TBT- The Past is the Past

It’s Throwback Thursday. I can’t post many pictures, because they were stolen a few years ago. I can throw back a blog post though. Enjoy:

Last night while my husband and son were at boy scouts, my girls and I cuddled up on the couch to watch Sarah’s Choice. (I knew the content before hand and I was okay with my girls, ranging in age from 6 – 18 seeing it)

It was a great opportunity to talk about unplanned pregnancy, choices, decisions, and the rest of your life. I have often told each of my kids “Sometimes you have to give up something to do what is right” and this movie was a great example of that.

In the movie, two friends are astounded that a co-worker would go to college for 4 years, get a great job, receive a promotion and then give it all up when she had a baby. “What a waste!” they said. My girls said “That’s not a waste! It’s a baby and a baby is a great gift”. (smile, mom!)

Then Taylor said “that’s what Auntie Heather did. She gave up her job to stay home with her boys. It’s not a waste”.

I looked at her and said “honey, do you remember that I quit my job to stay home with all of you kids?”. She shook her head no.

The fact that she couldn’t remember made me smile. Before Piper was born, I had a great job. I had both Jack and Taylor while working there, and returned to work each time, broken hearted, but determined not to give up what I had worked for. I was able to make my own schedule, for the most part, was earning $20 an hour, had great benefits. I had started on the production floor and worked my way up to an assistant/ clerk in the finance department.

I thought “this is what my kids will always remember. They will never know a stay at home mom. It’s too late for me to change it. It’s impossible anyway.”

After Piper was born though, I couldn’t return. I could not go back. The thought of it made me physically ill. I didn’t have a clue how we would make it, I only knew that we had to.

So I gave it all up. I have never looked back. I thought for sure that my kids would remember those stressful years.

Last night showed me that it’s never too late and my kids only remember me as the mom who has stayed home with them.

What a gift her lack of memory was for me.

It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to do what is right.

What are you wanting to change? Maybe you feel like it’s too late? 

Leaving Kids in Hot Cars

This is the post that will either make you love me for my honesty or hate me for my stupidity. You have been warned. 

Every summer, we see it in the news. Often. A kid left in a hot car. Sometimes it’s because the mother has gone in for a haircut, sometimes it may have been pre-meditated, and other times people just plain forget. 

And it’s horrible. It’s terrifying. It’s scary to think that this could happen to anyone. Many people think they are “safe”. It could never happen to them, but who in their right mind would think it could? Even if you know and understand that it could happen in your life, you probably don’t believe it will. Hopefully it never does. 

These news stories break my heart. I can’t imagine how a parent lives with the knowledge every day that their actions led to the death of their child. Especially when it’s completely unintentional. People who comment on such news articles appear to have no grace. “Poor parenting”, “they should have never had kids”, “This will never happen to me, I’m a REAL parent!”, etc, etc, etc. For a parent who truly forgot, who is probably beating themselves up and wanting to change the past, these comments likely dig deep and stab hard. I can’t imagine. 

Yet, I can. I have been there. Let me give you a glimpse of a status I posted on Facebook last night:

Confession, because I hate it when people say it would never happen to them, and yet it happened to me. I left Piper in the car once. She was forward facing, in the seat behind me and I left her. It was hot out. There had been some confusion about whether she was coming with me or staying with Chad. I was distracted. I got out of the van, locked it and started walking away. I am so dang thankful that my mom and Taylor were with me. My mom said “aren’t you going to get the baby?” I looked at her confused and said “what baby?”, then I remembered that she was with us. I will never forget that happening. I think of it EVERY time I drive somewhere.

It can happen to anybody, given the right set of bad circumstances. I clearly remember the details of that day. I’m thankful it was momentary, but it happened. I forgot.

Some people will think it can never happen to them and that I am an idiot. That’s okay. I know I’m not. I’m just human. I’m not super human and I make mistakes.

You know what happened? Friends stopped by and commented and said “This happened to me too”. They shared their stories. Many shared how the memory haunts them. They know, as I do, that the outcome could have been much, much different. Every one of us is thankful that it wasn’t. Each of us understands that this isn’t something that only happens to horrible parents. Oh, sure, there are some parents out there that leave a lot to be desired, but that is not our downfall. 

