Monday, February 20, 2012

Why granola?

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
-Mark Twain

I have never been one to jump on the latest fad diet bandwagon. I know there is truth to many and health - more or less - in most. But I will admit that when one or most of my friends are singing the praises of the new "south adkins blood-type super clean power diet" I mostly just roll my eyes. Ok, I'll admit that is not very nice. But neither is making me feel like a terrible mother because I serve my children products made with white flour or gluten or whatever else is evil at the moment. Honestly, at the base of it all, they seem to be all the same to me. Sure there are differences. But the basics are  - eat more things that were once alive, eat less things that were once in a factory.

Lately I have been terrible at the whole "eat living things"...oh goodness that sounds terrible! Not that "eat dead things" is much better...but you all know what I mean. My kids are good at it, I am pretty careful about what they eat. I am a "do as I say..." I am embarrassed to admit. Or I wait until they are resting...

I am even now drinking coffee at Panara bread and eating cookies. Cookies I am quite certain were never, and will never be alive. They are completely terrible for me and they taste magnificent. Usually when I get on a bad route such as this I have to cut out desserts entirely for a while. That time is coming, I can feel it. I hate that time. But for today, the cookies I eat. Desserts are really the only thing that holds me back. I find it very easy to eat healthy meals...I just want a big giant bowl of ice cream afterward!

I do like being healthy, and I have been wanting to write a post lately about some of the ways I am healthy as well as some of the tree-hugger, natural things I try to do and how I have managed to save money doing it. I doubt very much I will finish this post tonight - But be patient, the rest will come soon enough. 

Now, I will contradict myself. You know how I just poked fun at those that follow the latest health trend? Well, I am not ashamed to admit that I fall under a category that is known as "crunchy." Why it is called that I have no idea. Perhaps because it can easily be put into the different stages. "instant oatmeal, a sprinkling of granola, chock-full-of-nuts....errr." or just "crunchy" I suppose there are more categories then that, but it is getting late and I can feel my creativity lacking tonight. Probably too many cookies. And please know, these are all the choices I have made. "Mommy Guilt" is rampant and often un-necessary. So long as kids are being loved and well cared for I do not judge what other moms do or do not choose to do.

Why am I granola-e you ask? Well, most of you won't ask. Most of you are just wondering why I am  stating the obvious and eventually just checking the time and/or facebook again - you have moved on. This is a boring post after all. Nothing new will be learned here. Alright - call this just a self list then. I like to have this sort of thing written down and organized. It is the influence of my mother in law. I like being organized! And someday I will be....

But for now, to answer the un-asked question (because after all that, I couldn't get anyone to ask it after all. The ones that are still here are only there to make sure that I list everything, so that if I do forgot an item they can remind me of it). 

Well, first off,  I have natural labors and deliveries of my babies. I don't have them at home, though had there been a local in-home mid-wife in my town I may have. I wish I had this last time. It would have spared us tons of frustration and un- necessary and very evasive medical procedures.

I breastfeed my babies and I will breastfeed my babies wherever is needed and for as long as it is a positive thing for both of us - my last child was weaned at 2. I am a "baby-wearer"which basically means that if I can be holding my child, I will be. There is no reason for them to sit in a carseat at the store when I can put them in a carrier on me. There is no reason for me to put my baby down, when I can be holding her. I want to drink in my little babies as much as possible. I want to smell them and give them kisses and hugs and let them be as close to me as they can for as long as they want. I personally believe that this is how secure children are created. I don't think it comes from forcing them to "learn to self-sooth" at 2 months. Security is born by knowing they are safe and that their call will be answered. I will admit though, that as my kids get close to that half-year mark I do let them fuss for a few minutes as they go to sleep, or while I eat dinner. 15 minutes of fussing while I spend some much needed time with my big kids will not hurt them, and so I do that without guilt. I tell my big girls that "they sometimes have to wait while I do things for the baby, she can wait while I do something nice for them." She will be just fine.

