Friday, December 28, 2012

Feliz Navidad 2012

Christmas time is here....and gone...yet the hope of the babe in the manger lives on every day for those who know the risen Christ.

Our Christmas season was full of fun. We did several of the fun holiday activities that the city of Memphis offers but our favorite was probably the Alpine Village at Trinity Baptist. The fact that it is indoors is a major plus!

This year we used our Ann Voskamp Jesse Tree devo again but threw in some children's bible stories to match the ornaments that were more on B's level. She also had her own tiny tree in her room with a nativity advent calendar ornaments. I think next year we may try Truth in the Tinsel.

Also this year we decided to not do any gifts. Since we don't do Santa this isn't a hard leap. We just explained to B that it is a celebration of Jesus' birthday so we give him gifts, and on her birthday she gets gifts. This child is spoiled throughout the year, so believe me she doesn't feel neglected or any such thing by not getting tons of gifts at Christmas. Our extended family still gave gifts, but we hope throughout the years they will redirect their giving more and more to birthday gifts.

On Christmas Eve morning we went with my husband's parents to visit people at King's Sons and Daughters nursing home. Two of Ben's grandparents have been there previously and his mom is still a rock star volunteer. We just went around and handed out cards B had made along with some treats and spread some Christmas cheer. B was a little timid around some of the people but overall she did great. I think this is a great tradition and maybe as the girls get bigger we can sing songs as we go from room to room. :) Christmas Eve evening we went to church and then to eat at Olive Garden (a tradition my family had for year). We came home and watched a veggie tales Christmas movie before putting B to bed. Then it was a late night of prepping for Jesus' birthday party.

We stayed up to make whole wheat cinnamon rolls and decorate with free printables I found. We did a "Happy Birthday Jesus" banner, balloons, "cupcake"/cinnamon roll toppers, and a hat for B. We also had to wrap presents for Jesus. We made a donation for each of us and then one in lieu of Christmas cards. This year we found so much joy in giving to the "least of these" in Jesus' honor. We donated to World Vision for ducks for a family and to help women and children in sex trafficking, also to a local ministry to teen moms, and some toys for the "sick kids" at Lebonheur. In lieu of Christmas cards we found a ministry called Planting with Purpose, a creation care ministry. I printed off pictures to symbolize all of these donations and wrapped them up in brown paper packages tied up with string. :) Brooklyn also had fun making ornaments for our family this year for her gift.

Christmas morning B came in our room to wait for sister to be ready then we all went into the living room together. We played while I finished breakfast and then we enjoyed our yummy treats, cinnamon rolls, quiche, and fruit salad. After breakfast we read the Christmas story and opened gifts for Jesus, then we watched Christmas movies and just relaxed until nap time. After nap we went to Ben's parents and enjoyed a yummy dinner there. Ben's mom is starting the "sparkle box" and her house. We write down what we do for the "least of these" during the Christmas season and put them in the sparkle box. On Christmas we open it and see what our family gave to Jesus for his birthday.

I really like the traditions we are creating. I almost feel like we had an advent activity overload, but there are just so many great advent devotionals and activities I had trouble just choosing one! In the future we may do gifts on New Years or Epiphany but this year we chose not to do any and we still had a great and joyful Christmas!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful List 2012

I want to start incorporating more Thanksgiving holiday traditions. Thanksgiving and Easter are my favorite holidays! So this year we did a thankfulness tree Nov 1- Thanksgiving. Here is our list from our family and anyone who shared a meal with us. (We always did our leaves after dinner)

