Category Archives: About Us

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Fessin’ Up

I want to take a minute to make something very clear because two people have made comments along the same thread in the same week.

My base belief is that those of us who choose to function in society are doing the best we can with what we have.  I try not to judge myself against others because the other thought I remind myself is that no one is perfect. We are all disorganized somewhere, and some are just better at hiding it than others. 

I am writing today as a reminder: When you look at someone, try not to assume that they have it all together or judge yourself for not doing enough…because unless people “fess up” like I am about to do, then they may look like they are, “doing it all”. In reality they are just getting along as best they can like everyone else.

Comment 1: “You had time to make dinner for all your kids?”
Because mama saw me at the dance studio with our little IKEA bento boxes at the studio, which our kiddos take because we hate buying fast food.

Answer: Our nannies cook. I make sandwiches and cut fruits and vegetables. When the nannies pack the boxes, there are meals in them. When I pack the boxes, there is *cold* nutritious food in them.

Comment 2: “How are you doing? Because you give, give, give and I want to make sure you are taking care of you.”
From a friend of the family we see on a weekly basis and who we interact with professionally in our birth classes. He sees what I do on social media and all the events we host/attend.

Answer: I am doing great. You know why? Because my amazing husband works his a** off for our family, and we make the choices that allow us to afford 2 **amazing** nannies that do all the cooking and the laundry, or at least 95% of it. Which frees up my brain and my time to do everything I love to do, which is give to our family by homeschooling, and to our community by teaching classes and promoting or attending events that support pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and the family.

AND AND AND all our children are out of diapers AND they are all potty trained. It’s hard to understand just how momentous that is until you see a mom up to her eyeballs in babies and toddlers (that of course she loves very much, just like I loved our children so very much when we were in that stage). “No diapers, no accidents” is such a huge new milestone I am finally embracing; instead of grieving the fact that I will never birth again.

So even though I put on a good front, I have a huge amount of support that makes it all work…pretty well on most days.  If I am tired, I get snappy; if I am sad I cry, just like every other human parent out in the world.  Since we’re doing true confessions here…sometimes it gets worse than that. I had a meltdown in a parking lot last May and I was reminded of my humanity again in February of this year.

Just like many of you, I have days when I am completely overwhelmed, and I have days when I am filled with joy…sometimes in the same day. What is amazing is that as our children grow, they are helping more and that makes it all worth it. They are starting to take ownership for their part in making our family run smoothly, and they are funny and giving and helpful. They are also putting us through growing pains again as we are approaching the teen years. I love it all and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 There is one more thing I want to add: aside from all the earthly support and help that I have, I have an awesome God.  He lights every step of my journey on a daily basis.  I have lived through dark days when I tried to run away from my faith. Then I was welcomed joyfully back and have walked with the Holy Spirit in my heart every day since then.  I am by no means perfect, however I know that I am loved. That makes it all worthwhile and so very doable.

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A Sleep Story

Sleep. Glorious sleep.

We just did our cry-it-out talk in our Bradley class on Saturday. We do encourage our students to co-sleep with their infants, for at least nine months after their sweet pea’s Birth-Day, based on Ashley Montagu’s theory of “nine months in, nine months out” as the completion of the human gestation cycle (read more HERE). We offer several reasons why it’s important to consider other sleep strategies besides Cry-It-Out (CIO). You can check out our VLOG and blog tomorrow on SPB for more on that 😉

One of our students who is an avid reader pointed out that she had read that it is best to put infants in their own room between 6-9 months, or else the transition to separate sleeping quarters may be more difficult.  My only response to that is that each family needs to choose what is right for their situation.

Ha. Ha. Inside I am laughing as I said that. Our own family is a perfect example of waiting too long. And…I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • I like being able to hear our children sleep, and I don’t want electric monitors interfering with the re-charging their body is doing every night.
  • The quality of their breathing helps me assess who is well and who is on the brink of an illness. If I hear them snoring or sniffling in their sleep, I can adjust their diets and take more care with their dressing to try and head off any illness. (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but at least I am aware!)
  • I sleep better knowing that my children are not likely to be kidnapped out of their rooms in the middle of the night. The Elizabeth Smart story ruined me for ever wanting to have our children sleep alone.
  • It makes my husband and I creative to keep our intimate life alive and well…and as I will occasionally point out in our classes, our co-sleeping arrangement did not serve very well for birth control.  We do not engage in our intimacy when our children are around…so I will leave other options to your own imagination.

Are these great reasons for continuing to co-sleep with all of our children? Maybe not for you, however, they work for our family.  Our bedroom is large and we have a king bed, two oversized chairs, a recliner, and a toddler bed in our room. In addition, sometimes the children like to make their own nest on the floor – we are open to any kind of arrangement that lets everyone sleep comfortably.

I will close with saying that all of our children have their own “regular” beds in rooms that are separate from ours. During the day, those beds are used for naps.  Every once in a while, they want to sleep there overnight and we honor that as part of their exploration of growth and independence.

Otter wants me to sleep with her when she wants to be in her own bed at night, and that’s okay with me, too. I have never understood why adults, who like to sleep together and are supposedly “emotionally mature” adults, expect emotionally immature children to be okay sleeping alone. It makes sense to me that our children crave our company during waking or sleeping hours, until their confidence grows and they are ready to strike out on their own.

