May

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A wet, rainy hike we took while my dad was visiting.
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It is really nice to have so much hiking close enough for day trips and even some morning or evening hikes.
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We also saw an otter!
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breakfast & a great read. Ellie and I have been getting up before S lately and I love having a few minutes to exercise, read, or make breakfast before it gets too crazy.

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We all loved having my brother here for a few days. S loved that he could help her climb higher than mommy can. 😉 After he left, Ezra’s mom and one of his sisters came up for a few days. The timing of all the visits was perfect, especially as Ellie had been having a lot of bad nights so that meant I didn’t have to be exhausted AND chasing the girls all day because they were having so much fun playing with Uncle Nate, Grandma, and Aunt Susannah.

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“Handel and his mommy,” by S.

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reintroducing food after the 21 Day Sugar Detox has been a rollercoaster because we never pinpointed what was giving me trouble, but I have really enjoyed not feeling limited and making some of the recipes I saved during the detox or have had saved for a while.

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I love the fallen petals, especially when it seems like it’s snowing.

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While I was on the 21DSD, Ezra and S made cookies to take to neighbors that just moved in. He felt bad if I made them since I couldn’t eat them… But then he grabbed the masa instead of the white flour we keep for crafts, which led to some frustration but they still turned out! And surprisingly, I had no cookie cravings, though I was tempted to freeze some dough to bake later.
Then we delivered them just as a thunderstorm was starting, and afterwards hung out in our garage watching the rain and lightening. S asked, “where’s the flashlight in the sky, papa?”

We also went camping, but I put those photos in another post.
And I took no photos, but made soap this month for the first time!

And we went OUT for a date for the first time since Christmas… only to prove that we totally fail at out of the house date night. Our last 3:
– before Ellie was born Hannah stayed with a sleeping S and we went out… But the only place still open in walking distance was McDonald’s because we had forgotten that we were going to go out that night and S had gotten to bed late.
– at Christmas we went into town and wandered around then got soup and a milkshake we were only half interested in.
– this time, we were going to go to a ballroom dance class, but arrived to find out it was cancelled so we drove around town but everything non food was closed because it’ s such a small town so we came home and watched a movie before picking up the girls, and were going to have kale chips but I burned them.

Hymns of the month// neither are really hymns, but we were working on the Getty’s “A Mother’s Prayer,” and then I wanted to learn “Goodnight, my Angel,” so we did those this month.

favorite recipes// Thai red curry paste (no more paying $3 for 4 Tbsp…) // beef enchilada bake – I used chicken; it needs about twice the amount of sauce though // banana ice cream // AIP pizza – though I didn’t like it as pizza, but as tortillas // slow roasted pork shoulder // paleo spaghetti and meatballs – no almond flour and one less egg for 2/3 recipe of the meatballs // cheese enchiladas // my sister-in-law and mother-in-law came to visit and Susannah is on a keto diet so I made these and they turned out pretty well! // pumpkin plantain pancakes // Thai sweet potato curry // French Toast Mug // raw buckwheat porridge – this was really good but not that easily digested // savory spinach muffins //

best of online//  hair detangler so I can stop threatening to cut S’s // I am not really a fan of the chatty-style in podcasts, but I really do like Risen Motherhood. This one on getting in the Word as a mom of littles and this one on finding your mama tribe were really encouraging // how to raise an alien child // myths about making soap and the “recipe” I used // Show me my cross // No or Not Yet (this is so encouraging to me after PPD, both the comments on Jesus in the Garden and when God says “no” to our prayers) //

It’s already partway through Ramadan, but to join in praying here’s one prayer guide.

reading of late// Genius of Ancient Man // Messy Grace (Kaltenbach) // Better Late than Early // Holy Labor // None Like Him (Jen Wilkin)

Kids’ books we enjoyed//  lots of Ezra Jack Keats this month!

thinking about// Ellie’s separation anxiety and how my relationship with God should be that way // feeling behind or like there’s not enough time – but there’s enough time ot do His will/what He has for me/what He wants me to do

what brings joy// waking up slowly in a tent in the forest // dairy // having family in our home // surprise day of peace and quiet // S & Ellie shrieking and playing together

The Munchkins// I love seeing how similar they are and how different their personalities are turning out to be. Both girls are so social and high-energy, but Ellie is more nervous around strangers than S was. She’s also more snuggly and more stubborn.

writing// I finally finished my poem. It’s over on apricotpie.

