Category Archives: motherhood

Encouraging the Moms

scan0002-5(1)A few days ago I posted the images to the right on my instagram. It is an image of myself as a newborn in the hospital, shortly after my mom had me back in 1983. That is me in the first container crib. :)

When I look at this image the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that not only am I placed on my tummy… but the baby behind me… In fact I am pretty confident every baby in that nursery was on their tummy.

Yet 21 years after that image was taken and I became a mom, you would have been crucified by medical professionals as well as other moms, if you placed your baby on their tummy. I remember when I first became a mom back in 2004, I was greatly criticized. 4 months after I had Caleb we moved to Northern Ohio. Where my husband served as an Associate Pastor and Youth Pastor. I was 21, a new mom and really a fairly new wife. This was our first FULL time ministry position. We knew no one in the area… and everything we knew was now different. My mom was 12+ hours away in Charlotte, NC… and this whole journey through motherhood was something I was about to face head on with no shoulder to cry on.

It was HARD.

I remember ladies in the nursery rolling eyes… talking down about the way I chose to do things… cracking jokes… and making me feel about as small as it comes. I remember dreading going to church many sundays because of the fear of what would be said next to me in regards to how I chose to parent Caleb. Are they malicious and hateful? Probably not intentionally… but it was hurtful. This is in no way meant to talk bad about the church btw… this can happen anywhere…

To add to the pressures of motherhood came the pressure that I began to feel by other moms.

scan0001-2
My mom in 1982 with my big brother Kevin

Moms would throw things in other moms faces about their choices.

Underhandedly making remarks about what a mother should choose when it comes to child birth. How the epidural was for sissys and how dangerous it is for baby. I remember when I first got the epidural the judgement I felt from other moms made me feel less than. I remember feeling almost pressured into attempting a natural birth experience. With my 3rd born I finally made the decision to go through child birth without an epidural… and the first thing I yelled out after Owen entered the world was “NEXT TIME IM GETTING THE EPIDURAL!!!” haha. Yet with Reed I chose not to get it either. Not because I felt I had to prove something… but because I wanted to try a water birth experience…. We only live once after all :)

Breast feeding became an area of severe depression for me… baby after baby facing hurdles that seemed to never end. What was suppose to be so natural was so crushing for me. Moms staring me down as I filled a bottle of formula… and anonymous commentors on my blog would tell me how selfish I was for not nursing my children without even knowing why I couldn’t.

Even when I thought I was doing things right and babywore constantly, I still got stares… some maybe curious stares but often times not.

When I had my 2nd born Taite and decided to Cloth Diaper. You would not believe the remarks I got on that. I remember people thinking I was so strange… and I would often feel pressured to put my son in a disposable diaper just to avoid any looks.

When it came time for my oldest to enter school, that too even became an area of attack.

As if my choice to keep my son home to home school him was to hurt them. I remember hearing remarks from women who happened to be public school teachers, in around about ways would tell me how I was sheltering my child and he should be in public school. How my keeping him home was an insult to the hard work public school teachers put in. As if that was my intention, to insult….

scan0001-1When I turned my 1st born around in a car seat, you would have thought I stuck his head out of a car window. I cannot count the times I was rebuked for switching him early… and while I do believer it is safer to keep them rear facing until age 2 (IF YOU CAN), I do believe there is a better way to go about explaining this to a new mom… without sounding judgmental and harsh…

The photo to the right btw is myself in a carseat, not in the back seat but the front. I mean look at that thing! haha… you’d be burned at the stake today for that one. Yet it was what my parents knew then…

I often wonder if my mom back in the early 80’s got ridiculed by other moms like most of us do today.

