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Sunday, September 22, 2013

One Thousand Words.


What would you do if you woke up tomorrow to the booming voice of God saying, “You have 1,000 words left and then your life is over”?
I guess you might question your sanity but we'll overlook that path of thinking. In this scenario, you know it to be true. You have a thousand words of life left. And then that’s it.

James 3:2 says this: "Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way."


I don’t see anyone making those cute little verse graphics to share of that one on instagram.
It’s not a pretty or feel-good verse but it needs to be addressed. This is a real struggle and in a lot of ways, it’s the thing that is diluting the effectiveness of the church today. And know, please, I’m not preaching at you here. I can only write this because God’s been hitting me over the head with it for a solid year now. My study on the subject has reached the point that I have to write about it to sort my own thoughts.  



I've thought about it a lot, and I've come to this solution. I want to start every day as if I only had a thousand words left.
A thousand words is not very many. Already, I've typed 283 words on this page. We have entire conversations, spending hundreds of words, about gas prices and the weather and Miley Cyrus twerking. We make plans and then we talk those plans to death. We treat our language like an infinite currency, thus cheapening it's face value. We are utterly wasteful with our words. 

It might not be such a big deal to just talk a lot about meaningless nonsense if I wasn’t a professed Christ follower. The thing is, deliberation is key for a Christian. We have been commissioned with the task of spreading what is, hands down, the most amazing and unbelievable story known to mankind. We believe that the God of the universe, the creator of everything…EVERYTHING (grasp that, it’s huge), made the choice to pull on skin, be born as a baby to a virgin, live about 33 sinless years then be nailed to a tree and die a horrible death all because he loves us individually and wants a relationship with us. Take a moment to view this from someone’s point of view who doesn’t know Christ. Or remember from your own point of view if you have lived part of your life as a non-believer. 
So, how do we do it? How can we be most effective at sharing this incredible gospel? Well… I think we have to take our one thousand words and use every last one of them in a very calculated way, with complete awareness of the weight we bear as a witness for Christ. We have to be a credible source. We have to establish relationships that reflect that love that sent Him here so that our actions do not contradict our words. Most importantly, we have to consistently LIVE our faith.


I think a person’s first response to finding out they only have a thousand words left would be to immediately lavish their family and friends with loving sentiment.
Seems legit.
I’m a mom. I have babies I’d give my life for. I’m a wife with a husband who I am completely in love with. It seems noble and romantic that if I only had a thousand words left, I’d want to give them all to them. I would be wrong though. Satan has a way of mixing people up here, especially mothers. Because we live with this overwhelming mom-guilt and somehow, if we could SAY we love our kids enough, maybe it would atone for the feeling we have when we fail them. 
Ladies, listen to me here. You are going to fail your kids. You are a human. You are going to fail your marriage. You are going to screw up and let your family down. The only thing you will EVER do that is fail-proof is to reflect Christ to your family so that they might come to know Him. Because He does not disappoint. He never forgets. He never gets too stressed. He never raises His voice in a moment of tension. We could save a lot of words if we would employ our actions. Think of the Proverbs 31 woman. The only mention of her speaking in all 21 verses is that “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”
I don’t know about you, but I want to be that woman. I want to be the kind of woman who pours her heart and soul into serving her family for 20 verses and only speaks for one.

What about the things we allow to dilute our witness? What about gossip, lies, and arguing? Those things may not seem so destructive, but what if you only had a thousand words? Think about how many you would be willing to waste talking about an irritating friend or co-worker. If that five minute conversation represented a large portion of what you had left, you’d be a lot more likely to just let offenses go. And regarding lying, if you only had a thousand words left, would you want to risk losing someone's trust and causing everything you say to be questionable? Lies can cost a lot of words in the long run and cheapen the potency of the ones you use. Remember, you are living your life to tell a story that’s already hard for some people to comprehend. Don’t you want your words to be as believable as possible?
Oh, and lets touch on arguing and being hateful. You’d think this would be something Christians would accept as truth, considering Christ had so much to say about love, but sadly it isn’t. It may feel like you are doing the work of God when you choose to argue laws and politics and take a stand against things like homosexuality and abortion. The problem is that when you choose to pick a fight like that, often the people get forgotten. Christ wasn’t in the business of laws. He was in the business of souls. And He didn’t die only for “the good Christians”. In fact, scripture makes it clear that we pretty much all suck as people and all fall short of God’s glory. So if you have to make a choice between arguing against abortion or telling a mother who has aborted multiple pregnancies that Jesus found her worth dying for, please, choose the latter. It’s a better way to spend your words because after all, legislation doesn’t change hearts. Jesus does.

About gossip and idle chat, about being untruthful, about being hateful, it all comes down to James 3:11- Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Imagine a man who has been wandering through the wilderness for months. This guy is worn down. He’s tired. He is skin and bones and dehydrated. You have a water bottle of fresh, clean water and a bottle of poisoned water. Clearly he needs something to drink. His life depends on it. You know that and you want to help him. Which bottle do you give him? It’s a no brainer. Well, what if you just mixed the two, and give him that? Have you just given him some mostly fresh water, only a little poisoned, so it will mostly help him?
No, it doesn’t work like that. If you only have a thousand words, don’t dilute them with poison. Keep your water pure. Lives could depend on it.

What about your trials and troubles? You’ve got concerns and fears. Sometimes, you just need to vent.
James 1:19 says “Be quick to listen and slow to speak.” I’ve always thought of this scripture in terms of dealing with people. Sure, it helps in your earthly relationships to open your ears and shut your mouth, but this applies to our relationship with God as well.
Here’s a lesson that I’ve learned well over the past six months. I recently started a project on Facebook where I post daily photos of life in our home. Someone noted to me that there are a lot more photos of my younger sons than my older ones. Yes. That is true. I am currently going through a custody trial with my older sons’ dad, and they are currently only at my house half of the time. The first few weeks of this, when I was first dealing with them being gone, I talked. A lot. I talked to anyone who would listen. I retold the same story over and over and over. Until I just…ran out of words. And then, finally, I really prayed. And amazingly, miraculously, God answered. Over and over, through scripture and well-timed Christian songs, and even perfectly worded Church signs, He answered. And only because I finally shut up did I hear Him. My faith grew. I learned to appreciate my boys in a way I never had before. I learned to trust God even when I am not in control of their lives. And I finally reached a point that I could be thankful for what I’d learned and that my creator loved me enough to walk with me through it. Sometimes, we can focus so much on our problems and being slighted that we don’t even see God working behind it all.
I wish I could say I’m the kind of strong Christian that immediately goes to prayer and my bible when things get tough.  God’s not finished with me yet, but I’ve learned a lot this year. I’ve learned that if I only had a thousand words, I’d spend a whole lot more time in a quiet room with God working through my troubles instead of calling my best friend and venting. Actually, thinking about it from this perspective, there are lost of places I waste words where I should just be praying. There are afternoons where I go put a load of towels away to come back in the bedroom and find my toddler has emptied my entire dresser on the floor. There are times when my husband has hurt my feelings and I feel the need to tell him, in that moment, just how mad I am and why he’s wrong and I’m right. There are instances where customer service is mind-blowingly bad and I lay my Christian face down for a few minutes to let the minimum-wage-worker on the other end of the line know exactly how frustrated I am. If I would just immediately turn my heart to God in these situations and keep my mouth shut, I’d have a lot less regret I’m sure and likely a lot more peace.

