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Author Archives: westernwoman

My New Year’s Resolution – To Get A Divorce

how sad… a must-read for every person with a spouse! Beware, and be wise.

Hello, my name is …

I blinked back a tear reading this. It is so important to fill your heart with the truth. The rotten lies of the enemy are always trying to sink in. Mom, YOU are so important!

Backyard Missionary

hello my name is
Hello, my name is

nobody.

At least that’s what it felt like I said last night as I introduced myself to this new group of people in a class my husband and I are taking.
Identity is something I’ve struggled with since quitting my career as a journalist and leaving all volunteer posts nearly four years ago.
I used to be able to add tons of titles to my name. Hi, I’m Melissa, and I am a reporter for such and such newspaper, or Hi, I’m Melissa, and I am in charge of such and such organization. I wore alot of hats.
But there came a point when my heart just left those loves. I started to panic about how fast my kids were growing up and what I was missing out on. All I wanted to do was be at home with my kids and take care of them…

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Naptime Bribes

Naptime Bribes

Can I pay my toddler to take a nap? I justify it. It is so good for her to get a rest, and it is so good (!) for mama to get a break. You can’t put a price on a few minutes to read a Proverb, brew some fresh coffee, and regain the Happy Mom face!

I give her a chocolate chip. One to stuff in her mouth as soon as her head hits the pillow, another for her cute little hand to grasp as I make my exit.

My little tot is not excited about naps. A little incentive, in the form of chocolate chips, is worth the minor sugar buzz. (And yes, it is Kirkland brand. I am not going to apologise for trying to save money on something that is consumed in small amounts!)No more devastating cries when I announce, “The time has come…” Instead, it is, “Chocolate chip time!” Happy kids, happy mom.

That is all I have to say. (Except that, when Mother Dearest breaks into the chocolate chips, she takes a couple handfuls for herself. She works hard. She is entitled.)

What do you have to say about this confession? Any tips and tricks to add? Teach me. I am your student.

Cheers! (As I sip my homemade wine and conemplate a little chocolate treat… after all, it is my bedtime in a few hours. Don’t I deserve some incentive to fall into bed?)

Christmas Budget: 10 Ways to Save

Christmas Budget: 10 Ways to Save

We are not poor, but why should we pretend to have money to burn? Christmas boot ornament

 

 

Some ways I am saving this season;

