Monthly Archives: March 2011

Easiest Ever Bean Burritos

This little recipe is perfect for those days when you know you will be too busy for dinner. Or, you just want to be lazy. It uses my favorite kitchen appliance–the crockpot–which I love for its convenience in cooking AND super easy clean-up. There is no prep involved, which equals no dishes to wash, which in turn, equals aweseomeness.

So, here it is:

Easiest Ever Bean Burritos

Black beans (1 can or the bagged variety. I like bagged–cheaper and healthier)
1 jar of salsa
A few fresh or frozen chicken breasts (I use frozen, because guess what? It’s easy)
Any random fresh or frozen veggies you want to get rid of, I mean add, such as frozen corn
Dashes of chili powder, cumin, and some cilantro (alternatively, you could use one of those burrito spice packs)

Now, if you are ready for this, here’s how you make it:


Mix everything together in the crock-pot. Top with chicken.  Put the top on the crock-pot. Crank the crock-pot up to high for a few hours, or low for a few more.  When it’s all done, shred the chicken in and serve. Don’t forget the cheese, lettuce, and sour cream. Oh, and whole wheat tortillas.

Do you love me?

We had these last night. It wasn’t exactly a busy day for me…although I did do four loads of laundry, worked, organized the kitchen cupboards, cleaned and vacuumed the basement, and even blogged. Oh, and cared for two children, one of whom is still sick, somewhere in the middle of that.  Plus, I am still sick. So I felt like being lazy.

Anyways, I love this recipe and I use it alot, probably once a week I would even venture to say. So, enjoy a stress free dinner on me sometime this week.

Let me know how it turns out!

PS- I have to add than when my Firefox spell check tried to correct “crockpot,” it suggested I use the word “crackpot.” Ha!

It is Now Safe to Use Approved Electronic Devices

Last week I flew to Boston for work.

It was a great time.  I have never been to Boston, and the hubby got to join me, sans children, which is a treat in itself. Things got a little crazy in the hotel restaurant with some shady dealings involving ridiculously over-priced greasy bar food (hubby) and a misleadingly innocent white chocolate raspberry martini (my bad).  Being the old foogies that we are, we looked forward in anxious anticipation to our hotel, not for the magic of the marital bed, but for the even less rarely visited miracle of sleeping in.


Pure, uninterrupted bliss. Hours to lounge and sleep in as long as we wanted. No where to go, no toddler in too-small pajamas flinging herself and her stinky feet into our faces. No cranky baby with crazy hair demanding food the instant she awakens. No breakfast to cook, dishes to wash, naps to conquer, or laundry to fold.

Just the downy softness of our previously inhabited hotel bed sheets. Yes.

So of course, it would be fitting that at approximately seven o’clock am, the emergency alarm in our room would sound.

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. (Imagine here the most annoying sound in the world.)

Here imagine the hubs and I, after recovering from mild heart attacks, springing out of the bed with all of the agility one can muster in a chocolate martini induced fog.

“Attention guests. The sound you have just heard is our emergency alarm. There is no need to panic. If you hear the evacuation sound alert following this message, you are to proceed to the nearest exit. If your floor’s alarm does not sound, please await further instruction.”


The so-called “evacuation alarm” for our floor (the 12th, awesome) did not sound after the message, but the alarm and lights continued to flash in a most reassuring way. Now, here we observe the difference in the male/female make-up.  Or maybe, just our particular make-ups, but an interesting study nonetheless.

Somehow, before I had even registered what the message had said, Ben was fully awake, dressed, and heading for the door.  What the? How is that even possible? And more importantly, where is that man of action at two o’clock in the morning when the babies are awake? (Just kidding here, actually Ben is awesome at night awakenings.)

While I took the alarm and comforting robotic message that followed to mean what it said…namely, not to evacuate, it’s just a precaution, and we should wait until further instruction, Ben heard “GET OUT NOW!!!!”  He was in full-on panic mode.  He tore around the room, throwing articles of clothing at me, screaming at me to get dressed.  I was thoroughly perplexed. I needed to pump, put my contacts in, gather up my luggage, straighten my hair…what was all the fuss about? I imagined some elderly gentleman pulling the alarm in the hall and the ensuing chaos that followed.  I highly doubted there was need for evacuation.  I am a mom, I know these things. We moms have a gut feeling when something is wrong. Surely, I had time to get dressed. Right?

The fire trucks racing down the street towards the hotel finally convinced me otherwise.  So I left the pumping, left the contacts, left my People magazine with the latest on Brad and Emily on the desk.  Somehow, this ended up as any other morning, with me stumbling about the hallway in my pajamas, half asleep with morning hair and bad breath.

Halfway down the stairs (we were on the 12th floor, remember?) they canceled the alarm. I hated to say I told you so, but I did.  The alarm was explained away as a “health concern.”  Elderly gentleman with chest pain, perhaps? Yup, told you so.  Ben continued to stay angry at me the rest of the morning for valuing my People magazine over our lives.  Point taken, but again, I remained firm in my stance that I would know when a real emergency strikes.

At least I hope so. After we got back to the room and I finished getting ready, I did start to get a little scared at my reaction.  Was I too nonchalant about the alarm? Should I have bolted out of the door immediately? I took the time to throw on my glasses, put on socks and shoes, even combed my hair.  What’s the right reaction?  Do you risk looking like a fool bolting out of the door in a bathrobe when it’s not a real emergency?  Or is the real fool the one who takes the time to get dressed and pack up, as I tried to do.

I realize that real emergencies do happen.  That people discount the severity of some emergency situations, and as a result, lives are lost.  But on the flip side, treating everything as an emergency and panicking, causing chaos and congestion on the stairs as everyone tries to exit at once, also can be life-threatening.