I’ve thought about this a lot lately and I’ve come to this.
I want to love my family and friends with not only my words but with my life, efforts and actions (Proverbs 31). I want my mouth to be a spring of fresh water to those who are trying to follow Christ around me as well as those who don’t know Him yet (James 3:11). I want to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).
I want to live my life like I only have a thousand words left.
Or a hundred even.
Or ten.

And I want every one of them to point to Christ.





Friday, June 14, 2013

Babywearing 101: A beginners guide to carrying your baby.

I don't just enjoy babywearing, I have to thank it for my sanity. My older sons are 18 months apart. Keeping my first son close was a nice luxury. When his little brother came along, and I found myself caring for a tiny, squishy newborn and a wrecking ball of a toddler, it became a necessity. Years have passed. My big boys are in school and now I am adjusting to two-under-two again. Except this time they aren't 18 months apart, they're 14.

When you believe in the benefits of something, naturally you want to spread the love.  Every time I see a momma in Kroger with a bucket seat filling the cart, a toddler in the seat, and nowhere to put the groceries, I just want to pull my ring sling out and say, "Hey, can I show you something?"
Unfortunately, most people don't take to interfering strangers the way I do. So.

The problem comes when parents venture into the world of carriers and find themselves completely overwhelmed with options.  What carrier is the best for heat? What are the cheapest options? Can I make my own? Why spend so much on a piece of cloth? What size do I need?

The list of questions goes on.  I find myself wanting to educate without a good short answer for all the questions. So I'm hoping to compile a crash course in how to get started wearing your baby. Babywearing 101, if you will.  There's no way to answer every possible question, but I can hopefully equip you with enough information to avoid frustration and giving up.

Thank you in advance to all the mommas that sent in photos to use in this post.

Types of Carriers

Stretchy Wraps






Popular Widely Available Brands:
Moby, Sleepy Wrap by Boba, Hugabub, My Baby Nest

Pros:
  •  Easy to find at stores like Target (meaning new parents can put them on a registry)
  • Lots of YouTube videos to learn how to wear it. Here are some good ones
  • An affordable starting point, as the Moby Wrap or the Boba Sleepy Wrap can 
  • be bought new for 45-55 dollars. 
  • Fit all sizes
  • Comfortable for long periods with smaller babies. 
Cons:
  • Pretty hot. Not suited to wearing outdoors in the heat of the summer.
  • It's a lot of fabric. Therefore, it can be overwhelming and cumbersome. 
  • A little more of a learning curve than simpler carriers. 
  • Babies start to sag once they hit around 13-14 lbs. The tag says the weight limit is much higher but realistically, with a baby any heavier than 15 lbs, you will be adjusting a lot. So its possible to wear with heavier babies but possibly frustrating and less comfortable.
  • You CANNOT use stretchy wraps for back carries.  They aren't secure enough to keep a determined baby from wiggling out and falling. And lets face it, all babies are determined babies. 
Where to buy new: 
Target, Amazon, Babies R Us. Most big name baby stores and many online retailers now carry Moby Wraps and Boba Sleepy Wraps. 

Stretchy Wraps on the cheap:
You can make your own stretchy wrap very easily.  Just buy 5 yards of 60 in. wide jersey knit fabric from the craft/fabric store. Stores like JoAnn and Hancock routinely have 40-50% off coupons available in store. Hobby Lobby has an app where you can get a 40% off coupon on your phone at any time.   Cut the fabric long ways down the middle so that each piece is 5 yards long and 30 in. wide.  Jersey knit doesn't require hemming as the edges roll.  This gives you two wraps with an end cost of around 15-20 dollars a wrap if you use a coupon buying the fabric.

Name brand stretchies (like those mentioned above) can also be found used on Craigslist or babywearing swaps as babies grow out of them quickly.  They generally sell for around 30 dollars in good used condition. 


Woven Wraps











Popular widely available brands:
Girasol, Didymos, Oscha, Kokadi, Diva Milano, Natibaby, Ellevill, Dolcino, Storchenwiege

