Friday, May 31, 2013

Modesty vs. the itsy bitsy Bikini

"It is strange that modesty is the rule for women when what they most value in men is boldness."
I've thought about writing this blog for 2 days now. it's such a gray area. modesty: define it. can you? are you modest in your modesty? or are you vain about your modesty? how many "self portrait" pictures do you have floating around your phone, facebook, instagram, and whatever else you have for socializing?
when you're getting ready to walk out the door, do you look yourself over in the mirror? if someone walks in, and says, hey let's go- do you immediately panic because your hair isn't done, you're not dressed, and you've no make up on?
still think you're modest?
I know i'm not. i'm not saying that as a vain statement, i'm just stating the truth. i'm not modest. but i'm not modest in different ways than you think. I DONT wear make up. at all. my hair is short, so "fixing it" takes all of five minutes. and being dressed is well...defined for me as a tank and a pair of jeans or yoga-ish pants. but modesty did pass me by. when you breast feed, modesty kind of flies out the window...especially about that 5 month mark when your child is way more interested in everything else while they're eating and a blanket is just unacceptable to them. eventually, someone gets flashed and while that thought used to mortify me, now...not so much.
this is the area that I speak of. women who fight for breast feeding rights where ever they may be- they fight for the idea that breasts are not and should not be sexualized. they have a purpose....
but then, we speak of modesty and suddenly a bikini is wrong and (let's take it extreme here) we should just wear moomoos everywhere so as not to cause "temptation".
that's right. I read an article that spoke of choosing not to wear a bikini so as not to tempt our brothers in Christ.
sorry, but i'm not buying it. if a man is looking to be tempted...if a man is already in that state of mind, it doesn't take a bikini to get a man looking. he was looking long before then. and if you are truly worried about temptation, then maybe we should shut down the internet for men and stop magazines, too. for temptation is everywhere. sex sells...and it sells well.
and why draw a line at one piece suits as acceptable. really...the only difference is your tummy showing or not. you are still showing an awful lot of tempting skin. where do you draw the line with modesty? is it then, okay for a man to bare his chest? honestly, where does one draw the line clearly? are shorts okay? tank tops? what about covering your hair? i'm not being sarcastic here, though you may not know it.
i *think* the Bible talks about your hair being the glory of God.
modesty is a hard word to define.
I have worn a bikini since forever. I have a short torso; have you ever tried to find a bathing suit with a short torso and a unique body type? one that fits a extra small to small bottom and an large to extra large top? not quite as easy as the writer implies. in fact, i'm still looking, as I, too, LOVE the 50s style suits but I look like a child playing dress up when I try one on. it's comical really. the crotch of the suit will sometimes hang to my knees. so it's another reason I stick with the bikinis.
do I get looked at in a bikini? I've no idea. i'm not looking to be seen. I don't go anywhere to be seen. I am, however, looking to get a tan as the days of casually going to a tanning bed are long gone. I miss that warming of my joints. it did wonders for sore muscles! and my days are spent outside chasing after 2 children, while carrying a 3rd..and you know what? i'd like to get some sun while i'm out there. i'd also like to teach my daughter a healthy body image...while also teaching her that what other people think doesn't matter. (something I struggled deeply with growing up.)
did you know we don't own a scale in this home? I wont. it causes panic and stress and I don't really care where i'm at on a scale anymore. i'm happy and healthy and I couldn't ask for more.
the other writer, she made good points. some of which I agree with but I wont adhere to. she also posted pictures of herself looking flirty in her suit, which you can see here, I haven't done. (maybe some day..but not today)
I finally like my body. I enjoy bikinis and wearing them makes me feel a little better about myself. I wear them frequently around my house (no air conditioning makes for one warm home). we honestly don't go to public places where bathing suits are least not for the last 2 years. maybe this year will be different...but I wont be. bikinis have been around since bikini island...and you wont catch me "covering up" in 90+ degree heat and risking heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
so wear what you will. my idea is that your behavior speak volumes about you, rather than the clothes. I should know. I used to wear all black and I KNOW how I was treated then..until someone got to know me.
what really bugs me were more the comments under the article. lots of judging...lots of hating. women are a lot like cats. eventually the claws come out.
you cant very well call yourself modest and then gloat about what you wear or choose not to wear. just be yourself, worry about yourself. get yourself right with God. stop picking at the piece in my eye, and worry about your own...
besides that, I don't like people trying to touch my face.