I wonder how much less stressful motherhood was for her without social media… constant articles about what we need to do to be better moms. How we need to cook with these certain ingredients. How things should look in a mud room and how our nurseries should be pinterest perfected to make our homes complete. How our child may contract endovirus or whatever and they need x-amount of new shots in order to live… because chicken pox kills you apparently. Did our parents worry about such things? Did my mom feel pressured to get an epidural or not to? or to nurse vs. use a bottle? Did she feel less than if she didn’t have certain baby gear or feed us certain foods?

or could my parents just be… and enjoy us while in that season.

scan0002-3
Me just after delivery

I have been in this battle for a while now with social media… knowing the great good that can come from it yet seeing and experiencing the bad as well. It is truly a love hate relationship. I love keeping up with old friends and family… yet each and every time I log in, I leave stressed. defeated. small. lonely.

I know that for my business and my blog… staying on social media is sort of a must. Most of my clients I find via facebook… and a lot of my blog promoting happens not only through facebook but instagram and pinterest. To do my job and bring in income for my family (that in this season we need to pay our bills), I can’t abandon social media completely… even though a huge part of me wants to do so.

However.

One thing I have been trying hard to do is to cut the phone off.

Delete facebook.

To put the ipad down.

I feel a little bit like a broken record in this post… but I just cant stop thinking about it.

On a night where I feel a little weepy because of a situation I can’t yet really express fully… I can’t help but feel frustration over how we treat each other through social media... I just want to encourage all those reading to love other moms… to bite the tongue even if you feel the need to chime in (trust me, I have been there and done that…guilty…guilty…guilty…) Before you hit “enter”, remember that mom is doing her best… and loving those babies well… Sometimes keeping our thoughts to ourselves is best and wise.

… and if anyone reading my blog has ever felt judged… or less than. I am sorry. Whenever I blog those are never my intentions.

I am in the thick of motherhood just like the rest of you :) – and my decision may work for me but it isn’t gospel.

Lets love those babies and each other today.

scan0002-1
I’m on my moms lap, brother to the left. Dad to the right.
Abuela (Grandmother) and center my Bisabuela (great grandmother)

Waking up with Reed

Waking up with Reed

Decided Id capture a few snippets of what I see every morning when I get baby Reed. It wont be long and he wont be in a crib any more.. and life with Reed will be different in a small way. I guess he isn’t so much a baby anymore… he seems so big each passing day. Talking up a storm and trying to do everything his brothers do. To me though, he is still the baby… and ill soak it up a little bit longer if I can with this cutie.

ED9A6912

“flash back…”

IMG_0800

ED9A6918

I remember so clearly how with my 1st born son Caleb. I tried to do everything by the books.

I made sure to make all his Doctor apts. I made sure to get all the shots (boy has this changed). I made sure to put him in bed every day at the same time. In fact so much so that we missed out on a lot of activities with the church and friends because I wanted him asleep at a certain time. This included naps. I taught my first sign language and by age 1, he had to be ready for the next phase.

ED9A6922
No pacifier.

No bottle.

Onto becoming a toddler.

I remember the day after Caleb turned one I took away that pacifier and for 3 straight days it broke my heart. He wanted it so bad… but nope, I felt like I HAD to do these things exactly right or I would be looked down on and he’d struggle.

Caleb survived but I feel sometimes as if I missed something. I missed freedom with him.

Freedom in enjoying the little pieces that really are sweet and so short lived.

With each passing boy I got a little bit more free in the “rules dept.” :)

Taite was 2 before I made him give up a pacifier or bottle.

Owen although he never took a pacifier he was 3 before he said bye to the bottle.

We had our rules. We laid down boundaries with these “taboo baby items” :) and made sure our kids didn’t walk around like Linus in constant baby mode :) – but we also soaked up those years while we could.


ED9A6937

Now that I have Reed. My 4th… and as of now we have no plans to birth any more babies, although we are looking into adoption. :D I love my cuddles with Reed. I love that he is still very much my sweet baby. Who can curl up beside me with his bottle and pacifier. Just a breath in this life that I plan to take in slowly. Tossing out the rule of “they should do this or be done with that” by “this age.”

