4 Ways Parenthood is Different When Your “Family Plan” Looks Like the Duggars’

4 Ways Parenthood is Different When Your “Family Plan” Looks Like the Duggars’.

"Family Plan" Looks Like the Duggars'

Parenthood is a challenge no matter your number.  The family that has only one child has a handful.  This post isn’t to shine a spotlight on families like mine to say, “Look how much harder we have it.”  If anything, I just hope it’s a bit of an eye-opener.  Our “family plan” (or lack thereof) is pretty counter cultural, and most people don’t really know how to relate to us.

So here’s 4 ways life is different for us that just might give you a little insight:

  1.  There is no short answer to questions like, “How many kids do you want to have?

"Family Plan" Looks Like the Duggars'

Our go-to answer for the grocery store check out line is, “As many as God wants us to have.”  That answer covers it well enough.  We do feel a little pious sounding, but it’s nearly impossible to give a short answer that sounds like anything but.  We usually get confused faces and responses like, “So you’re gonna have like 20?!  Wow!”  We usually just laugh it off, because most people aren’t looking for a sermon, but it’s so much more complicated than that.




Sure, we could have 20.  It’s fairly unlikely, but possible.  It’s also possible that after this 3rd child, despite our willingness to have more, the Lord could decide not to bless us with any more.  In that instance, unless we win the lottery (without actually playing it), and are able to afford to adopt a bus load of children, on the outside we’ll look just like every other family.  No one will be able to tell (unless they read this here blog post) just how different we are.  And in humility we’ll have to accept that and bless the Lord for it.

Otherwise, sure.  Anywhere between 3 and 20.  Your guess is as good as mine.  (Not that we would stop even at 20…)

2.   On the flip side, we have a hard time knowing how to respond to you when you tell us you’re “waiting a few years”, or you think “2 or 3’s the most we could handle.”

"Family Plan" Looks Like the Duggars'

 

We know what things we were blessed enough to hear in the past that encouraged us to trust the Lord with how many children we have, but we know that not everyone will receive those things the same way we did.  We also know that although you made us privy to that personal information, how you plan your family remains none of our business.

So we’ll usually just silently and awkwardly smile back at you and assume the subject is about to change.  We’re open to sharing with anyone our reasons for doing life the way we do, but we do our best to wait to be asked.




3.   When people tell us to “Just hang in there,” because, “things get easier once you get past the terrible two’s” (or other difficult developmental phases), this means absolutely nothing to us.

"Family Plan" Looks Like the Duggars'

Because, sure, our 2-year-old won’t always be 2.  But when she’s FINISHED being 2, her younger brother will START being 2.  And when he’s done being 2, the baby I’m pregnant with now will get their turn to be the household terrorizer.

From the newborn baby with the gassy stomach phase to those dramatic teenager years, there’s not a single phase we can plan on just “getting through.”  For us, each phase is something to be mastered.  We need to grow accustomed to it.  Because while the Lord may have other plans for us, there’s a real possibility that 20 years from now, I will still be dealing with the terrible two’s.

4.   We anticipate being busy for at least the next 37 years…but probably even beyond that.

"Family Plan" Looks Like the Duggars'

Retirement?  Empty nest?  What ARE these concepts?

There’s no such thing as, “Maybe once the children are a little older we could take up -this hobby- or -that hobby-.”  If we really care about doing something, we have to learn how make it fit into our lives.  We’re learning to accept that if we don’t have room for something NOW, we probably NEVER will.




So we do things with our small children that might get us funny looks.  I’ve sat and nursed babies in places that seem totally off the wall.  I don’t get a babysitter to go get groceries on my own even if I am big and pregnant and feel pity from people as I waddle by with my two fussing toddlers in the cart.  If we wait to participate in activities we care about, we might die waiting.

Some things might get easier once the children are old enough to help out more, but relationships themselves take time.  And surely, SURELY, their relationships are worth our time :).

So there’s just 4 of the many ways life is different for us.  Any other families like us out there that have anything to add?  We’re only now getting ready for number 3, so I’d love to hear from those of you further along on the journey!  I’m positive we have lots to learn from you :).

 




1 Simple Rule That Gets Our Toddlers to Eat Their Food

Gets Our Toddlers to Eat

Toddlers are notorious for being picky-eaters.  The high chair can seem like the fussiest place in the house, and you might always feel like you’re cleaning up wasted food they’ve left on their plates or on the floor.

It’s easy to get anxious for the meal to be over.  It’s tempting to spring into action the moment your toddler says, “Done!”, clean them up, get them down, and send them on their way so that you can enjoy your meal in peace.