Our downfall is that we are human. We have things on our minds, we are busy, over worked, over scheduled and distracted. We have new routines that throw everything in our day off. I will never NOT regret that this happened to me. Our situation did not end terribly, but it still happened and I still remember. (Unfortunately, Piper, who has heard this story many times won’t forget either. I get a “Don’t leave me like that one time!” all the time) 

Look, I’m not proud of myself. Not in the least. This shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately it does. It happens more than it should. I can understand how and why though and my heart mourns for the parents who were much like me and just had a different outcome. It’s something that can’t be taken back and when a parent is already grieving, they don’t need to be blamed. They need compassion. Understanding. Solidarity. They need to know that it could happen to anyone. 

Even if you think it wouldn’t happen to you. 

 

Living in a Microwave Society

In the late 1940’s, Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for Raytheon Corporation. Out of this experiment came a household appliance that many kitchens sport. 

The microwave. 

The microwave does for us in minutes what takes more minutes to do on a stove top or in the oven. It nukes our food and our liquids. It cooks. It reheats. It thaws. With a microwave, last minute meals are not a big deal. Forgot to take the ground beef out to thaw? No problem! It used to take all day in the refrigerator, but with the microwave you can have that done in less than 10 minutes. This is especially useful if you are terrible at planning ahead. 

Microwaves have not only removed the need to plan ahead, they have removed the need to wait. There is no need for patience. Health risks of using a microwave aside, this is not entirely a bad thing. 

However

Yes, however….

Our need for fast meals seems to be spilling over into other areas of our lives. We are living in a society of people who do not like to wait. We don’t want to wait for dinner, so we have microwaves, fast food and drive throughs. If we go to a sit down restaurant, chances are someone is irritated because the service is a little slow. (as a side note, I was in a restaurant a few months ago with the following sign: If you want a fast meal, we will gladly give you directions to McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc. If you want a good meal, be patient) We don’t want to wait for marriage for sex. Why should we? We can do it now. We don’t want to wait in line at the bank. (another side note: you don’t have to wait. There’s an app for that) We want to know the sex of our babies, NOW. There’s no waiting!

Slowly, we have become Veruca Salt, from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. “I want a ____________ and I want it now!” 

How terribly sad. 

I fall into the trap of a microwave society. I found out the sex of 3 of our 4 babies before they were born. I use the microwave a little too much, I plan for things a little too little. I had sex before marriage. I hate to wait!

Society lies. It tells you that you don’t need to wait because you can have it now. When I was pregnant with my 4th baby, we decided that we would wait until she was born to find out if she was a boy or a girl. I will never forget hearing “It’s a girl!” when she was born. Many  people tell me that it’s exciting to hear it at 20 weeks pregnant too. I don’t disagree, but until you have waited nine months to hear it, you just don’t know how much sweeter it is.

 

Our food is better…. when we wait. Our memories are better… when we wait.

I know that many will disagree with me. That’s okay. If we all agreed with each other, life would be SO boring. :) As for me…. my ground beef is thawing in the fridge.

At least for today.

Agree? Disagree? Have we been ruined living in a microwave society?

Remember when it was a Material World?  

Do you Plan to Eat?

I had heard about Plan to Eat, but I resisted signing up. I already planned my meals, for the most part. I did well, mostly, eating dinner at home every night. In short, I just didn’t think I needed it.

Then several months ago, I was listening to the radio and the deejay was talking about Plan to Eat. She said that it was so easy to make a menu and a list. She said it took her less than 5 minutes to plan her meals. Then she said that there was a free 30 day trial.

30 Days? FREE? If you know me, you know I can not resist free.

So I signed up.

It was perfect timing too, because just a week after signing up, we were headed out for our first family vacation in 11 years! We had rented a house and had full access to a kitchen, stove, refrigerator, plate and silverware. Meaning…. we weren’t eating out. We really had no excuse. ;)

So I jumped right in with planning the week’s meals. The first time I used Plan to Eat, I could see why so many loved the service. One… it was easy. Two… it was convenient. Three… they had some preloaded recipes that you could use.

1. It was easy: So easy. There is a button that you can place on your tool bar. When you are on a website with a recipe and want to save it to your Plan to Eat account, you push the button and it (usually) loads and saves the recipe! (I say usually, because sometimes the set up of the web site means you have to copy and paste instead of one clicking it, but even this is easy) You can also copy the link, go to your account and save the recipe that way.

