"If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the begining of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation or love and trust."
Suzanne Arms

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I'll Take Your Crazy, and Raise You a Side of Glaring Indifference

“Girl you are crazy, fo real!!”

I get this comment a lot.  It is usually said in jest with a laugh.  It comes from friends, close friends, well meaning friends . . . and sometimes acquaintances.  I laugh and usually nod my head in agreement, because sometimes I feel a little crazy.  I know they don’t mean anything negative by it, they are simply expressing their surprise or amazement at some of choices we make.  I take absolutely NO offense at it at all!!  I don’t mind being thought of as crazy, especially when I am doing what I think is best.

Of course I also get the comments in a not so nice way, said with a tinge of superiority or even disgust, usually accompanied by an eye roll.  And I am sure most of those people are actually saying it behind my back too “she is CRAZY, can you imagine, I would never do that!!!”.  That is fine too and it doesn’t bother me because like I said, I am doing what I think is best. 
Actually I can understand the crazy label being applied to many of our choices that are outside the norm and outside of most peoples comfort zone. 

For example . . . . 

Homebirth (or even unassisted birth).  For those who are unfamiliar with the safety of homebirth and unhindered birth in general, are afraid of birth, who think that birth is a medical event that needs the hospital, or for those who just feel safer with that medical ‘back up’ I can totally understand them thinking that homebirth is ‘crazy’.  I may not agree, but I can understand why they would feel this way. Though I have found that when people do more research on it they tend to warm up to the idea.  But it isn’t for everyone and personally, I can relate because I have often felt the opposite . . . like those who birth in the hospital (without a medical indication) placing their births in the hands of Dr's and hospital regulations are crazy, LOL!! (said in jest of course)  So I understand the feeling!

Natural Health etc. – people get freaked out at the thought of not vaccinating!  Diseases are scary (though some of us believe the vaccine is scarier).  They don’t understand just watching a fever instead of trying to bring it down, or not giving a kid Tylenol or cold meds at every ache or sniffle, or even not taking them to the dr for their ‘well baby’ checks.  We are such a medically minded society who looks to Dr’s to answer and even solve all our health problems, that it is often outside of peoples comfort zone to think of not utilizing this service. If someone wants to think me the crazy herb lady who doesn't have meds in her house I am cool with that!

Elimination Communication – Taking your BABY to the potty?  I don’t even need to explain why this sounds crazy, LOL !  (though I swear when you realize they can communicate this need it makes perfect sense).

Having 6 kids -Plenty of parents are overwhelmed with 1 or 2 small children.  So to them, the thought of more than that seems completely insane!  I understand, but I also explain that God gives them to us one at a time (usually ;0) and so we get a chance to get accustomed to them slowly as we learn new parenting skills and gain more wisdom and patience.  Though some say that for them 6 was easier than 2 . . . I can't really say I have experienced that! (I have older ones to help, but WAY more to keep up with)

But then there are some things about parenting that just seem very natural and normal and instinctual to me. When it comes to things like breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping, I don’t understand how something so primal and so much a part of human nature (nurturing your child) can be seen as crazy.  I still don’t mind the crazy comments about these things, and I certainly don’t take offense, I just have a harder time understanding the sentiment.

So I was lying in our big bed last night in the dark.  All 6 of the kids had decided to sleep in there with us (Xian said he felt like being cozy).  Dagyn was nursing, his body cuddled into mine, his hand on my arm and his little feet kneading at my belly.  I could feel 2 yr old Thrace's body, cuddled up to my back.
And I thought . . . .

Is it crazy to love this?

Is it crazy to love cuddling with these babies?

Is it crazy to take joy in meeting my baby’s needs?

Is it crazy for wanting to provide them with the best nutrition in the world, for as long as they need it?

Is it crazy to look for reasons to be with them, instead of looking for reasons to be apart?

Is it crazy to want to cherish every moment because I know they grow so fast?

Is it crazy to embrace my mothering instincts, despite the fact that it goes against the mainstream?

Is it crazy to say yes, when society says I should say no?

Is it crazy to respect my older kids needs and desires without judgment?

Is it crazy to listen to what my baby is telling me?

Is it crazy to want to hold my baby as much as possible, especially when he is telling me he needs it?

Is it crazy to sacrifice my time, my body, and sometimes my mental sanity for the benefit of my children?

Is it crazy to give up my wants for my children's needs?

Well if all of this is crazy, then I am certifiable!! 
Go ahead and lock me away!   I’ll admit I am crazy about my kids and making sure I am doing what I feel is right by them!   I mean, don’t all of us parents have a little crazy in us?  And that is why I happily accept your crazy label even if it is meant as a negative, and if it is . . . .  Then I’ll take your crazy and raise you a side of glaring indifference!

