Make It Yourself

20 Nov

I have started making more and more for our home. It seems like every week there is a new report coming out about which chemical in what product to be on the look out for and avoid. It is getting where buying shampoo is a major label reading hassle. So what is a mom to do? Well, start making stuff yourself. You know what you put in your lotion. Plus you’ll save a ton of money! So, here are some of my recipes for things you can make yourself for your house and your family.

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Before I begin, a note about essential oils. I list suggested oils, but you can really use any oil you choose. If you choose a lower quality oil, know that you’ll need to AT LEAST double the number of drops of oil. That is one big reason I buy higher quality oils. I noticed that with cheap eucalyptus oil, I was using 20 drops to make a decent shower steam. (Drop the oil on a washcloth and drop in the shower. Great when you have a cold.) With higher quality oils, I need maybe 5 drops. That is a big difference and certainly makes up for the higher cost of better oils. If you’re making things for your kids and they are under 5, you’ll need to be aware that there are some oils you shouldn’t use on them. (Eucalyptus and wintergreen come to mind. You’ll want to research this yourself and determine which oils fit your comfort level.) Also, if you are pregnant, there are certain oils you should avoid. There are a bazillion articles and pins out there, you just have to determine your personal comfort level. An oil to avoid could mean you don’t open the bottle at all. Or it could mean you just don’t rub it on yourself directly. Or it could mean you simply use it in moderation and don’t ingest it. I’m not going to tell you what to do, since I am neither an aromatherapist or your medical provider. Just be aware that essential oils have therapeutic effects, even if you aren’t using them for that reason. All the blends I mention are Young Living blends, since that is what I use.

Deodorant

On the shelf, traditional deodorant (and antiperspirant) really creeps me out. There is just something weird about making yourself not do something you are biologically designed to do. So, I’ve been looking for alternatives for years. I finally settled on this recipe, which is a deodorant only.

Fill a 4 oz. spray bottle with vodka or rubbing alcohol. (The rubbing alcohol has a higher alcohol content, so it is going to burn more, particularly for women who shave under their arms. But it is a stronger version of this deodorant. The vodka is less alcohol and doesn’t sting. But it also isn’t as strong, which will be perfectly fine for some people.)

Add 20-30 drops of essential oil. I think Joy (a Young Living Blend) is my favorite. Right now, we have Patchouli, which is also a nice smell. Light scented oils (like bergamot) just don’t work as well, since you really do want it to smell a little.

That’s it. Put the lid on, shake it up, spray it on. I use 2-3 sprays per arm. The Pastor uses like 5-7.

Countertop Spray

I love Mrs. Meyers countertop spray, but it is so pricey. I knew I could whip something up that was much cheaper. And the bonus is that I make it smell like I want it to smell! (Though the Mrs. Meyers bluebell scent was divine.)

Put one squirt of castile soap into a spray bottle. Add 20 drops of essential oil. Fill the rest of the way with water. Give it a shake before use.

My personal oils picks for this are cinnamon bark and spearmint. It smells like Big Red gum. Cinnamon bark kills almost anything. (The FDA won’t let me tell you any specifics, but the studies are available should you choose to look.) I use this spray on my counters and my tables. I do 18 drops of cinnamon bark and 2 drops of spearmint. Other oils that would be good to use are tea tree oil (melaleuca), lemon, Thieves, purification, lemongrass, orange, lime- the list really goes on.

Mopping Solution

I hate using chemicals on my floors. Dogs, crawling babies, kids wallowing- I just don’t want everyone covered in chemicals! So, I have gone super simple in my mopping. I use this solution in my steam mop, but you can use it with a traditional mop, as well.

12 oz. hot water with 5 drops cinnamon bark oil. That is it. That is how I clean my entire floor.  In my steam mop, I don’t have to heat the water, since it does it. But that is it. It smells amazing. My floors are clean and not sticky. I use it on vinyl flooring (fake linoleum), wood flooring, and ceramic tile flooring. It works beautifully.

Hand Cream

I feel like I spend a ridiculous amount of money on salves and creams for hands, especially in the winter. I finally decided to make something myself.

You’ll need to whip (with you hand or stand mixer) 4 oz. shea butter, 2 T coconut oil, and 30 drops of essential oil. Whip it to get it all mixed up. Put it in a container. You have hand cream. You can add more coconut oil, which has awesome healing properties, but it will make it a little more greasy, which will just require you to rub it in a little better.

For the oil, since the shea butter already smells kind of woodsy, I went with that instead of trying to fight that smell. I did half frankincense and half cedarwood. You could also do something calming like lavender.

Lip Balm

I was a little nervous about making my own lip balm, but it turned out pretty simple.

I put a small metal bowl over a pan of boiling water to melt my ingredients. I used half bees wax and half coconut oil. Melt these together, remove from the heat, and stir in 10-20 drops of essential oil. Pour into lip balm pots or tubes.

If you’re using plastic pots or tubes, don’t use citrus oils. They can break down the plastic. You can use lavender, Stress Away, peppermint, spearmint, birch- whatever you want, really. The Pastor says this lip balm is better than Burt’s Bees.

Bath Salts

Soaking in a warm tub of essential oil infused water is a little bit of heaven. Make them for gifts or just for yourself (or even your kids).

2 cups epsom salt

2 T coconut oil

20 drops essential oil

Put all that in a bowl and smash it together with the back of a spoon. Pour it into a jar and put the lid on it for storage.

You can make this when your family has a cold. Use eucalyptus (on older folks, myrtle for younger ones), thyme, lemon, or Thieves (or a combination) for a nice comforting soak. You can make this just to relax. Use Peace and Calming (a personal favorite soak), Stress Away, Lavender, or Cedarwood. You can make it smell like Christmas. You can make it whatever you’d like. Mix it up. Try Orange and Lemon. Patchouli and Ginger. Peppermint and Citrus for a wake up bath. Make it your own. I use about 2 T of the mixture in each bath. You could use more or less, it is up to you.

Body Spray

Similar to the deodorant recipe, but for use as body spray. Fill a 4 oz spray bottle with vodka and add 15 drops of essential oil. You can add more oil as you wish, if you want a stronger smell. These also make great gifts. Like Bath and Body Works minus the chemicals. Oil choices are really up to you. Stress Away, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Orange, Tangerine, Ylang Ylang, Joy, Geranium, Goldenrod, Patchouli- really anything will work. What do you want to smell like? Making the oil into a body spray also makes the scent last longer. It distributes it further and isn’t quickly absorbed by your skin.

Bug Spray

Oh, we went through so much of this over the summer! Even my neighbors were asking for my recipe because their kids were coming home with it on and they loved it! (I keep my bug spray bottle on my front porch all summer. The kids can douse themselves as they wish.)

12 oz. vodka

12 oz. water

30 drops of essential oil (the blend matters this time)

Mix it all in a spray bottle. Spray on to repel bugs.