  • zoo
  • my wife
  • beans
  • family
  • bedtime
  • my brother
  • God
  • food
  • Sydney
  • sleep sheep
  • good health
  • Iggy
  • my husband
  • our house
  • fork
  • daddy and sydney
  • coffee
  • neighbors
  • sleep
  • fall
  • grace and mercy
  • family
  • brooklyn and annalise
  • potatoes
  • noodles
  • naps
  • children and grandchildren
  • uncles
  • doctors and nurses
  • family
  • rain
  • family
  • playing with brooklyn
  • annalise is home from hospital
  • jesus
  • salvation
  • trees and leaves
  • my friends
  • annalise is getting better
  • jackie and papa mark
  • mommy
  • aunt dawn and dede
  • Mimi
  • her big sister (brooklyn saying what annalise was thankful for :)
  • LeBonheur
  • Nurses
  • My girls
  • pumpkins
  • mommy and sister and daddy
  • daddy and sister and mommy and trees and leaves
  • Iggy and Pop
  • dawn and dede
  • good jobs and beautiful weather
  • Banana bread
  • love
  • sweet Brooklyn
  • salad tongs
  • spaghetti
  • Noah
  • milk
  • teeth and Kim
  • swing
  • beautiful weather
  • annalise
  • brooklyn
  • daddy ben
  • car seat
  • air conditioner
  • This leaf
There you have it folks! :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Annalise's Birth Story

The day leading up to her birth...
That morning Brooklyn and I had a fun time together. We had a dentist appointment with our neighbor who is a dental hygienist. Brooklyn did great at her first dentist appointment and talked about it for days. I jokingly asked Jani (our hygienist) if there was any correlation between teeth cleanings and going into labor. I’m pretty sure there’s not, but it was still pretty funny that I went into labor that night. After our appointment we met our good friends, the Sevilles, at Sea Isle Park for a playdate. Then B and I got Chick Fil A for lunch. A pretty special morning with my first baby girl on her last day as an only child. 

That evening I was determined to go on a walk before dinner, so Kyleigh (my dog), Brooklyn, and I went on a short one miler and I felt lots of pressure in my lower abdomen and rectum. I didn’t think much about it because I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks and lower pains for several days. Well, that night after I read B a book I came out to the living room and started watching a new PBS show called “Call The Midwife” and the lower abdomen pains seemed to be really close together. It was around 8pm. I kept an eye on the clock and when Ben came out of B’s room after getting her to sleep I told him, “I think I may be having contractions”. I kept saying “I’m really confused because they are really close together but not very long or intense”. (like 3 minutes apart but only 20-30 seconds).B’s labor started out really slow and easy.  I timed them for an hour and then called my midwife and mom. My midwife suggested I try to rest since they were still so short. I took a bath and did some chores but they kept getting longer and longer and still about 3 minutes apart. At this point we tried watching part of a movie (Remember the Titans) but I was progressing pretty quickly in the pain department so we moved into the bedroom where I could relax. I was still pretty confused since this wasn’t “textbook” at all. My labor with B was completely different too so I wasn’t sure how the rest of my labor with Annalise would pan out. Eleven hours later the word to describe it was “intense”!

Around 10:30pm I was convinced it was real labor and my mom and brother Jordan headed our way. My aunt Dawn, grandparents, and brother Erik left shortly after.
Around 11:30 or 12 I called my midwife and she got ready to come over. She checked me and I was around 3-4cm and 80% effaced. I got in the birth pool around 1am. I LOVE me some hot water during labor. I mostly labored on hands and knees rocking with the contractions and breathing my four count pattern of exhale-exhale-pause-inhale. I rested in between contractions, which wasn’t long since they were still 2-3 minutes apart. They got more and more intense really quickly. My exhale pattern turned into a more verbal “ooo, ooo, pause, inhale”, or other noises like that. I really felt like I was transitioning so my midwife checked and I was around 5 and 90%. Not the news I was wanting. I had no idea how I was going to endure much more of this...God’s grace was the only way I can explain it.  I got out of the pool for a while and alternated sitting on the toilet and birthing stool to let gravity and some gentle pushing help move me along. The contractions were a bit more intense out of water but I felt like I was working with them to hurry things along so it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. Before I got back in the water my midwife checked me because I really felt like I wanted to push, but I believe at this point I was maybe 7-8 but completely effaced. I still was concerned I had a long time to go. So often I felt like giving up, not that I could have of course. I kept telling myself that this was the way God designed labor to be and that He would give me the strength to persevere. He had created women to birth and they had been doing it for generations. But it wasn’t easy! I kept having a slight urge to push so they told me to gently push at the peak of contractions. That helped a lot with the pain because I felt like I was really working towards something. I stayed in a mostly hands and knees position and rocked my pelvis a lot. Throughout labor I was really exhausted. I had napped that day but to labor when you would normally be sleeping proved to be really exhausting. My legs were really tired and weak about halfway through labor. I sipped on juice and ate ice cubes of Shaklee Performance electrolyte drink to give myself energy. Towards the end of labor I really needed water poured on my back during contractions and a cold rag on my neck and head. 

