Crying It Out

Many mothers have a polarizing reaction to these three words. It is easy to get cocky with one’s own success or ideas and we often want to thrust these standards onto other women.  Women who have had success with the crying-it-out method may think that it is worth it to put in the work (by work, I mean crawling into the fetal position, praying baby would just give it up and go to sleep) and may even look down on mothers who aren’t “strong” enough to make these tough decisions. Other mothers who practice more of a baby-led approach may think that letting a baby cry it out is straight up cruel and border-line abusive.  I am definitely a believer in letting a baby cry-it-out. But as I have grown and matured (hopefully!) and have been humbled by my four very different children. I now have a more understanding attitude toward baby-led moms and have even modified my crying-it-out method.

I don’t always like to weigh in on controversial topics because I don’t want other mothers to feel uncomfortable or offended by my parental decisions. Honestly, I don’t like other people to give their opinions on my personal decisions so I usually keep them under wraps for the most part. It’s no one else’s business, after all. Just by proclaiming what your position is on any topic with babies/kids can leave other mothers feeling judged or guilty as if they have done something wrong or they judge you for what you do. We all want what is best for our kids. We don’t have to emphatically defend what choices we have made like they are on trial. After all, we are all very different and our children are all very different so our parenting choices naturally vary. I wish I could just turn off the part in my brain that wants to place everyone in neat, explainable little boxes. Like if you are pro-home-birth, then you must think that doctors are evil and your kids probably co-sleep with you.  Not true. Or if you happily get an epidural to avoid labor pain, you must also love giving your kids high fructose corn syrup and refer to the sharpie scribblings on your living room wall as your kids’ “art”.  Also not true. Most people rarely fit into one all-encompassing category.

This post is all about the success I have had with letting a baby cry-it-out, what principles I follow, and times when I have had to adjust my expectations for different babies or different circumstances. Though this post is pro-crying-it-out, I want to be clear that it is aimed toward new moms who want to know that they will actually sleep again and also for moms who are struggling with night owl children and are desperate to find a solution. If you don’t let your baby cry-it-out and its working for you and your family, by no means feel that I am trying to convince you to rock the boat and do things my way. If you are offended already or are gearing up to be because you hate the practice of letting a baby cry-it-out, stick with me for a little longer!

What is crying-it-out? Letting a baby cry-it-out basically means to lay a baby down in their bed while they are still awake so they can learn to fall asleep on their own without being rocked to sleep, patted, or any other soothing action from a parent. Whether they lay in the bed while starring at the ceiling, scream their lungs out, or play, they have to learn how to fall asleep on their own. The idea is that they learn how to self-sooth.

What does it mean to “self-sooth”? When a baby self-soothes, they learn how to fall asleep on their own without a parent being present. Whether they cuddle a particular blanket, listen to a sound machine, suck their thumb, or let their leg drop on the bed making a soothing thumping sound (like my sweet Delly), learning how to fall asleep by themselves has huge advantages for the babies and the parents. Not only does it take some of the pressure off of me (I may have the time to rock a baby to sleep when I have one. But if I have three other kids running around, something has to give) but it also helps the baby to get the sleep they need without having to wait for me.  If I let my kids pick out their own food, I am sure it wouldn’t make for a nutritional diet (I could also apply this to my husband). In the same way, why would I let a baby choose their sleep patterns? They need our direction even in this basic need. I am not leaving them to fend for themselves. I am just teaching them a valuable skill so everyone gets the sleep that we all desperately need.

Does “crying it out” actually work? My short answer is “yes”.  But of course, its not a practice that stands on it’s own. It must be coupled with a few other principles. Its not a matter of just letting a baby cry until they fall asleep with no other thoughts as to why they may be crying. It needs to be planned out and have a routine in mind for which to aim your efforts. Having a bedtime ritual can still happen (and I would say that it should) all the while still teaching your baby to self-sooth. A routine of bath time, followed by a book, and a sweet cuddle with a lullaby is a great way to prepare your baby for sleep. But when the ritual is done, the baby goes to bed even if still awake. This alleviates the parent of the responsibility of jumping through hoops to get the kid to fall asleep. It also allows the parent to leave the room upright like a normal human instead of sneaking around the floor like a ninja snake (honestly, we’ve all been there. Am I right?). But life doesn’t always go like clockwork so be prepared for circumstances that can throw your baby off of the routine. When in a different environment like being at the in-laws house for instance, parents need to adjust their expectations.

The other day, a new friend of mine (we were still feeling each other out on where we  land in parenting choices) expressed that she was having some difficulty knowing when her baby was hungry or sleepy and therefore was feeding baby when she cried only to have her fall asleep quickly into the feeding.  She also mentioned that she missed having time to sit with her husband in the evening without having a baby in her arms. I poked around with a few questions, wondering if she wanted advice or just someone to empathize with her situation. Like I said, I usually keep a tight lip on my opinions unless someone asks for advice or a direct question of what I do. Somehow, she made it clear that she was open to suggestions. I gave her a few tips that I have found that worked for my kids and I recommended a book to her, Oh Becoming Baby Wise (Okay, if you hate this book and now want to stop reading, hang with me a bit more!) After reading the book and putting it into practice, she has told me that now her baby sleeps so well and everything is working like clockwork (as much as things ever do).

Because I have seen how passing on advice can really have a positive impact on another family, I have decided to break my usual silence regarding sleeping training (another scary phrase) to share with you what I have learned and what has worked for my family and myself.

I have found incredible comfort and ease of mind with this book. But it is most certainly a guide and not to be followed to a tee (which, I believe it says in the first chapter). If you think your baby is hungry, that is the best reason to break routine and feed your baby. I relied on this book a great deal with my first and have had amazing results. But when my second born came along, I realized that though Baby Wise still gives great advice and a great routine to aim for, I needed to adjust my expectations and my method a bit.

The main things I have gleaned from this book are:

1). Make sure baby gets full feedings and doesn’t fall asleep while eating. This should start from day one. The whole BW method works on a cycle of 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours long with the time starting at the beginning of a feeding (length varies on the age of the baby). Full feedings helps you as a mother know that your child is really full and that he/she can go the rest of the 2 1/2 – 3 hour cycle until next feeding. It is a huge comfort knowing that your baby isn’t upset because of hunger. Also, by keeping them awake during the feeding, it helps to ensure you don’t become a human pacifier that your baby relies on to fall asleep, if you are breast feeding. I had a newborn that decided to use me as a human pacifier and I was too sleep deprived to realize how long the feeding had been (three hours). Let me just say, sticking your nipple in a light socket may be less painful than nursing with sore nips. Its not worth it.

2). Follow a Feed/Wake/Sleep pattern: When it is time to feed the baby, wake them up (if the baby seems really sleepy, I will wait another 30 min) and feed them. Then let the baby have awake time even if it is only 5-10 minutes when they are just a few weeks old. When the baby shows signs of sleepiness or there is only 1 1/2 hours left of the cycle (I always want them to get at least an hour and half nap before the 3 hour cycle is up), lay baby down even when awake. Newborns usually go right to sleep. I practice this 3 hour cycle with babies that are older than 2 weeks old.

3). Be mindful of times of growth spurts and changes that may effect the routine. Babies are hungrier when going through a growth spurt, so feed them sooner or for longer. Also, as the baby develops, sometimes they start waking from their naps after only 45 minutes. This can be frustrating when you are used to the routine working. But babies are constantly changing. My rule is if they wake up crying, they are either super hungry or still tired. Most of the time, it has proven to be the latter. So back down they go until they wake up happy or if it is time for the next feeding.

4). Like in all things, consistency is the key.  You can’t be super diligent every other day and expect to have good results. Your baby needs to know what to expect and you need to know what to expect from your baby. This will comfort the baby and help every day to have a peaceful flow. Guessing games as to why your baby is upset is one of the hardest things during the first year of a baby’s life because they can’t tell you what they need. It also helps when you don’t drag your kid to a million places every day. Traffic, long conversations, and little hold ups can throw your routine off and then the baby is either passed their point of hunger or tiredness. Establishing a strong routine will show you at what times getting out is do-able and where you can be flexible as the baby grows. Consistency, people! Its worth it a million times over.

**Side note: Sticking to a 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hour schedule may seem restricting, but it doesn’t last forever. And the benefits of full nights of sleep, and predictable days far out weighs the few months of small windows of time to do outings and other activities.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Keeping an opened mind/ just because something worked for baby #1, doesn’t mean it will work for every baby:  My mom always says that if something isn’t working for everyone, it just isn’t working. This is so true. If you have a baby that refuses to sleep through the night, and mom basically never sleeps because of it, this isn’t working. If you have a baby crying it out every night, well passed the usual three to five day period of breaking a habit or starting a routine, then something isn’t working. If dad has to sleep in a different room because all the children have to sleep with mom, this isn’t working either. Anyone can muscle through for a certain period of time, but it can’t be the norm or it will cause too much stress on one individual and the whole family suffers. Its okay to admit something isn’t working. Every time I tell my husband that I am frustrated because such-n-such kid never/always does such-n-such, he asks what I have done to try to fix the problem. I think about it and usually the answer is I try the same thing over and over again with no change and I expect different results. Over-the-top-eyeroll. You would think I would have learned this lesson by now.

My second, Delano can create a habit after just one time of giving in to him. If I patted his bottom one time to help him go to sleep, he wanted it every time. He is 3 years old now, and if he is sick or something, and I lay next to him in bed to help him go to sleep, he will demand it the next three nights, usually. Also, when I let Del cry it out as a baby, he was much more determined to stay awake and wail than my first. We had a few long cries with Jenkins, but nothing like with Delano. I had to adjust.

