Visiting Our Marriage: Five Minute Friday

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It’s official, last week it was 14 years. It feels like a long time and yet barely scratching the surface. In the beginning, the early years, it was like striking oil; new and exciting things to share. Now it’s more like digging and pumping through layers of rock. There is more, I believe even more than we can imagine, but it will be harder work to get to it than in the past.

It feels funny that we have to schedule visits just to be together. But without it, we are so easily distracted and pulled into all the things that busy us. We both have minds that are constantly spinning both with the day to day requirements (at least for me), existential wonderings (that’s mostly hubby) and then our creative sides. Because we both have very creative sides that often have to be deferred if not suppressed during this consuming season of raising little ones. Without the luxury of the budget to pay regular sitters we try to decide carefully how to devote our few kid free hours every couple of months. Is a movie worth it? For me, only if it’s followed by dinner so we can discuss and connect.

It is work that I believe is worth doing, but so often it seems like the universe conspires against us having an uninterrupted sentence let alone finish a complete thought or have an intelligent discussion. (I can remind my five year old every day, multiple times a day not to interrupt when Daddy and I are trying to talk, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen. Every single day, every single conversation, every single sentence. Basically every time I take an inhale that communicates I might be planning to use more than three words at a time.)

But we keep trying. Because for us, sharing what makes us unique, and the crazy way our minds work is an important part of emotional intimacy. A friend, whose children are older than mine, refers to the time after the littlest years are over as the Renaissance. After the dark ages of night time feedings and ten diaper changes a day, there is time and energy, sometimes even money for art, cultural, creativity and enlightenment. Sad as I am to see the end of the baby years, I look forward with hopeful anticipation.

We’ve spent all these years trying to stay connected, even if by a thread at times, believing that there will be time to learn and grow together again. Hoping the next 14-50 years is full of lots of it.

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Photo courtesy of Laura Mounts

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6 X 6 Pathway at Fit2B Studio

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What do I do when I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon? What I always do, find a new Fit2B Studio pathway to explore. This is one of the few pathways I haven’t tried yet on Fit2B, so I’m very excited to see how it works for me.

The goal of the 6 X 6 pathway is to do 6 videos in 6 days for 6 weeks. I’m usually a 4-5 workout a week kind of gal, so disciplining myself with prioritizing fitness 6 days out of the week will be a challenge for me.
However, if you feel like 6 workouts a week just too many, guess what? You can take longer, 10 days, two weeks, whatever works for you.

 

I had planned to provide an update on my fitness and weight loss journey. Except I haven’t made much progress. Ok, that isn’t fair. I have definitely increased my stamina and in general I feel better. But my diet has been awful. (To summarize; too many birthdays, too many holidays, too much cake). So I’m taking steps toward making healthy eating easier and generally trying to be more aware of my choices. (Meaning that when I eat cookies I am well aware that they are not the best choice for me and then I eat them anyway. Seriously though, I have significantly increased my leafy greens intake, so that’s something.)

 

I’ve also been disappointed with the nasty, coughing cold that left my middle squishy and my separation pulled open again. So I’m being extra careful to listen to Beth’s cues and modify as needed moving forward. While I haven’t done as well at this as I’d like, I need to begin prioritizing my sleep again. I just can’t seem to get to bed at a decent hour and thus hauling myself out of bed with the kids in the morning hasn’t been much fun. I need to find a new routine that I can stick with.

 

It’s healthy to continually reevaluate our health and fitness situations. Sometimes we need to set new goals, or return to old goals. One of reason I stay a member of Fit2B is the need for new challenges and I always find that with Beth Learn. I can always find a pathway I haven’t yet explored or a series of new routines I haven’t tried. When I get into a fitness rut, there is always something to peak my interest again.
So join me as I review the 6 X 6 pathway. It starts out slow, just 10-15 minutes a day. We can handle that right?

Don’t Forget! You can use the coupon code laundryblog to get 30% off an annual membership with Fit2B Studio!

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Motherhood; Costly But Strategic: Five Minute Friday

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photo courtesy of Twinkle Photo

I was recently able to share with my MOPS group some of my thoughts on motherhood and my inspiration came from a strange source; the story Biblical story of Abraham burying his wife. Surely, not an obvious connection.

But the part that spoke to me most was when Abraham insisted on paying full price for his wife Sarah’s tomb, before knew what that price was. This, to me, is a picture of motherhood. Some of us dreamed and planned for years before becoming mothers. For others it was a surprise and perhaps not an entirely welcome one. Yet none of us could be prepared for what becoming mothers would cost us. Motherhood is expensive not just financially but in terms of time, energy and often dignity

For me, it meant difficult pregnancies and deliveries. When I choose to stay at home that meant, culturally speaking, I lost my individual identity. Without a product to provide or a quantifiable service, or drawing a paycheck; I suddenly became ill defined. I was “just” a mom. Forever more I will be recognized, at least in part if not in whole, as a parent rather than a person with goals, dreams and aspirations of my own.

I had no idea all that being a mom would cost me and yet I agreed to it gladly and I would do it again (at least most days). But I am also working through the process of recognizing how my motherhood is a tool for my growth rather than a barrier to my development.