I cloth diaper. I have gotten soooo many interesting responses to this over the years. There are people that are really really against cloth diapers and they will beg their friends not to do it. The funny thing is, the "terribleness" of it is all in their heads. Never have I known someone to start using cloth, cloth that they really like - I am not talking your grandma's diaper pins and rubber pants. I mean good quality items that you pull out of the dryer all clean and want to put up to your face to enjoy the warm freshness. Trust me, other fluffy moms (yes, that is the correct term) know what I mean. I have never known someone to start and not love it. Sure, it takes a little extra work. But what can I say, I love me a big bottomed baby! And it is so easy these days, and saves sooo much money! I should add it all up someday. The approximate amount I have saved in the last 4 or so years of using cloth. I also get a lot of "I could never do that" or "Is it really gross to change?" I personally think that you never know unless you try. And many places do let you try. They have sample packs you can pay a small price to use for a month. And you know what, disposable diapers are not all roses and sunshine to change. You are going to find baby poop under your fingernails either way at some point. Just give them a good scrubbing and move on. And I personally find cleaning poop off cotton a whole lot less gross then poop mixed with chemical sitting next to my babies skin. And those gross little beads that make it out of the disposable diaper all the time? Maybe it is just me, but the thought of those getting inside my baby girls delicate parts makes me shudder.

Another decisively "hippie" thing about me...have you noticed that the definition of "hippie" has changed in the last 30 or so years? It used to suggest drug use and long  hair. Now it just means you make your own shampoo...(which I actually do), buy organic and wear long skirts. I am a next generation hippie. Hippie2.0 if you will....

Ah, I lost my train of thought. I know the restaurant is closing in 10 minutes. And although there is no hope of me finishing this post tonight it is still stressing me out.

Back to the subject - the next "granola mom" thing I do is I don't give my babies any baby-food. Now think about it, years ago they had no way to puree baby food. Mash it good with a fork or grind it with a rock maybe, but actually puree it? Nope. No strained carrots or chicken paste were given to babies. They just got bits of what the grown-ups ate when they were big enough to grab it for themselves. Now I am not saying that giving baby-food is wrong. I believe it is a parenting choice, much in the same line as using cloth diapers. But it is something that I have chosen not to do. I think the technical term for what I do is "baby led weaning" It is the idea that when babies are ready for real food, they will eat real food. Giving them pureed food just makes the whole "chewing, swallowing" thing take longer to learn. Instead they learn that when food goes in, it automatically goes down the hatch. I personally think teaching this is a bit of a choking hazard. I do bits of things first. Cheerios, bits of avocado, bits of banana (which was The Monkey's first food) and if they are not ready for it yet, they push it right back out of their mouth. So I wait another week or two and try again. I knew the moment my babies were ready for real food. There was no guess-work involved. And while they occasionally gag on things that get in the way. They have never once choked on anything (and by the grace of God never will) because they are used to "chewing" before they swallow. If it can't be chewed, it doesn't get swallowed.

I wish I could say that I made my own baby clothes - That is something that I have yet to do. But someday.

I also do not really co-sleep. I wish I did. I wish I could. But I get very little sleep and I wake up the next morning with a headache from not moving all night. I do answer my babies call during the night - not sure that goes into this category or not. But I don't night wean until after a year old. They are only tiny once, I really don't want to rush through it. I think that is probably why I am so relaxed about everything you are "supposed" to do as mom of a baby. Like "start veggies first so they don't get a sweet tooth." Which I think is ridiculous. Or "Baby should be sleeping through the night by 4-5 months." It goes so fast, why would I rush it? And tired as I may be, sometimes 3 am is the only time I just get to rock my baby without interruption. And that I hold onto. Whenever my house is a mess and my baby is smiling happily in my arms I always think of this poem:

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.     - Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Her only sin is arrogance"

"Her only sin is arrogance"

I am about to say something that is not really allowed, well - is not politically correct. For those that know me, this will be no surprise. For those that don't, feel free to shake your head in embarrassment for me. For you see, I do not really fit the mold and I have often said some taboo stuff. I'll admit, at times it is for the reaction, though I try to be sensitive to those around me. But I have some pretty strong opinions and some of my opinions come in the form of "this is not something you should waste your energy getting mad about". So consider yourself fair-warned!


I, Sarah Bethuel, have high self-esteem. Oh yes, I said it.