So though I strongly believe in letting a baby cry it out, I have a new guideline that I have taken much comfort in. While I sleep train, I let my babies cry for 5 excruciating minutes. I go in and take about 1 minute to comfort them, make sure they don’t need a diaper change or feeding, and make sure nothing could possibly be hurting them (Mommas, you know how when your baby cries, and you get fixated on one thought like a strand of your hair is wrapped around their toe? Or a neighbor’s pet rattle snake must be biting the baby) When all is well, I lay the baby back down for another 5 minute crying session. I do this until the baby falls asleep or until the time is up for their next feeding. I can listen to my baby cry for this 5 minute period without becoming completely undone. I remind myself that they need sleep as much as they need food. Rest for a baby is so important, just as it is for all humans.

Even though I have four very different kids with four very different sleep habits, I can say (with humility) that having a routine to aim for and teaching my infants good sleep habits has been a tremendous reward for all of us. My kids all sleep 9-12 hours a night (and have since they were between 8 weeks and three months old) and have taken two hour (sometimes longer) naps twice a day when 6month to 1 year, and at least a 2 hour afternoon nap from 1 year to 3 years old (Pammy is 18 months old but going strong!)

Photo by Cris Saur on Unsplash

With every kid, I have wandered away from sleep training only to realize that my world is falling apart with an unpredictable baby and lack of sleep. As soon as I fight to break bad habits and get the new one on a schedule, I see how nice life can be with four kids who all sleep well.  I am a better mom when I am well rested and my kids get the benefit of their own sleep plus they get to wake up to a sweet, well rested mom.

My Mother’s Day

I love mom jokes. Even if they aren’t that funny, I laugh my head off at the jokes because I can relate to all the stressful or unfunny situations moms find themselves in. All mom jokes, especially this imomsohard vid (and this one is also funny, I just watched it. hee hee), have hilariously sad truth in them.  The week leading up to Mother’s Day this year, I saw several memes and funny videos about how husbands tend to make a big deal about Mother’s Day but somehow it ends up making more work for the mom and usually leads to stressful situations.

But I decided that this common scenario was not going to happen to me this year. No matter what, I was going to be calm and relaxed and just enjoy the ones who call me “mom”.

This is how our day went:

My dreamy sleep was interrupted around 4am by the precious words, “Mom, I went poo poo!” excitedly screamed from the bathroom. Our Delly is newly potty trained and every bowel movement is a complete celebration. I wiped him and tucked him back into bed and I followed suit.

My husband had gone fishing with my brother-in-law at my in-laws lake house the night before. They had fished long into the night so my husband spent the night over there. I woke up around 5:45am to sweet Faye’s morning feeding cries.  As I dozed while nursing her, my husband came home and immediately started making me breakfast around 6 am. After finishing feeding Faye, I came into the kitchen where my husband had displayed my Mother’s Day gifts, a new plant (yay!) and a few beautiful pots to soon house some of my plants who currently were dwelling in ugly, cheap pots. The day was off to a great start.

I inhaled the breakfast (nursing makes me eat like a teenager) an began getting ready for the kids to get up. My husband wanted to lay down for a nap since he was up so late. As he slept, the rest of the crew awakened and I passed out bananas and cups of milk to everyone. This is our usual first phase of breakfast which is followed later by something more substantial.

I sat with my kids and enjoyed just being in their presence. They were excited about my mother’s day gifts and everyone was full of smiles.  The time for church was approaching but since my husband wasn’t up yet, I figured we would just miss the 9:30am service and go to the 11am. No reason to rush or hurry. Just enjoy the kids, I thought.

My husband woke up a few minutes after 9am. He held the baby for a little bit and played with Pammy.

“Let’s go to church this morning,” he said.

“Okay, but its already after 9am right now and none of us are dressed so I figured we would just go to the 11am.” I replied.

“But that will throw our day off. Let’s go now. Is that okay?” he urged.

Deep breath. I am not going to get caught up in a panic to rush around. “Okay that sounds great. I prefer going to the 9:30 service, too. Can you dress the kids? I am going to throw some clothes on.”

And that is just what I did. I put on a comfortable dress (and didn’t allow myself to second guess my clothing choice), wiped my face with a wash cloth (no time for make up though I don’t usually wear much anyway), grabbed the kids bags, shoved some diapers into a couple and some fresh underwear in the others and went to the car. It doesn’t matter what I look like, I thought. No one is going to be looking that closely at me. And I am smothered with kids so if they do noticed that it looks like I just rolled out of bed they will figure I had a hard morning getting the kids out the door. I am not going to worry about it.

I got in the car and looked in the mirror for the first time that morning. Ehhh, not my greatest just-rolled-out-of-bed look but there’s no turning back now!  Some days I wear sleep deprivation better than other days. This was an other day. But I had already decided not to sweat the small things and just enjoy the day of getting to be a mother to my sweet kids. I am not going to snap at anyone or be a butthead because I don’t feel like I look my best. It doesn’t matter anyway. So I closed the mirror and quickly braided my hair into a side braid, hoping for a Katniss Everdeen look. It fell short.

We arrived to a crowded church, checked all four kids into the nursery, and headed to find a seat in the dimly lit sanctuary.

After one song, one of the pastors got up and said something sweet about mothers and then he announced that he was going to give a gift to the mom who has the youngest child in the service and to the mom who has the oldest.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

“If you have a kid who is a year or younger, please stand up.” he said with a huge smile on his face, like he knew what he was about to make me do.

I sat. My husband smiled and nudge me, “That’s you” he whispered sweetly in my ear.  I smiled back and looked around. No one else was standing in the whole room. Then I looked at the woman sitting two seats over from me as she held her 9 or 10 month old. She stood up. And, reluctantly, so did I.

The pastor then said “Okay, who has a baby younger than 6 months old?”

The lady next to me sat down. All eyes were upon me. The spot light seemed much brighter than normal as it high-lighted all the things I was sure were wrong with my appearance but was afraid to look down to examine.

Is my dress tucked into my leggings? Is my hair sticking straight up? Why didn’t I take five minutes to fix my face before I left the house? Did Pammy wipe her runny nose on me somewhere? I was suppose to just blend in and not be seen today!

Everyone was clapping. I don’t even remember if I forced a smile to everyone. I was mortified.

But they gave me a cool succulent in a magnetic pot for the fridge. I love plants and I love winning things so that helped ease my embarrassment.

On the drive home, I smiled and couldn’t believe that of all the days, I had to stand in front of a church congregation of strangers (we are new to this church) on a day I decided not to care about how I looked. Isn’t that how it always is? My husband asked why I was smiling and I briefly described my feelings.

“But you look so beautiful today.” he replied.

That man is the sweetest.  He truly is the best one. So glad I am his wife and mother to our kids. It was a wonderful and eventful Mother’s Day.

Thanks for reading! How was your Mother’s Day? Check out my other Mommy Mishaps if you need a morale booster. My pain is your gain.

All The Things

 

Definition:  All the things
1. every single thing or every particular of an aggregate or total; all said in a satisfyingly more dramatic way.
2. something extremely important articulated in a theatrical fashion to add emphasis.

“All the things” is my new favorite phrase because it seems to express that busyness is made up of lots of little things instead of a few big things. The word “everything” is too broad of a stroke for the endless tasks that make up a mother’s day.

Because life is super busy right now, I am trying to be a little more reflective in my day to day life.  A typical day for us is waking up in the 6 o’clock hour, feeding the kids several times through out the hour ( they like a staggered breakfast of a cup of milk, followed by a banana, a bowl of dry cereal, then maybe some yogurt), then we play outside, we come in so I can feed the baby and the kids play in their room, we read together, maybe we sit at the table and do some “school”, then its lunch, then naps, then dinner prep, dinner, play with dad, clean up, get ready for bed, bedtime, every. single. day.  Life is full and most everything in our day is something that I have to initiate or produce.  I have this problem that when there is a job in front of me (aka four precious children who are experts at making lots of messes, lots of dirty laundry, lots of tears, and need lots of one on one time) I basically put my head down, turn my mind off, and work. I work hard and constantly but I spend little time thinking on how to better myself and my strategy for getting to all the things.    I may be really good at sweeping, but if I never open my eyes to look for the dirt, then will my floor ever be clean? If you are sleep deprived like I am, I will give you the answer. The answer is no, the floor will never be clean if I don’t look for the dirt.  Basically, I want to clear my mind so I can look for the things in my own life that are out of place and need tidying.  There are things that I could do better and more strategically so that I have more time to relax with my family and less stress filled events in my day. But sitting and thinking about what those things could be ends up being another task on my plate that I probably won’t get to.

Gosh, there is so much to do and to think on and to worry about. Just getting through a day seems like an awesome cardio workout. I only thought P90X was hard back when I had time for it. I could do that in my sleep now AND nurse the baby at the same time!  Taking care of a family’s physical needs is one thing. But attempting to take care of everyone’s emotional needs is just so much more. We know that our kids won’t remember every time we fail them. But if they don’t get the crucial one on one times, the mercy instead of discipline times, or the tough love lessons at other times, will they have a bigger mountain to climb later in life?

Then there, of course, is the terrifying advice that says, “Don’t neglect your marriage during these years. You don’t want your children to leave your house and you realize that you no longer know your husband.” It is as true as the advice that says, “Cherish every moment of your kids being young because tomorrow they will be grown”.  And then there is everyone else I care about that do not live within my home that I want to spend time with and show that I care for them.  But how can I do all the things?

It’s all so much.

