Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wheels Of Change Are In Motion

We've been homeschooling our kids for four years. I thought it would only be one. I was having my 5th baby & figured we should take some time to adjust. So the plan was to homeschool that year, have a baby in December, get ourselves together & go back to private school the following year. 

Then something happened. I fell in love with homeschooling. The planning, the freedom, the free-range possibilities... not to mention, the amazing feeling of knowing that I taught my child to read. Never mind the fact that she was already teaching herself. Haha! I took all the credit & it felt great!!

Well, now we're another baby, an Autism diagnosis & 2 businesses down the road. It's not as angelic as it used to be. I've found what my limits are as a teacher, a mother, a business woman. I have come to this place where I know what is necessary. I know it cannot continue the way it has been. We survived last year, but barely. When we looked down the road, at all we have coming ahead this next year, Michael & I just did not have peace. 

So, after 4 years of our motto being "one year at a time", we are finally doing it. We registered 3 of our school aged kids for public school. I will have only 3 at home each day. My only homeschooler will be Elias. I'll do preschool here & there with Ezrah. But this means that all these huge goals we have this year for our businesses will have more of my attention. This means saving money on expensive curriculum. This means more of my devotion for my struggling reader. This means time with my 3 boys who need their mommy. 

This also means homework, dinner before 7:00, going to bed on time, finding time to connect with my school kids & the dreaded morning routine that I am just not very good at. 

This means a lot of things, but most of them will be very good. It will be an adjustment. I have to let go of control and trust how I'm raising my kids. That's the hardest part I think. So I'm nervous and excited all at the same time! It feels right even though it also feels challenging. I think most changes like this do. 

So this is it...
Public school here we come...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When You Stop Being A Unicorn


I’m in a strange phase, friends.

It’s strange because it feels so very… normal.

I’ve been having babies for ten years. 
TEN. Like, the whole time. There have just been babies. Ten years of being pregnant or breastfeeding. Ten years of either growing a baby inside my body or feeding a baby with my body. TEN YEARS.

It may sound awful, but it has definitely not been. In fact, I can say with confidence that the past ten years have been the greatest of my life. I would do those same ten years over and over again… forever. Some of you mommas in the trenches may be shaking your heads right now. It sounds crazy. Honestly, I think I would have thought the same thing somewhere in the middle of it all.



The thing about being a mom is that the joy and love far outweighs the day-to-day crap. We get paid with stinky diapers and snot on our shirt, but also in the tightest hugs around our necks and the messiest kisses all over our faces. So I can honestly look back over the last ten years and see past the screaming, crying, and messes. I can see past the days where I wanted to run away... when I hid in the pantry and ate a birthday cupcake alone... or when I checked Facebook in the bathroom while the baby napped and my big kids watched a movie. I can see past the day where I had my keys in hand, gave my husband the wipes and a diaper upon him walking through the door, and left. Another night, I just drove around our town crying because the hard stuff from that day had finally caught up to me. I mean, just go back and read my posts from the first year or two of this blog. It was rough!





Being a mommy is hard. However, it’s also magical.



For ten years 
I have been like a 
magical, sparkling unicorn.



I have grown a living person inside of me, nourishing them and keeping them safe for nine months. I’ve done this six times! My body actually created an entire organ devoted to giving them exactly what they needed to grow. I gained weight, but not because I am fat or eat too much… I gained 2-3 pounds of amniotic fluid, 9-13 pounds of fats & fluids, 2-4 pounds of uterus, 2-5 pounds of blood volume, 1-2 pounds of placenta and 7-9 pounds of baby. 
You like that? #birtheducator 




I’ve been pregnant for 54 months of my life. I could have done it once and it would have been a miracle. The term “miracle of life” is so much more than words. It’s the real deal! 
I grew a HUMAN BEING… INSIDE OF ME! 
It’s just crazy.

After nine months of growing a baby, I gave birth to that baby. By now you know that birth is important to me. The way we are born affects us for the rest of our lives. The fact that after nine months, my baby and body worked together to push baby down, stretching me in ways I will never be stretched again, and ejecting baby out of my body… it’s just astounding to me. It was hard work. It was not ever easy, even the births where I had an epidural. My body did work that cannot be equaled in normal life. It’s not about the pain, but the experience in itself. 
I will not experience anything like that outside of childbirth. 
Six times!




Then, after the glorious experience of giving birth and meeting this child who you’ve made inside of you… this child who you’ve wondered about… this child that you have grown to love more than you could have ever imagined… then comes breastfeeding. Yeah, it’s sometimes not easy and it sometimes is uncomfortable. However, my body made milk to feed a baby. There is no cooler thing! 




