Am I a Good Mom?

How many of us moms ask ourselves this question regularly? Whether facing toddlers or teenagers being a mom is hard.

Over the years friends have repeatedly told me how just thinking of what I must go through, having so many children and homeschooling, gives them courage. Sometimes I think if they only knew all my shortcomings, all the ways I fail everyday, would they still be encouraged?

From my children’s manners and nutrition to their dental hygiene and education I struggle day by day. Even more importantly: am I being a good testimony to them? Does my attitude draw them to Christ? Do I have a strong work ethic and a humble spirit?

These questions float around in my head sometimes triggered by embarrassing moments of a child’s misbehavior (my 4 year old at last week’s co-op). Maybe a questioning or challenging tween will cause me to struggle.

I am so thankful to every mom before me who has given a word of encouragement in these times of doubt.

Over and over I bring my children before the LORD in prayer. I beg Him for the wisdom and humility I lack.

Then I stop to remember how incredibly blessed I am to have these children. He created me to be their mom and nobody else. Who am I to question the LORD’s wisdom? Instead I will claim His promises and let His strength be made perfect in my weakness!

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😩Jury Duty Part II: The Day of Reckoning

The whole plan of getting a good night’s rest failed miserably. I found myself up after midnight, once more, the difference being that my alarm should wake me before six the next morning. I struggle with anxiety especially when anticipating unknown circumstances. I woke several times to check if my alarm was set or if I had possibly overslept.

How strange it felt waking up in the wee hours of the morning with my husband laying peacefully in bed. Thankful that I had set everything out the night before I quickly showered, dressed and gave my husband the goodbye kiss that he usually gives me every weekday morning.

My trusty GPS took me directly to the lot where the jurors had been told to park and meet a shuttlebus. Let the waiting begin. First we waited several minutes for the shuttlebus. Once we arrived we waited outside for the courthouse to open. After passing through security we headed upstairs to wait some more.

Chairs filled this room as if reporters intended on filling them for a press conference. At first there were maybe fifty jurors but in the next hour the total went into the hundreds. Hundreds of people without names and all with unfamiliar faces. People all coerced to wait for the next court ordered direction.

The TVs in every corner all broadcasted CNN. I tried to ignore them to no avaiI. Thankfully I made a new friend named Monika. A hip grandmother and retired school teacher, Monika would help me pass the drudgery of wait. She seemed amused by my anecdotes of six kids and homeschooling. She looked amazed as I commentated my opinions of the CNN stories.

We listened to an orientation and watched a video. Within an hour or so of our arrival we were given laminated cards with special colors and numbers. My hopes peaked that I received a card in the first group. Surely My seat in the courtroom promised itself in the near future. Another two and a half hours passed before we finally heard our color and numbers called. I found myself in a single file line walking down hallways I had only before seen in the movies.

At one point a man with a badge approached me and asked me for my number. I fumbled around to retrieve the laminated card out of my bag. He then sternly rebuked me by telling me to have my number available at all times and walked away. Ouch! I felt like a troublemaker whose teacher had threatened no recess.

Once we finally reached the courtroom we all were seated sequentially. The judge explained procedures to us. He told us a limited amount about the case. Then he proceeded to ask us questions that we were to stand up and answer as they pertained to us. Some answers of the most personal nature gave way to approaching the judge with an attorney on either side of you and white noise playing to keep the verbal exchange private.

During one of these private interactions, that made me feel quite humbled, the judge scratched me off the potential juror list. I would be going home as soon as the jury had been selected.

No more worries of being kept away from my little ones for an extended period of time. My obligation as a citizen had been fulfilled. I had been promised three years before my next jury duty. 😀🎉

JURY DUTY part one

How does a mom of six children, ages twelve and under, end up serving jury duty, you ask? Well, it all started a couple years ago when I received my first jury duty notice since college.

I grew up watching Matlock, Columbo, Perry Mason…you name it. I have always imagined how exciting it would be to sit on the jury in a real court of law. Just thinking of the intrigue of deliberating over evidence. Would there be a mistrial? a hung jury? Would I be the loan martyr, the only person between the accused and the electric chair?

So when I finally opened my notice a couple of years ago I felt robbed. Why couldn’t I have gotten one of these before I started having children? At the time I had five children, the youngest of which had yet to be weaned. This qualified as a no-brainer. Anyone with commonsense could judge that jury duty would not be a reasonable venture for me.

