Archives for August 2013

Seeds of Change

Alrighty, so today I was going to tackle the not so much fun, but very necessary, topic of fundraising.  But… I ended up writing this post instead.  I guess I will go with it, this is so important and fundraising Q&A can always wait…

We are not fundraising so that we can have a child.  If all we wanted was a child for ourselves, there is no way I would ask complete strangers (or even friends and family) to put their money into a dream that was ours.  We would save the money and do it when we had it.  But that is not what this adoption is about.  We are not doing this for ourselves (although it is very exciting for us too!)  So what is this adoption about?

Let’s talk about Juri’s case specifically.  What will his future look like?  It’s hard to say as many of those decisions haven’t been made yet, but there are two possibilities I am aware of.  The first is a mental institution.  If he does not learn how to walk on his own (he might not without braces and regular therapy), he will likely be sent to a mental institution to live out the rest of his life.  He is perfectly cognitively healthy, but because he cannot walk, there is no place for him in his society.

The other possibility is that he will be released to live on his own.  In this case he would be given government housing (or apartments that should be condemned and are infested with all kinds of ugly things), a small stipend to live on and the clothes on his back.  No family, no connections, nothing to help him navigate a world he has never seen or interacted with, a world that has no handicap accessible mindset and no need for a disabled orphan.  With a very small chance of finding any kind of work, poverty and homelessness will almost certainly be his lot, and he would be in the minority if nothing worse happened to him.

Now do you see it?  Do you see why we are so intent on rescuing this boy from the terrible cycle he’s been caught in?  Why this is so much more than just adding to our family tree?  These children, all of them, need out.  Their home countries do not understand their worth, and so they are hidden away on the fringes of society, in institutions where no one has to look at them or interact with them.

It’s easy to judge, but our country has a similar problem.  With an abortion rate of 90% for children who are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome and routine screening for the express purpose of “terminating” undesirable traits in our children, our mindset is much the same.  We all need to realign our sense of human worth with the One who created us.  And what better way to do this, what better way to show the orphanage workers and government workers that these children’s lives are valuable than to walk into their very court rooms and say “I love this child, whether he can walk, talk, play, work, love… or whether he can do none of these things on his own.  I love him and I see his worth; I have chosen him to be my son.”

What better way to plant the seeds of change when the judge asks you “Don’t you want a healthier child?” than to say “No.  I want this one, with all his sickness and brokenness. I want to give him love, and a family and healing and life.  I don’t care what it costs.  He is more than worth it.”  What better way to show the underpaid orphanage worker the priceless gift in her work than to go visit your bedridden child who smells of filth and vomit, who hasn’t been changed or bathed, who cannot make eye contact or give anything in return… and you hold them close, kiss them, wash them, comfort them and breathe in everything that they are.

Change must come from the inside.  But, how can change come if the seeds are not first planted?  We have been given the gift, the great privilege, of sowing the seeds of mercy and compassion, equality and love in a faraway country, a place that needs those things so desperately.

And what of America?  This land of life and liberty, unless of course you are found to be worth less than your peers.  In which case you are in grave danger of being dismembered in your mother’s womb.  And if you beat the odds and live to be born, you face ostracism, discrimination, cruelty and a culture that, for all its white-washing and attempts to clean the outside of the bowl, harbors a dirty scowl on the inside for people who are different, who cannot contribute to society in the way we think they should, people who inconvenience us or make us uncomfortable.

What better way to show our friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances the worth of these children than to walk into their very homes, schools, churches and playgrounds and to say “I love this child, whether he can walk, talk, play, work, love… or whether he can do none of these things on his own.  I love him and I see his worth; I have chosen him to be my son.”

What better way to plant the seeds of change than when that well-meaning relative asks you “Don’t you want a healthier child?” than to say “No.  I want this one, with all his sickness and brokenness. I want to give him love, and a family and healing and life.  I don’t care what it costs.  He is more than worth it.”  What better way to show your newlywed or empty-nesting friends who are so focused on vacations and retirement and enjoying each other that there is more to life than self indulging, than to take your child who will need lifelong care and to hold them close, kiss them, wash them, comfort them and breathe in everything that they are.

Seeds of ChangeChange must come from the inside.  But, how can change come if the seeds are not first planted?  We have been given the gift, the great privilege, of sowing the seeds of mercy and compassion, equality and love in America, in this place that needs those things so desperately.

