they don’t mean anything by it

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Socks in my pockets, socks in my diaper bag, socks scattered all over my house.  Socks anywhere but my baby’s feet.  Colder weather has begun, and I can no longer ignore the fact that my daughter’s bare feet will be cold when we go outside.  Alas, I also cannot control the fact that my daughter’s feet will be bare, and cold, when we go outside.  Babies take socks off; it’s a fact of life.  Yes, you can complicate it for the kiddo by putting shoes on her too, but a determined baby will usually figure out how to pull off her shoes as well.  Such is life.  It doesn’t bother me.

But it does seem to bother all the old ladies at the grocery store.

“Oooh, look at your little cold feet!”

“Oh my goodness, no socks?”

“Aww, look at your little piggies, aren’t you cold?”

I grit my teeth when the grandmothers of the world begin these conversations.  It always seems like they are passing judgement on my fitness to be a parent, and it always puts me on the defensive.  Babies always take their socks off.  You put them back on again, they take them back off again.  Most of these women have raised children – don’t they remember?

The state of my daughter’s feet has begun to be dependent not on the weather, but on the likelihood that someone will see her and comment on her poor cold little feet.  If we’re going to playgroup (where nobody will care), or to pick up her older sister at preschool (where nobody will see her in the car), I don’t bother to put socks on her.  If we’re going for a walk around the block, I definitely won’t put socks on her, because she’ll take them off and drop them on the sidewalk, never to be found again.  But the grocery store?  Definitely socks.  Except I’ll often take her outside barefoot and then put socks on her in the lobby of the grocery store, so as to maximize the amount of time in the grocery store that she will actually still have the socks on her feet.

Sometimes when a bystander comments on the barefoot babe, I’ll whip the socks out of my coat pocket to show them.  “Oh yeah, she had socks on, she just took them off a moment ago, of course I’ll put them back on her before we go outside.”  Other times I will just try to nod and smile or shrug to quietly communicate, “Yup, what can you do?”  And sometimes I’ll smile distractedly while intently surveying the bottles of salad dressing in front of me, in hopes that I won’t actually need to respond.

I came home from a grocery trip a few weeks ago completely flustered by one of these conversations.  The baby and the two-year-old had both been fussing throughout the trip, so by the end of it I was completely drained.  The bystander commentary (a grandpa this time) came 40 minutes into the trip, and it felt like an assault on my character.  But as I relayed the story later to my husband, I finally realized, he didn’t mean anything by it.

None of them ever mean anything by it.

Really – they literally don’t mean anything by it.

It is not a premeditated conversation.  None of these little old ladies are thinking to themselves, “I’d better set that mom straight.  She’s not taking good enough care of her children.”  They’re not even thinking, “She must not realize how cold it is!  I’ll just give her a gentle reminder.”  Instead, “poor little cold feet” is really on par with “Cold enough for you?” or on a rainy day, “Sure is wet out there!”  These little old ladies are not seeking to engage me in conversation about the care of my children.  It’s much more innocent:

They are drawn to my children.

And they simply want to connect.

They are reaching out, with just the first words that come to mind, because they actually love the sight of my beautiful babies.  They loved raising their own babies and it makes them smile to see mine.  If I stop listening and look instead, I’ll see that these grandmothers of the world are usually smiling as they’re looking at my kiddos – not frowning at their bare feet.

It’s still hard, because I often do need to respond, and what do I say?  I have yet to come up with the perfect response; I’m still not sure how to avoid becoming defensive.  But here’s hoping that I can remember, the next time, she doesn’t mean anything by it.  She literally doesn’t mean anything.

 

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What Should I Do With My Time Today?

I’m currently reading a book my mom gifted me called Graced and Gifted: Biblical Wisdom for the Homemaker’s Heart.  It is by Kimberly Hahn.  In her chapter on time management she writes that she reminds herself each day that:

“There is all the time I need today to do God’s will today.” – Kimberly Hahn

What this means to me is that instead of being overwhelmed with the realization that I don’t have time for everything, I instead must begin with grounding my thoughts in prayerful trust.  This is baby steps for me at this point, because my thought patterns are typically going wild with anxiety about the day ahead.  Yesterday, I tried to begin the day with the Lord in simple prayer and then trusted that He would guide my decisions about how to use my time.  What it meant yesterday was sticking to the plans I had made on the calendar instead of second guessing myself.  The day went smoother, and I felt like I had more peace even though the same routine tasks still had to get done.  My time seemed to multiply because I spent less of it worrying about what to do.

 

oatmeal pancakes

Today I thought I would share with you our all-time favorite Sunday brunch recipe.  This recipe comes first from Kim Boyce’s cookbook Good to the Grain, but we found it several years ago on Smitten Kitchen.  I have a number of tricks & strategies to streamline the recipe, so instead of just linking up to SK, I’m going to write out my adaptation here.  I’ll also include instructions for making them into pumpkin pancakes, and I’ll also write out a double recipe, which generously serves our family of five on Sunday, with plenty of leftovers for (more reasonable portions of) breakfast Monday morning.

Oatmeal Pancakes

makes about 15 pancakes

adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it slightly from Good to the Grain

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp honey or molasses
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk

 

Make oatmeal: combine 1/2 cup oats and 1 cup water in a small saucepan.  Place over medium heat and simmer until cooked.  While oatmeal is cooking, prepare your dry ingredients, but keep an eye on the oatmeal.  As soon as it’s cooked, add the butter and the honey.  Stir until melted and combined.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Dry ingredients: Using a coffee grinder (ideal) or blender, grind 1 cup oats into oat flour.  In a medium bowl, combine oat flour with white flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Wet ingredients:  Beat eggs just slightly in a large bowl.  Add milk and whisk until combined.  Pour oatmeal mixture in and whisk again.

