This little photo popped up in my Facebook news feed today and it resonates with me.
My grandmother’s lap was always my safe haven. Her arms were peaceful, loving, comforting. She was my solace when my young eyes had seen more than they should.
I’d climb up on the arm of her chair with a book and she’d read to me for however long I wanted. I’d trace my fingers over her freckles and ask almost daily about her mother’s ring with all the pretty stones. She’d tell me about each one and whose stone was whose.
In hot summer months I’d sit at her knees while she french ‘platted’ my hair. She’d tell me how her mother used to do the same for her. When the summer thunderstorms started kicking up, she would turn off all the power reminding us that her house wasn’t grounded. She’d make my sister and I sit in the middle of the living room away from the windows. We’d sit on opposite ends of the room and push a car or roll a ball back and forth. While we waited for the storm to pass, she’d tell us the same ghost stories her parents had told her. My favorite was about her daddy walking home one rainy night. He’d hear horse hooves and light a match to see and just before the wind and rain would snuff them out, he’d see ghostly horses that weren’t really there. My grandma could tell a story like no one else, she always had me captivated. She’d end each ghost story by saying, “Now that’s the truth,” and she was serious. We’d beg for this stories time and time again and as the years passed and she was no longer able to tell them, my heart ached and longed for them once more.
When the summer heat got the best of us, she’s freeze cherry koolaid in pop bottles and we’d suck and slurp them all day long. Whether it was while helping her string and snap beans, or just playing around her house, those frozen cherry koolaids are to this day the taste of summertime for me. There will never be a better summer time treat.
My grandmother taught me the importance of housework and motherhood. She taught me there was value in taking care of what you have and putting work before play. She also taught me the importance of an afternoon treat after all that work. I still remember her ever-present Diet Riet Cola and there was always an abundance of snack cakes. I admittedly still go into their kitchen hoping there’s a raisin cream cake to bring back a taste of childhood.
My grandmother could be stern, but she was also gentle and loving. She loved to call her church friends in the afternoons and talk the hours away. She especially enjoyed it when company would stop by and she could have a nice long chat.
Caring for others was what she did for as long as I can remember, and becoming a stay at home mother taught me what hard work that truly is. She never made us feel as though we wore her down, although I’m sure we often tried her patience. Her house was always open, as were her arms.
I am deeply saddened that I will never again be able to climb up on her lap and have her tell me a story. But I am ever grateful that the babies I, and other family members, have lost will now have Granny’s lap to climb onto. I know she’ll love them in all the ways we physically cannot. And one day, I will finally get to see her holding them as I wish she could’ve on this earth.
If you’re a follower of the blog, you noticed the sudden decrease in posts last month. And then hopefully you saw that I didn’t just go AWOL, I was being held captive by a little alien invader 🙂 . I’m happy to report that thanks to my doctor and lots of supportive family, I’m slowly returning to myself. Week nine and Diclegis have brought some relief that will hopefully have the blog back up and running full steam ahead.
My morning sickness had me sidelined for about a month. There were days that I barely moved from the couch and where caring for my two children truly felt like a struggle. My sewing room has been empty and there hasn’t been too much excitement going on in my house lately. But ya know what? It’s okay!!! I cut myself some slack to rest and feel yucky. I let my body and my mind cope with all the changes going on and guess what? Life went on! Nothing catastrophic happened. I learned that while life is much more fun when I’m participating fully, once in a while when there are more pressing concerns, you can take a break and things will turn out just fine.
Of course, there were times when I couldn’t just sit by and watch. I still had two children to cook for, play taxi too, and just generally care for. I still have a house on the market so there was still much cleaning and laundry to do be done. I shared a few tricks for handling diaper changes when you’re pregnant over at The Cloth Diaper Whisperer last month and many of those tips apply to just generally surviving morning sickness the first couple of months. Here are the some ways I’ve coped with morning sickness that will hopefully get you through too.
Five Ways To Handle Morning Sickness
- Extra sleep. I know, I know. I have two kids still under 5. I get that midday naps don’t often happen. But if you can go to bed a little early or catch some weekend naps, it will help. Being tired only exacerbates the nausea.
- Pleasing scents. We’re all different, if you can find a scent that calms your queasiness, use it. Citrus and mint are usually the most effective, but if watermelon or your favorite Bath and Body Works lotion brings you relief, rub, burn it, infuse it…just sniff it! An essential oil diluted with a carrier like coconut oil or scent free lotion can be a god-send smeared under your nose or dabbed on your wrist. You all know I loooveee some CJs BUTTer. The minis are great to grab and sniff.
