I empathized with other women who carried the shared burden of perpetual family planning. A time when our homes, hearts, and arms are ready to parent when our bodies just aren't getting the message.
My latest magazine publication is now live in Moms Beyond Magazine on my personal journey with trying to conceive and what TTC can mean for those in the waiting.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my almost two years of motherhood is to never say never.
Before marriage, my anxiety told me I’d never want to carry or birth children. After marrying the man of my dreams I said I’d love to carry a child but that I’d never birth a child without drugs. Then once I was carrying my precious little man, after years of infertility, I did everything in my power to bring him into the world naturally, and I succeeded in my goal. After bringing him home, listening to outside advice, I uttered the words that I would never nurse past a year because of the judgment against moms that did. That was until I learned about all of the health and emotional benefits that come in the second year of life from a healthy nursing relationship. It was these large moments in my life, as well as many little instances peppered in between, that taught me to get my proverbial foot out of my own mouth and stop saying “I’ll never…”
Read the full story here on West Valley Moms Blog
Mamas, let’s talk about OUR gifts.
I’m not talking about our gifts by way of our talents.
I’m not talking about our knack to be able to DIY a palette into a bedroom set or our ability to meal plan like a champ.
I’m not talking about our gifts in the marketplace, or what we offer when it comes to our careers.
I’m talking about physical gifts. The material things we give. In particular, I’m speaking of the gifts that we give to our children.
Rewind to Spring when I was celebrating my baby’s first Easter. Now, as a Christian, Easter to me is of course first and foremost about Jesus and His sacrifice and His resurrection.
In celebration of this occasion, I put together a humble little box for my son. One that simply contained a baby Bible, a storybook for bedtime and a stuffed bunny...
Photography by Amy Termini Photography
One of lifes greatest treasures is being given a blessing we didn't even know to ask for.
A blessing that God knew our hearts needed long before we ever existed on this vast Earth.
My darling son Grey is one of those very good things.
Growing up in a family of girls, I wasn't exposed to brothers, male cousins nor did i have very many male friends. It was tea parties, princess dresses and spa days all around. When my sister and I would play house, our kids were always little girls, I nannied for little girls and as I grew older, I guess I just expected I'd also raise little Mini Mandi's.
When Doug and I spoke about children while we were dating we both expressed that we'd love to raise a daughter together. (He also comes from a family of 5 sisters, he is the only boy) and it just felt natural to both of us to assume that's what we'd be best at.
In truth I was scared to raise the sex I wasn't familiar with. I hate bugs. Neither Doug nor I watch any sport. I'm delicate and dainty. A girls girl. How would I raise a boy into a man that this world needs?
And then, God gave us a son. And from the moment they placed that little boy on my chest I knew. I just knew. He was meant for us. He would change our world for the better. He would stretch us. And grow us. Inspire us and move us to love so big and so wide, that any preconceptions of what we thought we "needed" flew right out the window.
And with that great, wide, deep love came the peace from our Lord that I cannot raise a boy into a Godly man alone. Only God can help me do that. Only can God can equip me for a role that heavy.
And it is He that placed a Godly, strong, kind, gentle, manly man in our home as husband and father. It is through Doug that Grey will learn what it means to be a good man. A good husband. A good brother. A good father. All the things that I've never been and can never be and therefor can never model. But Doug can. And I count myself blessed to have him as my partner, raising this little boy by my side.
I, as his mother, can show him how to nurture, care for his home, work hard, follow dreams and teach him lessons, big and small, day in and day out, all while modeling Christ to the best of my ability right here in these four walls. That's what I can do. By the help of our great God in heaven, that's what I can do.
As my fears started to fade away, carried into the distance by the ever present peace of God, room was made to dream of what I could share with our son. I've waited years to play cars with a little one. And now I get to do that every day. I'm learning about superheroes and Star Wars and bugs and dinosaurs. I do chores wearing super hero masks and get the tightest, squeeziest hugs from a little boy who loves me more than life.
And my breath catches, and I wonder, goodness how could I have EVER lived without this? Without you? YOU are our family Grey. My little boy. Our perfect little puzzle piece. Thank you for loving us unconditionally. We will spend our whole lives loving you the same way.
You Can Follow Me On Instagram To Watch Us Every Week
What Is It?
Tot School is a way to introduce your young toddler to structured learning and play time. It involves simple themes tailored to your child's abilities and interests.
I never force anything on Grey, as he is still so young I don't feel like any of this is a "necessity" right now as I follow much of the Montessori way. I let him lead and he seems to really enjoy it and thrive on a curriculum.