You’ll need to choose bug repelling specific oils. Purification is what I used all summer. It had all the anti-bug oils mixed right in. If you make your own blend, look to use citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, lavandin, myrtle, tea tree oil, and maybe even some peppermint. Other companies also make bug repelling blends you can try.

Garden Spray

I don’t like using chemicals on my garden. My kids are known to eat the tomatoes straight off the vine. I don’t want to have to worry about them not washing the chemicals off the food we grow here. So, I made my own garden spray this past summer to keep the bugs away. You’ll need to spray at least 3 times a week, more often at times. But that is also a good kid job.

Add a squirt of castle soap to a spray bottle. Add 15-20 drops of peppermint oil. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. You could also add 15 drops of Purification oil, if the peppermint alone doesn’t seem to cover all the bad bugs in your garden. We had aphids and spiders, so the peppermint alone was perfect.

Relief Spray

I initially made this spray for The Pastor when he was playing on a church basketball team. Then I found that I loved it post run, too. So we kept making it for post-exercise relief. The kids then started using it on super hot days during the summer because they said it kept them cool.

12 oz. water

12 oz. vodka

20 drops PanAway essential oil blend

Put it all in a spray bottle. When the kids started using it, I cut the vodka in half and added 6 oz. more water. I didn’t want them spraying it in their eyes, but they really can’t be trusted. You can also try it with any mint, lavender, helichrysum, geranium, etc. The mint helps with cooling. Then you’ll want something for inflammation (lavender, helichrysum, geranium). The PanAway has all of that already in the bottle. DoTerra’s version is Deep Blue.

Dishwashing Detergent

I’ve tried this a few ways and have found the way I prefer. So, that is what I am giving you.

Mix one box of borax powder with one box of washing powder. Add 20-30 drops of essential oil, mixing it together well. Use one scoop in the dishwasher. (I put it in the detergent drawer thing. Some people kind of sprinkle it around.)

I usually use lemon oil. I have also used Purification, lime, orange, and Citrus Fresh. You just want something bright and clean smelling. You can really use anything you want. I like using something that kills germs.

Dryer Oil and Laundry Detergent

I make my own laundry detergent, but that really isn’t the best place in the process to add oils. You really want to add the oil at the end of the wash and dry process if you hope to smell it at all.

Laundry Detergent- Grate about 12 oz. of soap. (We use the regular bar soap we buy. I knew my kids weren’t sensitive to it, so it made sense. You can also use laundry soap like Fels Naptha or Zote. I really think any soap will work.) In a large pot, melt the grated soap in boiling water. Pour into a 5 gallon bucket once the soap is all melted. Add 1 cup borax powder and 1 cup washing powder. Mix well. Fill the bucket the rest of the way with water. Put the lid on the bucket. Let it sit for at least 8 hours before use. We fill an old laundry detergent container with the liquid detergent to make it easier to use. I just know I’d spill that 5 gallon bucket if I had to open it all the time. I use half to 3/4 cup (the little cup on the old detergent bottle) of the liquid per load of laundry. Some people prefer to fill the detergent container half full of detergent and half with water to dilute it and then use a full cup.

Dryer Oil- After your clothes have dried, put 2-5 drops of oil onto a washcloth (you can reuse the same cloth each time) and toss into the dryer with you clothes and tumble for a few minutes on low heat. If you heat the oil, it is going to disappear. You want the heat on low.

Linen Spray

Another option for making your clothes smell nice and like oil is to make your own linen spray. You can spritz it on clothes before ironing or you can spritz it on your bed when you make your bed. Just make sure to do it enough in advance so your pillow isn’t wet when you lay your head on it.

Fill a spray bottle with water. Add 20 drops of essential oil. You can pick any oil you’d like. Lavender would be traditional. You could also try Stress Away, geranium, Peace and Calming, or patchouli. Really, any oil you like the smell of would work. Though some oils (like Peace and Calming) are colored, so you may want to either skip them or lessen the amount used. My sheets are bright colors, so it doesn’t really matter. But if you have white sheets, daily spritz of blue oil just might turn your sheets a bit blue. (Though they will smell amazing!)

Enjoying The Holidays

14 Nov

The Holidays are upon us. Your calendar is already filling up. You’re likely already searching for the perfect gift. It is still early enough, that you’ve still got visions of a perfect holiday season this year. This will be the year your kids remember. It’ll be great! Fabulous! Everyone will be commercial quality happy and the holidays will be filled with fun activities, cute outfits, and grateful children.

Of course, the reality is far less shiny. You fill your calendar to capacity and never find time for the gingerbread house. You max out your gift list and budget and find yourself so focused on the hole you’re digging, everyone better have the proper level of enthusiasm for your gift! You’ve volunteered for one too many activities and your kids are spending way too much of the season doing the same stuff they do the rest of the year! This was supposed to be Hallmark quality and you’re getting Griswold quality!

So, before we embark upon the Holiday season, let me give you some of my tips to slowing down, chilling out, and actually enjoying the Holidays.

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1. Learn to say no.

“No” is my automatic default answer come Holiday season. From mid-November through the beginning of January, I say no, and then I decide if I’m sticking with that. It is a big relief to not have to feel like I have to do everything. I don’t end up agreeing to anything out of obligation or because I didn’t think things through. At first, people seemed a little put out at my no’s. I still come across someone who doesn’t like my automatic no response. But that is okay with me. I keep my calendar much lighter by saying no first.

2. Decide on your priorities early.

Things don’t usually just happen. If family time with your kids and spouse is what you really desire during the Holidays, you really have to commit to that early to make it happen. Family time easily gets crowded out by a busy schedule. If teaching your kid’s about Jesus is high on your priority list, know that some good and fun things might get left out. You only have so much time and energy to give. Make sure you’re giving those where you want to be giving them and not just living in default setting.

My family has never done Santa. Not because there is anything wrong with the fat guy. He’s cute and fun. But we really wanted to teach our kids about all of Advent. We really wanted to focus on God with us. Additionally, we wanted to teach our kids to give. There just isn’t time or energy around here for Santa or the creepy Elf. Yes, my kids would have fun, but it would easily crowd out the more important priorities we have for them and for us. We made priorities and we stick to them. There are an infinite number of things you can do throughout the season. There are a number of fun things, good things, things other people prioritize, that just may not fit into your priorities. And that is okay. Just make priorities early and stick to them. You’ll definitely be happier with your Holidays when you are living your priorities.

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3. Staying home for the Holidays is an option.

Everyone wants to be the host with the most for Holidays. To be the host with the most, you need guests. Your invite isn’t always about you, it is often about the host painting their perfect holiday. If you can make it, if you want to make it, great- go for it. But you don’t have to.

