Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This is Not the Life I Wanted- Or Is It?

Growing up in a fundie-lite home, I heard lots of interesting things about women. I was taught that women were subordinate to men, and that a woman's place was at home, with the children, preferably homeschooling them. ("Woman! Make me a sammich!") My mom dropped out of college 4 credits short of her associates degree to marry my dad. There were not many (any?) messages about strong, confident women or how women could choose careers and have a life outside the home. My mom even went so far as to tell me that women that work in the corporate world are unhappy because God's will is for them to be at home with their families, not working. (!!!)  I was never given the freedom to explore my options and choose which one was best for me. I was never told that it was an option to be something instead of or in addition to being a wife and a mother.

So, needless to say, I didn't have any grand dreams or aspirations for my future. When someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say that I wanted to be a mother. By the time I graduated high school, I was pretty deeply involved with my boyfriend at the time, who would later be my husband. I had no interest at all in going to college. I didn't see the point! I loved Thad, and I knew we were going to get married. If we were going to get married, and I was going to be a wife and mom at some point in the near future, why did I need to go to college??? My dad basically forced me to go- he said that if I wanted to continue to live under his roof, I'd at least need to take some courses at the community college. I'm SO glad that he did. It was just a couple of courses at the local college, but I absolutely loved it. I thrive on learning, and I had no idea that college could be so fun and empowering! That was my first experience in a classroom setting- up until then I'd been exclusively homeschooled, from day one all the way until my high school graduation. I got A's in every class but one(and could have gotten an A in that class too, but I was distracted by grieving my dad's death while planning my wedding- I'm going to give myself a pass on that one.) and felt so proud of myself.

I completed two semesters at the community college, and then got married. Ah, yes- that's what I had been waiting for! Now my dreams of being a wife and mom could come true! I didn't go back to school that next semester- there was no need now that I was a wife. I threw myself into the marriage- to "submitting and supporting". When the kids came along, I then became a full time mother. And you know what? I was miserable. This wonderful dream that had been placed in my head since the day I was a child wasn't so dreamy after all. I felt stuck. Stifled. My husband is an idea man, and is constantly coming up with new ideas and schemes that he gets really excited about. And as a "good wife", it was my job to support him- no questions asked! I tried to do my best, but deep down I really didn't like a lot of his ideas. (Sorry, honey!) And even though I was trying really hard, because I knew it was the "right" thing to do, I wasn't very good at supporting him.

Same thing with motherhood. I knew it was right and "Godly" for me to be at home with my kids. But I wondered why, if that was true, did I feel so miserable? Why did I feel so stuck? Why wasn't I enjoying the time that I was spending with them? Why did I find myself dreaming of using my brain again, and doing something that challenged me intellectually? If what I was doing was exactly what God wanted me to do, then why did I feel so miserable in the very core of my being?

It took a while, but I finally found the answers to those questions. My value does not lie exclusively in my wifehood or motherhood. I have purpose and meaning outside of those relationships. God did not give me a brain and intend for me not to use it. God did not command women to exclusively stay at home and raise children. As I learned these things and my mind and heart were opened, I got so excited!!! I could do and be so much more than I had anticipated! I could go back to school if I wanted to! I could work outside the home if I wanted to! I could do or be whatever I wanted to be! For the first time in my life, I realized that I could dream outside of the home, outside of the box I had been placed in when I was born and they discovered that I was a girl.

And I do have dreams. The one that I'm closest to right now is to become a doula, and be with women as they give birth- and I'm slowly working towards that goal, and it's so exciting! I have other dreams too, although they're in the more distant future. But it makes my heart happy just to have them there, and to know that they're possible. Just to know that I can dream, and that it's okay for me to dream of someday doing big things is so empowering for me. But for right now, I'm still at home, raising my babies and supporting my husband as he plants a church. That's right, I'm doing exactly the same thing that I was doing before. As much as it sounds appealing to me, I don't have a job outside the home. I'm not going to school. My children need me at home right now, while they're young, and my husband needs me at home supporting him while he's working endless hours planting a church.

I'm doing exactly what I was doing before, but now I'm content, because I'm living a life that I intentionally chose for myself.

