For the month of April I’m blogging alphabetically about quick, easy, and practical ways to relieve stress. To see the other posts in this series, click here.

yogaI took my first yoga class in college and I was hooked. I love yoga. I love the stretching. The posing. The quiet. The calm. The challenge. The confidence. It’s relaxing and rejuvenating and wonderful. I love yoga. (Full disclosure – it’s a very novice level love, but a love of sorts nonetheless. Perhaps infatuation is a better term?)

One of the most amazing things I’ve learned from yoga, I learned in a prenatal yoga class when I was pregnant with baby number 2. The instructor spent a lot of time on hip opening exercises because, in addition to being good preparation for delivery, she said women store a lot of stress in their hips. I learned that is definitely true for me.

When I’m stressed or at the end of a long day, I still fall back on a lot of those poses. Even though I don’t presently practice yoga regularly, it’s not uncommon to find me in my room or in our library or somewhere else quiet in one of my favorite poses. It’s such a great way for me to unwind, to decompress, and to clear my mind. I can still hear my college yoga instructor teaching us how to breathe and relax. He always talked about breathing out stress and tension. Breathe it out and let it go. That exercise alone is enough to induce calm, but combined with some of my favorite poses, it’s a surefire method for decompressing, relaxing, and alleviating stress.


W, X, Y – “We’re [E]xcited for You!”

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

excited dogThis is the phrase I’ve always wanted to hear from my family when we announce a pregnancy, but never have. Actually, want I really want to hear is, “CONGRATULATIONS!! We are so happy for you!” And I would like it to be genuine. But, apparently, that’s too much to ask.

With every baby, there’s been some reason for them to be disappointed, worried, annoyed, or whatever else. Because of that, they have never rejoiced with me about the discovery of a new baby. Not even once. And it makes me sad.

With baby number one, I wasn’t married yet. I was in my 20s and about to graduate college. They were, understandably, less than pleased. But I really think it had less to do with morality than it had to do with me making them look bad.

With baby number 2, they were still waiting for my hubby and I to realize that we would never make it, and should never have gotten married in the first place. This second baby was just going to make it more complicated when we finally came to our senses and got divorced.

With baby number 3, we were starting to teeter too closely to being “big.” On top of that, my mother reminded me of an article I once showed her regarding ADHD and family size. The author concluded that it was best for those with ADHD to limit their family size; she felt they were incapable of juggling the demands of family life. Since I had been diagnosed with ADHD my first semester of college, I, too, must be incapable of handling family life, especially the demands of a large family.

With baby number 4, we were officially big in their eyes. My father asked if we were trying to keep up with the Duggars. (Because 4 is super close to 19…) After I joked about being a good subject for reality tv, he made a really hurtful comment about the fact that I’m pursuing a masters degree and reproducing. I love my Daddy dearly, so it really hurt.

With baby number 5, my parents refused to acknowledge that I was pregnant. Several weeks after they found out my mother said, “Don’t worry; we’re not mad.” I was well into my second trimester before they asked when I was due.

I think, maybe, this is why I’m so sensitive when strangers make rude remarks about my family size. I want so desperately for my family to celebrate my pregnancies, but they refuse. Somehow, I think that makes it harder to accept strangers’ negative reactions. You might think that it would toughen me up, but it doesn’t.  It makes me extra sensitive.

And, just in case you’re wondering, I don’t ask for anything from my parents. They don’t even babysit, so it’s not like my family size is a burden on them in any way. They just don’t approve, and they make sure I know it. And like I said earlier, it really makes me sad.

I can’t imagine what they will say or do if we’re ever blessed with baby number 6. I’m sure it won’t be great, but, for some reason, I just can’t let go of the hope that they might be really excited for us.

V is for [Lady Parts]

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

Mack-TruckI’ve only been asked about this sensetive topic twice in person. Both times it was a friend who asked, so I wasn’t offended.

I have a girlfriend who was verbally attacked in the grocery store by some crazy lady who made some incredibly inappropriate comments about how she could probably park a Mack truck in the land down under.

Crazy people aside, it’s a topic I frequently see asked in online forums where mommies-to-be gather.

