I am grateful for laundry

Somewhere, a mother of small children is enduring the stomach flu without access to a washing machine.  Maybe without access to a shower.

“Somewhere” is probably closer than I think.  Definitely in the US, almost certainly in Indiana, quite likely in South Bend … just across the river from me?  Or maybe over on the west side?

Recently I read Kathryn Edin’s $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America.  (There’s a great review of the book here.)  She tells the story of the cashless poor – the households who fall under the standard of two dollars per person per day of cash income.  Many of these households, although they may have housing, food stamps, or other benefits, have exactly zero cash income.  Edin details what that looks like, and it’s a sad picture.  It wasn’t shocking or unfamiliar to me: having worked with homeless families for a number of years, I was in contact with the demographic Edin was describing.  But I was single when I worked at the homeless shelter, and now I am a mother with kids, and through that lens everything looks a little different.

Specifically, around the time I was reading this book, I was a mother with a sick baby.  Most of our family came down with a stomach bug, and the poor 4-month-old got it too.  She spent one whole day throwing up (on herself, and me, and the floor) after every nursing session.  I bathed her four or five times, changed her clothes even more frequently, and changed my own clothes three or four times as well.  At the end of the day I had a huge pile of laundry.

If I had no cash … things would have looked very different.

If I had no cash, I might not have running water in my house.

I wouldn’t be able to bathe the baby five times or take a shower when I was covered in her spit-up.

I wouldn’t be able to wash all that laundry that we accumulated through the day.

In fact, I might not even have been able to change her clothes; with no cash, maybe I wouldn’t have had all those 3-6 month-size baby clothes available.

I don’t know what the answer is for the cashless poor, and I don’t intend to have that conversation here.  I just wanted to share this with you so that you would know about these families too.

Let’s be grateful for our laundry, and let’s remember and pray for those who can’t wash theirs.


The Holy Spirit Inspires Us to Greater Elephants


We are on day 3 of pacifier detox!!!!! And it is totally the Lord. I mean, man, do I ever get a surprise every time we attempt this. I didn’t learn the first time that my ways are not His ways, so naturally I was hemming and hawing and stressing and guilting over still letting our son have a nuk for naps and at night. The plotting and scheming for the Great Detoxification Event can only be described as a category 10 mental furry.  The deadline of having to go in for his 18 month appointment – and face the doctor’s questions – has only made me more anxious, because we are going in 1.5 months late, and at his 15 month appointment we were already supposed to have weaned him of it, apparently, which means I am even more of a lazy looser. I was convinced it would be supremely difficult for our first, and then I was convinced it would be astronomically more difficult than that, for little man, for many reasons that were very logical and based in objective observation.

Then there’s this elephant (see above). This darn elephant has been my faithful companion for over 3 years. I have kept it in the diaper bag for use at a moment’s notice. I have found it hidden in the diaper bag and dutifully repatriated it for my little teething honeys. I have coaxed, encouraged, ordered them to use the darn thing. And they act like it doesn’t exist. Both the little stinkers. Despite my best efforts. Until a couple days ago. We were in the basement (miracle #1, since I dislike basements), and all the sudden little man is gnawing on that blessed elephant as if his life depends on it. It looked to me like “the beginning of a lifelong romance” (name that movie!), but I decided not to get my hopes up. It went to bed with him, and him without his pacifier, but he howled for over 15 minutes, and we caved because Daddy was feeling sick and I was feeling crazy.

But we tried again yesterday, when things were more calm for all. He had no paci, he had that darn elephant. And he only woke once. I found his new friend, and he went right back down to sleep!

…[just a little more saga here, folks! I do have a point. Hang in there!]…

This morning was tough on all of us, mostly because my temper flares so easily over the slightest issue, and our friends, due to visit, were an eternity away from rescuing me. But as I put little man down for his nap, I couldn’t help but note that he was being so very dear, giving me hugs and acting like I was doing him a big favor by letting him sleep. And I couldn’t help but flash my camera at him to capture the moment of blessed pacifier freedom, now so ingrained as habit that I am calling it a success.

And I saw the Holy Spirit. He reminded me how truly easy this process has been. He suggested that maybe he was involved from the beginning, inspiring Joshy to find the thing in the basement, and finally take to the thing! He thereby comforted and calmed me from the tornadoes of the past few days. I thought, “well, it isn’t all bad”, and “I haven’t totally screwed up everything“. “See? He’s successfully weaned from his paci. Thank you Lord!”

