Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm not enough, but I'm all I can offer.

Today I write from an interesting place.  Not bubbly and overly-optimistic (which I certainly prefer to be!), but rather self-critical and uncertain.  I've come to that uncomfortable place that I suppose all of us come to be from time to time, where we realize that all of our best efforts just aren't enough.  It's not pretty, it's not encouraging and it sure does take a while to shake--to find your footing, and to be happy with where you're headed and the way you're going to get there.

Much to my dismay, I'm one of those people who puts a lot of weight into what other people think about me.  I spend a lot of time (and energy) thinking and worrying about how people size me up.  Particularly, do they think I'm smart enough?  Do they think I'm foolish?  Do they think I'm gullible and naive?  When they speak of me to other people, what do they say?  I wish I could release myself from this obsession--attaching my value to someone else's limited understanding of me.  It's a dangerous place to be.  I hate to be misunderstood.  I wish I had the opportunity to thoughtfully explain myself--to justify my decisions and to show how I came to them.  The chance rarely comes.  And when it does, as it turns out, I'm a horrible confrontationalist.  (I made that word up.  Seems legit.)

Giving up facebook recently HAS helped immensely with this problem I have...because the people who REALLY know me haven't come to figure it out through facebook.  They know me because they've seen me in action.  They've seen my usual happy and optimistic and passionate side, and they've seen my crazy seasonal mood swings, too.  They're not pretty.  About four times a year, I panic.  I come to the realization that I'm not enough, I can't handle even the smallest tasks, I should probably just give up.  I spend about a good week and up to a month in that pit of despair.  Then, as quickly as the black cloud has descended upon me, I again find the strength, the motivation and the excitement to face what's ahead.

But here's the nitty-gritty of it all.  I'm NOT enough.  I'm impulsive.  I'm discontented.  I'm a hypocrite.  I'm inconsistent.  My house is messy.  I don't do homeschool five days a week.  I'd rather redecorate my bedroom than fold the laundry.  All of these things are true.  And lots more, some worse than these.

This is who I am.  And though I really strive not to name my faults and leave them be, some are probably here to stay.  The people  who (really) love me know that already.

I guess this isn't a very well thought out blog post and I don't have a grande finale planned that sums all this "I'm not enough" junk up.

All I can offer the people I love is who I am (though I'm not enough) and pray that my faults and my shortcomings can be improved upon and that the person I can offer you, IS SOMEHOW enough.

That's all.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Etched glass monogram mason jar tutorial!

Like so many nights, when everybody's fast asleep, I lay in bed, trying to convince my brain, "It's time to sleep now.  People NEED sleep.  YOU need sleep.  Stop thinking about painting, decorating, opening up a tea shop, a bed and breakfast and STOP moving your legs for Pete sake!"  (Restless leg syndrome)

I'm what I like to consider an "idea person."  I have approximately 3.43 MILLION ideas each and every waking day.  Some of them are killer ideas that would probably make me very rich, some of them?  MMMM...notsomuch.  The thing is, though, they never stop coming.  I'm like an endless fountain of ideas.

And so today, my friends, I have the pleasure of showing you one of the ones that stuck--it was even approved by my idea filter, "Luke."  Instead of his usual "mmmmhmmm" followed by silence, I got a "ya, dath coo," followed by silence.  THAT my friend, is a winner!

So without further adieu, here we go!

First, here are the things you'll need:
1. Armour etch glass etching cream (Amazon.com was the cheapest place I found it.  I even got free shipping!)
2.  Soft, small paint brush
4.  A clean glass mason jar
5.  Did you notice I skipped #3?
You just looked.
6.  Monogram decal (https://www.etsy.com/listing/110135328/set-of-12-monogram-decals-for-quart)
7.  Water.

Alright!  To start out, you're going to take your clean glass jar and set it on its side.

If you're using a vinyl decal, you're going to flip the whole decal over so that the gridded side is facing up.
Carefully peel the backing paper (gridded paper) away from the clear transfer tape, making sure that your decal is adhering to the transfer tape.  Like this:

Discard the backing paper.  You should be left with your decal stuck to your transfer tape.

Next, ever so carefully hover your decal over the surface of the side of your glass jar, being careful not to let them come into contact with each other.  Yet.

Eye-ball the spot you'd like to put your decal, and gently lay the decal onto the glass in that exact spot.  The only tricky part of this whole little project is that once your decal has come into contact with the glass, that's IT.  There really isn't any going back or repositioning.  You're committed.  Now of course, if you happen to get the decal on REALLY crooked, you can take the whole thing off and start with a new decal.  That's ok.