Gets Our Toddlers to Eat

(And sometimes that cleaning up can take some doing…:))

So what’s our secret?  We do the exact opposite of what we want to do.  We see the elevator and we take the stairs.  It’s a lot more work at first, but we see a lot more cleared off plates and trays as a result.  This is our rule:

EVERYONE stays at the table until EVERYONE is ready to be done.




You don’t have to finish your food if you’re not hungry or you don’t like it, but until everyone’s had enough to eat, there you sit.

There are some caveats, of course.

Sometimes Daddy needs to go back to work from his lunch break while we’re still eating.  Sometimes Mommy or our potty-training 2-year-old need a quick bathroom break.  Sometimes our 1-year-old falls asleep in his high chair and we move him to his crib.

Gets Our Toddlers to Eat

But for the most part, meals are a group experience, and the goal for us is to start and finish every meal as a team.

Not only does this make mealtimes bonding experiences, but when they have to stay there until Mommy and Daddy are all done, they’ll usually begin again to pick at the food still setting in front of them.  I can’t tell you how many times our 2-year-old, after a whole 2 minutes into eating will announce, “Vavey done!!!” (Her name is Avery, LOL.)

Gets Our Toddlers to Eat

Our response is always, “Okay, but you need to stay here until everybody’s all done.”




The first couple of times you respond this way, especially if you haven’t done things this way in the past, you can expect some retaliation.  Stand your ground.  They do get used to it.  Fussiness will eventually turn into accepting, though sometimes disappointed, “Oh, okay”s.

So that’s the trick.  We’re not going to force our children to eat, since there’s no way for us to know if they’re legitimately full or not.  If it’s something they genuinely don’t like, we won’t make them gag it down because we don’t typically do that to ourselves.  All they have to do is stay there and participate in the meal with the rest of the family.

Most of the time the only reason they think they’re “Done!” is because they’re ready to go play some more.  They can’t think ahead far enough to whether or not they’re going to need more to eat, and sitting still is hard.  If they’re forced to keep sitting still, they’ll find they need to occupy themselves somehow, and most of the time, unless they’re morally opposed to the flavor of this particular dish, they’ll occupy themselves by having a little more to eat.

Gets Our Toddlers to Eat

So that’s what we do!  We don’t let them graze.  We don’t barter and negotiate with them- “If you just eat 2 more bites of your peas, 1.5 bites of your chicken, 3 sips of your water, then do they hokey pokey…”  We don’t only feed them food that children are excited to eat.  They eat what we eat.  And they eat when we eat.

What do you do in your home that gets your children to eat?




3 Ways to Break Your Spring Fever…When You Can’t Get Out Much

Spring Fever Projects

If anybody gets it, it’s me.

I am 24 weeks pregnant, I have a 2 year old, and a 1 year old.  We live in the middle of the city and we don’t have a fenced yard.

 

Getting outside can be difficult.

And the way the this Idaho weather’s been, it remains to be seen when it will be warm enough to be outside for very long anyways.

But, being a woman, (and a pregnantly nesting woman at that) I have a serious case of spring fever.  I want flowers everywhere.  I need pastels on a regular basis.  Fresh and green is the environment I’m craving.  So what ‘s a girl to do?

Here’s the 3 things I’ve done to make it feel like spring inside, while I await that wonderful day we can spend a serious amount of time outside.  And the way my life is, if I get five solid days outside this year, that’ll have to be good enough.

  1.  Crochet in a very spring-timey way.

Spring Fever Crochet Project

I got the idea and instructions for this wreath from another blog, that you can see here.

As you can see, mine turned out quite different.  I can’t seem to follow very precise directions.  I typically read through some instructions on a blog once and then do whatever I want ;).

 

Spring Fever Crochet Project

This jar cover was actually intended to be a candle holder type deal.  I find candles aren’t really my thing, but flowers are very much so.  Here’s the link to the pattern.

2.  Get a head start on your garden.

Spring Fever Project

Spring Fever Project

Here we have the beginnings of our family garden 🙂  Peas above and tomatoes below.  I’ve also started some watermelons, but their sprouts are still a little too small to photograph well yet.  Carrots are next on the agenda!

3.  House plants!

You mean you can have pretty greenery in your house all year long?!  Sign me up!

Spring Fever House Plant

Spring Fever House Plant

Above is my rubber plant and below is my ivy.  Both types were on an online list of plants that die hard, so I figured they’re probably my only hope.  Pretty pots in bright colors is another bonus of keeping houseplants.

 

I have zero experience with houseplants.  These are my first ones.  So far, so good!

What do you do to break your spring fever?

