Flourish: Good food for the soul

I recently wrote about hope, one of the words that has been coming up a lot. The other word is flourish. According to the dictionary, flourish means to grow luxuriantly, or thrive in growth, as a plant. In orders for plants to grow luxuriantly they must be fed.

Today I am going to talk about food for the soul that helps us as mothers grow and become our best selves.

Flourish: Good Food for the Soul

Flourish: good food for the soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark 4:8 “Some fell on good earth and came up with a flourish, producing a harvest exceeding [their] wildest dreams.”

Mark 4:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am in MOPs again this year and the theme is a fierce flourishing. I love it and am so excited to see how I flourish as a mom this year. I want to fill my life with “good earth”: the things that will help me flourish. Those things include scripture (reading things that encourage, challenge and inspire me), prayer and surrounding myself with good friends (other moms on this journey of motherhood).

  1. Scripture (reading things that encourage, challenge and inspire me) 

Reading the Bible is my main source of soul food. I have the Bible app on my phone so I can read while nursing my son or riding the bus. Before I moved, I had scripture written out on notecards taped to the wall above my kitchen sink. Listening to worship music that is based on scripture is another good way for busy moms to get this soul food.

I read several blogs that encourage me as a mother and as a wife and I try to stay away from negativity.

2. Prayer 

I don’t want prayer to be one of the many things on my to do list. I pray throughout the day and have prayer written into my schedule along with Bible and journaling. As a mom of an 18 month old, it is hard to focus and quiet my soul. Whether you believe in praye or not, I encourage you to take some quiet time (maybe even just a few minutes) alone. I still need to work on this but this is important for me to grow.

3. Friends

Having other people around that understand what you are going through is so important. We need support and encouragement from other moms. I didn’t have any friends with young babies for the first few months of my son’s life; it was lonely. Join groups (there are so many on Facebook) and go places where moms hangout (baby storytime, play areas…). I am in MOPs for the second year and also am in a moms class at my church. Both are very different but provide me with fellowship with other moms. Check out my list of parent group resources here.

4. Music

There’s something about music that most people find uplifting. I use music in the mornings to give me a boost and help wake me up. During workouts, I listen to rock music to get my body moving. I listen to music while doing chores to distract myself (TV is too much of a distraction for me). I try to avoid music that is negative and going to bring me down.

5. Moms night out

This goes well with friends but this can be done solo as well. I wrote about how to do this in another post. We needs breaks away from our children. When they are very young, these breaks are very short (but still necessary). My first time away from my son was a quick trip to Target. Now that my son is 18 months, it is easier to get breaks but I have to be intentional about getting out of the house to do something fun for myself.

6. Journaling (and hobbies)

This is important to me as a writer but I know that not everybody journals. Expressing yourself in whatever way suits you best is food. I’ve wanted to get serious about a blog for awhile and having a child has actually inspired me to do that. He inspires me to help moms on this journey, help them flourish, give them hope and support them in their parenting. What inspires you?

How to flourish

What is good food that helps you flourish?

Parent group resources

Parent Group resources

Parent group resources

MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers)

More than 3900 MOPs groups meet worldwide. The purpose of MOPs is for moms of children newborn through kindergarten to gather for encouragement, mentorship and fun. The large group is broken up into small groups (tables) with discussion time after a speaker. Tables take turns bringing breakfast.
Listening Mothers (Seattle area/ Victoria BC)

Listening Mothers is a eight week parenting course got moms and their babies through six months. This group is a program of the Community of Mindful Parenting and covers topics such as communication, attachment, and baby’s emotional development.
PEPS Program for Early Parent Support

PEPS is a program for early parenting support where parents come together to connect, share, and learn about becoming a good parent. PEPS promotes the belief that parents who are confident, informed and connected to supportive friends and resources will enjoy their children and help them reach their highest potential.

Postpartum Support International The mission of Postpartum Support International is to promote awareness, prevention and treatment of mental health issues related to childbearing in every country worldwide.

Mom Life at Faith Bible Church (Spokane)

A group for mothers of preschoolers (birth through kindergarten) that meets the second Wednesday of each month with the purpose of encouraging and trading women for their important job as mothers.
Mamas Assisting Mamas Around Spokane

Meets Thursday’s 11-12 at the Eastside community center with a different topic each week to discuss. Recent topics include birth stories, intimacy and parenthood, and pregnancy and birth after loss.
La Leche League Mothering Class  at Mother’s Haven (Coeur D Alene)

This class takes place on the secind Thursday of each month. Class topics include: gentle discipline methods that work, night time parenting, pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning, improving your family’s diet, potty-mastery, adjusting to being a new mother, family/siblings adjusting to a new baby, siblings without rivalry, raising your spirited child, being an advocate for your child, handling unsolicited advice, green housecleaning, etc. Classes are helpful and appropriate for pregnant women, mothers with new babies, and mothers with toddlers and preschoolers. Learn a Loving way of life with your children.

