Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Women Always Have To Remember

Wow . . . three weeks since my last post . . . and today's topic perfectly explains WHY it's taken three weeks for me to write another post.  Because I've been completely and utterly burnt out the last three weeks doing ALL the things (and please note, this is NOT a complaint . . . just an observation).  Anyway, a friend of mine shared this article with me (You Should've Asked), and a lot of it summarized perfectly how I've been feeling.  However, because I don't agree with all of the article, I'm going to write my own post drawing from it.

Image result for householdFirst, "You should've asked."  Now, this question is not something I ask . . . I don't tend to ask for help.  I tend to take care of ALL the things myself until I burn out and explode . . . like the pot of food on the stove.  And granted, there is a part of me that wishes people would just help out without my asking.  So women tend to be the managers of the household . . . as is their rightful place.  After all, that's our role - to raise the family and keep things running while our husbands are out providing for us.  And it is a beautiful role.  (So here's my first disagreement . . . men are not underlings in the household.  They are members and partners.  They just have a different role in the household.)  Besides, the managing role tends to come naturally to the wife in matters of the household . . . groceries; chores; bills; etc.  

Now, this article implies that men should just know what to do without being told . . . which completely disregards the fact that men and women think and process things VERY differently.  Women tend to think like a ball of string . . . ALL the things are connected . . . while men tend to think in boxes, i.e. one thing at a time.  This means that if you ask your husband to get something out of the dishwasher, he'll get it out . . . but he won't necessarily think that this also implies he should empty and load the dishwasher.  So women, we need to get better at vocalizing exactly what we'd like help with.  And men, it would help if you would take notice of those things that we do ask for help so that you can do more without us asking.

You should've asked_013Anyways, the fact that women of the household are constantly managing and thinking of all the things means that we have a mental load that never disappears . . . we ALWAYS have to remember.  Men, this post is NOT intended to shame you or make you feel like you're not doing everything you're supposed to.  Rather, it's meant to explain (hopefully) a little more clearly why your wives may be more exhausted than you expect when you get home.  And also to keep you from showing up and asking why we're so tired when all we did was stay home all day.  Don't say that.  

We want your help, and sometimes we want you to pitch in and help with the chores.  And I'll admit that it can be rather exhausting to come up with ALL the things I need help with rather than just doing it myself.  But then I remember that I won't get any help if I don't ask.  And if I don't ask, then I'll burn out.  And my husband is very good at asking if I need help . . . although I don't tend to be very good at coming up with things that he can help with.  

The second part of the "You Should've Asked" article that I disagree with is that men are refusing to take on their share of the mental load when they say "let me know if you need help."  I think they just don't know what the mental load is like . . . they're programmed to handle things at work or in the office.  That's their sphere.  That's their role.  And it is a good thing.  Because that way we, the wives, don't have to handle all the work things.  And managing all the household things comes naturally to us . . . after all, we are the ones at home.  So rather than looking at this as a negative, look at the fact that they ask if they can help you out as a blessing.  And be prepared with a few things they can do.

You should've asked_027Third, I completely and utterly disagree with the insinuation that conditioning society to view women as mothers and wives and men as heroes, aka workers, is wrong.  This is the way it SHOULD BE.  Rather, our society today is conditioned to think that women should do it ALL . . . career; family; household.  And that's where the discrepancy and frustration comes from.  Because women are essentially asked to handle two full-time jobs (career and home) while men still only have the one.  Now, if you choose (or need) to have a dual-income home, then you and your spouse should communicate, discuss, and adapt as need be to alleviate stress.  But essentially, the solution to this "mind load" issue is about both parties gaining a better understanding of the demands laid upon each other and how they can help each other.  After all, marriage is a partnership . . . and it will only succeed if both parties work together.

So I'm not sure if all of that makes sense . . . or connects properly.  Essentially, the wife and mother manages ALL the things at home, and it's a never-ending list that keeps repeating in her head.  And this is exhausting, in and of itself.  Then you add actually DOING all the things on that list . . . and yeah, it's no wonder women are so exhausted all the time.  So husbands, please understand the load placed upon your wives.  Give them the gift of patience and understanding when dinner is late or the kids are screaming.  Give them the gift of offering to help with a particular chore or asking if there's anything you can do.  Give them the gift of a bouquet to brighten their day or a moment of peace as you wrangle the kids after dinner.  And wives, ASK for help.  While the household is your burden, it is not yours to bear alone.  We've shifted away from a society where women had a support system in their small village.  Now we must create that support for ourselves, so don't knock yourself down when you don't get everything done.  Rejoice in the things you accomplish and move on.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Solemn Oath

