She works with willing hands.

Guess Where I’ve Been…

For the past nine days, I unplugged and (but for a handful of short exceptions) had nothing but real world, face-to-face interactions…and it felt so good.  I love blogging and I’m thankful for the technology at my fingertips, but I also believe that periodic technology breaks are refreshing, and possibly even vital, for our minds and relationships.

During my tech break, I braved flying alone with my five-year-old, three-year-old and one-year-old (which should certainly garner me some sort of major award) and did the following:

1.  Ate mountains of fried catfish, spicy boiled shrimp and crawfish, and a biscuit or ten.

2.  Admired incredibly old oaks trees, with their gorgeous twisting branches, dripping with Spanish moss.

3.  Watched my kids get to know their great-grandmothers and discover with glee that they have a whole mess of cousins.

4.  Drank enough sweet tea and Community Coffee to keep me wired for weeks.

5.  Visited Mike the Tiger.

6.  Gained a pound or eight.

So, dear ones, can you guess where I’ve been?

Thank You

Now that this blog is three months old, I need to take a pause to express my gratitude.  I am so incredibly thankful for you, dear ones.

Through comments, emails, messages and personal conversations you guys have showed me so much love and encouragement, and I am humbled and incredibly grateful.

Thank you for spending a few minutes of your day here with me.  I truly appreciate it…I know how busy and full life can be.  Thank you for allowing me to share my love of writing, cooking, family, friends and God with you.

You guys rock, and I love ya.

Oh, and I finally added a subscription option!  Go ahead and subscribe and I’ll keep you updated on what’s shakin’ here at Unbored Housewife.

Loving My Mama

Because I often fail to tell her in person…these are a few of my favorite things about the woman who birthed me into this world.

1.  Her love of shoes.  I thinks she owns at least 200 pairs.  No lie.

2.  Her love of family.  I can remember as a child she often told me: “I love my family.  My family is my world.”

3.  Her gentle ways.  In contrast to me, she is rarely forceful or aggressive.  I could learn a thing or two…

4.  Her love of cooking.  Growing up, my mom made home cooked meals every day, and she exposed me to a broad range of culinary flavors and experiences.

5.  Her dedication to the people she loves.  She is a thick and thin person, no doubt.

6.  The fact that she breastfed me well into toddlerhood.  Having done it myself, I can vouch for the fact that nursing a toddler is not always an idyllic experience.

7.  Her love of reading.

8.  The fact that she values her appearance, but not in a vain or obsessive way.

9.  Her quiet encouragement of all of my endeavors, both professionally and personally.

10. Her love of the Lord.  When I seek her advice, she unfailingly responds with a scriptural passage to ease my tumult or fears.  She has pointed me to God’s word my entire life.  For that, I am beyond thankful.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you.

Weekend Recap

This weekend I was a busy, busy bee.  I mostly unplugged and got down to getting stuff done – and it felt good.

Saturday morning I awoke to the most delicious warm and sunny weather, and played around with granola.  I tweaked my favorite basic granola recipe by subbing vegetable oil with coconut oil and brown sugar with maple syrup.  I was looking for a healthier version of my basic granola and I gotta say, I was pleased with the results.

granola

I used the granola to make Healthy Homemade Granola and Berry Parfaits.  My three-year-old (who loves blueberries and strawberries) was in food heaven.  My recipe will appear on my girlfriends’ style blog in the coming weeks.  Keep your eyes peeled for it.

Then we loaded into the SUV and hauled it over to Home Depot.  I am not ashamed of spending my morning walking around Home Depot picking out things like light bulbs and garden soil, all while feeding my kids hot dogs and soft pretzels from the snack shop.  I have (mostly) come to embrace my life stage and now relish activities and endeavors that only five years ago would have seemed average and mundane – and I loved the opportunity to pick out herbs and veggies for our family garden.

The past two years my kids have asked to make a garden in our yard – and on Saturday afternoon we finally did it.

IMG_2787

I’ll tell you all about it this week.

After our garden making, we walked straight across the street to our neighbors’ house for dinner.

When we had our baby girl almost two years ago (gasp, how can it be?!) our across-the-street neighbors blessed us by bringing us a meal.  The dinner consisted of some bangin’ Korean tacos with an amazing slaw on top and a side of spicy cucumbers.  Since eating that meal I have drooled over the memory of those tacos and tried to re-create them to varying degrees of success.  Last night our neighbors made the same meal for us again and I ate without shame.  After dinner you could have rolled me away from their house and straight back across the street.  Because they’re so awesome they even gave us a doggy bag to go and we just finished snarfing down the leftovers for tonight’s dinner.  All I can say is that our neighbor can cook some legit Korean food.  But he’s our neighbor.  You can’t have him.

