We Mix the Play Dough.

I will admit. I was not the mixing of the play dough colors kind of girl. I like things just so. Order, proper places, and keeping things neat and tidy. I like to know that when I go looking for something in it’s rightful place, it will be there. Then I had kids.

Keeping up the house, having dinner on time, kids in line, making all my own “homemade” everything, keeping all the crayons sorted and NOT mixing the play dough colors. That is how my parenting style looked, before I had actual real, brilliant, wild, breathing, crying, incredibly full of life children. I could leave a list here of all the things my imaginary kids were NOT going to do, then give the perfect counter as to how my real life children have done or are currently doing all those things.

Rigidity in motherhood for me was a fallacy. It took a while to learn that being flexible, honest with my emotions and not ‘keeping everything together always,’ was what would be best. Early on as a mom to one, I was one of the few in my group of friends and family to have children. My son was adored by my siblings, grandparents, parents, and friends; he was so loved. He grew up enjoying one on one with his father and I, and excelled in language skills holding conversations with adults by the time he was 4. He was amazing, and he is still a rock star at 11, in my honest and totally unbiased opinion but I digress. Then we had our daughter. Life changed, for the better but not in ease.

Overnight, our daughter was born and I went from a full-time working mom of one to a stay at home mom of two. Talk about learning a new way of life, I am not afraid to admit that I was wholly unprepared for the challenges as a stay at home mom but we survived. In the midst of recovery and getting settled with a new little person, we moved states. A move that took me away from my family, friends, and village; then opened wounds and showed vulnerabilities I did not know I had. Relocating is not easy, reestablishing and making a home somewhere other than the only home I knew was a bit traumatic. It was tear-filled, fear-filled and over all a learning experience. Did I mention that I like things to be just so?

Then there were three. Three years of getting settled into a new state, we were a family of five. I always heard how three changes everything, and much to my chagrin it proved to be true. Our loveable, strong, honest, loud, happy, snuggly, kind-hearted Wreck-it-Ralph came barreling into our lives. Our family dynamic changed. Breakables were placed high, but when climbing began most were eventually stored for safety. Church service is exhausting as I chase, play, distract and feed our busy little man. He is so full of life it literally bursts over everyone we come into contact with. He mixes the play dough, he mixes all the colors; then he mixes it with sand, water, food, or anything else that brings playful joy to his big old heart. Toys are dumped and thoroughly played with; passion roars from him like a lion and love comes out gentle as a bunny. He is the wild to my quiet, the chaos to my perfection, the love and life that my heart never knew it needed.

After three kids, homeschooling, a pandemic and the change to rules/opinions daily we find refuge in our home. Here it is safe, here we have order among the wild things, and we are learning to love deeper, respect more and most of all, learning to become the people God has designed us to be. When I started out in motherhood I would cry in frustration when things were not just so, when my plans would get muddled and mixed and I felt like things were out of control. Now, the phrase I often heard “blessed are the flexible for they shall not break” rings true every single day. Here, we mix the play dough colors; which is still hard for my first born as he was raised with more of a rigid mom who taught him we had to keep things the ‘right’ way, a mom who was quick to react and slow to listen. Now he has a more flexible, albeit less stressed (well sort of) mom and we are learning the power bending and not breaking together in life. In the flexibility we have found happiness, we have found resilience and now we are growing together. It is not always easy and there are fractures from past rigid moments that can make things stressful, but slowly the as we stretch old wounds they begin to flex and not hurt so much.

“When the milk is splattered all over the floor, and those little eyes are looking at your for your reaction, remember what really matters. It takes 5 minutes to clean up spilled milk. It takes much longer to clean up a broken spirit.”

Rebecca Eanes, The Gift of a Happy Mother.

I saw this truth just this week. My children love balloons, and I love to have them for fun occasions. Recently we surprised them with 22 inch balloons for a homeschool celebration. I made the rules clear, the balloons are for floating and leaving alone today and tomorrow they could have at them. Half way through the day, my youngest wild one who is 4, was sprawled out facedown on the floor crying, I sat down next to him and said “It sounds like you are feeling upset. Did something happen you want to share?” As he sobbed he cried out “I popped one of the balloons!” Immediately my heart broke, I thought ‘Oh no, is he crying because he is afraid of getting in trouble?’ So I responded, “Ok, the balloon broke. Can you tell me why you are crying?” He responded “I broke the rules and I am so sorry. Do you forgive me?” Could I have disciplined him? Sure, he did not listen and the balloon broke, but I realized his heart was already sore because he chose to break the rules and he knew it was wrong. Lesson learned.