Friday, May 24, 2013

what are you willing to give up

a lot of parents would love to be stay at home parents and a lot, including me, thought that dream to be impossible.
even now, i still have my doubts. we do make mistakes. but i know what it takes to succeed. it just takes a lot more discipline, something we are working on daily.

when i think about where arnie and i were pre children, i get a little angry with ourselves. actually i get more than a little angry. we were both working and we were basically throwing money down the drain. spending it on garbage that we didnt need, barely used, and was overpriced.

where we are now, i sometimes wish we had that income available to us again...but then i stop wishing. i'm happy with where we are now- we just have to work harder for it.

now, i cant guarantee you will convert successfully to staying at home, there is a lot more than budgeting that goes into staying at home..but i can give you some tips- after all, hindsight is 20/20.

if you are both working now, consider the hours you are away from home. then assess what you're paying for "in home". do you need cable? really?

some people at this point will cut bait and walk away. some simply cant live without american idol or dancing with the stars. i was leaning that way until we gave it up. after 2 days, i just didnt care "what happened next". i'm sure you wouldnt either. it's just a show...not your life. and i'd like to remind you that if you want something bad enough (staying at home), you'll take the necessary steps to make it happen....and honestly, if cable tv was the only sacrifice keeping you from staying home- i do not want to hear you complain about it when you decide to keep working. the flip side of no cable? more time to spend together- whether it's just you and your husband...or a whole house full of kids. spend time getting to know them. when you look back on life, would you rather say i saw all 200 seasons of Freaks and Geeks or that you spent real time laughing and loving your family?

while we were childless, we had the cable/internet/phone bundle that started out at $89 a month, and then jumped to around $130 a month after a year. we paid it because...well, i dont know...i'm still kicking myself over crap like this.

eventually, we gave up the home phone part of the bundle, thinking this would help save us money...and converted to cell phones. we started out simple. just calls only....and then slowly, we "needed" more. i wanted to text. we needed a data plan. we wanted to surf the internet on our phones...
but our phones were simple, so we needed to upgrade those.

soon, we were paying for cable, internet at home, and two cell phones with all the bells and whistles. i thought we switched to *save* money...not to pay more.

our phones cost us in total around $140 month, now that's on top of still paying for cable and home internet.

dont forget we still had the every day costs of gas in both vehicles, lunches being bought (because why would we pack...), groceries, snacks, and eating out. we also obviously had the household bills: water, sewer, garbage, gas heat, electric, our car payment, and a mortgage.

and then, we added a child to our mix. we didnt give up much. we didnt want to. we did add a new expense once i went back to work: day care....and let me tell you- it isnt cheap. $400 a month. but while she was there, she was educated, she was potty trained, she learned friendships, and so much more. i dont regret it. i'm just saying it was one heck of an expense.

to make a long story short, we added two more babies to the mix, rather quickly and not without complication. i was on bed rest and couldnt work...and then i didnt want to work once they came...

and then we started looking at how we could possibly save money. we did the math. day care was going to be all of my month's salary, plus $150 from Arnie's. we simply couldnt do that. i was becoming a stay at home mom by force- i wanted to- this was just more abrupt.

by then, we had paid off our car. one less expense. we decided to give up cable. we were barely watching it as it was. it didnt hurt nearly as bad as you think it did. in fact, we hardly noticed. we gave up the bundle all together. one more less expense. i shopped around for an internet for the home and found one that worked for us. $20 a month.

we realized that we really didnt need a contract phone...let alone 2. we gave them up when the contract ran out. another expense gone. we bit another bullet and bough a phone outright with our tax return and did the straight talk plan. $40 a month.