Then today we had the pleasure of attending church and listening to a sermon in a series entitled “Disconnected – living in a tech saturated world.”  As a blogger, this topic is of keen interest to me, and I was struck by this thought from Pastor Andrew Kim: our interactions on social media (including blogs) should “be life-giving, encouraging, and fill another person with hope.”

I can only pray to do just a bit of that here.

Happy Monday, ya’ll.

Finding Joy in the Mundane

This is a topic that many people write about, and for good reason.  It’s important.

It’s important for everyone, but especially for those of us with small children.

As Americans in 2015, we are conditioned to crave dramatic joys and big moments.  We want our highs to be really, really high.  We desire excitement and intrigue, and then we often grow disillusioned and even depressed when our daily realities fail to bring us monumental moments of elation.

This morning my three littles and I spent our time at a place called “Chatter Splatter.”  It is an indoor gym facility equipped with every type of ball pit, ride-on toy, plastic slide, foam gym mat, coloring book, trampoline and bounce house that the five-and-under set could ever desire.

It’s also crawling with small humans and tired-looking mamas in yoga pants (myself included).

After playtime, we visited the potty and put on our shoes and jackets.  This took about half an hour (no lie).

Then I loaded three little tushes into my SUV and drove a mile down the road to Chick-fil-A.  I ate there for the 8,762,541 time since having my first child five years ago.

I let the kids trade in their kids meal prizes for ice cream cones, but then decided it was time to leave when I realized that some kid took a dump in the tube slide.

cluck cluck

For me, none of this was exciting or monumental.

In fact, it was exceptionally mundane.

How many monumental, dramatic moments have you experienced in your life thus far?  Maybe a handful?  Perhaps your wedding day?  If you’re a parent, surely the births of your children?  Maybe that day you got the job you always wanted?  That time on the beach in Maui?  Or when you finally took a risk and opened that business you’ve dreamed about for years?

The reality is that those huge moments of immense emotion and joy are few and far between.

We live our lives in the mundane.

We live in the small moments – the moments of teeth brushing, hair washing, coffee drinking, meal preparing, car driving, boo-boo kissing and clothes changing.

If you’re looking for joy in the grand, monumental moments, you will live your life with a spirit of dissatisfaction and disillusionment.

Instead, look for joy in the mundane – it is there to be found.

Because this morning at Chatter Splatter my baby girl asked for my help climbing into the swing and then quietly and contentedly delighted in me pushing her back and forth, back and forth.  It was sweet.

At Chick-fil-A my five-year-old went to the register all by himself and politely asked for his ice cream cone.  I was so proud of his confidence.

After nap my three-year-old snuggled in my lap and I scratched his back and arms for a long time.  Holding him close, with his curls ticking my nose, felt so good.

These were tiny moments of joy.

Don’t let them pass you by.

Embrace the mundane.  You live in it.  And there is much joy to be found.

Spring

Spring is a time of new life and fresh beginnings, when all that is dead once again flourishes.  I am convinced that this change in the seasons and the attendant visual displays of newness and regeneration are designed by God to point us to him.

All of nature reflects its maker.  He is there, in the details, beckoning us.

He is there in the first green daffodil shoots emerging through the muddy soil.

He is there as the robin gathers twigs, intent on fashioning a suitable nest for her coming brood.

He is there in the misty rain and the lingering early evening rays of sunlight.

He is there as my littles squish their boots in the mud and ask when we can put out the bird feeders and plant our garden.

Even though my children are small, they feel it too – the call of God – for the heavens declare his glory “and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”  (Psalm 19:1).

And his handiwork is amazing and majestic, is it not?  In this season of spring, with life bursting forth and dead things being made new, will you see not just his handiwork, but will you look for God himself?  Because if his creation is this amazing and miraculous, how much more must he be?

Don’t Take My TV

I greatly enjoy having a TV in my bedroom.  I rarely watch TV during daylight hours, but at night I turn it on, often as background noise, and get cozy under my covers aside its warm glow.  I’ve ended my day like this for years.

Although Jersey Boy wasn’t initially crazy about keeping a TV in our marital bedroom, he grew accustomed to its presence.  It has never been a major source of conflict for us.

In recent years, however, I’ve begun considering how my nightly TV consumption may be affecting Jersey Boy and I.  The facts don’t lie.

