Moms are Royal, too!

Dear Mamas,

I don’t know about you, but ever since I became a mom I developed this slight feeling that I was perceived as, well, a little bit… ishy. I had this notion that, now that I was a sleep-deprived, time-deprived, nursing mother, I was just an exhausted lump of flesh that was not beautiful. I was not attractive. I was messy, and sloppy.

The truth is, part of this presumption is somewhat accurate. I mean, let’s face it: after childbirth and months upon months of nursing, my body just didn’t look the same as it did before I got pregnant. When I was caring for my newborn, it was a miracle if I managed to brush my teeth and change my underwear that day. Hair and makeup? Forget it. Putting in my contacts every morning? I got glasses. Outfits? I just grabbed the crumpled t-shirt laying on my bed. I had so much less time and energy to devote to myself, that every time I went out in public, I felt a little insecure. I felt like I wasn’t worth much.

Have you ever felt this way?

I just read a really beautiful, encouraging blog post the other day, and it happened to talk about being royal. (The royal wedding took place today, by the way). If you’re like me, if you’re a frazzled mom, you probably don’t feel anywhere close to being royal, and certainly not exquisite or beautiful.

So I’d like to share this very timely and encouraging blog post with you. It will remind you where our true value and true beauty comes from. It doesn’t come from our new haircut or outfit style, or even our ability to birth and raise children. No, our value and worth comes from something much, much better.

Click here to read the blogpost “Royal Wedding” by beautybeyondbones.

The author of the post, who once experienced deep unworthiness while in the throes of anorexia, is now a vibrant, confident, Christ-centered woman who is dedicated to reaching out to others. She exudes true beauty, both inside and out. Her posts are encouraging, enlightening, humorous, and relatable. Read on, and enjoy!

 

 

 

Minimal Cleaning Supplies: Keeping Your Home Clean with only 3 Products

I’m a minimalist; I really do like to keep things simple.

Once our children arrived, I knew I wanted the cleaning supplies cupboard to reflect that personality trait. So, I set out every bottle, jug, and cleaning supply I had on my kitchen countertop and weeded down my stash to just three items. I’ve been using only three items for a few years now, and I haven’t needed anything else. Here are the only three cleaning supplies I keep in my home.

Three Handy Cleaning Supplies for a Minimalist Cleaning Cupboard

  1. Bleach. It’s kind of hard to do without bleach, as it comes in handy for laundry and tough stains. It helps to super-sanitize stinky dish rags and towels and helps reverse messes from potty accidents and other mishaps.
  2. All-purpose cleaner. I use my all-purpose cleaner on my floors, in my sinks, and in my toilet bowls. It’s a very useful item whenever something needs to be disinfected or when an appliance could use a thorough, deep cleaning.
  3. Glass-cleaner. This iconic blue spray-bottle cleaner is just… nice. Wiping smudges from windows, refreshing mirrors, or giving the glass oven-top a quick wipe down is so easy when you can apply a few squirts and wipe the grime away.

That’s it! Keeping my cleaning supplies minimal saves me money and saves me space. I store these three items up high where the kids cannot reach them. The only things that live in the cupboard under my kitchen sink are cleaning rags, a sponge or two, and some brown paper bags (you never know when you might need one, I guess).

If you are feeling overwhelmed by how cluttered your cleaning supplies cupboard has gotten, try weeding down. It’s nice to know that you can keep your home clean with only a few things on hand!

How to Decorate When Your Kids are Young

Making the home is plain ol’ fun. Many moms enjoy “feathering their nest” by arranging the furniture and decorating each room. But when there are little feet stomping around and busy fingers that want to get into everything, it’s pretty much impossible to create that Pinterest-perfect home design look.

I’ve come to accept the sight of my home decorated with scattered toys, dropped books, toilet paper pyramids, and breakfast crumbs. That’s just life. But I’ve also found a way to enjoy decorating my home while keeping things practical for the little ones, too. Here are a few ideas.

  • IMG_0081 (2)Keep things simple. The fewer of your precious items that are out and about, the less your kids will be temped to tamper with them. I love my vintage fan. By placing in the back corner of my antique corner table, the little ones can’t reach it. (That way I get to look at it and they can’t touch it).
  • Include kiddie items as a part of your furniture arrangement. This little bookshelf looks cute and is easily accessible for the kids.
  • Decorate with your children’s art. Believe it or not, that painting was created by my toddler. I simply put it in a nice frame, and bingo! It looks like a statement piece.