  1. Finding a budget and sticking to it. In our case, about $50 for us, the same for Operation Christmas Child.
  2. Shoeboxes: We wanted to give the same away as we keep for ourselves. We were able to fill our shoeboxes full on a budget by finding items we already had. You can use things like new TY bears, etc. I also dipped into our personal food budget and donated some packaged dried fruit to the boxes.
  3. Myself and my husband love quality time, especially with his occupation taking him to North Dakota for the majority of the time. You have to think if your giftee’s love language is gifts, or something else. We chose very small, practical gifts for each other. Socks and slippers. We will get creative and give each other something else besides that doesn’t cost money. It may include a movie, massage, popcorn, and more quality time!
  4. The girlies are easy to please. Sparkly, fancy, and lots of (recycled) wrapping. I ordered them each a fancy fan for about $4. I also have a free dollhouse coming their way from my friend Nancy who cleans houses. She has scored me a number of free things, which is a blessing! I might also find some other little presents for them–free items I already have, or that I can make. I think they would like a chocolatey treat as well.
  5. For friends and family, I try to be mindful of who needs a gift?  Again, love language. My sis Ruthie is big on giving and receiving gifts, so it is super-fun to give things to her. The rest of the family may or may not get something. A hostess gift is always nice, but I like it to be something very useful, like a consumable item. Food, wine, artisan soap, etc.
  6. Gift exchange is the way to go for the extended family. We will do a White Elephant Gift Contest. Whoever gifts the funniest, most outrageous, worst gift will get a prize! The prize will probably be a dressed rabbit, some fresh eggs, or something I can produce. Someone suggested the winner gets all the white elephant gifts, but I draw the line. No one has room to store that much stuff!
  7. Consumables  are great, because everyone loves free food, lotions, etc. and it will save them money, rather than giving them something they were not planning on buying (or maybe the didn’t even want it!?) Cheese, homemade bread, preserves, wine, coffee, chocolate, fresh eggs, fresh produce artfully displayed in a basket… all of these are a very nice gift that will almost certainly be loved. Remember, your giftees are probably on a budget too, and the little extras to put on the table help out!
  8. DIY:  Remember the space issue. If someone is short on space, don’t give them a wall hanging or a knickknacks for the mantel, unless you just know them that well! Can I stress Consumable? I will be making wine (pretty, frugal, and fun; be discerning, because not everyone drinks wine); Fresh Bread is always a hit; Cheese is fun, easy, and not too expensive to make; I will be gifting some dressed rabbits, fresh eggs, and eggnog. If I get really ambitious, I may DIY some Christmas tree ornaments as well–frugal and commemorative, but not something that will add clutter to someone’s room if they are limited for space.
  9. Go green! Anything you give will need to be stored somewhere. Does your giftee have room for it? Also, is it wrapped with a lot of plastic? Shop smart, or don’t shop at all. If it might go in the landfill, don’t waste your money. If possible, buy used. It’s ok, really. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, then buy something consumable–always a safe bet. Sometimes you can give something you already own, like a clothing item to a sister (we always do this! So fun!) or a family keepsake. Save money and the environment at the same time.
  10. Last of all, give a gift of time. Coupons for back massages, decorating or painting a room, babysitting, etc. are amazing. I have only ever received a couple of those, and would love to see some more come my way! Free, fun, and totally my love language.

If someone in your life is worthy of a gift, be creative. Figure out their love language before stressing about what they might want–that only makes sense! Some people simply need the cash. Others really would prefer an intangible gift. But don’t burden yourself with something out of your price range. Do what works for you.016

Meat Rabbits

Meat Rabbits

Sustainability was never simpler. Rabbits taste good, require very little upkeep, and they “breed like rabbits.” We have had the rabbits for a few weeks and already have our first kits. I will not offer suggestions at this point on how to start out, as there is plenty of information out there; check youtube, books from the library, etc. I will tell you that the meat really does taste like chicken, they are lower maintenance that chickens, and they are easier to slaughter than chickens. (Think about plucking feathers… Our layer hens will be a once-in-a-blue-moon stew hen when they get old, and plucking won’t seem so bad if it doesn’t happen all the time. For our current needs, it does not pay for us to buy a plucking machine.)

So how does one actually eat something they raised? Hmmm. Do you feel better about eating something that was raised inhumanely, eating who-knows-what? I cannot afford to pay premium prices for ethically raised meat. I have financial goals! If the quality of meat, price, and sustainability is worth it to you, then you are strong enough to program your mind. In most cultures and centuries past, the idea that “you can’t eat your pets!” would have been a silly and irresponsible notion.

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Michael and the girls move the rabbits to their new home. The whole endeavor is fun and educational for the whole family.

 

 

026Newborn rabbits are naked, and warmly bundled in a thick nest of mama rabbit’s fur. In a few days, they will have thick coats themselves. The kits should be handled carefully to help them become tame. Caged animals need a lot of affection. The alternative is to let them run wild, but most likely (in our neck of the woods) fall prey to coyotes and hawks.

 

 

030My amazing husband Michael built this wonderful rabbit hutch. He adapted plans from youtube, and from our helpful neighbor. I helped with the painting, and have the scrapes to prove it. How does one get hurt painting? Well… I did. No matter.

They did a wonderful job! It looks pretty and is functional. A hutch does not have to be this fancy. You can find the plans online or make your own.

If you have the resources, bigger is better. Give them space to run if you can. Otherwise, give them a lot of love if they have a smaller area. Kits (baby rabbits) get a quality life before they are big enough for slaughter.