I'm not at home because someone told me that I had to be. You see, family and motherhood was always truly a part of my heart- and always will be. Much of the things that I apsire to have to do with helping mothers and families, and I'm excited about that. The problem wasn't that I didn't want to be a wife or mother- it was that I was never given the opportunity to choose between that and something else, or that AND something else. Because of the messages I received as a girl, I belived that family was the only acceptable path for me. I believed that God didn't want me to do anything more than be a wife or mom, and that's why I made the "choices" that I made- and really, they weren't even choices. I didn't see any other options- not if I wanted to be pleasing to God.

Now, I'm home because I've chosen to be. I've looked at the situation, at my dreams and goals, at my husband's dreams and goals, and the needs of our family, and I've made the decision that makes the most sense for all of us. We're a team, and we work together. I love being home with my kids- because that's where I've chosen to be. I'm choosing a season of sacrifice because I know it's best for them, and I truly am enjoying it. It's an honor to be the person that cares for and raises my children, and I know that the way that I treat them will have a lifelong impact on them. That's something I take very seriously! If by giving selflessly I can have a positive impact on the rest of their lives, then I am more than happy to make that my focus. I love them with all of my heart and I want what's best for them! Of course, there are hard days and I need breaks every once in a while, but that's true of any job. But in the big picture, and in the bottom of my heart, I'm so thankful to be staying home and enjoying this time with my kids.

Now, I'm supporting my husband not because I feel like I have to, but because I love him and believe in him! He is an amazing pastor and preacher, and I believe in him 100%. I know that he's called to do what he's doing, and it's so amazing to see how many lives he's been able to influence for good. Our church celebrated our first year this week, and you should have heard the sermon that he preached. He totally knocked it out of the park, and I was so, so proud of him. I'm happy to do what I do so that he can focus on what he's really good at. I'm now supporting him because I believe in him, not because I have to. And isn't that so much better in the end? Who would want love and support out of obligation? True love isn't possible unless you also have a choice not to love. Isn't that why God gave us free will- because He wanted us to choose to love him? The same thing applies in our earthly relationships too. God didn't intend for any of us to be stuck, without a choice in our own lives.

I've made a choice to love. I've made a choice to sacrifice. And even though from an outsider's perspective it might look like I'm doing exactly the same things, for me it's so much different now. My love for my family is so much more genuine now. When I give of myself to them, I'm truly giving of myself- because I now know that I have a choice not to. I feel so much more content in this season of being a stay at home mom now that it's something I've chosen to do, instead of something that someone told me that I had to do. 

Have you ever found yourself living a life that someone else chose for you? What did you do about it? 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kids are people too- and how remembering that can make life so much easier.

Today's post is part of the 2012 Carnival of Gentle Discipline, hosted by Parenting Gently. I'm so excited to be a part of this carnival for the first time this year! Make sure you check out the links at the bottom of this post so that you don't miss the awesome contributions by other gentle discipline bloggers! 

Making the change from punitive discipline to positive discipline doesn't just take a change of methods, it takes a change of heart and a different way of thinking. One of my first big light bulb concepts as I was making the transition was when I started to understand the idea that babies and children are people too! That sounds silly, doesn't it? Of course babies are people- they're human. But do we treat them like they're people? Do we respect them like they are? These questions can be the key, not only to your child's confidence and security levels, but also to building peace and fostering a sense of teamwork in your home.

Picture this: you're at Starbucks for a much needed mommy break. You've ordered your coffee(or if you're me, opened up the mason jar of kombucha that you brought from home), opened up your snacks, and have settled in for some very much needed relax time. This is your favorite part of the day. It's just you and your thoughts. Maybe you're reading a book. Maybe you're writing something. Whatever you're doing, you're thoroughly enjoying it. Then, out of the blue, with no warning or explanation, someone twice your size snatches you out of your chair and whisks you home to a crying baby and a cranky toddler who are both needing to be comforted and fed. How would that make you feel? Confused? Resentful? Grumpy? Would it be easy for you to care for your children with the same level of patience that you normally have? Then imagine the same scenario playing out, except this time you're really hungry, or running on three hours of sleep, or in physical pain. Imagine how upset you'd be then!

