Empowered by Nudity?

Its been a month since my last post, its been crazy busy around here. We’ve been bogged down by sickness for the better part of February and seem to finally be on the upswing…

I know I am a few days late to jump on this whole Kim Kardashian band wagon and truthfully, I wasn’t going to even write anything, but I can’t stop thinking about it. You see, we have cable, but we don’t watch much television (other than Disney Junior!), my kids aren’t on social media and we have the luxury of avoiding those school bus conversations since we homeschool….

We SHOULD have avoided hearing about Kim Kardashian and her nude selfie on Instagram, but we didn’t…

Because every major news outlet mentioned it, radio hosts talked about it and eventually I had to find an article to see what this whole thing was about….

Once I realized, I was appalled. Truly. Not so much at the photograph, because let’s face it, there isn’t much these reality stars could do that would shock me anymore, but it was what she wrote underneath it….

I’m not quoting her exact words here, but to sum up her post she stated that posting a naked image of herself on the internet was empowering…

Empowering.

Maybe for her it is. Perhaps in her chosen life path and career posting that picture felt empowering. In her circle, in her life she has people telling her that the outward appearance of her body applies directly to her self worth and her CHOOSING to share it with the world empowers her…

and the mother in me feels sad for her. I wish that someone would pull her aside and tell her that there is so much more to her than how she looks naked, how much money she has or who she is married to…

but the mama bear in me is ANGRY. In our culture today, there are droves of girls who look up to her. While I would like to question their choice in a role model, the reality is they look to these reality stars, who are seemingly famous for nothing, and they mimic them in the hopes of becoming famous themselves, or at the very least increasing their own self worth.

So, what happens when a 14 year old girl’s favorite reality star posts a naked picture of herself on Instagram, calls it empowering and seemingly supports the damaging “send nudes” movement amongst teens?

Her sudden stand against sending nude images of herself to the boy asking for them loses some weight. Her confidence in her decision to not follow suit with her peers begins to waver. She begins to define her self worth more and more by what those who view her body think about her…

She wants to avoid the teasing and tormenting that comes with standing on the opposite side of the crowd, but every time she takes her stand, she believes herself less and less. If the media is calling it empowering, then it must truly not be THAT BAD.

So she sends the picture.

Regret, shame, guilt, fear – nothing can take that picture back once its in the hands of someone else. The receiver has the ability to do whatever they please with it. If she is lucky, the receiver only shows it to a few friends, but refuses to send the actual image on to anyone else…

and if she isn’t, the receiver forwards the image to anyone he/she pleases, posts it on the internet, adds it to one of the many “slut pages” that are popping up in school districts across the country, or uses the right to do any of these things as a form of exploitation.

Being a kid themselves, most of the receivers of these images don’t even understand the negative ramifications of their actions.

See – Kim Kardashian already has a career, a life, enough money in the bank to live off of forever and is an adult who can choose to do something that may warrant negative reactions…

These young girls following suit don’t have any of those things. What they do have once they send one of these “empowering images” is a higher risk of anxiety and depression, a very scary chance of their image getting into the hands of an adult who has the potential to harm them, and a lifetime of their image potentially popping up on the internet. They have the very real situation of having a harder time academically because of the peer issues they face at school, and are much more likely to have LOWER self esteem and LOWER self worth, valuing themselves less and opening the door for more choices that could prove to have negative consequences…

These girls are not old enough to make a choice like this.

But they are….

and every time they hear about it in the media and hear it being referred to as a positive thing, they are at risk for making a choice that could affect them forever.

I wish this wasn’t an issue for our adolescents, but it is. This generation coming up into adulthood soon has more opportunity to make mistakes that could haunt them for a lifetime than we ever did. Their naivety and the very real danger of exploitation, child pornography and sex trafficking is a major threat to them.

So – here is my plea. Stop sharing, liking or commenting on these media articles that promote or talk about the nude images of these reality stars. Every time you add your opinion to them – even if its negative – you allow more and more people to see it.

And talk to the tween/teen girls in your life. Be a true example of an empowering woman. Be open about what self worth is truly made up of, and let them know that you stand behind them when they stand against the peer pressure…

And if you only do one thing, don’t look the other way and pretend that this isn’t happening.

It is. And the cost to these girls is too high for us to ignore it….

A Typical Day..

Never actually looks the same around here.  I think that has been the hardest part about homeschooling, finding out the routine that works best for us!