I won’t lie – I enjoy the occasional nap when I have the bed all to myself, and I’m not struggling to find a pillow or a blanket that I can  use just for me. However, snuggling a sweet child who is going to spend the majority of their life away from me is a “memory treasure” to store for the days when we are empty nesters and our children are off building lives of their own.

 

 

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Rally for AZ Midwives

It is time to stand up with our Arizona Midwives again. A law revision by the Arizona Department of Health Services (“ADHS”) that became effective in July of 2013 opened up the possibility for some Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) clients to access homebirths legally in Arizona. Along with the access to homebirth care for some families, some other unwelcome mandates were added into the Midwifery Rules and Regulations.

HERE is a link to the current regulations. Under these regulations, I would have been placing our midwife in direct conflict with her beliefs and the expectations of the state.  Here is why:

Midwives believe in watchful waiting: watch the mother, monitor the baby, and only “do” when the situation warrants more of whatever needs to be done to ensure a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.

As a patient, it is my right to decline someone’s hand penetrating my body when I am in the throes of labor. In the hospital setting, it is virtually impossible to assert this right. After discussing past sexual abuse with my midwife, and how I experienced vaginal exams as the most painful part of labor, she agreed that we didn’t need to do any during my birth if everything remained healthy and low-risk.

I did not need vaginal exams to tell me that my labor was progressing. I could tell that things were moving along by the way contractions got steadily stronger, longer, and more frequent. I could tell as my left-brain turned off and I entered “laborland”, a place of intuition and sensation.

Our midwife and her team of students watched, waited, and monitored throughout the labor. All my vitals remained steady throughout the entire time.  Our Sweet Pea was amazing every time she was monitored. So they kept watching, waiting, and monitoring.

For once, I had a birth with no hands in my vagina!! It was amazing!! And the baby came out!!!   Under today’s regulations, that birth would be asking my midwife to choose between her conscience and the state.

It seems like such a simple request: birth without vaginal exams. Birth without the invasion of my body. Yet the state of Arizona has decided it knows better and it is denying my right to a peaceful, non-violent birth.

The craziest part of the story? The ADHS has been aware that their rules and the enforcement of said rules place midwives between their clients and the law *for years*. And they still haven’t done anything about it.  You can read the court proceedings HERE (see Page 4, Section 12) where an ADHS representative admits this in court. In spite of the judge recommending that the ADHS address these conflicts, they still haven’t done anything about it.  Read the midwife’s account of these proceedings HERE.

Now it’s time.  I am standing up with our midwives and saying NO THANK YOU to the Arizona Department of Health Services.  Will you join us?  The information for the rally can be found at this social media event RSVP HERE

(IF you cannot attend in person, join the virtual rally group here. Social media links for elected officials and ADHS will be posted + hashtags at 9:00 am on 11/05/15.  Check back into the virtual event page from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm for more updates and posting requests from the organizers. Thank you in advance for joining the virtual rally!)

Information from the AAM event page:
“Arizona Association of Midwives (AAM), with the support of community members and everyday families of Arizona will rally in front of the Arizona Department of Health Services, at 11am Thursday, November 5, 2015 to demand that the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), along with the State of Arizona elected officials, including Governor Ducey, stop the bureaucratic persecution of, and instead, publicly support the Midwives of Arizona in providing safe preconception, prenatal, labor and birth, and postpartum care to the families of Arizona. The rally will coincide with a special announcement by AAM.

“Arizona midwives want to provide safe and ethical, evidence-based care to the growing families in our state. ADHS has said they just want compliance with their rules. ADHS relies on said rules to coerce and force people into mandatory medical care, mandatory testing, and mandatory vaginal exams, mandatory hospital transports for non-emergent or contained emergency situations.

“IF a midwifery client declines any of these, they are no longer legally allowed to be cared for by an Arizona Licensed Midwife. Not in that moment and not for the rest of their pregnancy or postpartum. Midwives have protecting their clients from these mandates and the response from ADHS has been to threaten, harass and persecute.

“Midwives are being persecuted and harassed for providing safe, evidenced-based and consensual care to their clients. Since the new rules and regulations for Licensed Midwives came into effect in 2013, 22 midwives of the 74 currently licensed in AZ have been sanctioned by the ADHS for any number of “offenses.” These offenses include respecting their client’s ability to opt out of testing, procedures, hospital transfers or for continuing to see their clients after resolved complications.

“ADHS current interpretation and enforcement of midwifery rules is in direct conflict with the midwifery model of respecting clients rights to low intervention practices and informed choice.

“This is shameful and illegal!

“AZDHS and the State of Arizona need to stop persecuting midwives and need to start embracing them as a means to reduce infant and maternal mortality in the state by way of providing thorough and professional maternity care at home and outside of the hospital.

“The Arizona Association of Midwives is taking action on behalf of all growing families in the state to ensure that their healing hands are not tied with red tape when it comes time to welcome new life into this world.

Please join us at the rally, come hear the announcement, stay informed!”

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Tale of a Chiro Convert

We invite our chiropractor to come speak to all of our childbirth prep class students.  If you had told me 7 years ago that this was going to be true, I would have laughed you out of the room.  Here is my story – maybe it will help you understand why people choose chiropractic care if you are on the fence about going to go see one for care.

I was terrified of chiropractors.  In my mind, they were back-crackers.  I have a vivid memory of my childhood dance instructor, who I revered, going ballistic when she saw some of my classmates walking on each other’s backs.  She admonished us to NEVER risk injury to our back, or we would live to regret it when an injury prevented us from dancing, or doing anything else we wanted to do. There was no way a back-cracker, or “chiroquacker” as I called them, was ever going to touch me!!

