Sunday, November 14, 2010

Clutter be gone!

From now until the end of the year, I'm going to get rid of one thing each day. (Don't worry, fellow environmentalists, "get rid of" in my case means thrift store, repurpose or re-gift...) This is not because I have so much stuff - but rather it is because I have too much clutter. In thinking about buying this place (or moving ... again) I want to be able to do so with a clear mind. And in my world a cluttered room/desk/home equals a frazzled mind. I'm ready to change that!

Today's thing is an empty pencil box that I will instead use to put my daughter's hair curlers into. And the plastic bag with holes in it the curlers used to reside in, will be recycled. Okay. Not too hard. My mind feels freer already.......

Saturday, November 13, 2010

how to be a good ...

What makes a person a good parent? A good friend, daughter, spouse? I've been thinking about that lately. It's hard for me to separate myself into my different roles many days. I may feel like the world's greatest mama, but may be totally sucking in the best friend category. Or vice-versa. How can we be everything to everyone at all times? We can't; I know that. But how to reconcile the vast space in between our good days and bad ones?

I've been hit by a case of the overwhelms. And it's not that my life is sooo hard or that I'm sooo busy or that I'm sooo important. I just can't get on top of being a good mama, spouse, friend, housekeeper to the level that makes me feel good about being each of these things. I keep telling myself, "IF ..." You know, "if I could get this done" or "if I had the patience" or "if I did" then everything would magically change and POOF! I could be the best (fill in the blank) for each person in my life.

I keep amassing books about how to be a good parent, better housekeeper, more patient partner. Perhaps what I really need to do instead of read all of these is do what makes me feel good about myself in the myriad of roles I am cast in. Is there a way to get over this feeling of 'not good enough'? Can I embrace my shortcomings and still be a good person?

Aha! That's it. Being a good person encompasses all of the roles each of us performs daily. It's not so much 'how to be a good wife' but how to be a good person whose traits can be found in a wife. Right? Does this make sense? If I'm polite and giving and kind, then it would make sense that each relationship that I have would then bear these qualities as well. (Although, as a 'homemaker' furniture/dust/dishes don't require *quite* the same qualities...)

Being a good person sure sounds easy. Perhaps the hardest part for me won't be 'being good' but instead accepting my shortcomings. So if that means I only mop twice a year, at least it got done! And if that means I play tea party with my girls so often they learn to speak with a British accent, but in the mean time, I forget to teach them to skip, so be it. And even if that means I eat cookies when I should be exercising, at least I can be comfortable in my own body.

To finish my ramblings, I guess what is most important is to be a person people both look up to and respect. I want my children to be nice, kind people, so I'm going to be the person they want to be. And maybe some afternoon, we'll cut our tea party short, go outside and skip. Or perhaps instead, we'll just bake some cookies to go with our tea. How lovely.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Our trip to Washington

1) The Pacific Northwest is just as beautiful as you think it is.

2) Coffee shops ARE everywhere ... but that doesn't mean the coffee is always better. (Best cup I had was waiting in line to get on a ferry. Thanks, Crusty Crab man.)

3) If you wanna feel competitive, take a whale-watching boat out to see the orcas. If you think people trying to catch a bride's bouquet throw elbows - you ain't seen nuthin' until the whales are spotted. HOLD ON TO THE SIDE OF THE BOAT or risk being pushed over so that the person beside you can get the picture they want! Kids are in just as much danger, fyi.

4) When hanging out with adults, you will seem like a super-parent for bringing your family of five across the United States. (Especially if they are very well-behaved.)

5) Don't forget your pajamas if you are camping in a colder climate. You will then have to go into town to buy something and look like a walking advertisement for that town.

6) ALWAYS bring more clothes for your children than you think you need.

7) When transferring the groom's ring from the box to the shell it will be carried in, do not drop it. It will sink immediately. And then every person there will give advice on where to find it.

8) Finding a metal detector on a Sunday morning, in a tourist town, that you then use to find said ring will make you into a hero.

9) Weddings on the beach at sunrise are beautiful, even if there is no sun because it's raining for the first time since you arrived.

10) Hotels are worth every penny after four days of camping.

