Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 5 Love Languages

"This book (and a few others by Chapman), through the grace of God, saved my marriage ten years ago. I am not even exaggerating. Jeremy and I are opposites as well. My love languages are acts of service and gifts, while Jeremy's are physical touch and words of affirmation. We couldn't understand early on in our marriage why the other person didn't feel loved...." 
 (read the rest of Monica's story in the comment below)

Have you heard of the 5 Love Languages? 

 The 5 Love Languages is a book that was written by Gary Chapman to help determine how we express and receive love. The languages that it explores are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. Ask yourself these questions and read the descriptions below:

❤ How do I express love to others?
❤ What do I complain about the most?
❤ What do I request most often?

Words of Affirmation: You feel most loved and appreciated when someone tells you “good job”, writes love notes, tells your how amazing you are, etc. You also tend to affirm other people with your words.

Acts of Service: Forget words, mow the lawn to show me that you love me! Or do the dishes, or take the kids to the park...get it? These people feel most loved when there is action involved.

Receiving Gifts: This one is exactly what it says: GIFTS. These people show up with little gifts often- sometimes a new outfit for the baby, a pair of earrings that was on sale, or just a coffee pick-me-up for you!

Quality Time: This language does not need gifts or favors, they just love to sit on the couch with you and talk! Not watch tv (that’s not ‘quality’) but talk. They want to take walks, play mini-golf, take trips, etc. Just spend TIME!

Physical Touch: This one can be the most annoying to someone who is NOT physical touch. This doesn’t mean sexual touch, just physical. Holding hands, back rubs, foot rubs, cuddling...

 Usually people can take a pretty good guess at what they are from just reading a description of the languages. What shows you love the most? How do you love others? If you are interested in taking the assessment to discover your language, click here.

It is SOOO important to understand these different love languages so that you can identify with the people in your life. You will begin to realize that it’s not just because you “don’t understand each other” but simply that you love differently!

For example- I am primarily Physical Touch and secondary Quality Time. I love when my husband cuddles, massages, holds my hand, or just runs his hand across my arm when he walks by. This shows me that he loves me. When it comes to birthdays and holidays, I like gifts, but I don’t LOVE them. I would rather use our money to go on a date or vacation! In 4 years of marriage, we have never purchased an “anniversary gift”. Instead, we always try to plan a getaway and we spend our money there! I LOVE trips.

Daniel, on the other hand, is opposite. Are you surprised? He is Words of Affirmation and Acts of Service. This means that my husband loves when I thank him for his hard work, tell him I am proud of him, and write him notes expressing my love. He also loves coming home from work and seeing that dinner is made and ready for him, I’ve gone through the mail, and his work socks are clean. Now, to most women, this seems like my husband is a tyrant who wants the perfect housewife who always has things orderly.   Since I understand his love language, I know that these things are tasks that he dreads and if I complete them, I am expressing my love to him.

Are you understanding this?

Now, these love languages go both ways. Where it is important to know your love language, you cannot throw it in their face saying “well that’s just my love language”. The purpose of this knowledge is to learn why we all do what we do, but to also learn to love in someone ELSE’S love language.

Do you work your butt off to get the house clean before your husband comes home, and when he comes home he doesn’t notice but won’t stop hugging you and keeping you from your chores? You may be acts of service, he may be physical touch. Does your mom constantly ask to spend time with you, but all you want is for her to say that she loves you? She may be quality time, you may be words of affirmation. Do you pour over a love letter for your significant other, and they just look up and say “where’s the present?”. You may be words of affirmation, she may be gifts.

A few months after Daniel and I got married, we were laying on the couch watching a movie. I reached over and started tickling his back- which he hates. But I needed physical touch! After a few times of trying to shrug me off, he turned to me and said “Ok, I get it. You’re touching me because you need touch. Would you like me to rub your feet?”. BINGO. He figured out how to love me in my own language.

One of our funniest stories was pretty recently- I was 8 months pregnant in the middle of the summer. I was swollen, heavy and miserable. I had told my husband earlier that I would love a foot rub. A couple hours later he came to me and said excitedly “Guess what I’m going to do for you today!?”. My mind said “oh he’s going to rub my feet!” but he said “clean the bugs out of the kitchen light!”. He was DEAD SERIOUS and so excited about this idea. And I just burst into tears. At this point, I had to realize that Daniel wasn’t ignoring my desire for physical touch, he was just loving me in HIS love language- acts of service. And he thought that this would make me feel so happy and loved- so I took it as him loving me. And I got my foot rub later :).