And this brings me to my last, and most crucial point, which is at the very heart of what we are doing.  For all the seeds that we are planting, the greatest blessing of all is how this adoption reflects to me and my family an even greater reality and truth.  For, what better way does God have to show us our own worth than to say to the world, “I love this child, whether he can walk, talk, play, work, love… or whether he can do none of these things on his own.  I love him and I see his worth; I have chosen him to be my son.”

Was it not our own Heavenly Father who took on the task of our adoption, knowing the great price and disregarding it for the worth that He saw in our redemption?  Was it not Christ who, when Satan attempted to deter Him by offering Him everything but the salvation of our souls He said,  “No.  I want this one, with all his sickness and brokenness. I want to give him love, and a family and healing and life.  I don’t care what it costs.  He is more than worth it.”   It is in this way that God has shown His love for us, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.  While we are yet filthy, sick, disabled, orphaned and worthless… He comes to us and holds us close, kisses us, washes us, comforts us and breathes in everything that we are.  He gives us worth.  He makes us lovely.  He restores us to health.

Change must come from the inside.  But, how can change come if the seeds are not first planted?  Christ has given our family the gift, the great privilege, of experiencing His mercy and compassion, equality and love in our hearts, in these places that need those things so desperately.  Adoption is a reflection of this and so much more.  We are adopting to plant seeds.  To plant seeds in Juri’s heart, seeds that he is worthy and lovely, wanted and loved.  We are adopting to plant seeds in Eastern Europe, seeds of hope.  We are adopting to plant seeds in America, seeds of selfless giving and true fulfillment.  We are adopting to remind us of the seed sown in our own hearts, the seeds of love that Christ planted there long ago.

Adoption Q&A

Hey everyone!  Wow!  Thank you SO much for the overwhelming flood of support and love we received yesterday after announcing our adoption!  We really cannot be more thrilled to bring this boy into our family and sharing our joy with you has been a much needed blessing!  We have only just started the process, but we are already knee deep in paperwork and weary!  With all the transition this summer, adding an adoption to the mix is quite a lot to bite off, but we want to get to our boy as soon as possible, so here we are!  We got some great questions yesterday about our sweet boy and the adoption, so I put together a little Q&A for you!

Juri in the Ball Pit

 

Where is Juri?

Juri is in Eastern Europe.  We cannot reveal his country of residence in order to protect his privacy.

Is Juri his real name?

No.  Juri is an alias that was used to advocate for him.  It is the name that his many fans know him by, so we will be using it for now until the adoption is completed.  We cannot reveal his birth name to protect his privacy.  If you are wondering how Juri is pronounced, we say it “Yur-ee”.

How old is Juri?  

He will be turning six in November!

How did you find him?  

As most of you know, I have been advocating with an organization called Reece’s Rainbow for quite some time.  He was listed on their website, and he really stood out to Jake, so we prayed about it and God opened the doors for us to pursue his adoption.  Reece’s Rainbow has also set up a Family Sponsorship Page for our adoption.  You can see that here: Juri for the Mueller Family 

Does he have any special needs?  

Yes.  Juri has mild Cerebral Palsy.  It affects only his legs, and makes it very difficult for him to walk.  The last update we have on him is that he does not have much motion in his legs at all and that he is learning how to walk with a walker.  We are hopeful that with braces and regular therapy he will eventually be able to walk on his own!  Also, because he is an older child who has spent his entire life in an orphanage, there will be some delays and emotional trauma associated with that.  We feel very privileged to have the opportunity to walk him through these challenges and help him reach his full potential.

Do you have more pictures?

Yes!  We have LOTS of pictures AND a video!  But I am not going to give them to you all right away.  We have to make them last a while before I get new ones, so you will just have to be on the look out for more cuteness!

When will he come home?  

Adoptions from Juri’s country take about 5-8 months from start to finish.  We are praying that he will be home in time for Easter.  We could be travelling as soon as January or as late as March.  It depends on how fast we get all of our paperwork in and how long it takes it all to be processed and approved.

How will adopting an older child affect your younger children?

Of course, we cannot know for certain how adding Juri will affect our family dynamics.  As with any addition to a family, you just don’t know what your new normal will be!  We have done a lot of reading and learning about this specifically, and we believe that Juri will be a  blessing to our whole family, Evangeline and Stephen especially.  I just read a blog post the other day that absolutely sums up my thoughts and what I have witnessed over the years in adoptions like ours.  It’s long but I encourage everyone to take a look; it’s very eye opening!  Read it here: How Adoption Effects Bio Children

How much will it cost?  

