The Montessori Bed

As promised I’ll be talking about the book Spousenomics in this post but first I want to dance around a little detour and mention montessori beds.

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I posted on Instagram yesterday that baby Rose has outgrown her bassinet. She’s a big girl and the bassinet is big but she’s begun rolling with force and pulling herself up, so I decided that laying her in there was not longer safe. Unfortunately it’s not safe for her to be on our bed during naps either. We usually co-sleep, which is fine since she sleeps cuddled in between us. We had one of our first cold nights two days ago and I got into bed while letting Rosie stay in her own. I was freezing cold and kept trying to scoot closer and closer to my husband, inwardly moaning about how I’d forgotten the miserableness of winter’s weather. I suppose I was making too much noise and woke the baby up. I scooped her up into bed with us and it was like someone had put a mini heater in with us. I almost immediately fell asleep  because I was finally toasty warm. Add this to the list of co-sleeping benefits!

BUT

I don’t lay down with the baby when she takes naps, and we’ve had a couple of close calls where she’s managed to roll over the guard pillows and teetered on the edge of the bed. I played a bit with the idea of getting a cheap crib from Ikea, but settled instead on a montessori style bed, which is just a mattress on the floor.

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The montessori approach is all about fostering independence, especially by allowing the child access to doing things themselves. You place all of their things at their level. Having a bed on the floor allows the child to decide for themselves how they will go about sleeping. Obviously, it is not good for keeping wild children contained, or letting babies “cry it out,” neither of which we do in our family. Although it makes me want to pull my hair out when I see the destruction the older two can make in their room, it is their room, and their private space. Or when it’s 11 o’clock and I can still hear them up and playing. I try to respect their privacy and foster their independence by allowing them to maintain it themselves. This falls right in line with Charlotte Mason style habit training. You remind your children of what needs to be done to create a habit, then step back and allow them to achieve it themselves.

Yes, it can be a bit of a problem having a mobile child sleeping on the floor. They can easily wake up and get into mischief. But if you have a mobile child your house should be adequately child-proofed anyway, and regardless of whether a child is sleeping in a crib or bed or floor, they should be checked on periodically. The people who seem most boggled by allowing your child independence are the ones who want to be able to put them in a container and forget about them until they cry.

We use the floor bed to allow baby to determine her own sleeping needs. She cannot be “forced” to sleep just because I think she needs a nap. We have to wait until she decides it is time to sleep and is willing to let me lay with her until she konks out. And then she is able to wake up at any time and come out and join us. She does not have to sit in baby prison until we decide to come get her. Again, we only use the floor bed for naps, so her getting up and walking around while we’re asleep is a non-issue. Some people use montessori beds in the child’s own room but we plan that she will pretty much always be sleeping in a room with someone, either an adult or brother/sister, until she’s fairly old.

Ok, this post is getting long. I’ll have to continue what I was supposed to write about in another entry haha.

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Growing Up

I’m still deep in the throws of life improvement. As I’ve said before, being pregnant was kind of a big moment in my life and not just because I had a baby. Those crazy hormones really throw you for quite a ride and almost kind of force you to look at the things in your life that you’re avoiding. I’m driving my husband crazy with all my hare-brained ideas and talks about how to improve our lives. Not that I think much actually needs improvement. It’s more just…insurance I guess. A way to make me feel like I’m doing something productive with my days and to unravel myself.

I’m about to start on sorting through our Christmas decorations today. I didn’t even bother with the fall ornaments I usually have, opting instead to use simple gathered plants from outside.

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I’ve just become almost a bit fanatical about eliminating eliminating eliminating. I know why so many poor people have junk all over the place. When you have no money, it’s a scary thought to get rid of things. What if you need it? You have no way to replace it. Having old dishwashers and cars and baby toys leftover from your twenty year old kids makes so much sense to me.

There are so many things that I’ve wrapped around myself. So many ways in which I’ve attempted to shelter and protect myself to get through things. Letting go of a lot has been so therapeutic. I’ve gotten rid of a lot of emotional baggage and a lot of closet baggage. I don’t feel like I need to hang on to things just in case I need them anymore. I think I have the security of life to count on my ability to replace whatever I may regret and to find satisfaction with what I have.

(I’m about to share some very sensitive pictures….of my closets. !!!)

(bathroom closet with all of my makeup and accessories on the third shelf; my clothes closet since I don’t have a dresser. Three shelves of clothes; And our shared hanging closet, his stuff on the left mine on the right. The wicker basket in the middle is laundry and the one up top is sewing supplies. The white boxes are our out of season clothes. The emptier these become, the happier I become).

I laugh now that I am able to go into stores and buy things, I rarely do so, because I can’t think of a place for it. Keeping my house purposeful has become more important than filling it with whatever catches my eye.

That is a good metaphor for how I feel about life I suppose.

