NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

Category: Parenting (page 1 of 2)

Four baby gifts that every mom REALLY needs – but is afraid to ask for…

We’ve all seen the articles on the MUST HAVE items for baby.  They are full of things like strollers, the best car seat, infant swings, even baby food.  However, ask any mom what the must have items are for her and you’ll get different answers.

We are all different and our babies are all different, so it’s impossible to make a MUST HAVE registry list that is very useful.

However, there are certain gifts that a mom (first time or veteran moms alike) REALLY want, but she won’t ask for.

Why not? If she really wants these things, with all the registries available today, why does she not ask for them?

Because Miss Manners told her not to…

Okay, well it’s not really Miss Manners’ fault, but there are certain things that are easy to ask for – a new diaper bag, for example, but what she really wants, or even what she really needs, is not so easy…

Having just had my fourth baby, there is very, very little that I need for a baby.  I’ve been asked by numerous people what I need, and the honest answer is.

“Nothing, really…”

However, I say that – we all say that – because what we really would like, we can’t ask for…

And, no, it’s not a good night’s sleep or even a shower, although God knows we could really use those things.  Those things are great, and we want them, but most people don’t have the power to get them for us…

So, on behalf of all new or veteran mothers out there, let me just tell you what we would love.


Bring a Meal

My Taco Chili Recipe is my go-to meal to bring to families

My Taco Chili Recipe is my go-to meal to bring to families

It may be cliche to bring a family a meal at the birth of a new baby.  It may seem too cheap or trite, but it isn’t.  It is a wonderful gift!

However, if you ask a family to tell you when or if they want a meal, they never will.  It just seems rude to a new mom to ask you to bring something on a certain date.  Instead, offer to bring them a meal and then ask about a specific date, or two or three, that would be good.  Be specific, otherwise the mom will just think you’re being polite, but don’t really intend to bring a meal.

I know many people are intimidated by bringing their own home cooked food to another’s house, so as much as they know it would be appreciated, it makes them uncomfortable.  But although home cooked meals are wonderful, it is not necessary.

Order a pizza, pick up take out, or even a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.  It is simple, but it really is appreciated.

And if distance is a problem, you can even look up a local place and have them deliver to the family even though you don’t live nearby.

If a mom doesn’t have a “food-train” lined up, offer to start one for her.  Using a free website, like TakeThemAMeal.com, is simple, quick, and easy!  Again, it isn’t proper for a new parent to set up their own food-train, so even though they would love one, they won’t do it themselves…

House Cleaning

broomThis is another gift that moms will likely never admit to wanting, but we all want it.  Well, most of us – we all know that one mom who really does always have a perfect house!  I don’t know how she does it!

I know it is a little awkward, especially since we all feel this need to pretend we are perfect – thank you, social media!  However, when a friend not only offers to come over and help, but also sees through our not so honest claims that “it’s all good.  It’s all under control…” and comes over anyway.  And then proceeds to do the dishes, vacuum, or even clean the bathroom!  That is a true friend!

Of course, if you can afford it, another way to give this gift is through the services of a professional house cleaner.  Several hours of house cleaning by a professional is an amazing baby gift.  Can I hear an “Amen” on that one?

My friend, Laura, gifted me several hours of house cleaning as a gift for our newest addition.  She co-owns a professional housekeeping service, Dynamic Duo Housekeeping, and wanted to bless our family.  Not only was my poor neglected house clean again, but I felt so loved and pampered by her generous gesture. (I highly recommend her service, so if you are looking for a housekeeper in the Yuba/Sutter Area, you can message me on my Facebook page for more details.)

Cash

Oooh, did I just ask for cash?  That is so taboo…

I was taught never to ask for cash, it just isn’t done.  However, if you really want to bless a mom, especially a mom who doesn’t really “need anything”, cash or check is the way to go.

Now, in a pinch, gift cards are great, too.  A gift card to someplace like Target, Walmart, or Costco, are very helpful.  However. they really do limit what a mom can buy.

For instance, say a mom really wants a certain stroller, but it is too pricey to ask for from any one person.  And she got a bunch of gift cards, but they are for many different places, and those places don’t sell the stroller she really thinks would be best for their family.  However, if she is given several checks, she can then buy the stroller, the item she really wanted and needed, at the best location and price.  She could even buy it used if she wanted to – a really great way to get a deal!

Babysitting

babysittterFree babysitting – are there any sweeter words?  The gift of babysitting, either by you or in the form of money to pay for a babysitter, is another amazing gift for any parent, especially if there is more than one child!

Babysitting is the chance for the parent(s) to recharge, do a little self care, or reconnect on date night.

This doesn’t have to be anything grand.  I have friends who will take my bigger kids for a couple hours for a play date and allow me to get some alone time during nap time – what a blessing!

It could be a a chance for a date night or just a chance to wander around Target aimlessly for a couple hours.  Or maybe it’s a chance for the shower or nap that there never is time for. Whatever the case, it is a gift that most of us aren’t comfortable asking for, but we so desperately need!


As moms, and dads, we have a tendency to burn the candle at both ends.  We try to do it all – we try to do it alone – when we really should be asking for help.

As friends and family of someone with a new baby, it is our job to step into that place of uncertainty.  It is our job to stand in the gap for our loved ones and be the help they need, but are too afraid to ask for.

They say no man is an island.  They say that it takes a village to raise a child.  However, if the village does not offer, it won’t happen.  And if the offer is not specific, it won’t happen.  

Let’s make it happen.


Is there anything that you would add to the list above?

I’d love to hear what you think,

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My Third Birth Story: My En Caul Water Birth

An en caul birth is where a baby is born still in its amniotic sac.  The bag of waters does not break and the baby is in a water balloon like clear sac at birth.  This is very rare and is said to occur only in 1 out of 80,000 births.  Legend says that babies born in the caul are said to be clairvoyant and possess supernatural abilities…

When I was pregnant with my third baby, my first girl, I knew I wanted a natural childbirth again.  We considered a home birth, but with our insurance at the time, a hospital birth would be fully covered and a homebirth was not covered at all.  Thankfully, the wonderful hospital based birth center where we gave birth to our second son was covered, so we chose to return there, even though it was almost an hours drive from our house. (Read my second birth story here. Or my first, where nothing went as planned, here.)

