Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Purpose of a Hope Onesie

As I write this post, 17-month-old M is napping in my arms. I'm having one of those moments where I just gaze at his innocent little face and tear up because he's my dream come true. A dream I almost stopped hoping for month after infertile month when the pain of not conceiving felt like too much. It hurt to hope only to be crushed by the weight of monthly disappointment.

But I'm glad I held onto hope because he's here. He's right here in my arms and he couldn't have been more worth the wait.

If there's anyone reading this who is struggling to conceive and struggling even harder to hold onto hope, I want to share with you the hope onesie.

The hope onesie started on a day when my heart broke over two pregnancy announcements. I was jealous. Angry. Sad that it wasn't me. I sat down and wrote a letter to my future baby, and then I went shopping. Here's an excerpt from the letter:

I'm going to go out and buy a few baby clothes because I hope for you with such a fire! I haven't allowed myself to do it yet, but I need this today when my dream of you seems so far away. You're going to be here one day, and you'll need some clothes. 

This is the hope onesie I bought that day.

The purpose of a hope onesie is to prepare for the baby you're hoping for. In the words of Pastor Joseph Prince, "'Hope' in the Bible is a confident and positive expectation of good." So if you're hoping for a baby, back up that hope with preparation for your baby! This is a show of faith. A way to prove to yourself that you believe.

I took this hope onesie out of its box month after month to hold it, pray, and imagine my baby wearing the onesie. This was the big hope onesie, but there were others too. Every month I wasn't pregnant, I had a good cry, I got angry, I laid it all out in front of God, and then...I went to the store for another onesie for my baby. I bought some gender neutral, some boy, some girl. It didn't matter. What mattered was that through the jealously, anger, and sadness, I chose hope. I turned my hope into something tangible I could touch when my waiting felt hopeless.

Here's a picture of my M wearing the hope onesie almost two years after I bought it.

This was a huge, surreal moment for me, the day he finally fit it, and I saw a complete living picture of what I had only dreamt of and prayed for all that time.

For those of you in the wait, I know how hard it is to hope. But don't give up! Go out and buy a hope onesie for your baby to show yourself that you believe, that you have an unquenchable hope. Your baby is going to wear that onesie one beautiful day.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." Proverbs 13:12

"We boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:2-7

Related posts:

When Back-to-School is Hard: a Letter to those Experiencing Infertility or Pregnancy Loss

Prayer of Comfort for the Infertile and Mother of Angels

How my Past Infertility Affects My Motherhood for Better and for Worse

To the Infertile From Someone on the Other Side

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Natural Consequences are Better than Logical Consequences

This is a picture of me holding a first-melted-and-then-frozen candy bar on my forehead (Where did our ice pack go?? And how long has this candy bar been in our freezer?) after 17-month-old M hit me in the forehead with the spine of his Courderoy's Shapes board book. It was a hard hit. A fast hit I didn't see coming until I was clutching my head and involuntarily groaning for like two minutes.

After the pain subsided a bit, I had some anger. Being hit in the head will do that. I was thinking, "How many times do I have to tell you to use gentle hands and not to hit?!" He's going through a hitting phase, and worse, he thinks it's funny or at least doesn't seem to have empathy when you're clutching your head, going, "Aaaaggghhhh." And whatever I've been doing to teach him better isn't working.

In the next moments, I had serious self-reflective, strategizing, head-throbbing, intentional parenting thoughts about whether it would be better to have natural or logical consequences, and what is the difference anyway?

Up until now, I've been going the logical consequence route with hitting. A logical consequence is a consequence connected to the incident. So if M hits me with his drumsticks, then I explain we don't hit people, and if he does it again, he won't get to play with the drumsticks. He hits again, so I take away the drumsticks. My reasoning for the logical consequence is that hitting is a safety issue, and that I need to remove whatever is it he's using to hit in order to create a safe space for everyone. Plus then he'll learn he doesn't get to use things if he hits people., he obviously isn't learning that. And two, the lessons he will learn from natural consequences are much more valuable.

A natural consequence is simply what occurs naturally after an incident without me manipulating or adding to the situation. M hit me with his book. The natural consequence is that it caused me pain. That's it. How is that helpful? Well, if he isn't distracted with his sadness or anger over having his favorite book taken away, then the only thing to focus on in the moment is how the other person is feeling. He's been learning cause and effect since the newborn days, so if he's not distracted by logical consequences, he has time to process the cause and effect. He hit me with the book. I was in pain. If he processes this time after time, he's going to truly understand the connection and something amazing and essential will occur in him. Empathy.