- Juice, soda…whatever stays down. I gave up soda a year ago…don’t miss it. But during my first months of pregnancy, plain water doesn’t work. I gag, I throw up almost every single time. After finding myself dehydrated and constantly dizzy, I tried having a soda. And it stayed down. I found small sips of cold juice stayed down too. So I did what I had to do to stay hydrated. Getting myself back to functioning was more important than keeping up the anti-soda streak. Once my morning sickness eases, I’ll be back to drinking boat loads of water, but until then drinking it and vomiting isn’t worth it.
- Eating less…more often. If another person ever tells me to eat a cracker for morning sickness, I might get sick on them. Even thinking about a cracker turns my stomach. Crackers don’t work for me. But, I found that having about 6-8 small meals a day does work. Cereal, sandwiches, jello, fruit cups….whatever eases your stomach, try having something to eat every couple of hours. The minute my stomach gets empty, bam, nausea sets in and it is HARD to break. Sadly the first trimester is not a glowing picture of health food for me. But it’s okay. When your main concern is keeping anything down, you can cut yourself some slack and do the best you can.
- When all else fails…call the doctor. I spent almost four weeks a sick, shaky mess. My doctor put me Diclegis at a very small dosage and after just one week, I felt brand new. My blood pressure came back up, I had more energy, and I was not throwing up twelve times a day anymore. If medicine isn’t your route, it’s okay. But if you aren’t functioning, getting help from your doctor is an option. They see pregnant women every single day, they will likely have some tricks to help you. You don’t want to wait until you’re dehydrated as that isn’t good for you or baby.
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The blog’s been quiet this month…mainly because of this.
And then we got to see this…
So I’ve spent a lot of time with my head in a toilet the last month or so. This baby was a BIG surprise. Most of my plans for the year have been thrown for a loop as I’m in the midst of some pretty awful morning sickness that keeps me close to the couch or bathroom lately. If you’ve never experienced severe morning sickness, I hope you never do. It is truly exhausting. But, Baby Boo is growing right on track so far and that is indeed reason to celebrate.
I’ll be back…
There’s always been a lot of talk about what makes a family. Now that times are changing and more people are coming to realize that the traditional components of a nuclear family are not what we once thought they were, the view of what makes up a family is changing too.
I believe the most important component to any family is love. Without love, support, and compassion a group of people who live together is just a group, not a family. Family loves you without conditions and provides support when you are struggling. They offer compassion and try their best to be understanding of each other’s goals. When a member of the family, or the family as a whole, is faced with an obstacle, true families stick together and persevere.
The type of people involved have nothing to do with who makes up the family. It could easily be two men, two women, siblings, even friends. There could be children, or not. Children could be biological, adopted, or blended from past marriages. There could be legal documents binding the members together, or not. The family could own their home – or they could rent. They may even live with extended family to make up a bigger family unit.
What families don’t do is judge and criticize. A family is not a unit who puts you down and makes you feel bad about yourself. A family unit is not cruel and their love for you does not depend on the life choices you make. Sure, families who love and support you want the best for you. They don’t want you to make bad decisions that lead to a bad life. But choices like who you choose to marry (in healthy, non-abusive relationships) are not put down or judged. Things like sexual preference, race, religion, and politics are not taken into consideration. The character of one’s heart and the content of the soul are what matter.
So what is a family? It’s love. Support. Guidance. Acceptance. A hug when words don’t suffice. A shoulder to lean on when life throws a curveball you weren’t ready for. Family is realizing that life is not perfect but as long as you have each other, it’s doable. Even enjoyable and can be pure happiness. Family is a group of people who make you want to be better, not just for yourself, but for those you love. Family pushes you to try new things when you’re scared and they offer to catch you when you stumble.
Simply put, family is love. What/who makes up your family?
This is a post I’ve wanted to write many times but couldn’t until I was sure I wasn’t doing it hypocritically. It’s a post I want young people, particularly young women, to read and to truly hear. It’s a post I wish I would’ve read and understood fifteen plus years ago when I needed it most.
Over the past fifteen years I’ve ranged in size from a two to a fourteen. My height hasn’t changed for fourteen of those years so my shape has been ever changing. My weight has went up and down and back again. My relationship with food has often been a tumultuous one that I could never seem to nutritionally grasp until last year. Through each of those sizes the one constant was that I wasn’t happy with myself. My thighs were too big, my boobs too small, my nose had a bump, my hips were too curvy, my hair color was wrong… It was always something physical and what I should’ve really been working on had nothing to do with the way my body looked or the way others perceived it. I’m twenty-eight years old and can honestly say I didn’t find confidence in myself until recently.
