A Lighthearted Look at the Status of My Parenting Adventures

Some days I’m a frazzled mess. I share more similarities with the street cat that frequents our garden space than a human being. Maybe it’s because the five people I spend the most time with are my kids, husband, that annoying cat and a cricket.

Parenting Is Tough

Sometimes it’s challenging to spend all your time with consuming little beings. All of the “I want, I need” all day and all night is exhausting. Does this mean I should seek out better people so that I can become an average of 5 great people instead of letting the little ones drag me down? Assuming that great people always lift you up, don’t make you angry, tired or discouraged is nonsense.

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Guaranteed No Tears At Mealtime

“Ok hunny, I’ll pop some chicken nuggets in the toaster for you,” said none of our great-grandparents ever.

Don’t you think some of the troubles little ones have with eating and mealtime are really due to society’s recent trend towards using processed foods? The convenience of popping some chicken nuggets in the microwave or grabbing some crackers for the toddler is a relatively new reality. And no parent wants to see their child go hungry, so it’s no wonder our children demand an alternative to lentil stew. We give in because we can. There are easy alternatives calling from the kitchen “hellooooo…anyone want some crackers?”

But, by giving in and allowing these alternatives, we’re creating picky eaters that are on a path towards leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

So, how, you ask, do you avoid the tears at mealtime? How do you navigate the refusal to try a bite of green beans?


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Yikes! I would have spent how much on jam???

Jam with bread

So many mundane expenses don’t even enter onto our radar until we add them up and think about them in terms of monthly or yearly expenses. Like so many who write about dropping a coffee habit and saving big bucks, I’ve come to that realization about many normal purchases. For instance, jam.


I grew up in a home where my parents (not just mom!) made preserves. Peaches, applesauce, sometimes tomato juice and pickles were staples that got canned each year. Sweet corn was gleaned, cooked and frozen. And of course freezer jam was made each year in June.

I hadn’t quite figured out how to manage preserves just yet in my life here in Guatemala. Part of it was because I was managing to survive on an itty bitty teeny weeny refrigerator that was literally a cube of about 2.5 ft squared. Don’t ask me how I survived on that for 7 years, we just made do.

Space to Freeze

Now I have a brand spanking new (HUGE) refrigerator, complete with a real freezer. The first thing my husband said was that it’s too big. Oh but I had plans for freezing. He has since been proven wrong, very wrong. I’ve frozen pureed squash, chicken and meat and made amazing refrigerator pickles. Additionally, I’ve made freezer jam.

My little peanut LOVES to eat strawberry jam. When he won’t eat anything else, he’ll say “Mama, can I have bread with jelly please?” If I would let him, I’m sure he would eat it for every meal.

It’s So Expensive!

But, I’ll be honest. The jelly and jam selection here is either disgusting or very expensive. At about $3 a jar for the good stuff, that I’d probably go through in about a week or week and a half, that’s $150 a year in jam. Yikes! However, by making it myself, I bring that number down to about $3 a month, or $36 a year. And, I have the added assurance of knowing what I put in my jam. Strawberries, jell-o and sugar. That’s it. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to posting how I make it.

Why Is the First Instinct to Buy?

My point is, isn’t it ridiculous how we’ve been trained to buy even the simplest of products? Making jelly takes me about 15 minutes. It’s as complicated as rinsing the berries, stemming them, blending them, popping in a pot with dissolved jello, adding sugar and pouring it into a few plastic tubs. It’s easy peasy. I’m also making my own apple cider vinegar and have started making my own yogurt. Both of these are a fraction of the cost when home-made vs. store bought. And they’re better (and easy – otherwise I PROMISE I wouldn’t do it).

Each week I also usually bake bread, cookies, granola bars or muffins. The baked goods are a great treat and are healthier and tastier than other options available for purchase. I usually bake these as a side-note…I want to turn on the oven for a dinner and can’t bear the thought of all of that oven space going to waste. So, I whip up something quick and get the most out of my oven heat.

Now, we’re able to enjoy more, for less.  Sounds like the name of the cookbook in my kitchen “More with Less”.  But it’s true! I feel like I’m at the beginning of discovering so many more things to make and do on my own.

What’s your number one money-saver as a result of doing it yourself?

Me Time

I’ve been staring at my old running shoes for a few months now, but I must confess:  they were being mean to me ok? They were  making fun of me.  They said things like “You don’t have time to run” and “Keep sleeping lazy lady” and stuff like that.  Can you believe it?

Then, they laughed even harder when my husband would put them on to walk around town and run errands.  “Hahaha,” they said. “See if you’ll ever wear us again.”


You see, I had intentions of setting them straight and putting them on and heading out for a jog – even a 15 minute one, but I let them get the best of me.

I kept excusing myself every time my 1 year old would have a cold or a rough night, thinking, tomorrow morning I’ll go for a run.  I even tried skipping an afternoon shower thinking that it would give me incentive to run, and then shower the next morning.  I got a little grubby for a day or two, but never made it out.

But, I have news for you.  I’ve kicked those running shoes into submission and last week I took them out for a short run.  And then I did it again this morning.

And you know what?

It’s true what they say about taking a little bit of time for yourself and exercising.  It puts you in a better mood than a huge bar of dark chocolate.  Ok, maybe it only rivals that, but it’s pretty stinking good.

So, if you want to improve your mood, and through that your parenting, and your productivity too…and it just improves everything really…then take time for you.  I encourage every parent to carve out this golden time.

I call it my “me time.”

It restores my sense of self as a person apart from my titles of mother and wife. There’s no one tugging at me or asking for anything.  I’m not working, and I’m not cooking. I’m just doing something I enjoy. Even 30 minutes a few mornings a week is enough to make a difference.  It might take a bit for you to get going – but once you do, you’ll have started something you won’t want to stop.  I know I don’t.