Friday, December 16, 2011

First Rafflecopter Giveaway!

I'm testing Rafflecopter! Help me out and one person will win a super secret surprise :)

Natural Family Planning-- trying to conceive and prevention

Since this blog tends to be about my journey towards being more natural, I thought we could address birth control and trying to conceive.

Finn is the only one of my children that took a bit of planning and trying for. After Jackson's birth, I'd gotten a Mirena IUD that caused me a lot of problems- 3 ovarian cysts, 1 rupture, serious headaches, mild depression. I kept it until Jackson weaned himself at just over 18 months, simply because it didn't interfere with my milk supply and I was unsure of what I could use that wouldn't.

After I had the IUD removed, we decided to prevent for a bit and then try for baby #3, which would also be our last. I had been researching natural ways to prevent pregnancy and the neat thing is that the ways to keep from getting pregnant are the same ways that you can get pregnant if you want to!

i.e. If you know where you are in that month's cycle, you can determine whether or not to use abstain from sex or use a preventative like a condom in order to prevent pregnancy during your fertile days OR you will know which days you will have the best chances of conceiving! Cool, huh?

I read Taking Charge of Your Fertility! Great book about charting ovulation, reading your body's signs, and how to figure out what it all means for you if you're trying to conceive or if you're trying to prevent pregnancy.

This book will be a real encouragement for you if you're interested in learning about practicing natural family planning (NFP) or if you just want to know more about how your body works. I suggest it to every female- it's an eye opener... our bodies are so amazing!

I love the website Fertility Friend, as it keeps you from having to keep track of your cycles on paper. If you're a nerd like me, you'll love the charts! hehe

AND if it seems overwhelming, which I understand that it might... it blew my mind at first... there are electronic tools to help, such as the ones from Valley-Electronics, like Lady Comp or Lady Comp BABY! Expensive at first, yes, but so much cheaper than birth control over a period of time with absolutely no side effects.

For me, I am always looking for a sustainable option. I look for ways to produce less trash, to keep toxins out of our systems. As I learn to take a more natural approach to life, I thought that for as long as women in this country tend to take birth control pills over their lifetimes, there have to be better options than relying on taking hormones and dealing with potential side effects.

This time last year, I was absolutely going out of my mind wondering if THIS would be the cycle. I'd ovulated a couple of days prior and was waiting to test...

The picture at the top of my blog? Where Tim, Keelin, Jackson, and I are in the snow? We took that right after I'd gotten a positive pregnancy test (9 days post ovulation)... our first photo as a family of FIVE :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Big Family News-- Part 1

After much discussion, we've decided that this year (kindergarten) will be Keelin's first and last year in public school. We're HOMESCHOOLING!!!

Keelin and Jackson playing Bingo

We're so excited, but to be honest, I am a little nervous! There are SO many tools out there in books, games, and the TONS of curriculi. Where do you even start?! I've picked up things here and there that I thought looked like something we might enjoy. I have 6 months before her school year is over (she's at an extended year magnet school, so we won't switch to full time homeschooling until June) and I am reading tons of books, blogs, and articles until then.

Homeschooling parents, what is your favorite resource? Tell me about the books you read, curriculum you prefer, activities you do with your kids- how do you do it!? :)

I want to hear the voice of experience... impart your wisdom, mamas!

Update and Upcoming--

I'm looking forward to the holidays and a new year! Can you believe that 2012 is right around the corner? I cannot believe how fast this year has gone by!

I've had a bit of a rough week this week. I narrowly escaped mastitis! I had a raging headache for two days. And to be totally honest, I'm a little worn down and have enjoyed allowing myself time to lay on the couch with my little ones. We cuddled, we watched Wheel of Fortune every night, and while I'm still not quite 100%, I can tell that the rest is something I have missed!

Y'all, give yourselves permission to rest. I know that our lives are busy. There is a lot to do! But slow down, if only once in a while, and just let yourself rest. I'm not talking about at night, when you're expected to rest. I'm talking about allowing yourself a sweet afternoon of stretchy pants and a good book, or the closest to a break that you can manage.

