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Tag Archives: faith

Shocking Realization: I Married Pa Ingalls

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be married to your childhood celebrity crush? If you’re as old as I am, you may have fantasized about Bon Jovi, Rick Springfield or even Patrick Swayze. But who embodied the ideal husband or perfect family for you?

I grew up in the Seventies in the Midwest, a time before cable television. My youthful obsession was the prime-time series Little House on the Prairie. I read all the books and I was seriously smitten with Michael Landon. I did not realize until recently just how much I must have admired him.

Our three little girls have just discovered the wonder of this show, and anxiously await Friday movie nights so we can watch a few more episodes. While watching the first season again in adulthood, I came to the awesome realization that I had fulfilled my childhood fantasy life. Not only do my three girls look remarkably like Mary, Laura and Carrie, but my husband and I eerily resemble Charles and Caroline Ingalls.

Often in parenthood, we put all our time and energy into our children with very little thought left over for how we got these children in the first place. My “baby Carrie” turned three years old this month, so I guess I’ve had a little more time to devote to my partner, who as it turns out, is the manifestation of Pa. He is loving but firm with the girls, an extremely hard worker, amazing at remodeling and woodworking, plays folk tunes on his guitar and is a fun-loving, affectionate spouse. He is also kind enough to read my blog posts, so I imagine he is completely embarrassed right now.

But, let me be clear about my role as Ma. I still love my (unnaturally) pretty shade of blonde hair and brightly painted toenails. I do not make clothing for myself or my children, with the minor exception of a few Halloween costumes. What I do relate to is her resilience, views on motherhood, devotion to God and family, tireless work ethic and her ability to withstand the misguided arrogance of Mrs. Oleson with dignity and grace.

I wrote last week about how lack of sleep during the baby years can negatively impact your marriage. And recently, my friend and marriage researcher, Lori Lowe, wrote a fascinating post called The Formula for Unhappiness is U = I – R about how our earliest memories about relationships play into our current state of happiness or unhappiness in our marriage.

The amount of unhappiness equals images minus reality. This can be measured for relationships, careers and even how we feel about parenting. If we created an image in our minds during childhood that has not become a reality in adulthood, our happiness decreases.

I have to say that I did not consciously create this life that so closely matches my ideal family image from my youth. My husband admitted that the Ingalls were such a huge part of his childhood that he also unknowingly carried this image into adulthood. We both manifested a life that conjures up happiness for us. We have even joked about wanting to live “off the grid”, the modern equivalent of living on the prairie.

Our realization has been joyful and even divine. We are so grateful for all the stages of our lives, even the less happy struggles when we were not living as we truly desired.

So, what images did you create in your mind during childhood? If you are currently unhappy in your partnership, can you attribute it to lack of sleep (see link above) or a large gap between your images and your reality?

Has motherhood turned out the way you imagined or are you simply recreating your own reality from childhood for better or worse? And most importantly, do you have a plan to lessen the gap between your ideal images and your current reality?

Grace and Peace.

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I Asked. I Received. I Love How that Works.

Well, I don’t know what ya’ll prayed for after yesterday’s post, but may I just say, “Thank you!” Not only was my husband finally able to fly home late last night, but I learned this afternoon that the Baby Love Carebook was selected to run on Totsy. The sale has been going on all day (and doing quite well) without my knowledge. My product even got the prime placement today. It will move down tonight as new sales are added.

What does all this mean?

Totsy is a members-only, online retailer that offers moms on-the-go and moms-to-be access to brand-specific sales, up to 70% off retail, just for them and the kids, ages 0-7. Each sale lasts only 48 to 72 hours. With every purchase, Totsy will plant one tree in the name of your child to help reduce the effects of deforestation. So, great deals and environmentally friendly; what’s not to love about that?

What’s the Baby Love Carebook?

The Baby Love Carebook™ is the only 24-hour organizer that helps establish baby’s daily routine and create an instruction manual that any caregiver can follow. Awarded the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, this simple system makes a thoughtful and elegant gift for a new mom or mom-to-be.

What makes the Baby Love Carebook™ unique?
•    It helps you find your own routine, not a “one-size-fits-all” approach
•    It encourages bonding and allows you to discover the unique needs of your baby
•    It creates a customized instruction manual that any caregiver can follow
•    One book can track multiple children, making it great for twins
•    Includes the one-of-a-kind Allergy Caresheets to keep a food diary and track down a suspected allergy
•    The 3-ring binder is the same size (7 x 9 inches) and quality as popular desk-size planners, so you can also insert your own calendars and address pages.

So, there you have it. And from now until Saturday, February 5, 2011, you can get a copy for only $19.99.

Follow this link: http://www.totsy.com/join/WAsAlQ6G then enter your email address and password. You can always cancel your subscription later.

Grace and Peace.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2011 in Weekly Bits of Baby Love

 

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Five Ways to Ask For (and Receive) Help

This week has brought to the forefront my need for assistance. I rely heavily upon my husband for so many things that when he is absent my world gets turned upside down. I’ve been in a partnership (a wonderfully enriching and fulfilling partnership) for so long that I feel lost when faced with a crisis alone.

