how and why we celebrate valentine's day scrooge

I’m a Valentine Scrooge!

 (even though I also love it a little bit!)

I have a love hate relationship with Valentine’s Day.

According to various lore, there are at least three historical Valentines. One St Valentine performed weddings for people when he wasn’t supposed to and got put in jail, or even sentenced to death.

Ahhh…how romantic. He put his freedom – or his life- on the line for love.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. I’m a fan of people helping people. I’m wondering why no one knows we have a Harriet Tubman Day (March 10, if you want to add that to your calendar.)

One legend claims a man named Valentine was in jail and fell in love with a young girl who visited him. Before he was KILLED, he supposedly sent her a letter signed “From your Valentine.  That poor young girl!  Can you imagine if your daughter was getting mail from someone on death row, and later, everyone said, “Oh how sweet! Let’s make that a national holiday!”

The Roman Catholic church in the middle ages declared Valentine’s Day a holiday because they wanted to Christianize the February celebration of Lupercalia, a fertility festival,  which took place on February 15. Just as in the cases of the Christian celebrations of Christmas and Easter, early church leaders took dates on  which the people were already celebrating and tried to change them to worship the one true God, instead of whatever celebration they were having.

Maybe Catholic  priests didn’t think it was good idea for Luperci priests to run around town slapping women with bloody goat hides in a bid to make the women more fertile in the coming year. Don’t worry, the women liked it. (History claims.)

This doesn’t really have anything to do with my modern beliefs on Valentine’s Day, I just think history is interesting.

SCROOGINESS

As a romantic holiday, I think it’s overrated and expensive. I think too much pressure is placed on guys to do the right thing. I also think giving stuffed animals and chocolates to women is stupid. I think it’s hard on people who are not in a romantic relationship.

I think waiting in lines to go out to eat on a certain day is ridiculous. Why spend an hour in line on the 14th, when you can be seated in five minutes the next week? how and why we celebrate valentine's dayIt’s crazy to spend $50 dollars on roses (how unoriginal by the way) when you can get them for $1 each a week later.if you’re going to spend the money, I’d rather have a single rose every week of the year because it meant someone was thinking of me at that moment, than a huge bouquet on a single obligatory day because my partner felt like s/he HAD to buy a bouquet on the 14th.

I saw the pressure in high school, and in the high school where I taught. The student council sold Valentines to be delivered during class, and the popular kids got a bajillion and the other kids got to watch and be reminded that they didn’t.  I witnessed the pressure in college and in my  twenties. People felt like they had to do something super special because Hallmark (and the jewelry stores, and the department stores, and even the grocery stores!) told them they had to.

What if you weren’t in a special relationship? What if you just started dating? What if you really wanted to break up but didn’t want to be alone on Valentine’s Day?  Or felt sorry for your boy/girlfriend, and didn’t want them to be alone on Valentine’s Day?

I’m a fan of jewelry, but not heart shaped jewelry. NO woman EVER buys herself heart shaped jewelry. Also, why would we want jewelry shaped like an organ? Nobody makes stomach or lung shaped jewelry and I’m as big of a fan of food and breathing as I am of love.

how and why we celebrate valentine's dayI’m too old for stuffed animals, and I was in my teens too (even though I still slept with my stuffed aardvark-that was different). I love chocolate but I buy it for my self when I want to. I don’t need someone feeling like they need to give me a pound of chocolate to tell me they love me. Since when is it healthy to eat that much chocolate anyway!? Also, none of these gifts show any originality, or  that the giver really KNOWS me. I want someone who sees me and knows that I want a tiny bonsai  for the mantel or that I would love a wireless mouse to replace my broken one.  Mostly it’s just that I hate presents given because you’re “supposed to”.