Our adoption will cost approximately $25,000.  This includes six weeks of travel, homestudy costs, facilitation fees, medicals, etc.

How will you pay for the adoption?  

That is a great question!  The honest answer is, we don’t know.  The other honest answer is, we trust that God will provide.  If He wants to place Juri in our family, He will get us there one way or the other.  We don’t have the kind of money an international adoption costs.  Even just the (relatively) small upfront costs we have already paid have been a stretch for our family financially.  We definitely have the money to care for him once he is home, but shelling out 25k in a matter of 5 to 8 months?  Very few families I know can do that out of pocket and there are SO many children needing a good home.

So what’s the solution?  Well, we have already been blessed with Juri’s Reece’s Rainbow grant fund.  This is the fund that was held for him before he found a family.  It has almost $2000 in it that we will be able to use toward the costs at the end of our adoption.  We will be as frugal as we possibly can from now until Juri is home so we can put as much of our own money into this process as possible.  But the reality is, we are still looking at $20,000 (give or take) that we need to get him home that we just do not have yet and do not know where it is going to come from.

We will be putting together some fundraisers in the coming months for Juri’s adoption, please stay updated and participate as you can!  We don’t have any put together yet, but donations can be made at any time to our family’s Reece’s Rainbow Grant Fund.  Gifts made to Reece’s Rainbow are tax deductible and 100% of the money will be given to our family to use on adoption expenses when we travel.  Tomorrow I will put together a totally separate Q&A post on fundraising for you all.  So if you have other questions about this very necessary aspect of our adoption, feel free to ask!

Why not adopt out of foster care?

Because our son is not in foster care, he is in Eastern Europe!  To us, every orphan needs a loving family.  Our decision wasn’t about where we wanted to adopt from, it was about who is our son and where is he so we can go get him?  In the last several months we have been doing a lot of praying and, trust me, lots of looking on databases of children waiting for families (from the U.S. and all over the world).  We considered taking blind referrals and every other which way you could imagine going about an adoption.

I can’t explain it other than it has become very evident to us in the last few months that Juri is our son.  God is opening the doors.  So we are going to go get him!  Yes, foster care would be so much cheaper and easier for many reasons, but if we adopted from foster care we would not be able to adopt Juri.  We are not opposed to foster care, in fact, we would love to go that route one day!  But for today we are being called to this little boy half way across the world.  We are not counting the cost, because he is more than worth all of it!

Thank you all for taking this journey with us!  If you want to stay updated you can subscribe to our blog using the handy button on the right hand side (just above “Reader’s Favorites” and just under Stephen’s adorable newborn picture that sorely needs to be updated!)

Rejoice With Us

Evangeline will always be our firstborn child.  The precious little girl who made me a mother and taught me so much about dying to myself and living for another person.  Stephen is our firstborn son, and he will always hold that special place in my heart, as he daily reminds me that raising a son is not the same as raising a daughter.  He keeps me on my toes, and I love every minute of it.

While they will forever hold these unique and lovely “firstborn” places in my heart I have always known that Evangeline, though our first child, would not be our oldest.  That’s right, our sweet daughter is very soon going to be trying her hand at the vocation of little sister (and if her time with her oldest cousin is any indication she will be just wonderful at it!)  Dear friends, it is with great joy that we can finally announce our family is growing again, and this time through adoption!

We are just beginning this marathon of a process that will take about 5-8 months.  Our first meeting with our homestudy social worker was today and we are swimming in paperwork right now!  I don’t want to bore you with all the details just yet, but if you have questions ask away!  I will be answering lots of questions in upcoming posts and going through everything in more detail.  But for now, there is someone I would like to introduce you to.

Meet our new son… Juri…

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We cannot wait to bring you home sweet boy!  You are already loved beyond your wildest imagination.

(Sham)Poo Free: Week 2

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Sigh… I almost didn’t want to take a picture this week because it looks JUST as bad as last week.  But I did… to be fair I took the picture on Monday so it was exactly at the two week mark (even though this post is a little later).  Yesterday when I did my vinegar rinse I left it on for a good ten minutes before washing it out.  That seemed to help a lot, so next Monday I will take a picture after doing that and you can be the judge if it actually is helpful or not!