So, just in case you’ve ever wondered, (or you’re a crazy person wondering whether the hateful things you say to mothers of larger families are accurate) everything goes back to normal. And fairly quickly. The human body is an amazing thing. Women’s bodies are made to give birth. Except for rare tragedies, birth does not permanently damage our bodies. Not even the more sensitive parts.

Sorry, Mack trucks, you’ll have to find somewhere else to park.

L is for Labor

All April long, I’m blogging alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

My first moments as a mommy.

My first moments as a mommy.

Every labor is different. That’s what they say. After being in labor 5 times myself, I completely agree. This is what I’ve experienced:

Baby Number 1: I woke up having contractions in the wee hours. We hung around my house until mid morning, but still arrived at the hospital way too soon. I was only dilated to 4, but they decided to admit me. I got an epidural a short time later. It completely stalled my labor. The nurses kept saying I needed pitocin to get things going again. They called the doctor-on-call several times; he was golfing. He didn’t want to come in, so he wouldn’t order the pitocin. My doctor finally came in at 8:00 the next morning.  He started the pitocin and everything got moving again. I was so hungry and exhausted after being chained to the hospital bed by the epidural for so long. Finally, after 32 hours of labor, 2 hours of pushing, very little sleep, and no food, my sweet Andy arrived and made us a family.

Baby number 2: I went in for an office visit and was already dilated to 5. She sent me home, and I came back the next week with no change. My doctor ordered an induction because she said the baby might just “fall out” whenever I finally did go into active labor. Oh how I wish I knew then what I knew now. I went to the hospital, got induced, and took the epidural. About 8 hours later, after 20 short minutes of pushing, my sweet Jack was born in front of an audience of about 15 people. It was the first day of nursing school and apparently my delivery was just the spectacle they needed to get things going. It was absurd.

Baby Number 3: Supposedly, my baby was getting too big to deliver vaginally, so my doctor ordered an induction. I went to the hospital, got induced, and took the epidural. 8 hours later, after 2 quick pushes, my Ben was born and placed in my arms. This was the first time I had ever been given my baby right away. It was the most beautiful moment of my life. At 8 lbs 6 oz, he was the smallest baby I’d delivered up to that point.

Ben's delivery

Snuggling Ben right after delivery.

Baby Number 4: I learned a lot between baby 3 and 4 and decided I was done with all the unnecessary medical interventions. I woke up in labor around 1 AM. I was timing my contractions and  soon realized that this labor was moving very quickly. I woke my husband. He went to wake up all the kids and get them loaded in the van. In the meantime my water broke. We rushed to the hospital and arrived just in time to push the baby out. We dealt with the most unprofessional medical staff that night, but my baby was born safe and healthy after only 3 hours in labor and a few excruciatingly painful pushes.

Baby Number 5: My husband and I took a Bradley Class together to prepare for natural birth. This was the best labor experience I’ve ever had. I started having mild contractions at Lowes around 6 PM. They never started progressing so I finally went to bed around midnight. I woke up around 3 AM with more intense contractions. We went to the hospital around 7 AM.  I was already dilated to 7, but still had 6 more hours of labor ahead of me. After being told I wasn’t allowed to push because the doctor needed to go down the hall to check on someone else, my baby practically delivered herself. I guess the doctor didn’t realize that you can’t just tell the baby not to come out yet.

So that’s my labor experience in a nutshell. There’s so much more that could be said about all of my labors and deliveries, but I think you get the general idea.

If we are ever blessed with another baby I’m getting a midwife and having a home birth. I’m so over all the nonsense the doctors and hospitals put women through.

A is for Anxiety

Every day for the month of April, I’m blogging about Adjusting to Life with Baby Number 5. This is the first post in said series

sound-of-music-andrews_lWhen I originally decided what I wanted to write about each day of this challenge, I thought I’d write my “A” post about how awesome a baby is. Not as in the everyday, overused connotation of awesome, rather,  in the true meaning of the word. I was going to write about babies being “awe-inspsiring.”  But, I touched on that the other day. Aside from that, the first moments, and even days and weeks after, I found out about our sweet Sophia weren’t exactly awe-inspiring. They were somewhat panic-filled. And, as they say, it’s best to start at the very beginning. Because of that, like my title says, A is for Anxiety.

