Cleanse Me with Laundry Soap, and I Shall Be Clean…

Confession: I have not observed Lent this year.  I thought (briefly) of what to give up or add for the season, but other things claimed my attention and the opportunity passed me by.  I have no intention of attending any services this Holy Week other than Easter Sunday, and I even considered skipping out on that one, too.

Before you start thinking I am a terrible person, let me also tell you this: spring break is this week, and I will not be visiting any beaches or even working on my tan in the back yard.  I will not seek out amusement parks, and I likely won’t be sleeping in much, either.

Somehow, I’ve found Lent this year to be much more challenging than usual.  Sacraments are physical symbols of spiritual realities, and even though parenthood is not a true Sacrament, it, too, is a physical catalyst for spiritual change.  Some parts of conception and birth change you immediately — caring for one so helpless and dependent grabs and pulls you onto a different plane of existence.  But other changes come more slowly, painfully, one drudging footstep at a time.

Believe me, sleeplessness is the crucible for the refining of character, and it only takes one night of being up every two hours with a cranky baby to lift the curtain for your spouse and everyone else to see selfishness, irritability, impatience, and even rage!  I don’t like to think of myself that way, but this truth pierces my heart.  I’ve found quick midnight prayers for selflessness, patience, and sweet kindness help chip away those clingy fragments of old self.

Yet new ones keep resurfacing.  Which is why I am here making laundry soap on my spring break instead of attending church during Holy Week or reading a novel on the beach.  I am giving in, releasing myself, to this cleansing that must and should continue.  This time with my little one is sweet to the taste.  There are bitter notes to it, too, but I am learning to embrace them, to receive the grace to do so, to rest in the dark, quiet space of Lent while the sunlight fingers of Easter dawn around me.  This is where I belong.



To Organize or Not to Organize…An INFP’s Dilemma

As you might have guessed from some of my previous posts, organization is not a strength of mine.  And why should it be?  I am an INFP who majors in daydreaming, creating, and weeping with those who weep.  But even for an INFP, the day comes when you have a little one demanding your attention for most of the hours in the day.  Unoccupied time is precious…so what is an INFP to do?  Consult her older sister, of course, and get her act in gear lest she spend all of her free time on those mundane tasks she dislikes so much!

Grouping tasks is the order of the day for this INFP’s organizational plan.  So, I clean up the kitchen while babywearing (cleaning + bonding).  I let the baby sit on the bed while we fold and put away laundry (playing + clean clothes).  AND I am using online tools to help with menu planning and shopping (technology + YUM)!

My aforementioned genius older sister decided after another of our long menu-swapping phone conversations that there had to be an easier way to do this.  So she created a Pinterest board that we can both pin to for each week of the month.  We both browse the blogs we follow, find recipes we like, pin them to the boards, and *bam*, a ready-made list to inspire us to new cooking and baking heights each week!

Not only that — we are also using a site called Pepperplate to generate shopping lists and menus to keep track of said cooking and baking heights.  Technology at it’s finest!

Now we can use our weekly phone conversations to talk of things other than menus…and sometimes we even do.  And I no longer have to scour the internet for exciting meal ideas each week.  I can use that time for baby cuddles or writing blog posts.  Maybe this organization trick really does have something to it.  (Just kidding, sis, I still have piles of unread Sunday comics, and there might be mail from two weeks ago sitting on my kitchen table….)  Ah, well, an INFP has to do what an INFP has to do!

Baby Body-Building: Post-Partum Workouts for Every Mom!

So the big topic after you give birth is losing the baby weight.  Everyone gushes about how great the new mom looks for a couple of months or so, which makes her feel really good for awhile until she realizes — of course she looks great, she no longer has an 8-lb. child residing in her uterus.  Then she starts thinking about eating healthier and exercising more, which goes great until maternity leave is over and reality hits.

Who really has time to exercise?  New parents have a 3- or 5- or 7-month-old baby who is taking up all of their time, and their personal fitness level is now waaaaaay down at the bottom of the list of priorities.

