Outsourcing Thanksgiving Dinner

This year I am outsourcing Thanksgiving dinner to Cracker Barrel. They will be taking care of all the heavy duty work. I am not ashamed to admit it either. I’ll be adding in some extra side dishes, but you will not see me slaving in the kitchen with a twenty pound turkey. I’ve made a lot of changes in my life this year, shifted my priorities and focus. As a result, I have to just outsource some things. Thanksgiving dinner is one of them.

But I’ll make some easy for me side dishes to add to the Cracker Barrel spread. Here’s what I plan to make:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

Candied Yams

Candied Yams

Buttered Corn

Buttered Corn

I’m salivating just thinking about it.

I can’t wait for my Cracker Barrel spread however. This year, I’ve been learning to have peace with the fact that I can’t do everything, but I can do a few things REALLY well. So, I’ve been trying to refocus and figure out what are those few things that I can do well.

I decided basting turkeys wasn’t one of them. Sometimes, Super Woman just has to draw the line.

What about you? Have you been trying to do too much? What will you do to pull back this holiday season?

 

 

Simple Ways Parents Can Nurture Their Creativity

Nurturing your creativity takes time and attention, but as I’ve found out, it doesn’t take as much time as I had originally figured.

Thirty minutes a day can do wonders for a creative person. It can create a proverbial garden of inspiration.

Creative Life

In thirty minutes, you can:

Write a full page of your book (that’s about 250 words)

Edit a half a page.

Knit three rows of your latest project.

Sketch a part of a drawing.

Practice a couple of songs.

Go for a walk. (Daily walks are the best for clearing your brain and getting those creative juices flowing.)

Draft a blog post.

I used to thing I needed long, uninterrupted stretches of time to nurture my creativity. Well, my lifestyle doesn’t always allow me such luxuries. In fact, that last time I have a long, uninterrupted time to do anything was when I had an unexpected 11 hour layover at the Atlanta airport. (After getting over the grumpies about my layover, I didn’t think twice about getting to work on my latest project!)

Times When Busy Parents Can Nurture their Creativity

Before the children get up

While the children are eating.

When the children are busy playing.

NAP TIME!!!

Right before you go to bed.

This tiny snatches of time add up, but when we are in the midst of our days it can often seem like the exact opposite.

Time for you: Do you long to pursue a passion? Have you learned to snatch up minutes to nurture your creative life?

Easy Ways for Children to Unplug From Technology

My family needs to unplug from technology, but I have to confess, I am the main culprit behind our media saturated lifestyle. I often plop my children in front of the television in order to get things done.

Have you done that too?

(Crickets…)

It’s a quick fix but often comes with disastrous results. After spending time watching a movie on television, my children’s tempers flare up easily.

Does this happen to you?

(More crickets…)

Y’all need to speak up before I feel like the MOST.INCOMPETENT.PARENT.EVER.

Since my children are so young, they are still shaping their view of the world. Do I really want Disney and Dora to be the main conveyors of truth?

Nope.

media

I got to thinking about the path I’d like my children to walk. I’d like them to be grow up and become purveyors of truth rather than recipients of people’s propaganda. I’m taking baby steps to accomplish this:

To unplug from technology, I’ll expose my children to living books.

Charlotte Mason, a pioneer in the education of children, coined the term living books. To her, living books were written by an author who knew their subject very well. The author tends to write from their passion for the subject and this enthusiasm enables them to write in such a way that ignites the imagination of his/her readers.

To unplug from technology, I’ll limit my children screen time.

This is where I need to focus the majority of my efforts. For me, it comes down to managing my time better so I can stop doing this:

unplug from technology

And limiting their screen time doesn’t mean they NEVER EVER watch TV. It simply means I need to be more purposeful by scheduling it in and not using it as a crutch. Crutches can be disastrous. Just read about the time when my two year old walked out the front door!

To unplug from technology, I’ll give my children lots of outdoor play.

I recently read an article from NPR which said that Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills. This article propsoed that, as the generations passed, children’s capacity for self regulation (aka, self-control) decreased.

Playing in nature ignites a child’s capacity to imagine. I believe that our capacity to imagine is a gift from God. Something that I, as a mom, don’t want to squelch.

 

How about you? Do your children spend lots of time in front of a screen?

 

New Mother: A Letter for You

Hello new mother. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Just a few years ago you were…well, we won’t go there. But we want to welcome you to this new place, this cadre of moms. We are everywhere. Driving down the street. Walking to a bus stop. Hanging out at the checkout line at Target. Stopping at Starbucks to get a tall mocha latte {Well, the mothers with older/adult children are lounging at Starbucks. The younger moms are at the park trying to convince their preschooler that eating sand isn’t a good source of fiber.}

You’ve been blessed.

But just because you have been blessed doesn’t mean it will be easy. No sirree. It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had. Some days I’d rather scrub a toilet than take the time to put on the mother hat and calm a tantrum. But I’m going to take a bet and say you’ve had your hard days too.

baby

New mother, your little one is so very fresh. Fresh from the hands of God. I’m sure you’ve read all the books and heard all the advice you can, especially the advice about enjoying it now, because they grow up so very fast. I personally haven’t gotten to that stage of motherhood yet, but sometimes I look at my three year old and can picture him swaddled in a blanket in my mind’s eye.