Some people seem to want permission to tell family that they won’t be playing Holiday Hop. It can get tiring. It makes it even worse when every family member seems to think the actual holiday is the only acceptable time for your presence. While it’d be nice, the reality is usually not so Hallmark. The reality is being out late on Christmas Eve for one family gathering. Waking up at the crack of dawn with excited kids. Rush to a Christmas morning breakfast with the inlaws. Head to Mom’s house for lunch. Over to Aunt Sally’s for afternoon dessert. Swing by Sister-in-law’s for dinner. And finally home to crash way after bedtime. If you dream of an entire Christmas Eve and Day in your own home with zero driving- this is your permission to go for it.

Our families live far apart. We decided when our first child was born that we’d be spending Christmas- all of it- at home. At first, you could tell there was some disappointment, that things were not unfolding quite as all parties wanted them to. But, here we are, 9 years later, and we’ve been home every single Christmas. And it is perfect for us. Our priorities would be toast by now if we hadn’t decided to stay home. We invite everyone to join us every year. While they don’t usually take us up on it, we still offer. (And the invitation is completely sincere. If family wants to celebrate with us, awesome. If they don’t, that is absolutely fine, too.) And some people love the family hop holiday plan. And that is absolutely fine. If you’re not enjoying it, please try something different this year.

4. Christmas doesn’t end on December 25th.

December 25th is the beginning of Christmas. Before that, we have Advent. But utilize the 12 days of Christmas. The kids are usually out of school for some of it. It buys you 2 extra weeks to celebrate! You’ll be able to fit in the cookie baking you always hope to accomplish, but never do. You’ll be able to cram in some more family carol singing. You’ll be able to do Christmas crafts you missed. That gingerbread village will get built! Don’t stop Christmas on Christmas day. Keep the celebrating going. Not only is the gingerbread village kit going to be 70% off, but you’ll have much more family time. And more time is a win!

December 25th is the beginning of Christmas. Before that, we have Advent. But utilize the 12 days of Christmas. The kids are usually out of school for some of it. It buys you 2 extra weeks to celebrate! You’ll be able to fit in the cookie baking you always hope to accomplish, but never do. You’ll be able to cram in some more family carol singing. You’ll be able to do Christmas crafts you missed. That gingerbread village will get built! Don’t stop Christmas on Christmas day. Keep the celebrating going. Not only is the gingerbread village kit going to be 70% off, but you’ll have much more family time. And more time is a win!

People usually get burned out because they begin the celebrations too early. You start Christmas right after Halloween and skip Thanksgiving and yeah, by Christmas, it gets old. But if you spend your Advent preparing for Christmas and the the 12 days celebrating Christmas, you won’t get burned out. And you’ll actually get a Thanksgiving!

5. Scale it back!

My kids’ absolute favorite Christmas Tree was this tiny, potted, emaciated 4 foot tall tree that would barely hold ornaments. They loved that tree. Our regular ornaments wouldn’t hold at all, so they made paper chains and paper ornaments for this tiny tree. It looked like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. And it was their favorite. They ask to replicate it each year.

I’m not saying get rid of your 10 foot crystal covered tree. If you love it, by all means, go for it. But if all the decorating, shopping, and just doing stresses you out- scale it back! Simple handmade decorations get you family time and decor- even if it won’t be on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. Simple gift giving is completely acceptable. Don’t stress yourself trying to afford this grand entire Toys ‘R’ Us catalogue Christmas for your kids. Less is more. Really. Ever notice that when you give them a ton they go into zone out mode and don’t actually play with anything, but flit from gift to gift?

In our house, each child buys a gift for one another. The kids spend weeks thinking and carefully selecting the perfect gift for each sibling. And they are actually really great at getting one another exactly the right thing. I usually choose for the baby, since he’d likely grab them toilet brushes, since he deems that the toy supreme right now. The Pastor and I will then usually buy each child a gift (usually books from us, we’re boring like that). If we have leftover Christmas budget money, we’ll buy them all one gift together. (Last year, it was a slack line. The year before, a zip line. The year before, they didn’t get this gift because the budget ran out.) So, each kid is looking at getting 5 gifts. That may seem ridiculously tiny to you, but they really enjoy it. And they always seem beyond thrilled. Some families do one gift per child, knowing that getting one thing you really want is enough of a treat. Some do the three gift thing. Whatever you choose, choose something that works for you, your priorities, and your budget.

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6. You don’t have to be doing!

You don’t have to fill every second of every day with magic. You don’t have to have every Saturday from now to Epiphany jam packed with awesome. Give yourself some leisure time. Some people have to write leisure time on the calendar, if that is you, do it! Just make sure you take the time to sit and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. Watch your favorite Christmas movie. Just slow down and don’t pack every single second full of stuff. Christmas memories can be made over hot cocoa on a cold night. It doesn’t have to be the Christmas tree farm, reindeer petting zoo, and every Santa in the city.

7. Do some things you like!

Along the same lines of number six, do some things you like to do this Holiday Season. If grabbing a peppermint mocha just FEELS like Christmas to you, do it! If you like festive nails, take the time to make it happen! If sitting around the fire and knitting feels like the holidays, then sit and knit! Everything doesn’t have to be for the kids. I’m sure they’ll treasure their memories of sitting at your feet while you knit or stealing a swig of your mocha while you’re not looking. Live the Holiday you love, too.

8. Don’t stress gifts!

Learning to be a good giver is something we teach our children. It doesn’t have to be lavish. It doesn’t have to be the best. This is especially true when we’re talking about gifts for teachers, coaches, friends, and extended family. You pick a gift within your budget that is thoughtful. That is about as far as you can go. You can’t make people gracious recipients. It doesn’t matter than you gave your kid’s coach a box of homemade cookies and another kid gave him a 60” plasma TV. You give the gift you want to give. Extravagance is not a necessity. And you don’t have to get every kid in the neighborhood, your cashier at the store, your barista, 5 teachers, 2 principals, and a regular and weekend postal worker a gift. You don’t have to. Those lists of “have to’s” get long. And our resentment gets high. Give the gifts you want to the people you want. End of story.

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9. Don’t forget the Bible.

Clearly, I’m talking to Christians here. Much of this advice could be used for other holidays, but I’m coming from a Christian perspective. If you’re celebrating Christmas as a Christian, don’t neglect to seek God during Advent and Christmas. We tend to loose the reason we celebrate trying to make a Hallmark Christmas. We want pithy bumper stickers proclaiming that Jesus is the Reason for The Season, but our actual holiday practice certainly doesn’t reflect it. We want to get angry at the rest of the world for leaving Christ out of Christmas, when we are the biggest offenders.

Thank God for His blessings and provisions on Thanksgiving. Move through Advent preparing your heart for God with us. We often get so busy, we tell a story to our kids about a baby in a manger and we forget to dwell on the ourself. Holidays are holy days. Keep them holy in your home. Read through the prophesies foretelling of the coming Savior. Read the nativity story in the Gospels. Christmas isn’t just for kids. We need to be reminded about the awesomeness that is this Holiday. We need to be reminded that God became flesh and dwelt among us. Don’t make the mistake of skipping the manger and heading straight to the cross, either. There is time for that. It’s coming. This is the season to dwell on our helplessness and God coming to us. To really embrace that He became one of us. And then when you move through the 12 days of Christmas to Epiphany, you can follow the story of wise men coming to Jesus, of the presence of Christ becoming known to the world. This is the Holiday we Christians celebrate. Do the fat guy, the creepy elf, the lights, the show if you want. Just make sure to park yourself firmly on the real reason we celebrate in the first place. God with us.