I rarely feel the inclination to do things I don’t want to anymore. I seek out those things that bring me the most happiness and decline the things that are less than. Life can only contain so much and it is useless to fill it with meaningless clutter.

That is a good metaphor for my house I suppose.

I used to say that The Awakening was one of my favorite books. That I could read it over and over again because the flavor of Chopin’s words were so satisfying. Despite my love for the book, I would never have said that I emphasized with Edna, that I understood her but didn’t connect. I know now that is not true. She is more perfectly a part of me than anything I could say about myself.

“He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”

I understand now that Leonce and Robert do not have to be their own person but are two sides of the same coin.

“But the thought of him was like an obsession, ever pressing itself upon her. It was not that she dwelt upon details of their acquaintance, or recalled in any special or peculiar way his personality; it was his being, his existence, which dominated her thought, fading sometimes as if it would melt into the mist of the forgotten, reviving again with an intensity which filled her with an incomprehensible longing.”

I understand now the ambivalence of motherhood. Or at least I have the ability to acknowledge these things to myself.

“I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”

Do I reflect on my own feelings too much? I feel like this blog is becoming more and more of a standard outpouring of my own internal microscopic searches. It is one thing to strive to know yourself better but it is another to realize that you don’t know yourself at all. To find that you are a puzzle you don’t even understand.

“Even as a child she had lived her own small life within herself. At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life – that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions.”

Most of all, I am grateful that I do not live in a time in which women have to chose. A time where women can savor both contentment and life’s delirium. I believe women can have it all, as long as we are confident enough in our decisions to accept it (more on this in my next post, covering the book Spousenomics). In the meantime, fin.

“Some people are born with a vital and responsive energy. It not only enables them to keep abreast of the times; it qualifies them to furnish in their own personality a good bit of the motive power to the mad pace. They are fortunate beings. They do not need to apprehend the significance of things. They do not grow weary nor miss step, nor do they fall out of rank and sink by the wayside to be left contemplating the moving procession.
Ah! that moving procession that has left me by the road-side! Its fantastic colors are more brilliant and beautiful than the sun on the undulating waters. What matter if souls and bodies are failing beneath the feet of the ever-pressing multitude! It moves with the majestic rhythm of the spheres. Its discordant clashes sweep upward in one harmonious tone that blends with the music of other worlds–to complete God’s orchestra.

It is greater than the stars–that moving procession of human energy; greater than the palpitating earth and the things growing thereon. Oh! I could weep at being left by the wayside; left with the grass and the clouds and a few dumb animals. True, I feel at home in the society of these symbols of life’s immutability. In the procession I should feel the crushing feet, the clashing discords, the ruthless hands and stifling breath. I could not hear the rhythm of the march.

Salve! ye dumb hearts. Let us be still and wait by the roadside.”

-Kate Chopin

Some Complaints

I started blogging for two main reasons. There were a couple of bloggers that I really enjoyed so I wanted to participate in the community and I missed writing in college. I wanted a place where I could continue writing every day.

But since getting more into the blogging world, I’ve become less and less convinced the internet is a haven for introverts. I suppose I thought that under the mask on the web, where we don’t have to actually face to face communicate, people would be more willing to be open, present interesting thoughts to each other, be supportive in ways that is hard for less outgoing people to be in real life.

Instead I feel like I’ve been walking in the fakest high school drama.

There was a little ripple in the mommy blog community a couple of weeks ago when Camp Patton changed her blog to private. I think the general consensus was that she had been receiving some nasty comments? Either way, criticism of the website GOMI quickly circled around, with bloggers chastising the nasty comments people were making about them on this website. “People just need to get a life instead of criticizing others!” “How can some people be so nasty?” “Some people are just jealous!”

I went to GOMI fully expecting some pretty nasty trolling. But instead I found forums of women who genuinely like and read parenting/lifestyle blogs but wanted a place where they could collectively roll their eyes at some of the stuff these bloggers post. And I laughed. I laughed and laughed and laughed because I could not agree more with what a lot of what these women were saying.

Yes, LocalMilk is wanting to be some grey scale Gwyneth Paltrow and posts absolutely horrendous recipes

Yes, PrudentHomemaker is clearly doing a lot better financially than she used to be despite her claims to the opposite

Yes, Penelope Trunk is a huge attention magnet (but we all still love her)

Yes, I am so tired of women thinking they’re talented because people buy their overpriced leggings and prints with trite sayings on them that are all written in that exact same semi-cursive scrawl. (I saw someone on instagram post an ink watercolor of a variegated leaf. It literally took them probably four brush strokes and was something my eight year old could absolutely do. All the comments: “Sell please!! **kissy face.**)

Yes, I am tired of food blogs where you make the recipes at home and they taste like crap (this is why making an actual cookbook takes years. Blogger doesn’t have a cookbook with good reviews? Don’t make their food!)

Yes, I am tired of grown women writing like they’re in middle school. “Youse guyz….I can’t even….nom nom nom….”

