Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Article: Loss in a Mother's World (or Losing It!)

Loss in a Mother's World (or Losing It!)
by Stephanie L.

When you think of motherhood, the idea of loss most likely doesn't pop into your head first and foremost but it is a feeling that can be very present in this motherhood journey. For instance, there can be the heartbreaking loss of a baby through miscarriage, abortion, or a stillborn birth or the tragic loss of a child. There are other less tangible losses that can occur too however. Such as the loss of friendships, the .loss of intimacy with our husband, or the loss of a career (whether chosen or not). These can also be complicated loss of self or identity. This is what currently intrigues me.

Think back to the pregnancy of your first child. There was so much anticipation! It was fun to have everyone so excited for you and about your first baby. A first baby causes a lot of attention directed at you. Some may not enjoy that moment but you may have enjoyed being the center of attention even (gasp!) the baby bump touches! Then the baby comes and it's all about baby while you're trying to tread water to make sure everything goes smoothly as possibly In those first few days, weeks, months, years.....

With the amazing birth of your first child comes the identity shift becoming "someones mommy." When you drop off your precious tot at a nursery or child care of some sort chances are the workers will love and dote on your child and have no idea what your name is other than "So-and-So's mommy." Not only have you probably lost your last name when you wed but now you've lost your fist name too! that can be challenging.

Down the line however, there comes a time when you experience the lost of babyhood in your home and arms. The baby has grown up! When did that happen!? You didn't actually think you'd miss changing diapers or holding a baby 24/7, but now you do. You anxiously await all the first milestones but then they're over in the blink of an eye. along those lines, there can also be the loss of becoming pregnant. Maybe you had planned on having more children but it doesn't seem to be in the cards for you. Maybe that darn biological clock is ticking too loudly. Perhaps you and your husband are at odds at the idea of having more children. (Raising hand!).

along with pregnancy comes the loss of your body as you knew it. Babies cause bellies to get big and the rest of your body too! While some lucky women have the God given ability to "bounce back" after having a baby, others have to figure out how to manage, dress, and care for this new body while and after pregnant. Personally, I am just now in a happy place with my body and my youngest is two years old. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work and dedication. Thank goodness for yoga pants and this lovely legging fashion trend, right?

And who is responsible for this lovely change in appearance? Oh, your husband, remember him? Regardless of his responsibility in all that, remember when you could just go out whenever and do whatever you pleased together? Pre-diaper bags, pre-schedules, pre-needing a baby-sitter? Thought there are seasons of motherhood where it is harder to get away with your husband, please make an effort. For the sake of your marriage and for your precious baby's parent's relationship. It takes planning and trusting but it's worth it. Pencil it in. Budget it in. Perhaps not each week (how nice would that be?) but enough that you remember long it's been between dates.

As monotoned above, the loss of a career or the change in becoming a working mom now can be difficult to digest as well. If you have chosen to stay home, finding the right balance in personal fulfillment can be a challenge. By the same token, heading back to work after having a baby can be a struggle in finding the right work/home balance. It doesn't matter what your personal choice is as there are unfortunately unfair stereotypes for each. When someone asks what you do, it can be uncomfortable in either situation.

There is also the loss of your own independence, especially when having little children.  Babies, toddlers, and even older want (and pretty much need) you to be with them at all times.  Lightheartedly, this is also the loss of going to the bathroom alone. I generally have both kids and my dog with me and then even when my husband comes home, he likes to join in the fun to say "Hi!" at that particular moment. "Go away for two seconds please!!" This reminds me that there can also be the loss of sanity in a great number of ways a great number of times throughout the day.

In all seriousness, the loss of friendships can be hard to endure when you want them to continue but lifestyle realities won't allow it. "No, I can't meet you for coffee at 2 pm because the baby naps then. Nope, I can't meet for drinks after dinner because the baby needs to nurse and go to bed at 7:30." Friends without kids don't understand this. And you can't really blame them, it's kind of ridiculous but its' your life now! And sometimes you really do try to weigh the risks associated with one fun night out vs. not sleeping through the night for the new few nights because of it.

Thankfully, there is MOPS and other groups of moms that genuinely need each other and want to connect. If you are experiencing any sort of loss, I pray that you feel comfortable enough to confide in someone. Whether it be at your table, at another table or with a leader; we're all here for each otehr and most likely someone has gone through what you're going through. Always remember that you find your primary identity in Christ and that you are never truly alone.

Originally published in the February 2014 Indian Creek MOPS Newsletter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Favorite Things: Money Saving Tips

Want to try a new restaurant but not sure where to go?
Are you pregnant and not sure what baby products you really need?
Are you unsure of what to cook on a busy weeknight?

