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Happy Father’s Day!

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“When he becomes a father, a man leaves behind his life as a single individual and expands into a more inclusive role. He becomes a link in an unbroken chain. And in doing so, he himself undergoes a birth process–the birth of himself as a father.”

–John Franklin (FatherBirth)

It is almost Father’s Day and Brigid’s Grove is taking a some time to acknowledge fathers. We have two downloadable father-related gifts:

We also have some Special Father’s Day sale items in our etsy shop.

Father’s Day represents an important milestone for us, since it was this time three years ago that Mark gave his notice at his job and took the leap into a full-time, home-based life with the rest of us. This was prompted in many ways by his desire to spend more time with his family, which I wrote about several years ago in my Fatherbaby post:

We have discussed how each of our babies has been a catalyst for big changes in our home situation. Our first baby was the catalyst we needed to move away from our by-the-highway-no-yard townhouse in a city and onto our own land in the country near my parents. Our second baby was the catalyst we needed to finish building our real house and to move out of our temporary house and into our permanent home. So, we are now wondering what kind of catalyst our baby girl will be?

via Fatherbaby | Talk Birth.

The baby girl of which I spoke was the catalyst to finally make the leap. Then, after Mark was home full-time we had another baby, Tanner. For the first time in his parenting career, Mark was finally able to spend that precious year of babyhood with the baby and the rest of us, together, where we belong. They have a very tight bond and a beautiful connection.

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“Fatherhood challenges us, but it also enlarges us and reshapes our perception of what is important in the world around us. As we take stock of this new world, we find that doing our job as a dad is inherently honorable and respectful, and brings to us the dignity that goes with the territory. Far from being emasculating, being a dad makes us men in the finest sense of the term.”

Dads Adventure

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Past Father’s Day blog posts:

Article of the week:

10 Things To Reject In the Delivery Room | Consumer Health Choices

What I’m reading lately:

Burning Woman!

What is going on at Brigid’s Grove:

Other news:

On the blog:

Upcoming in-depth courses with Molly:

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Tuesday Tidbits: Happy Father’s Day!

“Fatherhood challenges us, but it also enlarges us and reshapes our perception of what is important in the world around us. As we take stock of this new world, we find that doing our job as a dad is inherently honorable and respectful, and brings to us the dignity that goes with the territory. Far from being emasculating, being a dad makes us men in the finest sense of the term.”

Dads Adventure

June 2015 050Maybe it seems too early to offer Father’s Day wishes, but we’ve been working hard on our new Papatoto daddy sculptures and also finishing up our new birth affirmation cards for fathers which are coming up as the freebie in the June newsletter (subscribe at http://brigidsgrove.com), so I’m in the mood! I’ve been mining my blog for past father-relevant posts and have been re-sharing them from the depths of my blog archives. So far, I’ve found a breastfeeding facts book review:

“Since partner support of a breastfeeding mother is one of the most important factors in breastfeeding success, the short book Breastfeeding Facts for Fathers is a valuable book indeed…”

via Book Review: Breastfeeding Facts for Fathers

And three more reviews, one for homebirth dads:

The target audience for the handbook is easily summed up in the prologue: “…I’ve met far more men who have responded to their partners’ home birth wishes with a mixture of shock, cynicism, and fear…Far from being domineering ogres who just want to see wifey tucked ‘safely’ away a hospital, these loving fathers have simply had very little access to accurate, impartial information about the safety and logistics of home births versus hospital births.”

via Book Review: The Father’s Home Birth Handbook | Talk Birth.

One a handy little guide for any father-to-be:

“Humanity cannot invent a drug that can work better than a mother’s body can manufacture or a knife that is sharper than her instinctual nature.”

–Patrick Houser

Book Review: Fathers-To-Be Handbook: A Road Map for the Transition to Fatherhood

And a long-time favorite resource, Fathers at Birth:

I greatly enjoyed reading a book that explores and expands the role of men at birth. In addition to serving as a helpful resource for men who wish to be active partners in the birth process, doulas will find helpful tips and tricks in the book, and childbirth educators will find language and ideas for reaching out to and better connecting with the men in their classes. It is a nice addition to any birth professional’s lending library.

via Book Review: Fathers at Birth | Talk Birth.