Upon contacting the court and asking for an exemption I was told to submit a letter. After writing and sending a two page letter describing my situation I was asked to get a letter from my doctor describing the harmful effects of a mother being away from her nursing baby for a day. After asking my pediatrician for said letter she told me she was my children’s doctor and thus would not write such a letter. My last ditch effort was to get a letter from my midwives sent to the courthouse. When the clerk received the letter I was informed that I might be excused this time but this would not keep me from being called in the future.

Let’s come forward to this past May when I received another notice. This time I have six children, the youngest of which is nursing. Naturally, It would be even less realistic to expect me to do jury duty. I decided since my daughter was closer to weaning than her brother had been the last time that I would attempt to serve. Maybe my number would not even be called, I reasoned.

The fateful evening came when I could call and learn of my demise. I called with my other ear plugged so that I could not possibly miss hearing the numbers that would be called. “All” it said. How is that possible? They were asking for all jurors to report.

All of the sudden my fate became a reality. I would be reporting at 7:30am, the next morning, at a courthouse at least 45 minutes away. Considering I rarely get out of bed before 8 am, this seemed like an interesting proposition.

How would I possibly get up and on the road in time? What about my little girl? What if the case had me return for several days? What if I were sequestered and kept away from my family for weeks? All of these questions tormented me as I tried to go to sleep the night before my now dreaded JURY DUTY…..

Mom’s Night Out in the ER Part Two, “You’re Pregnant!”

It seemed like an hour as I sat in the waiting room wondering if My symptoms were that of a stroke. I checked at the desk to clarify that I had been told to call 911 and might have a life threatening condition. My sister-in-law seemed to remember that, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.” She just kept me laughing until a nurse finally called me to get some stats. In reality I had waited for only a half hour.

When they finally came for me they brought a wheel chair. They rolled me back to a triage which had only curtains separating the patients from one another. This situation intimidated me as I could hear a person coughing up what sounded like a vital organ on the other side of the curtain. The image of an orange notice, I saw posted on the wall, informing patients of possible symptoms of Ebola danced in my head.

My nurse greeted me immediately. His name tag read Gary and his short gray hair told of his years of experience. I have given birth naturally six times with midwives because I do not feel comfortable being in any state of undress in front of any man that I am not married to. The thought of a male nurse made me stress. Gary would soon put me at ease with his dry sense of humor. He never cracked a smile as my sister-in-law and I shared about our large families and he questioned us of our sanity. We did not find out until later that he had four children himself. His dry sense of humor made his announcement hard to take.

“Guess what!” Gary exclaimed as he slipped through the curtain with something white in his hand, “You’re pregnant!”

“Are you for real?” I retorted as my blood pressure ascended. I had suspected pregnancy as I had suffered from extreme tiredness for a couple of weeks prior to this. I welcome every blessing the LORD gives me but I sat flabbergasted at the possibility with my youngest not even eleven months old.

“No!” Gary honestly stated, with his face expressionless. “I was just kidding with you.” He showed me the negative test to confirm his latter statement.

Teri thoroughly enjoyed this joke and would talk about it for days afterward. I can laugh about it now, too 🙂

Between Teri and I we met everyone from doctors to janitorial staff. the man in charge of my CAT scan shared that he had two small children and wanted his wife to homeschool them. I of course shared of my love for homeschooling as he wheeled me to and from the giant, humming donut that took pictures of my brain.

I gave them blood and allowed them to scan my head, take my blood pressure and set up an IV. When all was said and done a Jewish doctor, who was very serious indeed, came with the results.

“You are simply dehydrated!,” he declared, ” Go home and drink more water.”

We returned home after two in the morning. What a night! I have never before had such a time of bonding with my brother’s wife. She comforted my fears and made me laugh. Isn’t that what a Mom’s night out is all about. Next time I think a restaurant and even a manicure would be cheaper but we’ll take what we can get 🙂

Mom’s Night Out in the ER

If you could get away from the kids for an evening and hang out with your friends where would you go? Well regularly the local emergency room doesn’t show up on my list. I was reminded one Thursday night in February that you can have a good time no matter where you are (with few exceptions). Especially when you put a mom of six (me) and a mom of five (my sister-in-law) together with no children to distract them.

The adventure began one Thursday evening around 7 o’clock. My children and I were finishing dinner. As I was walking through the kitchen I suddenly felt off balance and immediately sat down on the couch. It is hard to explain but I just knew something was not right. By the time my good friend, Christine, had arrived to check on me my hands felt weak and numbness began to travel up my left arm. My husband was an hour away helping with church visitation.