I want to give and give and give so the precious ones in my life will have every opportunity to be their best selves. So that they never ever feel like no one in the world cares about them. Because I definitely care. I care so much that I will give and give and give more than I did yesterday. But it never seems enough. And then there comes the moment that I can’t give anymore, so I snap at someone. It doesn’t matter if it is one of the precious little ones or my sweet husband, it hurts to see them hurt by me.

So what is the answer? I think the answer is trust, and, as impossible as it sounds, rest.  Trust in God that only He can really take care of all the things my hands can’t do and trust that He will give me the strength to continue working on the things I can.  And as far as rest goes, I need to find a space to truly get away where no one needs me.

My husband has encouraged me to have an evening to myself (actually he is making me, no ands, ifs, or buts about it). Really it is just an hour where I leave the house, alone, and be by myself.  Its super weird and feels completely foreign. I want to go see a friend or something so I can laugh and joke and feel like I did before I was employed by Mommies-R-Us: Opened 24/7. And though I think it is important to have these times with other adults, I have realized I can’t ever be what I was before because I can never turn off “the mom” in me. But I do have to find a place in my head where I can rest from my job of being a mother.  So I am trying to be more reflective and introspective. And it is hard.

The only goals I want to accomplish during  this time alone are 1) truly learning how to be alone without feeling panicky like someone needs me or guilty for getting a moment to myself and 2) think of a practical solution to one situation that brings stress to my everyday.  My first goal will take a while to accomplish, I think. I don’t want to sound too dramatic like I never get to relax or that my husband doesn’t help me.  I have times of rest in the evenings at home but I am always on call if anyone should need another tuck in, a drink of water, a twisted sock that needs fixing. All the things that kids think of in the first 10 minutes to 2 hours of bedtime. I end up staying up later than I should because its MY time to do MY things. But I start the next day over tired because I fed a baby around 2 am, and had to help a newly potty trained kid to the bathroom around 4 am, and my other two decided to get up at 6 am on the dot.

Last Wednesday was my first attempt to go be alone. I got in the car, having no idea where to go. I went to three places that were closed. I live in a small town and never leave the house after 5 o’clock so I had no idea that things shut down in the evenings. I finally ended up at Starbucks with 49 minutes until I was due back home.  I got a drink and sat down outside on the patio and wrote in my journal. I wrote the words “This is torture but I am thankful for a husband who knows whats best for me”. So that was progress. Being alone for one hour helped me to remember how incredibly blessed I am to have a partner in life who is so amazing. He isn’t perfect but he is constantly thinking of ways to bring out the best in all of us.

As for goal #2, the one problem that I wanted to address in my first night away was ending my work day feeling settled. Usually, I leave dirty dishes on the table or stacked messily near the sink. Flour or other ingredients that went into making the dinner remain on my counter and a few random toys or various kid cups or spoons can be found lying on the floor.  I am not proud of this and it makes for a stressful morning. I have made attempts to fix it and have made some progress over the last year but I need a real plan.  So after the kids go to bed at 8pm or even before if they are occupied, my plan is to put everything away, dirty dishes into the sink with a rinse if not into the dishwasher, table and counters get a wipe down, floor is swept, and to declare the end to my work day, I light a candle to sit on the counter top until my husband and I decide to turn in for the night.  For some reason, I crave the ritual of lighting that candle in the evening and it has propelled me to finish my work so I can have that little reward.  It is an orange essential oil candle I found at Walmart (I have a lavender one as well!). Its the perfect end to a full day.

I get the whole idea that I need to put the oxygen mask on before I put it on my kids if ever in a desperate situation on a plane. The idea is you can’t help the ones you love if you don’t take care of yourself first. It goes against a mother’s nature to put herself first. But it still makes sense. If I can have an hour to be bored by myself so I can actually think maybe I will be able to stop feeling like I am playing catch up all day. I am hoping to truly learn that my family can do without me for a little bit so I can be better for them when I return from rest. So I will keep going out once a week to learn new things and to remember things I already know but have been too busy to articulate.

 

What ways have you found to make your day a little easier? Do you have a time in your week where you are able to get away and reflect? Thanks for reading and God bless!

10 Favorites for Baby

With each new baby, I have to remind myself of what my go-to products are that make life a little easier in the first days/weeks/months/year. While some things are purely personal preference, I highly recommend this list to any mother-to-be who is emotionally entrenched in the nesting phase of pregnancy, desperately searching for the answers to, “What will I really need for baby,” and, “Which brand is the best”.  Beyond baby essentials, this is my list of 10 Favorites for Baby.  I thought that if my new little one sucks out all my remaining brain cells or my other three decide to go through exciting, new phases around the time of the birth (they all have impeccable timing) at least I can look back at this post and remember what I like as I zombie walk through the aisles of stores. It was crucial that I wrote this list down before the baby arrived so I could be prepared. But here I am typing it up as I rock my newborn, who is sitting in her bouncy seat, with my foot. This is what motherhood looks like with baby #4, folks. But I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I mean, look at these cuties!

 

1. Badger Baby Balm: My first midwife gave me some of this stuff when my sweet Jenkie was born. I don’t really ever put lotions on my babies because of all the chemicals and perfumes that are in them. I have not done much research myself on the reasons not to put lotion on babies, however. But I just like the idea of using things as natural as possible. This stuff gives all the moisturizing a sweet little one needs and it smells heavenly.  One tin of it can really last you a long time and can be used for lots of things like diaper rash (though sometimes I need something a little stronger) and cradle cap (if you follow application with brushing with a soft brush or lightly with a comb).   Baby Badger Balm is definitely a must. Other Badger Balms that I like for myself are the Sleep Balm which I personally love because of the lavender and the Healing Balm for hard working hands which I use when my hands and feet get dry in the cold weather.  Works like a charm! Click on the picture if you want to get the Baby Balm!

2. This book is absolutely amazing! It gives a detailed description of almost every type of sickness, rash,disease, or ailment your child may catch. Each ailment has a description and then lists all the different ways of treatment from conventional to home remedies. I love this book because when my kids come down with anything, I can look up all the worse case scenario diseases and rule them out without calling someone for advice whilst in a panic. Most of the time, the ailments are pretty easy to identify.  In general, I tend to have one foot in the natural-remedy-granola world and one foot in the conventional medicine world. I don’t want to neglect or rule out either of them completely; putting my child in unnecessary risk in the process.  I can first try the natural remedies that the book suggests after I have identified what is most likely going on with my kid. If that doesn’t work, I have a heads up on what the doctor’s treatment will most likely be or what he/she will suggest. Knowing what to expect if I do decide to take my kids in to see the doctor takes a huge load off my mind. But many times, my kid’s symptoms clear up in a day or two and life moves on. Regardless of which way you tend to lean toward, this book is awesome just so you have easy access to information on what may be going on with your child. I try to avoid googling symptoms because of the images that pop up, forever burned in my memory.

3. Gripe Water: So I don’t like to try new things. Several different people told me to give my babies gripe water when I mentioned that they seemed to have a lot of painful gas. With a newborn, I don’t like the idea of anything going into their mouths other than breast milk. So I never tried the gripe water until my third child.  It was pretty awesome and worked really quickly. I was amazed. This is the brand I used.

4. Lansinoh lanolin: You don’t need a lot but if you need something to put on those chapped nips if you don’t want to hate your life. This stuff is 100% lanolin which is completely natural and safe for your baby to nurse on after application. If you are like me and don’t know, lanolin is a wax produced by sheep. It helps water to roll off their wooly backs. It has a ton of uses and is in many products that you may use everyday.

5. On Becoming Babywise: I know that every mother has their own opinions of sleep training/scheduling and what not. I know it can be quite controversial. With that being said, I love this book. It is meant to be a guide and not to be followed to the nth degree.  My children are all very different sleepers, they each require a different amount of sleep, and some form habits quicker than others. This guide worked for at least the first three (we shall see about the newbie). My newborns were sleeping through the night between 8 and 12 weeks of age. They still all sleep well (some better than others) getting between 9-12 hours of sleep at night and all take great naps (though my 5 year old only takes a nap about every other day now).

6. Baby bath chair: I gotta be honest, bathing a new baby is not my favorite thing. When they start to get some solid weight on them and don’t look so frail, I enjoy bathtime much more. But newborns always look cold to me and the last thing I want to do it take all their warm clothing off and put them in water. Plus they can be quite slippery. If they are screaming, I start feeling a little dizzy (am I the only one?) so bathtime seems particularly dangerous. This bath chair helped me get over some of my fears. It is also easy to store, unlike some of those big plastic baby baths.

7. Bouncy seat WITH vibrations: So the bouncy seat that I am using this moment to rock my newborn to sleep is the very one that I was given at my first child’s baby shower. I didn’t even register for it. A sweet woman who knows what new moms need gave it to me and I am forever grateful. I don’t usually go for all the baby equipment that just sits useless most of the time except that one month or two that the kid is at the right age to use it. But this thing is worth it. The vibrations are just what a baby needs to get out some gas or to sooth them into a sweet sleep. The picture above is not the seat that I use but it is similar and is Fisher Price. It is easy to take from room to room or even outside. When I go on the patio to sit and watch my older three play, I like to bring the bouncy seat out with me in case there is a situation when I need to put Faye down quickly. What kind of a situation, you may ask.  Catching Pammy who is teetering on the edge of the fort or pulling a potentially poisonous mushroom out of her mouth, or shuffling one of the boys to the house from the trampoline who has to go potty but doesn’t have time to put his shoes on and can’t walk on the grass for fear of stickers. You know, every day emergencies. At one point in my early mothering days, I thought this seat needed to be with us at all times. I remember taking it to an In and Out Burger because we didn’t know where our first newborn would sit in a restaurant and we also didn’t know how to eat a messy burger and hold a baby at the same time. We were new parents. If you keep the seat at home where it belongs, you will be glad you go it.

