Monday, July 15, 2013


Martha is a marvel.
I'm nothing like her.
As a wife and mom I consider myself sort of the anti Martha Stewart. I run my own business, I have cooking and house stuff to do, and I have a nine-year-old kid, so doing the extras like making beautiful decorations and fancy foods a la Martha is just NOT going to happen. NOT that there's anything wrong with expressing yourself creatively through crafts and cooking and colorful centerpieces. In fact, I kind of marvel at people who are good at that stuff... while I'm just trying to keep my head above water. 

Of course, with, everyone is Martha now, showing off the “good things” they find on the internet. Me? I can’t even manage to get the hang of the Pinterest web site. I mean, I feel like when I pin something, it's like I'm saying, "I just might try this!" And I just can't make that kind of commitment. You might say I’m a “Pinterest Fail”… which IS a real thing.

Unless you mean THIS Martha!
So I might as well just skip and go right to On this site, the contributors post a photo of the beautiful idea they found on Pinterest, followed by a photo of their disastrous results when they attempted to replicate it. MY version of pinterest fails would have sort of... reverse advice. Simplification rather than complication. It wouldn’t have great homemade baby food recipes, or crafts to do with your overachieving kids, or home-sewn Halloween costumes…  you know, ways to make things HARDER… It would instead have a few tips to help someone who is desperately trying to hang on to their sanity. 

Okay, I just described myself. Anyway... here are some sample tips from my “PinFail” board:
Sleep is king part 1: In the Baby Sale ads (to which my husband always acts shocked, “They shouldn’t sell babies!”) they always have those attractive comfy nursery rockers so mom can nurse baby in comfort, her feet up, gliding gently. Don’t bother with that. Just lie down on your side in the bed with the baby facing you. Pop a breast into his mouth. Honestly – why sit up when you can lie down? If you’re lucky, one or both of you will fall asleep. Oh – it’s daytime? So what! Sleep is king. 
Before I learned about sleep-nursing.
Sleep is king part 2: If your child has terrible posture in his high chair at dinner time, he probably just needs to go to sleep. Strike while the iron is hot and just put him to bed. 
Sleep is king part 3: If your kid won’t go to sleep because it’s thundering and he’s scared, tell him it’s the old lady who lives next door bowling in her back yard. It may quiet him in the short term and later he’ll think it’s hilarious. 
Potty solutions part 1: If you had a baby shower, chances are you are the proud owner of anywhere from 7 to 57 adorable little onesies. BUT… you might want to get over to Target and buy some tiny little t-shirts… because onesies suck. My kid relieved himself fecally on every onesie I ever snapped over his chubby little diapered behind. (Diapers proved no hindrance to my little sh*tting machine!)
Strike while the iron is hot!
Put this sleepy child to bed!
Potty solutions part 2: If your child manages to relieve himself fecally (or otherwise) on every onesie he owns, try a different brand of diapers. We went through many brands – Huggies, Luvs, store brands – until we found out that Pampers were the only ones that could contain his massive BMs.
Potty solutions part 3: Every child is different when it comes to potty training. Read all the books and articles you like, and if you’re lucky, you’ll hit on the right method for your child. Or just make it up as you go along, We couldn’t get Bill to do ANYTHING outside of a diaper for the longest time so we went with the much easier Plan B: I told him that on his fourth birthday he would begin wearing underwear. And he did it... He jumped right into those Spiderman undies and never looked back. I’m not sure why it worked… the grace of God? 
The onesie... an accident waiting to happen!
On sanity maintenance: Perfect your “smile and nod” technique. If your kid is like mine, he will talk your ear off about any and everything that catches his fancy. Sure, some things you definitely need to hear, but if he’s just going on about the bugs in the backyard having a war… well… this is where smiling and nodding come in handy.
Fancy art preservation system: When in doubt, throw it out. How does this old chestnut from Journalism school apply to kids? Well, lots of parents wonder, “How do I preserve all the art projects and scribbles my child brings home?” And at first, I saved EVERYTHING! Just recently, I found a stack of sheets from Bill’s daycare that outlined his daily activities in terms of how many ounces of milk he’d had at various times, how much waste matter he’d excreted, how long and how often he’d slept, and what activities he’d participated in (“laid on pillows and stared at a mobile”) You know what I did with those babies? I threw them out. Because you just have to. Save a couple of best things – frame them and display them or give them to grandparents. Stick one or two of the sweet things from Sunday school in your Bible maybe… and throw the rest away. I mean, unless you have unlimited storage space... then by all means, store away!
Your child will make a zillion
pieces of art before he's 5.
You simply can't keep them all.
Cute toy storage idea: don’t buy many toys. They will just fill up your already crowded-with-art-projects-and-potty-reports house. My kid has more fun with tape and cardboard boxes than all his toys put together. And if your child has the “collector gene” which my husband passed on to my child, I recommend Hot Wheels. Ringing up at about a dollar, these can satisfy your kid’s need to amass a gaggle of something without breaking your bank, or taking up too much space. If you have a girly girl, though… sorry. Can’t help you with that!
Cooking for family tip: When it comes to veggies, just steam everything, saute it in olive oil, or eat it raw in a salad. While I don’t stress about the food I serve, I do love my fresh veggies… so we have a farm share. You know, that’s where you pay a farmer some money in February and come April or May, he brings you a weekly box of produce. Last year I made all kinds of elaborate dishes with the vegetables. Ever made ratatouille? Talk about complicated! So for a brief period, I actually WAS a Martha Stewart. While I hit on a couple of good dishes, for the most part, eggplant was still eggplant. This year, though, I’m following the advice above.