Well, I kept feeling the urge to push more and more so my midwives gave me the go ahead to push gently a little bit more. At this point I asked my midwife if I should get out of the water so she could get to me better, but she assured me she’d be able to assist and I could stay in the comfort of the water. I really wanted a hands on pushing stage to prevent tearing as much as possible. All of the midwives and my husband were amazing coaches during this time. (they were amazing the whole time actually, especially my sweet hubby. he never left my side) They reminded me to push gently and to breathe through some of the contractions. One of them sang to me for about 30 minutes because that was very calming for me. Of course resisting the urge to push was not fun and it was really difficult, but I knew I needed to endure this short amount of pain to try to prevent tearing. My midwife Martina provided counter pressure for the head and assessed if I had torn after each contraction. I tore really bad with Brooklyn and had a lot of physical and psychological postpartum issues because of it so this was my biggest concern with this birth. 

I should add that Brooklyn woke up around 6am and came in to check on me. It was so encouraging to see her sweet face and to know that I was about to birth her baby sister soon. It was such a blessing  to have labored during her sleeping hours so we didn’t have to worry about her. 

Well, I kept gently pushing and the midwives said they thought I would have the baby out within 5 contractions. It ended up being three. (my total pushing stage was about 40 minutes) We called for the family to come in at this point because they all wanted to witness the birth (my mom had been in there the whole time though). Crowning was no fun, but after breathing through that, I pushed out the head and body two contractions later and was holding sweet Annalise in my arms at 7:01am on October 16th. I cried tears of relief and joy as I looked down and saw my chubby olive skinned dark haired girl. Brooklyn quickly came over to kiss her sister and sing her Happy Birthday. It was an amazingly intense birth but the good news was that I didn’t tear at all and Annalise was perfectly healthy with a 10 on her apgar. We enjoyed some sweet time with just the three of us and she nursed really well right away. I stayed in bed most of the day and just enjoyed resting and holding my sweet girl. She was big, 8lbs and 21 inches. A few days later she has already gained back her birth weight. 

God answered all of our prayers concerning this birth...1)I didn’t tear 2) i labored at night so we weren’t concerned about having to know how involved to allow Brooklyn to be 3)all of my family arrived on time 4) God gave me the strength to endure even though I was exhausted. He also granted me some sweet blessings that I had hoped for...I really wanted to be able to eat a big breakfast from Brother Junipers at some point during my labor. Well, although I didn’t get to during labor, that was my first meal after giving birth. I also really wanted to be able to have Muddy’s cupcakes for the party that night so I was hoping to avoid giving birth on Sunday or Monday since they are closed those days. So just some sweet blessings. :)

My family all stayed through that evening and we celebrated Annalise’s birthday and Brooklyn’s Big Sister Day with some Corky’s bbq, Memphis Pizza Cafe, and Muddy’s cupcakes. 

All in all, an amazing day. We are so blessed to have two sweet girls! I am so thankful for my husband and Full Circle Midwifery, as well as my entire family and many friends who prayed me through this labor and birth. God is so faithful and good!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Mommy Wars?

So, the media loves to get us all riled up, right? They like to pit moms against one another, because they really don't support any of us when it comes down to it.

