My Mother Letter

{I wrote this during my freshman year of college, September 2000}

It is the common person who doesn’t receive mass amounts of glory for the accomplishments and risks taken in his or her lives, but it is these uncommon stories that are the mark of something incredible. I speak of the admiration I have for my mother, the decisions she has made, and the life she has lived.

My mom has never received the proper amount of recognition, respect, accolades, you name it: I have failed that part of my duty as her daughter. At nineteen, after two years of college, my mother had decided to drop out, wanting to get married and start a family instead. I have often belittled her decision. She has told me that college had held no meaning for her, that her calling was to be a wife and a mother.

My Mother Letter @JessicaMWhite.com

I have always held this decision of her’s in two lights: Fear and awe. Fear, because {sometimes} I understand and sympathize with how she felt some twenty years ago. Awe, because I find it inspiring that she had so much faith in her own future. She now tells me that my decisions are my own, and not to be afraid of what the consequences may be. I often wonder if she ever regretted not having finished college. I asked her once; her response was “Why should I regret it? I have never been happier, even through the hard times.”

“Hard times,” I always found it humorous when she said that. Since we moved from Glendale, NY, fourteen years ago, we have had nothing but hard times. Growing up I never remember being deprived of anything; vacations, clothes, birthday parties, or toys.

As a cure for our “hard times” my mother and father have been entrepreneurs: My father comes up with the new business idea, my mother supports him. Their most recent business venture is a butcher shop with a small restaurant in Delhi. My mother had a secure office job for the past twelve years and quit because she had wanted to be with her family, working in our store.

I see my mom come home from a thirteen-hour day, exhausted, and still she cooks dinner, cleans, does the laundry, and pays the bills. Many times I think a lesser woman would leave, not able to handle hard work combined with the stress of more month than money. I think, “I wish I could be as strong as she is.” I know that I am the lesser woman who would have ran from the hard times.

Another risk my mother has accomplished was her decision to home school my younger sister. In our progressive times home schooling is becoming more and more popular. My brother and I both attended public school; which is why her decision was a shock. My mother had been going to college to be a teacher before she dropped out. I find it amusing to see how things happen; she gave up teaching to be a mother. In exchange for that she became a teacher to her children.

Running a home and a store, sometimes it’s difficult for her to set aside time to teach my sister. I tell her, “Send her to public school, it would be easier.” She agrees that it would be, but she’d be letting them both down, my sister and herself. My sister is now in third grade and I can see how she has benefited from my mother’s decisions and persistence.

I now see the strength and beauty behind my mother and I wonder if I could do as she has. I admire the things that she has done. Sometimes it is hard to see her strengths, because I am blinded by what society labels as “weaknesses.”

 

~*~

So this Mother’s Day….Mom, thank you for being you! For being a wonderful example of a wife and mother, for admitting your imperfections and helping me on my own path along these journeys.

What letter do you long to write to a mom or perhaps your Mom?

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If you’re looking for a heart-warming and tear-jerking gift for the “mothers” in your life, get them a copy of Mother Letters. This sweet collection of letters will draw you in, encourage you, and help you not to feel so alone in one of the toughest and most rewarding jobs there is.

The Turn Around (or The Ugliness of Selfishness)

(First off, thank you to all of you for your sweet words of encouragement and prayers yesterday!)

I am pleased to say that yesterday did get better. I’m not pleased to say what it took. Immediately upon fixing my iPad I was in a better mood. Avelyn took a nap, she woke up and all was right in the world. My mother-in-law came down in the afternoon and Avelyn and I were able to be outside, and Matt managed to come home early.

Did you see that? Did you notice that? “MY iPad was working again and I was in a better mood.” Ouch. Yea. The entire morning’s drama was me. The whole problem was I was making everything about ME. My selfishness and fear of my iPad being broken resulted in Avelyn getting yelled at, at her lashing out, at my spewing hot lava everywhere. Tell me that isn’t convicting?!

“But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”
Romans 2.8

There was certainly “wrath and anger” in this house, and it was all my own.

Yesterday I very “humbly” commented on a blog, the writer had lost something, and in the losing was thinking of all the other things she had been putting a side to work on what had been lost. I commented, saying:

“perhaps the losing is so you can realize that the truly important things have been neglected, that God is sending a message and you’ll find it again”.

I give fantastic advice! I should really take my own. I think the “breaking” of my iPad was more to point out that I very often let Me-isms dictate how I feel and how I react (not respond) to a situation. That in the ME moments, there is never any of Him, and nothing of any good can come from it.