4 Reasons to Vote for Ted Cruz vs. Almost Everyone Else 

4 reasons to vote for Ted Cruz vs. almost everyone else-

I get it. We’re a busy culture.

We don’t all have the time to do all the research that we can when voting season comes around, and it’s easy to feel like our votes don’t matter all that much or that no matter who we elect, it won’t really impact our lives. And to a certain extent, you could be right. There’s no way we can know how rigged or unrigged the system is, and a lot of government work doesn’t change the way we go about our lives.

However, here are 4 of the more important aspects of this particular election that I hope you’ll consider.

I align myself with Ted Cruz, though I’m sure that Marco Rubio and John Kasich are probably pretty similar in their values. When you have a party divided between some awkward nerdy conservatives and a flashy loud mouthed celebrity, you’ve gotta back the nerd the most able to pull off an election.

Vote for Ted Cruz




Here’s 4 reasons to vote for Ted Cruz:

1. You believe that all human life is valuable and worthy of public defense.

“Life is a gift from God. It is our most basic right. Without life, there is no liberty. I have fought to protect the sanctity of life, including winning cases at the Supreme Court to restrict abortions. If I am elected president, I will instruct my Attorney General to investigate Planned Parenthood on day one and I will defend the dignity of life.” -Ted Cruz

2. You believe in holding to and preserving the Constitution that made us a free and strong nation.

“My touchstone for every question is the Constitution.” -Ted Cruz

3. You want the right to provide for and raise your own family the way that you decide.

“The election presents a stark choice- we can continue down the road of the Obama Democrats, more and more spending, debt and government control of the economy, or we can return to the founding principles of our nation- free markets, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty.” -Ted Cruz

4. You believe that freedom of religion is a good thing and that expressions of faith should not be forced behind closed doors.

“And when it comes to religious liberty, religious liberty has been a passion for me for decades, and it has been something  that I have been fighting to defend for many, many years.” -Ted Cruz

And on the flip side, here are 4 reasons to vote for almost anyone else (Rubio and Kasich being the exceptions).

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1. You believe that the value of human life is subject to the value that a mother and the rest of society places on them. If a mother is unwilling to bring her child into the world, it’s likely the child will only be a burden to society anyway.  People small enough to be unheard from and easily disposed of should be able to be legally.

“I’m pro-life, but with caveats.  Life of the mother (very important), incest, and rape.” -Donald Trump

“But for me, it is also not only about a potential life; it is about the other lives involved.” -Hillary Clinton

2. You believe that you and/or your candidate of choice could draft a much more fair and moral constitution than the old dead guys wrote and then gave their lives defending all those years ago. We’re much smarter now. “Thanks for the freedom guys, but you missed a few spots.”

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“There is a lot of sentiment that enough is enough, that we need fundamental changes, that the establishment- whether it is the economic establishment, or the political establishment, or the media establishment- is failing the American people.” -Bernie Sanders

“I think we’re way out of balance.  We’ve got to rein in what has become almost an article of faith that almost anybody can have a gun anywhere at any time.  And I don’t believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people.” -Hillary Clinton

3. You’re not confident in your ability to make enough money to support your family. You’re also sure that trained professionals can do a much better, more fair job raising and educating your children than you can. After all, there’s only so much time in the day and you’ve gotta “do you”, too. The government should take care of what we don’t.

“Many of you are well off enough that the tax cuts may have helped you.  We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re going to cut that short and not give it you.  We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” -Hillary Clinton

“No.  We just can’t trust the American people to make those types of choices…Government has to make those choices for people.” -Hillary Clinton

4.  You believe that others should not have the right to force you to listen to their religious beliefs, and you should be able to get through your life without ever having to hear from them.




“Bernie has been a strong opponent of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Act…the law was written individuals and companies to assert their exercise of religion as an act of freedom.” -from Bernie Sander’s website.

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And to conclude this post, just as a fun bonus quote:

“I’ve spent the past month is Washington, D.C., and it is terrific to be back in America.” -Ted Cruz




Spring Wreath Idea

Spring Wreath Idea.

Spring Wreath Idea

This was a really fun project- full of unexpected twists and turns- but I’m very pleased with the results.

I was inspired by a couple of other wreaths I saw on Pinterest, that you can see and access the tutorials of here and here, but I ended up doing some pretty different things with mine.

A brand new grapevine wreath can be pretty expensive, so I went scrounging through all the local thrift stores.  The only plain one I found happened to be heart-shaped so I decided just to go with it. (I had hoped to have it finished by Valentine’s Day…oh well!)