with 2 babies under 2, disposable diapers were insane. i looked into alternatives. i found a website that bases everything off of income.
thanks to we were supplied with cloth diapers for free (i paid a one time flat fee of $30 for shipping both ways- you do return them whenever you are done, no time limit). now, i also bought some additional diapers with our tax return simply for peace of mind, but it wasnt really needed and we could've done just fine on the free diapers.
*if you think cloth diapering is gross, you're preaching to the choir. i'll happily discuss the differences in diapering with you- pros, cons, etc.*

somewhere around here, we moved back home. arnie took a job for roughly the same pay he was already receiving but much better benefits and way better hours. rent was less than a mortgage and so another expense became a little less.

if you're wondering about boredom, there isnt much. we did "splurge" a little and bought netflix. it's $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming on multiple devices (at once). we also bought magic jack for a land line (a little more stability, less dropped calls) $40 for the YEAR. and by the way, it works great. the other day at the store, we splurged a little more and bought -it's $10 for the year. yeah. $10. and it was worth it. WAY worth it.

*you may also qualify for a free cell phone through your income. look up assurancewireless through google and apply there.

other corner cutting skills we've take on:
*making our own laundry detergent (occasionally, i havent take on this feat full time just yet, but it's working!)

*line drying whenever possible for a cut back on an electric bill

*making our own cleaning supplies (it's amazing what vinegar can do...and add in some natural lemons for a better scent and voila: homemade and safe to use around kids)

*making my own diaper inserts. not for everyone, but i can do makes me feel a little better creatively, and it makes life a little easier)

*cooking at home and from scratch on occasion. i havent done the "from scratch" thing a bunch, but i know it's healthier and when i have the time, i absolutely do it. we do real sit down meals instead of at the restaurant 'gosh i hope my kids dont have a break down and scream' scenario. cheaper and much more stress free.

*do the math on your purchases on everything. sometimes buying in bulk pays off...sometimes not. buy used on items where you know it's safe to buy used and buy new only when you can afford to truly 'pay' for it and when you know you truly NEED to.

*arnie takes his lunch to work. not always, but more often than not he does...and it's cheaper, saves us money, and keeps us from throwing out any leftovers.

*home schooling. not really to save money, but just to be closer as a family and to be sure that values are being instilled in my kids. God is a part of our lives and public school doesnt really "allow" that. it does cut down on expenses though: school clothes, shoes? not so much, only when needed. school lunches? nope. we're healthier at home. school fees? no. is free and extremely easy to execute.

we could most certainly make more cuts to our budget, we definitely need to be more disciplined in our budget now. the main point is even when you think you've got nothing else to cut- believe me, there's more. one of the self help books call it the latte factor. you just have to find yours. maybe it's a donut factor...or a pepsi factor...or a starbucks factor. find yours and figure out if it's worth it to you to give it up...whether you give it up every day, every other day...or once a week.

when you add up the monthly expenses we were paying, plus the rough averages for money going out to lunches, gas, eating out, and the differences in bills here vs. zanesville....we "save" $2500 every month by changing our lifestyles to the above list. i say "save" because we gave up those things- but i also gave up my job which was roughly that same amount. we traded, so to speak. and if i must say, we got the better end of that deal.

i get to stay at home with my kids. that wins over every time.

my suggestion to you is start doing all or some of this *before* you begin your stay at home adventure. start saving real money. put it away and dont touch it until a real live emergency occurs that requires money that wasnt budgeted out in your monthly plan.

and like i said, we occasionally make mistakes. we over spend in areas where we shouldnt, but also, like i said- it takes discipline. it IS a lifestyle change....

but it IS worth it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

what do you do all day?.....

this blog is long and jumps topics several times. i apologize for this, but this is what happens when nap times of littles coincide. i can write...and i try to write quickly so as to get other things done during nap time. i'll try to round it off near the end of this blog, but like i said, it's lengthy and i climb a little on the soap box. no apologies for that. enjoy.