Last week attachment parenting and extended nursing mothers were attacked. Next week stay at home moms will be attacked. At another time formula feeding moms will be attacked. Then working moms, and the list goes on.  And the current group of moms getting attacked goes on the defense (myself included) to correct misinformation and ignorance with the hopes of possibly changing the perspective of just a few individuals.

Now, I have been pretty outspoken here on my blog that I am not a fan of Babywise and that I am a big fan of breastfeeding. This doesn't mean that if you are a Babywise mom that we can't be friends. It does mean that we will have to agree to disagree on many things and just may not want to talk about certain subjects, but we can still be friends. My very best friend and I are very different in our parenting styles, but at the end of the day we just want what is best for our kids and our family. Period. I might believe and science might prove that in many ways "breast is best", but a small percentage of women may find themselves in a situation where they can't breastfeed. Another group of women may choose not to nurse at all, and while I disagree with this decision, it is each mama's choice to decide what is best for her and her baby/family.

When I proudly post that my baby and I are still going strong after nursing for 24 months I am not slamming those of you mamas who never nursed or those who stopped at 2 or 8 months. I am not trying to start a Mommy War. I am simply posting information to correct the misinformation that is currently circulating about breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, and attachment parenting. Time made a joke of attachment parenting, and the Today show and the View followed suit. These sort of attacks by the media infuriate me. Some mamas choose to put their babies in a crib from day one, never babywear, and never breastfeed and that is their choice. It is also the choice of mamas to co-sleep, babywear and nurse through toddlerhood.  Or whatever else.

We are all trying to do the best we can as mamas. Our parenting styles, life situations, and family dynamics may be different, but I am convinced that most mamas just want to do what is best with the cards they have been dealt.

So, can we make a deal here? Can we agree to disagree? And can we politely discuss parenting issues without thinking mamas on either side are trying to start a Mommy War?

And yes, we can still be friends if you Babywise or don't breastfeed. (not saying the two are related)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday my Sweet Nursling!

That is me nursing in public without a cover, without showing any breast! It is possible!

My sweet girl! You are two today! You bring so much joy to my life and I love you so much. I am so blessed to be your mommy. 

You have no clue about all the hogwash going around the internet and media right now, but a lot of ignorant people are attacking the way I parent you. Crazy, huh? Anyone that knows you will see what a bright, well adjusted, independent, sweet little girl you are. I love spending as much time with you as possible, but you are perfectly fine if I must leave for whatever reason. I remember when I was pregnant with you one of the things I was most excited about was nursing you. My goal was 2 years, and we have made it! Yay for you and me. Now this doesn't mean I am a better mommy that someone who chooses not to or isn't able to nurse, this is just what has worked for us and I believe it has made our bond strong. Our nursing relationship is the most beautiful thing. You are receiving comfort and nutrition from the very one who birthed you, ME! And it is usually the only time you will sit still long enough to cuddle. You aren't very cuddly! You are so busy! I love that you can communicate with me what you need, and where you want to nurse. I love tickling you and making you giggle and talking to you while you nurse. Nursing a toddler has to be one of the most rewarding things anyone could ever do. When you smile at me and say "thank you" at the end my heart just melts. You are nursing less and less and I am sure that my being pregnant has something to do with it. I know you will wean in your own time (or if my milk dries up from the pregnancy), and I will be sad for that chapter to end, but I will still have many other ways that we will be able to build our bond. I love you so much. Happy Birthday!

And for a re run post from last year called "Why wean, nursing past one" you can read below. And one more thing, let me just say that if I have friends and family who question the how and why of certain parenting choices my husband and I make I hope that you will come to me instead of believing all the misinformation circulating right now.