I also hate the obligation of a romantic relationship. I appreciate the recent uptick in “Galentine’s Day”. I still feel so much compassion for those people who feel sad, or wistful, longing for something they don’t have, on the actual Valentine’s Day.how and why we do what we do on valentine's day

ON THE OTHER HAND

I love a reason to celebrate in the middle of February. I love parties and any reason to have friends over is a good one. I love pink and red. I really do love chocolate and the shape of the valentine heart. I love my friends and my kids and my friends’ kids and want to give them sweet cards. I also really enjoy a good pun, and Valentine’s Day seems to bring out the punniest cards (See what I did there?)

I wish there was someway for us to have less marketing and consumption around Valentine’s Day so people don’t feel “less than” if they’re not romantically involved or obligated. All love to you, dear ones!

 

source : https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2
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parenting toddlers and teens large family life big family

Parenting Teens and Toddlers

Six kids is a lot of kids. Just saying. I have a 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 3 year old.

My tween stays up later than I do and my toddler is still in my bed most nights. And then there’re all those kids in between.  My older girls want to be up with me, hanging out with me, talking to me. They come alive at night.  I remember doing that too. I’m a night owl myself.  And also a morning dove. So yeah, I’m tired.

My ten year old thinks he’s a Bigglet now too. I conveniently had my kids in pairs, so we refer to them often The Big Girls, The Boys, and the Little Girls.

Monday night has been our girl’s night, which means I hang out downstairs with my teens. Usually, we watch Gilmore Girls and have yummy snacks, and just be together. My boys get Stay Ups when they are halfway or all of the way done with one of their books in Barton Method Tutoring, which means they get to hang out with me like this about once a month.

Lately, it’s been a HUGE source of conflict at bedtime, because the ten-year-old is supposed to be in bed and we’re having so much fun without him. I end up going to bed cranky, he ends up going to be cranky, he keeps the eight year old, who really needs the sleep,  awake and the Girls don’t get to enjoy their evening.

In school, my Girls are in junior high and high school; they don’t need a lot of my help, but they do need a lot of my presence. My Boys have troubles reading so we need to do a lot of reading aloud. And the Little Girls are constantly finding ways to make messes, even though it’s usually just creative play.  When the Big Girls were five and three, I would sit and read to them for hours. We would have special snacks. We would do fun activities, like playing with paint, colored water, building a little pig house out of actual sticks. My Little Girls are lucky if they get one book just for them a day, and a craft or art project once a month. They have to make their own snacks.Parenting toddlers and teens large family logistics

My Bigglets help the Littles with many many things. My Eight is excellent at helpingThree with many of her self care routines. Ten makes breakfast. Fourteen and Twelve often help everyone stay on task to finish their zones. The Littles help the Bigglets. Three compassionately offers people kisses, tissues , and boo boo bags when they’re hurt. Five makes tea and poetry happen on the regular, which everyone loves. She loves to bring breakfast in bed to the Big Girls. Twelve plays swinging around games with the Littles which I’m too old for. Ten loves to give shoulder rides. We all love to snuggle up together and read or watch a cozy movie. 

It’s hard being the parent of teens and toddlers. There is so much happening all of the time, and so many words flying hither and yon. It’s an incredible blessing parenting toddlers and teens at the same time.  They’re getting experiences and opportunities they wouldn’t have had without having a crazy mama, who had six kids!

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Homeschooling and Special Needs

My oldest son has pretty profound dyslexia. I had known he was struggling with reading, of course, but early on,  I attributed it to his being a boy, and much more active. than the norm.  He had tantrums during reading lessons, but so had one of his older sisters, and I thought he was just frustrated on a regular level. After much prayer, debate, and counsel, I realized it was more than that.

I learned of the Barton Method from a friend, and was grateful to learn we had a center in the Quad Cities.

I literally had to drag him into one of his first sessions, which, looking back, was not one of my best parenting moves. At the time, I felt so helpless. He felt so scared and overwhelmed. We were lost.

To my astonishment, he had to start at the most remedial level. He wasn’t understanding ANY reading or phonics at all. I had been helping him a lot more than I realized when we were reading together, and he’s so bright, he compensated  so beautifully that I didn’t know how acute his disability is.

