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How to Slow Down in Life with Kids

How to Slow Down in Life with Kids


how to slow down in life with kids


Leaving our shoes behind, we grabbed a basket of blankets, a few lawn-chairs, and made our way to the backyard. Grandma and I were going to build a backyard fort. Not just any fort, but a fort beside a beautiful sandy beach (read: Grandpa was filling the kiddie pool, and dragging the sandbox across the yard). We spent hours outside that day drinking lemon aid, reading books, cloud gazing, and following ants. There was no expected outcomes, no agenda, just free space for imagination to flourish.


When life tells you to slow down


It has only be a small handful of years since I felt the need to slow down as a family. It started with the birth of our third child, when keeping up our pace grew to be a wearisome task. My body took an extremely long time to heal, and ultimately, through a series of high stress events that followed, I landed myself with a diagnosis of an autoimmune. Unable to get out bed, I watched as the dates of our calendar began to turn with one event after another being cancelled on account of my health. Looking back prior to the diagnosis, I can see now that my body had been trying to get my attention to slow down long before I crashed. Funny thing is, whether we take note and change course, or not, our bodies will eventually take the rest we need, with or without our approval.


The problem I had was that slowing down felt like such a foreign concept to my westernized brain. As I lay in my bed I often thought back to my younger years as a child. Like the story of Grandma's backyard fort, the lazy summer afternoons of my childhood were past, and I pondered how that might look as an adult, for myself and for our family. 


While I might be a dreamer, I can say for certain, that these memories comes with a very real and practical problem. Not everyday is for dreaming and imagining, errands can only be put off for so long before one must continue the so called “daily grind”. I couldn’t help but to think there was a better way to include the mundane and often necessary and still find space to breathe and rest. As I scoured the internet trying to make sense of what I was feeling verses what the culture was saying, I began to stumble across page after page of people like me who wanted to a slower pace. There was a secret underground slow movement brewing, and I wanted in.


How do I reclaim my life?


The question really becomes: How can I take back control of my life and let go of the need to be busy? Misty from "Our Quaint Colonial" shared with me that the word busy is just an acronym for “Being Under Satan’s Yolk”. Never have I heard the definition of busy spelled out so clearly. Perhaps as you read this, you find yourself pummelled by the sea of busy, and feeling the weight of that yolk. As I pulled back and sought out the slow and simple life, what transpired was unexpected time and freedom for last minute needs to be met. In the letting go I was finally able to see the former of yolk of Satan and his fast moving schedule and all that it was robbing us of as a family. Let me back up a second and explain.


To live a slow life, does not mean you do nothing. Slowness and idleness (or slothfulness as the Bible often calls it), are not synonymous terms. Slowness is not nothingness, but rather a more careful curation of time. When you value free space, whether it be for time to rest for yourself, or space for your kids to play, you begin to reprioritize what you say “yes” to. 


I have heard it said that to slow down requires a giving up of what the culture sees as valuable, which to some degree may be true, but not at all in a negative light. Besides, what society deems valuable, and what God deems valuable rarely match. When you say no to busy, you are saying yes to a beautiful sort of freedom that is lost in the shuffle of today. In many ways, our slower schedule allowed me to finally feel awake and energized from the bizarre and weighty hum of busyness. 


That brings us back to the unexpected time and freedom aspect. 


When we look at the Proverbs 31 woman, we see a long list of what may be perceived as her “to do” list. But upon closer inspection we can see that her weeks are filled with rather ordinary things, she cares for the needy (think: bringing soup to a sick neighbour), she works with her hands (perhaps cleaning the laundry), her husband is well known (so she likely sits and listens to his day from work). She doesn’t eat the bread of idleness, but you know what all this things she does do have in common? They require time. To make soup for a sick neighbour requires space in the day to cook an extra meal. To listen to her husband and tend to her children while he works, requires the space to be a good listener (to both husband and child) without feeling the need to run to the next task. In short, the Proverbs 31 woman carefully curates her day to leave allowances for and breathing space for what is important.