Talk about unpacking some personal trauma – I decided to be the adult I needed when I was too scared to tell my parents my mistakes, and I often hid from them. I asked him for a hug, and as we sat on the floor, cheek to cheek, heart to heart I thanked him for his honesty, and even though he knew it was wrong he chose truth, and told him that I forgave him. I reminded him (even though he is only 4) that I am always here for him and no matter what I love him. This child who has ran naked through the middle aisle of the church, who mixes all the play dough colors has caused a great work to come upon my heart.

I am not perfect, no way do I get this parenting thing right every time but moments like that remind me how far I have grown. A decade ago, when I preferred things ‘just so’ I subconsciously placed unfair expectations on my children. I judged my mothering success by their behaviors, but slowly as we have mixed the crayons, spilled the milk, been too loud, ran too hard and broke the mold that I was placing us in – I have taken that unfair pressure off of all of us and started enjoying the ‘new’ that we create when we mix the play dough. To this day, I organize the kids books in my living room according to color. Yep. I place them in order ROYGBIV and when I sit down to relax after a stay at home/homeschool day, that sight relaxes me. No one sees it but me, and a few days later I am left to sort them again – the way I like it because I like the way it feels. In this small way, my ‘just so’ attitude gets satiated. I was not one to mix the playdough colors but I love how motherhood is molding me into something new, different and dare I say…better.

An Earnest Attitude of Gratitude.

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It is November. We have Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving that we host every year and so quickly I can get distracted by the planning (I like to really plan with a lot of care and thought our Friendsgiving to create an intimate time for the group of us that have been celebrating for the past 3 years). I am seeing on social media, people posting thankful anecdotes daily, which is so refreshing to read when I decide to scroll – especially when I haven’t been online for a few days and all the thankful posts pile up! Some have been known to cause a few tears in my own eyes.

I feel like while I am mama, teacher, cook, tidy-upper, help mate and all the other hats that I juggle through my days I miss being thankful for my life, abilities and the little things!

Someone once told me it could simply be a matter of switching up the narrative in my head. when my days get busy (especially lately when home inspection calls are non stop some days), I get caught up in the stress of what I have to get done. Earnest dad will come home after a long day of inspecting and maybe hunting, and he wants to relax. All I can see is what we have to do and I quickly get overwhelmed. There are days he comes home early and the moment I see him, I immediately think of my have to list and I don’t stop to even greet him. (I feel awful saying it but it is true).

The word of God says,

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
2. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Psalm 100: 1-5

Be thankful to him, for the Lord is good and his mercy is everlasting. These words were life to me this week.

We use a curriculum that we print monthly – and it is a lot of printing! Well we start a new unit TODAY and because of the busyness and time spread everywhere, I started printing last night. And last night, nothing was going right. With lack of sleep (thanks daylight savings), homeschooling, business phone calls and energetic kids I was done. I felt, as Bilbo Baggins so eloquently put it, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” My patience, calm and thankful tanks were on empty. I went to bed and as I fell asleep I remembered the words, attitude of gratitude.

As I got up this morning feeling resting, my youngest little laid on the ground with his little fingers reaching under the door and began singing one of my favorite hymns. In my head I hear, attitude of gratitude. I go to get my morning vitamins and breaks and my little guy climbs up to sit on the counter with me (I was with him the whole time) and brewed me my k-cup (again with my support). Again, I am reminded attitude of gratitude. I need to change my narrative.

Here I sit, with my printer trying to print our workbooks we should already be working out of and there is a paper jam. Then mid print job, it cancels itself. No error information, no reason that I can see. Attitude of gratitude. So I changed the narrative. Today for homeschool we will read stories together, we will clean up the house together, we will do our supplemental subjects already printed and ready to go. We will go outside and get some vitamin D and watch our favorite squirrel at the park as he buries his acorns in planning for his winter survival. Today we will do what we can with what we have. That is all that we ever have.

