Finley’s birth story

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Let me first start by saying that this whole pregnancy, labor, and birth were covered in prayer from the very first days I knew I was pregnant. I admit, in the very early days my prayers sounded more like “Why, Lord?!” But as I accepted the fact that I was going to have a fourth baby and began to get excited about it, my prayers changed. Besides the very general prayers for health, I decided to pray very specific prayers as well. Let me tell you exactly what they were, because you’ll see that as I tell this story, every single prayer was answered in the way that I hoped.

I prayed that the Lord would allow me to give birth naturally without any interventions.

I prayed that I wouldn’t go into labor until my mom got here.

I prayed that my water wouldn’t break until the very last minute (something that hasn’t happened for me before.) Contractions change quite a bit after the water breaks.  They’re more painful, sharper.  The bag of waters acts sort of like a cushion for contractions.  For that reason, I prayed that it wouldn’t break until late.

I prayed that breastfeeding would be easy and seamless.

I prayed that my baby would not be jaundice (at least not enough to go under lights.) I just wanted to be able to bring home my baby with no complications. 

I prayed for an easy-going baby that would be happy and just go with the flow of our days and our family.

I prayed that everyone, especially Silas, would adjust easily to this big change.

I even remember praying at one point, “Lord, I know I’m praying that everything would just be easy and You never promise that anything will be easy, but I’m going to ask for these things anyway because I know You can take care of it all!”  He is so faithful. And even if things had not gone the way I hoped, He would still be faithful.

And here is how it all happened from start to present…

I told myself from the beginning of this pregnancy not to expect to have her early. That really helped me to not be impatient at the end. With Silas, I just expected to have him early and it drove me crazy in the last few weeks! I didn’t feel impatient this time at all. Also, it helped that this pregnancy was so easy, even at the end. I was sleeping GREAT and seeing a chiropractor twice a week so I really didn’t have many aches and pains!  My mom got into town when I was 39 weeks and 7 days.  I made it to 40 weeks and decided to try to self-induce at that point. I tried blue cohosh and it did nothing. So, after hearing from several people how well castor oil worked, I decided to try it the next day (40 weeks and 1 day.)

It was Sunday and we went to church as usual. I even saw my OB (Dr. Wood at Mercy) at church and told him I was beginning to feel a little impatient! (Yes, I go to church with my OB.  Yes, it’s a little awkward. For me, anyway.) I decided against telling him my plans for the castor oil!  Also, I wanted to ask him if he would be on call later that day, but decided against that as well.  I didn’t want it to affect my decision to take the castor oil that day.  At lunch I tried to eat light and stay hydrated in case the castor oil had a bad effect on me. After church I was so sleepy and knew I’d need rest, so I decided to take the castor oil after a nap. I made sure to communicate all of this with my doula, Rebekah, so she would be prepared as well. 

Micah woke me up from my nap and told me, “You look so beautiful.” (Gosh, I love that man.) Then he asked, “Are you ready to do this?” So, I took 2 oz. of castor oil mixed with honey after my nap, about 4:00 pm. It didn’t taste as bad as I expected! Not great, of course, but not repulsive. I thought the blue cohosh tasted much worse.  It took about 3-3.5 hours to take effect. I was having strong contractions, but after having weeks of prodromal labor, I wasn’t sure that they really felt any different. I walked laps around and around my living room and kitchen to keep the contractions going. I texted Rebekah and told her that they were getting stronger, I was going to take a shower and I would let her know how it was going after that. During and after my shower they continued to stay strong so I let her know that she could come over anytime!

As soon as I decided that these contractions were the real thing, I started praying. I prayed for strength, I prayed for my focus to be on God and His power in me. The word I wanted to remember through the whole labor was “strength”. I am strong, the Lord is strong, He makes me strong. During many of my contractions, I repeated the word “strength” in my mind and it really helped. I actually did felt a mental and physical strength when I focused on that.  

When Rebekah came over I told her I still had not had any bleeding or seen any show so I was hoping I didn’t ask her to come over prematurely. We walked circles around the house over and over and my contractions stayed regular and strong. Rebekah hung a paper in the kitchen that said “I enjoy the birth of my baby” so that I would see it each time I circled though the kitchen. I was thankful to have that to focus on!  I was making sure to stay hydrated with plenty of coconut water, and snacked on several Larabars.  I knew I’d need the energy soon.