When we say no to the unimportant, and build a curated schedule that is focused on a slower pace, then, when we hear of a neighbour who is ill, we actually have time to lovingly prepare for them a meal. When we aren’t busy running our kids from one sports class to the next we have time to sit and enjoy the company of one another in a good conversation. Yes, we may give up soccer, but the blessings of being present and available to those in need (including a deeper quality of relationship with our own kids), far surpasses the need for speed from one event to another. The goal isn't about offering our kids a chance to experience every aspect and prospective career choice by age 10, but rather to teach them the value of the deep and meaningful things in life, like what it means to invest in each other. A freer schedule allows for space and time to both bless and in return, receive the blessing of having offered a helping hand or a listening ear.



Creating an intentional life


In our home, slowing down as a family, and curating our schedule meant saying no to every homeschool field trip that arose. It also meant limiting extracurriculars to one per kid per week. From a more personal aspect, it meant I needed to let go of accomplishing so dang much in a day. I valued each check mark on my “to do” list a check of pride of just how much I was capable of. But, as I mentioned before, what we think we are capable of, and where and what God needs from us in a day is often two different things. 


Read this famous passage from The Message and hear it slightly different that we usually hear it:



slow and simple parenting

 If God doesn’t build the house,

    the builders only build shacks.

If God doesn’t guard the city,

    the night watchman might as well nap.

It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,

    and work your worried fingers to the bone.

Don’t you know he enjoys

    giving rest to those he loves? (Ps. 127:1-2)


We’ve created for ourselves these hurried lifestyles of running from one appointment/class/engagement to the next, instead of allowing space in our days for the Lord to build our day. And you know what God loves to put in our schedules? Rest. Or, worded differently, God loves to gift us with space to acknowledge that time itself is His, as well as the stillness to hear His quiet whisper. How can we stop and wonder at His creation if we are continuously rushing to the next stop? How can we allow ourselves the gift of curiosity, that all too often enriches our sense of the Creator, without the space to explore? In contrast, being shackled to the bustle of Satan’s busy yolk makes us tired without rest, and creates noise over the whispers of God’s leading, and keeps our eyes fixated on the calendar instead of God's abounding mysteries. It drives a wedge in our relationships with God, and leaves us weary and lacking in nourishment for our bodies and our soul. 


When we stop trying to please man, including our own inner need to create a life that looks productive, only then can we please God (Gal. 1:10).


Here are 5 simple ways to bring about a slower pace in your home:


1. Limit your appointments to one day a week. In our home, I only book our doctor/ dentist/ optometrist/ furnace cleaner/ whomever requires an appointment for Fridays. If that particular company doesn’t book on Fridays I choose a different provider. Understandably there have been times when we cannot work around this, but it creates more rhythm in our routine, and space elsewhere to relax without scrambling to the next appointment. 


2. If you are homeschoolers, try a four day week. I was able to figure out a schedule that allowed us a 4 day week. What this did was give us a flex day, those are the days where you can catch up if something else arose in the week that you needed to make space for, or for your Friday appointments (without leaving you feel like you need to make up lost time to catch up).


3. Make supper every other night, by cooking double batches. I must admit, this is one I’m still working on, but has so far it has proved to be highly effective when I pull it off. When supper is simply leftovers, it gives me as a wife/mother a reprieve to be able to sit and visit with my husband/kids, fold a basket of laundry, or simply rest.


4. No kid’s programs on the weekend. This one was a huge one for us. Saturday mornings were for ballet, and they robbed us of our one leisure morning we could have as a family. Since Monday- Friday was often the bustle of school (and work for my husband), and Sunday’s were church, an early start our Saturday meant we hit the ground running 7/7 days on the week. It may take some ingenuity on your part to create this sacred Saturday morning space. Many hockey teams, for example, run on weekends. In reality, although we all want to give our children the option to be the next big superstar, the likelihood that they will become one is incredibly slim (although don't let this suggestion stop you if you genuinely see a future Gretzky in the making!). A community league, or church team usually offer a more tame option, and one that doesn’t cramp the schedule while still offering them the chance to play sports.


