Sunday, August 23, 2015

the one about if my daughter was anna duggar

I'll admit it.

I kind of used to love watching TLC's 19 Kids and Counting. I would turn it on in the mornings while I was getting some work done around the house, and I wouldn't be worried about my children passing by the television because there was no nudity, profanity, suggestive innuendos, or violence. It seemed safe to me, and my girls enjoyed seeing all the children laughing, playing, and interacting with each other.

When we decided to scrap our extended cable channels in exchange for Netflix and Hulu, I was a little bummed that I wouldn't be able to catch up with the Duggars on a daily basis.

But, life moved on and the world kept turning.

That is, until the first wave of the Josh Duggar scandal made the news. Yes, when the public learned of Josh Duggar inappropriately touching some of his sisters when he was 14 or 15 years old, the world seemed to stop turning or flip on its axis or both. It seemed like everyone had something to say about it. Non-Christians used it as a way to prove that Christians are just a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites. Christians used it as a way to defend forgiveness and salvation. Many (far too many) used it as a punchline of a joke.

After a little while, the dust settled. The media moved on. Donald Trump happened.

Josh Duggar was nearly out of the headlines when a new story emerged. After a data leak at Ashley Madison (an eHarmony for married cheaters, if you will), we all learned that Josh Duggar was a paying member, and had been for quite some time.

Yes, Josh Duggar was actively searching for extra-marital affairs. And not only searching...he was paying to find them.

Married. Father of four (his newest baby was born earlier this summer). So desperate to cheat on his wife that he was willing to pay nearly $1,000 for the privilege.

Without going into too much detail, I wanted to share a little of what he was "searching" for.

According to his alleged profile, he was wanting someone "professional." Someone "stylish." A "casual jeans and t-shirt type." He liked "short hair" and a "take charge type."

If you've even watched five minutes of the show, you'd know that his wife is not known for her style, short hair, or take charge attitude. She doesn't wear jeans (just skirts), and she isn't a professional in a career sense of the word.

So, basically, he was looking for the opposite of the person he married (on television). He wanted the antithesis of the person he waited to kiss (on television) until she shared his last name.

I wonder how this (ANY of this) makes her feel?

Yes, her.

Anna.

The one who isn't a household name. The one who isn't on the front page of the tabloids. The one who is most likely suffering immeasurable pain and betrayal at the hands of the man she loves the most.

The one who is probably, in some way, blaming herself for his actions. Wondering what she did "wrong" or how she could have prevented it. Wondering why she wasn't "enough."

Anna has a mom. I have seen her on TV.

But I feel like I want to be Anna's Mama Bear.

Maybe it's all the mornings I spent watching her teach and encourage her children so sweetly, or maybe it's the fact that I witnessed the birth of 3 of her children (including the one on the toilet-- thanks, TLC).

I just feel like I know her.

And if my daughter was Anna Duggar, this is precisely what I would tell her.

Anna,

You weren't enough.

For him, you weren't enough.

And you would never be enough.

Call it sickness. Call it addiction. Call it just being an unfaithful asshole.

But you would never have been enough for him.

All the beauty. All the "professionalism." All the jeans and t-shirts in the world.

He would still be searching for something else. Someone else.

And thank God your value was never dependent on his ability to see your worth.

People are going to tell you that you're trapped. They are going to tell you that because you don't have a college education or a job, you are trapped in this miserable situation. That because you chose to stay home with your children, you have no way out. That this should serve as a cautionary tale to all other housewives-- when your husband commits unthinkable acts, make sure you have a college degree and a career so you can stand on your own two feet.

But when you said your marriage vows and when you agreed that you would be the daily caretaker for your children, you didn't think you'd be standing in this mess, did you? This doesn't make you a fool. This makes you a committed wife and mother who had no reason to believe your husband would betray you in this way.

You're no different than any other wife who stands hopeful at the altar. Not many of us look into our groom's eyes and think of our escape plan for when it all goes to shit.

You're not unintelligent, Anna. No, you don't have a college degree, but I have one, and none of my professors taught me how to pick up the pieces of my life once it had been shattered into a billion shards of pointy glass. My college degree would mean nothing to me if I were standing in your shoes.

Yes, you were raised conservatively. You only dated one man before you committed yourself to him for the rest of your life. You didn't shop around. You didn't play the field. You fell in love at a young age and could see no other way. This doesn't mean you were naive. It doesn't mean you were stupid. It doesn't mean your parents "sheltered" you too much. It means you were raised with a set of morals and values that you believed would not let you down.

I can only imagine the struggle you feel right now. Do you stay and honor the marriage vows you took before God (and a nationally televised audience), or do you leave?

No matter what, it will be the hardest decision you will ever make. And everyone will have an opinion on it, guaranteed.

All I ask, Anna, is that no matter what you choose, you stand while you do it.

Stand up, Anna.

And don't stand behind this flawed and pathetic man.

Stand in front of him.

Make the headlines about you.

Make them about your strength, your dignity, your resilience.

Let everyone know who Anna is. That she is not a victim of her circumstance, of her upbringing, or of her religious beliefs. Let them see that none of these things put her in the position she is in right now, and none of these things will keep her from doing exactly as she damn. well. pleases.

Let the world see that a woman's worth is not measured by college degrees or high paying jobs or whether or not her husband can remain faithful.