When dyeing my coffee filters, I had hoped to make more rustic-colored ones like in the tutorials I used, but I couldn’t find my brown paint for anything and we weren’t in a place financially to drive all the way to the craft store just to get one little bottle of brown paint.  I decided to do without.  I used a few of my metallic Martha Stewart all purpose paints (a dusty rose color, a gold, and, though it doesn’t show at all, a shimmery light blue.)  I also used an old bottle of red that…I can’t remember what brand it was or where it came from…LOL.




When I was done dyeing my filters I stood back to watch them dry.  All I could think was “PINK…PINK…PINK!  That’s just too much pink!”

When I made the flowers, I tried to keep the pinks sort of blended with the lighter colored filters to that the pink wasn’t too overwhelming.  Even at that, though, I knew I was going to have to find something a little extra at the craft store so that my wreath wasn’t just one big pink fluffy mess.

I also didn’t dye enough coffee filters at first to make enough flowers to cover the whole wreath (I thought the tutorial said they used 40 flowers…they used 40 coffee filters.  Each flower takes 3 coffee filters…oops!).  I decided that that might be my chance to dye some more in more rustic colors to sort of tone down the pink-ness.  I dyed with coffee, some mixed with the red paint and some with the blue (which was a really dumb idea- icky!), and the result was less than satisfactory :(.  Firstly, the strong smell of coffee that was taking over my kitchen and permeating my hands was driving me crazy.  Secondly, I thought the colors just looked kind of yucky, and when I put them next to the flowers I already made, they didn’t look right.  A wasteful mistake, but I had to toss them.

Instead of making more in the other colors, I decided to just only cover a portion of the wreath.  After all, grapevine wreaths are so pretty already, it’s kind of a shame to totally cover them up.




So I went ahead and started glueing.  I found some artificial green stems with these little berries that matched perfectly at Michaels, and there you have it!

Now the question is- am I totally comfortable hanging this on our door outside, or are we going to have to hang it inside and find a more weather resistant one to put out there???

Probably.  But on a nice sunny day like today, I think I’ll let it be :).




7 Ways to Help Your Small Children Know You Love Them

7 Ways to Help Your Small Children Know You Love Them…When You Feel Like You’re Way Too Busy.

Help Your Small Children Know You Love Them

I’m sure that most of us have been there.  That state of mind known as “Mom Guilt.”  It seems no matter which path we choose, we end up there.

If we decide to stay on top of our housekeeping, we feel sure we’re neglecting our children.  If we decide to focus solely on our children, we soon find ourselves disgusted with our surroundings and too embarrassed to invite people over.  If we craft, we feel bad for not including our children. If we only do kid-friendly crafts, we feel creatively inhibited.




I’ve spent plenty of time in “Mom Guilt Land,” but last night I came to a very important realization:  My children know that they are loved.

How do I know this?

Well, maybe this is only my perception, but from what I can see- they are radiant with how loved they are.

They light up rooms.  They greet people with smiles (unless they’re very sleepy…LOL.  Then they just stare blankly).  They enjoy sharing whatever they happen to have in their hands at the time with others.  They give hugs and kisses easily.  The giggle frequently.  They squeal with delight.  They sing.  They hum.  They dance.

Help Your Small Children Know You Love Them

They make faces like this one XD.

Now I know that this describes many children, and as difficult as it is for me to believe, my children are not the only special ones in the whole universe.  I also know, though, from my experience working with children, that not all children are like this.

Now I make no claims to be an expert on children in general, and only know what I know from experience.  My education goes no further than high school and I have no licenses claiming that I’m qualified to give anyone advice.




But that realization that I had just last night, that my children DO know that they are loved, got me wondering about what it is their father and I do to express that to them.  Here are a few things that I’ve come up with, and I hope they will be of benefit to you, too.  And what’s more, these things are quick and easy and prove that you CAN go about your housework and hobbies and still raise children that don’t question your love for them.

Help Your Small Children Know You Love Them

  1.  Mind your facial expressions.

Children are studying everything.  They know when Mommy’s upset, sad, or angry.  And while we can’t always avoid them seeing that, make sure that much more often they know how happy Mommy is that they’re there.

Smile and let them know how glad you are to see them.  Raise your eyebrows and let them know that you’re actively watching what they’re up to and that it is very, very interesting.  Make funny faces at them.  Blow kisses.  This is such a simple way to communicate, but it makes all the difference.

2.  Mind your tone of voice.

The way we talk to our children is a very unique thing.  We don’t (or at least we shouldn’t) talk to them the same way we talk to other adults, other people’s children, or the family pet.  This special, soft tone of voice is something that your children will come to recognize as being just for them from a very young age.  Be sappy, cheesy, sing-song-y, whatever kind tone of voice comes naturally to you.

