Project 52:4--conquering your fears

We made a trip to our local park this past week. This is a trip we're frequenting more and more as the weather gets nicer. Can't. Wait. For. Spring! Noah now takes to playground equipment like ants to a picnic basket. And while he was going nuts Randy and I discussed our first trip to this playground, when Noah could not yet climb the stairs by himself much less slide down this GINORMOUS slide. We meticulously taught him how to crawl up each step, grasping the rails for safety along the way. Then, a couple months after that, we moved on to walking up the steps. And before we knew it, he was running up them! Many of these kinds of playgrounds have various "holes" where kiddos can climb up and down, in and out. We still avoid these "holes" as Noah maintains his fearlessness. I'm sure someday we'll reveal them. But...someday. And now to the slide. One of us has typically bobsledded down with Noah, backing him up the whole way down. But now, he doesn't need us. Foreshadowing? Yup. What a bittersweet moment. So exciting seeing him burst out of his shell and show the world his Noahness! And so scary letting him go! I know this moment is scary for every parent. It's particularly nerve-wracking because Noah greets the world head first, runs a muck with his eyes closed, and dances, plays, sings, talks, and fights maybe while hanging upside down. Who knows?! It's his way. Full speed ahead...and a lot of times...backwards. But he owns it. And I wouldn't change a thing. :-)


Be All That You Can Be

Yall know that I'm a big proponent of natural parenting. I believe in doing things the way God intended...to a point. :-) I'm in a place where I'm trying to find organic and natural alternatives to products and decisions we make as a family. (Soon be blogging about this on Jack Be Natural's blog, Natural Intuition, when it's up and running.) However, I'm also an ever bigger proponent of taking care of yourself. And sometimes, wait for it...hold it...don't get scared now...that means compromising!

Let me explain...

A fellow cloth diaperer friend from Jack Be Natural's Facebook page posted after months of using cloth diapers that she just couldn't do it anymore. She was exhausted. Staying up til the wee hours of the morning doing laundry for her twins. The sad part of this story to me wasn't that she decided to go back to disposables, it was that she felt guilty and feared being shunned from "the group." Now, I ask you. Which is better for the child? Cloth on their bum or a restful, energized mom? If cloth doesn't work for you, don't do it!

Another friend of mine who's very into natural living, once commented on baby wearing and cosleeping by saying that forced separation doesn't foster independence, love and knowing she'll always be there with them does. Again, I ask you. Which is better for the child? Being beside, on, near a zombie parent or a restful, energized parent? In her case, she wasn't a terrible zombie mom, but I certainly was! So, no cosleeping for me. And, my child turned out to have benefited from my "forced separation."

So, here's the jist of this post. What's best for me IS what's best for my child.

I am a person who lives and dies by the rules. But, once I became a mom, I figured out there are SO many different rules. Everyone says something different from the next person, and I learned that no one ELSE could make my rules for me. So, I put my big girl panties on, grabbed some chalk, and went to the drawing board. (Notice I said chalk and drawing board, not chisel and stone.) Long story short, I've come to the conclusion after having raised a son for two years now that my RULE is "what's best for me IS what's best for my children." I have to be all the I can be.

