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My friend Lee is a Korean adoptee who spent nearly 40 years of his life not knowing if he would ever be reunited with his birth mother. I am so honored and humbled to get to share his story with the world!

I don’t normally write human interest stories for this blog, but before I began blogging they were my favorite type of stories to write for the newspapers where I worked. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to write about my friend Lee for his GoFundMe account. His story brought tears to my eyes and warmed my heart. I am in awe of God’s work in Lee’s life. I hope his story will inspire you as much as it did me! 

In 1980, a 5-year-old Lee Korak flew across the world from his native South Korea to suburban Wisconsin, where a loving adoptive mother, father, and older sister awaited him with open arms. Lee soon lost all memories of his birth family and country of origin, and for the next 37 years he had no information or knowledge of his early years or Korean family.

Despite the nurture and care of his adoptive family, throughout his childhood and adolescence Lee battled feeling out of place. More than anything, he wanted to fit in. He resented being different. Being Korean. Being adopted. He lived his life as if it began as a 6-year-old American boy.

Lee didn’t begin to explore his Korean roots until his late 30s, when he became a father himself. Meeting his newborn daughter—his first blood relative–in 2008–was the catalyst for more deeply exploring his heritage. For the first time, Lee was able to look into the eyes of someone who shared his features, who shared his DNA.

But it wasn’t until 2012 that Lee truly began to grieve the loss of his birth family and acknowledge how the trauma of his early childhood was affecting him in negative, unforeseen ways. After attending a Christian men’s ministry event called Marked Men for Christ, Lee was able to see that what he had previously believed about himself—that he was unlovable, worthless, and easily discarded—were all lies. Through the Marked Men for Christ ministry, Lee was able to claim the truth that he had always been cared for, loved, and belonged. This began the healing journey that Lee continues on today. Part of this journey has led Lee to further reconnect with the Korean part of himself that he had buried and been ashamed of in his youth.

In 2017, via a Facebook group, Lee connected with other Korean adoptees from the orphanage he was placed in as a child. In early 2018, the group highlighted the contact information of an English-speaking nun who had worked at the orphanage—now transitioned to a daycare center—since the 1970s.

As others in the group wrote about contacting the nun, Lee decided, on a whim, to reach out to her as well.

Unsure if there would even be a response, Lee did not dream that the nun would be able to connect him with his blood relatives. He simply wanted to know if she had any more information about his first few years of life.

Lee was shocked to hear back from the nun just nine hours later. Not only had she found his birth mother’s name and phone number in Lee’s file, but within this short span she was also able to speak with her on the phone.

“Your mother was so touched and cried on the phone,” the nun wrote to Lee.

After 37 years of wondering who he really was, within a day Lee learned that his mother was a 75-year-old widow (now remarried) who had never forgotten about her beloved son. In fact, his mother had never given him up for adoption. He had been taken to the orphanage against her will.

In her first letter to Lee, his birth mother told of his early life and the circumstances that led to them being separated. After Lee’s father died, his mother was left bankrupt and without any support system. This forced her to flee Seoul to live with her sisters and their husbands in Daegu. However, the sisters’ husbands were not open to providing long-term care for Lee and his mother. Day-after-day, Lee’s mother strapped him to her back while searching for a job. But the murky economic landscape of the 1970s did not favor single women in the workforce.

One day, Lee’s mother left him in the care of her older sister while she, once again, sought employment. Sadly, the sister took Lee to the orphanage and requested that he be adopted by an American family. She told the orphanage that Lee’s mother had run away. While Lee’s aunt gave him to the orphanage under false pretenses, Lee believes that she did so because she thought he would have a better life in America than what his widowed, jobless mother could ever give him in Korea. Still, hearing this news devastated Lee, as he realized that his mother had literally been looking for him for 37 years. It was against the rules of the orphanage to give out any information about Lee. The only way Lee’s mother would ever be able to reconnect with her son, the orphanage authorities told her, was if Lee came looking for her.

His mother waited 37 years for that to happen. When Lee was around 18 years old, his mother came to the orphanage, seeking if her now-adult son had come looking for her.

She was met with no news.

She returned a few years later. She had now gone more than 20 years without her son. “Was he still living? Did he remember her? Would they ever be reunited?”

Perhaps her now 26-year-old son had come looking for his mother.

Still, no news.

The day the nun contacted Lee’s mother with the news that her son was seeking to find her felt as if he had been raised from the dead.

“‘Oh, thank you! Thank you, Sister!” his mother cried out to the nun. “My son is alive!!’”Lee’s mother had never forgotten her son, had never stopped loving him. The son who had believed the lies that he was unlovable, worthless, and easily discarded was not only loved, worthy, and accepted by the love of God—but he also had been longed for and grieved for by his Korean mother for nearly four decades.

Lee never imagined he would have the opportunity to be reunited with his birth mother. He only has memories of his adopted family—who he has always loved as his own.

Discovering that his birth mother was alive and looking for him came during an excruciatingly difficult time in Lee’s life: Just one month before he received news of his birth mother, Lee’s adoptive mother, Valerie Strouf, passed away after a one-year battle with pancreatic cancer. Valerie never saw Lee any differently than her own flesh and blood, and Lee felt the same.

Losing his mother of 37 years and finding his birth mother within a month of each other came with both great sorrow and great joy.

Because Lee’s birth mother is elderly, Lee and his wife Kelly have made the decision to visit her in Korea as soon as possible.

They are planning a trip to Korea from July 19-30, 2018, so they can meet their long-lost Korean family. Passionate about spreading the gospel of Jesus—which infused Lee with the hope he had been missing after his traumatic early life—the Koraks have decided to use this opportunity to also help with a Vacation Bible School mission trip organized by a Korean friend who attends Centre Prebyterian Church in Mooresville, NC.

