Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How It Happens...

This is going to get sappy, just to warn you...

Friendly didn't nurse today. It was the first time in her whole life to go a whole 24 hours with out nursing. I'm sure (very likely...but maybe not) she'll nurse again. Maybe tomorrow at nap...Or a few nights from now she'll just really need it. But the end of this season in our lives together is coming to a close.

I had a good hearty cry tonight while I was putting her to sleep... She had cuddled up with my breast ready to latch on and then said, "No, not now." and rolled onto her belly and asked for the blankets to be put on her.
In the first instant I was a little relieved. Nursing while pregnant is really is hard for me. After the first trimester it hurts horribly. I nursed 38 weeks of my last pregnancy, and the thought of doing that again wasn't exactly on my wish list. So when she rolled away, so did I settling into my spot on her bed. I snuggled her into the covers and started to pat her bum and sing to her, as I have as our last bedtime-step all her life (she's always loved having her bum patted, ever since her first day on earth).
 I sang her favorite bedtime song....She asks for it specifically if I don't sing it.

Today was so full and so busy for both of us
But for tonight, all those burdens can keep
Come, let sweet Jesus be the light in your darkness
And open the door to a paradise of sleep
For he grants sleep to the ones that he loves
And I live to love you as well
The last words you'll hear tonight will be, "I love you,"
For love we've been given a lifetime to tell
Your tender sadness, it touches the heart of me
Howling and scowling just make you more dear
With all this commotion, now, what could the trouble be?
For love's sake, my darling, I'll always be here
For he grants sleep to the ones that he loves
And I live to love you as well
The last words you'll hear tonight will be, "I love you,"
For love takes us all of a lifetime to tell
  (-Michael Card)

But after the first verse my voice broke.  All I could do was pat her bum and think of the day she was born...

I feel like her birth was just yesterday....wasn't it??? It was a perfect day. August in Pennsylvania isn't exactly known for it's cool and breezy weather. Try insufferably (for a preggo Mama) muggy and often our hottest month...August in this fine state, finds us enjoying tempatures in the 90's and humidity is usually over 50%. 

But that August 8th day, was cool and oh so breezy. It was delicious.  When I envisioned her birth day the whole pregnancy, that was the weather I saw. The ancient sycamore trees on our street were singing calm summer songs, and the wind encouraged me along. And we walked...

 or in my case, lumbered. :)
And walked some more...

And eventually...After much soul searching, tears, and a lot of work, she was born.

sweet Friendly.

And she nursed...Like a champ: this is a few hours after she was born:...One of our first real nursing sessions.
Sister love...
Nursing on the go in the capitol: 4ms old
After enjoying some yummy milk. 4mos
Nursing at a friends house in VA...9mos old
Her hand on my breast, ready for her first swim: 9mos old.
First trip to the beach after nursing in the sling and being lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean.
As she's grown...
My little Calf at "Cow Appreciation Day" a couple weeks ago
She dresses herself ("What? Daddy's socks and pink croc's not a fashion statement? I did it myself!")
A classic face of my sweet goob.
She's not going to be my baby much longer...
Okay moment of extreme nostalgia and Mommy Blues... DONE...Or at least processed.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

July...And The School Year Begins??

I'm 15 weeks pregnant and starting to feel much more human. While some evenings are bad, things are getting better, and our days desperately need some serious structure.

Enter, homeschooling. Yes, we're diving in. Sort of. Roo is only 3.5 and Friendly is not-quite 2 so my plan is: small.

My Aunt (amazingly) gave us the Pre-K/Kindergarten  through 2nd+ grades of Sonlight Curriculum  including most of the read aloud books. She and her girls really enjoyed using it. When Roo was 1 she was getting rid of it and asked me if I wanted it. I've been storing it ever since. I am most excited about this because this stuff will easily carry us through reading/history/science until the girls are 8 or 9 years old. I have an unschooly-take-it-as-it-comes attitude about education and looking through all the materials I realized this stuff can be stretched, cycled through, and enjoyed for several years to come...Especially with some creative supplementation here and there.

