Mother, may I…?

This Sunday is Mother’s Day (Surprise!  Don’t forget to stop at Walgreen’s for a card on your way to visit Mom!).  This marks my first Mother’s Day as a mother.  Mr. Rachel can’t seem to understand why he has to be responsible for my Mother’s Day celebration (um…because our kid can’t get to the store by himself.  Oh, yeah…and he can’t walk or talk) since I’m “not his mother.”  Regardless, it should be an enjoyable weekend.  Over the two days, we have plans to see all three mothers and one grandmother, go to church, and eat.  The eating part is especially important.

In addition to lamenting my personal Mother’s Day celebration, I’ve also been thinking about the role of mother, particularly my mother.  Becoming a mother has me looking at my mother a little differently (we still get on each other’s nerves and it’s probably best we live an hour apart, but that’s part of the mother-daughter package).  I became a mother on a winter morning.  I was a hair over 26 years old.  I came to my mother on a winter evening.  She was almost 26 years old.  The similarities end there.  I gave birth to my first, a precious baby boy.  I am married to a strong, Godly man.  My birth was my mother’s third girl and her marriage to my father would end shortly thereafter.  Until experiencing motherhood and examining my reaction to the role, I never really understood the hardships my mother faced and her grace in overcoming them. 

My mother raised three girls, often by herself.  When she had a man in her life, she added their kids to her own stock and loved them like her own.  I look at Squirmy and doubt whether or not I’ll have any other children because I don’t understand how I could love any other baby as much as I love him.  Thankfully, this wasn’t an issue for my mother.  She loved me (and everyone else’s children) just as much as her first.  If there was any difference in the love given between us and her first, I never saw it.  Life was hard for my mother, and looking back, it was hard for me.  However, I never knew it at the time.  She (and others in my life – my oldest sister, my grandmother, my aunts) made me feel loved and fortunate for what I had. 

Growing up in the country, I don’t remember being upset about not having the latest cool toy or the nicest clothes.  I remember catching minnows in the creek and playing house in the yard, using maple leaves as plates and dandelion greens as “salad.”  I remember keeping grasshoppers and crickets as pets inside glass Pepsi bottles.  I remember walking my dog to the school playground to play with my friends until dusk.  I don’t remember being too poor to buy books.  I remember lots of trips to the library to check out Clifford, the Big Red Dog books.  I don’t remember never taking vacations.  I remember lots of trips to Grandma’s house, which never failed to have something new and exciting to explore (and lots of shopping trips, even though Mom always told me to never ask for anything).  I don’t remember the hassle of moving from one place to another.  I remember dreaming about who I could be at the new place.  I don’t remember the devastation of leaving good friends behind (although I’m sure it was there).  I remember learning to love writing as I constantly sent letters back to them.

I could go on and on about how bad life could have been or how good life really was.  Ultimately, it came down to my mother.  She made mistakes (I will, too), but those mistakes don’t define me, and I hope they don’t define her.  Every experience I had, whether the people looking in thought it was good or bad, made me into the person I am.  Every moment of every day in the past 26 years and five months made me Rachel.  Those experiences taught me to value myself by my standards, not a man’s.  Those experiences taught me that no one can or will stand in the way of my education.  Those experiences taught me to be a strong woman and a good mother.  Five, ten, fifteen years ago, people might’ve said there is no way I could never be anybody.  They might’ve said I’ve got too much stacked against me or the statistics are not in my favor.  I’m sure they never expected me to graduate high school, then college, then go back to begin work on a second degree.  They probably never expected me to have a lasting marriage or to be a good mother.  Fortunately, I never knew about their expectations.  I saw the strong women in front of me and trudged forward in their footsteps.

Yep…I’m a mom.  (It’s the flash — not me — that made him make that face.)

My mom with her precious — Me!









My other “Mommas”

My grandmother









My oldest sister



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Milk, Milkshake, Milk Chocolate…

Milk.  It does a body good.  Unless you’re Squirmy.

Squirmy has been a very unhappy little baby boy lately, so after some research, I have decided that milk is the cause of his problems (since, you know, in addition to a teaching degree, I also have a medical degree {I wish}).  Babies’ digestive tracts aren’t very well developed and have a hard time processing the protein found in cow’s milk.  The result of this difficulty is often gas, cramping, eczema, fussiness, etc.  Squirmy is exclusively breastfed, so the only way to rid him of cow’s milk protein is to rid myself of cow’s milk protein.  Seems simple, right? 


Apparently, milk can be found in EVERY. THING.  Everything, including, mashed potatoes, lasagna, cheese, milk, milkshakes, Crunch bars, and corn dogs (these are just a few of my favorite things).  Also, milk is found in most all processed food — fish sticks, chicken nuggets, frozen dinners, and so on.  As much as I love my milky food, I love Squirmy that much more, so I dropped the milk.  I have been milk-free for three days.

