Tag Archives: motherhood

I Have a New Addiction

So, at the local market, there is a very sweet, very beautiful older lady (which I have to say is rare in Moldova… women here just don’t have gobs of money to spend on anti-aging stuff like women in America) who has a booth full of used aprons imported from Germany.  I stop every time I pass by and chat with her while I look through the piles of beautiful vintage patterns and designs.

Here’s the thing, for a long time I thought that the full aprons were 50 lei (which is currently $4.32), and had only bought one.  It was a justified purchase because I am a messy cook and didn’t want to get the one I made dirty because it’s more for cuteness than for work.

It's a little wrinkled from being in the drawer.

It wasn’t until today when I offered her 40 lei for another one that I figured out that they are actually 15 lei ($1.30) for a full apron and only 10 lei ($0.86) for a half apron!  Wow!  (In my defense, 15 and 50 sound very similar in Romanian, just like they do in English.)  So of course I bought two.  Another full apron for cooking:

Seriously... look at that gorgeous pattern and piping!

And a half apron for cleaning.  It’s hard to tell in a picture, but this one has two pleats under the waist band on each hip, which gives it nice shape, and it has two huge, deep pockets on the front.  Perfect for toting random things from room to room while I clean:

Half apron

A great half-apron for cleaning.

And, because I know it’s hard to see in the above picture, I took a close-up picture of the red apron to show you what REALLY sold me on this one:

Sailboats and windmills! How am I supposed to resist that??

Oh my… now that I know they are so cheap, I don’t think I’m going to be able to stop myself!

 

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It Will Change Your Life

the boy who made me a motherThe boy who made me a mother.  I love him so much that my heart hurts.

Josh is taking an online Family Ministry class this fall, and one of the books he is reading for it is Pastoral Leadership for Manhood and Womanhood, edited by Wayne Grudem and Dennis Rainey.  This morning, he had me read a section out of it that stopped me in my tracks; it is possibly the most beautiful description of motherhood that I have ever read:

Time is running out for my friend.  While we are sitting at lunch, she casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of “starting a family.”  What she means is that her biological clock has begun its countdown, and she is being forced to consider the prospect of motherhood.

“We’re taking a survey,” she says half joking.  “Do you think I should have a baby?”

“It will change your life,” I say carefully, keeping my tone neutral.

“I know,” she says.  “No more spontaneous vacations…”

But that is not what I mean at all, and I try to decide what to tell her.  I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes: that the physical wounds of childbearing heal, but that becoming a mother will leave an emotional wound so raw that she will be forever vulnerable.  I consider warning her that she will never read a newspaper again without asking “What if that had been my child?”  That every plane crash, every fire will haunt her.  That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of bear protecting her cub.  That an urgent call of “MOM!” will cause her to drop her best crystal without a moment’s hesitation.

I feel I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood.  Oh, she might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting, and she will think about her baby’s sweet smell.  She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her child is all right.  I want my friend to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine.  That a 5-year-old boy’s desire to go to the men’s restroom rather than the women’s at a restaurant will become a major dilemma.  That issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that men’s restroom.  However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother.

Looking at my attractive friend, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.  That her life now, so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child.  That she would give it up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also hope for more years—not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish his.

My friend’s relationship with her husband will change, but not in the ways she thinks.  I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is always careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his son or daughter.  I think she should know that she will fall in love with her husband all over again, but for reasons she would now find very unromantic.  I want to describe to my fiend the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to hit a baseball.  I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog for the first time.  I want her to taste the joy that is so real it hurts.

My friend’s quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes.  “You’ll never regret it,” I finally say.  Then squeezing my friend’s hand, I offer a prayer for her and me and all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this holiest of callings.

The above quote was written by Dale Hanson Bourke (a woman!), and originally published in her book, Everyday Miracles.  I have typed out the section in its entirety here because I was unable to find it anywhere online.  I hope that’s okay, since I am giving full credit to the author.

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Tools for Dads (And Moms, too!)

Big thanks to a very special guest columnist–my very own husband, Joshua Caleb Hutchens– for this awesome post!

Fatherhood comes with great responsibility.  American culture portrays dads as either stern and distant or goofy and unreliable.  Contrary to these depictions, it is the father–not the mother–who has the primary role in teaching the children about God.  When Moses commands Israel, “You shall teach [God’s commands] diligently to your children,” he is speaking directly to fathers–the heads of the households and clans (Deut 6:6).  This is why he can say that God is the God of their fathers (Deut 6:3).

