Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice {And What I Will Teach Our Girls}

As I was marching around in the bushy area of our backyard this weekend, full of thistles and smelling like campfire, I got to thinking about womanhood.  I got to thinking about the things I like about being female.  The things my mom taught me.  The things I want to teach our daughters.  The experiences I’d like them to have, the challenges I’d like them to overcome, the mistakes I’ve made that hope they don’t.  The things I want them to learn.

I am probably failing miserably at teaching some of these things…but they are goals.  They are something to strive for.  This is little more than a digital-mental list of things I think are important for our growing beauties.

  • Teach her compassion and empathy {by example}
  • Teach her about nature {and how to take care of it}
  • Teach her that it’s cool to be smart  {Even if she doesn’t believe you}
  • Tell her she’s beautiful {while she’s in her jammies}
  • Teach her about life…and death  {Her goldfish didn’t run away}
  • Teach her to be strong in her morals and beliefs {no matter what “they” say}
  • Teach her to build a fire, change a flat and make a speech
  • Show her how to dress up {Think class, not cleavage}
  • Teach her to pray and love and put others first
  • Teach her that she is complete {without her friends or boyfriend or peers}
  • Show her the world {even if it’s via YouTube}
  • Teach the importance of family {blood-related or not}
  • Let her exercise her independence {regardless of how it pains you}
  • Teach her to be a friend {especially to the one who needs a friend most}
  • Encourage her questions {and strive to answer them all}
  • Teach her about bugs and plants and animals {Even if you don’t like them}
  • Show her what hard work looks like {and how to get and keep a job}
  • Teach her about the awkward & uncomfortable {before someone else does}
  • Value her opinions {And teach her to value those of others}
  • Teach her to manage her money {and not let it manager her}
  • Let her experience the joy of true giving
  • Teach her tolerance and forgiveness
  • Teach her to have adventures {everywhere she goes}
  • Let her cry when she needs to {and let her see you cry too}
  • Teach her to eat healthfully {but not obsessively}
  • Let her be a princess {and a pirate and a giraffe}
  • Make her feel loved {over and over and over}
  • Show her how it feels to earn something {and that the world owes her nothing}
  • Teach her to ride a bike and build a resume and paint her toenails
  • Show her what initiative looks like
  • Encourage her to think outside the box
  • Help her find a love for books {or blogs or anything word-related}
  • Let her get dirty and muddy and crazy and fun
  • Teach her about her heritage {and to be proud of her roots}
  • Teach her that there’s so much more to life than high school {even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time}
  • Teach her manners and respect {for herself, her body and everyone around her}

There is more.  So much more.  But I’ll leave it with you….what would you add?  What do you think is important for a girl to know?
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Travelling with Tots {Part 1: The Road Trip}

Being that Easter weekend is coming faster than I can grasp, I’m hoping to get this post out in enough time to be helpful to those of you headed off to see family and friends.

Have you had the opportunity to travel with your children?  Or does the thought quite honestly terrify you?

Because the majority of our family is 4+ hours away, we travel quite a lot.  And because my husband works a ridiculous amount, I do most of the driving by myself.  And you know what?  It actually goes pretty well!  There was a time when we had 3 little ones under the age of 4 so if I can do it, you can too!

Read on, my friends, and I will try to make your family adventures as painless as possible…

Tip #1:  Start Them Early {And Do It Often}

Starting them early was probably the biggest favour I could have done myself.  Now, I’m not saying you should take your wee ones on a full-out Canadian tour.  You know that family reunion you’ve been considering?  Go.  That friend who moved away and you’ve been nervous to make that 3 hour drive to see?  Do it.  Hit the pavement as often as time and budget allows.

Tip #2:  Feed Them.  {A Lot}

A hungry child is a grumpy child.  Let’s not let that happen.  Make up snack baggies (cheerios, dried fruit, m&m’s, etc.).  Bring water or juice in spill-proof cups {and a large bottle of water for refills on those long trips}.  Stash granola bars in your glove box.  Not only does it keep their bellies happy, it keeps them occupied and fends off the inevitable are-we-there-yets a wee bit longer.  If you have an infant, plan to stop and nurse or plot out before-hand where you could warm a bottle if you need to.

We often plan our trips so that we can stop for lunch or supper in the middle.  We usually do fast food but you could also brown-bag it and stop at a park (weather permitting, of course) to let your little ones burn off some steam at the same time.

Tip #3:  Keep Them Occupied.

I always have a pile of baby toys that I can pass back to our youngest if she starts to get fidgety.  For the big girls, a portable DVD player is a life-saver.  Seriously.  You can get them for a pretty decent price these days and it will save your sanity.  {A digital movie downloaded onto your iPhone works great too, if you trust that your child won’t mangle it!}

For older children, Michael’s sells lap desks with side pockets to store their goodies.  You could easily throw in crayons, a colouring book, reading books, etc.  And they work great for eating on too!