This year we will very loosely be following the 5-day reading recommendations. My goal is to focus on lots of reading, and that's it. We'll start the day off with

  • "Morning time" (AKA, watch TV or play and let Mommie drink her tea in peace). Move onto...
  • Chores (by 9a.m.) and I have a new schedule for that which Hubs agrees will be really doable for us (he'll help where I can't quite keep up, though it shouldn't be a big deal if I'm at it every day).  Then...
  • "School Time" which means we'll be coloring or painting "the letter of the day" and practicing the sound it makes (working through the alphabet). We'll also learn the Sonlight Bible verse (which you sing and it has a Verse A-Z over the 36 weeks)...
  • "Table Time" which means they get to play with playdoh or some other sensory thing for as long as they like...I'll potentially be reading out loud from the read aloud book of the week(s). When the weather cools off read aloud time will most likely happen outside at a park where it's safe for them to roam a bit and pick up tid bits here and there. 
  • "Play Time" will happen whenever they get tired (or get messy) with whatever is happening at the table... Basically this will mean: play, I'll play with you but no TV. Ideally, I'd love for them to keep playing around while I get to read out loud...But they'll probably want to do some thing more physical and that won't happen. We'll probably head outside on cool/warm enough days. 
  • Lunch: I'd like for reading (if we feel like it) to happen here, but usually we put on a 20 min DVD for this and "when the shows over it's nap time"...And that's worked well for our nap-time routine.
  • Nap
This is very similar to our daily routine any way, so it's not going to be all that earth shattering...We just have new books to enjoy, and more incentive for me to be a bit more intentional and less willy-nilly about our daily activities.

Also, once a month I'd like to take them on a "field trip" in the afternoons: This fall I'd like to visit:
  • a farm
  • post office 
  • the fair
  • the farmers market (and really let them explore)
  • pumpkin patch (and hay ride)
  • and nature hike
  • I'd love to do a fire house (we live near one and both girls are very curious about it) but I'm not sure how we'd work that out.
 So really our "homeschooling" will be basically: intentional and focused enjoyment of lots of books.  When Roo starts taking a real interest in shapes (she recognizes a few), numbers (some thing she really could care less about right now), and writing we'll add those things in as well...I have some workbooks and she enjoys circling the "B" and tracing the letters...But I only plan to get those out if she specifically requests them...Right now I just want it to be about being more intentional about being together, and learning to love reading things together.

Wish us luck...Tomorrow we dive in! I'm hoping the "schedule" of "school" will give the girls some thing to look forward to and help me accomplish things every day in a bit more of an organized fashion. I can dream, right?

The Seven Stages Of Motherhood

I recently read this book by Ann Pleshette Murphy.

I loved her brutal honesty. I really loved her take on the first two stages of Motherhood. I think every woman should read that section of the book in the first year of their baby's life. It will validate your heart out. I almost wish I had read it before Roo was born. But I can't decide, I think it might have scared me...a lot.

But then she hit school age stuff. I don't think I couldn't relate, and not just because I don't have a school age child (yet). I think I couldn't relate because I feel like I have such different priorities for that coming season of my life.

I was strongly impressed with a lot of regret seeping out of the pages of the book. She mentioned guilt a lot, constant guilt. She had a highly demanding job and she only got a couple of hours a week with her children most of their growing up years. She pointed out herself that those were the choices she made, and at the time she felt they were right...And looking back there wasn't much she would have changed.  In the end, when our children are grown, we will all have some regrets. That's fine. But what really bothered me was Murphy's emphasis on how important it is to nurture yourself. To cultivate your own interests. Not to lose yourself to Motherhood. She said her way of doing that was to go back to work. And that really seemed like the be-all-end-all for her. She also mentioned hobbies, and volunteer work as being some thing that other Mom's pick up to "retain a part of themselves" [not a quote just the gist of the attitude].

And I think that's ...bad advice.