When I was lesson planning over the summer, I had all of these amazing ideas of how our week would love, filled with lots of reading, laughing, projects, exploring and of course – school work.

At the end of our first week, I cried. I realized I had no idea what it would really be like, and that my expectations were way too high. I overwhelmed myself with books on different methods of teaching, and for a month I was convinced I was doing everything wrong.

See, there a a million different types of homeschooling families and a ton of different ideas on HOW to teach kids…

Some of the main methods of homeschooling are:

“Unschooling” – also referred to as “child directed learning.” The least structured method of schooling, parents that choose this method allow their children to follow their interests in choosing topics, then they attempt to organically fit in the different subjects taught through the lens of that topic. I believe it varies from family to family, but I assume that being mostly child led, each day would look a lot different from the rest. I know a lot of families who have fallen in love with this method, but I knew right away it wasn’t for us. I wanted something a bit more measurable, with somewhat of a routine…

So then we looked into another method of learning – “Unit Studies”. I wanted to love this idea. I began planning our months around specific units (history and science typically), and then included writing assignments, reading, health, and bible around these topics. It went well in the beginning, but I began to crave even more structure to our day…

So we moved onto researching what I thought would be my most favorite method – the “Charlotte Mason” method. Modeled after the teachings of Charlotte Mason herself, this curriculum focuses a lot on reading, dictation, and time spent outdoors. It incorporates a lot of life skills to reinforce subject matter and prides itself on not “watering down” subject matter for children, but instead pulling them up to the level of the subject matter. On paper, this is my absolute FAVORITE, the ideals of instilling a love for learning, independence in developing new skills, and the emphasis on great literature fits completely with our values…

But, actually translating those ideas into our “new normal” turned out to be too much of a culture shock to our household. We had to scale back, and while we still enforce a lot of the ideals of Charlotte Mason in certain subjects, I wouldn’t call our schooling style “Charlotte Mason” by any stretch of the imagination.

What I did find, was that I was gravitating more towards a classical education for my children, without even knowing! I had stayed away from researching this more structured, and rigorous form of educating children because I thought that it would not fit our family style at all. Then one day, out of sheer desperation for direction, I cracked open my obligatory copy of “The Well Trained Mind”. As I was reading, I realized that classical education was much different than I thought! The emphasis on good writing, excellence in reading and the mastery of academic skills necessary for adulthood actually DID fit in with our ideals. I also realized that, while some classical families tend to follow a more demanding academic routine, classical education could be molded into slightly less structured, yet still academically sound curriculum that allowed us to add in some of the best features of each of the other schools of thought!

Finally, I had a revelation! After months of doubting, questioning, wondering and having full blown panic attacks over choosing the “right” school of thought for out family, I realized that I didn’t have to pick just one! We went into homeschooling to educate to the best of OUR CHILDREN’S needs, not the direction of one book or another on how to teach!

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So where does that leave us? Somewhere in between all of this! I realized that our family does better with a combination of structure and freedom, and that is OKAY!! We tend to do all of our subjects in the same order, so that the kids become used to the routine of school at home, but we start and end at different times, depending on what outside classes the girls have that day. Two mornings a week we are out for playgroup for the preschoolers, and gymnastics for Autumn, so the bulk of the work is completed in the afternoon, where we also typically don’t do any formal preschool work because of the additional instruction the little girls are getting from sources outside of the home. The other days, school work is done first thing in the morning, and ends in the early afternoon, where crafts/projects/free time or resting time will take up the rest of the day until dinner. Fridays is typically swimming, which rounds out the girls gym requirement (dance, swimming and group sports games at Awana fill in the rest of that requirement).

Our typical schedule looks something like this:

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Bible during breakfast – reading, discussing or following a devotional, we let where we are that week lead our bible study time.

Math for Gabbi – which is mostly independent because we purchased a computer based instructional program. I do sit with her at least one day a week to go over all the problems she has struggle with to see if we need to add in any remedial work, or if we need to take a step back and repeat a concept. During this time we also do our “formal” preschool – which is usually a letter study, small craft, song, counting and simple math, and then independent crafting.

Grammar – Writing  well is such an important skill, so we study grammar daily. We use a more rigorous Abeka curriculum, as well as editing all journal entries and writing assignments together to fix grammatical errors. I have seen a huge improvement this year!

