World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week. Why is it that anytime (every day!) there is a focus on bringing awareness or praising one lifestyle or way of doing things, the other side stands up offended.

World Breastfeeding Week offends the formula feeders. Mother’s Day offends the single ladies. World Clubfoot Day probably offended someone with normal feet. Who knows.

It’s like we all just like to be offended.

Anyway. I hear that this week is Breastfeeding Week. That’s cool. I’ve been using my body to feed small people for sixteen years. If they aren’t inside me, they’re outside feed off of me. And sometimes even both!

But let me tell you, doesn’t mean I’m special or a better mom than you. In fact, did you notice my radio silence a couple weeks ago when it was NFP awareness? Because I’m a rockstar in that department, too.

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Actually, I’m just lazy. I stink at NFP, because I’m lazy. I breastfeed, because I’m lazy. You ladies out there getting up in the middle of the night to make your baby a bottle- you totally rock. I could never in a million years do what you do.

I don’t know why you chose formula over breast. It’s not my business and I don’t really care. But I know that you clearly love your babies enough to drag yourself out of your cozy bed to make a bottle. Or think ahead every time you leave the house to make sure you have what you need.

I can barely remember diapers (and I just thank the heavens I haven’t yet forgotten the baby!). But lazy mama can remember the breast milk, since it’s attached to me! And I can feed my baby at night, because all I have to do is roll over! Yay, me!

Keep on keeping on, no matter who tries to raise awareness this week or next. You’re doing a great job, mamas!

5 Ways Seven Kids are Easier the Two

When I was very pregnant with Blaise, I found myself at Mass with Andrew, but with none of the kids. I kindly woman approached us afterwards and asked “Is this your first?”

Of course, once you answer honestly (I admit to being tempted to skirt the truth, but I was still standing in the church!), the questioners eyes kind of pop out and you get a reply along the lines of “I couldn’t handle the two I had!”

I get it! When I had a gaggle of littles, the smallest activity could seem overwhelming. The grocery store, stopping by a friends house, hitting a drive thru. No matter what it was, it was an event. And then the activities that actually *where* events, became nearly impossible. I remember doing swimming lessons one year, with just a couple small kids, and it was so difficult, I swore we’d never return. We tried again this year and had an absolute blast! And I had a newborn this time!

Once you’re through the first overwhelming years in the trenches, it’s like the sun shining through the clouds after a storm. It’s pretty glorious.

Here are a just a few reasons why more isn’t all that much more difficult than a handful.

Built In Friends – We don’t have neighbor kids where we live, but our kids are never without playmates! Dressing up, having tea parties, or a pick up game of ball are always easy to organize, because there are plenty of people around to join in. It’s also great when the bickering starts – just go find a different sibling to play with!

You’ve Done it All Before – This on is particularly great right now. Number seven has been so much fun, because we know what we are doing! His infancy hasn’t been typical, with his clubfeet, but all has been made easier with the wisdom of experience. Even the bigger kids remember how it all goes and are more able to help out. I no longer stand around wondering how to take a shower, like I did with my first! (true story. I think I cried and called my mom!)

Arms to Carry – There are always arms to help out, when there are so many arms around. Someone is always willing to hold the baby, but there are also times when a bag or a toddler need hauling as well. Having big strong helpers makes it all that much easier. Sometimes, my arms will actually be empty! I remember outings being so overwhelming, because it’s so nearly impossible to carry a baby, a diaper bag, and some random child’s abandoned shoes, all while keeping the toddler from being squashed by an oncoming car. All this, just to run into the store for a gallon of milk! It isn’t easy.

Enough for Cards or Baseball – Big families, big games. We love a good round of Euchre or a rousing board game, but many games take lots of people. We always have plenty! Little kids can double up with big kids to make everyone happy. Remember playing baseball or kickball and having “ghost man on second”? Not in a family filled with kids! Bases are loaded and there’s still a batter up.

Always a Baby to Hold! – Is there anything better than a sweet baby to snuggle? I really don’t think there is! Besides the time between Kateri and Blaise, we’ve never gone much beyond a two year old without having a new baby. I figure, at the rate we are going, by the time I don’t have my own baby to hold, it won’t be long until my biggest kids are married and starting their own families. The circle goes on and there’s never much time without a snuggly squish. That’s just how life should be!

It’s not always easy to be open to welcoming the many little people God may see fit to send you. But the laughs outweigh to hardships. And the friendships you’re giving your children are immeasurable.

What are your favorite advantages to having a houseful of little people?