21 DSD Food Log

This is going to be long and detailed, but I want to document it for myself and others since these kinds of blog posts always help me a lot when preparing for anything like this.
If there are “off-plan” ingredients in a recipe I swapped them with something else or left them out. Probably the most common swap was using rutabaga instead of potato.

Day 1.
Food: Omelet with za’atar and nutritional yeast, tea with coconut oil for breakfast, ginger zucchini soup and leftover salad for lunch, spinach, zucchini, and carrot skillet for dinner with modified Sabih from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Drank lots of water and had cucumbers, nori, and frozen peas for a snack… And caved to some peanut butter in the evening because I haven’t gone shopping yet so don’t have other nuts.
Other: I was less hungry than I anticipated, my mood was pretty good minus everyone being sad Grampa was gone, and energy was normal except I was ready for bed early!

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a well-stocked fridge!
Day 2.
I slept so well last night but felt really woozy when I got out of bed so grabbed the only thing I could just eat right away, which was more peanut butter… Water, tea with coconut oil and collagen, 3.5 eggs and some veggies later I still felt terrible so I decided my body was telling me it needed more carbs so I ate half a cup of buckwheat and felt much better.
Lunch was leftovers from last night’s dinner, snacks were broth, walnuts, and olives, and dinner was guacamole and jicama with more Sabih, at a potluck, the hardest part of which was not eating cheese. Grocery shopping was actually easier because all the things I usually crave when walking through the store I knew were off limits!

Day 3.
Breakfast today was tea with coconut oil & collagen, paleo Yorkshire puddings, snack was some jicama, lunch was garlic carrot soup and more jicama and a hard boiled egg, then olives and walnuts for a snack, followed by salad with olives, walnuts, mustard, and olive oil, and a loose version of the creamy ham soup from the Nourishing Gourmet… And if I get hungry some frozen peas before bed.
I feel great, normal or maybe a tad more alert than usual, but that may be from going to bed earlier or a bit too much arrowroot today.

Day 4.
Almond tahini crusted fish and broccoli tahini soup for dinner. So yummy.
Leftovers for lunch.
Parsnip, egg, and tomato hash for breakfast, with a leftover Yorkshire pudding scarfed down beforehand because I couldn’t get off the couch until I ate something.
Snacked on peas, tea with coconut oil & collagen, almond pulp crackers, onion and carrot crackers, and hard boiled eggs.

Day 5.

The worst morning yet. I rushed to the kitchen with Ellie in tow and scarfed down some peanut butter then grabbed my chia pudding and plopped on the floor before I fell over. Then after I got S up and we spent a long while cuddling I had a cup of kombucha, a hard boiled egg, a small portion of buckwheat, some crackers, and then a bit later some kale chips before I finally felt OK. Moral of the story is eat enough before bed and get enough carbs.
I didn’t feel like eating the leftover fish so had spaghetti squash with some sauce made with tomato paste, nutritional yeast, olives, walnuts, and broth, with a cucumber and 2 eggs on the side.
For dinner, “deconstructed hunter’s pie” – I was too lazy to put our shepherd’s pie all together and then elk was cheaper than beef for some reason. Cauliflower faux tatoes are amazing.
Aside from mornings I still feel great and have had enough energy to walk and do fit2b workouts, and my milk supply has still been great!

Day 6.
I put some carrot onion crackers on the nightstand to eat before getting out of bed and that helped immensely, but I was still super hungry while cooking up this deliciousness of omelet, parsnip hash browns, and avocado. I had what S didn’t eat of hers for a snack.
Lunch 1 was leftovers, lunch 2 was vegan broccoli bowls at a church potluck. I definitely ate more quinoa than ‘allowed’ but there was nothing else compliant like there usually would have been. Not eating the enchiladas was very difficult.
Dinner/snack was salad with a hardboiled egg and a few other toppings.

Day 7.

Breakfast: crackers in bed, omelet with kale and caramelized onions.
Snack: matcha cocoa almond milk latte – a little bitter with no sweetener but still delicious.
Lunch: curried chicken salad (with tomato, almonds, and carrot instead of raisins and cashews), cucumbers, nori, and a bit of spaghetti squash.
Snack: frozen peas, a few bites of crackers and leftover broccoli quinoa bowl.
Dinner: Thai Turkey meatballs (homemade Thai curry paste, without sweetener), spaghetti squash, cabbage.
Bedtime snack: bone broth.

