Friday, July 31, 2009

What I learned from my Mom about Motherhood -- part 3

Here's part 3 -- sorry it took so long! I just hope there is someone still reading.

  • Know your children. I think this is something my sisters and I all agree we miss most about Mom. We all felt understood by her. She was a great listener -- when we were young, she enjoyed listening to our stories, etc., and when we were older she listened to our problems with friends, adults, etc. Emily and I agree that Mom was a good person to tell your issue to because she did not just automatically be on your team and hate on the person you had a problem with (this is typically my response to my sister's issues, thus making me a not-so-great confidant). Mom had 6 kids, and I can truly say she did everything she could to know each one of us individually. I know some people from large families feel like they got lost in the shuffle -- but that really did not happen to us at all. How do I apply this lesson to mothering Susie? Well, so far, it has played out mostly in how I have worked out her schedule. We have been able to ease into a very good schedule where she pretty much always sleeps through the night by combining things I liked from both Babywise and Attachement Parenting. She is a happy girl, and seems well fed and well rested. There are so many opinions out there, and some people might thing I spoil and coddle my baby too much, while others think I am too strict with my routine. But I know my baby! And I continue to work hard to see what works for us!

  • Put your best face forward. Okay, I know I've already tread on rocky ground, here is some potentially rockier ground! But I do think this is a lesson I learned from my mom, so I can't leave it out. In no way do I advocate being focused on the outward appearance -- my mom was adamant that we tell my sisters they were clever and special and kind, not just cute all the time. But she DID do her best to always get us out the door in clothes that were clean, hair that was tidy and faces and hands that were washed. I remember being envious of girls who wore their hair free as a bird, while mine was slicked back into Laura Ingalls braids. :) Mom did not want us to have stringy hair! Looking back, I see what wisdom was in that -- especially for large families. When you have a bunch of kids, it is much more noticeable if they look like ragamuffins! It can be a bad testimony to people who frown on large families because they see messy children and assume that their parents do not care for them. People DO look on the outward appearance, no matter what we think. When your children are small, they have no control over their appearances, so it is up to you to keep them and their clothes clean and teach them to care for their appearances. I know I have only 1 child, but it has to start now -- working hard to get the stains out of baby clothes, bathing regularly, washing the little face that can have a milk mustache or neck that can hold spit up. :) Keep in mind -- the goal of a tidy and lovely bunch of kiddos is not so people will complement their appearances, or to turn their hearts to love beauty, but to keep from being a distraction from what is important about you! And if you are a Christian, you want others to see Christ, not dirt!
(The picture I put up here is of Sus with her Aunt Abby at a baseball game. Everything she is wearing is a hand-me down from her cousin Cede.)

I miss my Mom so much. Almost every day a question pops into my head to ask her, before I catch myself. I hope that the lessons I remember from her are helpful to you, too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Free Stuff Week

My birthday was Sunday, so I decided to give myself a week of free stuff. :) Here's what I've got planned.

Monday: free iced mocha from McDonald's. This is available next Monday as well, if you want to grab one! Just ask at the counter!

Tuesday: free Gymboree class for Susie. We got a free pass from the hospital when Susie was born, so we went today and it was really fun. She
was falling asleep at the end, but she was good as gold the whole time. Calm and attentive.

Wednesday: free fountain drink from Speedway.

Thursday: free ice cream from Cold Stone. Sign up for their birthday club and they'll send you a coupon in your e-mail.

Friday: free photo session for Susie at Olan Mills. This was
another coupon I got when she was born. It's actually free, even the sitting fee, and you get a new baby portrait package of one pose.

Saturday: free Penn Station sub (they're doing a tell a friend free sandwich promotion via e-mail)

Don't you love getting free stuff?

Here's a picture of my darling Susal getting so big and working on holding up her head.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Eating Zucchini and Picnik

I'll finish the posts on motherhood soon -- I just about have it written in my head -- but in the meantime, I wanted to share a couple things I've been up to lately.

1. is my new favorite website! So
easy to use and fun to play around with all the effects you can make on your pictures. I have spent way too much time playing around with cute pictures of the Sus. Here are a few of my favorites.

