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  1. Rethinking the Offering Plates

    October 16, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    The church I attend is plenty modern and forward-thinking. Our website is professional-looking and well-designed. Our music is upbeat and current. (We’ve even had a Jesus Rapper a time or two, plus one iPad-assisted auto-tune in recent memory.) We can sign up for events digitally and even click-to-give. Which is something I’m mulling over just now.

    Since I recently stopped carrying a purse, I’m moving rapidly towards any option that permits me to avoid writing a check. I’m digitizing and simplifying whenever possible. This means the end of putting a check in the offering basket on Sunday. At this point, though, I’m pondering the practice of passing the plates to begin with. This practice has strong ties with “old style” church attendance, namely, social pressure to give.  Isn’t it something of a relic in a modern church?

    I understand the monetary necessities of church. It’s not as though I believe there is no necessity of contributing. If you attend church, you should contribute. It’s the structure of plate-passing that gives me pause. Are there not numerous ways churches can provide an opportunity to give without it being so repugnantly placed in the midst of the service while the audience is captive?  At my church, there are sign-up kiosks whenever major events take place, allowing members to sign up before or after service with a staff helpers. Could there not be something just like this for giving, in addition to the “Give On-line” button on the website and reminder of its availability in the program? Or just unmanned stations with a deposit opening for cash or checks and a card reader for debit or credit giving?

    I wonder if this is on the radar for our church in the future. It should be. What say you?

     

    -Danielle

     

     


  2. Cut the Purse Strings

    September 22, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    I’ve made a strange and probably drastic decision in my life. I’ve decided I’m going to stop carrying a purse. I would like to say that I decided this after many months of considering the burden carrying a purse has become in my life and the virtues of dragging around less clutter with me everywhere in an effort to live more simply. In fact, those thoughts have niggled the back of my brain many times over many years. But the truth is, this decision was thrust upon me by an intrusive and violent act. Recently, while watching my son, The Valiant, play his soccer game at a perfectly lovely Howard County park in the middle of a beautiful, temperate day, some creep smashed the window of my van and stole my purse.

    Aside from the obvious unsettling notion that some bonehead has my personal belongings, this is also a major pain in the butt.    Credit cards, bank card, checks, driver’s license, health insurance cards all had to be alerted for fraud and now replaced.  My car needs a very expensive repair. I even had a good Rita’s coupon in that purse. The only bright spot is that I now have a new photo on my license and my Costco card, both of which I’ve hated for years.

    There may be another bright spot, though. It has forced me to consider more fully (read: all-consuming way) the wisdom of toting all this crap around with me in the first place. Why did I leave my purse in the car, after all? Because I didn’t want to haul that 15 lb. jumble of excess to the field with me unnecessarily. Why do most women believe they need to carry a purse? Blue Collar Guy doesn’t carry a purse, yet he still somehow manages to buy gas and steaks and fishing lures. He could still check books out of the library (in theory). In the event of illness or accident, he still has his insurance card with him.

    Cute though my Vera Bradley Big Betsy purse was, I am not replacing it with another purse. I’m not entirely certain what I’m going to do instead, but so far, my plan is some combination of these:

    1. Use a neck pouch. I have been using this one, which is meant for outdoor sports and camping. This has a lot to recommend it. The only real drawback is that my phone has to be carried some other way, i.e., my pocket. It doesn’t look especially fashionable, so I’m not inclined to wear it somewhere I might care about that. The carabiner is nice for hooking my car key. An unexpected benefit is that it gives the impression to others that I have some sort of official authority. It looks like an ID lanyard.   I did also buy this one, which is meant for travel and preventing pick-pocketing, but I don’t like it. It’s too bulky to wear under your shirt and it’s so big that it looks immensely silly outside your shirt. The pockets also enter from the side, which is very awkward for removing cards or money at a cash register.

    2. Use a waist wallet. This is a very good solution when I don’t have a pocket for my phone. It does lay flat and comfortable and gives me only just a teensy “baby-bump” outside of my shirt if it’s underneath. My phone fits in and the horizontal zippered compartments are easy to access at a cash register. There is even a little loop onto which I can hook my car key.

    3. Get a wristlet. This is what I think I’ll use when I’m specifically going shopping or to any event where I need my cell phone, cash, several cards, ID, keys and a pen.