So am I going to let him hit me with things just to learn from natural consequences? Heck no. I mean, it'll happen when I don't see it coming, and he'll learn in those instances. But I'm going to be proactive when I can about stopping him from hitting. This is where logical consequences get in the way of another great teaching opportunity. If I take away his toy, he learns that I'll take away his toy, and that's it. Or I could stop him from hitting, remind him about gentle hands, and show him how to use the drumsticks, the book, or his hands as they should be used. Plus, even more importantly, this shows him that I will help him through tough situations. We can figure out how the world works together. And in the future, when he doesn't quite make the right choice, I'm not the mom who takes away, but I'm the mom who helps figure things out.

Logical consequences create a barrier. A barrier to learning and a barrier between child and parent. But natural consequences and working together to find a solution teaches the right lessons and creates a strong bond, trust, and openness between child and parent.

Like my Facebook page for more about crunchy momming with faith, gentleness, and boobs!

Related posts:

This is What Gentle Parenting Shows My Child

My Toddler, Me, and the Lesson I Learned from Our Emotional Parallels

I Could Have Taught My Son Manners but I Started a Food Fight Instead

Monday, July 3, 2017

10 Things that Make Me Happy

I was tagged by Jessica at A Modern Mom's Life to write about 10 Things That Make Me Happy. You can read Jessica's post here. She has a wonderful blog for working parents, so be sure to check her out.

And now I'm so happy to present my list in random order...

1. Breastfeeding

I absolutely love breastfeeding. I definitely don't downplay what a challenge breastfeeding is to a lot of moms. But breastfeeding isn't always hard. It hasn't been for us. It came naturally to M and me, and our breastfeeding journey has been full of sweet cuddly moments I'll cherish forever. It also made/makes me happy to give him the best nutrients, not spend money on formula, and meet his needs for food and comfort instantly. Plus I don't have to prepare bottles during night feedings. Easier feedings make me very happy. Haha. Even now as a toddler, breastfeeding is meeting his nutritional and emotional needs.

2. Kisses

Now and then, M showers me with kisses (and usually raspberries too). It's totally unprompted, so I feel all the love! Whenever he does this, it's the highlight of my day. I'm one happy, blessed lady to be Momma to this little man.

3. Costumes

If there's ever an occasion to dress up, especially in costume, I'm there! Halloween, Renaissance festivals, murder mystery parties, themed parties, etc. Costumes are my jam. I most recently dressed up M and myself as The Hulk and Black Widow for a Disney/Avenger themed play day at a children's museum.

4. Dates

I have so much fun dating my husband! We went on our first post-baby date I think fourteen months after M was born and have had one more since then. We're itching for another! Our favorite dates are going to the movies, eating out, and mini golf. I seriously love the one-on-one time to just be us again. A goofy, in-love couple of best friends.

5. Family

Family is huge to me! Our little family of three and the family I grew up with. We're tight and fun and real and always make it a priority to spend time together. I especially treasure our game nights, even if a game of Scattegories ends in a yelling match of, "A HOT DOG IS NOT A SANDWICH!"

6. Healthy, natural living

I get so freaking excited about healthy desserts that taste awesome and don't make me feel sick. Natural, organic products. Natural immunity and remedies. All the natural, crunchy things! God gave us amazing bodies and stuff on our planet to help our bodies flourish.

7. Writing

Pretty much my only me-time is during M's nap, and a lot of that time, I spend working on my blog or writing young adult novels. I'm not published yet, but I'm learning and improving, and my love for the blogs and books pushes me even on the days when my dreams of being a published author look distant.

8. Thrift shopping

Thriftiness is one of my super powers. 95% of my wardrobe is from thrift shops. It's like searching for treasure, and I always find something I love. Plus, helloooo, I'm saving SO MUCH money.

9. Nature walks

M loves being in nature too, so this is our favorite thing to do outside. Sun and earth and critters. Ahh. So peaceful. Much to explore. And nature trails are always more quiet than playgrounds, so its perfect for our introverted selves. I also love hitting trails with friends and Hike it Baby, my favorite mom and baby group.

10. Worship

Connecting with my Father during worship makes me so happy, so full of joy because it centers my heart and mind in that solid, joyful, peaceful place that is full of love and grace. My anxieties melt away. I'm a better wife and mom when I start the day with worship. God is so worthy. He's tangible during these times of connection.

