The Value of Children

Journey to Homemaker

I found an article that speaks of how children are a blessing, and not a burden. I thought they put it very well, especially in all the ways children are a reward. It is definitely worth reading, and remembering, for a way to respond to critics of large families.

Disappointing news

Journey to Homemaker

It looks like there will be no VBAC for me. I've exhausted nearly all my sources. It's been such an emotional roller coaster for me, getting my hopes up, then losing hope, that I just can't take the stress anymore. So I am scheduling a c-section for the first week in March. I did find a holistically-inclined hospital in the area, and luckily my insurance covers it. It's small and almost brand new. They have a waterbirthing room, doula services, and use alternative labor methods like aroma therapy, lavender bath salts, etc. There's even a masseuse on staff! I won't be using the other stuff since I'll be having a c-section, but maybe I'll take advantage of the masseuse. :-)

The best thing is that they don't take the baby away from you. If the baby is healthy, she and the dad stay with you for the rest of surgery, then they wheel you out with the baby in your arms, and you recover in your postpartum room with your family at your side. Soooo different from most hospitals. They allow you to put off the bathing, weighing, etc. to establish a bond and start breastfeeding. It sounds so great, I'm almost looking forward to it, even though it is a hospital birth, and a surgery.

I usually have such easy pregnancies, but it seems like the more kids I have, the harder the last month is. I'm not feeling too great. If I have a very stressful day, I start feeling sick and have a ton of Braxton Hicks contractions. I'm looking forward to the baby coming, especially to the two weeks of rest I will get afterwards! I always sleep so well when I'm breastfeeding a newborn (gotta love those breastfeeding hormones) and my husband will be home to take care of me for a while.

Unfortunately my doula seems to be backing out on me. I can't even get ahold of her on the phone. Since we have no family or friends in the area, we have no one we can trust to watch our children. So I may have to go through the surgery alone. Since the hospital has volunteer doulas, I'm going to try to get one of those. It will be disappointing to not have anyone who cares about me with me. But as long as I can keep the baby with me, I'll be happy enough.


Journey to Homemaker

Last night I had such a stressful time with the kids, that by the time I sat down to relax, I was having contractions like crazy. They felt like Braxton Hicks, which is no big deal. But then I started feeling sick and my back started hurting...uh oh! I started thinking about everything not done, the baby clothes, the hospital bag, etc.

So I decided to try to pack a bag quickly, just in case. As it turns out, I'm worse off than I thought. I had done two loads of baby stuff, but when I looked through it, it was all either summer stuff, 3-6 month stuff, blankets, etc. Nothing useful! Grrrr! So I started dragging out all the baby clothes boxes, searching for baby girl winter clothes. Unfortunately, my daughter was born in a warmer climate in late spring, so it was all either boy stuff, or girl summer stuff!! Now I realize I don't even have the right baby clothes to wash!!!

I found a couple of not-so-cute sleepers, sweaters, etc. and threw them in the wash. Then I printed off my birth plan, which was still in progress, tried in vain to locate my medical records (since I'm switching o.b.'s) . By the time I put the clothes in the dryer and made a list of stuff to take to the hospital, I was too tired to pack. At that point I figured it probably wasn't real labor, just pre-labor. I do think that the baby descended a little bit. So it gave me a big kick in the pants to get ready!

Unfortunately, I can't find our infant car seat. I'm suspecting I may have sold it before we moved the last time, thinking I wanted a new one anyway. We did that with a lot of stuff, and wouldn't you know it, we don't have the money to replace it!! We should at least be able to get the baby home if we don't have the other kids with us, because one of our car seats is a convertible car seat that can be adjusted to face to the rear for an infant. We just can't take the whole family anywhere.

So now I have to find an infant car seat AND buy new baby clothes. Which is so annoying, since I already had a girl! I thought I was all set. That'll teach me not to plan ahead. :-) But at least God is giving me a kick in the pants...I had another bad day today, and got nauseous and crampy again...a good reminder to not slack off, just in case!

