Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Good, Better, Best

Last year, I read Elizabeth George's book A Woman After God's Own Heart. It was recommended to me by a friend who is on the same path that I am on: fighting our flesh nature to become the women that God has called us to be. And let me be frank, it has been hard for me.

One of the points Elizabeth George makes is that choosing God and His ways strengthens and deepens our devotion to Him. One way to do that is to employ the "good, better, best" method of decision-making. Good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better and your better best. I'm not real fond of the rhyme, it seems rather first-graderish, but I get the point. Keep striving for God's best for you.

One of the key things I'm learning is that no one is on the exact same path that I am on. Everything is a process of little steps. It takes time to get from good to best and that's being generous in assuming that we are actually at "good". My "good" could be someone else's downright "bad". And sometimes, you may be stuck at "good" because of consequences from previous decisions. Sometimes best isn't available in your area so you have to make due with better.

A friend told me that just because you feel convicted about a certain behavior doesn't mean that everyone you know needs to change, too. (In my defense, she was saying this in general, not specifically to me....) We have to examine ourselves up against what study and reflection reveal God to be telling us. Not just our feelings. I don't think our feelings are necessarily the best indicators of what the right things are.

Lately, I am finding myself a lot more tolerant of other's different beliefs because of the good, better, best comparisons. I see people getting bent waaaaaay out of shape over secondary issues like what exactly constitutes modest dress for women, whether to work or not, whether there should be Awanas or not. It's really not fair for me to judge what might be the "good" in someone else's life. I can only judge what goes on here and believe, I've got plenty to work on without worrying about everyone else, including my husband.

For me to go from a working mother to a stay-at-home mom to someone who is investigating homeschooling options to someone interested in having a larger family to someone who wants to learn how to sew and how to grow a garden....getting there required a ton of tiny steps that took place over a period of time.

You can't undo years of thinking one way immediately. You have to start somewhere with a conscious effort to be different. It is a conscious choice every time. That's the hardest part. If I let myself go on autopilot, then I get the same old results. That's not what I want. I think that steps in the right direction are going to be good. If I can accept Brian's decision one time without arguing or talking back, then that's a step in the right direction. Maybe next time I can do it twice. If I tried to be 100% on all the areas that I needed to work on, I would be so discouraged.

Actually, at this point, I'm not entirely sure that my good is actually good....but I'm trying and still learning. And that counts. Every conscious effort counts.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weight Watchers-Week 3

Thursday was weigh-in day.

Of course, the day before I weigh in, we have a big night out at the "Hokey Pokey Place". That's not the real name, but it's what my girls call it because at random intervals throughout the night, they play the hokey pokey and the waitresses all line up down the middle aisle and do it. They invite the kids at their tables to join in and after the song is finished, they get a sticker that says "Hokey Pokey Super Star". Lily loves the hokey pokey. But I digress.

The problem with the hokey pokey place is that the food is so good! It's homecooking served family style. Their cream gravy tastes just like the gravy my dad made with the drippings when he fried chicken. You choose your entree and then the sides are all you can eat. Brian and I usually get the chicken strips (which we share with the girls) and then we have mashed potatoes, cream gravy (the likes of which I have never had in a restaurant), green beans and corn. Oh, let's not forget the biscuits. You can seriously hurt yourself there. I hurt myself plenty when I was pregnant. They also do fantastic desserts. The food tastes like your grandmother is back there in the kitchen cooking it all up.

So you see, it's a problem.

Regardless, however, I did manage to lose 1.8 pounds this week. I'm not going to complain because a loss is still a loss. I have a high number of POINTS to eat everyday because I'm nursing although I don't think I'm eating enough to maintain my milk supply. I have never had a problem with my milk supply with either of my older 2 girls, but now, my production has gone way down. (I sound like a factory..."Production is very high on our list of concerns at this dairy farm.")

Goals for the week: I want to drink a minimum of 6 glasses of water per day (I should be drinking 8 because I'm nursing) and to eat at least 4 servings of vegetables every day (I think I should be eating about 9). I want to try and remind myself to have a salad or some fruit instead of chips, etc., with my lunch.

Week 3 Totals:
Lost this week: 1.8 pounds
Total Weight Loss: 6.2 pounds

Monday, February 18, 2008

Weight Watchers-Weeks 1 & 2

As well as documenting my homemaking journey, I am going to be documenting my Weight Watchers journey. It's not just a quest to lose weight, although I hope that will be the eventual outcome. I want to change my family history by permanently learning how to eat correctly in order to maintain a normal weight. I've been able to maintain weight, but it's nowhere near to where it should be. I'm going to blame the weight on having had a baby recently, but the fact remains that I have already lost the baby weight. This is all me.

Brian is not actually doing the WW with me. He is doing the diet that came with the Bowflex we bought this fall. It's about a 1500 calorie/day diet. Definitely not for me. However, I was inadvertantly sabotaging his efforts by cooking the old way and the old foods. The chocolate sheet cake didn't help either.

Now, I have my online tools and about 4 cookbooks so I should be set for new and interesting dishes. The girls love the fresh vegetables and fruit that are finally becoming a staple. This way of thinking and cooking is another thing that I am having to learn in my life.

02/07/08-Week 1--I weighed in for the first time. I was not happy with the number, but I have lost 42 pounds since Reagan was born. (I feel like saying I did not gain all 42 pounds while pregnant. I only gained about 28 pounds with the baby.) I still have a long way to go. Now that I think about it, the number was 16 pounds lighter than when I started Weight Watchers after Darcy was born.