First, some background:
My mom nursed all of us (myself and 2 brothers) for around 2.5years each. She didn't have anyone telling her to do this, she just did because it felt natural to her to practice extended breastfeeding.  As I grew up and became an adult I thought this was "weird",  although I probably didn't think it was weird until I found out that most people weren't breastfed this long. Also, two of my aunts also breastfed their toddlers, as well as my cousin. My cousin just weaned her 2.5 year old twins. Now, that is awesome! When I got pregnant I planned on nursing, but "not as long as my mom" I would tell people. Well, now that has all changed. I hope to nurse each baby at least as long as my mom nursed us. Here are some things I learned that changed my mind:

1. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months, then for at least a year or as long as mutually desirable by mother and baby. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least 2 years, as does UNICEF.
2. Breast doesn't stop being best at 1 year. Human milk is still best for a growing toddler. Cow milk was meant for cows, and human milk is meant for humans.  (but yes, I do drink cow's milk) Breastfeeding has nutritional benefits past one year of age, such as 75% of vitamin A requirements, 94% of B12, 60% of vitamin C, and more
3. Breastfed children are sick less often.


  • Antibodies are abundant in human milk throughout lactation" (Nutrition During Lactation 1991; p. 134). In fact, some of the immune factors in breastmilk increase in concentration during the second year and also during the weaning process. (Goldman 1983, Goldman & Goldblum 1983, Institute of Medicine 1991).
  • Per the World Health Organization"a modest increase in breastfeeding rates could prevent up to 10% of all deaths of children under five: Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness." [emphasis added
4. Breastfed children have fewer allergies. 
5. Extended breastfeeding can help with behavior issues in a toddler because of the bond that breastfeeding provides
6. It does not psychologically harm the child:
        via kelly mom

  •         The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child... Increased duration of breastfeeding confers significant health and developmental benefits for the child and the mother... There is no upper limit to the duration of breastfeeding and no evidence of psychologic or developmental harm from breastfeeding into the third year of life or longer." (AAP 2005)
  • The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that "As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment, and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer." They also note that "If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned." (AAFP 2008)
7. Mothers benefit greatly from extended nursing by significantly reducing the risk of many types of cancers as well as osteoporosis 

If you and your almost 1 year old are still enjoying the breastfeeding relationship, why wean? If you want to continue nursing your toddler there is plenty of research to prove the benefits of it. For some reason it has become the cultural norm to wean at one even if it is not what the mother and child want to do. If people are pressuring you to wean your one year old just show them the research and then do what feels right to you. Don't worry about what your family or friends may say or think, just do what you feel and believe is best for you and your child. In biblical times children were breastfed much longer than today, and there is proof of that in the bible (Hannah and Samuel is one example). The Creator God is the one who designed the amazing properties of breastmilk, and those amazing properties are still there after your baby's one year birthday. If you decide to wean your child at any time make sure it is because that is what  you feel is best, not because someone is pressuring you or that you feel pressured by society in general. Extended breastfeeding will only become more "normal" and accepted as more mothers and babies continue their breastfeeding relationship past one year. 

I love the breastfeeding relationship I have with my baby girl and I am very thankful for a supportive husband. We look forward to continuing our breastfeeding until she decides she is through. And who knows, maybe I will get the privilege of tandem nursing too! I love nursing my baby girl. Our breastfeeding relationship has already changed so much from the time she was a newborn. Now she squirms all over and plays with my face while nursing and practices her nursing acrobatics. She also takes breaks to look up at me and "talk" to me. And nothing can beat that milky grin! 

What about you? How long did you nurse your child(ren)? How long do you plan to nurse? Do you plan on letting them wean themselves or when do you plan to wean them? And why? 

Some links for your researching pleasure:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rerun: What kind of Mother am I? The gospel and attachment parenting...

(originally posted at Memphis Misfit Mama)

What do I want to define me as a mother and a parent? I talk a lot about Attachment Parenting, and although that is the parenting style I fall most in line with, it is more important that I am a biblical parent and a gospel-centered parent. I can be as attached as possible with my children, but if I do not give them the gospel I have failed as a mother.