I’ve also noticed in the past 16 years how my independence has declined drastically. I used to be fearless and completely self-sufficient. So, while I’ve struggled to get back some of my fearless nature, I also relish being secure enough to ask for help. Hopefully, you will learn the value of dependence now that you are a parent.

I wrote a little about the importance of giving and receiving recently in the post about 29 Gifts. It brought up the bigger issue for me of being truly receptive to the gifts of others. Learning to ask for help is a difficult lesson for many people, myself included. If you’re in the first few months or years of motherhood, asking and receiving will become essential.

During your first few weeks as a new mom, you may get offers of help from many different sources. It’s tempting to politely say no simply because it’s easier than coming up with a task for them. Get into the habit of saying “YES” to offers of help, because the offers may stop just when you need them most. (And let me tell you, they stop all together once you’re the mother of three or more children!)

Five specific things you can ask for:

  1. Invite someone to visit for an hour or two. During this time you can shower, take a long nap or just spend a little time in the sunshine by yourself. Or, you can relish the company of another adult.
  2. Request help with some household chores. Maybe you would like for someone to vacuum your house or do a load of laundry. Just ask. I promise that someone loves you enough to do this small act of kindness for you. When I was enormously pregnant with our third child, I sheepishly asked my mother-in-law to mop our filthy floors in the house we had just purchased. She was happy to do it. All she wanted to know was what I needed help with.
  3. Ask for a meal. Don’t beat around the bush, either. Vague statements like “I wish someone would cook for me” may come off the wrong way. But if someone close to you asks what they can do for you, ask for a meal. Some of our friends have brought over gourmet dinners they made themselves, while others picked up our favorite carryout foods.
  4. Ask for advice. Oh, I know. Becoming a mother makes you a target for unsolicited advice. But, when you have a moment alone or on the phone with a more experienced mom, ask her about something you’re struggling with. You just may be surprised to learn a new technique or be comforted in knowing that they struggled, too. When my firstborn was a few weeks old and refused to nap in her bed or anywhere else but my shoulder, my mom commented that it was easier when we were babies because my brother, sister and I all slept on our stomachs. That idea is so taboo now that it never occurred to me. I ended up propping my daughter on her side and she suddenly started napping on her own.
  5. Ask for prayers. A few years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at this. Now, I have a deeper understanding of the power of prayer. Whatever your world view may be, there is strength in numbers, and the more prayers offered up for you, the better. I am Christian, and my good friend is Jewish. We often exchange prayers for each other or celebrate the Sabbath together. For us, we find peace and comfort in honoring our similarities.

As I write this, my two-year-old has spiked another fever and is complaining of her first earache. She is sleeping on my lap while I balance the keyboard precariously on one knee. My husband is stuck in an airport for the third straight day and the roads are an icy mess, making the possibility of school a long shot again tomorrow.

But, my neighbors graciously offered to bring us lunch and the older girls are doing a pretty good job of cleaning up the toys. So, while I’m always open to advice and comments from my readers, I would probably benefit more from a few prayers today. Please?

Grace and peace.

 
 

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Is it Really Better to Give Than to Receive?

Last month, I participated in 29 Gifts, a challenge started by Cami Walker who published a book by the same name. Each day for 29 days, I gave a gift to someone. Nothing major. Sometimes just kindness or a phone call. I was to give mindfully and with love, with no resentment or expectation. I was also to reflect at the end of each day what I had received in return.

What I learned from the process was that giving was easy and a natural part of my life. I’m a worrier when it comes to others. I feel the need to take care of people; to lift them up when necessary and keep everyone around me healthy and happy. I think I’ve had the mothering instinct long before I had children.

There were only 2 days when I realized I had not given out a specific gift, but several days when I gave out more than one. My most cherished day was writing a letter to my childhood friend’s father who was battling cancer. He lost his battle one week after receiving the letter. While his death still saddens me, on the day of his funeral I was given an entire afternoon with my sister who also attended. It was rare time together where we could simply talk and catch up.

In fact, I wrote a lot of letters. I realized that putting your thoughts of love and encouragement into writing becomes a timeless gift that can be cherished again and again. I still believe that saying what you feel is more important, but writing it down is a close second.

I also became more mindful of the small gifts that I was receiving: cookies in my mailbox from a neighbor, kindness from a stranger in a parking lot when my car died, and even a check from the library who admitted that they had actually found a long lost book that I had been forced to pay for.

What was shocking, I guess, is that I rarely put myself in the position to receive.

I often say no to invitations or brush off my desire to attend certain events if I think it might inconvenience my family or myself. I rarely speak up for what I desire. My real challenge during these 29 days was to say YES to life.

I forced myself to schedule time with friends. I bought tickets to hear one of my heroes, Michael Pollan, speak – even though I didn’t have a babysitter or someone to attend with me. And much to my surprise, it all worked out. I found two friends to sit with me and finally – finally – asked for something that would seem trivial to a more extroverted person. I asked Mr. Pollan for a photograph and had a short but delightful conversation with him.