3.  Lots and lots of words.

This is one instance where over-talking is an asset.  Before your children can use their words, compensate for them.  Let them know that they’re just as worthy of carrying on a conversation with as anyone else in the room.  Ask them questions even though you know they can’t answer.  Teach them the names of the things around them.  Tell them about what you’re watching them do.  Repeat back to them the same sounds and babbles that they’re making.  Say, “I love you” and FREQUENTLY.  They may not know what it means yet, but you do.  Saying it more helps you to feel it more, and feeling it more helps you to show it more.




Another thing I make a point to do is use manners with them.  I say “please”, I say “God bless you”, I say “thank you”, and when they’re old enough to make a noise that sounds something like “thank you” to me, I say “you’re welcome.”  Our children learn how to treat others with respect by being treated with respect themselves.

Help Your Small Children Know You Love Them

4.  Hugs and kisses all day long.

Your child is ready for a diaper change.  You could just pick them up and whisk them off to the changing table, change them, and then set them back down on the floor, but you would be missing out on so many hugging and kissing opportunities.

Pick them up and give them a squeeze.  Smile and talk to them while you change their diaper.  Kiss and blow on their tummy a few times before buttoning their onesie back up.  Pick them up and give them a nice big kiss on the cheek before you set them back down.

This kind of routine can become very habit-forming, but the side effects are all wonderful :).  I’ve made such a habit of hugging my children when I pick them up and kissing them before I set them down that I don’t even think about it anymore, but I’m sure that the sentiment isn’t lost on them.

5.  Get on the floor with them.

Many times I’ll get a sudden free moment and think, “I should get down there and play with them.”  Typically, once I’m down there, they quickly forget about whatever they were playing with and turn their attention and excitement toward me.  Before I know it, it’s “mommy jungle gym” time!  Mommy jungle gym time is a great five minutes, full of giggling and mild injuries.

Your children want to play with you.  You’ll probably get bit or stepped on a couple of times, but their joy makes it all so worth it.

Help Your Small Children Know You Love Them

6.  Play games with them.

I don’t think the game of “peek-a-boo” gets the recognition it deserves.  It’s such a fun game to play with your children, and one you can do while going about your housework.  Often when I’m leaving the room that Bailey’s in, if he’s watching me go, I’ll make sure to pop back out around the door a few times before I really leave.  This keeps the mood light and helps keep him from getting anxious if I have to go behind closed doors for a few minutes.




Play “patty cake”.  Sing the Barney song and incorporate the “great big hug and a kiss from me to you!  MWAH!”  Be silly with them and let them decide when silly time is done.  I was very surprised to realize that my children also get tired of playing games and being goofy with me after a few minutes and will go on about their business (you know, the getting into things and exploring the house business).  However, if I’m the one to say, “All done!” and get up and leave, they’re likely to get their feelings hurt and insist on five more rounds.  Be patient.  Everyone gets tired of the Barney song after a few minutes.

Help Your Small Children Know You Love Them

7.  When they need you to, be prepared to drop everything and just hold them.

This won’t happen every day.  If it does, it’s more of a preference to them than a need and they’ll need to learn to be okay doing their own thing sometimes.  This, of course, does not apply to newborns.  What I’m thinking of more here is instances when your small children are getting teeth, feeling sick, feeling especially tired apart from their usual nap time, they fell down and hurt themselves and they’re having a hard time calming down, or they’ve gotten their feelings hurt.

Let your children always reserve the right to be held by you when they need to be and for as long as they need to be.  They won’t always need to you to sit and hold them, so cherish the precious moments that they do.

 

What do you do to make sure your children know you love them?

 




A Quick Indoor Tulip Update!

A quick update on my indoor force bloomed tulips!



 

Hopefully you caught my FB post back on January 1st (2016) where I posted that I was going to try to grow some indoor force bloomed tulips…because otherwise the title of the blog would seem totally random.

I got the idea on Pinterest.  It sounded simple enough- get a nice tall vase to plant the bulbs in, preferably after a hibernation period in the freezer (or out in your uninsulated garage like I did…), fill the bottom with some decorative marbles (I opted for sparkly white rocks…seems I can’t follow directions all that well…), gently push the bulbs down in there, just far enough into the rocks to be supported, and fill the vases with water to just under the bulbs, but not actually touching.  After that, as far as I could tell, it was all just a matter of time.  I saw on the blogs that gave these instructions that many people had commented, asking how long the process would take.  These questions always went unanswered, which seemed a little spooky, but I went ahead and tried it anyway.  Here’s what they looked like the night I set them up:

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Indoor Force Bloomed Tulips

And here’s what they look like today:

Indoor Force Bloomed Tulips

Haha!  At first glance, the only real visible difference is that the rocks got gross!  Which, incidentally, they really DID.  The one at the far right has faired the best, but in all three vases the rocks have browned (I don’t remember seeing anything like that on Pinterest…).  If this is successful, which, surprise of surprises, it seems it will be (show you in a sec!), I think I’ll use brown marbles next time…just to avoid the icky factor.