8. A new show to binge watch: So I included this in my other list: 10 Favorites for Pregnancy. Remember, you will be sitting down a lot to feed your baby and you need to have something that can distract you from the housework and the fact that you are so so so tired (don’t worry about losing sleep. It gets better). And a hilarious new show is just what the doctor ordered. I am watching Raising Hope right now and it may be the hormones/baby blues or lack of sleep, but I think it is the funniest thing I have watched in a long time. And I always end up crying at one point… that is probably the hormones. I wish I was as cool as Virginia.

9. A new hobby:  Totally kidding. The newborn is my new hobby. I love creating things and when I am nursing in the middle of the night, I love to dream about all the things I want to create. It keeps my mind occupied but it can also feel like I have all these desires but I am stuck on a very strict schedule of feeding a baby every few hours, trying to get the baby to sleep when I am not feeding her, feeding the other kids and myself, changing lots and lots of diapers, and trying to get a few hours of sleep in when I can. But the truth is I am not stuck doing anything. I have the privilege to tend to these sweet kids and this is the life I chose. My crafts can wait and so can my daydreams. I am living the best dream right now. Its not always glamorous and I don’t always feel awesome about my parenting or how my kids react to my parenting. But there is a reason why I can’t get anything done right now. Young kids and babies require us to slow down and go at their pace. I need to be soaking up every minute of this phase of life because when it is gone, I know my daydreams will be to relive these precious moments.

10. Siblings: I remember when I was about to have my second, I was really worried about how Jenkins, my then two year old, would take the presence of a new kid in the house. I devoted every moment of my day to Jenks and now he was going to have to share me.  Now that I have four kids, I think about how lucky my newest baby, Faye, is to have three older siblings. She has three more people in her life to love and adore her. It is amazing to see the love between my kids. Almost every day, I over hear a conversation between my boys talking about how they will always be brothers.  Pammy literally can not keep her hands off of Faye. Every time she looks in Faye’s direction, she has to run over and lightly put her hand on Faye’s head or back. What a gift it is to love these little people so much and to see them love each other.

Bonus Favorite: So this is not for a baby in the first year but it is still pretty awesome. We have finally had tremendous success with Delly’s potty training! It has been a tough road but I will spare you all the nitty gritties. This potty seat wasn’t the factor that changed everything for us but its pretty cool and super convenient. Del has gone 8 days in underwear (even through naps and nights) and no accidents! Two weeks ago, I could barely get him to sit on the potty. If you are at your wits end and think you child will be the only teenager not potty trained, hang in there! One day, things will just click. Even if there is no evidence that they are getting better with potty training. Be encouraged! Nothing lasts forever.

Thanks for reading! What is a baby-must-have that you love? I love finding new things that make life easier with a baby. God bless!

A Birth Story: When the Orchid Blooms

Well my life has been changed once again by the preciousness of a newborn! I have learned so many lessons throughout this pregnancy and now postpartum.  All the ups and downs of hormones and pregnancy have been well worth it to get to be apart of this little one’s life. I feel like a first time mom all over again as I am having to relearn how to do things like get those sweet little arms in and out of long sleeve onsies.  I am constantly reminded that I don’t really know anything and have had to struggle along when I feel like I should be really good at the whole pregnancy/birth/newborn phase by now. This story has all the usual birth story stuff  but it is also about learning patience and how to let go of things that don’t really matter. And, of course, this birth story is about meeting the most spirited and precious baby #4.

Because I knew I would be posting this birth story, I was constantly thinking of titles for the post. Toward the end of pregnancy, if I sneezed, I would think, “It Started with a Sneeze,” or if it rained, I thought, “A Light Through the Storm.” I love thinking of titles.  But as the days continued to fly by, I realized that my orchid, which has basically been a pot of big, dark green leaves most of its time with me, had just grown two new stems covered with buds. I thought that as the buds grew and my belly extended that there must be some connection. Like E.T. and Elliott. I would not go into labor until the orchid bloomed, I decided. This, of course, is absurd. But waiting for a finicky flower to bloom was much like waiting for labor to start and it was less emotional for me. Plus, it made an excellent title for this blog post. Won’t you agree?

To tell the story in its entirety, lets go back to about 12 months ago when I first began telling people that I was indeed in the “family way” once again. Keep in mind that my sweet little bundle is 12 days old today. For those of you who aren’t mathematicians,  12 months is a particularly long pregnancy. I will explain.

Last March, I decided that I must be pregnant. My breast milk was low, my body seemed to be telling me that things were a-changing, I was emotional to put it nicely, and every now and then I would feel the tiniest precious flutter in my belly. I hate taking pregnancy tests because it feels wasteful when they are negative. I also pretend like I understand what my body is telling me so I just went with it. I was pregnant. I started telling a few people here and there while always throwing in a little disclaimer that I could be wrong but felt pretty sure that I was. After a little while, I got really confident and just told people straight out. I contacted my midwife, I figured I was around 12 weeks or so, I wore very belly bump friendly dresses to church while putting my hand on my belly occasionally, and even told people I was already feeling movement.

But one morning I woke up and just didn’t feel super pregnant that day. So I took a test. Negative. Next morning, Ol’ Aunt Flo came for a visit. Embarrassment seemed to slowly spread over me like a thick, suffocating tar. No belly bump. Just belly. No sweet baby flutters. Just gas. Ugh. So humiliating. I had to go un-tell too many people. I just emailed all the ladies in my Sunday school class and then didn’t go for a couple of weeks. Oh the shame is still painful! Why did I just relive it to tell you!? Oh I know why.  When I do something like this, it makes me feel better when as many people know about it as possible. Then no one ever thinks that I don’t do really embarrassing things which means no one will think I am normal only to find out one day that I have done things like rubbed my none pregnant belly in public.  “I yam what I yam”, people. Popeye knows what I am talking about.

I tell this part of the story because obviously my body was trying to get back into the swing of things which made me feel emotional/hormonal, crampy, and just uncomfortable. I have only had about 5 periods since March 2011 so you can see how I could be confused. After months of feeling my body getting back to normal, I actually did get pregnant at some point and quickly confirmed it with a pregnancy test before telling anyone! In fact, I got to announce it at Pamela’s first birthday with all family present. Mentally and physically, I still feel like those extra three months seemed to be added to this pregnancy.  By the time the real due date rolled around, I was more than ready to go into labor.

I know my hair is a bit messy. This is a picture of honesty. 🙂

The actual pregnancy was not exactly a walk in the park. The first trimester was riddled with nausea and migraines. My sweet family had to put up with a grouchy, non-productive mom for a few weeks. But we made it through. The next trimester was much better like many are. I seemed to “bloom” quite quickly but that’s no surprise since this was my fourth pregnancy.  So I wore maternity clothes about 20 weeks sooner that I usually reserved for the end of pregnancy . It really didn’t bother me much. I have been in a constant state of weight gain and loss for the past five years so I know it comes with the territory. By the time the third trimester came, I was feeling pretty big and my energy seemed low. Keeping up with the older three kids was taking its toll. I had good and bad days. I had lots of encouragement from my sweet husband and precious family and friends. I was more than ready to meet this new baby and I also desperately wanted to play with my older kids again without having to be careful all the time. But I had to be patient and wait. Assuming this baby would come early since the other three had paved the way, I wondered if I would even make it to full term. There probably wasn’t much keeping this baby in there after all. Based on my emotions and how I felt physically, I decided that I would give birth the day that I hit 37 weeks, which was a Sunday. On the Tuesday prior to this date, I went to my midwife appointment. After feeling around on my belly, asking other midwives/assistants to do the same, my midwife concluded that the baby, who had been head down for weeks and weeks, was now breech (apparently due to a pendulous uterus. Because I haven’t done anything to strengthen my abs between kids, my uterus tilts forward. This can encourage baby to be breech. More on that in a future post). At first, I was hardly phased by this information. But the more it set in, I realized this could throw a major wrench in my plan to give birth at home. My midwife even told me that she had not delivered a breech baby yet (except for a twin who came second) and did not know if she was comfortable with doing so.  My wheels spun and I tried to figure out a plan but ultimately, I ended up crying on the shoulder of the sweet birth assistant. I was not in control and I had to accept that.

Getting all the measurements.

My midwifery team gave me lots of exercises to do to encourage the sweet kid to flip before they tried to manually turn the baby. I spent about a week doing these exercises like laying upside down on a tilted ironing board (check out spinningbabies.com if you are in a similar situation). Not super comfortable but I wanted to do anything I could to get baby to flip. I cried on the phone to my mom who was so sweet and reassured me that this baby was going to be head down and to not worry. I always say that if the safest place for me to have a baby is in the hospital, then I will go, of course. But now faced with the reality of possibly having a hospital birth (which in a breech situation would probably mean c-section), I realized I was all talk. I was not happy about the idea and I carried the weight of the possibility on my face. I hate when I see a momma who can’t even pull it together to smile when looking at her children. Now I was seeing that momma in the mirror. I was all sorts of overwhelmed, worried, and depressed. I hate that a little bit of not so great news had this kind of impact on me.  This news had defeated me.  I am not against hospitals and definitely am thankful for them and modern medicine. There are just things that I want to avoid that can typically happen in a hospital birth. I also love the comfort of being in my own home during labor and delivery. But the biggest thing that I was struggling with was the unknown. Giving birth in the hospital is completely foreign to me and I am a wet noodle in new situations.