I could say all of this nice, profound philosophical stuff, but really, truly: having a newborn stinks like a poopy diaper. So it can be hard for a mother to relish every moment.

I’d be lying if I told you that I was full of that “new mom joy” when I had a newborn screaming in my ear for hours.

mother2

I could definitely wait to become pregnant again. I looked at other mothers who had two, three, four, five, six, seven…children and thought they were smoking something. Pushing the one baby out took a feat of monumental, non-human strength. And the reward for my effort? Sleepless nights.

I despised the early days. Truly despised them. I wanted to give the Mother Badge back.  I didn’t like it when my husband started calling me “Mommy” instead of “Preslaysa.” I told him to stop doing so, but he didn’t want the baby growing up calling me “Preslaysa.” I lost that one. I felt like my life was over: that my identity would forever be lost in being a “mother.”

And I felt guilty about that. Was it a sin to feel this way? Shouldn’t a mother feel joyful and so in love with their new baby right now?

My heart wasn’t so sure.

I can’t sleep because I worry all the time about everything.

-A new mom

Still the guilt plagued me. Did God look down from heaven at me and say: “Preslaysa, I mean, Mommy,  is breaking all the Christian Mother Rules. Too bad we can’t take the baby back, give him to another mother. We’ll just have to play this one out and hope for the best.”

But I do remember when I felt the first ember of love toward my son. It was in the middle of the night. Husband was sound asleep after giving him the 2 a.m. feeding, but the baby was screaming.

So, of course, dutiful new mom was up.

I went to his room and picked him up out of the crib. Then he stopped crying {of course}. Then we walked to our tiny kitchen and the moonlight filtered through the half-closed, white blinds and shone on his cherubic face. His liquid brown eyes looked up in awe at the moon.

I looked up in awe at him.

But before that moment, all I can remember was that my house was a wreck. And all I did was change diapers, feed a baby, rock a baby, dress a baby, hope {and pray} a baby would nap. And maybe try to find some inkling of time for me.

I wasn’t in love.

Second time around, things were a little easier {a little}, but they were still hard. Second time around, I worried if both children were treated the same way. I wanted to be the Democratic Mother. Read this post about my struggles to be an equal opportunity mother.

But I can’t live life making sure the scales are always balanced. Love is love. Plain and simple.

I know a lot of moms feel this way. After taking all those childbirth classes and reading all those books, you think you’d be excited about parenthood. When all you’re really trying to do is make it.

We know what that’s like.

The point of this letter is to let you know that I’ve been there. Many women have been there. And that it’ll get better. Much better.

And since you’ve heard a lot of advice already, a little more won’t hurt. A few tips:

*Go to bed. Don’t try to be superwoman. You brought forth a new life. That’s super enough.

*Messy house is fine too.

*If you don’t want to entertain visitors, don’t.

*You may get down. You may get depressed. I suffered from a deep, prolonged depression prior to becoming a mother. After becoming a mom, the stress of a newborn caused me to worry that I’d sink into another depression. That’s a normal feeling. If you feel that way, seek out help. Don’t hide behind a Happy Mother mask.

That’s all. {Giving you a hug now.}

What were the early days like for you? If you are going through those days now, how’s it going?

Cornerstone Confessions

Screaming Mamas: This One is for You

Screaming mamas, I have another confession. I too am a screaming mama. I scream like a toddler and/or a baby. Only I’m not a toddler, and I’m not a baby. I’m in my thirties. Therefore, my screaming is ultra-un-normal. Ahem, abnormal.

Why do I scream? For starters, my children scream, and sometimes–okay, a lot of times–I rationalize that screaming louder than my children will beef up my parental authority. It’s a reflex, knee-jerk, bad on all levels parenting technique.

screaming mamas

Photo Credit: ralaenin

It doesn’t work. My children giggle at me and continue on their merry misbehaving ways. Screaming has become ingrained in me, and I don’t like it. I recall one morning, during my quiet time, telling God that I WON’T SCREAM TODAY. (I wrote that in all CAPS in my journal because sometimes you just gotta get your point across to Him.) Soon as I hit the floor, I started screaming.

Can you believe that my prayer didn’t get answered? I couldn’t believe it either. What was I to do?

Pray still.

Hug still.

Love still.

And use those “I-message” communication techniques I read about in my Early Childhood Education class. Oh yeah, I have two college degrees, but I took some Early Childhood Ed. classes last year to help with my parenting skills. I pulled out the college textbooks for this one. Surprisingly, none of my textbooks said anything about screaming mamas like me.

Praying, hugging and loving on my children are as natural to me as screaming. (Don’t ask me how that makes sense, just accept it.) I-messages are odd. I-messages are assertive. To me, it’s easier to scream than to be assertive.

How Screaming Mamas Can Be More Assertive (Sort of)

This is assertive:

“Son, I feel angry when you blatantly ignore me after I asked you to sit at your chair for lunch. Do you know that I was in labor with you for TWENTY FOUR HOURS…UNMEDICATED?”

“Daughter, I feel upset when you howl for your sippy cup instead of asking politely. MY EARDRUMS CAN ONLY TAKE SO MUCH.”

But assertive must be done. Don’t want to be that frazzled mom anymore. Perhaps I can do baby steps. One I-message a day? Oh, and the textbooks say I have to look them in the eye when I say my special I-message.  That’s lot of steps to navigate, but I’ll try.

Are you a screamer? Or am I the only one? Let’s talk about it.