Short Story: For I Am Her Mother

This is just something I was working on this afternoon. I was trying to write something less dark than I usually write, but I’m not sure it worked? Haha, I might just stick to writing darker stories because I think that’s where I do the best, but I don’t want people to think there is something wrong with me. Ehhh, do people think there is anything wrong with Suzanne Collins or Veronica Roth? I don’t think so, but I don’t know. Anyways, it’s a very rough cut, so let me know what you think. I think I will probably edit it extensively in the future to try to take it more the original direction I was thinking. But either way, it’s a good exercise in stretching your creative muscles to try something different.

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Every day is a new journey. But today seems like the biggest journey of all. This will be my new life, there’s no turning back from here. What happens now, can never be undone. This moment . .

this still . . .

that everyone else around me seems oblivious too. All around me people rush and talk and do what needs to be done, but here I am. Immersed in this still. I am waiting, anticipating for that new moment, for the new beginning and none of it around me matters so I block them out.

Until it is just her. Her and me. Here in this still together.

But someone takes her – she can not stay, it is too risky, I know.

I take a deep breath and am plunged back into this world, with its sounds and lights and people. Its frenzy of activity and my heart suddenly seems like it is as loud as ten million jack hammers, all pounding in tune in my heart.

I wish I could go back to that still, because all I know here on this side is fear. But for that moment she was mine and I will find a way to make her mine again.

Criticism

From http://witanddelight.tumblr.com/post/10128568991

I have written this quote out for myself many times ever since I was a teenager. And over time, this quote has come to mean different things to me. It’s funny the way that the same thing can mean different things to me at different stages in life. When I was a teenager and then in college, this quote really spoke to me about moral issues. Not to say that it has stopped speaking to me about moral issues, but nowadays, it speaks to me much more strongly about parenting issues.

In some ways, the moral issues are easier than the parenting issues. Ha! With the moral issues, I know clearly that something is right or wrong, but with the parenting issues, I don’t always know that’s the case. There’s a ton of gray area, where neither decision is morally right or wrong, but you still have to make some kind of decision. Some of the decisions are easy – I’ve made them without hesitation and not once looked back. But others are harder, the ones I’ve agonized over for a long time, made and yet still agonized about. Because the internet, love it or hate it, has put SO much information at our fingertips. Most of the time I love that. I’m kind of an info junkie so to read as much about a subject as I can is usually wonderful. But it can also be scary sometimes when you are trying to make decisions for your kid, because you can almost always find someone out there who will tell you that the decision you’ve made it awful and that you’re going to ruin your child. It’s a lot of pressure!

That’s what I kind of like about this quote – it helps remind me to stick to my guns. Not to be closed down to new info necessarily, but at the end of the day, when I’ve looked at all the options and weighed my choices (which I have done, most of the time, extremely thoroughly) to do what I think is right and not to waver when the criticism comes because I know that even if I switched sides, I’d still get criticism from somebody somewhere. You can’t win most of the time, somebody will always criticize your choices. That’s the truth.

It also speaks to the importance of not changing your opinions just because you’ve been criticized. It’s easy to want to change your opinions sometimes when you face criticism, because you want to be liked. I want to be liked, let’s be real. But deep down, I would know it wasn’t right if I switched just so somebody would like me. And then I’d just face criticism from a different set of people. I know that my heart is informed by the Bible and my faith, by my experiences, by my research, by input from my husband and other people, and those are the things that matter, not some critical naysayer who may or may not even know me that well.

Eleanor Roosevelt was definitely on to something when she said this.

Counting to 1000 Gifts: 111-120

111. A relatively clean house

112. The feeling of peace

113. Nap times

114. Garlic bread sticks

115. “Sleeping in”

116. Cooler weather

117. Listening to birds chirp

118. Ice cream on a hot summer’s day

119. Two healthy little boys

120. Opportunities to grow and expand

10 Finds for Monday – 7/21/14

Here you go! Here are 10 things to read to start your week off. I’ve decided to categorize them this time, to see if that helps people decide what they want to read and what they can expect to see. If I like it, I’ll keep it around! Keep in mind, as always, sharing something is not an endorsement that I agree with it (or other things on the site), just that it’s worth reading and thinking about. And as always, I’d love to discuss any of these with you, so leave me a comment!