Throughout the next week or so, I felt the baby’s head on my right side and then later on my left side and sometimes in the middle pushing on my ribs. This baby clearly had plenty of room to move around even at this late stage of pregnancy. The Sunday I had decided to give birth came… and went. Predicting when I will go into labor is not something I am gifted with. I relaxed and finally was able to let go of thinking that I could control anything. I enjoyed time with my family again and just waited for my Tuesday appointment to see if my exercises and all the prayers had had an effect on the baby’s position. Much to my relief, it had! The baby’s head was down and nestled in. Just in case, my midwife told me to stop all the exercises I had been doing and to wear my belly band to hopefully keep baby from flipping again.

Baby was in the right position and I was ready to go into labor. For the next 3 weeks, I waited for any little sign that labor was starting. For the next 3 weeks, I had no signs that labor would ever come. More lessons of patience. I was getting pretty tired and awkward. I had to sit more than I am used to and let my husband do my usual jobs around the house. He brought lots of high fructose into our home, which is the one thing I refuse to buy. We aren’t health nuts but not buying HF is my one rule. My husband has no rules. The day he brought fruit loops home is the day I sobbed on the couch. Hormones were a major factor here. But I also had to learn to let go again. My children would be fine. I knew this. I am a pretty laid back person, I like to think, as long as things stay within the boundaries I have set (that doesn’t sound like something a laid-back person would say). My boundaries are pretty wide so I don’t often have issues with them being crossed. But when they are, I become a puddle of emotions and uneasiness.

My due date was on the Sunday before Spring break. On the Friday before,  I started feeling some pretty regular yet light contractions every 20 minutes. Nothing major but slightly more noticeable than Braxton Hicks.  I called my husband at work to let him know. A couple hours later, nothing had changed but I called my husband again to ask if he could come home early as  I was having a rough day and didn’t want to be exhausted if I did go into full labor. I hardly ever call my husband at work and have never ever asked him to come home early for me. I don’t like needing help with my kids and with chores. I have serious issues asking for help even if he is just in the other room. I had to let this go. I had to admit that I couldn’t do the things I normally do. This is hard, ya’ll! I don’t want to be any less than awesome for my family. I had to let this expectation of myself go.

The light contractions lasted from Friday to Wednesday with not much change. I slept great and wasn’t super bothered by them. The only thing that bothered me was that I went passed my due date! That is not suppose to happen with kid #4. Alas, I had to be patient. I know there is no way to hurry a baby who is snug in my belly and I know that any sign that labor is starting isn’t a real sign. Labor starts when it hurts. That’s my only sign. Wednesday night, we put the kids down and I had a few contractions that had a little more bite to them. I started checking the time and realized I was having them ever 7-9 minutes. Improvement! I told my husband and we began transforming our bedroom into a birth room. The inflatable pool was blown up, the desk and night stands were moved around. I got out my boxes of items I had prepared for labor like clean towels and wash cloths, clothes for baby, and my birth kit. I made several half peanut butter sandwiches in case I needed some food during labor. Everything was ready. So we went to bed. Around 3:30am, a contraction woke me up but I was able to go back to sleep. Around 4am, Delly woke me up because his blanket was all twisted. I tucked him back into bed and had to grit my teeth through a few bigger contractions. Nothing serious, but they were getting uncomfortable. At 4:30, I was ready to admit that this was actual labor so I decided that going back to sleep was not an option. I went to the kitchen and chomped down a pb&j or two to give me energy. My husband got up with me and started filling the birth pool as well as texted my mother-in-law who was going to take the kids to her house during labor. At 5am, I texted my midwife to let her know what was up. My labor increased in intensity. My husband made me a massive plate of eggs and toast. Between contractions, I hammered my breakfast as quickly as I could. The thought of having to chew while having a contraction seemed horrible and probably dangerous. I asked my husband if we had heard back from either my midwife or mother-in-law. “Not yet”, was his response. I was concentrating pretty hard at this point so I didn’t have time to worry about it. My husband is pretty good at not looking concerned when he is. I had no sense of time but it was creeping up on 7am now. Kids were waking up. My midwife arrived at some point during this time, apologizing profusely that her phone was on silent which never happens. I know this is true because she always responds promptly. At this point though, I had learned a serious lesson of letting things go so even if she had not made it in time, I think I would have been fine with it. I was just ready to have that sweet baby. I could hear my kids in the kitchen having breakfast between my contractions. One of my biggest fears about having a home birth was my kids hearing me in pain. I let it go because I had no other choice.

I asked my midwife if I could get in the birth tub and she said I absolutely could. I then asked if it would slow labor down. I knew I was working hard but thought I was far from the end. She and the assistant kind of laughed and said labor would definitely not slow down at this point. I got in. It felt so nice. My husband was in and out of the room, wanting to be with me, but also tending to the kids in the kitchen or checking the temperature of the water in the birth pool. I had a few contractions in the pool and then the training midwife checked to see how far along I was. She told me I could push whenever I wanted to. If you have read my other birth stories, I always have an insecurity about knowing when to push. I never have a huge urge and always try to push a little early or second guess myself on how hard to push when it is time for it. Earlier in my pregnancy, I told my husband that I planned to not push at all this birth unless I actually felt an urge. Luckily, my husband heard the training midwife say that I could push if I wanted to. He grabbed my hand and whispered into my ear, “Don’t push until you have to.” I am so glad he was right there with me at that moment, squeezing my hand. I remembered to wait for the urge to push. I let one contraction go without pushing and it felt like the baby’s head was pushing down hard.

“I think I am going to push this time!” I kind of yelled. I pushed and I felt something strong. “Something popped!” I screamed. As the contraction left and I felt like a normal person again, I realized I was half naked, sitting in water with four very concerned people starring at me. I assured everyone it was just my water breaking.

I pushed again and felt that horrific and glorious ring of fire! I knew I was close to the end. I let the next contraction go without pushing. I couldn’t believe I was already to the ring of fire!

“Here comes the head!” I screamed on the next push. I like to keep everyone informed of what’s going on.

“One more!” I yelled! And out the sweet baby came. I was on my knees with my elbows on the side of the tub. My husband was near my face holding my hand while my midwife, training midwife, and birth assistant were behind me. The baby came out in the water and I was the first one to pick up my sweet little one. This was a first for me and it was so special. I was overjoyed! Then I heard the training midwife say something about “she”.

“It’s a girl?” I asked. All three ladies smiled and nodded. “It’s a girl! Oh my sweet Faye Louise!” I screamed. I was absolutely over the moon.

Apparently while I was pushing my mother in law was loading the kids up in the car. My husband ran out to tell them the good news.

My sweet Faye Louise was 7 lbs and 12 oz of pure sweetness. She is our smallest baby which I was convinced she would be our biggest. I should learn that anything I assume, the opposite is usually true. Pammy loves being a big sister and wants to help with everything. Sometimes more aggressively than I wish.  The boys are so sweet with little Faye but get tearfully overwhelmed with her cries.  We are so thankful and feel extremely blessed by a successful home birth and everyone in good health. It is as if we have always had precious Faye in our lives. She has already changed us all.

Her first name is my husband’s mother’s middle name. I am so proud to give her that name for my mother-in-law is so dear to me. It also means Faith while Louise means warrior. She needed a strong name if she was going to be the fourth kid in our family. I learned so much from my nine months with her and now a couple weeks with her being earth-side. Patience will forever be a lesson I must learn. But learning how to let go of the small things and cherish the time I have with my sweet family hopefully will stick with me. The time they are little is so short and new babies need us to be in the moment with them. Thank you, Jesus for this sweet girl and all she has already brought to our family.


Thanks to everyone who wrote a birth story for my blog! I originally planned to post one story a week during that last weeks of my pregnancy. Not everyone I asked to write a birth story got a chance to send them in. Apparently motherhood means you are a bit busy.  Don’t I know it! If you still want to, please do! I love posting everyone’s birth stories. Each are so unique. If you missed any of the birth stories, check out The Honest Truth page. Thanks for reading and God bless!

A Birth Story: Perfectly Pink

Our next birth story comes from my precious sister-in-law, Claire, as she recounts the birth of her second child. When I starting dating my husband, I had no idea that the family I would one day marry into would soon become my closest friends. Claire has been a precious friend to me and it has been so amazing watching her become the sweetest mother to her girls. What a blessing it is to have friends and go through all of life’s adventures together.

Get ready for a nail biter! Enjoy!


Reese Elizabeth was born on May 28th, around 10:00 in the morning weighing 8 lbs. 4 oz. Her entrance into this world was memorable to say the least. After my first baby girl, Mary Claire, came into this world naturally with the help of a nurse, doula, and doctor at the hospital, I knew that we were ready to give a home birth a try. Mary Claire’s birth was pretty standard in many ways. She was born on her due date after eighteen hours of labor that began very slowly and steadily progressed until I pushed her into this world. Knowing what I’ve read about second births, I was anticipating my labor with Reese to be a little shorter, and I was also banking on easier and faster pushing! I looked forward to laboring and delivering in the water with the help of my amazing midwife, Cori. I should have known that all my plans and expectations would take a different route, because that is the nature of labor and birth, after all.

The night before Reese was born, I was going on four days past my due date. I had been experiencing lots of cramping and Braxton Hicks, and I was DONE. I cried to my husband, Cody, that I couldn’t bear another day. Reese must have felt my frustration, because around 5:00 am the next morning, I awoke to some intense cramping. It felt very much like period cramps, but they were strong enough to prevent me from going back to sleep. So, I decided to park it on the couch and see what came of it. My twin sister, Caroline, who was also full-term pregnant, noticed my early morning social media activity and texted me to see why I was up. She was also awake due to pregnancy discomforts, so we lamented together.
 