Lee and Kelly do not have much time to raise money for this trip, and they covet any help you can give. Eventually, they would love for their three children to meet their grandmother in Korea, but, for now, they are excited about taking this maiden voyage to the country of Lee’s birth.

As one can imagine, a trip to Korea is extremely expensive. I have personally set up a GoFundMe campaign for Lee and Kelly’s trip. The funds from this GoFundMe will help defer the costs of Lee and Kelly’s flights, transportation in country, food, and lodging. Our family will also be helping to take care of Lee and Kelly’s three children while they are on the trip. Please keep them and their children in your prayers!

Lee and his family are grateful for your support and invite you to be a part of this amazing story.

If you feel led to give (even the smallest amount helps!), you can do so here.

Please feel free to share Lee’s story with your friends and family!

The Humbled Homemaker has gifts for you! Click on the link to download your FREE eBook!
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Amazon Prime Day is July 16-17! Get a FREE $10 Amazon credit to spend!


Amazon Prime Day is returning this year for a day and a half. It will start on July 16 at 3 p.m. and run through July 17th.

There will be deals to rival Black Friday, so this is a great time to get some shopping done for Christmas, birthday, or any other occasion. 

We will be posting the BEST Prime Day specials that we can find, so stay tuned for some great deals! There will be exclusive deals on household items, fashion, toys, electronics, etc. 

We love Prime and use it on a weekly basis. Along with the free shipping, there are movie, music and book benefits as well.

In order to claim these deals, you must be a Prime member. If you aren’t a Prime member, have no fear. You can get a free 30-day trial to get access to these deals.

As a bonus, you can get FREE $10 credit to spend when you download and sign into the Amazon app for the first time. 

To get your credit, download the Amazon app from your app store. Open the app and sign into your Amazon Prime account for the first time. Within 7 days, the $10 credit will appear to be used for any $20 purchase you make within the Amazon app.

You can combine your credit with Prime Day deals to get extra savings! 

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Food Lion. All opinions are 100% mine.

While most families shop at more than one grocery store, it’s convenient to know how to save money at the one closest to your house. These 3 ways to save money at local grocery stores will help you make the most of your time and money!
While I most definitely shop at a variety of stores, there are three specific ways I like to save money at local grocery stores.
3 Ways to Save Money at Local Grocery Stores

1. When your meal plan falls through, pick up a rotisserie chicken instead of take-out.
My friend and mentor, Holly, actually recommends just adding a rotisserie chicken to your meal plan each and every week!
It saves our family so much money for me to run to the store and grab a rotisserie chicken for dinner over succumbing to the temptation to order take-out or load up the kids and go out to eat.
I usually pair the chicken with some quick gluten-free mac ‘n cheese and some sautéed green beans. Bam–we have a full, frugal meal that didn’t require any more than a 5-minute trip to my closest store (for me, it’s Food Lion).
Besides pairing the chicken with side dishes, you can also shred it up quickly and add it to soups or casseroles, or top salads with it.
I also like picking them up to bring to potluck suppers.
2. Check gluten-free and other specialty food sales.
It’s often (but not always) cheaper to purchase specialty items at local grocery stores over health food stores.
Because it’s not these type of items their typical customers might be seeking, our Food Lion frequently puts their gluten-free items on sale. They also run amazing clearance sales when items like this aren’t selling.
I always go by the gluten-free section when I’m at Food Lion to see what’s on sale and what I can stock up on while there.
Besides often being cheaper and on sale, it also saves me money to look for specialty items at local chain stores like Food Lion over the fancier stores that require me to drive to the “big city” (Charlotte). Mama just doesn’t have time for all that in this season of her life!
3. Use loyalty programs for even more savings.

Local-ish grocery chains often offer great loyalty programs that are worth exploring.

I’ve been a Food Lion MVP member since I was a teenager. I love that they offer Food Lion MVP Digital Coupons as well as the Shop and Earn app.

Whatever your local grocery chain is, inquire about joining their loyalty program–especially if their conveniently-located store means you frequent them for last-minute items.

If you live in the South, like I do, you might have a Food Lion on every corner. I live just twenty minutes away from the Food Lion headquarters, which means my medium-size town has no less five Food Lion stores. This makes it a super convenient stop for last-minute items, as well as for everyday, stress-free grocery shopping. (Check out more ways to save at Food Lion via their weekly specials and Fresh Ideas Blog!)

What are your ideas on how to save money at local grocery stores?

The Humbled Homemaker has gifts for you! Click on the link to download your FREE eBook!
Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day/a>

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Zaycon Fresh closed their doors on June 25, 2018–but that doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives to Zayon Fresh–and to buying affordable, quality meats! This post will give 6 alternatives to Zaycon Fresh!  

It is sadness and frustration that I am writing you today to let you know that one of my most FAVORITE businesses has suspended their operations, and, it appears, has gone out of business!

I’ve been telling you all about Zaycon Fresh for years because I’ve been a loyal customer for years–at least five or six! A couple days ago, I ran across a Facebook post that said they have suspended operations. The post–and their website–give no further information!

Here is what I know, and here is what YOU need to do if you have any outstanding orders with Zaycon (this is important!!):

1. Zaycon suspended operations on June 25. They posted a notice on their website, but they shared very little else. Sadly, they have not sent out any emails to customers or blogging affiliates. Word of mouth is the only way people are finding out they have suspended operations.