Preparing for a New Baby

Journey to Homemaker

I can't believe there's only four weeks til my due date! Nothing is done, aaarrrrggh!! I've been so busy trying to find a midwife, that everything else has fallen by the wayside. I don't know if I'm going to have a homebirth, because the midwives are all nervous about taking me. Not only have I had three c-sections, but I have gestational diabetes and my babies are big. Let this be a lesson to those who haven't had c-sections--do NOT let them push you into one, unless it is truly necessary for your health or the baby's. Doctors nowadays are too impatient and worried about lawsuits to "allow" you to have a baby the way God intended. It is estimated that half of all US cesareans are unneccesary. And if you've had one, learn how to avoid getting stuck with one in the future.

Fortunately, I found a local hospital that is actually holistically inclined, believe it or not. They promote waterbirth, use of aromatherapy, and rooming in. There actually isn't even a regular nursery, just a special-care nursery. They're very open-minded. There's no recovery room for c-section patients either. After the baby is delivered, if the baby is doing fine, she stays with the dad, in the OR while surgery is finished, then put into your arms as they wheel you out, and you "recover" in your regular postpartum room. It sounds SOOOO much nicer than normal hospital procedure. At least if I have to have a c-section this time, it won't be as traumatic. But I sure could use some prayers that I don't have to have a cesarean. Pray I can have a vaginal birth...or better yet, that the baby comes so quickly at home that I won't have a chance to go in for a c/s. Not likely with my big babies, but "I can do all things in Him, Who strengtheneth me."

I did buy a couple of cool baby things yesterday. One is a "Nursing Nest" it's a firm foam rubber little bed with a terry cloth cover on it. It's shaped to hold a baby laying on its side, for nursing. It was created by a mom after her c-section. You can use it for co-sleeping, table-top nursing, etc. It was forty dollars, but I got it on clearance at Babies r Us for thirty.

The other thing was the Ultimate Baby Wrap. It's a wrap-style carrier. It seems very comfortable and versatile. I haven't tried it with a baby yet, but I plan to try it with my youngest, who is around thirty pounds. It's supposed to support up to 35. It was forty dollars. I've heard people online say it's too hard to learn to use. I didn't think so at all. I think it will probably take a little practice to master getting it on quickly, but it comes with a DVD so it was pretty easy to figure out.

I always "wear" my babies outside the house, when running errands. But at home all the carriers seemed inconvenient, especially for breastfeeding. The only carrier I had found to nurse in easily was the NoJo sling (a padded sling similar to the Over the Shoulder Baby Holder). I found it to be too hot, and the babies didn't like nursing in it, probably because it felt too claustrophobic. The Ultimate Baby Wrap isn't padded, but it's very comfy. It is wide, so it can be spread out over your shoulders to minimize the pressure. It supports the baby well, and is easily adjustable for different positions. The only thing I don't think I'll like is that the DVD says you need help to get the baby into the back carry position. Although I thought I'd read online there's a way to get a baby in the back carry position alone. We'll see how comfortable it is.

Now I just need to wash all the rest of the baby clothes, clean the whole house, hand wash all the baby items like the breast pumps, and find a car seat. Yikes!

New Mealtime "Chores"

Journey to Homemaker

Although my kids are very young (all under four) I know they need to be learning responsibility and a work ethic now. However, it is easy to say and hard to do. Sometimes it's just easier to do it yourself...or at least it feels that way. In the long run, it's much harder, both on you and your children. I swore I'd never be one of those moms, but...well, then you actually HAVE kids, lol!

One reason my house gets messy is that I'm not sticking to a schedule, then I'm running behind and shooing the kids off to bed, leaving a mess behind. The kitchen and dining area is a particular problem. The other day I bought a little Scunci steam machine. It came with a "bonus" rechargable floor sweeper. It's pretty cheap, but it's very lightweight and cordless. I thought it would be great to have my oldest son sweep the floor with it. He can't sweep well with a broom, he just ends up pushing the dirt around. But with training, he's doing a pretty good job.