Once we got the grocery shopping over with (because EVERYTHING that was already in our pantry and fridge had milk in it), it’s actually been quite easy.  And healthy.  That’s the thing.  Without processed food, I have been forced to eat…healthy.  Ugh.  I hate healthy food.  I hate veggies.  I don’t even really like fruit.  But, again, I love Squirmy, so I’m trudging through.  

This is me as I ate some mixed veggies for dinner:
Scoop up corn, peas, green beans, and carrot mixture.
Insert spoonful into mouth.
Chew several times.
Take a big drink and force it down.
Repeat until plate is empty.

Hey! I’m tryin’!

Side note: As an added plus, I’ve already lost two pounds!

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End the sock battle NOW!

Disclaimer: I have not been paid for the product review that follows.  I just really, really like these socks.  However, if you are a representative of this company, and you would like to pay me, that’s okay.  Please contact me immediately.

I’m guilty.  I haven’t used every single shower/baby gift.  In fact, a few are still in the packages.  One of those gifts was a pair of green and white striped socks with Velcro tabs on them.  I found them in a pile of stuff a few days ago and stuck them on Squirmy’s feet tonight because the only socks he had clean are too small (the boy has huge feet).

Our experience with baby socks thus far has been horrible.  They don’t stay on.  Ever.  I have asked lots of experienced moms how to get baby socks to stay on baby feet.  Their answer?  “You don’t.”  Grrreaat.  So, I have been trying (with fair success) to only dress Squirmy in outfits with attached footies so I didn’t have to fight the sock battle.  However, as babies get older, the selection of clothes with attached footies starts to dwindle (especially when said baby is growing extremely fast, like Squirmy).  I am going to have to start dressing him in pants soon.  Pants without footies.  Pants that need socks.  Geez.

Enter: Green and white striped socks with Velcro tabs.


The socks are “Stay With Me” socks, and they’re brilliant.  The little Velcro tabs are at the ankle and serve to keep the sock on the foot  (Sock?  On the foot?  Crazy!).  Squirmy, who didn’t get this name for nuthin’, wore these socks all afternoon/evening long.  I put them on him at 4:00pm.  It’s now 11:05pm, and they’re still firmly in place.  They survived him kicking and screaming in the carseat, shopping in Wal-Mart, and playing at Grandma’s house.  They even stayed on when I pulled his pants off to change his diaper!  Incredible! I just ordered three additional pairs.  They come in two sizes: Small (newborn to 3 months) and medium (3 months to 14 months).  Now, I don’t actually expect Squirmy to fit into them at 14 months, but the prospect of them lasting that long is thrilling.  Unfortunately, they are a bit pricey at $5.95 a piece, but when you consider how many socks you lose and how long they should last for, it’s really worth it.  They’re also available at select Target stores, but I have yet to see them.  So, if you have young’uns under 12 months of age, you need these.  If you don’t have young’uns, buy a pair anyway and send them to me (size Medium, please).

Stay With Me socks

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Spare the Rod?

School officials in Temple, Texas have brought back the paddle and, according to residents, the kids are acting more appropriately in school because they’re afraid of it. (See story here ) I haven’t yet decided how I feel about this. Should corporal punishment have its place in schools? I look at the school where I teach, and I’m thinking, Nope. Not gonna work. My school has low test scores, the students are from low-income homes, and a lot of them are hit or beaten at home, so that’s not much of a threat anymore. In fact, for kids like my students, it can have the opposite effect. The kid stops trusting you because you said this place (school) was safe, yet here you are, doing the exact same thing everyone else does to him – hurting him. However, it might work for Temple, Texas.
I checked out the Temple Independent School District’s website, and it told me a lot. Temple is home to a few award-winning schools and their test scores often rank above state and national averages. In short, they have good kids and good parental involvement (which is usually a sign of good parents). These are the kind of kids who don’t get in trouble much anyway, so corporal punishment is a threat, not a reality. This is apparent when you learn that they’ve only doled out this punishment once since enacting the policy.

So…will I use corporal punishment in my home? I still haven’t decided how I feel about spanking my own child. Corporal punishment was definitely a factor in my childhood, but I can’t say that it made me a better person or prevented me from doing bad things. At best, it made me better at lying and hiding the things I had done (sorry, it’s the truth). I read parenting books and watch shows like “Supernanny,” and I see how discipline can be successful without resorting to hitting. However, if there is truly a serious offense, is spanking the way to go? I just don’t know. Squirmy is only seven weeks old, so hopefully I have some time before Mr. Rachel and I have to make this decision.

What are your thoughts?  Do you use corporal punishment in your home?  How is that working out for you?  If you don’t, why not?