And then he wailed again. No way?! WAY! I thought from the sound of the cries that he was probably not, after all, ready to give up the paci. Luckily, having just experienced the above, I had the presence of mind to look at my watch so that I could time it and figure out what to do – later – based on scientific measurements of length of wailing. And in the meantime I decided to make peace with my daughter, and offered that we read together. And while we were reading together, at some point, the wailing ceased. They are now both, blessedly, slumbering, and I am again claiming full nuk detox.

Thank the Lord. He cares about paci detox!  And the Holy Spirit knows about neglected elephants who are well qualified for the job! Can I get an Amen?




Birth Story Part 2: Precipitous Labor

Here is the next installment of my birth story.  If you missed the first part, here it is.

The morning of my due date I felt great!  After a 40 week midwife visit that morning, I got together with a friend and her daughter.  We played outside in the backyard, I made them smoothies, and there were no signs of baby coming.  Later that day, I was getting ready for my mother in law to come into town that evening. I made her turkey chili in the crock pot for dinner and two batches of muffins.  I spend the rest of the afternoon cleaning a bit and rested a bit too.  She arrived around 7:30 in the evening, and ate dinner.  My husband biked home from work around 8:30 in the evening.  Not even and hour passed since he came home, and I felt contractions.  They weren’t horrible, but I suspected my water may be starting to break. but I was not really sure.  Because I tested positive for group B strep, it was important that I get to the hospital to start antibiotics as soon as possible.  I contacted both my midwife and doula to tell them what was up, and the midwife encouraged me to make my way to the hospital to get checked just in case.  I told my doula she could meet me at the hospital because I imagined we had some time.  My husband took a shower, and we gathered last minute items for the hospital.  We also gave my mother in law instructions about our toddler’s routines.  As we prepared to get ready to go out the door, the contractions seemed to be getting more intense with little break in between.  I said to myself, “I sure don’t remember it being this bad at home last time.  This kind of reminds me of the pain level at transition, but then again, its been over two years and I can’t really remember it.”  It got really bad, but being a polite and slightly reserved person with a high pain tolerance, I didn’t really show or fully communicate my pain level.  Eventually, I felt like I couldn’t hold on anymore.  I told my husband, WE NEED TO GO NOW.  Only problem was my contractions were so painful, I couldn’t sit down in the car…  To be continued…

breakfast for busy mornings: apple baked oatmeal


Every morning is busy in the Timler home.  We have three early risers and they all want breakfast right away!  When Maggie started preschool this fall, I started making breakfast ahead of time so I could spend school mornings brushing her hair, approving her clothing choices, etc. and still have a healthy breakfast for everyone.  This apple baked oatmeal recipe, adapted from Once Upon a Chef, has proven to be a winner and an essential part of our routine!

A few notes on my adaptations.  First, I followed the advice of several commenters on the original recipe and reduced the amount of sugar & butter; it’s still totally delicious.  We also thought the original recipe had too many raisins for our taste, so we halved those too (you can also take them out altogether.)  We skip the nuts because Maggie’s allergic, but we add them in to individual servings later (see Note 2). Finally, we double the original recipe each and every time we make it, so I’m just going to go ahead & give you the double recipe!  A 9×13 dish of this feeds our family for at least three mornings.  The girls like it cold; Pete & I reheat ours in the microwave with a little milk splashed on.

I hope this helps makes your mornings easy and delicious!

Apple Baked Oatmeal

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tsp (or 1 heaping Tbsp) cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 apples, cut into small chunks (however small you want them; peeled or not, as you like)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 cups milk (we use whole)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) butter, melted
  1. Combine oats, sugar, raisins, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, & salt in large bowl.
  2. Cut up apples and add to oat mixture.
  3. Break eggs into medium bowl and whisk together.  Add milk & vanilla and whisk some more.  Pour into oat mixture.
  4. Melt butter and stir into oat mixture.
  5. Grease a 9X13 baking dish and pour oatmeal into it.  Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until center is set.

Note 1: Try substituting 3 cups blueberries for the apples.  I’m sure other fruits would work too!

Note 2: Try toasting nuts at the same time you’re baking the oatmeal.  Just spread whole nuts (we use walnuts) on a baking sheet and put them on the top oven rack for the first 20 minutes or so.  Once they’re cooled, chop them up and store in tupperware to be sprinkled on top of oatmeal in the morning.