The sweeper doesn't get the floor perfectly clean, but it gets it good enough. I try to have my youngest son pick up all the food he threw, and my daughter push the high chairs over to the breakfast bar. Then my oldest sweeps. I've taught him how to unplug it, turn it on and use it, then turn it off and plug it back in. The other kids love it, so sometimes they want a turn too. So far it's working pretty well. It helps that I've got them back on a schedule. They were napping way too late.

I have to mention that I love the steamer so far. It's a little bottle that you fill with water and plug in, and it comes with attachments. So far I used it to get off the stuck-on food on the linoleum (I'm not telling you how long it was there). Being nine months pregnant, I just don't have the energy to scrape that stuff off, and so the floor ends up not getting mopped often enough, because why mop a floor if it's going to have stuff still stuck on it?

I also used the steamer to clean off some calcification around the kitchen faucet, and some nasty stuff stuck inside the kitchen trash can. I noticed that while I was cleaning off the trash can lid, it did a great job. You know how plastic stuff with a textured surface is impossible to keep really clean? The dirt always gets imbedded in the texturing, and it never looks new again. Well, the steam cleaner blew the dirt right out of the tiny pores in the plastic! It looked great!

My next task is to tackle the grime in the bathtub. I've been putting that off because I usually ask my husband to do it when I'm pregnant--I don't like being trapped in a shower with chemicals. But he's been so busy, that when he has free time I have other things that are more important. We'll see how well the steamer works. If I can get up the dirt really well, then I plan on having my husband clean the tub with cleaners, then from then on keeping up with it better and just using vinegar and water to clean it. I have to admit, I was actually having fun cleaning with this thing! I wish I'd gotten it a long time ago.

Anyway, so far the cleaning routine is going well. They like cleaning up most of the time, and it makes me feel good to lay down for a nap, knowing that everything from lunch is cleaned up.

Cloth Diaper Washing Routine

Journey to Homemaker

After much research and trial and error, I've arrived at a routine that makes cloth diapering tolerable for me. I'm pretty lazy! :-) It will be better when I have enough diapers that I don't have to stress getting them washed and dried in time for the kids' bedtime every night.

I use Fuzzi Bunz for nighttime, which seem to work well with the microfiber inserts. I probably need two inserts at night, but don't have enough yet. I plan to try Happy Heinys as well, which are similar but have velcro-type closures instead of snaps. During the day I use prefolds in a diaper wrap. Right now I use the Proraps and some cheapo Gerber vinyl pants which I hate. The Proraps are good, except that when poop gets stuck in the gathers of the leg gussets, it's a PAIN to rinse out, plus one wrap got stained orange even though I rinsed the poop right off and washed it, and the kids hadn't eaten anything orange recently. I think eventually I'll go with all pocket diapers, they seem easier to deal with. If I do keep some wraps, I'll buy much better prefolds--chinese DSQ. I don't use diaper pins, I use Snappis, they're pretty good.

I line each diaper with a disposable Gerber diaper liner. This catches a lot of the poop and can be flushed--a big advantage when you're using cloth wipes! Unfortunately, my daughter has started pulling them out of her diaper when I put her to bed, and even if she doesn't, she moves around so much that they get twisted inside the diaper and don't do much good. Oh well! I make sure not to use a diaper cream that is fish-oil-based, because many diaper creams will create a build up of residue and make for stinky diapers. After a lot of research, I decided to use Aveeno cream, which is a good product anyway. I sometimes use cornstarch baby powder too, which I haven't heard causes any buildup problems.

For a diaper changing station, I didn't want the traditional changing table. My kids would just get into all the stuff, plus it's in the dining area off the kitchen, so I wanted it to blend in more. I bought a short cabinet with an upper drawer and two lower cabinet doors from Target, on clearance for $50 (a great deal). It looks pretty good. I use a changing table pad on it, plus a baby quilt and a waterproof pad on top of that. The cabinet is longer than most changing tables, so it's more comfortable for the kids. All the diapers are in the cabinet, while the creams, powders, Snappis, and diaper liners are within easy reach in the drawer. Next to the cabinet on the floor I keep a five gallon bucket with the lid laying loosely on top. This is for the dirty diapers. I use the dry pail method (if I used the wet pail method, I'd have to use a pail with a locking lid for safety). I put the wet diapers in this pail. I also keep a covered trash can next to the cabinet for the occasional use of a disposable wipe or diaper.

