How I have hope in hard times

Last summer, my son and I moved across the state to live with my parents. The transition has not been easy. I moved away from a city that I loved, with friends nearby, most of my life was in that city.  Since August, I have  been looking for a job, praying for my marriage to be restored, and constantly adjusting to being a mom in a new city.

At the end of last year I was reflecting on one of the words that had been coming up a lot: hope.

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 and at times not able to see any good in my future.

Read the rest of my guest post on Mommy’s Front Porch View.

How I Have Hope in Hard Times

Project Lead Kindly: Help Homeless Moms

bloggers leading kindly
I am passionate about helping moms especially those facing a crisis pregnancy. Recently, another blogger asked for help with this project and I enthusiastically volunteered because this project fits so well with The Motherhood Journey’s mission. It is so important that these mothers receive the help that they need.
Project Lead Kindly is based in California but there are shelters and maternity homes that serve pregnant women across the country. I have compiled a list of  housing resources you can view here. Check out Project Lead Kindly and see how you can participate below.
As bloggers, we use a lot of words. We have realized that WORDS are POWERFUL and we have decided to use our words for good and spread a message about a great cause…
Today, I wanted to introduce you to Project Lead Kindly and their 2016 Pregnancy Shelter Hop.

Project Lead Kindly is a nonprofit organization that assists mothers & children affected by domestic violence and homelessness. They are also on a mission to encourage, inspire, and remind everyone that we ALL have the potential to serve & “lead kindly,” no matter our circumstances. Each year, Project Lead Kindly provides a BIG service project to the community. Last year, they organized a children’s book drive.This year, we are raising money for Project Lead Kindly’s 2016 Pregnancy Shelter Hop. We will be assisting 5 different shelters throughout California that house homeless, pregnant mothers and their children. We will be donating newborn necessities to:Harvest Home, Precious Life Shelter, Casa Teresa, Angels Way Maternity Home, and Elizabeth House. We will also be throwing two events to assist the mothers serviced by Elizabeth House & Angels Way Maternity Home.

How you can help!

While the events are local to California, we wanted to find some way for the amazingly supportive online community to help out! We’ve set up a GoFundMe with a goal to raise $1000 for Project Lead Kindly:
12804185_10207707526433899_1218166114_n
All funds donated will go to Project Lead Kindly & help:

1) provide these necessary items for the mothers & their babies at all 5 shelters,
2) throw the events for the mothers from Elizabeth House & Angels Way,
3) help spread the Lead Kindly message (the reminder that ALL have the potential to do good and to be an example to others, no matter what trials they face) to these women who need to be encouraged & reminded of their worth & potential and that they are cared for!

Please consider donating even $1 to the cause. Every little bit helps. In addition to donating, if you want to share the cause with us, please:
1) take the image below
2) share it in your own blog post and social media

3) encourage others to join our initiative & donate!

You can also email projectleadkindly@gmail.com your blog post link so they can share it with others!

And if you don’t have a blog, but simply want to share the cause, we encourage you to take the image & share it on social media! We have a goal of $1000, and if we all use our words together, we can reach it!
We also wanted to include a fun giveaway as a thank you for your support! This giveaway is sponsored by the bloggers and not Project Lead Kindly directly.
bloggers leading kindly

The prizes:

Raewyn will be giving away a $25 Starbucks gift card and ad space on Be a Warrior Queen.
Pam will be offering ad space on Hodge Podge Moments
Emilie and Laura will be offering ad space on Burke Does

Check out our giveaway hosts:

How to enter:


Any little bit helps! If you want to find out more information about Project Lead Kindly, visit www.projectleadkindly.com

Thank you so much for leading kindly with us!

Housing and Shelter Resources

housing shelter resources pregnant moms

There are many options for moms who need a safe place to stay. Most cities have shelters and some have maternity homes which offer pregnant women a family atmosphere and support to find permanent housing. Please let me know if you have other resources to add to the list.

Housing and Shelter Resources

housing shelter resources pregnant moms

Women’s Shelters

A nationwide directory of women’s shelters

Life Call

list of shelters and maternity homes that house pregnant women across the country

Life Services Maternity home (Spokane)

“Life Services’ Maternity Home offers a “family” setting for up to six women at a time, with live-in house parents providing posi­tive relationship modeling.”

Anna Ogden Hall (Spokane)

Project Lead Kindly’s 2016 Pregnancy Shelter Hop (OC, California)

 

Tips for helping your child adjust to a new sibling

tips for helping child adjust to new sibling

There are many things that parents can do to help their child adjust to the new baby making the transition easier for the whole family. I am looking forward to trying out most of these ideas when the time comes for my family to have another baby. Getting the older child involved helps make this a positive transition for the family.

