Friday, July 30, 2010

Invisible Mother

Invisible Mother...

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?

Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.

It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table. That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're going to love it there.' As mothers, we are building great cathedrals.We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Hope this encourages you when the going gets tough as it sometimes does.

We never know what our finished products will turn out to be because of our perseverance.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ear Infections: The 411

I have this friend, Kim - you know the kind...The women with more energy and ambition in their one pinky toe than you'll ever have in your entire body. Well, that's Kim! She's currently a PA (Physicians Assistant) student and is now going to be guest posting on The Mom Blog every now and then with amazing medical/health information. I really appreciate all of the information she crams into her posts - I hope you do too! If you have any specific questions please leave them in the comments section...she just might be able to help you out!


by the age of 1, 60-80% of kids will have had at least 1 episode of AOM; 80-90% BY AGE 2-3 YEARS!!! AND 75% of kids will have RECURRENT AOM!!! (I want to BOLD everything in this post and put tonz of !!!! everywhere)!

AOM is the #1 reason that antibiotics are prescribed to kids.
30% of ALL antibiotic prescriptions are for KIDS.
The annual cost of these antibiotics total $5 billion per year, and of that $5 billion 40% OF IS SPENT ON KIDS 1-3 YEARS OLD!!! AOM has increased markedly from the 70's to the 90's there are many hypotheses as to why this is. The leading explanation is because there are more children in daycare, due to women moving into the workforce vs. staying home.

A big reason why AOM occurs mostly in children and not adults is because the anatomy of their Eustachian tubes (the tubes that connect the ear to the nose for drainage) are immature and their immune response is immature too!

Because the child's tubes are more FLAT vs. the adults which are DOWNWARD SLOPING this causes a decrease in drainage and fluid to get stuck.

Some major Risk factors for getting AOM:
  1. BOTTLE FEEDING WHILE LAYING DOWN, DO NOT PUT THE CHILD TO BED WITH A BOTTLE. The reason is because the E.Tubes function in a Pressure-equalizer-type-role, and when you lay down the pressure in your head changes and can actually suck fluid inside the tube. Also the fluid can travel in that direction more easily because gravity is no longer helping the milk to go into the stomach. Try to always feed with a bottle while at least sitting up, or laying partially (not flat) how about 30-45 degree angle!
  2. RESPIRATORY VIRUSES & BACTERIA this will often occur because of the fluid in the E.Tubes, because V&B love moist environments - the perfect home for infection.
  3. DAYCARE- increases exposure to virus's and bacteria, at a younger and more vulnerable age vs. home care. Often daycare cannot be eliminated, but try and look for smaller daycare's with less children vs. large classes.
  4. PACIFIER USE (unsure exactly why, probably has to do with the eustachian tube location)
  6. THE SEASON (i.e. winter...)
  7. MALES are more likely to get it than females

BREASTFEEDING IS PROTECTIVE AGAINST AOM! This is partially because mother's milk has inherent antibodies that she provides to the child for their immunity while their immunity is still developing.

Look for my installment #2 next week on Ear Infections with some really interesting new research regarding how ear infections are linked to skin irritation and asthma! And what you can do to try and stop the Ear infection BEFORE it even begins.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Archives: Homemade Baby Food

I have made all of Little Miss's baby food - except the cereal, and I love it!

I found this great website - - and it has saved us a ton of money, plus it's fresh and super healthy, and way easier than you'd think.

The website has info on food safety, age to introduce certain foods, best ways to cook it to keep the most nutrition in, food storage, recipes, and allergy information. I love it!

To date I've made - sweet potato, peas, carrots, prunes, apples, bananas, zuchini, butternut squash, peaches, avocado, pears, and green beans.

Most of them get steamed, pureed, and then I just freeze them in cubes in an ice cube tray for storage. Then in freezer bags with labels & dates.
I love being able to make Little Miss healthy fresh food & knowing exactly what is in there. Plus, I've done a little taste testing - homemade tastes way better!

And as if I couldn't be more OCD about the process - I keep all the ziplocs in a new pull-out shoe organizer - this way the little bags don't get lost in our all-too-small freezer.

Little Miss always helps me - by watching - and loves to know what's going on in the kitchen. She is always up for tasting while making too!
A couple of bonuses....
  • Frozen food cubes help soothe teething gums
  • Cooking healthy for Little Miss makes us automatically eat better too
  • When steaming apples, our house smells delicious!
I would recommend this to everyone - especially in this economy. Gotta penny-pinch where we can!

Originally posted: January 19, 2009

Friday, July 16, 2010

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Last year I started making homemade strawberry freezer jam. I made 24 jars and it lasted us all year, we did use it sparingly though. This year, I wanted to make sure we would have enough. Making our own jam not only tastes better than store bought - it saves us money too! Here are the quick in's and out's...

Look at these beauties. First you need to find quality strawberries at a good price. I found Dole strawberries at our local Fresh Market 4 lbs for $3.98 - amazing price!! I maybe bought 16 lbs, too much for our family of 3, but I'll share another way I use them too...

After washing and de-stemming I cut the berries in half and throw them into my food processor. Pulse to a coarse chop. Jam should have fruit bits in it, we like it chunky - so this is the consistency I go for.

Last year I didn't have a food processor large enough so I mashed all my berries by hand with a potato masher - it took forever, but the results were amazing. To save time, and your hand from cramping up, I would suggest a food processor.

After following the instructions on your choice of pectin (discussed below) - fill your clean jars. These wide mouthed funnels are a life saver!

A few hours and 40 jars later - we're good to go for the next year, and then some probably.

I actually only used about 10 lbs to get 40 jars. The other 6 pounds I pulsed to a coarse chop and froze in ice cube trays to be used in smoothies later. My Little Miss has recently decided that she doesn't like drinking milk so much. I don't want to give her chocolate milk because it's just full of sugar - but she does need her calcium. So we have special strawberry smoothies.

Only two ingredients - milk and a few of these strawberry cubes. While being processed in the blender the cubes are so cold it turns her milk into a smoothie and she guzzles it up - without all the extra sugar.

Now let's talk pectin. The original pectin, found in this yellow box, calls for 2 cups strawberries & 4 cups sugar...double the sugar. It is, in my opinion, so disgustingly sweet and bad for you. The jam turns into this light pink sticky sugary goo. Not a fan.
If you buy the no sugar/less sugar pectin, found in this pink box, the recipe calls for 4 cups strawberries & 3 cups sugar. Much, much better! Way more acceptable sugar to berry ratio. And it is still plenty sweet enough. The end result is a beautiful dark jam with visible fruit chunks. It is so tasty.
We've tried both and let me just save you the time and waste of good berries - go for the pink box!! You can see the difference in this pic - good jam on the left, bad sugar jam on the right.

Now the price break down.

Average store bought jam = $1.00 / 8 oz.
Homemade jam = $0.68 / 8 oz.

I just saved my family $12.80 in a few hours!! I know, it doesn't seem like a lot. But the trick is to find ways to save money throughout your house and it all adds up.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cranberry White Chip Blondies

This recipe is definitely not healthy - but it sure is tasty!
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 pan.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In small saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar; stir until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Stir in eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add wet mixture to flour mixture in bowl. Combine. Fold in 3/4 cup cranberries and 3/4 cup white chips. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with remaining cranberries and chips.

Bake 22-25 min. Cool before cutting.
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