It was interesting start to our mini-vacay, and probably not one I care to repeat.  It’s weird how you grow older and things that once seemed so exciting and wordly, like traveling and staying in hotels, become inconveniences.  Is it disenchantment or just realizing what’s really important in life?  I remember being so exited when I was little about getting to stay in a hotel.  I actually have several journal entries about vacations we took…entries leading up to the big day, looking forward to staying in a real-live hotel room, excited entries capturing every detail of the trip.  Looking back, I think those visits were $59 Days Inn specials on the way down to Florida so my dad could sleep a few hours, but to me, they were magic.  It makes me feel sad and disgruntled that traveling and hotels don’t hold that same appeal anymore.

I still like traveling for the sake of getting outside of myself. For stepping out of my comfort zone and making myself get dressed, leave my house, entrust my children to their grandmas for a night.  I like feeling like a part of something bigger than myself.  I like people watching at the airport, imagining others’ lives, joys, and sorrows.

I don’t like the crowds, the germs, the emptiness I see in others, the loneliness of travel, the worry of what could go wrong.  Here is a chance to get on a tangent, so I’m going to go for it: I especially dislike those people on the airplane that shoot out of their seats the second the plane is stopped and pile up in the aisle, ready to pole-vault themselves out of the door.  If you are one of those people, seriously, what gives? Why can’t we all just wait our turns?? I explained my annoyance pertaining to these people to Ben at the start of our trip, and he gave me an all-knowing Mother Teresa smile and patted my hand. He would show me how it’s done. Patience and kindness, my dear, he assured me.  By our last flight, he was elbowing twelve-year old girls out of the way and shooting me looks of exasperation as yet another person from the eight rows behind us somehow managed to beat us out of our seats.

I don’t understand what the big hurry is.  If we all just waited out turns, let each row file out in a neat and orderly fashion, wouldn’t it be so much nicer?  But underneath  my surface annoyance at the inconvenience of waiting, what really bothers me about it is the underlying assumption that these people consider themselves more important than their fellow airline passengers.  They have somewhere important enough to be to justify cutting off half of the plane and holding everyone else up.  They have a laptop, Blackberry, headphone, Ipad, and whatever other sundry electronic devices people have to make themselves feel important. So get out of the way.

I do not have any of those fancy schamncy electronic devices. I’ll admit,  I am using a laptop right now, I would like a phone with a working camera, and I would love an electronic reader because I go through books like Mya does diapers, but I am also not apt to work anymore than I have to to pay for such items.  I also like to safeguard my time and myself from too much technology.  I worry about letting the computer, the TV, the ceaseless and mindless “entertainment” robbing our chance to fully live our lives.  I mean, there is even TV on our gas station pumps and in cabs.  Are we really incapable of just thinking our own thoughts while we pump gas?

I get that a lot of it is necessary and convenience. I would love having directions and Google at my fingertips.  It’s fine, if you don’t let it overwhelm you, if you don’t let it define you.  I just hate seeing all of these people traveling who hide behind their equipment, who are checking their smartphones the instant the flight attendant deems it safe to do so.  Is that really necessary?  I don’t think so.  I think a lot of the time keeping busy with all their stuff keeps them from being still with their own souls for a minute.  I know it’s scary to be completely by myself…sometimes I don’t like what I find.  The tortellini incident comes to mind…

Ben and I held hands, we talked, we read our People magazine during our flights.  (Ben pretends he doesn’t read those things, much like he tries to pretend he didn’t watch the Bachelor with me, but he is an over-the-shoulder reader. Don’t let him fool you. ) It was nice.  It was nice to just be quiet for a little bit.

Life gets too noisy sometimes. With emergency alarms, with babies, with keeping up with the latest Iphone.

You know what would help?

Sleeping in.  I should try that sometime.

Why I Run

I am a runner.

Wait…what’s that? What is that sound? Is that…stifled laughter?

Perhaps you need to excuse yourself and grab a glass of water.

Don’t laugh at me. So I don’t look like a typical runner. So my legs are short and stubby. So my upper half resembles Winnie-the-Pooh bear.  So I could be outpaced by my crawling 10 month old.

I still run.

In high school, I ran cross country and track. I was the laughing stock of the entire track team.  People would seriously laugh and point at me as I rounded the corners of the track.  Nobody laughed at me in cross country (well, besides my coach…) because nobody cared. We only had 4 female runners. You need 5 to qualify as a team.  So I ran free, no pressure whatsoever.  I loved running through the woods, around golf courses.  Oftentimes, I would find another straggler and we would strike up lovely conversations.  Apparently, talking while running cross country is frowned upon. Who knew? My best memory of running cross country was a race in Harbor Beach, Michigan.  It was so peaceful. It was a gorgeous, warm and delightfully breezy day, and the trail wrapped through the rolling woods and around the lake, sunshine glinting off the blue waves.  I loved it. In fact, I ran my best time ever that day. 27  minutes flat baby! Yeah!

In my typical track meet I ran a total of 4 miles. I was so slow, my coach put me in all the events that no one else wanted to run just to gain points.  This was not a secret. He openly told me and the rest of the team that I was a filler.  I would start off with the 2400 meter relay. I usually ran the second 800 meter leg.  There is a strategy to who runs which leg.  They put me in second leg, hoping I would cause the least amount of damage. It was hoped that first leg would gain a significant enough lead, while third and fourth could catch up from my shortcomings.  Then I would run the open 800.  Next, came the 1 mile race. And to finish it off, the 2 mile, a popular point-filler race.  In running the two mile, I again found out that talking during running races is frowned upon. In fact, I think it is downright illegal. I still talked to people. In fact, my proudest race is one in which I talked to a fellow runner, who was so distraught by her failures on the track that she was running and crying.  I talked to her through the whole thing, made her laugh, and challenged her to sprint with me to the finish line.  I didn’t let her beat me, of course, but still, she finished with a smile on her face.