Our love languages can also be the very thing that people withhold or abuse during a fight. It took me years to figure out that when I said something hurtful to my husband in the heat of the moment, it stuck for a good long time. He is words of affirmation, so if I use words in a demeaning way, they conveyed that I DO NOT love him. It works both ways, so be careful! 
 God created us all differently, and that is the beauty in relationships. We get to constantly rediscover and explore each other’s likes and dislikes and learn how to love them better. It is great to be flexible in how you give and receive love in order to reach that person to the best of our ability.

You can use the knowledge of these love languages in every relationship: marriage, dating, parenting, children, friendships, business, etc. You name it! If you learn that your boss is gifts, why not pick her up a coffee on the way to work? If your child is physical touch, spend some extra time cuddling with a book before bed. If your husband is words of affirmation, be sure to NOT cut him down with your words.

Not only is there the original “The 5 Love Languages” book, but there are not a variety of others.There is a book for the love languages of children, teenagers, a singles edition, a men’s edition, and soon a military edition! And lots of others. Choose the book that works for where you are in life, and make the pledge to work on loving others the best way that you can!

Visit www.5lovelanguages.com to take the love language assessment and find more about the love languages! Have your husband, mother, children take the test too and you'll be on your way to expressing your love more effectively.

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Pinterest Meal Planner

Yes, Pinterest....

It’s so wonderful when you need some fresh ideas or to waste time, right? I am horrible at meal planning- I don’t enjoy it and I never seem to get creative enough. I feel like I have the same 3 meals all the time, which I don’t mind, but Daniel is not a huge fan. Here is my attempt to be more diverse in my meal planning!

I threw this together yesterday and have started using it- now I just have to pay attention to it. It’s great to pick meals at the beginning of the week and shop ONLY according to those meals- then you don’t overspend or buy things that won’t get used in time.

I started by writing out my meals while looking into my cookbook and online. I came up with 4 categories for us, that i then typed and printed onto different colored sheets. I did the different colors to make sure I have variety within the week! I then "laminated" them by using clear packing tape!

Here’s our categories:
Yellow= Chicken
Red= Beef
Pink= Crockpot meals
Blue= Easy/ busy meals

Here is how I made mine, directions in pictures! 
Supplies: a fabric swatch (99 cents), an 8x10 picture frame ($5), a piece of scrapbook paper, and 7 clothes pins.
I hot glued the fabric around the everything but the frame- glass too, to keep it sturdy.
I make my own Mod Podge- equal parts of Elmer's glue ($1-2) and water. Shake well!
Line em' up!
I used a card box for my meal holder- a crayon and marker box were both too big. I just covered it with paper!
 Here are the meals I wrote down for our family:

Sweet/Sour Chicken and Rice
Chicken Spinach Wraps
Chicken Spinach Salad
Skillet Rosemary Chicken
Chicken Rice Casserole
Chicken, green bean, and sweet potato bake
Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
Teriyaki Chicken
Southwest Chicken Wraps
Chicken Enchiladas
Quesadilla Burgers
Baked Ziti
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Meatball Sandwiches
Mediterranean Meatloaf
Beef and Potato Burritos
Steak and Veggies
Beef Fajitas
Tater Tot Casserole
Mom’s Colossal Chili
Beef and Veggie Stew
Chicken Tortilla Soup
White Chicken Chili
Chicken Corn Chowder
Chicken and Dumplings
Crockpot Pesto Chicken
Mac and Cheese w/ Broccoli
Eat out

There are 33 meals here- more than a month’s worth without repeating! These are really main dishes, with the ability to add whatever veggies you have. I usually keep broccoli, peas, and green beans in the freezer, and I usually have spinach, romaine lettuce, potatoes and sweet potatoes on hand. Just whip them up to add to your main dish, if needed!

I also usually keep both of these on hand:
Sauteed green bell peppers and onions (w/ salt and pepper)
Sauteed sweet potato and onions (w/ salt and pepper)
 These two dishes are great hot or cold, as a side to some good protein, or just add in some ground beef and eat for lunch! That's what I usually do. 

 Now, my husband did ask if we could repeat ones that he loves- which means Pizza, Beef and Potato Burritos, and Chicken Broccoli Alfredo- most likely. I ALWAYS make a double batch of everything so Daniel has meals to take to work the next day. I pack them straight into their Tupperware and into the fridge so he can grab-and-go in the morning.

If I am trying to be healthy and watching what I eat, I add more veggies, change the pasta to a rice noodle, change the tortilla to wheat, or simply leave out the bread and carbs all together. Sometimes I will even feed my husband these meals and have a protein shake or leftovers on my own, if it’s not “healthy” enough.

This is really just a start for me- I plan on adding new and exciting dishes to my menu. Do you have a favorite recipe you could share?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Importance of a Doula

I have had a few friends ask me recently if I had a doula for our birth and what I thought of hiring one. My answer? YES. IT IS AN ESSENTIAL!