almost 9 years ago, i used to dream of being a stay at home mom. i looked at those who did/could with great envy and sometimes a little anger and jealousy. they would speak of how "busy" they were. how they didnt have "time" for anything and it would honestly piss me off.
try working nine hours, paying for daycare, and still having to come home and do all the crap every mom does. i was very bitter about working. i know the stress that comes with a mom that works. i know the feelings of guilt...and that guilt flies both ways.
what happens when your child is sick? you get a phone call at must must care for your child...and eventually send a child on the mend back to daycare (often times that child will be crying and begging to stay with you) while you must leave them and head back into the land of working adults...
and those working adults often look at you, working mommy, with disdain. (or at least it can feel that way)
"wow..must be nice to leave work no matter what's going on because your kid is running a fever.." or whatever ailment your kiddo caught. you ride both sides of the fence. it's a constant battle...that NEVER ends.
child cant sleep? doesnt matter, you're still up before dawn, and heading to work on minimal sleep and dont expect a lot of sympathy from the work force. (unless you are blessed with a fantastic work environment!)
and to top it all off, you will inevitably have stay at home mom friends who will at one time or another....complain. at sigh...and wish quietly for that lifestyle.

at least i did.

and then, whether by divine intervention (believe me, i prayed to stay at home) or by force of nature; while pregnant with Amelia, i was put on bed rest. i was forced out of the work force, so to speak.

i thought i would welcome bed rest with open arms, but as the days crept by, i began to wish i could go back to work. but it never happened. so boredom got the best of me and i started budgeting. we were barely surviving but we were surviving.

when amelia was born, i didnt want to go back. i couldnt fathom leaving her. so arnie and i talked and talked and talked...and we decided that between paying for daycare and other bills, that it wouldnt be worth it for us for me to continue working.

so i became what i always wished i could be....the holiest of holy grails:   a stay at home mom

and life continued to happen. it took me a while (months and months) to adjust to the idea that i was not going back to work...and each time i told myself that i wasnt going back, my heart skipped a beat.

what would i do with all my time??
see, i had told myself while working, that if i ever became a stay at home mom, i would do house chores with glee. i would happily do piles of laundry and mountains of dishes if i could just stay home.

and here i was...staying at home.

amelia was only 4 months old when we became pregnant with cain. see what happens when you cut your budget and there isnt cable tv? ;)

being pregnant, dealing with morning sickness, and a baby, and the house's demands (we had just moved!) was insane. i sort of went insane. arnie was home very little in those days as his job as a truck driver meant unpredictability so he had to make hay while the sun shined. i let my hormones rule the house. i was scary mean some days. where was the angelic me that i had promised would be around, should i get to be a stay at home mom??
i'm sure my husband was begging for an answer to that question.

and then...i added more to my plate. i wasnt juggling enough balls. i needed more things to while lily's school pushed and pushed about her behavior, i stopped listening and decided to home school her. i was "home" after all...why the heck wouldnt i choose a God centered education that would focus 100% on lily's pace of learning??

so i did. and then i decided to cut out more budget eating monsters,: i would cloth diaper. two babies equal lots of disposable diapers..and they arent cheap. so cloth diapering became part of our lifestyle too. mountains of laundry? yep, i was climbing Everest at this point.

now, i need to stop at this point and talk about something. at walmart, i started off an evening worker and i worked my way up from there. i invested 8 years of my life into that company and was promoted from evening worker, to meat dept associate, to dept manager of pets, to dept manager of toys, to Zone Merchandise Supervisor, where i became responsible for all of Grocery, beer, pop, and water, paper goods and chemicals, pets, over the counter pharmacy, and health and beauty aids. when someone asked me what i did, i had no problem telling them. i had a lot of responsibility...and a lot of stress.

now, i was staying at home. it was a shock. i had to stop myself when someone asked me what i did from saying nothing. i know i wasnt doing "nothing"...but i struggled with it. what i was doing 'in home' was much more important, but it's still a fight in my head to see that i'm not taking the easy road. i'm finally doing the work that i love and i'm not getting paid for it. i'm being loved in exchange. i'm seeing my children grow and that's something i'll never regret or question.