To me, that what’s running is about. It is about challenging yourself.  When I run, it is a place in my life that I can set a visible goal and actually do it.  In the day to day, I feel like I am just surviving. Wake up, get the kids, get dressed, cook breakfast, clean breakfast, clean the kids, get the kids dressed, clean the rest of the house, lay Mya down for a nap, cook lunch, clean up lunch, play with Ada, lay Ada down for her nap, get Mya up, feed her, clean up, play with Mya, husband home, work, cook dinner, clean up, bathe the kids, put the kids to bed, work a little more, take a shower, collapse, do it all over again.

The hard part is that it never really feels like anything gets accomplished…my days are a lot alike, one running into the other. I love it, I do, but it does get a tad monotonous. The same things to do every day, and although it is challenging, it’s not always an invigorating challenge, one that you can feel like “Yeah, I did it!!”

Running is like that.

Getting outside, starting your run, feeling your muscles work in a way that haven’t in a long time, feeling the sun, the wind, the dirt, the sweat, your breath coming in ragged jerks. It makes you feel alive.

I like setting a goal and reaching it.  I haven’t really measured my road, so I don’t even know how far I run.  I set goals like “I will run to that blue house” or “I will sprint to that weird tree.”  I love when I am so tired that I feel like I can’t go on…and then I do. It’s a good practice for motherhood, actually.  When you feel like you can’t possibly get up one more time in the night, when you feel like you will scream if you have to wash your toddler’s sheets again, it helps to remember that, just hours ago, you were running.  You are strong.

I especially like the analogy of finishing strong.  No matter how much I suck at running, I always finish my run with a sprint.  I realize calling it sprinting is a generous term, but I don’t care.  The point is, I don’t let how tired I am at the end of the run determine the ending.  I determine it.  I run my heart out. And when I am done, I am left with the satisfaction of knowing that I gave it my all.  A nice life lesson, I would say.

Running is solitude.  For a mom, you know that is heaven. To just be by yourself for a few minutes, to hear nothing but quiet, to feel an inner peace.  I crave that solitude, always have. I’m kind of a loner person to begin with, but becoming a mom has made “my” time even more precious. I am thankful that I can use running as my time. Very convenient that I feel healthy, sneak some exercise in, and actually get mentally and spiritually recharged.

Yesterday I had a great run.  The weather was perfect. It was the weather right before a thunderstorm. I love that weather.  Of course, I enjoy pleasant sunny days, but there is nothing like the tumultuous weather preceding a thunderstorm.  The air is charged. I love it.  And it makes for superb running weather.  I gulped in the fresh air, feeling like I couldn’t get enough. Ada is sick again…she has been sick for like a month straight, I swear, and we have been cooped up a lot.  I felt wild to just be outside.   I ran by the lake, which is always my favorite part. I love water. I read a book once in which the main character is told that she must always live by water so her soul would never thirst. I feel like a bit like that. Just seeing water calms me.  I looked up at the dark clouds rolling in and I felt connected. I felt like I could feel the presence of all the people I have encountered in my life who have gone before me. Lily, the baby Maddie I have never met, even a boy in high school I knew who committed suicide. I felt with certainty that they are happy, and I felt that they wanted me, wanted everyone to be happy too. It was a great feeling.

I enjoyed my run so much that even after I set my goal and finished strong, I kept running. I didn’t want it to end.  I cooled down by walking to my house.  I thought it would be lovely to sit for a bit under our big maple tree, to stretch and just think. Prolong my “me” time for just a time longer.

And then I got closer to the house. I tried to pretend I didn’t hear it, but I did.

Both children, screaming at the top of their lungs.

I sighed.

Opened the garage door, to find my husband on the couch, attempting to contain both screaming children as they tore out of his arms.  The story went something like this: Ada had slammed the bathroom door on Mya in indignation when Mya had unassumingly crawled into the bathroom to see what her sissy was up to.  How rude.  Ben held Mya’s poor crumpled fingers and scolded Ada.  She was so distraught about her actions that she then jumped off the toilet and in the process, somehow stubbed her toe on the same door.

I took Mya from my husband.  She looked up at me, her little face pleading for me to understand the unrighteous plight she had just endured. I smothered her with sympathy and kisses and she buried her head in my shoulder. I felt her little body relax in my arms as she sighed, one of those lingering, ragged sighs after a good cry.

I will run again.

Tears & Tortellini

Made my shamrock cookies today. Yeess!

Actually, I lie.  I searched Meijer for a shamrock cookie cutter and couldn’t find one.  Still, I pressed on and mixed up some sugar cookie dough with the help of my two year old sous chefs.  Alas, being the crafty challenged momma that I am, I couldn’t figure out how to make shamrocks out of the dough.  Should I use a butter knife and cut the shape out? Should I use my heart cookie cutter and smush it around a little?

Pathetic, I know, that I couldn’t figure it out, but luckily for me, pseudo mom was in the house and came to the rescue. In case you are wondering who pseudo mom is, she is my cousin-in-law who happens to nanny for a little girl the same age as my eldest.  We hang out a lot, attempting to tired out the girls enough for some peace and quiet and coffee for ourselves. She also happens to be exceptionally crafty and creative.  She always has a Kleenex on hand and in true Mary Poppins style, can fit diapers, wipes, and a complete outfit change into a tiny compact purse.  Thus, I have dubbed her pseudo mom.  In some ways, she is a better mother than I, which is slightly embarrassing at times.