Now let's imagine the same scenario, except this time, just as you've gotten settled into your comfy chair with your favorite book, your husband calls. He says, "Baby, I'm really sorry to have to do this to you, but I need you to come home. I know you need your alone time, but I just got a call from work and I have to go in ASAP. I was planning on making dinner tonight, but I can't since I have to go to work. Sorry! I promise I'll make it up to you later." That would feel so much different, right? The problem with the first scenario wasn't so much the taking care of the kids and cooking dinner, as much as the lack of transition and the way that your basic needs were disregarded. This time, your need to know what was going on was respected. Your need for alone time, even though it was cut short, was respected, and there was a promise to make it up later. Your right to control your own body was respected- you got to make the choice to walk out of Starbucks and voluntarily drive home, instead of being forcefully carried there.

The first scenario sounds laughable, doesn't it? We just don't think of treating an adult in those terms. We all know that adults have a right to know what's going on, and the reasons why they're doing something. Most of us wouldn't dream of trying to pick up or push another adult without at least warning them first. Normal, healthy people are well aware of the fact that every person has a right to their own body, and that it belongs to only them. We all know about personal space, personal "bubbles", and that it's generally wrong to touch someone without their consent. These are no brainers- when we're talking about adults.

So why is it different when we're talking about babies, toddlers, and children? A child's size and vulnerability should not make him exempt to these basic human laws, it should make his caregivers more vigilant to follow them.

Lets take the first scenario again, but this time instead of you at Starbucks, it's your toddler playing blocks on the floor. Have you ever been in a hurry to get out the door to go somewhere, and in your rush just scooped your toddler away from whatever he was focusing on and hurried him to the car? I know I have. That doesn't usually go over so well! Blocks or books or whatever else your toddler is playing with might seem trivial to you, but to your toddler they're just as important as whatever it is that you concentrate on.


It might take some retraining of your own thought patterns, but I've found that transitions become so much easier when I remember to give my kids the respect they deserve and take the time to help them through the transitions.

So how does this work out in real life? For me, it looks something like this. Unless I have a good reason not to, I allow and encourage my kids to make choices themselves and do things themselves. When I do have to impose a decision on them, I explain it to them in an age appropriate way and give them an appropriate amount of time and help in making the transition. I use this with just about any situation that pops up, and it works really well for us. I wish I had started out parenting with this concept in mind, but unfortunately I didn't really start learning about gentle discipline until Tristan was about 18 months old. It blew my mind to see how effective the tools were, even on an 18 month old, and how much easier it was to work through things that had been challenging for me with Hayden.

I still remember one of the first times I tried out this principle on Tristan. Thad, Tristan, and I were sitting in the living room, and for some odd reason Thad had given Tristan his debit card to look at. I know that's weird. I don't remember why. Tristan was playing with the card, and then, of course, Thad needed it back. He asked Tristan to give it back to him, and Tristan pulled it closer and said "no". With Hayden, at that point, I probably would have just snatched it out of her hand and given it back to Thad. I would have thought to myself, "Well if you're going to be stubborn like that and not give it back when it's time, then I'll just take it from you!" *Insert crossed arms and pouty face here. Very mature.* By this time though, I'd just started learning about showing respect to my children, and I didn't want to snatch it away from him- I wanted to encourage him to give it back himself at the appropriate time. So I said, "Tristan, it's time to let daddy have a turn. Say 'bye bye, card!'" As soon as I said that, Tristan reached his little arm out and gave the card right back to Thad! My mind was blown! With just a simple explanation and transition, Tristan had gone from refusing to give something back to willingly giving it up- no force required. How wonderful!!!

At first it was difficult for me to think in this new way- to remember that these little ones were individual people that deserved to be treated like they were. And I'm definitely not saying that I always handle these situations perfectly. But the more I practiced, and the more I saw how effective they tools were, and how I could get my toddlers to peacefully and willingly comply with what I needed them to do, the more natural it started to feel.