Week 1 down! Definitely doing the energy modifications next week as my muscles didn’t really recover even after a rest day Sunday, and going to add in the allowed piece of fruit next week, too. I wanted the first week to be stricter but am going to follow more closely to the book next week (including removing my modifications of a little bit of grain and peanut butter).

Day 8.
Breakfast: walnuts, an attempt at coconut flour free almond flour free crêpes, filled with avocado and chicken salad.
Snack: more avocado and chicken salad, cucumber
Lunch: leftovers, kombucha
Snack: frozen peas, almond butter, olives
Dinner: salmon burgers with eggplant buns and carmelized onion, zucchini, and roasted cauliflower leek soup (from the 21DSD cookbook).

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Day 9.
I didn’t need a pre breakfast snack this morning, which was nice, but then I really enjoyed my 2 egg omelet with kale, parsnip, and caramelized onion.
We made kale chips for a snack, and then I got really hungry for lunch and had a salmon Burger, some eggplant, zucchini, roasted carrots, a hardboiled egg, olives, and almond butter.
Afternoon snack was some more kale chips and some zucchini chip fails before heading to the grocery store, after which I ate my first green tipped banana! Yay for fruit!
Dinner was thanks to my enchilada cravings – a cauliflower enchilada bake (used leftover chicken though) that was pretty good and definitely helped the cravings.

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Days 10-12 were camping.
I packed nuts and carrot onion crackers for snacks, and we roasted apples one night and made banana boats another (mine was with almond butter and cocoa instead of pb and chocolate chips). Breakfast day 1 was a chorizo egg salsa skillet, day 2 we ate out in town, which was a challenge I had been looking forward to but ended up just being upsetting: I was so acutely aware I couldn’t have the French toast I wanted so badly and then they didn’t have sweet potatoes so I ate the white potatoes because there were no better sides… So I left feeling both deprived and like I cheated, especially since I could have made better scrambled eggs myself. Definitely the lowest moment so far.
But, my lunches were nori and salmon curry salad, a step above Ezra and S’s PB&J, with veggies.
Dinner the first night we had tinfoil dinners (that’s rutabaga in mine). The second night we had sausages (artichoke garlic for me), roasted carrots, some veggie chips Ezra bought for me, and I had a sweet potato for a bun and it was so tasty.
The night we got home I made chicken taco bowls based off of this.

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Day 13.

Crepes for breakfast! We found a recipe with no almond or coconut flour and decided today was a good day to try them out. Filled with chocolate almond butter + banana and onion + avocado.
Lunch was the fennel cinnamon braised pork from the 21dsd cookbook, with parsnip rutabaga mash and green beans. We don’t usually eat pork because I don’t love it but our grocery store had a punch card thing and we got 7 lbs of pork roast for free, so cut it in 3 and have frozen the other two sections.
For dinner we had salad, egg drop soup, and leftover grilled cabbage.
Snacks: nuts, S’s lunch leftovers, kombucha jello.

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Day 14
Breakfast today was an omelet filled with rutabaga hashbrowns and avocado, topped with nutritional yeast.
Snacks today: hard boiled egg, cauliflower hummus, kombucha jello, frozen banana with almond butter.
Lunch was leftover pork roast and salad.
For dinner I threw an onion, a head of garlic, a sweet potato, and some carrots in the crockpot, cooked on low all day, and then took the chicken out and broiled it for crispy skin before serving with celeriac mash. I had a mug of the broth with dinner, too, and it was so rich and sweet from the sweet potato and from it being the first batch of broth with that chicken.

Day 15.
it just got harder. Not because of my dream where I ate all the foods but because I have realized some of the things I was eating more of were making my indigestion worse… So no more nuts, cabbage, cauliflower, coconut, and a few other things.
So today I ate French Toast eggs for breakfast, leftover veggies and egg drop soup with avocado for lunch, frozen peas and kombucha jello for snacks, and we ended the day with Thai vegetable soup (with added chicken and spaghetti squash instead of rice vermicelli, and no coconut milk for me. I love this soup so much!).

Day 16.
Breakfast: fried eggs and kale, tea with coconut oil and gelatin
Snacks: tahini and veggies, green apple, hardboiled egg
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: salad with some green apple, goulash with rutabaga instead of potato and some sausage left at home from camping instead of stew meat.

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Day 17.