More than anything, I want my children to see and hear the gospel from me. I want them to hear me tell them and others the gospel, and I want them to see me live it out. I want them to know that Jesus loves me, that I love Jesus, and that Jesus loves them. I want their lives to be transformed by the gospel at a young age, and for them to live out a gospel-centered, Christ-centered life. If I breastfeed for five years, co-sleep for ten, baby wear 12 hours a day, and never let my baby cry, yet neglect the gospel I have failed. I love the tool of attachment parenting style, but it cannot change my child from the inside out. I do believe that an attached style is beneficial for the overall well-being and emotional development of my child, but the gospel is still the most important thing I can give my children.

I want my parenting to be based on principles from the bible, and I want my parenting to model the kind of parent God is to me. I want my parenting to model the character and servanthood of Christ.

Although you will not find a certain "parenting style" in the bible, as I thought about how we were parenting our baby girl as a newborn, I felt it modeled how God parents us when we are new Christians. God is a tender, gentle God that wants his newly adopted children to sense a secure attachment to Him as Father. When a new Christian cries out because they are hungry for more manna, more Word, He is going to meet that need. Whoever is discipling this new believer should do the same. The spiritual parent of this new believer would never say, "I'm sorry. It is not time for you to read more of the Bible or for me to teach the Bible to you again. You can only read it every four hours. And if you wake up in the middle of the night, don't pray because God only listens and responds during the day." How absurd would this be? We know that God lovingly responds to our cries day and night. He never turns a deaf ear and allows us to cry it out. We may cry, but we never cry alone. And God would never make us go without His word, the bread of life. If we want this bread every hour He will meet that need. I also thought a lot about the passage in Isaiah about God carrying us close to His heart. As a parent that had to babywear to keep my baby content, I couldn't help but think of how God carries us close to His heart when we are upset.

No, you won't find a verse in the bible that tells you that you should or shouldn't let your newborn cry it out, but you will find plenty of verses about God answering us when we cry out to Him day OR NIGHT. You won't find verses that say you should or should not rock your newborn to sleep or wear your baby in a carrier, but you will find a lot of verses about God comforting us and passages like the one in Isaiah about carrying us.

As the mother of a fussy newborn baby that utilized attachment parenting tools, I was exhausted most days. I went on many walks as I wore my baby and I spent a lot of time thinking about the way we were doing things and praying about them as I walked along. Over and over again, I kept being reminded of the kind of parent God is to me. He is a God that meets my needs and answers me when I cry out to Him. I felt convinced that this was how I should parent my baby.

Many may argue that an attached style is not biblical and that it spoils a baby and feeds their sin nature. I disagree, but I will share more on that when I do a series on "My Breakup with Babywise." I am convinced that a newborn's cries are a reflex to communicate needs. I am convinced that a newborn's needs and wants are the same thing and that they are crying to communicate and not manipulate. Although my baby cried A LOT I never felt manipulated in those newborn months. I felt that based on the whole counsel of Scripture an attached style of parenting was a biblical style and that it modeled the character of God to my little one. Many that I love and respect disagree, but this is what the Lord led me to for our family.

Still, more than an attached parenting style or any other parenting style, what my child needs most is the gospel. She needs Jesus. I feel practicing a more attached style models this to her, but more than anything I hope I model Jesus to her, and I pray she sees the gospel in my parenting.

So, as I start a series on Attachment Parenting, please know that I believe the gospel is much more important and crucial for my child. I belief AP is VERY beneficial, but that the gospel is CRUCIAL. The gospel is the ONE THING I must not neglect as a parent.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Baby #2

Well, in case you haven't heard, we are expecting Baby #2 in late October! So excited! We found out on February 14th. We don't normally celebrate Valentines Day, so we celebrated finding out we were pregnant instead. We went to Corky's with B after I gave Ben a valentines card with the pee stick in it. So romantic!

I am about 15 weeks now and we heard the heartbeat a couple of weeks ago at our first midwife appointment. I haven't felt as nauseous as I did with B, but I have been ravenously hungry. I have been trying to keep it mostly healthy food but sometimes I just have to eat what I am craving. We are so excited to welcome another baby into the world and to see B as a big sister.