Nursing provided another good lesson for me. Anyone that's nursed a toddler knows that it's not a good idea to abruptly stop a nursing session without warning. I tried that once as I was first learning these tools. Tristan was nursing, and for some reason I can't remember, I needed to get up quickly. I unlatched Tristan as if I owned him, and started to get up. His poor little face fell, and he started to cry- that super sad cry that says, "You just broke my heart!" Whatever it was I was rushing to was suddenly unimportant, and I quickly sat back down and latched him back on. As he calmed down, I thought about what I had done, and decided to do an experiment and try something different. Tristan was only about 18 months old at this point, and wasn't talking hardly at all yet, so I wasn't sure how much he'd understand. But after he calmed down, I said, "Hey buddy, mom's going to need to get up in a minute, so you'll need to be all done with num num. I'm going to count to three, and then we'll be all done." I counted slowly, and when I reached three, and he unlatched himself and happily started playing with something else! I couldn't believe how easy that was! Counting to three is still our little signal that nursing time is over. Now that Tristan's older, he'll often unlatch and happily count himself! It's so helpful to have cues like that- they help Tristan to transition, and help me to remember that he's his own person and in control of his own body and his own choices.

I couldn't believe this tiny little guy could understand when I explained that when I counted to three, nursing time was over! I definitely underestimated him!

Now of course, respecting your child's need to make choices for themselves doesn't mean that they can or should be making every choice. When it's appropriate, I believe it's good to allow kids to make decisions and do things themselves. But of course there will always be times when, as a parent, you have to override the child's choice or make one for them. But even at those times, that can still be done while keeping in mind that the child is a person that deserves respect, and to not be trampled on.

For example- Tristan likes to climb in his car seat by himself. Most of the time, that is completely acceptable. I'll buckle Hayden into her seat while Tristan climbs into his, and then I'll buckle him and we'll go on our way. But not always. Last Sunday at church, the air conditioner wasn't working right. It was 80 degrees in the service, 10 degrees hotter than we're used to. After several hours of being hot(remember, Thad is the pastor, so we have to be there early and stay late),it was finally time to go home, and I carried all our stuff out to the car. I was so ready to sit down in that seat with the air vent blowing on me, when Tristan announced that he had a "stinky bum bum".

He loves to climb in himself!

Just what I wanted- to go back inside the stifling hot building and change a dirty diaper. I was sweating. It was 90 degrees outside, and the sun was beating down. I had just been through several hours of interacting with people, which is already exhausting for an introvert like me, and then I was dealing with the heat at the same time. I was touched out, irritated, and on edge. I seriously needed some air conditioning and some time to sit down and regain the sanity that I was barely holding onto at that point. I had already let Tristan climb into his car seat once, before he announced the dirty diaper, and I didn't have the patience left to let him do it again.

I knew if I just tried to put him into his seat, he'd throw an absolute fit. Tried that before. Total. Meltdown. This time, I tried something new. The whole time I was changing his diaper, I explained to him what was going to happen. I reminded him how he usually likes to climb into his seat by himself when we were getting into the car. Then I explained that he wasn't going to get to do that this time, and that mommy was just going to set him into his seat. He said that would be ok. As we walked out to the car, I reminded him again, twice, that instead of climbing into his seat, Mommy would be setting him up there this time. As we got to the seat, I said, "Ok, here we go, Mommy's putting you into your seat now!" There was absolutely no fussing! Not even a peep. Just because I explained it to him and gave him a heads up, he willingly let me do something that he normally would have absolutely freaked out over. It's amazing how far a little respect can go.

If this is a new concept for you, I encourage you to give it a little thought, and maybe try an experiment or two and see how your child reacts. Just put yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself what you could do to help your child make a transition, or to help them accept doing something that's necessary but not particularly pleasant. When you do have to impose something on them, try to remember to empathyze with them and validate their feelings. These principles have gone a long way in helping me build my relationships with my kids, and it feels really good when we work together towards something that we can all be happy about. I hope you find them helpful too.

I'd love it if you would share your experiences in the comments- whether you've been using similar principles for years, or whether this concept is brand new to you and you're trying it for the first time! Thanks for reading.

Please join us all week, June 25-June30, 2012, as we explore the world of gentle, effective parenting. We have new posts each day by talented authors providing us with insight into why gentle parenting is worth your time and how to implement it on a daily basis. We are also giving away several parenting book and other goodies from our sponsors this week. Please stop by and enter to win! This year's beautiful motherhood artwork is by Patchwork Family Art. Visit the store to see all her work.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New Year's Resolutions- 6 months in.