I have a few blog posts planned for the next couple of weeks, then I'll be MIA until after the end of the year. We will have holiday craziness and lots of family gatherings, so my brain will be elsewhere and I'm sure you will be way too busy enjoying yourselves to read my ramblings!

Coming soon:

- Super EASY Cloth Diapering (two kids at once!)
- Eco-conscious Holidays (including our family traditions!)
- Jackson's 3rd Birthday plans ( so excited!)
- BIG family news (the times, they are a-changin'!)
- Plans for 2012

Since it's after midnight, it's officially Friday! Enjoy your weekend, friends!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why we don't "do Santa"--

Hey, Everybody!

'Tis the season for people to ask my children if they're behaving so Santa will leave them lots of presents... so I felt it was time to blog about Santa.

We do not participate in the whole Santa thing. I had a photo taken of Keelin with Santa for her first two Christmases (6 months and 18 months old), neither of which she remembers! I'd always been sort of iffy about whether or not I wanted to tell my children the usual things that parents tell their children about Santa this time of year. Sure, it's a fun game... but convincing my children that it is real doesn't sit right with me.

Tim and I (and Keelin's dad) decided that we would not do Santa with Keelin. Since Jackson's birth, we don't do it with him, either. Same with Finn. We do stockings, because they're cute and hold the small gifts really well. We have told the kids since they were old enough to understand that Santa is a fun game that people play, but some children's parents choose to not tell them that it is just a game. They know what other people say about Santa just through interactions with other kids. They know that some parents encourage their kids to write Santa letters, that some parents tell their kids he will put them on a Naughty list and withhold their gifts if they misbehave... sometimes going with the Elf on the Shelf thing that seems really popular. It really disturbs me a bit, actually, that my friends tell their children the elf will report their behavior back to Santa. BUT I'm not raising their children :)

Not judging parents that do those things, but we won't be playing Santa. I'm sure finding out we lied to them about it wouldn't destroy them, but I am not going to lie to my kids about Santa. We don't have Santa stuff in our house. We don't read Santa books (we passed on the Santa storybooks that my Mother-in-law bought our kids a couple of Christmases ago...) or sing Santa songs.

When people randomly come up to my kids in grocery stores and ask them if they're being good so Santa will bring them toys, I correct them. Not rudely, but I just say that we don't do Santa. I've had people say that I'm depriving them, but we enjoy the holiday season just fine without Santa ;)

The big issue for us is that the whole farce- insisting that kids behave so an obese man will come down their chimney and bring them toys- is so outrageous... We lie to our kids to get them to behave? Really? Not in our house. I'm trying to raise my children to have respect for me- that includes being honest with them and respecting them right back. I know that most people disagree with me (people are shocked when you tell them your kids have never been encouraged to believe in Santa), but understand that I don't think parents that do Santa are doing anything wrong- my own parents did it with us on a relaxed level and I enjoyed the make believe- I don't believe that it is right for our family and we're foregoing it. It just feels wrong to me to be dishonest with my kids to encourage good behavior during the winter in order to get gifts.

But regardless of what you believe, I hope this winter finds you well and you enjoy whatever traditions bring joy to your households!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Crafts-- Pt. 1

'Tis the season for crafting!

We decided that since Finn was here and we aren't planning on anymore babies, it was time to really get on the ball with starting some family traditions... no excuses! I purchased the supplies to do these a couple of weeks ago, but as it goes with three kids, it got put off and put off.

Tim helped my wrangle kids as we got down and dirty today! Here is what we came up with, most of the ideas found on Pinterest!

A rag wreath!

Handprint ornaments!
A footprint in Finn's case :)

And a sneak peak at gifts for the kid's friends.
Personalized art aprons!
(but there is more... just can't share the rest)

A tree on canvas-
Keelin's hand is on the bottom.
Jackson's hand is in the middle.
Finn's feet are on top!
I did the star and the ornaments are the kid's fingerprints.

Are you doing any crafts?

Monday, November 28, 2011

--singing to the baby

Finn loves when people sing to him, so I try to oblige.
I was singing in the kitchen while I made dinner--
Keelin and Jackson were shredding turkey for me,
(turkey and dumplings)
Finn was in his little vibrating seat,
and this song has been stuck in my head every since.