Why Tot School?
I introduced Tot School for three reasons.
1. As Grey got to be more active, I wanted a way to break up our day and give us, not only activities to bond us, but to grow his learning, while waiting for daddy to come home.
2. I saw that he naturally was progressing well with speaking, and picking up concepts, and I wanted to enhance his daily learning experiences with an actual lesson. And these lessons we work on all week.
3. Due to my view of the school system and our family's personal beliefs on certain topics, I very well may homeschool beyond preschool. Tot School is a good way to prepare me to work on curriculum, organization of a class environment for Grey and patience when it comes to teaching a younger mind.
Curriculum + Themes
Currently on Week 19, we have been having fun mixing it up week by week. Now that I see that Grey is grasping concepts easier and easier, and as his attention span increases, we now do TWO themes most weeks, breaking it up into one activity in the AM around 10, and the other around 3-4 after nap. I primarily search for craft ideas on Pinterest, books from Amazon and the library and more educational based activities from the local teacher resource store and choose our themes based on what I feel like he's about to really take off with or may need help with. Read below to see the themes we've already worked with and what we have coming up this Spring.
Themes And Activities Weeks 1-19
What We Have Planned For Spring 2018
Themes to watch for this Spring/Summer! Also, moving forward, more of the crafts, books and activities will be linked to printables, how-to's and more.
Arctic animals, Ocean, Weather, Emotions and Feelings, Spring, Gardening, Farming, Bugs, Alphabet, Easter, Summer, St. Patricks Day, Jungle Animals, Farm Animals and so much more!
FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM AND SEE OUR TOT SCHOOL LIVE IN ACTION EACH WEEK!
This is a sponsored conversation from Mums the Word Network and The Stork OTC. All opinions are my own.
The holidays are a mix of magic and remembrance for us.
Magic, now that our miracle baby is here with us. Remembrance of what the holidays were to us for the years leading up to him joining our family. I remember the past holidays full of "when will you grow your family?", seeing the joy of other families with little ones and the added "babies look good on you two. It's time." Each comment crushing my soul a little more. We'd been married four years, and everyone in the world (or so it seemed) wanted to see us with children.
The thing that most didn't know at the time was that we WERE trying. And we too wanted to see us with children. We had been trying. For three years we tried, both with and without medical intervention, to grow our family.
The Christmas season of 2015 brought much joy when we found out we were expecting, however, just three short weeks later we'd learn that the baby was not viable and we experienced a great loss a week before Christmas. In those moments I was grateful to be surrounded with family, holiday obligations and business, but my heart ached for the "almost".
A year later, almost exactly to the day, we found out we were expecting Grey and I literally fell to my knees in gratefulness and pure joy. We had changed our protocol with our doctors and something worked to bring us our sweet boy.
Fast forward to this year and we are celebrating our second Christmas with our sweet little guy and we are now looking to the future and what we ultimately want our family to look like.
We know there is a realistic chance that we could, again, struggle and are open to options that may help us conceive faster in natural, non-invasive ways that don't cost the large pricetag that IVF and other methods bring along.
Which is why I'm thankful for discreet over the counter options like Stork OTC. Found at Target in the family planning aisle, Stork OTC is a product that aids in helping couples with certain issues conceive faster, naturally. It’s cervical cap insemination technique helps deliver sperm as close to the cervical opening as possible, increasing the chances of fertilization by up to 20%.
Just $59.99 at most retailers, (I got mine at Target, because I practically live there this time of year), it's a small price to pay for a higher chance of us growing our family. To me, I can't put a price on that.
You can also find it online at www.StorkOTC.com.
I don't think I've ever felt the Christmas spirit as much as I have this year at Christmastime.
Christmas with our almost one and a half year old is one of the most joyous, expectant, beautiful things I've ever experienced. Each morning, in his Christmas themed jammies (you know I bought them all), we sip tea and eat muffins at Grey plays with the "choo choo" grandpa brought him early and it feels like Christmas morning. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
In addition to the joy of our sweet boy, we have so many blessings to be thankful for. A roof over our heads. Warm clothing. Healthy food in our bellies. Clean water. Friends and family we adore. Some of our best friends are to be married soon. And Mr. Charming and I recently sponsored two children, in Indonesia and Mexico respectively, who we plan, pray and hope to sponsor through high school. They are currently 3 and 4 years old, and are beyond adorable. We will be helping them go to school, get medical care, attend a church and Bible school, get nutritious food and supplements and let them know there are people in this world, in addition to their parents who are working so hard but who are victims are poverty, who love them and are praying for them.