Why? I think because of what followed in the School Age Years... There was a strong undercurent of guilt, and stress woven through the reflections she (and other Mom's) shared about that stage. It left me feeling tired just reading about it. And all I kept thinking was, why?? Why are you choosing this for your families? Why are you volunteering and working and schlepping? Is your family really happy? What motive is pushing this? Is it really truly leaving you fulfilled?

We can't do it all...

After reading this section I took away from it a new determination. My children and family will not have that as the main tone of that (or any) stage. I realized that I need to decide what we can do well, and what we can't. I realized even more clearly that I want some thing different for my family. Our whole life the past year has been about really looking at what we do and why. Is it some thing we're really called to do? Or is it just busyness trying to cover our own insecurities? Trying to fill an emptiness? I want my children to enjoy new experiences. But at a young age they won't die with out all the extra activities. If they want to do ONE special thing a year (and by year I mean try some thing one semester per year) we'll strongly consider taking that on. But not if it is hurting or harrying the tone of our entire family.  They'll be time for longer more intense commitments when they reach highschool ages. But still, not if it's a stress to the family as a whole. 

I disagree with Murhpy's advice.. Motherhood does change every thing about our lives. And it's okay, actually it's crucial, that we re-evaluate (on a regular basis) where we're headed and what is needed. It doesn't mean some core aspects can change because Motherhood has arrived. Some times a return to work is what is needed (or most desirable) for a family's peace and happiness. But just because we loved and poured our hearts and energies into some thing before our children arrived, doesn't mean we must continue to do it afterwards so that we don't "lose ourselves". The fact of the matter is that our children make us different people. They have more power to motivate the shape we take, than any other person ever has had before...Even our own parents.


I think what bothered me most was that she didn't address "seasons" at all. That parenting a baby is going to require more of us. Than it will when they are say, 5.  And when they are 10? It'll be a different level of investment...Maybe more intense some months than others. But it's always an investment. It's always worth it.

I want to scrap this whole post because I'm really struggling to articulate every thing on my heart. But I'm going to keep going in the hopes some thing in here will strike a cord with some one.

Bottom line, some times in life you have to invest more of yourself than others. We can't live our lives for our kids. But we can live our lives in the present and change with them. We won't have as much time to invest in ourselves at certain points, but that's part of Motherhood. It's giving with out (any or) immediate return. Does that mean we have no personal interests? Absolutely not. I still love to sew, I learned to sew because of Roo...I just don't have as much time for it trying to parent 2 (and soon to be 3) young children.  I also love to read. I am averaging a couple books a year since I had kids. Have I lost a part of myself? No. I have just decided to defer at this season of my life.

In conclusion...

What I took away from the book (and what I doubt was Murphy's point) was that I don't want to look back with regret. I don't want to blink and realize my kids are leaving home. I personally don't want my children spending 85% of their childhood away from me (be it because I am working or because they are in a traditional school setting). I know I'll make my mistakes. But I want to be vigilant. I want to consistently re-evaluate where I'm at as a person and a parent. I want to make decisions that my conscience ruled on, not my perceptions of what's best...But my gut instinct.

And most importantly, I want to enjoy each stage my children are at. I'm glad I read this book. I have been struggling with my decision to stay home. There have been some weeks I've been seriously running the numbers of what it would take to swing childcare and get a full-time job. It is hard to be the sun and moon to two small children 60 hours a week. It's hard raising children in our isolated society. To feel alone and have very little physical and practical support. 

So I've been evaluating and trying to decide where I can nurture myself while nurturing my children. Some days it's impossible, I have to suck it up and pray tomorrow is better. But part of my nurturing myself goes a long with a lot of the other things I've been learning about (and this).

And with that I'll post and hope that some of this jarble will make sense.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Homebirth...Why I Am Going to Do it Again...