As some of you may know, I was admitted to the Florida Bar this past week.  After law school and the bar exam, the professional responsibility test and passing character & fitness, I was deemed a worthy candidate for the practice of law in the State of Florida.  While I may or may not actively practice, the Oath of Admittance is a solemn one:

I do solemnly swear:
I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida.
I will maintain the respect due to Courts of Justice and Judicial Officers.
I will not counsel or maintain any suit or proceedings which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land.
I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and will never seek to mislead the Judge or Jury by any artifice or false statement of fact or law.
I will maintain the confidence and preserve inviolate the secrets of my clients, and will accept no compensation in connection with their business except from from them or with their knowledge and approval.
To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications.
I will abstain from all offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged.
I will never reject, from any consideration personal to myself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed, or delay anyone's cause for lucre or malice.  So help me God.
Reading through it again gives me chills . . . the good kind.  It's a weighty task with which lawyers are charged.  And yes, there are definitely those of the profession who serve less than satisfactorily.  But this oath embodies the ideal to which we should strive.  And the conduct which it prescribes has a broader application - to all aspects of our lives and all interactions.  We should act with truth and honor.  We should keep the secrets entrusted to us (with exceptions).  We should act fairly and civilly with integrity and strength of conviction.  We should be kind and refrain from offensive personality.  And we should champion the defenseless and oppressed!  So help me God!  

Just ponder the words and think for a moment about how they could apply in your life.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Oh the Places You'll Go

Look at that sass - age 4.
This coming weekend is bittersweet.  My baby sister (ok, not the baby . . . actually, 2nd oldest in our family, but still) is graduating from college!  And my middle sister is about to graduate from high school and start college in the fall.  And the next two aren't far behind.  With my sister's graduation from college comes her moving back home, 1000+ miles away from me.  It has been amazing to have her down here, and I'm going to miss her terribly!  But I know God has great plans in store for her, and I can't wait to see where He leads her next!  So this post is for her.  
Rachel & Rebekah - 1995

Rachel, I have watched you grow up from the moment you were born.  I was so excited to finally have a little sister!  And I also thought your baby clothes were particularly adorable . . . and was rather adamant that they still fit me . . . even though I was almost 5 years old when you were born.  Over the years, I know I haven't been the bestest friend big sister I could have been . . . I distinctly remember many years of "playing" where I was more interested in setting up the Playmobile than in actually playing with it . . . sorry about that.

Summer 2009 - the middle one is starting college this fall!
And then I went to college, and you were suddenly the eldest at home.  And how I missed you all so much!  I didn't get to see you grow up and blossom into a beautiful young lady.  I didn't get to see our younger sisters grow from toddlers to teenagers.  But I got to see you on holidays and hopefully make up for some of the lost time.

Mackinac Island, 4th of July, 2011
And then I graduated from college and moved away from home . . . a good growing experience for me, but still too far from you.  And then I moved even farther away when God called me to law school in Florida.  And I went . . . no idea about what He was planning or where I was going.

Fall 2013 - your 1st semester
Which is why I was so incredibly happy that you decided to come to Florida for college . . . because it meant that you were only a short drive away instead of thousands of miles!  I got to see you!  And get to know you again!  And see what an amazing young woman you were becoming.  A woman of grace and faith, with that beautiful and warm smile and all the enthusiasm of a new college student.  And I know I didn't visit as often as I should have, but I loved every moment I got to spend with you!

Don't mess with Skiba Girls.
And we had fun.  Lots of outings and adventures, just you and me.  Exploring all that Naples had to offer.  I still want to go back to the Botanical Gardens some day with you for another awesome photo shoot.  You have no idea how much spending time with you helped ME get through law school and life in general.  You were there whenever I needed my sister, even though I'm the big sister.  The past four years have been incredible.

St. Augustine, FL - May 2015
And then it was my turn to graduate (again).  I graduated from law school, but thankfully I got to stay in Florida near you!  Enjoying the sunshine when we could and working through your last two years of college together.  And yes, by this time you were dating . . . an incredible young man.  :)  And I was dating.  And we were dating together.  And it was ALL the drama and ALL the fun and ALL the planning and dreaming.  And then you'd go home for the summer, and I'd miss you terribly.  

But then there was that one summer you stayed in Florida, and I got to see you more!  And we had more photo shoots.  :)  And I got to see you grow up into the amazing, beautiful, and talented young woman you are today!