I hope that these actions will deliver an example of eternal serving that Greyson can grow up with. I pray that these decisions his father and I make, especially at a time of year that is so muddled with materialism, will plant seeds in his heart that will help grow roots that will keep him on a firm foundation of faith, servanthood and loving Christ.
Before we had Grey, and through our struggle with infertility, God put it on my heart to care for a child that wasn't biologically mine. I really struggled with what that meant for a long time, as we so badly wanted a baby that was a piece of my husband and I. I think I had started looking at other options (foster care, adoption) before Mr. Charming, but I'm so glad we kept trying. God's plan is so, so good.
And with his blessing of provision, we weren't able to help just one more child, but two. And maybe, down the road it will look different, or another child will share our roof, but for now this is the way we feel called to love on "siblings" around the world for our little man.
I pray, as you count down these 14 days left until Christmas, that you can truly soak in the magic of the season. And that you too, will follow your heart and Christ's calling for how you can be a blessing to "the least of these."
For more information on how we got involved, www.compassion.com is who we went through through our church home, CCV, www.ccv.church.
And P.S. LOOOOOOK at our nugget LAST Christmas. He's growing so fast.
What a beautiful, exhausting, joyful, emotional sixteen months it has been as a mother.
I count myself blessed every moment I get to spend with this little guy who is becoming such a spunky, quirky, cute, funny little person. No one tells ya all the feels you will have EVERY DAY playing this role, and so I thought I'd compile a little entry of what motherhood is to me. To inspire others, as a keepsake for myself and to lighten the usually heavy conversations that can arise in this season.
Afterall, they're only small a little while, so soak up every moment, love them hard and enjoy the ride.
This month has brought on A LOT of new tastes to little man's palette and many more opportunities for him to sample foods outside of the house. This has made going out, and bringing him along on our date nights, much more fun and easy.
Not having to bring so much external food from home makes it easier to be spontaneous and I'm thankful he is eating so many fruits, vegetables, healthy oils and meats now because we can order something for him at almost any restaurant I can eat at.
He's moved to having lunches and dinners that are unique to what we are having, so moving forward you will see separate breakfast, lunch and dinner sections for even more meal ideas.
We also introduced, GLUTEN. (insert shocked gasps here), for many reasons, that I will talk about in next months post, but you will see some bread included in the meals below.
*Note that these are the meals he's served from breakfast, lunch and dinner. He also gets two-three snacks a day. Snacks include apple slices, pear slices, organic teething cookies, organic puffs and vegetable based baby food purees
Banana Bread, Strawberries and Egg Yolk
Turkey Lunch Meat, Avocado, Freeze Dried Berries
Leftover rice from Chipotle, Shredded Chicken and Peaches
If there's ever a chance to infuse more music into our lives. I'm all about it.
Experts say exposing your baby to a variety of music can increase their social skills and their intelligence.
Myself, being the fan of music that I am, and my significant background in the field, I knew I wanted our children to have a well-rounded sense of the music arts.
With this in mind, I started a tradition with Grey that allows him time to soak up different genres, sounds and artists every day, giving him a chance to find what it is that he prefers. And I have to admit, it's been quite cute to watch, and so far, 60's rock is winning. #OldSoul.
Just in case anyone else is interested in doing something similar to expose your little to a variety of genres, instruments and songs, below, I outlined the music I play on different days of the month. Since I limit TV in our home to only 1-2 episodes of educational shows a day (less if we go out with daddy or for a playdate), and no music or tv while we are doing our "learning time", music has been a fun way to break up the day and make meal times more entertaining.
I usually play music during breakfast, while I'm prepping dinner and during one of the play times after a nap. All sticking to the same genre on the specified day. I use a music app on my phone to randomize songs in the particular genre I choose to play that day.
Feel free to be creative and tailor your list to YOUR tastes, and to the types of music you want your littles exposed too. This is just what works for us!
(Classical and Opera proved to be too hard to listen to all throughout the day. I felt like I lived on an elevator, so we do Friday mornings or winding down before nap to the list below.)
On weekends we just mix it up and listen to Christian or Top 40 Radio when we are out and about with my husband, as the weekends are for adventures, errands, day trips and quality family time.
For more on what I'm doing in music, check out www.NVERecords.com where I've just accepted a position as label director and couldn't be more thrilled to be back in music full time once again!