Pros: 
  • Versatile, allowing for many different kinds of carries, including back carries, front carries, one shoulder, multi layer for more support, single layer for hot days, etc. You can even tandem wear (two babies in one wrap).
  • There are many YouTube video tutorials for learning carries. One of my favorites is Babywearing Faith, who has many videos of different carries for all ages of babies
  • Can carry babies from birth
  • No weight limit. Basically, if your back can handle it, the wrap can handle it. There are photos circulating of adults carrying other adults in a woven to prove the point that that there is no age/weight limit. I have given my 6 year old a ride on my back in a woven recently and while I wouldn't suggest it for long periods, it wasn't bad for the 15 minutes he was up.
  • Come in many beautiful colors and patterns
  • Come in different fibers for different benefits. For instance, linen/cotton blends are touted for their ability to keep the wearer cool in the heat. Hemp blends are more supportive for heavier babies. Other blends, such as silk and wool blends are also available.  But don't rule out 100% cotton wraps either. 
  • Very comfortable for wearing for long periods. 
  • Can be pretied before you leave the house and then the baby can be put in and the wrap adjusted once you reach your destination.
  • Very secure
  • Hold their resale value very well. (More on babywearing swaps further down)
Cons:
  • Wrapping can be really hot. The coolest way would be to find a loose weave wrap or a 100% linen wrap and wear it in a single layer carry (like a ruck carry) but even that will be hot outside in a southern summer. 
  • Longer wraps can be cumbersome if trying to tie in public. Tails can drag the ground. (Not a problem with shorties.)
  • Wrapping definitely has the highest learning curve. It takes practice.  Eventually, you will feel comfortable enough to put your baby on your back in parking lot, but it probably wont happen the day or even the week after you get your first wrap.
  • Woven wraps are expensive. There are cheaper options (I'll get to those in a minute) but to just buy a brand name woven wrap will usually cost at least 100 dollars.
  • All the available fiber blends, brands, and sizes can be absolutely overwhelming to a parent looking to buy their first woven wrap. 
  • Some wraps, such as hemp, take a little while to break in, meaning they are difficult to wrap with when they are new.  This is something to consider when you buy your first wrap. It may be best to buy used or buy something that breaks in quickly, like 100% cotton. 
Things you should know:
  • When looking to buy your first woven, you need to consider what you are hoping to do with the wrap. If you are looking to do all sorts of carries, you will want a longer wrap as it will offer the most versatility. Your "base size" is the length of wrap you have the most versatility with. I am 5'7 and 150 lbs. I generally wear a size M/L shirt and my base size is a size 6 wrap (4.6 meters). A size 6 is the most popular base size.  Small mamas can often use 5's (4.2 meters) as their base size. Plus size mamas and Daddies that wear a size L+ often choose a size 7 (5.2 meters). Your height isn't as important when picking your base size as your shirt size. Also, don't stress out too much about this. It isn't like you're going to buy the "wrong size" and not get to wear the wrap. The worst case scenario is that you get one that is too small and you will be a little limited on what carries you can do or you get one too long and you have extra tails left over after tying the wrap. 
  • Buying used does not always mean you will save money when it comes to woven wraps. Many wraps are made in limited quantities and become collectors items. When you first check out a babywearing swap, you may be surprised by the prices but keep in mind that people who collect carriers are like coin collectors. They may be willing to pay more than the original value for a particular item.  And all swaps are buyer beware on prices. Just don't assume you are getting the best deal buying used.
  • To break in a new wrap, you can steam iron it, braid it (tutorial here), sit on it, tie it around your table and let the kids treat it like a hammock, air dry it, sleep with it, and most importantly, wear it! I've broken in even the most difficult wraps and I've always thought it was kind of fun. Of course, I enjoy ironing. So. 
  • Different fiber blends require different care. Wool needs to be hand washed. Silk can't be left in the sun for long stretched (you wouldn't want to line dry or leave it in your car). Keep in mind how much maintenance you are comfortable with when buying your first wrap. 
Where to buy new:
Just a few retailers....


Woven Wraps on the cheap:

The very cheapest way to make your own wrap is to get a length of Osnaburg fabric, cotton gauze, or 100% linen from the fabric store using a coupon. Hem it to 30 in. wide and whatever length you would like.  Take shrinkage into account when buying your length. These may be less comfortable than a bought wrap, but are a significantly cheaper starting point for someone wishing to wrap but lacking the funds to buy one.

Wrap Nap Fairy is a retailer on facebook that sells dyed, 100% linen wraps at great prices.

Colimacon et Cie ( C & C), Dolcino, and Storch are all brands of wovens that can be bought new for around 100 dollars. They are all 100% cotton and great starter wraps. See above retailers.


Ring Slings






Popular Wrap Conversion Ring Sling Makers:
Sleeping Baby Productions, Zanytoes, Kalea Baby

Popular Ring Sling makers:
Sakura Bloom, Maya Wrap, Comfy Joey

Ring slings can be made from different materials. There are basic ring slings made from fabrics from the fabric store, there are brand name ring slings like Sakura Bloom that deal mainly with silk or linen, and there are wrap conversion ring slings (WCRS) which are slings sewed from the woven wraps I discussed above. 
I'll be discussing the overall pros and cons of ring slings, but keep in mind that how much support a sling offers is hugely dependant on the fabric it's made of. I can wear my 25 lb toddler in a WCRS for 30 minutes with no pain, but I wouldn't be able to say the same for a sling made of plain cotton twill. 

Pros: 
  • Only one layer of fabric over baby, so pretty good for hot weather.
  • Highly adjustable.
  • My favorite carrier for tiny newborns. They poop and eat so much, it's nice to be able to take them out and put them back in so easily.
  • Work from birth-toddlerhood (if it's made from a supportive fabric)
  • Easy for quick ups and downs 
  • One of the easiest carriers to nurse in (Youtube tutorial for nursing in a RS with a cradle hold)
  • Fold up pretty small, making them good to keep in the diaper bag or car.
  • No tails or straps to drag the ground, so good for using in public. 
Cons:
  • Can become uncomfortable after extended periods of time since all the weight it held on one shoulder.
  • A bit of a learning curve on how to adjust it for maximum comfort

Things You Should Know:
  • Not all rings are created equal.  There are rings made specifically for babywearing (available here). Some sling makers use craft rings and they are not tested to hold the weight of a baby. Please check before buying what kind of rings are used. Craft rings are to be avoided entirely. I've also heard of people using livestock rings from Tractor Supply. These would be safe, but the weight of them could possibly be very uncomfortable. For the best babywearing experience, stick with slings made with rings specifically designed for babywearing. 
  • Like wraps, ring slings come in sizes. Also like wraps, you may have an ideal size but that doesn't mean all the others are the wrong size.  I can wear any size ring sling from size XS-XL, but with an XS, it won't have a very long tail and with an XL, the tail will be down to my shin. I prefer a medium because I like to have enough tail to cover baby up if it's too sunny or raining. It's really based on personal preference though.
  • Also, there are different "shoulders". Some makers sew the shoulder with pleats, some use a gathered method, some do a hybrid of both. Generally, when you see a listing for a ring sling on a swap or on a retailers site, they will list the shoulder type. I have tried all types of RS Shoulders, and I personally haven't found one I dislike. Some people have a preference but I don't think it's really something you can figure out without trying different styles.
  • Many retailers offer the option to buy a "ring sling piece" of a wrap and then have it sent to your favorite converter to have it sewed into a ring sling. They also generally carry a stock of already made WCRS to choose from. 
Where to buy:


Ring Slings on the cheap:

If you choose to sew your own ring sling, make sure to use quality rings and thread, and reinforce the shoulder with extra stitching. There multiple tutorials online available with directions for sewing the various shoulder styles. I'm not going to post any because having never sewed one myself, I can't vouch for the safety of any particular tutorial.