Father’s Day represents an important milestone for us, since it was this time two years ago that Mark gave his notice at his job and took the leap into a full-time home-based life with the rest of us. This was prompted in many ways by his desire to spend more time with his family, which I wrote about several years ago in my Fatherbaby post:

We have discussed how each of our babies has been a catalyst for big changes in our home situation. Our first baby was the catalyst we needed to move away from our by-the-highway-no-yard townhouse in a city and onto our own land in the country near my parents. Our second baby was the catalyst we needed to finish building our real house and to move out of our temporary house and into our permanent home. So, we are now wondering what kind of catalyst our baby girl will be?

via Fatherbaby | Talk Birth.

She was the catalyst to finally make the leap and now that we have Tanner, Mark finally gets to spend that precious year of babyhood with the baby and the rest of us. Here’s that catalyst baby girl and her daddy now:

Molly 151The wild raspberries are ripe a little earlier than usual this year and though we often make one on Father’s Day, we’ve already enjoyed a treasure of a cobbler from those we picked over the weekend. Here’s last year’s post with the recipe:

…I consider any berry picking expedition to be the very definition of success as long as there are enough berries to make a cobbler! It was so delicious I felt like sharing my version here, in case any of you would also like to enjoy one with your family during berry season.

via Recipe: Wild Raspberry Cobbler | Talk Birth.

Happy Father’s Day!

June 2015 034“The absolute miracle of a birth and the emergence of a new human being into the world catapults both mother and father into the realm of awe and wonder. They are flooded with non-ordinary feelings and energies that support a deep connection not only with the newborn and each other, but also with the mystery and power of life itself.”

–John & Cher Franklin in FatherBirth

Introducing…Papatoto!

Attached Father, Papatoto, daddy and baby art sculpture (dad, attachment parent, mother blessing, midwife, doula, childbirth, figurine)“When he becomes a father, a man leaves behind his life as a single individual and expands into a more inclusive role. He becomes a link in an unbroken chain. And in doing so, he himself undergoes a birth process–the birth of himself as a father.”

–John Franklin (FatherBirth)

Just in time for Father’s Day, we’ve finished our first ever father-baby sculpture. This seated father and child sculpture is 3 inches and colored with a beautifully swirly mica pigment. He is custom created in the color of your choice by request in your order (color choices: blue, turquoise, russet, lavender-gold, rose-gold, gold, bronze, copper, gold-bronze, purple, or green). He is a nurturing, loving figure! Papatoto means “fatherbaby” and represents the continued, symbiotic, connected relationship between parent and child that begins in the womb.

This fatherhood sculpture was created in collaboration with my husband to capture the father-child bond and how the baby learns to explore the world from the secure base of daddy’s lap. A new standing father with child on hip is coming next.

Birth affirmations for fathers coming up as our next newsletter freebie, so make sure you’ve subscribed!

“Nurturing is not a genetically feminine attribute. Tears and laughter are not the province of women only. The last time I looked, men had tear ducts. They had arms for holding babies. They cared about their children. And they cried at births…let the shared experience of childbirth reclaim the human soul.”

-Ariska Razak (midwife and healer)

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Tuesday Tidbits: Babies!

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First pro photo shoot yesterday afternoon!

Almost nine years ago, when Zander was a baby, then-three-year-old Lann would stand next to my chair while I was nursing the baby and say, “Zander you HAVE to drink lots of nonnies so you can grow bigger and PLAY with me.” That set the intention for their brother-friendship and as soon as Zander could sit up, they played together every day. They get up in the morning and sit in the recliner together, covered up with a blanket and watching Minecraft videos on Lann’s iPod. They stay up “too late” every night laughing and talking like every night is a slumber party. I am grateful for this tight bond between them and I hope that somehow Alaina and Tanner might develop something close! There is an almost four year gap between Alaina and Tanner and it has definitely been our most difficult sibling adjustment experience. I’m not sure if it is the age gap, or gender related, or the fact that she doesn’t have a built-in best friend the way my boys do, but she has an incredible need for affirmation that she is still loved and she seems to feel perpetually attention-deprived and extremely needy. I try hard to do special things with her and to be empathetic and available, but the need-level + attention-desperation is emotionally wearing and feels “oppressive” or smothering, in its way (in that it provokes the opposite effect in me–i.e. feel like pushing away vs. drawing close. And, whatever I do, it is never enough for her). I keep waiting for her to adjust more, but in the last month it actually seems to be escalating instead of improving. Tales of encouragement welcome!