"All My Mistakes," by The Avett Brothers

Makes me proud to be from North Carolina

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My response to the anti-cosleeping ads from Milwaukee--

Here I go, leaping onto my soapbox!
I am not going to attack or attempt to offend parents who put their infants in cribs, so have no fear-
keep reading :)

First and foremost, the anti-cosleeping ad was paid for by Graco.
Conflict of interest, big red flag.
Just like Big Pharma funding scary commercials for vaccines...
I don't listen to anyone who tries to terrify me instead of presenting me with accurate info.
I'm a big girl and can research your advice for myself, thank you very much!

The ad shows an African-American infant on it's stomach beside of a butcher knife in a bug, fluffy bed, surrounded by big fluffy pillows and blankets. It basically tells parents that them sleeping with their child is just as dangerous as letting them sleep with sharp objects.

What they are showing isn't cosleeping, but bedsharing. Neither of which are dangerous if done safely. My comments below are evidence based and pertain to cosleeping and bedsharing with infants.

My issues with the ad are as follows:
1. Cosleeping is the baby sleeping in the same room... not always in parent's bed.
2. Bedsharing is usually done by responsible parents that do it safely.
3. Instead of demonizing those of us that cosleep, the money could have been spent educating parents on safe sleep practices... and not just displaying scary photos. BUT that wouldn't make the crib industry any money, would it?
4. The ad offers to give a free pack and play to parents so they won't bedshare... pack-n-plays are NOT cribs, they can be a major suffocation risk and the makers of them insist that the child never be unattended in one. Sleeping parents are not attentive parents... they can't be!

What the ad SHOULD have said:
1. Co-sleeping can be very beneficial for mom and baby!
2. If your child is sleeping outside of your bed in your room,
-make sure they have a safe place to sleep like a firm mattress
-ensure that they don't overheat
-no suffocation or fall risks such as drop-side cribs, big blankets and pillows, toys in the bed
-use common sense
3. If your child is in your bed,
-ensure that there is no fall risk by getting a bed rail or putting mom's side of the bed against a wall
-baby should sleep beside mom and not dad, since moms usually are more aware of baby's presence
-no drug or alcohol usage, do NOT go to bed with baby impaired... be aware of any meds you're on
- no big pillows or blankets, no squishy mattress toppers (suffocation risks)
-be aware of baby's temperature, between mom's body heat and blankets, baby could get hot
- baby should sleep on it's back
-obese parents should use caution due to mattress dipping (baby will roll towards you) or possible apnea
-no pets in the area
-don't sleep with baby if you're exhausted... you may not be as aware
-no smoking!
-you should be nursing

Studies have shown that the best place for a breastfed baby to sleep is with mom. Her heartbeat regulates her baby's, so does her temperature and her breathing! Baby mammals (humans included) are well served by sleeping next to their mother's with easy access to nurse!

We bedshare with our nursing baby and I have bedshared with our two oldest, as well.

How we do it:
1. We have a firm mattress
2. Finn sleeps on my side of the bed
3. We have a guard up so there is no risk of him falling
4. I use a small pillow at the head of the bed for me
5. Finn sleeps by my breast, with easy access to nurse if he wakes hungry
6. We sleep under a duvet, but it's never brought higher than baby's waist
7. Finn sleeps on his side, chest to chest with me when he's nursing, or on his back
8. I'm a light sleeper and very aware of him

If I didn't feel that I could safely bedshare, I would cosleep. We have a cosleeper that hooks to the side of our bed, but we haven't used it. I would use it if I were ill, on medication, excessively tired, or in any other situation where I thought Finn might not be safest in the bed with us. This is also the safest way for formula fed babies to sleep :)

I'm not here to convince you to cosleep- we do it because we believe that it's biologically appropriate for babies to sleep with their parents. We don't think it's best for our little ones to come out of the womb expected to sleep in a dark room alone in a crib. I thought it was important for a rationally cosleeping/bedsharing mom to respond, to say that it is NOT an unsafe practice when done responsibly and that we will not be scared by the fear-mongering.