    4. Use pockets. I would say this is my first strategy, but women’s clothing are not often designed with useful pockets. Some skirts and skorts have no pockets at all. I am considering adding simple interior pockets to my unpocketed bottoms.

    Now that I’ve been going about purse-less for two weeks, I feel averse to having to carry anything like a purse again. It’s oddly freeing to go about with no purse. At first, you feel a little naked and you can’t believe how empty your hands/arms are. Now when I see a woman carrying some gigantic handbag, I can’t imagine what she could have in there that she can’t be without for a few hours.

    Have you done it? Have you decided to forego purse-carrying? I’m open to insight from anyone who has done so with success.

     

    -Danielle


  3. American Fat

    August 22, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    My title is not to suggest that obesity is not a problem anywhere else, just that I’m an American and so I can see with my own eyes where this stereotype comes from.  The statistics on obesity in America are totally astounding. The rate of increase is astounding. If this were simply a matter of lots of folks who look bad in a bikini, that would be one thing, but there’s a whole shopping-cart-load of diseases that like to travel with obesity. It should alarm you for your own health, if not for the health of the nation as a whole.

     

    Why are we so fat and getting fatter? I understand this is a complex and multi-faceted problem, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth asking. Here are some causal suggestions:

    • Americans eat large amounts of food (i.e, excessive calories)
    • Americans eat a lot of “junk” food (i.e, fast food, cookies, soda, candy, donuts…)
    • Americans sit around on their butts watching America’s Got Talent
    • Americans are too busy to make healthful homemade meals, so…. (see Point #2)
    • Americans are just genetically big

    All of these correlates are interesting to me because, while one or more of these points can be said about almost all of us (at least some of the time), it doesn’t fully explain how Americans of every stripe – East Coast, West Coast, Republican, Democrat, Deep South or Uptight Northeast are trending fatter on the whole.

    Then, too, I become curious because I have heard so often someone saying they do not understand why they keep gaining – they exercise, they don’t eat such a lot of food and not as unhealthy as you might assume, yet fatter they get. Why? I’ve heard the lament often enough that I cannot imagine they are all lying or have no self-awareness. Clearly, something is going on.

    I personally don’t struggle much with weight. I am predisposed towards leanness. But I have had a hard time for the last few years with nearly constant digestive squirreliness. This makes my gut bloat or retain water or just plain look like a sack of potatoes (which, could be telling, actually). In extreme cases, I will be in gastric agony until I sleep it off. Eliminating dairy products a few years ago helped, but it didn’t turn me around completely. It was puzzling.

    I’ve long considered the possibility that gluten could be a part of the picture; I’ve even had the blood serum screening for Celiac done once or twice.  I didn’t really want to know this could be the problem, if I’m honest, because life without gluten seemed to me super-hard and no fun at all.

    Through a combination of curiosity about the fattening of America and my own concerns about my belly, I wound up downloading the book Wheat Belly and beginning to read it. Author William Davis makes a mighty good case for why wheat (of today) is not the Staff of Life that it once might have been. I decided abruptly to chuck the wheat in my diet and see if any of my problems resolved. I did not finish reading this book, however, when I stumbled onto two other more pertinent books.

    I discovered the two books Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, both by Gary Taubes.  These two books were salve for my research-starved mind on this subject. Seriously. Every single American should at least read Why We Get Fat. People who like science and research should also read Good Calories, Bad Calories. Why We Get Fat really does explain why and, what is more, I believe Taubes is almost assuredly correct. I hate to spoil the surprise for anyone who wants to read it for themselves, but you could Google it and find out the gist anyway, so I’ll tell you. The two major principles he speaks to that I believe are correct are: 1) You have a genetic predisposition to be a given size; and 2) It’s the carbohydrates.

    Every muffin, every pizza, even my much-beloved homemade bread is working hard to make me fat. (Luckily, I won the gene lottery.) Every tablespoon of sugar in my coffee (okay, two), every beautiful angel-hair pasta with homemade meat sauce, every Hershey’s Perfect Chocolate Cake (seriously, the best recipe for chocolate cake ever created), and yes, Virginia, even every apple, orange and Ranier Cherry is a tank of carbs well-armed to squeeze me out of my favorite jeans. It has nothing to do with the butter I spread on the bread. It’s the bread.