Four days before my due date, I knew that something was starting. I was supposed to teach that day, but I asked my husband (who I was co-teaching with at the time) to take over for me.  Nothing was really happening.  I’d had a bunch of Braxton Hicks and early labor contractions off and on for over a week, but nothing stuck.  That morning, however, I just had a feeling.

We were invited to go swimming at a friend’s house that day, which sounded like fun.  It was early May, but it was heating up and I was looking forward to a swim.  So the boys and I headed over that afternoon and swam in the frigid water.  I decided to be brave and swim into the deep end and tread water for a bit – brrrr it was cold!  But the activity got my contractions started.  Just easy early labor contractions like I had been having on and off for quite a while, but I thought they just might stick this time.

We drove home and my contractions continued.  They were not painful, yet, and they came every 10-15 minutes.  I went to bed that night wondering if they would stop or if they would progress.

I woke up about 3 am to painful contractions.  I couldn’t just lie in bed any longer, although I tried and dozed off between each one since they were only coming 3 or 4 times an hour.  By morning, they had picked up considerably and were coming every 5 minutes or so, so we decided to make the hour long trek to the hospital before driving in the car was too uncomfortable.

By 10 am, we made it to the hospital, which was very crowded.  Every room was full, except one basic delivery room without a birthing tub.  As soon as we walked inside, my labor stopped.  (This has certainly been a pattern for me.  My labor always stops when I reach the hospital…)  The midwife who had just come on duty was one of the three in the large midwife group that I actually knew, so I was happy about that.  Simone checked me and they monitored me for 20 minutes, but I was only dilated to 3 cm at this point, and my labor had stopped.  So, she suggested I go back home, or walk around town, get some breakfast, etc. to see if things would start up again.

I was devastated and embarrassed.  I wanted to have this baby, not go back home.  In hinds sight, I am so glad I was not admitted at that time.  Not being at the hospital helped my labor progress much faster than I think it would have if I was there, stuck in that tiny L&D room.


My husband and I decided to go out to brunch and see how things went from there.  As soon as we left the hospital, my labor started again, although just gradually.  I had a number of good contractions in the restaurant while enjoying my big plate of biscuits and gravy and fresh squeezed orange juice.  So afterwards, we decided to walk around town and down to the local university’s campus arboretum.  We were very familiar with this campus because we had graduated from there.

Walking through the familiar plants in the arboretum was very peaceful and my contractions got much more serious.  They were all over the place time-wise, though.  Sometimes they would be 15 minutes between them, sometimes there would be 3 minutes.  After a couple hours of walking, we made it back to our car and discussed the next steps.

I wanted to return to the hospital, but I was afraid they would just turn me away again.  My husband wanted to return home.  He was convinced I was still in early labor and we still had a long time before our baby would arrive. So, against my better judgement, we drove the hour long drive back home.

About half way there, my irregular contractions started to become very regular.  They came every 5 minutes, then every 4, and eventually every 3 minutes by the time we arrived home.  And they were starting to get to the point where I had to really concentrate to get through them.

The boys (ages 4 and almost 6) were excited that we were home already, they were at home with my mother-in-law, and they wanted to meet the baby.  I felt terrible telling them that she wasn’t here yet.  And to make things more complicated, my mother-in-law had some friends visiting who happened to be driving by and had stopped in to visit.  I wasn’t exactly the best hostess as I said a quick hello and then went back to hide in the bedroom.


My husband had a field trip planned with his students the following day and was debating whether or not he should postpone it.  He was talking on the phone with his boss as he walked into the bedroom and I heard him say, “yes, false alarm.  She’s still in early labor, so it could be days still.”  And he did not cancel the trip for the following morning.  At that point, with intense contractions coming every 3 or 4 minutes, I lost it!

“I am NOT in early labor!”  I snapped at him.  My poor husband gave me a sympathetic look and left the room to finish the conversation.

Our guests (or my mother-in-law’s guests) left, so I came out of the room and decided to try to watch a movie with the boys.  We put on Despicable Me II since I had not seen it yet and thought it might be a good distraction.  I still have not seen that movie. LOL!

I moved around the house, sitting on my yoga ball, trying some different yoga positions, leaning against the kitchen counter.  Finally, I told my husband – “I really think we need to go back to the hospital.”

My mother-in-law agreed, so we loaded back into the car, after being home for about 90 minutes, and returned to the hospital.  I had no idea how far along I was, but I suspected I must be near transition.  I started to time my contractions using my phone as we made our way back.  We called the midwife and let them know we were coming back and she assured me that there would be a tub room waiting when we arrived.


My contractions were coming every 3 minutes, then every 2 minutes, and eventually I would only have 30 seconds to a minute between each.  I concentrated on the air vent in front of me and wished that I had my scripture cards from my birth bag to meditate on.  Since I didn’t have those, I just said the name of Jesus, over and over, mostly in my head, as I breathed through each contraction.  It was painful, yet it wasn’t.  I seemed to transport out of myself when I focused on His name.  There IS power in His name.

My husband had finally decided that I must actually be in labor and was starting to get worried that we might actually have this little one in the car!  When traffic slowed (it was after 5 pm at this point) he seriously considered driving in the emergency lane, but thankfully it only slowed for a minute and then picked back up again.

We reached the hospital birth center and I attempted to make it to the door, but with breaks between contractions only lasting 30 or 45 seconds, I didn’t make it to the door without having to lean on my husband and breath through another one.  They knew who I was at the check in desk and led me into my room.  All was peaceful and calm, unlike when we had been there that morning.  I was the only mother in labor.

They hooked me up to the monitors for my mandatory 20 minutes of monitoring at check in.  It was torture to try to lie still while they put the two monitors on my stomach and started the test.  My husband started a calming CD and I tried to breath through each contraction, but was distracted by having to stay in one position for so long.  It was the only time during this labor that I felt was unbearable – I had finally learned how to NOT focus on the pain, but being strapped to a machine was more than I could take.

The nurse started to fill up the birthing tub since she could tell I would want it as soon as I finished my test.