As an adult, I became a student of yoga.  This study also emphasized the sacred spine, the lifeline of all health. Except, our instructors had a working relationship with a chiropractor and there was a reciprocal discount between the studio and his office. I chalked it up to a crazy idea and I wanted nothing to do with chiropractic care.

Fast-forward to July 2009.  I was pregnant with Charger, and at my 32-week check with our one of our OBs, he informed the student nurse that the baby was breech. No thought to mention to me that I might want to do something to change that.

Before our 36-week appointment, I had growth ultrasound to see how big Charger was. I consented to this because my primary OB wanted to know if she would need extra hands during the birth “just in case” – Night Owl was an easy 11 pound, 1 ounce delivery – surprise! She didn’t want any surprises this time. The ultrasound showed that Charger was still breech!!  The ultrasound tech mentioned that if he was a persistent breech, my doctor would want to schedule a cesearan.

Cue FREAK OUT!!! I was speechless at the idea of a surgical birth and recovery with two toddlers running around. I looked for everything I could on the Internet to see what I could do to get this baby head-down.

At our next appointment, I took the list I had compiled and went through it with our primary OB.  She checked off the ideas she was comfortable with, and I set all my intention on having a vaginal birth with a head-down baby. (Read more about that HERE.)

The combination of things we tried got Charger into a transverse position. That position was still most definitely a cesarean birth – there is no other way to birth a baby who is lying sideways in the uterus. Last on the list of things to try was to have a chiropractor do “The Webster Protocol”.

As things worked out, all three people I asked for a recommendation gave me the same name: Dr. Kevin Ross. So with a wish and a prayer I went to see him.  To my surprise, he was very kind and took the time to explain to me what chirpractic care is, what it isn’t, and what I might expect from The Webster Protocol (click HERE for an explanation of what it is from Dr. Ross).

It wasn’t as scary as I had imagined – my back was still in one piece and I actually walked better after my first adjustment. And, The Webster Protocol worked for us!! I think I had a total of three visits before Charger turned head-down on his own, and then I kept going 2 times a week to make sure things stayed balanced.  He was borh eight days after turning head-down.

What really sold me on continuing care with our chiropractor was the new baby check that we did around 10 days postpartum.  I had a huge and painful learning curve when I was breastfeeding with Puma, and another painful initiation of breastfeeding with Night Owl.  It took 6-8 weeks with both of them for nursing to be less painful. Before that, it made me cry every time I nursed on the left side.  It’s a miracle that we breastfed at all: if it wasn’t for the fact that I had seen it as a child and an amazing support system, we would have quit after the first week.

Charger and I started out the same way – it was excruciating to nurse on the left side.  Dr. Ross did one little tiny adjustment on Charger.  The next time I put Charger to the breast to nurse – flowers bloomed and angels sang. It was a miracle!! Pain-free!! And it never hurt again.

After that, I was hooked.  We continued care all through Otter’s pregnancy.  Being pregnant with my fourth, and having a 6, 4, and 2 year olds to care for was a little daunting given the demands of pregnancy in my body.  There had been days with all three previous pregnancies where I literally crawled around the house in the evenings because walking was too painful.  When I could “walk” in late pregnancy, I waddled. I believed my body did not like being pregnant.

That pregnancy taught me the benefits of chiropractic care as the body changes through pregnancy. It was my best pregnancy ever!! I had more energy, I was virtually pain-free, and I was able to walk from day one until the day of her birth *without* waddling. It turns out my body needed some pubic bone adjustments along the way to resolve that excruciating pain that made me crawl or waddle in late pregnancy. Dr. Ross also did “Webster checks” every session to make sure that my body would encourage a head-down baby. By that time, he had also started using KST in his office, and that allowed me to connect with our Sweet Pea in a whole new way.

Our whole family has been going to see Dr. Ross for 6+ years. Daddy Bruss and I are in the best health – we rarely get sick, and when we do, it doesn’t last very long.  We have also learned much more about natural living with Dr. Ross’s guidance – his wisdom has forever changed the course of our family’s health.

The biggest beneficiaries are our children. From an early age, they are learning that their body is a wonderful machine with the ability to heal itself.  As soon as something is misalinged, Dr. Ross does a child-appropriate adjustment and they are off and running. The same holds true for them: they are rarely sick. For the most part, rest and hydration kick any illnesses in less time than is typical. They are also learning that their body is capable of healing itself. Medication is rarely necessary, so they are not learning that drugs are a panacea for every ache and pain.  First we ask Dr. Ross, and then we usually follow whatever course of action he recommends based on their needs.

In fact, one of our pediatricians thinks we had left the practice since it was so long between visist with them. I chalk it up to saying our prayers, taking our Juice Plus, drinking lots of water and getting adjusted :)

So that’s our story. Please leave me a comment if you have any questions about our experiences.

Find out more about Dr. Ross and his practice HERE

 

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Monday Musings: Does labeling make sense?

Ok – true confession #2 on this blog: while I am really great at organizing events, I would hate for anyone to see the messiest room in our home.