i fight a lot in my head about what i'm doing. i've locked myself into this position of being a stay at home mom. i'm somewhat anchored to the house and tethered to our children. so where a working mom can go out and have "adult" lunches through their work week, i'm making spaghettios, cleaning up cheerios, and dancing a silly dance to keep a baby laughing. if i put forth a lot of effort, i could go out too, but most days, i'd rather be here.

so...what do i do all day? i wake up when Amelia and Cain wake up. usually around 8am (on a good day)
i change them, get them dressed for the day, and spend about 20-25 minutes in our nursery/closet (while they play on the floor) putting away all the clothes from left over laundry. we are blessed enough to fit all the family's clothes in that room nicely and i cannot stress how convenient that is!--no trips up stairs!!

we move into the kitchen where i wash sippies and any other left over dishes from the night before while the babies snack on cheerios and play on the floor. i make my breakfast (usually bacon) which is shared with both Amelia and Cain now...two bacon lovers after my own heart.

i then start laundry and about this time, Lily comes downstairs for her breakfast..and unless i'm feeling particularly froggy (making pancakes or something), she has peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, toast, applesauce, or cereal- something she can easily obtain herself.

once Lily is finished, school begins. (although now school is done) it's also time for diaper changes.
i try to balance entertaining Amelia and Cain while overseeing Lily's online work/book work and reading with her where ever i can..and doing all testing that's required. About an hour to two hours into this it's diaper changing time and nap time. Amelia goes to her bed and Cain gets held until he falls asleep and then he gets laid on his daytime "nest" in the living room.

Lily has lunch, i have lunch, and while the babies nap, i do laundry - if it's nice, i hang clothes to dry. if the babies arent napping together, Amelia walks outside with me to hang clothes while Lily watches Cain.

we finish up with school, we do some play time. i do any additional dishes. *note- i dont like to let dishes pile up on me, i do much better with small amounts of dishes...which is why i do it this way. i also put up any laundry that has finished drying in the dryer if i can (mostly towels, socks, and underwear, which are kept in our bathroom- which we've been blessed to have such a spacious one that all that fits comfortably in!)
this is the time in which i can do God time, light cleaning, writing a blog, or reading a book.

IF both babies have napped, they tend to wake up at the same time and when they do, it's  diaper changing time and time for them to eat.

here's where a day gets dicey. it should be about 3pm or 4pm and here, it could go two ways. if lily has practice or a game, we begin packing and getting ready to leave. if lily doesnt have a game, then we fly by the seat of our pants. if it's nice and everyone's in a good mood, it's outside time! if it's raining, it's movie/book time until about 6-6:30...
then diapers get changed again...and i attempt to make a dinner for when arnie will be home. then eventually, we have dinner, we watch a movie or two or play a game, do more diaper changes...and bed time which point it starts all over again.

everything changes if we have trips to town, which tend to happen directly after waking up in the morning- that way, by the time we get home, it's nap time and it just makes everything easier.

i guess i'm busy..but i'm not, "oh my gosh, my day is so full, i never going to get anything done- 'busy'". every mother, i'm sure, is different...and has tons of different things they're juggling. my days are pretty easy when i compare them to working at walmart. and i can deal with a toddler's screaming fits much easier than i can that of an adult whose badge was bigger than mine, metaphorically speaking. there are stresses everywhere. i enjoy these stresses of home life much more.

i'm blessed that i can be here and stay home, and i try not to knock it too much or complain. i have the utmost respect for working moms. i've done that shift, and i know your heartache. all i can say is if you are happy where you are, then dont let anyone- anyone- give you guff for it. you are doing the best thing you can do for your baby (or babies). and if you still feel that ache inside you that tells you that you should be home, then sit down and work out the numbers. have long talks with your spouse about expectations should your situation change. make phone calls, look up research online (there are tons of staying at home when you can barely afford it links)

bottom line is: know what will make you happy and fight for it. in the end, you'll feel and see the difference in your life.

happy home making folks. :)