Young Lives 

Young Lives is a Young Life group for Teen Moms. The regular meetings include childcare. Mentors build relationships with teen moms, offering guidance in matters of faith, parenting and self-worth.

Hike it Baby

Hike it Baby is a new parents group in over 150 cities around the country dedicated to getting families together and out into nature with newborns and little ones. We have a wide variety of hikes and urban strolls and the best part is all of our hikes are FREE!

Meetup.com

Meetup.com is a useful website for starting and finding groups based in any interest. I have found several mom groups through this website.

 

2015: The Year of Hope

I am reflecting on two words that have been coming up a lot: hope and flourish.

This year has been full of hurt and disappointment. If you know what is going on in my life, it would appear to be anything but hopeful. It has felt like my life is moving backwards instead of forwards, I’ve been scared,  not able to see any good in my future. The future is still unknown for the most part but I am looking forward to good.

2015: The Year of Hope

Hope is the seed of breakthroughDespite all the challenges and heart break, I have hope. My life is not on hold, I’m pursuing my dreams and passions. I’m taking steps toward becoming my best self. I know that no matter what happens, I have done my part and I have the skills necessary to survive life. Not only to survive but to flourish. I’m growing and learning from my experiences.

I was was afraid to start this blog because my life is not perfect and my current life is not anything like I expected it to be at this point. But I knew it was time and I jumped in hoping for the best.

I’m learning to embrace the season that I am in even if it is painful. There are so many good things going on in my life: I’ve started this blog, I love my church, I’m involved in some great mom groups, and I’ve started working out. I’m using my skills, not only in starting this blog but pursuing a postpartum doula certification and starting the process of becoming a volunteer at a local maternity home (called iHope maternity home).

As I said above, my life is far from perfect. Each day I have to choose to not give in to discouragement. I have to choose to hope in God and not in my circumstances.

This year, my life has changed a lot but I have grown a lot despite the many obstacles I have faces. I have seen good among many horrible experiences. I am choosing hope and am expecting good for my near future (starting today).

Bill Johnson quote

 

What word described your year?

7 Goals for Parenting an 18 month old

I don’t know why but for some reason 18 months seems like a huge milestone. Maybe it’s because it means he is halfway to 2 or maybe it is because it is the next big milestone after the first birthday. Hezekiah is getting more independent, more opinionated, and more talkative everyday.

7 goals for parenting an 18 month old

  1. 1. No TV or electronics during meals (for me)

As a blogger (and a human mom), this is really hard for me. Sometimes meals feel like my only chance to catch up on emails. But this is also a good time to interact with my child, set a good example, and prevent bad habits. At 18 months, my son still likes to throw his eating utensils on the floor. If I am distracted, I don’t have the chance to quickly correct him by showing him the correct way to let me know he is done

2. Make a dentist appointment for my son

If you took your child to the dentist when they turned a year old, they are probably due for their next appointment soon. I’ve been putting this off because we recently moved and I need to find my son a new dentist.

3. Invite Hezekiah to help out more

Hezekiah is already pretty good at helping out but now that he is getting older I know there is so much more he can do. Here are some examples of things we are going to start working on:

  • Take his dishes to the kitchen (put in sink)
  • Fetch diaper for diaper changes (I recently moved his diapers to the floor so that he can reach them
  • Put dirty clothes in basket
  • Take off socks (He still needs help but he knows how to do this)
  • Brush teeth. He loves brushing his teeth but still needs help to ensure that he gets all of his teeth.
  • Put away toys (including bath toys). He has been pretty good at putting away his toys but he usually throws his bath toys out o the tub at the end of the bath.
  • Throw away garbage. He knows where the garbage can is so if we ask him to throw something away he will.

4. Eat six meals a day and make sure he is getting food from each food group.

According to Gil Rapley, author of Baby Led Weaning, at 18 months babies should be eating six meals a day and getting food from each food group. She says that a serving size is a handful which is a good visual way for me to remember how big a serving is. We already have been eating snacks throughout the day but now they are a little more planned. I try to make a smoothie everyday with spinach and fruit to guarantee that we get some green veggies everyday.

5. More play dates

Depending on our schedule, I would like to do at least one play date a week. I realize that people have different definitions of the word “play date” but to me it just means that the parents are present while the children play. I volunteered to administrate the 0-2 playgroup at MOPs so that I will be more likely to do this more often. I invited the mom’s in that group to come over this Tuesday morning. The only plan is to drink Nutella hot chocolate and let the babies play and socialize.

6. Be more intentional about having a day of rest each week

Rest is so important yet so difficult for moms. I recently decided to have a day of rest each week. The day that works best for me is Saturday. For me, rest means no chores or errands and making restful activities a priority.