It used to be our bedroom. I got that in order so that I could sit at my desk and write notes, and because it REALLY needed to be done.  Aside from the piles of things on the desk, there had been a 6′ banquet table in our bedroom since last November.  It became the collection point for all things around the house that didn’t have a place, and I didn’t want to deal with at the moment that I was picking them up. And it was a disaster…by that I mean that I was using the tabletop *and* the space below it.  I don’t have a picture.  Even if I did, you wouldn’t see it, because I would be too embarrassed to share it. I think you can imagine how terrible it was.

Enter summer vacation.  We got to visit a friend’s new home this summer, and seeing her home completely inspired me to get a handle on the clutter and take back my home.

This mama has practically EVERYTHING in their home labeled.  And not just a label-maker on steriods kind of labeling.  She has taken the time to either hand-write or jetprint tags for every bin or basket in their home.  Then she cuts them out and attaches them to a cute backing paper.  Sometimes it’s a simple pattern-printed or bright color cardstock mat; others are die-cut into cute flower shapes.

All her kiddos have been reading by the time they start kindergarten.  Talk about print-rich environment!!!  Oh My Gosh…lightbulb moment!!  Every day, her children are interacting with letters and words.  It is no surprise that they are reading early – they are tieing physical objects to words every time they take something out or put something away.  I am guessing those letters start to make sense and correlate to sounds after a while, and some very organic learning is going on!!

So when we came back from our summer home, I tackled our bedroom.  I was determined that if this mama could be clutter-free, so could I.  All it takes is a little focus, right?

So my piles disappeared, give-away bags filled up…so did the recycling and the trash.  I made good use of my favorite item at IKEA, these nifty little “S”-shaped hooks to hang up all my bags and clear some shelf space for seasonal clothing items.

Then I hit Otter’s room.  She is the only one still not reading, so I went through and organized all her toys, and then labeled all her boxes and baskets. Next task: label her clothing drawers.

As for the other children,  Puma wants to make her own labels. The boys have labels on their baskets already, courtesy of the embroidery option from PBK.  I will leave their rooms for now, since I have a couple of other rooms in mind…

I  want to label the schoolroom and the kitchen since that is where we spend the most time as a family and both are high-traffic areas for the children.  I also take the time to make every label bi-lingual so that the Sweet Pea Kids are seeing everything in English and Spanish. I have to be patient and double-check all the spellings and accent placements in Spanish. I am giving myself a grace period to get that done – plan is to be close to where I envision by Christmas-time.

Now “that room” is my husband’s office, where there are still 15 boxes of stuff that I haven’t wanted to deal with since we moved our schoolroom last spring.  I promised Puma that we will each do a box a day, and do them together.  She has her own pile of stuff and boxes since she emptied everything in order to move rooms, and we didn’t want to unpack things until her room was painted.  Now it’s painted, so the work of sorting, stashing, and trashing starts on Tuesday.

Wish us luck!! I am looking forward to getting rid of all the boxes, once and for a while, anyway.

What about you? Have you ever thought about labeling around your home? Why did, or didn’t you?

 

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Wishing You All Good Things…

Thank you to all of you who have been faithfully following the blog, and big hats off to Cassandra who has managed to keep blogging  while being beautifully pregnant and chasing around her very active toddler.

We have had a full season in the Bowman House.  The boys enjoyed soccer for the first time, and Coach Bruss got to be a soccer coach instead of a birth coach!! He really enjoyed that.  I attended my final birth for my DONA doula certification…now I just have a pile of reading to do and paperwork to turn in.  Bradley™ Day was amazing…I will try to update that site while we take a break from homeschooling so I can upload the pictures to the website…you can see them HERE for now.  And homeschooling is almost on schedule – LOL.  It has been fun watching all our children grow through these first few weeks – Otter has mad scissor skills for a 3yo, Charger is learning to read (!), Night Owl is crazy good at math and is getting more motivated to read on his own as he hears his brother learning, and Puma is just all-around awesome – she is growing in her reading, writing and math skills, as well as learning how to do some sewing handwork.

To close out the year, I want to share these holiday wishes with you…

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Angels to guide you and keep you safe on your journeys…

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Angels to guide you and keep you safe on your journeys

Starry nights to wonder at the marvel of creation and reflect on the promise of the Star of Bethlehem

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Starry nights to wonder at the marvel of creation and reflect on the promise of the Star of Bethlehem

That your holiday dreams come true…even if they don’t come to fruition exactly as you imagined, may you find creative solutions so that you remember the love and joy as you create memories.

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That your holiday dreams come true…even if they don’t come to fruition exactly as you imagined, may you find creative solutions so that you remember the love and joy as you create memories.

Time to breathe in peace amidst the hustle and bustle so that you can radiate love and calm as you walk with your Sweet Peas

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TIme to breathe in peace amidst the hustle and bustle so that you can radiate love and calm as you walk with your Sweet Peas

A year of enjoying creation with your children…more time outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air with your Sweet Peas in 2015.

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A year of enjoying creation with your children…more time outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air with your Sweet Peas in 2015.

We are setting the intention for daily walks so that we can all get our daily dose of Vitamin D and teach our Sweet Peas good habits for a lifetime of health and vitality.

I will be back in 2015 with more regular posts.  I am committing to posting at least once a week, and more often as I get parenting questions from our students and can carve out time to blog between homeschooling and the other activities the SPKs.  I have all these pictures to share with you that just haven’t made it on to the blog – we have had so much fun with our preschool playdates and those will turn into blog posts so you can see the activities we are doing.  I also have great notes to share from the Birth Without Fear Conference…OMGosh it was A.Ma.Zing.  Lastly,  I can’t wait for Cassandra to share her thoughts on parenting two after her baby arrives safely earthside and she starts writing again after their babymoon…

Happiest Holiday Wishes to you and yours!! Be sure to tag us on social media so we can see how you are enjoying your holidays with your Sweet Peas <3

SPB Auction Package

UPDATE: Where in the world is SPF?