Putting yourself before others is not the typical Christian parenting topic now, is it? In fact, it's the polar opposite of the way I was raised. However, I believe, and this is my opinion, that in order for me to be the best mother I can be, I have to take care of myself FIRST before I can properly take care of my son. If I am ill, I can't take good care of him. If I am stressed, I can't take good care of him. If I don't get sleep, I can't take care of him. This may seem like a totally backwards concept to some, but hear me out. I suffered from extreme depression after having my son, and I COULD NOT TAKE CARE OF HIM. Epic. Parenting. Fail. So, I decided to take action and take care of myself first from then on. And my parenting methods underwent a permanent shift. Took an anti-depressant to get myself right again so I could take care of him. Ate right so his milk would be good. And when nursing added to my depression and stress, I chose to switch to formula to alleviate my depression and stress so I could take care of him. Taught him to fall asleep on his own in his own room (not co-sleeping) so I could fully rest in order to have energy to care for him. Showered even though he was screaming for 30 minutes so I would be clean and energized to take care of him. Used disposable diapers (WHAT?!!!) cuz I couldn't handle the laundry, so I could take care of him. Etc...you get the picture. There's a saying that "if mama's not happy, no one's happy." Well, I hate to say it, but it's kinda true. If mama's the primary caregiver, she MUST take care of herself in order to take care of her child. And, if you're a mama reading this and you are the best you can be when you cosleep, nurse, cloth diaper, make organic baby food, babywear, stay at home, etc...then DO IT! Please don't read this post as my rant against these methods. Remember, I started this post saying "I'm a big proponent of natural parenting." And when I say "natural," I mean whatever comes naturally to you, whatever works naturally for your family. Parenthood (and more specifically, motherhood) is not an all-or-nothing venture. Take a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Make your own concoction. You. Make. Your. Rules. And keep in mind, those rules WILL shift...different seasons with one child and different effects with another.

Now, there's a fine line between taking care of yourself first IN ORDER TO better care for your loved ones and simply just putting yourself first. It's a delicate balance, but once you figure out what works for you and your family, it's important to stick to it. And does all this mean I don't make sacrifices for my son? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Don't even get me started there! lol! And will I do exactly the same things with our future children? Probably not. I'm different, my husband's different, the situations will be different. Parenting is all about flexibility.

So, whether you subscribe to hypnobabies' birth plan or epidurals, cloth diapers or disposables, organic home made baby food or ready-made, baby wearing or strollers, natural medicine or Rx, choose what works best for YOU. Try everything. And try it twice. Even if your recipe for success involves a combination of things. There's no law that says if you like baby wearing you can ONLY do baby wearing. Pull out that stroller every once and a while and give yourself a break!

I'm a very different person now than I was when I had Noah, and I can guarantee that I will try more things and try them harder next time around. I have a list of these things if you're interested. If I get enough interest in said list, I'll do another post.

Life's too short and our influence too great to waste time comparing ourselves to each other, blaming each other, pointing fingers at each other, and fighting with each other. Instead, how bout we encourage each other? (For more on this issue, read this.)

Be all that you can be so your little ones can be too.


Project 52:3--repurposing

Ok, so this P52 post is more on the silly side, but I just couldn't help myself. On Friday, Noah and I were busy bees playing in his room and putting toys away. He also recently starting "using" his very own little potty, housed in the bathroom by his room. While he currently loves said potty and frequently plays with it, including "drinking" from the cup, he mostly likes sitting on it and standing up and sitting on it and standing up...over and over and over again...and doing a little dance in between. I'm sure this will become known as his "pee pee" dance when he actually does pee in it one day. So, on this particular afternoon, he was going about his usual potty fun time, but this time that involved taking the cup out and hiding toys inside. This was all fine and fun til he finally dug them out, and in the blink of an eye, plopped them in the REAL potty. So, what did I do? Well, first. I laughed. Second, I ran for my camera. And finally, I schooled him on the proper contents of the porcelain throne.

I really do love repurposing things around my house. I truly believe in repurposing and renovating before buying new. (Like, come on people, do you REALLY need NEW cabinets? Can't ya just paint your current ones? Did they expire? Do they not HOLD stuff? And, yes, our diaper shelf used to be that cabinet you have above your fridge.) But THIS kind of repurposing is the kind I briefly cherished, am psyched to have captured, and will discourage from this day forth......til the next piece of our house is deemed worthy of a Noah-reno. :-)


