Learning the Ropes

7-19-14 042 (1024x764) 7-19-14 050 (1024x768) 7-19-14 054 (753x1024) 7-19-14 059 (753x1024) 7-19-14 063 (1024x766)We have a new addition at our little house. This is Belle — or “Bella” (as Addie calls her.) She is a 5 year old P.O.A. (Pony of America) mare.
Sweet Belle is a gift and and answer to some little children’s prayers. Though we cannot say she is quite ready to be turned loose with the kiddo’s, this little girl is already learning the ropes of what her job at our house will be. We hope she loves it. One thing is certain they already love her. <3

 

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Weaning

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2

The day has come. It was a day I swore I would not initiate. But, yet here it is, and here I am requiring it happen.

Today, I say Adelina is weaned. I have been blessed to have nursed her these last 22 months. It truly has been a precious time. It has also had its challenges. But I am at peace, and by all shocks I think she is too.

As you can see I fall in the extended breast-feeder camp. I believe it is good for my baby and even good for me. I know in our culture there are about a bazillion opinions on the duration and location one should nurse their baby. Having done it three times now over the past 7 years I can rattle off the stats from the CDC, the WHO and the AAP. And though those guidelines have helped my justification. This time around I settle in the peace that NOW after 22 months is the time that Addie needed to be weaned.

Weaning is a common concept in our culture typically led by the mother. Most even see it as the only way to get a baby to stop nursing. A prime motivator; the fear that if we don’t, a little nip will be required as we send them off to college.
Of course a nursing mother knows this to be a ridiculous notion. None-the-less it is one perpetuated by our culture. In my experience my oldest self-weaned at 33 months. And by that I mean, after he turned one he gradually began skipping nursing’s and I supported his decision until one day he woke up and skipped the only remaining feeding left. Then we were done. There was no crying or drama over it. He was just satisfied.  This all happened as I was just ending the first trimester of my second pregnancy. Great timing I thought.

Now nursing my second child was a different story. A needy nurser from day one. He was relentless about his milk. Add to that complications with starting solid foods and we were actively nursing as a primary source of nutrition for much longer than the norm. Then toss in a pregnancy, a miscarriage, followed by another pregnancy a few months later and you have a mama who was near the end of her rope and had spent more than a few months dealing with pain during nursing. I dreaded the moment he would ask for milk. I began to even resent having him close to me. Thankfully a good mama friend reminded me the importance of our nursing relationship working for both of us. So, for the sake of saving our relationship it was time to wean.

My experience initiating weaning turned out to be exactly as I had heard and how I feared. It was hard, we both cried a lot. We gave up, I gave in. In the end it took me four months to be able to say he was weaned. He was 22 months.  On that day I vowed I would never wean another child.

So, when Addie was born I was already set for the long-haul. Prepared for the fact that she would probably nurse (at least once-a-day) well into her second year. And I was good with it. Until, those little blue lines told me our family was about to change again. And here I was faced with a cross road: Do I stick it out and let her nursing career run its course? Or, Do I start the weaning process now?

Well, it appears that the latter was easier to decide than I thought. Willing as I may be to nurse a baby — for years. I always (personally) couldn’t envision my self tandem nursing (that is, nursing two babies at once.) I know moms who have done or are doing it. I admire them greatly. I have seen the peace it can bring to a home with a new baby. I just really struggled with the concept for myself and my body.

Then add that miss Addie is the only one of my three babies to end up with nursing carries (oh boy, is that a whole other can of worms for another day.) and I felt pretty settled it was time to start weaning.

So, I gritted my teeth and prepared mentally for the battle before me but, to my surprise she has taken it rather well. Last Monday was the last day she nursed and though she has asked for it a few times (sometimes in broken record fashion, “milk. milk. milk. milk…”) When I tell her the milk is all gone, she simply says, “okay.” and asks for a snuggle or snack instead. This time the whole process took less than 5 weeks.

The thing I find most amazing about these experiences is how different they are. I used to think the most “natural” way to wean was to let the child lead it. But, now I have been humbled and can’t deny that mother-led weaning may be just as natural. Who is to say that preservation of relationship is not a natural reason to wean? Or that physical reasons on either the mother or the child’s part are not good enough reasons to wean also?