When there is a poopy diaper, I bring the dirty diaper and the diaper pail down to the bathroom. There is a second empty 5 gallon bucket down there for rinsing. I use a Mini Shower, a sprayer that attaches to the toilet supply line for rinsing poopy diapers off into the toilet. No swishing for me! However, I found I was getting water ricocheting off the toilet and diaper and getting everywhere, so I now use the rinse bucket, I hold the cleaner edge of the poopy diaper over the edge of the rinse bucket, and rinse the poop off into the bucket using the Mini Shower. In between diapers I like to empty the bucket into the toilet, to keep the water level low in the bucket. After rinsing each poopy diaper, I put it into the dirty diaper pail. When done, I either take the bucket back upstairs to the changing area, or go straight to the laundry room if I'm ready to wash diapers.

I wash diapers every day right now. That's a necessity, since I don't have many diapers and have two kids in them. My oldest who is almost four, sometimes wears them, or he wears underwear, or disposables. Whatever is on hand. Right now he doesn't wet himself too often. I'll probably continue to do a load every day even when I have more diapers, but it will be nice to do it out of preference rather than a need.

I run a little hot water with a little washing soda in it, then switch it to cold almost right away. The hot is just to dissolve the washing soda. You don't want to do an initial rinse or wash with hot, it will set the poop stains. Some people wash the diapers twice, but I do a rinse cycle on cold, then add detergent and do a wash on hot. Some people do another rinse cycle with a little white vinegar afterwards, I don't unless I think it's necessary.

After the rinse cycle, I add detergent (many websites recommend using only half the recommended amount of detergent, others say even that is too much, use only 1-2 tablespoons). The amount of diapers I wash is so small that I find I need to add some clothing to get enough agitation for the diapers to get clean. So I usually throw in the pajamas or sweat pants that have been peed on and are light to medium in color.

The detergent I use is Sun. I've heard Allen's Naturally is great for pocket diapers (pockets are a little trickier to clean) but I don't use that, it's too expensive. I found a site that compares detergents for diaper washing, they said Sun was a good choice. You don't want to use a laundry soap, that will build up on diapers. It must be a detergent, and shouldn't have dyes, softeners, fragrances, or optical brighteners. Some children have reactions to these ingredients. NEVER use a softener or detergent with softeners, as the softeners reduce the absorbency of the diapers. Sun is cheap and I'm having good luck with it. I use my homemade laundry soap on our regular clothes, it seems to be working okay.

After washing, I check the diapers for stains or smell before drying. It's best to dry wraps and covers by air, because this lengthens the life of the covers. However, due to necessity I usually dry them in the machine, on low, with the clothing they were washed in. Double check the microfiber inserts. They are so plush and hold so much liquid, that they are often still slightly damp when the other stuff is dry. But they're so absorbent, they work great!

For the cloth wipes, I pretty much treat them as I do the diapers. I use them in a wipes box with a solution of 2 cups warm water, 2-3 drops of tea tree oil, 2-3 drops of lavender, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, swished around, then add folded cloth wipes. The tea tree oil helps them last longer. Without it, they'd probably go rancid in a couple of days. I wouldn't keep them longer than a week. So don't make up more than you'll use in about 5 days, otherwise you're wasting the wipes solution and just having to re-wash them without having even used them. I didn't think I'd like using cloth wipes, but I do. I often use wipes to clean faces and high chair trays, so not only is this saving me money, but I feel better using natural things on my kids' faces and hands. I don't buy wipes, I think that's a waste. I use old baby wash cloths that I got at garage sales, and cut up old receiving blankets. You could use regular wash cloths or cut up old towels too, but I find the old baby washcloths work pretty well, and are the right size.