SeaWorld November 2015
And I am forever grateful that I got to celebrate at least some of the hallmarks in your life thus far - like your 21st birthday!  Skiba girl style, of course.  That trip to SeaWorld with you was one of the best trips I've ever had!  I hope you look back on it with as much fondness as I do.  And the next time you're in Florida, maybe we can go again?

Orlando, FL - April 2016
And we continued to grow together.  There was that trip to the financial conference (and SeaWorld) where we saw in action everything our father has striven to teach us regarding finances and the future.  And more than I thought had stuck . . . and still sticks.

The Best Sisters EVER!
Wedding September 2016
And then you were there for me as I went through my engagement and preparing for my wedding and marriage.  You were the absolute BEST Maid of Honor I could have asked for.  You talked me through all my fears and frustrations.  You helped me find the perfect dress.  You kept everything running smoothly so that I didn't have to worry.  I want you to know how much I appreciate that!  I couldn't have done it without you.

And now, over the past 8 months, you've finished college.  You are taking the next steps in your adult life, and I know you're scared and excited and nervous and relieved.  You're ALL the things.  Just remember, sangria is best with a friend, phone calls are life lines, and I will ALWAYS be here for you . . . no matter what!  I love you so much, and I can't wait to see where God takes you next!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Time Capsule

Spring Formal 2009 - 8 Years Ago
Apologies for the rambling nature of this post.  My brain is still recovering from the inevitable lack of sleep from an incredible weekend visiting one of my best friends.  Those of you on Facebook, I'm sure, have noticed the "On This Day" feature . . . where it shows you back through the years what you were posting, doing, etc. on this day in years past.  Often, I look at the status updates and wonder what I was possibly doing . . . and other times they serve as a reminder of how far I've come in my faith and life journey.  And, more often than not, they remind me just how blessed my life has been and is.

VA Trip 2017
Take a moment today to think about the blessings in your life, both present and past.  Thank God for them.  And don't take them for granted! Today I am grateful for family and friends.  And especially the wonderful gift of modern technology and transportation - the things that allow me to keep close to my friends even when 1000s of miles separate us.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Recipe Corner - (Sweet) Potato Roses

This was my first year hosting Easter dinner, and I was excited to try out a new recipe I saw on Facebook:

I adapted the recipe somewhat - using sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes and no cheese.  But they were super easy AND super scrumptious!

Pre-baked roses looked so pretty!
I sliced the sweet potatoes using my handy mandoline (definitely a MUST HAVE for any kitchen).  Swirled the spices in the olive oil, layered the potato slices over a slice of bacon, spread the oil, and rolled them up.  Easy peasy.  I ended up using a mini muffin pan for baking . . . I'd advise toothpicks to hold them together if you're using a regular size muffin pan.

Turkey from Honey Baked Ham
Sweet Potato Roses from my kitchen!
Then I baked them, and they smelled delicious!  I am definitely making these again.  They were a huge hit at dinner, and my husband said I can make them any time I want.  

What are some of your favorite holiday dishes?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

On Your Own Time

It's been almost two years (July 2015) since I first took the Florida Bar Exam (an awful experience), and then a few months later found out that I had failed . . . by 1/2 of a point . . . not even a full question.  At that point, I took it as a sign and a blessing from God that I didn't HAVE to be an attorney . . . seeing as I've never wanted to practice law.  While my immediate family and closest friends understood that and didn't really pressure me to retake it, I spent many months fending off inquiries, motivational speeches, and guilt trips from pretty much everyone else.  And all that pressure?  Nobody wanted to accept that I was completely and utterly FINE with not passing.  They just couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that my goal in life was (and still is) to be a wife and mother.

Fast forward to September or October 2016.  I'd spent the last YEAR explaining and re-explaining my attitude towards the bar exam and how I was absolutely, positively NOT retaking it.  Ever.  And while many people would love to take credit for what happened in the past six months, it was my decision, on my time, and for my reasons.  See, the first time I took the bar exam . . . it was like pulling teeth.  I didn't want to take it at all, but everyone convinced me that if I was graduating from law school, I had to at least try.  So I did.  I studied diligently.  I completed 100% of the bar prep program.  And I failed.  By 1/2 a point.  When people asked afterwards why I failed, I said it was (a) reading too fast and missing one of the triple or quadruple negatives PLUS (b) the fact that my heart wasn't in it.  Anyway, back to six months ago, I finally had my own reasons for retaking the exam - I wanted a backup plan in a worst case scenario, and I wanted to be able to help my husband with legal matters if we ever started our own firm.  So I looked at my old paperwork . . . and it turns out I only had to retake one portion of the exam, and my other scores were still good.  So I took the plunge, signed up, and started studying.  Of course, I wasn't going to spend $$$$$ on another bar prep program, but I did use many resources in the library to study - mainly hundreds of multiple choice questions.