The nurse we had was wonderful.  Later, we found out that she was a Christian and had been praying over the entire delivery.  Since she had no other patients to attend to, she stayed with us and rubbed my back.  At the end of 20 minutes, our midwife came in (she had been taking a dinner break).  But before she could even check me, my contractions changed.  I felt the urge to push.


At first I didn’t say anything and just pushed through the first one – it felt so good.  Then I decided I better say something, so I told the midwife.  She went to check my dilation, thought better of it (this was my third), and told me that if I wanted to have this baby in the water, I had better get in the tub! ( I was only checked at 3 cm dilated that morning.)

The warm water felt so good and eased the pain significantly.  I tried pushing in a squatting position and then on all fours, but wasn’t getting too far.  My midwife suggested I turn over and push from a sitting position with my legs bent up.  That worked and my baby girl started to crown.

The CD we were listening to stopped at that point and my thoughtful husband asked if I wanted him to restart it or put in something different.  “No!  Get the camera!” I told him instead.

At this point, my water still had not broken, so the bag of waters ballooned out as I was pushing her head out.  As she slipped back before the next contraction, the bag of waters stayed out, holding me open so that she came out easily on the next push, still in her bag of waters.

This in the only picture we have of Addamay still in the sac. It is no longer covering her head, but you can see it around her shoulders and my hands.

This in the only picture we have of Addamay still in the sac. It is no longer covering her head, but you can see it around her shoulders and my hands.

The midwife swept her out of the water and quickly broke her bag and released her head.  She was perfect and covered in vernix like frosting as she was placed on my chest.  It was so quick that we don’t have any pictures of her “en caul” and my memory of the event is blurry as I was kind of busy at that time…

We were only in the hospital about 45 minutes before our precious little Addamay was born.  She was perfect, just like her brothers – her blue eyes, button nose, and round head had us captivated from the start.  And she was not “too big” as a late ultrasound predicted she would be.  She was 8 lbs 6 ozs, just under the 8.5 lbs that our midwife had predicted using just her hands.

She latched on immediately and nursed in the tub and then on the bed.  I had a severe tear with her, which took some time to sew up.  However, I also healed quicker and had a better recovery with her than with the boys, so I can’t complain.

A few hours after her birth, she's all cleaned up and ready to sleep.

A few hours after her birth, she’s all cleaned up and ready to sleep.

We spent the night at the hospital and chose her name in the morning.  We are terrible about picking out names, so we had a short list to choose from.  Addamay means Noble Child of Light and is very unusual, but is the combination of two very familiar names.

birth3_home

Being greeted by her grandmothers and her brothers just as we came in the garage door.

And just like our previous births, we requested early check out from the hospital.  We were home by late morning the following day.

Her big brothers could not get enough of her.

Her big brothers could not get enough of her.

Thankfully, Addamay settled right into home life and slept beautifully among the familiar loud sounds of her brothers playing.  She was restless and unhappy at the hospital, but as soon as we were home, she was as happy as could be.

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My One Year Blogiversary: What I’ve learned from my first year…

Today is the 1 year anniversary of starting my NatureAmy blog and what a year it has been!

I started writing to have an outlet that was just mine.  For the first time since becoming a mom almost 8 years before, I was switching from working part-time to being a full-time stay at home mom.  And although I was happy about that, I wanted an outlet that was just mine.

amy_addamay2016As much as I love motherhood, it can become all consuming – so much so that I find myself needing an outlet that is all my own.  When I taught college classes part time, that was a great outlet. However, after 3 kids and full time homeschooling two of them, working outside the home, even for only 10 hours a week, was too much.  So I became a full-time SAHM and started a lifestyle/mommy blog.

And I’ve loved it!  It’s been a hard year for me emotionally, but being able to write about it has been very healing.  I’ve also found that writing is so much like teaching.  I’m a teacher and encourager at heart and I’ll never get away from that.

I’ve evolved from writing two or three posts per week, to taking two months off from writing in the summer, and eventually settling in at posting about once per week.

family2016I wish I could write more consistently – I love reading bloggers who post several days every week – but I realized that that is not realistic in my current season.  I’m homeschooling 1st and 3rd grade, keeping up with a very independent toddler, and about to add a 4th baby to the mix.  My husband works 80 hour weeks during the school year and we try to keep everything running smoothly at our house (emphasis on TRY – it is far from smooth most weeks!).


So… just for fun, let’s look at some of my stats and most popular posts this year.  I have been blown away by the visitation and love that this site has received the last 12 months!

Total site visitation: just under 50,000 – I can hardly fathom that number!  I know for many more popular blogs that is a monthly or weekly stat, but I am humbled that my blog has been visited so many times!

  1. My most popular post is my Weeks Worth of Trim Healthy Mama Camping Meal Ideas Camping with THM: A week's worth of on-plan menu ideas - perfect for a family camping trip - NatureAmy.com
  2.  But coming in just slightly under it is my Healthy Blueberry Scones Fuel Pull recipe – Downton Abbey inspired.  All my scone recipes are popular (and yummy) but this one tops them all.Downton-night-1
  3. My third most popular post is my personal Trim Healthy Mama Testimony.beforeand-after-thm

Enough stats – personally, my favorite three posts (even though they don’t rank so high in post views) are the following.

  1. My very first blog story (after my introduction post) – Glitter in the Snow.  I love this touching story about how our kids are the light and hope in this dark world.Does the darkness of the world seem to be too much? Here is some hope - some glitter - in the dark. - Natureamy.com
  2. My testimony about not having a testimony – When you feel like you don’t have a testimony…  The Facebook shares of this one really humbled me.When it seems that everyone else has an amazing story to tell of how God saved them from disaster, but you've been a Christian forever... But you DO have a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness. -- NatureAmy.com
  3. And finally, our family tips on hiking with little kids – or how to NOT carry them the entire way…Tips for hiking with little kids, without carrying them the entire way. Written by long-distance backpacker parents who love to hike! NatureAmy.com

Some things I’ve learned that have pleasantly surprised me:

There is a wonderful and supportive world of bloggers out there that I never knew existed!  I’ve made friendships all over the United States, and even some beyond, with women who also blog.  I’ve never been one to have digital relationships before – everyone I was friends with on Facebook I actually knew in person – but I’ve found a kinship with these women and it has really blessed me!