Writing – Also focused on daily, we study different types of writing through our unit studies, grammar focus or just for fun. We don’t use a curriculum because writing is my happy place! We have studied: journaling, creative writing, responsive writing, persuasive writing, writing letters and we did a full research paper this year! Moving forward this year we will be covering character development, theme forming, setting, poetry and more story building techniques! I’m so thankful that this is my daughter’s favorite subject because it allows us to have fun everyday.

Reading – Another area where we don’t use curriculum, we are using reading time to both enhance the girls vocabulary, comprehension and writing. I made a book list at the beginning of the year and we spend time daily reading both out loud and independently. I use note taking methods with Gabbi to see where her comprehension is, as well as verbal discussions of each chapter. Were going to be looking more closely at character, setting and theme development the second half of this year using more fiction! The first half of the year we read a lot of non-fiction and focused on the ability to learn concepts through reading.

Science and History – this is where we focus solely on unit studies!! We are using a two whole units of curriculum for history by Homeschool In The Woods (stay tuned for a full review on this FUN way of teaching history!!), New World Explorers for US History, and Ancient Egypt for world history. The girls are VERY excited to start Ancient Egypt in a few weeks! For science we have done a unit on the human body, a unit on nutrition and will be doing a second unit the human body covering diseases and hygiene later on this year. We group health into science, because for these units go hand in hand. The best part about these unit studies are that the little girls love to join in and I can really modify each activity so that everyone can participate at their level!!

The rest of our days involve studying topics of interest, learning new skills, spending time outdoors, or enjoying our extracurricular classes!

This post got much longer than I expected it to! So, I am going to end it here for now. Next week, I will tackle the topic of socialization – the ever popular question that we get from concerned citizens who don’t truly understand what homeschooling your children is REALLY like!

Face to Face

I’ve noticed a trend lately….

Mom’s on the internet posting incredibly personal information and questions in online mom groups, gleaning advice from women they barely know.

What started out as a way to communicate with local moms on parenting advice or local happenings for families has turned into a replacement for deep, meaningful and connecting friendships.

I get it. Trust me. Motherhood is ROUGH. Trying to make time for anything other than keepings the kids alive, while trying to juggle a home, and for many full time jobs, can seem like an impossibility. So we retreat into our homes, throw on our pajamas and open our computers, using the screen in front of us for any amount of adult interaction that we can grasp.

Social media is an AMAZING gift to our generation. It can connect us in ways that we were never able to connect before. We can develop friendships with people we otherwise wouldn’t have met, find communities with the same values and opinions as we do, and keep tabs on those we have lost touch with on a regular basis…

But, in the same breath, social media can be a detriment to a part of is that can’t be filled by a computer screen.

Community.

Relationship.

Real, raw, open, honest, accountable and loving friendship….

The lonely parts of our soul long for face to face connection. The void can be temporarily filled by an online connection, but it only lasts for so long.

We were NOT made to mother alone. The years in the trenches are exhausting, demanding, overwhelming and worst of all LONELY. When we become mothers, and each time we add another baby to the mix, we are faced with the daunting task of finding ourselves again.

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Whether you know it or not, you need someone to come into your space and say “I see you.”

You need to HEAR a person laugh with you over the craziness of your life, to cry with someone when things get overwhelming, to talk through feelings, decisions and struggles audibly.

We were designed for face to face communion with other moms. We were designed for deep and meaningful friendships.

So, ladies….

I am calling you out. Out of your homes, out from behind your computers or the guise of your latest smart phones, out into the community of women who have found the freedom and blessing that true, open, honest and loving friendships bring.

If your local, and home on Wednesday mornings, I encourage you to come on out to our weekly playgroup. The coffee will be hot, the kids will be corralled, and the conversation will be flowing. Come in your pajamas, come unshowered, come exhausted and defeated, come late, whatever it takes, just come as you are! You can find the time and address here. 

If you aren’t local, I urge you to step out of your comfort zone and join a local moms group. Don’t have one? Then host an open playdate, invite that friend you have been meaning to see over for coffee, or head to a local play area and start a conversation. There are even downloadable apps (MomCo is one I recommend, especially in some larger cities where there seems to be more moms using it!) where you can find playdates with other moms!

Sound scary? I’ll admit, it can be. Making new friends is HARD. Inviting moms into our mess without worry about judgment can be frightening….

But, I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Good Soil

I have had this post on my heart for awhile, but yesterday as I was listening to podcast, I realized the importance of this topic….