5. Learn to say no. For me this is the hardest of them all, as I constantly worry about letting people down, or get excited by a new idea only to realize it took away too much time from something else. Last year, I committed to one year of “no” to allow myself the space I need to physically heal from my autoimmune. And, in case your curious, God did still use me, and I did not spend the year on my couch. My extra flex time allowed me space to have an open home for those who needed to come for coffee in a difficult year. It allowed me phone time to chat with lonely people. It also allowed me an abundance of time to help my children navigate through a few difficult life challenges. In short, it freed up time for God to interrupt and lead me to exactly where He needed me to be. And, you know? My body did indeed heal at the slower pace!

I hope this helps you in your need to slow down. After a few years of sorting and curating, I am finally feeling like we are arriving at a pace that is not only more manageable, but life giving. Be patient, go slow, and as the speed gears down, I hope you'll find a new freedom in the unhurried life.

All my love,


Like Grandma Did


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Scandinavian Paper Hearts for Valentine's Day (with template)

Scandinavian Paper Hearts for Valentine's Day (with template)


Swedish Paper Heart Template

All has been painfully quiet and slow on getting blog posts out around here lately. We fresh ran out of room in our home for homeschooling, and this mama was feeling the crunch as we spread across the kitchen table everyday. There's something rather uninspiring about needing to work/eat lunch/ pay bills/ do art at the same table while jumping between books and plates and forks (*insert a deep and wearisome sigh here*). But alas, the progress to convert a weird unused space in the basement is well underway as we convert a portion of our basement to a homeschool oasis. And yes, prepare to be hit with a post in the future of our before and after photos from the renovation project (I can't be the only one who genuinely loves to see transformations?!).

Somewhere between painting, building, and organizing we have managed to get in a few crafty days and even decorate our home with a few hearts here and there for Valentine's Day this weekend. I'm genuinely not sure what the protocol is this year for handing out pretty cards to friends, so instead we opted to decorate for each other this year, and blissfully enjoy the slower pace of cutting and gluing. I mean really, who doesn't want an excuse to be still and listen to the rhythmic cutting of paper and happy kids!

Just in time for the Valentine's Day weekend I thought I would share how to make these simple Scandinavian inspired paper hearts. Technically these paper hearts are used at Christmas, but the fact that they are hearts, makes this Canadian want to forgo the Nordic tradition and hang them in the midst of our cold and barren winter for a happy pick-me-up. The official name of these folded hearts (for you fellow word nerds) is: julehjerter. If how to pronounce this Danish word is making you tongue tied, let me begin the instructions by promising that the process of crafting a julehjerter is much, MUCH easier than the pronunciation.

How to make a Scandinavian Paper Heart

1. Begin by printing out the template at the very bottom of this post. Simply right click to download, or click on the photo and then right click in the new window to save. I chose to print on the back of 8.5x11" scrapbook paper to add some fun colours, but use whatever paper you have on hand.

Danish paper heart template

2. Cut along the exterior border of the shape. It should now look like a 4 armed octopus...or shall we say "quatropus" (sorry, couldn't resist).

3. Separate the legs of your quatropus by cutting right up to the solid line that separates the legs from the head. See? This analogy is making it all clearer isn't it? Repeat this step for another half heart.

Valentine's Day craft for kids

4. Now for the fun part...taking your two halves, lay them over each other and begin to weave your two quatropus's legs together. It helps to start at the top and work your way down (but you already figured that out didn't you?! I knew you were a smart crafty lady!)

Danish Paper Heart template

5. Trim down any overhang on the edges, and then, if you want to make it extra stable glue just the last few end pieces down. The gluing isn't necessary as the heart is quite stable once woven, but, if you have kids like mine, everything is at least 10x better with glue everywhere. I also happen to agree with their logic.

Hygge Paper Hearts

6. Once you are finished you can either trace a plain piece of paper to match your heart shape and glue it onto the back for a homemade Valentine's Day card, or simply tape them onto some string and create your own garland. That's it! You've created your very own julehjerter! 

If you're looking for the template, click on the image below and save it for printing.

Scandinavian paper heart template

If you are hunkered down for the chilly weekend like we are on the prairies, you may be looking for more Valentine's Day crafty ideas to fill your weekend. Head over to my friend Abbie's blog at The Gal Down the Road and read how she has created a garland of gratitude for a Valentine's Day bunting project. 

Have a happy Valentine's Day dear friend!

