Monday, March 31, 2014

Menu Monday

Sorry. It has been awhile since I've done a Menu Monday. Hubs said I hit it out of the park so I figured your family might like this menu too. Plus, if you can garner some compliments from your time in the kitchen .... Why not? 
All my recipes can be found on my Pinterest boards (see the link on the left)

Sunday brunch- scrambled eggs, sausage links, cinnamon roll coffee cake, biscuits & gravy!

Monday- I call it One Pot, you'll call it easy! Sausage, red potatoes, green beans in one pan sprinkled with dry Ranch mix and dotted with butter. Bake. Yum!

Tuesday- Easy Cheesy Mozzarella Penne first time I made it but definitely won't be the last.

Wednesday-Chinese Chicken Fried Rice so easy!

Thursday- Crockpot Chicken over Bow Tie Pasta

Friday-Pizza Bread
and I brought Oreo Fluff to a potluck. I made a double batch hoping for leftovers but I was left to lick the bowl alone in my dark kitchen late at night. 
Don't judge. 

Also linking up to OrgJunkie. She has the world's best menu link up! Dig in!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cook. Clean. Repeat.

Motherhood makes me do things that I would never, in a million years, ever imagined I would do.

Like who in their right mind would drive hundreds of miles to watch their son sit on the bench? Yet I do it. I've also spent an entire blistering August weekend dehydrated but enthusiastically supporting the baseball team, picking up dog poo, and darning socks. Really? Darning socks? A. Who does that anymore and B. does it even look any better sewn that it did holey? Hard to tell.

And yet these, and a gazillion other random responsibilities, fall in my lap simply because I've reproduced. Now that’s not to say all mothers would feel the same way I do. I mean perhaps you love to sew or knit or would rather go to a ball game than anything else. Maybe you even love animals so much you would care for them regardless if you had kids or not.

Great! But I bet there’s other things you wouldn’t be caught dead doing if it weren’t for your kids.

I don’t know what those things are of course, I only know my own life but certainly we can all agree this parenthood thing is stretching us in ways we could have never imagined.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Funeral in my Mind

I think my head is finally in the right time zone. 

It's been one week since my trip to southern Italy and without a doubt it was one of my memorable experiences with EMERGE.

Mainly because while I went to minister, I also found that I was ministered to.

I think life is meant to be like that. When you give out, or of yourself, there's some cosmic reciprocal mystery that happens and you open yourself up to receive as well.

You offer friendship you gain a friend.
You give compassion you receive hope.
You see a need, someone fills yours. 

It's a miracle.

me & Valeria
One of the highlights for me on the trip was the snippet of a testimony I was able to share on Saturday morning as we met with women who were leaders in various arenas. 

I told them this story:

I can always remember being afraid. Even as I child I was gripped with fear. My mind constantly imagined worse case scenarios that almost always ended in my death or the death of someone I loved. 
At school I imagined I was shot.
I was sure the shopping mall would blow up,
that the car would crash or
I would be snatched out of my own backyard. 

Even into adulthood as a new bride, I would lay in bed next to my husband and imagine his death and subsequent funeral. 
Who would come?
What would I wear?
Like a movie playing across the screen of my mind, I would see myself standing beside an empty grave.
Most nights I would cry myself to sleep which was ridiculous because I was grieving over a man who lay beside me sleeping peacefully. 

I secretly wondered if I was going crazy.

It took a lot of time and a lot of work, A. Lot. Of. Work, taking over my thought life. I used to believe I had no control over the paths my brain traveled.
Now I understand I control my thinking. My thinking doesn't have to control me. 
It was a long journey which included Joyce Meyer's Battlefield of the Mind and journals full of brokenness and confessions. 

Today while there are moments of anxiety that creep into my soul, I am a mother after all, I rarely spin out of control with horrible imaginations. 

My story resonated with a beautiful lady attending the event that morning. Valeria approached me immediately with tears in her eyes. She too understood what it was like to feel insane when the mind runs rampant with unnecessary funeral plans.