The cheapest option I know to buy a safe, ready to wear sling would be any of the basic fabric slings listed in the above retailers stores.

Also, WCRS can occasionally be found on babywearing swaps in the 60-80 dollar range if you aren't too picky on the color or size.

Risaroo (listed above) has WCRS made from C & C wraps within the 75 dollar range. 


Pouches

Pouch carriers peaked in popularity a few years ago. Now, they are a less popular choice in the babywearing world, probably due to their lack ability to adjust their size.  I come across them often at consignment sales and they emerge occasionally on the babywearing swaps, usually for around 15 dollars. They are great diaper bag carriers because they fold up so small. If you come across one at a sale for cheap and can try it on with your baby to make sure of the fit, I'd say they are definitely worth having.  I wouldn't suggest them for someone shopping for their first carrier though.

Soft Structured Carriers (SSCs)
Also known as Buckle Carriers













Popular Widely Available Brands:
Beco, Boba, Ergo, Tula, Pikkalo by Catbird Baby, Patapum, Kinderpack, Scootababy, Lillebaby

Pros:
  • The easiest carrier to use. Once it's adjusted, you can leave it the same and just take it on and off.
  • Little to no learning curve, so great carriers to leave with grandma or the babysitter so they can wear the baby too.  
  • Ergo carriers are available at Target, which means new parents can register for them. 
  • Distributes weight on both shoulders and the hips, making them comfortable for extended wear. 
  • Can be used for front and back carries.  
  • Appeal to dads and are a good option for parents looking for one carrier to share.
  • Great car carrier since there's nothing to drag the ground when you put it on in a parking lot. 
  • Most SSCs have the option to adjust or add an insert to use with smaller babies. And they are great into toddlerhood.
  • Easy for quick ups and downs, making them ideal for busy, active toddlers. 
Cons:
  • Some women have difficulty with finding a good fit because of the bulk of an SSC, especially women with short torsos, narrow shoulders, or large breasts. 
  • Most SSCs come with the instructions to avoid washing frequently.  They can be machine washed but very frequent washing can shorten the life of the carrier. I have very refluxy babies and so far, I've been fine just spot cleaning my SSCs. But I do think it should be mentioned that washing may need to be limited. 
Things you need to know:
  • Be cautious if you choose to buy an Ergo. There are lots of fakes. Real Ergos are great, and the fakes are really convincing.  But because the fake Ergo's aren't made by a legitimate company, they don't have to follow government safety regulations. Basically, you're dealing with someone producing a carrier with no accountability. So if a buckle breaks and a baby falls, they don't have to worry about a recall and damage to a brand they've worked to build up. You're best bet is to avoid the temptation to save a buck and only buy an Ergo from an authorized dealer.  If you are buying used, ask for a serial number and call Ergo for authentication. 
  • All SSC carriers should be checked regularly to make sure all the seams are sound. Give the straps and waist a hard tug to make sure they are securely attached to the body. 
Where to buy:

PaxBaby - Buckle Carriers
The Sling Station

SSCs on the cheap:

SSCs often come up on the babywearing swaps for less than 100 dollars.


Mei Tai








Popular Widely Available Brands:
Babyhawk, Kozy, Bambaroo, Catbird Baby, Infantino Sash, Mei Tai Baby

Pros:

  • Widely adjustable. Because they are tied with straps, they don't need to be sized. For plus sized parents, many makers offer extra long strap options. 
  • Easy to get a good fit
  • Can be used for front or back carries
  • Can be used with small babies to toddlers
  • Evenly distribute weight over both shoulders, therefore can be comfortable worn for long periods
Cons:
  • Tails can drag the ground while you are trying to tie outside. 
  • Since many Mei Tais are made of canvas, they can be pretty hot to wear in warm weather. 
Things you need to know:
  • There are also wrap conversion Mei Tais made by wrap makers (Didytai by Didymos, Mysol by Girasol, Hopp-Tye to name a few) and by third party wrap converters. These, like WCRS, will be more supportive and comfortable than basic canvas Mei Tais. The straps are generally wider and the bodies more moldable. 
  • If you decide to buy a Mei Tai from a seller that isn't widely known, look for a few things for safety and comfort.  Straps should be sewn to the body with reinforced box stitches for safety. Note the width of the straps. Very thin straps will not be very comfortable. Also, the body needs to be wide enough to support the baby from knee to knee. 
  • All mei tai carriers should be checked regularly to make sure all the seams are sound. Give the straps a hard tug to make sure they are securely attached to the body. 

Where to buy:


Mei Tai Carriers on the cheap:

The cheapest quality Mei Tai that is widely available is the the Infantio Sash. They are available at Target or here on Amazon for around 35 dollars. 


Babywearing Safety

Just a few important safety tips before you get started:
  • You should be able to see your baby's face at all times. Make sure his airways are never blocked by bad positioning. 
  • Baby should be high enough that you can lean down and kiss her head and see her breathing.
  • Baby's knees should be higher up than her bottom and the sling should support her legs from knee to knee. 
  • Always be cautious when you are shopping for a carrier, check for the things discussed in the above posts concerning safety and quality. You are going to use this to hold your most precious cargo, and you wouldn't want it to break when you are walking up the stairs with your arms full of grocery bags or when baby is on your back. It's easy to assure yourself it's worth saving the money to buy an inferior carrier because you could catch your baby if he were to fall, but since we need babywearing so our hands can be free for other things, you might not always be able to free them in time. Err on the side of caution. It's worth it. 
A couple of mainstream carriers to avoid:
(Stock images obtained by google search)


The "Crotchdangler"

Ok, so I kind of hate that term. But you will hear it used in the babywearing community when referring to this type of carrier, be it a Baby Bjorn, a Snugli, or whatever other brand. These carriers put a lot of stress on the baby's developing spine and hips. Unlike all the ergonomic carriers listed in this post that support baby's legs from knee to knee, "crotch danglers" support the baby by their groin and leave the legs hanging unsupported. It has not been proven, but it is suggested that this may contribute to issues like hip dysplasia.
 Now, there are a few different schools of thought regarding these carriers. Some people feel that they should be avoided at all cost because of the potential damage they could cause in development. I personally don't feel like Bjorns and the like are inherently bad carriers. I'd rather see a baby being worn than constantly being left in a bucket seat, bouncer or swing.  My kids have always loved their excersaucer or jumparoo, and any negative thing said about a Bjorn could also be applied to the way a jumparoo seat supports a baby by the groin. 
That said, these carriers are wicked uncomfortable. Every time I see a mama toting 17 pounds of baby in one, I just want to offer her my Boba and a shoulder rub. I kind of feel like one of the biggest detriments of a crotchdangler is that a parent might assume ALL babywearing is uncomfortable and throw it the towel before trying anything else.  These aren't cheap carriers either. There are just so many better options for long term and safe wearing, I would only use a Bjorn if it were given to me and I couldn't afford anything else for a while.