Last night I read an awesome e-book, Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess. It was a quick, fantastic read, that spoke to me even more about the how and why of yesterday’s crises. Both of these authors were wonderful (Stacey Thacker and Brooke McGlothlin)!Candidly they discussed their own parenting struggles and how when they chose to step back and let God do His work, things were as He desires them to be.

Their words brought so much of yesterday’s frustration to my mind; particularly my praying for whatever it was that I was praying for…I don’t even know what it was:

Why do you love me?” he says. “Why are you following me? Is it because of what I can do for you, how I can meet your needs, or provide what you want? Or do you really love me for Who I AM?”

                                                                                         Hope for the Weary Mom, page 267/461.

All that praying I was doing. I was asking God to help ME. My praying was about ME, what HE could DO for ME. It wasn’t about glorifying Him, or exalting Him, or asking Him to work in my heart. I was asking Him to make everything hunky-dory again, because I was totally screwing it up. *yea, ouch, again* What I needed was a “heart adjustment” as a friend called it.

My heart was filled with selfish. Nasty, vile selfish. Even my prayers were selfish.

Today has gone a thousand times better. I made sure to take the 2 minutes that were needed to get in His word, following the suggestion in Hope for the Weary Mom by reading the first chapter of Psalms and Proverbs.

And just to show how God was already taking care of the situation, my mother in law bought a zip-lock type bag specifically meant for iPads at the dollar store yesterday, she didn’t know anything about the avocado/headphone thing.

Do you find that the moments in which you struggle the most are the ones in which you’re serving yourself?

One of those days….

Today….is one of those days, but it really began last night.

For whatever reason a 2 year old may have, Ave decided to pick up my iPad from the kitchen counter and unceremoniously deposit it in my lap….where my dinner was. Yea.

Avocado smushed into the headphone jack. I gently cleaned it out with a paper clip, then a q-tip to get what was left. All was good. Life continued on.

This morning Ave put a show on, but there was no sound. I figured she accidentally muted it. Nope, it says the “headphone” is in….no, no it’s not.

Babies starting screaming for breakfast, 2 year old is demanding attention, and I’m in the middle of my own crisis.

Babies get fed, 2 year old is still making demands, the iPad is still not working, and I feel it bubbling up, scalding hot, ready to erupt. It does, spewing fire and destruction EVERY WHERE.

It’s one of those days.

I try to rein in the flow. I only succeed at minimizing it. Still it comes, seething forward.

It’s not even 10 am and I’ve had it. I’ve yelled at Ave repeatedly, she lashes out by behaving even worse.

I think to myself: I really, REALLY need one of those selfish days. Children do exactly as they should, I’m a perfect mom, the house is immaculate and I manage to spend the entire day doing what I want. Obviously, that’s not going to happen.

It’s the kind of day when no matter how I pray it doesn’t. get. better. I pray again, changing the words, nothing. Everything conspires against me: Ave, the iPad (which I really hope I can fix), bills, laundry, dishes…all of it dragging me into the pit of my own, and every one else’s, destruction.

My Top Tips for Keeping In Touch the Old Fashioned Way

Writing cards and notes to people is very near and dear to my heart. Growing up my mom always had us take the time to write thank-you cards, birthday cards, and get-well cards to family. I loved getting little notes from my grandparents and other family over the years. Unfortunately, with the advent of the internet many people have lost the art of writing cards, but it seems like most people still love getting cards.

My Top Tips For Keeping In touch the Old Fashion Way From JessicaMWhite.com

If you long to get back in the habit of handwriting and snail mail, here are some of my helpful tips to make it easier to do!

1. Keep a stash
I think one of the most helpful things to keep in touch is to have a stash of cards for any and all occasions and particularly some blank ones. I find that places like Michaels, dollar stores, craft stores, currentcatalog.com, and DaySpring always have great packs of cards for relatively little money. Having all of these things on hand makes it that much easier to keep in touch. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly have the brain power to remember that I need to go pick up a card for someone.

2. Keep it all together
I have a couple of boxes above my desk in my office that contain different cards and note paper. They’re sorted out so that if I need a birthday card or a sympathy card, I know exactly which box I need to look in. This also helps me keep inventory of what I have, so that when I need it I’m not short.

3. Keep stamps on hand
Having stamps on hand is another way to motivate yourself. You never have the excuse to NOT send something because you don’t have a stamp at hand. I love stamps and will place an order every few months for some of the fun stamps that you can get on usps.com. The great thing with purchasing from there is that I don’t have to go to the post office and for $1 they’re delivered right to my house. I always feel that stamps are another way to perk up my mail. If I’m mailing a birthday card I use a Celebrate stamp.