Tips for helping your child adjust to a new sibling

tips for helping child adjust to new sibling

I don’t yet have experience with having a second child of my own but exactly 25 years ago yesterday my younger sister was born when I was 21 months old. I know it wasn’t easy having to share my mom’s attention with a newborn. I was extremely jealous of my sister and threw a lot of tantrums, just like the tantrums that my son Hezekiah has when I hold other babies.

Be aware of the possibility of regression. A lot of toddlers regress with potty training after the new baby is born.

Involve your older child

One way to prevent some of these unwanted behaviors is to keep the older child involved in preparations, pregnancy, and caring for the baby after he is born. Find simple tasks that the older sibling can easily help with. Some examples include fetching supplies, picking out the baby’s clothes and singing to the baby. Having a way for the older child to help makes them feel important and that they are a vital part of the family.

One on one time is so important now that they are having to share you. It won’t be easy but you can do something special with your older child while the baby is taking a nap.

Communicate about expectations, changes, and babies needs

Talk to your child ahead of time about what to expect and what things are going to be different. Explain what will happen when you go into labor. Will somebody babysit your child while you are at the hospital?

Will your child be present during the birth? One of my friends had her son present during her home birth. To prepare him, she showed him home birth videos and talked about the sounds she might be making. I think having your child present during the birth (especially at home) is a good way to start the sibling relationship.

Explain what babies can and cannot do. Talk about what babies need (the book suggested below is perfect for this). If they have not been around a lot of babies, try exposing them to more babies or practice being gentle with a doll. If your child’s friends have siblings, you can use that as a conversation starter.

When talking about the baby (before and after birth) make sure to be positive and never blame the baby for not being able to do things.

Big brother/ big sister gifts

New siblings want to feel special and these gifts will help occupy your toddler/ preschooler while the parents are occupied with the newborn. Some suggest having this be a gift from the baby.

  • sticker books
  • audio books
  • childrens camera— I have heard many parents say that this is a great way for the new older sibling to bond with the baby and it gives the older child a job in welcoming the new baby.
  • activity/ busy bags for toddler
  • coloring books
  • baby doll
  • big sibling baby book
  • Big Sister bag this can be adapted for a big brother
  • A favorite toy that they have been wanting

Here’s some free printable “big sis” and “big bro”  tags for the gifts.

Gift from older sibling to new baby

  • Let the older child help pick out a special gift (have them wrap it) or have the child help make something like a blanket.
  • stuffed animals– my son and I both have sheep stuffed animals and already have one for the future baby (that does not exist yet).
  • A book or toy that the older child no longer plays with.

Books that help prepare children for a sibling

When I was a nanny there were two books about welcoming a new baby that I loved. These books can be adapted to different ages and have suggested activities to help prepare a child for a new sibling. Both books are from the Sears Children’s Library

Other books that are highly suggested by parents:

Basket of special things for nursing sessions 

Some of the gifts listed above can be put in a basket for the older child to use while mom is nursing the baby. Quiet toys like crayons or play dough are perfect for this. Check out When at Home’s post for more ideas.

Rainy Day Mum’s post describes the kind of items that you want to include in your nusring basket/ box.

What are your biggest concerns for adding another child to your family?

What tips would you add to this list?

 

Follow my Pinterest board for more resources.
Follow The Motherhood Journey’s board Transitioning to two (or more) kids on Pinterest.

What I am looking forward to as my son gets older

My son is almost two years old! I can’t believe how big he is getting. He is becoming so independent yet he still relies on me for pretty much everything. It is tiring some days but definitely worth it. Before Hezekiah was born, I never knew I could love somebody so much.

I recently wrote a guest post for Collectively Caitlin about what I am looking forward to as Hezekiah gets older. This was my first guest post and I am so excited and grateful to be able to share this on Caitlin’s blog.

TDP_2300

What do you most look forward to with your child (or children) getting older?

Meal ideas for this week

healthy meals, breakfast, dinner

Meal planning has become an important part of my life. My days are so much less stressful when I have a plan. Not only does meal planning reduce stress it helps me with grocery shopping and helps me cook healthy meals. I find all of my breakfast and dinner recipes on Pinterest and plan each week’s meals on Sunday afternoon. I wrote more about my meal planning process a couple months ago.