I’ve seen him be brave. To continue to show up every week, and try his best, despite his fear, despite all the previous failures, despite my not handling everything right, despite how enormously challenging it is for him, is courage.

He’s grown immensely. A couple years ago, he wouldn’t sound out anything, and didn’t even want to do copy work because it was so hard for him. When he wrote “pirs” on the grocery list, it was a victory of the highest order. You’d better believe I bought him an entire bag of pears, and he didn’t even have to share them.

Giant lengthy tantrums used to happen on the regular, partly due to his frustrations with what he viewed as his inability to “do it right”, and partly due to his innate emotional dysregulation. They’ve largely stopped. I see this as a result of the tutoring, which has shown him how very much he’s capable of, and helped him realize he isn’t doing anything wrong. We’re helping his brain grow and giving him tools to be successful in spite of his disabilties.

Another struggle he has is ADHD, which is highly misunderstood, and highly misdiagnosed. Before our own family’s experiences with it, I didn’t even really think it was real for most kids, and adults, who were on medication for it. I thought it was because of the structure of schools, and expecting children, especially boys, to go against their very natures for so long. I still do think this is part of it, but I now know that ADHD brains are just wired very differently and their natures are completely divergent from a “normal” brain. ADDitude Mag has helped me immensely as I journey this new territory, in understanding how his brain functions.

Having a child with special needs and being a homeschooling mama who loves him more than breath is an extraordinarily difficult thing. I want to push him to be his best, as I do all my children. At the same time, I want to be cognizant of his contrastive abilities. I want him to thrive and yet it’s hard to know where the line of too much pressure lies.

All last year, he went  to school in the mornings to get one on one help from the special ed teacher in reading and writing. He was getting the Barton Method tutoring twice a week. We realized that he really was not benefiting as much from the reading recovery special education and would have had to adjust to a new teacher, so we pulled him from the public school program.

Now he strictly gets Barton Method tutoring two mornings a week. We do Classical Conversations and read alouds for the bulk of our curriculum. All of these things work amazingly in concert to play to his strengths while we bulwark the inherent challenges of dyslexia and ADHD.

Having a child with special needs is never easy, and homeschooling is inherently challenging. Combining the two can seem insurmountable. We’ve used our resources and contracted out some of our learning. God gives us strength every day, His faithfulness is great and His mercies renew. We all face tests of our abilities and resolve, but especially when we confront them together and we have support, we can do hard things.

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A Daily Goal Chart

I’ve been trying to be more conscious about setting daily goals for myself, to be a better person, to be closer to the woman God creates me to be.

A dear friend sent me this BINGO chart she saw on Instagram and it completely appealed to me!

I thought for sure I would be able to knock it out of the park…

But I was wrong. It was super hard to do these simple encouragement tasks. It was meant to be uplifting and positive and instead I ended up feeling like I failed.

I took matters into my own hands.

And I did.

I achieved every one.

What goals did you achieve today?

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honest review of Hollar dollar store on line dollar tree

Hollar: An Honest Review

This is not a sponsored post, I was just impressed! I will however,  get a small kickback in credit  if you order after clicking through on any of the Hollar links in this post, and you can too, just for signing up for a free account at Hollar!

Have you heard of Hollar?  Hollar is an online dollar store. If you know me at all, you know I love a good deal. I heard about Hollar  on Youtube and decided to try it. If you order more than $25, you get free shipping, and they have sales that are always changing.

My order came in 8 days. Here’s what I thought:

Fizzy Baby helped me open everything in the appealing bright orange box.

hollar review dollar store online

I ordered a set of melamine plates for $2 each. I love them. We’ve been using them non stop and they are holding up better than our Corelle wear, and bring joy to my eyes every time I look at them.