I went through a lot of awful things during my last breastfeeding experience, if you can even call it a “breastfeeding” experience, considering the only part of my breasts that were involved, were connected to a pump for months. When my milk didn’t come in, I felt like I couldn’t do the very thing that women are supposed to do… but eventually, for a short time, it did and even those twelve ounces I produced each day were more than my husband could do. Or any man for that matter. My body did amazing, almost superhuman things. It did this for a total of 83 months of my life.

Being a mommy is magical.

I get to witness magical things every day. I get to watch my children grow and learn. Seeing their eyes light up when we sing Happy Birthday to them is magical. Watching their excitement when they read or tie their shoes or run through the sprinkler for the first time is magical. I saw my Autistic son, who struggles with emotion and sympathy, ask another child if they were okay at the park this week. 
It was magical.




We have not said for certain that we are done having babies. We just don’t know. We are overwhelmed and tired, but young. We are in no rush to do anything. I always say I think I’m done, but the truth is that sometimes God places a desire in your heart that you cannot explain. It can come out of nowhere and seems crazy to everyone else. Before the birth of our third child, we made the decision that we would have as many children as God helped us to provide for. This doesn’t mean we are reckless and irresponsible. It doesn’t mean we will do this forever. It just means that we have an understanding that God sometimes has a different plan than we do, and we are asking Him to help us make wise choices for our family. Each time we find out we are pregnant, miraculous things have happened… after I freak out, of course. As you all know, I did not even want kids! So, every time I have found out I am pregnant, it shakes me. There is never a time that I’m calm upon reading a positive pregnancy test. It’s brief excitement, soon followed by panic. It usually takes me a couple weeks to feel brave enough to tell anyone. And I always feel like I have to explain myself… isn’t that sad? I’m an adult, but I never felt like it would be acceptable to be pregnant again in our friends and family’s eyes, despite knowing that it’s the right thing for our family and even though our friends, especially, are super supportive. 
It's just the culture, but it's still sad in my opinion.

As my kids are growing older though, and I feel like my time with little ones is coming to a close, I can’t help but wonder about what it will be like when life is not magical anymore. 
What do you become? When you’re in the stage of having babies, every day is new and exciting. 
Pregnancy & birth alone makes you feel like Wonder Woman. 
So, what happens when you are not special or magical any longer? 
What happens when you have to stop being a unicorn?

I suppose it means the magic doesn’t just happen to you. You have to find it. You have to look for it every day. Luckily, parenting is full of special, sparkling experiences. You’re just not the one the magic is happening to. You are watching the magic around you. Pregnancy, birth and caring for a baby are a great mask. Being a unicorn is a pretty awesome costume. What happens when that time is over and your costume comes off? I think that’s what is scary. When you have to suddenly be your own person again. After years of not recognizing yourself, as anything but a baby-making & feeding machine, you suddenly are relieved of your duties, except for those years have changed you. You aren’t the same person as before you had children, before your body was transformed, before you became this magical thing. So you begin to learn about who you are, not just whose mommy you are. 




All of a sudden, people ask how you are and look at you. They’re not looking at the baby anymore. When you’re in the midst, you feel like you just want someone to see you… but now, let me tell you, it’s terrifying to think that they might now be looking at you. You are just supposed to be a real person again, but how can you be when you’ve been a magical, mystical being for ten years?

I can only imagine it gets harder as they get older, in particular when they grow up and leave home. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here… My oldest told me that, “soon I’ll be going to college”. I’m in denial that he will ever be that old. He’s about to turn ten and I’m not even sure that I’m prepared to handle the fact that I’ve been a mommy for a decade. And if this decade flew by so fast, I cannot imagine how fast the next decade will go. I’m feeling all the feelings, friends. Hold me.

For now, I’m holding my littles tight, taking my middles by the hand, slowly letting go of the hands of the first ones who made me magical, and looking to the One who gave me the magic in the first place.

Being a unicorn is magical, but maybe not being one will be even better.
Or who knows… maybe I’ll get another chance to do a little magic… 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Regarding Our Worth


Dear friends,

It’s a magical thing, to realize your worth.

As a Christian, I know my worth in Jesus… BUT what I am talking about today, is discovering your worth as a woman. I have many thoughts on this. So, get ready for an ear-full because this has been stirring inside of me for quite some time.