Like so many other people, I made some New Year's Resolutions back in January. I'm not sure what traditional New Year's Resolutions look like, but my resolutions looked more like more like a list of things that I wanted to improve on or accomplish this year. Since the year's halfway over, I thought I'd take a look at how I'm doing and what I need to focus on for the rest of the year. I'll be sharing most of my resolutions here, but of course a couple of them are private, and I'll be keeping them that way.

*Formulate, perfect, and habitualize a daily routine/schedule.
           Not doing so good with this one, which is a bummer because I intended for this to be the main thing that I focused on this year. I grew up with little to no routine, so it's never been a given in my life. On top of that, Thad and I have almost always had jobs that weren't normal 9-5 jobs, so I've never really had to settle into that "normal", "adult" routine that most people have. And I'm ok with that. However, I know my personality, and that I absolutely thrive on structure, and I think I'd do really well with a routine, and that I'd be able to manage my time better. I especially want to have this at least somewhat nailed down before Hayden gets to school age. Whether we're homeschooling or doing something else, we're going to need to work some kind of routine.

Finding a routine that works well for us, and making it a habit. I've been trying to do this for several years now, and I'm still not where I'd like to be. I am making progress though, and I'm going to give myself credit for that. Life is also very much in a state of limbo right now though, and much of the time I'm just trying to hang in there. So I'm not going to come down to hard on myself for this. But I would like to see more progress on this one before the end of the year, so I'm going to make sure this keeps a spot on my priority list.

*Journal daily. 

           Check! At the end of last year I bought a 10 year journal. It is seriously one of the coolest things I've ever seen. It has a page for each day of the year, and on each page it has 4 lines, one for each of 10 years. So on January 1 of this year, I wrote 4 lines on page 1. On January 1 of next year, I'll write the next 4 lines on page 1, and be able to look back and see what I was doing on January 1 of this year. It's like an "on this day in history", but for your own life. SO cool! I'm such a sentimental person, so to have an account of what I was doing or thinking on every single day for 10 years, all in one book, is just so cool to me. And who doesn't have time to write 4 lines a day? So doable. So, yes, I've been journaling every day, and loving it!

*Exercise regularly

            Check! I wasn't exercising at all at the end of last year, and I was feeling pretty blah and overweight. I started out the year with a 6 week weight loss contest(which I came in second place in, thank you very much!), and then fell off the wagon a little bit after that. But then in March, we started doing CrossFit! Let me tell you, I am absolutely, 100% in LOVE with CrossFit. It's the best, most exciting, most effective exercise I've ever done, and it's just plain awesome. I'll be posting more about it soon.

*Ease into GAPS

            Yeah, check. My plan was to sloooowly work my way into doing GAPS. My goal for January was to read the GAPS book. I figured I'd spend February planning and looking into recipes and meal plans, I'd spend March trying out a couple of recipes and looking into better food sources, and maybe by April or May I'd be ready to give GAPS a try. Yeah, that's not exactly what happened. I started reading the GAPS book, and lightbulbs were going off in my head on every other page. It was like my entire medical history was being explained and tied together for the first time. I knew that this was going to be my answer, I knew that this diet was going to help me, and I didn't want to wait any longer. By the end of January, I was eating the (full) GAPS diet. You know the story- it's helped me incredibly! If I don't accomplish anything else this year, the incredible steps forward I've made with my health are enough to celebrate!

*Increase Bible reading

           I'm going to be honest. I haven't been doing as well with this one as I'd hoped. I've got a semi-complicated spiritual history that I'll probably share a bit about one day, and some of the things I've experienced made it hard for a while for me to read the Bible, even while knowing how important and life giving the scriptures are. It's still difficult for me at times, but my heart has healed enough that I'm able to read the Bible and come away with positives, instead of being blinded by the bad memories. I don't want to feel like I'm forcing myself to read the Bible, but at the same time, there's really no good excuse for why I'm not doing that more. Definitely going to focus on this one for the rest of the year as well. I've been feeling drawn to the Psalms lately, and I enjoyed reading some this morning. I'm going to stay in that book for a while, I think.