Tanner is successfully cross crawling all over the house and pulling up on everything as well as starting to cruise just a little (yes, not seven months old yet! Oh my goodness!). We feel like he is Genius Baby. See…

The cross-crawl milestone, which usually starts at 8-10 months, is not only beneficial in the child’s physical and neurological development; it will serve her or him much later in life.

via Crawling: A Necessary Step Before Walking.

I enjoyed this article recently about the importance of babies’ mental health:

The good news is that nurturing strong mental health in young children is not a specific undertaking in which parents need to engage — as if it were a “job” or task. It is how parents are with their babies that matters — providing comfort when fussy; responding to their child’s efforts to communicate first by facial expressions, sounds and gestures, and later words; engaging them in joyful play and exploration by following their interests and lead; coaching and supporting them to persist with challenges; providing appropriate limits to help children learn to manage when they can’t have everything they want; and most of all delighting in the joy of young children’s daily discoveries, and in the power of the bond they are building together. This kind of responsive care builds babies’ trust and sense of security, and makes them feel adored and loved — the key ingredients for positive mental health.

via Babies’ Mental Health Matters | Matthew Melmed.

(And, speaking of mental health it was good to see that Children May Not Have as Many Mental Health Disorders as Suspected.)

While it seems tacked on as a bit of an afterthought in the Babies’ Mental Health article, I was also glad to see that 11251283_10203845194197187_3676081550923680989_othe author acknowledged the systemic context and how that impacts parents’ ability to offer this needed responsive care to their children:

So, as a society, we are left with a choice. We can support young families as they master that critical dance of development. Or we can wait to address the mental health problems of older children and adults down the road, which is not only draining for them, but also expensive for society. Why not recognize where the foundations of mental health are laid and seize the opportunity to promote a good start?

via Babies’ Mental Health Matters | Matthew Melmed.

Speaking of responsiveness, turns out that fathers are biologically primed to be responsive to their babies:

“Human fathers’ physiology has the capacity to respond to children,” Gettler says. “Our prior research has shown that when men become fathers, their testosterone decreases, sometimes dramatically, and that those who spend the most time in hands-on care — playing with their children, feeding them or reading to them — had lower testosterone. These new results complement the original research by taking it one step further, showing that nighttime closeness or proximity between fathers and their kids has effects on men’s biology, and it appears to be independent of what they are doing during the day.”

Substantial research has been conducted on the sleep and breastfeeding physiology of mother-baby co-sleeping, but this is the first study to examine how father-child sleep proximity may affect men’s physiology, and it is the first to explore the implications of co-sleeping for either mothers’ or fathers’ hormones.

via Fathers biologically attuned to their children when sleeping nearby, research reveals — ScienceDaily.

This could also be related to the fact that dads are men and not idiots…

You’re so lucky your husband is willing to do all that while you’re away!

He did LAUNDRY? What a good man!

He is a good man, a really good man. But not because he tackled a few loads of laundry. He’s a good man because he’s always a good man, taking care of whatever needs doing for his family — whether I’m home or away.

To be honest, I found all the well-intentioned concern confusing. My husband traveled halfway around the world for a couple of weeks and I didn’t receive a fraction of the interest or accolades.

Maybe managing dual pickups or packing lunches aren’t part of his daily to-do, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be. If parenting in a marriage is indeed a partnership, let’s stop going ga-ga over da-da.

via Dads Are Men, Not Idiots.

But, despite the awesomeness of da-das, it also turns out that babies are primed to say “mama” first:

But there is a word, and only one, spoken the same way in nearly every language known to humankind. That word, of course, is “mama.”

“Mama” is a universal word, describing the woman who gave us the most cherished love in our most vulnerable state. Almost every language boasts a recognizable form of it. While it’s true that most languages vary when it comes to the formal word mother, the intimate mama stays the same in each language.

But “mama” doesn’t spring from love. It happens because of two things: Lazy little baby mouths, and boobs…

…So why do babies gravitate to the “m” sound instead of “p” or “b”? Because of breasts, of course! The “m” sound is the easiest for a baby mouth to make when wrapped around a warm delicious breast. Even as adults, we still associate “mmm” with something being yummy and good. So does your baby.

via Why babies in every country on Earth say ‘mama’.

