We've been praying for months--probably a year+ now--for a new car. Well, last Thursday I get a text from Brian that he wants to check out a Dodge Durango that's on a car lot about a mile from his work. We finally got our refund check last week after waiting about 10-12 weeks for it, so we've looked at a ton of other cars, and even almost financed something else, except that the payment was about $50 more than we could do. We've been praying & a bunch of people at church have been praying and I knew God would help us when the time was right. So Brian checked out the truck & it was perfect. Plenty of room for all of us, good condition, strong engine/tranny and it was even less then we had saved! No monthly payments required! So after talking it through & saying a quick prayer, we decided to buy it! We still have a bit saved toward a down payment of a van for me to replace our current old/broken car. I know God will provide for us again. We have prayer warriors prayerfully working on it. I am working on keeping my faith strong that God will lead us in the direction where we need to go & will show us where he wants us to work so we can finally move out and on in our lives. He is ever faithful!
I haven't updated in months, but there's been a lot of amazing things happening. Bringing God back to the center of my life has really helped me through some dark feelings as well. It's hard to not feel depressed when you're living with family, drive a dying car, and are still drowning financially despite your husband working and you sticking to a tight budget. Life has been HARD. But life has also been amazing. The kids & I have started going to a new church that's only 5 minutes away from the house. And God has really been working in our lives and it seems that those feelings of being "stuck" were from being "stuck" far away from Him. My kids adore going to church every week & to Awana on Wednesday nights. I love church, our pastor, and our church family. I love Wednesday night Bible study, Thursday night praise team practice & getting to fellowship with fellow believers almost daily.
Both girls are in school now, but different schedules, so there's lots of running around, but I usually only have 2 kids to tend from 8-3:30pm now. hehe. Sophie has been in afternoon kindergarten since summer and is THRIVING. She's completed all of her "end of kindergarten goals" before Christmas & is now in some specialized extra learning groups to keep her love of learning going. Her teacher loves her and Sophie has really done well making and maintaining friendships (and a boyfriend named Damian!). I'm so proud of her! Maddy is in a morning preschool program (Head Start) since early January & is growing leaps and bounds already. She is learning independence away from me & didn't cry today when I dropped her off. She's been crying for a few minutes most days, but it's getting shorter and shorter in duration. She is also starting to sing independently and discovering more of her voice. She can write a few letters and knows her phone number now too and is making friends! I was so worried she would have trouble making friends, but she proved me wrong! Way to go Maddy! Her speech is growing too. We've been reading tons and tons of books since starting story time every week (which sadly, Maddy misses due to preschool at the same time now), but slowly Maddy is learning about sentence structure and words are getting easier to understand (mostly). My 4 year old is growing into a little girl now and I am so proud of her!
Noah had a vocabulary EXPLOSION!! He talks SO SO SO much! I swear he talks more then Sophie did at his age. This kid even talks in his sleep sometimes. He finally night weaned and has been sleeping much better at night now too. I'm grateful for that. Now if only he could go to sleep on his own. One thing at a time...one thing at a time. He's potty learning, and is mostly consistent all day (including naps & short car rides), so I'm hoping we're nearing the end of day time diapers for the time being. He might be able to go to Head Start in the fall, so aside from potty training, I am trying to get him used to being watched by someone else without me there. He doesn't mind if I leave him home with Brian when I go to church, but he has a fit if he has to be in the nursery without me for more then 20 minutes. I'm praying we can start a church nursery ministry, so we can have consistent helpers he can get used to instead of switching between me and a friend all of the time. It would be amazing to be able to actually listen to a sermon on Sunday morning as it's being spoken, instead of a recording later or not at all.
Brian still enjoys his job, though they are low on work right now and he's still drastically underpaid. I pray that he either finds a new job or more work will come his way so he won't have to worry about how we will pay our bills, get a different car or finally get ahead. I am faithfully praying for peace in that area & know God will show us the way. I've also been praying that God speaks to Brian's heart and he joins us at church soon. He told me last week that he would like to join us at church on Easter, so that's a start! One step at a time!
I've been busy with making cakes/cupcakes/cake pops for church events, running kids all over the place, and trying to keep on top of the housework, while still eating as healthy as possible and throwing a bit of exercise in every once and a while. I feel spiritually renewed and want my body to feel renewed as well, so I'm hoping to lose weight to become a healthier version of me. And to set a healthier example for my kids. I also want to be able to be the best doula I can be. I haven't been actively seeking out winter births because honestly, I hate the anxiety winter causes me. I hate driving in snow, worrying about weather, finding childcare to watch the kids despite weather...it just stresses me out a whole lot. So, I'm finishing my certification stuff (still need to read that last required reading book!) until it gets warmer so I can find clients again. I also hope to be able to teach childbirth classes in the future as well as become a lactation counselor. It's frustrating that this area has very little in the way of natural birth resources, but perhaps this is a need that I am here to help satisfy. :)
God is working in our lives. Things will continue to change and look up for us. I feel like this year is our year!