Sophie was somewhat of a surprise. When we got pregnant with her, I had just completed my second year of grad school in a three year program. I was working in a really bad, borderline abusive work environment. AND we had a 7 month old, not to mention 3 other kids, whom, by the way, I homeschool. Life was more than busy. A new baby was not on my radar. Yet here she was. There was definitely a pink plus sign on that white stick.

I had no idea how I was going to juggle everything plus newborn.

I felt bad for our little Leila, who wasn’t going to get to be the baby for as long as she “should have” been.

More than anything, I had no idea how this new baby was going to get out of me short of some alien osmosis procedure because I had pretty much decided I was never, ever going through labor and delivery again. (I had a really bad experience with Leila’s L&D and I was no where near emotionally recovered.)

My head and heart swarmed with all the reasons I shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t have another child. Especially not right now. But I looked back down at the stick. It didn’t seem to care about any of that because it said I was going to have another child. A couple weeks later, my doctor officially confirmed it. Despite all my reasons why this shouldn’t be happening, it was. I had a sonogram picture in my hand of my little 4 week old baby. We had become a family of 7.


SST # 3: Recharged and Rejuvenated

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330This week has been such a beautiful gift for me. Since November, I’ve felt like I’ve been living in crisis mode, barely holding it together, simply hopping from one near catastrophe to the next. But, this week, everything changed. For the first week in a very, very long time, we had a fairly open calendar and no one was sick. It gave us a much needed opportunity to just function like normal, to get back to our normal routine. And it was glorious! To top it all off, the weather was beautiful! 60s and 70s and a lot of sun. What a gift!

  1. The kids have played outside every day since Valentine’s Day. This is so good for everyone involved. They get to burn off some steam and take in some vitamin D, while I have some downtime to get caught up on my school work, chores, or even just sit in the sun and rest. It has really had such a positive impact on our whole week.
  2. Josh and I had a really nice date night. On Monday nights, Josh and I have a sitter so we can go to our Bradley class. I really enjoy the class in general, but I especially love doing the class with him. It’s been so good for us to work through all the material together. And it’s been especially good for me, helping to heal some of the
    My Valentine Cuties!

    My Valentine Cuties!

    “wounds” I had incurred from our last crazy birth experience. (Maybe one day I’ll tell you all about it, but I’ll spare you for now.) After class, we went to Marble Slab and brought home our yummy treats to enjoy while we watched our DVRd episode of Downton Abbey. It wasn’t anything fancy or special, but it was a really great night together nonetheless.

  3. The kids are really starting to mature and act more responsibly. Since I stayed up much too late on date night, I ended up sleeping in later than I usually do the next morning. When I got up, I found that kids had done all of their “morning jobs,” had breakfast, and were starting on school! I was so very proud of them! Normally, they would have just taken advantage of the situation and turned on the TV. I asked the boys how/why they decided to get to work and Andy proudly proclaimed that it was his idea. He said he was being the “man of the house.” I was so thrilled and impressed!  (Thank you, God, for occasionally allowing me to see fruits from my efforts!!)

So there you have it. This week’s small successes. What are  yours? Join the linkup over at!

SST # 2: The Organization Edition

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330I am so, so excited about all we have accomplished this week! You may argue that these feats aren’t small successes, but I don’t see any reason not to rejoice in them simply because of that. I know that it’s always easier to enjoy the big successes and overlook the small, daily successes, but these projects are such a big deal to me that I literally get butterflies in my stomach each time I open a door and see them in all of their neat, orderly glory. (Yes, that really is what it’s like to experience life from the perspective of a neat-freak who gets hard core nesting impulses [which go above and beyond those impulses driven by my normal perfectionist tendencies] all throughout pregnancy.) As such, they have made a tremendous impact on my week in so many more ways than just the mere fact that the task was accomplished. So, without further ado, I give you this week’s “small” successes.

2014-02-07 14.17.201. Garage Organized. I have been trying to get our garage organized since we moved into this house almost 4 years ago. Every time we came or went or opened the garage to let the kiddos ride their bikes, the chaos in that garage induced anxiety, guilt, and frustration. Not to mention the sheer embarrassment of knowing the neighbors were able to see that pigsty. (Again, yes, this is really what happens in my brain. I don’t pretend to be normal. I’m just me.) Anyway, as of Monday, my garage is immaculate! It is certainly still full of garage type things. And there’s still only room for one car in there. (Although, I suspect, that if we really tried, we could get them both in now. I just don’t have any interest in really trying.) But, now, it’s organized and neat and lovely.

