The Withdrawals of Not Christmas Shopping.

You see, we are having an ‘Experience Christmas’ this year.

If you follow my writings over at My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear, I’ve had numerous articles published on the why’s and how’s of having such a holiday….  but the one thing I haven’t covered over there? The reality of quitting Christmas shopping cold turkey.

Ya’ll, we have FIVE children. Can you imagine the money we spend on Christmas over here? Let me just show you what our day typically looks like (and this was when there were only 3 of kids)

(This is not including gifts from grandparents and other extended family)

The amount of shit that I donate every year is in upwards of 2 truck beds full. THAT IS INSANE.

I was done. I still am done.

The truth is this: we are upper-middle class, as is the rest of our family. We have the only kids in the family thus far. We all enjoy shopping.  (Yes, we donate, too.) But it had gotten out of hand.

This year, we are all heading to Winter Park, CO for a family mountain Christmas.  We have some wonderful ‘experience gifts’ planned such as lift tickets, snow tubing, snow scooting (scooters on snow!), and ice-skating. We have broken the meals up by family to cook for each night, ordered cases of wine to be delivered, and made plans to buy a Christmas tree for the rental house.

This all sounds amazing… and it will be spectacular (after my anxiety attack is over), but the one thing  I wasn’t expecting was the withdrawals of not shopping for 123,543,255 gifts. (A lot of which were for myself.) It wasn’t that bad until Black Friday rolled around. I am normally Amazon-deep on my shopping by Black Friday. But this year, I purchased a carpet cleaning vacuum because we needed it. That’s it. That’s the only thing I bought on Black Friday.

We had the kids make a list – and then narrow it down several times – and then a few more times…

I purchased all 11 items ( 2 per kid and 2 for the hubby) on Cyber Monday. It was ridiculously uneventful for someone who loves to shop. The same went for our extended family.

And now  — now, there is absolutely nothing to do until our trip. It’s driving me MAD. I am deleting 100 emails a day about deals and Christmas coupons.  I am avoiding Target like the plague. It just feels so strange. I can’t drink wine and shop at night because we have already spent all the money on reserving tickets for these experiences!

I know this is a good thing. Hell, I’m the one that suggested this whole thing. But hot damn, this is fucking hard.

I like buying random crap – and picking things out at the 11th hour as a last minute buy and crossing my fingers that it arrives on time! Maybe, this year is making me a better person?  Probably not, but whatever – I’ll be over here drinking wine and NOT SHOPPING.

I know that my kids will have a blast this Christmas. This isn’t about them  – I know that. It’s all about me. And holy shit these withdrawals are intense!

If anyone has (or is) experiencing this too – please come hold my hand….

A few things to note if you decide to plan this next year:

  1. Book your AirBnb or rental house early in the year so you can pick from all that are available. You want mountain views or shuttle service to the mountain within walking distance.
  2. Find out if your rental house will be decorated for the holiday (ours will not, and with 5 kids, that is NOT okay…).
  3. Don’t think you’ll save money. We assumed we could put the kids in ski school, but after seeing the $749 price tag for 3 hours, that quickly flew out of the window. Once you factor in rental, gas/flights, food, a few gifts, and everything you plan to do while on the trip, it’ll play out to be about the same (or more) than previous holidays.
  4. Having extended family is key to making it feel ‘homey.’ We have built up this trip like nothing else with the kids, but the biggest selling point was having ‘Uncle Willie’ there!
  5. Don’t forget that you are going to have to pack a SHIT ton of stuff. I am basically in panic mode right now. Packing 7 people’s worth of WINTER clothing, boots and snowboarding gear, an adult and kid’s snowboard, possibly a sled, gifts (only 2 per person!),  food, tree decorations, and everything else… for an 8 hour drive…
  6. You will be away from home. This is a huge consideration! I didn’t think this through well. You have to explain to the kids that Santa will find you; you have to figure out if you are packing stockings or have them filled for when you return… and the  of course you have to swallow the whole “Christmas in your own home” feeling because you’ll be somewhere else!
  7. Make sure that you book an experience for you and your partner. Having something to do for just the two of you will be exactly what you need. John and I reserved lift tickets and rentals at Winter Park Resort, CO and will be snowboarding together for as long as Baby Veda will allow!
  8. Piggy-backing on #7, make sure that your trip is full of Christmas activities for the kids.  Winter Park, CO celebrates Christmas with fireworks and Santa sightings and more – so we are hoping that our kids will love it all!

