Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mom's Sewing Trunk

Today is day one of my clean out the attic project.  When we moved in to our house four years ago we put everything we didn't know what to do with, in the attic.  Guess what?  We still don't know what to do with it, and it's still in the attic.  It's an attic that keeps me awake at night.  The space up there is big, and it's easy to get to....but that also makes it easy to put more "stuff" up there that we don't know what to do with. Anyway, you get the idea.  Big attic.  Too much stuff.  Cleaning it out.

Shortly after we moved into this house I acquired many things that belonged to my mom, that I just didn't know what to do with.  Or, I just wasn't able to part with it yet.  My mom's sewing trunk was one of those items.  It sat in my parent's bedroom for as long as I can remember.  It contained mom's sewing boxes, material, patterns, and any item we needed mended.  Well, here's the thing....my mom stopped sewing sometime in the mid-80's....save the occasional button, hem, or zipper repair.  As I began cleaning out the trunk it became very clear that my mom also had not cleaned out this trunk since the mid-80's....perhaps even the 70's.  It made me laugh to go through this stuff.  As a kid/teen I used to joke that if we put anything in the trunk that needed repaired, we might as well kiss it good-bye forever, since she wasn't quick to get things fixed.  I inherited that trait.  My poor kids.

Here is a sample of some of the material I came across while cleaning out the trunk.  The gold, rust and green upholstery is perty, huh?  It was from an old rocking chair that I have since recovered, to bring it up to date.  A box of sewing patterns from the 70's and 80's.  Mom's sewing boxes.  A jar of buttons, and a "congratulations on the birth of your new son" card that was lying at the bottom of the trunk.  The envelope says, "To Little Dougie."  I'll have to pass that on to "Little Dougie," who's now a 33 year old man.  Oh mom....I spent more time chuckling as I went through this trunk today, rather than having any heartache. Yes, I miss her, but going through the things she saved, made me laugh.  I wonder if she even realized how many brand new zippers, and packages of elastic, were in this trunk?

I've decided to make this trunk a "keepsake" trunk.  I will keep her sewing boxes in here, along with some of the material that's still usable.  But, I have added in the baby clothes of mine that she hung on to, as well as the baby clothes of my kids, that I am hanging on to.  Someday my kids might go through it and laugh at the things I thought to save....or the things that I forgot I even had.  

Thanks for the laugh today, Mom!  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wheat Update

I have a few ideas/thoughts I am considering talking about at some point this week, but I'm reminding myself to live by the mantra of "think before you speak," so those thoughts might end up being non-post worthy after all.  We'll see....  I've peaked your interest, haven't I?  :)

But, first I decided that it was time for another reduced-wheat update.  I was asked by several people over the weekend if we are still eating wheat free.  Yes, and no.  As I stated before, we've not completely eliminated all wheat from our diet.  Doing so would cause great distress on our bodies if, & when, we decided to reintroduce it.  And by "distress" I'm pretty sure I don't need to expand on what the means.  But, the answer is mostly, yes.  We are still working hard at keeping wheat (heavy carbs) out of our diet.  I, for one, feel so much better, and I notice an increase in energy in our kids.  You don't even realize that you're bloated, until you are no longer bloated.  Make sense?  On the occasion that I do have a heavy wheat-filled meal, I usually end up feeling lousy and very uncomfortable (details spared).  Yesterday was a full-on, eat very unhealthy, day (calories don't count on Birthday's)...but, the difference is that I don't want to eat that way all the time.  I want to make good choices the majority of the time, so I don't have to feel terrible when I indulge on the rare occasion.

We are a little over six weeks into our healthy eating lifestyle, and I am 14.5 lbs. lighter.  I know it's making a difference.  I do weigh myself daily as I want to know what foods affect me the most, and keep an eye on those weeks where I have plateaued.  My clothes fit better, and I'm back in jeans that I couldn't wear post-Sadie.  I have a ways to go, but this is the right direction.  I've started tracking my food on My Fitness Pal, as a way to watch calories, carbs, sugar, sodium, etc.  On the days that the weather is above 40 I head out for a long walk with the kiddos.  I'd walk alone in temps below 40, but, well....I'm NEVER alone.  :)

Here is a picture from Valentine's day, and a picture from last week.  I can see a small difference already, and that makes me happy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Grieving Through March

For the past several years, since my mom's death, I've realized something about myself - March through May are really hard months for me.  It's actually hard to talk about it.  Why?  Because I am really good at publicly keeping my emotions tucked away.  I am hyper aware of what makes people uncomfortable, and talking about ones feelings too deeply tends to make people uncomfortable.  But, I've decided to try to put into words how I feel during these months.

There is the obvious joy over seeing Spring arrive after a long, cold, snowy winter.  And this winter definitely receives the "I should live in the south" award!  But, in the midst of the weather change, I wrestle with my mom's death more this time of year, than any other time.