1.  I don’t know about you, but I’m really flippin’ tired when I wake up in the morning!  And aside from at least one child waking for comfort or assistance at some point during the night, there may be another culprit.  Multiple studies find that staring at a screen before bed results in poor sleep quality.  Our bodies are hardwired to grow sleepy when it’s dark, and the artificial light from TV viewing (or iPad, phone or computer use) stimulates the brain and interrupts the natural drowsiness process.

2.  TV viewing before bed is probably bad for our health.  Studies find that screen time before bed may put people at an increased risk of depression, heart disease, obesity and even cancer.  Yuck.

3.  And as if those two points aren’t compelling enough, there is yet a third reason why it may be best to show the TV to the bedroom door – less sex.  Technology in the bedroom (including televisions) interferes with quiet nightly intimacy between spouses, which over time can take a toll on a marriage.

So what is an unbored housewife to do with this information?

Well, the obvious response is to get rid of the TV.  But dear ones, for me this is easier said than done.  Like a moth to a flame, I comfort in the warm glow of my telly.  After a day full of food prep, chauffeuring, teaching, instructing, disciplining and refereeing, I crave the mindlessness that an hour of nightly television provides.

This time would be better spent: (a) reading (an actual paper book, not on a screen); (b) writing (in a paper journal, not on the computer); (c) praying; or (d) investing in my marriage.  And although my thinking is evolving on the TV topic, it is not without me kicking and screaming:

“Don’t take my TV!”

36 Feels Pretty Good

Yesterday was my thirty-sixth birthday.  I know that I’m still considered “young” according to many, and I certainly don’t feel “old.”  But as the fine crows feet slowly gather at the corners of my eyes, and I ascertain with dismay that I’m one year too old to be considered one of those much-discussed “millennials” I can’t help but feel thoroughly grown up.

But as they say, “age ain’t nuthin but a number” so I elect to push aside the image of myself growing ever closer to the pinnacle of that darn age-related hill.  You’re not over the hill until you allow yourself to feel that way, right?

My day began with gusto as I shook what my mama gave me at my Mojo exercise class.  That’s right, my favorite exercise class is called “Mojo” which I love because it reminds me that I have it (mojo, that is).  I talk about the class here.

And just look what my exercise buddies gave me:

birthday

While I’m at it, can I just say that I am tired of hearing that women don’t encourage and support each other – that we’ve all been socialized into catty, jealous gossips?

It simply isn’t true.

Does cattiness ever happen?  Sure.

But in my experience it is the exception, rather than the rule.  I have amazingly encouraging and supportive women in my life – women who seek to bolster each other with kindness and gestures of love.

If you don’t have women like this in your life – find them.

They may not be your age and they may not look anything like you – but they’re out there, all over the place.  Maybe it’s the grandma who sits in the cubicle across from you.  Maybe it’s the high school girl who lives next door (just imagine what an encouragement you could be to her).  Seek out these friendships.  You’ll be amazed by what you find and how you will be blessed.

Sorry, just give me a moment to step down from my podium.

Okay, I’m back.

After Mojo, my family took me to a scrumptious lunch and then I headed to the nail salon for a touch of solitary pampering (oh the joy).

I left looking like this:

mani pedi

Jersey Boy had this boxed up and waiting for me at home:

dress

And may I just say that there is something terribly romantic about a man picking out and purchasing a dress for his wife to wear out that evening?  I felt a little bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

Except I’m not a prostitute.

And Jersey Boy isn’t a millionaire.

And we’re married.

Oh, you get what I mean, right?

After slipping into my LBD and leaving our children in the capable hands of my MIL, we headed to Paris.

Yes, that Paris – the quaint French bistro and jazz café in the Chestnut Hill area of Philadelphia.

I enjoyed a glass of Pinot Noir, escargot, short rib beef bourguignon, classic crème brulee and a strong cup of decaf coffee with cream.

After dinner, my LBD could have benefitted from a bit of alteration to take out the waist by an inch (or three), but in the spirit of embracing the age of thirty-six, I didn’t much mind.

It was a birthday well spent surrounded by the amazingly supportive people in my life, and I gotta say, so far thirty-six feels pretty good.

Marriage Doesn’t Always Look Like This

[This wasn’t the post I planned for today.  I planned to see The Drop Box film and post a movie review.  However, a winter storm blanketed the Philadelphia region with snow, the theater closed early, and the showing was cancelled.  And then my evening took a different turn.]

