Posts Tagged ‘marianne stuart’

Magic Cupboard

Marianne Stuart with Children

Marianne Stuart

I have a magic cupboard and, if you are a busy mom, you should have one too.  I learned about this concept from a friend who has since passed away.  Cheryl had a closet that consisted of gifts of all varieties for different occasions.  The best part of this idea is that the gifts are purchased at your leisure and at a deeply discounted price.  

My magic cupboard is a room in my basement.  I have shelving units in it.  I shop year-round and I also specifically shop at Black Friday sales to fill my shelves.  When one of my children comes to me and needs a gift for a birthday party, I don’t have to rush out late at night and spend full price.  I head to the basement and bring up a few items for them to pick from. I also keep a good stock of gift bags.  

I have expanded this idea to include shopping for my children’s’ birthdays and Christmas gifts.  For that reason, I don’t let my children into the magic cupboard much.  I also buy with the intention of giving items to our church, who in turn give them to needy families at Christmas.  

Occasionally, I will find that I have things that seem to have gone out of style or I just don’t want to give to anyone anymore.  These items are perfect to be donated to Goodwill or I let my kids go through them.  Who would have thought that a portable cassette player would be so cool?!

My husband wants me to warn you that shopping for your magic cupboard has to be managed carefully and with restraint.  For some reason he thinks I have too many things in mine.  I beg to differ.  All I know is that even if I do have a lot, I have saved so much money and time by being prepared.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy

All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy

This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

Blissful Bedtimes and Catching Some Zzzzzzzs

Marianne Stuart

I want to talk about our kids and sleep. Sleep is highly underrated. Ask any exhausted mom. I have a few suggestions that can make your evenings and nights more enjoyable.

Nighttime Newborns
I have had many moms ask me how to get their newborns on a better sleep schedule. I think we all might have had a baby that gets its days and nights mixed up. My mother, who raised 14 children, gave me some great advice years ago.

 

  • Daytime naps should be in a common room and well lit. A darkened, quiet room is more conducive for longer periods of sleep which we want to encourage at night.
  • Now this next tip is the most important thing I am going to tell you. Do not make eye contact or talk to your baby during a night waking. I don’t care how cute they are, they ARE super cute, but they can drive you to insanity if they won’t sleep. Talk and eye contact are very stimulating for a baby and now you might have a wide awake baby that wants to be up for long while.
  • Another thing I am learning about babies is that it is a good thing to lay them down drowsy and not totally asleep. This allows them to go to sleep without you, a bottle or pacifier being a crutch that is needed every time in order to fall asleep. I heard an analogy that made so much sense: If a baby needs to be nursed to sleep always then when they wake up in the night they don’t know how to fall back to sleep except by nursing to sleep. The same applies to bottles, pacifiers, etc. It is like you falling asleep with a pillow and then waking up without it. Imagine how hard it would be to have your pillow taken away.

Toddlers and Routines
Toddlers thrive on routine. In our home we have an evening routine. We have the younger kids get ready for bed and then call everyone into the family room for prayers. This takes about five minutes. Nightly kisses are given out and the younger children know they have to go to bed. If we skip prayers then we have little ones that keep coming into our room because they don’t remember if they kissed us goodnight. Other routines can be a bath, pajamas, teeth brushed and then having a story read to them. I would like to tuck them in and see them in the morning. It isn’t always this easy for some little ones. They might want to get out of bed many times. I recommend keeping them in their crib until they start climbing out. Sure, the toddler beds are cute, but now you have a child that can get out many times before they fall asleep. I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day I am so ready to have some down time with my husband. Once they are in a big bed that they can crawl out of bedtime gets more challenging. If they climb out, just take them back and tell them that it’s time for bed. Don’t elaborate, less words are better. Do this until they fall asleep, even if it takes 20 times. Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart and this is one of the big challenges. Win this battle! Don’t let that little one win or you might find yourself losing bigger battles.

Elementary Age
I find grade school children an easier age group but they do need some unwind time. My kids love to read in bed with a book light. Some of our children went through spells and didn’t want to stay in bed. We would hear the patter of feet running down the hall to climb into bed with a sibling. One of us, usually Daddy, would camp out in the hallway and send them back to bed when they tried to sneak out. After a few nights they got the idea.