Instagram is a very surprising place.  I never had an Instagram account before I opened my @amylovesnature page.  I’ve found it to be a great tool in the blogging world and have formed most my friendships with other bloggers through it.  It is also a much more pleasant social media outlet during political season!

E-courses can be a valuable connection tool.  I purchased an e-course from Natalie of At Home With Natalie about blogging.  It has been a very valuable tool.  However, the thing I found most useful is the connections it has brought to other like minded bloggers.  I use her Blogging E-course for Moms.  And she often has discounts!


So, overall, I’ve learned a lot this year.  But I’ve also learned to find my groove, be completely and unapologetically myself, and not focus on page views and site stats.  I’ve made a little bit of money (enough to pay for a replacement part to fix my nice camera), gotten overwhelmed by statistics and numbers (my post on why I don’t want a successful blog speaks about that one) , and eventually stepped back from it all to find a place that works for me.  Rethinking what it means to be successful in the blogging world when you want to encourage simpler living and consuming less.

Maybe someday I’ll be a “successful” blogger with really great site stats and viral posts who makes enough money to support my family… but for now, I’m happy where I’m at.  God has blessed me so much in this journey so far and I’m happy to be along for the ride!

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A Few of My Favorite Things Giveaway: Celebrating 1000 Instagram Followers

I recently rolled over 1000 followers on Instagram, which isn’t much for veteran bloggers, but is a huge achievement for me! I’m totally doing a happy dance over here!

So, in order to celebrate, I am doing a giveaway!  And, since I am incredibly indecisive (don’t even get me started on baby names – yikes!) I am making this giveaway the winner’s choice!

I am offering the winner of this giveaway a choice of ONE of four of my very favorite books!  Each of these books is somehow related to my blog and they are all really good and life changing!  At least they have been life changing for me!

The first two books go together – they are the Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline OR the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook: Eat Up and Slim Down with More Than 350 Healthy Recipes.  I love THM and have been living the THM lifestyle for the last 2.5 years.  You can read about my THM testimony here.  Or how it has helped me (a former sugar addict) give up sugar for good here.

The third book choice goes along with my current minimalism challenge, but it is not really a book about minimalism. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo has really helped me simplify and organize our small home.  It is not necessarily a book about minimalism, however.  It is really about just keeping only the things that bring you joy or have a purpose.  So, if a lot of your stuff brings you joy, truly brings you joy, then you should keep it. (However, most people find that most stuff does not truly bring them joy – but it is a personal process for everyone.) I am not a minimalist in the starkest sense of the word.  I have a colorful house full of pictures and toys and craft projects – things that bring me, or my family, joy!

The final book choice has been really instrumental in my parenting choices. Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Dr. Kim John Payne has really helped my husband and I simplify our lives to be the best parents we can be.  This means less after school activities, less noise toys, less screen time, and less temper-tantrums.  It also means more quality time, more imaginative play, more family time, more secure kids.  It is a must read for today’s parents!

How to enter to win your choice of one of these books?

Simple – you can enter both on my Facebook page or my Instagram account.  Follow the rules outlined in the post on Facebook or on Instagram to enter.  And make sure to give my pages a “like” or “follow” while you’re there!  It’s as simple as that!  The giveaway is only open to US residents – so sorry!  And it closes at 9 pm Pacific Standard Time on Saturday, November 19, 2016.

Good luck!

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Choosing the best homeschooling option for our family

So, Part 2 of my homeschool series is how we chose the method of homeschooling that we currently use.  (If you missed part 1, on why we chose to homeschool our kids, you can read it here.) This is a personal option for any homeschool family, and like the choice to homeschool your kids, or not, it can change depending on the current needs of your family.  The options that I mention are not available in every state, so you will have to research your homeschool options based upon your state’s, or country’s, laws.

How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.com

Micah traces numbers and places the right number of teddy bears on each one at age 4.5.

California Homeschool Options

The homeschool options in California, where we live, are very good.  Not only is private homeschooling an option (if you register your ” private school” with the state, a process that I am told is relatively simple), but there are numerous public charter homeschool options and online options, as well.  There are also some private schools that have homeschool programs attached to them – an option that my parents used when I was a kid. Homeschool groups, coops, and programs also give parents many options within these broad categories. We looked into each of these options and the many different charter schools available in our area – we talked to people who had used all of these things, assessing the pros and cons of each option.

The best option for us

In the end, we decided on what we believed to be the best option for our family, a charter homeschool with a local campus.  The campus gave us the option to enroll our students in on-site classes once or twice a week for 60-90 minutes of learning in a classroom setting. (Jr High and High school students have more on-site classes). It allows them to get used to other teaching styles, classroom expectations, and interact with their peers while still spending the majority of their school day at home.  My boys, who are slow to read just like I was, are able to participate in programs to help them with reading, all free of charge because it is a public school – which is such a blessing!

How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.comCost – Another reason that we chose the public charter school route was that it was much less expensive than private homeschooling.  When we started homeschooling, we were trying to raise our family on two part-time adjunct professor salaries – which is not much money!  So we had to find an inexpensive option.  Because it is a public school, the curriculum is provided for us.

Curriculum – However, we don’t just have one curriculum option, we have many many great options to choose from.  When my oldest was in kindergarten, the basic handwriting curriculum we were given just wasn’t working, so I asked about another curriculum and was able to check it out of the school’s curriculum library that day! (Find out what it was in my favorite curriculum post coming next in the series!)

The only drawback to getting free curriculum through a charter school is that Christian (or any religious) curriculum is not an option.  We are okay with this.  We supplement our own Bible curriculum and we know that our kids are getting a solid Biblical foundation even without books that specifically address it.  More on that in my curriculum post.

How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.com

Addamay always wants to do what her brothers are doing.

Personalized Learning Teachers – Another great thing about going through a charter school (although this is a drawback for some) is that we have a credentialed teacher overseeing our children’s education.  She helps us create an individualized learning plan for each of the kids and is incredibly encouraging!  We check in with her frequently; she ensures that we are staying on track and is always so encouraging. We love our PLT (Personalized Learning Teacher).  However, if we didn’t like our teacher, we have the option to switch teachers, even in the middle of the year.  Every parent and teacher has a different approach to learning/teaching, so sometimes it can be a process to find the teacher that works best for your family. We did our research before applying to the school and made our teacher request based on our research – thankfully she had openings that year!

