Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Its ELLIE!

Long time, no blogging...  To make up for it I have some adorable pictures of my almost 11 month old Elizabeth.  She has recently discovered a new talent in climbing the stairs.

Hey mom!  I'm just going to go upstairs for a bit.  No big deal...
Almost there...
Whew!  I made it!  Now, how do I get back down?


 Oh this stinker of a baby makes every day better

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Cover of Time: My Take

Alright...  I'll jump in.  The cover of TIME... Are You Mom Enough?


I have no desire to post the cover here and my guess is you've seen it.  Is it offensive and awful?  Is it loving and right?  Is she a better mom than I am?  Is she a bad mom?


Here's my take...  Based on this cover, I don't know what kind of mom she is.  I didn't read the article because I find TIME magazine to be a waste of my time nearly every time I pick it up.  I honestly don't care if moms want to breastfeed their kids until they're 3 or 4 or however old this little boy is.  I have no issue with the model of attachment parenting.  I have no issue with other styles of parenting.  As long as children are well cared for, safe, and loved by their parents, I don't see why it matters what other's preferences are when it comes to this kind of stuff.


I breastfeed.  I have breastfed all of my children anywhere from 12-14 months.  I think if it is something that you can do and want to do, it is a very wonderful, precious thing.  God is creative to make the natural way to feed a baby not only a means of nourishment, but also a sweet time of bonding for mother and baby.  But I also know it isn't always an option, and NO mother should ever be made to feel bad about that no matter what her reasons are.


My children have been around breastfeeding their whole lives.  I feed their baby siblings in front of them.  It isn't a big deal.  They don't think about it.  When friends come over and breastfeed, my kids don't think a thing of it.  It is very much "normal" to them.  Yet, I still don't want them to see the cover of TIME.  


Why?


In my opinion it isn't normal.  And I'm not talking the little boy's age, that honestly just doesn't concern me.  In my opinion, the picture depicts breastfeeding in a sexual way.  Mom is standing in a supermodel pose.  The child is standing on a chair.  This isn't the natural way to breastfeed a child.  Breastfeeding is a time of nourishment, comfort, and connection between mother and child.  This photo doesn't convey that at all.  So as a mother whose children are used to being around breastfeeding, I think this picture would raise questions for them, and quite possibly make my older sons uncomfortable, and rightfully so. I don't think this sparks healthy questions or healthy perceptions of breastfeeding.


The very question "Are You Mom Enough?" is also quite offensive.  Breastfeeding doesn't make you a good mother.  A certain parenting style doesn't make you a good mother.  


I will say the good I have seen come from this is moms from all walks have united against this attempt to reignite the ongoing "Mommy Wars."  And we should unite against this blatant attempt to turn us on each other.  Don't play into their hand.  This whole Mommy Wars thing must stop!  None of us is perfect, but I do believe most of us are doing our best.  


"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV


P.S.
Here are a few amazing blog posts about this topic that I think say some very thought provoking and worthwhile things for us to consider.


Where is the Mommy-War for the Motherless Child?   At Rage Against the Minivan {This is a Mommy War worth fighting in!}


Dear Mothers... At Are all These Kids Yours? {Some encouragement from one of the most inspiring mothers I know!}


Are You Journalist Enough?: How the Media Fails All Parents At The Common Room {She's not afraid to tell it like it is, and she's right!}

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dear Mama to the colicky baby...

Colic.  Even that word brings me back 8 years ago, and 5 years ago, and even 4 months ago.  Three out of five of mine have been known as colicky babies.  I actually feel pretty qualified to write this post. 


If you don't have a colicky baby, please read on.  One day you might.  Or one day you might have a friend who does and needs your support.  I can help with that...


Dear Mama to a Colicky Baby,
I know you are stuck in a sleepless fog of screaming.  I know you look at your precious baby that you love more than your heart can bear, but yet you know this isn't what you pictured motherhood to be like.  Then you feel guilty.  I know you question if your baby is in pain, if you should've breastfed or formula fed or changed formula or cut something from your diet to make your breast milk more tolerable.  I know you want to cry with his cries.  I know you look at her with sadness and wonder what you can do to help her.  I know you feel guilty because it seems as mothers, when something isn't right, that's how we feel no matter what.