I cannot help but think of animals when it comes to this part of life – And please be aware I do not believe human beings are animals – But the similarities in this aspect of life are striking. For instance, a mare will wean a foal by moving and sometimes kicking it away from her. We consider that no less natural. A mother dog will do the same. In other instance the young will decide it is time to grow up and move on. And the mother knows why.

The point is this, weaning: whether mother-led or child-led is inevitable. It is not one-sided. In both cases my best advice is to offer grace to yourself and your child and go slow. You will both be satisfied that way.

 

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TV

I will admit there are days, or more like certain times of the day that I have really wished we had television. Let me elaborate because we do in fact own a TV, but its not hooked up to cable or satellite or even to an antenna. Gasp! we don’t even have Netflix!

I know there are thousands of people who have chosen to live this way and love it. I am working on joining that bandwagon also, and since we moved to this house we have enjoyed (or consciously made the effort to enjoy) watching even less TV.

Not to say it hasn’t been an adjustment, one that quite frankly took me a bit by surprise. From the day we got married it was a simple consensus that we would not pay for television. But, we have always had access to some form of television be it by antena, or instantly through Netflix.
At this house however, we have neither. When we moved here we decided (or rather it was decided for us because there is not access to unlimited high-speed internet) that we would not have Netflix. Nor would we choose to opt for Satellite. Antenna would not work with out purchasing a converter for our dinosaur age television either.
So, for the first time ever we are limited just to our DVD player. And until we moved here I never realized just how much television had infiltrated our lives.

But rather than lament on the hard things we have gone through during our TV withdrawals. I want to share something that I think is rather exciting. 6-22-14 008 (1024x768)

 

Yes, it is simple and surly it happened while we watched TV a little more. But, you cannot imagine how much peace I receive knowing this is our off-and-on throughout the day routine.

Some of the other family perks I’ve noticed since starting our TV hiatus have been:

  • Increased attention spans.
  • More peaceful play with a lot more imagination.
  • Easier bedtimes – Realized that one after letting them watch a movie before bed one night.
  • We are all reading a lot more.
  • We are all talking a lot more.
  • We are all eating together face to face (not face to TV) at lot more.
  • We are all outside a lot more.
  • We still enjoy a good movie but do not get trapped in front of the TV as much.
  • We are all a little more content (since we are not bombarded with advertisements.)

I know living without television is not for everyone. But I would encourage those who wish they watched just a little bit less to give it a go. And though it was hard at first it has turned out to be a blessing for our family.

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Before the good news

Addie Romans 8-28

So, it appears (much to our surprise) that we will be expecting a new addition to our family sometime around the new year. No joke, I really am pregnant again.  At this point I figure I am about 14′ish weeks.

I have always wanted to write about one of my pregnancies. But I have this nervousness early on. Who to tell, who not to.  Most of this nervousness stems from the experience I had during my third pregnancy. The one between Alex and Addie.

You see, I have actually been pregnant four times already. Just one of those sweet babes is already waiting for me in heaven. A lot of people know that I had a miscarriage. Because back then there was no fear, no worry of what might happen.

When we found out we were pregnant that time we joyfully shared the news, with pretty much everyone. But then, at nine weeks I started spotting. Within a day the joy of having a new baby was ripped from me.  I was crushed. We hadn’t planned that baby either, and it even came at a very hard time in our marriage and in our lives. But, she or he would have been welcome and loved.

I don’t know how many times I have sat down to write about my miscarriage, always freezing because, what I went through was hard, and horrible. It is also something that few people wish to know about. I mean really what do you say to someone going through a miscarriage? Even from the other side I’m not sure I know the answer.

I certainly leaned the hard way that those (even those close to me) had a hard time understanding my grief. I do know they were all trying in the only ways they knew how. But in those hard hours they didn’t know what to say or how to comfort. And because of that experience I would guard a new pregnancy as long as I can to avoid the pain… if something were to happen.