Your jar should now look like this:

You're going to want to take a credit card or a license and gently but firmly rub the surface of your transfer tape.  We want the decal to be stuck to the glass and not the transfer tape now.  We'll be removing the transfer tape.

So, that's what we're going to do next.  Carefully begin to peel back the transfer tape, making sure that you're not taking any of your decal with it. You're going to have to really watch to make sure!

Here's what you DON'T want to happen:

If you notice that the decal IS peeling back, just back up a little bit by laying the transfer tape back down in that spot and rubbing it firmly onto the glass.  A couple passes should get it to behave.

See how the decal is sticking to the glass now?  That's gooood. 

Ok!  So now that our decal is applied, the hard part is over!!

You're going to get out your soft paintbrush and etching cream.  Dip your paintbrush into the etching cream and start to apply it to your glass within the bounds of the decal.  Clean up any oopsies right away with a paper towel or it'll be a permanent oopsie etched into your otherwise fabulously beautiful mason jar.

Coverage should be pretty thick, like this:

Now, we wait.  On my pilot jar, I waited 10 minutes.  Based on my results, that's what I'd recommend.

I also recommend using this time to visit pinterest if you haven't already.  Seriously.  What better way to waste ten minutes?

Alrighty!  Now that's it has been ten minutes, we're going to move to the sink.  Take your sprayer hose and blast the etching cream off with some warm water.  (I should probably recommend using caution so you don't spray any etching cream on yourself, but you're smart.  I'm sure you already thought of that.)  Some of your decal might start to come off.  That's ok!  We don't need it anymore!

When you're done rinsing the cream off, you can start to peel the rest of the decal off.  It should come off pretty easily since you used warm water.

And so NOW, my friends, dry off you jar and admire your work!  It looks BOOTYFUL, doesn't it??

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Value of choice

I've had so many questions about our homebirth since Evie was born, that I want to take some time to thoughtfully write them out, along with some clarifications of my birth story, which you can read here.  If you have any more for me, I would love to answer as best I can.  Just leave a comment below.

And a little disclaimer:  this is my account and opinion.  I'm not judging or dictating how anyone else should  or shouldn't do this, ok?  Ok!  :o)

1.  Is it safe to have your baby at home?

This is probably the question I get asked the most, or it's the question I believe is on most peoples' minds.  The answer is, yes.  But it's not just an automatic yes.  There's a lot that goes into preparing for a homebirth.  Homebirths are safest for women with low risk pregnancies.  Working with a skilled, competent midwife is essential, in my opinion.  She takes great care in assessing our unique needs, and works with us to make sure that a low risk pregnancy stays that way.  Her number one priority is the safety of both mother and baby.  Period.

Midwives are highly skilled, professional, and well prepared.  They have a passion for what they're doing.  As my midwife said, "Midwifery is a calling."

Their intuition is second to none.  They are so in tune with the mother and the baby that most potential "hiccups" are avoided completely.

Midwives come equipped with everything but the kitchen sink. This includes but is not nearly limited to oxygen and anti-hemorrhage injections.  Truly, there are very few things that would catch them by surprise.

They value a mother's choice.  Though they will advise and guide a mother using her knowledge and skill, there is absolutely no bullying or forcing.

And if it's necessary to transfer to a hospital, it's done.  Like I said, her priority is mother and baby.  Period.

2.  What are the benefits of having a home birth?

Personal care.  My amazing midwife came to my house for my appointments.  She did all my prenatal exams from my living room couch, where we talked, joked, and really got to know one another.  I think the majority of my visits were about an hour and a half long.  Gone were the days of waiting half an hour for a doctor to march in the room only for him to seem anxious to get to his next patient. 

Support.  I knew that after having two epidural-assisted births, that I was going to need a great deal of positive energy to get through a natural labor.  She was a huge, essential part of that.  Her knowledge and experience put all my fears aside.  I knew I was in very good hands.

Being in YOUR space.  I know many people who become very anxious when they're in the hospital.  When you combine that with birth, you often see women tense up and have a difficult time "progressing" in labor.
You use your own bathroom, cuddle under your own blankets, and you get to walk around like you own the place.  Haha!

