6 Things I’ve Learned in 6 Years of Motherhood

6 years ago yesterday, my first child, Meghan Jane, was born.

6 Things I've Learned in 6 Years of Motherhood

I spent my pregnancy reading books on babies and parenting, trying to prepare myself for what was coming.  I didn’t know, of course, that there isn’t a book out there that will prepare you for this wonderful, crazy, exhausting, thrilling, marvelous, tumultuous, amazing gift of motherhood.  Only motherhood itself can prepare you for all it has to offer.

I’m a mere 6 years into this lifetime job.  What do I know? Not much.  But I’m learning. Every day, I’m learning.  Here are six things I’ve learned so far.

6 Things I've Learned in 6 Years of Motherhood

#1 There is nothing like the love you have for your own child.

I thought I knew love before I gave birth to Meghan.  I did, to an extent.  I loved my parents and my brothers.  I loved my nieces and nephews. I met Tim and was swept off my feet and felt that crazy-in-love feeling.  But then I gave birth and realized there’s no love quite like the love you have for your own child.  I don’t think it was until I became a mother that I truly came to understand the love that God has for us.  A love so intense that you are willing to suffer and die for your children? Oh, yeah, now I know what that’s like.

6 Things I've Learned in 6 Years of Motherhood

#2 I have to be the person I want my children to become.

Oooh this is hard sometimes.  So I want my children to know and love God?  I have to know and love God myself, and show them that on a daily basis.  I want my children to be slow to anger.  So I have to be slow to anger.  Yep, I have to bite my tongue when I get cut off in traffic or when Tim does something I don’t agree with.  Those little people are always watching, and they are becoming what I am.

6 Things I've Learned in 6 Years of Motherhood

#3 I’m going to make a lot of mistakes.

As much as I want to be a perfect example for my children 100% of the time, I’m not.  I stumble and fall.  A lot.  Then I get back up and keep trying.  I’m faced with dozens of decisions I have to make on behalf of Meghan and Luke every day.  I know not every decision will be the right one.  But I’m dedicated to learning from my mistakes and giving everything I have to be the best mom I can be.

6 Things I've Learned in 6 Years of Motherhood

#4  I’m never going to put myself first again.  And I’m okay with that.

When you graduate high school and go off into the world, everything you do is about yourself.  Trying to figure out your life plan.  What you want to do.  Once you get married, the whole two-becomes-one thing happens, and there is a shift in thinking. Any lingering egocentrism starts to fade.  Then, a child comes into the picture, and hold onto your hats because everything changes.  I haven’t lost my independence.  I am a person outside of being a wife and mother.  This isn’t about that. Yet.  The well-being and happiness of the two little people I brought into the world (and my husband!) is what I care most about. That means I’m last on my personal totem pole and that’s fine by me.  Isn’t that the definition of motherhood?

#5 The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the mothering fence.

There will be moments when I’m envious of working moms who are climbing a career ladder while I’m doing a shapes puzzle on the floor, for the tenth time. Or the mom who never seems to be late to anything and hair isn’t in a messy bun and has make-up on. There’s always going to be a mom who seems to have it good, and wouldn’t that be great?  The truth is, I’m sure that working mom longs to have the time to do the same puzzle with her child ten times in a row.  That put-together mom is probably really tired because she got up at 5am in order to be so stinking organized.  God love her.  Mothers, no matter what our personal situations, are bound together by similar struggles, similar worries, and similar aspirations.  We all want to be the best moms we can and there’s no magical formula for that on the other side of the fence.

6 Things I've Learned in 6 Years of Motherhood

#6  There is no right way to do this.

I think it’s a natural instinct to constantly ask ourselves as parents, “Am I doing this right?”  The answer is there is no right way.  There are a lot of parenting paths you can take as you raise your children, and each that can lead to the same place.  How you get there isn’t always what’s important.  What matters is just that you are trying to get there.