Check Craigslist! We found a send hutch for free (to use when the kits are ready to leave their mama)! Google the breed of rabbit for the appropriate sized hutch.

A rabbit needs clean water and food every day. They are messy (they seem to think it is a great joke to poop and pee in their feeding dishes!) so they require daily maintenance. They love apples, carrots, and leaves. Their diet is primarily alfalfa. You can buy bags of feed at the farm supply store,  or connect with local farmers for 3rd crop alfalfa and timothy grass.

We have 5 does and 1 buck. We plan to rotate the buck around, giving each doe a 3 month break in between breedings. incest is not an issue for meat rabbits. (Show rabbits are more picky as far as lineage, but we are not worried about that.)

Killing, skinning, and butchering is quick and easy. Here is one of many youtubes on the subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpDmHG_8pwE

Some of your guests will not like to know they are eating rabbit. If they assume it is chicken, it is ok not to say anything. Your picky friends will know better than to ask!

More updates to come.

Don’t Forget Your Treat

Ginger rogers 2[1]Not to suggest that we are puppy-dogs, motivated to good behavior only when rewarded. But still,  people do better when looking forward to a prize. (For example, my husband works hard in the oil field because there is a paycheck forth-coming. Similarly, I also believe in “paying” myself.) Happy mom = happy kids.

As a mom, we should do “just because,” It is the right thing to do. But that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a little something. No, you don’t even have to share with the family. That is your treat.

I say, what is the harm in treating oneself? Perhaps fancy coffee in the morning floats your boat. Maybe that is just enough incentive to roll out of bed with a smile when tiny tots issue an early alarm.

What about a late-night black-and-white comedy over something sweet from the kitchen, once the kids are finally asleep? Why not?!

Self-indulgence has its’ place. A mom works hard all day, and sometimes all night! Guilt has no place here. Treat yourself, be happy, and observe your mirrored attitude in the little ones.

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Observe the smiles on the faces of my babies. Clearly, their mother takes care of herself and passes on some happy to their beautiful faces.

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Cheers!

gentle waterbirth

1012437_10200942920629534_1359398350_n[1]It all started on Monday night. Telltale contractions that promised a maximum two hours of sleep, followed by a sleepless night of early stage labor. Michael slept through all the excitement, and with morning I was exhausted and disappointed as the night of 10-minute intervals settled into a day of infuriating nothingness. I tried to keep up my spirits, reminding myself that every contraction counts, even if it is not yet true labor.

That night I gratefully settled down, hoping to make up for lost sleep. Once again, however, I felt things moving along as they had the night before. I groaned, knowing that I would wake up at 2:00 AM “for nothing!” I poured out my hormonal heart to my husband, declaring that I felt this baby would never come, and that on this, the eve of my due date, I would once again be subjected to a night of sleeplessness, unrewarded by a baby by morning. Indeed, from 2:00 AM and on, I tossed and turned, paced and rocked, clutched a hot water bottle to my lower back until the skin was raw from heat, and was generally miserable.

My two previous births had been at the hospital. I loved giving birth, but hated the constant interruptions, bright lights, and rules about how I must deliver my baby. My cousin Jenny, a certified midwife, would deliver my baby this time, and I was excited to deliver peacefully in the comfort of my own home. My married sister is a seasoned veteran of homebirth, having delivered all three of her boys at home with midwives. She had promised me that midwives go the extra mile, getting into uncomfortable positions to monitor and assist during labor, rather than make the mother move around and be strapped to uncomfortable contraptions.

The bedroom had been ready for the last 4 weeks. Supplies lined up by category, candles ready to provide dimmed lighting, and the birth pool ready to be inflated and filled. It was calming, knowing that everything would be ready when the moment should come.

I texted Jenny an FYI on that Wednesday morning, with a “not to worry, nothing is actually happening yet,” update. Jenny got a few more details and by 10:00 AM had decided she would stop by that day to see for herself. I did not think that was necessary, but she seemed to have her mind made up. I was too uncomfortable and tired to argue further.