11) Apparently if the airline misplaces your carseat/stroller, you can RENT one from them.

12) The airline will return the missing carseat/stroller HOURS after they call at 6 in the morning to let you know that they will be returning it to you.

13) Men are just as captivated as women by toothless, smiling, good babies. (Except for plain ol' jerks who recline their seats, but sit forward in them. And then sigh loudly every time they are kicked by babies who are very excitable.)

14) If you plan to bring home shells/sea glass/beach rocks - rinse them before you put them into your suitcase. Otherwise your bag will smell like rotting seaweed.

15) Hero or not, colds will attack anyone standing out in the rain for hours not properly dressed...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

From one nursing mama to another

Welcome to the July 2010 Carnival of Nursing in Public

This post was written for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at All week, July 5-9, we will be featuring articles and posts about nursing in public ("NIP"). See the bottom of this post for more information.


When I birthed my first child in 2004, I knew that breastfeeding was beneficial for my baby but I had no idea it was also supposed to be enjoyable for me. Looking back at my struggles now, it makes me so sad to remember that I was offered help, but just didn’t take it. Part of why I continued to have trouble nursing for almost two years was that I was too embarrassed to ask for help. I couldn’t imagine yet another person (other than the nurses and midwives that had already tried) touching my breasts. The other reason I continually struggled was pride. I didn’t want anyone else to know that I couldn’t get something as ‘easy’ as breastfeeding. I didn’t realize that breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks for everyone, but with the right help, it could have been something that my baby and I took pleasure and comfort in together.

I had high expectations of myself in the role as a mother, beginning with pregnancy. I ate well, exercised daily and took as many naps as I could, resulting in a relatively easy pregnancy. My labor was normal, a little long, but peaceful in general. The trouble started after my babe was earth side… in my arms and ready to eat. For the life of me, I couldn’t get the hang of breastfeeding. Not only that, but this was the first time in my life that my breasts were not mine. They were there to be pinched, sucked, squeezed and I was mortified. I was very shy and the thought of someone else coming in and trying to force my nipple into my baby’s mouth was almost too much for me. The nurse brought by a breastfeeding ‘how-to’ video for me to watch. The only thing worse than watching that was watching the same nurse pinch my breast and force my daughter’s mouth on it. It was terrible.

Once I was home, I thought I would be able to get the hang of it by myself without anyone around. I had no idea that it wouldn’t be that simple. Within a week my nipples were cracked and bleeding, beyond what was normal, as my midwife exclaimed in surprise. I lubed them up with lanolin; let them air dry; cried; but nothing was working. I called the local La Leche leader for advice over the phone, but I couldn’t get my baby to latch on the correct way. I tried different positions, all to no avail. A friend offered to come help, but I was too bashful. I dreaded each nursing and cried for weeks every time she latched on. I finally gave up. Not nursing – no, I nursed her almost two years, wincing with pain practically every time she took her first swallow. I gave up on thinking anything was wrong. I just figured some women must not be able to enjoy nursing as much as others do.

Having been through this cycle two more times (currently nursing baby number three) I am here to say two things. One – breastfeeding does get easier with practice. Two – ask for help. Nurses, doctors, midwives have seen it all, as have La Leche leaders. If a friend offers to help – let her help; she’s not going to judge you (or your breasts.) Birthing a baby is one of those times in a woman’s life where she is allowed, even encouraged, to ask for help. Asking for help in no way makes us bad mamas – quite the reverse. Being able to ask and receive help prepares us for all of those other situations that will be presented to us as mothers. Comfortably enjoying the brief time you and your baby have together while breastfeeding is worth so much more than worrying about pride or embarrassment.

(And to those mamas out there who have been through it – give advice, offer to help, share your story! You may be just what a new nursing mama needs.)

Art by Erika Hastings at

Welcome to the Carnival of Nursing in Public

Please join us all week, July 5-9, as we celebrate and support breastfeeding mothers. And visit any time to connect with other breastfeeding supporters, learn more about your legal right to nurse in public, and read (and contribute!) articles about breastfeeding and N.I.P.