She was relieved she wasn't alone.
I assured her she's not.

I also told her what I've learned from vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown.
"We dress rehearse tragedies so we can beat tragedies to the punch."

Sometimes we feel so happy that we are just sure the other shoe will drop at any moment. Brown calls this experience foreboding joy. That feeling when you look into the crib of your your new baby and while your heart bursts from exuberant love, the mind comes in like a bad back draft with the notion that tragedy is one blink away. 

So now I know I wasn't going crazy nor that I was alone in my struggles with fear. I understand I am human. Also, Valeria in Italy knows she doesn't have to live gripped in the fear of impending doom.

And knowing your not alone is often the first step in healing. 
It's when we hide within ourselves that we begin to believe no one "gets us".
And feeling alone often spirals downward into feelings of abandonment and worthlessness.
Which is untrue.
You are worthy.
You are beautiful.
You are on a journey that includes tragedies and fear and happiness and joy.
That's the beauty of life.
It's also the very elements required for living a great story. 

Seek joy. Be free. No longer do you have to brace yourself for a blow that may never come.
But if it does know you're not alone. You're never really alone.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Double Trouble or Twice as Nice?

I can’t prove it but I’m pretty sure the birth rate in my community dropped when word got out that we were expecting the twins a few years ago. Everyone knew the pregnancy was a surprise and I imagine a low rumble of nervousness snaked it’s way into the conversations of mothers who, like me, had their hands way too full to imagine surviving an unexpected twin pregnancy.
I remember being bombarded with questions like, “Was the pregnancy really a surprise?”, “Do twins run in your family?”, and “What are you going to do?”.

Amazed at the audacity of some inquirers I often answered in short, semi-rude quips hoping to avoid discussions about my reproductive abilities; “Yes, we were surprised”, “No, twins didn’t run in our family”, and “Thank you for pointing out how hard having five children will be. I’ll sleep so much better tonight now that you've reminded me I’m in over my head.” 
Looking back, I do however wish I had a dollar every time I was asked if I knew what we were having (babies, duh!). I suppose people really wanted to know if we were having boys or girls, fraternal or identical twins. I should have stared a pool; odds four to one the babies were fraternal and two to one if I had a boy and a girl. However, in this gamble the bet would be placed on my behalf so that I could keep all the winnings. Unfair you say? Well, as the one who actually funded the diaper expenses of those two kids I can assure you I needed every penny I could get my hands on. 

Twins didn’t just happen to our family though. If you've thought that multiple births are more common lately you’d be right. I did a little investigating and it turns out about one in every 30 women that goes into labor comes out with two babies.

It gets worse, for example, did you know the more children a woman has the more likely she is to have twins? Older mothers are more susceptible to multiple birth pregnancies as well and a woman in her 30’s is much more likely to have twins that a mother in her 20’s. However, a woman in her 40’s is much, much more likely to have a set than a 30 year old. In addition, if you've already had a set of twins, your chances of having another set quadruples. Yikes! Add to that research indicators stating that taller or overweight women are more likely to have twins than thin, short women.

In other words, I was doomed.

Contrary to popular belief identical twinning doesn't always skip a generation. Identical twins are more likely to be stroke of luck (if you want to call it that) rather than heredity.  To make matters more intense, if you are a fraternal twin your chance of having twins increases to one in 17 births. You can be sure I’ll be quick to tell my daughters this fact if they even think about becoming sexually active before I, I mean they, are ready for parenthood.

Having a set of twins was a most shocking revelation but it turns out, as with most things, even the most unexpected turn of events can work out for the good. While we are larger than your average family I would confess there are some huge upsides to big family living.

Primarily, I think we have a lot of fun. With so many personalities and varying ages between us there is always activity and laughs. Which almost makes up for the financial burden and premature grey hair. Almost. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so. That's why!

This article appears in The Daily Review Atlas as a part of a weekly series entitled "Practical Parenting". Other articles in the series can be accessed at this link. For more information about Parent Education services or to contact me about speaking at your event send an email to starski(at)

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