Yes, I’m tired of very wealthy women, or women who are getting items for free, pushing me to buy 40 dollar shirts for my four year old. Redcreekhandmade, you’re adorable, but seriously, who can afford to have their child destroy a linen romper that costs that much?

Yes, I’m tired of women with their DSLR telling me it’s so easy to get great shots!

Yes, I’m tired of humble bragging…”The light wasn’t perfect and it’s a tad blurry, but I just had to share this picture!” over gorgeous portrait. “It’s been such a crazy and hectic day! I feel like I couldn’t get anything done! So instead we baked this pie with the blueberries we picked this morning and now we’re going to take a tub and cuddle!”

Yes, I am tired of posts where the post title has nothing to do with the post and it is a short ramble about…I’m not really sure what….

There are lots of fantastic blogs out there. There are lot of women and men who do a fantastic, professional level job. There are others who are fun to talk to because they’re just online to share with close people, writing their life for posterity. And there are others who hide in the internet world because they’re too easily called out on the BS in the real world. Some of them I still like, looking at you Penelope, but most are….well, I’m over it.

I’ve lost interest in a lot of this because there is a shocking lack of people with children over the age of 7 or so doing it. I think that should give some hint as to how cultivated and manufactured a lot of these people’s lives are. I’ve seen several people post pictures or write posts talking about how their children brought them their favorite stuffed animal, or was packing their suitcase, and it’s always some super expensive, chintzy looking, handmade toys/clothes and I think BS. You ask any four year old to give you their favorite toy and its going to be some atrocious light up plastic thing. I get that doesn’t make a nice picture. We all like to take aesthetically pleasing photos or write nice stories. But then just say, “I love this!” instead of lying about how cultured, sensitive, and artisianally appreciative your child is.

Once a child gets to a certain age though, it’s hard to hide what children are really like. It becomes impossible to get a good photo of them, hence why I love taking baby pictures, but it’s even more impossible to get them to do things and say things and wear things that you can then post for other adults to admire. You can’t blog about making fairy crowns with your eight year old when they’re in school all day. You can’t blog at all when your four+ kids who all used to take daily naps are suddenly needing to be driven all over the place for activities and are making messes and playing with their friends and having their own lives. It’s easy writing homeschool posts for preschoolers where you do one activity together but it gets much harder when you’re spending hours doing math with multiple children.

Anyway. Be wary of those who share their lives too readily. The most tender moments of your lives with your family are not something that should be shared with 3k followers. That’s little better than reality stars. And I’m not longer sorry for not posting as much. In fact, I’m kind of glad I don’t.

That Little Thing Called Happiness

I know a lot of people say life is too short to be unhappy but life isn’t short. In fact, it’s very long. The longest thing you will ever encounter while you’re alive. That’s kind of what defines it. Which makes me think, why would you want to spend the longest thing in your life being miserable?

I read The Myth of Happiness: Why What We Think is Right is Wrong by Jennifer Michael Hecht awhile ago but I’m still thinking about it.This kind of book is right up my alley. She takes something in our modern life (happiness) and places it against a historical context. I love doing this. As my husband says, “Let’s just take a step back and look at the big picture.” It seems like every time you take a big picture view about something it becomes very clear where we’re doing a lot of dumb stuff that doesn’t make sense or where we’re doing things that have a long tradition and therefore provide a valuable service to us all.

Hecht goes through lots of different categories, and while I didn’t always agree, she brought up a lot of good points. What I loved most of all though was just the questioning of “What really makes us happy?” Some obvious things come out like family, feeling fulfilled, close connections with people…but I’m realizing that for myself I really seek and crave simplicity. It’s so odd too because when I think about myself throughout my whole life, I haven’t been a simple person. I was a childhood hoarder, I collect animals, I collect children, I used to be called hyper and crazy and loud. I loved Victorian knick knacks and all I wanted to do was be social. So why am I constantly trying to simplify my life?

I wrote a blog post on the book Simplicity Parenting which really helped me understand my ultra sensitive son. He is very sensitive to stimuli and would break down in hysterical tears a lot over things like loud noises. He can’t handle weird textures or messy rooms or lots of choices. Even choosing between two things can be too much and he almost always defers with an, “I don’t care, it’s up to you.” As he’s gotten older an odd thing has happened. When he gets overwhelmed and over stimulated he doesn’t break down crying anymore. He gets crazy.

This was a huge epiphany for me. I had felt so long like there was this huge conflict between who I was inside and how I behaved for most of my childhood. People would tell me I was hyper and I’d think, “No, I’m not. I’m really shy and quiet.” Or that all I cared about was my friends and I’d think, “Not at all. I really don’t like spending time with these people.” I was always wondering, like my parents, So why do you do it then?