10. Show grace.

People get so testy around the holidays. You might be angry with me currently for using the word holiday so much. We want to make it an “us” vs. “them” thing. Don’t tell me “Happy Holidays!” “Keep Christ in Christmas!” “Don’t write X-mas!!!” Pretty sure we all miss the mark when we get so wrapped up in the trivial. Be Christ-like and show some grace. The reality is that not ALL your neighbors are Christian. Not ALL your neighbors celebrate Christmas. Not ALL who celebrate Christmas are Christian. That is the reality of the world around you. That is what makes it so easy to get swept up in the reindeer, Santa, elves, mistletoe, etc. Because what is around you isn’t necessarily Christian. So, instead of getting angry at your culture, show them what Christians mean by Christmas. Show them what God with us means. Show them some grace. “Happy Holidays!” is appropriate. It covers Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. (Bam! Three Christian holidays in one!) “Keep Christ in Christmas!” by keeping Him in Christmas in your home. X-mas, well, that one is a lesson in Greek. You’re basically using Christ’s initials instead of his name, much like those adorable matching PJs you’ve been eyeing for Christmas Eve.

We could also show one another some grace. Santa isn’t Christian or not Christian. My family chose not to participate in the game. Your family might. And that is okay! We can celebrate the same thing in our own way. I make a million cookies. It is my thing. That doesn’t mean you have to make a million cookies. We can celebrate the same thing in different ways. So, cookies, stockings, St. Nick, Santa, Advent Calendars- as long as we Christians are celebrating the birth of Our Lord, let’s rejoice.

Philippians 1:18 “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

11. Don’t compare!

In keeping with number ten, next we have “don’t compare”. The mommy wars are very real, but they are usually of our own making. So you see my super awesome tea cakes on Instagram, don’t beat yourself up because you’ve got some Chips Ahoy going right now! I’m sure you do plenty of things I don’t do. And your kids will love telling the stories about you and who you are just as much as mine will some day. The Pastor still waxes poetic about canned cranberry sauce like his grandmother used to open. We all have our own gifts, interests, and talents. When you post your manicure that looks like little Santas, I promise, I’ll only be jealous of the kid free time you got while doing it! We share to share our joy, not to make others feel bad or to make ourselves look like super mom. None of us have capes. Glean ideas from one another, but not guilt.

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12. All traditions do not have to be kept.

Your parents started a tradition with you of buying you a new Hallmark ornament each year. That was their tradition. You don’t have to continue it. If you want to, cool beans. If it doesn’t work for you, let it go. Our lives can quickly devolve to chaos when you’ve got two families of tradition meeting. If you try to hold them all, you’ll have no room for your own things. Choose and change what traditions you want to keep. The Pastor gets ridiculously insistent about which foods should don a Thanksgiving or Christmas table. But his meals growing up looked much different from mine. Instead of having this ridiculous 10 family meal for the 7.5 of us, we instead each choose our favorite couple things and go with that. We don’t usually have my family’s cucumber and onions. We don’t have two versions of dressing (stuffing for those that don’t speak Southern). We don’t have two cranberry sauces. We don’t have turkey and ham. We make our own menu and our own “traditional” meal. We cut Santa. I don’t hide gifts for a Christmas morning scavenger hunt like my mom did. You make your own traditions. And you don’t feel guilty about it.

13. Ask your kids what they want to do.

One of my favorite things is learning from my kids what our family traditions are. For example, I did not know that I always put gold chocolate coins in the kids’ stockings until 2 years ago when I overheard the older two talking about it and how much they loved it. Who knew?! I also didn’t realize until I didn’t do it last year, that making paper chains or popcorn chains are their favorite part of tree decorating. So, talk to your kids about what they think the family traditions are and ask them what things they want to do. Mine usually ask to drive around and look at lights. They ask for hot cocoa and Christmas movie night. They ask the name the Christmas tree. So, ask them! You’ll enjoy doing things they love and they’ll love doing the things you love! Let them share in some of the planning.

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14. Keep charity in mind, but don’t feel compelled to do it all.

Particularly around the holidays, people feel the need to be charitable to one another. And I am not knocking that tendency. Yes, there are needs year round, but we will all admit that those are most magnified around the holidays. So, do be charitable! But with the plethora of charities available to you, don’t feel like you have to participate in everything. You just can’t. There is only so much YOU to go around. So, talk it over with the kids, pick something you can all get involved in, and get involved! You may find your kids have a heart for the homeless and want to get involved in a supplies drive and distribution for them. They may decide to knit hats and scarves for them or for orphans in the Ukraine.

My kids have a big heart for foster kids. We participate in our local DFACS Secret Santa program. The kids in foster care make their Christmas wish lists (3 items) and we buy them. Our oldest daughter was actually the one who picked this charity. She said she wants to show foster kids that someone loves them. The gifts have ranged from bikes to MP3 players to nail polish to a dictionary for school.

Whatever charity you decide to participate in, do so with a glad heart and not out of obligation. But know, you don’t have to do it all. There are lots of charities to choose from and you’d run out of time and money before you even got through a fraction of them. So, pick your pony and ride it, as I tell my kids!

15. Slow down and enjoy the little things you’ve been missing.

There are some things that just smell like Christmas. Stop and enjoy those this year. Remember your love as a kid of driving around and seeing all the lights. Take time to actually look at them this year instead of list making in your head as you drive your kids around. Those cookies your grandmother used to make are worth the time this year. Just stop and enjoy the celebration going on all around you. If you get stuck on this, look at your kids for cues. They still see the wonder and will be happy to show you if you stop for a second to enjoy it.

And seriously, Happy Holidays!

Announcing “Frankie”

24 Sep

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We are expecting! Again. It is exciting for us, even if you “knew this was coming” or are kind of over the every other year announcement. We’re having number 6. The Pastor, the kids, and I are all excited. (I think the kids are the most excited!) This birth brings with it some big changes. For one, we have to buy a new vehicle. Goodbye minivan, hello church bus.

After much deliberation and prayer, we have decided to go for our second home birth. Of course, the only “problem” with this plan is paying for it. With buying a new vehicle to fit cute little number six, we know our funds will be very limited. So, we’ve decided to go out on a limb, a leap of faith, and ask our family and friends to help us out with the birth costs. We have never done anything like this before. But it occurred to us that people don’t know what we need unless we tell them. And our great need for this pregnancy is money to fund the medical expenses.

http://www.gofundme.com/eywd4o – This is a link to a newly set up GoFundMe site for us. Since I am asking for your help, I’ll be glad to tell you how the $4,000 breaks down.