Another detail I love from Abraham’s story is that he buried his wife facing the land of the promise, the land where his descendants would thrive and become a great nation. He made a strategic choice, looking to the future. I believe parenthood is a strategic thing as well. Some of it is our own strategy, to carry on our values, culture and genetic material. But I believe that much of it is an act of God.

 

The Bible says God places us into families and I firmly believe that our children are part of God’s strategy. No matter how our families are formed, whether through birth, adoption, blending with remarriage or otherwise; it is part of God’s deliberate plan. Our children are not ours by accident. But rather with great intention, both for us and for them.

On those days when I feel most ill equipped, I try to remember that as hopeless as I feel at this job, I was intended to be their mother. That as the Lord Almighty was numbering my days, he saw fit to give me these children. Which means he will also provide me the strength I need to bring them up and help them to become who they are supposed to be.  They are also part of my own redemptive process as I am molded and shaped into the person I am supposed to be. Because I am never “just a mom” but being a mother can be a crucial asset for growth in all the other parts of me and reaffirm to me who I am.

(Full disclosure: I was on a roll today and wrote for longer than five minutes. I hope you enjoyed it anyway).

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But What If It Isn’t Normal?: The Case for Abdominal and Pelvic Floor Rehab

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photos courtesy of The Tummy Team

 

My social media feed is full of it. Moms lamenting peeing their pants and the belly that just hangs and won’t budge no matter how many crunches they do or how long they diet. With Mother’s Day coming up there are even cute little memes about “Call your mom, she wets herself because of you.”

Except a part of me doesn’t find it cute. I’m glad for awareness and openness for discussing this important aspect of women’s health. But I just can’t get behind making a serious medical issue into the punchline of a joke. Pelvic floor and core weakness are certainly common side affects for women who have been pregnant and/or given birth. But I would hesitate to call them normal and they certainly aren’t healthy.

 

When I got to hear Beth Learn from Fit2B Studio speak in person last year, she talked about how our bodies were made to birth babies, and also made to heal. But our lifestyles have changed, and most of our lives no longer contain the kinds of healthy movement to used to help women recover from pregnancy and child birth. While modern medicine has brought us many wonderful things in the area of OBGYN care, this has not been one of them. Talking about the ability to heal has nothing to do with shame at the symptoms, but rather to produce empowerment at the possibility for recovery.

 

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This is why I love The Tummy Team. Kelly Dean’s own story provides inspiration. She talks about how her training as a physical therapist didn’t prepare her for the side effects of multiple pregnancies and deliveries. Her broken body left her feeling discouraged. Other than surgery she could find any practical solutions. But she searched until she found someone who offered real hope.

 

While Kelly agrees that hands on help is best, there are a limited number of trained core and pelvic rehabilitation specialists in the United States, and indeed the world. To that end she created online rehab programs through her office, The Tummy Team.

 

I completed the Core Foundations with The Tummy Team three years ago, and then the Prenatal program two years ago when I was pregnant with my third child. I found both programs to be educational, and encouraging as I went through my healing process. I’ve also done a Skype session with Kelly and found it hugely helpful in making sure I was learning proper alignment and a chance to ask any questions. While today I wouldn’t call my core entirely healed (the result of a difficult third pregnancy and delivery), I gained so many important tools through the course that I find myself returning to when my abs need a little bit of extra attention and support.

 

In honor of Mother’s Day, the Tummy Team is offering 25% off all of their programs and services, May 8-22. (If you don’t want to start now, you can purchase a gift certificate at sale price, and start your rehab later).

 

This Mother’s Day, consider investing in yourself (or your mom) and consider healing through the wonderful ladies at The Tummy Team.

 

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This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

Let Wisdom Replace Doubt: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Neillwphoto Flickr via Compfight cc

I was raised with a very strong sense of duty. You show up on time, keep your commitments even if it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient. I recognized early on in life that there are lot of things you do because it’s right and good, not necessarily because you want to.

Then enter parenthood. Suddenly the list of shoulds became huge and sometimes they contradicted each other. Baby should sleep in bed with mommy vs. Baby should never sleep in bed with mommy. Children need to play independently especially outside vs. Children should never be left alone outside for any period of time.
Other times the standards set felt insurmountable. Children should rarely, if ever watch TV, have sugar, wear clothing made of two kids of fabrics. (Ok, I made that last one up.) Being a mom meant a world filled with new levels of obligation and oceans of new guilt. With every decision I made, there was enough evidence and social pressure from the opposite opinion that I doubted myself constantly. Staying at home, homeschooling, the list went on. It wasn’t that I was too overwhelmed to make choices, just that I was almost never confidence I was making the right ones.

Sometimes even when I was unhappy with the course I’d set, I felt powerless to try and change it. Why put in all that extra effort if it wasn’t necessary, I was still going to feel guilty and tomorrow a study will come out to suggest that my original choice was right all along?