*sensitive things shared in this post read with caution*

I have been REALLY torn about my decision to home birth again. My experience with Friendly was all-in-all WONDERFUL. The best part being immediately following the birth, crawling into my own bed and snuggling to sleep. But. I had a friend who lost a baby in January after a transfer to hospital during a home birth. Baby was 150% FINE, doing WONDERFUL. The baby's  death had nothing to do with where Mama labored (and pushed and pushed). It had every thing to do with the fact that she got a crappy on-call OB who didn't know what he was doing and sliced up so many things besides her uterus (including the baby's cord before delivery!) that she was in the OR for 8 hours. And her baby died from brain damage and other complications (due, it is believed, to having the cord cut before birth). What breaks my heart even more, is that the  Mama HAD great back up care...But they dropped her a month before she was due when they found out she was hoping to homebirth.

I was scared to home birth again, not because home birth is dangerous. But because of what a prejudice or just plain bad OB can do to you if you transfer in. With out back up care, it's a gamble.

But yet, my heart is drawn to birth at home again. I  still feel - with good back up care if needed- it is the safest place to birth. And I will have back up care this time.  But that's all for another post.

This POST from MAMA BIRTH confirmed to me even more why I want to home birth again.

This is taken from the comment I shared on that post:

Roo a very few minutes old
I couldn't read the entire post...I got to them taking your baby "real quick" and had to stop. I had an unexpected (and mostly unnecessary) cesarean with my first born. The most traumatic part of her birth (well besides the 30 minutes I had to lay completely alone strapped to a table while they prepped me)...The very most traumatic part was listening to her scream. And not getting to touch her or hold her until she was a few hours old. 

 And then when she was less than 12 hours old they took her "real quick" and DH and I both passed out (I was doped, he had helped me labor for 2 days)...we woke up THREE hours later completely panicked (and she hadn't nursed in 4)...DH raced to find her...He found her in the corner of a hallway of the nursery SCREAMING (hungry and scared) and the nurse said "oh that's okay she's next for her bath". I am heartbroken when I think of that.

Conveyor belt care
Her Birth was  Conveyor Belt:
 jerk out of the womb, roughly suctioned (caused nursing issues), cord cut, foot prints, BAM, diaper, hat, bam bam, swaddled and brought over to see me. I cry when I see the picture of her laying cold and alone in the OR's hard metal scale being weighted. Her face looks SO miserable.

I think I was able to kiss her cheek, but my arms were strapped down and I couldn't touch her.

Getting to hold my baby for the first time...She was nearly 2 hours old.

After our traumatic separation...Finally getting some real cuddles.
My next baby was born at home. I pulled her right up to my breasts...
The moment I live for all 9mos.
she was in the arms of loving family (familiar voices, loving hearts) shortly after birth while I showered and rested (I was so weak I was scared I'd drop her and I just wanted to LOOK at her). She was grinning at every one (really newborn SMILING!) and would look to find me and smile (DH was holding her real close) ...She was carefully checked, weighted, washed (we did it right away because she had no vernix and it was late at night, I didn't want to sleep with a bloody baby.) and gently dressed for the first time.
Grinning at every one.

Getting weighed, in a sweet cuddly sling scale.

 This baby will be born at home (if all goes well) and I again look forward to those magic hours after birth. Those hours you never get back, where baby is snuggled and loved and we curl up and sleep together in the comfort of our own bed.

Friendly will be two years old on August 8th... I can't believe it's been 2 years since those magical, healing hours.

It's Never Going To Be Perfect..

So I'll just spit this out.

I have a weird pregnancy symptom. Aversion to the computer. Yup, really shocking. But I really have a hard time being on here. My brain is too busy processing all the changes ahead.

All the changes happening now.

But you know what? I'm really proud of myself. I've been looking back at regrets, or things that feel like regrets. At choices and decisions I'm making now. And I feel like I'm finally "getting it". I'm finally doing what my conscience tells me to do with out worrying how it makes me look. Who will judge. Who will scratch their head and say "she's LOST it" or "that just doesn't make logical sense" (though I can't say, I'm known for that!).I'm just sticking to my guns.