Life is busy. Our routine is getting a little easier finally, though naps for Maddy & Noah still are not totally consistent yet. We'll get there. It's still annoying having pm kindergarten (if you're reading this, sign your kid up early for kinder so they'll have better chances of am kinder--we literally signed up a few weeks before school started, so we were put wherever there was space), since I feel like we can get nothing decent accomplished in such short blocks of time. Like I want to go check out the damage from recent storms to our storage unit, but it's an hour away. So that means round trip 2 hours, so even only spending an hour there means I'll likely be rushing home to make sure I'm there for Sophie's bus to drop her off (I was late 1x because I went to walmart after dropping her at school and rushing back to pick her up on time, but afternoon traffic got in the way). Ugh! And now that we signed her up for Saturday morning swimming lessons, I have to make sure I'm not doing involved things then as well. Just annoying that's all.
Sophie turned 6 on Sunday. Where has the time gone?! Wasn't she just my little colicky baby like yesterday??? She's so grown up and such a sweet girl. She cares so much for everyone and loves to help me and her teacher. My mom said she not only looks almost exactly like me, but that her personality is so much like I was as a child, she has to double take sometimes. Yeah, I'm proud! :o) She celebrated Saturday with Brian's parents, his sister and our nephew and Sunday with my mom and extended family at my Mom Mom's picnic. Sophie & Maddy played all day with my cousins (9, 5, & almost 4) and slept SO well Sunday night! lol! We are having 1 more gathering for her birthday for my dad's family on Sunday. Sophie's counting down the days of course! I cannot wait until we have a place of our own where we can just invite everyone down for 1 birthday instead of having to break it up 3x and be more stressful.
Maddy and Noah have been really good pals since Sophie started school. They didn't really play too much together (or gang up together!) before then, but now they're best buds. I think Maddy gets a kick out of telling Noah to say new words, so she's trying to say more words too. She's definitely not talking like other 3 year olds do, but since I can't afford private therapy, Head Start won't call me back and she can't get reevaluated for a few months, we just wait and keep reading books, repeating words, etc. Noah's language is exploding though! He will repeat everything and it's really helping him speak a lot!
I'm finding it a bit difficult to be inspired to read my required reading birth books lately for my doula class. For example, I LOVED reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth a few years ago, so I got her Birth Matters book to read for my class requirements and it's hard getting into it. I think it's only because my brain knows I have to write a paper after finishing it so it's being difficult. I just wish I could pour through them like I know I normally would. I need to do that and find 1 more birth to support and I'll be finished with my requirements! It's exciting to think that I'm almost certified though!
It's still challenging living with my dad & step mom. I love them, I am grateful for them opening their doors to us, but I HATE 2 of their pets!! They have an old 15 year old dog who they inherited from an aunt. The dog, Holly, barks all the time and has woken the kids several times. She also is unreliable to go pee or poop outside and thus it ends up on the carpet. Gross. But not as gross as my step mom's 15 year old cat Hobbes, who was born with half a brain. He is disgusting, plain and simple. He cannot take care of himself and his fur is matted and falls out in chunks all over the place. He cannot climb into the litter box very well, and sprays everywhere or half the time he cannot control himself and poops all over the hallway. He is utterly disgusting and I just pray that death finds him soon. My dad hates him too, but since my step mom rescued him as a kitten, she can't just put him down. He's mean and meows if we're near him at all. Brian is also very allergic to him. I have allergies too, but I must be getting used to it since I don't take my meds anymore and just deal with it. I'm debating starting a kickstarter fund to have him euthanized! lol! We all like their other cat, EB, since she's nice, clean and quiet. And the kids like the hermit crab we got my dad a few years ago! ;o) It's just frustrating dealing with 2 gross pets who are probably only still living so they can annoy the crap out of us. It is what it is.
We're also praying for a new car. We're trying to save money to buy something more reliable and so we have 2 cars (at least temporarily since my car is on the verge of dying. boo!). We were talking about how much we miss our van the other day, so we're hoping that life sends us another one soon. It got way better gas mileage for one thing and the space was awesome so we didn't have tons of hitting and screaming. But if we get another sedan, we will make it work. As long as the turn signals work, it doesn't need brakes, the parking brake light doesn't constantly ring, the windows work, the interior lining isn't falling off, and the transmission is fine--all stuff that's going on w/my car currently--I'll be happy!