Started off the day with a sweet potato, kale, and egg frittata.
Lunch was pulled pork (with a BBQ sauce recipe we didn’t save because we ended up adding so much to it it wasn’t the same in the end) in plantain tortillas and salad.
Dinner was leftover soup, tuna zoodle casserole (thickened with arrowroot, and used broth instead of coconut milk), and some leftover frittata.
For snacks it was more of the usual: banana, hardboiled egg, cucumber and tahini.

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Day 18.

B:hard boiled egg, French toast scramble, a bit of grapefruit
L: salmon patties with sweet potatoes, avocado salsa, and zucchini. This was going to be my “victory” meal, but the way the last few days were going to be that wasn’t going to work, and then salmon has been SO expensive that I decided to try patties with canned salmon instead of using fillets. It worked alright – not quite as good but still yummy.
D: split before and after movie – leftover pulled pork and salad, leftover tuna zoodle casserole
S: cuke with BBQ sauce, egg, olives, and chocolate banana drink, my attempt at hot chocolate without any kind of even imitation milk.

Day 19.

Still not sure what’s causing indigestion and I am so over this but don’t want to reintroduce anything until I have an idea of what it might be.
Breakfast: parsnip and zucchini omelet
Lunch: leftover tuna zoodle casserole, leftover salmon patty and salsa
Dinner: chicken sofrito from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem but with sweet potatoes, slaw with daikon, apple, cucumber, and a lime balsamic dressing.
Snacks: veggies and tahini, part of a plantain tortilla, hard boiled egg.

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Day 20.
Sweet potato fritters and sautéed kale for breakfast.
Lunch was leftovers, dinner was a pumpkin chicken soup, olives, carrots, and tomatoes at a potluck, and we had hard boiled eggs, cucumbers, and avocado for snacks.
I’ve decided that chasing the rabbit trail of minor indigestion from things I’m eating is too exhausting at this point so am going to continue on with reintroducing things and hope it’s obvious if something makes it worse, knowing I may have to attempt a low FODMAP diet or something down the road.

Day 21
Breakfast: pumpkin plantain pancakes
Lunch: leftover soup
Snacks: hard boiled egg, daikon apple slaw, apple, peas
Dinner: meatballs, sauce, and spaghetti squash, green beans, salad with bacon, banana chocolate ‘ice cream for dessert.
Overdid it on the fruit a bit today but I feel fine and am so excited to eat some gluten free grains tomorrow!

Homemade almond milk
homemade mayonnaise (egg-free as I didn’t have my pastured eggs that week). It didn’t turn out that well, but oh well.

21 Day Sugar Detox

In May I did the 21 Day Sugar Detox and wanted to blog about it similarly to how I blogged about whole30, but with a little more detail and backstory – that’s this post. Another post will have my food log.
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Why?
For a long time now I’ve been feeling the need for a “reset” with food, but couldn’t bring myself to do it – with leaving Japan (and needing to stuff myself with all the sushi, ramen, and okonomiyaki as possible before then), then the holidays (where I actually did pretty well with self control), then settling in here, it always felt like too much to take on or like I would be passing up food opportunities that would never come again.
I also felt like I had lost a lot of self control with food, something I’d struggled with after whole30 when S was little and then again after Ellie was born (pregnancy cravings have nothing on nursing cravings!), and my attempts at limiting myself just weren’t working very well. I think I do a lot better with more challenge and accountability than just “one treat a week.”

Goals
My main goal was to reset some bad habits:
– grazing at potlucks
– finishing S’s food when I was already full
– eating out of craving and not hunger (lack of self control!). One thing I read recently said “Live to eat VS eat to live,” and as someone home most of the time and with a kitchen always available I often found myself in the former camp rather than the latter and wanted to change that.
– snacking on veggies not healthy treats
– eating when I was really just thirsty (mostly a problem in the morning)
– no freezing foods to eat after
– and no pinterest as much as possible – probably in some ways the biggest cravings-buster!

I was also watching a few other things, like irritability, focus, fatigue, some indigestion, and my skin to see if there was any difference there (I’ll be upfront… there wasn’t).

Daily food goals – I knew I needed clear daily food goals to help me not flounder when I was hungry. So every day I aimed for 1 Tbsp coconut oil, my supplements, 1 c bone broth, 1 Tbsp collagen, Brewer’s yeast, and water.

