Sunday Surf

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaI’m joining Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for Sunday Surf. Share your best reading of the week, and link up your post at either blog!

For more great reading, visit Hobo Mama or Authentic Parenting for the latest Sunday Surf and linky.

Happy Surfing!

Happy Father’s Day! We’re much better around here (Peanut and her dad are still having hacking coughs, but not as often anymore and we’re no longer contagious), but now I get to catch up on my homework. I’m hoping to give you all some real posts in the next week. Until then, here’s some stuff I’ve been reading.

  • Crunch Mama Childcare – This is Peanut’s new preschool. I was getting stressed about doing preschool at home and my friend decided to open a preschool/daycare. She only got to go for two days before we had to take time off for her whooping cough, but she’s excited to go back tomorrow now that she’s no longer contagious. If you’re in the area and looking for a preschool, check it out! Lexi is great. 
  • EC Simplified’s June Giveaways – Andrea at EC Simplified was lovely enough to give me a copy of her book to review (look for that in the future) and I’m loving it so far! If you’re interested in getting a copy of the book, you can enter her giveaway that ends tonight. I’m tempted to enter just for the chat session and cute tiny undies! Giveaway ends tonight, so hurry! 
  • Small Notebook’s Protect Your Time From Too Many Good Ideas – It’s easy to surf online and find a billion ideas for things that you could do with your time. There are some wonderfully creative people out there that have great ideas, but don’t waste your time wishing you could do all of them. Rather than sitting on the computer all day, go do something. Nothing against surfing the web in general, just don’t let it eat up all your time. 
  • Frugal Babe’s Our Frugal and Nutritional Breakfast – This looks delicious! We eat way too much cereal (Peanut adores it) and I feel guilty about it every time. Even the “low sugar” cereal options are horribly processed and full of yuck. This homemade breakfast is similar enough to cereal that I think Peanut will like it, but so much better for her. I’m going to try it as soon as I go to the store and get some guinoa. 
  • The Minimalist Mom’s My 25 Piece Summer Wardrobe – I also have a pretty small wardrobe, but a lot that I need to replace. I’m slowly figuring out what works for my body and getting rid of the rest (sadly, that includes my Shirt Woot collection because tight-fitting just doesn’t work on my postpartum body). Why have a closet full of things I don’t wear or don’t look good in? I’d rather have less things that are worth wearing. 
Lastly, in celebration of Father’s Day, here’s some cute pictures of my girls with their daddy. Happy surfing! 

He was trying to sleep on the concrete outside. That man can sleep anywhere!

Picture of Twig sleeping on her daddy in our Music Together class (featured in Natural Parents Network’s Wordless Wednesday!)

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Sunday Surf

Sunday Surf with Authentic Parenting and Hobo MamaI’m joining Authentic Parenting and Hobo Mama for Sunday Surf. Share your best reading of the week, and link up your post at either blog!

For more great reading, visit Hobo Mama or Authentic Parenting for the latest Sunday Surf and linky.

Happy Surfing!

We’re down for the count around here. Other than the fact that I read 79 pages of text on evolution over 5 days (procrastination is not your friend!), we seem to have come down with whooping cough (or something similar). That means that all of my day is spent comforting poor Peanut who is not only coughing her brains out, but also vomiting for the first time. Regardless, keep your expectations low in terms of content for at least the next couple of weeks. Until then, I’m still reading! I wanted to share some of the most interesting/helpful things I’ve read over the last few weeks. Hopefully this gives you all some interesting things to read too!