Now I'm excited to tag ten other bloggers to share their lists! I've chosen bloggers I enjoy with similar niches as my blog so you can find more blogs I'm sure you'll love too.

1. Caroline from Bespoke Parents; Unique Kids

(Facebook page)

I chose Caroline's blog because she's a gentle parenting Christian who writes about breastfeeding, childism, and other goodies. Sound familiar?

2. Think Love Healthy

(Facebook page)

Evidence-based posts about holistic health and vaccines from a toxicologist and activist.

3. Living Learning Loving Our Way

A Facebook page about unschooling and respecting kids. I'm absolutely fascinated with unschooling and love the philosophy of trusting kids to learn through life naturally.

4. Dominique from Your Parenting Breakthrough

(Facebook page)

Dominique was all about attachment parenting and healthy, natural lifestyle, and then she realized something crucial was missing: spirituality. Her blog is about how her relationship with God has changed her parenting.

5. Nicolle from Tales of a Messy Mom

(Facebook page)

Nicolle writes about natural living. There are lots of good breastfeeding posts! Plus I'm a messy mom too, so I like that she's honest about that.

6. Nikki from Healing Mama

(Facebook page)

Faith and wellness! Nikki has natural health posts, and I love that she has a post about menstrual cups.

7. Abbey from Small Town Soul

(Facebook page)

Abbey is a Christian momma who writes about faith and natural living. Plus money-saving tips.

8. Alexandria from Naturally Made with Love

(Facebook page)

Alexandria is a breastfeeding, baby wearing, coconut oil-loving mom.

9. Juli from Mostly Caffeinated

(Facebook page)

Juli is a Christian mom blogger who writes about minimalism and adopting from foster care. I don't write about these things (yet), but we plan to adopt through foster care when M is older. Check out why she and her husband chose adoption. Beautiful.

10. Betsy from Bug & Babygirl

(Facebook page)

Betsy has so many great posts about trusting her adorable littles to learn and grow without interference. Great respectful parenting blog.

Bloggers, if you were tagged, write about ten things that make you happy and tag ten other bloggers to do the same! (Tag me too, please! I don't want to miss your posts.)

Readers, thank you so much for stopping by! Please check out these other blogs and then let me know what makes YOU happy.

Visit me on Facebook for more crunchy momming with faith, gentleness, and boobs.

Related posts:

A Mom's Version of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

This is What Gentle Parenting Shows My Child

Breastfeeding without a Cover Doesn't Compromise My Modesty

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Mom's Version of 1 Corinthians 13: 1-7

If I teach my kids the alphabet, shapes, numbers and letters, but I don't give love, I have taught them nothing but brainy noise. If I keep a clean home and fix healthy, delicious dinners, but I haven't loved, my efforts are useless. If I give all that is within me to offer my kids a Pinterest-worthy childhood, move mountains to give them opportunities, and raise them with faith, all of that is nothing without love.

Love is patient when my kids don't listen the first time. Love is kind when they spill my favorite lotion all over the floor. It does not envy other moms and kids, does not boast about where our family gets it right, and is not proud because...let's face it; my kids will shove someone else's kid and paint poop on the walls too, and I will have bad days where I yell or forget to pack diapers. It does not dishonor; my kids are worthy of respect as human beings, and I will treat them as such. It is not self-seeking; my children's lives, bodies, and minds are their own no matter what my dreams are for them. It is not easily angered even if my kids drop my phone in the toilet. It doesn't keep track of how many things they've done "wrong" today, this week, or this month because they're learning, and learning means making mistakes. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth, so I will do this parenting thing with godliness and grace. It always protects, so I will research fiercely, follow my instincts, and be bold to protect my cubs from any and all harm (with the exception of play-induced scrapes, bumps, and bruises). It always trusts, which means I will give my kids the benefit of the doubt, trust them to make mistakes and grow, and trust God through all of it. It always hopes, so I won't let my messy house get me down or believe the lie that teething and sleep regression lasts forever. Love always perseveres, so day by day, through thick and thin, through tantrums and celebrations, we will push on together.

-Her Arms Are Strong version of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, inspired by the original NIV version below. 

"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." -1Corinthians 13:1-7, NIV

Thank you for reading! Follow me on Facebook more content on crunchy momming with faith, gentleness, and boobs.