*Read more books

         This one's a bit of a toss up. I started out the year strong, and then kind of fell off the wagon. I've been trying to focus the little free time that I have on blogging. Well, that and vegging out on the couch. Thad got me an iPad near the beginning of the year, and so it's been really easy for me to spend relax time reading on the internet instead of reading a book. I need to try to remember how much I enjoy reading, and that I can relax with a good book too. But still- I'm pretty sure I've already read more books this year than I did last year, so that's definitely a success. Bonus- I'm now able to keep track of books read in the back of my 10 year journal!

* Review and set monthly goals

          Um, yeah. Not happening. This was supposed to be so I could keep constant track of my goals for the year and how I was coming along. I'm pretty sure I didn't even do this for February. Can you say overachiever? I'm not even going to count this as a fail- I'm just going to laugh at the fact that I even included it.

*Integrate body, soul, and spirit

           It's ironic, because I added this one at the last minute, but this has been one of my mottoes for this year. To me, this is about remembering to be mindful of each area of my life, body, soul, and spirit. I shouldn't exclude any one of those in my efforts to grow and become a better person. I've spent a lot of time this year meditating on how these three parts of a person are intertwined and how they interact with and effect each other. I can't expect to be able to neglect any one of these parts of myself and see the other parts thrive. They're all a vital part of who I am, and they all need to be healthy and functioning. I'll be sharing more about that soon, too.

*Take steps toward becoming a doula

          I added this one at the last minute too! I actually didn't even start thinking about this until New Year's Day, when I was sitting in church listening to an inspiring sermon, and I realized that I should be taking advantage of this time while I'm home with the kids to prepare to be a doula! I got out a mason jar, wrote "Doula Fund" on it, and started saving my pennies, and about a month ago officially started studying to get certified as a birth doula! I'm so excited about taking real steps toward this.

I'm doing better than I thought I was! I was a little nervous to pull out my resolutions list- I thought for sure I'd be falling short on most of them. It was actually really encouraging to see that I've at least made progress in just about every point! This gives me more motivation to keep trying and keep improving.

What about you? Are you still working on resolutions or goals from the beginning of the year? How is that going? Even if you're not the organized type and don't have a list- what personal goals have you reached sofar this year, or in what ways have you improved? I'd love to hear about them. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Keeping perspective: I'm not an expert.

Have you ever had someone that's not a parent try to give you parenting advice? It's usually pretty unhelpful, isn't it? If you're like me, you probably feel like punching the person in the face when they start trying to give you advice about something they've never experienced. And how about those people that act like they know everything about what's wrong with "kids these days", and that if everyone just listened to them, they'd have no problems with their kids, and our society would be magically cured of all it's problems! So obnoxious. (Side note: did you know that adults have been finding problems with "kids these days" for hundreds of years? Kindof makes you wonder what the real problem is, huh?) Or have you ever been reading a book or a blog post about the exact right way to make your marriage work, and then you dig a little deeper and find out that the author isn't married(or has only been married for a year or two)? What's up with that? I don't know about you, but I want to learn about things from people that have experienced them personally, or at least have thoroughly educated themselves about the topic.



But with that being said, I love hearing different people's perspectives. I love reading about opinions and points of view. I love when I get a little glimpse into someone else's mind. Sometimes it's validating to read something that someone just like you wrote, and to realize that you're not the only one out there that feels that way! Sometimes it's fun to read something from someone that's completely different from you. That's one of the things I love so, so much about the internet- I can expose myself to so many different cultures and viewpoints that I'd never get a chance to interact with in my day to day life. "Expand your mind" and all that- I love it! But there's a difference between sharing your perspective and coming across as an expert.



One of the criticisms I often hear about the blogging world, particularly the natural parenting blogging world, is that people make themselves appear as experts when they're not, and that readers often take a bloggers advice as absolute truth, without taking into consideration their unique situation and the advice of people that are actually experts. I would feel really bad if that happened here. So just in case, I'm going to go ahead and make things incredibly clear:






On anything really. I've been married for almost 7 years(yay!), and I've learned a ton, but most of it is specific to my personal marriage, and I'm hardly qualified to help you with yours. I love chatting about breastfeeding, but I'm not an IBCLC, nor do I have any training of any kind about breastfeeding. I'm absolutely obsessed(in a good way) with natural birth, but again- no training of any kind, at least at the moment. I'm not a pediatrician, a midwife, an IBCLC, or an experienced parent whose children are grown and successful. My kids are 4 and 2- I'm hardly finished raising them.