Tired Teens
Teens are wired more like night owls. Unfortunately, school starts too early for most of them to keep such late hours. One advantage we have found with homeschooling is that online classes don’t usually start until after 9:00am. There are a few things we can do to help our teens get more sleep. Dimming the lighting and some nighttime tea are helpful. Limiting computer and tv a few hours before bedtime also helps. I encourage them to read in bed or work on a craft project. My girls are really enjoying knitting and crocheting. When the opportunity arises I will let my teens sleep in, but not so late that they miss a meal. I still have a teenager that fights me on this one but I am working to win this battle! =======================================================================
Disclaimer
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy
All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy
This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

Get Up Off The Couch Parenting

 

Marianne Stuart

Sometimes it isn’t convenient being a parent, but convenient or not, there is work involved in raising our children. Years ago my husband, Guy, and I went to a seminar about parenting. The woman talking was raising eight of her own kids. Some were old enough to date and some were still little. We are now in the same boat. Our children are from 14 months to 19 years old. After hearing her talk, we gathered our children and had a meeting with them.

 

He Picked You

God made us the parents of our children. He picked US to raise them. This is what we told our kids when we had our family meeting the day after our seminar. From now on when we asked a child to do something, we expected it to be done right away.  We call this “Right Away Obedience.”  We don’t give three tries like one popular parenting method calls for. We expect our request to be done the FIRST time. If obedience can be achieved the third time it can happen the first time. How novel.

The picture is from our recent to trip to Rome for my brother's ordination. He was ordained a Catholic priest on Dec. 12. in Rome, Italy. It was an amazing experience! I am so glad we were able to take the kids even though it was a lot of work.

Inconvenience Yourself

We have all been there. We are sitting down enjoying a movie or a conversation and something happens that requires our attention. We can sit and ignore it or get up and handle the situation. I call this “Get Up Off the Couch Parenting.” You might have to pause your movie, ask your friend if you can call them back, or put your coffee down, but good parenting requires us to inconvenience ourselves and put in the work needed for our children to become enjoyable creatures.  

Now Go do Your Job

This parenting technique might involve more than physically getting up to handle our duties. It might mean checking our kids email, phones, texts, social media, and talking with their teachers. We can’t expect others to raise our children for us. God picked us to be their parents, now go do your job.

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Disclaimer
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy
All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy
This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

 

Are The Duggars Crazy?

Marianne Stuart with Children

Wow, the Duggars are expecting their 20th child! They are a fascinating family. I know I am not the only one intrigued by them. I love to watch their show, “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC and I have read one of their books. There is much criticism surrounding this family. People say that Jim Bob and Michelle can’t possibly give their children enough attention. Can you imagine the chaos with all of those kids? What about the sheer expense to having so many children?

I Lend my Support
I want to give this family my support and I think I can have an opinion because I was raised in a family with 14 children. I am the third in my family and the oldest girl. I had 6 brothers before I had a sister, and I ended up with 3 sisters and a total of 10 brothers. My parents are still married, too. It was a wonderful way to grow up.

Marianne with her parents and 13 siblings

I had so much fun growing up in my family. There was always someone to do something with and if I got mad at one of them I could go play with a different sibling. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time running around with my older brother, Paul, and my two younger brothers, Rick and Jim. We went to movies, bowling, shooting pool and hanging out with friends. We even rented a house together as young adults. Living with my brothers helped me retain my morals too. That surly wasn’t a bad thing.  

Time and Attention
As far as the Duggars not being able to give their children enough individual attention, I sure felt that in my teen years my parents had too much time and attention for me. Couldn’t they have just left me alone to do my own thing? No, they cared about what was going on in my life.  

I talked to a father of two last week. He said he didn’t have to give his kids much attention at all. They kept busy with their phones, texting, Facebook and their computers.  I ask, “Is that a good thing?” Our family didn’t use the tv and today’s technologies to keep us occupied. We played outside and came in for meals. We had one television and we watched it together. I have such fond memories of about 10 of us piled on and around the couch watching shows. The feel of the warm bodies and the affection we had for one another is something that I think a lot of families are missing out on today.

Larger families are much more likely to have dinner together and I keep reading about how important those meals are. My dad would come home and we all shared about our day at the table. It was one of my favorite times of the day.