So, that's my routine. It's a lot better than when I tried cloth diapers the first two times. I would say that having the right diapers and tools are essential to sticking with it. And if you do a lot of research and find what works for you, and give yourself time to practice and get used to it, it gets easier. I figure when the new baby is born, I'll be saving my family $80-100 a month, and that's based on the lowest possible prices on diapers (buying the White Cloud brand at Walmart by the super-size box). If you use pampers, you'll be saving at least twice as much as we are. Plus you'll save even more if you dry your diapers in the sun, which sanitizes and bleaches out stains the natural way. And if you like softer diapers, you can just throw them in the dryer after they've been sun dried for five minutes for a fluff-up.

All in all, it's not too bad, and I can think of a few things I'd like to do with that hundred dollars a month we save! ;-)

Fiesta Soup recipe

Journey to Homemaker

Fiesta Soup

I got this recipe from another homemaking blog. She had modified it from the original version she found on another blog, and I've modified it farther, I believe. I lost my copy of the recipe, so this is what I make, from memory. My apologies to the creator and the person who posted it on their site, wish I could give credit! It's pretty cheap and versatile, and even thought there's no meat, my husband likes it. I like to freeze the extra, if there is any!

1 small to medium onion, diced and sauteed (sometimes I substitute onion powder, to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced and sauteed (I often substitute garlic powder to taste)
1 can Pinto Beans, undrained
1 can Black Beans, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes (I like diced tomatoes with green chiles), undrained
1 can corn, undrained
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce to taste, (optional)
1 additional can of beans, undrained (optional--I sometimes add a second can of corn if I add this can of beans)

1. Sautee onions til soft, add garlic, sautee a little longer.
2. Put onions and garlic in soup pot along with all canned ingredients.
3. Add additional seasonings as it cooks.
4. Simmer til it seems done to you, stirring often. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes.

I love this recipe. It is soooo easy, especially if you substitute seasonings instead of sauteeing the onion and garlic. It's really good and filling too.


Journey to Homemaker

Candy at Genuine Profit ( is doing a homemaking series about necessary homemaking skills. You should read it, her blog is really great. She mentions sewing, which is a very important homemaking skill. I really don't know how to sew, though I made myself a jumper once. It wouldn't have been too bad, if I hadn't chosen a plaid material (note: new sewers should pick a random print like flowers, not one with lines that have to be lined up properly, lol). I wear it just around the house.

I have plans (we'll see if they get done) to make several baby items. First on my list is a baby carrier. I'm trying to decide between a wrap and a Mei Tai style. I may try both. You can't mess up a wrap, just cut the material to size and hem. I think I can handle that. ;-) My big problem is getting the machine going. It's used, and I keep having problems with it. Probably it's a tension problem. I have NO idea what I'm doing! Maybe today I'll have time to set it up. I'm sure it needs some basic maintenance, like oil, etc.

Even if you don't know what you're doing, try to find someone to help or research online so you can teach yourself. You may never be great at it, but you should have basic skills to teach your children. Then find someone who can tutor your daughters to improve their skills! I'm really bad at it, but once I had a JoAnn's employee explain how to read the pattern, the jumper was really pretty easy. I chose one of those super-easy patterns. Even though I have NO patience, I was still able to do it. So just give it a try!

Party Update

Journey to Homemaker

My wonderful husband stayed up after I went to bed last night, and cleaned my dirty kitchen, tidied my messy living room, did all the dishes, baked me a cake, and left a present (chocolates), a card, a nice note and a dozen roses for me. He was up til 4:30 am, the poor thing! I felt bad because I accidentally woke him up this morning, and he got up to make me and the kids pancakes.

It turns out we had a hundred dollars in the bank we'd forgotten about (thanks be to God!) so he got me the flowers, card, and chocolates, and we still have money left over for a little gas and food. And I think my mom is sending me a birthday gift, which is a check (now that I live far away, that's what I usually get), so I'll use that for food and gas too, then replace the money for a gift when the paycheck comes this week. It always amazes me how God provides!

Even though it's my birthday (observed, lol) today, I plan to finish folding all the laundry and try to bake some muffins and whole wheat bread, now that my kitchen is clean. But somewhere in between, I'm going to take a nap!!

Pity Party!

Journey to Homemaker

I admit it. I've been slacking off big time lately, and in many ways. One way is that I'm feeling sorry for myself way too much, which makes me let everything else slide even more.