What better place to turn than your fellow MOPS moms for ideas?

Our new feature My Favorite Things - will give you some ideas of where to start.
Each month we will feature a different question and recommendations will be listed by other MOPS moms in the group.

This month's feature:
What is your money saving tip?

  • Thrift stores and home cooking - Melony S.
  • Buy store brand products - Ashley C.
  • Muelopes budgeting software - Jessica F.
  • Cut up your credit cards - Jane H.
  • Put it away before it can be spent, auto deposit to savings - Stephanie H.
  • price match at Walmart - Emily H.
  • Coupons - Heather J.
  • Budget for savings - Stephanie L.
  • Write down everything and make a list of what you need - Alicia P.
  • We try to put back our tax returns - Lindsay R.
  • Walmart price match is cool - Amy S.
  • Target red card (debit not credit) save 5% - Raychel V.
  • Don't grocery shop hungry - Laura W.
  • Buy used clothes at Goodwill or Savers - Erin B.
  • Price Matching - Karla T.
  • Learn to cut hair! - Julie K.
  • Make a budget and follow through - Jennifer P.
  • Plan weekly meals - Angela A.
  • Not going to Target daily - Sara B.
  • Buy big items on Craigslist - Carrie M.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. - Sara K.
  • Don't spend it :) - Nicki F.
  • Stick to your budget, meal plan around sales. - Jessi C.
  • Make your own laundry soap and cleaning supplies, budget, meal plan, eat out less, Aldi- Sarah L.
  • Meal plan and only grocery shop bi-weekly. - Nicole P.
  • Don't buy things you don't really need. - Lou Ann C.
  • Be married to my husband, itemize your budget, break everything into percentages and review frequently - Rachael K.

Want to contribute your ideas for our blog or newsletter? Check your MOPS folder for the My Favorite Things feature!

Monday, September 1, 2014

What Your MOPPET is Learning: September

While we are enjoying some time with other mothers, the kids are busy in their classes as well. 

Each month we will post a sneak peak at the MOPPETS curriculum for the 2012-13 year.  

This year the kids will be studying the Fruit of the Spirit curriculum which has been a favorite in the past.

All kids in the Otters, Lions, Ostrich, and Giraffe classes will participate in a Bible lesson, craft, game, music, play time, short video related to the Bible lesson, (such as VeggieTales) and snack.

Here is a peek at the curriculum for the month:


Song of the month- If You’re Happy and You Know it.
9/4-Lesson- God wants us to be kind to others.
Story- Good Samaritan
Verse- Galatians 5:14, Love your neighbor as yourself
9/18-Lesson-God wants us to be kind to others.
Story- Jesus shows kindness
Verse- 1 Peter 3.9 Treat everyone with kindness

For a list of the entire MOPPETS Curriculum for the year please check out the "About MOPPETS" tab.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Freezer Meal Recipes: July 2014

Sloppy Joe's (Beef or Turkey)

1 1/2-2 COOKED ground beef or turkey
1 Green Pepper finely chopped
1Onion minced
1 lb bacon finely chopped
Salt to taste
BBQ sauce to your liking for right thickness/consistency
Buns for serving

Place contents in bag and mix to coat the meat evenly. You can put this in crock pot frozen or defrosted, it will cook on low for 4-6 hrs. Closer to 4 hrs if defrosted, closer to 6 if frozen.Serve on buns with side of veggies

French Dip Sandwhiches

4 lb of pot roast
32 oz beef broth
5 garlic cloves
1 oinon quartered
1 Tble Italian seasoning (dry dressing mix)
1 Tble ground mustard
1 Tble pepper
Salt to taste
Hoagie Rolls for serving

Place all food in bag and shake to incorporate. Place defrosted food in crock pot and cook on low for 7 hrs. Shred the meat and strain the broth to remove the large pieces of
food. You will be left with your au jus dipping sauce.

Mexican Chicken Lettuce Wraps

15 oz (or 2 cups homemade) tomato sauce
4 oz diced chilies
1 Tble cumin
1 Tble onion powder
2 bls chicken
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 Tble corn starch (for after
1 Head Butter lettuce for serving
Favorite salsa for topping

Place all ingredients in bag except the corn starch. Defrost in the fridge overnight, place in crock pot and cook on low for 6 hrs, or high for 3 hrs. Remove the chicken and shred, add corn starch to sauce to thicken, return chicken to the pot. Top with salsa of choice.Place in Lettuce leaves and wrap (you can also use tortillas, I was just trying to change things up!)