Your husband can be involved.  Now, I'm not saying that dads can't be involved in the hospital, but I found that in my experience being at home allowed my husband to feel comfortable in his role as "protector," as well as feeling comfortable really comforting me.  If you all know Luke, you know that he can be somewhat reserved (though that isn't the perfect word to describe him).  He was RIGHT there with me, wrapped around me, supporting me as I brought our baby into the world.  Amazing.  That is bonding at it's finest.

Financial.  The cost of having a homebirth is often well below the cost of having a baby in the hospital.  And  in my opinion, the care you receive is worlds better.

3.  How do you get through the pain of natural labor?

Support, love, instinct, breathing, midwives, husband, and prayer.  You just do.  I wasn't sure I could.  I did.

Ok, now I want to address some things you've read in my birth story.  This is VERY important.  Please, if you've read this far, don't stop now.

1.  My midwife explicitly told me that I could call her at ANY time.  She wouldn't be annoyed in the least if I wanted her to come see me out of our regularly scheduled appointments, or as labor began, if I called her in too soon.  It's really important to call when you think you need her or want her to ease your mind about anything.  She came on a number of occasions to check on me because I had the stomach flu four times in the last two months of pregnancy.  I'm so grateful for that.

2.  Cotton root tincture.  I should have included this in my birth story:  DO NOT try to take this stuff on your own.  Cotton root tincture is safe when given under the care and company of your midwife.  She was there while I was taking a "prescribed" dose.  I wasn't literally "throwing it back." 

3.  My midwife allowed me to make my own choices throughout my pregnancy and my labor.  She advised me to take my prenatal vitamins, and when I remembered to, I did. ;o)  There's a part in my story where I said that I "begged her" to let me get back in the birthing tub.  Not literally.  I'm talking in the same sense that the tub "begged" me to get in it.  You know what I mean?

4.  This one's kind of funny when I read it now, but the part where I said that my midwife provided a moment of calm after a few minutes of yelling?  Just to clarify, that was ME yelling, not her!  Lol.

5.  And lastly, as it's been pointed out to me, the ONLY reason I fainted in the bathroom was because I refused to use a bedpan.  I don't remember that part very well, but that sure sounds like me!  Free will can sure bite you in the butt, can't it?  ;o)

I found that the first few weeks after having Evie, when people asked me how things went, I had a hard time explaining it.  And it is hard to articulate.  And sometimes I can't do it accurately.  There are things that I remember a certain way, that aren't entirely how they happened.

But here's how I feel:
I feel like I can do anything.  I feel wildly blessed to have the people in my life who supported me.  I feel SO fortunate that I met and hired our midwife, who helped make all of my hopes into a reality.  I feel stronger and more fierce as a mother, and feel brave enough to be unapologetic in doing what I know is right. I feel privileged to have had choice. 

So, would you do it again?


Thursday, April 5, 2012


Birth.  It's one of the hardest, most wonderful things that we as mothers get to endure.  Whether it's an all natural labor with candles lit and a room full of family, a peaceful, pain-free birth thanks to an epidural, a scheduled caesarian, or any variation of the sort, there is something undeniably profound about a mother bringing a life into this world.  This is my story.

Though there is a LOT of back-story leading up to the unconventional way  we as a couple decided to bring Evie into this world, I think I'll spare you most of it.  I can get carried away and share more than what's necessary.  :o)

I attempted to have an unmedicated birth with my second daughter, Ada, after dabbling in some research on the benefits of going "au natural."  I saw a midwife at our local clinic, who I hoped would help facilitate my wishes, or at the very least, not look at me like I'm crazy.  When the day came (seven days "late"), I found myself overwhelmed by the pain of labor.  I arrived at the hospital ready to drag the anesthetist by the scrubs to my room, if I had to.  The odds of me getting through without that epidural only diminished, as I found out that my midwife wasn't available, and only wanted to be called in if things were "real."  I'm not sure exactly what that meant ("real?" "no, I'm faking it."  I digress), but I buckled immediately afterward.  I patiently waited (not) for the anesthesiologist to numb be up.  Unfortunately, as he administered the epidural, I felt terrifying waves of shock and electricity through the right side of my body.  I started to panic.  I was bent over my belly, hyperventilating, with my back exposed to a giant needle.  Not a good combo.  I passed out.  Then, it worked.  The pain slowly started to fade away, and I was SO relieved.  Several hours later, after a few naps, my midwife showed up, checked me for dilation, and told me I could push.  I woke up Luke, and within a few minutes Ada Claire was born.  What a joyous day it is--the day you hold your baby in your arms for the first time.