Today is my birthday. There was no cake, no party, no card. Well, my aunt sent a card yesterday. But my mom forgot, so hers is coming late, and my husband forgot I think, til my aunt's card came. He did say happy birthday right before he left for work. So I was feeling sorry for myself in a big way.

As I detailed in the previous post, we're really tight on money this week, so there's nothing in the budget for even a card. Since I was feeling moody this morning, I went and bought myself a small pan of frosted brownies at the store in lieu of a "birthday cake". I figured I would celebrate my little pity party by eating most of it myself, and give some to the kids.

I was feeling rather upset with my husband because he didn't do anything to make my birthday special. He did say he'll bake me a cake tomorrow and get me a present when he gets paid next week. But to me, it was the thought that counts, and he didn't seem to put any thought into my birthday. He could have made me a card on the computer, or written me a note. So I felt pretty depressed.

But after reading some other blogs where the women talked about accepting adversity (which I'm well aware of, but choose not to think about when I'm in a mood) I decided to cancel my pity party. Don't get me wrong, I still ate half of the brownies, lol! But I'm saving a couple of pieces for my husband, making him dinner, leaving a nice note for him, and going to bed early to avoid the risk of starting to feel sorry for myself again. I'm also going to clean the house a little before I settle down to relax tonight, because I know I'll be in a better mood if I do. I may also make some refrigerator dough so I can make some bread tomorrow morning. If I get the kitchen cleaned tonight. :-)

And when St. Valentine's Day rolls around, if he forgets again, I'm not going to make a big deal about it. You see, we had decided when we married that we didn't want to celebrate St. Valentine's Day as a lovey-dovey holiday. But two years ago I changed my mind. I figured I could use another day to be treated special, lol. Then last year he forgot that I'd told him that, and I ended up getting him a card, balloon, and special chocolate bar, and brought it to his work. Even after that he didn't get me anything on the way home! (Gee, take a hint, lol.) I was sad, but I tried not to let it bother me. So if he forgets again, I'm just going to let it go. Most of the time he's a great husband, and helps me out a lot around the house. I can't complain just because he's not perfect ALL the time!

The Importance of a Pantry

Journey to Homemaker

I'm interrupting my series on modesty to bring you this important message... :-)

It occurred to me that this is a good time to bring up the importance of having a fully stocked kitchen, or better yet, a whole pantry. When Y2K was on the horizon, many people who wouldn't normally stock up food spent a lot of time and money becoming prepared for "the end of the world as we know it". Then when Y2K was a bust, they either ate up their food, gave it away, or let it sit unused to gather dust. What they didn't think about was the every day emergencies that even the most financially sound among us can experience.

It is said that most Americans are only two paychecks away from poverty, and perhaps even homelessness. For those with an available credit line, you may be able to get by for a few months more. There are so many instances where a pantry can become invaluable to the survival of the family...or at the very least, make hard times a little easier. Just think about hurricane Katrina. Many people's homes were wiped out near the coast, and a pantry in that situation might not have helped them immediately, but think of all the thousands of other homes along the coastal states that were in part or in whole, spared. They were stuck there with local supplies low, no supply trucks getting in for a long time, and the supplies that did get in went to the neediest families. If they were in an area with long-term blackouts, credit cards and checks did them no good. Only the cash they had on hand would help them, and chances are there were a lot of gougers out there profitting from the pain of others. The people who were prepared probably didn't suffer nearly as badly. They had plenty of food and water, and if they were smart, a generator and fuel, and other basic necessities. For those who weathered Katrina's aftermath rather well due to their preparedness, I'm sure some of them used their surplus food supply to help others in need.

There are many other emergencies to consider. The family breadwinner dying or becoming incapacitated. Life insurance and disability insurance helps, but most Americans are way under-insured...and how quickly will that money come in? Having basic necessities on hand gives a family time to get their resources together and find a solution. There is a lot of talk nowadays about the bird flu. I don't know if it's something to really worry about or not, but I've heard "experts" say that if it did happen, it would be catastrophic, and world-wide. There would be no other states to send relief, as they would be in the midst of chaos themselves. No one would want to go outdoors or travel for fear of contracting the lethal virus, and the supply chain would come to a standstill. What then?