  

Eventually, I switched to sitting on the birthing ball, doing circles with my hips while she put pressure on my lower back during each contraction. Micah put on Pitch Perfect 2 for us to watch while we sat there (so now that movie will always remind me of my labor!) Rebekah made sure my birth affirmations were laid out visibly on the coffee table and chair by me so I was able to read them over and over as I sat there. It really helped to say those affirming things in my head! We didn’t get too far into the movie because the contractions got a lot closer together and more painful. So we decided to go ahead and make our way to the hospital. Our babysitter, Liz, was able to come over and stay with the kids so that my mom could come to the hospital with us.  I was so thankful for that she could come with us and be in the room for Finley’s birth!

We got to the hospital at about 11:00 pm.  They took me to a small observation room to see how progressed I was. When the nurse checked me, I was absolutely surprised to find out that I was only dilated to 2 cm and was still posterior. That’s what I had been for weeks! I felt so disappointed, frustrated, and discouraged. After hearing that, I thought we had come to the hospital too early, and I was wondering if this was even the real thing! Maybe the castor oil had just given me more prodromal labor! The nurse told me that she would monitor my contractions for an hour and then check me again and let me know if I should stay or go home. So, for the next hour I sat on a birthing ball in that tiny room through each contraction and just prayed. With every contraction I prayed, “Lord, please allow this contraction to bring her down further. Please use this contraction to open me up even more.” I tried to picture her coming down more with each one. The contractions got more painful throughout the hour but I didn’t know if they were being very effective. Later,  the nurse came in to check me again. I was shocked when she announced, “You’ve made a lot of change! You’re at a 7!” God was certainly listening to my prayers in that small room!

We moved to a bigger room down the hall where I would deliver. The nurses put a hep lock in my left hand and were a bit concerned at the amount of blood that was gushing from my hand and wouldn’t stop. They blamed it on the heparin shots I had been taking for a month. They mentioned that they would keep pitocin on hand in case I didn’t stop bleeding after the birth. (All of this is the reason that I cannot have my babies in a birthing center or at home like I would prefer.) The nurse wanted to hook me up to an IV, but I told her that Dr. Wood had said it would be fine if I only had the hep lock in without being hooked up. She said, “Well, Dr. Wood is not the doctor on call, Dr. Rainwater is. So, I’ll have to ask her first.” I’m not sure if she ever asked Dr. Rainwater, but I was never hooked up to an IV.

  

I labored for a while, switching between standing and leaning on the birthing ball that was placed on the hospital bed and sitting on the birthing ball on the floor. Either one felt much better than being on the bed. It felt better to make deep moans through each contraction, so that’s what I did. I continued to pray throughout all of this and could hear Rebekah praying behind me as she kept the pressure on my lower back. That pressure on the lower back is wonderful, by the way!  I really felt like I was able to relax and feel present during these contractions.  Huge answer to prayer!  Also, during this time, I was praying for strength and I specifically prayed for transition to come soon.  I was ready.  After that, I prayed and asked the Lord for a short pushing time. I remember that in between some of my contractions, I was able to rest and sometimes I felt like crying. I probably felt like crying because of all the hormones, but also I just kept thinking how I felt God’s presence in the room, I knew He was hearing my prayers, and I was so happy we would be meeting this girl soon! The oxytocin overload was strong at that point!

About an hour after we got into the room, another one of my prayers was answered. I had been praying during this whole pregnancy that my water wouldn’t break until the last minute, and that’s what happened! My water broke and I felt the contractions change immediately. I knew by the intensity, the pain, and the noises I was making, that this was transition time. It took about four awful, horrible, completely terrible contractions until I felt ready to push. During those contractions I had to focus more than anything on staying present and relaxing my body as much as possible. The nurse told me that I needed to get on the table so she could check me (not sure why, since I had just told her I needed to push! I was obviously ready.) I wish more than anything that she would have left me alone, but she needed to let the doctor on call know where I was at. So I climbed on the table and she checked me. I had another contraction while laying flat on my back and there are NO WORDS to describe that pain. It was SO much worse than the pain I felt standing up. I don’t even like to think about those moments on the bed because it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt IN MY LIFE. She said she needed to get another nurse to double check me (seriously?!) and she ordered me (pretty rudely, actually) to stay put and that I could NOT get up. I remember trying to say, “You can’t do that!”  But I don’t think the words came out, too much pain.  I begged for her to let me up.  Looking  back, I wish I would have just sat up to ease the pain even a little but I just stayed there for more contractions. I knew I needed to push, and once more, I was ordered by her, VERY sternly, to NOT push! Well, if you’ve ever been in labor and felt the need to push, then you know that there is nothing on earth that can stop your body from pushing when it needs to. You just can’t control it. I was told to blow through my contractions instead, so I did “horse lips” through them and tried not to push but my body continued to push anyway (and I was still on my back!). I wasn’t paying attention to the nurses at this point, but I think they realized by now that they would have to deliver the baby themselves because the doctor still wasn’t there. I finally felt her crown and then I pushed her head out. They unwrapped the cord from her neck, I pushed again and her shoulders came through. I pushed again and she was here! They put her straight on my chest and I was exhausted!