Publishing

More Preston Nonsense

Geek

Where Were You for the ‘Deathly Hallows’ Midnight Release?

Current Events

Guilty Verdict in First Boston Marathon Bombing Trial

MH17 Mother: ‘I can do nothing but wait for bodies’

Kids

10 Ideas Using Cardboard

Giveaways/Contests

Dominio’s Free Pizza Promotion

Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card

Culture

20 Surprising Things About Parenting in Germany

10 Surprising Things About Parenting in Norway

10 Surprising Things About Parenting in Japan

 

Making Peace with the Lions

It never ceases to amaze me the ways that one person with one small action can make a big difference, especially when I see kids or young people doing it. But this boy in Kenya is doing just that – making a big difference to the families who live there who depend on their livestock. He used just a few things he had around and it made a big difference. We can all change the world in some way, for better or worse, big or small. Here’s one amazing boy talking about his invention that’s making a difference in his home country of Kenya.

Greatness

Sometimes it seems like the world around us is chasing greatness and fame. It seems like everybody wants to be famous or great in some way. To go viral. To discover the next big thing. To be someone who matters.

I suppose I should really not be that surprised since we live in a celebrity culture where celebrities are worshipped and hated, obsessed over and then discarded once their worth is over. There’s always a new one, always someone else popping up, even if for only a short while. A new face for the paparazzi to photograph and stalk.

But what’s the point really in being great and famous? It doesn’t always mean that you made the world a better place. It doesn’t even always mean that you mattered. There are plenty of people who aren’t household names who mattered very much: Irena Sendler, for example, who saved countless Jewish children during the Holocaust, is not a name that most people would instantly recognize.

Everyone matters, in some way to somebody for some time. Does it matter if it’s 1 person or 1000? To those people who you matter to, you are significant and important. Sometimes, the people who matter are never people we will ever know. That anonymous person who chooses to bless your family with something they could really use, the anonymous person who donates blood that you need someday in the event of a transfusion, those people matter without the fame and greatness attached. Those families are grateful that someone did those things even though they will never know who those people were.

It’s not really a new problem though, wanting to be famous and great. It’s kind of an old problem, really.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. – Matthew 18: 1-5, NIV

Even the disciples, who were right there with Jesus, who heard from his mouth about salvation and who saw all the miracles performed, still lusted after greatness and importance.

But Jesus is not concerned about our greatness, he wants our humility. He doesn’t want us to seek fame and greatness, he just wants us to serve and love with open hearts. Sometimes people become great and famous for their serving and loving but they didn’t seek that out and there are many, many more who will never achieve that through serving and loving. I think we worry about our standing in life, but truly our standing is not important. You don’t take your position with you when you die, your job will be replaced and outsourced. Even with the celebrities, some new one comes along, the world keeps moving forward.

Greatness on earth is temporary. Even great people who are remembered long after their death are still dead. Their greatness can’t bring them back into life or compel them to keep on living forever. Your heart though, God sees inside that, God sees you, and that does have the lasting effect on what happens to you after you die. Cling firmly to the cross and his promise of life everlasting for those who believe.

Zoo Learning

While we’ve been to the Milwaukee Zoo plenty of times, today we had the excitement of going to a new, different zoo – the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. We got to spend the day as a family, the three of us, and with my mother-in-law as well. She had a late flight out of Chicago so we made something of the day by going to the zoo also. Dominic loves zoos, so it was really no surprise that we would have such a good time. I think I probably did too much comparing of this zoo to our zoo (cons: no elephants, pros: baby gibbon and baby rhino, among other things), but I still had a good time anyways. I am completely and totally exhausted though.

Anyways, I got to thinking about all the ways that the zoo is good for learning. I think there is the obvious that people know, which is that you can learn about animals from the zoo – by reading the signs, watching the keeper demonstrations, talking to the volunteers, etc, but I also think there is the less obvious ways you can turn it into a learning opportunity.