What I ate
I mostly followed the plan outlined in the book for level 3, but changed things up a bit the first week. I wanted to avoid sweet things completely, so instead of doing sweet potatoes and plantains for the energy modification and eating the allowed fruit, I allowed myself small portions of buckwheat or quinoa. I also indulged in some peanut butter because I woke up so hungry I was nauseous and jittery a few times and just had to eat something immediately and that was the only thing that worked then.
But after the first week I followed the plan almost exactly, though also threw in the “no treats” rule from whole30 (a few breakfasts and camping excepted). That had more to do with my goals and the habits I was trying to reset than anything else.

So that meant: no dairy, legumes, treats, most grains, most fruits. I also for the most part avoided coconut and almond flours and milks since they both are hard for me to digest.
This is a nice “cheat sheet.

What S & Ezra ate
Ezra wasn’t too keen on doing it with me, but since we eat almost all our food at or from home, he was still eating differently than normal, and I would try to do quinoa or buckwheat as a side grain instead of other things, and wasn’t making baked goods, so he was getting more fruit and veggies at home, but still eating everything at potlucks.
The same for S – I considered restricting her fruit and dessert but then decided against it since the only reason I would have would have been behavioral considerations but we aren’t really dealing with any of that so I found it unnecessary. However, that did mean not getting healthy baked goods for snacks so she now accepts a cucumber as a snack. 😉

I’m currently in the middle of reintro and may or may not blog about that. Since the things I was hoping to resolve didn’t go away during the 21DSD I don’t expect reintro will show me anything, but I didn’t want to skip it just in case.

Results
I didn’t feel any different and my digestive issues only got worse if anything, despite restricting more foods as I thought they might be bothering me. I do think it did help with cravings a little, though.

The real challenge of “eating well” is what starts now. It’s easy for me to not eat or crave things if I put them completely off-limits. Moderation is much more difficult! But one thing I realized on the 21DSD is that having portion control for some foods is not bad if instead of demonizing those foods they’re controlled to help you eat more of what’s not just “not bad” but more nutrient dense and “good.”
So here are some of my rules:
– one sweet treat/week (portion), and up to one “bigger” dessert/month (ie, out for ice cream)
– one homemade “healthy” treat/week (recipe, not portion)
– no mindless snacking/grazing
– “eat to live, not live to eat.”
– treat any non-fruit added sweetener as a treat.
– aim for half plate veggies at each meal (breakfast is tough!)
I love Jess Connell’s thoughts on food & body image at the end of this post.

I don’t plan on restricting any kinds of food completely. I felt this way after whole30 and this just reemphasizes it, that I think “healthy” is different for different people. I do much better with grains, and the alternatives are much harder for me to digest. 21DSD was probably the highest fat/lowest carb I’ve ever been and while I felt fine on the lower carb, I think some of my indigestion was from the higher fat content. Plus, for the most part, grains are more nutritive than coconut flour and almond flour, and easier for me to digest, so I think I’ll try to use the alternative flours less for my treats.

Camping for Mother’s Day

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We went camping “for” Mother’s Day: I wanted a few days away from the pull of chores, computer, dishes, etc. to really enjoy just being together. Ever since Ellie was born I have felt a lot of tension in those areas, especially with giving both girls enough attention, and have found myself really struggling with what exactly discipline with S looks like as we move into her starting to be able to teach her what’s going on in her heart (but without her fully understanding it yet), and throw in the internet and the tension was even greater.

So we camped, unplugged, with nothing on the agenda except a hike a day and hanging out and eating, and we did a lot of that and it was nice (we also did a lot of hiding in the tent or under the tarp in the biggest downpour we’ve had since moving here).

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But even without those distractions I still struggled to give my attention to the girls and love on them in their way (ie, Corduroy AGAIN). Yes, lack of sleep and the cold made me really cranky but it wasn’t an excuse. I kept thinking of something I had read earlier in the week about not sabotaging your own mother’s day by what you expected, and here I was sabotaging my own while trying to prevent that from happening by trying not to make it about me… when it still was.

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Because truly loving the girls means showing them love even when I don’t love how they make me feel, even when she’s asking the same question again and again and again. But in the end it isn’t even about saying “no” to myself and “yes” to S, but saying “no” to self and “Yes” to God’s commands to live in peace with everyone and to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit.

If I am the center of my mothering, then I get angry, irritated, and upset when my kids don’t make me happy or act how I want them to – and then that says to them that I am god and God is not enough.

If my kids are the center of my mothering, I become irritated and exhausted trying to meet their every need and keep them happy.