First, understand that this isn't your fault.  Don't let anyone tell you your baby is crying because you are too uptight and nervous.  Don't let anyone tell you that her screams have anything to do with what kind of mama you are.  When I heard these comments, they came from people who never had a colicky baby.  However don't be frustrated with these well meaning people, but don't take them to heart on this one.  They just don't understand.  And that's okay.




Baby Noah at 3 months
 When Noah was four months old and had been screaming for four months straight, we hit a breaking point.  He had a day where all he did was cry.  No sleeping, no nursing, no cooing, just screaming.  I called Craig at work around 3pm in tears.  He suggested I call the doctor.  Perhaps, he said, Noah was sick.  In my sleep deprived state, ear drums ringing, I hadn't thought of that.  I called and got him in.  He actually had acid reflux.  Unlike Elijah who had "mystery colic" (no detectible rhyme or reason as to why he was screaming) Noah was in physical pain.  I tell you this story to encourage you to talk to your baby's doctor.  Maybe they can do something.  Maybe they can't, but maybe they CAN.  And I know there are days when you are desperate for answers.  You don't have to wait for a terrible day, or until their next check up.  I have found my pediatrician to be an open door.  He was concerned for the babies, but also for me.  He made sure Craig and I were handling the stress of a colicky baby okay and he listened and offered answers.  If your pediatrician blows you off, doesn't ask questions, and shows you no sympathy for how difficult this is, find a new one.  They are out there.  There are doctors who truly want to help your family.  Ask your mommy friends, your facebook friends, and your church friends for recommendations.  Don't settle.


Baby Elijah at just a few days
Accept some help.  Let someone you trust come over.  I know you may not want to leave your baby, and if that causes you more stress then stay home and allow someone who will be truly helpful to come over.  They can hold your little one while you take an uninterrupted shower or nap.  They can fold laundry or cook dinner or hold the baby while you do those things.  They can do some cleaning or just offer you some company.  If you have people in your life that you are comfortable leaving your baby with, then take the help!  Go to the grocery store, enjoy a dinner out with your husband, or go get your hair cut.  Sometimes just a few hours of a break from the screaming can really make a world of difference.  Be sure whoever is keeping your little one is someone you really trust.  Sometimes screaming babies can really rattle some people and they may end up shaking your little one.  I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but with any baby, make sure you are leaving them with someone you know can handle the crying.  I tended to only leave my colicky babies with their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, and my very close friends.


On the same token, when you are trying to help your little one calm down (and you will find certain things work for certain babies) don't feel pressured to let someone else take them just because they offered to hold them for a moment.  There were times with my colicky ones that I could feel that they were starting to soothe because I was holding them in their favorite position or helping them in a way I knew they responded to, when someone might come up and snatch him away from me insisting they could help.  This was frustrating every time it happened.  The whole cycle would then start over.  I got to the point where I would speak up and ensure the concerned "helpers" that I could take care of it or I simply would go to a different room to soothe my little one. This isn't to say that when your child is doing OK not to let someone hold him (you might even get to eat your entire dinner in one sitting!) but don't feel pressured to hand your crying baby over when you know it isn't going to help.
Elizabeth at 4 months


Let go of the guilt.  When you were pregnant you pictured snuggling a sweet smelling sleepy infant who occasionally smiled and cooed at you.  You had no idea that you would be walking around your house in your PJ's, sweat dripping down your face, as you bounced your baby and he cried and screamed.  I know this wasn't what you thought.  I know it wasn't the dream when you were pregnant.  But it is your reality. And its hard, and you feel guilty because you wish it wasn't hard.  Keep in mind the child you are holding, bouncing constantly, nursing around the clock... that baby is God's gift to you.  She's hard, yes, but she is an amazing blessing sent to you from your loving Father.  She can be frustrating to no end (and you thought that would only happen when she was a teenager) but God saw you fit to be her mommy.  Continue to delight in her, even when its hard.  Rely on Him.  Let Him be your portion and your strength as another sleepless night drags by.  Let Him fill you as you tirelessly give your little one all you have.  And remember, it won't last forever.  One day you will sleep again.  One day your child will go an entire day without crying.  It will happen.  Don't let guilt take your joy in what you have been given today.  Sure, it's hard, but that child is one of the sweetest blessings you will ever receive.  Remember this as you rock her and try 10 different pacifiers to see if one of them will help.  Let go of the guilt.  Focus on your blessing.