Instead of telling myself I have to, today I will remind myself that I get to. I get to school my children in my home because my husband works hard and the Lord blesses us. I get to clean up with my children because all of us are healthy and able. We get to go the to park because we have an amazing set up less than a block away in our quiet neighborhood. I get to work with my technology because we have the ability to own the necessities to do so.

I sit here, printer in error state, some kids not clothed running about the house with more screen time than I would like. But we get to do all of this because of the blessings that we have in our lives. This earnest home, family and life we have is such a privilege and honor, I am working daily to keep in an attitude of gratitude and to not let the sideways, caught off guard messes throw me off. Let November be the month you work to gain gratitude, then keep it all year long. Not because you have to, but because you earnestly get to.

x. earnest mom.

Hey Mama…

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This is a reminder.

Mama, you are so loved. Even in the moments of overwhelming and complete failure, you are still the best mom your children have had. None of us has this mom-gig worked out, and that’s ok! Your children love you so much. Let them see you fail, cry, pick up your pieces and try, try, try again. Resilience is learned from example and motherhood is the perfect opportunity to show your children that we can make mistakes and still keep going.

You are not perfect, but your are the perfect mom for you children. I heard this quote and felt that the word “perfect” made me feel anxious. Let’s drop perfection all together. The only perfect person that there was will make all things new again, until then, let’s stop setting an impossible bar for ourselves and other moms. There is beauty in our idiosyncrasies, our imperfections and our quirks. Let’s revel in them, celebrate them and the ones we don’t like, slowly work to focus on the good ones. Each mama has their own motherhood journey, let’s celebrate that instead of comparing, measuring and weighing ourselves (and each other).

Nothing is as it seems. Two words, social media. If scrolling is depressing you more than inspiring you, it is ok to log off. Instagram perfect shots, Facebook perfect posts and trendy TikTok clips may seem harmless but filtered, spotless, crisp, clean snippets are not how things always are. We cannot compare our 24 hours to 24 seconds of edited snap shots. Let’s put down our phones and appreciate what is around us. Real life lives in real homes filled with life and with tiny little humans who love us so much they rather enjoy watching us poo!

None of us are getting it right 100% of the time. Life is full of mistakes, that is who we are. Things crumble and because we have emotions, we will not get things on point every time. I err daily. Daily. I am quick to speak and slow to listen, I give too much advice instead of being a listening ear, I have a hard time with silence so I feel like I need to make conversation all the time. I rewind my conversations with my children, husband, friends and family every night and make edits on how I could have said things better. Maybe I am the only one, but I am so thankful that I wake every morning with a chance to try again.

Lastly, mama taking some time for you is a good thing. I am the first one when I am away from my children to immediately feel that pang of guilt that I could walk away and enjoy time “sans children.” Mom time is needed time, not just a spa mask on Sunday nights either (though keep doing this too!). You cannot fill from an empty cup, since I cannot often just get away I find my mom time in small moments. When my husband gets home, some nights I need a twenty minuter, alone in my room. Other times (currently I have put in a formal request) I need a 24-48 hour break, alone – just myself to recenter, reconnect and refresh. We moms are integral to our homes, and when we are worn, the whole ship can start to tumble. It is okay to get away.

We are in this together, you are not alone. Please know, asking for help is a good thing too. Reach out if you need, there is no shame if you cannot do it all. Doing everything is just too much, a weight that can be shared. Lean in to those who love and support you. Be encouraged to find some fellow moms you can talk to, visit with and simply fellowship. A little MOPS plug here – find a local MOPS! You never know where your next BFF is waiting! You are doing a good job, you are wonderfully made and so loved.

x. earnest mom.

The View From Our Table: What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street

The view from our table will be a feature where we look at some fun things we have done in our homeschool.

We are the kind of homeschool family that homeschools in the summer. It is less formal and much shorter, but we are a family that is constantly learning together. One our favorite times is “Morning Time.” We often start our homeschool days at the dinner table with our basket of books. Mama reads while the littles keep their hands busy with handicrafts. We love it.

This summer we decided to read, What’s Cooking at 10 Garden Street by Felicita Sala (can be purchased here – non affiliate link). This book was given to us by a dear friend who thought that we would have fun with it. We had so much fun!