Posted in Parenting | 5 Comments  

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper SoupTwo things came together to make this soup happen.  First, I keep getting a ton of peppers in my CSA box.  They are mostly small-ish peppers that are too small for stuffing.  Second, we’ve got back-to-school crazy schedule time kicking in and that means there are times when I need a dinner to be slow-cooking while I am running Meghan from school to dance and then back home and we’re all starving.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup.  Quick prep and soooo good!

A lot of slow cooker recipes with rice call for cooked rice.  To me that kind of takes the point out of a slow cooker recipe. Right? Especially since I use brown rice that takes an hour to cook.  I decided to take a chance and use uncooked rice.  It worked beautifully!

Slow Cooker stuffed pepper soup.  Quick prep and soooooo good!

This soup has all the comforts and familiar flavors of stuffed peppers.  I used organic, grass-fed beef, which provides zinc (really important for strong immune systems!), is very lean, and also is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids.  Grass-fed beef also provides us with CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is thought to help protect against cancer. (source) You may substitute ground turkey if you prefer, or for a vegan/vegetarian option, try grated tempeh.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup.  Easy prep and soooo good!

I think what you’re going to like best about this soup, though, is how easy it is.  A few minutes of prep and bam! the slow cooker does the rest of the work for you. Do yourself a favor and put this one on your meal plan.  You’ll save yourself time and have a yummy dinner.  Win!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Dinner Recipes, Lunch Recipes | Tagged | 5 Comments  

What Can Happen If You Decide To Speak Up?

What can happen if you decide to speak up?

 

During Meghan’s first year of preschool, they served juice and some sort of processed food (such as crackers) for snack everyday.  It bothered me because those were not things I gave her at home often, but I didn’t say anything since she was only there three mornings a week.

The next year she was going to be going five mornings a week, and I hated to think about her having juice and crackers so often.  I gathered my courage and mentioned my concerns to the lead teacher.  She said she didn’t think the kids would drink anything other than juice, but she was willing to try serving water.  She was also open to different snack ideas.

She allowed me to volunteer as snack coordinator, and from then on the children were lucky enough to have fresh snacks, sent in from parent volunteers, every day.  Crackers were replaced with fruits, vegetables, and sometimes things like homemade mini muffins or granola bars.

Several moms thanked me and told me that their kids were trying more foods than they ever had before and liking fresh foods more than they thought possible!  The lead teacher said that the kids drank water without complaint and didn’t even ask for juice.  All because I decided to speak up.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I was learning to say no when my kids were bombarded with treats after every activity.  One mom sent that blog article on to the owners of the swim school where Meghan and Luke take lessons.  The owner called me and thanked me for writing the post and asked about alternatives to the artificially-colored suckers they handed out after every lesson.  I suggested the organic brand Yum Earth.  She called the company and was quoted a price that was feasible, so she emailed me to let me know they were making the switch! Yes, it’s still sugar, but hundreds of kids will not be ingesting as many artificial food dyes because of that switch. All because I wanted to start a conversation.

I’m not writing this post to pat myself on the back.  I’m writing it to encourage you.  What changes do you want to see?  What would happen if you decided to use your voice and speak up?  If you are reading my blog, chances are you care about the health of the youth of today, whether you have kids or not.  How can you use that passion to spark change?  The more voices that are heard, the more change will happen.  What will you do?

Posted in General Nutrition, Life, Parenting | 7 Comments  

Balsamic Roasted Grapes and Pistachio Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Balsamic Roasted Grape and Pistachio Stuffed Sweet Potato.  Filling enough to be a meal all on its own!

If you’ve never tried roasted grapes, you are missing out.  The first time I tried them, I put them on a salad, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I also love stuffing my sweet potatoes with whatever random foods I happen upon in my fridge or pantry, so this combination was bound to happen sooner or later.

I love how you can stuff a sweet potato and what was once a side dish gets elevated to main dish status.  This roasted grape and pistachio stuffed sweet potato is no exception.  It’s filling and satisfying as a main course–just add a green salad and you’ve got yourself a meal.

I did a quick calorie count, and if you use two large sweet potatoes, one serving (one whole sweet potato) comes in around 280 calories.  If you use four smaller potatoes it will be less and definitely more of a side dish.