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I really felt like Gerta needed this squeaky dog toy  in the shape of a banana split, which was only $1. How wrong I was! The squeaker was so loud, it scared the pants off of her, and drove me nuts. I ended up binning it .

hollar review dollar store online

I hate the feel the of my feet in flats without socks, but I love the look. I’ve been wearing these “old lady” no show socks with my flats, and thought I had found the best deal at Ross, for a little over a dollar a pair. But no! I got EIGHT pairs on Hollar for $4. They are  more slippery than my other ones, but they stay on better.

hollar review dollar store online no show socks with flats

We only had one dryer ball left but I didn’t want to “invest” in another set of the reusable dryer balls, if I didn’t have to. However with only a $1 investment for two balls, I didn’t mind at all! They work great!

hollar review dollar store online reusable dryer balls

I use these scrubby pads on all the things in my kitchen and bathroom, from stuck on toothpaste and peanut butter and jelly on the counters, to burnt on crud on the stove, to congealed oatmeal in the bottom of the pan. This pack of 8 was $1. They don’t last as long as the brand name ones I usually use, but don’t scratch the surfaces and clean as well.

hollar review dollar store online scrubbing pad scouring

I use my wooden utensils to the point of death, until they are cracked and probably hazardous. Desperately in need of replacements, I scooped up all 6 for $3. I love the colorful handles too!

hollar review dollar store online wooden spoon bamboo kitchen utensils

Needing nonslip hangars for some of my dresses and kimonos, I thought I would replace some of my beautiful, matching wooden hangars for these beautiful, matching  rose ones. I LOVE them! The slim design keeps my clothes together and they aren’t as noisy as the wooden ones, and nothing falls off! I nabbed this steal in packs of 18 for $5.

hollar review dollar store online flocked hangars Both the app and the website are well designed and work in consort with each other. If you are on your phone and add some things to your cart, it stays in your cart on the computer. I add things until I get up to that $25 free shipping limit.

I’m not going to abandon The  Dollar Tree completely, but Hollar is definitely getting some of my business! If you like saving money and scoring good deals, and shopping in your pajamas after the kids are in bed, then Hollar is absolutely for you!

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Gentle Parenting in a Big Family

I first became committed to Gentle Parenting–parenting without threats, spanks, yelling, anger–three years ago. We always have been Attachment Parents–breastfeeding, baby wearing, cosleeping are a few of the tenets–, but  I didn’t understand Gentle Parenting or Peaceful Parenting, or how it could possibly “work”. I even joined a Gentle Parenting board and tried to learn more, almost a decade ago, but it was not a good fit at the time.

Gentle Parenting as described eloquently by L.R. Knost “is guiding instead of controlling, connecting instead of punishing, encouraging instead of demanding. It’s about listening, understanding, responding, and communicating.” It is a concious shift away from the way I was brought up, away from what everything in my body is demanding, away from the gut center of my brain.

Gentle Parenting is, I think, a bigger challenge for me than traditional parenting because it requires more from the parent. More thought, more emotion, more connection, just more. No matter how you parent, or how many kids you have, it’s hard, don’t get me wrong. When I had two little daughters and I was spanking, it was hard. Now though, I have to think more about why I’m being reactive and what is going on in my child and what is the behavior trying to tell me and teach them how to problem solve at the same time I’m trying to change a diaper and spell a word and give directives and help a child and there are six of them!

I follow several Gentle Parenting pages on Facebook and it seems like they all have one or two children. It feels frustrating because they offer their good solutions, and say things like “if you…then they will…” and it just doesn’t happen right away. The dynamics in a home with one or two children are very different than a home with several. I am dealing with teenagerish hormones at the same time I’m nursing a baby with four loud and active and strong children in between!

I don’t think I thought this “big family thing” through very well.