I believe that our children do need individual attention, but it doesn’t have to only be provided by their parents. In my own family, the older kids helped with the younger kids and enjoyed their love and adoration. We were like heroes to them. The time spent helped us prepare for being parents ourselves. My husband said that after our first baby was born that I acted like she was my fifth.  

Going Green
Costs do not go up exponentially when you have a large family. It’s more expensive, yes, but not unmanageably so. My husband and I homeschool but when we buy a book it gets used many times. Clothes get passed down until they are worn out. Health insurance is a better deal for a large family although we usually meet our deductibles. So many things are recycled in large families. There were times when my parents were eligible for government assistance but they never took the help and the Duggars are the same. They don’t believe in living with debt.

Please Leave the Room
When was the last time you went into a restaurant and cringed because a family with a small child was seated next to you?  You know how this plays out, with temper tantrums and possible screaming and the parents don’t seem to have the common sense to leave the room until their child is calm again. Imagine a family with a slew of children. Surprisingly, most large families have well behaved kids. Why is that when a family of two or three have kids out of control but a larger family doesn’t?  I think the more children you have the more it forces you to be a better parent otherwise it would be utter chaos.

A large family isn’t common today but it can be a wonderful thing. I want to leave you today with this quote from the Bible…

Psalm 127:3-5

3   Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
        the fruit of the womb a reward.

4  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
        are the children of one’s youth.

5  Blessed is the man
        who fills his quiver with them!
     He shall not be put to shame
        when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

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Disclaimer
The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect Memorial Healthcare. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author.

Comment Policy
All readers are encouraged to leave comments. While all points of view are welcome on Memorial Healthcare’s blog, only comments that are courteous and on-topic will be posted. All comments will be reviewed and responded to (as needed) within three business days of submission. Participants on this blog are fully responsible for everything that they submit in their comments, and all posted comments are in the public domain.

Linking Policy
This blog may contain external links to other sites. Memorial Healthcare does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of information on these Web sites. Links to particular items in hypertext are not intended as endorsements of any views expressed, products or services offered on outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring those sites.

Efficient Cooking for a Small or Large Family

Marianne Stuart with ChildrenBy: Marianne Stuart, Memorial Mommy Blogger

I am busy. I have eight children and we homeschool. Some things have to give, but I am not willing to let it be cooking for my family.  I love to cook but I had to figure out ways to make it easier.  For this blog, I want to share some tips on making dinner preparation easier.

Produce
When I buy fruit and vegetables I often wash them all, even though I might only be using a portion of them for my current meal.  I put the cleaned produce in clear containers so they don’t get missed and go to waste.  I try to always have chopped onions ready because I use them for almost every dinner. Later in the week I am so grateful to pull out washed lettuce, fruit or veggies to quickly put together my side dishes.  

Burger & Sausage
I love to buy a bunch of hamburger or turkey burger and bring it home and brown it all at once.  I do this with 10 to 20 pounds. I might brown sausage at this time too. I pull out four pans and divide the meat between the pots.  I brown it and then drain the fat.  I then add some chopped onion, that was already chopped up and in my fridge, or I cheat and add minced dried onion and some garlic salt. Lastly, I divide it up into family size portions in freezer bags. On a busy night I can pull one out and thaw it in the microwave. This can be turned into a variety of main dishes. I might make spaghetti, lasagna, chili, sloppy joes, tacos, nachos or goulash. Adding a hot vegetable and a fruit completes my dinner.  

Poultry
I also love to buy whole chickens.  I take two of them and rub them all over with salt. I rub some under the skin of the breast too. I throw them into an open roasting pan and bake in the oven for an hour or two. I then remove the chicken, add some water to the pan and then thicken it with flour or corn starch so that we now have gravy.  We only need about one chicken but the leftover chicken can be pulled off and used for the next night. One of your children can do this job too. We really enjoy mixing the gravy and the chicken together and serving it over hot noodles for our second meal. You can also put your chickens in a crockpot on low and come home after a busy day to some wonderful, tender chicken.