Do you support breastfeeding in public? Grab this badge for your blog or website to show your support and encourage others to educate themselves about the benefits of breastfeeding and the rights of breastfeeding mothers and children.

This post is just one of many being featured as part of the Carnival of Nursing in Public. Please visit our other writers each day of the Carnival. Click on the links below to see each day’s posts - new articles will be posted on the following days:
July 5 - Making Breastfeeding the Norm: Creating a Culture of Breastfeeding in a Hyper-Sexualized World
July 6 – Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers: the New, the Experienced, and the Mothers of More Than One Nursing Child
July 7 – Creating a Supportive Network: Your Stories and Celebrations of N.I.P.
July 8 – Breastfeeding: International and Religious Perspectives
July 9 – Your Legal Right to Nurse in Public, and How to Respond to Anyone Who Questions It

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Who is more excited?
Hard to tell...
Hours drag on (and on and on.)
Prepare supper with
One eye on the driveway.
Set the table - don't forget
Papa's plate, fork, cup.
Gravel crunches -
You are here!
Bare feet running to see
Who can get to you first.
Squeals of laughter;
Hugs and giggling girls...
Hands washed and then
Here you are.
Hey babe, smiling face;
Strong arms, gentle kiss;
Slow relaxing breath...
Another week done.
You are home!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Choice in birth

When I was pregnant with my first baby in 2003, my husband and I attended a birth class. It was a small class, consisting of just my husband and I and one other couple. The other couple was due two months before me and they were planning a home birth. I was floored! What? Excuse me? People actually have a choice to give birth at home? I thought a home birth was something that happened *on accident* when labor begins and goes sooooooo fast. You know – like they portray it on TV. My husband and I had done research and settled on a birthing center … attached to a hospital. We have learned since that first birth class that being active in choosing how we want to participate in birth makes birthing a better experience.

This choice that had been brought to my attention on where I could choose to birth opened my eyes to the fact that there are all sorts of ways of doing things surrounding birth that I was completely unaware. I had so much more to learn! The first time I heard the word “doula” was during these birthing classes. I learned you could move around during labor. You could eat and drink, walk and squat, sleep and get in a bathtub. One of the most shocking things I learned was about my husband. My husband was actually encouraged to help out during all of the labor and birth. He wasn’t supposed to just sit there and pass out cigars afterwards. Wow. How can this be? I had begun reading all of the books I was supposed to read. I was prepared and excited to meet my baby. I just had no idea that there were other ways in which we could be introduced.

Recently, this choice of where and how to give birth has been brought into the spotlight. This is in part due to media normalizing birth, as the popularity of Ricki Lake’s documentary, “The Business of Being Born” showed. This documentary follows women who are pregnant making choices about birth, in addition to giving statistics on a scope of issues (home birth vs. hospital birth, natural vs. caesarean.) While there are other films out there, this one was available to a wider audience, rather than to people already aware of choice in childbirth. I believe the increased awareness about choice is also due to the fact that more women are talking about birth and their choices with each other. Not only do my friends and I dish weekly about some aspect of childbirth, but also plugging “childbirth” into Google (or Facebook) brings up numerous blogs and websites, in addition to respected magazine articles and books. Growing up, I led a typical life in a small town in the Midwest. I was astonished when my aunt not only chose a birthing center within a hospital but also breastfed while on maternity leave. These two choices she made were so far out there to me as a pre-teen. It was so surprising to discover that I could have an active role in the birth of my children.

I’m so thankful I was able to ask questions and make decisions based on what I learned from many different sources. How many other women are out there, nodding dumbly to the doctor (or midwife or newspaper article) because they don’t know they can have an active role in their birthing decisions? How many other expectant, first-time mamas are like I used to be – ready to believe anything my doctor (or mom or in-laws) said without doing any other research because s/he had to know what was best; after all, s/he had been through childbirth before. While I’m not saying that your doctor (or your mother-in-law) doesn’t have information that is important to consider, rather there are usually safe alternatives that you can choose to make your birth experience more enjoyable to you and your babe.