All my love,

Sarah





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An Inside Look at the Life of a Homesteader [GUEST POST]

An Inside Look at the Life of a Homesteader [GUEST POST]


Homesteading Life

If you've ever wondered if homesteading is for you, than read on! Over the past couple months I have had so much fun getting to know Abbie more! I love it when God brings together like-minded sisters in Christ to encourage one another, and Abbie is one of those women who I am blessed to have had an instant connection with. I am so excited to share this post she previously shared on her own website "The Gal Down the Road." (It is, of course, shared with permission)

***

Homesteaders? This isn’t the life we pictured for ourselves having. But we wouldn’t change any of it. It happened little by little and now it feels like we’ve been doing the homesteading thing our whole lives. This is us.


How are ya doing? I pray this finds you doing well.


And if you are still here after reading the title I’m pretty sure we could be friends. Or already are! Homesteaders are a unique, a little less rare, breed nowa days. There’s a whole blog in that sentence alone, but for the most part people are making this shift because of the way our world feels. Everything feels unsteady, uneasy, unprepared, unreliable. Am I right? I think the shift is happening for some people because they need to feel the safety of knowing, the safety of feeling prepared. And to that I would give ya a fist bump if we were sitting down having a cup of…ok I would totally be drinking a soda, but I would totally make you whatever you’d like.

Homestead Vs Farmstead

To sum it up simple and from what I’ve gathered for myself, farmstead is for income, homestead is centered around becoming self sufficient. Homesteaders concentrate on raising, eating, cultivating everything for self sufficiency. So as of right now we fall into the homestead category. For several different reasons.

One

For one, truth be told, I’m not the best gardener. Another confession, I suffer from gardener envy. For real. I’m sure there will be an acronym for it soon enough in some medical journal. I want a big garden. I plant a big garden. And I can grow some Jack and the Bean stock size weeds. Yup that’s my talent. When it comes to gardening. I grow amazing weeds.


To that I raise my fist at Adam & Eve in frustration. Seriously!!!! (Genesis 3)


And weeds are my archenemy. I mean swollen, itchy eyes. Faucet running nose and sore throat. I’m talking Quasimodo here! So when those weeds get away from me I literally need a hazmat suit to work in if I don’t want to be in an allergy coma for the next few days.


So with that said what we harvest from our weed infested garden comes straight into the farm house and we consume it ourselves. I wish we could share it with the world but for real…I have some serious work to do.


And I would love to say we try to save said infested garden, but I’ll be real with you. Sometimes ya just got to let it go. And by go I mean, give up. There’s no shame in that.


Give up until next year of course. We salvage what we can and out source what we can’t. I have a father-in-law and uncle who always seems to plant enough for the entire county and are more than happy to unload some of their produce on us. Much obliged!


That’s just proof you can been a homesteader no matter where you live. My gal Jess over at Write at Home is one of my favorite town homesteaders. She’s an amazing writer too. Head on over and check out what tips and tricks she and her hubby’s got. Getting their chickens ok’d in town is quite the story.

Two

We’ve made this shift about five years ago to make an effort to pay attention to what we eat and what we cook with. And by we I mean me. It’s the main reason why we became homesteaders. My dad is the lynch pin when it comes to our livestock. This is an area on the farm where there are a lot different things happening. And thank the Lord we are better at this part of our homestead than any other.


Our livestock is really the gem of the Quaint Little Farm. We raise our own beef and chicken. We get our Holstein’s when they are just a day old and feed them really well. I mean these guys are pampered like no other. They turn into 1200 lb pets more than anything.

Huge Difference

We’ve learned that there is a huge difference between store bought meat and meat you raise yourselves. There is a huge difference in how the cows are treated, nourished, loved on, and fed. All of this contributes to how the meat will taste. A happy cow is a good steak. If that’s too harsh…I don’t know what to tell ya. I’m convinced that if you truly knew anything about the meat you buy in the grocery store you wouldn’t be buying it.


We’ve also noticed that we don’t have the allergies we used to. This is a life changer for me. Thank the Lord! There is something to be said about raising your own livestock, close to where you live. God just works things out that way. Isn’t that amazing?!?!