I am still completely engrossed homeschooling our four Sweet Pea Kids.  It is going so well – so far we are seven weeks in and this year has been a dream…maybe because I am not stressing myself out with too many “balls in the air” or “irons in the fire” or “insert your metaphor here”.

There is still one doula/student baby due in November…and just in time for that birth I have an awesome bag with all the pockets and zippers and organizing spaces.  I love the mermaid-water theme for birth – what do you think??

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Right now we are in Austin, TX so I can attend the Birth Without Fear Conference – SO EXCITED!!  I opted for this instead of a Mommy-Con event this year.  I am looking forward to enjoying it as a recharge for our Bradley Method classes.  My plan is to fill up my notebook with lots of notes for inspiration and maybe, or maybe not, turn them into blog posts over on our Sweet Pea Births blog.

It is also the last day for an online auction to benefit Julie of The Progressive Parent.  Pictured below is the Sweet Pea Births Prize Package for the Silent Auction:

Make your bids HERE:

http://www.32auctions.com/JulieAndKids

You do not have to be local to Arizona for the Healthy Pregnancy Class.  If you have an internet connection and a webcam, I would be happy to teach you over the internet! I will put the class handouts in the mail with the other items in the prize package.

Here is a a note from Amy Brown of Zen Parenting that explains more about the fundraiser:

Our beloved Julie of The Progressive Parent needs our help. A silent auction will be held in her honor Wednesday, October 22nd at 6 a.m. EST through Friday, October 24th 10 p.m. EST. This will take place entirely online.

Your contributions will go directly to Julie and her children, making it possible for them to experience the independence we all enjoy and take for granted – the freedom of owning a car.

Zen Parenting and all the other generous donors hope you’ll find it in your heart to give freely as we continue to work toward our goal for Julie. People helping people – that’s what it’s all about.Happy bidding! And may the odds be ever in your favor. (That’s right, I said it.)

Zen Parenting for The Progressive Parent

Zen Parenting and The Progressive Parent are so-called “mommy blogs,” but really so much more. The two of us have grown up together in the blogosphere. In the process, we’ve become close. In the process, one of us lost a child to sudden unexplained death in childhood (see SUDC.org). In the process, we became a support system to one another. In the process, we got here, where Zen Parenting is doing her part to help The Progressive Parent, because, we are all one, we both live by the philosophy that to whom much is given much is expected, and we are looking to be examples of compassion and love for our children and our children’s children.

The last thing going on is all the planning for the Bradley Day Family Picnic.  Yours truly is heading up the committee that is organizing an event to promote Dr. Bradley and healthy pregnancies-birth-babies-families.  You can read more about that event HERE.

Here is your invitation to join us:

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So that is what is going on in our world…we are excited for Cassandra’s upcoming birth…we will be back to more regular posts once she settles into her new normal after her babymoon and we get these events behind us and there is more time to be on-line.

Thank you for checking in with us…we’ll be back soon!!

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Ten Things You Don’t Know About Me…

This is one of “the games” on Facebook right now.  Since this is a sharing kind of place, and I am not “friends” with all our readers, here is what is on my mind today:

Here are 10 random things about me:

1. My earliest memories are of living in Italy. We lived there when I was 3-4.5 years old. Some of the ones that stand out: hiding from the doctor who gave me my shots, sitting next to my mom in bed when she was nursing my sister, and walking down the lane to get food from a neighboring farmer. I also remember going to a bakery for *the best* focaccia bread ever.

2. When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina and a teacher. Although I never became a ballerina, I did pretty well as a professional ballroom dancer and in the dance “business” end, and I am teaching almost every day.  I have taught ballroom dance, dance studio staff, and business managers.  Now I teach pregnant couples and our children.

3. When I was 20, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, a type of hypothyroidism. I was told at the time that I would probably never have children.

4. When we married, our priest said a blessing over us as part of our marriage ceremony (in Central Park, NYC!). I felt the biblical “opening of the womb”, and clearly, we have had little problems conceiving. So blessed to have carried four children to term.

5. I have a running list of questions that I would like to ask God when I cross over. If not with Him directly, I hope we all get a personal conference with someone who has a direct line to all the answers. Do you think they have a Dewey decimal system, or Wikipedia, in heaven?  Also on my crossover wish list: I am looking forward to meeting angel children that were carried and never born on earth.

6. Among “best” decisions I’ve made in my life was to join a sorority.  I am in Delta Phi Epsilon, and the women I have met and still keep in touch with are amazing, lovely, inspiring, and encourage me to be better every day.  I wish we were closer, and on my bin list is to start an alumni chapter in my area.

7. If I could do anything in the world and know I would succeed, I would like to climb Mount Everest. In reality, I hate the cold weather and I will never aspire to that, although I would like to visit Nepal someday.

8. I wish I/we had the means to give every child in need, the education they need to follow their dreams.

9. Much to Puma’s embarrassment, stories that inspire me by their great lesson, valor or sacrifice make me cry. I cry more often than I care to admit when we are reading out loud. Thank goodness that there are as many humorous stories as there are inspiring stories.