Fast forward to February 2017.  I'd mostly forgotten the reasons WHY I decided to retake the exam, but it was too late to back out.  So there I was . . . sitting in the same room again, forcing myself to read "slowly."  I still finished with almost an hour to spare, and that freaked a lot of people out.  But whatever.  I've always finished exams super early.  When I walked out, people asked how I thought it went.  I very confidently told them that I got two questions right . . . out of two hundred.  And that was it.  I didn't have my hopes set on passing.  I didn't think I passed.  I didn't care if I did or not.  I'd tried again, and that was that.

Fast forward to April 10, 2017.  Bar exam scores were released.  I checked.  And double-checked.  And checked about another hundred times.  Yep.  The file number was correct.  The sheet said I passed and was ready to be admitted to the bar.  I admit I was shaking when I first read it . . . I mean, I passed the Florida Bar Exam!  Yahoo!  But I still don't plan on really practicing . . . except in an assistatory capacity with my husband.  And everyone so far that I've told has been far more excited than I am.  But I do feel blessed, and I'm sure God's got a reason for why I passed now.

Anyway, I did it in MY time (and God's) . . . not bending to the peer pressure to retake it immediately.  I waited.  I relaxed.  I got past the bad taste of law school and the bar exam.  And, most importantly, I WANTED to retake it.  I wasn't being forced to do it.  And that made all the difference, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sit Still; Look Pretty

Does it ever scare you how distorted modern music makes relationships sound?  That all men are selfish pigs.  That all girls are simply put upon and used.  That romance means a quick tumble in the backseat.  That love means a pretty girl and a hot guy.  I find it hard to listen to the radio these days (for many reasons), but chiefly because the lyrics depress me.  And they disguise their subversive message in upbeat, happy tunes - like "Sit Still, Look Pretty".  A fun tune to listen to . . . but the lyrics?
You get off on your 9 to 5
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I'm never gonna be 'cause I don't wanna be
No, I don't wanna sit still look pretty
The refrain makes a marriage sound like a death sentence for the women.  That their sole purpose is to make their husbands look good.  And the subliminal message, at least to me?  Women who choose to stay at home and care for their families with their picket fences are being used and essentially suffering from some kind of Stockholm syndrome.  
That Snow White
She did right
In her life
Had 7 men to do the chores
'Cause that's not what a lady's for
And then this!   As if women somehow feel entitled to have a man do EVERYTHING for them while they sit around ruling the world and doing whatever they want.  How have we lost the understanding that responsibility and a shared partnership in marriage is what it's really about?  That marriage isn't simply "the only thing a boy's gonna give a girl for free's captivity" . . . but that it's a beautiful example of self-sacrifice?  Or at least it's supposed to be.
I'm never gonna be that girl
Who's living in a Barbie world
. . . . . 
This queen don't need a king
. . . . .  
But this gal right here's gonna rule the world
Now, I understand that not every girl is as girly as I am . . . that we have different personalities and likes and dislikes etc.  And granted, Barbie definitely gave a skewed view of the world as well.  But not needing a king?  That's simply not true.  And I'm not advocating that every woman needs to get married.  Absolutely not.  There are definitely women who are called to the religious life or to the single life.  But in that case?  Their king is God alone.  And in a marriage?  The relationship between the husband and wife is meant to mirror that between Christ and the Church.  Wives are called to submit to their husbands - not to rule the world.  I mean, have you met women?  We're awesome at organization and love and brainstorming . . . but we also tend to think with our hearts first, which could have disastrous effects on a nationwide level.  Because in business and economics and politics, logic should come first.  Even if it feels awful.  And men are just better at that in general . . . at least, they used to be before society emphasized being in tune with their emotions so much that we wound up with a bunch of boys who can't handle adult responsibility.  And then women swooped in to take over and fix things.  And we've got the mess we have today.  And yes, I'm aware there's a lot more nuance to that story . . . but that's the topic for another day.

So what's the bottom line?  Other than the fact that these lyrics and all others like them really piss me off?  Marriage is a partnership.  It's a union of self-sacrifice and giving for the other.  It's helping each other get to Heaven.  It's not a phenomenon where the woman is constantly downtrodden and used as an object.  And it's not a situation where the man is constantly overruled by the woman and made to feel inferior and incompetent.  It's a union where the two become one and they use their individual skills and abilities and gifts together to create a firm foundation and a solid example for their children and the world.  At least that's my two cents on the matter.