Bess Not to Name the Livestock

We don’t usually name our Holsteins but there always seems to be a dominant one that gets named. Can you tell which one is Superman? Our last bunch had a Bill. It stuck because my niece named him when she was visiting the farm one day. She was three. She looked at our big, black steer and said “He looks like Bill.” So there ya go.


In our newest bunch we have a frisky one that has inherited the name White Knight. He made himself known with my husband quite aggressively. So that’s how he got his name and for the fact he’s almost all white.

Homesteading with Holsteins and Jersey Cattle

Not all of our cows are beef cows. Meet Lucy and Bella, our Jerseys.


Abbie- the Gal


Lucy has been with us the longest. She has taught us soooooo much. And these two girls are nothing alike.


Lucy is ornery and curious. She will literally take your phone out of your back pocket or off your belt if you don’t watch her. This girl loves to be brushed, scratched, called from the backdoor. She’s an attention hog if you get my drift. She’s bossy too, she’ll move the Holsteins or Bella out of the way if she thinks they’ve gotten enough attention so she can soak up a little more.


Bella on the other hand is shy. Protective of Lucy’s calves, which we’re praying means she will be a good momma too, and snobby. She doesn’t come when you call her. The stinker won’t even look at ya unless you’re holding some cubes (snacks) in your hand. She does get a little brave when you put said cubes in your hoodie pocket.


At the moment they are both expecting. We’re pretty excited about that. In the mean time that gives us a dead line to get our barn built. Once their calves are weened we will begin milking these two girls. I can not wait to start making our own butter, yogurt, cheese and what not.


This is much more exciting to me than a garden, if ya can’t tell.

Chickens

Now that I think about it, chickens were probably the very first source of livestock we had out here on the farm. And by far the easiest to care for. We have free range, cage free, natural forging birds. Which means, they go where they would like, they eat what they would like, and they put themselves to bed when they would like.

Keeping Homesteading Simple

Our coop isn’t fancy. Just a regular old coop we moved from a farm down the road. They weren’t interested in using it for anything. So we loaded it on a trailer and moved it a mile.


When I see all the pretty painted coops, with the chandelier feeders it makes me tired. Cause birds are messy, they poop everywhere. Their water never stays in the container you cleaned out for them… don’t shy away from keeping them though. Keeping chickens is one of the easiest meat sources you can add to your homestead. I’m sure this is where a lot of homesteaders start.


We just make it a point to make our chores and buildings as easily cleaned and maintained as possible. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just keep to the basics. All the responsibilities on a homesteaders life is already enough.


We don’t name our chickens either, our roosters get named but not the girls. To us they are just the girls. Every year we order more layers and broilers to replace the hens that are slowing down on their laying and broilers to butcher to restock our freezer for the coming year. When we order broilers we order one for every week of the year and a few more just incase nature takes it’s course.


Raising Chickens on your Homestead

If you’re interested in learning more about farm fresh eggs I’ve written a few little tidbits HERE & HERE

Ducks

We also have ducks. For no other reason than to eat stickers and entertain us. Our first go around with ducks our daughter named all of them Sarah. They were all white and looked identical so she just named them all Sarah to make it easy.


At the moment we have a batch of four. Only one has a name. His name is Kenya. There is a story about how these four came to reside out here at the Quaint Little Farm. It involves my best friend and a trip to the farm store. STAY TUNED FOR THAT STORY.



The homesteaders life is far from easy. There are a lot of early mornings. Two day bottle feedings. Breaking ice in tanks. Pitching hay and grain into feeders. And a lot of poop. No sugar coating that. It makes for some amazing fertilizer in that garden I was telling ya about earlier. Your livestocks needs come before your own and there are no rainy days or snow days off.


But we wouldn’t change it. Not one bit of it. It’s not for the faint of heart. But it softens your heart to the slower, sturdier, basic ways of doing life. You appreciate your meals more. There’s joy in simply brushing your Jerseys to make their milk sweeter and keep their demeanor sweet as well. Having a 900 lbs steer eat out of your hand is something we celebrate and smile at. This is us.


We thank God for our Quaint Little Farm everyday and strive to be good stewards of what He has given us.