Each page introduces the reader to recipes from all over the world. Salmorejo (a cold soup served with ham and boiled eggs), Little Trees (stir fried broccoli), Sole Meuniere, to name a few. Each day, we reread the book and then we chose a recipe we wanted to try. (I even discovered a mild allergy to pine nuts lol).

We had a such a blast trying flavors from all over the world and felt like we were joining the neighborhood for their pot luck feast at the end of the book. The illustrations are lovely and recipes rich and flavorful. So far this is one of the tastiest and fun books we have chosen for our morning time adventures.

If you are looking for something fun that will introduce your palate to flavors from many cultures, we highly recommend this favorite from our table. It has been a great way to try foods and cook with the three wild and three free and me!

I Am THAT Mom.

I am also human, and working on myself one step at a time.

As I prepare to write this, I earnestly feel gutted. Today, I was THAT mom. The mom that I have seen a million times; trying to keep it together as she can feel the entire façade of “everything is perfect” start to crumble and slip away. At first it was hard, but as I realized that I am human I was forced to give myself some grace.

Let’s set the stage for you. Thunderstorms kept us indoors. So movie and popcorn it is, until the popcorn maker got knocked over spilling popcorn every where and cracking the side panel. It was an accident, stay chill mama – accidents happen and its just a popcorn machine. Then children kept climbing the counter, literally I was taking children down from the countertops. Things started to calm until the hall closet upstairs was completely dissected from its contents while I was cleaning the popcorn machine. By then, the window to prepare dinner was closed, my oldest needed to go to karate and this mama was waving her white flag. It was enough.

My vehicle was parked across the street at my mother in laws and since my youngest two usually refuse pants and shoes, I needed to move the car to my driveway to save them from crossing the street shoeless (I have learned to pick my battles, shoes make it to the car in case they’re needed but I do not fight them on – in these cases I prefer peace to the fight). I called all three to the kitchen and said “get your shoes ready and stay RIGHT HERE, I am bring the car over.” They get busy putting their shoes on and I hot footed it across the street. All of the sudden, as I open the driver door there is my middle little. She startled me, then I realized she had ran across the street unassisted and that her 3 year old brother is likely right behind her. In my fear, my frustration I yelled at her. Ouch, it hurts my heart to even write that as I have been really working on my volume and tone with my children, but I was scared. Scared she could have been hurt, scared my youngest would soon be doing the same or is elsewhere outside completely unsupervised. I yelled, right at her “you scared me, and what about brother?! IS he safe?! I told you to stay in the house as I ran across the street!! Why didn’t you stay???” Ugh. We ran back to the house, and my oldest and youngest were standing right where I had asked them to stay only three minutes before.

Now I tell you, I have seen this mom around, so many times. Tired, worried, stressed, overwhelmed, scared, angry, frustrated, and yelling at her kid. Until this moment, I had always viewed the “yelling” mom as such a villain – and to all the moms I have judged before, I earnestly apologize. This is so HARD. Not that I condone yelling at children, however when I was scared, overwhelmed and worried for the safety of my children, that panic kicked in and naturally my voice elevated.

As soon as I saw all three of my children safe (my oldest is 11, so legally he can stay 3 minutes with his siblings as I drive up to get them, in case you are worried lol); I knelt down, cried and apologized instantly for yelling. I asked for my middle little’s forgiveness, I explained how scared I was but that yelling was not appropriate and I am working hard not to yell anymore. Then something surprising happened, she apologized for not listening and saw how scary that was for me. I was taken aback. I did not expect her to mirror my actions, to recognize and acknowledge her mistake and my feelings. It was messy, it was hard, but even in my mama-meltdown epic failure moments, these brilliant amazing little humans are still learning forgiveness, empathy and owning their own mistakes.

Yes, I am THAT mom. I am the mom that struggles with keeping my temper, sometimes doesn’t get food to the table on time (by the way we ordered in tonight), allows too much screen time, gives in to some demands to avoid the fight, and yells when I do not mean to. I am also THAT mom who forgives quickly, loves fully, asks for forgiveness and apologizes to show them I make mistakes too, and would protect my children at all costs. I cry in the bathroom, laugh at the dinner table and hug with everything I have got. I am 100% that mom and proud.

x. earnest mom.