As I walking through the grocery store yesterday with my headphones on, off in my own little world, ALONE (minus all the people in the store) I was feeling as though I was on vacation. I could have felt guilty because one of my four had so badly wanted to come with me to shop. Normally, I would have let her come as I try REALLY hard to carve out individual time with the girls each week, but she was exhausted and this mama needed a break…

A few months ago, I would have put my need for a break aside because I would have deemed it selfish, or at the very least not as important as her wanting some one on one time with mom. I would have convinced myself that I didn’t really need to be alone, that grocery shopping was intended to be stressful and that this was my job, a job that comes with very few breaks or breathers…

but yesterday I said no, and off I went alone.

As I was listening to one of my homeschooling mom podcasts, one of the speakers was reading listener questions and a question came up that gave me pause. It was a valid question, but one that so many moms are battling with and shouldn’t be….

“Is it okay for moms to take a break? Is it biblical to carve out time to put myself in front of the needs of my family?”

A few months ago, I may not have even been able to answer that question. Because I truly believed that it wasn’t. I lived the first few years of motherhood under the notion that as long as I was needed, my needs came last. When there was one child,  or even two there was more time that I wasn’t needed by default, but by the time number 4 came there was no time that spontaneously appeared where no one needed me. Day and night, around the clock, chances were 1 of the 4 needed something from me….

and so I gave, and gave, and gave, and gave….

until I felt as though I could not give anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE taking care of my girls. Being with my children is my absolute favorite thing in the whole world. I was created for this, I know that. I love teaching them, watching them learn, and being the one who kisses the boo-boos and answers the tough questions. I love that I can decipher whats wrong just by glancing at them because I am with them so much. I couldn’t imagine a day without the snuggles and the snotty kisses….

but I was becoming depleted. Dried up. The other things about me that were also things I was created for, were disappearing one by one. Writing, editing, creating and crafting were being taken off the table….

then reading and learning for my own benefit…

and finally my own quiet time was being sacrificed for the needs of someone else.

In the midst of all of the craziness, I forgot that I was a person created with needs.

but, more than that, that the needs of others couldn’t be met if I had nothing to give.

Things became overwhelming, anxiety inducing, and I was a wreck. I was tired, worn out and doubting my ability to handle anything else.

But then, during our bible study something amazing happened. We read the parable of the sower together in Mark.

Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

I can’t even count how many times I have read this parable, I have notes in all different types of pen surrounding the section in my bible, but none of those notes brought to light what my children were about to teach me….

We were learning about how plants grow during the time that we read this section, so my kids knew all about what makes soil “good”…

I had been so caught up in making sure that the seeds planted in my life didn’t get choked out by the thorns, that I had forgotten I need to check the goodness of my own soil. As I was asking the girls questions, they began to point out to me about how soil and seeds need to be taken care of in order to grow! A farmer doesn’t just hope that the soil is good, he makes sure it is. He waters it, takes care of it, and doesn’t overcrowd it with too many things. He tends to it as the plants grow, weeding out the thorns and ensuring the good plants take root.

Good soil isn’t just happenstance, good soil is created by the effort of the farmer.

We don’t have to have good soil for the seeds in our life to begin to bear fruit, we can create good soil in our lives….

good soil|www.meaghanmorris.com

But we can’t do that if we don’t take care of it. Overworked mamas who are overwhelmed, and don’t get a break are depleting their soil of nutrients. If we do that, nothing can grow.

I want to offer my family the best of me, but in order to do that, I have to give myself permission to take care of me. I have to allow myself to realize that fulfilling my needs is just as vital to my family’s growth as everyone else’s needs.

What good am I if my soil can’t bear fruit?

So whatever it is that fills you up, whether its reading, writing, shopping alone, sleeping, crafting, hanging out with friends, studying the word, or catching up on your DVR – carve out time to do it. Let your family know its necessary, ask for help and plan to take care of yourself….

You need to come back and weed and water your soil, mama.

When the darkness creeps back in

Postpartum Depression | Meaghanmorris.com

There have been a lot of things in my life as a mom that no one told me about.

No one told me how hard it could be, no one told me how lonely it could be.

No one told me that your body could suddenly go out of whack and you could suddenly become so anxious and depressed that you were a completely different person for months….

No one told me that recovery could be so hard. That finding myself in the midst of this season could take so long. That setbacks would happen, even when I thought everything was back in its right place.