The "Bag Sling"

Several brands make a version of this carrier. Infantino, Eddie Bauer, Premaxx, Boppy, Balboa Baby. 

A few year ago, after the tragic death of three babies, Infantino was forced to recall their version of this sling. (Recall notice here).  There are multiple reasons these carriers pose a suffocation risk.
  • The baby is slumped into a chin-to-chest position, which can block their tiny, straw-sized airway.
  • The sling does allow for airflow around the baby's face.
  • The baby is deep in the sling, generally at the mothers waist, so she cannot see or hear her child's breathing cues. 
  • The bulky sling has a sort of flat area where the baby lays and a harness to buckle him in. Because the sling does not conform to the shape of the baby, he could possibly roll towards the mother, furthering likelihood of suffocation. 

When it comes to bag slings, just say no. They are dangerous. When I come across them at garage sales and goodwill stores, I buy them just so I can throw them away and keep an unknowing mother from possible tragedy. There are so many good, safe options in babywearing. This just isn't one of them. 



The Online Babywearing Community

When I had my first son in 2005, I came across a discussion on a birth forum about babywearing. Having very low funds and a desire to carry my son hands free, I made my first wrap from a stretchy, clearance, mustard colored fabric (before mustard came back into fashion) I'd found for 1 dollar a yard at Wal-Mart. It was itchy and ugly, but I was hooked.  
The problem was, no one I knew "in real life" knew anything about babywearing. I was so excited but had no one to share it with. Then I found thebabywearer.com. It was an entire online community of women who loved babywearing like me. By the time my second son was born, I'd acquired a woven wrap, a mei tai and an SSC. I'd also used the For Sale or Trade (FSOT) Forum to get several of my friends started with wearing.
Things are different now. The green movement has brought natural parenting into the mainstream and ergonomic carriers are available in stores like Target and Wal-mart. I can finally wrap my son on my back in public without people staring like I've got a second head. Wait, no, we haven't made it that far yet. People still stare. But it's ok. Most comments are positive and I have found myself with many opportunities to share the babywearing love.
Facebook has really revolutionized the way we share information. Just from the photos I post of me carrying my boys, I've been able to educate and inform many moms of the possibilities available to them.  There are multiple facebook support groups where you can ask questions and geek out over your new wraps.  There is a big, fast-moving swap that means you can resell wraps and carriers for almost what you paid, making it financially easier to try new things. And TheBabyWearer.com is still there, a trove of information waiting to be dug through.

Online Swaps:
The Babywearing Swap on Facebook  (Read the sticky post at the top of the group to get started)
Thebabywearer.com FSOT Forum (You need an account and can purchase wraps right away, but there is a minimum requirement of 30 posts to be able to list wraps)

Online Support Groups:
Thebabywearer, link above.

So. I release you into the wonderful world of wearing your baby. Hopefully you will find it as fulfilling as I have. At the very least, you'll be able to put dinner on the table and get some laundry done all while your child sleeps at your heart. 



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Evolution of a Mother

Have you ever had one of those instances where a parallel occurs in your life and the contrast is so stark that you can't help but stop and marvel at it? In 2005, I became a mother. I was young, clueless, and eager. I remember Jackson's one week checkup at the pediatrician. I remember toting in all my stuff, my first time venturing out in the big world with a tiny baby. I was 25 minutes late for the appointment. I remember being flustered as he started to cry in the waiting room and the way my face burned as I felt that everyone was looking at me. There was the issue of my embarrassment to attempt nursing in public and then a diaper explosion and then I dropped my diaper bag trying to juggle all the crap I was carrying back to the room. By the end of the ordeal, I was crying too.
I recently took Ezra for his one week check up. Because they were unable to see us on base, they referred me to a civilian clinic. Coincidentally, it was the same clinic I used to take Jackson to all those years ago. So I found myself sitting in the exact same spot, eight years later with my fourth son. 

The comparison was delicious.

As Ezra started to scream, I discretely began nursing him then changed his cloth diaper on my lap.  I put him back in my ring sling and he was back asleep before I had a chance to feel nervous at all. Motherhood is definitely a learned art, and I've never forgotten that first fiasco of a doctors visit. When I see a mom juggling a newborn in public, I always try to stop and say "I know it's so much harder than it looks. You're doing a good job"
It got me thinking about the mother that Jackson was born to and the mother I am today. It made me think how much I wish I could just sit down and have one conversation with that clueless, eager girl as she waited to take on the greatest commission of her, that is to say MY, life. If I could write a letter to myself to be delivered eight years ago exactly, it would find me learning that the baby I was carrying was a boy. It would go something like this:


Dear Self, 

Right now, you are growing a son.
You don't know what this means yet. I know as soon as the ultrasound tech said "boy", your thoughts went to little blue baby clothes and a sports themed nursery. It's ok, you'll learn how quickly those things will be memories. You'll learn what it means to look at your boy and know that you are shaping the man, the husband, and the father he will be.

It's ok. Enjoy the little blue things. In fact, keep enjoying them. You've got a lot of them to look forward to.

The first thing I want to tell you is that soon you are going to learn about mom guilt. It's the curse of motherhood, the feeling of never being a enough and the fear of failing these small people you love so much.
You are enough.
You don't have to make up for being a young mom. The fact that you are bringing this child into the world at 19 doesn't make you an inferior mother. Good moms come in all kinds of women. It's going to take you a couple of years to figure this out. It's going to hurt in the meantime when people make careless comments in the grocery store and at the playgroups you try as you find a place to fit in. People don't realize how discouraging they can be. Forgive them and then love your kid the best way you can. You don't have to buy all the best baby gear to prove you've got it together. You don't have to do everything yourself. Let people help you. And just love your kid. Enjoy him. Play with him. Do your best. You are enough. 

Don't be embarrassed about you're lack of experience with babies. Plenty of women who have babies at 35 feel just as befuddled as you will. That's part of being a first time mom. Just take knowledge as you come across it. When the lactation consultant at the hospital offers to show you how to change a diaper, it isn't because you are clueless and afraid but because lots of first timers are clueless and afraid. Take her help. And your friend was lying about having to take a test to leave the hospital with your baby. So quit stressing out about it, silly girl. 