Not to worry — I have you covered with your very own, personalized workout routine to fit your lifestyle.  Here are some workouts that you can do every day!  They are even more effective if you do them multiple times each day, including at least twice during the night!

1.  Baby Lifting: The easiest move for beginners.  Simply pick your baby up!  You should do it when he/she is crying, happy, hungry, or tired.  Repeat at least 500 times per day to start.  When the baby gets bigger, your toned muscles will thank you!  Bonus: You can work those triceps once Baby is a little older by lifting him or her over your head.  Your reward will be giggles!

2.  Breastfeeding Yoga: This is only for parents with older babies (4 months +).  If you are breastfeeding your baby, this exercise will tone your muscles and train your mental focus.  Your baby will help you by completing his or her own yoga moves while staying latched to your nipple.  Your part is to stay peaceful and centered to allow your little one to complete the feeding with plenty of milk.  Recommended 6-8 times per day.

3.  Fetch!: This exercise is also for parents with older babies.  Your mischievous little one will enjoy dropping things on the floor around the age of 7-8 months.  He or she will then expect you to pick the item up lest you be greeted with a fierce roar of indignation.  Repeat ad infinitum.  You can add a squat here to tone those hamstrings!

4.  Housewalking: Housewalking is a new exercise trend in which you, well, walk around your house while doing things.  You and your baby can participate in this trend, too!  This is recommended for parents with younger infants who dislike sleeping at night.  To do the exercise, walk/bounce/dance/shush around the house for hours on end while your little one fusses in your arms.  Best done between the hours of 11 PM and 2 AM.

5.  Babywearing: Babywearing is another fun trend that you and your infant can participate in.  Simply find a carrier that you and your baby both enjoy and pop your munchkin right into it.  Babywearing is great for bonding and gives you amazingly sleek back muscles.  You can also add squats here to work your thigh muscles!

There you have it!  Fitness is not a distant dream for exhausted new parents.  Try these workout moves every day, and your athletic prowess will amaze your friends and family!

Ten Things I Didn’t Know About Parenting

Today’s very short blog post is brought to you courtesy of a 7-month-old adorable and sweet teething baby who won’t let me put her down when she is awake and is only taking 30-minute naps.  It’s easy to say you’ll publish a blog post every week….

I often thought being a parent was a sort of club…a very exclusive one, that when you run into another member of it, you can talk for hours and use all sorts of special passwords.  Welllll….now I am a member, and find I can’t help myself from telling long stories about my baby to the lady at the Farmer’s Market or anyone else who will listen.  I’m sure my co-workers are just being polite when they ask how she is, and if that’s so, they sure get more than they bargained for!

You, my blog reader, are no exception, I’m afraid.  This is not a mommy blog, but a lot more of the posts will be mommy-ish, since that is what I am now and it is very much on my mind.  Here are some things I have learned along the way!

5. Poop is exciting!  I was fairly neutral on the subject of poop prior to Lily’s arrival.  Nowadays…I want to know everything about her poop in particular. (I’m still pretty neutral on poop in general!)  Also, I can discuss poop with a straight face with any other mama out there!

4. You do not need as much sleep as you think you do.  Really.

3.  You are much funnier than you think you are (and on a related note, you’ll do just about anything to make that little monkey laugh)

2.  8:00 may not be when the cool kids go to bed, but it is when you go to bed because you know your stubborn little girl who refuses to drink milk from a bottle while you are at work has to make up her intake sometime…. *Hint: it’s going to be sometime before you’ve had 4 hours of sleep*

1.  If you try to make a list of 10 things while your baby is teething, it will take much longer than you think, and you will end up cutting the list to 5 because it’s after 8:00 (see #2).

I will try again next week!  Thanks for dropping by….

The Wanderer Has Returned…!

It has been a long time since I last blogged.  A very long time.  Almost two years, actually.  Not that this INFP had no adventures during that time.  On the contrary, there were many adventures.  I just have not written about them. Yet!