  

I have thought about it, and I think the BEST feeling I’ve ever had in my life has been the moments my children were born into the world after all that hard work. The work is finally over, there’s relief, and my baby is here! That hard work is so satisfying at that moment. The relief is so great. I remember thanking God over and over that she was here and thanking Him for a short pushing time. I told Micah, “I kept praying for a short pushing time and God answered!” I was so incredibly happy. They were able to get her to cry a bit and let the cord pulse for a few minutes. Dr. Rainwater arrived just minutes after she was born. She came in asking questions of the nurses and didn’t bother to say a word to me. She just sat down and began pushing on my stomach without warning. When I grimaced and mentioned how it was hurting she only said, “Oh, this is nothing compared to what you just went through.” Yep, in those are the only words she chose to speak to me while in the room. I delivered the placenta and then she left!  I’ve talked to a few ladies who really like her and a few ladies who don’t care for her, but Dr. Rainwater didn’t leave a good impression on me.  

My doula sent me this timeline after Finley was born (I’m loving the emoticons after each one):

  
  
  

For the most part, the nurses were wonderful. They referred to my birth plan the whole time and followed my wishes. I was able to take my placenta without a peep from anyone, I just had to sign a paper. Also, they allowed me to keep her skin to skin for over an hour and I’m so thankful for that! I never felt rushed or pressured at all to hurry and nurse. She snuggled and nursed so well for about an hour. The nurse that had been a little rude during labor suddenly became very sweet after I delivered, I’m not sure why! She made sure I had plenty of snacks and water. Also, she made sure to follow my birth plan as far as how I wanted my baby to be treated after the birth. Before we moved to a new room, I got up and took a shower, got dressed and took pictures of my sweet, new girl all while Micah slept!

My mom stayed with us for a week after she was born, that’s as long as she could stay since she had to get back to work. We are just so blessed to have her! She cooked, cleaned, grocery shopped, let Micah and I go out one night (with Finley, of course), and did crafts with the older kids. She is such a huge blessing and I don’t know what we would have done without her!

Finley Joy has lived up to her name in every way. She is an absolute JOY.  She is just so sweet and laid-back.  She was not jaundiced enough to go under lights. She is the ONLY baby we’ve had that we have been able to just take her home and enjoy her without going back to stay at the hospital. I can’t tell you how nice that’s been.

  
Overall, she has been sleeping well (only waking once at night!) and rarely cries. Going from 3 to 4 kids has been the easiest transition so far. Micah had to go back to work right after my mom left to go home so I was thrust into days alone with 4 kids right away. It’s been much easier than I imagined it would be. (I MIGHT have almost had a nervous break down one day towards the end of my pregnancy, just thinking about how hard I thought it would be.) She sleeps a lot now, so when she’s more awake things could change!

She is nursing so well.  It hasn’t been hard at all and I am loving it.  It has been effortless.  Breastfeeding with Silas became so difficult eventually, that I made a goal to get to 6 months, at least.  Well, we made it to 7!  My goal for Finley is a year, and if she wants to go longer, that would be wonderful.

I’m just so thankful in every way for how this whole pregnancy, labor, and birth went. God was so faithful in all of it. There were a few moments during pregnancy where I felt very afraid to do this all again but when the time came, the Lord provided me with confidence and a sound mind. I’m so thankful that I had Micah and Rebekah there with me and that my mom could see her birth.  She’s been in the room for all four!  Like I said, this whole experience has been covered in prayer and I have seen His fingerprints in every moment.  He is a good, good Father!