Classes – The optional  onsite classes have been wonderful for our boys and have allowed them to have an in-class experience each week.  These are taught by the credentialed teachers and there are always several options for the kids to choose from.  This year my boys are doing a reading program twice a week to help them with their reading and they each have one fun class.  My 3rd grader LOVES his science class where he gets to do experiments with his peers each week – he wants to be a scientist of some kind, but thinks it’s too much pressure to choose what kind of science just now – smart kid!  My 1st grader started in a fun math class, but found it too easy (which is boring for a 6 year old), so he switched to a reading class that has different stories and crafts each week – he loves crafts!

How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.com

On a field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Student Resources – Finally, our public charter school allots resources for additional or extra curricular educational classes or tutoring from approved vendors throughout the year.  The funding is limited per month, of course, but it allows our children to participate in some great educational classes that we otherwise would not be able to afford!  The boys are currently taking semi-private swimming lessons twice a week because of this!  Other kids choose tutoring in every subject, music lessons, karate, ballet, etc.  There are so many options!


How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.com

Our school room at home (I’ll write a post on that soon, too) and my lesson planner.

 

After researching all the options – we settled on the public charter school option as the best one for our family currently.  It is certainly possible that the best option for our children may change at some point in the future.  If we move, we may decide that private homeschool is the best option, or we may decide on a charter school without a campus.  I don’t think we will ever choose an online school for our children, because my husband and I are opposed to that idea for children’s education. Of course, never say never – right?

So, do you homeschool?  And if so, what is the option that you have chosen for your family? I’d love to hear about it!

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Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts from a Homeschooled Homeschooling Mom

I sat down to write one post on homeschooling, but soon realized I have a mini-series in the making.  So… this is the first of many posts to come on how we do homeschooling at our house.

There are so many different options for school and no one-sized fits all approach!  Public schools, charter schools, private schools, and homeschools are the most common options for us to choose between in the United States.  The best fit for our family in this season is homeschool.  But like parenting, and so many other things in life, we homeschoolers all have to find the groove that fits our family.  I feel like that is a moving target, especially as my kids grow older and we add more babies to the mix, but that’s part of the fun of life.

I was actually a homeschooled kid for most of my school years.  This was a weird thing in the ’80s and ’90s. When I started public school in high school, no one knew what I meant by “homeschool”.  My peers thought it was  some type of remedial or correctional program – I am serious, they actually thought that!  I think they learned otherwise as I soon rose to the top of the class and graduated salutatorian.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Some hands-on learning at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I  love how homeschool helped mold me into the person  that I am today.  Homeschooling allowed me to learn at my own speed (which was actually very slow at first – I didn’t read until I was eight!) and pursue things that interested me – which was pretty much everything.

Homeschool instilled in me a universal love of learning that I still have today.  I learned to love every subject, mostly due to my parents’ love of learning and reading.  My mom and dad read out loud to us for years – years longer than was necessary.  I cherish these memories of family reading time, huddled together on the old family room couch, on a family road trip, or around a crackling campfire.  These books opened up so many opportunities for us.  I only hope that our own homeschool can do the same for our family.

When my husband and I had kids, he knew right away that we were going to homeschool them.  In fact, he told everyone that.  (He was never homeschooled himself, but he saw the benefit of it.) I wasn’t so sure, only because I knew how challenging it is to be a homeschool parent and that the majority of their education would fall on me.  However, as our oldest grew older, I started to look into our options.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

A field trip to the local zoo – the kids love any chance to see animals up close!

Our local schools are good schools and the teachers and administration are very good people, so I was not concerned there.  However, as I saw my young and very impressionable son interacting with other kids at the park, I noticed some things I did not like.  He learned to copy other children’s behavior, especially bigger “cool” kids, just from an hour or two at the park.  And that behavior was more “Lord of the Flies” than it was good Sunday School kid.  I didn’t like it.

My husband and I knew that we wanted to be the biggest influences of our children, not some cool kid on the playground.  We wanted to know what was going on with them everyday and to be able to pour life and love and grace into them throughout the school day.

I knew from my oldest’s personality and learning style that going to public school would be tough on him and we decided when he was only three and a half that homeschool would be the best thing for him.  We have not regretted it at all.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Making a recycling truck out of recycled boxes during a unit on recycling.

Homeschooling gives us the ability to allow our kids time to be kids.  At most schools today, kids are not allowed the time to just play that they need for their cognitive development.  Many, if not most, schools have all-day kindergarten.  Homeschooling has let my kids be kids.  Kindergarten work takes 1-2 hours of our day and the rest of the day can be spent exploring nature, running around, building with Legos, and just letting their imaginations go!

I love that my little boys are not made to feel bad or be punished for being wiggly kids.  My kids don’t come home from school with a “frowny face” for not being able to sit still or wrestling with another kid.  I can give them the time they need to wiggle and move and wrestle.  For most little boys, and many little girls, this is normal and not something to be punished or medicated.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Our first day of homeschool EVER! The boys had some fun with math and trains practicing numbers, addition, and subtraction.

Now that I have a third grader, we spend more than 2 hours a day doing school, but it is still much shorter than the time his peers spend in public school.  He is starting to be able to work independently, for a short time, and I love to see how his brain is developing.  His attention to detail with science and history just astound me.  I am so honored to be able to spend this time with him and see him grow into the man he will become.

Another reason homeschooling fits our family is because it allows my kids to have a very special and tight bond.  Although my kids all have friends their ages, they are also very best friends with each other.  And although they do fight on occasion, as all kids do, for the most part, they get along very well.