10. I still get stage fright. Before every first class of the Bradley series, my body and my mind are not friends, and I can’t eat all day long. After that first class is over, I am ravenous and excited and can’t believe that I made a big deal about it…until the next series is about to begin.

Things that I hope you all know about me: I feel blessed to have married the most perfect man for me, we love our children, and we live to make a difference. It is my/our hope that we leave a legacy for our children, and that “the dash” is a worthy one.

40thwithmylove

 

Please “play” here if you are so inclined…leave me a comment with some random facts about you – you pick the number :)  I would love to learn more about you!!

Tuesday Tips: An Au Natural Holiday

No, we are not running around the house naked – although I admit, you will see an occasional  naked baby bottom streaking through the house!  The title refers to today’s blog post, written as part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering :)



Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Mothering!

This article is a part of the Carnival of Natural Mothering hosted by GrowingSlower, Every Breath I Take, I Thought I Knew Mama, African Babies Don’t Cry, and Adventures of Captain Destructo. This month’s topic is Incorporating Natural Into the Holidays. Be sure to check out all of the participants’ posts through the links at the bottom of this page.

November 5, 2013: Incorporating Natural Into the Holidays
As we approach the holiday season, it is easy to get swept up in preparations and anticipation. How do you bring your natural lifestyle into the holidays with you? Whether it’s eco-friendly party prep, special treats that are also healthy, traditions that involve aspects of nature, or the natural techniques you use to stay calm and focused during the busy months ahead, we would love to read your stories and suggestions that focus on all that relates to a natural lifestyle during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Ahh – the holidays.  I am fascinated that the season of celebrating “holy days” is also the time when we can get the most frazzled, the most frustrated, and the most hurried.  It is pretty much exactly the opposite of keeping things sacred and holy!

The most important thing I try to remember is the “reason for the season”.  Is it really important to have the best looking and tasting food, the prettiest house, the most presents; if along the way you have forgotten to be kind to others, most importantly, your children?  For a lot of us, striving for perfection layers on added stress, guilt and pressure.  By extension, we lash out at the little people who are still needing our attention outside of our huge lists of things we need to do to: shopping, cleaning, preparing, hosting…those lists go on and on and on.

There are several things I have learned along the way that help me to be more intentional and peaceful during the season of hustle and bustle.

1. Breathe.  That simple act can make a simple and profound difference.  Before I don my cape, I aim to take five deep breaths as I start the day, reflecting on the intention of that day.  I no longer carve out time for a full yoga practice in the morning…now I simply use the deep breathing techniques I learned, and I review my mantras.  I want to be sure that Peaceful Mama shows up for my kids this day, not the Crazy Mama who yells her way across the day.

2. Flower Essences.  I can’t say enough about these amazing Lotus Wei elixirs.  We discovered them a few years ago and we will be forever customers.  I keep them next to our bathroom sink so that I can breathe in peace, love and joy every time I wash my hands.  A.Ma.Zing.BLOG lotus photo

3. Simplify.  I read an article this summer that talked about what kiddos remember the most about summer vacation: ice cream and the beach.  What?! That’s easy!  It’s so easy to discount the simple things while we focus on “going” and “doing”.

I think this concept of simplicity is perfect to apply to the holiday season as well.  Sit down with your partner and identify what it is you want your children to remember about the holidays.  Better yet, ask them what their favorite part of the season is, and see if you can incorporate it as often as possible into your days.

Things to consider if you want to simplify your list – how many events will you attend in a weekend?  How can you plan your days so that you do things with your children, instead of for your children?  Do you have family traditions you want them to learn, and if so, how do they become a part of them instead of having them done to them?

4.  Let Go.  Things are transient…I don’t know if our children will remember how perfect I made things. I know they remember that I was frazzled and stressed through the holidays.  Instead of trying to do it all, we pinpoint and do the meaningful things that grow us as a person and as a family.

5. Have Fun.  When I listen to our children, it seems to me that we have forgotten one important aspect of childhood:  they are in it for the fun.  Nothing gives me greater joy than hearing their laughter, or hearing their excitement at all the beauty of the holiday season.  So while we write our lists, do our shopping, make our meals, I try to be mindful that all they want to do is have a good day.  In my mind, a “good day” means feeling loved, sharing a laugh, and having fun.  I would rather not get it all done, and instead put “doing” off for another day so we all enjoy the “living”.

So what does that look like in action?

The breathing and the flower essences mean that I turn down my volume.  When I get stressed, I get loud, and that only serves to scare our children.  That is definitely not what I want them to remember about the holiday season!!  Being mindful of my intention to “make memories” instead of “doing things” helps me to focus on the big picture of wanting the holidays to be full of peace and joy.  To me, this mindset is more in-line with the promise and the hope that was delivered in the manger in Bethlehem.

It also means we take time to read holiday stories, sing holiday songs, and make holiday cookies.  We choose to spend time with our children, each other as partners, and our family.  I think when most of us look back, what stands out is the time with our loved ones, not the gifts they gave us, or the meals that they cooked.  We strive to make the prep time as important as the actual event we are preparing for.

For us, this meant letting go of hosting two holiday parties every season.  We cut our guest list to make the one event we do host more meaningful.  Instead of staying up all night on Thanksgiving night, we hire someone to do our decorating now, and it gets done over a 3-4 day period.  That lets me sleep, which is a much better choice in the long run.  If we couldn’t afford to hire someone, we would do less.  We made that choice with our outside decorating – now we do our own lights, again over more time and with a less ambitious approach.  Less is more, right?  And, it is so fun to have our kiddos showcase “their” section of the yard they decorated.