Let the world see that a family's crisis is not a punchline. It's not a meme. It's real. It's painful. It's messy. It's raw.

Let the world see that a woman can be a Christian homemaker who gives birth in her own bathroom, but she can be a force to be reckoned with and won't be humiliated.

Stand up, Anna.

Your daughters are watching you.











Thursday, August 13, 2015

the one about how I hate packing lunches



As you know by now, my oldest daughter has started Kindergarten. The process of starting "official school" has brought about many changes in our household.

First, because she attends a private Catholic school, she wears a uniform everyday. There will be days when  she can wear what she wants, but so far, each day has been a uniform day.

I know many who turn their noses up at uniforms, stating that they remove the individuality from the child and force them to look like everyone else. I get that, I do, but uniforms have made my life significantly easier and less dramatic.

My children have beautiful clothes. Really, there's nothing they own that makes me cringe when they wear it (otherwise, why would we own it?). However, there are things that are best not to be worn to school. And those things, without fail, are the things my daughter would LOVE to wear to school.

Thank you, Uniform, for sparing that aztec-legging under the floral dress with the giant popsicle stain power struggle.

Another change for our house is preparing a school lunch for her daily. We are allowing her to eat a school lunch once per week, but the other days are lunch box days. The only problem with this is that I abso-freaking-lutely hate packing lunches. HATE.

For whatever reason, I just find the task to be daunting (first world problem, I know). I refuse to do it in the morning because we never wake up early enough to avoid the inevitable cluster that is the final five minutes before departure. Then, often times I am too tired to pack anything worthwhile the night before. Truly, it is a crapshoot if I am going to brush my teeth before I go to bed, so packing a lunch that is anything more than a box of Cheerios with a note that says "Love, Mama" slapped on it is kind of asking too much.

I decided to find a way to make packing lunches less of a chore. I took to Pinterest (duh) and found a few promising ideas. I decided to give one a try, and I am so happy I did!

I combined a few ideas and came up with something that has been an absolute life saver. I literally don't have to think about packing lunches, and most of the time, Noelle can pack her lunch herself.

I purchased mini plastic crates from Target, 3/$3.99, and some plastic baggies. I determined that one bin would be for "Starches/Salty Snacks," another bin would be for "Sweet Treats," another bin would be for "Cheese/Yogurt," another for "Meat/Protein," one bin for "Fruit," and a final bin for "Veggies."

The bins that do not need to be refrigerated sit on my counter. They are stackable, so they don't take up a lot of space. For the refrigerated items, I cleared a spot in my refrigerator and also used one of the crisper drawers in the bottom.

(I tried to take photos of this system, but my kitchen does not photograph well!)

I then filled the bins with 2 choices for each category. To start with, I placed appropriately portioned baggies of popcorn and pita chips in the "Starches/Salty Snacks" bin. For "Sweet Treats," I measured out serving sizes of chocolate covered yogurt raisins and trail mix into snack baggies. Her "Cheese/Yogurt" choices were Chobani yogurt tubes or Babybel cheese. For "Meat/Protein," I placed two pieces of salami in a baggie and hard boiled a few eggs. Her "Fruit" choices were baggies of grapes or strawberries. Her "Veggies" were baggies of baby carrots or celery with light ranch dressing cups to dip.

She can choose one option from each bin and pack her lunch herself. It took me approximately 45 minutes on a Sunday to baggie up enough food for two weeks' worth of school lunches. It takes her less than 2 minutes to pack her lunch herself, and she enjoys the job. By giving her healthy choices, I know that no matter what she chooses, she is packing herself a healthy lunch.

Once all of our bins are empty, I will refill them with new options. She knows that I also won't add more of one choice simply because she ate all of that one choice first. For example, she ate all of the baggies of grapes first, so I will not add more grapes until she eats the baggies of strawberries.

The one thing I don't care for is the amount of plastic baggies we use in this system, but I am having her bring all of her plastic baggies home in her lunch box, except for the ones with sticky fruit in them, and I will try to reuse them a couple times before throwing them away. We try to recycle and be as environmentally friendly as possible, so there might be another way to replace the baggies. For now, this is working for us.

What I love about this is that it is cost effective (I am estimating each day's lunch costs less than $2).

It is time efficient. As long as you have an extra 45 minutes or so on the weekend to wash and cut fruit and vegetables and bag up the other items, you can save yourself a lot of time and chaos throughout the week.

It is healthy. My daughter is obsessed with one day receiving a "real" Lunchable, but at $3 each and not the greatest nutrition facts, I just can't justify it. This way of packing lunches puts her in control of "choosing," even though I have done the guesswork for her. She feels like she is taking control of her lunch, and I am happy that no matter what she chooses, they will be nutritious.

It gets us off the PB&J hamster wheel. I love a good PB&J. I really, really do. But we simply were not thinking of anything else to feed our children, and I realized that there are other (and better) options out there. For a peanut butter fix, I can add peanut butter in small containers for her to dip her celery in, or we can save it for the weekends. A lot of schools are not wanting kids to bring peanut butter in their lunches anyway because of the allergy risk.

I have created a chart that I will be using when I am trying to think of new ideas to add to the bins. Feel free to download and use it, too! Just click the image and right click to save it! What would you add to the mix?


Now...if I could only convince her to sleep in her uniform the night before...