2. No one knows if “suspended” means if Zaycon will ever resume business or not.

3. Thousands of customers (including me!) had pre-paid for orders that they will now not get. I urge you to immediately contact your credit card company or bank or PayPal (however you paid) and file a dispute for any and all Zaycon Fresh orders that you have not yet received. Please note that different banks and card companies will have different dispute windows and you could be looking at anywhere from 15 to 90 days before you’ll see the refund.*

*Because Zaycon kept pushing orders to a later and later date (this happened to me repeatedly over the last few months, and it was very frustrating!), there are some customers whose banks are refusing the disputes. I have heard from some customers that if they were able to prove that Zaycon had not yet delivered their product and were able to show the emails or other notifications showing the delays, then the banks still reimbursed these charges.

4. Bloggers who promoted Zaycon are just as frustrated as everyone else. Zaycon had a stellar referral program for all customers and a great affiliate program for bloggers. Not only does this business suspension cheats innocent customers out of their money, but they closed shop without paying out thousands of referral dollars. They also let their loyal truck drivers go without notice. In fact, some of their drivers were still making deliveries this week–without pay. (My mom got her final bacon order this way.)

Alternatives to Zaycon Fresh

I’ve long promoted Zaycon because I ordered from them regularly myself, and although their meat wasn’t organic, I felt it was high quality (especially their wild-caught seafood!), and it’s what I fed my own family.

You could not beat Zaycon’s prices, which, sadly, seems to have contributed to their demise. Offering customers such low prices again and again was not a sustainable business model.

So where do we go from here?

The following are some suggestions for where to purchase bulk meats online.

I’m still researching these myself, and I will let you know my findings here and in future blog posts/newsletters.

Azure Standard

I’ve actually been a loyal Azure customer for years as well. They are based on farmland out in the Pacific Northwest but deliver by trucks all over the U.S. monthly.

Pros- They offer a HUGE selection of natural foods, including produce, canned goods, boxed staples, dairy, meats, and more.

Cons- While they are typically cheaper than Whole Foods and other health food stores, they are for sure pricier than what we were accustomed to paying for Zaycon meats. Buying in bulk and splitting with friends is definitely the way to go with Azure. The more you buy, the more affordable Azure becomes. I also always check out their sales and clearance tabs before ordering.

Check out Azure here.

Butcher Box

Full discloser: Our family loves the idea of Butcher Box, but we’ve only tried them ourselves once. Why? Full transparency: the price!

We have been getting meat at such a good deal from Zaycon that we haven’t had much reason to look elsewhere–even when that meant we weren’t always getting the highest quality meat. Why? Let’s be honest: Sometimes “better” is the “best” when it comes to budget.

Pros- Butcher Box offers very high quality meat, and they deliver to your home!! They also sometimes offer sales, and the prices really aren’t ridiculous when you compare them to somewhere like Whole Foods. Also, shipping is FREE! Their meat is 100% grass-fed, their pork is heritage breed, and their chickens are free-range organic. Their meat is all certified humane and all free from added antibiotics and hormones.

Cons- The price. That’s really it. If you’re already used to buying organic meat at the grocery store, Butcher Box might even feel like a steal to you.

Want to try Butcher Box bacon for FREE? Now through July 8, 2018, they are currently running a promo where everyone who signs up for a Butcher Box subscription will get FREE BACON in every single order! Will and I are signing up for this one! Check out this deal here.

Tropical Traditions

I’ve been a long-time customer of Tropical Traditions, but I’ve never purchased meat from them because…again…they are pricey. But they are pricey for a reason: They only offer the highest quality meat.

They also sell high quality coconut oil, palm shortening, eggs, and even non-toxic cleaning supplies (among other things).

Pros- They offer TOP quality products. They ship straight to your house. When you sign up for their newsletter, they offer some great deals and even free shipping occasionally.

Cons-They are pricey (but for a reason). They only offer free shipping occasionally.

I just checked the website, and Tropical Traditions is actually offering FREE shipping NOW through July 4! Use code 2018july. Check out Tropical Traditions here.

Warehouse Stores (Costco, BJs, Sam’s)

Like I wrote about in my books, buying in bulk is often (but not always) more affordable. If none of the above work for you, I recommend checking out the meat prices at your closest warehouse store. We’ve had a membership to BJ’s and Sam’s off and on for several years, and I’m excited that a new Costco is opening in my town next year. (Read my friend April’s review of Costco here and my review of Sam’s Club here.)

Local Farms

You will, without a doubt, get the highest-quality meat from your local farmers. Now, I can’t research the farms for you, but you can always check out a site like Local Harvest to find farms near you.

In the past, my husband and I have used tax returns to purchase up to 1/2 a cow! That meat lasted us a LONG time!

Your Local Grocery Store

If you’re used to the convenience of buying meat in bulk online, then it can sound like a bummer to go back to your local grocery store. But here’s a tip: When they mark meat down, simply STOCK UP. This is the best way to ensure the most bang for your buck.

Also, while I used to not get meat at ALDI (my favorite grocery store!) that has all changed over the past several years. They now offer organic grass-fed beef, wild-caught seafood, and even organic chicken. So if you haven’t visited an ALDI in a while, go explore their meat section. You might be surprised at what you find.

So while I’m SUPER BUMMED that Zaycon is closing (and especially that they have closed in such an abrupt manner while leaving customers and employees scrambling), I’m glad we DO have other options for where to shop online (and in person) for affordable and quality meats.

Where do you shop for meat? I would love to know your alternatives to Zaycon Fresh!

The Humbled Homemaker has gifts for you! Click on the link to download your FREE eBook!
Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day/a>

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Have you ever noticed the dumb dad stereotype in sitcoms, movies and other TV shows? It’s time that we put a stop to the idea that all dads are bumbling idiots incapable of completing a task.

The other day I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room while my oldest watched a show on a popular kids’ network.

I wasn’t paying any particular attention to the show, but a couple of things caught my ear, and I was sucked into the show.

