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The Things We Will Never Do

September 26, 2017 at 9:55 pm

In my nearly 37 years on this lovely planet, I have said a lot of things with certainty. Things like…

  • I won’t get married before I finish college.
  • I’ll never vote republican.
  • I wouldn’t buy an American-made vehicle.
  • I’d never move to Arizona.
  • I’m not one of those people who would take an anti-depressant.
  • I wouldn’t give birth at home.
  • I definitely won’t homeschool my kids.
  • I’ll never own an SUV.

This is just a sampling of the things I would never do. But I will soon have done all of them.

I say soon because we’ve technically never owned an SUV, but we’re in the market for a bigger people-mover. We take road trips every year, and we’re tired of packing every inch of our minivan with stuff, leaving virtually zero leg room for the seven of us. For the past week or so I’ve been exploring our options, and at the moment the ones that seem most do-able, affordable, and practical are giant SUVs. Sigh. I totally used to judge people who drove giant SUVs. The Chevy Suburban is my current top pick.

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The Empty Swing

September 8, 2017 at 10:34 am

Sometimes you just need another witness. Another voice saying, “Yes, this is true. You’re not crazy.”

Today I’m deeply grateful to my friend Amber for giving me another witness.

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For six years I have known about a little boy who has communicated in a multitude of ways that he is a part of our family, though not yet in the flesh. Just to give you a little more background, let me share a few of the experiences I have had with him.

Thoughts on Unschooling

September 3, 2017 at 9:09 pm

I spent several days this weekend listening to speakers and chatting with other moms at the Free to Be Unschooling Conference here in Phoenix at a really beautiful hotel.

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I attended the conference because I got a discounted rate through being part of the Arizona Homeschool Theater Group and because I’ve been interested in learning more about unschooling ever since I started homeschooling a few years ago. My objective was to try to figure out if unschooling was something that would be a good fit for our family. I have loved reading a lot of John Holt’s writings, and he is the one who sort of started the unschooling movement. I attended with a friend and her sister, so we spent a lot of time talking and processing everything throughout the conference. Below you’ll find some of my thoughts about the conference and the things I learned about unschooling.

When Someone is Missing

August 25, 2017 at 11:08 pm

My husband really dislikes the dreaded words that I sometimes say:

“I keep looking around for the other kid.”

He usually promptly responds with something like, “They’re all here.”

Sometimes it feels like there really is an invisible child among us, but when I turn to include the other kid in my head count, no one is there… at least no one I can see with my physical eyes. Occasionally, I even get a bit panicked in that split second between looking for the missing kid and realizing… no, I really only have five. After I gave birth to my 5th baby, the feeling mostly went away. The “invisible other kid” wasn’t around so much. But for the past couple of weeks, the feeling has been almost constant. It’s actually becoming kind of oppressive.

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Never Settle

August 18, 2017 at 11:06 pm

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A few months ago, we made an offer on a house we really liked in a neighborhood we really liked. It was right around the corner from some of our friends, and it had a swimming pool and a swing set and beautiful saltillo tile in the kitchen, dining room, and hallways. However, after the home inspection, we decided to pull out of the deal. There were just too many expensive repairs that would be needed, and the sellers weren’t willing to help with any of them. Part of me was relieved, but another part of me was devastated. For the following month, I continued looking for a home, but everywhere there only seemed to be dead ends and homes that just didn’t have the things I really wanted.

Three Years Since the Breakdown

July 27, 2017 at 9:01 am

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On July 31, 2014, I wrote these words:

Since coming home, I have felt considerably worse. . . . I’ve really regressed. The anxiety is worse, the depression is deep. I really don’t know how much more I can take. I feel like I’ve gone so far backward. Everyone keeps telling me I will get through this, that things will get better, and they seem so confident about it. But I feel so done. I feel so exhausted. I feel like it will never end.

Splitting the Sky

June 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

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Two summers ago, my wonderful friend Amber asked if she could interview me for a project she was working on. At the time I was on vacation, visiting my family for the summer, and I was newly pregnant with my 5th baby. Amber and Camlyn came to my dad’s house and set up their cameras and sound equipment. They asked me excellent questions, and I did a lot of crying in front of the camera. Ha.

Mommy Python and the Holy Fail

May 2, 2017 at 7:17 pm

A few nights ago we broke out Monty Python and the Holy Grail because… do you really need a reason?  I spend a lot of time driving on Mondays and Tuesdays with my kids’ various homeschool groups and classes. Today, on my way to pick up my 13-year-old from her Junior High co-op, my brain decided it would be fun to think of all the ways being the mother of a toddler is like being in MPATHG. Let’s be honest… most days with a toddler feel like one giant holy-mommy-fail after another, amiright?

 

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For the Days You Want to Quit

April 6, 2017 at 1:14 am

My third child and only son celebrated his 8th birthday this past weekend. I will never forget the first hours of his life. He was born late in the evening, so it was “bedtime,” but I couldn’t sleep. All I could do was stare at him, absolutely, totally, and madly in love. I was on that birth high for nearly a year, totally smitten by this baby boy I called Mister Bubbagoo.

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That chubby face still makes my heart melt.