Fast forward a couple years, when Luke and I decided to have another baby.  We tried for about nine months and were able to get pregnant.  I was SO excited!  I was also astonished at how good I felt, too!  I thought,
"This must be a boy.  This pregnancy is a breeze!"  Then, just like that, I miscarried.  Again.  For the third time.  I was so, so lost.  So broken.  So...sad.  Every time I saw a baby or a pregnant woman, or, really just about anything, inside, I wept.  It wasn't an easy decision to try again; to risk losing another child.  But I began to feel that the only way my heart would heal, was to hold another baby in my arms.

Three months after my third miscarriage, I became pregnant again.  I was scared.  The WHOLE time I was pregnant.  I was also very, very ill.  There were days when I would eat probably about 1,000 calories in a two day stretch.  Sometimes, less.  I didn't trust my body.  I didn't trust that I would hold my baby in nine months.  I didn't trust.

I began to look for a care provider in my area.  Not a midwife within 25 miles.  Finally, I found a clinic down in Golden Valley, who had a contract with the hospital in Maple Grove.  Maple Grove was the only hospital anywhere near me to allow a midwife attended waterbirth.  So my options were limited.  I got my care through about the 15th week of pregnancy there, but didn't feel any sort of connection with the midwives.  Perhaps it was premature, but I began to search for other options.

I kept feeling this nagging desire to give birth at home.  But no.  That's crazy!  I couldn't possibly give birth at home.  Could I?

I'm very, very fortunate to have an amazing, strong, and courageous friend who brought all three of her children into this world at home.  She showed me that it it's not impossible, it's not crazy, and it's not wrong to have your baby at home.  She did that all without uttering a word of persuasion.  She lived that truth.  She inspires me every day.

So, leaning into this very tentative desire, I began to call homebirth midwives.  BAM.  Just like that, I found the one.  After interviewing her, I felt so confident.  My husband felt confident.  We loved her!  And with her help, we would have the privilege to bring our baby into OUR world.  Our home.

Fast forward again, through months of sickness, excitement, constant research, Evie's "due date" came and went.  Then another week.  Then another half a week.  We were all anxious to meet her.  And because homebirths are safest for low-risk pregnancies, as time went by past our due date, our options started to narrow.  After trying every natural labor inducing method known to man, we were lucky enough to fall upon one that worked.  It's called cotton root tincture.  We committed to it, and it worked.

Saturday night, the 25th of February, I began laboring.  It was mild to begin with, then gradually got more intense.  (Boy do I have a better appreciation for that word NOW!)  We called the midwife back to our house, and as I suspect now, she was probably giggling inside, thinking "she called me WAY too soon, poor dear."  But because this was my first natural labor, and my third baby, I had no idea of knowing when to call.  So I did what she told me, which was to call her whenever I thought I needed her.  She gladly came right away.

Things continued to progress, and I began to cling to Luke to get me through contractions.  He was my rock.  He didn't say probably two words the entire time I was in labor, but I felt his encouragement, his confidence in me, and his love.

Remember that friend of mine?  She was there, too.  Though I didn't know what her role would be in this whole experience, I wanted to have her there.  She quickly found her purpose, and she did everything with such grace.  She cooked for us, she cleaned, she did so many "behind the scenes" kinds of things, that I still don't probably know all of them.  I told you I was lucky.

After laboring for about seven hours, throwing back cotton root tincture and apple juice the whole time, and a quick stint in the birthing tub, I begged our midwife to let me get back in the tub.  She was hesistant, only because she didn't want my labor to stall. Neither of us knew how quickly my labor was going to turn the corner.  It was time.

I wasn't in that tub 3 minutes before my body completely took over.  My body seamlessly did what it knew to do.  I began pushing, involuntarily, even before I felt the urge to push.  At the time, it was just Luke and I together.  My midwife was downstairs for a few moments, recording my blood pressure.  I tried to call to my her to tell her that I was starting to push.  I couldn't find a break between bearing down to call to her.   Luke finally figured out what was going on and yelled down for her.  Though there were a lot of things happening around me in preparation for the baby, I wasn't aware of many.  I was in my own little world.  My profound, intense little world.