It is hard to coach a small child through their big emotions. It is hard when some kid is lying stiff as a board and mad faced in the middle of the floor when everyone else is following directions and  you know if you stop and help this kid through it, everyone else’s well oiled machine-ing will grind to a halt. It would be so much easier to say, “Fine. If you’re not going to clean up then no TV tonight.” Or “Fine. If you’re going to act that way, you don’t get to be with the family” and physically drag that child to the corner. I know this, because even though I’m committed to Peaceful Parenting, I’m not perfect at it. 
There is still yelling and still anger, and still fights and frustrations and upsets. The differences are dynamic though. Instead of angrily telling my child “You’re acting like a brat!” (yes. I said that.) I can now angrily say, “I am so angry right now! I feel so frustrated when you hit your sister! I need to calm down! (I take some deep breaths, and ask, more calmly)What can we do differently next time?” I am teaching my children important skills when I do this.
I see a huge difference in Aviana at 3 and Elivette at 3. Elivette knows she is respected as a human being and an integral part of our family. I thought I was showing the same sorts of things to Aviana, but because I punished her when she threw tantrums, didn’t allow her grace when she was angry or “disobeyed”, because I honestly thought I was doing what would teach her how to be a compassionate, loving grown up. 
Elivette and Aviana handle their emotions completely differently. Aviana, almost 12, has been ‘gentle parented’ for three years, but Elivette has known it this way her entire life. Aviana will sneak pinch or hit her sister when frustrated; Elivette will cry “I’m so mad!” and we’ll work through it together and let her feel those emotions and let them dissipate. Aviana is used to stuffing them down because they weren’t accepted for so much of her life. Elivette doesn’t really have tantrums, because she feels heard most of the time, and knows she’s accepted. Aviana threw tantrums of epic proportions. 
I know a lot of it has to do with personality and I know each child is different. I don’t want you to read this and think “I gentle parent and my kid still has fits. I must suck.” That is NOT what I’m saying! I just know this to be true in my own family–that I am seeing the fruit of this hard work of gentle parenting these lovely chiddlers, as they grow into compassionate, loving adults.
(As an aside, I was spanked, screamed at, belittled, criticized, hurt, and more, and I still grew up to be a lovely human being. This post is not meant to give guilt trips. At. All. I’m just trying to relate how positive of a change this has been in my family, and how I am seeing delightful things happening here. )
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Chores

I get asked now and again for advice.

One of the questions people hit me up for is “How do you get your kids to do chores?” The last time someone asked me this, I was caught off guard and probably half asleep and answered, “I don’t know exactly. They just do.”

My friend got a lot of mileage teasing me about my perfect well behaved little cherubs who just do their chores. Let me assure you, that is NOT the case. We have balking, stalling, uneager children who don’t want to help just like everyone else.

I thought I would share some of what we do around here.

We start early. Elivette is two and puts away the dishes from the dishwasher with whichever sibling is on task. We don’t make her do it every time, but we encourage her to do it frequently. We have moved the plates and glasses to a lower cabinet so the children can reach to put them away and get them out. When a job needs done, I generally ask the youngest child capable of doing that chore to do it. Frequently, I ask an older sister to accompany said younger to ensure the job actually gets done.

Littlest Kitchen Helper 

We have assigned tasks. We have a zone chart. The house is divided up into zones and the children keep their zones for a month. This helps me know whose job is whose because it’s not always switching. It also helps the child get good at their designated area because they have lots of chances to practice. We do get the “But it’s not my zone!” complaint when I ask a child to help in another area, but I respond with letting them know it doesn’t matter. We are a family living in community and we all help one another.

It’s expected. It’s just part of our life, our routine. We all pitch in.

We pay them. We opted to pay our kids five dollars a week for doing their jobs. The caveat is if I get annoyed by having to ask them too many times or because they have been consistently doing a poor job, their pay is reduced by a random amount. Never once has a child argued with me about this, because they know if they’ve been shirking. Sometimes I’ll even ask them, “If you were me, how much would you take off your pay this week?”

We do it together. I work with a younger child, helping them become successful at the task at hand until they are capable of doing it themselves. We sometimes all swarm on a certain zone and get it perfect. It’s amazing how fast they’ll pick up when they can watch a show when they are done :). Sometimes we set a timer and holler “10 minute tidy!” and we turn on some music and all work on our individual zones until the timer goes off.

I don’t know exactly how I “get them to do chores”, but with consistent chore doing, we manage to do them.