I danced to my Zumba music and got a good hour workout, losing my cool only a few times with my children, as I retreated farther into myself. The more I exercised, the less real labor was to me. I seemed to be at odds with the whole world.

Michael came to the rescue, as he often does. He took the little ones berry picking for three hours. I was obedient to Jenny’s suggestion to take a nap they were gone, and actually slept between contractions, waking up just in time to hop out of bed to moan and rock before each contraction hit.

This being my third baby, it was quite normal that contractions were irregular. The posterior position of the baby, however, made the few contractions especially painful. The long minutes between them furthered my resolve not to get my hopes up, but my composure wore thin as the pressure on my lower back mounted.

Jenny and her intern Gabby arrived, and I served them a late lunch. They greeted me, exchanged glances, and politely ignored the fact that I hadn’t bothered to wear pants. A woman may neglect to look her best when she feels irritable enough, but heaven forbid she fail to feed her guests. Later they told me that my lack of modesty was their only indication that I was truly in labor. I was trying to act as normal as possible, convinced that this was just Day 2 of the same old nonsense. That was my logic, anyway.

When they asked if I would like an internal check, I agreed, saying I was very curious. Joy! 7 centimeters, and I had not yet even broken into the Labor Aid cubes.

The next few hours were a blur of preparing the room and setting up the birth pool. I tried to work out a little more as people began to trickle in, but the distraction of dancing was no longer possible. Contractions were too close together, although still irregular.

My mom and sisters arrived at the moment I broke down emotionally and collapsed on the bed in pain. Gabby had been helping me with counter pressure on my back up until then. I was invited to get in the birth pool.

Feeling suddenly weightless in the water, I was comforted when Michael got in the water and held me close. The pressure in my lower back was still intense. With every contraction I required Michael to be quiet and press on my sacrum. Gabby, my mom, and Jenny also helped with that. After some time I could hear Jenny clearing the room. Things were intense, but I was distracted and not progressing as I should. Only the essential people remained in the room.

There was a brief interruption as I heard voices in the hallway. My sister Elisa greeted unexpected visitors who had come bringing baby gifts, and asked them to come back at a later time! The house quiet once again, I resumed focus on my labor.

My memories are fuzzy. It was la-la-labor land at that point. I shushed, yelled, and slapped my husband if he talked or moved during contractions. Apparently those in the room laughed silently (my eyes were closed.) and signalled Michael not to worry. Husbands commonly take the brunt of wifely emotions during labor. In retrospect I wish I had requested a video of the birth so that I could see the comedy that took place.

The water was getting cold. Our home’s hot water heater had been maxxed out, and pots of water were being heated on the stove. Every time a sister came in with hot water, I could feel tension being eased in my body. Once, Elisa came in with her little baby strapped to her front, carrying a huge pot of water ahead of him. I looked up and laughed at the look of shock and joy on his innocent face as he looked curiously around the room.

I asked my mom to read Psalm 27 to me. For two weeks previous to the birth, I had been stuck on that Scripture, going over it every day. In labor it was a comfort, and she read it several times before I tuned out her voice and moved deeper into myself.

My mind grasped wildly, tryinig to reason with the pain, “What?! I want more kids after this?! Who does this!? No more kids. Hmmm. There is no way out. I want to remove the feeling from my back. I am at home, there is no epidural available, and if there was, I would refuse it. Therefore, I want to die. Yes, I could just die! Except… The baby is not born yet, That means I have to live and deliver this baby.”  All the while, Jenny assured me that it was not much longer, my mom held my face above water, and Michael supported my back.

And then Maureen, the backup midwife, was instructing me to assume a froglike position to enable the posterior baby to pass through. Suddenly I could push and feel the baby moving. Alert in every way, I felt baby’s head progress and retreat. Every sensation was vividly clear. Jenny tried to keep my energy on pushing and not on sound effects, but I was not able to master my voice. For moments at a time I could hold back my voice while pushing, then I would lose it. My 4-year-old later told me she heard me and knew I was pushing out the baby because of the noise I made.