If you are still reading, I wish you well. I’m not sure what we will do next year, but I am hoping that this experience trip will break me of the obsession I have with holiday shopping, so that next year I can go into the season with different feelings and expectations!

 

Postpartum Blues.

One out of five ain’t bad.

That’s what my husband told me.

And he’s right, statistically speaking.

Our sweet, sweet baby #5 joined us 11 weeks ago.  She is wonderful – as long as mommy is holding, nursing, or wearing her.  She still just smiles and sleeps, so all is good there.

But why do I feel like this?

I’ll tell you that I haven’t written in awhile because I haven’t been able to completely finish a post yet. I figured that I may as well lay this out there… maybe it’ll help me start writing more about ME again.

I definitely have the baby blues. And it is STRANGE. I know that I am me. I know that I am happy. But yet, I also feel this odd way about it all – as if I’m just blah. I’m not having intense postpartum depression. This feeling doesn’t last all day, every day, but it is completely unfamiliar to me.  I am here most of the time, but then I have days where I just feel like I am here but not enjoying anything. I still function as normal – the kids are happy and unaware, but I just feel overwhelmed, tired, and not ME. Again, it’s extremely odd for me to not just be happy all of the time.

I’m finding myself needing more ‘me time.’ Whether that be starbucks and a book on Sundays, running in the basement, or just a bath alone, I’m needing it.

Ya’ll, I am keeping FIVE HUMANS ALIVE. I am feeding them, loving them, educating them, driving them everywhere, keeping them from killing each other, wiping their butts, wiping their tears, and hugging them – ALL.DAY.LONG.  Two of the five are still babies in my eyes. The whole less than a 1.5 year age gap thing is craziness. This also means that I wake up to nurse and change diapers all night too.

So basically, I’m a superhero…

But those baby blues… man, they are intense. My anxiety is higher. I can’t imagine taking all of the kids anywhere that would possibly have a crowd. I hate being at home for more than 2 days in a row, but I also can’t imagine doing more than our exact scripted schedule.

I know that it will all fade away and become easier as time passes. I mentally prepared myself for the first year with baby 5 to be extremely challenging, but actually living it is quite different. But I am doing it.

I’m making friends, pouring myself into my work, and loving on my babies. I’m appreciating everything as it is… but I’m also accepting that this postpartum period is different.

Is it because of the age difference between Ollie Jack and Veda?

Is it because Veda is our last baby?

Is it mid-30’s?

Is it just what it is?

It really doesn’t matter what it is, does it? What matters is that I am aware and talking about it. I just need to continue to fill my own cup, ask for love and support, and understand that it’s okay to not be perfectly happy all of the time.

This is reality. This is my postpartum.

 

My Very Last Birth Story

 

At some point, your soul just feels complete. While I can safely say that I am addicted to pregnancy/birth/babies, my soul is so complete. I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for well over eight (closer to nine) years without a break. I am not – and never will – complain about this great journey. I am, however, excited to enter one last breastfeeding relationship, and to know that my chapter on pregnancy is ending.

I have written five birth stories now. My heart is feeling heavy with this being my last, but again, the excitement of the journey ahead is enough to pull me through.

This birth was exactly the closure that I needed. I did not plan a photographer and a decorative background wall to birth in front of. I did not envision rainbows and unicorns. I honestly just talked to myself about the beauty that is my own ability. I knew that this birth would be exactly as it should.

My milk has just come in.

I’m only 24 hours out and have left my room maybe three times.

The herbs from my bath tub still fill the air.

And to my left is a 6.3lb baby girl who just completed our family.

 

For those of you who have been following our journey, you know that this fifth baby was quite the surprise. We found out we were pregnant just before we learned of a cross-country relocation. We bought a house, drove 20+ hours to our new Midwest location, struggled with the birthing options here, and battled months of random health issues. Life was basically messy – and we were expecting this tiny new life.