It took me a long time to silence the voices of duty. Honestly, they are with me still. But quieter whispers now instead of demanding shouts. It is easier to ignore them and try instead to replace them with words of truth. Not that I don’t fulfill my responsibilities, I’m just more deliberate what I commit myself too. But I haven’t yet learned to quiet the murmurings of guilt when I read another article or see another volunteer need.

Sometimes I let them become quite loud, and they drown out the beauty and the wonder of this life that I am both carefully chosen and yet accidentally found. (Because so much of life with that strange combination of intentionality and serendipity).

But I’m working hard to pray for mercy instead of cling to impossible standards and ask for wisdom instead of being wracked with doubt. All my shoulds and oughts were covered by the blood at the cross, and that doesn’t exclude my parenting ones.

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Bringing Home to My House: Courtesy of The Cozy Minimalist

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Image courtesy of The Cozy Minimalist

 

I’ve never felt totally comfortable with the idea of design and decorating. I thought I knew what I liked, but I was afraid of being out of style. I hated the thought that the minute I updated something, the trend had passed. But I also wanted my home to feel put together; to have personality but not clutter.

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I bought the book The Nesting Place and immediately embraced it’s tag line “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” We were just beginning to pack up our house of 10 years (that we’d outgrown at least 3 years ago) for a house we hoped would give us more room to live and breathe. I inhaled the book, and at this point, have read much of it twice, even a few sections three times. When I saw that the Cozy Minimalist e-course was open again for a short window, I jumped at the chance. You get access to videos of the life webinars all the slides, and possibly the best part, the Facebook group. Having already done the Cozy Minimalist Kids course as part of a bundle I purchased last year, I was excited to do the full version. (I should also note that I did the course as I was packing so I didn’t really “do” it so much as listen and learn.)

We moved into our new house the weekend after New Year’s. It had been fairly nicely updated (though not as much or as well as we originally thought) but definitely to someone else’s taste.

Let me just stop right here and say something. I felt terribly guilty for not feeling at home in my house when most of my friends and family declared it move in ready and couldn’t understand why I was blissfully happy. A dear friend made me feel a bit better by reminding me that you can both be grateful for the privilege of a safe and updated house and still not have it feel like home. Not liking the paint color or finishes is not a sin, nor is wanting to change them doesn’t make you picky or a bad person.

I’ll be working, VERY slowly through the course as I unpack my house. I’m not going to tell you everything she says, because let’s face it, you really should buy the course. But I will attempt to encourage you with before and after pictures of my progress. (If the course is unavailable right now. I recommend you join the waiting list. In the meantime, I very much recommend the book The Nesting Place, it will definitely get you started down that road.)

I’m learning to let myself become comfortable with things being in process. I desperately want the house to just be done so I can sit back and relax. But one of things I’m learning most from this course so far is to embrace the cyclical nature of decorating and design. There is no done or finished. It’s Ok to have temporary fixes for the sake of beauty or function. Don’t feel pressured to change what you love, just for the sake of change. But neither do you have to avoid dealing this things you have because you aren’t ready to tackle a full home renovation. (Best metaphor of the book: don’t put up with a paint color you hate in the bathroom just because you don’t want to remove the toilet. Paint around it, if you can tell, neither will anyone else). Because as the Nester says, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle 2017 on sale now includes the Cozy Minimalist class! But you only have a few more days to purchase it.

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Frustration Friday: Five Minute Friday

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Photo Credit: Kevin Baird Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Before I was a parent and I was full time in the workforce, I lived for Fridays. There was a wonderful energy and an extra surge of efficiency that came with Fridays, especially on a wonderful spring day when the weather was good. I would fly through the afternoon and the world always seemed to look brighter. Then I became a parent. Fridays now seem to be the final gasp, bare minimum, “dear God, isn’t this week over yet?” kind of days. The time when I reevaluate my life and am always seemed to be found wanting.

I aspire to contentment. Because being happy with where I’m at, contrary to what our culture may portray, is not the same as apathy. But sometimes I’m not happy with where I am. Because I don’t feel like I am enough for what I am facing.

I don’t feel like I’m strong enough to be the wife my husband needs. I’m definitely not patience enough to be the mother my spirited children need, especially my 5 year old son. (Also known as Calvin or the Tasmanian Devil. We often say that Robin, like bagpipes is best enjoyed outside). As a home school mom I often feel as though I am ill equipped to educate a self declared hated of learning and a gifted child who is rarely still. This doesn’t even begin to touch my goals as a writer and my other ministry work.

I feel as though I have to be more, to do to even have a chance of succeeding. No one wants to fail as a parent. (Not that I’m even sure what failure looks like aside from my child growing up to hate me or becoming a criminal of some kind). Yet I’m constantly reading books and articles, and attempting to improve myself. The same goes for my marriage. I’m always afraid that simple satisfaction will lead to stagnation in a relationship that is ever changing. I can’t just be a wife, I have to be the best wife I can possibly be (while also of course being the best parent, writer, teacher, etc).

I tell myself that I am enough, that God fills the gaps where I am deficient. But those are encouragements for a Sunday morning, when the world feels new and I tackle my week with ambition and purpose. Right now it’s Friday, and all I can see are dirty floors, cranky kids and an unshowered mama who isn’t sure what’s for dinner.

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