Like today. When pseudo mom had the brilliant idea to make the leaves out of cookie dough balls, and add the stem.  In technical terms, smush two balls together for the top, add one at the bottom so it resembles Mickey Mouse, and then shape a stem.  Why I couldn’t think of that on my own, I have no idea. But there it is.

I was glad today was a good day.  We made cookies, played outside, and had a nice relaxed day.  It was really great, because yesterday…was… At all.

Eldest child Ada didn’t really start out doing anything majorly wrong per se.  I was really stressed out with work and it was just one of those days when I felt like I couldn’t take a single more second of her whining.  One of those days when every little thing she did just grated my nerves.  She has a slight cold, so her boogers are everywhere.  She has taken to the annoying habit of just tapping her fork/spoon/utensil of choice on the table with every meal, waiting for the moment when I explode.  She has an abnormally small bladder and has to pee every two seconds, usually at the exact moment I sit down to feed Mya. She wants to do make-up. She wants me to paint her nails. She wants to go outside. She wants to go in the basement and play, but not alone, I have to go with her.  She has to pee. She wants to watch cartoons. She has to pee again.  And so on and so forth.

So I wasn’t in a great mood to start out with.  Maybe I was a little short with her. Maybe I irrationally snapped at her to stop banging her spoon or I would throw it in the trash.  Maybe I sighed in exasperation when she had to pee for the billionth time that morning. Yes, maybe I contributed to what was about to happen….

It all started with some noodles.

Ada has an obsession with tortellini noodles. I keep a bag or so handy, finding it to be a nice and quick side dish for dinner.  They take literally minutes to cook and make me feel fancy. Plus, they are frozen,  making it easy to stock up when they go on sale.  What started out as a side dish with our steaks one night morphed into an all out obsession on Ada’s part. Every day she wants tortellini noodles for lunch.  Most days, she even asks for them for breakfast.

That day, I happened to know that there were only a few scattered noodles left in the bag. Not enough for a full lunch, just enough to leave the monster hungry for more. Being the naive mother that I am, I thought I could outsmart Ada and suggested she have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch instead.  She protested.  She cried. She kicked. She screamed.

“There are no more noodles left, Ada” I said smugly, crossing my arms and feeling pleased with myself.

Before I could stop her, she whipped open the freezer door and extracted the noodles from my not-so-clever hiding place behind the hamburger.


The details get fuzzy after that.  All I can vaguely remember is that there was much screaming, much crying, that somewhere in the midst of all this, Mya woke up with a poopy diaper that had exploded, my work phone started ringing, and I totally lost it.  At one point, I had to lock Ada in her room and I sat on the steps outside of her room, holding a crying baby, listening to my toddler throwing the tantrum of the century, and all I wanted to do was run away.

I knew that I was not being in control. I knew that I was just being impatient and irrational to start out with.  I knew that I could have handled things way better than I did.

And knowing all that just made me feel worse.

I wish I could say my guilt and realization made me snap out of it. But it didn’t. Even after Ada calmed down and finished her lunch (yes, she ate the noodles, don’t judge me) I continued to be grumpy.

Do you ever watch those shows or hear those stories about people doing amazing things, like chewing off their own limbs to survive or lifting up cars to save a trapped toddler? You think…yeah, I could do that. If it really counted, I could be heroic.

But you know what’s really heroic?

Someone who can keep their cool when they are trapped at home with small children. Someone who will not get sucked into arguing with their two year old over tortellini noodles.  Someone who will not sigh when their toddler has to pee 700 times a day.  Someone who can always answer “Why Mama?” kindly and patiently.

One of the hardest parts about being a mom, especially a stay at home mom, is that you really get to know yourself.  There is no one to blame but yourself, no one to rely on but you.  Alone all day with no other adults, you come face to face with you–in all your weaknesses.  And that can be a very scary thing.  To realize that all it takes is tortellini to break you down into a screaming, crying, loathsome mess.

And then there was tonight. When I tucked my daughter into bed, after a day of playing and cookie making, and she hugged me close and said “I wuv you Mama. I never leave you in the whole wide world.”

Tomorrow I will do better.

And buy more tortellini.

Mother God

Our Mother, who art in Heaven….

Wait, what?

Hmmm, why is that so disconcerting?  Why do we assume God is a male?  The great image of God as an old man, white beard aflowing, floating up in the clouds…is that the truth?

Well no, you say, technically God is not a male…technically he’s just God…

Ha! Gotcha!

You just said “He.”

Try it. Try to describe God without using a male pronoun.

I’ll give you a few moments…

It’s hard, isn’t it?

I just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance of The Dissident Daughter. I love Sue Monk Kidd. She is my idol because at the age of thirty, she walked into her kitchen and announced to her husband and two small kids that she was going to become a writer.  She had worked as a nurse all throughout her life, finally saying “This is not who I am.”  Which, of course, is exactly how I feel.

Personal lamentations aside, her book really opened my eyes to some of the ways women have been left out of  religion.  And not just in a “women aren’t allowed in the pulpit” sort of way, but in a “this wasn’t the way that God intended it to be sort of way.”

When I visited St. Thomas University in Minnesota, the woman who hosted me was a doctor and scholar of the bible.  She told me how she was currently working with the church on some early translations.  She said that in the language of the Bible, a pronoun differentiating between male and female simply did not exist.  “He” “his” “hers” “she”–they just didn’t exist.  “Can you imagine the implication of that?” she asked me, “If every sentence in the Bible did not have a ‘his’ or ‘he’ attached to it?”

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his (her) blood, you have no life in you; he (she) who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He (She) who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him (her)…. (John 6:53-53)

No, I couldn’t.