    Never in a million years did I think I would find sense in restricting carbohydrates. I have watched friends try Atkins, lose a bunch of weight, then return to mashed potatoes and gain it all back, with company. But Taubes’ books make SO much sense, I cannot help myself. He’s right as rain.

    So, I started my little “diet plan” by taking out wheat or, essentially, going gluten-free. This was on July 4th (obviously, the *perfect* time to change your diet). I weathered the holiday sans buns for my hot dogs, refusing the Magic Bars, and not eating bagels. The first thing I can say with a fair amount of confidence is that either wheat specifically or gluten in general is what gets my intestines all out of whack. Dairy may also share some blame, but if there’s a major culprit, it’s gluten. Since going GF, my stomach has not bloated one bit. Before, I had strategic packages of Gas X everywhere, so I would never be found without it. They were in my purse, my car, my desk drawer, my nightstand and my backpack. I haven’t had any digestive potions since before July 4th; I haven’t needed them once.

    As I continued to read on, I moved away from just gluten to a more expanded view of restricting carbs on the whole. Essentially, I’m eating mostly in the Paleo dietary style.  Now I see other benefits. I am not hungry. I don’t crave sweet things. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on stuff I want.  I’ve lost my addiction to carbs, I believe. And my belly is almost as flat as an army bedsheet.

    That's me right now with no bloat.

     

    I am doing a lot of investigation on this topic and do plan to research some of the studies that Taubes cites in his books. I want to see them for myself. See if I come to the same conclusions. Anecdotally, the Paleo dietary theory does appear to work for me as expected. I plan to write much more about this topic. Comments on this matter are welcome as I explore.

     

    -Danielle

     

    P.S. I have no financial affiliation with, or paid endorsement of, any of the linked sites or materials. 


  4. The Life of a Purse

    July 7, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    I have a friend I’ve taken with me everywhere for over a year now. Her name is Big Betsy and she is a descendant of someone named Vera.  Here is Big Betsy:

     

    Isn’t she cute? I love the shape, cut and size of this purse. I also still love the black-and-white print. I started thinking about getting a new Betsy, in purple, because I like that pattern, too.

    But why, though? I like my current purse just fine. Why do I start to think Betsy is just too darned old and I’ve got to replace her with a younger Betsy? I started to realize what a wasteful way of thinking this was. It is typical western thinking; in fact, some would marvel that I’ve used only that purse for this long.

    Why is it not typical to use things all the way up anymore? I still like everything about the purse, yet still feel some unaccountable urge to replace the purse because it is “old.” I would even buy a purse that is identical in shape and size and different only in color.

    The one complaint I could make that has actual merit is that the straps are worn some in the center, where they go over my shoulder.  However, I can easily see how I would remedy this.  I could cut two pieces of black “leather” fabric and make it like a sleeve that covers and reinforces the center of the strap.  This could even be done such that it appears it was designed that way from the start.

    I’ve been thinking perhaps I’ll just continue to use this purse for a long time into the future.  Sort of just see how much use I can get out of it. I wonder how many women actually do this.

    I recall a conversation with a soccer mom who told me she cleaned out her garage and could not understand how it was that there were about a dozen discarded backpacks in there. “There were all these backpacks in usable condition! I guess we just bought the kids new backpacks each school year without realizing it wasn’t really necessary.”

    That is why I don’t buy new backpacks – or lunchboxes – until I’ve seen a real problem with the current one.  Only my Magnificent daughter has a newer one, which I got her for high school; before then, all of my kids had their original (Target) backpacks and “Arctic Cool” lunch bags. I bought her new one because her old one was torn. I expect her newer one to last at least through high school and perhaps through college.

    The bag I use for college was a diaper bag I bought before we went to Disney in 2005. (Don’t worry; it isn’t lavender with teddy bears on it!) I will admit, I have considered replacing it with a rolling attache or something else that looks more adult. But I do enjoy using something fully, rather than running out to buy new. For the next however-long, I’m still going to be using the red Land’s End backpack (that was a diaper bag). It even has a little padded slot in the back, that was meant for a diaper changing pad, but fits my Macbook, so how perfect is that?