Ladies, we are worth more than petty arguments. 
Sometimes, it is completely acceptable to agree to disagree. We do not need someone to agree with us to validate our choices. If you’ve made a decision for yourself, your child, your family, then do it because you feel like it’s what is best… NOT because that’s what everyone else agrees with or because you want to avoid an argument with your mother in law. We all have different beliefs. We all have different values. We all make choices. My different choices do not make my parents or in-laws bad parents. We all do the best with what we know. My choices do not make you a bad mom. We all have different children and different lifestyles. It is no one else’s choice whether you vaccinate, co-sleep, bottle feed, homeschool, or whatever else you decide to do… And to clear the air… some of us do not enjoy debating and having intense conversations about WHY we choose those things. Personally, I research the crap out of everything, finding legitimate sources, not just mommy bloggers, and when I have finally decided, then there’s no reason to discuss it further. I don’t need to confirm anything with anyone, except my husband… but because I have always liked to talk through things with him. It’s been like that since before we were dating. We are a team. And while I’m on the topic…

The joy of having a husband, who sees us as a team, is that he respects my research and my feelings. He does not tell me I’m not allowed to do things. He does not lord over our family. He leads our family in love, but does not seek to have a house of minions, rather a group of people that work together toward our goals (read: TEAM). He is not the boss, or the principal (homeschool lingo- *insert eye roll), or the disciplinarian. There is no “wait til your father gets home”.
  
Friends, we are worth more than bullying. 
This is something that I did not understand for a very long time. I was under the impression that a bully was someone who beats you up behind the playground after school. A bully was the girl who pushed my brother in the back yard, so I chased her down the street with a wiffel ball bat (true story… don’t mess with my brothers!). I didn’t understand that a bully is someone who makes you feel bad to make them feel better. It is someone who will try to strip away your power so that they feel more powerful. That could turn into physical violence, but I think we all know that the old saying about sticks and stones is a big lie. Words hurt. Words hurt worse than a black eye.  

I was bullied by another girl who made fun of me all through elementary & middle school. She made me feel like I was worthless. She made me feel like if I didn’t do what she said, or acted like she did, or was as boy crazy as she was, that I wouldn’t ever be cool. I wouldn’t even matter. That was a lie. I recently wrote a piece for a friend’s writing project, talking about being bullied by my former OBGYN… in labor. Not ideal. Not ethical, in my opinion. And certainly not anything I’d ever want my daughters to experience. You can read that HERE. He made me feel powerless. That was a lie. Then, a grown woman, who made me feel inferior to her for many reasons unknown to me, bullied me in recent years. I made some errors that she felt the need to point out in a very embarrassing manner. She would give me unsolicited advice that was always worded in the most passive-aggressive way possible. She never wanted to know me. She made me feel stupid. That was a lie. Then there was the individual who always talks down to me. They always act like their responsibilities are greater than mine and their problems are bigger than mine as if to make them seem like a bigger hero when they get through it. If they knew me at all, they would know that this is not my goal. My heart is to encourage, educate, and inspire other moms… NOT get a bigger, shinier medal for my hardships! I am not competitive. Their passive aggressive comments and sarcasm that they thought no one noticed were quite obvious and made me feel like I was wrong for doing things I loved, things I was good at, things I was passionate about. Since when is following your heart and being a good mom looked down on? That was a lie. Why is it that we take these things to heart? Why do we let these bullies determine who we are? No more! You matter. You are strong. You are smart. You are a good mom. 

My new rule: no bullies allowed. 
They are not allowed in my heart, in my thoughts, on my Facebook page, or in my life. I deserve better! 
I am worth more than bullies!



Finally, sisters, we are worth more than mommy wars. 
And you now have my promise to not use that term again. I hate those two words. 

Do you want to know something cool? I have six children. 
They are wonderful, smart, vibrant, adventurous, sweet, kind, loving, passionate, brilliant, and courageous. They are the six most beautiful children I have ever seen. 
I probably do not feel the same way about your kids though. Do you want to know why? 
BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT MY KIDS! 