It is ingrained in us that when Jesus spoke, he spoke to males as the default.  It is ingrained that God is best described as a Heavenly Father.  If you happen to be Catholic, then you have Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as a powerful feminine presence in faith, but she is not divine.  She is the ultimate saint, sinless, glorified as the Mother of Jesus, and therefore, the driving force behind Jesus.  Mary really is seen, in a sense, as more powerful than Jesus because she is Mom.  She is revered for her womanhood.  Mary is at once superior (as the Mother of Jesus), but still inferior to God.  Which is interesting, now that I am thinking of it, because if you believe Jesus is God, then Mary is technically equal or even superior to God, since she birthed him? This is getting confusing…But still, the point is is that God is never seen as a woman.

Side note:  Kidd’s book also described how the ancient definition of the word “virgin” did not mean what it has come to mean today. The ancient definition of a virgin was not synonymous with sexuality, but merely spoke of a woman who belonged to herself.  It was used to describe an autonomous woman, one who did not belong to anyone else.  An interesting meaning in a world where women were once seen as property.

Of course, now we realize that the Bible speaks to women as well. It was just the culture at the time, right? Everything was addressed to the males just to get through to their puny little brains, right?  Well, as I came to see, no, maybe not.  Maybe the message just got lost in translation.

Kidd discusses feminine allusions in the Bible starting on page 146 of her book:

  • There are 48 references to God in the Bible as El Shaddai, a Hebrew phrase roughly translated as “God, the breasted one.”
  • When the Bible speaks of God’s mercy, Hebrew thought suggested that God had “womblike” qualities, as the root word for mercy is “rechem,” or womb.
  • In the chapter of Matthew, Jesus appears as a mother bird.
  • Deuteronomy 32:18 reads “You forgot the God who gave you birth.” (Some versions translated this to “You forgot the God who fathered you. See what I mean?)
  • Starting with Hebrew tradition and the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was feminine. The spirit of God is the word ruah and occurs 378 times.
  • The New Testament referred to the female image of God with the Greek word Sophia, while Jesus was described as Logos (The Word).  In translating the New Testament, many references to Sophia were simply replaced with Logos.  (There is more to this story that roots back to the formation of Christianity as we know it today.  Basically, an early group of Christians that didn’t believe that Jesus’ death was important also believed in Sophia. Therefore, when the Christianity that believed Jesus’ death was redemptive took over, they got rid of Sophia to avoid association with that other religion).

And the one that I found most stunning. Hokhmah, the term for the Wisdom of God, is actually personified as a woman.  The references to her in the Old Testament far outweigh all the male references we have heard of, such as Moses and Abraham. Of Wisdom, Kidd states:

‘Over and over in the Bible and in Jewish wisdom literature, Wisdom is spoken of in Godlike ways. She’s portrayed as an entity, persona, or manifestation of god, one who was brought forth from God before creation.  Preexistent with God, she participated in creating the world, She is said to order all things as well as to permeate or inspirit all things. She is referred to as a teacher, a lover, at one with trees and plants. She is the one who mediates God’s love and work in the world. She guides and reveals God’s will. For example she is the one who guided Noah through the flood and led the children of Israel through the Red Sea.’

So basically, she does it all? That sounds about right.

What does all of this mean to us today?  I’m not sure.  I know that God is “he, she, both and neither” but I can admit that I have a hard time thinking of God as anything but male.  Kidd talks about how her book made a lot of people mad.  It’s funny…I’m a little afraid to publish this post, wondering if anyone will think I’m being irreverent, too crazy feminist.  But why should it matter if we describe God as a he or a she? I love the idea that Christianity does value the beauty of womanhood in the divine sense, even if it got a bit diminished along the way.  I love reading stories about the women of the Bible.  Little known stories, like Dinah, the sister of Joseph with the coat of many colors.  Or the fact that Ada was both of their grandmothers, the mother-in-law of Jacob. I hate to describe looking at all these references as “the female side of God,” because again, that places God as a male by default, but there is both a male and female component to The Divine.

Either way, I’d like to be more open to thinking of God as a female.  To not place any subconscious thought in my daughters minds that God is solely a “he.”  Because really, if all you hear is “he this” or “he that,” isn’t that sending some subliminal message that boys are more important?  That male is the default, even if everyone knows girls are included in that?

It’s going to be interesting.  I’ve started teaching my oldest about God, but I floundered about miserably when I tried out this new idea of God as a woman on her.  “Well, you see, God isn’t a boy..He’s also a girl…Oh, shoot, I didn’t mean, He, I meant He/She, no, She/He…oh, forget it.”

Is that why they used “Thy” so much in the Bible? So much easier.

First Ladies of Fashion

Michelle’s arms.

Kate’s hat.

Two of the most powerful women in the world–one the leader of the United States (we all know that the wife is really in charge), one the future Queen of England.

And all we can talk about is their clothes?

Help me to understand why we do this.  Never in a million years do we hear about what the President is wearing, how “saucy” the feather on his hat is, or how “bold” his sweater color choice is. (Ok, maybe there was some talk of him wearing shorts, but still…)

Why are women judged so much by appearance? And more importantly, why do we women do the judging?

We are all guilty of it. Admit it, you’ve done it. I know I have.  Even surfing my mommy blogs, I always click to the “about” page to get a good glimpse of who is blogging.  “Oh ok, maybe she is a better writer than I am, but my hair is way better.” (A totally hypothetical example, as my hair always looks terrible. Curse my flat head).

I think stay-at-home moms are the worst.  As “non-productive” members of society, we feel the world is judging us constantly; and we in turn, judge other moms, other women. And what’s easier to judge on that the way we look? It’s a quick way to compare ourselves to others and “size up the competition.”

The question is of course–why do we feel the need to compete with other women?