ED9A6956

ED9A6959

ED9A6960

ED9A6968

ED9A6969

Shhh… mama I’m watching

ED9A6971

ED9A6973

ED9A6975

To end… I adore this song. Makes me think of all the moments I get with my boys.

We are blessed.

Lyrics Below:
Well hello.
Little Baby.
Your eyes have never seen the sun
You should know
Little baby
That i am the lucky one

I get to be the one to hold your hand
I get to be the one.
Through birthdays and broken bones
Ill be there to watch you grow
I get to be the one.

Don’t feel alone now.
Little baby.
Do you hear me singing you a song
I can’t wait to show you
Little baby
How to crawl
How to walk
How to run

I get to be the one to hold your hand
I get to be the one.
Through birthdays and broken bones
Ill be there to watch you grow
I get to be the one.

How does someone so small
Hold my heart so tightly
I don’t even know you
I love you completley

I get to be the one to hold your hand
I get to be the one.
Through birthdays and broken bones
Ill be there to watch you grow
I get to be the one.

I get to be the one to hold your hand
I get to be the one.
Through birthdays and broken bones
Ill be there to watch you grow
I get to be the one.

Social Media Heaviness

Social Media HeavinessDo you ever have those days when you read something else, yet again that just makes you a bit heavy?

From a news article.

To a blog post.

To a persons post on instagram or facebook.

Something else that is laid in front of your face to read, that does nothing but cause worry, anxiety and at times anger. It seems like more and more each time I log onto social media I am confronted with crap. With depravity and news articles about our freedoms being taken away… (Although we need to stay informed about those terrorizing our country and targeting those who follow Christ. That is something we should not refrain from knowing…. and if anything learn to be vocal and proclaim your faith, despite fear!) Our minds are flooded with comment after comment of hate from complete strangers *ever scroll through a photo of one of the Duggar girls… the comments would make you sick – yet why am I reading them!?*, people mouthing off things they’d never say to a persons face. As I sit there and judge them for their bickering and hatred, I cant help but see this in myself… quick to comment, quick to leave feed back. Yet knowing deep down I probably would never even utter a word to the person face to face. Nor would they.

Interactions being made so flippantly just because.

Its something to do.

Something in front of us.

… and becoming more and more the norm.

Its okay to do right? why not. No harm.

We’re staying connected with our loved ones.

Its a good thing?…

Yet when was the last time you logged on just to see how big baby Ben is getting or how Uncle Joes family vacation was.

The more and more each day passes, the more and more harm I find from it.

Why can we not live in the now.

Live today, with those we love. Without a screen or a status. Constant pulling of our attention.

Another “Hang on a sec buddy….” As you read one more meaningless article or watch yet another viral video.

I want more.

I love interacting with new people. Meeting so many awesome people through my blog *and even instagram* (yes Ive met people off both and its so cool!). I love Sharing my world. My kids. Pouring out things I have learned and hopefully helping someone in return. Bringing in income for my family. (Yes I make money with my blog. Last month I made around $400, month before that over $1,000.) No reason to hide that… I’m not ashamed by the income I work hard to bring in. My husband often tells me I am fulfilling the Proverbs 31 verse each time I find a way to be resourceful in order to help my family, yet again. Even if its only $10.00 here, or $50.00 there. My ability to use things at my fingertips to help my family has been invaluable and so helpful. Our family depends on that income. So a huge huge HUGE hug and thank you to all of those who read our blog.

Know that you reading it is a blessing not only to me but to four little boys and a hard working man paroling the streets with a bullet proof vest. Who despite risking his life makes less hourly than I do as a photographer. He shoots a gun. I shoot a camera. Yet he gets so undervalued it makes me want to march right up to whoever decides their pay and show them some mommy/wife wrath. That in and of itself is a can of worm I will not open. Maybe one day but not today.

footprintsWe have much and plenty and for that I am thankful.