So here’s my most hopeful plant, the one in the middle:

Indoor Force Bloomed Tulips

Look at that lovely green bud!  I saw it for the first time last night, and I may or may not have started jumping up and down.  My bulbs AREN’T just rotting in my pretty vases and ruining my pretty rocks!  And if you look down at the bottom, this bulb is in the just the right position to be able to get a peek at its roots.  The other two aren’t positioned that way and the thought of tearing roots trying to get a look underneath them makes me nervous, so I’ve left them alone.  Neither of them have buds, yet, but something is definitely happening.  Not sure how good that something is…but now that I have at least one with a bud, I have hope for them.  Here’s close ups of the other two:

Indoor Force Bloomed Tulips

This is the one that’s left it’s rocks the cleanest, but the bulb itself looks downright gross!  Hoping for the best…lol!

IMG_2591

This one turned it’s rocks brown and started looking nasty the fastest, so I was sure it would be the first to bud (and looking at this picture, I do see a little tiny spot of green).  It seems it’s been passed up, but I’m sure it won’t be too far behind.

Have I mentioned that tulips are my favorite flowers?  Anyways, they are :).  That makes this whole process so much more exciting.  These bulbs are actually a few of the extras I have left over from the couple of dozen or so I planted out in our front flower bed this last fall, so hopefully come spring, I’ll have lots more in lots of colors!  Very exciting.

This project was actually my attempt to have tulips sooner, but now I’m thinking it’s entirely possible they’ll be in full bloom at the same time as the ones outside.

Either way, it’s been a very exciting science experiment! 🙂

Thanks for reading!




This Day in History- THJoM Part 1

The Honest Joy of Motherhood Part 1

This Day in History

If you don’t know yet what today is, I’ll tell you.  It’s my son Bailey Thomas’s first birthday.  Today I’ve found myself reminiscing back to the day he was born, the latter end of my pregnancy, and our final arrival home.  To try to put things more in order than that, I’ll tell you about the last part of my pregnancy.

I gained A LOT of weight with Bailey, that I think was probably mostly water, because I was super swollen, but either way, I looked like this:

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Haha!  So difficult to look at! (And if you think those are the most “hard to look at” pictures you’re going to see in this post…just hang on!)

So there I was.  Big, uncomfortable, and completely worn out from the holidays.  Then, naturally, I got sick.  Like, really sick.




To help out, my mom came and picked up Avery for a couple of days.  While I was glad she didn’t have to be around me being sick, that was a pretty emotional time.  I watched a lot of T.V.  I was used to having to put the remote up high somewhere if I was going to go to the bathroom or something, so that Avery couldn’t get ahold of it and totally scramble up our Roku.  When I realized that I could just leave it there on the couch when I got up, and that Avery wasn’t there to grab it, I sat back down and cried for awhile.

It’s funny how many little things feel like a hassle until you don’t have somebody to do them for anymore.

Anyway, eventually I did start to feel better.

And then the contractions started.  A month early.

It was a little scary, but I just assumed they were practice contractions.  Pretty soon, though, they were waking me up in the night.  For a couple nights in a row I ended up getting up, lying on the couch, turning on some home improvement show, and trying to close my eyes for a little bit between contractions.  They were pretty randomly spaced at first, so I remained hopeful they would stop.

We hadn’t brought up from the basement any of Avery’s newborn clothes that we could use for Bailey, so as a precaution, I told Brad that we should go ahead and do that, as well as set up the bassinet.  Actually, I told him all this as I drove him home from work.  I remember I had to pause a couple times while I was talking to him, because, you guessed it, contractions.  Driving with contractions.  I’m so adventurous!

So that evening, we made all of our preparations, just in case.  My contractions continued to be in a strange pattern:  8 minutes here, 15 minutes here, 5 minutes there, and so on.




The next morning Brad left for work around a quarter till 8.  I remained on the couch, where I had been most of the night timing contractions.  At 8:30 a.m., they were 5 minutes apart.  I called Brad.  He left work after being there for only 30 minutes.  I’m going to tell you the truth: in addition to packing my bag and getting dressed, I did my makeup.  Why?  Because I remember how horrible I looked in pictures after I gave birth to Avery, and somehow I thought it would help my situation.  In case any of you ever are getting ready to go have a baby and wonder if it will help- it won’t.  LOL.  It does nothing.