It’s not hard or complicated to turn it into more of a learning opportunity, because it just involves talking to your kid. I have a two-year-old, of course, and so that is where my perspective on this is coming from as I think what you can learn at the zoo will vary with age, but everyone is capable of learning something there. Anyways, at two, learning language is such a huge thing. Their vocabularies are rapidly expanding and a big way that they learn words is from you, their parents. They don’t just imagine that water is called water. No, somebody tells them that this substance that they drink and bathe in and swim in is called water. And they have to do that over and over, learning every word. Well, the zoo is a great place to introduce and reinforce different words and concepts. Not only can you name the animals, but you can talk about what the animals are doing (swimming, flying, sleeping, playing, jumping, climbing, eating, etc.), you can describe the animals, both in size and in markings (big, small, long neck, stripes, all sorts of colors, spots, etc.), you can count the animals and talk about how many there are, and you can even talk about relationships (that is a baby rhino and the bigger one is the baby’s mom). You aren’t limited to just those things either, you have so many possibilities. Sure, your kid probably knows some of those words already, but reenforcing those words is important as well as showing those words in a different context and situation, to understand that we eat but that animals also eat, for example. It seems like such a basic concept, but as adults, our concepts of these things came from somewhere, they didn’t just magically poof into our heads. Talking to your kid is so simple, but so very important for the development of language.

Learning can be anywhere and everywhere!

And now, the pictures from our day of course.

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Kacy Catanzaro: America’s First Female American Ninja Warrior?

If you haven’t seen this video yet that has been going around, you should totally check it out.

I remember watching American Ninja Warrior sometimes when Dominic was little and I was nursing him a lot still. I had never heard of it before then, but it was very intriguing. The courses were difficult and to watch people do them was incredible. Not only did it take strength, but it took coordination, timing, and many other skills as well. It’s more than just a strong man competition.

And until recently, until Kacy Catanzaro, no woman had ever made it this far. I’ve seen a lot of men try it and fail sooner. On top of that, she makes it look pretty easy too, like it’s nothing to her. And to me, that’s pretty cool. I think our culture sends us a lot of messages about what women are and are not capable of. And too often the message is that women are not strong. That message is ridiculous for a number of reasons, but yet it continues to exist. Women are viewed more often as delicate, fragile creatures than they are viewed as people of strength. It’s kind of mind-boggling to me, as women and men are different, but that doesn’t mean that women can’t be strong. They can do immensely strong things – sometimes obvious feats of strength, like Kacy Catanzaro, and sometimes less obvious feats of strength, moments that can be more private like childbirth or advocating for your child with special needs. Not all strength is outward or seen.

But some strength is and sometimes it can be measured. And women can do remarkably more in sports than they are ever given the credit for. In writing this blog I’ve come across women who have made firsts in the world of sports – like Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. Look at where we’ve come since then and how many women run the Boston Marathon now. Sometimes you just need to be given a chance to shine, but so many of our cultural ideas work against us in that respect. Women, in history and in the present day, are repeatedly told they can’t do something and very often are never even given the chance at trying. How do you know that someone can’t do something if you never even let them try to do it? That goes for all people.

It makes me think of this Always commercial.

Girls can be strong. They can do amazing things. They just need to be given a chance to show what they can do. I’m sure there are many people who told Kacy that there was no way she could make it this far in American Ninja Warrior, that she should just give up, but she didn’t, she kept going and she did it. I would not be surprised at all if she was the winner at the end of it. If she doesn’t win, I expect that she’ll come very close.

Life Update: July 15th, 2014

We have been having quite the busy week around here! Nick’s mom is visiting from Canada and of course, his sister Annalies is still here as she’s been staying with us this summer, so we have quite the full house! We talked about going to the splash pad this morning with Dominic, but it is quite cool today, so that isn’t going to happen, but we had lots of fun staying here and building with blocks and eating watermelon. It’s just a short visit, but on Thursday before we go take Nick’s mom to the airport in Chicago, we will swing by the Lincoln Park Zoo, since her flight is later in the day. Dominic is really looking forward to it and I am too.

Other than that, not a lot is new with Nick and me. We are kind of just settled into the routine of adult life. That’s all right though, I really kind of like it that way.