I know right now you can't imagine how much you are going to love this little guy. In a couple of years, you are going to learn how that love can multiply. Don't feel guilty about making Jackson share his life with a brother. They are going to be best friends. Confidently give your sons their brothers and then raise them to appreciate them. 

Quit worrying about your stretch marks and what the scale says. Take a moment to appreciate what your body is doing for you. Learn to love your thickened thighs and widened hips and accept the fact that your boobs will never be the same. Trust me, your sons will be worth it. 

You know all those people that keep telling you "It goes by so fast"? They are right. But it's definitely one of those things you'll learn for yourself. 

One day this boy inside of you is going to look at you with his seven year old face and tell you that he loves Jesus and wants to be baptized. It will be one of the proudest moments of your life. It's going to make you realize how quickly the next milestone will be upon you, the things like the day he passes his driving test, the first day of college, the day he becomes a husband...and a dad. 

Someday you won't be so nervous anymore. Through mistakes and triumphs, your guilt will ease and your confidence will grow. You will learn to be a mother. Don't hesitate to encourage other women at every opportunity. It's important and not enough people take up the mantle of being an encouraging force. Take it up. 

You are still enough. You won't always believe it. But try to remember. Jesus found you worth dying for. He also finds you capable of raising this little boy into a man and also the three that will come after him. 

You are enough and you were made to be a mother. 

Love, 
Yourself. 


These boys were born to two completely different women. Both of them just happened to be me. 
Jackson and Ezra, 2013

My Four Sons





Friday, May 31, 2013

Why In The World I'd Show You My Push Face.



It's been three weeks since my Ezra Jude came into the world. At 5:09, I felt him turn me inside out, look down at him for the first time and heard that beautiful sound, that healthy, tiny cry. But I'm getting ahead of myself. That's the end of the story.

Wednesday night, I stayed home from church to finish my Art History final online. I was having contractions pretty regularly and had a stern talk with Ezra telling him to stay put for a little while longer. I'd told Jackson I would go on his field trip the next day and I'd told Asher we would go pick out a birthday cake after school.  Thankfully, the contractions spread out a bit and I was able to finish my test and go to sleep.
Thursday, I woke up feeling really restless. Toby and I went to Burns Park with Jackson's class for the field trip. I joked with the ladies in the office before leaving that I'd be driving separately because I was nervous I might go into labor have to wait on the bus to leave. We walked all over the park and as the day progressed, my contractions started causing some pressure and I knew they were no longer braxton hicks. As we left the park and I lifted Toby into the van, I felt what turned out to be my mucous plug. Totally gross.
The boys got out of school at 3 and we went to pick out Asher's cake. Then everything was marked off my to-do list. The diapers were prepped, the bedroom remodel was done, the bags were packed, and the promises I'd made the kids had been fulfilled. "Ok," I thought, "Now we can have a baby."
That night, I described how I was feeling to my friends online and they all replied with a resounding, "I think you're in labor!".  I debated going for a long walk or bouncing on my birth ball, but decided it would probably be best to just sleep and went to bed around 9:30.  I woke up at 2am with contractions every 6 minutes. I laid in bed for a couple of hours and timed them, just trying to rest. I woke Jeremiah up at around 4:30 and told him we'd be meeting Ezra that day. I was sure. It was real labor.
We went back to sleep. When I woke back up around 8, I called and made arrangements for Jackson and Asher to hang out with my dad after school. We called our friends that would be keeping Toby and Jeremiah left to drop him off. We called our moms and told them it was the day. I decided to wait until my scheduled appointment at 10:50 so I could talk to my doctor and be checked by him.  Contractions stayed regular but fairly spaced out, about 6-8 minutes apart.  During each contraction, I'd think "Oh yeah, this is labor" but as the minutes between them passed I would start doubting, thinking it would putter out only to have another contraction hit and I'd be sure. Definitely labor. I kept double checking my bags and pacing the bedroom. We arrived at my doctors office a little early and had to wait what seemed like an really long time. Jeremiah was being goofy and I was laughing, loud as usual, as I waited in the little room with no pants and that tiny excuse for a sheet draped over my non-existent lap. My doctor came in and found me light-hearted and cheerful, and I don't think he quite believed me when I said, "So, I'm in labor".  When he checked me, though, he found me to be 5 cm. dilated with bulging waters.  We did a quick ultrasound to verify that Ezra was head down, since he was still not engaged. Everything looked great and we were sent over to the hospital around noon.






The next few hours were a blur. I had tested positive for GBS and therefore, required 4 hours of IV antibiotics. In my previous births, I'd gone from 5 to delivered in less than a hour so the doctor wanted to keep my water intact as long as possible. I was started on the antibiotics immediately. Our photographer arrived. My mom and brother came to visit. I bounced on my ball and laughed.  The pain was mild. My doctor came and introduced me to Dr. Simmons, who was on call and would be delivering me. He immediately asked us if he could pray with us. I was so tickled for that little instance, to feel reassurance of God's presence and how He orchestrates everything, even the things I think I won't be ok with like last minute doctor changes.   Around 4:30, I was checked and was 9 cm. Up until that point, I'd felt pretty minor pain and pressure. They decided to try to puncture my water bag and let it leak out slowly to avoid cord prolapse since Ezra was so high, but since it was bulging so much, it burst. He helped guide the baby's head down to keep the cord from slipping out.

My pain level immediately went from very low to very high. I went to the bathroom and asked Jeremiah to come with me. I all of a sudden felt so afraid of the pain that I knew was coming. Jeremiah prayed with me in the bathroom and I felt better and more prepared for the work ahead.  We went back to the bed. I was laboring backwards in the bed, leaning against the back. Jeremiah and I were kissing through contractions like Ina May suggests, but I was having a hard time breathing. I kept singing a line to this song (based on the 23rd Psalm) that was stuck in my head. "Surely, Surely, goodness and mercy will follow me" each time a contraction hit. Jeremiah was applying counter pressure to my hips through the contractions and it was all getting very intense. I overheard the doctor talking to the nurse and knew that Ezra was going into distress during contractions. I heard the doctor say "We need to get the baby out now" and this irrational anger swelled up inside of me. All I could think of was that I would NOT have a c-section at 10 cm dilated with my fourth and final child. Then came the pressure and the need to push.