As they get older, we invite the children to help inside the house as well, and they take ownership of that holiday tradition with pride.  We use artificial trees, which saves a tree.  We use them until they are “Charlie Brown” style to be mindful of the environmental cost of production.  Again, we are not striving for perfection.  To them, it is all wonderful and beautiful.  Letting them place ornaments and other decor where they can see them and enjoy them has become more important than having the perfect show house.

Another “natural” choice we make is to give edible gifts.  Again, the goal is to reduce “stuff”.  Here is a gift everyone enjoys, and food can be wrapped creatively without adding to the mounds of packaging that will be thrown out or recycled.  If we don’t make the treats ourselves, we shop local at a farmer’s market for yummy treats to give to teachers, friends, family, or as hostess gifts.

We also go “au natural” through the holidays by giving back.  Although we all enjoy giving gifts, we also incorporate a charity into every season.  This was a tradition started by our families that we are passing on to our children.  We read through the holiday gift catalog from organizations like Heifer International or World Vision.  We read about parts of the world where people do not live like we do, and the kiddos choose gifts from those catalogs to give to their grandparents, who are in a phase of life where they are paring down.  I think we will start doing this for them to choose gifts for each other as well – we are all toyed out over here!

How do you incorporate natural living into your family’s holiday season?

Bloggers, visit GrowingSlower to sign up to be a part of next month’s carnival.

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Remembrance Day

It seems trite to name today a “tip” day, although I have included links for more information at the end of today’s post.

October 15th is recognized as the day when those of us who have lost children in pregnancy and infancy honor their memory.  It is a day to acknowledge their presence in our lives.  Even if we never got to hold them, their passage through our lives leaves us changed forever.

We hardly ever talk about it – especially as Bradley teachers, the last thing want to do is freak our students out with stories of miscarriage.  Since it is part of our family story, I record it here for our children to read when they are ready.

I bought hardly anything with our first pregnancy because I bled the whole time.  I dreaded our baby showers.  I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When we did have a healthy baby at the end of months of “pelvic rest” and bed rest, and I resolved to enjoy my next pregnancy.

We found out we were pregnant a few days before we left on a vacation.  I had originally noticed that Puma (then 18 months) wasn’t very interested in nursing – she said my milk tasted salty.  Then I took a pregnancy test – positive!  We were so excited, we called my mom and my sister right away.  We called the doctor to find out if it was safe to travel – they gave us the all clear, and we set a “pregnancy confirmation” appointment upon our return from vacation.

So off we went on our plane trip.  About three days in, I started bleeding.  Not just brown discharge – red bleeding with cramping.  We called our doctor again – they said there was nothing to do.  If it was heavy, they suggested we go to an E/R to make sure we didn’t need a D&C.  It wasn’t too much more than a menses, and it stopped over the next couple of days…it was clear what had happened.  The confirmation came when Puma resumed breastfeeding on her normal schedule because my milk tasted good to her again.

My heart broke!  I had taken a risk and bought a little outfit for the baby at our destination (which is still set aside; I never had the heart to put it on our other children).  I had signed and mailed a postcard with the name “Baby Bowman”.  I had loved this baby already and had let myself get excited.  There are no words that can capture the emotions I felt over the next few weeks.

The passage of time has helped.  I still wonder what that baby would have been like if it had been healthy and made it to term.  It would have been a Spring baby – the one season we are missing in our family birthday calendar.

Seven years later, I can say I have gratitude for the experience.  I am so grateful it was a first trimester loss.  Since then, we have had friends experience loss after they were showing their pregnancy; after they had felt their baby’s movements.  As a birth-worker, there are friends of mine have held sacred spaces with families who lost babies during childbirth.  Given the grief I felt when our early-term pregnancy ended, that kind of loss is unimaginable to me. When I was pregnant with Otter, I heard three birth stories that ended with loss…our experience leaves me grateful that we were spared the pain these families felt, and may still feel very keenly.

The hardest thing for me, with any loss, is that life goes on.  Inside, I feel torn up – I want to scream with the grief, and about injustice that has been done.  Yet the world does not know that there is a hole in my heart, a void in the pit of my body, an emptiness that is so overwhelming that all I want to do is roll up in a ball and just be away, curled up in the dark.  It expects me to be sane, normal, kind and reasonable.  My children expect to see their mommy just as she has always been.

If nothing else, our experiences with loss, miscarriage and otherwise, have vividly illustrated the platitude that says we should be kind to one another since we cannot know what kind of baggage other people are carrying.  They are not just pretty words anymore.  That person who doesn’t return your smile – who doesn’t coo at your sweet baby – who can’t be bothered to hold the door – who doesn’t realize they just cut you off.  Give them space, whether you think they deserve it or not.  If they are being jerks, that is their Karma.  If they are truly in pain over a loss they have experienced, your kindness is a ripple of love that may reach them subconsciously – just a little more love to fill their “love tank” in a world where they feel a huge void of love.

I wish all of you that have experienced miscarriage, pregnancy loss, or infant loss much peace today.  I pray that your spirit will be filled with a “peace that surpasses all understanding”. (Phil 4:7)

While I believe that we are on this Earth to make a difference, and I want to live every day to the fullest, I am not going to lie.  I am also biding my time and waiting for the day when I get to meet all these beautiful heavenly children that we never got to meet here on earth.