Alright, here's where it gets graphic.  If you're not prepared to read this part of birth, please feel free to skip ahead.  :o)

Luke got in the water with me.  He wrapped his body around mine and held me from behind.
I was overcome with pain, intensity, and sensation.  I could feel EVERYTHING.  And I reached that point that so many women who have chosen this kind of birth can relate to.  That point where you want to crawl out of your skin.  I exclaimed, "I don't want to.  I'm not going to do this.  No.  I won't."  My team encouraged me.  "You ARE doing this.  Your baby is going to be here so soon.  You're going to hold your baby soon."  As I pushed, the vivid sensation was so shocking.  I felt Evie descending.  "My butt hurts!  Oh my God, my butt hurts!  It's going to be totally ruined!"  Apparently, this was funny to everyone but me.  Haha.  Then my water broke.  A mild feeling of a relief followed by the rush of my baby's head crowning out of my body.  Without a single conscious effort, Evie was born like a freight train.  My wonderful midwife provided me with a moment of quiet after an intense few minutes of yelling.  She said "Cati, your baby is here, lift her out of the water."  Or something like that.  I needed that.  I needed something to wake me from my intense little world. 

I reached down and brought my little baby girl up onto my chest, with Luke there behind me.  I could feel the gentle sobs coming from his chest.  I think everyone was crying.  All I saw was Evie.  This little girl with a head full of brown hair.  She let out a lusty cry and continued on that way for minutes.  I held her there, crying too.

The next part is sort of a blur.  My midwife skillfully advised me to get out of the birthing tub and into the bed, watching me carefully because of my naturally low blood pressure.  We moved to my girls' bedroom, where the midwives examined the baby, close to me.  I was starting to feel fuzzy even then, come to think of it.  I felt very weak.  Delivering the placenta was tiring.  I wanted to lay down and stay that way.

Then, I was asked to use the bathroom.  I wasn't looking forward to it, but I knew it was necessary to urinate after birth.  Apparently, I was urged to use a bedpan.  I refused.  So, Luke escorted me to the bathroom, bearing some of my weight for me. When I got to the bathroom and sat down on the toilet, I started to feel really, really not right.  My ears started to ring and I felt sick to my stomach.  I began to pass out.  Luke yelled for the midwife and she ran in there and instructed Luke to hold my feet up above my head.  The last thing I remember was her resting my head back on the back of the toilet.

Then I woke up.  I had been dreaming so peacefully and was actually kind of annoyed at whomever was waving those nasty smelling salts in front of my face.  Haha.  I was on the floor of my little bathroom, surrounded by people looking down at me, with an oxygen mask on my face.  The cool air and the cool floor felt really good.  Then I saw Luke's face.  He was still holding my feet up, petting them with a somewhat terrified look on his face.  Something like, "Don't EVER do that to me again."

I lay there for a while, not wanting to get up.  Eventually, I felt good enough to move back to the bed.  I was SO thankful that the baby was with my friend downstairs.  I was comforted that Evie was there, snuggling with her as I worked through my little ordeal.

Then, seamlessly, my team cleaned up everything, assured I was in good shape, and quietly left.  It was just me and Luke, and our new baby girl.

It has taken a few weeks to process all of this.  It was a whirlwind.  It was wonderful, painful, intense, joyous, amazing, and profound.

Though the births of my first two girls was no less profound, I do feel more strongly about this birth.  I feel stronger, more confident in myself, and I feel a sense of victory.  And, I trust.

You may call me a rebel.

I call myself  "mother."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Boy, have I been neglectful!  I haven't written anything in my blog since, well, April.  I thought, since I have something on my mind, and I'm playing security guard while Ada attempts to nap assistance-free, I'll whip something up!
SO, my topic of choice is something that's really been weighing on me for the last couple years.  It's Christmas, and more specifically, gift giving.  Let me start by saying that I realize this might not be a popular topic with some, and some more might find it slightly offensive.  Nonetheless, I feel some things should be said and should be addressed.  I hope not to rub anyone the wrong way!

I remember Christmastime of my childhood very fondly.  I think it was one of the few times I can remember when my family moved and interacted as unit.  Some Christmas Eves were spent at my Grandma Hindersheid's house, where we all got to see our cousins and relatives on my dad's side.  It was a fun tradition, and I can honestly say that I'm happily indifferent to the gifts that were exchanged--the main focus was togetherness.  It was the same with the Smith side of the family, who all journeyed to be together on Christmas Day.  I can't remember a single gift I received that trumps my memories of playing, eating and laughing together.

Fastforward 10-20 years later, I'm now creating traditions and memories with my own family.  There are a few things we do differently.  We go to church (I apparently made that impossible for my mom when I was a kid), we don't play up Santa too much, and we (ok, Luke) don't feel greatly obligated to attend every family gathering we're invited to.  He prefers to focus on our own, immediate family.  I can respect that, I'm just maybe a little scared to stray away from our extended family gettogethers.