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Death Obsession, or, In Which a Soapbox is Climbed

It is very hard to find used clothing for a six year old boy. Boys are notoriously hard on their clothes. At one of the second hand stores we frequent, there are rows and rows of size six girls clothes. There were exactly TWO pairs of pants for Cadrian. And one was a pair of capris, so I’m pretty sure it should have been in the girls’ section.

I had to resort to eBay for his fall school clothes. I prefer to not do that if I don’t have to, as the auctions plus shipping are usually a little more expensive than I like.

Also, I’m picky.

I like to buy in lots to save money, as you can usually get a better deal per item, but every item in the lot has to be one he’ll wear, else what is the point? Money would not have been saved.

I don’t really like that many of the boys clothes have sports on them. What if the boy isn’t sporty? Or, what if he’s athletic and doesn’t really like to play organized sports? Why are there so many options for sports for boys clothes, but none for little girls?

I don’t really like that so many of the clothes have a brand or a store emblazoned on them. WHY should I pay good money to have my child be a walking advertisement? Shouldn’t they be paying me?

I don’t really like that so many of the clothes are from video games, TV shows or movies. In my book, six year old boys should be outside climbing trees and rolling in sand and making things out of rocks and not be inside playing video games. I don’t think playing a bit of video game is necessarily bad in and of itself. I don’t have a problem with a movie now and again. I do think plastering a video game or movie character across my son’s chest is like saying, “This. This is what is important to me. This is where my priorities lie.”

I don’t like how there are so many boys clothes with sassy sayings on them. A few I saw: A dog tooting, with a fallen tree “Who cut one?”. “I can give a headache to an aspirin”. “For Sale…Little Brother…Cheap” “Underachiever”  “My parents are exhausted”    THIS is the best we can do for our boys? Our boys we are raising to be men? We make them wear self deprecating tee shirts, give them put downs and undermine their precious (and true) exhausting energy and put these low opinions across their chests. What messages are we trying to send?

I once had an adorable red onesie for my 15 month old son that said “Heartbreaker” in white letters. I put it on him for Valentine’s Day and we took him to a party. When I was looking back at the pictures, I thought how appalling that it was that I did that! Do I want my son to grow up and plow through girls like a stereotypical stud? Or do I want my son to be a man of integrity, who waits for the woman he can spend his life with, and then who he sticks by in thick or thin? Do I want him to treat women like throwaway possessions and leave a trail of broken hearts behind him or do I want him to treat a woman’s heart like gold?

I got rid of that onesie and promised myself that I would be more discerning about what messages I put on my children, and what representations we put out into the world.

And the thing I really really don’t like about boys clothing right now is all the skulls! A skull, for almost all of time, has represented death. It still does. Even if we put it on our babies’ sleep and plays, it still represents death. Even if we see a skull almost every time we leave the house because it is on so many kinds of clothing, it still represents death. I don’t think it’s cute. I don’t think it’s for children. Pirates used skulls to intimidate. Skull and crossbones still are used to indicate poison. In Tarot cards, skulls are on the death card. Skulls were part of the Nazi SS uniform as well as many other military insignia, partly to be representative of loyalty until death, and partly as a warning: “I will kill you”.  Skulls might be fashionable right now, but I think they still represent a culture obsessed with death.

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The Absolutely Amazing Home Birth of Babe E

I’m sharing this video for several reasons.

One:  Because it’s awesome.

Two: I want to educate people on natural birth. Women were created to do this! (Not just this, but you know what I mean). I want people to know that even though it’s hard, and even though it can hurt, women CAN do this!

Three: My first birth was a Cesarean. That means I’ve had four VBACs, three out of hospital. VBACs are safe and should be encouraged.