Yep. The “ma-ma” sound is easier to make while also nursing at the same time! (My babies have all said “mmm, mmm” while nursing and I “mmm, mmm” back to them on the tops of their fuzzy, magical heads.)

Of course, nursing also is a magical way to put babies to sleep and co-sleeping helps:

Do what works for your family and trust yourself to know your baby better than any external authority. You are spending the most time with your baby, and every baby is different. Infants, children, and their parents intersect in all kinds of diverse ways. Indeed, there is no template for any relationship we develop. When it comes to sleeping arrangements, many families develop and exhibit very fluid notions of where their baby “should” sleep. Parents with less rigid ideas about how and where their babies should sleep are generally much happier and far less likely to be disappointed when their children cannot perform the way they are “supposed to” — i.e. sleep through the night…

via My Conversation With Co-Sleeping Expert James McKenna | Arianna Huffington.

The sleep expectations I’ve had to adjust the fourth time around center on naps rather than nighttime. I’ve always had babies I could put down to nap (after they fell asleep). Not true anymore! So, I’ve adjusted to this extended period of “cave time” with my baby, where I retreat to the bed to nurse him for nap and then stay in there together, him right next to me, while I work on my computer. Just before I started this post, I took a picture of his sweet little naptime nursing self. I love having a baby!

19509_10155601113000442_6558383859878718297_nFinal off-topic note, remember that we’ve started a private Brigid’s Grove Facebook group for sneak peeks, special offers, class information and conversation + idea sharing. It is here that we’ll also offer rock bottom deals on sculpture seconds when we have them available. The last batch of ten mildly flawed goddesses were gone within a couple of hours!

 

Moods of Motherhood: Co-Creating at Home

Today’s post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing).

Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming Aloud.net

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I work at home in two capacities: I teach online as a faculty member for a college and I co-create Brigid’s Grove with my husband. I also teach outside of the home once a week at a branch of the same college that is located on a military base about 40 minutes away from our house. All my preparation, grading, students emails, etc. for the in-seat class also take place at home. Beginning in July 2013, my husband took a significant leap into being a “free-range human” and now works at home with me. This was a leap because my teaching is on a contract basis and I make 1/3 of the money that he made when he was working full-time, but, I only have to leave the house for seven hours a week, leaving two parents home full-time the rest of the week with our homeschooled kids.

Shortly before Tanner was born, I posted the following on Facebook:

I heard back from the [campus] yesterday and they approved my proposal to teach my January class as a modified hybrid, which means I’ll be able to leave at 8:00 and get out the back gate (saves me 30 minutes drive time!) to get back home to my baby, rather than having to drag him + caregiver to class with me til 10:00 the way I did with Alaina!

(Of course, it also means I’ll have hours of extra online posts/grading about controversial  topics, but I can nurse a baby and diplomatically moderate discussions simultaneously…)

I’d also like to take a minute to be grateful that, even though we’re a bit on the edge financially over the next couple of months, that we have the opportunity and ability to *do this*–have two parents home full-time, except for that one night to the [campus] for me each week! Lucky! (And, with some hearty dashes of good planning and creative other multiple streams of income.)

New Etsy Pictures 217I got a comment that gave me some pause for consideration: “living the dream. We’d love to be able to do what you are doing.” While I want to be thankful that we are in a position to make this choice, I also want to acknowledge that it isn’t always “shiny” or dreamlike! Nor did it come from only “luck,” since I want to be clear that our current household financial structure would be unlikely to work if we lived in a more expensive geographic region OR if we had household debt (Something we avoided, yes, luckily, in thanks to my grandma for a debt-free college and graduate school education, but also thanks to our own financial management and good savings habits that allowed us to pay cash for our land and to build our own home using only money we saved from Mark’s work as a computer programmer, rather than having a loan.)

So…when Lucy Pearce asked for contributions for a blog carnival celebrating the release of her second edition of the book Moods of Motherhood, I knew that I wanted to write about the moods of self-employment and co-creating a business with my husband

The in-the-flow mood: August 2014 025

We light our intention candles (yes, really!) and set up a mini-altar on the floor with items of significance to us. Cups of tea or hot cider are in our hands. Our kids are at my parents’ house, leaving us to have two hours on our own to talk shop and brainstorm ideas. We lay out our Amazing Year planner and many colored markers and review our biz goals for the month, goal-set for the following month, and the ideas start to flow. We feel in perfect synchronicity. Our collective creative energy is humming, our ideas are bubbling forth effortlessly, we are literally on the “same page.” One idea bounces off another, notes fly fast and furiously in our “book of amazing possibilities” (again, yes, really, this is written on the top of the first page of the notebook in which we brainstorm our ideas), and it feels like something alive, this process of co-creation. It feels vibrant. It feels limitless. It feels sacred.

