Monday, May 23, 2016

Things that Make Me Feel Virtuous

A list of ten things that make me feel virtuous, despite the fact that they probably shouldn't.

1. Fermented vegetables.  Eating them, making them, and even just observing them as they reside in the fridge.

2. Having all the laundry clean.  It doesn't have to be folded and put away, just clean.  If there's no pile of dirty laundry lurking in the basement, the laundry is "done!"

3. Reading nonfiction.  True, the book may have no literary or educational merit, but if it's nonfiction junk, it's surely better than fiction junk.

4. Letting my kids get muddy.  God made dirt and dirt don't hurt.  To be fair, no dirt doesn't hurt either, so it would be an equally valid choice to ask the kids not to ruin their clothes.  That isn't what I do, though, so I applaud myself for messy kids.
5. Wearing anything other than jeans.  Fancy!

6. Cleaning off the kitchen counter.  The presence of this item on this particular list should tell you exactly how often I complete the task.

7. Sending out my children's thank-you notes.  This is ridiculous for several reasons.  First, the notes get written, but not in a timely fashion.  People regularly get Christmas thank-yous in February, for goodness sake!  Second, because most of the people to whom the kids write either don't care or actively don't want the notes.  Third, everyone knows who's orchestrating things, and it sure isn't the 7 year-old.

8. Not having Facebook on my phone.  I'm a compulsive Facebook user, so having it on my phone would be a terrible decision.  I did not, however, make a decision not to download the Facebook app onto my phone, it's just that I don't have a smart phone, so there's no way for me to use any apps.

9. Showering without soap.  It's a hippie thing: avoiding messing with your skin's natural chemistry and oils.  Is it terrible?  It's probably terrible.

10.  Winning things that aren't really competitions.  My kids finished the library's 1000 books before kindergarten in less than 4 months!  That's faster than everyone else!  They were the first kids in the whole town to finish!  We're the winners!  Nobody else thinks this was a competition.  There is no prize for being first.  Nobody cares.  We still win.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Nicest Compliment

Husband: Thank you, babe.  Do you know how much I appreciate everything you do?

Me: I know you appreciate what I do, to the extent that you know about it.

Husband: No.  I appreciate the stuff I don't know about just as much as, or maybe even more than, the stuff I do know about.  Because the fact that I don't know about it proves that you've got it under control.  You've handled it so well that not only do I not have to worry about it, but I don't even have to think about it.  You're amazing.

And that, dear friends, is one of many reasons I love that man.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

In Which Shopping is a Traumatic Event

I finally did it, folks.  I went to Target and bought myself some real bras.  (If you're my dad or brother, you can stop reading now.  The rest of the post isn't going to get any better.)

I've been pregnant or nursing for more than 8 continuous years now, and my nursing bras are all dead.  Every last one has developed fatal flaws.  I did not, however, want to pay for nice bras, because I am actually still nursing L.  The trouble with a nursing toddler is that you never know when they're going to quit, so it doesn't make sense to me to shell out big bucks for nice bras that fit my nursing-a-toddler boobs.  There's also literally no way to know what my no-longer-nursing-anybody breast size is going to be.  Apparently it can take a whole year for one's body to arrive at the new normal after the last nursing session, too.  All of that conspired to send me shopping for a comfortable, cute, and inexpensive bra.  I left the house feeling like this was a "pick two" situation, but I was determined to try anyway.

First things first, everybody says more than 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size.  I have no idea where that statistic comes from, and neither does anyone else, but my anecdotal experience is that, yeah, if you're wearing a bra, it's probably the wrong size.

To start with, you probably put it on wrong.  Now, don't tell me you've been wearing bras for years and there's no way you could possibly have been putting them on wrong this whole time.  Have you seen the shoe tying video?

This woman is happy to explain and demonstrate one technique for getting a bra on properly.  I prefer imagining my breasts are soft-serve ice cream, and my bra cups are, well, cups.  I bend at the waist, pour myself into the bra, hook it closed, stand up, and give a little jiggle to each serving, like this fancy lady.

Ok, so your bras suck.  How do you find ones that are the correct size?  You could go to a fancy bra specialty store to get fitted, and then use European sizes, which are standardized unlike US sizes, to ensure you shop for the correct size at other stores.  But even that won't guarantee every bra in the right size fits properly, because there's more to boobs than just cup-to-band ratio!  There's also fullness, projection, and overall body shape to consider.

I spent probably 6 hours researching at ABraThatFits.  They've got a beginner's guide which includes determining size, determining shape, shopping tips, and trouble shooting fit.  It's amazing stuff, and well worth perusing, especially given how much time most women spend wearing bras.

Truthfully, I don't expect anyone to wear a bra.  If you're happy hanging loose, more power to you.  If you like sports bras, shelf bras, or soft bras, wear them in joy and peace.  If you want to wear a bra, though, I want you to wear one that fits right, feels good, and makes you feel lovely.

The whole of my story is that I spent 90 minutes trying on every brand of bra in my local Target.  I gave myself numerous pep talks.  I may have cried a little.

That's 60 minutes worth of bras.  I refused to hang up one bra properly, because it was on a hanger with the wrong label, and I almost cut off circulation when I put it on.

In the end, though, I found a single bra that fit.  It is nice.  It is comfortable.  It is actually a plunge push-up, because apparently no normal bras fit my particular boob shape.  It is only available in lacy and leopard print, so I bought both.  In honor of a successful day, here's a selfie with Z.  Hooray for boobies!  (What am I doing with my arm?  Too weird.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016



In my home, there are two girls.