We always let them bring their favourite blanky/stuffed animal in their seat as well.  That way there’s no freak-out when their eyes are starting to droop and they need their blanky to fall asleep!

For longer road trips, buy small toys and treats from the dollar store and wrap them in tissue paper.  When everyone starts to get fed up with the drive, bust out a present!  It doesn’t cost much and will keep them distracted long enough to get a few more miles under your belt.

Tip #4:  Prepare To Stop When Necessary.

There have been times when I’ve been so focussed on getting to our final destination that by the time we got there my children were about ready to disown me.  I don’t recommend this.  Mentally prepare yourself before-hand to stop when you need to.  When things start to get hairy, sometimes all it takes is a 5 minute stop for everyone to stretch their legs and regroup and you can actually enjoy the rest of the drive.

And likely, your children will have to pee at some point.  For some reason our girls have bladders of steel and we are often able to make a 4-hour trip without stops (and they still love me when we get there).  This will not work for everyone!

Tip #5:  Keep The Necessities Handy.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done side-of-the-road diaper changes {and by side-of-the-road I mean pulling onto a side road or rest stop ~ be safe!}.  We’ve used the tailgate, console, seat and even our laps when we had to.  Sometimes you just can’t wait for a change table.  If you  have little ones in diapers, make sure you have a change pad, lots of wipes, diapers and at least a couple of clean outfits.  “Blow-outs” will happen when you least expect them!  It’s also a good idea to have a change of clothes for your older children handy, just in case.  Kleenex is a necessity too ~ call us redneck but we’ve had side-of-the-road emergencies where are older ones couldn’t wait for a bathroom!

Tip #6:  Keep Them Comfortable.

I always dress our girls in comfy clothes when we’ll be on the road.  Jammies or yoga/sweat pants and t-shirts work great.  That little jean dress might look super cute for your baby but with being strapped into the car set for however many hours, it’s not a good idea.  She’ll look just as cute in a sleeper {and it’ll be easier to change her too!}.  😉  In the winter we dress them in lighter coats and keep their winter gear in the back.  They take their shoes off basically as soon as they get in the vehicle.  How can they complain…jammies, snacks and a movie?!  They’re golden!

Tip #7:  Enjoy The Journey.

If there’s one tip I’m guilty of forgetting, it’s this one.  As they say, it’s not about the final destination but enjoying the journey (or something like that).  So do it!  Soak in the scenery.  Stop and smell the roses.  Don’t let the beauty of your surroundings pass you by.  You will be glad you did.  And your kids will be too.

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Our oldest at about 2 months, getting ready to go on an adventure!

Well, as we are about to hit the road ourselves, I had better sign off (okay, today it’s only a 20 minute drive but whatever).  Stay tuned for Part 2!  Happy Easter and save travels to you all!

Do you have any road trip travel tips?  Please share!

There Once Was a Girl Who Had…{What??}

{Disclaimer:  This post discusses birth control.  If this bothers you, please don’t continue reading.  This post is not intended to conjure up a debate on birth control and it’s uses but to raise awareness.  Thank you in advance for keeping the conversation positive.  🙂 For those of you still with me, read on…}

Osteoporosis.

{The old lady disease.}

You read that right. At 32 years old I have weak bones.  And I would like to tell you why.

This is something that has been on my heart to share for quite some time now but for whatever reason I haven’t.  I want to raise awareness.  You see, I believe the reason for my having this disease can be found in a little needle filled with something called Depo-Provera.  Birth control.

I won’t go into too many details but I was in my early 20’s and I took this shot for about a year, maybe a little longer.  I stopped after the nagging of my conscience grew ever stronger and I was so wierded out about not having a period that I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I’m glad I stopped when I did.

During the time I was taking this birth control, I took an awkward step, tripped and fractured a metatarsus bone in my right foot.  Okay, not good but since this was the first fracture since I broke my arm in kindergarten I didn’t worry too much.

Less than a year later I was play-wrestling when the heel of my hand hit the floor and I fractured one of those teeny-tiny bones in my wrist.  (The right one too – have you ever tried wiping with your left hand?!)  Since there was cement under the carpet where the incident took place I again brushed it off as just a fluke.

A time later my husband (boyfriend at the time) hugged me.  And fractured my rib.  That’s right.  Broken by a hug.  {Remember the guiltiest-looking mother shirt?  He needed a guiltiest-looking boyfriend shirt, poor guy.}

Enough was enough.  Off to the doctor I went.  The doctor I was seeing at the time wasn’t the greatest and because of my age (I was 25), he was very hesitant to send me for a bone density scan.  I was persistent and I did get the test.  The result?  I was osteopenic.  This means I had low bone density but not quite low enough to be considered osteoporotic.