You see, March is full of birthday's for my family, but the ones that are hardest for me are my own, my mom's, and my daughter's.  Mine is the 16th, Mom's was the 24th, and Julie's is on the 25th.  I have come to recognize that I start feeling the emotions of this month, well before my birthday even arrives...like right now, because I'm balling as I type this.  Why my birthday?  I assume it's because I spend the day thinking about the one who brought me into this world.  I think about how I miss her phone calls and birthday wishes, and it's not there anymore.  Mom didn't go overboard with b'day celebrations, but she was mom, and not having her here to go out for lunch with, or hear from, is really hard.

The day of mom's birthday, the 24th, is hard, too.  It's a day to think about her, and if the weather is nice enough I try to get over to the cemetery on this day, just to spend some time.

Julie's birthday is the day after mom's.  We lived in New York for many years, and mom & dad always made a point to come visit right around each of our kids birthday's.  I just miss that.

April is Easter, and there's no particular reason for this being difficult, it just happens to fall between the March birthday month, and Mother's Day in May.  So, it's caught during a time I'm struggling a little more. We get together with family on Easter, but I often miss mom's presence at those get-together's.

Mother's Day is obviously hard.  I have spent the last few year's trying to focus the day on my kids, and their desire to shower me with homemade gifts and poems.  But, I usually end up a sobbing mess and trying to pull it together so we can go to church.

I've been trying to articulate my emotions this week.  Life is busy.  My patience are too thin sometimes. Decisions about kids, and money, and well...life, can just be hard at times.  But, God is good, and normally most of these things don't get to me too much.  However, as I was thinking about things, and asking God to help me, it occurred to me, "Oh, yea, it's March, and I am missing mom."  It's not that recognizing it takes it away, it just helps me know where the struggle is coming from, and I can talk to the Lord a little more about it.

So, I wrestled with whether to post this, but I've decided this - everyone has something in their life that is hard.  You may have lost someone very close to you, or you may be close to losing someone.  Know this, it is not always going to be an obvious moment that will cause you to struggle with the loss.  For me, the anniversary of mom's passing (June 12, 2009) is not as hard as March and Mother's Day.  Your moments may come & go.  You might notice that at Christmas you get through without a lot of struggle, but then you're in the grocery store and something reminds you of them, and you just want to go home and be alone.

March is that way for me.  Christmas was fine, but birthday's are hard.  I love the sign of new life spring brings, but the ache of missing my mom this time of year can often overshadow the excitement of a new season.  It's okay.  It's part of grief.  I still get out of bed each day.  I can still take care of my family, but my heart is a little heavier this time of year.  Now that I've learned to recognize this better, I am able to communicate it more to my husband, and to the Lord.  That helps....

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Yep, I'm Giving You Homework

I realize this post might get some eye rolls, or give the idea of an extremist mindset.  Just know that these are my thoughts/convictions, based on my own findings.  The nature of my blog is to talk about issues that interest me, share my thoughts with you, and if some discussion comes from it - great!  If you disagree, no worries...I can only tell you things from my vantage point.

I recently wrote about my stand on the pro-life issue, and was encouraged by the support I received on that post.  I'd like to take it a step farther, and bring some attention to another area I feel strongly about.  Birth control....okay, okay, before you start thinking that I want to be the next 19 Kids & Counting, stop right there.  That is not what I'm getting at.

I recently read another blogger's post on this subject, and it challenged me to once again think about this topic.  I am not a doctor, but as a wife and mom, I want to ask you to do your research before taking any chemical form of birth control; The pill, IUD's, patch, etc.  If you have a pro-life conviction, and believe life begins at conception, then you need to be educated on the fact that chemical birth control can have an abortifacient effect.

I have used different chemical birth control methods through the years, without ever looking into what it could do.  After each baby, the first thing my care provider would ask is, "what type of birth control do you want?"  It is just assumed that you want it, and I assumed I was to take it.  But, research and conviction has changed my thinking.

I will not go into detail telling you how to go about birth control in a different way, just urging you to ask questions about what you're taking.

Here are a couple websites I found helpful:
Does the pill cause abortion?
The Truth About Contraceptives

Okay, here's my conclusion - It is always best to be educated about what we put into our bodies, and just because you may not use chemical birth control, doesn't mean you can't find a method that will work for you & your spouse.  Research and pray about what is best for your situation.  Not everyone is going to be a Duggar.

*Once again, although you might think I'm a medical professional (why are you laughing?), I'm not.  It is always good to talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have, but don't underestimate the power of your own instinct/conviction.  God gave you that!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wheat Update

We are three weeks into our healthier eating lifestyle.  We've eliminated a great deal of unnecessary wheat from our diet, as well as high fructose corn syrup and added sugars.  Basically, what this looks like for us is that I'm not preparing meals that need to be thickened with flour, or have cream soup as the main ingredient (bye-bye almost every casserole recipe out there).  I'm grocery shopping more often because of the large quantity of fresh fruits and veggies we're eating.  We ate them before, but we've at least doubled our intake. I am experimenting with recipes that call for almond flour & coconut flour, and I've found a crustless pizza recipe that we've enjoyed for a treat.  Pinterest has been a great resource for recipes!