I immediately noticed that the “dumb dad stereotype” in the show was portrayed as a bumbling idiot how wasn’t capable of an intelligent thought without help from his sarcastic, disrespectful kids.

He couldn’t take care of his kids and was constantly having trouble completing simple tasks…like taking his kids to the grocery store or fixing lunch or changing a diaper. Come on! Let’s raise the bar a little bit on what makes a good father.

In addition, his loving, sweet (and at times, condescending) wife fixed everything and solved all the problem while the kids just rolled their eyes. Granted, my wife is loving and sweet, but we are a team.

And this is not a new phenomenon. Now as an adult, I think about the sitcoms from my childhood and some of them were the same way. The “dumb dad stereotype” was always getting into a mess that the wife or kids had to get him out of. Even the cartoons took on this persona…think The Flintstones and The Jetsons. As a child I didn’t notice it, but as an adult, I certainly do.

My wife and I don’t really watch sitcoms, but I have also noticed that trend on adult shows as well.

One friend noted, “The show was one of many shows depicting children as teachers of parents more often than vice versa. And dads especially being the people who are lectured and ‘schooled’ by everyone else who apparently know better than dad. If the child only sees examples of child superiority, what does that mean for the child’s future? We all grow into adults. So the male child has nothing to aspire to, because dads are fools.”

I know this is meant to be comedy, and yes, there are times when I laugh at the exaggerated situations. Yes, we can laugh and have fun, but that “dumb dad stereotype” is not the norm…at least in my world he’s not.

The Dumb Dad Stereotype is NOT the Norm

On some level this constant portrayal of dads as weak, bumbling idiots is bothersome to me.

Fatherhood.gov says that the children of fathers who are involved are more likely to:

  • do well in school
  • have healthy self-worth
  • exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior
  • avoid high-risk behaviors such as drugs, truancy, and criminal activity

However, while this site aims to strengthen parents and show them as competent, our media culture says the exact opposite.

Is this really what we think of dads? Is that really our culture’s perception of fathers?

An unofficial Father’s Day survey done by TODAY found that almost two-thirds of the men who answered the poll feel that society does not respect dads enough for their contribution to their family.

As a man, I spend a lot of time around other dads, and I have to be honest. I don’t know a single dad who personifies the clueless patriarchal figure that the pop-culture media presents to us.

Most of my friends are transparent about their struggles as a parent and husband, but these men are guys who love their wives and kids. They are involved on multiple levels in their homes. They care about their families more than themselves.

They are leaders in their homes how continually seek wisdom on how to be the best dad and husband they can be. They are invested in all aspects of family life.

I know other dads are out there. The ones who are clueless, abusive, disgusting, unintelligent, detached, or incapable. However, it has been my experience that those dads are the minority. Perhaps they seem like the majority because they are the loudest and most obnoxious.

Being a Dad Is Rewarding But Not Easy

From the things I’ve read and the conversations that I’ve had, many men struggle with the twists and turns of family, work, and life in general. They have made sacrifices for their families to provide for them, and many make equal sacrifices in their professions to be there for their families.

A report by The New Dad states that when Millennial men become fathers, there are a few clear trends. Millennial fathers’ satisfaction with their jobs and their lives is significantly greater than that of their childless counterparts.
Source

More than 70 percent of dads say they struggle to find a good work-life balance, a number that is unsurprising in light of the fact that more than half of the dads surveyed indicated that they do not feel they receive enough support from their employers in their role as a father.
Source

Dads also agree that when they are spending time with their children, they do not consider it “babysitting.” Nearly 90 percent of the dads who took the survey agree that they are fathers, not child care providers, while nearly 60 percent of dads say that they have had an outsider commend them for “babysitting” their kids while on solo outings.
Source

Men, as dads and husbands, are more involved than they ever have been before. They don’t expect their wives to do it all. They cook, clean, change diapers, and split other duties.

Fathers don’t expect to be rewarded for what they should be doing. It’s their dad duty, but I think they would like to be acknowledge and respected for their contributions.

While two-thirds of dads said they feel respected by their mates for their parenting role, nearly 70 percent of moms agree that Dad deserves more respect on Father’s Day and every day. Our culture’s portrayal of dads is anything but respectful.
Source

Dads long to be the heroes for their kids, and the warriors for their wives. Yet our culture often portrays the opposite. The dad who always needs saving or who is the joke of the family. He is constantly being run over by the mom and kids and couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag.

Are we perfect? No, we are not.

Do we make mistakes? Yes, we do.

Are we idiots incapable of caring for our children or loving our wives? Absolutely NOT!

Most of us are trying our best. We, as men, dads and husbands, are constantly growing and changing to improve who we are.

So, really I just ask one thing…

Can we please dump this idea that dads are buffoons? Can we please give respect and credit where they are due?  Can we please not give credence to the cultural sitcom dad?

Well, that was more than one thing, but you get the point.

Help break the dumb dad stereotype? Encourage Your Man

If you’ve ever had The Five Love Languages, you know that men receive love different ways. Find out how your man receives love and respect then fill up his tank.

For example, if he’s a words guy, tell him how attractive he is, affirm his ability care for his family, praise him for spending time with the kids, etc.

Spend time with. Get him a small gift of appreciation. Let him know that you care.

Let him hear you compliment him in front of your kids and never berate him in front of them (he shouldn’t do that to you either).

Do Something Together

One of the things that my wife and I enjoy doing after the kids are in the bed is cuddling on the couch and watching a show or movie together.

She tolerates my shows like Flash or Grimm, but we have also found shows that we both enjoy, like Downton Abbey and Once Upon a Time.