While we have finally started settling in here, and our bodies are *hopefully* beginning to adapt to this new environment, and my mind has stopped crazily wanting to run away, we prepared for this baby. The summer was spent swimming and playing. We traveled and explored. All the while, I anxiously grew this baby.

The days flew by and the weeks added up. We had to figure our birth plan out. We are a homebirthing family, and once you have experienced a homebirth, nothing else compares.  We were faced with a huge dilemma due to the state we are currently living in…  but we found a loop hole and proceeded forward. (Thank you God)

Fast forward a bit… 

My babies have been born in the following order:

39w, 38w, 37.1w, 36.6w…  

I needed to bake this baby until 37.1w to have this homebirth. Talk about anxiety.

Prodromal labor began at 36.2 weeks along. It was happening at night, and it was scaring us. But labor can be quite the mental game. I talked to the baby – and my body – begging everything to work out. While it was a long week, this baby listened.

I began having more intense contractions on the morning I turned 37.1w. After about 3-4 hours, they faded. I walked and danced, but they did not return. My body was in mom mode with 4 little kids to wrangle.

That night, though, after everyone went to bed, the contractions returned. Around 11pm, they started at 5-6 minutes apart. I hoped they wouldn’t stall again, but knew they could. I tried to sleep – and managed to do so from 12-1:30am. Intense, active labor with contractions 2-3 minutes apart woke me from my sleep. I knew this was it, but wasn’t ready to wake anyone up. I labored alone in the bathroom. I needed to accept this birth, talk to myself, meditate, and process the entire experience by myself. This was my last pregnancy. This was my last baby. This was my last birth.

By 2:00am, I knew I needed to wake my husband and friend up – yes, my lifelong friend had flown in to stay with us for the week. Let’s just say that she has amazing birth experience and is just the person you would want to attend a homebirth. By 2:30am, I was making tea and laboring downstairs. I didn’t want to wake the kids. The camera began snapping pictures, and my amazing birth supporters talked me through contractions and kept me smiling. Jack Johnson and Ryan Bingham played in the background…

Contractions were intense but I kept my composure. The thought that they could last for hours at this intensity terrified me. But our bodies are amazing… My friend suggested we head upstairs to the bath tub, but I was scared to get in too early. (Even after baby #4 was born within an hour of labor starting.)  We packed up the camera and music and climbed the stairs.

I dropped to hands and knees at the side of the bed. – Oh, I forgot… My 17 month old had joined us downstairs and helped hug me throughout contractions.  At this point, he was attached to my husband – which is what I needed. The bathtub was filling and I was moaning. Transition was hard and intense.

 

Contractions began to change, with urges to push becoming stronger. I crawled to the bathroom and eased into the tub. My water broke just as this baby’s head pushed through. My oldest, Scarlett was able to wake up and experience seeing it all. With one last push, I brought baby to my chest. The pain turned to endorphins. At 3:32am, this baby was welcomed earthside.

This tiny, vernix covered baby was pure perfection. Scarlett checked the gender and immediately began screaming that she had a sister. My husband and I were in utter shock! After 3 boys in a row, this little one was a GIRL. 

Veda Ruth had completed our family… As my husband told her, “Veda, we have been waiting a long time for you.”

Her name means ‘A Beautiful Knowledge or Understanding’

I still cannot believe that I have given birth five times. I cannot believe our family of seven is real.

Happiness and love fill my soul.

And Then The Peace Came

Someday, I’ll look back and wonder how I survived these years.

Five kids in 8 years.
Working more than part-time, but less than full-time from home writing.
Homeschooling.
Cooking more meals a day than I ever imagined possible to eat.
Running errands, making it on time to activities, hosting playdates, and refereeing sibling wrestling matches.

I honestly do no know how it all happens.

I do know that I collapse onto the couch or into my bed each night and understand just how different this stage of adulthood is than I had ever dreamt. While I am exhausted, touched-out, burned-out, and aching with pregnancy pains, my mind reviews the day and the to-do list still to come. The house is quiet, even John is asleep, and I have tiny limbs draped across my expanding belly. I breathe it all in because, even through the craziness, I love this.

I have struggled for months with accepting this last baby, this relocation, and this new way of life out here. I have doubted my abilities, and in turn, I have doubted the foundation that John and I have solidified through 13 years and raising 4 babies alone. This move rocked me hard. We were too far away from an ocean, too far away from friends, too far away from family. I imagined myself drowning without any help.