I was given THESE six children. I was not given your children. I gave birth to the six children that I needed… more importantly, the six children that needed me. They needed my experiences, ideas, and feelings. They needed my hugs, high fives, fist bumps & dance moves. They needed my personality. They needed my strengths. They needed my weaknesses. I needed these things from them as well. No other mother on the face of this planet could raise them like I could. Even on my worst mothering day, I can look at their sweet faces & know that they are mine. Even the ones that don’t look like me are mine. They could even be a different ethnicity or speak a different language. Do you know why? Because our hearts are knitted together. So, why would I think that any other person on the earth has the answer to raising them? Just like I mentioned above, we all have choices. So can we stop making ourselves feel bad about them? The choices I make and the things I do on a daily basis are a reflection of what works for my family. That does not mean if you do it completely different, that you are a bad mom. 
You know what? 
You are an amazing mom… to your kids. You are a perfect mom… to your kids. 
We read and blog and text and tweet and snap all freaking day long. I love research. I love knowledge. I love seeing how other families do things. I even watch the Duggars… BUT the difference? I don’t want to BE the Duggars. I don’t agree with them in many areas, but I can appreciate that they are the best parents for those 19 children and I can be amazed at their family dynamic. Maybe I’ll see something that I can adapt for our family… 
or maybe I can just respect them as parents, even if we disagree.

Moms, we are worth more than what we often reduce ourselves to. We are not just stay at home moms or work at home moms or working moms. We are not just breast or bottle. We are more than housewives who cook and clean all day. We are more than our titles and stereotypes. We are worth more than negative words & passive-aggressive comments. 
We are worth so much more.

I hope we all can remember how smart, talented, beautiful & strong we really are. Girl power is an understatement, ladies! So rock on…

XOXO
Kourtney

These are things I have been observing and walking through lately. I am blessed to have a relationship with Jesus and I can fully embrace forgiveness. Please know that the individuals above, I have forgiven. I am not living my life carrying the weight of that any more. But it was important for me to forgive, and then walk away. To not put myself in a position where they could hurt me with their words any longer. However, I felt like examples were beneficial in this blog post. Please see it in that light. Much love!


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Where I've been

It's been a couple of months...

I wanted to update you all on where I'm at and what has been going on.

About halfway through the Baby Steps to Natural Living series, I realized that I have been doing some extra work... & then I was given a very good idea.

I have given you all the first few steps. I feel that before I go into health, nutrition & all the DIY stuff that goes along with it, I need to be real with you all. I am still working through all of this crunchiness. It is a long journey, this natural one.

So, in light of that, I have decided to do something big. I will be researching these topics a little more in the coming months. I want you all to have updated, valid information. When I have completed all of my studying and digging, I plan to release this entire series as an E-Book.

This is something that I believe will benefit many of us. I *wish* I would have had something like this when I began my natural journey years ago.

Be watching for release dates &, of course, lots of fun stuff leading up to that.
In the meantime, I'll keep posting my weird stories & you can follow along as we do life with the Splendid Six.

XOXO
Kourtney

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Day 12 LINKS

As promised, my friends... it's time for some LINKS!

Here are my favorite Vitamins & Supplements that we use:

Our kids use:
JUICE PLUS

WE USE (& love):
doTERRA's Lifelong Vitality Pack


Vitamin D

Vitamin C

Magnesium

Since the Lifelong Vitality has an Omega supplement, we are good on our oils. However, the kids also take an Omega supplement. Barlene's is super yummy... it tastes like a Dreamsicle.


We all also take a probiotic. We will chat about the reasons for that in the coming days, but for the moment here is what the adults at our house use:
My hubby like THIS

I like THIS 

& then what the kiddos use.


That's all for today's link round-up... See you all tomorrow!

Baby Steps Day 12: Vitamins & Minerals

Thank you for your patience friends... as I posted on the Facebook page last week, we had a friend suddenly pass away in a tragic car accident, leaving behind his 2 young children. After that happened, I committed to spending my week with my babies. I pushed pause on life as much as possible & enjoyed being their mommy.

So, this week, we will be picking up where we left off & talking about WELLNESS! In our last post, we learned about how our bodies work. We learned about how they fight sickness and disease.

A huge part of that is having the sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals in our bodies that help every organ, every system, every cell function at it's best. What is the best way to get that? By eating well, right? By consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods on a daily basis... right?!

I'm going to assume for a moment that most of you have never eaten a purple carrot. Or a beet for that matter. What about something more simple... spinach. Do you eat spinach every day? Do you even eat vegetables every day? Our Standard American Diet is unfortunately not made up of such nutrient dense foods! In fact, even the foods we *think* are nutrient dense, are so processed that a large part of the vitamins and minerals have actually been lost.