If you watch a show, find something you both can agree on that doesn’t enforce the dumb dad stereotype.

If you enjoy the outdoors, go on a bike ride or a hike…just the two of you.

Create Opportunities

Give him a chance to be a good dad.

If you are always hovering over him and not giving him any room to breathe with the kids, he can quickly become frustrated.

He may need a few specific suggestions since some dads don’t have this innate fatherly instinct.Let him take them places. Suggest he take them to a movie or for ice cream or to the park.

You go somewhere and leave him home with the kids…without calling every 5 minutes to check in on him.

Don’t use words like babysitting or other condescending terms.

Support Him

If he has to make a hard choice, support him in his decision. This could including anything from a professional decision to disciplining the children.

You should both reinforce each other, so that the kids don’t get mixed messages.

If there is an issue, then wait until the appropriate time to discuss it with him. There may be times where you may need to step in and say, “Honey, can I talk to you for a second?” and then go into another room away from the children.

Don’t Fix It

My wife and I may do the same task but tackle it different ways. If she doesn’t something and I don’t like the way she does it, I try really hard not to go behind her and fix it.

You should do the same for your husband. If he doesn’t fold the laundry or feed the kids you way you want it done, let him do it his way and don’t go behind him trying to fix.

If you do, he will most likely not see the point in doing the task to begin with. If there is an issue that needs to be addressed, then talk to him about it at the appropriate time.

Pray for and with Him

Prayer is a powerful tool.

Pray specifically for him as a father and as a husband. Find scripture to pray over him.

Instead of nagging him about something, give him space and pray about the issue.

If you need some suggestions, check The Power of a Praying Wife.

Again, I don’t know any dads who fit the stereotypical figure put out by Hollywood, so let’s move past these cliches and notice who the real dads are.

Where have you noticed the “dumb dad stereotype”? How can we combat this?
With Father’s Day around the corner, you can check out my gifts ideas from man to man:
  1. Celebrate Dad: 10 Unique Father’s Day Gift Ideas
  2. Tie-less Father’s Day Gift Ideas (written by a man)
  3. Natural Skincare

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The Humbled Homemaker has gifts for you! Click on the link to download your FREE eBook!
Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day/a>

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Have you ever noticed the dumb dad stereotype in sitcoms, movies and other TV shows? It’s time that we put a stop to the idea that all dads are bumbling idiots incapable of completing a task.

The other day I was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room while my oldest watched a show on a popular kids’ network.

I wasn’t paying any particular attention to the show, but a couple of things caught my ear, and I was sucked into the show.

I immediately noticed that the “dumb” dad in the show was portrayed as a bumbling idiot who wasn’t capable of an intelligent thought without help from his sarcastic, disrespectful kids.

He couldn’t take care of his kids and was constantly having trouble completing simple tasks…like taking his kids to the grocery store or fixing lunch or changing a diaper. Come on! Let’s raise the bar a little bit on what makes a good father.

In addition, his loving, sweet (and at times, condescending) wife fixed everything and solved all the problems while the kids just rolled their eyes. Granted, my wife is loving and sweet, but we are a team.

And this is not a new phenomenon. Now as an adult, I think about the sitcoms from my childhood and some of them were the same way. The “dumb” dad was always getting into a mess that the wife or kids had to get him out of. Even the cartoons took on this persona…think The Flintstones and The Jetsons. As a child I didn’t notice it, but as an adult, I certainly do.

My wife and I don’t really watch sitcoms, but I have also noticed that trend on adult shows as well.

One friend noted, “The show was one of many shows depicting children as teachers of parents more often than vice versa. And dads especially being the people who are lectured and ‘schooled’ by everyone else who apparently know better than dad. If the child only sees examples of child superiority, what does that mean for the child’s future? We all grow into adults. So the male child has nothing to aspire to, because dads are fools.”

I know this is meant to be comedy, and yes, there are times when I laugh at the exaggerated situations. Yes, we can laugh and have fun, but that “dumb” dad is not the norm…at least in my world he’s not.

Dumb Dads Are NOT the Norm

On some level this constant portrayal of dads as weak, bumbling idiots is bothersome to me.

Fatherhood.gov says that the children of fathers who are involved are more likely to:

  • do well in school
  • have healthy self-worth
  • exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior
  • avoid high-risk behaviors such as drugs, truancy, and criminal activity

However, while this site aims to strengthen parents and show them as competent, our media culture says the exact opposite.

Is this really what we think of dads? Is that really our culture’s perception of fathers?

An unofficial Father’s Day survey done by TODAY found that almost two-thirds of the men who answered the poll feel that society does not respect dads enough for their contribution to their family.

As a man, I spend a lot of time around other dads, and I have to be honest. I don’t know a single dad who personifies the clueless patriarchal figure that the pop-culture media presents to us.

Most of my friends are transparent about their struggles as a parent and husband, but these men are guys who love their wives and kids. They engage on multiple levels in their homes. They care about their families more than themselves.

These men are leaders in their homes who continually seek wisdom on how to be the best dad and husband they can be. They’re invested in all aspects of family life.

I know other dads are out there. The ones who are clueless, abusive, disgusting, unintelligent, detached, or incapable. However, it has been my experience that those dads are the minority. Perhaps they seem like the majority because they are the loudest and most obnoxious.

Being a Dad Is Rewarding But Not Easy

From the things I’ve read and the conversations that I’ve had, many men struggle with the twists and turns of family, work, and life in general. They have made sacrifices for their families to provide for them, and many make equal sacrifices in their professions to be there for their families.

