Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Baby Steps to a Better Life

I just read a really inspirational post on trying to "do it all." I came across this mama's blog a while back and she had some very similar ideas about lifestyle that I do. She called her post "The Impossible is Possible."

There are some really terrific women in my life who seem to have it all together. They eat the the right kinds of foods (unprocessed, whole ingredients, made from scratch etc) and homeschool their children, exercise regularly, volunteer, garden, keep a clean house, spend personal time studying Scripture, run a business, do "crafty" things, and still have time for playdates and husbands! I am so far from being organized (or energetic) enough to do even half of that. I know that these women didn't accomplish this all overnight. But I have still looked at them and thought "I wish I could do that." I have tried to stop saying things like that. I don't want to "wish away" chunks of my life. I want to be content where I'm at in life and enjoy each stage of life that I go through.

I love the saying that we are a work in progress. That's totally how I feel. And it's kind of great knowing that the Lord's not done with me yet. I don't have to feel like I've "arrived" because, until I get to heaven or the Jesus comes again, I haven't arrived. I still on the journey. So I reflected a bit last week on how I've grown in mostly intangible ways and I want to take a bit of time this week to talk about some of the steps that we've made toward the lifestyle we feel called to.

Over the last few years a BIG change we have made is in our diets. We used to buy a lot of premade meals (I didn't cook a lot) and processed snacks. I now cook most of the time (I still throw in a frozen lasagna once in a while) and try to make sure that those meals are well-balanced (i.e. enough veggies). Our snacks usually consist of crackers n cheese, or fresh fruit, or yogurt, or homemade (healthy) muffins or cookies. We also only do whole wheat bread and pastas. It was much easier for us to get motivated to eat healthier when Caleb started eating more with us. I really don't want his little body to get filled up with junk. I want to give his body things that are more natural and flow through his system without clogging arteries or filling him up with foods that have empty calories. I want him to learn to take pride in the body that God has blessed him with. In order to do that, we need to do it ourselves. That doesn't mean that we don't EVER have chips or cake (remember the apple pie I mentioned last week?). It just means that we choose not to keep that kind of stuff in the house on a regular basis. Adam and I are also learning to take better care of our bodies and we feel much better for it. It's amazing how a couple of eggs, whole wheat toast, homemade hashbrowns and a glass of milk make you feel for the rest of the morning! And then something as simple as spaghetti with whole wheat noodles and ground beef and tomato sauce with corn or carrots mixed in makes for a delicious healthy dinner.

Another change that we made was the switch to cloth diapers. I originally thought about doing cloth right from the time that Caleb was born. But I never got around to it. And when I signed off my business when he was about 10 or 11 months old my reward was to switch to cloth. It felt like a LOT of work at first but I was so passionate about the switch and since I used it as a "reward" to officially closing my business it was a lot more fun. Plus I was able to focus on the cute diapers that you can get when you do cloth and the fact that we were saving money and saving the environment... it was just a very exciting time. Next step is to hang my diapers to dry instead of putting them in the washer. My baby step toward this is to hang Caleb's nighttime diapers. He only has about 6 or 7 a week that I wash and need to hang up so it's very easy to take the few minutes to do so. When the newborn comes in a couple of months it will be more like 20 diapers every other day that I will need to hang. But I can still do baby steps and choose to hang them even once a week, or once a month if that's all I can manage. At least it will be a step closer to my goal.

Another accomplishment that I feel really good about is some volunteer work that I've had the opportunity to do. I get to support other mothers and even though it's really only a couple days a month that I put in regularly, it's great knowing that every little bit counts.

I have a list of 4 items that I want to plant in a garden next spring. I would love to have TONNES more but I feel like I can handle 4. Over the winter I'm planning to read about how to grow these items and how to prepare the soil etc. And I'm going to get Adam involved too (he can do more of the manual labour) and I know that Caleb will just have a blast finding out how seeds grow. Caleb already loves the dirt so it will be a really fun family project to do together. That's the way I'm looking at it. If I think about all the work involved and all the things I want to plant in the future then I will get overwhelmed. But a 4 item garden next year is better than no garden this year.

I've also read a lot about homeschooling and talked to a number of moms I know that have homeschooled or are currently homeschooling about how to start off with a toddler. It's very exciting that Caleb is getting old enough to "learn." But then I have to remind myself that he's been learning so much all of his life. Adam was always supportive of "my decision" to homeschool but it's been really great to see him not only support me but become pretty passionate about the topic himself. That's a huge step forward. I would love to buy a really great preschooler curriculum for Caleb right now and dive right in. But in reality he's 2 and a half! I do have somewhat of a more relaxed game plan for him over the course of the next year. A large part of which consists of going to the library regularly. He LOVES to be read too and will often sit on the floor with a book and "read" to himself. He was actually finding letters on the cracker box on the way home from groceries today. ("F, F, F, bigger F, where's Q? S, *sss*, *sss*, BOOM!" In addition to the library we walk around the farm and just talk about the animals and the plants and we talked a lot about harvesting. We've been talking about babies and birth a lot. Next spring we'll talk about gardening and where fruits and veggies come from. It'll just be living life. Way simpler than a full curriculum!

Another change was getting rid of cleaning chemicals. I'm not really one to put a "plug" in for a particular product but I would just like to say that I LOVE Norwex. I know that there are other great companies out there who sell similar stuff but my favorite thing is the antibacterial clothes. They came in especially handy when Caleb was potty training. I could just wipe up the mess (pee anyway), rinse the rag, and hang it up ready to use for next time. I also love them for when he was a newborn and I dropped a toy on the mall floor. I could just take my rag out, wipe it up, and know that it was clean. Plus they're still super soft but grippy enough to use when he's got jam or peanut butter or spaghetti sauce all over his face.

I have a number of other things that I would love to do with my time but for now I am just taking it day by day. I'm so thankful for the strength and guidance the Lord has given me so far and I know that He will continue to guide our steps towards living a healthier, simpler lifestyle. So that was a little longer than I intended but I hope that you enjoyed reading about some positive things. Like Kelli mentions in her post, there are many areas that I need to work on but I'm trying to be the kind of mom God wants me to be and live the life I'm called to live!

Feel free to leave a comment either here or on my facebook with some of the positive changes that you've made to your life in the last few years :)

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