My favorite soup recipes

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons.  I love the colors, the coziness of my house, and the change in the weather.  I love the clothes and layers and boots.  Yay boots!  But I really, really love being able to change up my meals to something a bit more cozy.  Food defines the seasons for me.  Spring brings rhubarb pie, greens, and vegetable soup.  Summer means taco salads, peaches with balsamic vinegar, loads of veggies and fruit, and anything quick that doesn’t heat up the kitchen too much.  Fall and winter are my favorite because they bring roasts, apple pie, apple crisp, pumpkins and pumpkin spice (I have a limit, people!  I can’t put pumpkins in everything like some people do, but it’s still fun in some things.) But the BEST fall and winter meals to me center around soup and chili.  With cornbread. Or homemade French bread.  Or hot rolls… 

There’s nothing cozier than making a fragrant soup on a cold day with the fire going, is there?  In honor of this cozy food season, I thought I would round up my favorite recipes and share them with you!  They make cold days so much cozier.  Not only do I love to eat them, but I love the process of making them.  The chopping, mincing, sautéing, and simmering.  It’s just a cozy thing to do on a chilly day inside.  I make a soup or chili at least once or twice a week during the fall and winter.  Hopefully these recipes help make your days a bit cozier too!   I list a few that I love online and then I’ll end with a couple of my own.

Lemon Chicken Orzo soup from DamnDelicious.  My family loves this one.  I made it several times last year.  Tons of flavor and veggies make this one a winner.

  
Creamy Chicken and Mushroom soup also from DamnDelicious.  Go make it now!  My whole entire family gobbled this one up.

Split Pea Soup.  This is one of my personal favorites.  I know it sounds simple, but it’s got SO much flavor because of the ham hock in it.  I crave this one and will eat it any time of the day.  

Ham and Bean Soup.  Again, tons of flavor from the ham.  It’s just amazing and I make it all the time with cornbread.  Note: I don’t use onion powder, I chop a whole onion instead.

Okay, this Baked Potato Soup is my ABSOLUTE favorite.  I don’t know where I got the original recipe, but I’ve changed it a little over the years.  

6 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 large onion, chopped

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

5 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks

2 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 tbsp fresh chives

Sour cream, extra chives, extra shredded cheddar, and bacon, cooked and crumbled to garnish 

Combine potatoes, onion, garlic, chicken broth, butter, salt, and pepper in a crockpot.  Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.  Mash mixture until potatoes are coarsely chopped and soup is slightly thickened.  Stir in cream, 1 cup shredded cheese, and 3 tbsp of chives.  Top with sour cream, bacon, extra cheddar, and extra chives if desired.

Serve it up on a cold winter day and be cozy.

My favorite chili recipe is originally my dad’s.  I think he’s changed it over the years, but I’ve kept it pretty similar to what it used to be.  It’s one of our favorites every single year!

Charlie’s Texas Chili

3 lbs. ground chuck

1 cup Catalina dressing

1 large onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp kosher salt

4 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp oregano

2 tbsp paprika

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 10 oz. can puréed tomatoes

6 slices of bacon cooked and chopped

1 can of dark beer

Lime juice to taste 

Marinate ground chuck in Catalina dressing for a couple hours in the refrigerator.  Then brown the meat, drain it, and set it aside.  Sauté the onions in a little oil until soft, then add the garlic and sauté for about 1-2 mins.  Lower the heat and add the spices, sugar, and puréed tomatoes.  Stir around for a minute.  Then add the ground chuck, bacon, beer, and lime juice.  Bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for at least an hour.

Serve on game day with lots of cornbread!

Okay, so these totally made me hungry!  Cook soup, eat soup, and be cozy, friends!


Boredom and Beauty

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After a particularly hard couple of weeks, Micah looked at me the other day and asked, “Is everything okay with you?”  My answer was “I’m bored to tears, I’m burnt out, and I’m tired!”  It was the truth.  Something in my heart needed to be refreshed and I needed a different perspective.  I know in my heart that God did not design me to feel this way!

Whether you are stay at home mom, a work at home mom, or a working mom, I do not believe raising children and keeping a home should be boring tasks.  I do it full time.  I know that when I begin to feel boredom, something needs to change.  If I am bored, that means that I am not fully utilizing the gifts God has uniquely created me with to serve my home and my family.  Most likely, though I hate to admit it, I am selfishly focused on myself instead of being faithful to what God has given me.