Until Next Time,

the Gal,

Abbie


Abbie, AKA the Gal, lives with her husband and two out of four kids (two have flown the coop) on a homestead in Nebraska. They work the farm together with their extended family making it three generations doing life together. Abbie is a jewellery crafter in her spare time, not to mention she is a homeschool/ farmschool mom, and scheduling genius as she works to keep order between school,  farm, and home life. You can read more from Abbie on her website The Gal Down the Road.

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Paleo Eggs Benedict (Plus Bonus Guacamole Tip)

Paleo Eggs Benedict (Plus Bonus Guacamole Tip)



Paleo Eggs Benedict


I cannot think of a time in my life when Eggs Benedict wasn't a favourite. When I was hit with an autoimmune a couple of years ago I had change my diet in a hurry and relearn how to make my non-negotiable menu items. This was at the top of my list! 

While figuring out how to do away with the English muffin, the second problem I had was the eggs. I LOVE eggs, but too many and my body was once again spiralling into a state of inflammation. So, my problem-solving skills in the Eggs Benny department became: 

1.) What is a reasonable substitute for an English muffin?
and
2.) What can I use instead of hollandaise to cut down on the egg content in a heavy eggy dish?

After a few failed attempts, I ended up keeping it simple by using sweet potatoes for my "muffin", and putting some good ol' fashioned guacamole on top instead of hollandaise. Side note: keep reading for a guac recipe that will make your guests want to lick the bowl. Seriously...sometimes I just make it to eat!

But because I don't believe every recipe needs an essay...here's the quick and simple, let's get 'er done directions...

Ingredients:

  • sweet potatoes (see directions to determine how many you'll need). Choose the fattest ones you can find as you will be slicing them like a loaf of bread for your base.
  • bacon strips...because strips are always better than back bacon...am I right?! I use 1 slice per benny)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus 
  • 1/2 lemon worth of zest
  • eggs (one per benny)
  • 2 avocados 
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/2 lemon worth of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Olive Oil
Because I'm pretty sure at least some of this will be a no-brainer for you, I've broken down the directions in pieces. Skip over what you know, and use the rest to walk you through the process.

Directions for the sweet potatoes:

  1.  Preheat your oven to 425F
  2.  Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them about a half an inch thick. 
  3.  Lay your potatoes on a baking sheet (single layer, don't overlap) and brush them with a generous layer of olive oil.
  4.  Put them into the oven and bake for 20 min. before flipping. Once flipped keep an eye on them. The goal is to bake them until the edges start to caramelize (AKA- turn brown), at which point you can take them out and plate them. 
**Each potato slice will be the equivalent to half an English muffin, so you'll need to use as many potatoes as you need to get however many "muffin halves" you need.

Directions for the bacon:

  1. Once your potatoes are in the oven, place your bacon on a tin foil lined baking sheet and also place in the oven, flipping halfway through the process. 
**bacon is tricky to include in a recipe in the oven. Cook time can vary depending on bacon thickness. I just make sure to check on it every 5 minutes or so, and flip it after about 10 minutes.

Directions for asparagus:

  1. Snap the ends off your asparagus and steam for a few minutes until tender soft (either in a pot with a little water, or in the microwave). 
  2. Once cooked, toss in a little olive oil and the lemon zest and set aside until assembly.

Directions for eggs:

  1. You could poach your eggs, but it's rather time consuming and fussy, so I usually just cook our eggs into a frying pan with a little olive oil until they are over-easy. We like our yolks to drip onto the plate for extra flavour.

Directions for best guacamole ever!

Here's the key to the best guac ever...roast your garlic first! Here's how...
  1. Cut the top of your garlic off and peel back the loose layers of the bulb leaving only the inner layers to hold the bulb together.
  2. Drizzle on some olive oil over the exposed cloves and then wrap your bulb in tin foil. 
  3. Put on the bottom wrack of your oven as you cook your sweet potato and bacon.
  4. Once your potatoes are cooked, your garlic should be done too. 
  5. Remove your garlic cloves from the head and mash (and yes, I use the whole bulb when I cook...I LOVE garlic...thankful so does my family so we can all smell together!).
  6. From here it's just standard guac...(2 mashed up avocados, lemon juice, all the garlic from the bulb, salt and pepper).