Ok, enough typing! Must go get the kiddos lunch before I need to take Sophie to school and try to figure out how to spend the next 3 hours. ;o)
I feel like I've been going non stop for weeks now...probably because I have been. Getting Sophie signed up for school, getting the "must haves" on her new school list, moving the necessities to my dad's house, getting his house settled for 5 more people there (I'm not lying when I say it's the size of an apartment. yikes!), getting our stuff semi-organized, cleaning and vacuuming daily because of the disgusting cat that Judy has, making lists, more lists & more lists!!! I feel like there is always something that needs to be done and never enough time to do it.
I'm about halfway done with my doula coursework, but don't have "me" time to complete everything right now. I'm so bummed about that. I just want to finish and only have to wait to support a mama to have her baby (I need 1 more birth to meet the certification requirements). All in due time, right?
Oh, and I know I need to start planning ahead for Christmas projects, so I have time to get them done. That will be the key to our Christmas this year...slow and steady so we can afford things and so we won't be scrambling at the end like last year. Luckily, I was smart enough to pin some things on pinterest this spring (when I had time apparently!) for Christmas gifts, so I have an idea of what all I need to get done.
And then there's the meal planning! Oh how I HATE planning meals! I don't like cooking meals. I just don't. I like, no, love baking!! Just not cooking. And these people want to eat every day! Jeesh! So I've been trying to plan meals out for more then 2 days at a time and am doing a crappy job at it so far. I need to find something that works to feed 4 adults & 3 kids around the same time everyday and it still be healthy/affordable. Does anything like that exist anywhere? It needs to!!
And Sophie started school last week too! She LOVES it! And has been counting down the summer to go to school. Heck, she's counting down the days this weekend until she can go back. Only my kid would wish away vacation so she can go learn! :op But boy does that throw a wrench into things. She goes from 12:30-3:30 roughly, so I have a small chunk of time in the morning to feed the kids twice (breakfast & lunch), get them ready, do some small chores/errands and then off to drop Sophie at school. Maddy & Noah cried so hard when we dropped her off the first day, so we went to the park afterwards and now they expect that! lol! So if we don't do the park, we have a short amount of play time, naps (hopefully. They've been taking totally crappy naps lately! And super late in the day too. ugh!), mom gets some more small chores done or *gasp* has time to check her email!! and then it's time to wake the littles up and walk to the bus stop to pick up Sophie. Walk back home, snack time, Judy gets home, think of something for dinner before dad & Brian get home, get dinner cleaned up, baths for the kids, books and bed. And by that point, I'm exhausted too and want to go to bed, but stay up too late trying to catch up on everything else and squeeze a chapter of my doula book in if I can. I hope we can get a better routine figured out soon so I can make better use of my time. If I get up any earlier, I'm in everyone else's way (3 adults getting ready for work in the morning w/only 1 bathroom gets hectic!), so I just hope & pray we settle into a better routine soon!!
I am SO ready to SLOW DOWN! Even just for a day or two. I'm kinda looking forward to winter for that reason, but am trying hard to not wish the beautiful end of summer and fall days away. This is my favorite time of year and I want to somehow cherish it too. Getting pulled in every which way is just getting so dang tiring! But the show must go on.
A while ago, I realized what finally want to do for a career (aside
from motherhood) & how I can use my social work degree at the same
time. I want to become a doula & lactation consultant. It fits my
passions perfectly, my desire to help vulnerable people & uses all of
the skills I learned from my social work classes. It's simply perfect.
I've been supporting friends/family through births for almost a year
now, but I wanted to make it official and get the certification &
training to get better. My mom believes in me & what I am doing, so
she helped me pay for my doula certification class which I'm about
halfway through now. She said it was an investment in the future,
which I completely agree with. Reading & learning in this class has
further proven my desire to support pregnant & laboring mamas. It
feels so incredibly right. And I finally witnessed a completely
natural physiological labor and birth when I was doula-ing for a
friend a week as a half ago. It was incredible to witness no
interventions and her body go through each stage of labor like a
textbook. I'll blog about that soon for sure. I also felt honored to
be welcomed into her birth space & learned a lot for the future from
it as well.
I also realized that I need to find a way to become a lactation
consultant. I have helped so many friends and friends of friends
through messages, texts & even while visiting after birth. Apparently
I'm the safe go to gal for everyone to ask a bazillion questions. I
don't feel bothered helping them learn their baby & how to meet their
needs. I actually feel empowered by giving them the best information I
can and supporting them through a challenging time. I finally found a
local LLL meeting place to start attending meetings, but with the
sudden move we're likely doing, I will need to start over and look for
another chapter to attend. I'm hoping to gain some experience with
them and eventually through WIC (though York county does not have a
peer counselor program--maybe it's something to push to start one!). I
wish I could afford to get the classes on my own, but I think the
experience from these programs will help me gain confidence talking
and interacting with people again.
It's exciting to find a way to use my degree & hopefully help
supplement my family's income (eventually) in a field that I feel so
passionate and knowledgeable in!!!