02/14/08-Week 2--I have lost 4.4 pounds this week which is pretty impressive. One night we had some friends over and I made chicken and sausage gumbo and we had boudain from Larry's from our recent visit home. Also chocolate chip cheesecake. The day I had to weigh in (Valentine's Day) I spent all day grazing on the special dinner I was making for Brian. A taste here and a taste there...it all adds up. Thank goodness this was the start of the new week. The salad that complimented our dinner was a whopping 18.5 points per serving. Lucky for me, everything else came from my WW cookbooks.

So far this week, I have done well eating. Brian made granola bars on Saturday and I had way more than I needed. But I learned something from it. It's okay to have one or two, but they can't be left out. Everytime I walked by, I wanted one. They were right there in front of my face. Had they been put up in the refrigerator, the temptation would have been much less. I would have forgotten all about them. I'll know better for next time.

In addition, Brian and I realized that we could share an entree and still get enough to eat. Sunday, after church, we went to Chili's. The girls split the macaroni and Brian and I shared the Old Timer and fries. It was expensive, POINTS-wise, but it didn't blow my whole day. I got the craving for red meat satisified without overeating. As an added bonus, sharing an entree cuts down on our food expenses, too.

This week I have made baked ziti which the girls loved and tonight it's chicken fajita skillet which I love. Honestly, cooking with WW has improved my cooking skills and knowledge more than anything else has.

Lost this week: 4.4 pounds
Total lost: 4.4 pounds

Thursday, February 07, 2008

It's What Moms & Grandmothers Used To Do

A week or so ago, I was thumbing through Sunday's paper when I found an article about people who had changed their careers later in life. One guy was retired military and now he was teaching high school. One couple had given up their high incomes as successful salespeople on opposite schedules and were now together all the time, driving a big rig for a living.

But the one that struck me was the lady who started her own yarn store. Apparently, the local Wal-Mart or Woolworth's didn't carry a huge selection of yarn, so she decided to open her own store. The store is growing so much that they have classes teaching a new generation to knit. "It's what moms and grandmothers used to do," the proprietor said. And this lady is capitalizing on it. Good for her; bad for us.

Why aren't we learning "homemaking" skills from our mothers and grandmothers anymore?

I have read several book over the last year imploring women to recognize and accept their appointed roles in the home. It has been eye-opening and inspiring to me because with all honesty, when I am on top on my game, being a stay-at-home-mom is boring.

This time last year, I told Brian that I wanted to go back to school and finish my degree because I felt my brain turning into mush. I was literally bored out of my mind. I couldn't imagine that's what God intended when He told wives to take care of their families. Of course, my going back to school was completely unreasonable. Other than brain stimulation, was there a practical purpose? I'm not planning on re-entering the work force once the girls start school. I don't need a degree for what I do. My pay rate isn't going to increase with a degree and I'm not going to move up the ladder any faster with a degree. As it is, I'm already at the top of my pay scale. So what would be the point?

Except personal satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment is a big deal. People need it. What to do?

Lucky for me, my good friend Jackie invited me to scrapbooking, even though I'd told her at least a thousand times that I didn't scrapbook and I didn't like it. I have to admit, I get very frustrated when I try new things because, for some strange reason, I expect it to be perfect the first time I do it. I don't know why. When it doesn't come out perfect, I'm stop because I'm "not good" at it. Then I complain to Brian that I'm not good at anything.

Scrapbooking was no exception. It took awhile to get the hang of using my paper cutter and cutting the paper. Had it been possible, I probably would have left in the middle of the "cutting phase". When I came home, I had 4 scrapbook pages that I had made all by myself. Of course, I didn't have any pictures to put on my pages, but I felt like I had accomplished something.

This was my first foray into "crafts" and since I wasn't a complete failure, it made me want to venture out and do other things, except I didn't know how and didn't know anyone to ask. I want to learn how to sew. So few women my age know how to sew. My grandmother sewed, but my mother doesn't. My mother embroiders, but I don't. Generation by generation we are letting our skills slip away.

Again, my sweet Jackie to the rescue. She got me started on sewing. She spent a whole evening showing me how to thread my machine and the first time I had to rethread it, I nearly went berserk. It took me several tries while reading the manual to finally get it right. Of course, I haven't actually sewed anything (I have been working on an apron for six months) but I have high hopes. I've taken a break from it for a while, but I'm about to get excited about it again. I have a goal: that each of my daughters and I will be able to make her wedding dress together.

In another example of someone benefitting from what moms and grandmothers used to do, next month, I am taking a beginning quilter's class. I was told that I didn't have to have any skills, just a machine, which I have, although in my defense, I can sew a straight line, according to Jackie. I am very excited and very grateful that my husband is so supportive of all my "endeavors".

In answer to my earlier question, I think that moms and grandmothers aren't teaching us the skills we need to make things beautiful because for whatever reason, we're not at home. Whether we're working or involved in so many activities they might as well be working, we're just not home. The time is just not there. The second reason that keeps us from learning those homemaking skills is that the basic needs of the house aren't met. The laundry isn't done, the grocery shopping isn't done, the floors aren't mopped or vacuumed, etc., etc. We are busy putting out one crisis after another with no plan or routine or schedule in place. I think these things are basic. We must learn how to take care of the basic needs of our homes before we can truly devote ourselves to making things beautiful with our homemaking skills.

There were times during my childhood when my mother did not work. At those times, she decorated cakes and had time to embroider. The house was clean and the laundry was done. When she was working, those "extra" things that made the house nice fell by the wayside because the basics of the house and family came first.

I plan to document my attempts of bettering my homemaking skills here in an effort to not only challenge myself so that my brain doesn't turn to mush, but to encourage others through my experiences . I want our home to be a beautiful place made all that much warmer and inviting from my efforts.