Directions for assembly:

You really can take liberties in whatever order you like here, but I layer mine in the following order: sweet potato, bacon, 4-5 pieces of asparagus, egg, guacamole.

Enjoy your eatin' folks! 

Do you have a old favourite that you've revamped for your dietary needs? Want to share it? Email me at hello@likegrandmadid.com and I'll include your recipe in a future magazine edition. 

All my love,
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What I Wish Younger Me Knew [GUEST POST]

What I Wish Younger Me Knew [GUEST POST]


Dear Younger me

Part of what I love so much about writing, is the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers and writers. By God's beautiful providence, I have had the blessing of meeting Tammy. This is letter she has written to her younger self now that she has reached the stage of being "Grannie". May us younger-in-years moms draw from her wisdom as we focus on our priorities this new year.


Letter from my (now) Grannie self, to my (then) young wife/mommy self: 

Dear wife/mommy who tries so hard to be perfect, 

Believe it or not, There are some things you will never regret, but you will have regrets. You will never regret specific kind words or patience towards your husband, sweet efforts to get him to read books to improve, or words spent to encourage him or build him up. Key words sweet and kind. It all is worth a try... 

You will never regret time spent cuddling your babies, or toddlers, or tweens or teens. You will never regret doing your BEST to provide for them, protect them, nurture them, train them. You will be AMAZED at how the minutes of chaos turn into years, and in a blink, your children are grown and gone. Key word gone. 

You WILL have some regrets, because despite how near perfect you think that you are (talking to myself in my 30s and 40s)- your 50s are all about increased self awareness and benefitting from the wonderful hindsight perspective. In your 50s you can look back and see some glaring and embarrassing weaknesses and flaws, some that your husband tried to give you a clue about, but YOU JUST COULD NOT SEE IT. Maybe try listening a little more, praying more, and being quiet more with him. 

You and he are different individuals, so it is natural that you have different perspectives and ideas… but be careful… I’m telling you now, that in the future you will see that HE WAS RIGHT on a few things!! 

So just live humbly. Honor your husband. 

That little boy that you birthed, whom you adore...you know… the one that you love more than anything in this world… He grows up. He makes you proud. He finds a wife. His wife becomes his world. His wife and his children…You...are...a…GRANNIE!!! 

You LOVE being a Grannie, but guess what? There is an empty place left in your heart, since your son left your home. You don’t live with him everyday. Your minutes with him are few, but almost unfathomably, you love him no less than when he was an infant, a toddler, a tween, a teen…. But he is, yes, a grown man and he lives away from you as is fitting, and makes you proud. 

Guess who is still in your home, loving you as always? The same one who you kinda gave left-over time crumbs to when you were raising those kids. Yep, your husband! 

Go give him a big hug and a kiss. Tell him you love him, appreciate him, and that you want to be a good wife. Ask him what three wishes he would ask of his wife. Try to oblige. 

God. 

Husband.

Children.

Really is a good order of priorities. 

I know it is tough. 

While you are in the trenches, doing your best, trying to serve, God, your husband, the kids, sometimes church and others…. Do remember a few things: 

1) Perfection is God and Jesus’s job, not yours. Give yourself and others some grace, like God and Jesus give to you! 

2) Do take care of yourself. Practice boundaries, and learn to say NO. 

3) Keep eternal perspective. What will matter in the long run? What matters to God? Will this matter a year from now? 10 years from now? This perspective can help you make decisions, plan, and set priorities for time management… 

4) Again, love that husband. When the kids are gone, it’s only going to be YOU and HIM. 

Lastly, I want to encourage you. Do not lose heart. Yes it is tough raising the kids. It is tough letting go of the kids. Sometimes it is boring, just you and your husband, but being a GRANNIE is totally AWESOME. You for sure will find, that when you travel with God, Bible lighting your path, there are sweet pauses and breathtaking surprises in every stage of life and for Christians, “The best is yet to come,” always.


Tammy Dunlap 

Tammy and her husband were together for 3 years before tying the knot and have been married for 25 years. As Tammy says that has been "28 years of love and learning together." With one child grown, launched, and starting his own family, and one daughter still at home, Tammy has been able to look down the road ahead and see that the life of empty-nester isn't too far in the future. 