$2800 for prenatal care and delivery expenses to our home birth midwives.

$180 for an ultrasound and consult with a perinatologist who will provide back up care should I need to transfer into the hospital.

$750 for doula fees.

$120 for newborn exam and tests after the birth.

$150 for lab work throughout the pregnancy. (Likely, this won’t be enough to cover it all, but I wanted to make the number nice and even.)

So, if you are wanting to help us out, head on over to the GoFundMe site. Of course, we’ll take money sent directly to us, but I won’t be giving you my home address on the blog. We are really trusting that God will provide through His people. We’re stepping out on faith to see that happen. Follow along here and on the GoFundMe to see the progress. What we’re asking is nothing short of a miracle.

Apostle’s Creed

9 Jul

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I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

(This is a fairly modern translation of the Apostle’s Creed.)

Three paragraphs. Christian belief at its core. If you’ve got negative opinions of the creed, let’s check those at the door and dive into this. Many people dislike creeds because they are mechanically parroted. But how amazing of a tool is it to teach your kids what we believe in a short, concise way that they can remember? Let the creed mean something to you. If you’re new to it, great! You’ll view it with fresh eyes. If you’ve had it memorized since you were four, amazing! You’ll find new life in teaching it to your children.

Take each phrase, step by step, and examine it, ponder it, really think about it.

Hand Embroidered

3 Jul

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I hand embroidered an adorable shirt for Topher’s first birthday party. Hand embroidery is so easy. Really. No rules and counting like cross-stitch. Just draw or copy a picture and embroider on top of it. Easy. I call it drawing with thread.

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I printed out a gnome from my Doodle Stitching Motif book. This was not a gnome party, so I had to transform him into a lumberjack. I rounded the hat, added legs, added a belt, added an arm with an axe. made the shirt plaid, and called him a lumberjack! Ta-da!

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I printed out the Impertinent Birch free pattern from Wild Olive. Isn’t it cute? I made the face match in style to my lumberjack.

I transferred both onto the shirt, embroidered, and had an adorable shirt for an adorable baby! ( I also used backing and hooped it, both are easy.)

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If you’ve considered taking up hand embroidery, do it! It is a cheap craft. It is appropriate for kids who are old enough to be trusted with pointy things. It is so much fun! You can draw anything you want and then embroider it! Fabulous! I really think hand embroidery should be way more popular than it is. Try it.

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Large Family FAQs

26 Jun

 

First, I don’t necessarily feel I have a large family. I don’t know when I will think that title fits, but it was bestowed upon me by the general public when we had three kids and now, at five, I still don’t feel it fits. Larger than average, I’ll admit, but not yet large. Maybe I will never feel like it fits.

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People ask us these questions. Sometimes, they are genuinely curious about what it is like to be inside one of *those* families. Sometimes, they are being butt heads. Sometimes, they just don’t know what to say and feel like they have to say something.

 

1. Are they all yours?

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Yes, they are. No one in their right mind would round up the neighborhood kids for a trip to Costco. Clearly, they all look similar enough that it is safe to assume they are, indeed, siblings. But yes, all ours.

 

2. Are you done?

Well, the baby won’t be moving out for at least 17 more years, so it is safe to say we’ll be in this parenting gig for at least that much longer. So, no, not done.

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3. Are you going to have more?

See, I think this is what you meant in question 2. The honest truth is that we don’t know. Given my age and health, I’d say it is likely that we’ll have more, but who knows? We do not plan our family. Yep. You read that correctly. We see the eternal impact of whether or not another soul exists as being slightly above our pay grade. So, we leave that in much more competent hands, God’s. Feel free to ask him. “Dear Lord, will the Godbold family have more children?” Let me know what He says.

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4. Did you plan to have this many?

We do not plan our family. That is not to say each child is an “oops”. We don’t believe such things either. We are open to God’s blessings at any time and we fully participate in His creative work in our marriage.

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5. Yeah, but, did you want this many?

We accept what God gives us. Right now, that is five. And each of them is very much wanted and very much loved. Do you want God to bless you and work in your life? We see this as being part of that.

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6. Did you always see yourself having a large family?

When we were in pre-marital counseling, The Pastor said he wanted 2, a boy and a girl. I told him I wanted 10. I didn’t say that because I actually thought we’d end up with 10 kids, but because I am an anarchist at heart, so when the culture tells me 2, I feel the need to show them up. I didn’t really SEE myself with any kids, or even being married, though I was getting married. My mind just never works like that. I hope for the future, but never actually see it unfolding inside my brain until I am there. I’m weird like that. The Pastor said 2 because at the time, he bought that cultural lie that 2 kids was perfect. He should tell you about that inner change in him sometime over on his blog.

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7. Did you come from a large family?

No. The Pastor is an only son of an only son of an only son. He has one sister. I have two brothers.

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8. Do you know what causes that?

Actually, we do. And I think if more people thought about the creative work of God in their marriage a little more, they’d be far less stressed out and likely have a few more kids, too. In marriage, we find that God creates new souls through love. How amazing is that? I feel very honored to be a part of something so eternally significant. We choose not to separate ourselves from the procreative nature of God in marriage. We leave ourselves open to allowing God to bless our union. (Please know that I am not saying the only purpose of sex is procreation.)

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9. Do you need a hobby?

I have plenty, thank you.

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10. Are you against birth control?

“Birth control” is such a broad term. Here is where I stand (and The Pastor has his own thoughts on this, his are more philosophical. Maybe he’ll share them with you sometime.). Hormonal birth control (pill, patch, ring, embedded in your IUD) kills women. Strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, murderous rage (kind of joking on that last one). It isn’t good for you. It isn’t worth the risk to me and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. You take it if you want, but seriously, read up and know the risks. It isn’t even all that effective for those risks. No thanks. So, what about copper IUDs? Nope. They kill babies. I believe life begins at conception, so clearly I would not choose an IUD. (And don’t be delusional about Mirena IUDs. They combine the bad of a regular IUD with hormonal birth control, so you’ve got double trouble going on there.) (And yes, I am aware not everyone is on board with the life beginning at conception thing, but we’re talking about me and my choices here.) What about condoms, spermacide, sponges, films, diaphrams, etc.? Sometimes we try to contol nature to such an extent that it begins to control us. But no, I am not using any of those or okay with using any of those personally. What about natural family planning? I would say this would be the best option across the board, and the one I would recommend to women who come to me asking my opinion on the subject. (Taking Charge of Your Fertility is an excellent book about NFP or FAM, whichever you happen to us. NFP= No intercourse on fertile days if you are avoiding pregnancy. FAM= using an alternative method like condoms or sponges or voodoo on your fertile days if you are avoiding pregnancy.) But for us, the conversation usually goes something like this:

“Do you want to avoid getting pregnant this month? My fertile days are coming up.”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“Well, I think it’d be nice to have more space between babies. But what if I miss my window? What if these are the last months of my fertility? What if we miss out on the kid that could possibly be this month? What if this kid is the next John Wesley? Or Mother Teresa? Or he is just a really awesome cook? What if we never have anymore and we never get to do another first birthday party or see a first smile or hear a first word? What if the baby days are behind us?!”

