How I’d Fare as a Pioneer Woman

  
Touring an old homestead up in the Sierras, the thought came to me, as it often had before, that I don’t know if I’d have survived as a pioneer woman. There are things I love, like indoor plumbing, electric stoves, and minivans that make my life incredibly convenient. And there are things I hate, like being cold and having to build a fire to stay warm, pumping water from a well, having to churn my own butter, and forcing my kids to use homemade toothpaste that lead me to believe the pioneering life isn’t something I would have survived.   

I am in awe of women who held it together in the wilderness, in the dark, in the cold; who raised families through so much work and dedication and fortitude. As I pondered what my fate would have been like as one of these women, the thought occurred to me that, as women, we just do it. 

In simple terms, I would have just done it. There are few times life goes as planned, and there are few days that womanhood or motherhood doesn’t throw something at us that that we weren’t anticipating. Expectations always come and go and reality is always there to confront us, daily, weekly, yearly….

I often have people say, “I don’t know how you work full time with three kids. You must be exhausted.” My reply is always, “You just do it.” That’s what life  has presented me with and its not exactly optional. Life presents each of us with unique challenges and circumstances and we don’t have the choice to say, “Never mind, I’ll choose another life instead.”  There are circumstances that are unavoidable and roads that must be traveled, and so we dig in and do it. The only option is to do it. 

Maybe your challenge isn’t stocking firewood to keep your family warm through a bleak winter. Maybe it’s not scrubbing homemade clothes on a washboard with raw fingers and homemade soap. Maybe your challenge is a sick child, or an exhausting schedule, or a failing marriage or a chronic illness…. But you do it. 

Day after day and step after step, we continue. Because we’re up to the challenge of whatever life throws at us. Because we have a strength to endure, even when faced with what may seem impossible. Because we’re motivated by love and would go to the ends of the earth in a heartbeat for those we care for. 

  
So there’s a pioneering woman in all of us. A woman who does it. And I know how I’d fare on my homestead. Through the cooking and the cleaning and the washing and the uncertainty and the darkness and the solitude and the quiet, I’d do it. I’d survive in that life. Because we’re strong. There’s the same spirit of dedication and survival in each of us that spurned on these amazing women of the past. It makes me proud to be a woman! 

   

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My Random Musings

What Every New Working Mom Should Know

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I just went back to work after baby number three. You would think it would get easier by the third time, but it doesn’t. I’ve spent most of each of my maternity leaves trying to cobble together a plan that would allow me to stay at home for at least the first year, but no such opportunities ever presented themselves (and I do have a really nice career), so I went back to work at twelve weeks post-baby each time.

Being a three-time veteran of the working mom return to work has given me a little perspective, and I wanted to share some of the insights I’ve managed to glean over the years for any new moms who find themselves emotional and feeling overwhelmed in this position for the first time.

Being emotional is okay. 

In fact, it’s more than okay, it’s normal.  When I went back to work after my first son was born, I spent the majority of the first week sobbing at my desk with my phone set to “do not disturb.” It was rough. You’re full of wildly fluctuating hormones, exhausted to the point of near-delirium, and are most likely still months away from fitting back into your pre-pregnancy work-wear (which, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly a mood-booster). Allow yourself to process whatever emotions you’re feeling. Give yourself the space and the freedom to be human. Be honest with how you’re feeling. Putting up walls will just take up more energy, and you don’t have any of that to spare.

Other moms can relate.

Hopefully you have some other working moms in your life you can talk to and bond with. I’ve often been surprised at how eager other working moms are to encourage and support one another. So reach out to other moms you work with and network with. If you don’t have support around you, check out online groups and forums for working moms.  A little encouragement goes a long way, and knowing you’re not the only one struggling with that heart-ripped-out-of-your-chest feeling when you miss your baby is wonderfully comforting.

Your relationship with your baby won’t suffer. 

Really. Believe me on this one. It’s true. Despite the fact you may be gone more than 8 hours a day, you’ll still have so many precious moments with your baby. You’ll always be mom. You’ll always be a valuable, necessary and cherished source of comfort and love. You’ll be able to carve out a lot of time together and those moments with be incredibly rich with purpose and intentionality.

Your sleep cycle will adjust. 

Somewhat. You’ll never again sleep like you did before having kids. But the exhaustion dissipates eventually and your routine falls into a new pattern. You’ll get by – even if there are days you just don’t know how you’ll keep awake. Rest while you can and be gracious to yourself when you go back to work.

Ease into the transition if you can. 

This isn’t always possible, and that’s okay. But if you’re able to, try negotiating with your employer to work reduced hours, temporarily move to part-time, or explore work-from-home options while you ease back into your work schedule. When you present it as a temporary arrangement your boss is more likely to agree. If you feel like you’re doing too much too fast, it’s absolutely worth it to explore options for additional flexibility in your work schedule.

Working moms are valuable.

