot of moms that are way into meal planning—like, they have Binders dedicated to meal-planning. And honestly, I think that is awesome—if you love it, go for it! I’ve never personally been passionate about cooking, though, since having kids, I do cook more from scratch than from not (I do cheat with some mixes now and then, depending on how recently I’ve had a baby). My priorities with recipes are: how healthy the recipe is, how delicious, how quick I can make it (in that order).

I do a variation on meal-planning where I dedicate each day to a different type of food (see chart below). This is just what my family happens to like, you might find there’s some other exciting category that works better for your family.

Monday Chinese
Variations: stir fry, pad thai, sesame chicken, fried rice, etc.
Tuesday Mexican
Variations: tacos, burritos, taco salad, taco soup, Mexican pizza, fajitas, etc.
Wednesday Homemade Pizza
Variations: calzones, various toppings (we like bbq pizza and Hawaiian pizza). There are homemade crust mixes that are pretty good, but also easy premade crusts you can buy.
Thursday Homemade Soup or Salad
During the winter, we have soup, during summer we have salad. There are lots of good soup mixes if you don’t have time to make something from scratch.
Friday Fish
Variations: tilapia, salmon, sometimes various other seafood like shrimp. Usually I pair it with some veggies.
Saturday Chicken
This is very broad—sometimes I make baked chicken, fried chicken, seasoned chicken, etc. paired with veggies.
Sunday Pasta
Variations: ravioli, spaghetti, tricolor rotini, etc. a really great easy after-church meal.

For lunches, we eat leftovers, sandwiches, and salads, to keep things simple!

What I’ve liked about this meal planning is that if I don’t have a lot of time, I can resort to old stand-bys for each day (Chinese Monday: stir-fry, Mexican Tuesday: tacos, etc) but when I’m feeling adventurous, I can slip in new recipes that fit in the different categories. The categories are broad enough that I can play around with them (like Chicken Saturday—that’s pretty much wide-open!), but specific enough that I can text my husband to start cooking lunch if I’m running late, and he’ll know what we’re having.

So really this way of “meal planning” takes the planning out of it entirely—which leaves time for you to think about other things, like that poem you’ve been meaning to write.

What are some ways that you save time in the kitchen, when your schedule is hectic?

book news — a finalist!

I have some exciting news—Keeping Me Still is a finalist for the Jacar Press 2014 Julie Suk Award for best poetry book published by an independent press in 2014! The full list of finalists is on this link: http://www.jacarpress.com/readers/

I’ve got some stiff competition, so I don’t expect to win, but I’m excited to be included with a list of other poets that I enjoy reading!

from afar

Bryan reminds me that in the story of the prodigal son, the father saw the son coming from afar, which means the father was watching for him, likely every day, scanning the horizon, hoping for a glimpse of the son he loved, hoping this son who said he would never come back would return to him. As soon as he saw him turned towards home, returning, he ran to him, despite the pig-sty smell of the son and the wasteful excess of the son and the prideful hate of the son. So I know that I too can wait for a loved one to return, “be of courage, and wait” on the Lord to act, to turn him toward home. Even when it seems hopeless.

community

It is easy to get out of community with church. b and I used to lead a small group at our house, but with a second colicky baby + the meeting being on Friday nights, it became too much and we called it quits. so we went almost a year without a group.

I noticed, a year out of any set small group that it was easier to be discontent with the church, easier to take offense at the church, less desire to attend, to take the trouble. And during that same year my side of the family began to be ripped apart by the selfish actions of a certain member of the family. Sin can destroy so much so quickly.

We got to a point, this December, where we decided that even if it meant only me and the girls going to a group (there aren’t any groups that meet when b is off work), we must must must get back into community with our church. we hadn’t realized how much support we were getting from community until it was sporadic, whenever-we-can-get-together kind of support.

we miss sitting around the dinner table weekly telling other brothers and sisters in Christ what is going on with us, what spiritual battles we’re fighting. we miss all the kids running around playing and fighting and tugging each others hair and we miss those nights our table was full and then some, chairs pulled up all around.

I think church community is a little (imperfect, maybe burnt on the edges) taste of heaven really. Because my personality shouldn’t like it at All—an introvert entertaining a dozen people in her house weekly, and loving it? eating dinner with a big group of people, some of whom I’ve never met before? no. that is not me. But its me in Christ.

One thing I learned in 2014 is that it matters very little what interests, life experience, stage of life you have in common, if you have Christ in common, then you are family.

If it were up to me, I would’ve kept waiting to stumble upon all the artsy writer types (who are also young moms and maybe work a little outside the home) to find my community in church (guess how many of those are in my church? that is right: one!). I’m thankful that b. led our household in a direction I wasn’t comfortable with—into the crowd. Into fellowship with Athletes and Popular Girls and, good gracious, even Sciencey Types.

So as the family I was born into suffers, crumbles even, i don’t need to feel that I’m left without a family—the one I was reborn into is forever. And now we’re reaching back out to it—pulling up our chairs to the table.

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14 weeks!

Baby size? the size of a lemon!

Foods I am loving? Grapefruit, vegetable soup, and I’ve been craving chocolate like crazy but I’m cutting out desserts for the month to get back on track after the holidays

Foods I am hating?
Nothing at all! I’ve not been the least bit sick the past couple weeks, and nothing sounds gross to me. This has really been helpful with cooking for the family—no chicken or beef aversions to work around with this pregnancy!

Best moment this week?
I’ve been relishing life with two toddlers lately. I’m excited to have a third baby, but I know there are some things that we will give up for a good long while and some things that will change forever. I appreciate my eight hours of uninterrupted sleep, the girls’ consistent schedule, being able to go out with just a diaper and sippy thrown in my purse. Not worrying about tiny toys getting swallowed, not having to change more than one set of diapers (j. will not be out of diapers by 2—I’m not that skilled of a potty trainer). Having a little breathing room really, from constant dependency (though toddlers come with their own challenges).

Movement? The little flutters are getting more and more pronounced—I can’t wait for the girls to be able to rest their hands on my belly and feel the baby kick too!

Symptoms? Tired and a little achy sometimes (especially my back—I’ve got to stop carrying june around!)

What I miss? Drinking as much coffee as I very well please!

What I’m looking forward to? I’m looking forward to finding out the gender but not on pins-and-needles to know. I’m about 90% confident that we’re having a boy (and bryan is moreso!). but when we find out for sure (in about 6weeks), I can start working on the nursery and picking out little outfits, all that fun nesting stuff. I also feel much more connected to my baby when I know the gender—instead of picturing “Generic Baby” as part of our family, I can start thinking of a face, a name, how he will change our family dynamic. I’m hoping for a super-chill baby this time—j is a bit of a firecracker and z loves the drama!

Emotions: I’ve been a little nervous about the spring semester starting, since our schedule is fairly busy the next few months, but really being a little more busy has been a welcome break from brooding over the intense family drama of the past few months. With classes to teach and little girls (and a husband) to take care of and books to read and poems to write, I don’t have much time to dwell on sad things. and lately I’ve been working on “casting my cares upon Him”—and instead enjoying the good things I have and thinking the good things that are coming, the happy highlight of the year, adding a new little life to our family.