Speaking of crockpots, I love mine. I love to make bean and ham soup. There are a variety of beans available and I use whatever kind I have on hand. I often put the dried beans covered with water in the crockpot on low before bed. When I get up I pour the beans into a strainer and rinse them (this helps prevent your family from getting gas). I then add them back into the crockpot with fresh water, chopped onion, carrots, celery, a pinch or oregano, some salt or chicken bouillon and a ham bone if I have one. I also add some cubed ham that I already have ready and cut up from my freezer.  Bean soup is really quite cheap and healthy for you.

I try to use my time wisely when I am in the kitchen. If I am having a conversation with someone I can easily be doing some of the preparation for our next meal. I might be rubbing that chicken and putting it into the pan for the next day or cutting veggies for later in the week.  I might be also checking out what I have in my cupboards to pull a meal together. Planning ahead takes some stress away from my already busy days. I hope it does for you too.

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month

By: Marianne Stuart

I have nursed all of my 8 children for a total of 12 years and counting. I am currently nursing Andrew who is 10 months old.  My mom nursed all of us, all 14 of us! Yes, I have 13 siblings.  I remember thinking I wanted to be like my mom when I had children.  She was so good with the babies and all I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a wife and mom. There wasn’t anything better in the world than a baby and it was obvious that nursing was a big part of mothering a baby.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommends that a baby be breastfed for 6 months. I have enjoyed my breastfeeding experiences and nursed for about 18 months to 2 years for most of my babies. I am not ashamed to say that I nursed my 7th child until he was 3. He would have continued for longer had I let him. I only quit because of outside pressure to do so and this time around I am feeling strong. (Click here for an article from InCultureParent entitled, “Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan.”)

Slow Down and Enjoy your Baby
Nursing makes you stop your busy life and sit and cuddle with your baby. There is only so much multi-tasking you can do while nursing a baby, believe me I have tried. I love that it forces me to get off my feet and give myself a break. We mothers do not have to be superwomen. No, we just need to be moms to our babies and nourishing them by breastfeeding is an amazing thing we can do for them. 

Now nursing isn’t always as romantic as I may be making it seem. The first month it can be downright painful to nurse. Making sure that your baby is latched on is so important in those first weeks. I know some moms that have ended up with bloody and cracked nipples but I was fortunate enough to not experience this. Engorgement in the first week or so is hard to avoid but you can take advantage and express a little of your overabundant milk and save it for your baby and a future date night with the one you love. (Click here to visit the LaLeche League website.)

If you don’t take enough time to nurse your baby on a regular basis you can get mastitis or a plugged milk duct. The times that I had this happen I could always see that I was trying to do too much and not sitting and nursing my baby.  Usually it was during a holiday season or if I was entertaining company that I ran into this problem.  The fix for this if caught early is to put your pajamas on and hunker down with your baby. Allow yourself to nap all you want and nurse on demand. If you let it go and end up with a fever and aches then it is time to call your doctor and a round of antibiotics might be in order along with the pjs and rest.

Awkward
There also is the awkwardness of nursing in front of other people. Why does it feel so weird?  I have a male friend who panics when he realizes that I am going to nurse my baby. He starts pacing and saying, “La, la, la.” We laugh about it but some people do react this way.  Breastfeeding is more natural than bottle feeding but it doesn’t always feel that way, especially in front of a stranger. I remind myself that nursing my baby is more important than the discomfort I am experiencing. One trick I find that works is to nurse my baby before he is beside himself.  A crying baby draws more attention to what is going on than a content one.

Reality of Life 
Another thing about breastfeeding is that it can be messy. I say to my husband that during my periods in life when I actually feel like a woman and have breasts the darn things leak. I remember like it was yesterday when I had my first baby, Emily, and I took lunch to my husband, Guy, at work.  I got two wet spots on my shirt and imagine where they were.  I wanted to go shopping and asked Guy if he thought anyone would know what the wet spots were from.  He said I could probably have gotten away with one wet spot but not two.  Last month on our vacation to Oshkosh, WI, I have only one picture of us together and I have, yes, a wet spot on my shirt!  You would think after nursing this many babies I would have my act together but I apparently don’t.