Around 5:30, I felt the first contraction. In that moment, it was undeniable that my time had come. Caroline suggested that I time my contractions. While I did this, I decided that since there was surely several hours of early labor ahead of me, I would put on a calming movie. I started Pride and Prejudice, of course, and waited for the contractions to roll in. They were all over the map in distance between them, but lasted about 45-60 seconds. I noted to myself that they were fairly more noticeable than my previous labor had begun. 7:00 AM rolled around, and I could hear Mary Claire starting to stir. I went and woke Cody to tell him the news that labor had begun. He knew what to do! We started the day with Mary Claire like normal. Cody drove to Einstein Bagels, an apparent labor tradition in the making, to buy me a hearty breakfast to prepare me for the task ahead. I ate my breakfast sandwich and decided to get in the bath to relax. My midwife had been alerted already, and she suggested I relax as well.
 
As I attempted to relax in the bath, it became clear to me that I was, indeed, not relaxed! This bath was not doing the job I expected it to do. My mind was already giving way to fear of the pain. So I began to repeat a mantra I saved onto my phone so that I would remember it in the hours to come. “I am stronger than my contractions, because they are a part of me.” This bath was over. I needed to get dressed and comfortable. That meant hunkering down in bed. Cody was set with the task of tending to Mary Claire as we waited for my mother to arrive. Therefore, the majority of this time was spent alone, listening to my body, concentrating through contractions, and trying to force myself to change positions. Cody would check on me and ask if I wanted him to call the midwife. Since it had only been about three hours since the labor began, I hesitated to call her. It was ‘too soon’ in my experience. Plus, the contractions continued to be varied in length and frequency. In spite of this, they continued to intensify. I was repeating my mantra and focusing hard through each one. Every movement or change of position incited a contraction. I found myself longing for a respite, so I laid back down in bed and parked it there. My mother had finally arrived, so Cody was able to check on me and stay with me. I was still hesitating to make the call, so he made the decision for me and told Cori she should head over. When he informed me that she was twenty minutes away, I estimated about how many more contractions I would have to do without her before she arrived. I was not encouraged! He then asked me if he should fill up the tub. THE TUB. Ugh, all this hard laboring, and I didn’t even think to use the biggest tool I had.
 
He began to fill the tub, and as he did, I reached transition. I could no longer concentrate through the contractions as they lasted 1.5 minutes and had become so strong that no thought could enter or linger in my mind. All I could do was moan through them, something that helped me immensely in my labor with Mary Claire. It was currently the only tool I had. After about four or five really tough contractions, my water broke. I instantly became “Type A” Claire and rolled out of bed,  so that the mattress wouldn’t ruin. It’s amazing how you can go from completely thoughtless to intensely concerned about a potential mess. OY. I thought to myself, I better go to the toilet to contain the fluid. As I waddled over and sat down, I had the most intense contraction of all. I lost complete control of the moment and grabbed the walls and screamed in pain. Cody was by my side instantly, but had become slightly undone. As the contraction subsided, I dropped a bombshell on Cody. I told him I felt like I needed to push! Cody was officially undone. “What do I do?” he screamed! I pulled myself together between the contractions and told him to help me to the tub. By this time, the midwife was on speaker phone giving me instructions to get horizontal and NOT to push as she madly sped down the highway to our house. I couldn’t deny that I was scared. I wanted my midwife there. I didn’t want Reese to come yet. I had no idea what was going to happen.
New family of four with sweet midwife holding the newest addition.
In the midst of my fear, I continued to listen to and trust my body. I tried my hardest not to push, but I looked down to see the top of Reese’s head. I couldn’t be inactive. I sat down in the water, and gave one big push. After her head was delivered, I stood up, and then Cody came to my aid to help deliver her, even though he had not one iota of knowledge about what to do. I hesitate to include this next comment in my story, because it definitely wasn’t a part of the vision I had for this birth. But it’s honest, and therefore, deserves to be shared. Somewhere in the midst of her delivery, I shouted “Get her out of me!” I chuckle at it now, because I longed to have that calm, quiet strength I see so many women display during birth. I guess my strength is more vocal…Regardless, she quickly came out, and the relief was instant, but also was my need to hold her. He handed her to me, and I sat down in the water to check her out. She was perfectly pink, her mouth was clear, and she had a strong cry. Instantly, I saw how beautiful she was, and I knew we were going to be okay. It was over! I was in shock. My mind was swirling with the events that just occurred and the fact that I was actually holding my baby in my arms with no midwife in sight. Just my shell-shocked husband who managed to keep calm enough to deliver his baby!
 
Proud dad.

Cody went to unlock the door for the midwife and to informed my mother, to her disbelief, that Reese was here! In all, she had been there for twenty minutes before Reese was born! After about five minutes, the student midwife arrived. She immediately assessed Reese and determined she looked great! Cori arrive a couple minutes after that. The whole team got to work taking care of me and Reese. What a wild and fast ride. We snuggled Reese in bed all day, retold the story to each other over and over, and continued to sit in the disbelief yet also in the knowledge that God is good and the birth was perfect. Next time, I plan to trust myself instead of any clock to determine when the midwife should arrive. Cody has enjoyed the accolades and teasing as people call him Dr. Cody at work. Reese turned out to be the most chill baby on the planet, somehow defying the fast and furious entrance she made into this world. The pain of childbirth is entirely eclipsed by the miracle of letting your body do what it was created to do. The moments immediately following birth when I have brought my baby to my chest, am soaking in their existence and instant connection as their mother, those are the most powerful moments of my life so far. Nothing can compare to it. I’ll forever be thankful to God that I am able to carry and deliver life.

~Claire


Thanks so much for reading! To catch up on the other birth stories, check out The Honest Truth page. Surely I am not the only one who can not get enough stories about how precious babies enter this world! There is truly nothing like it. Happy Friday and God bless!

The Day the Pigs Escaped!

Life is full of many funny/serious/unusual things that happen throughout a human’s life. Have you ever asked a relative a question like, “How did you end up in Connecticut when you were born in New Orleans?” or “What was great aunt Suzie’s brother’s wife’s name? You know, the one that jumped in that pit of rattle snakes by mistake.”  Once a person leaves this earth, their stories will go with them. Unless we can share our stories with one another while we are here, no one will remember all the little adventures that make our lives worth living. My mom is always on the hunt to record any family story she can. After talking to her one day, we decided to exchange our own stories for family record keeping over email. Our efforts have slowly tapered off and we need to start it up again! I just stumbled over this one that I wrote about when I was 7 months pregnant with our first son. I thought it definitely needed to go on the Mommy Mishaps Page! Its in pure story form, so just imagine an old Southern woman with snow-white hair telling you this story while she rocks in a creaky rockin’ chair on a big front porch, sipping a cold glass of sweet tea. Hope you enjoy!


On a brisk November morning in a small town in central Missouri, something was about to go a wry.  On a small bit of land just outside of town, there lived two happy couples in one house. The Bech****s had deep roots in the Missouri community and had a sweet baby boy of about ten months. The Browns were fairly new to the state and were soon to be expecting their first child in about two months. Both couples shared adventures of gardening and animal raising. Some things came easy to them like collecting eggs every morning. Others were more difficult like weeding the never ending garden that, among other things, had too many varieties of tomato.  But both families were happy and enjoyed being together.

The day before, the Bech****s had left to visit extended family out of state and Mr. Brown headed south to Texas to begin a new job and prepare a new home for his wife and soon-to-be-expected child. Mrs. Brown was left in the Missouri home to tend to the animals and day to day business. Special precautions were taken to make sure she didn’t need to lift anything that was of any weight, or strain herself in any way while she was to hold down the fort for the next four days.

The morning of this brisk November day, Mrs. Brown woke up ready to take on the world. She had a lovely breakfast of six scrambled eggs, two pieces of toast, a cup of orange juice, a cup of coffee, and some homemade granola and yogurt with sliced bananas. As she ate, Mrs. Brown thought of her morning chores and also what she would make for lunch. Later, the phone rang as she was dressing so she let it go to the machine (Neither couple had a cell phone. All four adults shared a landline and answering machine). Mr. Buss**, a cousin of the Bech****s, called with the most distressing news. The pigs had escaped and were running down the country highway! Mrs. Brown, quite alarmed but determined to fix the problem, grabbed her running shoes and hustled out the door.

She spotted the monstrous black hogs barreling down the road and she walked swiftly toward them. What would she do when she reached these troublesome pigs? Mrs. Brown had no idea.  But she continued after them just the same.  Half terrified of the wild eyed pigs and half not wanting to cause her very pregnant belly to bounce around out of control, she approached the pigs with caution. She got a long stick to aid her in herding the swine into a corner. This worked somewhat but once cornered, the pigs ran at her! She jumped out of the way as best she could and turned around. She was on the move once again. She grabbed a small bucket of feed and shook it furiously to try to entice the animals to follow her back to their pen. This worked somewhat, but the pigs had so many new things to explore, they quickly lost interest in the feed.  Soon the cavalry finally arrived and Mr. Buss** and a 70 year old neighbor came to Mrs. Brown’s aid. The three humans finally corralled the three pigs into the neighbor’s pen. This is where the swine remained for the next four days until Mr. Bech**** and Mr. Brown came back to bring the pigs home. Mrs. Brown walked down the street every single day to feed and water her re-located future pork chops. Luckily, she didn’t have any other adventures of that nature whilst home alone.
The lesson in this story is to never be too confident in one’s own preparations. Life can change on a dime and you must adapt with it. Whenever you feel quite sorted with all your ducks in a row and you think that nothing could go wrong, the pigs will always get out.

Thanks so much for reading! Check out my other Mommy Mishaps!

A Birth Story: Three Kids Under An Ozark Roof

Our next birth story comes from a precious friend of mine that I met 12 years ago (kind of unbelievable). We were hall-mates our freshmen year of college and had no idea we would be life long friends. We happened to marry two men who were room-mates and good friends, as well.  