So we have a praise to report. Brian was offered a job on Thursday & he starts tomorrow! It's great hours, and there's potential to move upward. The downside is that the pay isn't great (better then no money though!) and the fact that it's far from Brian's parent's house. He will have to stay at my dad's house during the week to make any money otherwise all of his paycheck basically goes to gas. Once we could get a 2nd car, we could travel more to see Brian after Sophie's school day is over and such, but who knows when that might be. So in an effort to keep our family unit together, he asked my dad & step-mom if they would let us stay here with them until we get money saved and such to move out on our own again. That wouldn't be too big of a deal if it was still summer, but Sophie is about to start kindergarden in 2 weeks, so that throws a big wrench into the plan. We would have to reregister Sophie here, which means more stress for me--figuring out what she needs in her new school, how to get her to and from (we only have 1 car & they only provide transportation 1 way whereas our current district provides transportation both ways), and how to prepare her to not go to school with her friends or really see them much anymore. She likes being at Oma & Opa's house for a few days, then gets bored and misses her friends, so how will she handle not seeing them for weeks at a time?
And after 3 years of resisting putting down roots or making connections where we are, I finally have a very good friend, I've been making connections with the LLL people and WIC people to help me get started with the lactation consultant stuff, and making friends with the neighbors. All of our stuff is there, so we would need to move things out here, which would require more gas to get there & back too. Plus the fact that it's hard to live with 7 people in a teeny tiny house (it's a 1 level 2 bedroom, 1 bath house that's basically the size of an apartment but at least has a yard compared to living in a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse with common areas of grass, but no yard) with pets and carpet that I'm allergic to so my allergies go crazy.
I guess it's my anxiety really kicking in and being afraid of change. What happens if something goes south with Brian's job? Then we're stuck here with Sophie in school here until he finds something else. Or what if it takes a long time to even have money saved up enough to move out on our own? He will not be making much money at all, and while I hope we get some part time job hours still, it won't be enough to help out much when we still have bills to pay off to just be back in the positive again. Ugh.
But a plus to being here, my dad & step-mom are amazing grandparents and love and support in every way they can. We're closer to our church & closer to my mom when she visits (and easier visits since Sophie will only be 45 minutes away compared to 2 extra hours so we could meet up in the morning or afternoon depending on when Sophie has school).
So many major decisions to make this week & I frankly wish I didn't have to do it. Any thoughts of encouragement/advice/prayers very welcomed!!
I cannot believe we are celebrating our 3rd World Breastfeeding Week! Noah turned 2 on July 28th & is still nursing several times a day. I'm grateful for that time with him to reconnect too and I know it's helping him grow, even if he still eats like a bird. He is healthy, smart & quite the snuggler! I am SO SO SO proud that we made it the full 2 years that the World Health Organization recommends & I don't see us ending anytime soon.
Sometimes I really cannot believe we have made it so far! It's like those early days/weeks/months of struggle have really paid off. Nursing a toddler is so incredibly rewarding. He says please when he wants to nurse, he will choose which boob he wants to start breastfeeding from like I'm a boobie buffet, tells me "a now one" when he's ready to switch sides and he giggles, claps and says "YAY!!! Nuh-Nuh's!!!" when I say I'm ready to nurse (which cracks Brian up!)! My boy is a boob man for sure! LOL!
Another perk of "extended breastfeeding" is that Noah can be comforted or lulled to sleep pretty easily with some boob time & despite the nursing toddler gymnastics from time to time, it's really sweet getting to snuggle my little boy so much still. I also get a kick out of nursing in front of family, friends or even strangers. I'm so comfortable nursing in public now, it's almost weird not to! I keep waiting for someone to roll their eyes or make a comment, but as we enter our 3rd year of nursing, we have not encountered anything major.
I'm so proud of our accomplishment & really hope to be able to encourage other IGT or low milk supply moms to keep it up! Breastfeeding is so much more then the amount of milk you make! Every drop that your little one gets counts, so stick with it! I'm SO SO SO glad I did!
Lancaster, York, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, United States
I am a Christian 29 year old mama of 2 beautiful girls (Sophia Grace-6; Madelyn Judith-4), a handsome little boy (Noah Levi-2) and wife to my amazing husband Brian for almost 7 years now and going strong!
Andrea is a stay at home mom who loves her job more than anything. She's also working towards becoming a certified birth doula & aspires to become a lactation consultant in the near future as well. She is passionate about birth & breastfeeding rights and loves educating and discussing any and all things surrounding that topic. Andrea loves to bake pretty cakes, freecycle, play with her kids, garden, talk to other mommies (and soon to be mommies) and is a real bargain hunter!
We are a semi-attachment parenting family, use cloth diapers, co-sleep, babywear, did baby lead weaning, extended breastfeeding & aspire to be as eco-friendly as we can be. We love spending time together as a family, hanging out with our dear friends, and advocating for birth & breastfeeding rights!
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