I now have three children and each birth was a new and different experience. With each one, I have become more confident in both my body and my choices. I’m discovering things I’m excited to try during each pregnancy and labor/birth, but most importantly I am proactive about my births. I ask myself what I want and then find a way to make it happen.

If I hadn't attended those first birth classes, (and read a few different books and talked with other women and midwives…) I would never have known that there are other ways. It’s up to you to decide how you want to celebrate the miracle within you. Ask; discuss; and ponder the different ways you can participate in labor and birth. Take control of bringing your sweet baby “earth-side” and creating the experience you want. Birth is a journey, but if you are knowledgeable in what you want, you’ll enjoy the passage even more.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This matter of choice

As a freshman in high school up until about my freshman year in college, I was never going to get married. Not only that, I was never having kids. Not only that, but I pitied all of those women who chose to get married, have kids and (puke!) stay at home with their children. What kind of archaic society were these women living in? Didn't they get that women were powerful? Women could (and should) work outside of the home? People fought for these freedoms so women wouldn't have to be a slave to the kitchen/husband/child! How can women believe that being married and staying at home is a good thing?

Fast forward ten years or so, and I'm a happily married, stay-at-home mama of three. How can this be? How could I have I turned into the object of my teenage pity? Easy. I chose to.

Choosing a life of matrimony was easy actually, when I met the man I wanted to marry. The man who took my breath away and painted pictures with his words of rocking chairs and old age. Choosing to marry him wasn't so much a choice as when to marry him. Choosing to commit myself to just him for the rest of my life was exciting, reassuring and perfect. "And guess what," I say to teenage me living inside my head, "I'm still me!" I still love to play volleyball. I still enjoy time alone. I still believe in "saving the environment." I'm still a feminist. I just have a new last name (although so does he...) and someone to hold in the night. Through good and bad, poor and poor-er, we're riding this ride called life together, bumps and all. Lucky for me, he's a good driver and even better passenger. Like I said, an easy choice.

Choosing to have children and then stay at home with them was easy too, once I gave up all of my pre-conceived notions of stay-at-home mamas. Birthing my children and raising them to be good people is one of the scariest, difficult, powerful, awesome things I have ever done. And I'm not through yet. There is so much to teach them, so much to learn from them. Apparently, I didn't know everything as a smart-mouth teenager. "But how can I be a feminist and stay at home, just content to be a mama?" the teenager sneers. Because it was a choice I made. I wasn't forced into this. I don't slave over the stove making pot roasts and wear dresses and aprons and make up. (Okay, well I DO make pot roasts ... from our own animals; I DO wear dresses because I like the flirty feel of them; I DO wear aprons simply because my girls want me to match them when we all bake together; and the make up I wear consists of chapstick and glitter..... so perhaps that sentence wasn't exactly what I was looking for to prove my point.) Additionally, I'm not just a mama. I'm an educator, an advocate, a healer of hurts, a role model and a mama. I made this choice because I wanted to raise my children as consciously as possible. Is there a more powerful choice for a feminist mama to make? I didn't give up anything to do this; I'm not losing anything to stay at home. I still sing. I still have girlfriends. I still contribute to the good of society ... I just don't get a paycheck for it. That's okay. Every morning I choose to be the best mama I can be and each night as I tuck my kiddos into bed, I know I've made the right choice to stay at home with them.

So will the holier-than-thou teenage me ever be content with the choices the adult me makes? I think so. And I don't think that being reminded of who I once was is a bad thing. That teenager consumed with thoughts of what the future holds is still an important part of what makes me who I am today. After all, if the teenage me wouldn't have chosen to leave MO for college in VT - would I even be writing this today?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Monthly change

I've just started reading a blog that encourages people to make a small change each month. It's probably supposed to be more of an environmental change (ride your bike to work, take shorter showers...) but I've decided to be selfish and make a small change for myself. My goal is to write everyday. It won't necessarily be new blog posts - because really, who else is out there reading this? (Thanks Kris!!!) I used to journal, so I'm going to do a little of that. My husband is really into poetry, so perhaps I'll dabble in that too. We'll see how it goes. And perhaps next month I'll do something for someone else. Or not. But no matter what, the changes I'm going to make are going to be ones good for my soul.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Truths learned from NYC

This past weekend, all of us headed to NYC to meet up with some of my family who were there visiting from Missouri. Here's what I learned:

1) There are less people walking around drinking coffee than you might think.

