Friday, September 28, 2012

Tales From A Stay-At-Home Mom: Where Is My Worth?

Western Wall in Jerusalem
I once read an account of a mother who left a high-profile job after her child was born to stay home full time.  After raising her child at home for a while, she was offered another job in that same field - a field where she could use her time and talents to make a difference in the world, as well as to garner a very sizable income.  This was her response to the would-be employer (I'm paraphrasing from memory) - "I am doing a very important work [as a mother] and cannot stop until it is completed". 

She was referencing the Bible passage in Nehemiah Chapter 6, where, when faced with an invitation from his enemies to stop the building project on the Wall of Jerusalem to come to a "meeting" that would do him more harm than good, Nehemiah replied, "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down.  Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?" (vs. 3).
This mother viewed the life of her child as a "great project", a project that she was not willing to put on hold for any reason. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cabinet Detox Project #1 - Natural Deoderant

While at the grocery store shopping for aluminum-free baking powder, it suddenly hit me - Why do I want to avoid ingesting aluminum, yet I slather it all over my underarms on a daily basis?  From the baking aisle, I wandered over to the deodorant section and was astounded to read the high price tag on the "natural" deodorants (which also contained a bunch of chemicals that seemed unnecessary).  So, at a loss as to what to do, I continued to use the deodorant I had, but the dilemma remained on my mind the whole time. 

Not too long after my grocery store epiphany, someone posted a GREAT natural deodorant recipe on Facebook and I decided to give it a try.  Don't get me wrong, I was a bit of a skeptic at first...but I soon became a believer.  It took about two weeks for my body to get used to the change, but once it did - I swear to you - it works just as well as my trusty old Secret antiperspirant did in the "odor" arena. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grapes of Wrath (8 Tips on How NOT to Make Concord Grape Jam)

There are few things that I despise in the cooking world, and making Concord grape jam is definitely one of them.  I love walking through the vineyard, because it conjures images of Jesus teaching his disciples while walking among the vines (I always think of John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.").  The smell of grapes in the vineyard and in the car after picking them is fresh and invigorating, a signal of impending cold weather and falling leaves.  Then, once I get home, I remember how much I loathe those beautiful, plump pieces of purple flesh.  I begin to sweat.  I begin to pray.  I search for excuses to leave the house and not come back.  That being said, I have compiled some tips (after 12 hours of hard grape labor) on how NOT to make grape jam to hopefully make your experience a little better than mine...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ginger Honey Lemon Tea

Since the weather is slowly turning here in the North, and my toddler has a runny nose to prove it, I figured I'd share my favorite "cold fighter" recipe - Ginger Honey Lemon Tea.  I drink two to three cups of this tea per day as soon as I start feeling the slightest bit of a cold coming on.  I have also used this dosage, together with eating two garlic cloves per day and adding one cup of rosemary tea (and lots of sleep), to successfully treat Mastitis.  (Due to a severe reaction to antibiotics I had a few years ago, I have to avoid them whenever possible.)  This tea is easy to make, tastes great, and I can attest that it greatly reduces the symptoms and duration of colds that I have had.   According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginger, in addition to helping in the treatment of the common cold and flu-like symptoms, can also be used to treat motion sickness, vomiting and painful menstrual bleeding.  I keep a bag of peeled, sliced ginger in the freezer year-round, as well as a bottle of lemon concentrate in the fridge in case symptoms strike when fresh ginger and lemons are not in the house. 

Here's how to make the tea:

1/2-inch to 1-inch slice of fresh ginger root, peeled
4 cups water
3 squeezes fresh lemon juice (or one good squeeze of concentrate)
1 teaspoon raw honey (or more or less to taste)

In a saucepan on the stove, bring ginger root and water to a boil, then reduce to simmering for 20 minutes, or until the liquid has been reduced to half the original amount.  Remove from heat, pour into a mug, add lemon juice and honey, and enjoy!

 *Please note - since ginger may increase the risk of bleeding, consult a doctor regarding ginger use if you are currently taking blood-thinning medications (including aspirin), diabetes medication or high-blood pressure medication (ginger may lower blood pressure in some people).*

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tales From a Stay-At-Home Mom (a.k.a "Manager of Chaos") - Part 1: Who Am I??