If, however, God is the center of my mothering, my concern is glorifying and obeying Him, raising them in the ways of God (which do include them learning love & self control but even more in putting Him forth as a glorious Savior), and in humility considering them as more important than myself because I see my true place in Him and am satisfied in Him.

Only in that frame of mind can I see clearly, love truly, be compassionate, and direct them on the paths they (we!) should go.

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we found the “perfect” campsite – secluded but not too far from bathrooms, water, and trailheads, big but not more expensive, and opening onto the woods and not other campsites, which made it feel even bigger and meant S could explore while we cooked.

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I should have known from when we went to the cabin when S was 8 months old, but 8 months is a tough time for camping. Ellie was worn or held a lot because all she wanted to do was eat pinecones.

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So much gorgeous handiwork by our Creator.

What I Want my Daughters to Know about PPD

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I hate postpartum depression. I hate that I’ve had it, I hate how it characterizes my memories of both of the girls’ early days, and even more, I hate that me having had it puts them at higher risk for it in the future.
I am thankful for the easy pregnancies and labors I can “pass on” to them as much as it gets passed on, but wish I could change the negative blood type, and even more, the PPD. I wish we could just ignore it, but I know that as they get older it’s a conversation we’ll have at some point, probably even before they would be getting married, because the risk of PPD can affect other hormonal fluctuations as well.

As I think about those conversations, even though they are years off, a few things come to mind.

I want them to know about my experience. I won’t share many details of exactly what I felt because I don’t think that would be healthy for me to relive or for them to know, especially because while it was what was going through my head, the depression wasn’t an accurate picture of how I felt about THEM.

I want them to know it’s not their fault at all. It may have come after they were born, but they didn’t do anything bad. They didn’t do anything to make me depressed. It’s a part of the fall, just like all the increased toil of motherhood.

I want them to know I don’t blame them and am not bitter towards them that I went through the darkness after they were born. It brought me closer to them and closer to Ezra and closer to God and even though it’s not a path I would ever choose, on the other side, God has used it and it was worth it – for them, and for how much closer I am to God because of it and how He has been glorified.

I want them to know that I love them MORE because of it. When I look at them and remember the heartache of PPD, I am filled with gratitude that it’s gone, with joy at how today is so different, and the Mama Bear in me holds them closer because I went through the darkness to have them, one of the ways I get to show my love for them by putting myself aside for them. They are much more precious to me because of PPD.

I want them to know that they are more at risk for PPD because I had it. That doesn’t mean they will have it, just that they are more likely to have it. I want to prepare them for that as much as possible in how I talk about my struggles, in helping them learn to ride their emotions, and in encouraging them to turn to and rely on God in every difficulty.

I want them to know that they don’t have to tell me their struggles but that I am always there for them if they want to share.

I want them to know that I will always love them no matter how they transition to motherhood.

I want them to know that God can redeem and bring light even in the darkest times, and that PPD or any other struggle is not the end, even if it sometimes feels like it. He may be silent at times, but He is always faithful.

Backyard – April

We are loving having a backyard, and I love watching it change with the seasons. Here’s where our plants were all at in April! We also love pulling out our field guide and identifying birds we see (and trying to identify the ones we hear!).
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we don’t know what everything is but everything is beautiful nonetheless.

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We are trying to garden, but we’re fighting the squirrels and lack of sun!

Motherhood Lately

{a mish-mash of thoughts I’ve had over the last few months – some things I’ve been learning, some things I wish I’d known with #1, some things about some of the things we say to moms… published on my #1’s 2.5th birthday}