“Uh. So you want to try for another baby?”

“I never said that. Having a baby hurts. But what is some pain in relation to an eternal soul in existence? But we’d have to pay for another birth! And we’ll need a bigger car! And I’m pretty sure our baby swing has forever bitten the dust.”

“So…?”

“This is above my pay grade. Seriously. Let’s just forget this whole conversation ever happened.”

“Okay. Not trying. Not preventing. Sounds good to me.”

“Good. Planning is too stressful.”

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11. Are you Catholic? Mormon?

I find it slightly sad that we assume only those two religious groups might have a larger than average family. We are Evangelical Christians, Protestants, Methodists, Free Church Wesleyans, Wesley Armenians, Holiness People. I know many of my Protestant brothers and sisters do not like to think about the ethical or moral implications of birth control. I know many of them don’t l ike to think, period. (A jab, I know. I’m sorry. Not sorry enough to delete it because I do think you need to think more about what you do and what that says about your faith and your Lord.) We believe children are a blessing. (And we really believe that, we don’t just say it.) We choose to remain open to God and allow Him to bless us as often and much as He so chooses. Not sure why you think you have to be Catholic or Mormon to have that kind of faith.

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12. Are you trying to be like the Duggars?

No. I’m also not trying to be like my neighbor, my friend, or some random actress I’ve never met. I’m sure I’d get along fine with the Duggars, but every family that is larger than average is not trying to emulate a TV show family. Every blended family is not trying to be The Brady Bunch. Every stay at home mom is not trying to be on Desperate Housewives. Every mom of multiples isn’t trying to be John & Kate Plus 8. Just because some portions of our lives are similar, does not mean we want to BE them. I haven’t watched enough 19 Kids and Counting or even read Michelle Duggar’s book to even know how much of our beliefs are in line. Good for them, though, being willing to accept the blessings of God despite the critical and hateful toward families culture we live in.

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13. How many do you want to have?

Again, not a planner. I’m not trying to achieve some perfect collection of little people who look slightly like me but more like The Pastor. I’m not aiming for a baseball team or a football team or any other kind of sport’s team (though a family folk band would be pretty awesome, gotta admit). We will have however many children God gives us. That might just be 5, and I am cool with that. We’ll talk in 20 years when my childbearing days are behind me and we’ll see how many we ended up with. (I should also note, our openness is not limited to biological children. We would happily take in foster or adoptive children if the Lord laid that on our hearts.)

I’m going to get even more personal here for a minute and share with you our story. We tried for 2 years before having our first child. After a year, we began the whole slew of fertility testing. In the end, the doctor we were seeing told us we needed to decide how far we were going to take this medically because the next step was IVF. We prayed. We had prayed and cried out to God for 2 years to give us just A child. All numbers were forgotten and we would have felt blessed to just be given one. We decided not to go the IVF route. We absolutely felt that for us it had become an issue of who we would put faith in, God or man. (I am not saying this becomes the case for everyone and know some very faithful couples who have conceived their precious children through IVF. But for us, it became an issue of faith and we knew it.) We decided to trust God. We decided we were done with trying. We began looking toward adoption, thinking maybe a closed womb was a sign that God had a different path in store for us. Boy did he! In July 2005, I quit seeing my fertility doctor. I quit taking my fertility meds. And we up and moved to Mississippi for The Pastor to go to seminary, since clearly we had some time before becoming a family with children. In August, I got pregnant. No drugs. No doctors. No “trying” really. (Some of you understand the land of OPKs, pregnancy tests multiple times a day, and obsessing over every twinge and half symptom.) Once our beautiful baby girl was born, how could we then say, “Thanks God for this blessing. We’re so glad we trusted you. Now we’re done with that because we don’t trust you to give us a reasonable number of children in the timing we deem reasonable.” We couldn’t. We left it in His hands. And 15 months later, He blessed us again. And 22 months later, again. And 23 months later, again. And 24 months later, again. He gave us the child we so desperately longed for and then multiplied it by 5! From infertile to 5 children, why would I take back over when He is clearly doing a much better job than I was? And how could I say, “Thanks for all you’ve given me, but enough. I’ll take it from here.”?

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14. How do you feed them all?

With food. *chuckle* We go to multiple stores. We take advantage of Costco a good bit. Amazing deals to be had at Costco. We also take monthly trips to Trader Joe’s. I wish they’d build one closer because they are amazing! We used to make weekly trips to Trader Joe’s, but it got to be a little much for us. I also shop at Kroger and Whole Foods. Whole Foods has an amazing bulk section. Dried beans of all varieties, rice of all kinds, spices at unbelievable prices! You’d be amazed. Once upon a time, I coupon shopped, but I find it more expensive than just making most things from scratch and using Costco. Convenience foods are mostly out. A single box of PopTarts is one breakfast here. A box of Little Debbies is one snack. Making your own is healthier anyway. Plus, have you ever tried to flip through coupons with 5 kids in a grocery store? Here are a few recipes and cookbooks to check out. You can also follow me on Pinterest for more recipe ideas. I usually double recipes, though sometimes a single recipe will make enough for all 7 of us. (Since 5 of them are children, after all.)

Bean by Bean.

Pioneer Woman Frito Chili Pie.

Pioneer Woman Cajun Chicken Pasta.

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15. How do you afford them all?

There is this crazy belief in our culture than children are ridiculously expensive. But really, they aren’t. Other than his birth, the baby hasn’t cost me anything. I breastfeed, which is free. I use cloth diapers, which I hand down from kid to kid. (I pay roughly $300 for diapers every 3-4 kids.) Sure, my grocery bill is higher, but it is still well within the reasonable realm. So, we may have to be vegetarians 2-3 nights a week. It is better for our health anyway. Really, I sometimes wonder how people without 5 kids can justify certain purchases. $200 on a car seat isn’t so bad when it goes through 3 kids. $100 on a 16” bike, then $100 on an 18” bike, then $100 on a 20” bike- not so reasonable with one kid. When you know 5 will go through them, not so bad. No, our children will never have huge trust funds and a free ride to college (on us, at least), new cars when they turn 16, or 5 gaming systems. But they exist. And they are loved. And that is enough, I think.

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16. Where do they all sleep?