By the time he returned home Christine reluctantly left and my husband encouraged me to call the nurse hotline affiliated with our insurance. I realized from the nurse’s questions that she suspected a stroke or heart attack. After telling her all of my symptoms the nurse calmly said this, “After reviewing your symptoms I am going to ask you to call 911.”

How do you respond to that? In my limited experience with ambulances they have not been as time efficient as one would suspect. I opted to call my sister-in-law instead. My husband stayed home with our six children while my sister-in-law, Teri, drove me to our local ER.

She insisted on staying with me through the entire ordeal. Between the two of us cutting up in the waiting room and the triage it’s a wonder we were not kicked out of the place. I needed the comic relief as I feared the worst about my health.

To be continued…..

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Confessions of a Tall Hardy Mama

I used to have to pray to gain weight when I was a preteen. Even in my early twenties I was a mere waif of a woman 🙂 This did not stem from excellent eating habits or healthy living. So what changed? My entire physical makeup changed post child. Here we go, I cannot blame my weight on my hormone levels, metabolism or my many stresses. I have tried to curb the weight countless ways over the years. The reality is that I am over weight because I love carbs and chocolate, enough said 🙂

I know this is true because last May I met the authors of Trim Healthy Mama, Pearl and Serene, at a convention. Talk about two really sweet, encouraging women. It was their influence combined with my husband’s gentle prodding and me seeing my own reflection, in a big mirror, that helped me find the will power to lay off the processed carbs. I literally became a crazy person for the first several days as I went through total carb withdraw. ( This cold turkey approach is not recommended.) Then I started feeling better. I lost over 50 pounds in a period of 6 months unfortunately I found many of those pounds along the way so in reality I only lost 25 pounds.

So I did not follow the THM methods faithfully. I was not even regularly exercising but the pounds seemed to melt off when I heeded their advice.

Then we got this dog right around the holidays. I justified the extra pie and cookies by the fact I was walking the dog so much. My new theory has aided in me gaining 5 pounds.

How is it that I cannot stick to an eating plan that makes me feel so good? One factor is that when I am tired I leave all my good eating habits behind and revert to the quick and easy. When I have had a particularly hard night of caring for the baby I tend to make poor eating choices. For example I might eat six mini cupcakes instead of a carrot (just an example).

Is there a reasonable solution to this dilemma of lack of will power and the extra 20 pounds I could stand to lose? Maybe being honest with you, my readers (and hiding the chocolate chip cookies) will be a good start.

The Little Dog that Saved My Life

It is Christmas morning and I have just returned home from walking our dog. I did not think I would need a key because my 7 year old, who was sleeping on the couch, would certainly let me in when I knocked. I soon learned otherwise as I knocked on the back door several times, called our home phone twice, went to our front door knocking and calling again. It was not until I knocked on our bedroom window that my husband came and rescued me from my miserable state. I had been standing outside for nearly 20 minutes. So is our little dog worth all this trouble?

I have had a handful of near death experiences in my life. I almost drown twice as a child in backyard pools. There was a time that I got so ill that I thought I was dying. There are other close calls I could name but this little dog did not rescue me from a river or a burning house. She has given me an excuse to live life more abundantly.

People laugh when I tell them that I used to be a tomboy. They see me now in my skirts and dresses and can’t imagine me climbing trees or throwing a spiral with a football. I even used to enjoy playing G.I. Joe more than Barbie.

Over the years it has just become easier to stay inside. My kids are safer from the ticks, mosquitoes, wild rabid foxes…..you’ve got the picture. I get annoyed with trying to prepare children to go out so they can complain about it being too hot or too cold and want to come back in. I feel like I have to be outside with my children or at least standing by a window watching them which does not allow me to get much else accomplished. Lame excuses, I know, but true none the less.

Then about one month ago Brooklyn, a three year old Shiba Inu mix, came into our lives. My oldest has wanted a dog for as long as I can remember. This dog needed a home where she could run and play. My husband warned me that I would get most of the responsibility of taking care of our new pet. Right as always 🙂

First thing in the morning, when I get out of bed, I walk her. Around lunchtime my daughter plays with her in the backyard. Around dinnertime I walk her again. After our walks I run around with her in the backyard.

What a blessing it is to be enjoying God’s amazing creation more fully again: the beautiful sunrises and amazing birds and deer; the enjoyment that comes from watching her race around the yard, chase a ball or roll around in the grass.

I would say she is definitely worth it!