As a stay-at-home mom, I feel as if I have better insight into why the dear Shona mothers of Zimbabwe are no longer called by their first names after becoming mothers, but by "Mother of  (insert name of firstborn child)" (see my older post about this here).  For some reason, in our culture, the identity shift following childbirth is not always seen as a positive one; many new moms look negatively at this shift as a loss of some important parts of their former selves.  The Shona mothers, however, appear to understand that, even though some of the old identity appears lost,what has really happened is that it has morphed.  A mother pours herself into her child, emptying herself morning by morning, night by night, until less of the mother's "self" and more of the child's being fills her life and character.  It is a natural morphing, a necessary part of growing as a woman and mother - and this type of change is OKAY.  Let me repeat that in another way - it is OKAY if you feel as if you're missing a part of your former, before-kids life - I'm sure caterpillars miss their numerous legs (in one sense or another) after becoming Monarch butterflies.  However, if we lived in Narnia and they could speak, I think they'd say that they wouldn't trade their wings for anything.  I certainly wouldn't trade my motherhood for anything that I had in my life or personality or dreams prior to motherhood. 

Don't let our misled culture fool you into short-changing your precious little ones by pouring more of your blood, sweat and tears into your own desires (or unmet desires) than into the well being of your children, who depend on you to raise them up in the way they should go.  Our children are more important than the idols we have worshipped since our youth - US.  That is a hard word to swallow, I know.  This is a Bible verse I like to read when I struggle with this concept:  "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalms 127:3-5a).  Children are a reward, a blessing, a treasure to value and take pride in.   They are well worth the sacrifice.

Back to the butterfly analogy:  I'm going to wager that caterpillars, while in the cocoon, are rather confused.  First of all, it's dark in there, and they can't see the change occurring in their body.  Secondly, it probably feels funny.  We, as mothers, are in a similar position:  It's hard to see the changes happening in us, and as a result, our world appears a bit dark at times.  Kids can be frustrating and challenging, and even annoying (don't judge me, I know you know what I'm talking about :).  Often,  we pick up more toys and crumbs, and wipe up more poop than we'd like to admit.  We can't see the future, so we don't know just how beautiful our children or our lives are going to become, which makes that "dark" time all the more disheartening.   One thing we can take courage in knowing is this:  God knows the plans He has for us.  He knows exactly how the tapestry of your life is going to turn out, because He's the one weaving it.  He alone knows how gorgeous your wings are going to be.  Whether you're working full time or staying at home full time, don't lose heart during your cocoon season.  You might not recognize yourself for a while when you emerge from it, but you'll be astonished - and in awe - at what you've become.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Some Food for Thought...2 Ways

While I'm in the process of posting some new content, I wanted to leave some food for thought:  My favorite Energy Ball recipe (adapted from the recipe on Wellness Mama's website and my go-to candy alternative), as well as a quote to chew on while you're chewing...

Energy Balls

1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup whole, pitted dates, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cocoa powder (optional - if you want a less-sweet ball)

Place almonds into a food processor and chop into small pieces.  Remove from food processor and put into a bowl.  Put dates, raisins and cinnamon into the food processor and pulse until it clumps together into a ball.  Remove the date and raisin mixture from food processor and mix with the almonds by hand until well incorporated.  (Should be about the consistency of stiff cookie dough.)  Roll into balls and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Here's the quote...came across it in my research on modern media (from

"Media exposure has become America's most widespread and serious addiction...Addictions literally change our brains.  They do so by changing the chemical balance and flow within the brain, or by altering the brain structure, or by changing our emotions, motivations and memory capacity.  Addictions cause withdrawal symptoms when exposure to the addictive item is eliminated and they cause us to lose control over how much exposure we seek to experience.  The American Psychiatry Association indicates that addictions may produce a desire to reduce our exposure - a desire we are unable to satisfy...To be fair, as we put the media under the microscope, it is important to note that the media can and sometimes do provide important benefits...But, often as not, media content winds up serving the lowest common denominator because that's where the largest audience - and, consequently, the money and notoriety - is to be found.  Sometimes that makes media content a distraction from more important or helpful matters.  In more serious cases, however, media content can become a debilitating obsession for individuals, and a pathway to societal deterioration."


My Apologies...

Forgive me for neglecting my blog for, well, what appears to be a very long while.  Since I am no longer a "working" mom (i.e. one who works outside of the home), my perspectives have greatly changed, and I have learned quite a bit about being on both sides of the fence.  Let's just say I have a lot to share now, and, hopefully, the time to do it.  Stay tuned...upcoming posts include "Tales from the Manager of Chaos (a.k.a Stay at Home Mom)" and "Thoughts on Christianity and the Modern Media".   Happy scrolling :)