But then the peace came. It hit me harder than a bag of bricks. We haven’t lived closer than a 10-12 hour drive to our families in years. We have started over in new cities and states many times. And John and I have done a damn good job so far.

The wind was blowing the tree limbs, making them cast dancing shadows throughout the backyard. The kids were running around chasing said shadows, laughing together. John and I sat with wine in hand and discussed the renovations we have planned for this gorgeous home we purchased. Music was playing, and we were happy. It wasn’t hard to realize just how far we have come – and what an amazing future we have. But this moment? This one right here is our time to grow together. We have been raising these babies without regular help. We have supported ourselves. We have figured it out and had a blast along the way.

This calmness and peace that washed over me has made me see where we are in a whole new light. We are together. We are in love. We are lucky.

The friendships will come, a mother’s helper will be found, and many, many road trips will be taken.

Sometimes you need to panic before you realize that you already know how to swim.

Renewing Your Spirit On Vacation With Kids

I was about to lose my mind, landlocked in the Midwest. This move has been quite the struggle for me mentally and emotionally. We have baby #5 due in a matter of weeks (I should jump on some sort of preparation for that, right?) and I’ve been dealing with kids who can’t seem to stay completely healthy since relocating.

I’m pretty sure I hit a wall, and I almost had a breakdown. My amazing husband has also been feeling a bit off since moving out here, and he decided a vacation was in order. He approached me with many inexpensive camping ideas, extremely long road trip destinations, and other random locations that I immediately shutdown due to pregnancy, grouchiness, and four small kids. I flat out said, “FIND ME WATER.”

You see, I grew up in water. Lakes, beaches, whatever. I was waterskiing at the same time I was learning to walk. I had forgotten how connected my soul is to the movement of water. I feel as though I had let that part of myself go without even realizing it. My husband grew up on the beach, but not in the same way that I did. Barefooting, skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and living every weekend on a boat effects the mind, body, and soul. I had forgotten all of this.
The moment I begged for a water vacation was the moment my soul realized how disconnected it was from my heart. I left the details up to John and just said, “PLEASE. I need this.”

He did not disappoint.

John reserved a bungalow just large enough for our family of 6. He made sure it had a refrigerator, stove, and bbq grill so we could save money by providing our own food. He also upgraded us to the lake view. (This man LOVES me and knew how much I needed this.) The front door opened to the lake. It was breathtaking.

The Tan-Tar-A Resort in Ozark, Missouri provided us with waterslides, indoor activities for foul weather, Fourth of July events, boat rental, the greatest fireworks display imaginable – from our patio, and delicious food options if we wanted them.

The trip was at the tips of my fingers for weeks. I was counting the days and showing the kids our resort online. We got excited together. We prepared the necessities for the long drive:
• DVD players
• Road snacks (pre-bagged per kid)
• Car activities
• Road map

I couldn’t sleep for 2 days before we left; I even called to see if we could start our trip early! Of course, the resort was booked solid, but it just made the anticipation build more.

We arrived with my heart pounding, and walked down to the bungalow with my jaw on the sidewalk. I jumped into John’s arms and just said, “Thank You.”

I am telling you, you need to do this. You need to take a vacation THAT IS ABOUT YOU. As a mother, or not even a mother – as someone entering mid-30’s who has let go of their childhood and lost themselves in life, the reconnection is eye-opening. I truly saw childhood memories flash before my eyes that I had forgotten about for decades. This vacation allowed my husband to see a side of me that he didn’t even know existed. My children saw me – ME – not their mother. They also discovered a portion of their souls that they didn’t know needed awakening. They felt more alive because I felt more alive. They were freer because I was freer.

It only took a few months of extra savings, 6.5 hours in the car, and 3 nights without thinking about work or life or anything outside of reconnecting to my own soul in the presence of my family, and I can genuinely tell you that I am better. I am happier, healthier, and stronger because I remember who I am.