I turned back to sitting up in the bed and they installed the birthing bar and started breaking the bed down. I had a few contractions that overwhelmed me and at some point, Jeremiah got in the bed behind me. As soon as I was able to lean up against him, I felt in control again. The nurse was trying hard to get a reading on the heartbeat and I knew that while no one was saying it directly to me, something was wrong, that the heart decels were beyond the normal. There was an urgency to them and I heard the doctor say "She can do this, let's just get him out."



I don't really know how long I pushed. I think 15 minutes or so. This was my first birth with absolutely no pitocin and it was such a different experience. Pushing was a relief and in between contractions, it felt restful.
There's something that happens in that last bit of birth. Maybe it's just so monumental, knowing you're about to meet a person you'll love so much. Or maybe it's being in so much pain and knowing the only way over it is to just get through it. It's just so intense. There aren't really coherent thoughts. Just this instinctual drive to just. get. through. it.



He came out blueish and I looked down and saw him for the first time. His cord was tied in a true knot. Dr. Simmons has been delivering babies for nearly fifty years, and his response confirmed that what they were saying was true. Ezra was a miracle baby. True knots often end in death in utero and in c-sections or complications in many of the remaining babies. The fact that Ezra didn't engage and the fact that my water was left intact kept the knot from tightening up until the very end. They just kept saying it....miracle baby, and as coherent thought returned to me and I saw him turn pink and cry and they called out his apgar score of 9/9, I thought surely, His goodness and mercy has followed me.





During this pregnancy, we decided that Ezra would likely be our last biological child. Because of this, I decided to do a few things I'd always wanted to but never followed through with. I bought newborn cloth diapers. I'd never bothered with them before, as I have pretty big babies, instead opting to use disposables until they grew into the one-size diapers at around 6 weeks. But I've always liked those impossibly wee newborn diapers, and this time I bought a whole mess of them. I decided to get my placenta encapsulated. After the issues we had with Toby's weight gain, I was willing to try anything to help my milk supply. Yes, even swallow placenta. We contacted the ladies at Birth Works and they picked the placenta up a couple hours after birth and returned it, dehydrated and in pill form, by the end of the weekend. This has been the easiest recovery I've had with the least amount of baby blues and my supply has been great. I don't know how much can be credited to the pills, but I feel pretty glad I went through with it.
The thing I wanted most was to hire a birth photographer. I'm a huge fan of the Birth Without Fear blog  and the beautiful birth photography they regularly showcase. Since I first took an interest in natural birth, I've had the idea that I'd love to photograph births and have mine captured by a professional photographer. We ended up hiring Ashley Murphy of Ashley Murphy Images. You know, it never occurred to me that this was a strange desire. I do a lot of things that aren't mainstream. We cloth diaper, we sleep with our babies in our bed, I chose to birth naturally, I ingest placenta. Birth photography seems downright normal if you ask me. The responses I got surprised me though. My favorite was when someone said "Why in the world would you want to show everyone your push face?" I've thought about that question a lot. It even crossed my mind when I was pushing and I knew how awfully animalistic I must look based on the sounds I was making. And it's taken three weeks and a lot of mulling over, but I'm ready to answer.

It's worth it to me to show everyone my push face if it makes natural childbirth seem worthwhile, more normal, beautiful, or important. Because it is all of those things.
There are things our society has deemed outdated, unneccesary. Important things like handwritten letters and homecooked meals around the family table without a tv screen or a phone screen or a computer screen anywhere in sight. These things have been surpassed by technological advances and are just lost in a lot of american homes. Sadly, childbirth has gone the same way.
Today was the last day of school for my big boys and I got my 1st graders school journal back, full of a years worth of entries. There were multiple mentions and drawn pictures of our family at the table, or me at the stove with a big belly and a black skillet in hand and a speech bubble saying "You are a sweet boy".  To Jackson, the extra effort doesn't go unnoticed. It's important.
I've talked to a lot of my friends about their disappointment in their births, in their pushed inductions, in unnecessary cesareans, in episiotomies cut for 7 lb babies. They might not have thought that birth was important before, but after a bad experience, the weight of it hits you.
I believe in natural childbirth, not because I enjoy it (I assure you, I don't), but because I know we are capable of it. Because God made our bodies strong and functional. Because He made mothers fierce. If you have a child and have ever felt the fury of "mama bear", you know the fierceness I speak of. That same ferocity is in you from the start. You are tougher and stronger and more capable than you think. The idea that we need all these medical interventions doesn't take our God-given ability into consideration. That idea says we can't, we need help, we need to be cut or aided with synthetic hormones. But I say we can. I have. I'll show you my push face because I am nothing special. I'm just your average woman, and that's enough. I'll show you my push face so you'll know that I could do it. And if can do it, you can too.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nine Months

It was summer when we planted you. 
In a stolen afternoon or a rare and coveted night.
I don't know which.
I can only be sure that it was the kind of happening 
that comes and goes in married life 
without fanfare.
The kind that you don’t recognize at the time as extraordinary.

But a few weeks later, as the leaves turned
crimson and gold but I did not bleed, I knew.
You were there.
And your brother learned to crawl and still clutched at my breast
and my time for recovery turned back into the first trimester.

I was angry.
At your father who loved you already and who trusted God so easily.
I was angry at God for the load He found me capable of bearing.
I did not feel capable.
So I asked Him to help me be.
And we grew.

And when the ice snapped the branches and Christmas
sat packed in cardboard boxes on the kitchen floor,
I felt you stir for the first time.
And they told me you would be my fourth son.
And then you were real.

Daffodils sprouted in a warm week in February.
Then hung their yellow heads after a late March freeze.
And my excitement waxed and waned like the moon,
a bright shining beacon one night and then swallowed by darkness the next.
I was afraid.
You see, there isn’t much left of a mother after everyone has had their share.
And the piece I had, I wanted to keep,
to put my name on it and place it on a high, safe shelf,
out of reach of tiny, grasping hands.
I was afraid to give up the assurance that there would always be enough
of me.

But the fear is melting now.
The days are longer and the new life of spring
is exploding in and around me.
April has brought warmth at last.
And you are running out of space.
You are healthy.
I feel your bones and their strength pressing from the inside
against my skin.
I feel the rhythmic rumblings of your hiccups deep inside my hips.
I dream of the infinite possibility of you.
Of how you will laugh
and who you will be.
Of the change you will affect on this world as you have in my heart.