You can read more wisdom from Tammy on her blog "Grandma Mary Martha."


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Your First Christmas Without a Loved One

Your First Christmas Without a Loved One


Coping with a death at Christmas


It was early November 2011 that Mom took her last breath. All to quickly the holiday season crept through the front door that year. Though still feeling the numbness of her absence we began to pick up speed through all our usual festivities. School concerts, church gatherings, family, and more family began to add weight to our already heavy hearts. Christmas night was my breaking point. I slumped down on the couch fully aware of the ache in my stomach from eating a rich feast...more food than I had eaten in weeks. My chest heavy, I recognized the tidal wave of grief rolling in, and instantly felt suffocated by emotion. It was just.too.much. 

The first Christmas without our loved one is perhaps the most agonizing time of the year. A season usually filled with laughter, nearness of family, and joy loses its sparkle under the weight of grief. Even worse this year, are the restrictions placed on many of us amidst our current lockdowns and precautions. The comforts of the company of family will be absent and deeply missed for many of us here in Canada, leaving the deep throb of grief all the more raw. 

If I could go back in time I would give myself four pieces of advice, but since time travel is impossible I will share them with you instead in hopes of slightly easing the burden of the grief in your holiday season.


1. Allow yourself time to be sad.


Christmas is truly a season of joy as we remember the birth of our Redeemer, it is certainly a time to pause and celebrate! This year, let your gift to yourself be a gift of grace when the joy doesn't come as easily. Be patient, allowing yourself to be sad. Joy will return in small moments though maybe not through this holiday season, but one day. This also goes for the coming years, as grief is a rather odd emotion sneaking up when you least expect it. 

Be purposeful in taking moments to yourself or with someone you love (even if it needs to be through an internet video call) to be sad and remember the person who has passed. One day you will smile a genuine smile again. One day you will laugh again. One day you will make it through Christmas and enjoy it once more, but until then be gracious with your heart.


2. Expect fatigue

My body was beyond exhausted by the time we made it to Christmas. We had gone from death to funeral to Christmas and both my physical and mental health were deplete. Christmas day I found a quiet space at my grandparent's home, where we were visiting, and excused myself to rest for 30 minutes. Go easy on yourself this year. Slow down the pace and allow yourself to conserve your energy reserves. Allow me to give you permission to eat frozen pizza or a bowl of soup this year if that's all you can muster up in strength. There will be future years where turkeys and roast beef can have you place in the kitchen, but this year might not be it. That's ok. You will be tired as you work to process your emotions and down time will be essential. Give yourself scheduled breaks to be able to rest even if you don’t sleep.


3. Find a way to remember your loved one


On the top of our tree we place an angel that my mom had given to me just before she got sick. Every year our angel finds her place atop our tree and everyone in our home knows the angel is our precious reminder of Mom/ Grammy. You could put out a photo or ornament, light a candle, recite their favourite Bible passage, play their favourite song, or leave an extra place setting at your table. Whatever it is, do something to remember them and remind you of the cherished memories you still carry even though they are gone. It is in those sweet memories that you will find the healing balm for your wounded heart.


4. Know that how you feel won’t last forever


Christmas is no longer what it once was. Every now and then I still find myself grieving over what use to be, but we have found new ways to enjoy Christmas together. This is true whenever there are monumental changes in our lives be it a death, a move, divorce, a new baby, or anything that brings about newness good or bad. Our traditions have changed a little to adapt. Our new traditions are growing sweeter again as the holidays no longer sting like they once did. 

It is hard my sweet reader but the crushing pangs of grief will lift, don’t take my word for it, here’s what God has to say to you:

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes  3:1,4)

 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Take heart. Know that God is near you, comforting you, and strengthening you as you rest. 


Merry Christmas dear friend. 

All my love,





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[name=Sarah Slanzi] [description=Old-fashioned homemaking steeped in God's grace] (facebook=https://www.facebook.com/hiddenmotherhood) (instagram=https://www.instagram.com/sarah.slanzi) (pinterest=https://www.pinterest.ca/hiddenmotherhood/)