So what's the point then? I'm here to share my experiences and thoughts, not to tell you that they're the right ones for you. When I write about extended breastfeeding, I'm simply sharing my experience. If you've had a similar experience, great! We can relate! If you've had a difference experience, great! You can share a different and valuable perspective. When I write about the GAPS diet, please, please realize that I am NOT an expert about it. I know some ladies that are experts in GAPS, and I can point you in the right direction if you're interested, but for the purposes of this blog I'm just intending to share our GAPS journey and the healing we've experienced. When I write about homebirth, I'm sharing my story and my passion for birth. My intent is not to imply that homebirth is for everyone and that you should personally have a homebirth of your own. When I write about positive discipline in my upcoming series, please realize that I don't know everything there is to know about it, and that I'm still learning myself. Insert any of the things that I write about- I'm really not an expert on anything but my own kids!



This blog is largely a creative outlet for me, a place for me to process and share thoughts that I don't often get to in my day to day life. If you enjoy reading it, then that's all I'm really hoping for! If you're inspired to think about something a little differently than you have before, or to make a healthy change that you've been considering for a while, then I'll be thrilled! But just please don't think of me as any more than another normal mom just trying to do the best she can.



Maybe that's all self explanatory for you. Maybe you think it's silly for me to go on and on about it- of course I'm not an expert on anything!!! Maybe you're abundantly aware of the fact that mommy blogs should be taken with a grain of salt and a clear perspective of your own situation. But I don't think a reminder every once in a while hurts either.



Have you been guilty of taking a blogger more seriously than you should have? Have you ever tried to implement something that wasn't a good fit for you just because a blogger encouraged it? Or have you seen a blogger trying to pass herself off as more of an expert than she really is? How do you keep a healthy perspective when reading blogs with lots of different opinions and ideas?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Craziness in my Absence

So, yeah. I've been a little MIA on this blog the past couple of weeks. Sorry about that! Unfortunately, when things get crazy around here, blogging is one of the first things that gets pushed onto the back burner. I'm not thrilled about it, but that's just the way it is right now with Thad so busy with the church plant. It'll all be worth it though, and I love my life! I thought I'd use this post to share a bit about what's been going on while I've been away from the blog.


My aunt and uncle came to visit two weeks ago. I totally forgot they were coming. Oops! I got a call from my aunt on Friday night: "So, we can't wait to see you on Sunday night!" I was like, "Uhhhh- what?" Haha- niece of the year award right here. They only stayed two nights before they headed off to a European cruise(so jealous!!!), but we had a great visit with them. We got some shopping in(we always shop when my aunt comes in town- I love it!) and had a nice family lunch at Pappasitos. While we were at the mall, I stopped by the restroom area to see if the nursing symbol I put up was still there. Sure was! It looked a little bent up, like someone had tried to remove it or see how it had been attached, but I made it sturdy enough to withstand a little messing with, and it's still going strong! Yay!!!


Then PMS hit. I've written about how GAPS has drastically improved my PMS(probably more like PMDD, if I'd ever gotten an actual diagnosis, not that it actually matters at this point), and it has, but for whatever reason this month was worse than the last couple. I just felt down in the dumps, irritable, and irrational. Minor disturbances had me considering drastic measures. There was lots of negative self talk going on in my head, and just general mental and emotional lethargicness- and that was at the good moments. Thankfully, I know myself well enough to know that all of that was just hormones talking, and I'd make it through just fine within a week or so, and be back to normal. I still wasn't feeling healthy enough to be writing anything worth reading, unless you want to read stuff that's going to leave you scratching your head or feeling depressed. Blog got pushed to the back burner- and you should be glad about that one.



Just as I was getting over the PMS, Hayden's birthday rolled around. I can't believe she's four years old already!!! It's been interesting watching myself grow up with her. Her birth was the start of a whole new chapter in my life, and I literally don't recognise the person that I look back on before she was born. I'm a completely different person now- and proud of who I've become. But enough about me- it was Hayden's birthday!