Rosemary Chicken

1 whole chicken (or 4 breasts if a whole chicken freaks you out!!!)
I Tble garlic powder
1 Tble rosemary
1 Lemon, sliced
Salt/Pepper to taste

Whole Chicken: Place spices under skin and sliced lemons inside cavity

Defrost when ready to cook, and cook on low for 8 hrs

Breasts: Coat chicken with spices, place lemon slices on top. When ready to cook, place in crock pot with 1⁄2 cup of chicken broth and cook on low 4-6 hrsServe as sandwich meat, or with vegetables and pasta.

Turkey Meatball

 1 1⁄2 lbs of ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken)
1 Tble garlic (1 clove)
1 T onion powder
1 Tbl Italian seasoning (dry dressing mix
2 cups (15-16 oz ) tomato sauce
1⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt/pepper to taste
1 cup diced mushrooms optional

Mix all ingredients, except sauce and cheese, in a bowl, just until incorporated. Too much mixing
with make the meatballs tough. The mushrooms are optional b/c the mix makes a dense meatball, the mushrooms will lighten it up. It is all your preference.Roll into balls and place in a single layer in freezer bag.

Defrost when ready to use and place in crock pot . Top with tomato sauce and cheese. Cook on low for 4-6 hrs. Serve over pasta

Santa Fe Chicken 

1-2 lbs chicken
Green chilies
2 cups (1 can) black beans
1 cup corn
2 garlic cloves
1⁄2 jalapeno pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion poweder
1 Tble cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne
1⁄2 lime juiced
1 cup salsa

*Time saver: the amount of garlic, onion, and chili powder, cumin, and cayenne are equal to about a packet of taco seasoning if you would prefer to use that.  Place all ingredients in bag and mix to coat the chicken

Cook (frozen or defrosted) on low for 4-6 hrs Serve over rice

Chicken Pad Thai

 1⁄2 cup HOT water
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 Tble rice wine vinegar
2 Tble soy sauce
1 Tble chili sauce
1⁄2 lime juiced
1 lb chicken
2 cups broccoli (fresh or frozen)
1 cup shredded cabbage (you can use coleslaw mix)
1⁄2 cup cilantro
1 small onion chopped
3 garlic cloves
8 oz linguine (for serving)

Mix first 6 ingredients to create a sauce, add in remaining ingredients into freezer bag and mix to incorporate. Place in crock pot frozen or defrosted and cook on low 6-8 hrs. When ready to serve, cook the pasta and shred the chicken. Mix the cooked pasta into the pot and toss to coat with sauce.

Mexican Rice

 2 cups brown rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups diced tomoatoes
1 onion
1 bell pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
2 Tble cilantro

Mix all ingredients in freezer bag.

Defrost when ready to cook, place in crock pot and cook on high for 2 1⁄2 -3 hrs or until the liquid is absorbed. Serve as a side with tacos, grilled chicken.

Refried Beans

 2 lbs pinto beans
1 onion
4 garlic cloves

Place all ingredients in freezer bag and freeze.

2 Tble salt
1 tsp pepper
2 Tble Cumin

When ready to cook, defrost and place in crock pot. Add 10 cups of HOT water and cook on high for 4 hrs and low for 2 hours. Blend to desired consistency This make a lot of beans! Place approx. 2 cups in smaller freezer bags and freeze until needed. Serve as side or use to make filling for enchiladas or tacos at a later date.

Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 lb bread cubed (Italian works best)
1 cup cream
12 oz dark chocolate chips
2 cups milk
3 eggs
6 Tble sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt chocolate chips in cream using the microwave until smooth. Add in other ingredients and toss over bread to coat. Place in freezer bag and freeze.

When ready to cook, defrost and place in crock pot. Cook on low for 3 hours.

*Tip: Place a paper towel under the lid when cooking to absorb the condensation and prevent it from dripping into your pudding!

Orange Chicken

1 lb chicken
1⁄2 bottle of BBQ sauce
1⁄2 cup of orange jelly/jam
1⁄2 cup chicken broth

Mix all ingredients in freezer bag and freeze.

Place in crock pot frozen or defrosted and cook on low for 6-8 hrs. Serve over rice

Buffalo Chicken

1 lb chicken
1⁄2 packet of ranch dressing mix
1⁄2 cup chicken broth
2 Tble butter
1 bottle of Franks Red Hot Buffalo Sauce for serving

Place chicken , ranch, broth, and butter in freezer bag and freeze.

Place in crock pot frozen or defrosted and cook on low for 6-8 hrs. When finished cooking, drain excess liquid off, shred chicken, and add in buffalo sauce to desired hotness level!

Serve on sandwiches or tacos