Related post:Prayer of Comfort for the Infertile and Mothers of Angels

Friday, June 23, 2017

My Toddler, Me, and the Lesson I Learned from Our Emotional Parallels

M wanted to play with his Grandpapa's sunglasses. He loves playing with glasses and trying them on, if trying on glasses means wearing them on your neck instead of your face. But I told M he needed to play with his own sunglasses so Grandpapa's wouldn't get broken. Then, for what felt like five thousand years, M pointed to the sunglasses on the table and whined. And whined. And whined.

M trying on Daddy's glasses.

During all this whining, Grandma was trying to have a conversation with me, but I couldn't focus because whining is a major trigger for me. I wanted to scream. Instead, I tried using my words, like I teach M, and said, "I'm getting frustrated." 

Grandpapa meant well when he told me, "Don't stress out," but that just made me want to cry because, um, I was trying very hard not to stress.

Instead of screaming or crying, I sat there and kept a tight lid on my boiling contents. And then finally, after trying over and over to sympathize with M, I just said, "You can be sad about the glasses, but whining won't do you any good."

As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew they were wrong. My tone was definitely wrong--curt and final. But the words had been wrong too, even if I couldn't pinpoint exactly why. I mean, true enough words, right? His whining wouldn't get him the glasses.

Later that day, as we drove to my husband's work to pick him up, I was completely overcome with tiredness. That kind of tiredness that feels like your spirit is tired. I tried to engage in some worship and prayer, and a memory came to mind of when I went to counseling during my infertility struggles. The counselor did a lot with releasing trapped emotions. I felt like God was reminding me of that to show me I was exhausted from not letting out my emotions earlier. By not releasing that energy, it was trapped in my body, which left me feeling flat. Our emotions do absolutely no good trapped in our bodies. Trapped emotions tank our energy.

And then it dawned on me. My words to M earlier were wrong because I had urged him not to release those emotions. "You can be sad about the glasses, but whining won't do you any good." Except...whining is the most constructive way he knows to express his big feelings right now. With my words and my tone, the message was clear: stop whining; I don't want to hear your big feelings.

If our only message is to stop whining/crying/throwing a fit, the only lesson our kids will learn is to keep a lid on their feelings, trap them inside. That's no good.

But they can't whine for the rest of their lives either. Or once they master language, they shouldn't lash out with hurtful words. Or, ahem, random screaming like I wanted to do. So being passive about whining, hitting, screaming, etc. isn't the way to go either.

If we don't want to teach our kids to suppress their emotions, and we don't want to encourage whining, hitting, or screaming, what can we do?

We need to show our kiddos constructive ways to release their emotions. But before we can do that, we need to accept something important. Emotions are never bad. Not their emotions, or our emotions. Why are we so afraid to show feelings? Probably because we were once (or a hundred times) belittled for them and sent a clear message that no one wants to see our big feelings.

So let's not pass that onto our children. Instead, let's model what it looks like to have big feelings (we all have them) and to release them. That means crying when we're sad, using a punching bag when we feel rage, walking it out when we're angry or nervous, journaling, drawing, painting, cleaning, doing yoga, etc. Whatever it is, acknowledge and name the emotion in front of the kids and then show the release. Then when they have big feelings, we can help them do the same. Learning to acknowledge and release those feelings when they're young will help them grow into emotionally intelligent and healthy adults.

Follow me on Facebook for more content on crunchy momming with faith, gentleness, and boobs!

In the comments, please share ideas on how to release emotions! What's your favorite way to release? I'm learning right alongside M, so I'll take all the tips I can get.

Related posts:

This is What Gentle Parenting Shows My Child

Why I Refuse to Call My Son Shy

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Health Lie that Prevents Us from Getting Better

I recently developed a food allergy. I've never had a food allergy before in my life, so when I ate my first watermelon of the season a couple weeks ago, I had no idea what the deal was. I didn't suspect the watermelon at all. Later that week, I ate watermelon again. This time, my reaction was much worse because I had also taken ibuprophen and had an alcoholic drink. Drinks and ibuphrophen are both rare for me, but it was my mom's fiftieth birthday party and I didn't want to take the time to get rid of my headache naturally. Little did I know that I was about to have an allergic reaction to the watermelon again or that NSAIDs and alcohol both magnify allergic reactions. I spent the next week with my whole body covered in an itchy rash.

I googled "What causes adult-onset food allergies?" I read post after post, and every mainstream source said the same thing. No one knows. It's just something that happens. It's totally normal.

Totally normal?  

