Breeding, Bread, and Blessings

December 6, 2017 at 12:27 pm

For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. -Luke 23:29

A couple of years ago, my friend Heather wrote a post titled with the old saying: “Every Baby Comes with a Loaf of Bread Under its Arm.” In the post, Heather shared the news that she was pregnant with her fifth baby, and then she elaborated on the title of her post, saying:

I think that what this saying means, at least to me, is that every baby who comes to the earth brings blessings, spiritual and temporal, for the mother, the father, the family, the community, and the world.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this concept lately. These days more and more articles, blogposts, and news stories give us a multitude of reasons why we shouldn’t have children:

I could go on, but this is getting depressing, especially given that I’m now pregnant with my 6th baby.

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Our Progenity Test Results

October 30, 2017 at 6:28 pm

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When we found out my 5th baby was a girl, I couldn’t contain the tears. Grief bubbled up from the depths of my heart and oozed in salty trickles down my face. As soon as I was able, I retreated to my bedroom and sobbed. Wailed. The force of my grief stunned me.  But it was raw, and it was real.

At the time, my six-year-old son asked, “Why are you crying, Mom?” The jumble inside of me felt so complex that I had no words that could adequately do it justice, but my attempt to give him the decency of a response came out: “Because I wanted to meet Elijah.”

Will My Baby Have Down Syndrome?

October 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

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I was lying in bed one morning with my eyes closed. It was a couple of months ago, but I can’t remember if I knew I was pregnant yet. Somewhere in that place between sleep and waking, I saw the face of a child with Down syndrome. When I fully awoke a few moments later, I felt a torrent of thoughts and questions about that image enter my mind. Was it a spiritual message? Would I be giving birth to a child with Down syndrome? Or was it just a random flash of a meaningless dream?

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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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!

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.

4 questions to ask

5 Ways You’re Not Failing as a Mom

December 3, 2016 at 8:47 am

Back in October, I celebrated my 36th birthday. Celebrated actually isn’t the best word. It was kind of an awful day ’cause I was in a horrible mood. As I got thinking about why I was so frustrated, I did a lot of pondering about failure. I feel like I’m failing at a lot of things lately. My husband and sister tell me I’m “not failing” in an effort to make me feel better, but the truth is that I am. We are all failing at something. Some of us are failing at multiple things. Some of us are failing at many things. Every single day of our lives we will fail at something. The question isn’t whether we will fail. Because we will. In ways both small and great we will fail. We simply cannot do it all AND do it all well.

What makes us feel miserable and frustrated isn’t the failures themselves, per se, but what we do with them. Do we retreat into shame and feel incapacitated? That’s pretty much what happened to me on my birthday. And I know it’s totally counter-productive and lame, but sometimes we even fail at failure. Ha! But a voice keeps tugging at the corners of my mind. It says, “Failure isn’t bad. Failure is a gift. Failure is feedback. Love your failures.” I’m intrigued. And I’m wondering what that would look like and what that would feel like. I’m still pondering that.

In the meantime, however, I’d like to offer you (and myself) 5 ways you are NOT failing as a mom. Even though failing is something we shouldn’t feel ashamed about, it’s still nice to remind ourselves sometimes that we’re doing better than we think we are.

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When Your Baby is Sick

September 10, 2016 at 7:22 am

Two days ago, I found myself searching the Internet for something to lift me up. I had spent several days and nights consoling my very sad, very sick baby, and the stress had taken its toll. I needed some validation, encouragement, understanding. But all I could find were articles and memes and blogposts that weren’t quite what I was looking for. Even 5th-time moms get discouraged when their kids are sick. Now that my baby is feeling more like herself, and now that I finally have a few moments to myself, I’d like to write the post I wish I had found when I was searching. I’ll address it to you, the weary mother who hasn’t been able to put the baby down in ages.

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