2. It’s convenient: You just click your recipe and drag it to your menu planner. Then you click your shopping list button and voila! An automatic grocery list! It will import everything into the list, even salt and pepper, so if you’re like me and you just happen to have that, you can delete it from your list.

3. Pre-loaded recipes: Not only do they have recipes already pre-loaded, if you have a friend who is using Plan to Eat, you can browse any of THEIR public recipes. (there is an option to keep your recipe private) I found some great recipes that are now family favorites, because Not a Stepford Life (Link is to her Plan to Eat Review) also joined and she had some yummy recipes on her account.

30 days after signing up for the free trial, I had no reservations about spending the $39 for a full year’s access to Plan to Eat. I could see how Plan to Eat not only saved time, but money as well. In March, the month before signing up for Plan to Eat, we spent $600 on groceries. This is food alone. In April, our first month of using Plan to Eat, we spent $460. This amount included our vacation food! As you can see, I saved well over the $39 fee. 

I highly recommend Plan to Eat. If you join, let me know and we can swap recipes. We’ve been eating new recipes every week, so I have many saved! If you are interested, you can find Plan to Eat here

Useless facts:

Since signing up

  • I have spent 9.9 hours using Plan to Eat. 
  • I have added 96 recipes to my account. 
  • I have menu planned 179 recipes.
  • I have shared my recipes with 2 friends. 

Try it. You’ll like it. 

 

What Does Fear Stop?

My brother was scared to die.

He retired from the Navy after a 20 year stint. He rarely went into war zones, but the time he did, he called my mom in a panic. His superiors had given him “next of kin” paperwork. I am sure there was a bundle of other papers, but I’m not a military girl, I couldn’t tell you what they were.

I do remember my mom telling me how scared he was about going, especially after having paperwork placed before him that signified the real danger in the adventure he was about to go on. During that time, he went to many places, but was not allowed to divulge his location due to safety reasons. Despite all the danger, he returned each time, alive.

Thank God.

Yes, we thanked God for his safe return every time.

My brother was scared to die.

The night before his open heart surgery, he asked his wife if she was praying for him. He was scared. I don’t know if he had a feeling how things were going to go or if like many of us, he KNEW death was a possibility, but figured it wouldn’t happen.

He died of a massive heart attack during surgery.

His fear of death did nothing to save him.

I’m going to repeat that, because I need to remember it.

His fear of death did nothing to save him.

My fear of death often paralyzes me. If anyone knew how many ailments I have googled and how many times Webmd tells me my aches and pains could lead to death, I would be mortified.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,

Romans 14:8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

My brother feared death and it came for him anyway.

It will come for all of us. We won’t know when. We won’t know why, but it will come. So why do we fear what we can not avoid? The fear of death only stops us from living fully, it doesn’t stop us from dying.

P.S. I was thinking about him this morning. I think about him a lot and that voice inside my heart that often makes a lot of sense spoke to me. It said “Willie was scared of dying and it didn’t stop it from happening. Why are you wasting your time on fear?” That lightbulb moment led to this blog post. 

 

Tools and Prayers

My husband and I have been spending a lot of time, and money, at home improvement stores lately. We’ve had to put off some home repairs for several years. We had a good start at them, but then life got in the way; he lost his job, I got pregnant, my brother died, I had a baby. You know, stuff like that. :) 

Some of our repairs are pretty straightforward and simple. New lights. Have I ever mentioned how scary it is to turn on a light and have it spark and smoke and go out? Ha, yeah, it is. So we have replaced lights, installed shelving, fixed a broken lock. Right now, those repairs are never ending!

Our bath tub faucet is leaking. Through a little lot of research, I’m pretty sure it’s the Moen carriage that needs to be replaced. From what I read from homeowners and plumbers alike, it’s NOT going to be an easy fix. It seems that even plumbers don’t like working on a Moen and recommended an upgrade to a Delta. 

I was thinking about going down to Lowe’s, finding someone in charge and asking them to fix the faucet. It would just be easier (on me) that way. 

What’s wrong with that picture? They must have the ability to do it. They work in a home improvement store after all!

Yeah, I’m totally kidding. I know it doesn’t work that way. Besides, I like to learn things and I will not acquire ANY new knowledge if someone else just comes in and does it for me!

Why then… why???? do we pray to God like that?

“Dear God, please take my craving for food away.”