A report by The New Dad states that when Millennial men become fathers, there are a few clear trends. Millennial fathers’ satisfaction with their jobs and their lives is significantly greater than that of their childless counterparts.
Source

More than 70 percent of dads say they struggle to find a good work-life balance, a number that is unsurprising in light of the fact that more than half of the dads surveyed indicated that they do not feel they receive enough support from their employers in their role as a father.
Source

Dads also agree that when they are spending time with their children, they do not consider it “babysitting.” Nearly 90 percent of the dads who took the survey agree that they are fathers, not child care providers, while nearly 60 percent of dads say that they have had an outsider commend them for “babysitting” their kids while on solo outings.
Source

Men, as dads and husbands, are more involved than they ever have been before. They don’t expect their wives to do it all. They cook, clean, change diapers, and split other duties.

Fathers don’t expect to be rewarded for what they should be doing. It’s their dad duty, but I think they would like to be acknowledge and respected for their contributions.

While two-thirds of dads said they feel respected by their mates for their parenting role, nearly 70 percent of moms agree that Dad deserves more respect on Father’s Day and every day. Our culture’s portrayal of dads is anything but respectful.
Source

Dads long to be the heroes for their kids, and the warriors for their wives. Yet our culture often portrays the opposite. The dad who always needs saving or who is the joke of the family. He is constantly being run over by the mom and kids and couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag.

Are we perfect? No, we are not.

Do we make mistakes? Yes, we do.

Are we idiots incapable of caring for our children or loving our wives? Absolutely NOT!

Most of us are trying our best. We, as men, dads and husbands, are constantly growing and changing to improve who we are.

So, really I just ask one thing…

Can we please dump this idea that dads are buffoons? Could we please give respect and credit where they are due? Can we please not give credence to the cultural sitcom dad?

Well, that was more than one thing, but you get the point.

What can we do to help break the stereotype?

Encourage Your Man

If you’ve ever had The Five Love Languages, you know that men receive love different ways. Find out how your man receives love and respect then fill up his tank.

For example, if he’s a words guy, tell him how attractive he is, affirm his ability care for his family, praise him for spending time with the kids, etc.

Spend time with. Get him a small gift of appreciation. Let him know that you care.

Let him hear you compliment him in front of your kids and never berate him in front of them (he shouldn’t do that to you either).

Do Something Together

One of the things that my wife and I enjoy doing after the kids are in the bed is cuddling on the couch and watching a show or movie together.

She tolerates my shows like Flash or Grimm, but we have also found shows that we both enjoy, like Downton Abbey and Once Upon a Time.

If you watch a show, find something you both can agree on that doesn’t enforce dumb dad stereotypes.

If you enjoy the outdoors, go on a bike ride or a hike…just the two of you.

Create Opportunities

Give him a chance to be a good dad.

If you are always hovering over him and not giving him any room to breathe with the kids, he can quickly become frustrated.

He may need a few specific suggestions since some dads don’t have this innate fatherly instinct. Let him take them places. Suggest he take them to a movie, out for ice cream, to the park, or do another bonding activity.

You go somewhere and leave him home with the kids…without calling every 5 minutes to check in on him.

Don’t use words like babysitting or other condescending terms.

Support Him

If he has to make a hard choice, support him in his decision. This could include anything from a professional decision to disciplining the children.

You should both reinforce each other, so that the kids don’t get mixed messages.

If there is an issue, then wait until the appropriate time to discuss it with him. There may be times where you may need to step in and say, “Honey, can I talk to you for a second?” and then go into another room away from the children.

Don’t Fix It

My wife and I may do the same task but tackle it different ways. If she does something and I don’t like the way she does it, I try really hard not to go behind her and fix it.

You should do the same for your husband. Maybe he doesn’t fold the laundry or feed the kids you way you want it done…let him do it his way and don’t go behind him trying to fix.

If you do, he will most likely not see the point in doing the task to begin with. And if there is an issue that needs to be addressed, then talk to him about it at the appropriate time.

Pray for and with Him

Prayer is a powerful tool.

Pray specifically for him as a father and as a husband. Find scripture to pray over him.

Instead of nagging him about something, give him space and pray about the issue.

If you need some suggestions, check The Power of a Praying Wife.

Again, I don’t know any dads who fit the stereotypical figure put out by Hollywood, so let’s move past these cliches and notice who the real dads are.

Where have you noticed the “dumb dad” stereotype? How can we combat this?

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I’m excited to welcome Will back to the blog today to discuss his dreams for father son bonding with our little boy! I hope these three ways to foster friendship between dads and their sons will encourage your family! ~Erin xoxo

Now that I have a boy, too, there are certain things that I am looking forward to do with our son that I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to do.

In my adulthood, I’ve come to learn that father-son bonding is crucial to strengthen the son’s future ability to be a husband and father.

With that in mind, here are three ways I’m hoping to foster father son bonding with my son.

 2. Spend time with him following his interests.

I want to spend time with my son doing a mix of what I’m interested in and, most importantly, what interests him.

For example, I am not a hunter. My dad made me hunt as a child, but I wasn’t skilled in it, and killing animals simply bored me.

However, I know that my son might be interested in hunting and fishing, and I’m OK with that. Therefore, I’m wide open to hunting (as an example) with my son.

I love Super Hero movies, so I have already introduced my son to Super Heroes. However, if he isn’t interested in Super Heroes when he gets older, I will not force him to do Super Hero activities.

This is so important. I don’t want to ever force my son into participating in interests he isn’t interested in.

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This post is sponsored by Evivo, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

I spent the six years between 2008 and 2014 either breastfeeding or pregnant. After a respite of a couple years, I’ve now been breastfeeding again for more than 15 months.

From the outside looking in, it might appear that breastfeeding came naturally or easy to me–especially since I’ve been at it for so long.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, my most recent breastfeeding experience has probably been my most challenging!