It was the same for me and my siblings growing up.  If we weren’t friends with each other, who were we going to play with during the day?  Sure, we had other friends, but not “at school” with us.  I think the sibling bond is one that should be cherished and nurtured.  Siblings just tolerating each other, fighting constantly, and making each other miserable is just not acceptable.  We work hard to maintain that bond between them.  It is worth preserving.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Becoming Jr Rangers at Lassen Volcanic National Park

The final reason we have chosen to homeschool is because we can integrate our faith into our daily studies.  We open each day with a prayer, allow the kids to take turns praying, and practice Bible verses.  And although we don’t use Christian curriculum (more on that in my curriculum post coming soon), I make sure to integrate our faith whenever I can – which is often!  The opportunities abound to share the importance of God with our kids and I try to be intentional to take these opportunities when they come up.

So, were you homeschooled or is it something that you have chosen for your children?

I’d love to hear about what works best for your family.

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When your little girl does not have much hair…still…

Bald babies are super cute and all of my kids have been essentially bald with nothing but a few wisps of hair.  The advantage to this is that they don’t get a bald spot from sleeping that way!  They already have no hair!

With my boys, the baldness never bothered me and they both grew beautiful silky blonde hair and needed their first haircuts by the age of one or 18 months.  Their straight blonde hair was hanging in their eyes and they had little blonde mullets in the back – time for a trim.  And they looked so handsome in their classic boy cuts – not too short – no spiky crew cuts for my babies.

When we had our baby girl, Addamay, I was thrilled!  However, I did not have high expectations for hair in her first twelve months of life – none of my kids had much hair, which I am told is quite common with blondes.  However, I was hoping that she would grow hair at least at the rate of her brothers. But no, Addamay has the slowest growing hair of any of my children.

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Less than 24 hours old, her brothers kissing her little almost bald head…

So out came the bows.

And I started to make bows…

The first headband I made. This started to get addicting!

The first headband I made. This started to get addicting!

And she still wears bows…

Addamay is now 28 months old and still has very little hair.  She is starting to grow bangs and her hair is several inches long at the very middle of her head.  That is all.  She has no bangs in her eyes.  She has no mullet.  She has no beautiful Shirley Temple curls… sigh…

At 28 months old, she still doesn't have much hair, but it's getting thicker and longer at the very top.

At 28 months old, she still doesn’t have much hair, but it’s getting thicker and longer at the very top.

She gets called a boy in public if I dare dress her in anything but pink.  Turquoise blue is the worst offender.  It does not matter that the shirt is covered in girly flowers and she is wearing a skirt – if she is wearing blue, she is always called a boy.  Thankfully, I am not easily offended.  I just chuckle and gently correct them, or not… it really doesn’t make a difference if I’ll never see them again…

I also get asked all the time if I cut her hair.  ALL. THE. TIME.  Really?  Why would I cut my little girls hair that short?  I can see a nice cute bob with bangs, but cutting her bangs up to her hairline… I don’t think so…

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Addamay’s first birthday pictures with Jennifer Jens Photography – super cute – but still mostly bald

I know she comes by the bald headed-ness honestly.  Although my husband had nice thick blonde hair in his first birthday pictures, I, sadly, had none.  I wore a cute hat instead.  And my second birthday pictures were not much better.

But, there are advantages to her very short hair – the most obvious being that I don’t have to wrestle a very strong willed two year old every morning to brush her hair and get it out of her face. But, I still would like to try…

I know so many moms of little boys with long beautiful hair – curls or just straight and thick – and the complaint I hear most often is that everyone thinks they are girls.  I get it – and I don’t have a problem with their child’s beautiful locks – or maybe I do – but it’s just jealousy…

Really, why do the little boys get such gorgeous hair?  Sigh…

For now, it is still about baby headbands at our house… And in honor of my little hairless girl, I am giving away two adorable baby headbands handmade by me on Instagram.  I make these for Addamay, for friends, and for gifts, but these are not for sale, so they are one of a kind and made just for this occasion!

Win these adorable headbands over on Instagram @amylovesnature

Win these adorable headbands over on Instagram

Head on over to my Instagram for details!  Even if you don’t have a baby girl in your house, you probably know one and these make great baby shower and birthday gifts!

Good luck!

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THM Pregnancy Update: Hello, Second Trimester

I am happy to say that I have officially made it into the second trimester!  The first trimester is always the toughest part of pregnancy for me (even though I am a bit spoiled that I don’t get very sick).

The first trimester is tough. Even though you don’t look very pregnant yet – and most people don’t know you are pregnant at all if you wait to announce like we do – you are exhausted, hormonal, and nauseous.  But, you pretend like everything is fine, even though all you really want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for a week! Read about my first trimester experience here.

The second trimester gets easier for a couple reasons.  The first being that most women are lucky enough to get their energy back and nausea goes away!  The second reason is that by then most people know you are pregnant.  They suddenly open doors, tell you to take a nap, not carry things, or sit down and rest.  The ironic thing is, you probably feel better than you did the first 14 weeks! (Of course I am generalizing here. I do know a few women who were very sick throughout their entire pregnancies. I’m sooo sorry.)

So welcome second trimester!  Welcome baby bump and maternity clothes!  Welcome energy and feeling good! Welcome food cravings and goodbye aversions! Welcome finding out the sex of the baby – oh wait – my hubby REALLY wants to be surprised this time – so…never mind!


a2a9b5b592cc078f836a9bf12380411aSo, a little update on my last two weeks, starting with…

Hormones – from week 12 to 14 I had a terrible onslaught of hormones!  I had so little patience with the kids and everything set me off! This is not like me.  Normally I am pretty level headed and calm, but not so in week 12! My poor kids…

Week 13 was better than week 12, but the excessive hormones were still there.  I also was very tired on week 12, even though I had felt great from 9.5 weeks until then.  And although I know the pregnancy had something to do with the exhaustion, our first full week of homeschool also contributed to it, I’m sure.

Weight gain – the scale has bounced around a bit and is now at six pounds gained. That is in my normal fluctuation range so I am hoping it doesn’t continue to climb too quickly from here.

Cravings and food aversions – thankfully I can eat eggs again!  I can also eat meat and was craving a steak, which I got on our date last week. Yummy! I have been craving salads again, which is a nice change from the carbs and cheese sticks I survived on in my first trimester!  And fresh pesto from the garden. Enough said.