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One Baby, Two Breasts, and Jesus

My days at home with Squirmy are fantastic for the most part (so fantastic I’d give up my career and default on my credit cards to continue to stay home with him if Mr. Rachel would agree to live without electricity or food), but today we had a spell of not-so-fantastic.  I have been trying to pump breast milk once a day so I will have a good supply built up when I return to work at the end of May.  The books all tell you to pump in the morning because you have more milk then, but Squirmy has moved our morning to the afternoon and our afternoon to midnight.  So I planned to pump this afternoon; however, things got in the way and by the time I got around to it, it was about an hour before Squirmy would wake up and want to eat again.  I figured I was safe and went ahead and pumped.  Bad move.  Squirmy woke up a good fifteen minutes after I finished pumping, ready to eat.  (Against my pediatrician’s wishes, I breastfeed on-demand, so when Squirmy’s hungry, Squirmy’s hungry.)

At this point I was empty.  I went ahead and tried to latch Squirmy on because I knew that the milk would come once he got going.  Unfortunately, he wouldn’t stay latched on long enough to get it going and it turned into an all-out shrieking brawl.  I knew he wouldn’t latch as long as he was screaming, so I gave him a few milliliters of water to calm him down.  It helped for about 0.3 seconds.  Finally, twenty-five minutes later, I decided to break out the milk I had just pumped.  I don’t want to give Squirmy a bottle myself (for fear of him rejecting the breast afterward), so I fed him one ounce with a syringe.  This was not helping – he wanted the comfort of the nursing as well as the milk.

Nothing was going to appease his appetite at this point, so I grabbed him up and took him into the other room.  I walked around with him and explained why we pray and how we pray.  I explained that the Lord wants to help us and that if we are faithful, he will give us what we ask for (Matthew 21:22 — And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive).  By this time Squirmy was calm and was just looking at me.  Together (well, I was the one talking), we prayed and asked for patience and milk.  After praying, we read The Prayer of Jesus by Hank Hanegraaff (The Bible Answer Man).

I sensed it wasn’t time yet, so I continued to walk and explained about giving thanks.  Then we thanked God for Squirmy’s patience (he hadn’t cried since we walked into the room) and for the milk that he would receive.  I changed his diaper, and then sat down to nurse him.  Just as we had asked for, the milk came.  Squirmy latched on, drank, and was comforted.

This is just a lesson in God’s faithfulness and honesty.  He said if we would ask and believe, we would receive.  If you think your prayer is too small, you’re wrong.  God is here for you and wants to take care of all your needs.  He knows the desire of your heart and wants to give it to you (Psalm 37:4-5 — Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass).  All you have to do is pray (Philippians 4:6-7 — Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus).

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Preschool Life Lesson #2

“That was my last soda.”

This is what I said to Mr. Rachel last night. We live in a two-story house and our upstairs loft serves as a den of sorts. I stay up there most of the time with the baby because it’s comfortable and that’s where all the baby stuff is (and there is a TON of baby stuff – really someone should warn new parents about this). When one of us goes downstairs, we always ask the other if he/she needs anything before we come up. Last night Mr. Rachel asked for one of my orange sodas. I said, “If I have any left.” When I got to the refrigerator and pulled out the orange soda box, I discovered only two sodas left. Now, this should be considered a blessing – one for me and one for him. Instead, I saw it as a personal attack. Mr. Rachel had other drinks in the fridge, but the orange sodas were the only drink I liked. Begrudgingly, I picked up both sodas and took them upstairs. I opened one and gave the other to Mr. Rachel. “That was my last soda.”

Keep in mind that I acted like this toward my husband! Not a stranger, my friend, or even my sister – my husband! Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me…
How many times have you casually resented someone close to you, maybe not even realizing you’re doing it? How many times has it been over something simple or stupid like orange soda? When I first reflected on this experience, I thought to myself, Hey, it turned out okay. I did give him my soda. Unfortunately, giving him my soda wasn’t enough. Instead of offering up what I had with a kind heart to the person I love most in my life, I offered up what I had with an envious heart and a callous comment. In Luke 6, Jesus tells us: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6: 27-31)
These are Jesus’ instructions for our life, regardless of with whom we may be dealing (but especially when dealing with those with whom we have to live). How simple are these instructions? Be nice and don’t be mean when someone is mean to you.

As you know, I’ve been working on being patient and not using sarcasm. Appearing kind is a by-product of these actions (that’s why I gave up the soda), but we need to go beyond appearances. We need to infuse kindness and the eagerness to be kind in our hearts so that it affects all of our actions. We need to go back to that 2,000-year-old preschool lesson – “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” And, really, if Jesus expects me to give up the clothes on my back, can’t I do without one orange soda?

(Editor’s Note: As proof of how good Mr. Rachel really is to me – he picked up a 12-pack of orange sodas for me later that night.)

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