I was like a kid who is hopped up on sugar, greedily shoving more and more into my mouth because I didn’t know how to stop. Once you manage to get all that sugar out of your system, you look at it fearfully and say, “Keep that away from me!” There are things like going out to parties that I enjoy but I actively avoid because I don’t trust myself. I’m exactly that person who will do stupid things completely oblivious to the fact that they’re being an idiot. Some sensitive people have panic attacks, others get kind of manic and crazy.

That makes me sound like such a weird person but I’m completely OK with that because I know a lot of other people are just like that too. So to all those introverts out there who feel like there is a huge disconnect between how they act and how they feel, I have this tip for you. Simplify your life. I just took another car load of stuff to Goodwill the other day and it felt so good. It tires me out in the mornings picking out an outfit. I don’t like choices. This is probably why I don’t enjoy shopping. I do opposite shopping, where I know what I want, and then try to find it. I’m currently trying to reduce my wardrobe to a capsule, which most suggest is around 32 items per season. I’m down to right around 100 items total.

But it’s not just things around your house you should simplify. I love how Marie Kondo says in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m done doing things, being with people, buying things that don’t give me joy. Because doing otherwise literally makes me act crazy. Life is too short, and long, to be a crazy person.

“I know myself and that is all.” – This Side of Paradise

Yourself

I’ve started reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, and it is exactly what I needed right now. Life can become exceedingly more difficult when you start listening to how people say you should be living your life, especially when it’s in conflict with how you actually want to. I don’t just mean majoring in business rather than music. I’m talking about an even more basic level, about who we are individually. Susan Cain talks at length about the extrovert ideal….the Roman Orator, the powerful bravery of our American founding fathers, the modern salesman. It’s particularly frightening to not be an extrovert in our modern culture where fidelity to a company is scare and each individual is always told to “market” themselves. People are becoming less employees and more long term freelancers.

It’s absolutely hard coping with not being an extrovert. I get tired of apologizing for being overly emotional sometimes. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m somehow naive and childlike because I enjoy beautiful things and daydreaming. I feel bad that I’m a dilettante and can’t focus on doing one thing really well, and that I don’t enjoy the time constraints of a job, or get easily overwhelmed by loud noises and crowds. I wish I could be more outgoing and connect with other people but I just don’t enjoy talking about blase things…”shooting the breeze,” as they say.

There are a myriad of self-help books out there designed to help people just like me “function” and “cope” in life. But anymore I don’t believe that I should have to function or cope. There are things that introverts and sensitive people bring to the table and we should be ok with who we are. Because the thing is, being an introvert or sensitive doesn’t make me self-conscious. It doesn’t make me shy or ashamed. What makes me feel those things is people telling me the traits I do have are somehow worth less than an outgoing gregarious person’s.

This is especially important for women to hear. We live in a very male centered world. So much so, that it is almost impossible to tell which parts of our culture are necessary and which are damaging. For example, there was recently a study done on the effects of having women in special ops teams. The study showed that with women, the team became less effective which, the authors surmised, could lead to more casualties. They cited things like women’s inability to climb high walls without assistance. So yes, here we have an example of a job in which men and women are clearly different and the differences do have terrible real world implications, like death. But the question we should be asking isn’t whether or not women should be on special ops teams. The question we should be asking is how can be design special ops tactics to enhance the abilities of all soldiers, not just the male ones. It is not the women who should be asked to change, it is the human designed constructs that should.

The same could be said for women’s fluctuating emotions. We’re so widely criticized for this ( “A woman can’t be president. What would happen when she’s on her period??”) but at some level you have to think, we’ve gotten a lot done DESPITE our emotions. Maybe they’re not so harmful after all. Maybe sometimes you need to be really nice and sometimes you need to be mean. Sometimes you need to be empathetic and other times you need to be aloof. Despite what some say, being logical and practical isn’t always the best option. Similarly, being extroverted isn’t always the best option, and I’m tired of being told that it is.

John Holt said that school is great at convincing children that they don’t know things they do know. My son is 5 and working at a 2nd grade math level and I don’t think he’s exceptional in any way. If he was in a school setting he would be in Kindergarten and learning how to count and he, like most kids, would be bored out of his mind. That’s because, like most kids, while he KNOWS fairly advanced math, he doesn’t know how to “do school.” He has trouble answering questions verbally because his mind wanders, despite being told many times he doesn’t get the concept of writing your answer on a blank space and instead places numbers randomly all over his paper, and he has to be playing with something to listen efficiently. I give him a list of two and three digit numbers to add and get a paper back scrawled with backwards numbers all over the page. So it takes time for me to sort through each problem,

“Where’s the answer to this one?”

“Oh, here’s the seven and over here’s the three. It’s seventy three.”

In school they would say he’s not ready for this math. What he’s not ready for, is this kind of school.