2) Repeatedly changing platforms in the metro station will a) make it even MORE apparent that you are, indeed, a tourist and b) get you made fun of. By other tourists. From Arkansas.

3) I do, in fact, know what appropriate footwear is!

4) A 6 year-old can walk very, very far.

5) A 3 year-old has the ability to stay awake from 4:30 a.m. on, even if the parent doesn't.

6) A 6 month-old loves watching the bustle of the city, but will cry each time a train pulls into the station.

7) Central Park is as beautiful as the movies make it look. And the people laying out in the grass reading or napping are beautiful too.

8) Pizza IS better in New York.

9) Necessities for a good day: the 'where' app on my aunt's phone; nice New Yorkers; singing ladies in the Metro; strollers and ergos; laughter; ice cream; and map-reading, plan-making husbands.

10) NYC is what you make of it - and the weather sure helps.

11) Being able to make decisions is a virtue, not a vice.

12) I'm more of a Burlington, VT kind of city girl...

We're already making plans for the next time we go - what'd we do the same and what'd we do differently. One thing is for sure: next time, we'll actually go INTO the Met...

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I celebrated my 29th birthday last weekend. It was an absolutely beautiful day spent with my dear, sweet family. And one of the best parts about it was that I didn't think about aging ... at all.

When I turned 27, (27! for crying out loud) I felt that my life was over. At 27, I thought all of the good things had all come to pass and from that point on it was downhill. How can someone feel that way IN THEIR TWENTIES?!?! And not only that, but how could I feel that way? How could I feel OLD at 27? You're only as old as you feel, right? Slowly - and with help from friends - I braved through those few months of self-pity. And realized life was just beginning.

Now I relish in the fact that I'm in my late twenties. Hell, depending on how you calculate it, I'm already out of my 20s and in my 30th year. And I have wrinkles, gray hair, and flab. "So what?" I demand! I found another gray hair the morning of my 29th birthday - and I laughed. Out loud. I get more wrinkles every day and that's a-okay with me. (Well, okay, I would be lying if I said the one in between my eyebrows - the one that makes me look mad even when I'm not - didn't bother me a little bit....) I'm never going to have the body of an 18-year-old again. But, surprise, I'm not 18. And I have three beautiful children to show for it.

Life is what you make of it. I want to be one of those women who age as gracefully as they live. So I wear glitter when I get dressed up. I play tea party with my girls. And as I softly stroke my husband's graying sideburns, I smile, knowing I've got some silver too. And 29 is good.

Monday, March 29, 2010


For the past week or so, I've been having crazy, beautiful, vivid dreams that seem so real. At first, I thought it was just because my husband has been subjecting me to "Lost" every night.( I mean, who wouldn't dream about Sawyer?) But now the dreams have started containing more people I know and less movie stars. (Dang it.)

What do they mean? Why are there random people invading my precious moments of sleep? And why can I remember the ones I would like to forget and forget the ones I'd like to remember? I am sure there are plenty of answers out there. Something simple and not too exciting, but since I've been tossing and turning and not sleeping like I'm used to, I'm going to pretend it has to do with something else.

Like a glimpse into a life I could have led, if I had done just a few things differently. For instance, based on last nights dream: I would be going back to college to get my Master's (in what? - that's not clear) and would have time to hang out with people I barely spoke to while in college the first time. I would know about flowers and understand why a friend looked guilty when telling me the name of one since it was growing in her garden and not mine. And (get this) my ride would be a truck on over-sized tires, complete with the dual smoke stacks out the back. This means I wouldn't have children, since the cab seats three, instead of six...

In reality, I'm in love with my life. (Yeah, yeah, I know - completely ridiculous to hear.) I only wish I was closer to my family and that we owned this land we are living on. Seriously. Those are the only two big things that come up when wishing things were different. So it's interesting to think that my dreams about 'what could be' are actually reinforcing my happiness with 'what is.'