If Milwaukee has such a high infant mortality rate, I suggest they deal with it. Statistics show that many of the "co-sleeping deaths" may have been caused by suffocation, child abuse, drug addicted parents or drunk parents suffocating their infants accidently, smoking in the house, congenital birth defects in the child, etc. NOT safe cosleeping causing a SIDS death.

I urge you to go with your gut, trust your instinct, and not be terrified into making a decision for your family having not done thorough research.

A great video by Dr. James McKenna on safe cosleeping! :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gaining some control over the mess--

I've had some trouble adjusting to having three babies. Not in the kid sense, but in the ME sense. I just cannot get it together- my hair needs some help, I really need to get new glasses, and I have a spa giftcard that will probably not get used until this time next year.

I decided to start loving myself a bit more. I don't deny myself the effort, but sometimes I just can't find the time. I'm making a conscious effort, though. With my clothes, my home... it's time to take control of the mess!

I bought some new sweaters.
(naked face, inspired by Samantha of Heart-Shaped Leaves!)

Bought the grey boots that I've been lusting after, thanks to Pinterest. has such great prices!

Bought totally unpractical flats that I found on Pinterest.
Bought from the same place as the boots.
I have nowhere to wear there, but they give me the warm fuzzies.

A package came for me from PlatoSquirrel on Etsy.

The new decorative pillow-case I ordered!
Yes, I do adore Mason jars...

A nice letter-

And beautiful linen napkins!
What a sweet surprise.

The family went on a day trip to the NC mountains.
My favorite!

We had our pool relined, so next summer, it's on!
I love the teal color...

So, on the road to regaining a bit of myself,
we revamped my wardrobe a bit, took a break from reality, decorated the house a bit, and knocked some things off of my to-do list! Sigh of relief :)

October happenings--

Can you tell how much busier I am with three kids than two?!
I am the worst blogger ever.
But I'm really trying :)
I take the pictures and can just never get around to posting.

Here is a bit of what happened here over the course of October-

I made myself more dryer balls!

The last of our eggs.
I think our girls are on strike...

Keelin found one of my midwifery books and was reading.
Then she drew me a uterus with a baby in it!
SO my child :)
I love it!
She even drew fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Our rain barrels in action!

The three babes!

Since we have no room for a mudroom, I finally have a place for the kids to store their shoes.
Isn't it neat?
Bramble & Co. is my favorite.

My wonderful Doula and friend, Tequita, is a tie-dye queen.
Isn't it amazing?
It's a swaddling blanket!

Cloth diapers for two :)
And no, it isn't much more work!

I love having a nursing baby again!

I pulled up some of my homegrown carrots!
SO fun.

Jackson helping Daddy get the chickens their water!

My favorite treat.
A whole smushed avocado and pita chips!

Bath toes!

He's glorious :)

Having a burger with my dad!

Kidlets at the pumpkin patch!

Finn was unimpressed.


Asking market price ;)

Dorothy says, "There's no place like home!"

Love them!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Finn's 2nd month photodump--

Enjoying an afternoon in the shade!

Kristin came to visit!

Keelin is so great with her brothers!

Finn and Daddy!

My wonderful doula, Tequita, loving on Mister Finn!

My grandmother meeting Finn!

My three babies!
(helping my do laundry-)

"Finn, wake up and smile at me!"

And just to clarify, Finn sleeps in the bed with us but NOT under thick blankets or on pillows. I had him propped up on the pillow so I could talk to him while I flatironed my hair. He happened to fall asleep. Just wanted to make sure you guys knew that this is not how we sleep and that I DO advocate safe, healthy cosleeping and bedsharing :P\)

NC State Fair!

Finn's 1st Month mini photodump :)

1 day old
The best reason in the world to be tired :)

Two days old!
I wanted to document his sweet sleepy self.

Poopy face.
Sorry, son :)

Finn was two weeks old here-
the first picture of my family together!

My first time putting Finn in the Sleepy Wrap!
He kept doing the "newborn butt poke out" and I was cracking up

After his first bath.

I desperately wanted to order this from Educated Mama Decals and finally got to do it!

Oh, his sweet, glorious, soft, baby rolls!

This was when I noticed his face was looking less newborn like and more like an infant. Moms know what I mean... less alien, more person! haha