From now on I’m done with thinking there must be something wrong with me. There’s nothing wrong with how I do things, there’s nothing wrong with how my son visualizes math, there’s nothing wrong with a woman being president, and there’s nothing wrong with introverts. This isn’t relativism, it’s just accepting that the world tells us a certain kind of person is the best kind, and that is incorrect. Just flat out, incorrect. We can all bring something valuable as long as we are given the freedom to work out the problem in our own way and we have the insight to be able to explain it. Stop trying to overcome and just be unapologetic.

“It is only that people are far more different than is pretended. All over the world men and women are worrying because they cannot develop as they are supposed to develop. Here and there they have the matter out, and it comforts them. Don’t fret yourself, Helen. Develop what you have; love your child. I do not love children. I am thankful to have none. I can play with their beauty and charm, but that is all – nothing real, not one scrap of what there ought to be. And others – others go farther still, and move outside humanity altogether. A place, as well as a person, may catch the glow. Don’t you see that all this leads to comfort in the end? It is part of the battle against sameness. Differences – eternal differences, planted by God in a single family, so that there may always be colour; sorrow, perhaps, but colour in the daily grey.” -Howards End

rethinking

I’m going to have a moment of honesty right now. I’m a bit over blogging.

At least….I’m tired of blogging because I feel like I’ve been doing it like every one else. I’ve been writing a lot of posts which, while I feel can be helpful to people, aren’t really interesting to me, simply because that’s what a “Mommy Blogger” does.

It’s not just blogging. I rarely get on facebook anymore either. Not that every one on facebook isn’t wonderful but it just feels full of advertisements. Just like a lot of blogs I’m subscribed to just seem to be trying to sell me something. I get that this is how a lot of ladies make their income, but I’m more interested in being inspired to keep doing what I do.

Which Is probably why I’ve gotten so obsessed with Instagram. I put it off. I downloaded it and fiddled and left it alone for years. But I recently said, “Screw it, I want to post pictures somewhere.” So I really started to explore it, find other Instagramers, and to be honest it is one of the best things I’ve ever done. While I’m till figuring things out, and trying to improve my photography skills, it helps me so much to be able to pick up my camera and try every day to find beauty in my life. It’s so easy to get caught up in dumb meaningless stuff, but constantly looking and trying to identify beautiful moments has woken me up to the ways in which my life is wonderful.

So why didn’t I get on Instagram earlier? Mostly because it was a dumb hipster-iPhone using- stupid coffee pictures app. I feel like a dope. A hipster with coffee pictures kind of dope.

I’ve been rethinking a lot. As I’ve mentioned before, the past year especially has been full of all kinds of thoughts. But it’s only lately that some thing have begun to come into focus and make sense. I’m starting to feel like a person who makes Decisions and has Opinions.

There seem to be a lot of things we do and say that has very little reasoning behind it. Take something like….ironing clothes for instance. People used to iron their clothes to get rid of bugs (seriously, yes). The hot iron would kill bugs and their eggs. They even ironed underwear! But today we have hot water to wash our clothes in, we have strong detergents, and we have relatively bug free homes. So why are ironed clothes still considered nice while rumpled clothes aren’t? Creating clean lines maybe? While I’m not about to go out in rumpled clothes, I don’t feel the need to iron constantly because I really doubt that people are going to think I have bugs crawling out in my undies if they aren’t perfectly pressed.

There are some important things too though. My husband and I always seesaw on how we should teach the kids about money. While on one hand we come from a very monetarily conservative mindset, we’re starting to realize that the world doesn’t work for conservative spending. We live in a very rich country. We are in the middle class. It is a reasonable assumption that our kids will be in the middle class. So while I would like to teach them that they shouldn’t spend and should save their money and not go into debt (here is a great article on modern debt), I also recognize that I can’t take shopping temptation away from them, they probably will have to go into debt at some point, and maybe I should teach them how to manage these things instead of extol a life without them?

Right now we’re just working on teaching them the ability to let go instead of being attached or feel like their identity is wrapped up in things. We buy a lot but we give just as much away.

On the same vein, I’m not sure where I’m going with my blog. I suppose I’ll just play it by ear.

Strawberry Shortcakes

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I feel like I should just go ahead and apologize because this is going to be one of those terrible little half-posts. I was typing out the title and a red line showed up under “strawberry” telling me I spelled it wrong. It took me five minutes to figure out I had switched the “t” and the “a.” Long story short: I’m having a major day month long brain fart (I know, it’s so uncouth to use the word “fart.” Did I make up for it by using the word “uncouth?”)

Anyway

We celebrated my Mom’s 60th birthday last week and since I am terrible at a) giving good presents and b) throwing parties, my only contribution is usually to make something. We actually created some homemade paper out of leaves and flowers and glitter and it was so pretty but while it was sitting outside to dry it started raining. Pouring rain. The paper turned into pulp. See what I said above about being horrible at  giving good presents.