Not having full control of your mind is scary. It is the scariest thing I have ever experienced, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Intrusive thoughts, shaky hands and a fear you can’t even begin to describe.

I am better. Better than I was last week, last month and last year. But I still get panic attacks. I still suffer from anxiety so much sometimes it hurts. I still get angry, at times, that this is the path God designed for me to walk.

But He did. Relapse is a part of recovery. I get addicted to trying to “fix” myself, my situation, my illness. I am learning to let go. To allow the bad days, and learn how to realize that a bad day doesn’t make a bad me. I cannot be defined by my weakness.

When the darkness creeps back in, we have to remember that it only remains dark as long as we focus on it. We can choose to fight back, to shift our focus to the light and to slowly allow it to shine brighter.

Prayer. Friends. Support. Medication.

Whatever it takes, whatever path of recovery God has designed for you, use it.

But more importantly, learn from it. Allow the setbacks to help you grow. Decide to not let the weak parts of you win, but choose to let God shine through your weakness.

Own it. All of it. The good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the pretty and the ugly.

Because every single part of your story is beautiful, even if you can’t see it.

5 Ways to Pick Up a Mom….

Becoming a mom is the craziest life transition most of us women will ever go through. I LOVE being a mom. But the truth is, it turns your world upside down. It completely and totally changes most of everything we know, and because of that there are so many seasons that can feel so lonely.

Isolation during motherhood can make an already hard job seem impossible. With no one to vent to, seek advice from or even just drink coffee with, we can be left most days feeling like we are doing everything wrong. Sometimes, on my worst days, I just need to hear from another mom friend that they feel like they are screwing it all up too.

But, making friends with moms can be incredibly intimidating! In some ways, its can feel even harder than dating! It can take a lot to put yourself out there, and some of you new moms may not even know where to begin….

Here are 5 different ways that I have found to make new mom friends:

5 Ways to Make Friends As A Mom| Meaghanmorris.com

1. Crash a local Mom Group: Okay, I know that it can be nerve wracking to go outside your comfort zone and show up to a local mom group where you don’t know anyone, but most groups are very inviting. You will have your occasional run in with those groups that can seem cliquey, but for the most part your walking into a room full of women who feel exactly like you. Use the group as starting point for building friendships and go from there. Mom groups are pretty easy to find, and you can start by using Facebook or Google to search. MOPs is a great organization that hosts moms groups in various locations around the world, and would be good place to start!

2. Local Online Mom Groups: Speaking of searching Facebook, there are a lot of local groups online specifically for moms in that area. Join a group, and try to stay active in some of the conversations, getting to know some of the other moms. Eventually, when you feel comfortable enough, try to arrange a play date with a few of the moms. These online groups are great for those moms who are less out going, but try not to get stuck in the rut of only communicating online.

3. Attend Kids Events in your Area: Story – times, toddler jump times, free play time at the library, open play groups – any kid – centered activity is a great way to meet some new mama friends. Take advantage of any local kid geared activities as a time to both get out of the house and to meet some new women who are right where you are.

4. Check out Churches in your area: In my experience, some of my closest relationships have come through the people that I have met through our church. Many local churches host groups for moms, play groups or women’s bible studies that are really amazing ways to develop some new relationships. Most don’t require that you attend the church itself in order to join in on the activities! If you are in the Rochester Area, you can find our church and playgroup here.

5. Download the newly launched MomCo App: So this is an exciting, and new way to make mom friends! An app just for moms has just launched and is a great (and safe!!) way for you to find moms in your area. You can chat with other moms and get to know them right through the app, post questions in the forum and even find and schedule play dates! Another added benefit is you can find services and businesses in your area that cater specifically to moms in your area all in one place. All you have to do is download it from the app store, and its free! You can download the app here!

5 Ways to Pick Up A Mom | meaghanmorris.com

The one thing in common with all of these is that we need to get outside of comfort zones and allow ourselves to make new friends in this season of life. It takes effort to build relationships, but we all need a tribe. Motherhood is a not a road that we should try to navigate alone. We need other women in the trenches with us, laughing with us, crying with us and lifting us up when it all seems too hard.

So mama…

Go put yourself out there! Crash a play group, attend a story time, download the app and make some new friends! I promise you that you won’t regret it!

5 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Love Each Other

I posted on Monday about how we are focusing on LOVE this month in our home!

And while we are talking a lot about God’s love, and about how much we love each of our girls, we are spending some extra time focusing on SIBLING LOVE.