We are going to get into our diets more in the future, but today we are talking about these vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals from food sources are ideal. And honestly, if we lived in a perfect, organic world, we could all get thoes items from our diets... the problem is, this isn't the Garden of Eden. And we also have seasonal issues. For example, I can't get a good batch of Strawberries right now in St. Louis. They just aren't very good! In certain climates, specific fruits and vegetables don't even grow! I just cannot grow a banana tree in my backyard. It's not warm enough. Despite my children eating an entire bunch a day, I'm stuck without a banana tree. So, we outsource... we buy stuff at the store & hope it's not loaded with pesticides (more on those later, too!). We have busy lives, so we turn to convenince. We run out of time in the morning, so we have to grab lunch out. We have to settle!

This all leads me back to this: if we aren't getting the essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to keep us healthy in our FOOD, we have to get them from somewhere... Supplements!

There are a few supplements that most Americans need in our diets. I've got a whole bunch of links to go with today's post & you'll catch them all at the end of this.

Vitamin D, B12 & C are examples of 3 major vitamins that we just don't get enough of in our lives.

Let's start with Vitamin D... the sunshine vitamin! Why do you think we don't get enough of that??? Well, consider the fact that you will probably spend most of your day today, inside of a building. There has been a link found between individuals that get sick a lot & Vitamin D deficiency.

So, I wonder what that means in the middle of the winter...
when we are inside because it's cold...
when it's cloudy & dreary...
catching on?

Our bodies need these things to function at their best! And that's not all: magnesium, iron, calcium... all things that our bodies need!! Some are easier to get through food than others. We can't overlook them though, or our immune systems may take the toll.

I'll let you do a little research and check out these links. Be on the lookout today though as I'm going to highlight my 2 FAVORITE supplements & give you links to all the awesome stuff we give our own family every day to stay healthy & to help our bodies ward off sickness.



Vitamins and Minerals | Weston A Price
Dr. Oz Explains The Importance of Vitamin D | The Dr. Oz Show
7 Signs and Symptoms You May Have a Vitamin D Deficiency
Link Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Dementia Confirmed
Vitamin D Deficiency Is Prevalent in Multiple Sclerosis
Magnesium: Why You Need It | The Dr. Oz Show
Magnesium: The Missing Link to Better Health
Vitamin B12 Deficiency May Lead to Brain Shrinkage
Vitamin B12 Benefits & How to Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency
How Vitamin C and Iron Can Help Reduce Your Stroke Risk
Whole Food vs. Synthetic Supplements | Melissa Wood, ND
Real or Synthetic: The Truth Behind Whole-Food Supplements

Monday, January 12, 2015

Baby Steps Day 11: Intro to Wellness

Welcome back to our Baby Steps to Natural Living series!



We have been learning lots, and HOPEFULLY you all are feeling more empowered and prepared to start taking some of these baby steps in your own homes!

Last week, we covered Personal Products & ended with a post about our "Private" health. It's been one of the most popular posts in this series! I would encourage you to head over and check it out if you haven't read it yet... LADIES! This is an important one!

This week we are going to dive into Natural Health & Wellness. We will talk briefly about medications, but the goal of this week is to EMPOWER you all to take charge of your own healthcare. Doctors are wonderful & I believe that medications and prescriptions can be a wonderful TOOL! Notice I did not say "answer". I believe that they are a tool in our toolbox that we need knowledge of (both pros and cons) and that we should use when we have tried all the other options first. When we have gotten to the root of an issue and are treating that ROOT, not just the symptoms. Unfortunately that is not the way most mainstream doctors operate.

I should warn you though: this a hard transition! Especially if you come from a very medically-minded background. My goal this week is to arm you with all the information you need to FIRST prevent sickness and disease, but then to combat these ailments in the least destructive way possible.

I feel like it's always a good idea to have knowledge about alternative health options also, for the sake of emergency preparedness. In fact, you'll notice that most of the topics we have covered are good for this purpose. If there were a natural disaster or any kind of devastating war in our country & we suddenly did not have access to medications or hand sanitizers or shampoo... knowing how to make these items easily is a wonderful skill to have!

I'm so excited to get started!
The first thing we need to do is determine how our bodies WORK! Human biology here we come!
I'm going to give you all a few links to read up on & then when you are ready, you'll be more able to understand all of our posts for this week!

Here is an in-depth look at how our immune system works:
http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/immune/immune-system.htm

This talk in depth about all of the various ways our bodies prevent illness. I do not agree with ALL of the linked articles, but the info here is pretty good:
http://www.humanillnesses.com/General-Information-and-Infectious-Diseases-A-Co/Body-Defenses.html

Tomorrow we will get into the meat of this topic, but I felt like a good intro was necessary when we're talking about health & wellness. See you all then!