Need proof?  Here’s me in labor:

(Warning: Slightly upsetting picture alert!)

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See how great my makeup looks?!

Haha!

I just found out that my mom had this picture yesterday and only recently saw it for the first time. It’s definitely hard to look at, but I’m really glad to have it.  It very much sums up what this series is about:

Motherhood  so much deeper and more meaningful than the shallow expectations and aspirations that we have.  You don’t always get to be pretty.  You won’t always be smiling and glowing.  Sometimes you’ll feel like you look like a manatee, and if you want to bring a baby into this world, you’ll have to pay a very painful price.

While that might sound like an encouragement to stay away from motherhood, it’s quite the opposite.  Being in pain, portrayed so vividly in that picture, is something I would LIKE to do over and over again!  The painful face I’m making in the picture might be the first thing your eyes are drawn to, but keep looking: see Brad, loyally at my side, holding me.  See Avery’s blankie and cute little pink socks.  If I remember right, she was napping there.  Because I did this same thing for her a year and a half earlier, she’s there, in my bed, along side her father and I, serenely resting.  Peaceful.  It’s worth it.  The pain is certainly worth it.




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Happy birthday, my sweet Bailey.  You are worth every last ounce of my strength.

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The Honest Joy of Motherhood- An Introduction

The Honest Joy of Motherhood.

I’ve had the idea for this series for a month or so now, but nervousness, second-guessing, and plain old lack of diligence is making it a slowly progressing project.  In this introduction, I hope to express to you my reasons for attempting this project, build a sort-of structure to it (for myself much more than for my reader, apologetically), ultimately encourage women that are on this same path that I’m on (staying home, raising and schooling the children, and welcoming as many children as the Lord would bless us with), or possibly even persuade those not on this path that it’s worthy of consideration.

There’s a problem among the women on this path, and it’s one that the rest of the world is picking up on.  The problem is this: what we’re presenting to the world as our “happy home” is typically a facade.  We’ve always got smiles on our faces, well-mannered children in tow, and a hot meal for anyone in need.  When invited over for dinner, you’ll find our homes warm, sweet-smelling, and tidy.  When you scan our Facebook pages you’ll find women madly in love with our husbands, in constant adoration and amazement of our children, and gung ho to try a plethora of new recipes, pallet projects, and homemade cleaning solutions.

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Perhaps there are women out there for whom these ideals are truly the way that their lives are all of the time.  I suppose the only one that I can truly speak for here is myself.  I have, however, seen signs here and there from the women around me that I’m not alone, here.  What we present to the world is likely a culmination of our goals and aspirations, but at the end of the day, most of us know how out of reach these goals are, and we begin to sink under the weight of it all.

If anyone understands the concept of there never being enough time in the day, it’s moms.  After all, why shouldn’t we be able to always be: well-rested, in-shape, showered, spiritually glowing after a full hour of prayer and chapter of Bible reading daily under our belts (and at least a little bit of heavy theological book studying as well), with our children always clean, well-dressed, well-behaved, eager to please the Lord and their parents, our homes spotless, organized, and a hot meal made from scratch on the table three times a day?  Oh!  And then there’s hubby!  If for any reason he’s not all of those things we should be as well as leading the family in a time of daily devotional, quickly fixing everything around the house that needs fixed, and spending plenty of time with each of us individually- why shouldn’t we moms be able to fix that as well?!

"Don't squeeze that kitten too hard..."

“Don’t squeeze that kitten too hard…”

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“I said DON’T!  You’re killing him!”

That last paragraph contained only the general list of things we and many around us expect us to be able to accomplish.  Under each item on that list are at least five bullet points you could fill in underneath listing the specific actions needed to make that one general thing happen.  My point is this: if we somehow manage to accomplish these things every day, when do we breathe?  Where can we pencil in rest?  I mean, is there realistically time to even use the bathroom?




Or what about these things: Smiling at our children?  Looking into their eyes and listening when they’re trying to explain something to us (especially time consuming when they can’t yet speak)?  Hugging our husbands?  Not a quick kiss as they leave for work or arrive home, but just standing together and hugging for as long as we’re able?

It might seem hard for non-parents to believe, but it is possible to become so busy that these wonderful things become something you have to make a conscious effort to enjoy.

Our never-ending busy-ness is not only detrimental to us ourselves, but the unregenerate world is noticing, and they’re using us as examples for why you should NOT be on this path we’re on.  They’re saying and thinking things like this:

“If money is so difficult, shouldn’t both of you be working?  You can put your kids in daycare for free now!  Go to work and help provide for your family.  They’ll thank you for it.”