And you know what else? I do not have it because someone built it for me. I have high self-esteem because I had to work hard as a kid. I was forced to complete tasks that were hard. I did it. I felt good about myself because of the things I worked hard to accomplish. I also have high self-esteem because I was taken seriously, my concerns were listened to and not discarded as "childish." I have high self-esteem because there were times when I was growing up when I was told to entertain myself. So I learned to be in control of the world around me, instead of just waiting for life to happen, and growing upset at the world when I discovered I had been missing it as I waited. I have high self-esteem because I wanted it, so I went out and got it. I have high self-esteem because as soon as I was tall enough to reach the buttons, I did my own laundry. Because as soon as I could reach the drain, I did the dishes. Because I was expected to finish the things that I started, even if that thing was simply a board game I was losing. And I lost, a lot. I have high self-esteem because I was always told I could do anything I set my mind to. I was told that there would always be people standing in my way and that there would always be people cheering me on. I also knew that if I sat around on my behind all day whining, that those same people would tell me to get up and work for the things that I wanted.  

From the time I was small, I can remember not wanting to be famous. I am not entirely sure if that was a true desire of mine, or if it was just a rebellion against an insignificant friend that wanted fame and fortune. I remember thinking "if I am someday rich, I want to give my money away or I will become someone I don't like." Now, I am not saying this to toot my own horn. And I want you, dear reader, to know that none of this post is to do that - nor is it about anyone or to prove any kind of metaphorical point. You see, I have found that in this society it is really common to put yourself down. I believe that more people have high self-esteem them admit it because if you say "I hate my life! I hate myself!" that people will tell you that you are just fine, that you are a wonderful person. That "everything will be ok and to hang in there." But if you say "I love what I have done!" you are criticized for not being humble or compliant enough.

I would like to take a moment and disagree - ok, not really disagree, but perhaps take a stand. It is ok to like what you do. I will go out on a limb and say it is a good thing! It is ok to tell people about an accomplishment and accept the compliments as genuine. It is ok to go out and strive for what you want. It is ok to take a stand for what you believe in. It is ok to look in the mirror and smile, happy at what you have become because of your hard work.

But you see, there is another side to this. And again this is the side that we don't talk about.

It is not ok to be lazy. It is not ok to constantly talk about your dreams and never do a damn thing to get there. It is not ok to put others down in order to feel ok about yourself. It is not ok to put yourself down in order to receive compliments. It is not ok to look in the mirror, disgusted at what you have become and feel completely powerless to change that.

Alright - I am a pretty direct person. So I am going to go one further - ready?

It is ok to feel like your life is not going anywhere - but still be working towards your goals. It is ok to be frustrated with where you are, so long as that frustration does not define you. It is ok to have dreams you know you will never achieve, so long as you also have ones you know you will. It is ok to look in the mirror, disgusted at what you have become and then look yourself in the eyes and claim "this is not who I want to be, and I intend to change it." And DO it.

I was listening in on a conversation recently about the Dugger family - you know, the one with a million kids? Well I will admit, I have never really seen their show. I know very little about them. But someone who I do not know started going on about how "it is impossible to spend quality time with that many kids." Now, I come from a bigg-ish family. Not 19-20 (how many kids does she have?) by any means. But there were 5 kids which made it 7 in the house. I heard this comment and, know-it-all that I am (that is another thing entirely from high self-esteem and something God and I are working on) I had to chime in.

My answer was that we as a society are far to concerned with high self-esteem. Sure, spending quality time is important as a family. But I personally believe is has been very over-exaggerated and as a result has created a lot of damaging guilt. Think about it, in the old days (for lack of a better term) there was no time to "spend quality time." You simply lived life together. You baked bread together, you jarred fruits and veggies, you worked the earth, you cleaned the house, did the dishes, folded laundry, took care of the animals. You celebrated together when the tree you planted together produced it's first fruit, you danced together in the evening when the day's work was complete.