Yes, I Found a Dress


You are all so kind! I loved the conversations at the wedding as well as the comments on facebook after writing about my horrible dress shopping experience last week. Really, the whole time I thought it was all rather humerous, and I wasn’t particularly discouraged by tummy pludge at the time, but I was encouraged non the less. And to tell the truth, instead of going with one of the very lovely dresses I tried on that day, I stuck with what you see above, which the week before my sister had helped me choose. Sisters are better judges of dresses, and much more kind towards self-image. 🙂

It was a fantastic wedding, it was my birthday, and yesterday was our anniversary. Unless you count that I marinated meat (I never do that. Who has the time?), the only “special” thing we did yesterday is meet for lunch in the middle of Erik’s work day. Yet the whole day, I was filled with joy, and it was so much easier to celebrate our anniversary than it is to celebrate my birthday! Who knew?! I’m still marinating in these thoughts, so I can’t quite come out with a reason for this, for you all. But I suspect it has to do with: a) it’s a shared celebration, b) admitting aging is not such an integral part of anniversaries, as it is with birthdays, c) getting married is something I remember. Being born, not so much.


Mary Clare

Of Pludgey Tummies and Sludgy Thoughts

We’re attending a family wedding soon (which I am super excited about!), but I had the sudden realization last week that I have nothing to wear. Here, I’ll prove it. “Let’s do the numbers”, as they say on the radio: after 7 years of trying to loose weight, 4 years of marriage, 2 pregnancies, 2 twelve-ish month periods of nursing a wee babe, 3ish diets, 1 gym membership, 562 bad clothing purchases, 24 excellent shoe purchases (because any shoe purchase is, by definition, good), 5 bins of clothing that may never fit again, 1 walk-in closet of clothing that fits poorly, and, and, and, … and 3 “ands” worth of not even knowing what to say or how to act or what to wear for 5 years, I have concluded that loosing weight is a myth. Furthermore, it’s a disease of our minds whose symptoms include vain hopes and 3 years of buying poor quality,”temporary” clothing until “I loose weight again and can get back to the clothes I wore when I was 25, which was 10 years ago but not in MC years. In MC years that’s, like, 2 months. So it’s totally worth it to wait to wear real clothing until then.” Continue reading

Birth Story Part 1- Precipitous Labor

About 4 weeks ago, on March 9, our family welcomed Baby Boy 2 into the family!  He came right on his due date, but not without making a grand and fast entrance into the world.

My first baby was two weeks early.  He was born in May 2013.  My labor was 16 hours long.  I had a spinal block (epidural did not work- that’s its own story) and experienced a pretty typical labor and delivery process.   Labor came with no doubt.  I did not have Braxton Hicks contractions at all, so I knew it was for real.

So as I approached the two week mark before my second son’s due date, I knew it could indeed happen early again so, I became vigilant for any slight signs of labor.  But it didn’t happen.  They say no two pregnancies are alike.  Yes, that’s true! Little did I know for two weeks, I would have countless Braxton Hicks contractions but no real labor.  I began to get used to these false alarms, knowing the real thing would come soon and follow a familiar pattern like before.

As the days passed and I got closer to my actual due date, I took this time to plan out my upcoming birth experience in my head.  I imagined it would be a shorter labor of 5-6 hours. I would arrive at the hospital with mild contractions and begin the labor process with my IV antibiotics since I tested positive for group B strep.  I would meet the doula at the hospital, and she would coach me through labor and help me try to be more present and peacefully through this labor.  Unlike last time, I would not panic.  I planned to have a light epidural offered at just the right moment because I decided that doing it naturally was not going to be my plan.  But this scenario was was not to be my birth story.  I heard of women with really fast labors barely making it to the hospital, but surely that wouldn’t be my birth story. Or would it?

To be continued…

Good Friday, Mamas of the World Style


On Good Friday, I was somewhat at a loss for what to do/how to act. This is not a rare occurrence, since the kids and I have no work outside the house, or gym to go get fit at, or school routine to chase, or much of any routine, for that matter. But particularly on Good Friday, I felt it important throw off my old, random, abstract self and to do something, anything to acknowledge the fact that it’s the day our Savior and brother died. I didn’t want it to be ordinary, or particularly free-wheeling, or fun. Continue reading