Guide to Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime day is a great time to stock up on gifts for Christmas or birthdays. The deals this year are looking pretty great.

(This post contains affiliate links)

I’ve mentioned before that we really like Kindles around here and there are a few on sale today. We like the Fire for little kids, because of the audio book option. Just be careful to turn on AAAALLLL the parental controls.

For the bigger kids, we stick with the regular Kindle. We have one older child with a Kindle Fire, but we have to watch it carefully. It’s pretty easy to pretend to read a book whilst browsing Pinterest.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard great things about Audible. It looks like Amazon is a pretty hot discount today, too.

Not a Prime member? There’s a 30 day trial for that. Try it, grab the prime deals, and bug out if it’s not for you!

Have you tried Prime Pantry? We love it for regularly stocking up on things like dried goods and cleaning supplies. I’m a huge fan of avoiding the grocery or big box stores, so Prime Pantry really works well for us.

Also! Get $5 of $20 in books with code PRIMEBOOKS18

I am sure my most beloved Instant Pot will have a deal, too. I’ll let you know if I find one! {UPDATE} Found the deal! You won’t be sad.

How to Make a Nature Journal

The kids went to an outdoor event a couple years ago and came home with the most fantastic nature journals! They were made with typical household items, plus a stick they’d found. It was so cute and so easy.

I thought I’d write it all out to share with others, but also to encourage us to recreate the project at home. This is a perfect project for a rainy summer day.

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Materials:

copy paper (water color paper would also work and make a lovely book)

brown paper grocery bag

rubber band

small stick, about 6-7 inches long

Scissors

Hole Punch or Awl

Decorating Options:

Markers

Nature Magazine to cut and paste pictures

Scrap Fabric

Instructions:

Cut 3 pieces of copy paper in half, so you have six sheets. Fold in half, so you have a little booklet.

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Cut a piece of the paper sack about half an inch larger than the cut copy paper. Fold in half.

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Decorate the front of the brown paper with markers, pictures from a magazine, or fabric scraps. Label it as a “Nature Journal” and put the date somewhere, so you’ll always remember when you made and recorded your nature findings.

Now put the copy paper into the folded brown paper. With the hole punch or awl, put a hole about an inch from the top, along the fold and another an inch from the bottom, along the fold.

Thread the rubber band through the top hole, along the inside of the booklet, and out the bottom hole. Put the stick through the rubber band at both the top and the bottom to secure everything.

Now tuck it into your adventure bag, along with your colored pencils or water colors and you’re ready for your next adventure!

Make A Nature Journal with Kids

Best Cocktails from the Back Yard

Just a quick post, because we love this book SO MUCH! It’s been such fun to browse, learn, and create the cocktails.

Gift giving (or receiving) is not my love language and because of this, I kind of stink at it. I’m just not very creative or thoughtful in this regard, even though I want to be!

But this book actually went over really well! I got it for Andrew to Father’s Day and it seemed to hit a number of his interests – outdoors, nature hikes, and drinking!

It is called The Wildcrafted Cocktail. It’s a book of cocktail, syrup, and infusion recipes using wild foraged ingredients.

We made the mulberry liqueur using mulberries from the yard. It made a beautiful spritzer when we mixed it with club soda!

It’s definitely a book that will take us a long time to work though completely. It’s full of ideas and recipes, some of which have to steep or sit for long periods of time. Also, since it is all foraged ingredients, you can only get them at certain times of the year!

I’ll be sending the kids out to harvest young walnuts for the nocino (I don’t know what that is!), that goes into the drink called Ducati, soon! I wonder what young walnuts even taste like!

And nettle cordial! It’s hard to choose what to make next.

Wild Things Garden Update

As we approach the Summer Solstice, gardens everywhere are bursting with goodness. Little flowers on long stems are slowly turning to the beans or squash or tomatoes that will soon grace the family table.

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This hasn’t been the easiest year to get the garden in, here at Wild Things Farm. I was still enormously pregnant when it was time to start the seeds in late winter. And as the time came to move seedlings into the garden, we had a sweet, fresh baby. None the less, we all worked together to get the garden in. It was a bit late, so some of our plants are a little behind, but even still, I think we will end up with a decent harvest this year.

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After a couple years of trial and error, we finally set our garden up as 8×4 boxes with four foot mulched pathways. This is our third year with this set up and it has worked beautifully for us. It truly does keep weeding down to a minimum.