Last night, Josh got home from work and the garage was standing open, something which he’s never witnessed before. It was the first thing he commented on when he walked through the door. It was actually a very charming moment, as it gave me the opportunity to express, and him the opportunity to understand, just how grateful I was for all the hard work he put in to help me get that garage in order. If garage organization is too big to qualify for a small success, that moment 2014-02-07 16.46.11between us certainly was not. It was somewhat fleeting, but it was ever so lovely to see him really experience my gratitude. How funny is it that the simple act of leaving the garage door open (an act which I didn’t think through in advance) was all it took for him to get how truly grateful I am for the massive change that has taken place out there.

2. Toy closet organized. While the tools were out and things were being organized, Josh also tackled the toy closet. We have this fabulous closet in our foyer, which makes it ever so easy to have toys accessible for playing in the living room, but stored completely out of sight. It’s a fairly large closet, which makes it all the more fabulous. I really wish I would have taken a proper “before” picture, so you could understand just how awful the closet was. All the practicality of having the toys so easily accessible had been lost in the chaos that hid behind that door. There was no way the kids could ever find anything in there. Everything was just thrown in. We cleaned it out regularly, but, because there wasn’t any real organization in place, just numerous buckets stacked on top of each other on the floor, the clean never lasted very long. It was usually only a matter of days before everything was dumped back out into one massive sea of toys. Once that happened, it was only a matter of time before the kids would start complaining that they had “nothing 2014-02-13 14.43.39to do,” mostly because they didn’t know where anything was. Anyway, all we did was hang the bottom two selves. No big deal at all. But it’s made a world of difference in the way that closet functions. It still looks as good as it did on the day we organized it, and the kids know where all their stuff is. Despite the simplicity of the project, it is such a major success for the smooth functioning of our household.

3. Girls’ closet organized. Our little one is moving in soon, but I wasn’t sure what to do about her clothes. We looked at dressers, but it just seemed silly to buy a dresser that was going to have to live in the closet due to lack of space in the bedroom. In our room Josh is currently using a hand-me-down chest of drawers that gets the job done, but definitely isn’t my taste. Since we’re in the very slow process of redecorating the master bedroom one small piece at a time, it seemed wiser to buy Josh a new dresser and move his current chest into the girls closet. I like that plan, but I never found anything that was the right mix of price and style. As such, I came up with this much simpler and oh-so-easy solution. I just grabbed a few stacking shelves from Lowes, cleaned out the mess that was previously living in Leila’s closet, and, now, it’s ever so functional for both my little girls. The tall shelf on the right is our little one’s dresser for the time being. I think it cost a whopping $12 and it is so easily accessible for all the infant wardrobe changes that have to take place during the day. I couldn’t be happier with this budget-friendly solution!

2014-02-11 09.01.414. Stuff to Community Storehouse. In the process of all this closet and garage cleaning, we were able to put together a pretty big pile of stuff to send the the Community Storehouse, which is one of my favorite local charities. Among other things, they run a resale shop, so we sent some of our gently used, space hogging items off with them to find a new home. It makes all of this organizational success even better to know that someone besides me may benefit from the new-found neatness hiding behind the closet doors in my home!

(Super exciting side note: That’s our double stroller in the bottom right corner. With two little girls 16 months apart, we’re obviously still going to need a double stroller. We’ve had the one pictured since 2006 and I’ve always hated it. [That’s probably why it’s still in such good condition!] I could hardly push it in a straight line, but you can forget about me turning it. If Josh wasn’t available to push the stroller, I didn’t use it. BUT, it turns out Josh hates that stroller too. While we were putting together the pile for Community Storehouse, Josh suggested we put the stroller in the pile, which means….WE’RE GETTING A NEW STROLLER!! Woo hoo! What a very exciting baby gift for me! I can’t wait!)

So what about you? What were your small (or not so small) successes this week? Join the link up at!