It’s exhausting, really.  I do it myself. Part of the attraction of mommy blogging is reading about other moms, how they do things, how they get through the day, wondering if they actually get dressed, how they manage to do it all…and comparing that to our own lives.  I compare and contrast. Who’s better, who’s worse? That mom does arts and crafts? And makes homemade cookies? And works out an hour a day? Hmmpph…well good for her. But I don’t like her shirt.

I’m working on it.  Obviously, our need to judge and compare stems from feelings of self-doubt and insecurity.  Finding the source of those feelings is an individual journey, with many facets.  But the fact that  society, what the global news focuses on, is women’s appearance, shows us we are not alone.  There is a widespread, cultural, societal, deep, ingrained emphasis on how women look. And like it or not, that affects us. It’s hard to shake our own desire to judge and compare other women when every media outlet tells us that the most important part of being a woman is what you look like. And don’t even get me started on the more pressing issue of the fact that these women are powerful because of the men that they are associated with…

We are more than what we wear.  And I don’t care how great Michelle’s arms look. My arm has a little jiggle to it, but it is strong enough to hold my babies, to work to support my family, to hug my sisters, to type this message to you, to wipe the tears from my eyes when I cry with mothers who are grieving.  The arms of women are the arms of strength, of love, and compassion.

And that matters a heck of a lot more than killer triceps.

Saucy... or sad?

Who’s the Boss?

Let’s take a poll.

All you moms–and be honest–how do you go to the bathroom during the day?

Perhaps I’m a weirdo, but this is something I wonder about in the secret lives of other moms.  How do they manage to go to the bathroom during the day? And what if, God forbid, you have go to #2?  Is anyone else like me and forced to share the bathroom with both children, who for some reason, want to be held the second I sit down?  Be prepared for this admission, but I have literally held both children on my lap while I went to the bathroom.  There, I said it!

Lately I have been feeling a little out of control when it comes to my children.  They follow me around all day, the littlest one clinging unsteadily to my leg, shrieking in protest when I attempt such atrocious maneuvers as walking; the eldest, prostrating herself on the floor in front me, whining simply because she is bored.  Mya demands to be held for her meals, not content until she is resting happily on my lap, shoving my food in her  mouth and exploring my water glass with her chubby little fingers.  When she is not eating or attempting to escape up the stairs, her preferred method of entertainment is to have me walk her around on my hip, showing off various items of amusement throughout the house.

I know, I know…if you don’t want her to do that, don’t give in to her demands, you are thinking.

Let me ask you something: Do you enjoy blood-curdling screams during your dinner? Hmmm? Do you?

And I have, I’ve tried to set my foot down.  Just two days ago, I was trying to cook dinner and she wanted me to hold her.  I have always held my children a lot. I’m a big believer in keeping my babies close and letting them experience the world safely from my arms.  (I never had one of those wraps, but I definitely will get one if, ok who I am kidding, when I have another child.)  I would plan my household chores around which ones I could do when she was sleeping and which ones I could do when I was holding her.  For instance, vacuuming and unloading the dishwasher are one-handed chores, while chopping vegetables for dinner requires two hands.  But all of this was a heck of a lot easier when she was not a twenty plus pound infant who can reach, pull, grab and otherwise test the limits of how far she can actually go without hurtling out of my arms.  At ten months old, even with the incredible bulging bicep I have developed (left arm only, very attractive), it’s getting difficult to lug her around all day.

The problem, of course, is that she doesn’t realize this.  When I attempted to show her that she would, in fact, survive if I placed her on the floor during dinner prep, she resisted quite heroically.  Picture, if you will, a baby dressed in piggie pajamas, head thrown back in screaming protest, every fiber of her chubby being downright mad. And the cry–I wish you could hear my child scream.  She has the most shrill scream I have ever heard.  It grinds you and deafens you in a way that is almost unbelievable until you have actually heard it.  By the time Ben got home, my ears were ringing and I am certain I suffered some sort of hearing loss akin to sitting in front of speakers at a heavy metal concert.

But I tried.  After she screamed for a bit on the floor and exhausted herself, I put her in her crib, hoping she would be so tired she would fall asleep. Ha!  So we moved back downstairs.  After more time had passed, I even tried nursing her to calm her down.  No such luck.  Finally, I did pick her up, but sat down on the couch with her.  The indignation!  She wanted to be in the kitchen, gol darnit!

Needles to say, dinner was late that night.  Siighhh…

So I am facing a battle.  I am trying earnestly to teach my children that I am not on this earth to be there 24/7 entertainment director.  The girls will be 3 and 1 in May, and I do believe it is perfectly acceptable to start expecting them to play on their own.  I fear that in trying so hard to stay home with them and play with them and otherwise be with them every day, I have created somewhat of a monster.  The “entertain me Mom” monster.

In writing this post, I have gotten up approximately twelve times to attend to Ada.  I decided NOT to feel guilty about sitting down to type this while simultaneously refusing her requests to watch “just a little bit of cartoons.” Let her play.  Be the live example of this post.  Right.

Knowing I was testing her, she started off  by firstly tearing off the printer door and whipping it across the office. (Not sure how she even managed that, but two years do have superhuman strength at times…). Then she enjoyed the view from the naughty corner for a two-minute timeout.  Then she had to go potty.  Then she wanted a banana. Then she wanted to wedge herself into the tiny place between my desk and printer, precisely close enough to me to be not actually touching me, but close enough where I can feel every banana laden breath on my arm as I type.  When I asked her to please move, she tried the other side, resting her chin on my arm like a puppy.  When I still encouraged her to go play, she stepped it up a notch, trying the whine-on-the-floor routine.  Next, she licked the office door and watched for my reaction.  She threw my phone on the ground, breaking the battery.  Enjoyed another time-out.  You get the picture.  Finally, she gave up and entertained herself playing with Mya’s baby gate.  Not the entertainment of choice I would have guessed, but hey, she was happy for a grand total of three minutes…at which time, Mya awoke.