  • Rebirth: The Things We Don’t Say from The Sage Mama. “A new self did emerge. This is what women do not tell each other. I want to say it here: You will die when you become a mother and it will hurt and it will be confusing and you will be someone you never imagined and then, you will be reborn.” Reading this has made me cry multiple times. So beautiful. So true.
  • Sh*t Crunchy Dads Say from Mama Natural. On a funnier note, this one made me laugh out loud. My husband even thought it was funny. Though they forgot to put “Look honey! There’s a crotch dangler!”
  • 10 Ways to Simplify Without Becoming a Minimalist from Small Notebook. I used the clean up to a song thing and it actually worked! So much so that Peanut asked me to do it in two more rooms! Might have had something to do with the fact that the songs we were playing were from the Tangled soundtrack. 😛
  • Club Unicorn: In which I come out of the closet on our ten year anniversary from The Weed. This isn’t a blog that I regularly read, but a friend posted it on Facebook and I found it to be fascinating. I won’t even begin to pretend I understand their situation, but I do think that sexuality is fluid. It’s not straight or gay or lesbian or bisexual. There’s a whole realm of in between. I’m not personally LDS, but I live in a state with a very high population of mormons, so I find that aspect of it interesting as well. It’s all about what works for you.
  • It Happened. Even If You Didn’t See It On Facebook. from The Minimalist Mom. While I do keep my Facebook account, I am making an effort to not share every little detail of our lives with the whole world. It’s actually refreshing. Facebook can be a wonderful place to keep in touch with those who we don’t get to see often, but it bothers me when people start using Facebook in place of face-to-face interaction. Family members that haven’t met Twig in person telling other people how cute she is, friends who won’t text me back “liking” my statuses. I just get tired of it. So, I choose to “keep some of the beauty in [my] life all to [myself]”.
  • Homemade Cough and Cold Syrup from Modern Alternative Mama. This one is particularly useful to us as Peanut is coughing so hard that she throws up. Honestly, she’s just throwing up too, but still. Awful coughs are awful. I’m making some of this as I type (Don’t worry. I’m not that talented. It’s just simmering.) and I’m excited to use it. Also, if you haven’t read her vaccine series, you should. It starts here. It’s a wonderful consolidation of information and she’s very thorough on her sourcing. No fact or number goes without a source. Very, very useful.

Happy Sunday and happy reading! Hopefully we’ll soon return to the world of the well and I’ll find time to post more frequently again!

Rachel’s Birth Story

Today’s guest post is from Rachel at The Minimalist Mom. As you likely know from my past posts, Rachel has helped to inspire me to minimalize my possessions and life. Today I am happy to share her wonderful (and minimalist) home birth story.

Rachel and Henry

Rachel’s Birth Story: An Unlikely Home Birther

If you had asked friends of mine, or family, if they ever thought I would have a home birth, the resounding answer would have been no. Before getting pregnant I was a fairly mainstream follower of medicalized health care. I had been an athlete for many years and managed overuse injuries with a slew of medications and some half hearted physiotherapy. Once I retired from sport I had surgery on my elbow and gladly filled, and consumed, the Tyelenol 3 with Codeine pills prescribed for pain.

Before getting pregnant I watched the documentary The Business of Being Born. It was fascinating. And home birth looked quite interesting but I still didn’t think it was for me.

When I got pregnant I chose to visit a midwife, an option available to women in British Columbia, Canada under federally funded health care services. I chose to see midwives over an OBGYN simply because I heard the appointments were longer and more relaxed. Later I also learned that they did home visits for the first two weeks post-partum. Bonus!

I didn’t inititally intend to have a home birth. I did hire a Doula for labor assistance but I registered at a large hospital thinking that that was where my son would be born.

Like most women pregnant for the first time I read about pregnancy and labor voraciously. I read stories in books and online. I started to notice a common theme to the hospital stories, they were full of markers of dilation, shift changes for nurses and a lot of drugs. I knew I wanted to avoid getting an epidural because the thought of a needle going into my back made me nauseous.

I also read some painful descriptions of riding in a car while in labor. My husband and I lived in an urban centre at the time and we walked every where. Getting in a car while in labor sounded terrible. I started to read more home birth stories because most of the hospital stories were scaring me.

Another factor that began to deeply change my thoughts on laboring in a hospital was that we were already spending a lot of time in hospitals. Both of my in-laws had been very ill we had spent a lot of time driving to hospitals and visiting. The thought of going to a hospital to give birth started to seem very wrong. I associated hospitals with serious illness and cancer, not bringing new life into this world.

After a lot of soul searching I brought up having a home brith with my husband. His first reaction was, won’t it be loud and messy? I told him I didn’t think so. He also asked me why I wouldn’t want to be in a hospital setting seeing as I had never had a baby before and didn’t know how hard labor would be. As a former athlete I knew that I had good focus and pain management techniques. Also, my instincts were telling me I would be much more comfortable laboring at home.

After some discussions with my Doula and midwife we decided to plan for a home birth. With our healthcare system you can transfer to a hospital at any time so there are no financial repercussions (or pressures) if you end up having a hospital birth.

We told almost no one about our plan. My sister knew and I had told a few work colleagues. I knew most of my family would have negative opinions about my choice so I decided to keep it to myself.