My beloved 4 year old has had a hard time lately with her chores. I will ask her to do even a simple task and I hear "but it is going to be hard for me!" Well, yeah. Life is hard. But you know what? If I sit with her, hold her hand, tell her how amazing she is, how special she is, how proud I am of her and how "this is easy!" as she sits on her bed and pouts. Then one by one, help her to put her toys away - at the end she has an inflated view of who she is and has not accomplished diddly squat. So call me a harsh mom. But I KNOW she can do this on her own. You know how I know? Because if she is told she can have icecream as soon as the toys are put away it is done in 3.5 seconds. But there is not ice cream everyday. Some days she just has to do the hard work. And while I will tell her that she can be hard worker if she chooses to be and I KNOW she can do it, she gets no pity or praise from me until the work is done. And the work gets done, and she does it all by herself because in life there are no short-cuts. And I know, she is only 4. So I will be there when she needs me. I can make suggestions ("are all your books put away yet?") when she gets stuck.  I will have a smile (most of the time) as I tell her that "I know the work is hard, but I also know that you can do it if you work hard. Here is a hug and a kiss, now go do the rest of the job I have given you" And when the work is done, I cannot tell you the joy that is on my little girl's face and she runs out of her room, shouting "Mama! My room is all clean!" And oh we celebrate together!

THAT my friends is how you build self esteem. And you know what? It works on grown-ups too. We may fuss and pout and stamp our feet, yelling to our Daddy God that "It is not fair!" and "This is going to be hard for me, it is going to hurt!" And you know what God says?

Yes. It is hard. It is going to take everything in you. But I will never leave you, I will never forsake you. Now quite whining and go get dirty. Because there is not ice cream everyday. And this is the job I have given you.

There are no short-cuts. No shoving our junk under the bed is allowed. But oh when the job is complete? I cannot even tell you the joy. The REAL true God-given joy. He runs as fast as he can and he celebrates with us!

Matthew 11:28-30
American Standard Version (ASV)
 28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

But the labor comes first...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Arise my love

“It is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness. I knew that love gives to him that loveth, power over over any soul be loved, even if that soul know him not, bringing him inwardly close to that spirit; a power that cannot be but for good; for in proportion as selfishness intrudes, the love ceases, and the power which springs therefrom dies. Yet all love will, one day, meet with its return. ”
― George MacDonald, Phantastes

Read it again. Go ahead, read it again more slowly this time. This is not your tea cakes and dandy sort of quote. This is one I want you to read, read again. Think on it and read it one more time. So go ahead, read it again.

This part, "for in proportion as selfishness intrudes, the love ceases." Is that not amazing? I think I could chew on that part alone for days. 

Guess what, I got laptop! Is that not so very grand? I admit this whole typing on flat laptop keys is throwing me off. But it is easier then typing with one finger of my left hand while I hold a squirming baby in the other. Since I can now take my computer with me I feel I can say with almost certainty that I shall begin to post on Thursday nights. I do not always post on facebook when I update. So don't forget to look here.

That being said, it is February 9th. Do you know what February 9th is? Well, it is the day after my Fathers birthday. And in a few short days my niece will turn 5, and my daughter will turn 4. My sister will be 19 at the end of the month and there is a good chance I will be planting my garden before the month is done.

But none of that is why I am writing here today. You see, early next week is Valentines day. Since it is such a controversial holiday, I thought I would offer my own 2cents in here. That is in fact, something I am very good at.

Goodness my coffee is almost gone! off to get more...hold on. I have discovered the secret is, at the moment, I do best looking at my keyboard while typing. I will get it soon enough. Just not yet.

So I could fill my valentines day post talking about the ins and outs of the arguments supporting and bashing the big V-day. But honestly I come from the side of very much enjoying any reason to celebrate at all. So while some call it Singles Awareness Day or Buy Your Sig. Other a Present Day or A Holiday Invented By the Greeting Card Companies Day. I simply say, seize the opportunity to give a hug to those you love and eat cookies. Because single or coupled, everyone loves cookies! I'm eating one right now with my coffee actually. As you should be.

I am certain I have told you the story. You know, the one where I met my wonderful, amazing husband? Go back to a past May post and I am certain it is there. No, I do not want to tell you what has been. I want to tell you what is.

I can remember before I fell in love I had a theory. Marriage, it can't be 50/50. Because then you are keeping half of yourself to yourself. No, I swore that when I took the proverbial plunge I wanted it to be 100/100. I wanted to be all in, drowning or rather, breathing my husband. Now I am not saying that this meant I would lose myself. Not in the least. It meant that he held me and I held him. The pieces were whole, they just belonged to someone else now. There was no less of each of us, no loss of identity. Things were just shifted around a little. And by him holding on to me and I to him that meant we trusted one another completely. That is, after all, a very dangerous place to be. But I wanted to laugh in the face of that danger!