Taking a vacation that is about YOU may also open your eyes to what you are missing in your day to day life. There is no possibility to spend my weekends on a gorgeous lake water skiing and tubing with the kids right now. We are living in an area in which that would only be possible about 3 months a year, but besides that, a ski boat is not in our budget at the moment. However… It is not too far from reach. If we reevaluate our budget, it may be a possibility within a few years. The location aspect though, that needs some work. I’ll tell you this though, I’ll be researching lakes and ski boats as frequently as I am on Zillow now.

Oh, and we are reserving the same bungalow for an entire week next summer – with a boat for at least 2 of those days. I will start saving now. My soul needs it.

 And So Does Yours.

F*ck No Spending; Let’s Just Budget Better

We failed, miserably over here. Anyone else want to join in on the confession?

We are about 22 day in to our “30 days of no spending,” and I’m here to tell you that it’s bullshit. I have 4 little kids and am due in about 2 months with the 5th. I managed over 2 weeks without buying anything unneeded, but then I caved. And I don’t even know if I’m sorry!

I wish I was stronger… maybe…. I don’t know.

I bought Beauty and the Beast on iTunes.

I ordered a new pair of Tom’s for my 3-year-old.

I ordered tiny baby socks.

I bought wine. (That MIGHT be a necessity.)

John ate lunch out a few times at work instead of bringing food.

I stopped at Target THREE times…  (I may not have bought crazy things, but I did purchase a few non-needed items.)

We are tie-dying shirts and onesies today FOR FUN.

The point is this: I like to randomly buy fun things and live in the moment.  So does my husband.

I am a total hypocrite. I know. I know. I swore we would be so good. What kind of example am I? A REAL, LIVE, NON-LYING ONE.

SO…. here’s the deal. FUCK the whole no-spending thing. I can’t live that way. Instead, we are implementing an actual budget that includes:

  1. Cash Withdrawals (Thank you Dave Ramsey)
  2. Automatic Savings Account Transfers (WEEKLY)
  3. Meal Plans and Grocery Lists
  4. Allowances for Adults and Kid Spending (nothing crazy, but enough for a movie or other fun entertainment)
  5. Open Discussions About Our Money and Budget

I’m pretty sure that this is a MUCH better plan than the last one.

PS — You can totally join us in tie-dying some summer-awesome shirts!  This kit is PERFECT because you can dye more than 3 shirts. HA.

Our Limited-Technology Summer Rules

It has been a week and a half without iPads, daily television, Netflix, and phone play for our kids. It’s been closer to a month of limited access of these items.

While I would love to be completely tech-free, all-day, everyday, that’s not fair to anyone – including me. Not to mention that I am a writer… I have my computer open whenever creativity strikes. AND I love to watch my Netflix shows in the evening. It’s how I shut my mom-brain off and zone out. We also enjoy family movies! What a hypocrite I would be if all technology was banished for the kids, but not the adults?

This is not the early 80’s here. I want my children to live their childhoods’ fully… including summers of boredom, but I’m also realistic. Mommy likes to unwind with a glass of wine and let the kids veg out…

We are absolutely loving our #TechFreeSummer so far, but after my last post, I’ve had a few questions about what exactly our tech rules are. I figured, the best way to answer would be to the masses.

Limited-Technology Rules For Our Home

  1. NO TECHOLOGY unless Mommy or Daddy says it’s ok.

That’s basically our main rule. ha.

Here are a few others that John and I are in charge of remembering, and the kids seem to forget:

  1. All iPads are kept together and away from kids, only to be retrieved by a parent.
  2. Television is permitted before iPads.
  3. iPads will be handed over if a parent asks for one.
  4. If fighting or bad attitudes arrive due to screen time, the devices will be removed and new rules discussed.

Our kids don’t have to check a list of crap before they earn their screen time. They have things we expect of them every day that are just part of life. I hate when I hear that kids earn screen time… I feel like it is part of the reason kids melt down when their time is over.

Here’s the deal. Today was the FIRST day we agreed to iPad usage in 10 days. It was early, a Saturday morning, and I just wanted to sleep a bit longer. Selfish, I know. I should have allowed the TV and not iPads; I’ve learned my lesson.   Our morning was Hell.