{And then I had a baby.}

Under the recommendation of my new, wonderful doctor, I saw a specialist and then another.  By the time I saw the second specialist and had a follow-up bone density test (my baby was about a year), I had full-blown osteoporosis.  We discussed treatment options (the only option for my bone type was known to cause cancer so needless to say, I didn’t go that route) and supplements (calcium and vitamin D) and she sent me off to live my life. 

It was recommended that I only nurse future babies for a maximum of 6 months, if at all.  I didn’t listen – my research turned up that while nursing initially depletes your calcium supply, women who breastfeed actually have stronger bones later in life.  {I’m holding on to this hope.}

Two more babies later and I haven’t had a follow-up bone density test.  My thought is, the fewer tests the better and my body will need ample time to recuperate after growing and nursing 3 babies in 4 1/2 years.

So what does it mean to have osteoporosis at my age?  Not much, really.  There are no physical signs of the disease.  It rarely hurts.  I’m not on medication (aside from vitamins/supplements).  I don’t go for any type of treatment.  I actually forget I have it most of the time.

There have only been a handful of time when I have been reminded of the disease.  Once was when I was nearly missing a flight from London back home to Canada.  I was carrying a stroller, an overloaded diaper bag, my 10 lb purse and my 7 month old and literally running through the airport (logic would tell you to put the baby in the stroller but I was that close to missing my flight that I didn’t have time).  It was over a week before the pain in my bones subsided and I felt normal again.

There are certain things it has been recommended I don’t do ~ skydiving (thankfully I’ve already done that), base jumping, having my husband double-bounce me off a trampoline…you know, that kind of thing. 

So yeah, life is pretty normal.

So what was the point of spilling my guts to you?  So that maybe, just maybe, someone out there considering taking this harmful drug will learn from my experience.  Regardless of your views on birth control, this is important.  {Just please, tell every female you know ~ DO NOT take the Depo-Provera shot.  It could save her bones.} 

I often wonder how many other women walk around oblivious to this disease lurking in their bones.  Obviously drugs affect everyone differently but please remember that this could be you or someone you know.  This IS a known, though not often talked about, side affect of Depo-Provera.

Spread the word, my friends!

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Easy, Healthy Baby Food {Have you ever wondered how?}

Okay, so it took me until my 3rd baby but I FINALLY mastered making quick, healthy, delicious baby food (at least in my humble opinion).  There are plenty of websites out there that show you how to make baby food but for some reason they never seemed this simple to me.

In the past I have made different veggie combos, sweet potatoes (always a favourite), pretty much any fruit mixed with whole grain baby cereal (I find it thickens it up nicely so it’s not quite so runny), and eventually just pureed or cut up whatever we were eating.  The creation I am going to walk you through is a fruit/veggie combo and it literally takes 5 minutes to make. Continue reading

There Once Was a Baby Who Rolled Off the Bed…

I don’t know why she rolled off that bed….

Seriously though, I would like to share with you one of my most memorable parental fails to date.  It may help this type of thing from happening to you but more than likely it will just remind you that we all have moments that make us want to wear the “guiltiest-looking mother” t-shirt.

One evening when our youngest daughter (hereinto referred to as “Little One”) was about 7 months old she rolled off of our bed.  She was the baby…took her time doing things….hadn’t been very mobile yet…was with her big sister….whatever the reason, I left her there for a brief moment and I shouldn’t have. Continue reading

Melissa ~ Bio

I am excited (and just a wee bit nervous) that Juanita has invited me to join her on this adventure (who can say no to an adventure?!).  My hope is for you to feel welcomed, encouraged, supported and free to speak from your heart.  Laugh, cry and share your strories with us.  We are all in this together.  So without further adieu, a little about me…

My husband and I have been married for nearly 6 whirlwind years.  In these 6 short years we have become parents to a tripod of amazing little girls (ages 1, 3 and almost 5), built our home, established three businesses and grown in our faith more than we ever thought possible.

I am a Northern Alberta “patch” wife, meaning my hard-working husband is employed in the oil field (or oil patch) and his hours are basically all day, every day.  This presents so many blessing as well as challenges for our little family.

I am also a work-at-home mom trying to maintain grace, love and sanity while juggling the demands of motherhood and business.

I strive to be a natural mama when I can but realize sometimes they just need Tylenol and Froot Loops.  I am less the baker-crafter-gourmet chef and more the computer nerd-farm girl-LEGO builder.  I adore campfires, dancing trees, natural health, sandy beaches, furry creatures, taking pictures, reading and writing, though I have not particularly mastered skills in any of these areas.  I would love to be a doula when I grow up.

I believe in mothering with your heart over a textbook and that no one should ever feel alone in this incredible journey.

I want to really be in this broken world.  I want to be the example our children need.  And I want to be an encouragement to you.  Welcome here, dear friends, to The Mothering Well.

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