When my son was born, it took me well over six weeks (or longer!) to get into a good breastfeeding routine. This took me by surprise because I figured breastfeeding would come naturally to me the fourth time around.

Instead, I had to grit my teeth and would sometimes cry every time he breastfed. My nipples were completely raw and even bleeding those first few weeks. I had no idea what I was doing wrong!

To top it off, he was not gaining weight and would cry incessantly day in and day out–unless I was holding him and nursing him (which hurt!).

It turns out there was a rhyme and reason to our breastfeeding issues–he had a tongue tie and some digestive issues. Once we had the tongue tie revised by a professional and started him on a good probiotic, breastfeeding became easier–for both of us.

The following 5 tips are what made my breastfeeding relationship with my son a success. I hope they help you as well!

5 Tips for A Great Start to Breastfeeding 1. See a lactation consultant or counselor.

If you can swing the cost, I recommend seeing a lactation consultant or counselor who has a private practice. The ones who work in the hospitals are usually overworked and aren’t able to take as much time with new mamas.

I hired a lactation counselor to come to my house on several occasions. She observed my son nursing and weighed him before and after feedings. She was actually the one to discover that he had a tongue tie!

2. Nurse early and often.

You want to nurse your baby as soon as possible after he or she is born. And, if possible, say “no” to formula in the hospital.

Nursing early and often will signal to your body to make milk–and to make more of it.

That said, I know there are always extenuating circumstances. That is what happened with my son. He was born with very low blood sugar and had to stay in the NICU for two nights. He had a feeding tube, but I also nursing him as often as the hospital would permit me to visit him.

This was an extremely difficult time for me, and I imagine it played into the early breastfeeding difficulties I had with my son. However, persevering and nursing often even when it hurt so badly really made a big difference. I am so glad I persisted and am still nursing him now!

3. Watch for red flags.

Since I had nursed three other children, I knew that there were some red flags with my son–like sore nipples.

Nursing should not hurt after the first couple of days. As well, if you see that your baby’s tongue is attached to the bottom portion of his or her mouth, that is a major red flag that he or she has a tongue tie.

Not gaining weight and not pooping and peeing consistently and very often are other huge red flags that something might be wrong in the breastfeeding relationship.

If any of the above are happening, see a lactation specialist as soon as possible.

4. Give your baby a good probiotic.

I had never even heard of probiotics until a few months after I became a mom in 2008. I remember getting a powdered probiotic from a health food store and second guessing myself every time I gave it to my daughter.

Fast forward a decade, and the general public is now so much more knowledgable about the amazing benefits of probiotics!

The first six months of a baby’s life are crucial for autoimmune and metabolic development. The composition of a baby’s gut micro biome plays a significant role in this process.

Bad bacteria in a baby’s gut is linked to a higher risk of autoimmune and metabolic issues like colic, eczema, allergies, diabetes, and obesity later in life.  When more good bacteria is present in the gut, it creates a strong, protective wall and crowds out the bad bacteria.

Unfortunately, today, 9 out of 10 babies are experiencing a disruption in their gut, causing more bad bacteria to thrive.

I’m so glad that we began giving my son a probiotic soon after he arrived home from the hospital, which helped cure his tummy issues.

The probiotic I am giving him now, Evio, works perfectly alongside of my breastmilk. In fact, I simply mix the powder with with a little breastmilk and give it to him in a syringe. You can also simply add a probiotic like Evio to your child’s bottle.

Check out Evio here.
5. Nourish yourself.

Soon after our son was born, I began having blood sugar issues myself, and I realized that I need to make sure I was eating enough protein, carbs, and fats (instead of separating the carbs from fats, which is what I like to do in weight loss mode).

Breastfed babies get all of their nourishment directly from their mothers, so it’s vital that we not neglect our own nourishment.

As well, I tried to remain hydrated day and night with plenty of water. To this day, I still sleep with a full glass of water by my bed each night, which helps me to remember to hydrate myself whenever I see it.

What are your best tips for a great start to breastfeeding?

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Can you eat dairy-free while following the Trim Healthy Mama diet? While I won’t lie that it’s a challenge, I hope the following dairy-free Trim Healthy Mama meal plan will encourage you that it is possible! 

When I first heard about the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan several years ago, I fell in LOVE with the concept.

But my initial excitement quickly faded when I read the book and realized that SO many of the recipes included dairy! At the time, our children and I were all dairy free.

I’ll admit: Back then, I simply gave up.

However, since then, so many more dairy-free products have come on the market, and eating dairy free has become easier. I’ve also learned that when there is a will, there is often a way!

I hope that the following one-week dairy-free Trim Healthy Mama meal plan will give you some meal ideas and inspiration to eat the Trim Healthy Mama way–while also maintaining a dairy-free lifestyle!

A few quick notes: 

If you’ve read Trim Healthy Mama, you know that it’s vital to switch up fuels every three hours. You will see this reflected in my meal plan. Remember to space at least 3 hours in between fuels unless you are pregnant or nursing!

Several of the linked recipes require modifications to make them dairy-free. I have made note of these modifications in this meal plan.

Heads Up! Target is running a 10-15% off Cartwheel promotion on a TON of Silk and So Delicious dairy-free products from 05/06/18 to 6/1/18! Woot!! Be sure to download the app and stock up on your dairy-free favorites! I use many of their products in this meal plan!

Without further ado, enjoy!

Monday

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, chicken or turkey sausage links, strawberries, coffee with Silk Coffee Creamer or Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk (S)

Lunch: sweet potato with coconut oil and cinnamon, salted canned salmon or tuna (E)

Supper: Mediterranean Quinoa with Shrimp  (Modifications: Leave out the cheese to make it E.)