In the pause between note taking and idea flowing, we hold hands and just sit there for a moment enjoying each other’s company. And, at that very moment, our eyes meet in the thrill of hearing the etsy app make its cha-chiiiing sound notifying us of a sale in a way that feels just like the universe is acknowledging and blessing the success of our work together…

The real-life-sucks-sometimes mood:

We accidentally sleep until 9:30. The kids eat Hot Pockets for breakfast. We argue over who gets to take a shower first. I feel dragged down in molasses by the vastly different energy levels we possess—I’m a morning person who immediately wants to hop up and get moving. Mark and our kids are not. Mark claims to be getting ready to pack orders and yet he is really looking at Imgur or sorting through Magic cards. I claim to be starting my grades for the week, but instead I fiddle around on Facebook and then speak snappily with a light dash of martyrdom. I slip into “lecture mode” about what a better job we could be doing with our house, our lives, our parenting. The kids whine and bicker. I suddenly decide that they should do excellent homeschooling work immediately, even though we’d all rather be doing something else. I try to submit my grades for the week, while also having eight other windows and/or documents open on my computer for things I’d also like to work on, while simultaneously attempting to answer questions about their worksheets. The kids bounce from parent-to-parent with their questions while Mark tries to pack up the night’s orders for mailing and Alaina sits on the floor saying, “why is nobody playing with me?” in a plaintive tone.

In my multi-tasking frenzy, I suddenly decide to add our online banking to the open windows on my computer and see, unfortunately, that we are behind $500 in our bank account and I won’t get paid for another three weeks…

Here are some things that make working together from home difficult:

Score-keeping. I was terrible at this when Mark worked full-time and I am still pretty terrible at it. By this I mean mentally keeping track of who has spent more hours doing what, who has had more time alone, who has come up with more ideas for dinner, and who has done more of what with the kids.

Different styles/types/routines/schedules/patterns. Part of this comes from personality, part comes from how we each spent the prior ten years working. I spent the ten years prior to 2013 as the primary at-home parent, with the scattered focus, multitasking, and “mother-sized jobs” that that role requires. I became very used to having to snatch at free moments to work frenziedly, accomplishing a great many tasks in a small window of time, because I don’t know when my next chance is coming.  Mark spent those ten years (as well as many before that in other workplaces and in the public school system) with a structured existence in which starting and ending times for work activities were clearly defined and the impetus for tasks/goal-setting comes from external forces rather than being self-directed by the individual. We continue to approach our days at home together with similar, somewhat discordant, habits.

IMG_9941Different energy levels. Being the “driver.” Related to the above, I have spent my entire life being essentially self-directed and self-motivated. I’m not sure how much of this is personality, birth-order, or environment (me: type-A-ish, oldest child, homeschooled. Mark = laidback, youngest child, public schooled). I have tons of energy pretty much all of the time. I am constantly popping with ideas and bubbling with “steam” for projects. I rarely settle down and relax. Productivity is my middle name and my default mode. I never drink anything caffeinated, I always get at least eight hours of sleep, and I’m always buzzing around doing stuff. I wake up in the morning with one million ideas of things I’d like to do that day and I want to start immediately, if not sooner. I think I exhaust people and I can be wearing and controlling. Mark works in focused spurts of concentration. He is slow to start in the morning and I rarely, if ever, have seen him “buzz” about anything. He takes his time. He stops to rest. He is stable and calm and methodical. He lets ideas percolate and form. He doesn’t need to talk about everything. He watches videos to learn things and after he has let information soak in, he tackles new and complicated tasks with complete focus and usually total success. He is patient and if something fails, he will learn more about it and try again. He is rarely, if ever, critical of himself or of me (I am self-critical enough for both of us, plus). He is also very used to working in environments where he does not have to be particularly self-motivated and, again, whether it be personality-based or environmental/socialization, this often puts me in the position of family “driver.” Sometimes this feels fine, sometimes I am completely sick of the role of household manager and motivator.