People think we must live in some mansion. We don’t. We have plenty of room in our 4 bedroom (3, actually. A basement room 2 floor from a bathroom hardly counts, folks.) 2.5 bathroom rental house is plenty big enough for us. We have the master bedroom where The Pastor, the baby, and I sleep. We have a crib in there, but honestly, he never sleeps in it. Imo has her own bedroom, being the only girl, but Ransom usually sleeps in her room because the boys bother him. (They talk while they go to sleep and they get up 2 hours before Ransom likes to get up.) And then we have the boy’s bedroom, where we have two twin beds and a toddler bed (because I did not plan ahead). Eventually we’ll put two sets of bunks in there, but right now, we’d prefer them to be closer to the ground. Closet space is really what you should be asking about! That is what large families have so little of. Finding places to sleep is easy. Bunks, trundles, triple bunks, day beds- you have plenty of options. Closets are where we are lacking. Of course, you know how kids are- you put them to bed in their bed and they end up on one blanket on the floor, sleeping under the bed, in a siblings bed, or in my floor. I think they’d be happier if I just lined some mattresses up along the floor for one giant kid bed.

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17. What kind of car do you drive?

This is why I think we’re not a large family yet. We still fit into a mini-van. MINI! That should say something. A large family cannot fit into a MINI van. We have a Dodge Caravan- I think it is Grand. The Pastor went and got it from a used car lot with zero input from me days before the third was born. (Likely because I had a massive freak out, crying that the baby had no where to sit to come home from the hospital, since we had a 4 passenger Honda Element at the time.) I have 2 booster seats and a Sunshine Kids (now Diono) Radian on the back row and a Sunshine Kids (now Diono) Radian and a Combi Coccoro in the middle Captain’s Chairs.

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The trick to maxing out a minvan is in narrow seats (Combi Coccoro, Diono Radian, Evenflo Amp, Britax Parkway) and seat belt extenders. (We bought ours from the company More of Me to Love.) Seat belt extenders make buckling the booster seats in possible. Is this ideal? No. But it works and is reasonable safe. If you want to comment and tell me how I shouldn’t be using these, feel free to donate $30,000 and we’ll happily accept and purchase a larger vehicle. For now, this works well for us. Now, should God bless us with a sixth, we’ll have to be van shopping.

I do have a few complaints for car companies. First, why do you put carpet in a minivan? You know we’ll be tossing goldfish crackers, french fries, and chocolate milk back there. You know crayons will drop between the seats, suckers will fall from tiny hands, and dirt will be caked onto cleats. Why torture us with the carpet? Check out the Honda Element’s flooring. That is what minivans should have! (2) Why only 3 LATCHES and why the ridiculous one in the back BETWEEN two seats? How hard is it to just put a LATCH on each actual seat? Why the strange between two seat LATCH? Torture. Again. Think things through guys! Hire a mom to help you plan these things out.

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18. Do you just love kids?

I think all children are a blessing from the Lord, but I am not, at all, a “kid person”. I like MY kids. Liking my own children is much different than saying I like ALL children. All children are a blessing and I do my very best to treat them like the little people made in God’s image that they are. I’m actually pretty good with kids. But I am not a kid person. (And I have met a great many “kid people” who are not parents.) You don’t have to have the gifts and disposition of a preschool teacher to be a mom to many. You just have to treat them as people, love them, and be yourself with them. I am a mother. I am not a collector of children. I do not long to be a preschool teacher or babysit the neighborhood.

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19. Do you have a TV?

Yes. Not a very large one. And no cable, but we have Netflix, Amazon, and some Roku channels. I’m not sure what TV has to do with the number of children we have. Do you regularly substitute TV for intimacy with your spouse? How is your relationship?

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20. How do you do it?

I usually want to tell you about the birds and the bees when you ask this, but I know that is not what you’re getting at. I did not wake up one morning with 5 kids waiting to be fed in my kitchen. They came to me one at a time with time to adjust and prepare and learn as I go along. I have not always been a patient person, having five children will teach you something about patience. I have not always know how to let go of small things that don’t matter, having five children will teach you about letting go of the small stuff. I am not super humanly organized, though I am more organized with five than I was with one or two. One by one, these kids are teaching me to be a better person. I am grateful for that. Parenting is a 24 hours a day gig- be it one kid or 10. Yes, we learn better how to fill and balance those 24 hours as we go along, but we are all putting in our all 24 hours a day. (Even when we are sleeping! My brain sorts some burdens out for me while I sleep quite often, so I consider that productive time. Plus, I’m on call.)

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21. Don’t you need to rest between babies?

I’m never sure how to take this. But to answer you, these are my childbearing years. All the years of my life will not be like this. I maintain my health, and I accept and embrace my role during this phase of my life. These are my years to bear children. One day, these years will be passed, and my body will rest- well, not really, it’ll simply move to the next phase. But bearing all these children is actually medically beneficial to me! What?! Having 5 has lowered my risks of ovarian cancer. Breastfeeding 5 has lowered my risks of breast cancer. This is what I was made to do. To quote Ina May Gaskin, my body is not a lemon. My Creator is not some careless mechanic. When my body is ready to bear another child, it lets me know. I ecologically breastfeed- meaning I feed my baby around the clock and bed share with him. When he stops eating so much at night, it send my body a message that he no longer needs me so much, and we are ready to carry another. It is amazing how God created us. While my little one needs me, I don’t cycle. They naturally space themselves.

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22. Were they all born naturally?

I understand the curiosity people experience when wondering if moms of many have these super easy pop ‘em out kind of deliveries, but this question still always confuses me. I never know if you’re asking if they were born vaginally or if they were born without intervention or if they were born without pain medication or if they picked their own birthday. So, the confusion on my face with this one is usually because I don’t know how to answer. All their births were different, and what I chose for the first two may not be what I chose for the next two. Their just different. And one person’s version of “natural” isn’t another’s. So, here is the birth scoop on my five.

Baby 1: I was told childbirth was going to really hurt. And that I could not prepare for it. And that while natural sounds best, most people just can’t do it, so have a back up plan. I was seeing a hospital based OB group. I didn’t consider a birth with anyone other than an OB in a setting anywhere other than the hospital. I was going to “try” naturally but get an epidural if I just couldn’t do it. At 35 weeks, my water broke on its own, an hour later contractions started, an hour later I was in the hospital checking in where they told me I would need to request my epidural in advance since no anesthesia was on duty, an hour later I requested the epidural after I was told 5 times I needed to ask BEFORE it started hurting “too bad”, 45 minutes later the anesthesiologist arrived to place my epidural, 15 minutes later the baby was born. The epidural was placed but not even test dosed. It was removed immediately after she was born. She was held in the nursery for 5 hours due to her size (5lbs2oz) and gestation. We stayed in the hospital for 4 days.

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Baby 2: At 35 weeks, they found the baby to be breech (butt first). I wanted to try a vaginal breech birth, but the OB practice I was with did not do them nor did anyone in the area. At 36 weeks, an ECV (external cephalic version- they try to flip the baby from the outside) was attempted in the hospital. It did not work. At 37 weeks, my OB checked me and I was 4 cm dilated, so they sent me up for a c-section. I did have pain medication. (You’d be shocked at the number of people who ask if I had pain medication for my c-section.) I had a spinal and some IV pain medication. It is major abdominal surgery. Medication isn’t an option- you have to have it. He spent 10 days in the NICU with fluid in his lungs as a result of the c-section and not being squeezed in labor. (Labor is beneficial! Who would have thought? Those contractions are prepping the baby for life on the outside.)