Silly truck, flower knowledge and time to hang out with people. Nope, I'd rather have my sensible six-seater, a sieve for a brain, and kiddos. But it's still fun to see who I'll become the next time I lay down for a few hours of stillness. And perhaps while I am dreaming about a different life, someone else is dreaming about my way of life. And thanking their lucky stars that their hot rod is still parked outside in their driveway.

Now, if I could only incorporate a little more Sawyer ...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I LOVE coffee (aka my newest addiction)

Ever since I was a child, I have loved the smell of coffee. To me it symbolized old people and a pace of life that included sitting around the table in the early morning because you wanted to, not because you had to. When my brother and I used to spend the night with one set of our grandparents, he and I would fight over who got to put the scoops of coffee into the automatic coffee maker at night. No matter who won, the other one would hover excitedly at the shoulder of the winner, simply to be there as the can opened to take that first delightful whiff.

My parents never drank coffee, or if they did it wasn't consistently enough to own a coffee pot. I dabbled in drinking it in college, mostly because my boyfriend was addicted to it, but also when I needed it for the random all-nighters I pulled about once a semester. But it never had a strong enough pull to entice me over to the dark side for any longer than a cup now and then.

Enter children.

Coffee can make me feel like I can take on the world. I can do absolutely anything after a cup of joe. Chase the pig that got out again and put it back in the pen. Fine. Read twenty books that I just read yesterday to the girls. Check. Clean twelve dozen eggs. That's nothing. And to hear me speak - it's like my brain is on overdrive and if I don't voice every thought that is frantically running through it, something bad will happen. Yes - it will and it does. Voicing every thought is NOT a good idea. Lucky for me, when I first started drinking it more regularly, I drank it in the wee hours of the morning. My journal and occasionally my husband were the only recipients of those rambles.

Coffee and I still had an on-again, off-again relationship until the birth of my third child. Now, along with fantasizing about a bathtub all to myself for longer than five minutes, I dream about when I can have my next cup. And it's not diminishing this time. I've decided to give a little slack to all of those out there who NEED coffee each morning/noon/night. I'm slowly crossing over and becoming one of you.

And I think I am okay with this. Yes, I'd like the be the type of person who drinks coffee for the bitter flavor (according to Tim, he likes his coffee like he likes his women: bitter and murky; funny guy, he is), but I'm not. I like it because of the chance to sit down in the early morning, waiting for the sun to rise. I like it because of the feeling I get drinking it and then again after I'm done. I love to watch the cream as it swirls through the black liquid. But mostly, I like drinking it because when I do, I can see myself in thirty years helping my grandchildren count the scoops as they clamor to see which one gets to help this time.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Our 8th anniversary

Tim and I just celebrated #8. Eight. As in years. How can this be possible? We're still only 23. So that means there is no way we could be raising our glasses to toast these past eight years. A dream, perhaps? A wild, crazy dream in which we have been riding the winds of change through moves, babies, yurts, dogs, farms, births, friends, travel ...

I honestly can't remember most of my vows to Tim - or his to me. I can remember snippets of that day in Wales, surrounded by many people who did not even know us. I can remember the wind swirling around us, pushing and pulling. I can remember looking at a picture someone had taken of us from a distance, but I don't exactly remember what I was feeling at the time. (This would be the picture of him dropping me onto the ground. In it, he looks like Bigfoot; I look dead.) Do most people remember their wedding day in detail? Or do people look at a picture and make it into a memory? And why do I remember that he ate most of my breakfast that morning, but not what color our handfasting cloth was?

People talk about living their life over: what they wish was different, what they would have changed. I've been thinking about this lately and have come to my conclusion. In regards to these past eight years with Tim, I'd do it all over again in a second. As corny as it sounds - he is my best friend, my lover and my partner. I would almost go so far as to say he is my "other half," but only if we are talking about opposites attracting... And while I know I'm not his 'soulmate' because he doesn't believe in things he can't see, I feel he is mine. So while we don't share a "single thought" our hearts do "beat as one." (I thought this came from Shakespeare - apparently it's Keats.)

What a ride it's been. And eight years - hell, this is just the beginning. Lechyd da, babe...