Do you ever fight with your husband?  Because I sure do.

Last night we got into a rager.  It snowed all night and day here in Pennsylvania, and after a number of recent snow days, I think I was already teetering on the edge of the proverbial cliff.

You know that cliff, right?  Please tell me I’m not the only one who frequently finds myself seesawing at its summit.  Just picture the Grinch Who Stole Christmas after he stole all of the Whos’ goodies and the goodies are about to go over the precipice (just before he grows his heart – remember?).  He is trying desperately to prevent the Whos’ bounty from crashing over the edge of the cliff.

That was me last night.

And then Jersey Boy did something minor-ish that sent me careening straight down, over the edge.  I lost my temper.  I yelled in front of my kids.  I screamed in front of them, actually.

I screamed at my husband in front of my children, and then all three of the kids started wailing.

[Hanging head in shame.]

I could sit here and describe what Jersey Boy did wrong and how and why it upset me.  He’s certainly not blameless.

But you know who was the real problem?

Me.

I’ve been married for ten years, which I know is a small number compared to some of you dear ones.  But I’ve learned enough in the past ten years to understand that if I want my marriage to work – if I truly desire to uphold my marriage vows – I need to spend more time looking at myself in the mirror, and less time staring straight at my husband.

He is flawed, but so am I.  I am terribly flawed.

I am quick to speak and quick to anger…when I know that I am called to be exactly the opposite.

Accurate self-reflection is unpleasant work.  It’s so much easier to see the flaws, even the ugliness, in those closest to us.  I am adept at fooling myself into believing that my flaws are inconsequential and minor.  But these are mere pretenses.

That’s why I need grace – and I need it daily in abundance.  I need grace from God.  I need grace from my husband.  I need grace from my kids, from my friends, from my in-laws.

Examine yourself.  Do you need grace?  Do you show grace to the people around you?

Be encouraged, dear ones.  Marriage is hard work, as are all relationships.  Don’t believe a lie to the contrary.  But it’s valuable work; work worth doing.

I forgave Jersey Boy for wronging me, just as he forgave me for my lack of self-control and display of anger.  I apologized to my children, and they forgave me with open arms and sweet kisses.

Much like the Grinch, my heart has been changed, and is being changed daily.  And although it is often unpleasant work to examine the condition of my own heart, it is necessary and valuable.

And take heart, spring is right around the corner.

Why I Embrace the Term “Housewife”

Google tells me that “housewife” is defined as: “a married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework.”  Sounds pretty glamorous, huh?

Some of you may find the term “housewife” antiquated, offensive…perhaps even sexist.  So why on earth would I, an educated woman who left behind a promising legal career, embrace such a term?  Why would I choose to call myself a housewife?

In her book Housewife Theologian, Aimee Bird expresses it well:

These days the term has come to mean a married woman without a career–which is a negative definition.  It separates women by the question we have been contentiously debating for decades: should a married woman, particularly a mother, work outside the home?  I believe this is a big distraction that has prevented us from asking better questions.  But instead of tossing out the word altogether, I would like it to be recovered for the uses of uniting women in their common calling and responsibilities as well as helping us to celebrate the beauty of diversity among us.  The word love has been abused in more ways than I care to imagine, but none of us would want to sacrifice the speaking and hearing of it for the sake of word thieves.

So, just like Aimee, I am reclaiming the term “housewife” from the word thieves who have twisted it into a picture of the docile wife pandering to the chauvinistic dominion of her husband.  Instead, I embrace the term with open, loving, sometimes exhausted arms.

I am a housewife.  This is my work.  I clean, teach, change diapers, kiss boo-boos and serve as room parent at my kids’ school.  I nurse babies (only one currently), go to Target more than I care to admit, and cut food into teeny-tiny pieces for teeny-tiny mouths.  I read the same picture book over and over at the request of an eighteen-month-old.  I make lion sculptures out of Play-Doh and pretend I’m a princess being rescued by my three-year-old knight in shining armor.  I sing songs with hand motions and cook my husband’s favorite meals.

I imagine that many mothers, whether or not they have a professional career, do many of these things.

Being a housewife isn’t about whether you work outside of the home or how you make your money.  It’s about our shared responsibilities as women and mothers.  These things unite us.

And as mothers – as women – there is immense value in our responsibilities.  There is beauty, selflessness and strength in our duties.

As for this unbored housewife, I don’t do my work with a sense of burden or out of compulsion.  Not every day is easy, but I find joy in my duties.

You see, dear ones – I work with willing hands.