Four: After Elivette was born, I had uterine clotting and bleeding. I lost a lot of blood and fainted. My midwife gently removed the clots, and administered oral Cytotec to clamp down my uterus. My midwife called 911 and I went to the hospital in the ambulance about two hours after the birth. My blood pressure was almost non-existent upon arrival. The ER doctor on call flipped out on me. At one point, he panickedly yelled at me “Do you just want me to take you back and do a hysterectomy right now?!” What kind of question is that for a medical professional to ask; especially to a woman in my weakened state? I knew my midwife had given me medicine at home, but I was unclear at the time exactly what it was. All I wanted was for him to wait until she arrived so I didn’t end up with some sort of drug reaction.

After my midwife arrived at the ER, we got the OB on call to come down. She removed (NOT GENTLY) still more clots from my uterus. I remember screaming and writhing. It was much worse than anything I’d ever been through. I had been loud during the birth, but now I was really screaming! Then, after she got down off of me, they gave me morphine for the pain. A little late, I’d say. I was also hooked up to Pitocin.

I was thankful at least I got to nurse my baby in the ER.

They wouldn’t let me eat. Once I got admitted, they made me stay awake and answer all these ridiculous questions for their intake forms. They wouldn’t let me eat! I just had a baby and they wouldn’t let me eat! I had to be on the surgical floor (I think) because since my baby was born at home, apparently she’s contaminated and can’t be in the Mother/Baby unit. The nurses were as kind as could be and very curious about home birth. I didn’t really want to talk though; I just wanted to sleep! And eat!

The next morning, the OB came back to check on me. She told me that my midwife did everything right. My home birth midwife saved my life. She told me that while it was good we transferred, in case I needed a blood transfusion, the her actions and the actions of the ER doctor and the hospital staff are not what saved my life. My home birth midwife saved my life.


I reiterate this because I want it known that home birth is safe. Home birth, even when there’s an emergency, is safe.

I want people to know that moving birth out of homes and into the hospital in the 21st century is much less about safety as they are led to believe, and more about money. Absolutely, there are instances where you need to be in the hospital–my first birth was one of those. But in the vast majority of cases, for the vast majority of women, it’s unnecessary.

Welcome Home banner the girls made for me.

Meeting biggest brother

Meeting big brother

Five: I want to encourage other expectant moms out there with this video. I loved watching youtube videos of birth while expecting because I felt it helped me be more prepared. It could happen this way, or that way, or some way I’d never anticipated. I loved watching the miracle of mamas bringing their little ones into the world. My baby was malpositioned, and it was difficult, but the euphoria of being able to bring her earthside is unparalleled.

Six: Our birth stories matter. Birth matters. Helping women have a “good story” or even, the story they want is important to me. I hope that this video encourages someone to have a natural birth and to be able to say “I did it!”

Because you can!
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Gentle Win

When my kids go to bed, I am done. I clock out. I don’t do dishes, I don’t clean, I don’t pick up. I am done. I consciously set this rule when Aviana was young, and started having a regular bedtime. It was delicious to have her in bed at seven and have three or four hours all to me.

As I added more kids and the kids grew older, that time has grown to be more and more precious…and precarious. The girls are old enough now that by the time they are really settled and quiet, it can be nine or nine thirty. I try to be in bed by 11.

My kids all stop napping somewhere around two and a half, and then the training of quiet time begins. It isn’t realistic for a three year old to play by himself for the entire two hours the baby naps, so I truly don’ t get any time by myself most days.

Tonight, I was planning on painting the new play space. I’m doing a mural which I hope will be awesome.

At nine-ish, Aviana came down in tears. Brielle was being mean to her and she was feeling frustrated. I desperately wanted to send her back to bed. (JUST GO TO BED! HOW HARD CAN IT BE?)

But I didn’t. I held my great big gangling nine year old on my lap. We looked at pictures of when she was younger. I listened to her complaints and frustrations of being the oldest of five. I stroked her cheeks. I silently marveled at her sweet growing self. I petted her hair. I heard her (lengthy) descriptions of what she  goes through. I didn’t offer advice. I just heard her. I was here.

I truly didn’t want to be. I was trying to not look at the clock.

I just was here. I just held her.

It was after ten, and much too late to start painting. She was still teary. But she said “It makes me feel better to talk about it.”

And she went to bed.

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