Allen is growing well and he’s moving all the time. I am past 20 weeks but not yet to 30 weeks. I have felt better this pregnancy overall than I ever did when I was pregnant with Dominic. Sometimes I would hear/read the second trimester referred to as the honeymoon trimester and with Dominic, I never, ever understood that. I was in a lot of pain, I was crazy emotional, and having panic attacks and it just was not a good time for me. But with this pregnancy, I understand that. I actually feel pretty great a lot of the time and while my energy levels are not close to where they were pre-pregnancy, I do have energy. I feel like myself. It’s been good to me so far and I am super grateful for that. It makes me glad we decided to try to have another kid even though I was so dead set against in the first time because of how awful my pregnancy was with Dominic. I also recently saw my back-up midwife at the hospital for the first of three appointments. It went really well and I liked her a lot and it’s good to know I won’t be hassled for choosing a free-standing birth center and that my back-up options are good and solid. I already feel good about my choices, but sometimes, even with choices we feel good about, we still have to fight for them, so it’s good to feel like you have support instead of judgment or nay-sayers.

It’s also been really fun to see Dominic grow in awareness of his baby brother. He knows that there is a baby in my belly and if you ask him what his baby brother’s name is, he knows his name is Allen. He will give his baby brother (aka my belly) kisses and hugs. It is the sweetest thing ever and it will be interesting to see what he thinks once Allen is here on the outside.

Also, I swear I said this last time, but it amazes me how much Dominic talks and how quickly he is picking up on language now. I can’t believe that was ever a worry of mine because that seems so silly to me now. He is obviously a bright and talented boy and I swear I’m not saying that just because he’s my kid. But he is growing up to be an awesome little kid and every day brings new challenges but also new excitements, giggles, and smiles. I can’t wait to see what he does next. Poor little buddy does have a cold now though and he’s losing his voice, which makes him sound rather funny and sometimes hard to understand. He, however, barely seems to notice he has a cold and keeps right on trucking, full steam ahead. Tomorrow I’m taking him to Korean drumming at the library. I bet he will really love it. He did last year. He is definitely a very music orientated kid. He’s very, very often singing, humming, drumming, and playing the piano (though not usually all those four at once!)

I’ll end with a picture, since I always have to put in at least one. This is one I’ve shared on my Facebook page already, but it’s still such a fun picture that it’s worth sharing again.

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Recipe Review: Easy Oven-Roasted Potatoes

Om nom nom. Let me tempt your taste buds with a new recipe review. Easy Oven-Roasted Potatoes.

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Here’s the picture! Sorry there are hardly any left. A few things happened that caused me to forget to take a picture. One, they were smelling sooooooo good when they were cooking. Two, we were super hungry when they came out. Three, I dunno, I only really have two reasons.

The recipe was, as advertised, completely easy. It was a no brainer and came together super quickly, which I always appreciate. It was almost easy enough that one wouldn’t need a recipe, but I will admit to being an less-than-confident cooker trying to learn how to cook better through trying one recipe at a time. It’s how I expand my skills. The only complaint I had about the recipe was that mine took a lot longer to cook than the recipe said, but that was not a hard fix. Except for my stomach, because it was just like, “Feed me, I’m hungry. FEEEEEEEED ME.” But I held it off and we survived.

We all really liked this recipe. Annalies, my sister-in-law; Dominic; my mother-in-law; and I all really enjoyed it. There were no potatoes left at the end of dinner and we all had multiple potatoes. We had it alongside some soup and a (huge) watermelon. For me, they were the highlight of the meal, though I think Dominic preferred the watermelon. I will definitely make them again though.

I do not have the privilege of sharing this recipe today because it came from an e-book I own, Real Food Real Easy and it would not be cool to share that recipe for all the hard work that the many authors put into it. But it is still available for sale, so if you are looking to purchase it, you can buy it at The Humbled Homemaker. I can’t remember exactly when I bought it, but I do believe I bought it as part of The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle sale, which comes around once a year, I believe. That’s a great sale and a great steal if things like this interest you. I thought it was well worth the money. You can check out their website for information about when the next sale will be. It’s just something small I can do in directing people back to the place where I found a lot of value and I hope you will too. The e-book is great, with or without the bundle.

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