When we were young newly weds, the four of us day-dreamed of adventures in self-sufficient farming. We also wanted to test the conventional way of living one family to a household and decided to try communal living. (That may sound weird and hippy-ish, and maybe it was, but it was also a sweet and amazing experience) We traveled cross-country to make this day-dream a reality. For almost a year and a half, we lived in the same house whilst gardening (and shopping at the grocery store), and raising livestock like a young calf, chickens, pigs, and even a few goats.  Many a day was spent chasing any one of these creatures down the road on which we lived (we had a lot to learn). Both of our first born sons were born in that place that we so lovingly named The Ozark House.

This was taken soon after they had their first son. Our first wasn’t even on the way. My husband is jokingly holding a baby doll.

I even had the absolute pleasure of being in attendance at their son’s birth. I know that I would not have been so open to home-birth for my own children if I had not had this amazing privilege. It was a true gift to be a witness to the miracle of birth.

Kate has written a side by side look at all three of her pregnancies and births. It is full of all the fun and realistic details that make every birth so unique. Enjoy!


“I gave birth to three babies at home, in the same home actually, here in central Missouri, where we have chickens, a dairy cow, and a garden. That sounds picturesque and magical, but I assure you, it’s not. Just visit, and you’ll see that our lives only sound beautiful and ideal on a blog or in a book, but not in real life. In real life, there is a lot of poop and frustration. All three of my home births have been very similar- sounds dreamy and unattainable, but really, just a lot of poop and a lot of frustration. But my life and my births are also beautiful and magical and something that I would do again and again. I may be addicted to having babies. Our 3rd baby is not even one, and I’m already getting the hankering for another. I sat down to write down my birth experiences, and I was quickly reminded one important fact- I am a horrible writer. So I decided to share my births in a side by side comparison. Before giving birth, especially a home birth, it’s important to realize how different each experience can be. You have the be ready for anything! What an adventure!

Working hard in the birthing tub! All hands on deck.

Birth Number One

  • Pregnancy- great, worked out a lot, rested a lot, no morning sickness
  • Labor Started- 10 days “late”, 4am
  • Preliminary Labor (feels like gas cramps)- 12 hours
  • Active Labor- 12 hours
  • Total- 24 hours
  • Transition- hard work!
  • Water Broke- during pushing
  • Pushing Intensity- hard work, but did it just fine
  • Birth Time- 4am the next day
  • Ultrasound- none
  • Tearing- a tiny little bit, no stitches needed
  • Gender Reveal- found out after birth, BOY
  • Postpartum Blues- a lot! Pretty blue for several months
  • Breastfeeding- hard to figure out, bad latch, a lot of pain! It got better after about 6 weeks.
Sweet newborn cuddles and much needed rest with Baby #2.

Birth Number Two

  • Pregnancy- pretty good, tired 1st trimester, didn’t work out, but chased a toddler around, had a horrible sinus infection/ double ear infection around time of birth
  • Labor Started- one week “early” with water trickling, around noon
  • Preliminary Labor- no contractions, just waters slowing leaking
  • Active Labor- started at 8pm
  • Total- 8 hours
  • Transition- not as hard as 1st baby, but still some work, seemed to go by fast
  • Water Broke- before labor started
  • Pushing Intensity- easy peasy, baby just slipped out
  • Birth Time- around 4am the next day
  • Ultrasound- none
  • Tearing- none
  • Gender Reveal- found out after birth, GIRL!
  • Postpartum Blues- none, so happy afterwards! I remember crying one time, on day 10 postpartum
  • Breastfeeding- so much easier this time! She was a quick and efficient eater.
Squiggly mirrors make pregger selfies more fun and all belly with Baby #3!

Birth Number Three

  • Pregnancy- all I remember is having 2 kids and being really tired 1st trimester
  • Labor Started- 3am, about a month “late”, but not really. We were just off on our guess of “due date”
  • Preliminary Labor- 3ish hours
  • Active Labor- 9 hours
  • Total- 12ish hours
  • Transition- easy, didn’t even know I was all the way dilated when I was
  • Water Broke- midwife broke waters in pushing phase
  • Pushing Intensity- So, SO hard, worked so hard, ugh
  • Birth Time- early evening, before dark
  • Ultrasound- one, around 40 weeks because we were a little off on “due date”
  • Tearing- don’t remember, so I guess none
  • Gender Reveal- found out after birth, GIRL!
  • Postpartum Blues- I don’t recall, so I guess not much
  • Breastfeeding- really bad latch and a lot of pain initially, got better within a couple weeks and we are still nursing strong! She’s 10 months now.”

    Family complete…for now!

~Kate


Thank you, Kate for writing about your birth experiences! If you missed last week’s birth story, here it is: A Birth Story: Oh Pamela!  And if you are so inclined, check out Our First Home-birth video, as well. It’s PG rated so you won’t see anything that will scar you for life. Thanks for reading and God bless!

A Birth Story: Oh Pamela!

How we found out: I was finally getting into a good routine with my two boys. Jenkins was coming up on his 3rd birthday and my sweet Delano was about 11 months old. We were in the thick of the holiday season; planning visits to family and shopping for Christmas presents. I remember that I was feeling just a little different and knew pregnancy was definitely possible. But so often, my body will start acting weird for whatever reason and pregnancy is always the first thing I think of. So I kept my assumption quiet for a while. Previous pregnancies and breast feeding make it hard to know what is going on.  But as Delano’s birthday approached, I felt very confident that I was, in fact, in “the family way” once again.  I never even took a pregnancy test! Though I shouldn’t brag about that because I have been wrong before. But I just waited and watched my belly grow. According to my guesstimations, it was looking like we were going to have a summer baby!

The Pregnancy: Having a baby in the dead of winter (like we had with both our boys) was night and day different than having a summer baby. I spent most of my days pushing my boys in the double stroller up and down hills as we walked to the park. During the first trimester, I was a good bit sicker than I was with the boys but I gained weight in all the right places. With Delano, I had swelled up all over. This time around, it was all belly and I felt great. Except not so great when I was running to the bathroom to throw up. But that, of course, ended early on. I wore shorts and maxi skirts and loved every minute of it. I didn’t have to squeeze my thighs into maternity jeans aka saggy crotch torture pants. I was active and full of energy.

We even started looking to buy our first house during this pregnancy. After the typical, frustrating process, we moved into our first home right after I started my third trimester. I was ready to nest! And I did, constantly and somewhat obsessively. I had lists everywhere with instructions about the birth,  what to do after the birth, and emergency numbers posted in case everyone’s cell phones died and we had to use a landline. Our house was rearranged almost daily, and all baby clothes had been gone through and in “if its a boy” and “if its a girl” bags. (My girl bag didn’t have much in it except a few white onsies.)

Because I never had a cycle between Delano and this new mystery baby, my midwife couldn’t pin down when the due date was within a three week time frame. She recommended that we have an ultrasound so we could find a more accurate due date. This was a first for us. We have been very blessed with healthy, by the book pregnancies so there hasn’t been a need to have a peak inside before the big day. Unlike everyone else (or it seems like everyone except us), we like to be surprised by the gender at the birth.  So sonograms have never tempted us before. But now that it was recommended, we went ahead and had one. It was just the basic 2D ultrasound. But boy, were we impressed! It really is amazing how awesome technology is. We could see our sweet little baby sticking his/her tongue out. Incredible! We got a more solid due date and were actually able to make it out of there without revealing the gender. Though, I must be honest.  I did try to sneak a few questions to the doctor, hoping I could read his response. That didn’t work, much to all of our family members’ disappointment. But we got what we came for; the due date. The baby was actually due on my husband 30th birthday!

Birth Day!: On the morning before my due date, I woke up after an incredible night sleep. I had not been sleeping well at this point because of being so uncomfortable. I slept straight through the night and woke up at 7am (which that is a miracle in itself. My boys usually are ready to face the day by 6:30am). I went to the bathroom (as you do in the morning) and found that a tiny pink trickle came after I was done “using” the bathroom. This trickle was followed by a strong contraction. Not the kind that really hurts yet, but one that let’s you know what it is without making you wonder. “Mmmm…” I thought, “Could I actually be going into labor before my due date? Unheard of!” So I put on a maxi pad and went into the kitchen to start breakfast. I told my husband what had happened and I sent a text to my midwife just to let her know. I knew that this was probably my water trickling. But with both boys, my water broke moments before their heads were delivered. I know births are all different but after having two, its hard to believe that something out of the ordinary will happen.

I had a few more contractions, but they were only about 30 seconds in length so I sent my husband off to work without a second thought. He was working a chess camp that week and would be home a little after noon so I didn’t think I would need him before then.

By 8am, my contractions were certainly coming closer together but they still weren’t very long. I knew they needed to be longer before things got serious so I kept telling my midwife I wasn’t ready for her. I hate the thought of sweet midwives just sitting around waiting for labor to really get going. Plus, my boys were keeping me distracted with the usual morning routine. I knew my contractions would get my attention when it was go-time.

Around 8:30ish, I realized that I needed to stop and focus through each contraction.  I put a show on for the boys and went to make sure everything they needed was in their bag that I had packed weeks ago (the nesting that I referred to earlier). All was in order so I texted my mother-in-law to come get the boys. She was tied up with work. “That’s fine,” I thought, wondering if I should freak out. I went to the second name on my list (even though I knew all the info on the lists, I found comfort seeing the game plan in front of me. Am I the only one like that?).  I called my brother-in-law who lives less than a mile away. I think I woke him up. But he was over to my house in a few minutes.  I could tell he was wondering if he should freak out or remain calm. He is such a sweet guy.