    -Danielle


  5. Sweatin’ it

    October 31, 2011 by 25hoursadaymom

     With all we 25H/Ms have to take care of, you very well know what often falls to the bottom of the priority list: exercise. At the risk of urging some of you to cram yet one more thing into your schedule, I’m going to preach about working out.

    I’m sure you know whether or not you should be exercising and I’m sure if you need to increase your fitness level, you already know it. So, let’s just side-step that whole hairy argument, shall we?

    Debates rage on as to whether you need to reduce or eliminate carbs, reduce or eliminate fat, reduce or eliminate sugar and exactly what role calories play in the big picture. So let me just stick with what I know from personal experience. When I have had too many calories coming in and not enough calories going out, I have tended to get a bit fluffier. If I took on an exercise program, the situation was instantly improved.  If I also gave focused attention to the caloric value of every single, solitary thing that crossed my lips (yes, the latte counts and probably more than you ever imagined!), all excess fluff just melted away.

    Sidebar: A year or so ago, I also learned that I am Lactose Intolerant. Cutting out dairy also made it amazingly easy to keep a handle on my jeans-fitting-potential. This is surely not an issue for everyone, but it’s worth exploring foods if you’re having a lot of digestive problems.

    As far as exercise is concerned, I believe that most women who are past age 23 who find it hard to make their weight stay put are ignoring the most body-altering, relatively easy exercise they could be doing: weight lifting.  I’m not sure whether they’ve seen too many pictures of boob-less she-males tied up in triangle bikinis with a maze of strings, or if they just mentally dismiss weight-lifting as a male activity, but weight lifting is absolute salvation for drastically improving your body shape with a fairly small commitment of time and money.

    One reason why weight training is so effective for the time invested is that increasing muscle raises your resting metabolism. This means that even when you are sleeping, your body is burning more calories than it is if you are very soft.

    Muscles are what gives a beautiful shape to the body. Just being thin alone does not do this. There are people who look “skinny-fat.” They are thin, but flabby.

    Also, can’t all busy mothers use more strength?  Don’t we have to haul the biggest pumpkins (one for each kid) onto the hay wagon? Don’t we have to carry baby seats and gargantuan diaper bags all over God’s green earth? How about Christmas shopping? Stacking firewood? Walking the German Shepherd?

    I first started working out with weights when I was 18 years old and, though I have taken breaks over the years to have babies or to eat too many ice cream sundaes (before the dairy free thing, which I promise you I do miss), I have never stopped looking to weight training as the perfect way to get or stay in shape.  Currently, in my time-pressed state, I am doing 2 or 3 sessions per week that last about 45 minutes, at home in my bedroom, while watching “19 Kids and Counting” or “Undercover Boss” or some other brain candy. This is not as much as I think is optimal, but it is way better than doing nothing.

    I am not a member of a gym and I don’t have a ton of equipment. I am currently using only dumbbells, ranging from 3-12lbs each. My workout is shaped mainly from the book Strength Training for Women by Joan Pagano, along with a few other exercises I’ve come to like over the years. When I was actively trying to lose weight, I used the free calorie-tracking program at SparkPeople.

    If you have never lifted weights before and want to start, keep the weight very, very light at first. Embarrassingly light. (There’s another perk to working out at your own house.) When I first started lifting, I benched nothing but the barbell – and it was hard.  My strength was also quite unbalanced; my left side could lift practically nothing at all.  There just isn’t any reason to try to blast muscles that have not experienced that work before. It will hurt and discourage you, making you further from your goals than if you had not started at all.  Starting dumbbell weights may be as light as 1.5 lbs. You may start with only one set of each exercise. No matter how light and easy you start, doing something is better than doing nothing.

    Being in the shape you want to be is incredibly freeing. If you are not currently exercising, but have been considering it, give a long look at female strength training. If you only have modest fitness goals, start soon. If you have a long way to go, start soon. The only way to arrive anywhere is to begin and then keep moving forward.


  6. Why There is Spaghetti Sauce in my Laundry Room

    October 25, 2011 by 25hoursadaymom

       Ordinarily, I make most meals from scratch. Well, not Cheerios or Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, but – you know what I mean.  Most dinners. This works out beautifully until the occasional day comes my way when I have not planned ahead, have no earthly clue what I’m making for dinner and don’t have time to thaw anything. Enter spaghetti. I try not to abuse the ease of throwing together a spaghetti dinner, but you’ve got to admit, it’s hard to beat  on a mad-scramble night.