I serve a vibrant, beautiful, creative, interesting, and awesome God.  If I am created in His image, what does that make me?  It makes me vibrant, beautiful, creative, interesting, and awesome as well!  I have the ability to show my children just how beautifully awesome our God is by modeling it in my own life.  If I am boring, lackluster, impatient, and grumpy, what kind of impression am I giving my kids of their God?  How am I being faithful to Him in this job He’s given me? 

There are not many boring seasons in my life as a stay at home mom, but they do happen.  Most of the time, I’m too busy teaching, cleaning, preparing, disciplining, nursingreadingcuddlingscrubbingbaking to be bored!  But, on the days that they do happen, only I have the ability to do something about it.  

First and foremost, I need refreshment from Scripture.  Maybe I’m burnt out because I’ve been listening to voices I shouldn’t be.  Chances are, I’m comparing myself to them, trying live up to someone else’s expectations.  My friend, Robin, wrote a great post about turning off the noise.  (Wise words, please read them.) The only standard I should be living up to is the truth of Scripture.  For the most part, I only let a few precious voices speak to my soul besides God’s Word, the main ones being older, experienced mothers who only glean their wisdom from Scripture as well.

Next, I might be experiencing burn out because I haven’t been keeping up with my home.  I love keeping a home, but I’m not perfect at it.  If I get behind, I feel overwhelmed and not motivated to do much.  I simply have to get over it and get stuff done!  Once my home is in order…man.  I’m a new woman.  It’s a breath of fresh air and it helps SO much to shake that feeling of boredom because now I have a clean slate!  The kids and I can bake.  I can sit and read while they nap and play.  We have space for school without working on top of clutter.  I usually feel more inspired to take on a sewing or DIY project.  You get the idea.

  
Also, I love bringing beauty into our home through decor, fresh flowers, lighting candles, baking something delicious, playing music, or changing things around a bit. It’s my pleasure.  Even if these things go unnoticed, I still love to do it. All of these things are small ways to bring God’s beauty into our home.  

  
This job is truly not boring, friends.  There’s too much beauty and fun to be had.  If you feel bored and burnt out, please see that as a red warning flag.  Something needs to change.  I know because I’ve been there, done that.  I’m preaching to my own heart here.  There are little lives looking to us to show them the wonder and awesomeness that is our world and our God.  Let’s not leave them wanting.

Dwell

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” Psalms 37:3
I read this verse last night at the end of the first chapter of Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson and I have been mulling it over in my heart since I read it.

Dwell.  I love this word.  Webster’s dictionary defines it: to live in a particular place; to remain for a time; to live as a resident; exist, lie.  

I have this word hanging above our couch, written on a chalkboard.  I’ve had it written in our home for a few years now.  I originally saw it in The Nester’s living room and loved it so much that I wanted it in mine as well.  To me it means home, wherever that may be, with my people and doing what I love.

  
As I meditated on this verse, I thought of what “the land” is for me and what it means to dwell there and cultivate faithfulness.  For me, the land I am dwelling in is my home, as a stay at home, homeschooling mom of three, almost four kids.  I am deep into the years of raising small children, getting little rest, making lots of sacrifices, and having very little time for my personal dreams.  This my “land”.

My desire is that I dwell here with contentment and cultivate faithfulness.  For me, that means that day in and day out, I do my job with joy and do it unto the Lord.  

Preparing three meals a day with faithfulness. 

Teaching my children Scripture and prayer with faithfulness.  

Living out God’s grace and truth to my children and husband with faithfulness.  

Making my home a haven and sanctuary with faithfulness.  

Bedtimes, training, soothing, healing, playing, creating, encouraging.  

All faithfully.  

I desperately want the Lord to find me faithful at these tasks He’s given me.

Your land may look different than mine, but you have a land that you dwell in.  If we cultivate faithfulness, trust in the Lord, and do good, David goes on to say in verses 4 and 6, “…He will give you the desires of your heart” and “He will bring forth your righteousness like the light…”  Our land is not always what we pictured it would be.  Maybe we long for something different, we are desperate for change.  But this is it.  This is our land that we dwell in.  May the Lord find us faithful, content, and doing good with what He has given us in this season.

I pray that the Lord marks this verse on your heart like He has for me.  

Things I’m loving right now

I feel a little weird about writing a post like this, like I’m being a little narcissistic and a little like Oprah.  (These are my favorite things!) The main reason I’m doing this post is because I truly love these things, maybe I can convince you to love them too (wink!) Also, it’s just fun!  I love when other people share their favorite things and what they’re into.