We needed to get ready for baseball games, and yet no child would cooperate, help, or listen at all. There was fighting between kids, aggravated adults, tears, and a late arrival to game #1. Both John and I just shook our heads and decided it was time to take our limited-technology a step further.

iPads somehow turn our kids into crazed-mean-unhelping creatures; normally it’s Netflix or a stupid app they are obsessed with – or just the screen itself. I think the time of day and exhaustion level of the child plays a huge role too. But I have realized that the hour of ‘sanity’ for me is not worth the 2-3 hours of cranky attitudes that comes with it. So we are cutting off iPads even more.

Educational apps can be played when a parent agrees, but it will be limited to 45 minutes, unless a parent extends time and happiness is still existing. No one uses an iPad until late afternoon or evening, and that will be a rarity (if at all) on weekdays.  (This is basically what the rules have been, but every once in a while we slack and shit hits the fan.)

If any of you have cut (or extremely limited) technology in your house, what advice do you have to share?  I’m up for learning from others on this!

One thing is for sure, our entire house is a more peaceful environment with technology being limited!

PS — Because of how our morning started, the children have been scrubbing the cars are afternoon, TOGETHER….   and they are HAPPY.

 

The Team Our Family Created

I have a 15 month old sleeping across my lap tonight. He is the sweetest little thing, and yet will become a true toddler in the blink of an eye when baby #5 arrives in 2 months. But tonight’s writing is not really about this…

We just got home from Scarlett’s (7) first swim meet of the season – and her first here in Omaha. She cut through the water in pure beauty, and in true mom-fashion, I screamed for the entire 32 seconds she crossed the pool.  I watched as her Daddy twirled her around on the side of the pool and high-fived her as she ran off with friends.  She wasn’t afraid at all – if anything, she looked like she was at home in the water.

I drove home with all of the boys, and I let John take Scarlett for special “Dad Time.” As we drove, Emmett (5) told me about how fast he’s going to be in the water. Even Lyle (3) joined in about how much fun it was to cheer for Scarlett. We all sang and laughed and talked…

And then, after bedtime, I sat down and felt emotional. Maybe it’s the third trimester emotions starting up…. but as I look through tonight’s pictures, I realized that we are doing so much more than celebrating childhoods here. There is more happening than family-fun.

We are always focused on ‘child-led’ this and ‘child-led’ that. It rules our life, and I LOVE it. Our kids are growing and learning as they were intended to. They are truly experiencing the world and all the happiness it embodies…. but tonight, I am realizing something so much bigger is happening….

My kids are growing up. They are growing up and growing together. It’s happening so quickly, that I could miss it if I sleep in too late. My days (and John’s) are limited now. We are raising these babies, but it’s passing fast. They are becoming each other’s support systems. Soon they will be one another’s go-to for celebrations and heartaches.

Yes, it is years down the road, but at the same time, it is tomorrow in the eyes of a mother. These babies are cheering for one another as loud (or louder) than their dad and I are…

I can see them in college… and as young adults… and then as true adults. My heart is bursting and emotions are overflowing.

These babies – these siblings are more than anything I had ever dreamt of with parenthood. We have created a TEAM. I want to cherish every single moment in which I am included in this team. For the moment, I am the coach… but it will not last.

My mindset is changing from ‘child-led’ everything, to ‘soak in the rewards from leading that child-led life.’

Rediscovering Summer: Bringing Back Childhood

If you have just joined in over here, you may not know that we are a over a week into our month of no (excess) spending. When our family began the challenge, it was due to needing to rebuild our savings accounts, but after a week, I’m learning that it’s really not that hard to think through things before throwing them into a cart. This may last longer than a month!

Cutting the spending also has an impact on our kids – their expectations of ‘owning things’ needed to be scaled back… drastically.

While we have tightened our budget-belts, I decided to go ahead and add a few more ‘fun challenges’ this summer. All of this is in hopes of bringing back a true childhood for our kids and instilling stronger values while enjoying the best season of the year.

Summer is about being barefoot in the grass, exploring the creeks, staying up until the stars come out, sleeping in and making over-sized bowls of cereal, becoming brown under the sun while diving into the pool, and road tripping with your family. It’s about exploring, adventuring, bonding with friends, and testing the boundaries of new found independence.