Kelly Sunshine!

Why do I feel this way? Well, let me give you some of the statistics first, taken straight from my friend and doula, Dianne Hamre’s blog:

50% reduction in cesarean rate

25% shorter labor

60% reduction in epidural requests

40% reduction in Pitocin use

30% reduction in analgesia use

40% reduction in forceps delivery

(These statistics appear in Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth by Klaus, Kennell, and Klaus (1993)

And these are just the physical reasons- there are so many more psychological, spiritual, and emotional reasons! A doula can provide soothing touch, pain management positions, progression exercises, food and drinks, prayer, praise, and encouragement. When dealing with the hospital staff, a doula can help to explain protocol and procedures, hold off unnecessary interventions, allow minimal necessary interventions, give your support team a break, run errands, and encourage you during birth. And one of the most important things- TAKE PICTURES! I am so blessed by the pictures that we have of our labor and birth. Although they were difficult to look through in the beginning (because of a traumatic labor), they have become something that I cherish of my long journey into motherhood.

I think it’s safe to say that we had two doulas throughout our pregnancy and birth.

Dianne Hamre was the first person that we met on our walk-through of the birth center, at 6 weeks pregnant. She was calm, quiet, and loving. She had a sparkle in her eyes that showed confidence and assurance. But don’t let any of that fool you- in the thoroughs of labor, Dianne seemed to morph into whatever I needed her to be at that moment. She encouraged and loved on me, she spoke firmly when I needed to push, she moved my big pregnant body around into new positions and told me to calm down and focus. Her strength kept me going while I labored at the birth center, and she kept me calm in moments of panic- whether it was gently or firmly! This poor woman had other mamas in labor AND back-to-back classes while I was in labor and could not be there for the whole thing- so she sent her backup. But she was present at the birth center and trying to sleep in the other room while I wailed and breathed through contractions. I think she got 2 hours of sleep total, and was in my room that morning before her class, encouraging me, taking pictures, and praying over us. Although she could not transfer to the hospital with us, she did show up at 9pm to help me breastfeed my newborn. I don’t know how she does it.

Dianne helping us work through a contraction.

Kelly Sunshine was Dianne’s backup, and we had met her briefly at a “Meet the Midwives” event when I was about 32 weeks pregnant. I remember taking to her instantly- I loved her smile and how friendly she was. She talked all things baby with us, and church! She also shared our faith, which was a big deal for us. Up until that moment, I was terrified of Dianne not being at my birth. But after I met Kelly, I remember thinking “Okay, I would be alright if Kelly was with us”. Good thing, because she was our main lady! Kelly showed up at my house during a contractions, and she went straight to work. Backrubs, the infamous hip squeeze and the best- a massage with essential oils! She had me in and out of the shower, on and off the toilet, on the floor, the bed, walking.... everywhere. She stayed the night with us, sleeping only a few hours. The cervical checks were so painful, that Kelly held me down and got in my face telling me I could do it. I needed her stern manner to get out of my hysteria!

When we transferred to the hospital, Kelly met me there with open arms. She talked me through my epidural as it was emergency- Daniel left the room since I did better with Kelly’s strong encouragement and explanation. She ran back and forth from my room to another laboring mom- always there when we needed her. She explained hospital protocol and intervened when the nurses tried unnecessary procedures. She found little crackers and snacks for me (I hadn’t hardly eaten in 3 days) and gave my husband and parents a break. My husband felt confident leaving me in Kelly’s care. She prayed over me and held my hand through the checks. She took pictures of my progression as I pushed and never let me give up or lose hope in the 3 1/2 hours I pushed. She was as amazed as I was that I didn’t end up in a c-section! I love this woman- I could not have birthed without her support! 

Doesn't she look so good for being up for 3 days with me!?
If you would like to, you can read my full birth story. Both of these women played pivotal roles in my journey to bring Piper into the world! 

If you are in Phoenix area, here are Dianne’s and Kelly’s profiles on DoulaMatch.com. If you are not, I would encourage you to go to this website and find a doula who fits you!  

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Great Cloth Diaper Change

I crossed something off of my Bucket List already! 

I have never cloth diapered- we considered it when I was pregnant, but we received so many disposable diapers and then my husband dropped the bomb that he would never want to change a cloth diaper. So we didn’t move forward with it. BUT, that didn’t stop me from participating in the Great Cloth Diaper Change at Babymoon Inn this past weekend! A friend let me borrow a cloth diaper and we found our place!
Where's Waldo... Can you find me?
Pip with her friends Ezra and Logan
Basically, it is an attempt to break the world record of cloth diapers changed at the same time AROUND THE WORLD. It is also an event to raise awareness about cloth diapering and of course, give families a time to relax, visit, and play some games. Along with bubbles for the toddlers! We can’t forget the bubbles. They had Paleta’s Betty at the event too- YUM!!! Here is Pip enjoying her ice cream. 
We got chocolate...duh.
 They also had little gift boxes for each of us that contained a diaper cover, a bib, some HappyBaby treats and had samples of their new bath salts. Heck yeah!