In becoming the main purchasor of Christmas gifts, the season of giving has morphed slightly into something surprising for me.  What I'm feeling sometimes instead of happy, lovey feelings while shopping, is obligation, dread, and an empty wallet.  It's not that way when buying for EVERYONE, some people are a joy to buy for.  But every year, there are a couple of people on my list who leave me scratching my head.  I know that it's my own fault for feeling like I HAVE to get something for those people, but it can be an awkward moment at a gathering when they've gotten something for you (which may or may not make any sense to give you in the first place) and you haven't gotten something for them.
In my observation, the presence of these people on your Christmas list often results in the purchase of an odd or generic gift.  The gift itself doesn't likely hold any sentimental or thoughtful qualities, but it does say, "I love you enough to have spent $17.32 on you this year."

I know that if I'm going to irritate anyone, it's here.

Why on earth are we getting these kinds of gifts for people? What purpose does it serve?  Did they really need that "thing?"  Did they want to hug you afterward?  Did they feel more loved because you thought so long and hard about what to give them?  Not likely, people!  You got them a basket of cheese and crackers and hard salami (ok, I aknowledge that for some people, like my husband, they WOULD consider this a good gift)!
Buying or making a Christmas gift should be a willing, joyful act.  But in this culture of materialism, instead it can become about taking on seasonal debt. 

I sent an email last year and I think the year before, with a couple of suggestions for each of the people in our family.  In no way whatsoever did I expect any of us to receive a gift, and I was sure to include that thought in the email.  I felt a little conflicted sending the email in the first place, since it could be taken that way.  My intentions were good--I was simply trying to provide some clutter-free gift ideas that would be cherished, valued, and purposeful in our cozy little house.  (Believe me, we can only handle so many gimmicky, million-pieced toys in our house.)  I suggested a membership to the Children's Museum, tickets to the movie theater, a gift certificate to the bowling alley, etc.

Anyway, I recently was forwarded an email where the main gist was "stop supporting China's production and profit from imported goods!  Buy local!  Support your own community's businesses!"  And I agree!  I especially liked that many of the gift suggestions (ie hire a maid, pay to have a car detailed, etc.) were clutter-free gifts.  Now, THIS email was well received.  I find myself scratching my head a little bit.  What was so different in the motive behind the China-free Christmas and my junk-free ideas?

Every year I hear people say, "we won't have as much money this year, with the economy being bad and all, " and "I have to get a gift for this person, but I have NO idea what to get," or more importantly, "it's hard to teach my kids about the true meaning of Christmas when we're surrounded by tons of meaningless STUFF."

Gift giving can be absolutely wonderful.  When you've gotten something for someone you love who truly loves and appreciates your thoughtfulness and your gift--that's priceless.  It could be as simple as a bottle of wine or a box of Cheeze-its (a personal favorite of mine).  It could be lavish, like gift certificate for a massage or a new gun.

But dare I say, that if you're in the section of Walmart where they sell the pre-made gift baskets of cheese and salami, Christmas themed teddy bears (you know those things BREED, don't you?), and nasty tasting boxes of chocolates, you're in the wrong place.  Walk away as fast as possible.

Let's have the courage to let go of the obligation that surrounds gift giving this year.  Let's skip the express Christmas gift aisle.  Let's go heavy on the time and love, and light on the "stuff."  Who's with me?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interview with Mama Holker