Our View from Home

Last year was our very first year (like many families) homeschooling. As we prepare for our Summer Home School I am caused to reflect on the last year.

First and foremost I am incredibly grateful that we have the blessed opportunity for me to stay home with the 3wilds and to homeschool. Homeschool as I have mentioned before, had always been in the back of our minds and hearts but never took the leap. COVID gave us that leap.

As much as we loved being home together, and as much as we drove each other barking mad, we definitely experienced some ups and downs along the way. The number one lesson we took was be flexible. I am not the person to set up desks and assignments and mimic school the institution. No way. However the curriculum that we chose made us be more at the table than I would have liked. For our 5th grader we went with a free online program which required more screen time than I anticipated plus all of the supply lists. I ended up with lots of surprise lists too which was frustrating and led to us skipping some lessons altogether.

Another aspect I struggled with was consistency of scheduling. We love morning time, it is our favorite part of the day where we all gather around the table for read aloud and the kids get to do quiet handicrafts. Morning time is the best! We struggled with the follow up and continuation of the day. Constantly being pulled from and very parent involved kindergarten curriculum and an online program that just was not a good fit for my fifth grader.

We made it through the year, all of us feeling like we barely did so. We ended up having a morning time meeting where we talked about the whole year, our likes and dislikes and what could be different and then my fifth grader said, “if we do online again, I would rather go back to school.” I felt like a failure with 12 words. I failed, ugh. It took some time to reflect and see where it went wrong, when I discussed it more in depth with him, it turned out he simply hated being online (I did not like it either) and so when I offered a different approach/curriculum he was quick to tell me with that change he would rather stay home.

As much as we struggled, I was so thankful for the ease in which our days continued, no phone calls from principals or teachers, no crying kids off of the bus because they were teased, taunted and even physically hurt like we experienced in years before. I am grateful that the whole bully issue does not even touch our door step and we are free from the worry of our children being hurt or harmed by their peers for no reason other than to cause pain. Our kids of course experience their own squabbles, teasing and regular sibling interaction – but we are in control of the problem solving and discipline that comes with it.

All in all, we are ready to take on a new school year from home. With a new curriculum that is created on a scaffolding scheme and a family style approach, the kids are already LOVING their summer mini unit (more to come when we are finished and we can give an honest review).

Guest Feature: Become a Super-Parent with These Top Apps

Photo by Pixabay

3wild3free is honored to have Leslie Campos, from https://wellparents.com/ to share more brilliant tips for parents and navigating the apps that are available to help a mother out!

Let’s face it: Parenting is hard work. And if you’re a new parent, no matter how many preparations you make, you’ll still face the unexpected when it comes to caring for your new baby. That’s because babies don’t come with a manual. The good news, though, is that technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, and smartphones provide apps that can help make life with a new baby a bit easier to navigate. 

Top Apps That Make Caring for Your Baby Easier

When you’re searching for baby-caring apps, you’re best off trying singular-function ones instead of all-in-one apps. Since you’ll be spending a lot of your time caring for your baby, you want easy-to-use apps that are available when you need them. The following apps are a great place to start.

WebMD Baby

With the WebMD Baby app, you’ll get access to trusted, physician-approved health and wellness information at your fingertips. With this app, you can also track important baby information and milestones. It’s a baby book, a place to ask a pediatrician for advice, a way to track your baby’s growth and development so that you can keep them on schedule, and more. Track feedings, nursing, sleep, and diaper changes as well. 

Baby Monitor 3G

Baby Monitor 3G is a unique monitoring app that uses your devices to keep you aware of your baby while they are in the other room. In the baby’s room, you’ll place a smart device or laptop that will monitor your baby and transmit audio and video via Wi-Fi or cellular connection to your device, where you’ll see a live, real-time feed of your child so that you can monitor them remotely and attend to them should the need arise. Setup is quick and easy, and you can even use it across different platforms. There’s also an activity log to track sleeping patterns. The app is secure and reliable, and the next logical step in baby-monitoring solutions.

Day One

If you’re a journal lover who likes to track every detail of your life, the Day One app is perfect for simplifying the important aspects of your life. Keep a workout log, gratitude journal, food diary, baby journal, or anything that needs writing down. You can add photos to your entries, and a passcode to protect your journal so it stays private. You can even dictate your entries! It’s the perfect way to keep track of your daily life in a simple, easy-to-use format.