I reached down and felt the baby’s head at two knuckles. I could feel her precious head protected by the sack and a small amount of amniotic fluid. I was encouraged and pushed harder. There was a briefest crown, then she went back. I pushed again and felt the sack burst. She was coming!

I planted my hands down and pushed hard with Jenny guiding me. Michael tried to feel for the baby but I yelled for him to stop; I wanted his hands supporting my back for the next contraction.

“OK Laura, let this next contraction build before you start pushing, and then you’re going to have a baby.” Jenny’s voice seemed like a dream. I waited as long as I could and pushed. It felt so good to push. I felt the baby’s head coming out in what seemed to me like a contraction lasting several minutes, They were checking her neck for a cord. Pushing her body out was the strangest sensation, as I felt limbs and belly coming quickly through.

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The next thing I knew I was upright on the other side of the birth pool, supported by Michael, and the little baby had been passed through my legs and into my arms. I sagged against Michael while he held me and the baby up. She took her first breaths and i exclaimed, “look at her cheecks!” Her chubby little face was blue and perfect. She began to mew like a kitten and I sagged in relief. It was 8:45 PM. At long last, it was over. Thankful tears welled in my eyes, quickly replaced by euphoric smiles.

Adrenaline rushed into my being, although my body was limp againts Michael. For the next few minutes I rejoiced and beamed as pictures were taken and people poured into the room. My younger sisters had dressed Archangela and Abigail for bed, and now they giggled and reached for their new sister. Abigail, 2 1/2  years old, asked if someone could get Mommy out so that she could get in and sit on Daddy’s lap. Archangela just smiled brightly and commented that she had been waiting so long.

Michael had been scolded  soundly by me every time he tried to crack a joke in the pool, but now he boldly went for it again. “Hey, I’m like the quarterback and Laura is the center, handing off the football!” I didn’t really get the analogy, as I am completely clueless when it comes to sports, but I was finallyn willing to let Michael talk and enjoy his moment with his appreciative audience.

Time stood still in the pool. Together, my husband and I held onto that precious little girl. When I was finally helped onto the bed, I could not stop smiling. I looked at her beautiful face and thought, “Of course! That is why I went through labor. That little face is worth it. I wanted to die, but I am glad to have gone through what I did for her. I would do it again. I will do it again. Children a beautiful gift, well worth the pain of childbirth. I want more.”

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In the days that followed, my oxytocin levels remained at a constant high. I had almost no pain, thanks to the gentle birth at home. The water had virtually bypassed any tearing. The necessary post-partum cramping was eased by the herbs and pain relief reccomended by my midwife. I was happy to a fault, and found myself thinking how meaningful it was to give birth to a new life. Recovery was amazingly fast, although Jenny and my husband had to get after me to rest properly. I felt so good and happy it seemed natural to be up and around right away. The time right after birth, however, is meant for healing, resting, and bonding with the new baby. She doesn’t need mommy to be off doing dishes while she is alone in the bassinet; she needs her mother relaxed, holding her, and being mindful of both their needs for at least a week. It is a time to reflect, pray, and enjoy the priceless gift.

And I stand by it; If the only thing I ever did was give birth to this baby, my life will have had great purpose.

Slow Down, Mama

frazzled mom picI have 5 weeks to go before the due date of our 3rd daughter. I feel so high-maintenance sometimes I want to scream. (If I follow that instinct, however, my kids will join me, and then I’ll be really upset.) Take the way I sleep, for example. 4-5 pillows!? And I still can’t find a comfortable position. Standing and sitting are no better. The only time I feel good is when I dance, which only lasts as long as I can keep my heart rate low enough. And my emotions! They are about the same as they have been for the last 35 weeks, plus some. How does a mom stay emotionally consistent with her kids when she is not herself?

Enough of my drama. You know the feeling of being overwhelmed!  Most likely, you are not pregnant. Some of you are not mothers. But we all know that when we feel overwhelmed, we are still required to act in a Godly way.