Put it all together:  Fold the dry ingredients into the large bowl very gently, with a spatula, until all dry ingredients are moistened.  Avoid over-mixing.

Make your pancakes:  Use about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake; cook on a griddle at 325 degrees, or in a pan with melted butter over medium heat.

(Click over to Smitten Kitchen to see more tips/ideas on the actual cooking of the pancakes.  She gives the original author’s instructions in the recipe, and also has her own post on general pancake tips.)

Serve with syrup, but they’re also quite good without anything on them.  Leftovers reheat well in microwave or toaster.

Do ahead:  to have pancakes as soon as possible after church, do anything or everything up to “put it all together” before you go to church, then finish the batter when you get home.

Make them pumpkin: add 1/2 cup pumpkin to the wet ingredients and 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice to the dry ingredients. Our blend is one teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  We like them pretty spiced, so some of you may want to use less.

 

Double Recipe Oatmeal Pancakes

makes about 30 pancakes

adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it slightly from Good to the Grain

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp honey or molasses
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk

Make oatmeal: combine 1 cup oats and 2 cups water in a small saucepan.  Place over medium heat and simmer until cooked.  While oatmeal is cooking, prepare your dry ingredients, but keep an eye on the oatmeal.  As soon as it’s cooked, add the butter and the honey.  Stir until melted and combined.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Dry ingredients: Using a coffee grinder (ideal) or blender, grind 2 cups oats into oat flour.  In a medium bowl, combine oat flour with white flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Wet ingredients:  Beat eggs just slightly in a large bowl.  Add milk and whisk until combined.  Pour oatmeal mixture in and whisk again.

Put it all together:  Fold the dry ingredients into the large bowl very gently, with a spatula, until all dry ingredients are moistened.  Avoid over-mixing.

Make your pancakes:  Use about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake; cook on a griddle at 325 degrees, or in a pan with melted butter over medium heat.

(Click over to Smitten Kitchen to see more tips/ideas on the actual cooking of the pancakes.  She gives the original author’s instructions in the recipe, and also has her own post on general pancake tips.)

Serve with syrup, but they’re also quite good without anything on them.  Leftovers reheat well in microwave or toaster.

Do ahead:  to have pancakes as soon as possible after church, do anything or everything up to “put it all together” before you go to church, then finish the batter when you get home.

Make them pumpkin: add 1 cup pumpkin to the wet ingredients and 2 Tbsp pumpkin spice to the dry ingredients.  Our blend is two teaspoons each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  We like them pretty spiced, so some of you may want to use less.

staying stay-at-home

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When I decided six years ago to stay at home with my kids, it wasn’t really a soul-searching decision.  I simply liked the idea of staying at home, and my husband liked it too, and we were financially able to do it, and that was that.  I loved my work at the homeless shelter, but after eight years of it, I was ready for a break.  Dropping out of the working world to raise kids and make a home sounded like a pretty sweet job.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you already know that my transition to motherhood was a hard one, and that I’ve struggled with doubts about my role as a stay-at-home mom.  Even when I’ve recognized the enemy lying to me, I haven’t been able to get rid of the nagging thought that maybe I shouldn’t actually be a stay-at-home mom.  Honestly, it is exhausting to think and doubt and wonder about it all the time!  But just in the past week, two things have happened that have finally brought me some peace.

The first is that I happened upon the journal Humanum, specifically their issue on the theme “A Mother’s Work.”  In one essay there (“A Mother’s Work is Never Done”), the author reflects on what families stand to lose when both parents work full-time:

… it becomes a home with nobody home, where very little happens among those who sleep there, much less with their friends and neighbors. There is no nursing a baby (in the well-appointed nursery), no taking walks to the park, no witnessing first steps (which happen at the “wrong time”), no informal neighborhood clubs after school, no gathering of teenage friends under watchful eyes, no real cooking (in the gourmet kitchen), no dinners with friends (in the non-existent dining rooms), no neighborly charity for sick friends or new mothers. In short there is no time together.

Please understand me here – I know many working moms whose families, and homes, are so, so full of life.  I’m not sharing this excerpt to say that all moms should stay at home, but rather because the author articulates, in a way I’ve never been able to, what good things staying at home can achieve.  I can’t speak for any other mom’s skills, abilities, desires, or aims, but I know that staying at home is what enables me to make a home where life can happen.  I, personally, could not have this kind of home if I were also working.

A second epiphany happened at a women’s retreat this weekend when a dear sister – a mother of three grown children – shared about having served at People of Praise summer camp for many years.  Since her children were there, and since she was a teacher with the summer off, it made sense for her to be there; but every year, she would thoughtfully and prayerfully discern whether she should volunteer for camp again.  Eventually she heard the Lord telling her, “You know, you spend a lot of time thinking about whether you should do camp.  You should assume that I want you here until I tell you otherwise!”

When I heard that story, I finally realized – I don’t need to keep asking whether I should be a stay-at-home mom.  I can rely on the Lord to let me know if He is calling me to something else!  In all my moments of doubt, I’ve never actually felt that the Lord had something different in mind for me.  All I had was doubt.  And while I recognized the enemy’s lies, I allowed the doubt to remain.  But no longer.  This doubt is not of the Lord and I’m going to stop letting it distract me from my work.

For now, until the Lord tells me otherwise, I am going to stay a stay-at-home-mom.  I’m going to embrace it, enjoy it, and work on getting better at it.  Thank you Lord!