I gave him the keys to my mini-van and I kissed my boys. I had given them the run down of what was happening so they seemed prepared for a change of schedule for the day. I remember even getting into the van to buckle the boys car seats. A mother’s work is never done even when in labor. It’s a strange feeling knowing you need someone else to look after your children during a time like this. I already missed them so much as I watched them drive away.

Now I was all alone in the house. I didn’t have anyone to be brave in front of or to help get a cup of milk. It was just me and this new baby on the way. For a split second, I thought about what I would do if I was all alone when it came time to deliver the baby. That was a bit overwhelming so I didn’t linger on that thought for long. I called my husband and my midwife. Both were making their way to me.  My contractions were just a few minutes apart but hadn’t increased much in length until after I made my phone calls. Suddenly, they were the real deal and were about 90 seconds long. When my husband came in, I was laying on the couch on my side, concentrating through the contractions. It was somewhat after 9am, I believe. He kissed my head and started filling up the birthing tub and doing a few other preparations that we needed. I don’t remember talking much to him.

The rest of the time table is a bit blurry. I remember my midwife and birthing assistant/church friend came in and said sweet things to me as they got all set up. I asked my midwife if she had ever witnessed a painless birth. I had read something about them once and wondered if they were real. Like one wonders if unicorns are real.  She said no and I went back to work in a contraction. I remember getting into the birthing tub when labor really kicked up a notch. I wanted to push to make the pain stop. I never have an overwhelming urge to push like some women. I find myself always guessing if it is time yet. I know that it relieves some of the pressure when you push. At this point, relief was the only thing I was after. My midwife checked me and said that I was not fully dilated yet and I shouldn’t push.

I have some weird insecurity about this not-knowing-when-to-push thing. It’s amazing how you can’t really hide from your fears or pretend like they aren’t there when in labor. It brings them all out in the light so you can see them for what they are. I must have said something about not knowing when to push because my midwife then told me that she had never witnessed a painless birth but had seen women give birth without pushing. I had never heard that before and it kind of blew my mind. But only for a moment because suddenly I was back in another contraction and needed to concentrate.  Soon after this I was able to start pushing and I did, though I wondered what it would be like to not push at all.

I remember muttering something to myself like “This is for my baby” as I tried to focus through the pain. I never want to think of labor as anything but an amazing privilege. Having had two kids already, I knew the adrenaline rush of preparing myself to leap over obstacles, lift cars, and rip bricks apart to get to my children.  The reason I was working hard now was for another precious one just like them. And I wanted to get to this baby no matter how tiring or all-encompassing the pain was that throbbed in my body. Keeping my new baby at the center of my focus helped me to remember why I was hurting.

When I was having my first son, I wasn’t convinced I had a baby in there even when I was in labor. I had a hard time imagining the labor ever ending because I had never known what was on the other side of it. This time around, I wanted to continually remind myself why I was working and for whom I was working to bring into the world.  But it was starting to really hurt and I was getting tired. I had no idea how long it had been or even if it was day or night. My midwife asked if I wanted to feel for the baby’s head because sometimes that helps moms at this late stage. I didn’t want to. I just wanted it all to be over.

Then the most glorious thing happened! I felt that terrible ring of fire. Have you heard of it? Or felt it? It happens when the baby’s head is crowning and everything down there is stretched to it’s max. It is truly so incredibly painful. The last thing you want on fire is your down-unders. Am I right, ladies? But the moment I felt it, I was on cloud 9! I remembered this horrible feeling and it seems to proclaim in audible words, “You are almost done! You will soon meet your baby!”

I don’t have actual memories between that realization and when my baby was finally delivered. It seemed to have happened pretty fast. I reached out to hold that precious, crying newborn with gladness and thanksgiving in my heart! Someone asked what the baby’s gender was. I checked, expecting another boy. “My Pamela!” I exclaimed! And I quickly checked again because I couldn’t believe it. “Oh Pamela!” my husband whispered through a smile.  I had never known how badly I needed a girl until that moment. She was perfect at 8lbs and 4 oz. It was only just after 1pm and the labor had only been 6 hours from the moment I woke up that morning until the sweet birth of our daughter.

The name “Pamela” came from a dream my husband had before we were even expecting our first child. He dreamed that he woke up in the morning and left the room for a moment and when he came back, I sat in the bed with long, angelic hair (that would be a dream) and held a small babe in my arms. I looked at him and said in a calm, dignified voice, “Her name is Pam.” My husband cried and said “Oh Pamela”. Ever since that dream, he has been dead set on having a daughter with that name. It took me some time to come around to it. But now, I can’t imagine a better name for our sweet Pamela.

Later that day, my parents came driving in on two wheels to meet our sweet girl. My mom, upon hearing the news, ran to Target because I didn’t have a single piece of girl clothing in the house. Even gender neutral stuff always looks more boyish to me. She texted saying she was coming to town in a “cloud of pink”.  It was such a special day.

My boys met their sister the following day. Jenkins was pretty disappointed that she wasn’t a boy. But the moment he saw her, he had nothing but sweetness and love for that little girl.  Delano was only 18 months at the time so he was a little freaked out about someone else laying in his momma’s lap. He even shunned me for an entire week as a protest about the newcomer. But after that, he finally came around and loved holding his little sister (with constant supervision, of course!) It’s funny. Del and Pammy are still pretty competitive for my attention. But they definitely have their sweet moments with each other. I love how a new baby makes the entire family feel a little more complete and no one can imagine life without this new, precious creature. Thank you, Jesus, for babies.

 

This is just the first birth story of a series I will be posting from friends and family members who choose to participate. I thought this would be a good way to gear up for my next birth that is just 10 weeks away! Unreal. Be looking for more birth stories on my The Honest Truth page. Because nothing is more honest than birth. Thanks for reading and God bless!

My Guy

I have been thinking lately about how deeply blessed I am. Its so easy to let little things in life irritate us and make us concerned about stuff that has no real value. I am trying to really spend time and thoughts on individual people who have been blessings in my life. I don’t want to focus on the dirty floors or the endless dishes. Individuals are important.  I should keep my mind on positive things like giving thanks for all the sweet people who make me a better person just by knowing them. I often write about how precious and wonderful my three sweet babes are and how much joy they bring to my soul. But today, I am turning my attention to my sweet husband for whom I am most thankful.  I really hit the jackpot with this sweet man. He works so hard for his family and is intentional with his time with us so that we feel love and encouragement. To be honest, I just feel like bragging on him today. This post focuses mostly on one thing that he does quite well but I could write a thousand posts about him. Though I don’t think he would appreciate me telling the world about him in such detail.

My husband has always established a sense of teamwork in our household. I have my responsibilities and he has his. We work together to accomplish all the day-in and day-out tasks to keep our people and house functioning at top efficiency as well as toward well-defined goals. Of course, this isn’t always the case. We have mis-steps and selfish moments when we aren’t bringing our best selves to the table. But just having high targets has an incredible impact on our family. My husband takes the lead on trying to better himself each day to bless his family. But besides all the have-to-do’s that are apart of parenting, one thing that absolutely blows me away about my husband is that he takes time to think about what he can do to give our kids an enjoyable experience. Becoming a dad has made him search for ways that he can serve the little ones in our home.

My husband is a list maker. I don’t even bother making a honey-do list for him because he is always way ahead of me. He even makes honey-do lists for me! I don’t think that should be a two way street, but it is in our home. On almost all of his workshop project lists he has a few items that need repair, a couple of projects that will make our home more functional, and always something that he needs to build for our kids to enjoy. He is constantly researching cool or clever toys and playgrounds for our kids.

I love this about my husband. He loves our children as much as I do and wants to give to them. He actually listens and observes what our children care about. And they lose their minds every time he makes something for them! Its like he just knows what our kids will love best.

Here are some of the projects my handy-man husband has created for our kids:

The Balancing Beam:

My boys love this balancing beam! They balance on it, sit, battle each other to see who can knock each other off (yes, they get hurt sometimes), or color it with chalk.

Sweet brothers being brothers. How did we get so lucky with these two!?

And our precious girl! She used the balancing beam to steady herself as she learned to walk.

The Fort: This thing is seriously like a real life lincoln log structure. My boys will be perfectly content playing on this cool fort for hours.

They defend it against bad guys, enemies, and each other.

They can climb on it, around it, and inside it!

They can keep a watch on any approaching danger, little sisters, or cameras.

They can even sit on the top and have a good pout. Endless possibilities!

The See-Saw:

This simple idea has brought loads of enjoyment to our home. The boys love to sit and talk as they play.  Its also works as a moving balancing beam.

Pammy thinks it makes a great seat for her as she enjoys eating nature.

My kids always play with random things. I think this chip clip was used as a gun on this day. I don’t know why. We have a crate full of toy guns. None shaped like a blue chip clip, though…

She doesn’t always sit on the seat part. Such a rule breaker! But a cute rule breaker.

The Marble Race:

 

He even built a disc gold catcher! 

I don’t think my kids and I are fully aware how fortunate we are to have this sweet man in our lives. I am so thankful to our good Lord for placing him in my life.

For the record, even if my husband did not build cool things, I would still be thankful for him and love him, of course. But the fact that he wants to make our kids happy and spend time creating things for our kids to explore is just icing on the cake.

Who are you thankful for? Be sure and let them know how much you appreciate them! Thanks so much for reading and don’t forget to subscribe! Subscription form is located on the left sidebar.  God bless!

Below are a few pins that inspired my husband to build our backyard playscape!

Zig-Zag balance challenge #kids #backyard #playscapes:       Click here to see pin!Great climbing space:

Click here to see pin!