A Stroll in the Park with Friends

Noah and I made a long-awaited trip to the park the other day. (I'm desperately wanting winter to end and spring to arrive so we can play outside.) And let me tell you, it did not disappoint. We met up with The Wiethoff crew (sans Brent) for a walk/stroll/bike ride excursion and ended up transporting ourselves through the park to the playground. I'm sure it was hard for Noah to stay in the stroller while Cooper and Sadie road their bikes, but he had a blast as soon as he got out. And the kids were so cute on their bikes. Sadie's quickly learning and terribly cute on her little pink bike, so Cooper would speed ahead and stop and play for a bit waiting for us all to catch up.  I've been around these kiddos for a long time, but this trip to the park was particularly fun because of the multiple stops while waiting for Sadie to pedal her way along. The journey to the playground was actually more fun than the actual playground itself. We talked about everything we saw: birds, trees, joggers, volleyball players, and "Mommy, why is that man laying on the ground?" (he was exercising). I know I've said it before, but seeing the world through the eyes of a child is very enlightening and entertaining. I just love these kiddos!

And, now to the pictures...I brought my camera along, of course. And boy am I glad I did! What fun it was shooting my best friend and her kiddos! It was totally candid and unscripted, the best kind of shoot. And it turned out pretty awesome, I think.

Cooper was cracking me up with his sense of daring and exploration.

Sadie just touched my heart, so precious and sweet and eager to learn.

And I couldn't help but get a few of Sally with her babies. I loved watching her coach Sadie, teaching her why her bike would tip, and give Coop freedom to roam while maintaining a watchful eye, something I'm hope I'll come to do with Noah the older he gets.

Funny thing about this adventure, I didn't get that many good pics of Noah.

Here's my one really good photo of him.

Still trying to figure out how to capture that moving target. But, it kinda doesn't even matter. I loved the time we had with our friends and feel blessed to have captured the memory.


Project 52:2--cake

This weekend Noah and I both had our first-ever Starbucks cake pops. And what an experience it was! I had chocolate raspberry, and he had (what I'm assuming to be) strawberry vanilla. He had no idea what a cake ball or cake pop even was, but he didn't care. Anything on a stick HAS to be good, right? I thought he'd down the sucker in one bite, maybe two. But nope. He took his sweet, sweet (pun intended) time. Savoring every little tiny bite. And I sorta did too. ;-) 
On a photog note, I had been taking pics all week. And with each somewhat acceptable shot, I thought, "Well, this would be good for my P52, I guess." OR going out and intentionally taking shots FOR the project thinking, "I've GOT to get a shot this week, I've GOT to get THE shot!" freaking out and all anxious about it. This series (there are actually four pics) was completely spontaneous and happened on Saturday! Right down to the wire. And as SOON as I saw the bottom pic after I took it, I just knew. I LOVE that! There's something so beautiful (and joyful, which is fitting) about not planning this project out and just letting it happen. Which, for those of you who know me, is very tough for me. 

So, there it is! Project 52:2! This is turning out to be a very fun, challenging, thrilling, and growing project indeed. And might I add, the boy's rockin the pink, isn't he?! :-)


Project 52:1--scenic

Here it is! The first post in my 2012 Project 52. I will post a new pic every week (hopefully the better I get at this the fresher the pics will be) centered around my theme: a simple joy. It took me forever to pick a theme because everything I chose was either too narrow or too broad. But, everything I kept thinking of reminded me of the simple joys I get from them (living organically, natural parenting, beauty in simple things, motherhood, etc...). So, I will be choosing pics that encompass all of these areas and explaining their simple joys in my life.

The P52:1 photo was taken while on Christmas vacation in Montana. i love the snowy mountains in the background, the Christmas lights wrapped around the railing, the rocks below the bridge, and the angle of the shot. Not mention, Noah in focus while RUNNING. He thrives in wide open spaces and more than just enjoyed all the running and sledding, so it wasn't difficult to get a pic of him joyful in this scenery. :-) I must admit I'm very proud of this photo. It was one in a string of burst shots I took while he was running very rapidly back and forth, up and down the bridge pictured here. Dangerous, yes. But worth it, ABSOLUTELY!