Proverbs is essentially an entire book focused on the father-child teaching relationship.*  Proverbs 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.”  So, while Proverbs recognize the indispensable role of a mother, the father is portrayed as the primary teacher of wisdom (a.k.a. the fear of the Lord).

We fathers tend to think of our role as provider in material ways alone.  It is our job to “bring home the bacon.”  We need to remember the words of Jesus:

“Do not lay up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt 6:19-20).

Material things are precarious and temporary.  The spiritual treasure is eternal and of far greater worth.  If we provide for our families materially but do not provide for them spiritually, then we have failed.

Like every job of fatherhood, a dad needs a good set of tools to instruct his children in the fear of the Lord.  So, for this father’s day I’d like to share a few tools that our family has found helpful in beginning to teach Jude about God.

Hymns

I start with this one because it is free.  In my humble opinion, few modern songs can come close to the theological and emotional depth of hymns, especially the really, really old hymns.  We put together a PDF document of lyrics, titled Lullaby Hymns, of the hymns that we sing most often when putting Jude to sleep.  If you don’t know the tune, NetHymnal can be really helpful since they have the tune for tons of hymns online for free (as far as I know, this is the only website today still using those midi files that we all thought were so cool in the 90s).  We also enjoy Indelible Grace, a group committed to helping churches recover old hymns.  We know many of the hymns in our Lullaby Hymns collection from listening to their music.  Or if you can read music, just pick up an old hymnal.  Whatever you do, sing hymns to and with your children.  Fill their little minds with lyrics about the greatness and the love of God.

The Big Picture Story Bible

There really is nothing like this story Bible on the market today.  It doesn’t focus on individual stories like Noah’s Ark, Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, or Daniel and the Lion’s Den.  It tells the “big picture story” of the entire Bible.  This focus on “the forest rather than the trees” is something that you really must do as a teacher.  The Bible isn’t a book of isolated and unrelated stories like Aesop’s Fables.  It is a book with a single story about God establishing his kingdom.  All the individual stories are encompassed in the grand narrative.  Children must be taught the big story, and this book does exactly that in a way that is understandable for kids and enjoyable for parents.  The illustrations are great and will keep your kids’ attention.

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

Now of course it is also important for your children to know the individual stories of the Bible.  This book is great for doing just that.  The problem with many story Bibles for little ones is that it ends up moralizing the story.  The story of David and Goliath is given the meaning of courage in the face of adversity, while in fact the story points to Jesus by showing how God conquers his enemies through his anointed king.  An important question to ask yourself when teaching the Old Testament is–”Would a conservative Jew agree with me or want to kill me?”  It is obvious in the book of Acts that the Apostle’s interpretation of the Old Testament caused the latter reaction.  The Old Testament wasn’t meant to teach us how to be nice moral people.  It points to Jesus.  This book tells the individual stories in a captivating way with wonderful illustrations, while at the same time showing how each story points to Jesus.  We gave our copy away and are excited that our parents are bringing another when they come visit next month.

Seeds Family Worship

We’ve just discovered this in the last couple weeks.  This group puts Bible verses (from the NIV) to music.  The value of putting things to music for memory is universally recognized.  So far, Seeds has five CDs based on themes like faith or courage.  The songs are not the annoying children’s tunes that drive you bonkers.  They are enjoyable to listen to, and except for the reserved use of children’s voices you wouldn’t even know that it is children’s music.  CDs are fairly priced and also available on iTunes.  If you can’t afford them all at once, you can still listen online for free.

Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God

Admittedly, we haven’t used this with Jude much yet since it has older children in mind, but we have already been familiarizing ourselves with this book.  It is theologian Bruce Ware’s attempt to reconstruct the many conversations he had with his daughters about God and theology.  He explains things clearly and uses some great illustrations.  It will be a great resource for family worship in the future, and I would highly recommend it for anyone wanting to read a short overview of systematic theology in layman’s terms.

“Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies”

This CD is mostly fun.  It is a great combination of songs about God, silly songs, and lullabies from daddies.  It has everything from the song “God Made Me,” where they sing, “God made me like he made the sea; he filled it up with green and blue.  He sent his Son, his only one, to fill me up and make me new,” to “Bears,” where they sing, “Bears, bears, they got no cares.  Bears don’t drink from a cup.”

“How I Pastor My Family”

This is a short article by Pastor Justin Hyde of Christ Church Brenham, Texas.  It has some interesting suggestions and encouragement for dads.  If you are a dad, then you are the pastor of your family.  You will lead your family spiritually.  The question is–in what direction?