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These little cakes are incredibly simple, but like most simple things you can make it more complicated if you’d like. Premade or homemade pound cake it fine, but you just cut into into circles the same diameter as your jars or glasses, and about an inch thick. I used two pound cakes for these four glasses, although I obviously had extra bits from where I cut out the circles.

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Layer the cake, then whipped cream (homemade please!), fruit, cake, cream, fruit, cake, and more cream. Then decorate the top! Easy peasy.

Here is the classic pound cake recipe if you’d like to make your own. It’s called a pound cake because you use a pound of each ingredient.

Cream 4 sticks of butter with 2 cups of sugar until fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add 9 eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides between each. Add 3 1/4 cup flour. Bake at 325 in two load pans for 65 minutes. Fin!

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Newborn Essentials

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As promised, here is part two on what you will need when you’re a Momma. It’s actually difficult to come up with a list like this because every one’s needs are so different and there will inevitably be something you’ll regret not getting and something you’ll buy and never use. Here is my feeble attempt to list the newborn baby essentials.

The biggest money waster are baby toys. There are so many gadget and toys which are supposed to keep your baby entertained. Toys you can strap on the high chair, toys you can put in the crib, toys you can put on their car seat. All completely useless. All baby wants is to nurse, to be held, or to play with whatever you’re holding. The desire to be like Mommy and Daddy starts very early and even young babies somehow know when a toy is designed for babies. They lose interest super fast. However, there are lots of almost indispensable items that you should get when you’re expecting.

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White noise app. There are lots of great apps out there, or you could even just hop on YouTube whenever you need it. Either way, babies love white noise and it really helps them to stay asleep.

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On that note, I’d absolutely recommend getting a rocking chair. There’s a reason mothers have had these chairs for hundreds of years…they work. Some people say, “You shouldn’t get a baby used to sleeping to movement because then they’ll always need movement!” To which I say, “So what?” We all sleep better with movement, that’s why people conk out on car trips. I’m all about getting baby to sleep faster and staying asleep, than worrying about whether he’ll be forty and still needing me to rock him to sleep (Guess what, no matter what you do, he wont!)

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Have I mentioned before how much I love wraps? Oh I have? Get one. Boba or Moby are the most popular brands. I will mention though that Boba and Moby only go up to 20lbs before the stretchy-ness becomes too stretchy. That’s around 6 months for most babies. After that you’ll want to invest in a woven wrap if you still plan to carry.

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There will be spit up. Lots of it. Buy plenty of Burp cloths.

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Along with rocking and wraps, Swaddle blankets are great to help a baby get to sleep and stay asleep. Swaddling never really seems to work once the baby has discovered their hands, but before then there is a tremendous difference in the length of time a swaddled baby will sleep compared to an un-swaddled one.

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I totally and completely advocate for co-sleeping, meaning at least having your baby sleep in the same room as you. Aside from the fact that it seems heartless to me to make a tiny baby sleep alone in a room by itself, sharing a bed or bedroom mean that you get a lot more sleep. Imagine those first weeks of waking up at night. Would you rather wait until baby is screaming loudly enough that you can hear it on the baby monitor and you sleepily walk down the hall to nurse or prepare a bottle, put her to sleep, and then go back to your bed before waking up again in an hour….or would you rather hear baby’s gentle moaning that she’s waking, roll over and give her a little snack (baby’s night feedings before they’re fully awake last about one minute) and then you both fall back asleep? Get a Co sleeper or bassinet to get more sleep for both of you (or be a complete rebel and just let baby sleep with you!)

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Soothie pacifier. Newborns love these. Why? I dunno…

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Stroller OR umbrella stroller. You really don’t need both of these, especially if you use a wrap. I’d go for a nice umbrella stroller and forego the large stroller entirely. They’re so large and unwiedly, and essentially do the exact same thing while managing to take up twice as much space. But that’s just my preference.

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One size car seat. Again, if you have a wrap, an infant car seat is really pointless. There has actually been a lot of talk about how dangerous infant car seats are, not because they actually are dangerous but because people do a lot of dangerous things with them, like put them on top of shopping carts or tables, letting baby continue sleeping in them (doing this can cut off baby’s oxygen supply when their breath becomes more shallow during sleep), and by lugging it around causing the handle to break. Plus, car seats are expensive, and having to only buy one makes a lot more sense than buying two within a year. To all those people that say, “But it’s so nice to be able to just let Baby continue sleeping!” I 100percent promise you that if Baby is sleeping and you take him out of the car seat and put him into a wrap, he will fall right back asleep. Seriously, I PROMISE.

I bought this Graco one size from Target.

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Baby food pureer. These are so incredibly useful. It almost completely eliminates the need to buy canned baby food. Just take a little of what you’re eating, before you add spices to it, and turn it into baby mush!

However, the guidelines for infant feeding now say to hold off on solids until 6 months, by which time many babies can handle finger foods. It is absolutely possible to not do slurrpy baby food at all. We didn’t with baby 2 and probably wont with baby 3 either, so this is another optional item.