How ever you want to serve this, I hope you decide to give it a try.  The flavors of the sweet roasted grapes and the crunchy, salty pistachios pair perfectly with the creamy sweet potato.  You will also notice a slight tang from the balsamic and a hint of rosemary, which rounds out the flavors.

Balsamic Roasted Grapes and Pistachio Stuffed Sweet Potato.  Filling enough to be a main course but only 280 calories!This is definitely one of my new favorite dishes! It’s quick, easy, and healthy.  Can’t beat that combination.

 

 

Posted in Dinner Recipes, Lunch Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes | Tagged , | 8 Comments  

Run to EQUIP1 5k Race Recap

5k race recap

Guess what!? I finally ran a road race.  (It’s the first time in over 2 years)  I put it on my Summer Fitness Bucket List, but had a hard time finding a race that was close to home and fit my schedule.  By the way, I’m giving myself until the official end of summer, September 22nd, to tackle as many things on the Bucket List as possible.  It’s a mad scramble!

It just so happened that when I was searching for a race, I found one that supports a fantastic cause.  EQUIP One Ministries is an organization that has a mission to help orphaned and disadvantaged children across the globe.  The proceeds from the 5k I ran went towards the construction of a primary school in Kibuku, Uganda.  The education of disadvantaged children has always been a cause close to my heart, so I was happy I found this race supporting it.

Want to know what else was great about this race? It was at a park very close to my house and started at 9am! That means I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn on a weekend and Tim brought the kids and they played on the playground while I ran, and then cheered me on as I finished.  It was perfect!

I went into this race not having any idea how fast I would be able to run.  I don’t race regularly (or really at all! ha!) so I didn’t have a clue how to pace myself.  I have been trying to do tempo runs, interval runs, and speed work to work on running at a faster pace during my workouts, but even during those runs I never knew how fast I should push myself to go.  I really should find a running club as I know my training would be more effective that way.

I ran with a friend, so we went out together.  I used my Nike+ running app because I like to know my pace at the mile markers.  About a half mile in I checked the pace and saw we were running around 7:09 pace.  I was super worried about going out too fast and then dying, so I tried to slow it down a bit.

The first mile was on a paved path around the park, but then we headed into the woods on a trail.  Ugh! This part of the race was more difficult because it was up and down hills through the woods.  My friend slowed at this point and I tried to keep my pace, so we separated.  I knew this mile was going to be slower naturally, but I tried to keep a good pace.

I was so happy to get out of the woods! After the second mile, I was still feeling good.  My pace slowed a bit on the trails though, so I tried to pick it up for the third mile.  This last mile was partially in the grass,  up and down hills, which I hated, but also back on the paved path for part of it.

The worst part was that I was mostly on my own during the last mile.  There was a guy that I passed and he said, “Good job, girl!” which was a nice boost just to hear something, but other than that there weren’t any people in sight.  This was a small race of less than a hundred people, so there wasn’t running in crowds at all.

It was nice when I could finally tell I was coming to the final stretch.  I picked it up significantly and was able to sprint it in even though I wasn’t racing anyone. (Tim snapped the picture at the top of the page of me finishing the race.)

My official time was 23:43, which is a 7:55 pace.  I was happy with that considering the hills and trails throughout the race.  Here’s what I don’t know.  I don’t know how hard a 5k is supposed to feel.  I was tired at the end, but never during the race did I feel like “Oh, I can’t do this.” Is that good? Or does that mean I wasn’t running fast enough?  Most road races I’ve run I have points during the race that I am cursing myself for running the race because it feels so hard.  That didn’t happen.  I felt strong throughout the race and was afraid to pick up my pace any more for fear of dying and not being able to finish strong. Any experienced distance racers out there want to comment on how a good race is supposed to feel?

I ended up 1st in my age group, the 2nd female finisher, and the 5th overall (male and female) finisher.  The female winner was in the under 15 age group and finished about two minutes ahead of me.  A speedy youngin’!

I’ve caught the racing bug a little bit and am planning on running at least one more race this fall.  I’ll keep you updated if I beat this time!

 

Posted in Fitness | 6 Comments