On the bright side, I do think my hair feels cleaner than it did before.  More oily, but less chemically.  It just seems like all that shampoo builds up after a while.  The last several weeks before I started this I felt my hair was just not nice after being washed… it was mostly not oily (but that only lasted about ten hours) but it just didn’t feel soft or smooth or anything nice that you would expect hair to feel.

Now that I’m not using shampoo anymore, my hair feels better.  I can tell especially at the tips where it’s not oily; it just feels nicer.  I also started noticing that my hair is looking wavier than usual.  I would chalk it up to the oiliness, but you can tell at the bottom too!  This interim period is awful, but here’s to hoping it will be worth it!

Dear God.

You know those moments where the weight of our broken reality here on Earth causes your life to come to a crashing halt?

That moment where the only prayer you know how to pray is “Dear God!” because after that your mind becomes a jumbled mess and the words just won’t come.

That excruciating moment when you would give anything to stop the pain and there is not one single thing you possess that will make any bit of difference.

Dear God.

Dear God please…

If nothing else, give me the words to express what needs to be said here today.

russia

 

This sweet boy is a Russian orphan.  His biggest fans know him as Kyle.  Kyle has Down syndrome, so he was sent to an orphanage after he was born.  He waited for four years to be rescued, for a family to step up and adopt him.  No one did.  A friend of mine was close to committing to this boy, until Vladimir Putin made the fateful decision to ban all American adoptions.  Cut off from his only way out of life as a special needs orphan in Russia, Kyle was transferred to a mental institution to live out the rest of his, likely short, days.  No one in Russia will take children so damaged, and very few citizens outside the United States have the will and the ability to come to his rescue.

Let me tell you a little bit about what I learned from this new picture of Kyle.  There are two institutions in his region of Russia – a good one, and a bad one.  Kyle was transferred to the bad one.  The open wounds on his head are self injuries caused by banging his head against the metal bars of his crib to feel any kind of sensation.  Children like Kyle lay in cribs all day with no interaction and no stimulation.  You can see that his head is shaved, all the children’s heads are shaved upon entering the institution.  It is easier.  But there is increased hair growth on his face; this is caused by a severe lack of human contact.  Children are never held and only touched once a day to have their diaper changed.  Once a day.  The unseemly lines on his face are from a lack of food.  Just from this picture you can tell he is nothing more than skin and bones.

There is nothing I can do to help Kyle.  There is nothing you can do to help Kyle.  Nothing that will make the next year of his life more bearable.

But there is something we can do.  We can help other children like Kyle.

In honor of this beautiful, sweet child, please do one thing today to help an orphan facing this fate.  Below is a list of fast and easy ways you can help.  If you do choose to do something please let me know in the comments; I could really use the lift today, and it will encourage others to join in and help as well.

You Can Help!  Here’s How…

1. Share this blog post.  You can share this post via email, Facebook, Twitter or repost it on your own blog.  The more we get the word out the more people who can help.  Little by little we can break down the walls and rescue these children.

2. Like the 300 Broken Promises page on Facebook.  The adoptive parents whose children are stuck in Russia due to the adoption ban have created a Facebook page to raise awareness for their children.  Please “like” their page HERE and keep updated on what’s happening and how you can continue to support their cause.

3. Contact your representatives.  You can see a list of your representatives here.  Please, please contact your representatives and ask them to make resolving the Russian adoption ban a priority.  This is not the first time an American adoption ban has happened.  Massive public outcry is the best way we can advocate for these children.  Let the people who have ability to make a difference know that this issue is important to you.

4. Support the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund.  This is a non-profit organization working within Russia to change the culture and the lives of Russians with special needs.  They work at institutions just like Kyle’s to make the living conditions humane, to offer life skills training and to help adults transition to independent living and meaningful work.  In order to expand their work and help more of these children and adults, they need donors committed to regular giving.  Please consider this.

5. Commit to praying for these children.  Set aside a fifteen minute block of time to pray for the orphans in Russia every day until the ban is lifted.  You can pray for Kyle, or another child.  Here is a list of orphans in Russia.  If you choose a child you would like to pray for, please let me know in the comments.  It will literally make my day.