Meal Ideas for This Week

healthy meals, breakfast, dinner

Breakfast

I have the same thing every morning for breakfast. I know that sounds boring but there are so many variations of overnight oats that I don’t get bored of it. I love having breakfast ready to eat in the mornings (I hate cooking in the mornings and I am not much of a cereal person).

This first recipe is the one we have had the most. We love it because it is so simple and healthy (my toddler loves blueberries).

Blueberry Pie Protein Overnight Oats from Amy’s Healthy Baking

This one isn’t as healthy but I think it is my favorite. I love having chocolate for breakfast. If you don’t add the chocolate chips then there is no sugar but I add mini chocolate chips and don’t eat this one very often.

Peanut Butter Cup Overnight Oats

Here’s another healthy recipe. This one is vegan but we usually make it with cow’s milk making it not vegan.

Vegan Breakfast Recipe: Strawberry Banana Overnight Oats

Find more overnight oat recipes on my Pinterest board.

Dinner

Each week I plan a variety of dinners using the leftover ingredients from the previous week.

Crockpot meals are some of my favorite because of how much time is saved. (There does seem to be a lack of variety though). For this recipe, I used this homemade taco seasoning.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I made this last night and it turned out a lot different than originally planned. To save time (and to change it up since we have chicken almost every night), I ended up using meatballs I already had in the freezer. For veggies, I sauteed onions and then added random veggies from my fridge like green onions, spinach, and broccoli (from the Alfredo below).

Mini Indian meatballs with curry coconut sauce

This enchilada lasagna casserole was my favorite meal this week and it went so fast.

Easy Enchilada Mexican Lasagna Casserole

I love Alredo and this was one of the healthier Alfredo recipes that I have made. We didn’t have heavy cream so I used half and half instead of cream and milk and I added a little extra butter.

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

What are you planning on making this week?

 

Baby Led Weaning resources

baby led weaning resources title photo

Baby Led Weaning is the process of starting baby (around six months old) on solids. Baby leads the way, parents offer food that is an appropriate size for the baby to handle based on their development. No purees are involved (unless your family is eating soup or apple sauce). For the most part, baby eats what the family is eating. In the beginning a lot of things are modified but before long baby will be eating everything. I love that this method is stress free and requires little extra work.

Baby Led Weaning Resources

baby led weaning resources title photo

Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley

I read this book shortly before my son turned six months (when we started BLW). This was such an easy book to read and I loved all of the nutritional information.

Babyledweaning.com

How To Do Baby Led Weaning (And Why You’d Want To) from Mama Natural

Frequently Asked Questions on Baby Center’s Baby Led Weaning group

Baby Led Weaning 101

Little Gourmet Baby 


 

More resources on The Motherhood Journey

Have you tried baby led weaning?

The Truth About Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and Baby Blues

Title photo

I’m so excited to be hosting my first guest post. I met Lisa in a Facebook group for women bloggers. She is such a great blogger: I love her honesty and encouragement. This is a topic that I don’t have much experience with but as a postpartum doula, I am passionate about helping new moms through the transition to motherhood especially if they are feeling any depression, anxiety or baby blues.

The Truth About Postpartum Depression, Anxiety and Baby Blues

Guest post by Lisa at The Mother Blog

Title photo

So you just birthed a baby out of your own body. First of all, you’re a superhero! Second of all, forgive your body for what it is about to go through for the next couple of months. You will soon experience feelings and emotions you’ve never felt before. Why is this? The simple answer is hormones. Your body produces such an abundance of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy that the sudden decrease after giving birth sends you into an extreme whirlwind of emotions and reactions. If you think about it, you’re also experiencing a drastic decrease in sleep and a life changing shift in routine. That alone is enough to place stress on your body, but add changing hormones and it’s a miracle new mothers survive at all. So what should you expect? Hopefully you are able to give birth and adjust to this new life without any major hiccups. Unfortunately statistics say that around 90% of mothers will experience baby blues or postpartum depression or anxiety.

Baby Blues

Baby blues is defined as the early onset symptoms of postpartum depression. The difference between the two is that baby blues will subside within a few weeks. Symptoms are less severe with baby blues. Once your hormones level out, your emotional health will go back to normal, or as normal as can be with a new child in the mix. You can speed the process along by getting more sleep (yeah right!), eating healthy and whole foods, and keeping your life as simple as possible.