7. Start potty training

18 months is a great time to start potty training. I’m planning on waiting until after Christmas because my son is getting underwear for Christmas and I am hoping to get the Tiny Potty Training book for Christmas. Then we are going to be out of town for two weeks so this might not happen until next month.

P.S. I didn’t want to wait to start reading the book so I downloaded the first two chapters for free at godiaperfree.com.

 

What are your goals for this month?

Five Essentials for surviving life with a newborn

I’ve seen lots of lists of newborn essentials but those lists were missing some of the most essential things: resources and support that will help you establish a positive breastfeeding relationship and bond with your new baby. These essentials are not about certain products but knowledge of where to go for help. That’s my hope that as a postpartum doula I will be one of those sources for new moms and that this blog will be a source for new moms. Here’s five essentials that helped me survive life with a newborn:

Five Essentials for Surviving Life with a Newborn

Five essentials to surviving the newborn days

Breastfeeding resources
I felt pretty prepared for breastfeeding my son. Before my son was born, I attended 3 breastfeeding classes (one at the hospital where I was planning on giving birth, one as part of my childbirth class, and one put on by a peer counselor at WIC). I also read a couple of books about breastfeeding including Baby Led Breastfeeding by Gil Rapley. Even with all that preparation, it didn’t go perfectly but I knew who to call and what resources were available to me if I had any problems after my son was born. There was a local breastfeeding hotline that I called at 4 in the morning. I attended a breastfeeding clinic at a local hospital when my son was one week old. A couple months later, I still had questions so I attended a La Leche League meeting.

With breastfeeding comes a lot of nipple pain so I recommend a nipple salve for those first few weeks. I used WishGarden’s New Mother’s Nursing Balm which was given to me by my midwife.

More breastfeeding resources here.

Support
It’s important to surround yourself with people who are supportive and willing to help out with whatever you need. The week before my son was born, my husband and I discussed how he could help me So that we would be on the same page. He was supportive by bringing me food and water. It was important for him to understand that it would be awhile before I would be able to do my normal chores. My mom came to help for a week and my husband took a week off work but looking back I think it would have been better if my mom’s visit would not have overlapped with my husband’s time off work. The role of a postpartum doula is to fill in the gap and help in whichever way is most needed by the mom. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Before my son was born, I wrote out a list of the chores people could do when they stopped by.

Baby carrier
Baby carriers (like ring slings, soft structured carriers and stretchy wraps) make it possible to go to the bathroom, eat lunch and walk to the mailbox. My newborn wanted to be held all the time and using a baby carrier allowed me to do that and use my hands at the same time. Ring slings were my favorite because it didn’t require any commitment. It was easy to put him in the ring sling before I had gotten dressed for the day. We also used our Ergo and Moby all the time. Baby carriers are also helpful for skin to skin time; The first time we took Hezekiah for a walk, I was just wearing the Moby with a sweater over to cover my back.

Meals
We were so blessed by all of the meals provided to us after my son was born. Before my son was born we set up a meal request on a website like Take Them A Meal or Meal Train. This helps give people a practical way to help you. Be sure to include foods that easy for mom to eat throughout the day (while nursing) like parfaits and protein snacks.

Babymoon
In the book Baby Led Breastfeeding, author Gil Rapley encourages moms to take the first couple of weeks to focus on establishing breastfeeding and bonding with baby. This means no chores (don’t worry about the mess, this time is important). This is the also an important time to have support but also privacy so that you can spend as much time skin to skin with your baby as possible. During this time, I lived in yoga pants and a wrap cardigan. This is meant to be a cozy and relaxing time. Limiting your visitors during this time while you are learning to breastfeed so that you are ready to feed your baby on demand.

What was essential to you surviving the newborn stage?

Breastfeeding Resources

Breastfeeding Resources 

Breastfeeding resources

La Leche League:
“Our Mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother.”
La Leche League suggests attending a meeting while you are still pregnant. I didn’t make it to a meeting until my son was a couple months old but it was very helpful.

La Leche League hotline: 877-452-5324

La Leche League hotline (Spokane): 509-244-4191

The Leaky Boob
Another popular website for breastfeeding information and stories.

Books
The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Kathleen Huggins
I referenced this book in the early days while I was nursing my son in the middle of the night.

Baby Led Breastfeeding by Gil Rapley
This book is very easy and quick read. Very informative.

Classes
Unlocking the Mysteries of Breastfeeding taught by Melissa Morgan (IBCLC) at Mother’s Haven (in Coeur D’ Alene)
Hospital of birth
WIC

Lactation consultants
International Association of Lactation consultants
Nurture Normally Melissa Morgan (IBLC in Spokane, WA)

Breastfeeding helpline