But yet, the youth of today are lost in social media and screens. Even the youngest of the generation aren’t out exploring the world; the toddlers know how to swipe a screen better than their parents. Who am I kidding? My own generation is lost as well! And we are no saints here. We own three iPads and have 2 TV’s in our home. While the iPads are used for homeschooling, they have turned into a crutch – for the kids and myself.

I’m done with crutches. This slower, mid-west lifestyle has opened my eyes to a wonderful opportunity… The opportunity to truly be present. So this is what we’ve done, we collected the iPads for good, unless a parent grants permission for an educational app to be used (exception will be the long road trip next month!). They will be used for homeschooling still – and facetiming family! – but that’s it, for now. The TV was never really an issue here, but the rule this summer is no TV until Mama says it’s ok.

I’m not doing any of this to punish myself or the kids. I enjoy evening TV, and I know the kids do too! It’s an easy way to relax and tune out…  but for 95% of the day, music is all we need!

Good-bye extreme technology.

We are a week into these changes and have spent more hours talking together than ever before. Meals are shared, clouds are made into alligators, bikes have been rode longer (and farther), and creations have been made from moments of boredom. We have found new playgrounds, filled inflatable pools, and lived slower – together.

I write all of this in hopes that you will join our #WildTribeAdventures this summer and cut off the majority of your technology…. in hopes to bring back childhood – and bring back summer!

My  kids will be at the library, pool, and children’s museum… They will spend hours being bored at home; they will play in the rain, ride bikes through our neighborhood, and create secrets together. I will worry as they wander around, but keep them within shouting distance. I will stop arguments from turning ugly, but let them solve their own problems. I will read my own books and encourage them to do the same. There will be hard days and easy ones, but the summer will be our best one yet.

Join us, using #WildChildSummer

Are Your Kids Drinking Enough Water?

I realized today, while at the pool- in 95 degree heat, that my kids hadn’t really drank ANYTHING yet. Looking back on the day, there was a delicious breakfast, but did anyone drink their water alongside of it? Maybe a sip…

My 7-year-old began complaining about a headache within 30 minutes of swimming, and it dawned on me: the kid needs WATER.

She has been complaining nightly about stomach aches, so bad that she cries and curls into a ball. The doctor can’t see any real reason for it, suggesting we completely cut gluten and dairy from her diet. (Those of you that know us, know we eat REALLY well – but we’ll be cutting out our limited foods in these categories.)  The chiropractor swears the issue lies in the air out here. She says that farmland = pesticide land. And while that terrifies the shit out of me, I cannot control our air quality.

What do I think? I have no real idea, but after research, I have found that this area has horrible ratings on its water, soil, and air qualities. Our bodies are going to take quite a while to adapt to this significant change, and it is further evidence in my basket to not make this home for too long.

I can’t change the air. I can’t change the soil. But I can control the water. I don’t think any of my kids are drinking enough water, and that’s going to change tomorrow. But most importantly, I am going to control the quality of water my kids are exposed to.

We are faithful Berkey-Owners and absolutely love the water filter. The only time we ever drink or cook with water from another source is if we are out of town, or the berkey wasn’t refilled! And in those moments, we used filtered, bottled water.  If you are drinking water from your refrigerator filter – or worse, the sink, please please learn about the benefits of adding a Berkey to your home!

But water is not only consumed by drinking. Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs what is put on it. This means that showers and baths can have an overall effect on our health. In our case, the harsh, hard, toxic-filled crap water out here is probably not helping with any of the issues we are dealing with. After a little googling,  we will be adding a filtration ball to our bath tubs, and will continue to use Epsom salt, essential oils for baths regularly. Keep in mind that Epsom salt can dehydrate the body, so increasing water intake is a must!

I have no idea if any of this will cure the stomach aches Scarlett has been having, but altering the diet, increasing the high-quality water intake, continuing with high-dose probiotics, and ensuring plenty of exercise combined with lots of sleep are our only options right now! Cross your fingers for us.

What about you and your kids? Do you drink enough water? It’s easy to forget to monitor such a mindless task. You drink when you are thirsty, but is that enough for your children’s health?

I’ll be using larger water bottles with my kids (with easy to use lids) They’ll be filled in the morning and hopefully consumed at least once a day.

Grab a water bottle and start tracking your children’s water intake! Let’s remind each other just how important it is for them to drink up.