If your kid MUST collect, I recommend
Hot Wheels. They are cheap and small.
I'm guessing you get the idea about my housekeeping, parenting style  from the above PinFails... pretty messy. And I know I'm not alone. A friend recently posted an article from about a woman who had not-so-positive response to the trend of “look at me – I’m a mess” blogs. You can read it here if you want to get the full gist. She made some valid points about the dangers of holding on to our brokenness and making light of sin, but I think she might have misunderstood what we're trying to say.

Of course I haven't read ALL the blogs, but I think that their point – like the point of the above – is not to highlight and wallow in our brokenness, but to point out that some of the popular standards of womanhood, motherhood and good housekeeping are artificial, having nothing to do with our ability as mothers or our love for our family or our success as women. To which I say, hear hear! I refuse to try to be a size zero and I refuse to stress out about whether my child eats perfect, organic food from a bowl handfired by me on a natural-fiber placemat I wove from sheep I raised and sheared, in front of a centerpiece made of organic fruits and flowers from my garden.

That's right, I have no patience with those particular standards... That is not my brokenness. Rather I have other, more grave imperfections including (but not limited to) pride, fear, lack of faith, anger, jealousy, hatred, a sharp tongue, contempt, taking other people's blogs too personally, and many other real and serious sins. If you read my blog regularly, I discuss these too occasionally... Because I want to be honest. 

I mean, when I first went to church, I thought everyone seemed so perfect and together, and I want you to know that this is not the case. I'm here to tell you that I can't even manage the fa├žade! And if I share my struggles with you, maybe other strugglers won't feel alone. Just like walking into a house that's messier than mine is kind of a relief. I like knowing I'm not the only one. 

I'm not a great housewife,
but that's not my sin.
And if you keep reading my posts... you'll see Who I run to in my troubles... because hot on the heels of my confessions of deep imperfection, I always claim for myself – and offer to you – the warm and sweet embrace of the grace of God. 

I do love to wallow in grace, but that doesn't preclude stretching myself to allow for soul improvement. But does my quest for improvement involve crafts and elaborate meals? Nah. I mean, that might be more of a strategy for distraction than improvement. Because wouldn't it be easier to bake my own whole grain bread than to build my patience and increase my capacity for kindness, love, and the grace I show the members of my household and the wider world? 

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