Nursing Essentials
There are few nursing essentials that I have found quite handy.  Buy a few good nursing bras. Invest in some nursing tank tops.  They allow you to keep your postpartum belly covered while nursing.  Also, there are nursing covers.  It looks much like a baby blanket but can be pulled over and you can peek at your baby without having to lift the blanket and in the beginning some babies have a hard time latching on without help.  Nursing pads come in the form of disposable and washable. I really dislike the disposable pads and invested in the cloth pads.  You can insert them into your bra or tank top to avoid those wet spots I mentioned earlier.

Relationship Between Mother and Baby
I am passionate about nursing.  In a baby’s world I don’t think there is anything more important.  Nursing isn’t just about nourishment, but also about a relationship that is developed between a mother and baby. Nursing isn’t just for infants either. A toddler in the middle of a tantrum or who has just taken a tumble can have the world made right again with a few moments of nursing.  I don’t know how long I will nurse Andrew for but neither us are thinking we will be quitting anytime soon.

Love is in the Air

Marianne StuartIt is with much anticipation that I am spending these last few weeks before I leave for my annual getaway with my husband. I have started a stash of things that I want to take in the corner of my basement. For now it’s only something that I have never bought in all of the years of my parenting: little containers of baby food. We will be leaving our 7 oldest children home with our college babysitter and taking our 9 month old son, Andrew, with us. 

 

EAA Airventure
By the time you read this, Guy and I will have just returned from our adventure at Oshkosh, WI, for the EAA  Airventure Show. It is a week-long aviation event that is attended by 500,000-600,000 people. During the last week of July, Wittman Airfield will be the busiest airport in the world! This will be our 7th year at Oshkosh.  

Guy at the AirstripGuy received his pilot’s license when he was 19 but I didn’t get mine until about 7 years ago. Guy hadn’t been flying in many years and decided to start flying again with all of us. I took a “Wife’s Pinch Hitter” course and found it inadequate so I went through Ground School and then took flying lessons.

Getting My Pilot’s License
I had wanted to attend the event for a few years before we actually went. Guy was reluctant to go, but promised if I managed to get my pilot’s license that we could attend.  If you know me, that was quite the feat!  Working to get my license was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It didn’t come naturally, as I am sure my Certified Flight Instructor, Mike Pidek, could attest to, but by the grace of God I managed!  I am now one of the 6% of  female pilots in the United States.  

Tenting It
The week in Oshkosh is spent with our tent pitched next to our airplane in a field of planes almost as far as the eye can see. This might be a slight exaggeration, but the numbers of planes and tents dotting the airports grounds is really unbelievable! There are usually about 10,000 planes tied down the week of Oshkosh with many pilots camping out under the wings of their plane. Many bring campers and many drive in just for the day. We are brought together by the love of aviation. 

Watching the Planes Come in and Land
My favorite thing to do is to sit by the runway with my scanner and listen to the controllers talking to the pilots and watching the planes come in and land. What a sight it is to see three planes landing on the same runway at the same time, not to mention the parallel taxiway that is turned into a temporary runway for this week! Pilots are instructed to land on “the numbers,” a green dot, or a pink dot, which are painted on the runway in different spots. I am getting excited just thinking about it!

You can also walk the grounds and see the many planes on display for the week. There are impressive airshows daily and you can wander through many buildings of everything aviation! There are early evening concerts and evening movies which are shown on a huge blow up screen. We have yet to see the movies because by the end of the day we are ready to lay low at our campsite and recover from being in the sun all day. Somehow, Oshkosh manages to be hotter and more humid than Owosso ever seems to be.  

Purely Selfish Reasons
Some ask why we don’t take all of our children on this trip. For me, it is purely selfish reasons. I love the time with my husband, Guy, all to myself. Just the two of us — or the three of us if we happen to have a baby at the time. For part of one week out of the year I get to have some much loved one-on-one time with my husband, never mind that we are surrounded by thousands of people that week! There aren’t dishes to be done, laundry that needs washing and folding, kids needing our attention, or the usual business of being a parent. It is a nice, long, extended date.

Dating Keeps us Connected
We do date when we are at home. We probably go on more dates than most couples. We have our Thursday night out for Mexican food and margaritas and Saturday morning breakfasts at the Crosswinds Cafe at the Owosso Airport — but I don’t think I could get too many dates with Guy.  Dates keep us connected. They remind us why we got married in the first place. I am not worried that when all of the kids move out, which will not be for at least 17 years, that we will look at each other and say, “What do we do now?”