The short version is that the Mr. and I were trying for a very long time to add a little one to our family.  I fell pregnant for the first time shortly after my last post to this blog.  Sadly, that baby didn’t make it, and the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at around 11.5 weeks.  Well, I didn’t feel much like writing after that episode.  Three months of healing followed, and right on their tail was a new pregnancy.  That one lasted the right amount of time and ended with our gorgeous baby girl on this past August 6.

That is a story in itself.  But not one for today.  Although we all survived the birthing process, it was rough in more ways than one.  Three months of maternity leave went by in about an hour, and then back to work to teach the kiddos I had yet to meet for the year (school started a mere 1.5 weeks after Little Miss’s arrival).

My friend reminded me of my languishing blog and inspired me to resurrect this old friend, so here I am!  These two years have remade me, but the core INFP is still there.  New adventures shall be forthcoming!

Are You an Introvert?

My mom posted this article over on The Curious Introvert. The article is definitely worth a read, especially if you suspect you might be an introvert (or you are close to one).

The Curious Introvert-Book Reviews and Other Fun Things

This is a good article by Sylvia Dembling, psychologist and introvert. If you are an introvert, it is an affirming post. If you aren’t, it will give you insight into those introvert friends whose actions and behaviors may puzzle you.


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Garden Fail: A Sad Tale

There is something about a hint of spring in the air that gives me an uncontrollable urge to sink my fingers into a pile of sun-warmed dirt.  Despite the fact that I live in Florida, and something is always green here, even in the dead of winter, tiny, brilliant green leaves poking out through dark, moist soil gives me a thrill somewhat akin to seeing a baby take a first step or graduating summa cum laude from an Ivy League University.  Yes, I get a little carried away.  And this year was no exception.  I started my garden out with six pepper plants, seven tomato plants, three rows of green beans, 2.5 rows of peas, 2.5 rows of zucchini, and 2.5 rows of cucumbers.

Yes, I had high hopes for sure.

See How Beautiful?

See How Beautiful?

Bursting with hope.

Bursting with hope.

Well, the peas were the first to fall victim to the harsh Florida sunshine.  They duly popped up, grew to about 2 inches in height, then shriveled.  So much for that.

Next, vicious creatures began munching on my peppers.  Apparently, their favorite types are California bell peppers and green bell peppers.  They left the others alone.  The peppers are still growing, but some of them are merely stems, their leaves long sacrificed to the nourishment of some unknown creature.

Apparently it takes more skill to grow tomatoes in Florida than it does in some other places.  These tomatoes produced much fruit, but they began to die from the bottom up.  Some of them are still hanging in there, but four became naught but dead sticks, which I pulled up to make more room for the others.

An almost-dead tomato plant

An almost-dead tomato plant

The beans did well– flowered, bore fruit but a bean plant in Florida does not produce more than two rounds of flowers and fruit before giving up the ghost — they will be replanted soon, though.

A bean plant about to give up the ghost.

A bean plant about to give up the ghost.

The cucumbers were a victim to a common disease known as downy mildew.  Apparently the only option is to pull them up and start over.  I’ve been told that sulfur is a good soil additive to help prevent it, but who knows what it is or where to find it?

The cucumbers meet a sad end from Downy Mildew

The cucumbers meet a sad end from Downy Mildew

Oh, and the zucchinis?  They did their own thing.  I do not know if they will produce fruit in this state, but I’m going to leave them and see what comes of it.

Zucchinis do their own thing.

Zucchinis do their own thing.

So that is the sad tale of my garden — a mix of exceedingly hot weather, sandy soil, and lack of rain (except when it’s a deluge of rain) have wreaked havoc in my once beautiful beds.

But I will not give up.  I will try again on the cucumbers and beans.  I will do research on how to grow tomatoes.  I will find out what is eating the peppers.  When spring’s green fingers next reach through my windows and tantalize me with their promise, I will be ready.

After all, even gardens aren’t perfect the first time (or even the second time).  Especially not in Florida.