I was not wrong.

How did you know he was the one? I have heard that question. What married couple hasn't? Alright, I'll bite. I didn't. About 2 years into our relationship I remember asking myself if he was. I remember thinking yes...but there being a nagging feeling asking if I was wrong. After all, I was young. I had a life to live, a person to become. I remember going back to that nagging place pretty often. I wanted to feel it, I wanted to know why it was there and what it meant. Then one day, wise as I was about relationships and such, I decided to think on this as I was waiting for a show to start. We had done the set-up (I was involved in lots of shows in college) all we had to do was wait for the time. My mind wandered in the direction of my future, who knows why. And I reached for that doubt...only to discover it wasn't there.

I laughed out loud!

I remember walking outside, I needed to get out of the closed doors, but the doubt was still gone. Instead it has been replaced. No, not by love.

I have never been a mushy person and I don't plan on starting now.

No, it was replaced by the feeling that if I were to lose him, I would lose a part of what made me want to be me. I would not lose myself, God holds those keys. But you see, I am certain that if something were to happen to him, I would not fall in love again. Not because my self has been lost in him. But because my 100% is in is hands.Without him, is without my 100%. I can function, but the world has lost it's color.

I believe I have told you before that the reason I knew I was in love was not because of a feeling. I really don't feel all that strongly and when I do I don't trust it. Too many things can affect feelings, changing hormones, a bad day, etc. It was because I saw a rainbow. I saw a rainbow and instead of simply enjoying it the first thing I wanted to do was show it to him. And I don't mean to sound mushy, but without him there was no reason for the rainbow to have had any beauty at all. Then I knew for sure that I loved him.

Goodness I am not making sense. Or perhaps I am, but it is not coming out like I want it to. This was far less mushy in my mind.

I said earlier that I wanted to give 100%. But you see, that is just half of it. I demand a lot too.

I am not high maintenance in the general sense of the word. I could care less if my house and car look really nice. Though despite my best efforts and general proof to the contrary, I do like them to be clean. I do not care if I have designer items. I don't want to be treated to expensive dinners. I could care less if I get flowers and while compliments are nice, they are not really necessary. I do not get jealous and I do not nag. (I know, I asked. And I know that he would tell me truthfully.) I like it when my husband helps around the house but I do know that as a stay at home mom the dishes, laundry and vacuuming are my responsibility.

So what do I demand? Better yet, what do I ask of him.

I ask that my husband be the man of the house. And he is, 100%. I ask that he be a good father, and he is, 100%. I ask that he be responsible with our money, I ask that he be my confidant and listen to my pointless stories. I ask that he tells me his hopes, his dreams and what he did at work that day. I ask that he doesn't hurt me intentionally with words, and he never has. I ask that he use his skills to create and he does. I ask that he be home as soon as he possibly can from work because I love it when he is here. I ask that he let me put my cold feet on his warm legs and he always lets me, though he does squeal sometimes when I do it. I ask that he not put his cold hands on my warm belly and he usually doesn't.... I ask that he nurture his relationship with God, because without that he has no 100% to give. I ask that he bring me coffee in the morning. And he always does, 100% - in fact he also wakes me every morning with a kiss, turns on the shower for me, warms a towel in the dryer, makes me breakfast and rubs my sore neck every morning too. How is that for 100%? He gives me a hug when I cry for no reason, or for all the reasons in the world. He has given me 3 beautiful baby girls and he loves them so much. He sings silly songs, usually self written. He tells me he likes me at least 10 times a day and he tells me he loves me every time we say goodbye, even if just for the night. He brings me ice-water whenever he thinks I would like it. He looks at me in that way where I know what he is thinking and I love it. He buys me all the cool gadgets, which I think is pretty amazing for a gadget guy. We have way more private jokes then anyone could know (Just ask the leprechaun) and he likes to bring them up at the perfect time to make me laugh like crazy. He prays for me in the morning, which I think is so very amazing and he thinks I have a sexy butt. I know, he told me.

There is no question in my mind I have his 100%. And I am planning on holding onto it for him until we are old and gray. Because that my friends, is what Valentines day is all about. Giving 100%, even when you don't want to.

Well, that and eating cookies.