“If you homeschool, when would you ever get a break?  You should really take care of yourself and let the public schools take care of your children’s education.”

“It’s impossible to manage that many children.  You’re only one person.  Your house will always be messy, your children will always be neglected, and you’ll never be able to give all of them the time and resources that they need.  Only have as many children as you can easily handle, then give it a rest already.”

In essence, this series is in response to these kinds of comments and attitudes.  Because really, the problems they’re pointing out are REAL.

Money IS difficult.  We no longer live in a society that feels it needs to pay a man enough to support a family on his own, and certainly not a family larger than four or five.  When you’re living in opposition to the societal norm, and the government is redistributing wealth according the dictates of that norm, it’s easy to conclude that the “American dream” will always be out of reach.




Homeschooling IS extremely time-consuming.  I can’t speak to this much yet, because we haven’t technically “started” school, but I’ve already begun cringing at the thought of adding that humongous responsibility into the mix.

Pregnancy, child-birth, recovery, and from there on IS difficult to say the absolute least.  Doing that every year or two, each time having one more child to care for during that process?  CRAZY DIFFICULT.  I remember somewhere listening to an interview with Rosemary Clooney.  She briefly talked about her time in a mental institution and explained that it was after she had five kids in five years.  (I remind my husband of this story often- “Please help me NOT end up in the Looney bin like Rosemary Clooney!”)  I’ve spent over three years now of ZAP!  Pregnancy hormone ON!  ZAP!  Pregnancy hormone OFF!  ZAP!  Pregnancy hormone ON!…You get the idea.

So here’s what I hope to display in this series:  YES, it is hard.  YOU’RE RIGHT, we don’t have it all together.  YES, it would be much easier not to live this way.

BUT,

IT. IS. ALL. WORTH. IT.

I want this series to be one filled with honesty.  I’ll tell you the truth.  I’ll show you my messy house.  I’ll not hide the fact that microwave meals have become the norm around here and that I’ve put in six months of potty training with my two-year-old, and during the writing of this post, I’ve had to put the couch cover and everything else on the couch in the washer because she had an accident.  I’ll tell you about the time a couple of weeks ago that, after a long, hard day, when my husband got home, I requested he heat up some cup of noodles for us.  The next morning while working in the kitchen my calendar caught my eye and I remembered that I had promised to take a hot meal to an elderly couple in our church that night before and had completely forgotten to do so.

It's a good thing we're pretty.

It’s a good thing we’re pretty.




But along with all of those cringe-worthy hardships, I’m going to tell you about my son’s and daughter’s first tiny steps that I was right there for, cheering and clapping, and trying not to cry.  I’ll tell you about my wonderful husband who takes over diaper duty when he gets home and if able, is the first responder to our children’s cries so that I can rest this body that is rapidly growing our tiny child.  (Right after I typed that last sentence, he came into the living room where I’m sitting to grab something and gave me a big smile, just because.  What a guy.)  I’m going to tell you about the amazing and awe-inspiring God I serve and what a privilege it is to be given so much responsibility even in all of my incapabilities.  I’m not convinced there’s any better place to be and behold God’s wonderful design and holy nature than right exactly where I am.

So that is what you can expect.  You can expect to cringe.  You can expect to feel at least a little bit overwhelmed looking up at the mountain I climb every day.  But overall, you can expect to witness our joy.  The honest joy of motherhood.

Beautiful things truly are happening here.

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Rustic Christmas 2015

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Hello!  Here we are, January 1st, and I am FINALLY posting my Rustic Christmas decorating article….blehg!

I decided to go ahead and post this now, as decorating for Christmas is really a whole year thing if you shop the way that I do- thrift stores, yard sales, and clearance.  I like to stock up on things to decorate for Christmas with all year long, so when the season comes around, we’re not trying to buy a bunch of decorations along with all the gifts on our list.

This post will mostly be pictures that I’ll try to make as “Pin-able” as possible in case you’d like to save an idea.  Here we go!

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This took us 4 strands of lights total, so be prepared.  The first type we put on are just the simple small white lights.  The second type are new teardrop LED lights.




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I put our stockings here this year because I was simply out of ideas, but I ended up really liking it!  I just used some natural brown colored twist ties to hold the loop onto the rod (I didn’t want to fuss with take the rod apart and looping them directly on there in between the grommets…lol).

That’s all for this…last year’s Christmas!  It’s late, but maybe it’ll help you get some ideas for when you’re out shopping the Christmas clearance racks in the days to come.  I’ll make sure to re-share this earlier in the season next year lol :).

Thanks for stopping by!