The picture that prompted the post!
The other day I posted a picture of our big bed with all 8 of us on facebook. I often get people wondering how we make it work so I thought some would find it interesting (and I'll do a whole blog post about it at some point).  Those facebook friends who know how our family does things (and/or do things in a similar way) didn’t think a thing of the picture, but I am sure there were plenty of friends unfamiliar with how we do things, who were shocked by it!  Something I hadn’t even thought about when I posted it!!  And even though the comments I got on it were positive, I could only imagine that there were plenty of 'crazy' comments that would never be shared with me!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Alone time together . . . surrounded by kids!! (or, why we are content to go with the flow . . . and why Charlie rocks!!)

Me and Charlie, 2004

Charlie and I have been together 19 1/2 years (since he was 16 and I was 17) and married almost 14 yrs.  We have 6 crazy, fun, amazing kids!  (and to think before he met me he never thought he would ever get married, let alone have 6 kids).  He is and always has been my best friend. We do most everything together as a family (including grocery shopping) and I'd rather spend time with him, even with the kids around, than go have a moms night out with "the girls" (no offense 'girls' ;0).   Not that I don’t enjoy hanging out with like minded moms (believe me, I DO!!) but if I had to choose, spending time with him wins hands down!  And believe it or not, the times he has been asked to go out with the guys, he will often decline (though I promise you, I tell him I am fine with it if he wants to go).

What will we do today on Valentines Day?  Who knows.   We have been busy and as usual, we never made any plans.  Maybe we’ll make a special meal for the kids, maybe some heart cookies for dessert and then watch a movie or something.  One thing we won't get to do is go out alone. We have only gone out without any kids probably 10 times (or maybe even less) in over 11 yrs.   It’s cool, that is life with little ones!  We do stay up hours after the kids are in bed so we can hang out together alone (even if I DO often have to go back into the bedroom to nurse a baby to sleep every 1/2 hr). 

highschool, 1993

It works for us! We don't need huge plans or to have a big night out (though every once in a while it would be nice ;0) We are content to just live life in the moment we were given and enjoy what we have now, because the next stage of life will be different (though I am sure also exciting).
You know how  people (often experts) say it is important to have "date nights" and go out without the kids and stuff.   In fact it seems that once a mom has a baby one of the first things on her mind is getting to the point where she can leave the baby with a sitter so she can “go out”.  Well sorry, I am NOT leaving my babies when they are little (and Charlie doesn’t expect or ask me to).  I wait until I am sure they are fine without me (and with a family member they love) for a short time, and that is often closer to 18mo – 2 yrs.  So as it works out, by the time they are that age, I am pregnant again so we  have a window of a few months where we can go out before I have another baby (and then we are not really alone because I have a huge belly baby making their presence known ;0)  Now that I think about it, I am not sure if we even had a chance to go out alone last year before I had Dagyn.  Charlie’s mom was on her way to our house (all of our family are 3 hrs away) to let us go out to dinner but my water broke the night before, so we spent the evening meeting a new baby instead of getting our dinner alone (and we wouldn’t have traded that for anything!!)

in college, 1995

 YES, it is so nice when we do get a couple chances to go out alone every other year. I LOVE it! But I don't think it is mandatory for 'happiness', at least it isn’t for us.  I think happiness is losing preconceived notions and finding contentment where you are and making it work for you (the same can be said about parenting babies and young children). For us, that means maybe losing a bit of sleep at night so that we can spend more time together (and sometimes that is just both of us sitting on the sofa doing computer stuff . . . like right now, or playing a video game, or cleaning, or watching a movie, or talking). For me, it may mean trying not to fall asleep when I go in to nurse a baby back to sleep for the third time . . . because Charlie is waiting in the living room for me to come back out and finish the movie we had to pause . . . again, LOL.  

You know how you always hear people say that marriage is a lot of work . . . in order to have a successful and happy marriage you have to work at it!!  We have talked about it and agree that we can't relate because it has never felt like that to us (not that it makes us any better than anyone else, but it is just how it is).  Maybe it is because we have the same interests and likes . . . I mean we agree on almost everything!  Our personalities complement each other  too,  I am strong willed about some things and he is more easy going, so we don't butt heads much . . .  and we are both just laid back and “logical” about a lot of stuff.   So a lot of things are just no big deal.  I think a big thing is that we recognize each other’s strengths and respect that.   We are Christians, and the Bible talks about submission (which I believe goes both ways) and it is very easy when there is mutual respect . . . there is no need for ‘submission’.  I respect his role as provider and father.  He is extremely intelligent and if there is something he feels is important I don’t question it (I have no reason to, I trust him).  On the other hand, he absolutely respects my instincts as mom, and would never question what I feel is best as it relates to birth and caring for the little ones  . . . no matter how crazy it may seem, he takes it all in stride and usually says “that makes sense”.  He is very good about me having such strong feelings and opinions, and even when I get very verbal about it (though I really think he likes it when I get all riled up about stuff, LOL).   And we both feel that whatever is the most natural just makes the most sense.