At 38 weeks and 2 days my water broke. Unexpected for sure. I had been reminded time and time again that first baby’s come late. I was still working at the time and 48 hours before my water broke I had been in another country (Seattle – I am from Vancouver, Canada).

In typical low-key Westcoast fashion I went into work to finish a few things. My coworkers were slightly horrified that I had come in after my water had broken. But I wasn’t having any contractions and knew it might be a while. Also, I wanted to officially put my out-of-office reply on – no more work for me!

We did end up going to the hospital because I had tested positive for Strep B. I got a bag of antibiotics, a few more to take home so the midwives could come and adminster them later, and a small vial of a tincturn to help me go into labour.

On the way home we picked up our home birth kit, got labor snacks and had lunch at Whole Foods and I took my first labor cocktail (tincturn, castor oil, juice, peanut butter). I mixed the cocktail right in the Whole Foods cafe and downed it.

The home birth went off mostly without a hitch. My midwives visited me twice to administer IV antibiotics and see how I was progressing. I labored in the dark in my home doing a lot of swaying and listening to an awesome playlist of Ray La Montagne and the Weepies. My doula arrived and put me through a mini bootcamp of lunges with one leg on a stool. My husband rubbed my back and was generally amazing.

Because of my GBS+ diagnosis and ruptured membranes my care providers had wanted to avoid internal exams to reduce risk of infection. My midwives arrived at my home at 5am to adminster another does of antibiotics and they gave me my first internal exam. 10 cms. I literally pumped my fist in excitment. After my IV I went to labor on the toilet and started to have pushing contractions. My team got me up onto my bed and a few minutes later my son arrived.

It was amazing.

While I was not the most likely person to choose home birth I am now a big proponent of it for women that want the option and are good candidates. It can be safe and it can be a very healthy experience for mother and child.

In the last two years I’ve made some remarkable changes to my lifestyle, reducing possessions and debt and gaining more time and space in my life. It’s been wonderful. When I think about what gave me the confidence to make these changes I think about making that decision to have a home birth. It wasn’t easy to do something I knew family and friends wouldn’t agree with. It wasn’t easy but it was so empowering. Making such a big decision, and having it be successful, has given me more confidence in my body and my instincts.

I know home birth isn’t for every woman not only because medical complications but because many women will feel more comfortable in a hospital than their home. But I wish the option, the choice, was there for every woman.

Rachel Jonat writes about living a rich life with less stuff at The Minimalist Mom.

21-Day Challenge – Don’t Spend Money?

First off, happy 4th of July for those in the United States!

As you all know, I loves me some Minimalist Mom. While my minimalist journey has been side-lined by pregnancy and life, I still try to keep the same mindset. It’s hard though and I will admit that I’ve slipped up more times than I remember, but I’m trying. Honestly, I think I’m going to start going again with getting rid of stuff, but that’s another post for another day.

While reading through The Minimalist Mom’s archive, I found this post talking about how to get started with minimalism. A great post to read in general, but also a great link within this post to The Unblogger’s 21-Day Challenge series. The idea is that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I immediately started thinking about all of the things that I would love to change about my life. Her posts about drinking only water interest me. I love the idea of watching less TV (or having my toddler watch less TV). Maybe something in regards to cleaning my house. So many options!

Then I realized what I really need to change-my financial habits. I am Absolutely. Awful. With. Money. I know everyone says it, but I am so beyond that person. I think of money in my pocket as something to spend. I like to shop to make myself feel better. I need to minimalize my toddler’s play area again purely because of my own spending. I see something I want and I have to have it. I actually cried yesterday over a debacle regarding buying Peanut a princess dress yesterday. Cried. Yeah, I’m pregnant, but I cried over a princess dress and I am over 10 years old. I think that says I have a problem.

Beyond being awful with money, I am the one in the family that is awful with money. Yes, my husband makes the occasional purchase that I question, but I’m certain that our finances would be in order if I had no control of the money. And oh my, they are not in order.

So here is my 21-Day Challenge (inspired while reading this blog post by The Minimalist Mom): 21 Days of purchasing only consumables.

I definitely need help in the consumable department too, but this is where we’ll start. I can’t just say “I won’t buy anything I don’t need” because I talk myself into needing everything. I can’t say spend X amount a day because I always end up spending more and feeling sad for myself, then spending even more. I think I need to have a full-on spending cleanse and since I still need food for our table and gas in my car, consumables are still in.