Some things I’ve been learning
– Learning about all of life being worship – even the putting me aside to read a story for the tenth time. “Worship is viewing the worth of God in His word and responding to that worth in every area of our lives.” (paraphrase from Behold Your God) – and when He, not I, is the center of my universe then I can joyfully choose to do things I don’t want to do… even read Pinkerton dramatically AGAIN.
– Learning to sift through my feelings, their fussing, and social media to find their (and my) REAL needs – not how I or they or pinterest or other moms perceive them, but what they really need – which is the same as what I really need – to be brought to God. Learning to ask “how can I glorify God in this situation? What is His will (not my list) for me today?”
– Learning to respect my kids and see them as whole persons with their own fears and loves – being compassionate towards them and making sure I connect with them as much as possible.
– Remembering I am parenting little people with eternal souls who are lovers & worshipers.
– Being content being “just” a mom – finding my plate full with just daily life and not having as much time for writing and music anymore left me trying to juggle everything for a while which often ended up in everyone upset after I played oboe for a few minutes. So learning to not be defined by hobbies or feeling like I need to keep up with them! I still enjoy writing (but it’s pretty much just this blog and emails!) and music (but it’s 15 minutes maybe 3x a week, though I am playing at church again which is wonderful!). That combined with a year in Japan where we could go anywhere any time because of public transport to having one car, and months of craziness for the move leading to me always having something to do so if I have time to play with the girls I often feel like I’m forgetting something and need to be doing something else. But it has been so freeing to learn to just sit and play or read or tramp around the yard.
– Feeling “myself” again – I am feeling more myself after PPD but at the same time coming to realize that my identity shouldn’t be in certain personality traits or likes and dislikes but in Christ, and that who I am changes!

Some things I wish I’d known with #1
– Your child’s sleep is not a measure of good or bad parenting (This seems so obvious now but I really did often feel like I was either failing or doing well based on how S slept).
– Pray FIRST. Root your mothering in dependence on God and His word… not googling what the best schedule is. There are times that can be helpful, but I really benefited from a while of being internetless because I realized how much I tried to find fixes for problems that were really in my heart.
– What’s “best” is what works for YOU and your family.
– Your baby is not annoying you on purpose. Life is new to them and they’re trying to figure it out as much as you are.
– Set timers and reminders! This makes such a difference for me in remembering to take vitamins, and it makes such a difference for S when I say we can do something “when the timer goes off” instead of “in five minutes,” plus it keeps ME accountable to follow through!
– Don’t suffer in silence. If you’re really burdened by something, especially if you feel like you’re the only one, talk to other moms. Everyone’s situation is unique but you may be really encouraged by sharing what you’re struggling with and finding others have been there and have wisdom to share or can at least pray!

Some of the best advice I’ve received
– Worry (or be concerned) about what you can change… do something about that and leave the rest to God.
– it gets easier if you let God get bigger
– trust in the Lord… not your own understanding of a situation.

Some things about things we say to moms
– “You’re all belly/you’re not showing at all/you don’t look pregnant” – I know people mean it as a compliment but my gut reaction to that was “so I normally look like this?” since I could tell I’d gained weight and it was obvious to me that it wasn’t just in my belly (especially when I wasn’t showing yet!).
Let’s compliment or comment on things OTHER than the size of pregnant women!

– “The first 6 weeks are the hardest.” This drove me INSANE after S was born… because the first 6 weeks WEREN’T the hardest. The first 10 days she slept all the time. The rest of the first 6 weeks she slept during the day. The second 6 weeks it was a nightmare to try to get her to sleep during the day, she was sleeping on us at night because of reflux, and I wanted to yell at anyone that told me the first 6 weeks were the hardest.
With Ellie it seemed to be more true, but even still I don’t tell anyone that.
Instead, let’s remind one another that our hope isn’t in the end of a phase but in Christ.

– “It gets easier.” Well, kind of. Nursing does become second-nature. They do sleep longer and become more independent. Their wake time will be more than just nursing them and you’ll be able to do things while they’re awake, and then it gets easier again when they are awake long enough that you can run errands during their awake time. But as all those things happen there are also a lot of things that get harder. So when S was 3 months old and it didn’t feel any easier I again wanted to yell at anyone that said that. And once more, I can feel it getting easier more this time, but I think a lot of that is that I know the light at the end of the tunnel by experience… but even still, I think instead we should say what my sister told me: “It doesn’t always get easier, just different.” There will always be hard things but they change. And I think it’s also true to say “it doesn’t get easier, just better.” They smile, and laugh, and play, and talk, and sing, and bring you flowers, and tell you stories.

– “Oh, don’t worry, you’ll love them immediately.” Or anything else that just brushes off a pregnant mama’s fear. You may have been worried about that and ended up being immediately smitten, but she may not be (I wasn’t). So instead how about we share our experience and offer encouragement in case it’s not that way for them? “You might not feel that way at first, and you might even struggle with any thought of ever being at peace with welcoming the other child in… but you will find your way, you will make new special memories with all of you.”

What are you learning about motherhood? What do you wish you had known? What are ways you like to encourage new moms?
(Noel Piper and some others share some of their thoughts in this video!)

P.S. for some of our favorite practical pregnancy and baby stuff, click the links!