6. Donate to a child or family who is adopting.  We cannot save Kyle right now, but there are millions of orphans around the world, many of whom we can save.  Please consider making an $8 donation to a waiting child or family in process at Reece’s Rainbow in honor of the eight years Kyle has spent without a family.  You can put “in honor of Kyle” in your note at the end.  His suffering does not need to be in vain.  And, as always, it would be a huge gift to me if you let me know who you blessed in honor of sweet Kyle.

Pray. Give. Advocate. Adopt.

Let’s change the world, one orphan at a time.

(Sham)Poo Free… Week 1

Knowing my own body, I do anticipate that there’s a possibility I may be fertile again sometime soon.  My last two pregnancies I have endured a terrible rash called Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (also known as PUPPPS).  Sounds fun right?  Not.  It is a condition that is connected to the liver, probably the extra load on the liver during pregnancy becomes a little much and so this lovely rash appears and sticks around until you deliver.  (Or in my case it gets worse after you deliver…)  Many doctors will tell you that there is no cure for PUPPPS except delivery.  Indeed, this rash can be so painful and unlivable that doctors will even induce labor early for women who have a particularly aggressive case.  As you can imagine, this added discomfort and stress (not to mention the overload on mamas liver) is not good for baby any more than it’s good for mommy.

But there is good news!  There is a cure for PUPPPS!  The bad news?  You can’t use it while pregnant.  Many women can successfully eradicate PUPPPS with a regimen of daily dandelion root or milk thistle supplements or teas.  These are powerful, natural detoxing agents that will take care of whatever it is that is causing your liver undue stress.  The problem with this cure, however, is that detoxing while pregnant is not safe.  When eradicating toxins from your body, these toxins are released from their relatively safe holding places (like your liver) and transferred into the blood stream so they can be removed from your system.  This is a necessary step, but it can be dangerous transporting these toxins from their holding places.  It is dangerous especially if you have a baby inside you that is sharing your blood supply!  We do not want these toxins making their way to baby, so unfortunately, it is best for them to stay put while you are pregnant.

The moral to this story?  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  I hope anyway.  My theory was that if I detox my liver before I get pregnant, maybe my body will be in a better place to handle the demands of pregnancy and I will not need to endure that terrible rash in the next round of baby growing.  Even though I am still nursing, I decided a little detox was going to be overall better for all of us than no detox for the rest of my childbearing years.  So… I am gently and slowly working through flushing out my liver of toxins.  I started last week with a few simple things, one of which is limiting my contact with chemicals and household cleaners or beauty products that have chemical ingredients.

I am still tweaking my recipes for things like toothpaste, dishwasher detergent, carpet cleaner, etc.  But the one I wanted to discuss today was shampoo.  I am ditching it!  I have been wanting to do this for a long time, but have put it off.  I just never wanted to go through the transition phase.  You see, shampoo is really not great for your hair.  It chemically strips your luscious locks of their natural oils.  Your hair knows this and, defiantly, begins producing even more oil to combat the shampoo.  The result?  A vicious cycle where the more shampoo you use the more oil your hair produces and… the more shampoo you have to use.  The cure for that is quite simple.  Stop using shampoo!  Wash your hair with baking soda or an egg (yes really) or water, you know something that does not force the natural oil out of your scalp.

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Unfortunately, your body does not respond immediately, and it has gotten used to creating all that excess oil.  It will take a while before it realizes it doesn’t need that much anymore.  And in the meantime you are stuck with hair that is excessively oily.  Yuck.  But there is really nothing you can do other than wait out this period of re-stabilizing your hair’s oil production.  It can take weeks… or months.  I am hoping mine is on the weeks side.  I will update for you again next week, but right now my hair is just downright oily.  I do like the way it feels after washing it with baking soda (shampoo replacement) and rinsing with vinegar (conditioner replacement).  I know it will be lovely when it remembers how to balance its own oils, I just hope it figures that out sooner rather than later!

Above is my week one hair picture.  Let’s hope next week’s picture is a little less oily.  Although you will notice, the bottom of my hair is not oily at all.  That’s because the oil production is all at the scalp, so the last place that gets the oils is the bottom of the hair.  At the beginning of the week ALL of my hair was oily.  I suppose this is a little progress already.  Right?

 

Breastfeeding, Swimsuits and Modesty

This past week we (well some of us) celebrated World Breastfeeding Week.  I have been brewing up this post in my mind for quite some time now and I decided today would be an appropriate time to post it.  You see, we moved this summer, and in all that craziness I didn’t have the chance to take my children to the swimming pool until just a few weeks ago.  That’s right.  The former lifeguard/swimming instructor/camp pool director did not get her own kids in the pool until the end of July!  Shame… yes.  I know.