I've been looking at values. At simplicity. At what I need. And right now? I need space, space from people, commitments, and (even) things that feel like commitments. I'm sure it may seem like I'm pushing people away. Some times I feel like that's how it is. But I need this time. I haven't even really been getting on facebook or message boards because it just feels too busy...too full of people.

My brain and heart are busy asking a lot of questions about my life. I'm realizing Roo is going to be 4 "soon" and Friendly is 2 in a couple weeks.  Life is zipping by. It seriously takes my breath away.

Questions running through my mind are, where do I go from here?

I've been struggling with being home with the kids. I did choose this, right? I have been battling and butting against aspects of this. This wasn't what I signed up for feelings.

But it is, I just didn't realize it.

Per my recent long post, I've been trying to look at myself first. It's really helped. Sort of, I realize I have a lot of anger (duh!). I'll step back from a stupid situation I'm in with one of the kids and realize I'm SEETHING. I'm enraged. I'm about to LOSE it. Why? Well pregnancy hormones + 2 selfish-self-centered-in-constant-need/want-babies = OBVIOUSLY!

But it's not just that.

I have a lot of false expectations. SO MANY unreasonable expectations. I need to shed. It's really really hard.

I am very goal oriented. I love nothing more than quickly completing a task.

That NEVER happens when you have two small children "helping" (or even just THERE).

And they don't go away. They rarely watch TV nicely while I quickly "get some thing done"...Friendly in particular could care less about the TV unless I'm snuggled up with her watching it too (and her favorite Elmo DVD's AHHH! hate him).

Bottom line, I suppress and stuff my feelings on a constant basis during the day. I suppress my frustration and try to patiently redirect and break up fights (I'm not even going to bother trying to sound all parenting-esq...it's not a dispute: its' a freakin fight!)...I can't even pee (and I pee many times a day right now!) with out some one getting into some thing. It's constant. It never stops. Ever.

And the constant work involved. Nothing ever stays "done". Last weekend I had a bit of energy so I was picking up the livingroom. In 15minutes of cleaning up, I picked up same stinken toy FIVE times before I threw it on the floor crying, stamped to my bedroom and cried stormily..."Over a toy."

Why couldn't I just leave it there?

Because I'm tired of my house looking like a hurricane hit. And this is despite how carefully I have organized the toys, in separate categorized and labeled boxes. It still is always strewn with baby blankets, random balls, clothing they shed, toys that aren't even toys (kitchen utensils) everywhere, all the time.

That toy I picked up 5 times? It wasn't even a favorite! They barely played with it for the 3 days before! It's not some prized possession.

I know, I know...Let it go. Accept... validate the frustration...problem solve.
I won't even go into what is currently all over the place right now (beans, black beans [dry]...ALLLLL over my house).

This is what I've been thinking about...And so much more.

More to come, I have a lot of beans to spill
 (har har).

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Why is it, that when I have the most to say- I have the littlest amount of time and energy to DO it?

I've been doing some reading... A BOOK REVIEW (AAAH!) and ponderings to come soon...really!

Maybe tomorrow...maybe tonight...Probably this weekend.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Parenting Breakthrough...No, REALLY!

I shared this on GCM..But need to share it here...And I copied it over and all the little emoticons were added...Cool...Hope that's okay. :)

So first off: Hubby is incredible! It's just been one of those times in life, where things just kinda avalanched together. And God has shown us both SO much because of it.  Hubby has been working 6 days a week, and since I've been so sick building a baby, he has come home cooked his own, as well as our daughters dinners...On top of that he is mostly primary parent to them until they go to bed at night. He does this faithfully and with out grudge or complaint (mostly :) ).  He also gets up with them most mornings, and gets every one breakfast...And many mornings even cooking me some thing separate if I couldn't/can't stomach what he was making the girls (oat meal). He is a rock star, through and through. And I wouldn't have survived the last few months if it weren't for his unfailing love and support. 