Before I jump in, let me make it clear that I am not advertising for any of these things and I am not making any money on these links.  I just love them and wanted to share!

  
Okay then, number 1.) My French press.  Y’all.  I’ve been making sub-par coffee for a long time now.  Micah and I bought an average, basic coffee maker a while back.  Mr. Coffee, I think.  It’s not that we don’t like it, it’s just that compared to the coffee the French press makes, the coffee just doesn’t even compare. I buy whole beans from Equal Exchange or Hawk and Horse (a local coffee company that roasts beans locally). I grind it and then throw it in the French press.  It’s amazing every time.  Heaven in a cup.  I look forward to waking up every morning just for this cup of beautiful coffee!  I have this French press but IKEA has one for only $9.

2.) Smoothies.  If I miss one for breakfast, I make one for lunch or a snack.  I feel like I’m starting my day right (gold star for me!), it gives me energy (I cannot eat carbs and sugar in the morning, or I will fall asleep by lunch). Also, it’s a great way to take some supplements because I just hide them in there.  Being pregnant, it’s important to me to have good nutrition.  There’s more and more research about the effect of mom’s diet on baby’s brain development.  (Having said that, if you follow me on Instagram and have seen all the sugary/carby things I’ve been posting…whatever.  Nobody’s perfect!) 

Here’s what I put in my smoothies: 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves, a handful of frozen strawberries, 1 whole banana, 1 cup of kefir or Greek yogurt, 2 rounded tablespoons of gelatin, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of cod liver oil.  

           
3.) The Skimm.  It’s a daily email newsletter that updates me on the goings-on in the world, but it’s written in a fun and concise way.  I’m not big on watching the news.  It’s depressing, honestly.  I HATE relying on Facebook to know what’s happening in the news (there’s just too many opinions flying around on there!) But I also don’t like being uninformed.  I love being updated by The Skimm.  It’s up to date, concise, and easy to read.  I read it with my coffee in the mornings.  Shout out to my favorite podcast (keep reading) for informing me about The Skimm!

4.) The She Reads Truth app.  Most of you probably already know about SheReadsTruth, but just in case…it is originally a website for women to get into Scripture daily.  It’s also an app and a friend turned me onto to this.  It’s so easy to pull up a new devotional every day, read Scripture, read words about it, and get involved in the She Reads Truth community (which I don’t really do, but some might really enjoy that part.) They have beautiful art and I love the studies that they’ve been doing (women in Scripture, hymns, they’re currently doing a study on the epistles and  I loved the Advent study at Christmas.) Also, they just made a HE Reads Truth app for the men.  

  
And now, for my most favorite thing.

5.) Podcasts!  Y’all, I’m not a huge music person.  I wish I was and I do like to listen to it sometimes, but most of the time I’d rather listen to some fun conversation, or a story, or advice, or something to inspire me as a mom.  Podcasts are where it’s at, y’all.  I love my podcasts!  I spend a lot of time during the day listening and talking to my children so I feel like listening to a podcast is grown up time and grown up conversation.  It makes folding the laundry, doing the dishes, and cooking dinner so much more enjoyable!  Lately, I’d rather turn on a podcast than a tv show.  Here are some of my favorites:

Sorta Awesome.  I think this is my favorite one! This is a light-hearted podcast that is so fun to listen to.  Megan Tietz used to be a blogger at SortaCrunchy, but she’s since stopped blogging and now she podcasts!  She has a beautiful radio voice and she and her co-hosts are almost always talking about something I need to know about!  

AfterBuzz TV Aftershow: Bachelor in Paradise/The Bachelor/ The Bachelorette.  AfterBuzz TV has podcasts for tons of shows on TV but I enjoy the ones about The Bachelor.  Yes, I watch The Bachelor (most recently, Bachelor in Paradise!)  #sorrynotsorry.  It’s my guilty pleasure.  This podcast discusses the show afterwards, has members of the cast on, and often talks about behind the scenes stuff.  Guilty, guilty pleasure.

The Influence Podcast.  This is put on by The Influence Network.  They interview influential Christian creatives, authors, and persons of interest.  It’s usually someone I’ve heard about online, I admire their work, I want to read their book, etc. so it’s always interesting and inspiring to listen to.