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Baby 3: My original OB did not do VBACs and became insistent on tying my tubes during my repeat c-section. I asked for the opinion of my perinatologist and he did not think tying my tubes was necessary. (I have a uterine anomaly. It isn’t very common or studied. So, my OB at the time thought I should not take the risk of the unknown and should end my childbearing. After all, who wants more than 3 kids?) I lost my trust as the OB continued to push for tying my tubes and I was not comfortable letting her cut me open, not knowing if she’d even listen to me saying no. So, I found another doctor who did VBACs. He was not scared of my uterine anomaly or of VBAC. And I had a successful VBAC with him. (Link to birth story.) I had AROM (artificial rupture of membranes- the use a sharp crochet hook looking thing to break you water in hopes that the extra pressure of baby on cervix without a cushion will speed up labor. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. It has its risks that you should definitely look into before agreeing to it.), membrane stripping (where they sweep their finger around the inside of your cervix in early labor, or sometimes before, in hopes to get labor going better), and a heplock. No pain meds. But the interventions were hardly natural. But the baby did come out vaginally. Put that in whatever column you think it belongs. We stayed in the hospital 5 days, thanks to an over zealous NICU.

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Baby 4: Same OB in a hospital. Second VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). Same interventions. Membrane stripping, AROM, and helplock. No pain meds. Hired a doula this time- made a huge difference in the experience. Stayed in the hospital 10 days because of a NICU with a god- complex.

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Baby 5: Homebirth. It just made sense. No NICU to deal with. No where to go in labor. I had skilled midwives (one CPM, one CNM) come to me. No interventions for the actual birth. My placenta had to be manually removed, and I did have meds for the bleeding after, since the placenta got stuck. I took some Ibuprofen after he was born.

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23. Are any of them twins? Triplets?

I hate disappointing people and telling them they are really just meeting 5 siblings, no multiples. People get so excited about multiples. But no, no multiples. They are 15, 22, 23, and 24 months apart in age. That does give me Irish twins, but not actual carried-at-the-same-time multiples. ` Sorry to disappoint.

 

IMGP0883Questions I did not cover? Leave them in the comments! Questions you get asked? Leave them in the comments or over on the Facebook page!

 

 

Hands Free Mama: A Book Review

19 May

 

 

2 out of 5 Stars

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I wanted to like this book, really, I did. It came so highly recommended, I thought it’d be life changing since so many other moms were saying it changed their lives. It was not life changing. In fact, I found the entire book useless and obnoxious.
So, hey, you decide you want to live “hands free” and put down your phone and computer and really be present. So, what is the first thing you do? Start a blog? Start a Facebook group? Write a book? No? Oh, well, I wouldn’t either, but this author did just that. Took a personal conviction and made it into a movement. Still not sure how that freed up her time. I guess she just felt less guilty about writing a book about limiting her commitments than she felt about the previous commitments. Baffling to me, really.
A lot of this stuff just didn’t apply to me. Not that I have it all going on, we just don’t all struggle in the same ways. I’m a homeschool, stay-at-home-mom. Clearly her drive to school issues will never be my issues. Clearly her “spending time with the kids” issues won’t be my issues. So some of her advice would just be bad advice to someone not in her predicament 100%. Example: She scolds herself/you (hard to tell with this one) about turning on music in the car and wanting to not talk to the kids in the car. She decides to be the “fun mom” and make every drive an opportunity to exert herself in entertaining and engaging her kids. Whatever, it works for her. It would not work for me. #1- I’m not a fan of distracting myself while driving around a full van of kids. #2- I don’t feel the need to entertain my kids in the car. #3- I spend plenty of time connecting with my kids, since mine are with me and not at school the majority of the day. #4- There is zero guilt in turning on some relaxing music and letting the littles just nap in the car.
She used the phrase “If there is anything I have learned…” a million times. Well, it was short of a million, but enough that it started driving me crazy every single time I read it.
Several of her good points were not original. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter were better than anything else on the pages. And much of the decent, worthwhile advice, I am certain I have heard in other places.
This book moves so slowly. For someone short on time, she really does use an awful lot of unnecessary words. She waxes on and on about the same dumb point endlessly. Honestly, the whole book could have been broken down into maybe a couple lengthy blog posts. She spends an awful lot of time just talking about nothing at all, it seemed.
She places significant pressure on moms to make everything for their kid magical. Life just isn’t like this. Sometimes chores and just chores and there is no bubbly musical montage moment in there. A lot of Mommy guilt could be heaped upon my head for having a less than Disney Magical Moment multiple times a day with my kids. In fact, most of this book is a giant Mommy Guilt bomb.
I tried to keep in mind where she is in life. She’s a mom of 2 out of the home schooled kids. That isn’t my life. She isn’t juggling the needs of 5 kids. She isn’t juggling a toddler or baby right now at all. Her perspective was simply a lot less helpful for me than I anticipated.
She is super sappy. Ridiculously so. Many, many pages of stories that are just dripping in saccharine sweet nonsense. She also seems to live her life in a very terrified place. “My kids may never walk back in…” “I may never get the chance to hug them again…” Is this some kind of new Mommy YOLO that I’ve not been privileged to encounter?
She kept saying, “The truth hurts but the truth heals.” However, she wasn’t offering much truth. In her over sentimentality, she lost almost everything she was trying to say. Most of the book was just fluffy vagueness.
“Is there anything that can’t wait until Monday on your schedule?” Well, actually, yes. That is why we have a schedule. Ballet only happens on Tuesday. The kid’s birthday only comes one day a year. Church happens to never fall on a Monday.
I understand that we need to live for today. Much more eloquent people than I (and Mrs. Stafford) have said that better. But there is a major fault in only living for today. In always living thinking you’re going to loose everything at any moment. You can grasp the thing so hard you crush it. Mrs. Stafford, I think, was heading in the right direction in her thinking, but came to all the wrong conclusions and sticking points. We need priorities. We need to live intentionally. Mrs. Stafford is all hung up in the nit-picky little details of it all and is still stuck in the web not seeing the big picture. Rachel Stafford needed to be present in her life, but she also needs direction. You can be busy without ever really doing anything.
You don’t get bonus points for doing what is needed when your kids are sick, hands-free or not. We all have to stay up all night with a sick kid sometimes. That is no indication of being on the “correct” path or journey.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. I would hardly call the author an expert on what she’s written. She wrote a book based on her popular blog and stuck and cute Pinterest worthy cover on it and now you buy it and she gets money. That is about all there is to this story. The book makes several contradictory points, mostly because, I assume, Mrs. Stafford’s head is full of these same contradictions. This is a book of someone who has been through this trial of being overly distracted. This is a book about someone who is still sorting this out, and missing much in the process.

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