I know first-hand how important a pantry can be. In the past four and a half years that my husband and I have been married, he had a few bouts of unemployment (we had moved to a very family-friendly area, and shortly afterwards the job market dried up). When he did get a job, we were so far in the hole financially that it took a long time to even begin to dig ourselves out. During those hard times, we had to depend on a local food bank for help. It was very hard, because my husband felt like he'd failed us, and I felt bad going to the food bank because I kept thinking that maybe I was taking food away from people who were even worse off than we were. But we really did need it. When we had more money, we started our food pantry. When another hard time hit, it was much better--the extra food saw us through. Instead of trying to figure out how to buy food and pay for gas (very necessary so my husband could get to work), we were able to get by, because all the money went in the gas tank.

Right now money is pretty tight. We're getting ready for the baby, and there's so much we need (we stupidly sold a lot before our last move, because a lot of it was second hand anyway). Plus me and my "pregnancy brain" forgot to pay some bills, so now we're behind...and since I read Fascinating Womanhood, luckily I don't have to worry about the bills anymore, because I turned that over to my husband. We paid our rent this week, and that used most of it up. It's been very stressful trying to figure out how to get gas in the tank and keep food on the table. We do have enough food, but you know how it is when you run're always missing something needed for every recipe!! So it's an exercise in frustration trying to put a meal together. Luckily we do have baking supplies, and I hit a sale a few weeks ago on chicken--one pound of thighs for a dollar!!!! I stocked up on chicken, though not as much as I'd have liked, only 10 packs freezer space. :-( I'd be a lot better off if I hadn't let the kitchen become a disaster area. Dirty kitchen=no desire to cook!

What I wouldn't give for a pantry right now! I told my husband as soon as we catch up, we're stocking up! I think a lack of food in the house is particularly hard for the wife, because she's the one who has to put the meals together, and worries about it. And if she lets herself express frustration (which I admit to doing this week, I'm afraid) it can make the husband feel that she's criticizing him.

In the future, I'll try to post more about a pantry and what should be in it. In the meantime there are plenty of websites on the web with this kind of info.

Modesty, Part 2

Journey to Homemaker

Modesty is crucial to maintain the moral backbone of any decent society. When we dress in a way that unnecessarily stimulates the sexual drives of others, we contribute to the increasing frequency of adultery, fornication, obsession with pornograpy, rape, and child molestation. And that's just for starters. God intended for our bodies to be enjoyed by our spouses, not strangers. Some people may disagree with this opinion, and for those who have angry reactions to it I would say wait and read further, because that reaction, although strangely emotional, is not uncommon, especially among Christians. I plan to address such reactions later.

It is important to safeguard modesty for many reasons. For one thing, the way we dress affects other people's opinions and treatment of us. When I started to wear only modest clothing, I was treated with much more kindness and respect. Even now as an overweight woman, I recieve more respect than many thin woman who are immodestly dressed. When I am modestly dressed and pregnant, people will literally trip over themselves holding open doors for me, asking if I need help bagging my groceries, letting me cut in front of them in grocery store lines, etc. Of course not everyone is so kind, but I see it much more often now than I did on past occassions when I didn't dress modestly.

Our dress will influence the way our children dress. They will take cues on what is appropriate from observing us. You may think nothing of your daughter going around in shorts at age five, but when she's sixteen and flirting with boys, you might not like seeing her leave the house with a boy, dressed in a halter top and short-shorts. Especially when you catch the boy "eyeing" her. And if you women don't feel uncomfortable, believe me, your husbands surely must, since they know how the mind and emotions of a teenage boy work. Also, even at a young age, with all the perverts out there trolling the parks, libraries, and school yards, do you really want your daughter to be dressing like a worldly teenager, exposing most of her body? I myself would prefer not to have my daughter stand out like that in the eyes of a molester.