No. Developing an allergy out of nowhere and getting a rash over your entire body is not normal. It may be common, but common does not equal normal. Normal is the way our bodies function without anything going wrong. When our bodies dysfunction or become sick, a red flag should go up. A big, bright red flag that says, "Something is wrong! You need to change something you're doing to fix this problem!"

But instead of that red flag, we get smoke and mirrors that say, "This is normal. If you're uncomfortable, here's something to alleviate your symptoms. Come back for something else when you need help with those totally normal side effects too." If we don't address the root of our health problems, we get a never-ending parade of sick people covered in failing bandaids.

We're fed a lie called "normal."

Adult-onset food allergies are "normal."

Screaming and febrile seizures after childhood vaccines are "normal."

The sudden rise in Autism rates is "normal."

Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are "normal."

Health deteriorates, people get sick, side effects occur, and all of this is "normal."

No. These things are all common. But not normal. A healthy body and mind is normal. We need to stop settling for the lie, stop settling for bandaids, and dig deeper to find the root cause of our health problems so we can get healthy.

Since the mainstream sources Google had taken me to were a letdown, I took my question to knowledgeable natural-minded people in a Facebook group. (I can hear all of the eyes rolling since I asked the internet and not a doctor. That's okay. Roll on.) Here, I got some great answers that actually addressed root causes! Score.

Here's what people said:
-calcium deficiencies
-and leaky gut

I'm not stupid. I won't just take the word of some strangers on the internet. But like 90% of the people said leaky gut, and something in my mind clicked because I had read about leaky gut before. So I spent the next few days reading article after article on leaky gut, and it quickly became obvious that this was my problem. It starts out as digestive issues. Check. Been dealing with that for a while. Then food sensitivities and allergies. Check. Next up is immune issues and, finally, autoimmune disease. It's also no surprise I have leaky gut since three of the many factors are sugar and GMO consumption and stress. Since becoming Momma to an extremely attached kiddo, I've been in survival mode. Up until now, survival mode meant eating whatever easy thing I could get my hands on.

But now I want more than survival. Better than survival. I want to thrive in health, which means not accepting digestive issues and food allergies as normal. I have leaky gut. Common, but not normal. Now that I know, I can heal my gut with the GAPS diet. I've only been doing this for a couple weeks, but I already feel much better! Good health is my normal, and I'll accept nothing less.

I'll be sharing more about healing my gut with the GAPS diet. Make sure you follow me on Facebook so you don't miss a post! I also share stuff about crunchy momming with faith, gentleness, and boobs.

Thanks for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

More about leaky gut and GAPS from people who know way more than I do:

4 Steps to Heal Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Disease, by Dr. Josh Axe

GAPS Diet Plan and Protocol, by Dr. Josh Axe

GAPS Diet and Breastfeeding, from Health, Home, and Happiness

Tons of leaky gut info from Green Med Info

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What to Do If Your Toddler Stares at People in Public

I started asking for advice in a Facebook parenting group I'm in, but by time I finished writing my question, I realized I had my own answer. It's a little uncomfortable for me, but sometimes the right things are.

So. The question:

What should I do about my toddler watching (staring) at people in public? He loves people-watching so much that he prefers it over play. I don't want to discourage his observation of people, but at the same time, staring is rude and it can get pretty awkward.

My answer for myself:

You don't need to do anything about the people-watching except to guide his curiosity and help cultivate his understanding of people. I bet his life purpose has something to do with understanding people! He's learning so much by watching. There's no need to dampen his curiosity.

Are you worried about manners? (Yes.) Well, don't be. Young kids get a pass when it comes to this stuff, in my opinion. As he gets older, he'll learn how to observe with more subtlety. But for now, he needs to soak up every face, mannerism, and voice to figure out how people work--and if that takes unabashed staring, so be it.

And are you worried about how the other people feel? (Yes.) Don't be. Their reactions are a learning opportunity too. And if they're uncomfortable with a toddler staring at them, they can always walk away. A little adult discomfort is better than squelching a child's learning because of some invisible manners rule.

Plus, wouldn't the world be a better place if we all slowed down, watched, and tried to understand the people around us? This little boy is onto something with those wide open eyes of his.

For more content about crunchy momming with faith, gentleness, and boobs, find me on Facebook!

Related posts:

I Could Have Taught My Son Manners, but I Started a Food Fight Instead

What Gentle Parenting Shows Child

Why I Refuse to Call My Son Shy