 

IMG_0079 (2)Here is another way to decorate with kids: combine one of your favorite items with theirs. This is my antique school desk used as a toy station. Inside the cubby are puzzles and search books. (By the way, don’t be fooled. My house is never clean. I picked up right before I took these pictures).

These are just a few ideas. Everyone has a completely unique decorating and homemaking style. Find what works for you and your kids. Happy homemaking!

 

 

The Signs of Postpartum Depression

For many women, pregnancy is a time of joyful anticipation. For nine months, expectant mothers daydream about what their baby will look like, about cuddling and feeding the baby, about how wonderful life will be with the baby. I know I did. When I was pregnant with my first child, I thought about beautiful things every day. I couldn’t wait to hold my little bundle in my arms. Life was going to be perfect.

But once baby had arrived, reality unfolded a completely different scenario. Sure, I was overjoyed to meet my baby. But I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel like cuddling. Each day seemed to go on forever. I didn’t… enjoy being a mom.

I thought things like, “Is this normal? What’s wrong with me? Why do other new moms seem so happy? What am I doing wrong?” I never seemed to feel better.

It wasn’t until I delivered my second child (and had a completely different postpartum experience) that I realized that my first postpartum experience was a difficult one. Although I was never diagnosed, I believe that I was suffering through postpartum depression.

If you are a postpartum mom and are feeling down, lost, uncomfortable, sad, hopeless, or just unhappy, you might be suffering through some PPD (postpartum depression), too.

Here are some signs of PPD:

According to the mommy-favorite book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” signs may include:

  • crying and irritability
  • sleep problems
  • eating problems
  • persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • an inability or lack of desire to care for yourself or your newborn
  • social withdrawal
  • excessive worry
  • aversion to your newborn
  • feeling all alone
  • memory loss

This is a pretty large and comprehensive list. But what I’d like to do is share more specific, real-life examples gathered from my own experience. PPD is not easy to talk about. But if you’re reading this post, I’m glad you’re here. Here are the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression that I experienced.

  • When people would ask me, “don’t you just love being a mom?” I would say something like “oh yeah, it’s great.” But I didn’t really feel that way. In my head, I was saying things like, “no. I hate it. I don’t like being a mom. It’s hard. I can’t do it.”
  • I had no desire to cuddle with my baby. I don’t remember ever just randomly scooping up my baby just to cuddle out of love and affection.
  • I hardly ever smiled or laughed.
  • I was beyond exhausted – I was only getting broken sleep and was seeing hallucinations.
  • I daydreamed about putting baby in the car seat and just driving away – just “escaping” somehow.
  • I felt stuck. I felt like this day-in, day-out job of caring for baby was torturous. I didn’t enjoy it, it was just something I had to do.
  • I felt guilty. “What’s wrong with me? I’m a terrible mom. I suck. I don’t deserve this child.”

These are some of the main signs and symptoms of postpartum depression that I experienced. If you are feeling similar things, you may be suffering through some PPD.

So what’s the next step?

First, tell someone how you’re feeling. Tell anyone – your husband, mom, sister, grandma, friend. Let someone know what you’re going through. This the very first, most important step. Talk. Share how you’re really doing. It’s not easy! I know this, mama. It’s very difficult to talk about it. But be brave. You can do it!

Next, let your listener help you determine the next steps. Should you visit your pastor? Schedule an appointment with a counselor? See a doctor? Let your listener help you. They care about you, and will want to help you in any way they can.

During my PPD journey, I never took the next steps. I was barely able to share with my husband how I was really feeling, and I never spoke with a pastor, counselor, or doctor. Taking these steps would have helped me out; I am sure of that. Speaking out and getting help will be good for you, mama. Share how you feel. You can do it!

If it is determined that you are going through PPD, the next part in your journey will be learning how to cope and recover. I’d like to discuss that in another post. For now, I’d like to give you a hug and help you determine how you really feel. If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of PPD mentioned about, talk to someone about it. Then determine what to do next.

Dear Mama,

I’m glad you’re here. I’m sorry you are feeling the way you do. I’ve been there, and I would never wish that on anyone else. May I pray for you? I will ask that Jesus would send you His love, peace, and grace. I will ask that He would help you find loving people who will listen and walk through this journey with you. I will pray that you will get through this. Jesus loves you, mama. I do too! Hang in there.

Feel free to leave a comment or contact me. Have you gone through PPD before? What were some of your signs? How did you step toward help and recovery?

Healthy Smash Cake: Baby’s First Birthday

Your baby’s first birthday has arrived! It’s definitely a momentous time to celebrate. Bring on the colorful decorations, gifts, family, and a stupendous cake!