The world loves to bombard us with its own image of beauty if we let it. And no one’s image is the same. The most important take away is that it doesn’t matter what your family, friends, or society tell you is beautiful. You should be the only person allowed to create an opinion about what your looks are or are not. That doesn’t start with clothes, makeup, or a number on a scale. It starts with your mind. It starts with telling yourself that you’re going to do what makes you FEEL good because what makes your mind, soul, and body FEEL good is what makes you LOOK good. That’s right, I don’t care what size pants or bra you fit in, you can be beautiful in your own skin.
No, I’m not telling you to go drink because drinking is fun and makes you feel good. At the end of the day, or early the next morning, it doesn’t and it won’t. Nor will drugs fill that void that makes you feel like you’re not good enough. Sex, food, even excessive exercise are not healthy when they’re only serving as a distraction. The true things that make you feel good are things that lead to self-confidence and self-worth. Taking pride in yourself, your actions, and instilling that same pride and confidence in others. Those who feel good about themselves desire to make others feel good about themselves. You don’t build confidence by bringing others down so that you look better in comparison. Negativity never breeds anything other than more negativity and self-loathing. Think about it. If you had a friend who constantly put others down, how would you feel after spending an evening with them? You’d likely feel like pointing out the flaws in everything around you or you’d be left feeling just plain defeated. Conversely, if you’d spend an evening with a friend who took time to try to make everyone feel important, valued, and loved you’d likely come away feeling refreshed and happy.
How do we turn off that constant criticism in our own minds? How do we make the switch from finding flaws to embracing imperfections as unique and worthy of celebration? We start small. We sit down and we start thinking about when we are most likely to pick ourselves apart, we find the root of all that criticism and frustration. The trigger could be stress, it could a desire to be more like someone else than ourselves, or it could be an outside influence. Get rid of the triggers. If there’s too much on your plate, take out the things that don’t bring value and positivity to your life. One thing it took me years to learn is that if something doesn’t make you happy and it doesn’t bring positive change to your life, it isn’t worth your time. If you’re pining after a size six body, but your genuinely healthy at a twelve, celebrate THE BODY YOUR IN! There is nothing wrong with different body types. Skinny can be beautiful, average can be beautiful, curvy can be beautiful. Drop the descriptors which are often just disguised criticisms, and realize that YOU CAN BE BEAUTIFUL. You don’t need super slim thighs, overflowing bra cups, or perfectly curled hair to be the best version of yourself. Beauty is about health. Find health through putting healthy foods into your body and being active in physical pursuits you enjoy. I guarantee your confidence will boost.
I think one of the biggest reasons we get critical of our bodies is outside influence. I’ve personally experienced this countless times. I put on an outfit I feel good in, I feel confident about. I put on makeup I love, fix my hair in a way that is pleasing to me. It all culminates to make me feel confident and beautiful. Then one off remark from another person eats its way into my being and I’ve lost all the confidence I created. It isn’t worth it! It doesn’t matter if the person is someone you love and trust or a complete stranger, no one has a right to get inside your head unless you let them. No one who loves you and has your best interest at heart should cut you down. You can just as easily find a positive thing to say about someone as a negative so I leave little room in my life for those who sole focus is negativity.
Love yourselves. The dividends far outweigh those of self-loathing. If it’s easier, start by complimenting others. Don’t look for flaws, look for beauty in everything you see and do. Once your mindset shifts, it becomes easier to transfer that same principle to yourself. You are beautiful, whether you know it yet or not. Don’t waste years waiting to figure it out or for someone else to tell you. The only person who truly needs to know it, the only one person who really HAS to tell you, is you.
I like a clean home. My mind doesn’t function well when there’s clutter so I do my best to keep things orderly and clean. Once upon a time, before children entered my home, I had a shelf lined with cleaners. Glass cleaners, bleach cleaners, chemical filled cleaners. A year or so before we brought a child home, I started researching more natural ways to clean. I kept stumbling upon vinegar.
Admittedly I was not convinced that something natural and simple could do a good job at keeping my home clean, but I decided to try it regardless. What I found was that this simple, natural product could do just as good of a job cleaning my home as the more expensive, chemical filled products could. It’s naturally deodorizing, has antimicrobial properties, and is strong enough to cut through grease and grime. People often assume that if you clean your home with vinegar then that’s what your home will smell like, but this isn’t true. Once vinegar dries, the smell goes away. If you still prefer a fresh, citrus smell, you can make citrus infused vinegar that will leave a light lemon, orange, or even grapefruit smell in your home. You could also add essential oils to your vinegar cleaning solution.