While there is no day to remember all those children lost to abortion, I love this image and wanted to share it today, too.  Click on picture for link to the story about the artist and her vision.

While I do not know of a day to remember all those children lost to abortion, I love this image and wanted to share it today, too. Click on picture for link to the story about the artist and her vision. *This is not a political statement* Simply a recognition that some of those mothers feel loss, too.

Do you want to support someone who has experienced a loss?  Here are some places to start reading about grief support?

Bereavement and Support Website for Care Providers and Families
http://www.babylosscomfort.com/
“Women who have suffered the loss of a baby are postpartum mothers too. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death leave women requiring not just emotional but also physical support.”  This site offers words to share and comfort, healing gifts, and links to more resources.

Owl Love You Forever
http://owlloveyouforever.com/
Our hope is to create a memorable and positive hospital experience for families that lose their baby before, during, or shortly after giving birth.  We provide boxes with meaningful items for the families, including specially designed blanket sets and a soft stuffed owl.  Help us fill these grieving mom’s arms by donating online today.

Have you experienced pregnancy loss?  Here are some resources that our students have found helpful:

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep 
http://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/ 
They offer the free gift of professional portraiture and remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby.  “The NILMDTS Foundation is there for parents and families to help aid them in their Healing, bring Hope to their future, and Honor their child.  It is through Remembrance that a family can truly begin to heal.”  They feel that these images serve as an important step in the family’s healing process by honoring their child’s legacy.

Arizona Perinatal Loss Bereavement Resource, Banner Desert Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Road, Mesa, 85202
480-512-3595
Provides a network of support for those experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss. This resource gives parents a statewide network of support, current bereavement literature on a variety of topics, educational opportunities and resources in the community, state and national level.

The Compassionate Friends
http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx
The Compassionate Friends is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child at any age and to provide information to help others be supportive.   They offer a safe place for bereaved parents, grandparents, and siblings to meet and talk freely about your child and your grief issues.

M.I.S.S. Foundation
www.missfoundation.org
The M.I.S.S. Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support to grieving families through community volunteerism opportunities, public polic y and legislative education and programs to reduce infant and toddler death through research and education.

M.E.N.D. Mother’s Enduring Neonatal Death
http://www.mend.org/ 
M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) is a Christian, non-profit organization that reaches out to families who have suffered the loss of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death.

HAND Helping After Neonatal Death
http://www.handonline.org/ 
HAND is a resource network of parents, professionals, and supportive volunteers that offers a variety of services throughout Northern California and the Central Valley.

SHARE Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc
http://www.nationalshare.org/ 
The mission of Share Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Inc. is to serve those whose lives are touched by the tragic death of a baby through early pregnancy loss, stillbirth, or in the first few months of life.

A christian site for baby loss:
http://www.sarahs-laughter.com/

Glow In The Woods
http://www.glowinthewoods.com/ 
This website deals with all kinds of baby loss.  There is also lots of helpful advice for things you may have to deal with depending on the stage of loss like stopping lactation, planing a funeral, and how to help others going through a loss.

BOOKS
Picture Book:
“We Were Gonna Have A Baby, But We Have An Angel Instead”
http://www.amazon.com/Were-Gonna-Have-Angel-Instead/dp/0972424113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315324134&sr=8-1

Book: Empty Cradle, Broken Heart
http://www.amazon.com/Empty-Cradle-Broken-Revised-Edition/dp/1555913024 
The heartache of miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death affects thousands of U.S. families every year. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart offers reassurance to parents who struggle with anger, guilt, and despair after such tragedy. Deborah Davis encourages grieving and makes suggestions for coping. This book strives to cover many different kinds of loss, including information on issues such as the death of one or more babies from a multiple birth, pregnancy interruption, and the questioning of aggressive medical intervention. There is also a special chapter for fathers as well as a chapter on “protective parenting” to help anxious parents enjoy their precious living children. Doctors, nurses, relatives, friends, and other support persons can gain special insight. Most importantly, parents facing the death of a baby will find necessary support in this gentle guide. If reading this book moves you to cry, try to accept this reaction. Your tears merge with those of other grieving parents.

A purpose of this book is to let bereaved parents know that they are not alone in their grief. With factual information and the words and insights of other bereaved parents, you can establish realistic expectations for your grief. Empty Cradle, Broken Heart is meant to help you through these difficult experiences by giving you things to think about, providing suggestions for coping and encouraging you to do what you need to survive your baby’s death. Whether your baby dies recently or long ago, this information can be useful to you.

Book:An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination: A Memoir
http://www.amazon.com/Exact-Replica-Figment-My-Imagination/dp/B004WB19VC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315324059&sr=8-1

Placenta Encapsulation – Wendy Diaz, PBi™ PES
naturallybirthing@cox.net
Her encapsulation services are free for bereaving mothers.  Wendy will also add herbs to the capsules that help dry up the milk supply.

Book: About What Was Lost: 20 Writers About Miscarriage, Healing, and Hope
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/427371.About_What_Was_Lost

ONLINE GROUPS
Faces of Loss Faces of Hope
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Faces-Of-Loss-Faces-Of-Hope/128929057151139

Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss
https://www.facebook.com/miscarriage

Angel Baby – Miscarriage and loss
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angel-Baby-Miscarriage-and-loss/120451244647218