If you have never had a colicky baby and you want to be a supportive friend/family member here are some ideas:


  • Listen to the new mom.  Don't act like she doesn't have a clue because it is her first baby.  She still knows this child better than anyone.
  • Don't insinuate that it is her fault.  Don't tell her she's too uptight/nervous and that is why her baby is crying.  Don't tell her she should feed the baby a certain way (breast or bottle).  If you make suggestions do so lovingly and by asking questions.  i.e. "Have you looked into that brand of formula?  Maybe other babies have had issues with it?"  
  • Offer to help, and help on her terms.  Offer to bring dinner.  Offer to come over and help with the baby or around the house.  Offer to babysit.  Offer to clean.  Offer to come over to let her take a nap and a shower.  But then be willing to let her tell you how you can be of most help and do it.
  • If you are taking care of her baby for a time, try to do things on mom's terms.  Again, she knows this baby best.  Elijah would stop crying if we held him in the football hold and walked.  My sweet friend would hold him just right and walk on her treadmill.  He would calm right down for her.
  • If you see a mom struggling with her baby, trying to soothe him, don't grab him away.  She probably has a method in this madness and she knows what to do.  But feel free to ask if there is anything you can do to help.  Maybe she just needs a glass of water... or wine. :)
  • Don't you dare wake that child up!  When a colicky baby has finally settled to sleep please let him/her sleep for as long as possible or as long as his mother wishes.
  • Check in often.  Give her a call.  Send her a text.  Write her on facebook.  Just let her know you are thinking about her and you are available to help or just to talk.  
  • Stop by her house with something she loves and a package of diapers.  Maybe a cup of coffee from Starbucks or a diet coke from McDonalds.  Whatever her vice, I promise it will mean the world to her.
  • Pray for her and her baby.  And let her know you are doing so.
  • If she seems like she is becoming depressed, gently bring it up and encourage her to check in with her doctor about it.
Sweet Ellie as happy as can be at 7 months
My sweet fun boys!  Elijah-8 Noah-5


Colic is a difficult phase of babyhood.  But be encouraged!  Colicky babies often times turn into smiley happy kids.  I'm blessed beyond words that all three of my colicky babies are now sweet, smiley, funny children... OK, Ellie is still a baby, but she's a sweet smiley one now!  She just needed a few months to get there. :)


Hang in there mama, and remember the blessing you have been given!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Friendship & Love

When I was a little girl I had a poster in my room that had a picture of two monkeys on it.  They were smiling the goofy monkey smile and playing together.  On the bottom of the poster there was this quote:


"A friend is someone who knows everything about you, and still loves you."


It has been many years since I've seen that poster, but the quote has stuck with me.  What does that mean?  The part about "knows everything about you."  The good, the bad, and the ugly.  The dirty house.  The big decisions. The bad parenting moment.  Your greatest joys.  Your struggles and pains.  Your gifts and achievements.  Your sin.  They know the things we share with everyone and the things we hide from most.


Spend enough time with anyone and you will be let down.  No one is perfect.  People you love will hurt you.  And you will hurt people you love.  I love good, close friendships.  I really do.  I love having women in my life that I can tell anything to and know that they feel the same.  I love friendships where I feel like the other person "gets me."  But I hate that sometimes I screw up.  I hate that sometimes they screw up.  It is a hard part about human relationships.  All of them.  Your marriage, your family, your kids, and your friends.  It will never be perfect this side of Heaven.  


But looking back at the quote from my poster...  There is a second part of it.  Yes, they know everything about you, and yet they love you in spite of it.  


What is love?
The Bible tells us love is patient and kind.  It does not envy or boast.  It is not proud (Ouch, that one gets me.  I like being right.).  It is not rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable and keeps no record of being wronged (Another difficult one for me).  Love does not rejoice over injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures every circumstance.


To have true and lasting friendships, love must overcome the faults, mistakes, and sins of others.  This is hard work.  But I do believe that our friends are worth it. (Obviously, I believe our husbands, children, parents, etc.. are worth it too, but this post's focus is friendship.)


"Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends."
Proverbs 17:9 NLT


Lately I've been praying that God would show me how I can be a better friend.  These are a few things He has brought to my attention.  I have a ways to go in this area of my life, but I'm thankful I have the truest of friends in my Lord and that He doesn't give up on me.  And if the One who is perfect shows me constant grace and mercy, how can I not do the same for the ones He placed in my life?

















Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hannah is 2... Grace is 4... Elizabeth is mobile

My girls, I'm so blessed to have my girls...


In January the sweet and wonderful Hannah Kay turned 2.  When I was pregnant with Hanny, I was nervous.  Having four children felt like crossing over some kind of invisible line.  It was a line that I was pretty scared to cross.  


But God knew.  


He knew that this world needed the light of Hannah's smile.  The joy of her giggle.  And even the stubborn side of her will do this world some good as she grows. 


In our family our precious little girl has been such an incredible joy.  You can't help but smile when she smiles and you can't help but feel sad when she cries.  We continuously give God thanks for our little ray of sunshine.  


It is hard to believe she is already 2!





Grace Colleen turned 4 in February!  Gracie is a  girly little princess.  She loves all things pink and sparkly!  It is so fun to watch her play.  She's a little mommy at heart (ahem- a little bit bossy...) and she loves to giggle until she can't breathe.  She loves to snuggle and read books together.  She has been working hard planning a family trip to Mars!  She is truly a sweet, nurturing, and fun girl!


Gracie got to go the Build-A-Bear for her birthday date.  She chose to make a dog and dressed her like a princess.  Her name is Princess Puppy, of course!

Showing off her muscles!

And Elizabeth.... She is almost 8 months old already!  How is that even possible?  She has become quite the little army crawler and she is such a smiley baby!  We are so relieved to see her cheerfulness as her first few months were tough.  She had terrible colic and she seemed miserable.  It was so sad.  But now if you look at her she'll give you a great big smile!  Melts our hearts....





Here is a video we shot when she was first getting the hang of the army crawl.  Now she gets up and rocks on all fours ready to take off, then drops to her belly and army crawls (FAST) anywhere and everywhere she wants to go!  She's a doll!




video

We feel so very blessed God saw us fit to bless us with these three amazing girls.  






Monday, April 2, 2012

Yeah We've All Got a Platypus Controlling Us!

Any Phineas and Ferb fans out there?  Even if not, listen and laugh.  Its one of our family's favorite shows.




While the Evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz isn't speaking metaphorically, I am. Lets talk food... (I know... AGAIN! I'll lay off soon, maybe.)


One thing I DON'T want to be is preachy.  This goes a little beyond food, so stick with me.  Here's the deal.  We do have some platypuses controlling us when it comes to our food supply.  I was one not too long ago who was convinced that while there were good choices and bad choices for food, there more than likely weren't any truly toxic choices.  I mean the government keeps us safe from that, we have the FDA.  (Remember, the government's a platypus... PINK SLIME, need I say more?) And the corporations producing the food, while wanting to make a profit, certainly aren't tainting our food supply with unsafe chemicals or chemicals derived from PETROLEUM just to save a buck!  (Yeah... Corporations are a platypus.)  And I will be the first to admit that as a parent, I wasn't willing to do the needed research to make the best choices for my family.  (Parents are a platypus, and I was the Perriest of them all <-- you need to be a P&F fan to get that.)  And if by some chance there were toxic chemicals, and awful things in our food supply the media would jump on it, because they love to "out" people, right? (Yeah, the media's a platypus.)


It isn't the job of the government, the corporations, or the media to make the best choices for your family.  It is your job.  We have taken one huge step by eliminating gluten (not a toxin for all, but toxic to my son) and now we have taken baby steps on many other areas.  And as a fellow parent, I plead with you to do your research!  Make it a priority to understand what is going into your family's mouth and how it is affecting their health and their behavior.   If anyone is interested in learning more about what I've learned, I am glad to tell you.  If you want to do your own research, here is a list of things to look into (watch your sources on both sides.  Follow the platypus money.)  I know "little miss conservative" sounds like a hippy chick.  I can't help it, I know too much!