There are many great children’s resources out there.  These are just the current tools we use with our son.  Even though he is just sixteen months old, it is never too soon to begin teaching.  I suspect he is understanding much more than we can know and than he can communicate.  All of these resources will be helpful at least through early elementary school.

Other resources that are on our wish list that you might also find helpful include:

Mighty Acts of God: A Family Bible Story Book

Books by Debby Anderson

Books by Carine Mackenzie (especially the “Learn about God” series)

The “Big Book” Series by Sinclair Ferguson

*Some scholars believe that Proverbs was based on the teacher-pupil relationship since teachers were often addressed as fathers and likewise called their students sons.  Even if this is so, that such language was adopted for the teacher-pupil relationship only serves to prove the point that fathers are instructors.

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Some Thoughts on Overtiredness

As I write this, after 9:30 pm, Josh is pacing and singing with Jude in our backpack carrier while Jude screams and cries because he is too tired to fall asleep.  We’ve been trying to get him to go to sleep for over an hour to no avail.

For the first year of Jude’s life, this was how it went at every nap and bedtime—endless hours of pacing, singing, and screaming—and we thought it was normal.  Or, rather, we just didn’t know what we could possibly do differently (besides letting him cry-it-out, which is not something we have ever considered to be an option).

Now, maybe most new parents have more common sense than we do, or “easier” babies, or something… I don’t know…. but I feel compelled to write this post because it would have saved us a LOT of misery if someone had told me a year ago that overtiredness is a very strong adversary of sleep.

It wasn’t until after reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley (she has another book specifically for babies, too) that I realized that we were waiting way too late to start putting Jude to sleep.  We were waiting until he was noticeably tired—yawning, rubbing his eyes, getting frustrated/upset more easily, etc.—to start getting him ready for bed.  The problem was that, by the time we figured out he was tired, he had already switched into overtired mode.  The tricky thing is that overtired mode is really fun and cute, so he would get really hyper and funny and we would think, “well, this is the happiest he’s been all day, we might as well enjoy it and let him get all of this energy out before trying to put him to bed.”  And then after about 30 minutes to an hour of that, he would switch from overtired to just miserably tired, and we would begin the hour or more of pacing, singing, and screaming, generally not getting him into bed before 9:30 or 10:00 pm.

So now, although I am not in favor of strict scheduling of small babies, I realize that it is in his best interest for us to recognize the times of day that he naturally gets sleepy, and to start his nap/bedtime routine (having a predictable wind-down routine is also something I learned from Pantley’s book) just before that time hits.  Right now, at 15 months old, those times are 11:00 am and 7:00 pm.  So he usually doesn’t even seem that sleepy at 10:45 am or 6:30 pm, but if we were to wait just 30 more minutes, he would be in overtired mode.  On a good day, when I am able to time it just right, he falls asleep with almost no effort.

Today, however, was not one of those days.  Sometimes, for various reasons, we are not able to get him to sleep before overtired hits and we wind up with a miserable little boy who is too tired to fall asleep, and miserable parents who are tired too.  But when we have a night like this (which is increasingly rare as we recognize just how important good sleep scheduling is for him), we remember how we used to go through this every night, and are thankful that the Lord finally showed us a better way!

We are the farthest thing from having any pretense of having everything figured out, but we pray every day that he would continue to guide us and give us wisdom for raising this wonderful little boy that he has blessed us with.  I pray that he would use this to help someone who reads it, because I know it would have definitely helped me if I’d have known this a year or more ago.

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The Easiest From-Scratch Dinner Ever

Okay, maybe not EVER, but it is pretty easy.  When we arrived in Moldova, I had never been a “real” housewife before.  I worked full-time up until I had Jude, and during that time we would eat easy meals like spaghetti with sauce from a jar or frozen dinners like Skillet Sensations.  After Jude was born, I had a long and difficult recovery, and only started to feel better about the time we moved to live with our parents for 3 months in preparation for moving here.  Suffice it to say that I had no idea how to cook.  So being here has been my initiation into housewifery.  And what an initiation it has been!

This is not like living in the States, where if I’m feeling lazy I can order Chinese or run to Kroger for a pre-cooked chicken.  I even have to cook my “lazy day” meals here, or else we don’t eat.  And now I present to you my favorite “lazy day” meal: roasted chicken.