But if you’re hesitant about introducing mountains of sugar-loaded icing and cake batter to your little one, here is a healthier, alternative option: it’s an almond flour cake with blueberry sauce topping.

birthday cake

I’ll admit, it’s not the prettiest thing to look at, but it’s kind of cute in a way, too. And boy, is it delicious! My little one had no hesitations about munching on this nutrient packed birthday treat. It was simple to make and requires very few ingredients. Here is my recipe:

Healthy Smash Cake (Baby’s First Birthday Cake)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup water

Other equipment:

  • coffee grinder or food grinder
  • 4″ diameter food storage container

Directions:

Grease and flour a round 9″ cake pan. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Grind up one cup of rolled oats and place in a large mixing bowl. Add one cup of almond flour. (If you don’t have almond flour, you can grind up some sliced almonds in your coffee grinder, too). Mix together. Add the remaining ingredients in the order listed and mix well. The batter will have a medium thickness.

Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan. Place in the middle of your oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Let the cake cool for five minutes, then remove it from the pan onto a cutting board. Let it cool completely. Then, place a 4 inch diameter food storage container (or some sort of round object) on top of the cake and use it as a stencil. Cut out two circles from the original 9 inch cake. Stack the two layers on top of each other. Your cake is complete! (You can enjoy the remaining cake yourself).

Baby can enjoy the cake as is. It’s easy to pull apart and it’s delicious.

If you’d like to include the blueberry topping, here is what I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 medium pear
  • sugar to taste (you don’t have to add any)

Equipment:

  • food processor or blender

Directions:

Peel and slice the pear. Place in a small or medium sauce pan. Add one cup of blueberries. Bring to a boil. You may need to add a splash of water so that the fruit doesn’t scorch. Stir well, then remove from heat. Let the mixture cool down a little bit. Next, pour the fruit into your food processor and blend until it reaches a desired consistency. Pour the fruit mixture back into the sauce pan and add sugar to taste. I think I added about two tablespoons of regular cane sugar. Mix well. Pour directly over the cake.

birthday cake

Stick in a candle, and your baby’s first birthday cake is ready! Sit back and watch those little fingers dig in to this fun, tasty, healthy baby smash cake. Happy birthday, baby!

 

 

 

 

 

Beer or Prayer

When motherhood wears you beyond thin, it’s hard to know what to do or to whom to turn. Reaching for the chocolate, making an extra cup of coffee, watching a new show, sipping on wine, or browsing the latest Pinterest trends just don’t cut it, as much as we hope they do. If only those things could actually make us feel truly better.

There is a mom who found something that worked. Her name was Hannah. She wanted a baby; a precious child to care for and to raise up in the Lord. But year after year she could not conceive. She was depressed. Instead of searching for the next quick fix, she cried out to God.

This is how she responds when Eli the prophet sees her in the temple and confronts her about what she is doing.

Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 1 Samuel 1:15-1

Hannah looked so distraught that Eli assumed she was drunk. Hannah was doing something much better than blurring her pain with drink, though. She was so broken down that the only thing she could do was to cry out to her Lord in prayer, to manifest her complete raw and depressed nature.

We can all learn from Hannah. We can be real with God; he already knows our deepest woes and struggles. He hears us, every time. He loves us, and he will answer, just like he did for Hannah. God helped Hannah conceive and blessed her with a baby boy.

Dear Mama,

I struggle just like you. Way too often I try and blur my pain or difficult situation with drinks or other distractions. But the only thing that has truly worked for me is prayer. When I am so distraught that I cannot seem to lift myself out of the dark, I ask the One who is much more powerful to give me a helping hand. Jesus brings light into my life. He can do that for you, too.

Sweet Words: Offering Encouragement Can be Simple and Effective

To anyone who is overwhelmed, sad, anxious, fearful, or depressed, helpful words can go a long way. If you know of a mom (or anyone) who could use some encouragement, do not hesitate to share a few kind thoughts. A simple text or email can go a long way. Saying things like “you sure are doing a good job” or “your child is so blessed to have you as a mommy” or “you’re a beautiful mom” will do WONDERS for her. Here is a Bible verse based on the importance of sharing words.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:2

King Solomon reminds us of the power of words through his wise proverb. Talking is easy, and sharing some kind words doesn’t take long at all. It brings sweet joy to the recipient.

We all need encouragement. Since none of us are perfect, it helps to have a good chunk of grace thrown our way as we do our best to work, live, and have relationships. Know that polite comments and kind compliments are very helpful. And remember that Jesus offers the best grace of all. It’s sweet!