Never being “off.” Still related to both of the preceding two points, as someone who is used to working from home around and between my small children, I never feel like I’m off. There is always something more to do. Mark works until he is finished and then stops, even if there is something else that could be done. At home, together, all the time, neither one of us truly ever gets to be off. Kids keep needing things, dinner needs to be fixed, and I keep coming up with one more thing to “finish” before bedtime. When your life and work are entwined so deeply, there is no clear distinction between “work time” and “home time” (or family time). This is something we want to work on differentiating more firmly in the coming year.

Haphazardness. We do not have a clearly structured daily schedule which leads to a feeling of haphazard effort and randomness through the day. (Also on list for coming year.)

Introverted personalities. We are both introverts. When Mark was at work all day, he worked on his own much of the time. When I was at home with kids, I still had two hours a day on my own each day while my kids visit their grandparents. Now, neither one of us actually ever has time alone. I wrote about this in a past post:

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on the household navigation of being an introvert mama with now having my also-introvert husband home full-time. Turns out that both parents home doesn’t magically extend the hours in a day actually seems to shorten them and it means both parents end up feeling pretty maxed out by kids and in need of somewhere quiet to recharge! I love having a “free-range” husband and I’m blown away by our joint creativity, which is an energy we’ve never experienced before at this level in our 19 year relationship because he was always at work all week and we had to squeeze everything else in around the edges. I also notice these interesting facts about having us both home all of the time: the house is way messier, we consistently stay up “too late” and sleep “too late,” it seems harder than ever to cook/figure out meals, we have less time to spend on homeschooling !!, we still don’t feel like we have enough time to talk to each other, I seem to have less time to write and focus on writing, I feel like I give my kids less attention than I did when I was the only at-home parent because I now have Mark to pay attention to too and I really like him, it is perhaps harder than ever to get the TWO HOURS I desperately need, I feel as if I have less time to focus on my teaching work, we argue more over household and parental responsibilities, we laugh way more and have more fun with each other and with our kids and we do more spontaneous, relaxed and fun stuff with our kids. It has been an interesting experience!

via Tuesday Tidbits: Birth Art, Retreat, and Free-Range Husbands | Talk Birth.

IMG_0076Homeschooling. Neither one of us really thrives in the role of homeschooling parent. We homeschool because we can’t really envision another alternative that is good for our kids, not because we uber-love homeschooling and are amazing at it. It often feels like a bit of a competition for who can not be the one to do the homeschooling with the kids that day. I have never felt like I thrived in the role and so sometimes it feels good—or like, “I told you so”—to now share the responsibility (and the failures). It is hard to work with multiple ages of kids at the same time. It is hard to be patient. It is hard to do stuff that is boring because we feel like we should maintain a minimum standard of official “schoolwork” each week. Our kids can be very frustrating, obtuse (perhaps deliberately), and are often extremely distracted and appear to be purposely driving us crazy. Homeschooling also means that working from home must always be done around the edges of family, again making there be no distinction between home time and work time. We often feel only partially present and often feel preoccupied and distracted, since there is never a break! We are also in near constant contact with all members of our family all day every day and this can wear. The total immersion the lives of our kids can be exhausting, diminishes the “cherishment factor,” and leads to a sensation of oversaturation with our kids (and them with us!). Somehow we still never feel like we have enough time with each other though, again because, like our business, our relationship has to fit in the edges around very energetic and noisy children.

Here are some things that make working together from home work:

Goal-setting and regular review. We have a biz meeting a minimum of once a month. This is incredibly important in helping us stay on track and focused.

Looking outward together in same direction. Our motto from the time I was 16 and he was 18. This has been a guidepost in our marriage, lives, and now our business.

August 2014 092Capitalizing on each other’s strengths/having complementary strengths. In addition to the differences I’ve referenced in the list above, we have complementary strengths that make us work extremely well together and in a way that often feels effortless. I am good at communicating with others, with writing, and with keeping up with tasks. I write all of our etsy listings, I answer all emails/messages from customers, and I do all social media work, as well as lots of other tasks. This does not feel like a chore for me, it does not feel “unfair” (nor do I scorekeep over it). Mark does all order fulfillment, packaging, and shipping as well as the hand-finishing of everything we make. He also is the one who learns the new skills we need to move forward—I may make the original sculptures, but they wouldn’t go anywhere without his willingness to handle hot metal, study how to make molds and then go for it, and learn the chemistry of resin-casting. When we wrote our Womanrunes book, I joked that if Mark was in charge of it, it would have had an excellent cover and great images, but no text. If I was in charge of it, it would have been a Word document with good text, but nothing else.