Tip: Take the first couple of weeks to focus on adjusting to your new addition. Tell your friends and family that you would appreciate their presence in meeting your newest family member, but not until he/she is at least two weeks old in order to easily adjust to your new lives. If they feel like they must help in some way, don’t be afraid to ask them to deliver a healthy dish on your porch and invite them to come over as soon as you feel comfortable.

(Read more about the first two weeks with your baby here.)

Postpartum Depression

Disclaimer: If you ever feel the urge to hurt yourself or your baby in the months after giving birth, please seek professional help right away. Remove yourself from your baby and call your healthcare provider at that moment.

Postpartum depression has similar symptoms of baby blues, but these symptoms are amped up to an extreme and last longer. This affects around 10% of women after giving birth, so you are not alone! If you think about all the women who give birth daily you realize just how staggering this number is. There is absolutely nothing to feel ashamed about because this is out of your control. But finding help to combat PPD is not out of your control. I did not suffer from postpartum depression, but I had a close friend who did. We gave birth to our first children, both sons, a day apart. She is expecting her second son this spring. For this article, I decided that in order to give an accurate depiction of postpartum depression I would interview her on her own personal experience.

When did you know you had postpartum depression and not just baby blues?

Probably 5-6 months postpartum. I’m still not 100% sure if what I was going through was strictly from postpartum or a combination of being isolated in a new city where we had no family and friends. Probably a good mix of the two along with agonizing over every little detail of mothering.

What specific feelings/reactions did you struggle with the most when you had PPD?

I specifically had resentful feelings and feelings of physical violation at my worst times. I still struggle with being touched. Breastfeeding was something very complicated for me as time went on and I felt like I was stuck doing it. I still support it and believe it’s the healthiest option but it may not always be worth sacrificing the way you feel about your own body and your ability to feel well while going through the very tough learning curve of being a new mom. I also had very sudden moments of anger and crying that never got dangerous or out of control but were enough to scare me and make me accept that I was not in a good way.

What was your defining moment/situation that caused you to get help?

I don’t think I really had a defining moment, it was more of a buildup. I just remember sitting on the steps of my old duplex and telling my husband I didn’t know how to fix what I was feeling and I wanted to try going to a counselor.

How did you find help?

I went to the local Family Counseling Center and met with an OB to recommend a therapist.

What are you most afraid of with having another child?

I’m mostly concerned with adjusting back to having much less time to “fill my own cup” and having time to recharge mentally through the day. And having enough help on a daily basis.

What are you doing to safeguard against future PPD?

I don’t think we can necessarily safeguard against having postpartum struggles because there are just so many variables. How the pregnancy and delivery turn out, the living situation, the financial situation…I currently feel confident about everything surrounding me and I feel prepared as best I can to manage the big change.

Do you have any advice for new mothers?

The advice I would give is to remember that everything is a phase. Newborn phase can be isolating, toddler phase can be chaotic. Do your best to keep in mind that this is a sliver of the big picture and that you’ll work through everything and learn as you go. You’ll get nothing but stronger, more mature and more experienced. My confidence in myself has gone up exponentially since having my son, in spite of some of my personal issues I had to navigate.

Postpartum Anxiety

We don’t talk about postpartum anxiety a lot because people assume it is the same as PPD, but the truth is that it is not. I did not have symptoms of depression after my son was born, but my anxiety was magnified. I wrote a post specifically highlighting my postpartum experience with anxiety at www.themotherblog.com/motherhood-mistakes. Long story short is that until I received professional help, I was not able to bond with my son at all. I had materialized him into this milk guzzling, emotion draining, sleep killing machine. Postpartum anxiety, like any anxiety disorder, can disrupt your daily life so much that you cannot function day-to-day. This can become dangerous to relationships, your own well-being, and the emotional growth of your new baby. If you have extreme worries about your baby, your life after your new baby, or your partner’s adjustment to your new baby, or racing thoughts that you cannot slow down you might be suffering for postpartum anxiety.

You are entitled to find help for yourself if you think you have or are susceptible to postpartum depression or anxiety. Women who have a family history of depression or anxiety disorder or themselves have a history of these illnesses are more vulnerable to postpartum anxiety or depression. Or if you have extreme PMS symptoms and mood changes you are more likely to have postpartum issues. The good news is that there are professionals available everywhere to help you. The best thing you can do for your family is to get help for yourself.  Your OB/GYN or midwife will check in during your recovery to make sure you are not experiencing PPD or PPA, and if you are they can direct you to a professional in the field. There are many postpartum support resources at Postpartum Support International, including links to professionals and groups in your area. You are not alone in this journey of motherhood, so please feel free to connect with me @ www.themotherblog.com for support.