Our girls are so lucky to have this little army of built in best friends, supporters and future advice givers.

But, THEY FIGHT. They bicker, argue and hurt each others feelings more than I would prefer. I know that this will continue throughout all of their years of growing up, but we can teach them the importance of learning how to love each other through the process of growing….

5 Ways to Teach Our Kids To LOVE | Meaghanmorris.com

Here are 5 ways that we are trying to do that:

1. Love ‘Em Up: Sibling to Sibling Surprises: This was the idea straight from the book In This House, We Will Giggle. I love this idea because it teaches our girls to figure out what their sibling would receive as love. Is it making their bed so they don’t have to? Drawing a picture for them? Leaving them a note? I am helping each of the girls to do something nice for one of their siblings each day. And while, right now, its more me coming up with the ideas, I hope that it leads them to doing these sibling surprises on their own.

2. “Catch Them Being Nice” – We spend a lot of time correcting wrong hearts and wrong attitudes in this house. There are days when selfishness seems to rule the roost and its so frustrating. We started pebble collection jars when we began our chore charts, and we found that rewarding good behavior, at times, works better than correcting wrong behavior. So, this month, at the suggestion of a new friend and wonderful mom, we are “catching them being nice”. When I find them being nice, doing something loving or helping their sibling without prompting from me, I am adding a pebble to their jar. When our girls earn 7 pebbles, they get a trip to our secret prize bin.

3. Talk it Out: Truth is, we can’t avoid all arguments or selfish behavior. Fights and hurt feelings are part of the package of growing up with siblings. But we CAN teach our kids to express themselves properly, instead of biting, hitting or screaming. With our oldest two, we try to get to the heart of the issue – “Why does this make you upset?”, “Why are you feeling like you need to be selfish right now?”, “What could you do instead?”….With our younger two, and sometimes with our almost 4 year old, just explaining to them why something is hurtful to someone else is enough. We expect them to apologize with an “I am sorry for……”, and the person who was hurt needs to verbalize forgiveness. Hurts happen, and its okay.

4. Hug it Out: Another suggestion from a wonderful friend. A one minute hug after a fight!! I LOVE the idea of this, but to be honest, we have not implemented it yet. I am excited to see what happens, between the girls when they are encouraged to focus on loving each other after an argument. I think that a silly one minute hug will help to prevent any lingering hurt feelings! It will probably make for some pretty cute pictures too!

5. Teach them to pray for each other: In our house, Matt and I do the bulk of praying. But, this month, when someone has a need, we are encouraging a sibling to come and pray for them. There are few things in this world that we can do for someone we love, than to pray for them. I want my girls to be each others prayer warriors when they get older. I want them to constantly pray for one another as they continue to grow and find their own paths in life. I want them to know that praying for their sibling is important and makes a huge difference. And, it gets them thinking about the needs of others. I want it to just be second nature that when they know someone has a need, they stop what they are doing and pray for them. This is such a great place to start.

I’m not going to pretend that by implementing these things, our girls have suddenly stopped bickering, fighting or bossing each other around. They haven’t. Truth: Autumn BIT Scarlet during gymnastics class when she wasn’t listening to her, instead of encouraging her. They are not going to be sweet and kind to each other all of the time, because they are growing and learning more everyday. But, we can get the started on the path of thinking outside of themselves by teaching them to think about each other.

What ways do you teach your children to love each other, or to love others??

What I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with PPD…

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Having a baby is the one of the most joyful, exciting, happy and wonderful things you can experience in this world. And it was this way for my first 3 births. I LOVED giving birth, and LOVED how I felt afterwards. I was immersed in this exhausting, hazy, wonderful bubble of love from the moment each of my little girls entered the world…

until I had my 4th.

Having my 4th was different in every way. The labor was different, the delivery was different, the emotions were different. I was anxious, scared, uneasy and overwhelmed almost instantly. At first I thought it was the hospital, then I thought it was being tired, then I thought it was Thanksgiving. But with each day that passed the feelings got worse.

And then 5 days after Emmy was born I was immersed in a panic stricken, depressed, psychotic state that can lasted for months and took numerous medications, family support, and a lot of time to come back from.

I am happy to say that I back to myself now – and you can read more about my journey here, herehere and here.