Thanksgiving 2010 (I am pregnant with Dagyn)

He doesn’t act embarrassed when I run my mouth, even out in public!  If I am venting about something I am passionate about, he will often join in and agree with me.  He prefers to go to the store with the whole family, no matter how crazy it will get.  And when I run into a friend when out (or if I am stopped by a stranger) he very patiently waits for me to stop running my mouth, even if it has been ½ and hour (or . . . longer).  He doesn’t care that I am nursing 2 or 3 kids and they nurse till they are 4-5, and has even defended it to his friends.  He doesn’t bat an eye at “playing midwife” during our births.  He sleeps in the bed, sandwiched between kids, being kicked in the head, having kids lie all over him, and he has never once said “hey, let’s try to move the kids out of the bed”.   He has NEVER once complained about the messy house, or the naked babies who never have diapers on or the piles of slings and carriers filling up the back of the car (OK so he has complained about that last one a time or 2, LOL).  He is happy to just go with the flow . . . how awesome is that!!

Geez neither of us are perfect, but we know that too!!   I have ALWAYS joked that God put us together because He knew that only we could tolerate each other!  

The most recent picture I could find of us together, Jan 2012
 I would love to have more date nights . . . and I say as with everything . . . "maybe we can do that when we are 50"  But instead of forcing it, or leaving my kids before I think they are ready, or thinking that it is mandatory, or resenting that we don't get to go out alone often, I am content and happy with the stage of life I am in now and make it work without having to leave my kids or make sacrifices that I am not comfortable with (because if I am not comfortable with it, he wouldn’t be either).   I will definitely enjoy being able to do more stuff just the 2 of us, when the kids are older and don't need us as much.  I actually think about that often, though I joke that we will not get alone time even then because we will probably be constantly babysitting grandkids . . . . but I know we'll enjoy that too. 

As for now, we are happy to enjoy our date nights at home, eating ice cream, watching movies, just hanging out, with the occasional interruption of a crying baby or screaming toddler of course.    It is what it is and that is what makes it so cool, we don’t need more than what we have at any given time.  We are blessed with an amazing family!  If we can’t be happy with life as it is right now . . . then I am not sure that anything could bring us happiness!

The day Dagyn was born . . . look what we have created!!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Our family Tree . . . wall!

So I was lying in bed a couple weeks ago trying to decide what to do with the hallway. We had just painted it (we paint a lot) and, in our neverending effort to gain more space in our not to terribly huge house, we hung a really cool shelf thing on one wall to hold all our herbs that we pick and dry.  I had a dry erase board for the kids on the other wall, on the bottom half, but I wanted to do family pictures above that.  

So while lying in bed this picture popped into my head of a tree with branches entertwining around family pictures.  This is what I came up with.

It was really very easy.  I taped some paper to the wall where I thought I may like pictures.  Then I took some chalk and outlined a tree.  Then I got some black wall paint (yes, we have some black walls in the house too) and I just kind of freehanded the tree using the chalk outline as a guide.  It didn't take long at all.  Maybe a couple hours.  Of the whole project though taking the pictures, printing them out and getting them in frames (some of which I had to spray black too) was by far the hardest and most time consuming part.

My Paper "pictures" and chalk outline

I put a picture of Charlie and I at the top.  Around that I put pictures of us holding each of the kids as babies, then on the bottom I did recent a picture of each kid, that I can switch out as they grow.  If I had more room (or used smaller pictures) I would have loved to do pregnancy pictures too.  I'll have to reassess the layout if (Lord willing when) we have more kids! 

A view from the other side (yes, that is Piper holding a chicken, Lele)
 I could have made the tree trunk go down lower, but my original intent was to have a bunch of roots down there spreading out across the wall.  Then after I painted it on I thought roots (and more branches, which I had also intended to do) may be too 'busy'.

This is a view down the hall (dry erase board on the bottom left, herb storage right)

This is our cool dry herb storage!  We haven't put all the herbs in there yet but it holds our recycled jars nicely!


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