Citrus Infused Vinegar
Making citrus infused vinegar is SUPER simple and easy. After you’ve juiced your lemons, oranges, or eaten a grapefruit, stuff the peels into a glass jar. I stuff as many as I can fit into the jar to create a strong solution. Once you have your peels stuffed into the jar, pour vinegar over the peels making sure they are completely covered and put a lid on the jar. Let it sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for about two weeks. When the two weeks are up, strain the solution to get out any seeds or pulp (you can use a sieve or a cheese cloth). I store the solution in a clean glass jar until I’m ready to use it and then I use equal parts citrus infused vinegar and water. I simple pour them into a spray bottle for cleaning. I’ve found citrus infused vinegar works great for counter tops or mopping your floors, but can be streaky on windows so I prefer to use a plain solution on my windows.
How much and where do I use it?
- Cleaning with vinegar really is simple. I just buy regular ol’ white vinegar. Many stores will also carry vinegar specifically for cleaning which has a higher acidity content, but I have never found it necessary.
- For counter tops, windows, mirrors, and toilets I mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. I spray the surfaces down, let the vinegar sit for a few minutes and then wipe them clean.
- If there’s a super sticky or hard to clean mess, I mix three parts vinegar to one part water or even use pure vinegar.
- To clean my floors, I mix two parts vinegar and one part hot water with just a squirt of dish soap. It works great on our linoleum and leaves the floors clean and fresh.
- When our trash cans get stinky, I pour a little vinegar into the bottom of them and let them sit. The vinegar is naturally deodorizing.
- I even use vinegar as a natural fabric softener. It really works and NO our clothes do not smell like vinegar. I put a little in my fabric softener dispenser and let it do it’s thing. Vinegar can cause wear and tear on elastics or PUL (if you cloth diaper), but I really haven’t seen this happen for us and I’ve used it for over five years.
- I add a little vinegar to the rinse aid dispenser of my dishwasher as well. It helps keep food particles off clean dishes.
Have you tried vinegar to keep your home clean yet?
This post is a part of Starter Stories, a project for Urban Compass. Urban Compass is a real estate platform based in NYC that connects people searching for apartments with the neighborhood that matches their personality and taste. As you’ll soon see, finding the right neighborhood is just as important as finding the right home. A perfect house in a neighborhood that doesn’t feel like home won’t work.
I was blessed to come across homeownership early in life – at just twenty-two I bought my first house. It has been a good house for us, almost a dream. We actually listed our home for sale back in November and are awaiting a buyer so we can move back ‘home‘. Ah, see that word again. Is our house our home? It was, very happily. We added kids in the mix and now we desire a house closer to family for it to truly be a home.
One of my favorite parts of making this house into a home was decorating. We picked out paint colors for almost every room before we even moved in and it was our first priority before we moved our furniture or belongings. As soon as we had the keys in hand, we started painting. We spent our first several nights in our home on a mattress on the floor so we could paint. A vibrant red in the kitchen, a crazy collage of colors in the guest bedroom that would one day be a nursery. And polka dots in the bathroom – it was truly our home.
Last fall I painted over many of our bright, vibrant colors as we prepared our home to go on the market. We loved them, but we knew potential buyers may not feel the same. It’s been odd to live in a home that no longer really feels like ours. There are no family photos on the walls, sparse decor. Much of what made our house a real home is now packed away in boxes or has been painted over. I do have photos though and I have ideas for that future house that we’ll eventually call home back in our hometown.
Much of what I remember about this home, and the apartments we lived in prior to it, are the memories. Sure, I remember how I loved the huge pantry in our second apartment, and how I adore the giant laundry room I now have as well as the spacious storage in our basement. But mostly, I love the memories. Friends and family gathered around the large island in our kitchen, the times friends stayed for the weekend to watch college basketball tournaments, the birthday parties, and of course bringing my children home to their very own space. First steps, big decisions, and happiness set to a backdrop that we created.
My bright red kitchen was always more than just a color or a kitchen to me. My bright red kitchen was a dream turned reality. My son’s color blocked room was more than just an idea made real thanks to some painter’s tape and the local hardware store. The room was hope and light. The room was eventually a triumph over infertility and a little boy’s castle where he found a love of superheroes and a space to call his own.
So what really makes a house a home? I think it’s you. It’s what you put into your home, little pieces of yourself. It could be a vase, a paint color, or a rug. So long as it’s a little piece of your own personality brought to life for others to see.
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