Also, a regular food processor or blender will do this too…

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High chair. A high chair is really indispensable but don’t feel like you need a big one with bells and whistles. The plain Ikea style ones, or even one that just straps onto a regular chair work just fine.

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Crib. A crib is really an optional item. Most parents admit that their under 2 child sleeps with them often, but they’ll only admit this when asked on an anonymous survey. If you don’t have the room, don’t bother with a crib, but if you REALLY can’t handle the jimmy legs of a young child, buy one. I’d still recommend keeping it in your bedroom instead of a separate room though. Cribs are really only necessary after Baby has learned to pull himself up and could potentially fall out of the bassinet so for the first six months or so don’t worry about having one. If you’re concerned about safety, having a floor bed is actually a really great idea for small children. Ikea also has many low toddler beds that can be used for fairly young children. I only used a crib with my first but it had the side taken off so she could get out herself. The others went from bassinet to our bed to a toddler bed.

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Nursing pillow. This one is mostly optional. I only actually used it for nursing with my first baby but my other two loved it to lounge in before they could sit up. It’s nicer than a pillow because baby can’t roll off of it. I like it, I would buy it again, but if you’re really on a tight budget, don’t feel like it needs to be on your list.

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Baby toys. Don’t buy any of these before your baby is actually here because every baby will like something different. We’ve had a cuddler who liked soft stuffed animals, one who didn’t like toys at all, and one who loves bouncy toys. Wait until your baby is a couple of months old, take her to the store, and just see what she’s interested in. Otherwise you’ll just end up with a bucket of completely useless toys (I speak from experience.)

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Jumpers. If you’ve heard me talk you’ll know I’m all about holding baby, not passively letting baby just sit, etc, etc. But my goodness, baby love jumpers. Don’t feel like you need anything fancy, they really like the jumping more than the lights and toys, but you will always enjoy seeing the happiness on your baby’s face when they are in these miracle toys.

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Clothes. Let’s be honest, you can’t buy enough baby clothes.

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First aid kit. Your first aid kit should include a bulb syringe, infant medicine dispenser, band aids, gauze, neosporin, and hydrogen peroxide, as well as a chart on CPR for infants.

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Books. It’s never too early to start reading to your baby and in fact most babies find it soothing to be read to. They don’t need to be “baby” books, but bright pictures are a plus.

Things you really don’t need: Diaper bin, baby monitor (unless you live in a big house or think you’ll be outside while baby sleeps), fetal monitors, anything that has only one purpose, baby tubs, special drying racks for bottles (I really don’t get this one), bouncy chairs, pack n’ play, changing table, diaper stacker, “baby” blankets, “baby” bowls or spoons, play mats, toilet locks, or “baby” laundry detergent (any sensitive skin kind will work).

Postpartum Essentials

I  know there can be so much out there about what you need for baby that it can sometimes be difficult to decide what you will really need. Those little baby heartbeat monitors seem super cool and useful but do you really NEED it? (the answer is no). I know even after having two kids, five years was long enough for me to completely forget what was useful, so this is for both new and continuing moms.

Almost all of these things can easily be made at home or found at Target but I did include links if you click on the product name.

Don’t forget that you will need to be taken care of after baby. Some hospitals will provide you with some of these things, others will not, so here is a list of postpartum essentials that you should have ready before you go into labor.


Postpartum-soothing-spray

Healing Spray. Even if you didn’t tear you will still want this. The witch hazel and aloe are intensely soothing. Mix 6 tablespoons witch hazel, 3 tablespoons aloe vera, 6 drops Frankincense essential oil, 3 drops Clary Sage essential oil, 4 tablespoons filtered water in a spray bottle.


Sore-Bum-Spray

If you don’t feel like making your own spray or have a bad tear, definitely buy a bottle of Dermoplast


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Sitz Bath. This one is really only necessary the first couple of days after birth or if you have a bad tear, and can easily be substituted by a warm tub with this homemade tea infused in it.


Sore-Bum-Pads

These sore bum Witch Hazel Pads are good to put in over top of your pad. Oh did I mention buying pads? Seriously, get the thickest, most ridiculously large pads you can find. Cause there will be blood.


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Medline Ice packs are also amazing to put over your pad. It’s icey cold but without all the watery mess of actual ice.


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Icy Hot patches. After birth, or after your meds wear off, you will start to feel post birth contractions, which can be just as painful as actual labor. Have a large supply of warming pads to helps reduce the pain.


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If you are breastfeeding you will absolutely need Lanolin cream, nipple soothers, breast pads, and nursing bras. Remember, the first week or so of breastfeeding you’ll wonder if your baby is even getting anything but soon your milk will fully come in and you’ll only barely be able to keep up with the fountains spurting from your chest. Buy breast pads. Lots of them.