I’m sure that you all will quickly get annoyed with my posts on this. I’m going to be keeping track of myself strictly. I know this is supposed to be a blog about parenting, but I am a part of parenting. I need to fix my own habits if I want to teach good ones to my children. I need to stop my money problems in their tracks so I don’t pass them onto my children. I need to parent myself before I can parent them.

So here I go. Starting today, no non-consumables (with bills obviously not counting towards this). I will not bring anything new into my house for 3 weeks. Sounds relatively easy, but believe me, this is going to get rough.

Minimalism and Organization

I am slowly, but surely, learning that I am not a person who lives well in chaos.

Somehow regardless of that fact, I’ve grown up a very cluttery person. I’ve never been one to keep trash or dirt around, but I’ve just always had so many things that my areas would be cluttered with stuff. I emphasize those words because that’s what I really valued for such a long time. I’ve grown up using “retail therapy”, buying things I don’t need, and spending more than my means. I’ve known for a long time that this is a problem because—having such a frugal husband—it has caused arguments and unhappiness in my marriage. Little did I know, it has also been causing unhappiness in my life.

Not to say my husband isn’t part of my life. Of course, he is a very important part of my life. What I’m saying here is that I’m not a happy person when surrounded by things. There are certain items that are necessary for living or that make life better, but—at least in my world—there are many things that are just unnecessary and adding stress to my life.

I was turned onto the idea of minimalism when reading this post by Hobo Mama. If Hobo Mama introduced me to the idea, The Minimalist Mom gave me the road map to get there. There’s more to minimalism than the lack of stuff, but it’s a mind-set. It’s buying less. It’s reducing your carbon footprint. It’s having a clear mind. It’s increasing your self sustainability. For me, it’s being at peace.

I’ve been reading through The Minimalist Mom’s blog (which I very much recommend doing) to get ideas and inspiration, but a lot of it is just finding out what I need to work on. I’ve already gone through my clothes, my shoes, my bags, Peanut’s old clothes, Peanut’s toys, my {intensely large} pen and pencil collection, my books, and I’m sure there’s more I can’t remember at the moment.

I figured it would be hard. I figured I would start regretting losing my possessions as soon as I put them into plastic bags. Surprisingly, it’s been incredibly gratifying and {gasp} has made me happier.

When I say that I used to rely on retail therapy, I am far from using that as a cliche. In our most recent money argument, my husband went as far as to say I’m a “shopoholic.” Really, he hit it right on the money. I’ve used buying things as my “hobby” for as long as I can remember. I thought that I just enjoyed buying things and had problems saving. Hindsight, of course, is 20-20, and now I realize that it’s how I spent money was the problem. I would buy something new and make myself feel better short-term, but almost instantaneously I would start to feel bad again, so I would covet something else. I became so reliant upon the cyclic spending that I would actually start to feel sad if I didn’t spend money.

I can’t say that I won’t ever fall back into my habits, but I feel like I have an amazing new view on my financial habits. I realize that so much of my self worth is tied into my possessions and that’s not healthy. So much of my time is spent buying things, wanting things, managing my life around things and so little is spent on just making lasting memories. I took my dog to the park today. I played with my daughter on the floor. I wrote two blog posts. I made lunch and dinner. I lived.

So even as I take trash bags full of things to sell at consignment stores or give to good will or throw in the recycling/trash, I feel happier. I feel a burden lifted from my shoulders because I don’t feel like all the stuff surrounding me is going to eat me up. I feel less stressed about going to this store and that store and cleaning my house. You know what? My house is actually clean. It’s an incredibly easy thing to do as you decrease the amount of stuff to clean and/or work around when cleaning.

It’s easy to find things to let go of too. Do I need to keep purses that I will never be able to use because being a mom requires you carry too many things? Does my daughter really need to keep the toys that are pull-your-hair-out annoying or broken or she never touches? We have yet to go through any of my husband’s things because he’s not comfortable with that, but that’s just it—don’t do more than you’re comfortable with.

Some minimalists don’t have a TV. Some live in studio apartments as a family of 3 or 4. Some live with a total of 100 things. These are things that won’t work for me. Getting rid of books that I will never read again, that I’m okay with. That, I’m actually happy with.