Moms, it is not our job to provide ceaseless entertainment for our children.  Let them be bored.  Let them whine and lay on the floor until they decide to pick themselves up and go play.  I want my children to develop their own imaginations, without me constantly saying “Why don’t you color? Why don’ t you play with your easel? Read a book?”  Yes, we guide, yes we interact with them, but we don’t create a crutch for them.  We don’t over-structure and under-stimulate so that, given two minutes to themselves, they don’t know what to do.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not the one in charge.  Like there is a little boss in my house, demanding and controlling, always watching me with disapproval.

My boss...she's very demanding

Today, I’m going to take charge.

Wish me luck.

The Best Days

Sitting amongst all the women in my husband’s family one holiday evening,  we discussed life with little children.  “It’s hard to see past that time in your life when you are living it” said Ben’s aunt.  I nodded in agreement.

Ben’s maternal grandmother sat on the couch, her little body comically perched atop the leather cushions.  Her eyes peered out through the thick lenses of her glasses. “Those are the best days of your life” she said wistfully, a small sad smile on her face.

It’s a sentiment I’ve heard echoed time and time again.

“Enjoy this time in your life.”

“They go so fast, don’t they?”

“I miss those days.”

And I get it, I really do.  I love this time in my life, with all the little frustrations and stresses it brings.  I am fully aware how fleeting this time is, how every moment spent cuddling my babies is a moment straight from Heaven.  I try very hard to cherish every small thing and enjoy the times just spent laughing with Ada, or kissing Mymy’s chubby little cheeks.  I get that it is a precious time.

But for some reason, whenever I hear people tell me that these are the best days of my life…I feel a twinge of something…If I’m honest, there is a slight twinge of annoyance, in the implication that I am somehow not aware of my blessings, along with the sheer amount of times I hear it.  As I said, however, I get it, so that part of it is just a brief moment, nothing that really bothers me.  Most people are just trying to help.

What I think really bothers me is fear.  Hearing people wax on and on about this being the best time in my life, and how much I’m going to miss it, and aren’t these babies precious makes me fear what is to come.  Will my life be meaningless without children?  Do I have anything to look forward to once they are grown?

My post-baby body clearly leaves a modeling career out the picture, so what’s next?  I get so panicked thinking about it sometimes. I will literally be playing with my children and start thinking of all those friendly reminders to cherish this time and I will start to see the moments vanishing before my eyes.  Mya laughing at Ada’s in the bathtub–gone.  Ada twirling on the top of the stairs in her princess dress she donned after naptime–gone.  Like beads on a broken necklace, I see the moments lost forever.

It’s such a balancing act every day.  Do I do the laundry or read the kids a book? Do I unload the dishwasher or play Chutes & Ladders with Ada? Should I put Mya in her crib or hold her right through her nap, breathing in her sweet baby smell? It’s enough to make a person crazy.  Especially in light of the all the recent losses of babies and young people I have seen, it becomes harder and harder to know where to draw the line. Yes, I want to enjoy my kids, but I also want clean dishes.  And yet, even cleaning my house is tainted with guilt as echoes of “best time of your life” sound in my head.  And then throw the fact there is work and husbands and your own personal time to deal’s amazing we can even function through the day!  Sometimes, I almost wish I was back in those pioneering woman days, when there was so much work to be done to merely survive the day that feeling guilty for not enjoying your children enough was just not an option.

I think especially for mothers who choose to be home with their kids, there is a level of guilt attached to it.  As in, if I’m choosing to be here instead of productively making money, I better really choose it.  I sure as heck better cuddle, snuggle, read, play, and cherish this time–because I chose it.  At least, it’s that way for me.  My job at the hospital especially is a job that is always there, always needing people to come in and help.  So every day that I don’t go in, I am consciously choosing to be home–so I better make it count.

This post feels a bit rambly, but hey I’ve been up since 1, 4, and 5 am with both children and especially child #2, who inherited child #1’s horrible poop bug (actually a real thing–rotavirus).  Poor baby.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I hope we can all enjoy our children, yes, but not take it to the extreme I sometimes border on, in trying too hard to cherish it all that I am not living the moment.  Writing down every cute thing, snapping pictures everywhere, capturing all the memories without really living them.  I hope I can learn to balance it all, to let go of my guilt in unloading the dishwasher, to not have an internal battle when the time comes to lay May down for her nap.  I want to look forward to the future, seeing my children grow, even spending time with them as (gulp) adults.  (I know this will happen in theory, but I can’t fathom it.  It is mind-boggling to me that my husband is his mother’s baby!!)  I want to know that there is life after children.  But hopefully, never without children in it.

I do believe the munchkins are awakening.  So, in the meantime, I leave you with this, a little reminder of just one of the best days in my life…

Ada swinging free

Mya's turn!

A Vision for the Future

There really wasn’t a good way to follow up on my sad post.  So I didn’t. I avoided the issue and instead posted about laundry.  Much like the need to crack a joke after crying in front of someone, I decided to go the harmless route of posting about nothing.  And so I continue.

The past week, eldest daughter Ada has been quite sick with a nasty bug.  She had diarrhea and loose stools for five days. It was awful.  I work as a nurse, I deal with poop all the time, and I still have never seen such poop come from a person…let alone such a small person.  Two days ago, it culminated in Ada waking up from her afternoon nap and wailing “Mama, I neeeed help!!” Never a good sign.  I fearfully climbed the stairs to find my child literally covered in poop from head to toe.  A trail of poop extended from bed and across her carpeted room to the top of the stairs.  I held Mya in one arm, deposited my poor child into the tub and embarked upon the scrubdown of a lifetime.  Seriously people, I scrubbed poop out of her eyebrows. She cried, Mya cried, I cried.