My favorite craving this week has been a quick cooked apple dish that I whipped up.  I will write up my recipe and publish it later, but basically it is just apple pie filling made from fresh apples (tis the season), cinnamon, cloves, and some THM Super Sweet Blend cooked with some water.  Oh my goodness!  It totally fulfilled my baked apple cravings and is completely healthy!  Pregnancy win!  I’ve made it three times this week…

Advanced maternal age – don’t you just love that term!  This is my first pregnancy in the “over 35” age bracket and now I get a bunch more fuss because of it!  Oh joy!  I refused all the extra testing on the baby, but I could not get out of the early test they do for gestational diabetes since I am apparently “at greater risk for it in my advanced age”. Fun!

I asked my OB if I could do an alternative test to the sickly sweet “glucola” drink for the 1-hour glucose test, but he was pretty insistent that the dreaded drink was the best test. I was reluctant to take the test, even though I’d never had trouble passing it in the past, because I had not had processed sugar in over a year.  I wasn’t sure how my body would react.

But honestly, I was actually curious, so I didn’t fight him on taking the test.  I simply informed him that if it made me sick, I was going to refuse it when I had to do it again later in pregnancy.

So I prepared for the test by having a low-carb breakfast of eggs and bacon which I read helps . I drank the glucose drink.  I was right behind a lady who chugged hers in seconds, but when I tried that, I immediately felt gross.  I drank it slowly instead (over about 4 minutes) and waited out my hour.

I waited to feel sick or to get a massive sugar headache, but surprisingly, other than feeling hungry near the end, I felt fine.  They drew my blood and found out I passed with flying colors.  Thank you, Lord!

Some women who have been off sugar for long periods of time have gotten headaches, thrown up, or had terrible sugar cravings after the test.  I wondered if I would experience the same thing, but thankfully, I did not.

Drinking that sickly sweet drink made me realize how thankful I was that I was no longer addicted to sugar.  However, if they had given me a gigantic piece of cake instead, I don’t think I would have found it gross, but I’ve come too far from my days of sugar-addiction to test that theory.


On a sad note, this past week my phone died.  I can’t even blame my kids because I was the one who dropped it.  It hit just right to crack the screen and now the screen is completely black. So, as a result, I don’t have many pictures for this post… Oh, well… C’est la vie!

Hopefully that will be remedied soon and I won’t have to go too long without pictures!

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THM Pregnancy Update: My first trimester

I’m over twelve weeks pregnant with what will be our fourth child.  This is not my first time around – it’s actually my fifth since one pregnancy ended in miscarriage, so I pretty much know what to expect.  I’ve had boy pregnancies and at least one girl pregnancy and I know what is typical for my body for each trimester and for delivery.  So, that being said, I wanted to compare and contrast what I have noticed to be different now that I am a pregnant Trim Healthy Mama. (You can read my THM testimony and why I love it so much here.)


Is a THM pregnancy easier? Comparing and contrasting my first trimester on Trim Healthy Mama and 3 non-THM pregnancies. - NatureAmy.com

My baby bump at 12 weeks – definitely showing earlier this time around.

My first three pregnancies

So, first let me explain what has been normal for me in the first trimester of pregnancy before becoming a THM over two years ago.

Nausea – I am one of the lucky ones who does not have much morning sickness or nausea.  In fact, I can completely avoid being sick if I follow one simple rule – never let my blood sugar drop too low.  So, that equates to eating almost constantly (even though food isn’t too appetizing).  I would snack on things all day long, because even with over an hour between snacks, my blood sugar would drop and I would feel sick.  I even got up in the middle of the night to eat.  If I didn’t, I was guaranteed to wake up feeling sick and I would often throw up.

Weight gain – One of my earliest signs of pregnancy is a 4-5 lb weight gain, seemingly overnight.  This happens before any nausea sets in and before I have to start eating every hour.  I’m okay with this sudden increase, because it doesn’t seem to be due to anything other than extra blood, fluid, growing boobs, etc.  However, about week 7 or 8 I have to start eating constantly to avoid being sick and the real weight gain starts.  By 12 or 14 weeks I am usually up about 15 lbs from my starting weight – not too cool, but it beats being sick, in my opinion.

Headaches – Oh, how I hate headaches during pregnancy.  Something about the hormones in the first trimester would give me frequent headaches.  It seems like Tylenol doesn’t help much to dull the pain, and I really hate taking any medicine during pregnancy.  So with my non-THM pregnancies, I would suffer through headaches several days each week.

Fatigue – got to love the exhaustion that comes with growing a tiny baby.  This is my most prevalent symptom in the first trimester.  I am so tired from about week 6 through 12.  An afternoon nap helps, but the constant fatigue is frustrating, especially when there are little ones running around that must be supervised.  Thank you Netflix for filling in for me when I can’t keep my eyes open any longer!


Is a THM pregnancy easier? Comparing and contrasting my first trimester on Trim Healthy Mama and 3 non-THM pregnancies. - NatureAmy.com

6 weeks of my growing bump. I popped out really early, but have not grown much more recently.

My THM Pregnancy

So, what is different this time around now that I eat a low-glycemic and sugar-free diet? (Not low carb, please note – I still love my carbs.)

Nausea – So, I cannot say that this time around I have not had any nausea.  I still have had nausea if I do not follow the rule of keeping my blood sugar stable.  However, with THM, I have the perfect tools to keep my blood sugar level.  The Trim Healthy Mama Plan: The Easy-Does-It Approach to Vibrant Health and a Slim Waistline (which is a lifestyle, not a diet) is designed to keep blood sugar levels stable.  That is important even for those of us who are not even close to being diabetic.  Not only does stable blood sugar help to keep nausea away, but it also equates to a safer pregnancy, less risk of miscarriage, and numerous other benefits!

In this pregnancy, since I now know how important protein is in stabilizing blood sugar, I make sure to have at least a little with each snack and meal.  This means I can go longer between meals without eating (not more than 2 hours, but that is twice as long for me) and I can even make it overnight without having to get up and eat!  I am eating plenty of good healthy carbohydrates which are important for growing a healthy baby, but I no longer eat processed sugar, which is very helpful in stabilizing my blood sugar.