2. Eating Zucchini! It's that wonderful time of year when this versatile veggie is in abundance! Even if you are not personally growing it in your garden, its likely those who are growing it are sharing it! I just LOVE to eat that stuff!! Of course you can whip up some yummy zucchini bread, or slice it up and use it like chips in dips, hummus or cottage cheese. Last night I made this recipe I saw on Food Network. Here's the simple breakdown:

Cut zucchini, yellow squash and mushrooms into chunks and roast for 15 minutes at 450 degrees with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Then mix it with cooked penne pasta, a little marinara sauce and cheese (I like lots of cheese). Bake it in a greased casserole dish at 350 for 25 minutes. VERY good!

Another simple casserole that I've made for years when I have an abundance of zucchini is this:

Slice zucchini and summer squash in thin rounds and toss together with a can of Rotel. Bake at 350 until the veggies soften, then top with shredded cheese (I like to use cheddar, but you could use whatever you have) and bake until the cheese is all melted. Yum! My mouth is watering!

If you have any simple ways to enjoy this plentiful veggie, please post in the comments section!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What I Learned from My Mom about Motherhood -- Part 2

Here are a couple more lessons in Mommy-hood 101 I attribute to my mother's diligent teaching. If you are a new reader to my blog, I will tell you that my mom, Sue Benzing, passed away in March. She was a beautiful and wonderful woman, and I'd love it if you'd read more about her by clicking on the "My Mom" tag below. That will take you to the other posts I've written about her.

3. Teach your children to love learning by being a learner yourself. When I was little, my dad gave my mom a Christmas ornament that said "Those who love teaching help others love learning". Did that describe my mom or what!? She was a voracious reader -- books, magazines, signs at the zoo or museum -- and was utterly fascinated in just about everything. W
ell, I've uncovered a whole new delightful world of beauty in baby books and CDs I've been enjoying with Susie. We read books together after she gets changed, and sometimes at naptime (bedtime is a bit more tearful -- most likely she would not be able to hear me!). I have always loved children's books, but I keep discovering new things -- and especially enjoying books of poetry and prayers. There is something about the rhythm of those books that captures Susie's attention, even at this young of an age. To be brutally honest, I thought I might be a little bored with the sorts of things newborns enjoy -- just waiting for her to get older before it's really fun! But actually, there is plenty of fun stuff now! For instance, this poem I found in Poems to Read to the Very Young that my sister gave me:
Susan Blue by Kate Greenaway

"Oh Susan Blue,
How do you do?
Please may I go for a walk with you?
Where shall we go:
Oh, I know --
Down in the meadow where the cowslips grow!"

Mom used to quote little poems to us all the time. For instance, every time we arrived home after an outing, she would say:
"To market, to market, to buy a fat pig
Home again, home again, jiggity jig!"

By the time my sisters were old enough to know the poem, "jiggity jig" was code for time to go home. :) I now say it all the time to Sus when we arrive home. Which brings me to . . .

4. Enjoy being home with your children. So many moms spend all their time with their children running them in all directions so they can be the best at everything. I know we all had designs on taking every sort of lesson under the sun, and playing every sport possible, but Mom was firm on keeping it simple so we could be home more. We started sports in junior high, and took piano, but since we lived so far out in the country, it would have been a huge time commitment to do much more than that. Mom was not concerned about comparing her little achievers with other kids (which is such a temptation, I've realized already!) -- she
wanted us all to enjoy the simplicity of a lovely home, and time spent together. So we all learned how to work in the home, cook, clean, help tend the garden/pool/whatever (depending on the house we lived in). And we learned how great it was to just relax together when Dad came home at the end of the day. So for me, I'm cherishing my maternity leave and the days spent with Susie. It's true that I'm just now feeling enough human to do much more during the day than just care for Sus and get a shower, but I've started to make to-do lists so I can care for our home and make it a lovely and enjoyable place for us to be.

Well, the lessons have continued to come to me, so part 3 is coming soon. In the meantime, stay home and read a book with your kiddos.