But there are a few things that I wish I had known BEFORE I had been diagnosed with Postpartum Depression, things that I wish that my OB had told me – or that ANYONE had told me – at some point while I was pregnant. No one wants to warn you about what can happen, because no one likes to talk about mental illness. But there are some things that you need to be aware of if you are pregnant, that are not meant to scare you, but that are meant to keep you informed.

1. Postpartum Depression can happen to ANY woman, in ANY pregnancy, in ANY circumstance. You don’t have to have a preexisting mental illness, a history of depression, a bad diet, a stressful life or an unexpected pregnancy to experience PPD. In the same way, being perfectly healthy, part of a loving marriage, and having a perfectly planned pregnancy won’t prevent Postpartum Depression. It can affect anyone. And if you are picked, it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you, it just means that you are 1 of countless women who suffer from this common pregnancy complication.

2. Feeling disconnected from your child is not a requirement for Postpartum Depression. In fact, being depressed isn’t even  a requirement. My first symptom was anxiety. Anxiety turned into panic, which turned into self deprecating negative thoughts. After a while those thoughts became my identity, and that led to depression. It didn’t start there. And I never felt disconnected from Emmy. In fact, I was afraid of leaving her side and had major guilt from not being able to enjoy her early months.

3. Recognizing that something is wrong, and seeking treatment early does not make you a failure as a mom. It makes you the BEST mom that you can be in the midst of an illness outside of your control. Even though I wanted to hide from the world or pretend everything was okay, I was sick and I needed help. I needed a psychiatrist, I needed medication, I needed people around me all the time. Hiding it, not treating it or pretending that it wasn’t there would have made it worse. Healthy mom = healthy family. Its okay to ask for help.

4. Effective treatment will take advocating for yourself. Not all doctors know how to treat Postpartum Depression, not all therapists truly know what it is. If you think that you might be at risk for PPD, or you are someone who likes to be prepared, get a plan in place prior to giving birth. What makes you at risk? Being pregnant. So at the very least, ask your OB about doctors and therapists who specialize in PPD in your area. If you have a preexisting struggle with depression, even if it was a long time ago in your past, creating an action plan for yourself as part of your birth plan might be beneficial. Most likely you won’t have to use it, but we make birth plans for potential complications with the baby, why not be prepared for yourself too?

5. Time is the ultimate healer. There is no magic pill or formula that cures PPD. It is hormonally charged, and it can contain so many factors that differ from woman to woman. Medication side effects affect all women differently, certain treatments work for some women and don’t for others. Some moms become depressed while pregnant, others don’t even realize it until their child is 10 months old. Be kind to yourself, take care of yourself, take it easy. Don’t listen to anyone who says you will be better in 2 weeks, 2 months or 6 months. Don’t compare your illness to another mom.

6. Isolation is the enemy’s stomping ground. Don’t try to fight on your own. If you do develop a Postpartum Mood Disorder, keep a close support team near by at all times. Ask other moms for help, lean on your spouse, talk to your doctor, seek counsel from your church, request prayer from the elders. Fight against the desire to crawl in bed and hide. Seek out other moms who have suffered from a Postpartum Mood Disorder and share stories, cry together and support each other. Whatever you do, don’t do it alone.

The most recent surveys have found that 15% of births result in a diagnoses of Postpartum Depression. I am not a doctor, but I am sure that the actual number is higher because so many women don’t even know what is going on with them. Until the medical field gets on board and starts increasing education and awareness on the prevalence of this illness, we must advocate for each other. We need to be open with our struggles, offer help to other moms and support one another.

What did you wish you knew before you developed a Postpartum Mood Disorder?

What’s on the Menu?

We have been getting serious about our health around here! I cut out sugar a month ago and feel so much better, Matt has been really paying attention to what he eats and we have been eliminating almost ALL processed foods from the kids diet.

We have dealt with digestive issues a lot in this house and I can tell you that it isn’t fun. I grew up having all sorts of things wrong with my stomach, but never REALLY knowing what was wrong. It seems as though the girls are unfortunately following in my footsteps, but I am determined to teach them young what foods make them feel good and which ones make them feel bad. Battling issues with food as an adult is HARD, so we are actively trying to set our kids up with good habits now and teach them to recognize the cues their bodies are giving them when it comes to different foods.

To say that is was overwhelming at first was an understatement. We have made major food adjustments in the past for health reasons, but this was a total over haul. Sugar is in everything and has been the hardest thing to control. And not having handy “snack” foods has resulted in a lot of “There is nothing to eat!!”