Protein is still hard for me in the first trimester since I really have an aversion to most meat and eggs.  However, I eat a lot of cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese and that helps.  I also have been using THM Collagen, which I love, but the smell, usually unnoticeable, is too much for my pregnant super smeller.  But, if I mix it into a THM Trimmie, it does the trick.  I forced myself to eat chicken – about the only meat I could stomach. Thankfully, at 12 weeks, I’m able to eat a larger variety of protein, which my poor family appreciates, I’m sure!

Weight gain – I still gained the initial 4-5 lbs of weight I always gain each pregnancy at about week 4 or 5, but I’m thrilled to say that I have not gained more than that this time!  My weight has fluctuated a bit, but at twelve weeks pregnant, I was just at 4 lbs over starting weight!

Is this because I eat 100% on plan?  I wish I could say I do, but I don’t! Food aversions made eating on plan all the time unrealistic for me. However, I do believe it is mainly due to the fact that I don’t eat processed sugar anymore (something I used to eat a ton of during my previous pregnancies – thank you sugar addiction!)  I eat mainly crossovers – I have not been even trying to separate my fuels (carbs and fat) since I found out I was pregnant.  I have also mainly survived off fruit and cheese sticks. Occasionally, I will eat an off-plan food like chips or whole grain crackers, or plain whole wheat bread (instead of sprouted).  I eat more raw honey and some dried fruit (we were camping a lot this summer and it was easy to get trail mix).  These are all choices that I am personally okay with on occasion and they are foods I feed my skinny family all the time.

Headaches – This has been a dramatic difference this time around.  I have had only two headaches this pregnancy so far and both were due to dehydration after hiking in over 100 degree heat.  Praise God!  The headaches that plagued me for several days each week in previous pregnancies are gone!  The only way I can explain this is my diet changes.

Fatigue – This is something that really didn’t change this time around, except to say that I got over it a little earlier!  I was still exhausted from about week 6 to 10 (but not 12 weeks this time!).  I was camping, hiking, getting ready for homeschooling, chasing toddlers, etc. during that time, so I certainly had enough energy to make it through – and even thrive – this summer.  However, that hammock at camp was really, really wonderful!


Prenatal Vitamins

Since I know I will be asked this question – let me include it here.  I am really happy with the Best Nest Ultra-Gentle Prenatal Vitamins I am taking this time. This is not sponsored – I just really happen to like this company and their products.  I’ve actually been taking them all year and I love that they are all natural, organic, whole food based, and include probiotics and herbs! Often prenatal vitamins will make me feel a bit sick after taking them, but these really are ultra-gentle.  I’ve not felt the least bit sick after taking them. The price is what convinced me, though!  Less than $40 for a 3 month supply – sign me up!  You can get them at my Amazon affiliate link here: BEST Nest Prenatal Vitamins, with Methylfolate (Folic Acid), Once Daily Multivitamin, Contains Whole Food, Organic Blend, and Methylcobalamin (B12), Easy to Swallow, 100% Natural Vitamin, 90 Count


I have really enjoyed my first trimester of pregnancy as a THM. I always enjoy pregnancy – I’m one of those annoying happy pregnant ladies, but by eating THM, everything has been easier so far!  And now that I have my energy back, I am excited to start my second trimester soon!

Have you noticed any differences when you changed your diet in pregnancy?  Are you a pregnant THM, as well?  I’d love to hear from you!  Like my Facebook and Instagram if you haven’t yet, so we can connect!

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This post contains affiliate links – as always, if you buy a product from the links it does not cost you anything extra but it does help to support our family and this blog.  Thank you!

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Healing from Miscarriage: Allowing myself time to heal, rest, and recover

At the end of February this year, I had my first miscarriage (you can read more about it here).  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through and something I hoped I never would have to experience.

But, although it was physically, mentally, and spiritually hard, it brought me to a place where I could feel my Jesus’ presence.  I knew He was right there with me (as He always is).  I made the very conscious choice to praise Him through this storm.  My anthem was the Bethel Worship playlist of “Good Good Father” on YouTube (linked here) and I played it over and over in my grief.

But even though I could feel the presence of God and I knew He held me safe, it did not change the fact that I was still in the midst of the storm…

I am naturally very self reliant, self-motivated, controlled, self-sufficient – you get the picture – but my grief left me feeling raw, broken, and like I had little control.  My emotions, usually buried and in check, easily sprang to the surface and I found myself retreating into the safety of my home.

It was almost as if I was in a fog.  I went through my normal routine.  We home schooled, went to our extracurricular classes, went to church, and shopped for groceries, but I stopped doing anything that I did not have to do.  I didn’t even realize it until several months later that I was operating in a fog for about three or four months.

I didn’t realize, until it started to lift, that I was experiencing depression.  Looking back at the spring months, I realized how much I had retreated.  I realized how little I had done with friends in that time.  I generally am quite social and fill our calendar with play dates, Bible studies, and activities because I enjoy them, but for several months I retreated from most everything.

And honestly, when I realized what I had done, I was not disappointed.  I knew I needed that time “off” to rest and recover and heal.  Instinctively, I did what I needed for that period of healing in my life.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”           Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

Many people have told me that when they experienced miscarriage, the path to healing for them involved giving and investing in others.  They spent more time focusing on others, more time away from home.  And I can see why that would be important, especially if you don’t have children at home, but with three little kids at home and homeschooling, I think I was already giving enough of myself.  The path to healing for me involved allowing myself to rest, to pull back, and to heal in the quiet and safety of my home.

I spent more time in the Word, more time in prayer and reflection, more time writing.  I also found great comfort in Becky Thompson’s book Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart.  Becky writes about her miscarriage and healing in the book and how she used praise as a weapon against grief.  It is just one chapter in the book, but it played a big part in my healing.  If you don’t follow Becky at Scissortail Silk on Facebook, you really should – I guarantee you will be blessed.

I finally feel as if the fog has completely lifted.  It’s been over five months since my miscarriage and it took about four and a half to finally feel completely like myself again.  It has been a process.  And for a “do-it-yourself” kind of girl like me, it has also been a humbling experience.  I would never choose to go through the pain of miscarriage again, but I know I am a stronger woman because of it and I can relate to those who have, or will, also go through one. And for that, I am thankful.

If you are going through something like this, or have in the past, I would love to hear from you and pray with you.  Leave a comment below, or send me a private message on Facebook.

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