Mariah needed to interview me for a school paper, and offered some really good questions that I hope to answer with eloquence and honesty.  Ha!  Well, here goes!
"What made you decide to start homeschooling?" 
"Somehow, kindergarten registration for my daughter really snuck up on me.  Though I fully intended to send her to school (at 3 years of age, I longed for the school bus to come for OUR house), instead of a feeling of excitement, I began picturing what this new phase of our lives would look like.  Now, I went to public school, so I know full well what THAT lifestyle is like, and I'm not just speculating here.  Jump out of bed, rush to brush their teeth and hair, rush to get dressed, shove down breakfast, throw on coat, forget backpack, run back for backpack, run back to school bus stop--and that's all before 7:00am!  It's my opinion that we do WAY too much rushing to begin with and we're teaching our kids to do the same.  Then it's, come home from school, exhausted and starving, eat snack, start homework, do chores (or NOT!), eat dinner (many families don't eat together), get back to homework, fall asleep on books, then repeat!  NO THANK YOU.  Forgive me if I'd like our day to look a little more like this:
1.  Wake up, 7 am, get dressed, make bed, tidy room, brush teeth and hair.
2.  Come down, eat breakfast (made by mom, half the time), clear dishes.
3.  Do morning chores (Empty dishwasher, etc.)
4.  Prayer, begin school.
5.  Finish up school, go outside, play, dig, climb, move.
6.  Come in for lunch, eat together, talk together, clean up.
7.  Lay down for nap or quiet time, read a book.
8.  Wake up, go outside, play, participate in extracurricular activities.
9.  Come in for dinner and help out.
10.  Eat dinner, as a family, clean up, play with dad.
11.  Take baths, jammies on, story time, prayer, lights out.
Granted, not everything goes how you plan it, but this is the kind of life I am striving to provide for my family. 
That's what made me want to homeschool.  Since then my reasons FOR homeschooling have multiplied and matured."

"Is it difficult to be a homeschooler and business woman?" 
"Of course!  Isn't everything in life a challenge, though?  There have been many, many times, as you know when I've had loads of work to get done, but Ada insists on sitting on top of me or insists on touching my wet paint.  And when Celia asks if she can get out beads to play with.  There are a lot of forces working against me getting my work done sometimes, but as I understand it, many people play the role of babysitter in their workplaces, too.  Owning my own business allows me to express myself, my abilities, and my visions in a way that washing my kitchen floor never will.  Probably one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling while owning your own business is that your kids will see firsthand what it takes.  We all have unique talents and gifts--homeschooling moms get to pour those into our children.  I think that's pretty darn cool."

"How do you think being a stay at home mom will positively or negatively affect your children?"
"Though my children may not realize until they're much older, with children of their own, their Mama gave up and sacrificed, willingly, her freedom and her former identity to pour her love and energy into her family.  I want to be the kind of mom who makes fresh cookies and lets them nibble on the cookie dough.  I want to be the kind of mom who cuddles and kisses my babies when they need it most.  I want to be the kind of mom who teaches and prepares my kids for the real world.  They'll know how to cook for themselves and their families, they'll know God, they'll know responsibility and the true meaning of consequences.  But probably the most important part of my sacrifice is that my children will KNOW me and I will KNOW them.
I hope that there won't be an negative effect on my kids--haha, who knows, though.  I remember someone saying once, 'we should be careful how we parent--someday our kids will talk about us to their pychiatrist.'"

"What would you like skeptics of stay at home moms to know?"
"Oh, I try not to worry about this one TOO much, so naturally, I do.  I'd like them to know that though we don't have to wear pantyhose or heels or climb the corporate ladder in them, our work is no less real.  Our work involves spit up, vomit bowls, and endless piles of laundry some days.  Most of us stay at home moms don't stay at home with our kids because we didn't have anything else to do.  We don't have a 'Yaaa...working didn't really work out for me.   I guess I'm just not cut out for it,' kind of an attitude.  I know plenty of capable, articulate, competent women who gave up their professional lives to stay at home.  I can't say that I've ever heard any of them say that their new lives at home is easy.  Its tough stuff.  We often give up the luxuries of frequent haircuts, fancy dining out, cute little cars and $60 jeans to live off one income.  I truly believe that our sacrifices are the most worthwhile in life."

"Why did you decide to be a SAHM?"
"Ooh, for us it was the big 'income vs. daycare' argument.  At my highest pay, I made $9 an hour.  Daycare costs would have eaten that up and then some.  We would have had a few bucks to rub together after all that, and someone else would have been raising our baby.  We waved that goodbye and haven't looked back since.  I feel extremely fortunate to have a husband who provides for our family and values my hard work at home."

"Your daughter Celia is very smart.  Do you think you staying home all day with her had an impact on that?  Would she have been so advanced if you had sent her straight to day care?"
"Celia is very bright.  I think she would have shown her gifts and talents in any setting.  It'd be awfully confident of me to say that she's bright because of my time and effort.  Do I think that my time and effort had an impact on her developing those gifts?  Possibly.  As a little girl, she would ask me a question in typical 2 year old language (ok, maybe not typical--the girl talked fluently at two), and I'd repeat it back to her in it's correct form.  I thought of it as a non-intrusive way of letting her hear how it should be phrased without saying, 'oh, Celia, you're always saying that wrong.  It SHOULD be...'
My hope is that my time and effort does help her to become the best person she can be."