We haven't completely eliminated wheat from our life, we just don't have it at home anymore.  When the kids have a party at school, they participate.  When we get together with friends, we eat what food is provided. We feel this is a lifestyle we can live with, and so far none of us are feeling deprived.  I will add that Joel is still enjoying his pb&j sandwich at lunch.  The kid would be crushed for life if I removed that one staple from his day.  Except now he eats half a sandwich instead of a whole, with lots of fresh foods on the side.  It's a good compromise.

Dave & I have noticed a difference in the kids.  The difference wasn't obvious until Valentine's Day, after they had consumed a lot of junk food at their school parties.  That night at home we realized how whiny and out of sorts they were, and it was something we hadn't seen in them for a little while.  I should also mention that Dave & I both felt sick after eating pasta and bread on Valentine's Day.  We were blown away by the obvious difference in how we were feeling.

Dave has lost a total of 9lbs., and I'm down 8lbs.  I'm still nursing Sadie, so I keep that in mind while I'm choosing what to eat, and I recognize that my weight loss may be a little slower for now.  Overall it's going well.  I wanted to post an update because, as I said before, I want to keep accountable in some way.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Faith. Family. Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is kind of a big deal around here.  It's no longer a day for Dave and me to hire a sitter and plan a quiet romantic dinner alone.  Nope, it's a day of fun for the whole family, and we don't want it any other way.

Three years ago we decided to ditch the dinner date idea and make it a fun family night.  Dave has always been great about making Valentine's day special.  For our first married Valentine's day he prepared dinner, and made chocolate covered strawberries, and had it all set up as a surprise when I arrived home from work.  From that point on, he's always been great about making Valentine's day memorable (insert story of the overnight at a favorite B&B, where we were both so sick we spent the whole time sleeping and drinking NyQuil...we probably should have cancelled our plans, but we were young and determined to go).

Several years of marriage, and four kids later, we've decided it's a lot more fun to make this day a family day. Three years ago Dave started the tradition of a theme, and take-out spaghetti & meatballs from Valerio's.  Our first year's theme was Italy, and the kids were only allowed to call Dave "Luigi."  Last year was the same take-out meal, with a Hawaiian theme (music, leis, and grass skirts included).  The tradition that has lasted through the years is the one where Dave makes his homemade chocolate covered strawberries.  Now the kids make them with him.  They love it!

So, I've included some pictures from last night's Valentine's Day dinner....can you guess this year's theme?  

Welcome to our Duck Dynasty Valentine's Day....yes, that is a teddy bear with antlers.  Doesn't everyone have that for a centerpiece on their table?

Dave assigned a DD character to each kid, complete with costumes and beards made by Dave.  
They're holding up a picture of their character.

"Hey, Jack!" 

Willie (Dave), holding his daughter, Sadie (for the record, our Sadie was not named after Sadie Robertson), Willie's crazy Uncle Si, Brother Jase, & Phil
(Notice the family picture on the wall...)

"Miss Kay," with the gang.

So, there you have it.  A redneck Duck Dynasty Valentine's Day.  We listened to blue grass music while we ate (or I should say, for as long as Miss Kay could stand listening to it), but "Sharp Dressed Man" (song below) was playing when the kids came down for dinner.  After all, it is the opening song for the show.  :)

I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day....my husband shows his love to me all year long, and someday those quiet dinners will be easier to come by, and we'll miss the noise and fun of these kiddos.  I love that Dave pulls out his creative side and makes these memories for our kids.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wheat Schmeat...

I've been on a mission to work on better health for myself, and my family. Being a mom is hard.  Being the grocery shopper is hard.  Being the family chef is hard.  I feel so responsible for how well we eat, or don't eat.  We're not as healthy as we could be, and this is sobering.  So, I intensified my research to try and decide what would be best.  In my search I came across the book "Wheat Belly."  It's a very eye opening book, and a little overwhelming (especially for the extreme carb lover).  But, I've discovered the damage wheat is doing to our bodies, our mental focus, and our overall health.

So, with the support of my husband and my kids, we're working hard at making some life changes.  We already enjoyed fruits and veggies, but we have increased our intake of these foods.  We have decreased (greatly) our consumption of wheat.  I am not cooking meals that include pasta, bread crumbs or flour, or other starches.  We are not eating Gluten-Free products.  I am experimenting with almond flour, and coconut flour.  We've enjoyed some cookies and biscuits made from these things, but we've discovered that the wheat free bread recipe I tried was just not worth my time.

We are very much in a trial & error stage right now....and may be for a long time.  We're learning, but my goal is for overall health, not just weight loss.  But, speaking of weight loss, after only one week I've already lost 5lbs.  

My hope is that by talking about this, it will help me stay accountable and focused.  Hopefully I can keep posting about our progress.