Hopefully you work in an office where women are championed and encouraged, and not some backwards bastion of sexism. Women have valuable contributions to make to the workforce and working moms are no exception. My philosophy has always been that although I might need days off for sick kids and doctors appointments and extra breaks to pump breastmilk, being a working mom makes me more committed to my work. I’m not going  to leave my precious babies all day to show up and do a half-assed job; I’m going to contribute something valuable so that I can show my kids that my work was truly significant in addition to enabling me to bring home a paycheck.

You can do it!

There will be obstacles to overcome: exhaustion, showing up late because baby had meltdown, breastmilk soaking your shirt in an important meeting….Know you can do it. Working moms are strong! YOU are strong!!!

So, stay strong, mama! You’ve got this. All us working moms are cheering you on. It doesn’t get easier – but you’ll make it good.

What’s your best advice for a new mom heading back to work?
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The High Walled Garden

There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

Twirling leaves and unfurling blooms draped and winding over stones

Where I reclined with the sun on my legs

With breeze stroked hair

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There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

Keeping out the noise of the world

Locking danger away

Safe and secure with beauty and rest

 

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There was a high-walled garden where I often sat

With giggles and roses

Laughter and mint

Delight and doves

 

2

 

 

I think often of that garden now

The creaking swing, the cobbled stones

The fragrance of sweetness and the softness of life

Since the day I let out a mighty yell and burst down its walls.

The Perfect Simple Summer Maitai

  
Hot summer days require chips, spicy salsa and tangy maitais. It’s just not the same without them. 

Here’s my favorite simple recipe for the perfect refreshing poolside maitai. I suggest making them by the pitcher because they’re absolutely delicious:

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts dark rum
  • 2 parts light rum
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 1 splash of pulp-free orange juice

Directions

Mix and pour over ice or store in refrigerator to serve chilled. 

These are a win anytime and only take a minute to throw together. Enjoy! 

  

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Review: Banzai Motorized Speedboat

What better fun is there on a summer day than splashing in a pool?  My kids love to swim – and they love inflatable pool rafts, inner tubes and ride-along toys. 

My 6 year old had been asking for a Banzai motorized speedboat since last summer, so we bought him and his brother each one for end-of-school year presents. 

They absolutely loved them! 

  
Thankfully we had an air pump and didn’t have to blow them up on lung-capacity alone! 

They take a LOT of batteries (EIGHT D batteries each), but they do a great job of zooming around the pool and turn really well too. Best of all, they come with a built-in water sprayer that has almost too far range, given the fact I was repeatedly targeted for getting soaked even though I tried to stay a safe distance from the pool!

  

We had great fun with these and would highly recommend them for tons of pool-time fun this summer!

We bought ours at Costco for $34.99 each, but you can also find them on Amazon.

What are some of your favorite pool toys that should be next on our list to try?

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Summer Days

The Gift in the Wait

  
While I wouldn’t say I’m an incredibly patient person, there’s something that really doesn’t bother me: waiting. 
I don’t mind waiting at all. There are certain things absolutely worth waiting for:

Waiting for a plane to be inspected or repaired on the runway? Take your time. Take all the time you need. I’ll sit on board contentedly, amid the recycled air and frustrated passengers as long as this bird is going to be in tip top shape by the time we’re in the air. Please don’t cut any corners. 

Waiting for a traffic accident to clear? Thank goodness I’m in a car stuck in the traffic jam and not in the car that caused it. 

Waiting for minor inconveniences? A doctor’s appointment running late? My cup of coffee taking a dang eternity to brew? These pauses I’ve learned to enjoy. 

I showed up for a haircut recently only to be told my stylist was running late and I should come back in an hour. At first I was frustrated. I admit I was annoyed. I had places to go and things to do and how dare they not call me in advance to reschedule? But I realized this setback in my schedule forced me to stop. I now had an hour to burn. No kids. Just me. No work distractions. Just me. No other demands on my time – at least none I was really able to attend to right then and there. Just me. 

So I grabbed a cup of coffee and I sat. I could think. I could read. I could experience the warmth of the sun. I could listen to the birds. I could stare at the sky. I could enjoy that time I would have never intentionally taken for myself. 

I realized I have to make a choice in these moments: I can be frustrated or I can find enjoyment in the experience of the time for which nothing else had been planned.

Rather than an inconvenience, I had been given a gift. A gift of moments. A gift of quiet. A gift of time. 

The Comfort of Smallness

  I’m a city girl. I always have been. I’ve always lived in fairly large, busy urban centers. I love to escape to the wilderness, but the city is where I’ve spent most of my life. 

Some people say they feel small walking beneath the tall buildings that stretch skyward in a booming metropolis, but I don’t. Towering buildings make me feel large too, as if to say, “Look what humanity has built with our intelligence and our strength and our power, and I am among them with my own intelligence and strength and power!” It makes me feel proud. It makes me feel ambitious. It makes me feel zealous for work and activity and achievement. 

Then there are those moments when I escape the monuments of the city for the grandeur of the wild. Sitting in the midst of an expansive, untouched forest where creatures run savagely, or beneath the peaks of mountains that have stood for eons, firm and strong and timeless, I can’t help but feel small. I feel tiny. Infinitesimal. I realize in those moments what true grandeur is. 