We took our places at about 10:30 am in the parking lot behind the birth center. They had laid down soft “grass” and had us each bring a towel to change baby on. First we sang some rhymes and played with babies (while we finished our ice cream). Then we took a picture with the babies all in their diapers, and waited for the horns to tell us to GO, at exactly 11am. We changed our babies into their cloth diapers, and took another picture of all the babies in cloth diapers!

Looks like she loves them!

All of the freshly changed babies!
Afterwards, there was more visiting, temporary tattoos (cool), and a raffle that gave away diaper rash cream, homemade blankets, baby food starter kits, a cooler bag, etc. No, I didn’t win. It's ok, I never win.

It was so much fun, and we plan on doing it next year too! Join me if you would like to! 

And of course, I will be waiting on my certificate that says I broke a world record!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Nest Necklaces- MOTHER'S DAY!

What do you think of my new necklace!?!?

My friend, Samantha Davis, made it for me recently. I also ordered two others for some other mommy friends of mine- they are FANTASTIC Mother’s Day gifts! I just have one little bead in mine since I only have one little baby... my friend Abbey has 5 babies, hence her LARGE nest below! 

The necklaces are $10 for the pendant, and $15 for pendant and chain. She can make them custom- colors, number, size, etc. I ordered mine with the chain so that it was a complete gift. She also boxes them in cute little jewelry boxes with padding and everything! Just message her about what you want.

If you are interested in purchasing a necklace, please contact Samantha through her facebook page. She has a couple hundred dollars more that she needs to raise in order to take a missions trip to Japan this summer. A cute necklace for a great cause! Totally worth it.

Let me know if you order one!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Closet Swap

Hi All!

I recently stood in my closet, looking at my plethora of clothes, and decided that I had nothing to wear. I have hit this point where I have a lot of clothes, because I seem to have 3 different wardrobes- pre-pregnancy, maternity, and post-pregnancy, but sometimes even all of those don’t fit! Have you hit that point yet? And of course, being a stay-at-home-mom doesn’t really allow for flippant shopping trips, so I needed to find another route.

So here was my cure- having a closet swap! I contacted my friends and set a day to have everyone gather at a friend’s house and “shop” each others clothes. We all seemed to have clothes to donate anyway, so why not swap them first?

I spent a few days before the swap collecting clothes and sorting them; Small, Medium, Large, tanks, short sleeve, long sleeve, bathing suits, maternity, jeans, pants, shorts, skirts, jewelry, purses, shoes, etc. THAT was tiring. But we had SO MUCH! 
My living room...

On the day of the swap, a friend and I arrived early and set up everything. We had told each lady to bring a snack to share. Children were welcome too- since most of us have them! We had about 10 ladies show up, and many more who donated and could not make it.

After spending some time visiting and eating, we simply jumped into shopping! There were no rules or guidelines, just to be polite and fair, and try stuff on! We had 2 rooms downstairs that had mirrors to try on clothes, so most of us convened there to throw clothes around. It was neat to see all the different styles, sizes, and body types! We found that we encouraged each other more and when something didn’t look right on one person, they passed it on and it looked PERFECT on someone else- and found a new home!

Each of us left with at least 1-2 bags (Target bags, of course!) of new clothes! We barely put a dent in the stock, but it was neat to go into the experience with no expectations. We planned on donating everything anyway, so when we came home with something, it was just a bonus!

I have been wearing my “new” clothes all week, and I am feeling so good! So are some of the other ladies, and I am including their pictures in their “new” clothes here! 
Kelly rocking her entirely "new" outfit!

Abbey showing off her baby bump in a "new" flowy top!

Kandice in her "new" floral top and shoes! She found 3 pairs of shoes!

My "new" skirt- it still had the tag on it!
Jen in her "new" outfit!

Esther rocking her "new" top!

 We had so much leftover that we were able to donate to the Phoenix Rescue Mission. Oh, I almost forgot... we had baby, boys, and girls clothes too! So in the end, we all have some new outfits and we have 6 trash bags and 2 boxes worth of clothes to donate... so cool!

Here is little Miss Emma in her "new" tutu bathing suit! She's a ballerina!

I will set up another Closet Swap in a few months. I think it’s a good idea to do it about twice a year to get rid of things and refresh our closets! Let me know if you want “in”! 

P.S. Most of the husbands were quite pleased also. They loved that their wives came home with new clothes at no expense to them! Those silly guys....