Appreciating one another and enjoying each other’s company. Not much else to say about this one. We like each other a lot. We have been together for 19 years. We have a symbiosis and a relationship that works and works well. 

Shared focus/mutual benefit. In the years that Mark worked outside of the home, there was often a sensation of competing for “free time.” When we are working on projects together, there is no sense of “competition” when project is a shared one. When he goes to pour new goddesses, it feels like working together. When I make new sculptures, it feels like working together.

Self-direction/self-motivation. As referenced, a lot of this still feels like it comes from me, but it does really help our business and our lives move forward.

Financial management skills and mutually compatible simple living goals and strategies. We decided a long time ago (way pre-kids) what is important to us and we naturally and easily continue to make good financial decisions that are in harmony with one another. We drive crappy used cars, have only used furniture, don’t have credit card or other debt, etc. This only works when both people are completely on board with the goals and purposes of living consciously within a fairly frugal simple living framework and spending accordingly.

Grandparents!!!!! A factor beyond personal control, having my generous, loving, connected, supportive parents one mile away cannot be undervalued. Our kids go to visit them for two hours (or a little more) every day except for Thursday. How much of a gift is this? Invaluable. And, lucky. August 2014 071

Kids that like each other. Also a factor beyond personal control, having sons that are best friends with each other and who therefore get to play together all day long and enjoy each other’s company is invaluable in creating a home atmosphere that is conducive to a rewarding, home-based life.

We’ve still got a lot to work on! We also have a lot of amazing goals for 2015 and look forward to carrying them out together.

We’re also still working on this…

I envision a life of seamless integration, where there need not even be a notion of “life/work” balance, because it is all just life and living. A life in which children are welcome in workplaces and in which work can be accomplished while in childspaces. A life in which I can grind my corn with my children nearby and not feel I need apologize for doing so or explain myself to anyone.

via I just want to grind my corn! | Talk Birth.


Somewhat related past posts:

Releasing Our Butterflies

Homeschooling Today Part 2 of 2

Imaginary Future Children

Tuesday Tidbits: Blogging, Busyness, and Life Part 2

Happy Father’s Day!

I just want to grind my corn!

New Etsy Pictures 474

Birth Labyrinth

 IMG_0571 The labyrinth is a powerful metaphor for each woman’s unique journey of pregnancy and birth. I first discovered the “LabOrinth” via Birthing from Within and Pam England and I quickly incorporated into my birth education classes, making two homemade posters to discuss in class—one illustrating “clock watching” birth and one illustrating birth as a labyrinth. When I send gifts to long distance pregnant friends, I usually include a drawing of a womb labyrinth and this quick explanation:

The journey through birth is like a labyrinth—it has unexpected twists and turns, but it takes you where you need to go. You can find your way blindfolded if you need to, you can walk, run or crawl, and you’ll get to the center—to your baby—in your own time and in your own way. The postpartum return is also a labyrinth, one that can take some time to integrate into your life, being, and “new normal.”

Based on a drawing from my second pregnancy of a womb labyrinth, my husband carefully worked carving a small womb labyrinth design into clay and then making a mold from it and casting the design in pewter. The result is a little uneven and asymmetrical, much like life itself, but I love it! I took the new pendant to the woods with me and this is what I said about it’s meaning…

Womb Labyrinth January 2014 007

Birth journey. Each of us walks our own path. In the center, a baby waits. And, so too, wait deep truths about ourselves. Our own courage, our own  fears, our own strength, our own power. One foot in front of the other. That’s how the journey is made. You set out for the threshhold, unknowing. Maybe a little fearful. Maybe intrigued. Maybe anticipatory. Maybe excited. And you start to walk. One foot in front of the other. Sometimes our journeys drop us to our knees. Sometimes we feel around in the dark, searching for something to hold onto. Sometimes we skip and twirl along the path. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we pause and sit down and wait. Sometimes someone walks with us, holding our hand. Maybe even giving us a little push from behind. But, ultimately, it is our own private journey. When we get to the center, we will discover what it is that we know that no one else does.