How to cope? I say, take inventory of what consumes your energy (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.) and simplify.  A few examples:

  1. I vow that for the next 5 weeks, I will worry less about feeding my family the perfect diet. If my 4-year-old wants to make us peanut butter crackers for lunch (rather than my usual combination of the food groups and probiotics) then let her go to town–and give her a tip for her money jar! That way she’ll do it again. One less thing for me to think about = more time for me to gather my senses and control my emotions.
  2. I will stress less about not overdoing it on the movies, just for now. I am tired! Yes, the kids will probably be even  more crabby after watching their 3rd movie this week, but at least I get to take a nap. A cheerful mom is more important than cheerful kids. Kids depend on mom’s state to shape their attitudes for the day, not vice-versa.
  3. Makeup–what?! Who? Did someone say I have to look a certain way? I will pay just enough attention to my appearance to feel good about myself, and respectful to others (e.g. my husband!) After all, 20 minute smoky eyes and blowout hair really is passé.

I will take a break from striving so much.

When 5 weeks is over I will decide if I care to resume my normal standards. In the meantime, it is so much more important to simplify in order to conserve energy for what is really important.

Blessings, cheers, and hugs (It is Hug Day!)

Western Woman

Glass Bottle Sippy Cup by LifeFactory

Posted on

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0052QOKXA/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1To review the Lifefactory 9-Ounce Glass Bottle… let me say I couldn’t believe my luck when I searched and discovered that my craving for a safe glass option was actually out there.

What could be better than a glass bottle (Oh, yes! Avoid plastic bottles for yourself and  little ones!) with a silicone sleeve to protect it against breakage?

My customer review is: Please, give me a bottle/sippy cup with a non-plugging gasket!

I originally ordered what I thought was a 2-pack of bottle/sippy cups. When the sippy caps arrived, I realized that one was my fault. But really, “sippy caps” and “sippy cups” could be confused by anybody, right? When I finally ordered the right item, $16.99 apiece on Amazon, I couldn’t wait to try out a product that would be healthier for my child. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0052QOKXA/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I enforced the “water-only” rule for the bottle. At 2 years old, I think that is plenty old enough for my youngest to enjoy filmjolk, milk, and other hard-to-clean fluids strictly from a glass. I am so done with cleaning gunky build-up out of sippy cups.

After a few weeks of usage, my toddler learned to say, “Mom, my sippy cup is not working. Can you fix it?” So I would loosen the top, let in some air, and hand it back to her. In order to completely avoid this issue, one has to leave the cap loose enough to risk leaking out the side.  The bottle would typically stop working and need to be re-capped two or three times per 9 oz. serving.

In conclusion, I am happier using this bottle than the plastic counterparts. For the cost, however, I expected a smoother ride.

 

Mini-Pizzas “Save” the Day

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Most pizza experiences happen when (A) rushed day prompts someone to order in, (B) someone thought ahead and bought frozen pizzas, (C) someone didn’t think ahead and gets stale gas station pizza, or (D) someone makes it from scratch for a lucky crowd. We have a cheaper option to help clear out the fridge, save some time, and definitely save some money.

Today my sister and I looked in the fridge and determined to use up the odds and ends, without starting a brand-new meal. The result? Yummy leftover soup and perfect, delicious personal pizzas to go with our movie.

We laid out whatever bread was in the pantry on a baking pan, and spread them with things like pizza sauce (from the pantry) and spicy cream cheese (close to expiration date.) They got sprinkled with bits of mushroom, cilantro, garlic, red pepper, olives, cheese, oregano… Really, anything that we already had that sounded good.  (My daughters didn’t go for all the toppings, I confess. I’m still learning; however, the rest of the family offered rave reviews.)

The broiler is great! 5 minutes and you’re done. (Much faster than frozen pizza, ordering in, etc.)

Happy saving. But don’t expect to save any leftover pizzas–these go fast.

Cheers,

Western Woman