How we dress also affects how other people feel around us. In the workplace, many women dress completely inappropriate. Their clothing isn't even professional by worldly standards! How do you think men feel around a woman who wears tight, revealing, or low-cut clothing? Granted, many men probably enjoy it, because their standards are so low. At the very least, it's distracting to them while they are doing their jobs. At worst, it can cause discomfort and even great temptation to decent men who are trying to be faithful to Our Lord, and to their wives.

Now that's not to say that a man's immodest dress doesn't affect women too--it does, just not as often and not nearly as dramatically. Men are just as responsible for the way they dress as women. However, immodesty is a much greater problem with women's clothing. You don't see too many men dressed immodestly at church, but you often see women, especially young women, in sheer blouses, low-cut shirts, short or clingy dresses, or skirts with slits up to the thigh. With men the worst you usually see in church might be tight pants.

One thing many women don't understand is the way men "work". God designed men to be the "hunter", the protector. Because men take on such great responsibility caring for and protecting a family (if he is fulfilling his God-given, traditional role). In order to give a man the incentive to take on such great responsibility, there had to be a big "payoff"--something to make him loyal and faithful to his wife and family. For women, there is a need to nurture, and to be protected and loved. For men, their drive is sexual. Marital intimacy is the main source of love for a man. A woman feels like being more intimate when she is loved, a man feels more loved when his wife is intimate with him. In order to give men this driving force, God created man to have strong sexual desires and responses.

Men are very visually oriented. They react very quickly and strongly to visual stimulation, especially of a sexual nature. So when a man sees a woman's naked body, or even the form or outline of a female body, it usually produces a very strong and immediate sexual response in him. That doesn't make him a pervert--it makes him a MAN. How he responds to those urges determines the kind of man he is. If the woman he sees isn't his wife, then it is his responsibility to do everything in his power to shut down his sexual urges. He must look away, try to think of something else, or escape the situation if necessary. And good men do this every day...usually many times every day, because due to the world around him, he has to. Sexuality is thrust in front of him on a daily basis. Even if he avoids television and the internet, he sees nearly naked women on billboards, newsstands, at convenience stores, even at work.

For many men, it is a daily struggle. And if that man has made the mistake of engaging in premarital sex or using pornography at an earlier time in his life, it will be a hundred times harder for him. Since men are visually oriented, such images are usually seared into their memories. Satan delights in throwing those memories and images in his mind's eye at every possible opportunity, because it is such an easy weakness to take advantage of. And for women, their downfall is usually pride and vanity...which works out perfectly for Satan, because a woman desires to attract the attention of men, so for vanity's sake they dress provocatively. This plays right into his hands, because her curves are just what Satan needs to tempt good men to do evil. And so the cycle continues, and worsens...


Journey to Homemaker

I wanted to say a few things about modesty. In today's world, the very word itself seems to be "out of style". People who believe in modesty are ridiculed as religious fanatics, judgemental, prudish, uptight, and even more perverts! In just a few short decades, the standards of modesty that has been the norm for all decent citizens of every civilized nation for most of human history have been virtually obliterated.

Why should we as a society worry about modesty? The extinction of most empires throughout history can be directly linked to increasing immoral behavior prior to their demise. Rome is a perfect example. Before the fall of the Roman Empire, it had steadily declined into worse and worse pagan beliefs and practices, indecent dress, gluttony, and immoral sexual practices. Now look at the state of America over the last fifty years. We've gone from a society of relatively law-abiding, decent, and primarily God-fearing people to a cesspool of drugs, violence, paganism or atheism, and sexual degredation. Families are being dismantled. Women have been "masculinized" and goaded into the workplace unnecessarily, children shipped to daycares, men trapped into working longer hours to pay the bills for the luxuries that their family feels they need to reward themselves with for all their hard work. Even worse, the men have been emasculated and made to feel that they are some kind of neanderthal every time they try to express themselves in a dominant or manly way.

So what does all this have to do with modesty? The moral decay of this country began small, with the erosion of basic standards of decency. Modesty was the first to go. In future posts, I plan to point out the importance of modesty, why we often become angry and defensive when the issue of modest dress comes up, and some advice to those who wish to become a better Christian example through our dress.