Mulch can be expensive, if you buy it bagged or even by the truck load from a landscaping company. We get it for FREE! by flagging down the county road crews as they are trimming trees. They love it, because they don’t have to drive all the way back to their dump site. We love it, because we use so much mulch in the garden, pig shed, and chicken coops.

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A couple years ago, Andrew and a couple  kids made some trellises from our garden boxes. They’ve held up really well and are perfect for beans and peas. We have planted Kentucky Pole Beans every year and just this year we added Asparagus Yard Long Beans. The plant is beautiful, but the beans are yet to be tested.

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My squash plants were taking over the pathways, so I knew I needed another trellis. I mentioned it to Andrew and the next thing I knew, I had a hog panel trellis arching over the box of squash! Easy, beautiful!

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My one other experimental plant this season is luffa. Have you planted luffa before? I’m excited to see how it does. One plant is huge, but the other is still small and neither have flowered.

What are your growing or experimenting with this season?Wild Things Garden Update

5 Most Forgotten Necessities for New Seasoned Moms

Our Blaisey boy has been here for one month now. Talk about time flying. We’ve been intentionally savoring every cute little moment with him, but it’s still bittersweet to see him grow so quickly!

After a five year span with no babies, this little guy has been a real treat.

After a five year span with no babies, this mama has become very rusty!

In the first few days after he was here, I began to realize just how out of practice I’d become and just how much I’d forgotten.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

To help any other rusty mamas out, here’s my list of my Top Five Forgotten (or nearly forgotten) Necessities!

Nursing Bras – after a few years of living a more free and hippie style of dress, the need for a good bra completely fell off my radar, as they say. It literally never crossed my mind. Oops. Let’s just say it’s more of a necessity these days! I’m loving this brand that I purchased, a couple days after Blaise was born.

Nursing Pads – these go hand in hand. You forget what engorgment is. And it has to go somewhere! Maybe grab some extra t-shirts while you’re at it. You’ll need them for those middle of the night soaked t-shirt changes.

After Pains Remedy – this was actually on my list, but Blaisey boy showed up before I made it to the store. Especially if you already have a few kids, this is a must. Oy. The pain can be worse than labor!

Diapers – obviously, right? This is somewhere in the back of my mind. I love cloth diapers, so I was pretty excited about it all, but I don’t think I really acted on that. Thankfully, a couple sweet friends made sure I had what I needed before his arrival.  I had this brand on my amazon wish list and was gifted some. For the price, they’re pretty wonderful.

Boho Bandeau – my sisters have been singing the praises of the Boho Bandeau for years, but I’d never actually purchased one for myself. After long nights and showerless days, I figured it was time. This makes me look a bit more put together and hides my dirty hair pretty well!

Bonus Item: The Diaper Bag. I don’t think I’ve carried a diaper bag since I had some cutesie thing with my first. Diaper bags are less diaper baggie these days and my hands are a little more busy. I caved and joind the diaper bag club. It’s really nice to have everything all ready to go and to have what we need when we are out. Gone are the long days at home with babies and this little guy is often out and about. The diaper bag has been a savior.

When Home Birth Doesn’t Work Out: Birth Story Part 2

For the beginning of this story, see my Birth Story, Part 1.

I arrived at my appointment feeling pretty good, but a little nervous as to how everything would pan out. I really didn’t want to get flack from a doctor about my home birth choices, my seemingly high risk pregnancy, or my supposed geriatric age.

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It turned out, I had nothing to worry about. The doctor was so sweet and understanding. She reviewed all of my issues and risks, but assured me that she would make sure everything went as smoothly as possible. She did reiterate that going past 40 weeks was not a good idea. I mentioned that I didn’t think I would, seeing as I’d been having contractions on and off, but she dismissed that as typical of a pregnancy with excessive amniotic fluid.

We chatted a bit more and then she wanted to check dilation, just to get an idea of how things we going. She immediately got a shocked look on her face and I believe her words were: “Girlfriend! You’re at 5 cm and need to go to Labor and Delivery!” My brain was saying “But I have stuff to do! The laundry! The dishes! Can I go home first?? I promise I’ll come back!” But I knew that this wasn’t my time to argue. She left to alert L&D that I was on my way and when I walked out of the room, I heard a nurse say “Do I need to wheel her over? {looks at me walking out} Oh, nope. She seems fine!”

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I called Andrew to let him know what was going on and then called my parents to let them know that the kids would be over soon. I drove myself over to L&D, which was mostly just driving around the parking lot, trying to find a space to park.