… but the heaviness I feel lately cannot be hidden or escaped some times.

I’m exhausted at the thought of all the pinterest praise post.

Showing perfection.

Houses with everything set right and kids dressed cute. *Does my kid even have underwear on right now??*

Mothers calling other moms heartless idiots, weak or selfish for being unable to nurse, birth a baby without pain meds or choosing not or to give their kid a shot. Its a competition, right? One moms choice means shes right and the other utterly foolish and wrong. Many make it seem so… and moms read comment after comment, filling their hearts with hate from total strangers, daily. How is this good for anyone?

Flawless meals with all real ingredients and post after post of boxed food sharing every single thing wrong that is in it.

You know, I can read… I realize processed foods contain crap, we all do. Even those who consume it daily know this. The difference is some care, some don’t. I for one am the type that does care... but I refuse to live in a bondage to it. I refuse to put my family in debt because I cant imagine eating something that contains a hormone or a gmo. I find peace in knowing I’m trying and doing the best with what I have and I believe God blesses those who do so. We cannot live in ignorance or turn away from truth but we can learn to trust the Father and know He is good. If our bank cant afford everything organic, He knows that! He knows the hairs on my head, the stars in the sky, you better believe he knows the desires in my heart and the amount in my bank. I believe in eating healthy, real food and making sure my kids know the benefits of this and importance… but you better believe ill be a good steward and be reasonable.

I don’t need food babe telling me my kids cereal is going to kill them with some sort of preservative that is linked to cancer.

The constant worry that floods us mothers…

Our minds.

Our hearts.

Its exhausting!!

I’m putting a stop to this today! For me.

For my children. For my home.

I love my blog and will continue to blog, because, I love yall :) – really. I do! Email me, it makes my day. I love being able to share my heart…
… and I will continue to do so.

One thing that I have learned over the years, is being silent. Not genuine. Not expressing struggle. Is to live in a box. I want nothing more than to be real with those around me… with other women (esp mothers)… and break the mold of traditional expectations. I was a Pastors wife and may very well be one again… but that doesn’t mean we have to pretend perfection. No one should have to.

now….

Lets learn to cut the screen off.

Put the PHONE DOWN (turn it off – really! preaching to myself here).

and be here. Now.

With those who love you.

See you.

living in the now, a post about being a mom and putting the phone down

Teaching Care

Teaching Care

I get stopped often while out with my boys. Especially if I am running an errand… waiting in line somewhere… or trying on clothes (yes I have taken all four of my boys into a dressing room area – now that they are older they wait outside my dressing room, but you get the idea). When people ask me “Are all these yours?” :) I often wonder if they think I am their nanny or sister… but when I respond “Yup, all 4.” Their response more times than not is “Bless your heart.

For years my boys never really said anything when people would say this.

They were oblivious to the words of most strangers… and would just go on doing whatever boys do while out in public. :) Now that my older two are 8 and 10, they notice a lot more.

Caleb who is 10 often ask me “Why do people always say that?

I then have to explain to him that people think 4 kids is a lot… which I guess it is… but even more so they believe that having four boys especially is unusually hard and crazy to deal with.

Boys are crazy.

… and a tad foolish at times (then again so are girls).

They are loud.

Love to wrestle.

Run, jump, climb.

… but one thing that my boys are as well, is very caring.

Teaching boys CareI never believed you had to teach boys to love or care… but I am learning as I grow and my children grow, that caring… is far more than just loving each other. Caring is something we teach our boys to do as well.

Teaching them to care for those around them.

To care for their friends.

To care for their home.

Their things.

Their bodies.

To care for and respect authority.

To care about what they say to each other and how that may affect the other person.

Having boys is so much more than reigning in the hyper activity and rowdy play.

I have seen first hand how amazingly caring boys can be… but I have also seen how disrespectful and uncaring children can be when not taught to care. When I became a mother I never realized the responsibility that was being set for me in raising children. I knew the obvious responsibility. Clothing, loving, feeding, education a child… but its far more.