I was really excited though.  I had made sure to unpack our swimming suits and lovingly place them in a special swimming tote just for this occasion.  This was our youngest son’s first time at the pool, and it was going to be loads of great family fun!  And we did have fun.  But my excitement was tempered by that gnawing feeling that we sometimes call being self conscious.  As I looked around the pool there were two basic types of swimsuits.  The first was the teency weency yellow polka-dot bikini type.  You know the “How much skin can I actually show without being totally naked” approach.  And then there was the super modest swimsuit wearers, mostly older ladies with totally unflattering (it’s not their fault the clothing industry can’t seem to put cute and modest in the same sentence) suits that had necklines up to their… well necklines.

And then there was me.  I had what would probably fall in the cute and not modest category.  I had my entire midriff covered and also a skirt that went a little less than mid-thigh (not great but I tried).  But what was actually making me uncomfortable was the cut.  My swimsuit has a v-neck that is certainly more than my regular shirts show.  A momentary sense of panic rushed through my head.  It went something like this: “WHAT AM I WEARING?!?!  When I went shopping for a swimsuit why didn’t I get one of those matronly ones that was REALLY actually modest and not this one that is obviously just cute and not at all appropriate?!  What must people be thinking!”  I felt like hiding in a corner or going home… or at least somewhere people couldn’t see me.  And then, as I was racking my brain honestly trying to remember what I was thinking when I purchased this swimsuit – it hit me.  I was thinking of my baby.

I was acknowledging that if I was ever going to swim in public ever again I needed to find a swimsuit that was accessible for my child to nurse.  A high neckline swimming suit is not conducive to nurturing your child with your breast.  It just isn’t.  My choice was, either do not go swimming any time in the foreseeable future (which would be a travesty for me and my children) or buy a swimsuit that actually allows me to breastfeed if my child needs to do so on the way to the pool or from the pool or *gasp* at the pool.

Then I realized, a lot of clothing is like this.  Dresses?  I don’t wear them often, and when I do they are usually “low-cut” or strapless or something of the like.  I wore a strapless dress to church one Sunday with a cardigan over it.  During Bible study the pastor denounced wearing low-cut dresses to church (I don’t know if it was directed at me or not but I felt like crawling under a rock and dying).  It hurt to hear that!  Why do I wear strapless or low-cut dresses?  Because, honestly, they are the only kind of dress that is reasonably capable of being moved out of the way for me to nurture my child when he needs it.  Yes, there are “nursing dresses” on the market.  But I have yet to find one that has a high cut and goes past my knees.  I feel much more comfortable showing a little more around the shoulders than I do of my thighs.  And if we want to get biblical about it, does the Bible ever denounce the nudity of breasts?  Or is it the thighs?  It seems if I am ever going to wear a dress again I have to pick one, so I’ll go with the biblical definition of modesty thank-you-very-much.

I do not dress “sexy”.  I do not dress to show off.  I cover as much skin as I reasonably can while still making sure my children have adequate access to the life-giving nourishment they need most.  If that means wearing a swimsuit that cuts a little low or pulling my shirt up so I can nurse in public, I’m going to do that.  I do practical things to be as discreet as possible.  I almost always wear a tank under my shirts so that my belly isn’t showing and I can pull my top shirt over the breast.  This way, very little of anything shows while I nurse.  If I am wearing a swimsuit or dress that doesn’t allow for that I will use a nursing cover to give extra coverage, or try to go somewhere private and comfortable.

I am not one to stand up for my “rights”.  I much prefer to live out of love for my neighbor.  I do try.  I try not to offend.  But offense is taken anyway.  I practice ecological breastfeeding.  You can read my post about that here.  Basically it means, when my baby needs me, I give him myself.  I don’t give him a bottle or a binky or a substitute and I don’t let him cry it out.  I give him what he actually needs – me.  I believe this is the very best thing I can do for my baby; that is why I do it!

Methods of parenting are not all the same nor do they end with the same results.  What we do as parents matters.  And we do a disservice to nursing mothers and babies everywhere when we try to pretend that all methods of parenting are equal.  If a piece of plastic is the same as my breast, then why not just go back to being “modest” and putting the comfort of strangers above giving my baby access to nursing?  On the other hand… if it does make a difference, mothers should be putting the health of their children above the comfort of others.  Not all mothers can nurse, but for those who can, we should be supporting them in continuing to doing so.