I have fallen in love with you. Later than I would have liked.
But hard and deep just the same.
And I realize now that the piece left of me is just the right size
for one more small boy.
And it has had your name
on it all along.
Ezra. It means Help.
and Jude. Which means praise.
I will see you soon.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Repeat after me.

I am a good mom. Say it. Out loud. Unless you aren't a mom, because that would just be a little weird. 

But if you are a mom, if you are trying, if you know the overwhelming weight of mom guilt and the way it seems to crush you hard and mean within hours of birthing your first child, then please, repeat after me. 
I AM A GOOD MOM. 

This afternoon during Toby's nap, I fell asleep where I sat on the couch. My half eaten bowl of lunch grew cold beside me as I slept not only past the time my kids get out of school, but ten minutes past, then fifteen, then twenty. And when I woke, looked bleary eyed at my phone and realized my mistake, I jumped up with a speed and ferocity that pregnant bodies are not fit to handle. 
I made it to the school thirty minutes after the bell rang. and the pulled muscle in my groin (a muscle, I might add, I had no knowledge of having before this afternoon) made every step of the Ultimate-Mom-Walk-Of-Shame that much more excruciating. 

They were in the office, sitting by the window and chatting animatedly with the school secretary. Through my apologizing and choking back a hormonal breakdown, the secretary looked at me and said "It happens to the best of us."

And she smiled. And she waved at the boys as we walked out into the rainy afternoon. 

Here's the thing. She's right. But nobody posts a Facebook status that says "Hey! I forgot my kids at school today because I was snoring on the couch next to three loads of laundry I hadn't put away and a bowl of nutrient packed Kraft Mac and Cheese." Nobody takes a moment as they hobble up to an elementary school with a sprained crotch to snap an instagram photo of their sons looking out the office window making the "I Love You" sign with their hands. 

I can get 67 likes, 67 little instance of affirmation, for sharing some great, noteworthy moment in my life. And man, it feels good.  It feels like 67 people saying to me "You are a good mom. You are doing a good job."
So, of course, I share the good stuff. The funny stuff. I share photos without a mess in the background, I share moments when my kids' cleverness is impressive or my husband does some awesome-husband-who-digs-his-wife thing. I share snapshots from the trip to the zoo and the time we made dough ornaments and of my baby trying avacado for the first time. I let you see clips of our mornings where I am under a pile of sons in the bed and of late nights spent on a pallet on the living room floor. I show you what I am proud, as a wife and a mother, to have given my family.

But I need to tell you. That's not my whole life. 

Sometimes we have cereal for dinner. And sometimes the laundry sits in the washing machine so long it has to be washed again to get the mildew smell off. And I didn't take a single photo on Christmas morning because I just forgot. And speaking of Christmas, our elf on the shelf had multiple mornings of amnesia where he completely forgot to move. And today Jackson and Asher were the last kids to get picked up at school. 

It happens to the best of us. 

Because let me tell you what will happen if you get this wrong.  One afternoon, you will walk into an empty school parking lot with your kids thirty minutes after the bell rang and the realization will hit you that you spent the entire rushed drive to the school worrying more about what the office lady was thinking about you than what your kids were feeling. And that, my friends, is when you really feel like a crappy mom.

I want us to rewire the way we think about the standard of motherhood.
 I want us to understand that every blogger we follow, and every old high school friend who actually seems to DO the things they pin on pinterest, and every fabulous woman that seems to have it all together is actually just a real person who occasionally screws up too. 

We are not good mothers because of the things we do. We are good mothers because we love our children fiercely. Because we want to teach them and lead them onto the right path towards a meaningful life. We are good mothers because we try our hardest.
We are good mothers because we can teach our babies about forgiveness by earnestly asking for it when we fail them.

And we are good women because we can own our imperfections and use them to encourage other women to really be good moms and not just moms that do a lot of good things. 

So put your phone down. Love your children in some way that is just for them and let how much they like it be enough affirmation to want to do it again. 
Let people know when you fail because you might spare them some shame in the future.
Encourage other moms gently and remember your own ineptitudes when you are having a hard time giving grace.
Realize that even when you are late, your children are still happy to see you.
Forgive yourself.
And repeat after me.

I am a good mom. 






Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ring it in.

When I get particularly excited, I've always had this twitch about me. My hands do this odd spasm and something deep inside of me just starts to shake. It's a little weird, I know, but I also like to think that maybe it's endearing. Maybe?
Anyway, I just ordered 21 packets of seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com). And I am finding typing this post slightly difficult do to the fact that I'd really like to just break into a my-first-garden song and dance.

You see, I've never been one much for resolutions. Sure, it's a nice thought that we could start a new year and have that extra something to become an instantly better, thinner, more disciplined version of ourselves. But the truth is, we are no more likely to succeed at that this week than we were last week when we were eating gross amounts of Christmas cookies and Grandma's fudge. But fear not. I am not a total New Year pessimist. Instead of resolutions, I start the new year with a list of things I'd like to be and accomplish in the coming year. Sure, that sounds a lot like a resolution but hear me out.

I don't think these things will happen automatically and that some great change will occur in me as a new calender year begins. If I fall short in my attempts to be the kind of person I want to be and to do the kind of things I want to do, and make no mistake I will fall short, I can wake up the following morning and simply get back at my to-do list. Because when you follow my God you can rest assured that there really are no failed resolutions, only parts of us that are still a work in progress.

The coming 365 days are such an inspiring thing to look forward to! Much like a blank canvas, they could hold any mix of joy and sadness, possibility, trials, and lessons. I think of 1 Thessalonians 16-18. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Start painting your canvas this year with the highest of hopes. Just know, that your resolve to be better and do better is failed and imperfect from the start. And be emboldened to try anyway and try again and again because underneath everything you may paint lies the canvas itself, the foundation that we can have an eternal joy in Jesus no matter the circumstances that may be with us that day.

Here's what I hope to see in 2013.
I will have a baby. Of that I'm sure, but I am hoping for another natural birth and I'm hoping for a successful breastfeeding relationship.
I would like to get back to doing things the more natural way: namely our diets but also getting back to cloth diapers 100% of the time, making cleaning products etc.
Which brings me to the point I started out on during this post, I want to garden! And will be doing so with my lovely seed packets I'm so excited to have ordered. (More on that another day)
I want to take more photos.
I want to be a better blogger.
And most importantly, I want to strive everyday, with the help of God, to be the kind of woman who is described in Proverbs 31. Oh, I'll fail. Comically. But I will continue to try.