Leaky-Nipple-Protection


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Many women also like having nursing gowns or robes for the first couple of weeks, or at least to use in the hospital. However, an ordinary robe or nightgown will suffice.


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I’ve also heard people rave about belly wraps. I simply used the boba wrap, which carries baby and has the benefit of helping to push your tummy back in. You would think tightly wrapping cloth around your belly would squish things where they shouldn’t be squished but postpartum wraps have actually been shown to have a lot of benefit to helping your uterus return to it’s proper size. So either get a newborn wrap or a belly wrap…or both!


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Have I told you about the Boba Wrap? I’m sure I have but I cannot go on about this enough. Kangaroo care is the best.


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I don’t have any recommendations about bottles since none of my children really took one, but I do want to remind you that if you are breastfeeding your insurance company is required to provide you with a breast pump. I may be wrong but I think they are covered by Medicaid as well. If you are going to pump, don’t forget about storage bags (although regular ziplock bags will work as well.)


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Even after you have baby you will still need to take prenatal vitamins for at least a month postpartum, although you probably should continue with prenatals for three months and then switch to a regular multivitamin as long as you are nursing.


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I also HIGHLY recommend having B12 vitamins with you. Almost all new moms will have some bouts of baby blues, and B12 vitamins go a long way to help boosting your mood. Don’t wait until you start to feel upset to buy these, take them every day from the start.


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And finally, your pediatrician will likely suggest you give baby iron supplements, so just go ahead and buy them if you’re nursing.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got for now. Be sure to check back in when I manage to compile a list for your newborn. Yes, there is more you can buy!

Finding Yourself in Motherhood

While I’ve still been on my babymoon, there has been a lot of wonderful down time. I’ve gotten to relax and reflect a lot, which is good since I’m like most 25 year olds and full of introspective questions. You’d think being married and having three children would by now make me feel somewhat stable and settled but I’m really just like most other post-college soul searchers. To be honest it’s even a bit harder when you’re a stay at home parent because your ambitions become so vague that it’s hard to even articulate them to people. “What do you do all day?” is one of the most difficult questions in the world to answer. I can’t quantify my success like a lot of other people can and I have no boss or authority figure to reassure me I’m doing a good job. That’s a really difficult thing after being under the guidance of adults for my entire life. One of the main reasons I chose to homeschool my children with a very free form style is because I think a lot of young adults really struggle with being autonomous people. We were spoon fed and guided through the academic system for so long that it becomes difficult to develop your own opinions, goals, and motivation.

There always seems to be this cloud looming…this giant pair of T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes…over every thing I do. It demands of me to account for my days, to spend them well, to find perfection in something. Find a fulfilling career, it says. Maybe you should go back to school, it says. Learn all you can about being a perfect mother, it says. It has caused me so much internal stress, trying to figure out who I am and what in the world I’m doing. I tell my husband I want to live a purposeful life, I just can’t figure out what my purpose is, what I’m working towards. I count the days and hours, working toward any little goal I can. Lets get the house in perfect shape for when so and so comes over. Lets do lots of schoolwork all day to prepare for this state required test. Lets fix this and change that and work towards this.

But I am awakening to the fact that what I want to have more than anything is an unintentional life. I don’t want to look back on my life and see progress, I want to look and see happiness. It seems so hedonistic to live your life being swayed by base emotions of what you want right at this moment but it isn’t living an individualistic life as much as living a circular one as opposed to a linear one. What do I mean by that? I mean that life doesn’t need to be a series of “lets get through this” so we can do whatever comes next. I’m tired of asking what comes next, I’m tired of planning for it, I’m tired of always looking toward the future. I want more than anything to spend every day with a sense of involvement, not productivity. I want to feel secure in the fact that every day is a repeat of the last. I want that internal clock to stop ticking, to stop warning me of the limited time I have to do every thing. Some people daydream about the things they want to buy but I daydream about all the things I wish I could give away. I want to be distracted by less, to have less on my list. All that seems to matter is spending time with my husband and children.

When I think about it, it’s really just a reversion to childhood. I miss summers seeming endless because  you had hours of unoccupied time. I miss being able to lay in the grass without a timer reminding me I need to get up soon. And the most brilliant thing I’ve realized is that you don’t have to be a child to live like this. Responsibility and freedom are not mutually exclusive, despite what we’ve heard. After all, look at the most primitive of our ancestors. Life as a hunter gatherer was full of responsibility but because they had so few distractions they had endless amounts of time. Even people up to the time of the Industrial Revolution really had ample amounts of free time to think, to be with each other, to do what they wanted. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that I want to live in the past. I want the freedom of mind, of time, that people used to.

To be like the heroine of an Austen novel and spend hours writing in a journal and taking reflective walks. To be like the hunter gatherers and spend most of my days with the only pressing thought being food. To rest at a table like Jesus and his followers and spend hours talking and being with each other. That is how I will finally find myself.