So I decided I really needed to get more specific with our menu planning and meal board. If you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw me post this:

fridge fail

I was so excited about it and jumped the gun on posting it!! It turned out that my magnets were too weak. Weak magnets combined with the fact that it was hanging on the fridge resulted in it falling and shattering into a million pieces less than 24 hours after posting the directions for making it. You can still make it using the directions that I posted, just make sure that you use STRONG magnets and put it somewhere your kids won’t be touching it a hundred times a day.

So I needed a new plan. I found this collage frame at Target on clearance and decided to see if it would work.

frame

I used my favorite teal paint and painted one side of the glass frames.

paintpainted glass

(I had a hard time making sure that I kept the paint on only one side! In order for the dry erase markers to work, the glass on the other side needs to be paint free!)

 

After they dried I put them back into the frame with the unpainted side facing out! A little bit of fun with my paint markers and I was able to turn that collage frame into this:

Finished

hanging

We hung it on the wall as part of our command station and I am so happy with how it turned out! This is MUCH more sturdy than the one I previously made, plus the kids can’t reach it and the wall doesn’t swing open and shut like the fridge door.

I spent Sunday preparing food, and now we have the menu board up and a refrigerator full of healthy and easy meals for the week. Our health is totally worth the couple of hours of work it takes to prepare for the week. If you try to make one yourself, let me know!!

Not as crafty? Head on over to the Creations tab to find out how you can order your own custom made menu board from me!

How do you keep track of what you are going to eat during the week? Do you menu plan and then grocery shop? Or do you just grocery shop and wing it?

I know when I first starting feeding  multiple people a few times a day I was OVERWHELMED with how to figure out what to buy, what to feed them, what to cook.

So….if you have a blog with menu planning or meal ideas that you think are AWESOME – post the link in the comments 🙂

On the days I don’t want to be a mom…

Its ironic how I had a whole entire post planned for today on how we were tackling the sass problem in our house. With 4 girls attitudes can escalade quickly, but with a new plan in place yesterday went amazing!

And then today happened.

I am not sure why, but each of the girls woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. You know, the one where they are angry at the world and I am the scapegoat? That one.

I don’t know what in the world a two and a three year old could have to be upset about, but they were determined to make sure that Mom wasn’t going to get her way today. Emerson didn’t want to nap when she normally does, eat when she normally does or play when she normally does.

And Gabbi? Well 8 year olds can have it out for you in the best way. And by best I mean worst.

Each girl had me in tears before lunch and it isn’t even that time of the month. I spent most of the day alternating between blubbering mess and angry sailor (complete with the vocabulary and everything…).

With each incident of disobedience, each argument, time out, unfinished chore, demand and crying episode my resolve began to plummet, along with my self worth and my anxiety began to rise.

Today was going to be over and I was going to have nothing to show for it. No completed chore or project, no preschool lesson taught, or milestone achieved, no new clothes on anyone – not even me and I was going to have to go to bed realizing that I had failed.

Why does this happen so often? Maybe if I had some other job, calling, title then my days would go smoother. Why did this job choose me? Why did I choose to be a mom??? Why did I choose to be JUST a mom??

See, I have this problem. I am Mom so much that I forget sometimes that I am ANYTHING else. I can’t separate Meaghan from Mom, and because of that I can’t separate a bad day from a bad me.

The pressure, responsibility, busyness, and work that comes with raising these little girls is more than I bargained for at times. But, I have to remember that while I am a key part of the plan for their life, they are a key part of mine. God created ME. Meaghan. He has a plan, purpose, desire and path for ME.

Being a mom is PART of this plan. Yes, I am raising these amazing little souls. Yes, I love it 99.99999% of the time and it makes up more of who I am than I ever thought possible….

But when it begins to define me more than being a daughter of Christ, that is when is ceases being part of my calling and begins becoming part of my value.

God never intended for our value to be defined by what we do or don’t do, by whether we succeed or fail, are happy or depressed, are multitaskers or focused, fat, thin, tall, short, or anything in between. He created us to be who He sees us as, to fulfill his purpose, to receive his love and to love him in return.

When we define ourselves by His grace, we can never come up short.

So on the days like today when I don’t want to be a mom. When I want to throw in the towel, crawl back in bed, hide under the covers and wait until tomorrow, I have to remind myself to only define myself by what really matters.

Even when my kids don’t like me, I am created by a king who loves and adores me every second of every day and the only thing that he desires from me is that I love him back.