4. Splurge on a nice pen
I don’t think there is much worse than trying to write (anything) with a crappy pen. If my pen doesn’t glide and scratch the way I want it too or if the lines aren’t the proper thickness I get really frustrated. Having a perfect pen is one of my most important things with writing a card, because the appearance of the writing {to me} is just as important as what you’re writing. {These are my favorites!}

5. Take the time to write clearly
Sometimes I go through a card or two before I’m happy with how the writing actually LOOKS. Growing up I would spend time practicing my handwriting, developing my signature. My handwriting is far from perfect, even now, but it’s a great improvement from what it used to be. Penmanship is one of those really important things when it comes to writing a card, I really wish they still taught this in school. HOWEVER, if you don’t have perfect handwriting don’t let that stop you: As long as things are spelled properly and there aren’t things crossed out, then it works.

6. Keep addresses on hand
Again, this falls into the convenience category. If you have to look for things to write a note to someone you’re NEVER going to do it. Having addresses at the ready is a huge help. I keep a running address label document in word with all of the addresses that I ever mail anything to. This way, all I need to do is open a file and search for the persons name and there it is.

7. Return address labels
I love making my own return address labels in a printing program on my computer. It’s such a great way to dress up the envelope a bit more. Plus it’s so much fun to pick my own graphics and fonts, making them all my own. If you don’t want to DIY labels, then invest in labels or in a stamp. Something that you can look at and be pleased with. I always think of the outside of an envelope as a first impression: If it looks nice people will be excited to open it.

8. Keep a calendar of events
Instead of writing birthdays and anniversaries on each month’s page in your calendar have one smaller yearly calendar where you can always see it. That way you’re never taken by surprise. I created a spreadsheet with each month/date on it, then filled in the information for birthdays and anniversaries.

9. Don’t ever underestimate
Never think that you don’t have a good enough reason to write someone. Very often I will just send someone a note letting them know I was thinking of them and hope that they’re doing well. It doesn’t have to be wordy or in depth: Just a few words shows someone that you took the time to think about them. Everyone knows that everyone else is busy, so knowing that someone else took the time out of their day to let you know that you’re important to them means a lot.

10. DO IT!
All of these can be great tips but if you don’t actually DO THEM you won’t be any closer to actually writing to anyone. Pick someone, anyone, for any reason and send them a card or a note in the mail. I guarantee that you’ll put a smile on their face.

Cloth Diapers?! You Must Be Insane!

Since we’ve already covered the fact that I am indeed insane {known this for a long time} we will move straight into the cloth diapering.

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To sum up this post in only a few words….I LOVE my cloth diapers! I love the colors, I love not buying diapers, I love the super-big heinies my kids have from them!

Making the Decision to Cloth Diaper Triplets {and their big sister} @LifeintheWhiteHouse

With Ave I had purchased around 25 diapers for her. In the beginning we used the old-fashioned prefold style with  the covers {which are super cute!}, since the Bum Genius 3.0s were a bit too big for her.Once she hit 10lbs, unless it was laundry day, she was in her BG3s. I loved the BG3s, my only issue with them was the velcro: It stuck to everything else when I did a load of diapers.

One of the things I most looked forward to with having another child was adding to our stash; a whole bunch of new styles and colors had come out since Ave was born. Then finding out it was triplets we seriously reconsidered cloth diapers: The cost, the work, etc.

I sat down with my calculator and figured out that buying disposable diapers for triplets would be approximately $50 a week at most, $20 at the low end, $80-200 a month. Over the course of one year we were looking at approximately $1000-2000 to use disposable diapers. I knew I could buy enough cloth diapers to last until potty training for around $600-700 (one time cost). Cloth diapers won.

Is it a lot easier to use disposable diapers? Yea, but it’s definitely not cheaper. We have around 60 diapers in our repertoire, mostly BumGenius4.0s {with snaps}, but we have a handful of Fuzzibunz sized diapers {x-small} as well as some prefolds and covers. We went with the BG4s this time because we figured the snaps would last longer and be easier than the velcro (it starts to curl after time and un-sticks…I now know this only happens if you put them in the dryer, which I did once in a while, before I realized I was destroying my diapers by doing so): However, the snaps are killing my fingers. Between snaps on diapers, onesies and clothes I’m anticipating arthritis.

Most people have a diaper genie or something next to their changing table, we have a 6 gallon bucket with a twist lid to throw diapers in until the next wash day. It keeps them contained and they don’t smell.

Laundry? I’m already doing laundry so really what is an extra load of laundry every other day? Nothing really. I use the same detergent on my cloth diapers as on our regular clothes…Purex Free and Clear. Diapers use such a small amount of detergent I can’t say that it’s any great additional expense to wash them.

And…honestly, could this be any cuter?

H, J and E

You can read another post by me on cloth diapering 4 kids at once here.