Tuesday

Breakfast: boiled eggs, turkey bacon, blueberries, and Dairy-Free Bulletproof Coffee  made with So Delicious Dairy Free Organic Almondmilk or Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk (S)

Lunch: turkey slices with pickles and mustard, carrots and hummus (E)

Supper: Instant Pot Sweet Potato Chili (E Modifications: Use lean ground turkey instead of beef to make it E.)

Wednesday

Breakfast: Crockpot Apple Crumble and coffee with Silk Coffee Creamer or Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk (E Modifications: Use coconut oil instead of butter.)

Lunch: S Salad – greens, cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, EVOO, protein (grilled chicken, turkey slices, or canned salmon), salt and pepper

Supper: Seared Salmon and Salsa Verde (S)

Thursday

Breakfast: S pancakes  and coffee with Silk Coffee Creamer or Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk (S)

Lunch: E salad – greens, 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 cup chopped apple, cucumbers, lean protein (turkey slices or grilled chicken breast), red wine vinegar, salt and pepper

Supper: 30-Minute Chicken Fajita Bake (E Modifications: Use low carb tortillas.)

Friday

Breakfast: Creamy Clementine Smoothie and coffee with Silk Coffee Creamer or Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk (E Modifications: Leave out the yogurt and add more ice to thicken the smoothie if desired.)

Lunch: S snack plate – olives, pickles, nuts, and meat sticks

Supper: Garlic Shiitake Beef and Broccoli (S)

Saturday

Breakfast: E pancakes and coffee with Silk Coffee Creamer or Silk Unsweetened Almondmilk 

Lunch: E snack plate – cucumbers and hummus, clementine orange, lean turkey slices with pickles and mustard

Supper: Herb Chicken Skillet (FP)

Sunday 

Breakfast: omelette with lots of veggies (S) and Dairy-Free Blended Ice Coffee  (S Modifications: Use stevia to taste or a THM-approved sweetener instead of the maple syrup.)

Lunch: leftovers

Supper: White Turkey Chili (E–leave out the sour cream and cheese)

Heads Up! Target is running a 10-15% off Cartwheel promotion on a TON of Silk and So Delicious dairy-free products from 05/06/18 to 6/1/18! Woot!! Be sure to download the app and stock up on your dairy-free favorites! I use many of their products in this meal plan!
Snacks!

Having a good snack on hand is KEY to this eating plan. The following will help you when cravings hit and you just want to eat something to curb the munchies!

E Snacks/Desserts

3-ingredient peanut butter smoothie bowl  (E Modifications: you will need to sub in peanut butter powder instead of the peanut butter for this one to keep it in E territory. Leave out the chocolate chips.)

Banana Coconut Pudding (E Modifications: Leave out shredded coconut.)

Apple with 1 tsp. Peanut Butter

Carrots and 1 tsp. Peanut Butter

Carrots, Celery, Snap Peas, or Cucumbers and Hummus

S Snacks/Desserts  

Silk Dairy Free Yogurt Alternative

Pumpkin Cream Smoothie 

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Strawberry Cobbler 

Key-lime Coconut Cake

Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Cups

Nuts and Berries

Don’t forget! Target is running a 10-15% off Cartwheel promotion on a TON of Silk and So Delicious dairy-free products from 05/06/18 to 6/1/18! Woot!! Be sure to download the app and stock up on your dairy-free favorites! I use many of their products in this meal plan!
What are your favorite dairy-free Trim Healthy Mama meal ideas?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Danone. The opinions and text are all mine.

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pampers Pure at Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.

Before I became a mom in 2008, I didn’t really think about the foods I ate or my personal care or home products.

But that all changed when I became pregnant with my first little girl a decade ago. Suddenly, I realized that every single thing that I consumed or used was also affecting her.

I was nervous but hopeful and ready for change.

I made it my mission to begin a lifestyle change. And change I did.

Here are 3 ways children can be catalysts for healthy change for the whole family:

1. They make you more aware of your eating habits.

Before I got pregnant with our firstborn, I didn’t think anything about scarfing down foods full of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.

Eating a real, whole foods diet was the last thing on my mind!

But slowly, during my pregnancy and especially after she was born, I began to change our family’s eating habits.

I began making my own baby food or buying organic baby food when she was old enough for solids. That led into our family curbing excessive processed food from our diets all together.

With each new child we added to our family–including “Baby Boy” who is now just over a year ago–we’ve committed to doing all we can to ensure healthier eating habits for our family.

2. They make you more aware of what you put on your body.

I didn’t think about what kind of diapers my babies used until my second child, another daughter, arrived in 2010.

It was then that I realized that if I cared what went into our bodies via food sources that I should also care what went on our bodies as well! After all, our skin is our biggest organ!

During various life seasons that has translated to cloth diapers or has involved me choosing a more environmentally friendly brand of disposable diapers.

I was thrilled to recently learn that Pampers has released Pampers Pure Diapers and Pampers Pure Aqua Wipes! I’m confident when I put my son in these because they protects a baby’s skin with 0% chlorine bleaching, fragrance or parabens. They’re also clinically proven hypoallergenic and are made with cotton and soft, plant-based fibers, and other thoughtfully selected materials.

And as an added bonus? I can get them from Walmart.com with FREE shipping when I spend $35 in qualifying purchases. WOOT! 
3. They make you more aware of how fast time flies.

My “one word” for 2017 was “savor.” I wanted so savor my son’s first year. Each child has reminded me that their time in diapers and toddling around this world is so fleeting. I don’t know that I 100% enjoyed it with my girls, so I’m ever more committed to making sure I relish this time with my son.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pampers Pure at Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.

The Humbled Homemaker has gifts for you! Click on the link to download your FREE eBook!
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