Do you have any advice for dealing with postpartum depression, anxiety or baby blues?

How to Have Dates After Baby

How to have dates after baby title photo

Since it is almost Valentines Day, I wanted to give you some ideas for having fun with your husband. It wasn’t until recently that my husband and I have been able to go on dates without our son, Hezekiah who is now 19 months. For the first year of being new parents, most of our dates included baby. When he was younger (especially as a newborn), we could walk around with him in the Ergo and it was almost like he wasn’t there because he was either content being worn or or sleeping. It was so nice when he could sleep anytime anywhere (while being worn in the Ergo).

How to Have Dates After Baby

How to have dates after baby title photo
Since Hezekiah was born in the beginning of the summer we had planned on taking advantage of the Shakespeare in the parks performances as well as movies in the park. We ended up being too tired and busy for those activities but we still got out a lot.

Here are some more date ideas that are baby friendly:

  • Farmers Market Shop for your produce and eat lunch together (either a picnic lunch from home or food from one of the stands.) Seattle has several farmer’s markets including some that are open year round
  • Walk on beach and dinner at a restaurant nearby This is perfect for babywearing because babies love to move. (The sound of the water is probably calming too.) If you are in Seattle, I suggest Alki beach and The Cactus for dinner. In the Spokane area, there is Lake Couer d’ Alene and restaurants in the adjacent downtown area.
  • Burritos See photos below. Seattle has a delicious burrito restaurant called Gorditos. If you bring in your newborn baby, you get a free baby sized burrito. The decor at Gorditos is photos of all of those babies. I love it! Even if you don’t have a burrito place like this in your town bring your baby and order a gigantic burrito. Please show me pictures if you do this.
    burrito baby
    burrito baby with mom
    burrito baby with dad

    At home after baby is in bed 

    Babies usually go to bed early which gives you plenty of time for at home fun.

  • Drinks and a show Recently, my husband went and picked up some hot chocolate from Chocolati (a hot chocolate place in Seattle) then we watched the newest episode of Call the Midwife (you’re probably jealous).
  • two player game that you both like playing. For us it’s Carcassone.
  • Give each other massages. Who doesn’t need a massage? Light the candles. I used our Burts Bees baby oil and Burts Bees leg lotion for the legs.
  • 21 Stay at Home Date Night Ideas from Fulfilling Your Vows
  • The Best Date Night I’ve Ever Found from The Busy Budgeter
  • 25 Ideas for At-Home Date Nights from from Babble
  • Date Night Ideas When You Can’t Get a Sitter from Skinny Mom
  • 45 At Home Date Night Ideas from The Dating Divas
  • 10 Stay at Home Date Nights from Together with Family
  • 8 Creative at Home Date Nights from Unveiled Wife

    Going out without baby

    Our first date without baby was when Hezekiah was eight months last Valentines Day. We did the usual– dinner at a fancy restaurant. York (my husband) wanted us to take a walk before dinner so we parked on the Magnolia side of the locks and walked over to our favorite restaurant India Bistro in Ballard. It was my first attempt at pumping and having somebody give H a bottle. I suggest trying this before your big date. It worked out though (he didn’t drink any of my milk but he didn’t starve).

Need more help making date night happen?

4 Ways to Make Time for Your Husband When You Are Busy from Mom Wife Busy Life

Great Ideas for Making Date Night Happen from The Dating Divas

Top 5 Marriage posts for new parents from The Motherhood Journey

Where did you go on your first date after baby was born?

5 marriage posts for new parents

five marriage posts for new parents title photo

Children change your marriage. If you already have good habits (like regular date nights) then keep it up. If not, now that you have children your marriage should not be put on the backburner but nurtured because children benefit from having happily married parents. Parenting will be so much easier if you and your husband have a good relationship.

5 Marriage posts for new parents

 

five marriage posts for new parents title photo

My marriage took a big hit after my son was born. Roles changed and I had a hard time getting much done while taking care of a baby. We felt so busy and tired. I don’t have much advice for you but here are are five posts that I found to be helpful.
1. Four easy steps to making your marriage a priority from Unveiled Wife

2. Five ways to cultivate intimacy in your marriage from Unveiled Wife

3. Seven Marriage practices worth perfecting from The Happy Wives Club

4. How to Balance Marriage and Motherhood from Joy in the Home

5. Making time for your marriage when you have little ones from The Art of Domesticity

Bonus: How to Have Dates After Baby from The Motherhood Journey

How do you balance marriage and motherhood?