As I mention to pregnant women, the return journey of postpartum is a labyrinth as well…

Postpartum Labyrinth

The journey of postpartum is a labyrinth too. Carrying our babies in our arms, past sleepless nights, through endless days. Through worry and tears, through sharp, sweet, timeless moments of a joy so bone deep it knows no words and in a love so endless that it defies description. And, we walk. Sometimes we bounce. Sometimes we sway. Sometimes we sing a little tune. Sometimes we beg. Sometimes we scream. Sometimes we sit down and say we can’t keep going. Sometimes we skip through the sunshine and dance in the moonlight. Sometimes we can’t believe how much fun we are having and how wonderful this is. Sometimes we feel so alone, we think we might break. And, yet, we keep going, and we emerge, blinking at the newness of it all.

This new pendant is one of the designs released for the launch of Brigid’s Grove, my collaborative project with my husband. We’re hosting giveaways on our website throughout the month of February to correspond with our launch and one of these pendants will be offered as a giveaway! We’ve also got an etsy discount code, a free digital Ritual Recipe Kit, and more to check out on the Brigid’s Grove website and Facebook page.

book

Good Birth Books to Gift to Others

I’ve recently had several requests from friends asking about the best birth books to give as gifts to pregnant relatives. After sending my third response, I realized that there’s a blog post in here somewhere!December 2013 010

Here are my current recommendations:

Sacred Pregnancythis book is simply beautiful. My past review is here.

Giving Birth with Confidence—this is the well-known childbirth education organization Lamaze International’s guide to pregnancy and birth and it is one of my favorites. My review of a past edition is here.

The Birth Partnerthis guide by Penny Simkin is a classic for helping fathers or other birth partners serve during labor

The Greatest Pregnancy Everfocused on positive mental attitude during pregnancy and cultivating a mother-baby bond prenatally (caveat: I’ve not actually finished reading this one, so I’m not sure if I have any reservations about it or not. I bought it at the last CAPPA conference)

Birthing from Within—the original birth art resource and a fabulous “out-of-the-box” handbook for preparing for birth. It is not attached to a particular outcome and can help mothers dig deep whether experiencing a home birth or a cesarean. This book is my all-time favorite, but my recommendation comes with a caveat that the short breastfeeding section is terrible.

The Baby Book-a comprehensive, reassuring look at baby’s first year by Dr. and Martha Sears.

For birth stories, I love and adore Simply Give Birth (past mini-review is here). I also like Journey Into Motherhood (available as a free digital copy here) and Adventures in Natural Childbirth.

I used to recommend The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, but is has been replaced by an updated version called Optimal Care in Childbirth and I’ve not yet read that one. My educated guess is that it is still an excellent recommendation! 🙂 I also used to recommend The Birth Book by Dr. Sears. It is still a good suggestion, but it is now an “older” book and so I don’t put it at the top of my list any longer.

Also, make sure you grab a copy of the free Guide to a Healthy Birth from Choices in Childbirth. I love this little booklet so much! It is my top favorite resource for tabling at community events. Another free educational resource that I recommend (particularly for women planning natural births in hospital settings) is Mother’s Advocate. There is a free booklet and a series of videos that explore Lamaze’s Six Healthy Birth Practices (which all mothers deserve as part of evidence-based care during birth, regardless of birth location).

Past book lists and related suggestions:

What To Do When Newly Pregnant and Wanting a Natural Birth…

Suggested Reading

Postpartum Reading List

Book list: Preparing Children for Homebirth

Non-Advice Books for Mothers

2012 Book List (all kinds of stuff, not just birth)

In addition, all the books I’ve reviewed in the past are available on my website from this link, so make sure to browse and see if anything else jumps out at you as a good match.

“Everyone who interacts with a pregnant woman is, in some way, her ‘teacher.’ Telling birth stories, sharing resources, imparting obstetrical information, giving advice or warnings—these are all direct or indirect ways of teaching about birth and parenting. Whether you currently identify yourself as a ‘childbirth teacher,’ or you are a midwife, doctor, doula, yoga teacher, nurse, therapist, breastfeeding counselor, or you are simply a woman or man who cares about the power of the childbearing year, you already hold the power of mentoring within you.”

–Pam England