I got all checked in and sent to triage for monitoring and waited on Andrew to arrive. It was all pretty boring and uneventful. Eventually, my doctor came and determined that I was, in fact, progressing and sent me to be admitted. Que more waiting, aimless walking, and general boredom. I’d rather be at home doing laundry! I did struggle a bit with having nothing to do to distract me. I usually work, clean, and go about my day during early labor. Obviously, that wasn’t an option this time.

Things continued to progress, but I still wasn’t really uncomfortable. The nurse began monitoring baby and me again, which meant being in the bed instead of walking. About that time, the doctor came in to very carefully break my water.

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The main risk we were dealing with was a prolapsed cord, which could be extremely serious and result in emergency C-section (best case scenario) or even death. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous about break the water, but also felt more secure since we were at the hospital and I felt that my doctor was taking everything very seriously.

With great care, she broke my water and guided his little head down, to ensure that the cord wouldn’t prolapse. After this, I knew it was pretty much go time. I figured that, if I had to be in the hospital, I might was well take advantage and request just a bit of pain killer. I don’t remember what it was called, but they put something magical in my IV and I hardly even noticed when I hit transition.

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Soon enough, it was time to push, which turned out to be some sort of wacky show. I felt like those cows at Fair Oaks Farm where everyone stands around watching and waiting.

Awkward.

Finally, someone suggested a squat bar, but of course, no one knew how to use it. Thankfully, Andrew can figure things out, even under pressure. He got it set up for me and once that was situated, everything moved pretty quickly.

One big push later and we were holding our sweet baby boy.

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In an instant, our high stress, crazy pregnancy had safely come to an end. We were relieved and over joyed to finally have this little guy in our arms.

Bonaventure Blaise, you were worth the trouble, my boy. We are so happy to have you in our family!

 

When Home Birth Doesn’t Work Out: A Birth Story, Part 1

My boys have all thrown a monkey wrench into their births. My girls were pretty easy peasy. Bonaventure Blaise chose to follow in his brothers footsteps.

My last two births were sweet and easy home births. It was all so peaceful and comfortable, after having had some less than pleasant hospital experiences.

Everything went along swimmingly, until the 20 week anatomy scan. These scans are optional in homebirth, but I have always been a pretty stong advocate of checking everything out just once. At our scan, we learned that our little guy had bilateral clubfoot. This is a relatively common birth defect and entirely treatable. It also didn’t preclude home birth.

It did require having a follow up Level 2 ultrasound with a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialist. He was a wonderfully friendly and informative doctor. After that first scan, he gave no indication that home birth was off the table, but he did request we come back for a follow up later.

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4D ultrasounds are pretty amazing. He still sleeps with a hand over his eye!

 

I wanted to skip the follow up and was, admittedly, annoyed by the entire process. But at 37 weeks and 2 days, we did the follow up scan. There, we learned that I had far too much amniotic fluid, which could cause issues at delivery. The MFM mentioned that I should be careful not to go over 40 weeks and requested that we monitor with weekly scans.

It wasn’t until I received his report the next evening – a Friday – that I saw that he had removed our possibility of having our home birth. Here I was: 37+ weeks pregnant, going into the weekend, and searching for an OB. I was feeling pretty lost and clueless.

Thankfully, I had many friends ready to help and was pointed in the right direction. I called an OB first thing Monday morning, poured out my ridiculous sob story, and was given an appointment at 11 the next day.

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Gardens don’t wait for babies. We spent Sunday of that crazy weekend gardening. I was sort of hoping it would induce labor…

When I left for my appointment Tuesday morning, Andrew joked that I wouldn’t be coming straight home. I’d been having contractions on and off since Sunday, but I definitely didn’t feel like I was in full blown labor.

(To Be Continued. It’s a bit of a long story.)

Nature Hike

We are all meant to be naturalists, each to his own degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of the plant and animal life and to care for none of these things. ~Charlotte Mason

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The sun finally showed itself today and brought with it some lovely temperatures. We took school outside to enjoy this first really spring-y day.

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The pigs were loafing about, also enjoying the warm air and sunshine. They don’t have much time left to enjoy it, though! A few of them wandered over to say hello and beg for a snack.

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We hiked down to the bottom of our woods, ostensibly in search of young spring nettles. We never found the nettles – they must not be up yet, as new growth is always a little slow on our north slope – but we found tons of beautiful foliage, moss, and water in the tiny creek bed.

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Water in the creek bed, of course, means mud. So. Much. Mud. The girls were covered head to toe. But the giggles were worth the mess. I guess it’s time to de-winterize that outdoor shower I always tease my husband for building!