There is such peace in the moments when I feel small. The bustling business of ambition ceases. The stillness is soothing. The realization of my own smallness is strangely calming, strangely reassuring. Burdens are lifted and make way for awe. And I drink deep of the beauty. And breathe in the majesty of the things humanity cannot create. I rest secure in what is beyond the ability of my hands to build. 

I emerge from these moments with a fresh understanding of my place in the cosmos. I don’t occupy a space of power, but of humility. The world does not revolve around me, and that’s the right order or things. I’m small on this Earth, and there is so much left to see, so much to continue to pursue if I commit to embrace the wonder. 

These are treasured moments. Moments I want to pass on to my children. Moments worth pursuing, when I experience the comfort of smallness. 

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Funniest Things My Kids Said This Week (Part 2)!

  Thanks to everyone for the great feedback on my crazy kiddos’ silly comments last week. I have decided to keep posting some of their comments on the blog to keep sharing the giggles. Kids truly say the most hilarious things!

Here are some of the silliest things my kids came up with this week:

  • 3 year old: Mommy, I make the rules of you. Just like you make the rules of me.
  • 3 year old: Mommy, you have daddy arms. 
  • 3 year old (giving me a hug): I love squishy things! 
  • 3 year old: Sometimes I make mistakes. But they’re fun mistakes.
  • 3 year old (about his dinner): Just put it in the trash. 
  • 3 year old (referring to my skin temperature on a hot day): I’ve never seen a mommy as hot as you! 
  • 6 year old: I only listen to you once a day. 
  • 6 year old: I wish I had a giant hammer to whack my brother with. 
  • 3 year old: I need a trash bag! I’m throwing away my brother’s toys. 

They’re endless fun!! I hope they never outgrow being so entertaining! What sorts of silly things do your kids say?

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Little Hearts, Big Love

To My Kindergarten Graduate

 I remember not so long ago, when you were a baby. When you were born, you changed my life in such a remarkable way, and you continue to change it every day. It seems like only days have passed since I would stay up with you all night in our rocking chair, soothing your colicky cries in the dark. But now you’re growing up. Every day I feel like I’m looking at a new person as you continue to grow and learn and discover. 

There’s so much that I hope we never forget as these years continue on, at a pace far too quick for comfort. 

I hope you remember:

  • That you’re loved. That our home and my love for you will always be a place of safety and security, where you’re loved and accepted just as you are and where you’re always celebrated for who you were created to be. You’ll always have my love to come home to as you travel on through life and adventure through the years. 
  • That you’re strong. That you accomplished so much this year. That despite frustrations and (many) struggles over homework and new challenges to overcome – you did it! Nobody else did it for you; you chose to apply yourself, to focus and succeed. You excelled in class and learned to read. You had your first taste of setting out into the world on your own. There were days you didn’t want to, but you did. And you grew so much and made me so proud. 
  • That you’re good. You know right from wrong. You have an amazing sense of justice. You know when others are treated fairly and when they aren’t. I hope you’ll never lose sight of what is right. I hope that you’ll always stand for justice for those who need it. I hope you’ll always champion the causes of others. I hope you’ll believe in good, even when days are dark, and I hope you’ll stand strong even when nobody else has the courage to. 
  • That you’re unique. There’s nobody else in this world just like you. You have unique abilities and purposes. Don’t spend any time trying to fit into anyone else’s mould, and don’t demand that others change for you. Celebrate who you are – your uniqueness, your individuality. I promise that you’re extraordinary. 


What I hope I remember:

  • That you’re big. And that’s okay. There will be times I need to let go and let you explore this life on your own. I need to remember you’re growing up and you’re capable. I need to trust you to be the amazing big boy you’re growing into. I need to know when to get out of your way and when to step back even though I want to pick you up and carry you. 
  • That you’re still little. In so many ways you’re growing and maturing every day, but in many ways you’re still my little boy, and will be forever. I can’t expect more from you than your age requires. Thankfully, for now you still need me and your dad to partner with you on this journey, to hold your hand, to guide you in the rough places and through the unknown. There will still be times like yesterday, when you ask to sleep in my bed all night after a disappointment. I hope to remember to treasure every one of these moments as they become fewer throughout the years. 
  • That you need me. That every moment matters. That you need my encouragement and enthusiasm and faith to help build the foundation of your confidence and character that will propel you through this life. I hope to invest in each moment we spend together. 
  • Who you are. I hope that as you continue to grow and change, I’ll remember you every step of the way. From the baby boy who wanted me to push him on the swings for hours on end, to the toddler who would only wear green shirts, to the schoolboy who brings home his artwork, beaming with pride. I hope all these moments stay treasured in my heart because I never want to forget a single one of them. 


Watching your kindergarten promotion, my eyes filled with tears. Happy tears, sad tears, proud tears. Tears of the infinitely many emotions that well up in a mother’s heart. I know that one chapter in our lives has come to an end, and a new one begins. I can’t see the road ahead or where the years will carry you, but I know you – so I know that whatever comes, you’ll be amazing!


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