    So, Saturday, it was just going to be myself and my daughter for dinner; Blue Collar Guy and the boys were off riding motorcycles and being manly men. Thus, it was Spaghetti Night. So, with that thought firmly in mind, I dawdled around the entire afternoon washing sheets, figuring out how to do things on this blog and swinging by Michaels for a photo project I’m planning (which was a dud anyway, since they didn’t have the necessary item).  Sometime as the sun was setting, I decided to put on my water for my no-effort meal. Once the water was rolling in the pot, I looked for the spaghetti sauce I keep on hand for just such an occasion. But! None in here. None in there. None in any cabinet, pantry or fridge.

    Prior planning foiled by some child who likes to make pasta or peirogies for him/herself. Said child decimated my store of jarred sauce! Spaghetti did not happen. I cannot believe I’m about to admit this on the web, but we had Ramen noodles instead. Healthy, I know.

    Never one to suffer the same error twice, I devised a plan when I went shopping today. It’s the same theory that allows me to enjoy Milano cookies or Lindt Chocolate Truffles for more than twenty seconds after I come home from the store. I’m hiding the spare spaghetti sauce.  That should do the trick. So, I’ve hidden the jars of tomatoey goodness in the laundry room.  God knows, nobody else goes in that room.

    There is also the Additional Effort method that I feel compelled to post, if only to justify this blog entry so that it is actually useful to other 25H/M (25-Hour-A-Day-Moms).  You can, of course, make your own sauce and freeze it.  It’s pretty easy and quite delicious.

    Additional Effort Spaghetti Sauce

    1. 28 oz can Crushed Tomatoes
    2. 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
    3. half an onion
    4. olive oil
    5. butter
    6. T sugar
    7. t salt, pepper
    8. t dried basil, oregano
    9. ground beef or sausage if desired
    10. T  tomato paste, if you’re willing and Blue Collar Guy begs
    If you’re adding in meat, start by browning it in the olive oil (about 2 T, but don’t overthink it).  I take it out and save it for the end once it’s browned. Dice the onion and “sweat” it over medium-low heat. You want it carmelized, not burned. Smash or mince the garlic and toss that in, too. Put the butter in and let it melt; it adds flavor.
    Turn down the heat. If you’re caving to Blue Collar Guy’s requests, stir tomato paste in. If you don’t care that much, just pour in the crushed tomatoes.  Season it and let it simmer for hours and hours. If you can’t babysit sauce for hours and hours, you can put it in the crockpot at this point and get on with your life.  You can add back the meat when the sauce has thickened and gotten all delicious and full-bodied.
    I should also admit that I’ve made this a sauce a hundred times without letting it cook for hours and hours. It’s still reasonably good, but it’s runnier and tastes a bit more like plain ol’ tomatoes.
    When I’m really on the ball, I make this sauce with a big Costco can of crushed tomatoes. You cannot beat that for a bargain; they cost something like $2.47. Then you can freeze servings for use later. But if all that just makes your brain hurt, you can buy jarred sauce. Just make sure you hide a couple jars for Spaghetti Night.
    – Danielle

  7. In the beginning…

    October 17, 2011 by 25hoursadaymom

    I know it sounds like a cliche, but it’s true. I’m busy. I’m raising three kids. I homeschool two of them. I help my husband run his two businesses. I go to college. My days are as non-stop as any other mom with a lot on the docket.  I noticed that women hungrily beg ideas from other non-stop moms. How do you keep your house clean? How do you feed your family? What do you use to teach your kids writing? What do you do for “me” time? So, that is the idea behind this blog. I’ll share what works for me and probably beg ideas from cyberspace the other percentage of time.

    I’m bound to spout lots of opinions about the good, bad and better way to do everything in my experience, but I do have a Cardinal Rule: If you love it the way you do it, disregard me completely. If I preach about getting up early and there ain’t no way in H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks that you’re raising an eyelid before 10:30am, well, then, just do what you want. I’m just spouting about what works for me.  I have no illusions that the way I do things is the way all busy mothers should.  Carry on.

    I intend to put up a post once a week. But we’ll see. After all, I’m busy.

    See you when I have time.

    -Danielle