So onto what I hared else where...
I have been pulling my hair out and going going CRAZY the past 2 months. It has been one of the hardest 2 months EVER.

pregnant. sick. exhausted. summer heat. no money. no car (except 2 some times 3 days a week). DH working 6 day a week and doing ministries on Sunday and visiting a dying friend in the nursing home another time every week. Oh and finishing up his semester of school in the month of May. A teething toddler in disequilibrium. A 3.5 year old being OH so 3.5. Insert head banging into wall. crazy making.

I realized after a 1 hour meltdown 2 nights ago over "a bad week". I still stuff my feelings. big time. Some of it, i think, is for survival. I couldn't think about how hard every thing was. I couldn't look at myself or I would lose it. But it is so counterproductive!! And when I finally did look at every thing I was crying so hard I nearly hyperventilated (really great for a preggo ).

This morning it was rainy (I love rainy Sundays)...I decided I had some thinking to do so I curled up with my journal and Jesus and started asking question. How can I get the girls to stop hurting each other? It's driving me crazy. How can I calm down? I feel so irritated out my mind 95% of the day lately- how can I react the way I *want* to. How can I be a better parent, I have been UGLY lately. I feel bad for my kids.

You know what He told me? (and this floored me!)


Pretty much He said, when I'm focusing on them I'm anxious and angry. I worry about the future. Will they be total screw ups? Will we be "that" family with the wild crazy kids who know no limits.


I'll copy what I wrote in my journal. TALK IT OUT. Say it OUT LOUD. " I hate this. it worries me. it hurts to see them hurt each other. I feel really angry about it. How can I help this situation?"
You're not a selfish parent to think about YOU first. You'll only be in control of how you respond when you focus on YOURSELF FIRST. You can't change them. You can only help yourself through what they're throwing at you.

Name it. Validate it. and Problem solve.

I read on here a while back about a mantra "love is patient love is kind" I loved that idea! But it wasn't working for me. ERGH!! And I realized, for *me* it was just another way to stuff my feelings. It was just slapping some thing on the outside to change the inside. Doesn't work. I was still worrying about how my kids perceived me. Not the TRUTH about what was really going on inside.


I have read this on GCM. I've read parenting articles, and several parenting books that address this very thing. But it never made sense. there was no heart conviction, I guess.
I'll let you know how it goes. I am hopeful that it will help some ways I've been responding (less than graciously, ehem) with Hubby lately too.

 Other things I'm really excited about... Big things! We left our church last week. We decided over a month ago and felt that Hubs needed to finish out some commitments there if they wanted him to. We left on good terms, and will miss the people there. But it was time. We're just going to have time together as a family for a while and see what God does. We have a heart for wounded people. For people who have been alieantated by "church". We (at this point) feel that we will be staying completely out of the mainstream church. We'd love to see a community built up that is just other people who love Jesus  and want to follow Him with out the fluff and politics. We have been greatly inspired by the ideas behind the Fellowship of Friends and the Anabaptists.  We want our life to be simply following Jesus...Even when it looks weird. We also love the idea of non-violence and equality in Christ. No one has titles, people who naturally lead taking leadership where they feel called to... Oh but that's for another post.

Other things that have happened... (sadly) Hub's friend passed away last week...So that stress is lifted, (though sadness replaced it). And most excitedly, God has made it clear Hubs iss DONE with school. He's not going back next semester. I can't say how much peace I have about that right now.  But most excitingly, for the first time in our marriage, we're actually on the same page spiritually; God has been giving us such a unity of conviction of what our next step will be. 

As the USA celebrates it's independence...Our little family unit is celebrating ours as well. It's independence weekend and though things aren't easy, we're FREE! On so many levels...Seriously the most free our family has ever been. We're not dependent on family...We're not hooked into a church. we're free to walk in our convictions and move forward in whatever Jesus is doing and calling us to.  Jesus has been doing so much. God has FINALLY shown all the things He's been brewing and working on behind the scenes the past 6 years. Is life perfect? Ha far from it. But we feel secure in the steps He has had us walk in. And in the knowledge that He truly has been guiding and directing. It's een a weird road...It's hard to leave every thing familiar... To be the odd balls out... But we've embraced it, and we're just going to take what comes.