Inspired To Action.  I’ve been reading Kat Lee’s blog for years, and now she has a podcast!  Kat is very passionate about ministering to mother’s hearts.  She has guests on that share their unique stories on being a mother and many times I leave that podcast feeling like a rockstar mom, feeling inspired, and pumping my fist in the air.  A perfect podcast for a mommy pick-me-up.

The Simple Show.  From Tsh Oxenreider at Art of Simple.com.  This is another blog I’ve read for years, and podcast I’ve listened to for years.  Aaaand I’ve read both of her books.  Tsh interviews people from around the web and talk about their blog, their book, what they’re listening to, what they’re up to.  I enjoy it.

Spilled Milk.  “The show where we cook something delicious, eat it all, and you can’t have any!”  This is my most recent podcast to get into.  It is a foodie podcast, but I don’t think you have to be a foodie to enjoy it!  They’re just funny and fun to listen to.  

A couple that I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to yet, but I’d like to check out are The Popcast and Style Scouting.

Well, this was a super fun post to put together.  It definitely won’t be the last one like it!  I hope you mommies can get a little something from this post to make your everyday a little brighter.  Let me know if you do!  I’d love to hear.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Hash

In an attempt to eat healthier this pregnancy, I recently bought a boat-load of veggies at the grocery store.  Even more than I usually do.  It’s been a delicious week for sure!  I bought a bag of organic sweet potatoes also.  I love to make sweet potatoes simply by steaming them, mashing them, then adding butter and salt.  They’re perfect that way and make a great lunch or side dish for dinner. But yesterday, I was in a bind for dinner and after searching the kitchen, I realized I had the ingredients to make hash!  I found a package of pork-apple sausage I bought at the farmer’s market.  I always, I mean always have onions and I had some fresh rosemary in a pot outside.

Y’all, this sweet potato hash was gone in a few minutes.  You know who ate the most?  I think it was Silas (our pickiest eater!)  Micah was a close second.  It’s the perfect balance of savory and sweet.  It’s probably best lumped into the breakfast category, but it’s so hearty and filling that I made it for dinner.  It was perfect next to a bowl of fruit salad!


This dish takes a bit of prep, so it’s not something you can throw together at the last minute in ten minutes.  I’ll try to post more quick and easy recipes, but trust me, this is worth the time (and it really doesn’t take TOO much time.)  Besides, I find chopping, mincing, and caramelizing at the end of the day to be relaxing.  Anyone with me?

This sweet potato hash is a very clean-eating recipe.  Use local and organic, or don’t, if that’s not what you have.  Leave off the Parmesan if you don’t do dairy, BUT Parmesan is good on almost everything, y’all.  It was a healthy and filling meal for us all (especially for me, the one growing a baby!)


Please let me know if try this and what you think!

Here’s the recipe…enjoy!

Sweet Potato Hash

4 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

Salt to taste

Pepper, a generous helping

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, sliced

1/2 lb. pork or chicken apple sausage

5 eggs (or one for each person you’re serving)

Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cube the unpeeled sweet potatoes into bite size pieces and put into an ungreased 9×13 baking dish.  Mince the garlic and chop the 2 sprigs of Rosemary and throw these into the baking dish as well.  Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper (be generous with the pepper!)  Toss all of this in the baking dish with the olive oil.  Put the baking dish into the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and crisp on the edges.

While the sweet potatoes are in the oven, slice the onions into half moons and then halve them again.  Caramelize the onions over medium-low heat on the stove until they are browned and about one third of the volume they were before.  While the onions are on the stove, brown the sausage in a separate pan and drain it.

When the sweet potatoes are done, mix the onions and sausage into the sweet potatoes and make five small wells in the dish to crack your eggs into.  Crack an egg into each well and place the dish back into the oven for 8-10 minutes, depending on how well done you want your eggs to be.

When it’s all done, top it all with a generous helping of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and more Rosemary.

Why we homeschool

I’ve been asked a few times recently why we’ve decided to homeschool, and as the new school year is fast approaching I have really been pondering our reasons.  The more I think about them, the more I feel like we’re making the right decision for this year.  Every homeschooling family has different reasons.  These are ours.

First, let me say, you may have made the decision to send your children to traditional school.  Please know that these are our personal reasons as a family and I am not trying to project them onto you as the reasons why YOU should homeschool as well.  Grace to you, whatever your family chooses to do!. 

  

 

1.) Flexibility.