Baby Carrier Giveaway

March 22, 2017 at 5:30 pm

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Whenever I’m at Goodwill, I like to check for baby carriers. Several times I have scored pouch slings, ring slings, and soft-structure carriers. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to snag two mei tai carriers 50% off. Because I love sharing the baby wearing love, I’d like to give away one of these baby carriers to one of my blog readers!

Book Review: The Serotonin Power Diet

March 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Last week I was doing some reading about weight loss while breastfeeding. There is a common misconception that breastfeeding promotes weight loss. It turns out this isn’t the case, at least for many women. Prolactin, one of the primary breastfeeding hormones, actually slows the metabolism of fat (Source). I’ve gained weight myself since giving birth nearly 15 months ago. My particular weight gain situation is compounded by a medication as well. The SSRI I take for my anxiety and depression has a side-effect of weight gain for many people. All of my family members have gained weight from taking anti-depressants, so it isn’t a surprise that I would as well.

When I attempted to wean off my medication three years ago, I dropped the weight quickly, but I also descended into a dark, suicidal hell. Those who love me agree that my will to live is much more important than being thin. Initially my medication-induced weight gain translated to being approximately 20-30 lbs heavier than I was pre-SSRI. With my added weight gain from pregnancy and breastfeeding, I am now approximately 60 lbs heavier than I was for most of my life.

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With my 2nd baby in 2007 and then 2016

Nursing Too Much for Comfort?

March 6, 2017 at 7:03 pm

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About a year ago, I purchased and read Tears and Tantrums: What to Do When Babies and Children Cry by Aletha Solter, PhD. It was a helpful little book during a difficult fussy period with my fifth baby. Ever since I finished the book, I have thought periodically (and especially in the past couple of months) about one particular issue raised by Dr. Solter:  breastfeeding as a “control pattern.”

Before I go any further, I want to explain what Dr. Solter means by “control pattern.” While Dr. Solter believes babies should never be left to cry alone, she is a strong proponent of letting babies (and children and adults) cry often as a means of releasing stress and expressing strong emotions. This should only be done in the arms of a loving caregiver and only after all apparent needs have been met (ensuring that the child is not hungry, cold, in need of a diaper change, etc.). I found this particular quote to be spot-on:

4 Questions to Ask about Our Children’s Futures

February 19, 2017 at 6:10 pm

A friend of mine has been dealing with some intense challenges with her son’s school. Her sweet but very active 5-year-old son has been suspended three times in the past three weeks. I’m tempted to say he was suspended for rule infractions that could fit under the umbrella of “being a 5-year-old.” Most American kindergarteners are expected to sit still, stand still, be quiet, stay in line, and generally avoid typical 5-year-old behavior at all times. So sad.

While American kindergarteners are denied their one short recess for small infractions, kindergarteners in Finland are given as many as four free-play breaks between classes because “educators and parents here believe that these breaks are a powerful engine of learning that improves . . . executive function, concentration and cognitive focus, behavior, well-being, attendance, physical health, and yes, test scores, too” (Source). Professor Howard Gardner, from Harvard University Graduate School of Education, gave this advice for improving American schools: “Learn from Finland, which has the most effective schools and which does just about the opposite of what we are doing in the United States” (Source).

All of this has me thinking a lot about what really matters and what will really prepare my children for the actual future they will be living in. My research and my gut agree that what is being taught in most American schools is insufficient for and even opposed to what our children will actually need in the future. For what it’s worth, here are some questions I feel we should be thinking about.

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4 Tips for Improving Life on an SSRI

January 25, 2017 at 3:48 am

Taking an SSRI for depression and anxiety can be life-saving, but anti-depressants aren’t always as helpful as we would hope. Some people don’t find any relief at all, or try multiple types of drugs before finding one that works for them. Science Daily recently reported:

More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects (Source).

I first began taking the anti-depressant Sertraline (Zoloft) in August of 2012. My journey managing life with this drug over the past few years has taught me a thing or two. One of my favorite things to do is to write about and share the things I learn. My hope is always that reading one of my posts will change someone’s life for the better. Here are four tips for improving life on an SSRI.

**As always, none of this should be considered medical advice. These are things that have helped me, but none of them should replace the advice or care of a qualified mental health professional.**

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3 Thrifting Tips from a Goodwill Addict

January 13, 2017 at 1:57 am

I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed to admit that one of my absolute favorite places to go is to Goodwill. I think I would be more proud if I could say my favorite hobby was hiking or volunteering or something more meaningful. I do love hiking and volunteering, and I’d spend a lot of time in the woods if I could. Alas I live in a desert, and I don’t have a lot of free time, so for the past several years my go-to “me-time” destination has been Goodwill. You could probably say I have a slight addiction to getting super deals on nice stuff.

My friends often say to me, “I should go with you to Goodwill. I never find good stuff!” I would gladly have friends join me in my favorite guilty pleasure. Definitely never hesitate to call me up and say, “I’m going to Goodwill, you wanna come?” Ummm YES. Always. I wish Goodwill-shopping Coach was a real job.

Obviously it’s best to go to Goodwill on 50% off days, dollar days, or take advantage of their monthly coupons and daily colored-tag deals, but here are some other thrifting tips I’ve picked up along the way.

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