Did you know that an increase in breastfeeding could actually prevent up to 10% of all childhood deaths under the age of five?  (Source) Breastfeeding is healthy; it is good for you and your baby.  I usually do not advertise this, but my three and a half year old daughter is still nursing.  This would not have been possible if I had restricted her nursing in any way during the first six months of her life.  It would have not been possible if I had made her wait hours between nursings during her first two years of life because the locale was inconvenient or we were in mixed company.  I nurse my children when they need it where they need it.  It’s important to me, and the science backs me up when I say that it’s important to my babies too.

We need to support and encourage mothers to breastfeed in all situations and in all places.  We need to make them feel comfortable and secure, because an anxious mother will not get her baby to nurse no matter how hungry he is!  Just trust me on that one.  Please, for the sake of us mothers and our children, understand we are not trying to offend or show off and there is no reason to be uncomfortable.  If you are uncomfortable don’t feel bad, just understand and be empathetic while you are working through your own feelings.  The activity of nursing a baby really is easy to ignore if you don’t want to see it or think about it.  Just look the other way and continue on with whatever it was you were doing before.

We need to rethink modesty.  I am not a single teenager trying to get guys to notice me.  I am a happily married mother of two children who wants to give them access to the comfort and nourishment that God designed for them to have.  I hold my children.  A lot.  They are constantly tugging at my shirts and even the snuggest necklines stretch out after a while.  Despite my best efforts, there is a little bit more skin showing now then there was four years ago.  For a very long time I was confused about that and totally uncomfortable.  That has  not been fair to my children, because I hate to admit it, but I have not always been there for them when they needed me.  Sometimes I have let my self consciousness get the better of me and, instead of giving them what they really needed, I capitulated to my own fears and doubts.

No longer.  My episode of panic at the pool was not necessary.  I am wearing the clothes that are best for my children and I am parenting them the most natural, God given way I know how.  I’ll keep doing it, and I will work really hard at being as comfortable with my choices as possible.  Not because I am some activist who needs to stand on her rights and wave her freedom in your face whether you like it or not.  But because I love my kids.  I don’t just love them when it’s convenient for me, or when other people think I should; I don’t offer them toys or plastic substitutes for my love.  I strive to love them all the time, without conditions, just as God loves us.  And breastfeeding is how I love and serve my young children.  I hope other moms who read this are encouraged to go out and love their children (and wear the clothes that go with it) in the confidence and comfort that I wish I had when I started on this journey three and a half years ago.

1147765_10151715438061877_154581840_oBreastfeeding is not sexual – it’s nourishing.
Breastfeeding is not weird – it’s natural.
Breastfeeding is not icky – it’s healthy.
Breastfeeding is not immodest – it’s feminine.

Breastfeeding is GOOD!  Good for babies, good for moms and good for society.  Spread the word.

Church for School

Homeschool!  Love it.  Especially right now.  Well… my oldest is only three, so when you read “school” read it loosely.  But I do try to set up our days to be most effective for teaching my children about the important things in life, and what is more important than raising them in the faith?  So the other week when we “started homeschool” again after our summer move and break, I decided that the first routine we were going to initiate was daily church, Matins to be precise.  Church for school?  Gasp!  That is as crazy as breakfast for dinner!  Mmmm…. pancakes…

Anyway, back to the story, after two very difficult weeks in church flying solo with the children I told my dear pastor husband, “You may not be able to sit in church and help me with this kids, but my house is right next door to the church and we will practice every single day until they figure this out!”  And that is what we did.  I am pleased to say that after just two days of fighting me (read screaming during the service) my sweet, year old son finally figured it out.  Mommy is not going to take you out just because you’re crying.  Sit still and be sweetly quiet.  Now, would I want to do that with pews full of people?  No… but it worked just fine for us and our empty church.

They are doing much better on Sundays now, although service cuts right in the middle of nap time, but we have been able to make do.  And we are actually growing quite fond of early morning Matins in the sanctuary before Daddy has to work.  They say that being a pastor’s wife has many hardships, but many more blessings.  I would have to say this is most certainly true.  Go to church?  Every day?  And you don’t even have to drive there?  Yes please!

Not quite sure what our next homeschool routine to add will be, probably chores.  Chores are good…

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