We celebrated with a low key party at the bowling alley. Thad's mom was there, and my pregnant sister and her husband and little boy. A friend from church and her daughter came too. It was just a small party- since we've been here less than a year, Hayden doesn't go to school, and one car keeps us from getting out much, Hayden doesn't have a lot of little friends to invite yet. But she still had a blast, and that's the most important thing when it comes to birthday parties, right? We'll try to have more of an actual party next year.



It was both kids' first time bowling, and they totally loved it. Tristan couldn't stop squealing excitedly. I don't think I've ever seen him more excited about something! The bowling alley had ball slides for little kids, and they were so cool! I've never seen them before, but they were just perfect for my little ones. Such a great idea.


The excitement wore off pretty quickly since Hayden knew there was CAKE to be had!!! The kids have been grain and sugar free since the beginning of February, so cake is a pretty rare treat around here! I made cupcakes for Tristan's birthday, but this is the first cake I've made for them, so Hayden was pretty excited. (It's actually the first cake I've had since going gluten free, so in about a year and a half. Wow!) It tasted great, and even the SAD eating guests enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I confirmed my suspicion that I can't tolerate cocoa. Bummer. I wonder if that's something I can cure with GAPS, or if I'll never enjoy chocolate again. Wouldn't that be sad? Honestly though, as much as I was addicted to chocolate before, I'm willing to give it up forever if I have to do that to be rid of my health issues! The kids had some minor reactions to the cocoa too- I think we'll be avoiding it completely for a while. Hayden says she wants a strawberry cake when she turns 5, so I think we'll be in the clear!



Hayden got the gift that she wanted most of all- roller skates! She was so, so excited when she opened them. I'm sure it will take her a while to get the hang of actually gliding, but she's having fun practicing!




Thad's mom refinished a little table and chairs for Hayden's room. They are so cute! Hayden's been wanting a table and chairs for a while now. She and Tristan have played on them every day- mostly "pizza party".



Other than that, life's just been busy! Our church's one year anniversary is coming up at the end of this month, and Thad has been really busy preparing for that. I'm so excited for the celebration service! We've officially been having church services for a year now! It seems like a lot longer than that. It's so wonderful to see my husband finally walking in his calling and doing something that he truly loves. He's being used in a big way to change lives and grow the kingdom, and I'm so proud of him. And the church is growing! We're averaging between 60 and 75 people every Sunday morning, and the sense of community has really blossomed. It actually feels like a real church now, and has for about 3 or 4 months. So exciting to see!




Last but not least: my exciting news! I'm officially registered with Childbirth International and studying to be certified as a birth doula! I'm so, so, so excited!!! I'm finally taking a concrete step towards my dream!


Obviously, it's not realistic for me to attend births right now. We have one car, and we're just over a year into our church plant. Thad is extremely busy with both the church and his other job. It's totally unrealistic for me to be on call in any capacity right now. But what I can do right now is study! We're expecting Thad's schedule to open up within the next couple of years, and hoping to get another car a lot sooner than that. At the beginning of this year, I got to thinking- while I'm waiting for life to slow down enough for me to be able to attend births, why not get the studying out of the way! I'm at a point in my life where I'm wanting to take charge of the direction that I'm headed. I don't want to just sit around and wait for things to happen. So I'm not very excited to say that I'm taking the first step towards becoming a birth doula!

It might take me a while to finish, but that's ok. Right now, I'm just happy to be taking a step in the right direction. Since I'm the only one home with the kids most of the time, it'll take some creativity to fit in study time, but I'll find a way. The great thing is that I have three years to finish the course, so there's no hurry. I think I'm most excited about the books I'll have to read- there's a 27 page list of books that I can choose from to meet my reading requirement. Totally stoked about that. I can't wait to see what all I'll learn, and to start attending births at some point in the not-too-distant future!


Sorry this was a bit scatterbrained. I feel a bit scatterbrained right now with all that's going on! I don't have a good ending for this post, and I want to hurry up and get it up, so I'll leave you with this picture I got of me and the kids on Hayden's birthday. I'm so thankful to be their mommy!