This is probably my favorite reason!  If we’re tired, we can take a day off to rest. If we are feeling adventurous, we can take a day off to do an outing.  We are free to have slow mornings, skip a day if we feel the need, and go on vacation in the middle October if we wish to.  

We love to take trips as a family, we don’t get to do it as often as we’d like, but homeschooling puts no restraints on when we can go because we can do school on the road.  For example, we’ll be doing the first six weeks of our Fall semester this year in Mississippi. 

2.) Time to develop relationships with each other.

Someone told me something recently that has stuck with me.  She said that most parents will tell you that their children grew so fast and it goes by in the blink of an eye, but she said that she doesn’t feel that is true when you are homeschooling (she is the homeschooling mother of a 13 year old boy). When you’re homeschooling, you spend so much time with your children, training them, going through every experience with them, and are able to savor everyday with them. You’re with them all day everyday. So she feels like the time you have with them doesn’t fly by as it does for mothers who send their kids to school everyday and miss out on all that time with them. She said that you really get to cherish these days with them without feeling like they’re slipping away. This is true for her, I’m not sure if it will be true for me, but I’m about to find out!

I love the idea of getting to spend quality one on one time with my children, daily learning about God together, and growing in so many ways.  Micah and I get to be the primary influence in their lives instead of their peers.  We can make sure their roots sink deep, so when they are mostly with peers, they won’t be swayed.

3.) We can focus on their strengths and creativity.

Generally, in a traditional classroom (which is how I was educated) everyone is taught the exact same thing at the same time and expected to perform at the same level.  This is not reasonable, in my opinion.  Everyone learns at different speeds and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.  Homeschooling gives more opportunity to strengthen what they’re good at and develop their interests.  I am a huge fan of interest-led learning.  I believe kids learn so much better with interest-led learning.  (Although I have not chosen to “unschool”, this is a good source to see what interest-led learning is about.)

If their education is centered around things that they love, they will love to learn.  My kids love to be outdoors, cook, go on outings, travel, create art, read, and be with their friends.  They have grown leaps and bounds just by doing these things everyday.  Homeschooling allows for any of these things to occur on a daily basis and their learning can center around them.

  
4.) No standardized testing.  No grades.

These are pretty self explanatory.  I can teach what I want, when I want. My kids don’t have the pressure that grades and tests put on them.  They have the freedom to learn at their own pace.

5.) Better social skills.

Yep, you read that right.  I believe that (generally) homeschoolers are just as socialized, if not better socialized than traditionally schooled children.  Homeschooled children do not sit in a classroom all day every day with kids their same age.  Generally, those kids are only skilled and comfortable with interacting with kids their same age.  I  believe homeschooled kids have more opportunity to make friends with any age, because they are around so many different people all the time.  They are comfortable entertaining toddlers as well as conversing with teenagers and adults.  They don’t see people younger than them as inferior, and they don’t see people older than them as as intimidating. (Remember being a senior in high school?  Remember being a freshman?  Those inferior/superior mentalities are seen far less in homeschooled children.) I realize that this is not true across the board for everyone, but it is overall true.  You can read more about homeschooling and socialization here, here, and here.  Gone are the days of awkward, socially backward homeschooled stereotypes.

6.) More time in the community.

This goes along with the previous point.  Instead of being at the same school all day with the same people, we are able to get out in our community more often.  We run every errand together, go to the library, park, get out in our neighborhood, have play dates, go to our local nature center, do service projects for others, play at the mall…you get the picture.  We get to be a part of our community every single day.  

7.) Less time doing school everyday and no homework.

Because our schooling is one on one, rather than a teacher teaching a classroom, it simply goes by faster and we have more time for other things.  My children will not have to spend all day at school and then come home only to face more homework.  Right now, we will be able to complete kindergarten in 30 mins to an hour.  As they get older it will take more time obviously, but not as much as traditional schooling.

  

These are my reasons, friends.  I am very thankful for the opportunity to be able to school my children at home.  I love having them home with me and at this point, I would only want to put them in school for my own selfish reasons.  Ten, five, even one year from now, things could change and the Lord may ask us to do things differently.  As long as we are exactly where the Lord wants us to be, I will be totally okay with that.

We are only starting out on this journey of homeschooling. This year will be our first “official” year.  We have so much to learn! It’s going to be continuous trial and error but I believe that it will be completely worth all the effort!