"How would you like to encourage other SAHMs?"
"I would like to put the power back in their hands.  I'd like to remove all their self doubts and lift them up.  We CAN raise our children, and though the going might (and will) get tough at times, you'll be hard pressed to find a cause more worth the work.  Our effort to raise our families and bring them up as God would want us to, has tremendous value.  That value shouldn't be diminished by words or attitudes, by anyone."

"What do you do when you have had enough of your kids?" 
"Haha, that's an awesome question.  I pray for nap time to come early, and wait with bated breath for my husband to come home.  Sometimes, though, I'll send them outside or have them play in their room.  Twenty four hours a day is a long time to spend with someone--with anyone.  Sometimes Mama has to have a time out for a few minutes to regain a cool head."

Well, that's all folks.  Just wanted to get it down in writing.  No response needed.  Have a glorious April day!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

How we turned into raw milk drinking, homeschooling Christians.

Whew!  I have to apologize ahead of time if you think we're crazy--we are.  It's cool with me.  Just wanted to get that out of the way.
Let's start with Christianity.  There was a time, not so long ago when I cringed (and that is putting it quite lightly) at the sight or sound of the word.  I'm pretty sure I rolled my eyes, too.  I looked at Christians as weak minded, misguided, and annoying.  My journey to Christianity has been very messy.
Firstly, I absolutely HATED church when I was a kid.  In fact, I unknowingly made my mom quit going.  I guess I was a huge pain in the butt.  Nothing about church was relevant to me, and I didn't appreciate being forced to sit through a BORING service.  I also didn't like getting sent to the basement of the church to hang out with the old, smelly lady for Sunday school, either.
When I became a young and awkward preteen, I rebelled.  I was mad about pretty much everything in my life, and I was pretty sure that if there was indeed a God, he wasn't nice.  So, enter "athiest" phase.  I named my cat "Satan" (and boy did she have a disposition to fit!).  I spoke confidently against those who believed.  I can remember one girl who really, I mean really got on my nerves.  She got an A on another one of her tests at school, and I overheard her saying that she had prayed for help before the test and that she was so glad that He was with her.  Blah blah blah.  I thought to myself, "Um, hello?  Who studied for that test?  I'm pretty sure God doesn't give a hoot about your 9th grade English test."
It's interesting how God works, though, isn't it?  Oddly enough, after being tricked into going to a bible summer camp, guess who was my roommate?  Yep, Miss "God helped me ace my test."  Great.  Let me tell you, though, that those bible camps pack a potent dose of persuasion!  I remember asking God for a sign that He existed.  Let's just say I had the you-know-what scared out of me that night.
Anyway, fast forward through some very rough late teenage years, where I smoked a LOT of weed, drank a lot and kissed a lot of Irish boys.  (Anna, that one's for you!)
A year or so after dating Luke, we got the surprise of a lifetime.  We were going to be parents.  Wait, what?  Ya.  I planned our wedding in less than three months.  Beat that. 
I can say that for me, having a baby changed EVERYTHING.  I completely cleaned up my act, and I met my new responsibility head on.  If I wasn't good at anything else in my life, I wanted to be at the very least, a good mom.  But something about becoming a mother and feeling as if this baby of mine was a gift really softened my heart toward God.  It happened gradually.  It was amazing!
When a mailer came to our house, I read, "10 things I hate about church."  Aha!  That's awesome!  If there's a church out there that can talk about how insufferable church is, I'm so in.  The rest is really history.  Westbridge church has been pivotal in shaping our relationship with God.  I came with my doubts and cynical attitude and was met with understanding and friendship.

It'd be impossible for me to tell you why we are doing things the way we are without including the role God has played in it.  Would I homeschool if I hadn't come to know Him?  Nope.  Would I be striving to be a mom with intent and determination?  I don't think so.  Everything good we're doing or trying to do is related to Him, and I'm not ashamed.

We drink raw milk because I believe (based on LOTS of research as always) it's better for us.  We don't use fluoride because I believe it's not good for us.  We're homeschooling because I believe that it's good for us.  We got rid of our TV and sold our Wii because I think we'll be better for it.  Am I finished?  I don't think so!  If these things make us crazy, then so be it.  If believing in Him makes me crazy, then I'll die a crazy lady.  I'm cool with that.
These are my words of love.

P.S.  For the record, I think Miss "God helped me ace my test" is awesome.  She had it figured out long before I did!  I'm only sorry that I was such a twit to her!