My moment of truth; I asked and I received. Here I am with a look of sheer joy, practically sitting on Michael Pollan's lap.

Right now many of us are busy buying gifts for Christmas or perhaps you just finished Hanukkah celebrations. It clearly is the time of year when gifts are front and center in our lives. During the course of 29 Gifts, I was encouraged to give with love, joy, remembrance, abundance and gratitude. I like to think of all five attributes as simply giving mindfully.

I encourage everyone this season to really think about the essence of giving and receiving. Perhaps a store-bought gift is not appropriate this year for everyone on your list. Even small children can appreciate time spent with you as more important than any toy.

So, is it better to give than to receive? Here’s a better answer than any I could give:

“Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” Luke 6:38

Grace and Peace.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2010 in Weekly Bits of Baby Love

 

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Maybe Your Problem, Isn’t

When the doors close, look for the open window.

My children hate the answer, “maybe.” They assume that “no” is not far behind. Lately, the word maybe has become my best glimmer of hope.

Last month, we were surprised by news that our neighborhood was being redistricted and our children would be moved to a different elementary school. Above all the worry and anger, the echoing sound of “maybe” played over and over in my head.

I’ve stumbled across the following story several times in the last year. It has been attributed to both Zen Buddhism and Taoism, but it’s lesson is universal.

The Maybe Parable

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

Three Cups of Perspective

While perusing a bookstore with my husband (a rare event for us these days), Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson practically jumped off the shelf. In the dusty recesses of my mind, I’m sure I had heard of this book. I couldn’t resist the cover image of three young Pakistani girls reading. If you’ve never read this, please give it a look.

The timing of this book entering my life more than four years after it was published was providential. The annoying issue of redistricting melted into trivia. My girls have incredible schools and absolute freedom to attend. I even talked with my eight-year-old daughter about the children in the world who don’t have schools. She seemed to relax about the prospect of change.

Maybe a new school isn’t such a bad idea after all. Maybe it will all work out for the best. Indeed, a few weeks after learning of the proposal, it was suddenly revoked. We are staying at the same school. Even if we had been moved, we were all prepared for a new adventure.

Just in Case I Wasn’t Paying Attention

Two weeks ago, I received a crushing blow to my already struggling retail business. After signing a contract with a major buyer and postponing my fourth quarter sales and marketing plans, I’ve learned that the buyer is trying to back out of the contract. Without these sales and no time to implement other sales plans, my year-end outlook is at a six-year low.

Maybe giving up on this opportunity will open new doors. Maybe it’s not quite over yet. Now that I’ve had two weeks to process the situation and to get over my initial anger, I’ve offered the matter up to God. And I am at peace with whatever the answer may be.

Mom Dare: Practice the power of maybe. Just as an enormous blessing often carries with it new burdens of responsibility, bad news can sometimes lead to a greater place of power and peace. When you feel the stress of resolving a problem, remember that sometimes a problem is really a blessing in disguise.

Grace and Peace.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2010 in Weekly Bits of Baby Love

 

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Taking a Crash Course in LISTENING

Learning that less can be more.

A series of strange events over the last few weeks found me electronically and then physically unable to communicate. I remarked to a friend that God was doing a good job of keeping me mute.

For three weeks, my broken keyboard was unable to generate the letters I, K and a whole host of numbers. Without the letter I, my notes were craftily rewritten to eliminate this letter. It was a valuable lesson in how frequently my messages talk about ME.

Yes, this is a personal blog, primarily about motherhood, but also about traits we all have in common. My writing has always been in the first person to make it understood that the observations are my own and not to be construed as mandates, judgments or even instructions.

But maybe I’m doing it all wrong?

Just as I was trying to sort out the pervasiveness of I and me in my writing, I was stricken with laryngitis. For the past 5 days, I have been unable to talk beyond a raspy croak. My kids find it amusing. I’m not a very chatty girl, but having my voice taken away has forced me to listen, nod and respond only when asked a direct question.

These unique and frustrating circumstances reinforced two powerful lessons:

  1. Remaining silent has the power to draw out more information from those around you. This is a basic rule of interviewing and negotiating, but using it as a parent has been extremely rewarding.
  2. Speaking with grace also means talking without using yourself as the example. Trying to write even one paragraph without relating back to oneself is an interesting exercise. It takes some discipline. And even more difficult is having a conversation without referring to yourself.

As I was stewing about this post, and exactly how to word it, the Wayne Dyer calendar message on my desk communicated more eloquently than I have been able to:

“Remember that at every single moment of your life, you have the choice to either be a host to God or a hostage to your ego.”


MOM DARE: Can you eliminate the “I” from your conversations and become a better listener? How many times do you respond to a conversation by telling a story about your own experience even though you were not directly asked about it? This is a struggle and a powerful lesson for me. I am now a mindful listener when my husband or child or anyone around me is talking. I think first before I speak. Instead of using “I” in the response, I think of how to use “you”.

Grace and Peace.

To subscribe to my weekly message and to take on other Mom Dares, enter your e-mail on the right under subscriptions, or you can visit at www.babylovecarebook.com

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2010 in Weekly Bits of Baby Love

 

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