I have a daughter.
She is four years old.
She is interested in anatomy and astronomy.
She has a picture book filled with fantastic painted planets and poetry about each one.
She loves YouTube videos in which cartoon characters explain how the body works in simple language.
She draws hundreds of pictures of planets and people.  Bodies and stars.
She signs her name to each one in big wobbly letters.
When she grows up, she thinks she might want to be a nurse or an artist.
She knows how to pump herself on the swings,
How to ride a bicycle without training wheels,
And how to mix the batter if we have waffles for breakfast.

I have a foster daughter.
She is four years old.
She is interested in Frozen, the Disney movie musical.
She has a lot of little Anna and Elsa dolls.
She loves to hear Let It Go and Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?
She imagines power and magic and a real sister who lives at Mommy's house forever.
She picks out the letters of her name from street signs and the covers of books.
When she grows up, she thinks she might want to be not so afraid all the time.
She knows how to pump herself on the swings,
How to ride a bicycle without training wheels,
And how to microwave her own popcorn if nobody comes home.

In my home, there are two girls.
They are both four years old.

Monday, April 25, 2016

You can make your own (bad) decision

An open letter to my precious child:

I love you, and I want to keep you safe.  I know, though, that I can't protect you from every bad thing in the world for your entire life.  Some day you're going to fall down and get bruised.  You're going to have your heart broken, if only a little bit.  You're going to fail, get hurt, and struggle.  Everyone does.

Even if I could protect you from every hurt and pain right at this moment, I don't think it would be a loving thing to do.   There are lot of lessons in life you just have to learn the hard way.  You can't learn resilience without failure.  You can't learn to apologize without being wrong.  You can't learn to keep on keeping on to do hard things if you've always had every obstacle removed from your path.  You'll need those skills for the road ahead.

Because of this, my little one, I've decided that you can make your own bad decisions.

I try to be wise as I let you choose.  While I know getting hurt is inevitable, I don't want your body or your spirit to be damaged beyond reasonable repair.  I will ask myself if you will need first aid or the emergency room, and if it's the former, I'll let you decide.

I will use my extensive life experience to help guide you and to inform you of likely consequences.  I will say things like, "If you play there, you might get hit by the swing."  And, "If you buy that, you won't have money for the other thing you want."  And, "She's not nice to you in person, I'm worried what she'll say behind your back if you hang out with her."  Then I will let you go ahead and stand there, buy that, and hang out with her.  Later when you are crying, I will hold you and help you recover.

I will not say, "I told you so."  I will, however, hope you've learned something, and the next time a similar situation arises, you can look back on your own bad decision and make a better one.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Story I Tell Myself About Myself

We found out there was a problem with the outside wall of our downstairs bathroom in October when we had our windows replaced.  We hired Husband's cousin to come and fix the problem.  The day he came to "open up the wall and see how bad it is," he completely removed the wall, including the studs and the base plate, and took the other three walls, the floor, and the ceiling down to studs.

We started shopping for tile after he finished removing the bathroom from our house.

If you've never shopped for tile before, here's what you need to know: any given tile store has hundreds of options, and tile is expensive.  Husband and I were overwhelmed with choices, and felt immense pressure to make the "right" decision because of the money we'd be sinking into the tile job.  Every evening that husband didn't have a meeting we spent tile shopping, and two weeks in we were both feeling pretty stressed by the whole situation.

I started to tell myself this story: "This remodeling project has me feeling more stressed.  The level of stress I'm experiencing is more than what I should feel.  Clearly I'm not coping."

Sunday morning I was walking to church praying about how overwhelmed I was feeling when I had the sudden realization that the story I was telling myself wasn't helpful, and it wasn't the only story I could tell about the situation.  In psychology, they call changing your internal story cognitive reframing.  Given that reframing fixed our bathroom wall's problem, it seems only fitting that reframing my thinking would fix mine.

Here's the new story: "I feel stressed by this project, but I'm still accomplishing the things I need to accomplish.  Meals are getting cooked, laundry is getting cleaned, and children are being cared for well, despite my feelings of stress.  Clearly I am coping."

I can't tell you the number of times I've counseled someone else on ways to reframe their situation.  Somehow it's more difficult to see the stories you're telling about yourself than to recognize the stories others are telling about themselves.  Recognizing the story, though, is the first step to changing it.  Especially when you can't actually change the situation, changing your perspective can be a huge help.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

#HolyLens Week 7

Monday- March 21- Wait

Husband and I spent the evening planning his June sabbatical.  He decided during the conversation that we absolutely should not take another placement before the end of June, because he won't be able to accomplish what he needs to do for ordination if we have new foster kids while he's on sabbatical.  I feel good about that decision: it will give us a full six months to recover and regroup after the end of our first placement, and it will allow him the time he needs to both relax and get significant work done on his ordination paper.  We've made a decision to wait.

Secretly, I also really hope we don't get any calls before then.  It is always hard for me to say no, even when it's a bad fit.

Sunday- March 27- Rise

Happy Easter!  Husband and Z rose early to go to a sunrise service at Lake Michigan.  I hear it was lovely.  I celebrated by staying in bed with my littler littles.

I'm going to be straight up honest that I failed at the last week of this Holy Lens project.  I remember that there was something I was going to write about Wednesday night, but my parents were in town, so I didn't, and then I completely forgot to revisit the blog for the rest of the week.  *sad trombone noise*

It is, however, Easter, so I'm going to release myself from going back and revisiting the words for the week.   Blessings!