“Dear God, can you fix my financial mess? Yes, again.” 

“Dear God, can you make me nice? Take away my bad attitude.”

Can I get an amen? Do you know what I mean?

Yes, of course He CAN do that. He most likely will not, but he CAN. If He did, however, what would we learn? Would we learn to control our finances, be nice to everyone, or to not eat the bad stuff? Nope. That probably would not happen. 

God WILL, however, give each and every one of us the tools to curb our cravings, be wise financial stewards or treat others kindly. He can help us with any of our issues, but sometimes it will take a lot of work and uncomfortable-ness on our part. Most of the time it’s not going to be quick, it’s not going to be easy, but we WILL acquire strength and knowledge through Him. 

Just like the guy at Home Depot gives us the tools for our home repairs, God gives us the tools for our life repair. The big difference is that God will give it to us for free. It just costs a bit of faith and trust. The cost at Home Depot or Lowe’s? Well, I don’t even want to talk about it. 

Idiots

I’ve written before about how the way people treat other people disturbs me. I was talking, generally, about the way people treat or talk about strangers. You know the strangers I mean. The ones who irritate you or get under your skin. The guy in the next lane who cuts you off. “Idiot”. The frazzled lady who went through the 10 items or fewer lane with 15 items. “Can’t she count?” The dad who was a little harsh with his kid at Walmart. “He should have his kids taken away”.

You get the picture. People irritate us. Why? Not because they are idiots, but because we are human. (although I know people who would beg to differ and claim it IS because the other person is an idiot) Things happen. It’s this little thing called life.

The thing is, we have NO idea what is going on in that other person’s world. We don’t know what they are thinking, we assume. We don’t know what they are dealing with, it doesn’t cross our mind. That would be compassionate and a lot of us aren’t, at least not right away. We’re reactionary, we’re offended and we’re just looking out for our rights.

Little story. It’s true and I haven’t changed any names to protect anyone. :) Taylor, Jack, Piper, Charlee, Chad and me were shopping at Target last weekend. I don’t remember what we were there to purchase. We’re there all the time, it sort of runs together. Before we left the store, I went into the restroom. When I came out, Chad said he also needed to go. I told him we would meet him at the truck. The five of us stood waiting to cross the parking lot, because there was a little traffic. I was holding Charlee, Taylor was behind me, Piper beside me and Jack… well, he was somewhere. Somewhere close. I’m not that terrible of a parent. A van stopped and its driver motioned for us to cross the street. Piper started to run across, when all of a sudden I yelled “Piper, STOP!”. By that time she had already reached the other side, and the driver that swerved around that van had already slammed on her brakes.

To her credit, the lady driving the car looked horrified. She threw her hand up ion the air and mouthed “Sorry, sorry!”

I have no idea what she was thinking. I assume that she was in a hurry, she figured the driver of the van was out for a leisurely stroll? I have no idea. I do know that her decision could have hurt my child. My heart was racing and the “what-ifs” flooded my over-active imagination.

BUT

She didn’t hurt my child. I don’t know what she was thinking, I don’t know what was going on in her life to make her in such a hurry. This is what I do know. She apologized. I hope that she learned her lesson and she thinks her choices through, instead of reacting in a hasty manner.

Here’s the thing, her bad decision certainly earned her the title of “idiot”, but don’t we all earn that title sometimes? So are we really idiots? Or are we humans? Humans who live, learn, make mistakes and hopefully never repeat those mistakes again.

I know this to be true, because I was that idiot the other day. I was pulling out into traffic. I saw 3 cars coming and pulled out, because it appeared I had time. If I had actually paused, instead of just turning, I would have seen that there was a fourth car leading the pack. Fortunately for me, and them, they had good brakes. I didn’t stop to assess my total surroundings, I was in a hurry and I made a bad decision. I learned my lesson.

I am human.

I am not an idiot.

And most of those idiots we encounter every day are just trying to get through this life, like us. Sometimes mistakes are made and when we are really, really lucky it costs nothing but a bit of embarrassment and an apology.

And those other times? Those are the ones I warn my kids about. How someone can do everything right and someone else can come through and alter live FOREVER. Sometimes that someone else is us, because none of us are immune to bad decisions. None of us are immune to being the idiot. We all get the chance.

Does knowing that sometimes you are the idiot make you want to be a bit more compassionate to the other “idiots” out there?