In my head I’ve written a hundred times about what it is like to have a miscarriage, I have in my heart screamed about what things to not say to someone in that situation. But now three years has passed and my heart has had time to process and to heal. I don’t think anything I could write about would really help.

But I will share this.

At nine weeks I lost a baby. Not tissue, not a fetus – a baby. with all the genetic qualifications to be a person.

I do not know why. I know it was awful.

I chose to have and was able to have a natural miscarriage, instead of opting for medical interventions. And in that experience there was healing for me.

I chose to bury that baby.

I chose to grieve…. for months.

I chose a way to remember.

And we chose to try again. And by Gods grace we were able to have our beautiful, vibrant, larger than life Adelina.

So partly because of her I want to let go a little sooner. Maybe because of her I see that the loss of one life sometimes opens the door for another. Hard as that may be, I trust that God will keep that life I bore too early, safe in His arms for me to meet on the most perfect day.

Even with another healthy baby born. I still choose to protect those first weeks. Though this time not so much out of fear of the “what if?” But, because those early weeks are precious, and precarious (if you have ever had morning sickness you know what I mean.) Those early days of new life for me need time. Time to reflect, time to adjust, time to embrace, and time to fall in love.

So, today I smile that the days I hold to myself are over. Sure, nothing is certain. Scary things are still possible. But now, I will smile and embrace joy as we walk forward in yet another adventure with a new life.

 

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On Fathers Day

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Hard Worker

5-22-12 007 (1024x683) 4-19-14 031 (1024x763) DSC04363 2013-06-13_19-36-42_293 7-7-13 047Dear Kyle,
I know you don’t feel like you are with us enough. You work a lot to provide for our needs. But if you look back you will see. You are here. You are their father. You are their buddy. You are their teacher. You are irreplaceable. It’s not the big  things that you think they must have. Its all the little moments. You have been here and all those little moments…They add up.

Thank you for being “Dad” to our kids. Thank you for working so hard. Thank you for your effort to be truly present in our lives. We love you more than words can say.

XOXOXO

 

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In the Garden (2014)

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Memorial Day weekend has traditionally been when I try to get my garden going. Of course there are dreams of starting things earlier, but really, not much can be done until the threat of frost is gone. This year was no exception and I even wondered if we would be able to get things in by our traditional date. But, we did…or at least we are chancing it.
I did start the tomatoes and broccoli back in March under lights. It was a hard start for them and by May they were not all that happy looking. Too long under lights because of the extra cold days meant less time to harden up and soak up some real sun. But I think they will make it, and indeed they do look a bit happier today in their new digs.

Oh, and as with all new garden plots this is a bit of an experiment. I’m sure adjustments will be made and amendments added. I do look forward to the day when I will know this ground and what will grow well. But for now it is all on a wing and prayer.

And though the “serious” gardener my laugh at my crooked rows, I have learned that is just how I roll. After all plants will grow in crooked rows just as well as straight. If nothing else it ads a bit of character, right?

So without further ado, in my garden this year is:

  • Tomato’s (The same lovely variety from last years seeds came up beautifully)
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower ( a couple any way)
  • A few varieties of lettuce
  • Kale
  • Spinach ( this I hope will grow and not bolt. One of the things I wish I could have planted earlier.)
  • Pole beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets
  • Zucchini
  • Water Melon
  • Butternut Squash
  • Carrots
  • Radish’s

Just the staples to start. And so another gardening season has commenced.
Are you growing a garden this year? When do you like to plant?

 

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A Little Blue Dress

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Playing with settings on my camera did not go quite as planned. But, I’m hoping you get the idea.

A couple of weeks ago during one of our craft days I whipped up this little dress… Or will it be a night gown? Following this tutorial I pulled an old shirt from the closet. I used to wear this shirt when I showed horses. I always loved the color, but the cut was not really a style I could comfortably convert into every day wear. I love that it now has new life and Addie loves how it flows. I think it will probably end up a night gown because, well, she needs some and it is a bit long to be practical for every day wear.
Thanks to my sweet cousin for coming to play and pushing me out of my routine to make something lovely for a lovely little girl. :)

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