Baby Sign and Learn Lite

This app may not seem useful at first, but sign language is a baby’s first language. Before your child can speak, they still need to communicate their needs and wants to you. Mostly, they’ll do it through crying, but eventually, their little brains can understand hand gestures. Baby Sign and Learn Lite is the free version and a great starter app for teaching and learning simple signs that you’ll need most, like “more,” “eat,” “please,” and “milk.” Using this app and practicing with your child will help both of you close the communication gap, which can lead to a happier baby whose needs are met quicker.

Redfin App

Last but not least, using an app to look for a new, bigger home for your expanding family will help make the process a little easier. While it won’t replace working with a real estate agent, something like the Redfin app can help you get the process rolling without leaving your baby’s side. Not only can you use different filters to narrow the scope of your search, but you can also take a peek inside homes using the app’s virtual walkthrough feature. Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can get in contact with a Realtor to guide you through the rest of the home-buying process.

When you’re new to navigating parenthood, life can throw a lot of curveballs, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult. No matter what you choose, your smartphone can be another tool in your parenting adventure, and there’s an app for just about everything.

Guest Feature: You’re Beautiful, Baby! Self-Care Tips For Breastfeeding Moms

3wild3free is honored to have Leslie Campos, from https://wellparents.com/ to share some brilliant tips for taking care of mama during those nursing years.

Scientific studies show that breastfeeding a baby provides numerous benefits to both mother and child. Breastfed babies get important nutrients from their mothers that can bolster their immune systems and protect against disease. 

According to the American Heart Association, moms can also reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer by nursing. Additionally, breastfeeding eliminates the need for purchasing formula and cleaning bottles, and it can help you get back to pre-pregnancy weight faster than bottle-feeding. 

Of course, sharing your body with a little human can be taxing, so self-care during this time is crucial to ensuring a positive experience for both you and your child.

Getting Prepared

While breastfeeding is a natural and instinctive act, some women benefit from the help of a lactation coach, who is trained to help them along the way. This type of specialist can provide tips on common issues and concerns and offer advice on how to effectively get through the first few days of nursing and into a regular routine. 

Your OB/GYN, midwife or doula can likely refer you to a coach, or you may find one available on the obstetrics team where you deliver your baby. You can also refer to resources like La Leche League, which helps new mothers get accustomed to breastfeeding and provides support, encouragement, and resources.

Practical Concerns

First-time nursing mothers often feel like they’re “on call” for their babies 24/7. As such, it’s important to ensure you’re staying well-hydrated and eating plenty of healthy, nutrient-rich foods. According to Nursing Moms, breastfeeding burns up to 100 calories per “meal.” You’ll also need adequate sleep, so enlist the help of your partner wherever possible. 

Special amenities that may help you be more comfortable during this time include a lap pillow specially designed to aid in comfortable nursing, creams and ointments to protect against chafing and soreness, and an all-purpose nursing blanket or cover in the event you want on-the-spot privacy when nursing outside of your home.​

Dressing Comfortably

Fortunately for new moms, there are a number of comfortable and stylish clothing options available that not only look and feel great on a postpartum body, but also make it much easier to discreetly breastfeed in public or at home. In addition to everyday clothing, take care to dress in such a way that makes you feel confident and beautiful,  which can go a long way toward boosting your self-esteem

It’s a lot of work being a new mom, and to retain your sense of self, select clothing that fits well and makes you feel good. That might mean a comfy yet stylish nursing top, a flirty nightgown, or a pair of yoga pants that are both attractive and practical.

Prioritizing Self-Care

According to the Office on Women’s Health, it can take some time for new moms and babies to get in sync with nursing. Be patient with yourself and your child if the process requires a bit of adjustment. You’ll soon come to recognize your baby’s patterns and hunger signals, and your body will start to adjust and produce milk in the volume your baby needs. Create a quiet space in the early days where the two of you can calmly and patiently work together until you get into a comfortable routine.

Breastfeeding your new baby can be a wonderful bonding experience with tremendous health benefits for both of you. Taking care of yourself during this special time should include paying attention to your own needs. Dedicating time to self-care and looking and feeling your personal best can work wonders for your mental and emotional health!