Soon after moving here, Stephanie came over and gave me a tutorial on how to roast a chicken, and, although it defies every instruction I’ve read in cookbooks, it makes delicious roasted chicken, so I’m sticking with it.  I’ve added my own touches along the way, and here is what is currently my favorite way to do it:

Roasted Chicken

Ingredients:
1 broiler chicken (the ones I get are about 1.5 kilos, or 3 pounds)

1 red apple

1 medium onion

1 clove garlic

lemon juice, or an actual lemon, I suppose

spices (usually basil, thyme, and sweet paprika)

salt & pepper

water

1.  Preheat your oven to about 375 degrees F.  Cut up the apple, onion and clove of garlic (I usually do a large clove in 3 pieces).

2.  Wash off the chicken and cut off the fat around the butt.  Make sure all of the feathers are taken care of; you don’t want any of those getting in your teeth.

3.  Put the chicken in a roasting pan and cover it all over, inside and out, with salt, pepper, and spices.  Then squirt lemon juice all over it.  If you’re using a real lemon, you could just include it with step 4.

4.  Stuff the inside with the apple, onion, and garlic.  Leave remaining apple and onion pieces in the pan around the chicken.

5.  This is apparently upside down, but I like to roast my chicken breast-side-down because it makes the breast meat a lot juicier and more flavorful.  Now pour lots of water into the pan, but not directly onto the chicken or you’ll wash off all of your spices.  I usually fill mine between 1/3 and 1/2 full of water.  That way, you have no worries of your chicken drying out, and you have some really yummy broth left over.  (Though if you notice, the chicken in the picture above is neither upside-down nor swimming in lots of broth; it was the first chicken I ever roasted, and I have tweaked my techniques a few times since then.)  You can strain the broth afterward and save it for making soups, rice, casseroles, or whatever suits your fancy.

6.  Now put the lid on, put it in the oven, and forget about it for about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes.  The longer it cooks, the more tender and juicy it will be.

That’s it!  If you want a really easy side for this, poke holes in some potatoes, roll them in salt, wrap them in foil, and stick them in the oven around the roasting pan.  They will be ready at the same time as the chicken.  Also with this meal, I will often steam some carrots and then drizzle honey over them.

So there you have it.  That is my “easy” meal in Moldova.  Maybe someday I’ll tell you about what all goes into making more time-consuming meals like sweet-n-sour chicken or lasagna from scratch.

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I Saved $1,600 in 6 Months!

Wow!  How did I do it?

Baby saver

First, I use cloth diapers and wipes.  Our entire diaper stash was purchased either as baby gifts or with baby gift money, so we have spent exactly $0 purchasing diapers in the last 6 months.  Yes, there is a negligible amount of money spent on laundering the diapers.  About 6 cents per load for electricity and water.  Compare that to the average cost of about $70 per month for disposable diapers and wipes.

Second, I breastfeed.  Compare that to buying formula, which costs roughly $180 per month (that’s actually on the very lowest end of the price spectrum), and buying all of the bottle-feeding supplies, which will be about $100 extra if not more.  I understand that the extra $100 for supplies could also apply to breastfeeding moms who pump, but I haven’t bothered with any of that so in my case it doesn’t count.

IMG_5342

Also, don’t forget another hidden savings of breastfeeding… the US Department of Health and Human Services reported that “Total medical care costs for the nation are lower for fully breastfed infants than never-breastfed in­fants since breastfed infants typically need fewer sick care visits, prescriptions, and hospitalizations.” (see here)

So add those together and I saved my family *at least* $1,600 just in the last 6 months!  And the saving just keep adding up every day… awesome!

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Breastfeeding Reduces Risk of Breast and Other Cancers

Just in case all of the other benefits of breastfeeding weren’t enough, it also reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast, uterine, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.

The total amount of time that a woman spends breastfeeding over her lifetime is inversely proportional to her risk of breast cancer.

Not only that, but women who were breastfed as infants, even if only for a short time, showed an approximate 25% lower risk of developing breast cancer, compared to women who were bottle-fed as an infant.

Is it any coincidence that the US breast cancer rates are finally plateauing just as the US breastfeeding rates hit a record high?  I think not.  (Sadly, only 11% of those women are still breastfeeding at 6 months, but that’s a whole ‘nother post for another day.)

See these articles for more information about how breastfeeding benefits mothers:

NY Times: Breast-Feeding Benefits Mothers

Dr. Sears: 7 Ways Breastfeeding Benefits Mothers

American Cancer Society: Breastfeeding Can Reduce a Woman’s Risk of Breast Cancer

Breastfeeding.com: You Will Have Less Chance of Breast Cancer and Other Cancers

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