Thankful for wisdom.

Scripture.

From elders/adults I look up to.

All of which have helped me to raise four boys who are growing up to be amazing young men.

They are young… and while society seems to expect so little from children at the age my kids are… and really on into the teen years. I expect a lot and I believe we don’t give our kids enough credit for how amazing they can be, even at age 8 and 10.

They have their fights.

Their spats over stupidness.

The uncontrollable silliness on a night off.

… but while the world may see “Bless her Heart as they see me with a line of boys behind me in a store… I’m thinking “They Bless my Heart” and I am so thankful I can actually go out to a store and enjoy them.

Do I want to grocery shop with them every week? Not really haha. They are children… and children can be distracting while shopping, even while well behaved. It is far easier to grocery shop without them… but if I had to go to the store weekly with all four of my boys, it would be absolutely doable.

Enjoy motherhood.

Let them be children.

… but instill in them a desire to care.

Being Boys

Being Boys

Life as a Boy MomThere have been very few people in my life, that I have come across, who just very much dislike me and my family. I don’t say that in any way to brag… I think over all we are fairly likable people. I try to be kind and generous as much as I can with those I meet. There was a time and place in our journey moving around, that one of our neighbors from the get go was negative and cold to our family. She spoke to us maybe twice… One of those times she was asking us to move our trampoline over a foot… because it was “on her yard.” As if that foot mattered? and as if we knew (After all we had only been there a day or two…). There were not many pleasant encounters sadly and it really puzzled me as to why.

She had two children and we never saw them.

The drama surrounding this particular family is a bit in-depth but not worth really getting into much more than what I just shared. I am always hesitant to write about people who don’t know me well and I don’t know them well… I think there is wisdom in keeping our mouth shut… but I also find wisdom in speaking truth too… and talking about things I believe firmly in. So this is in no way to hate on a woman I don’t know. I truly felt for her… and I know we each have our own brokenness… and if she was still my neighbor, I would have tried to make things better… One thing I remember thinking though, when I observed this woman’s children, was that she never allowed them to play outdoors much. Maybe it was because she didn’t like us.. That very well could have been it. I remember thinking how I would have loved to have her son come out to play with our boys… and use our trampoline or play set… I think children being allowed to play outside is so important… Allowing boys to play. Create. Explore. Is so good for them.

To be boys.

Without every moment worrying about how dirty they may get or “if” they may possibly encounter a bug… or a snake.

Life to me is so much more than rules and perfectly kept children.

Life as a Boy Mom

Life as a Boy MomI wanted so badly for her to realize the freedom in just being… and enjoying the childhood we get to watch our kids live.

Yesterday,

…while my boys played happily and carefree in our creek.


Life as a Boy Mom

Getting messy.

Wet.

Life as a Boy Mom

Dirt and grit under their nails.

Exploring on their own, without me holding their hand every step of the way.

Life as a Boy Mom

I just couldn’t help but feel blessed.

Sounds crazy. In some moments like that you’d think the mom would automatically go to the “oh man… such a mess!” While there are days I can go towards that tendency… I am finding such freedom these days in letting that part of me go a bit more.

They are so much fun to watch and I love even more how “boyish” they are together as brothers…

… it blesses me greatly.

So to the mom who enjoys the monogrammed shirts (no hate, it is cute.). With cuties decked out in perfectly laced shoes, with no dirt on them. Leather jackets or name brand button ups. Let those dudes be dudes… and learn to love it. :-) There is plenty of time for perfecting a look. I don’t believe childhood should consist of perfection in the least.

From one grown up child who grew up digging into a creek with her older brother. I can honestly say my mom allowing me to explore and “be” a kid… did nothing but shape me into one cool dude mom, haha… and I am so thankful for that freedom she gave us.

Life as a Boy Mom