  • A great start to eating REAL FOOD and learning more about it is to get involved in a community (online or otherwise) that is like minded and learning.  I have discovered there can be some snobbery in some of these communities, but look past the few that have an attitude about it, and take some time to learn.  My favorite food blog is Kitchen Stewardship.  Katie is a real life mom who is passionate about healthy eating and learning.  She doesn't act like she knows it all, but doesn't pull any punches about what she does know. 
  • Understand what high fructose corn syrup is, how it affects the brain, and how it differs from corn syrup.  Hint.. chemicals are involved.  HFCS is no longer present in our home for the most part.  This doesn't mean if a grandparent or someone else wants to give our kids a treat that we will freak out if HFCS is in it.  We're just trying to get it out of our daily lives.
  • Look into food preservatives and food dyes (or petroleum, as I've come to discover).  Dr. Feingold has done some great research. (Food dyes are next on my eliminate-from-my home list, and we're off to a great start.)  This also doesn't mean that we will flip out if they have it else where.  Again, we're trying to improve upon our every day diet, special occasions and such we don't want to get uptight over.
  • You may think of soy as a health food.  If you are a crazy label reader such as myself, you have noticed it is in everything!  Look into soy and GMO, and you will see how this can have lasting effects on us and our children's future.
  • When it comes to produce, look into the "dirty dozen," and you will see why buying some organic produce is well worth it.  Note: SOME.  Organic is expensive, and I get that.  If that is a factor (which it is for us at times) you can buy natural cleansers for your produce and they greatly help with getting the chemicals off your produce.  I also buy some organic baby food for Elizabeth, but mostly when its on sale, I stock up on it.  
  • Watch "Food Inc." to find out why you should be very careful about what brand of meat you buy.  Check your library or Netflix.
  • Look into how processed/cured meats contain nitrates.  Nitrates have been found to cause cancer.  So hot dogs, bacon, lunch meat, pepperoni are all things to mindful of.  The happy news is there are nitrate-free options for all of these things!  The small extra cost is worth it, I'm glad to spend a few more dollars on some meat to cut my risk and more importantly my family's risk of cancer.
  • As a rule of thumb, the fewer ingredients the better.  And if you cannot identify or pronounce ingredients, look into them before eating them or feeding them to your babies.
I don't want to be preachy, and I don't want this blog to become a food blog.  But I would be amiss if I didn't share what I know.  Plus, its my blog and this is what's going on in our lives right now.  

I realize that we have crossed a line.  We went from laid back, mostly, kinda sorta healthy eaters, to those people who have totally lost it and become obsessive about food.  Not true.  Well, yes, we are those people, but we don't obsess over food except at the grocery store.  But doesn't everyone there?  No, we aren't obsessive.  Our kids don't even know we've made these huge changes (except Elijah because he's old enough to realize it.)  They quit asking for junk or fast food because we took it away as an option.  It has been a smooth transition. Again, this isn't to say that we don't occasionally make exceptions.  This is long term.  It isn't saying they can't eat jelly beans.  The main things we are 100% exception free on are the foods that Noah has allergies to.  But as parents, we now have an understanding we didn't have before, and now we are held to account as to what we do with that information.  I cannot in good conscience continue to feed my kids chemicals and other junk knowing how it is affecting them and how it will affect them in the future.  As their parents, we are responsible for every area of their lives right now.  And I can no longer pretend that what they eat doesn't matter.  

"Hey... there's no platypus controlling me.  There's no platypus controlling me!"






Thursday, March 29, 2012

You've Got Questions, They've Got Answers

Do you have parenting questions?  Questions about homeschooling?  Questions about homemaking or home keeping?  How about questions about the logistics of running a large family? Need ideas for organization or chores for your kids?


They've got answers!


The four moms of the blogging series 4 Mom's 35+ Kids have just released their new ebook!


Meet the 4 Mom's:
Kimberly at Raising Olives
Connie at Smockity Frocks
Kim C at Life in a Shoe
and the Head Mistress at The Common Room


These wonderful godly mommy bloggers get many questions in their inboxes every week and have put together an ebook answering the 17 most frequently asked questions.  I have read the book and I highly recommend it for any mom.  It is packed with wisdom and practical advice.


And right now you can get this book for just $4.99!  Use the code "BIGSALE" at check out to get it for just $4.99!


These are four of my favorite bloggers.  They make me laugh, they encourage me, they challenge me, and they give helpful ideas and advice.  


Click on the picture below to check out The 4 Moms' ebook!  

4 Moms 35 Kids




I hope you find it as helpful and encouraging as I did!









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