Thankfully, yesterday she seemed to back to her normal self.  Because I had let her rest on the couch and watch  TV and her movie while she had been sick (she now tries to play the “sick” card when she wants cartoons. Devious child) I decided to forgo any work or chores during Mya’s nap to focus on “Arts & Crafts” time with Ada.

Did you watch the episode of The Bachelor (I confess: I love watching that show) a few years back when one of the contestants made a vision board? In the book The Secret I also came across the vision board again.  Both the lady from The Bachelor and the book are kind of crazy, but the concept makes sense: Visualizing clearly what you want and focusing on that goal can help you achieve it.  Making the vision board helps you 1) identify your goals 2) create a visual picture for your goals 3) have a concrete vision you can come back to to refocus.

Lately I have been struggling with what I want to be when I grow up.  I work as a nurse, which truthfully I hate (I’ll talk more about this later) and another job from home, that I theoretically love, but is also very difficult in the fact that it really stresses out my home life because there is not a whole lot of distinction where works ends. Plus, between the two jobs, I work between 20-30 hours a week without a babysitter, which is not always fun.  It leaves me feeling like I am doing nothing well. The house is always half clean, Ada watches more TV than I would like, Mya just wants me to hold her more, and the to-do list for work is never done.  I don’t feel that I have reached my calling in life yet, if that makes any sense.  Honestly, I would love to do something with writing, but there are so many things holding me back with that–namely, I don’t feel I am good enough, there are a million exceptional writers out there, writing is not a “real” job, I am being selfish even right now writing this blog while I ignore my children, and so on and so forth.  But nothing excites me or fulfills me so much as writing the perfect sentence and hoping it will somehow, someway reach another person as others words have affected me.

On the other hand, I have no clue what I want from here. Part of me never wants to think about anything else ever again beyond my little family bubble.  I have half of my Masters degree completed, two jobs, two kids, a house, and husband at the age of twenty four.  So I think I have time to figure it all out, but it’s part of who I am to always want to plan the next step. In high school I was a very motivated and dedicated person–I don’t know where that drive went.  These days, my brain seriously feels like scrambled eggs. If I make it through the day’s chores of cleaning, balancing work and playing with the girls, or miraculously managing to put on make-up or get dressed, I feel like a hero.  Beyond that, I’m lost.

To help me sort it all out, I decided to make a vision board. I thought it would be a fun project, and most importantly, it involved a glue stick, one of Ada’s absolute most favorite things. It was even one of those blue ones that turn clear once they dry.  Awesome.

Now I’m not really one of those arts & crafts kinds of mothers.  I mean, I secretly love doing dorky crafts with the kids, but I’m not a super creative person with fun kids craft ideas. That award goes to my friend Megan, who runs the playgroup.  She always has fun craft ideas up her sleeves and we joke that we will be sad when our kids grow up and we don’t have an excuse to play with crafts anymore.  I just stick to the basics–coloring, finger painting once in a while, cool glue sticks.  Actually, I happened to fail cutting and pasting in kindergarten, warranting my parents being called in for a parent-teacher conference, to which you can imagine their reaction. Hint: it didn’t involve hours of scissors practice.

But I do have a cool dedicated “arts & crafts” corner–i.e., a small three drawer unit from a garage sale that holds various crafty stuff. So yesterday, ignoring my craft-challenged status, Ada and I embarked upon our vision boards with stacks of magazines, glue sticks, and safety scissors.

(Side note: if you have noticed my frequent use of the word “challenged” lately, as in vertically challenged, stain challenged, craft challenged, it is in satirical protest to the use of the phrase “staff challenged” recently employed by the hospital I work at.  A nurse educator actually trained us that we are never to use the phrase “short staffed” when we are lacking adequate staff. We are to say “staff challenged.” I worked last Saturday assigned nine patients, three of whom were in isolation for nasty superbugs, one who was being discharged on fifty meds, none of which she had any idea what she was taking them for, and one with a critical hemoglobin requiring a stat two unit blood transfusion.  Translation: I barely had time to breathe, let alone be confident that I was providing proper patient care.  I was very “staff challenged.” Hmmmphh)

Getting back on track, we had a fun hour of cutting, gluing and discovering.  I just picked out any words or pictures that I like and decided to put them all together to see what I found.  Sort of like the idea of just writing whatever comes to your mind to discover your innermost secret thoughts.

This was the result:

Apparently I really enjoy coffee, pink flowers, I want to make shamrock cookies, I like writing…and I want to be a mom who makes smoothies? And if you look closely, yes, I want that trip to Hawaii. And no, I don’t want 25 kids, the 25 was for my upcoming 25th birthday in May…I always have felt like 25 was some sort of adult milestone, hence the pressure to figure out what the heck I want to do.

And here is Ada’s board:

Poor girl. What will her kindergarten teacher say?

Laundry Stain Removal Chart

Saw this stain removal chart in my Better Homes and Garden magazine and yes, I am dorky enough to print it out.  I am forever battling Ada’s stained clothes and Ben’s teacher pants with pen marks on the pocket. ( I never realized pocket protectors could be so tempting…)  I am always embarrassed by how grubby and stained my children are and hearing tips from my husband on how to do laundry like his mom and grandma–shout-out to my facebook stalking mother-in-law 🙂

Anywho, because I’m sure I’m not the only dorky stain-challenged momma out there, I thought I would share. Here’s hoping it will improve my laundry skills.

Also–I saw this site has a lot of giveaways.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT enter the Hawaii getaway contest. That one is mine.