For more valuable parenting tips, look no further than 3 wild 3 free.

Photo by Pixabay

And Bless All of Those in the Battles.

Today was November 11th, in Canada it was Rememberance Day and here in the US, Veteran’s Day. Our homeschool focus was on Flander’s Fields and poppies. Growing up in Canada poppies were a regular thing every November – toss a loonie or two into the can at Tim’s and get your poppy for the month (my fellow canucks, you get me here). To my children this was a whole new world.

We took the time from our read aloud morning time to listen to Flander’s Fields (we used the recording here, by Leonard Cohen), then watched this historical video for the kids about how poppies were chosen, when they started being used for Remembrance Day and how they help so many today. We followed with this beautiful short animation released by BBC a few years back about the war from the animal’s perspective. To end it we waited until 11:00 am and had our two moments of silence while we viewed the Royal Canadian Legion’s Two Minutes of Silence video that allowed us to see the faces of many who were fallen, wounded and survived the past wars.

I was a bit nervous at first, worried that they may not fully understand or even take it seriously because, well, I am mom and sometimes mom just does weird stuff! They were so engaged, interested and then to see the faces of service men and women on the video as we sat in perfect silence for two minutes, they were moved. They immediately wanted to start making their own poppies (which we were not prepared for but will be done another day since poppies keep popping up all over our home learning journey – maybe in water color, but I digress), they also wanted to know more. We listened to another rendition of Flander’s Fields, looked up images of Flander’s Fields and then researched how poppies grow and why they would grow after battles. Our poppy adventure took us “off course” for the day, but I followed the natural instincts of my children’s interests and we learned so much together.

Tonight as I tucked my middle little into bed, ended her prayers with “and God, please bless all of those in the battles, now and before.” I was shocked, she was actually absorbing what we were learning! In this home school gig – I am constantly being amazed. There is no “behind,” we are where we are, there is no “off track,” because we are exactly where this journey is leading us. We are engaged, joyful and interested in what we are learning every day. I did not know it could be like this, I did not know how blessed home schooling could truly be!

We Are a Read Aloud Family.

What is a read aloud family you ask? Just as it sounds, we read aloud together. Every morning as a part of our daily rhythm we read aloud while the kids do handicrafts. We have scripture reading then we read a chapter book. Last month was the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, this month we are reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (of course to be followed by their very first viewing of The Chronicles of Narnia movie). They love read aloud time, in so much that they often request it goes longer or happens again later in the day. They even like the voices that I do, even though I feel silly, they only feel the magic of a character’s voice speaking to them.

I have always been a sucker for literature. I remember loving storytime in early elememtary grades, and with a sixth grade teacher who was obsessed with William Shakespeare (shout out to Mrs Matheson of Amherstburg Public School, you literally changed my life) I had read the entire works of Shakespeare by the time I was 13.

Every year at Christmas Little Women is a book I consume, and every January I follow Little Women with Jane Eyre. It is incredible how I can read these books over and over and I still cry in all the same places; marriages devistated on the alter, hidden secrets, and the death of a beloved. The aches from the first times my tears fell turning page after page ripples back up like an old friend that I had forgotten about until the sting of the words reveal the emotion again.

I love being read to; in full disclosure I have to admit that the last two years both of my favortie books listed previous have been read in audiobook form. No wonder I love sharing read aloud time with my children, I have it all the time for myself. While I fold laundry, wash the dishes, go for walks and even traveling – I am constantly being read to. This year is the 100th Anniversary of Agatha Christies’s Hercule Poirot and I am slowly making my way through the whole series. During the past COVID quarantine, I had been more on a self improvement book kick with an occasional “Agatha break” but as of June, I began The Mysterious Affair at Styles in honor of Poirot’s 100 years I have stuck to this egg-headed detective.

When I think of the adventures I have been on, the people I have met and the countries I have been. Through literature I have experienced life and death, marriages and ruin, love and loss; never having to leave the pages before me. I get so excited watching my children head out on those same adventures to the sound of my own voice. Reading aloud has been something we did informally all the time, but with home learning we now make it a part of our day. It is a daily family adventure that often leads to the hope of “just one more chapter before we start school.” We love it.