Thursday, March 5, 2015

My Top Ten Tips for Natural Birth

On instagram yesterday I had a question from a follower that is having her first baby.

This question comes from Brooke of stylehomeandhappiness . On a side note you should follow her IG account. She does a lot of pin it spin it, and she always looks so cute!

Anyway Brooke writes:

"How was your experience with an at home water birth? I am due in June and although I will be delivering at a hospital with no option of water birth, I still plan to delver drug-free. Any tips?"

To answer the first question having an at home water birth was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything.



 However, after having three natural births I've covered just about every scenario including one in the hospital and one that was not a water birth. So, even though all women, babies, and births are different I do hope that what helped me through labor and delivery might also help you and anyone else that is interested in labor techniques.





1. Commit

Just like marriage, running a race, or any endeavor that takes endurance you have to be all in. If you think, "Maybe I'll just wait and see how I feel at the halfway point" then you will quit, because you probably will not feel good. This applies to a lot of scenarios. Some things take determination. If you do get an epidural or have some other form of intervention there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I can't stress that enough. However, if you are passionate about wanting to go natural then make that commitment ahead of time. This is critical!

2. Connect

Find other mother's who had a natural hospital births and listen to their stories and advice. If you don't know anyone personally check the web. You could spend days reading other women's experiences on line. I have all three of my birth stories written in detail here on messy mom.



3. Prepare

You have to mentally and somewhat physically prepare yourself for the act of labor. This could mean childbirth classes, books, or online videos. You don't want to go into childbirth without doing your homework.

4. Create Your Atmosphere



Even though you are going to be in a hospital you can still play music or have special momentos around you.

5. Wait it Out

It's so hard to know whether or not you are actually in labor. The rule of thumb is wait until contractions are a minute long and three minutes a part. Don't be surprised though if you never get those text book constant contractions they talk about. My labor was never consistent. You'll know when it's time though. The longer you wait the better your chances are of not getting that epidural.

6. Utilize



Make the most of the natural pain management the hospital offers and find out what that is ahead of time. There may be a birthing ball, rice sock, or shower. You can always bring your own stuff too, like a tennis ball or oils for massages. Unfortunately, you usually never know what helps you in the moment, until that moment!

7. Visualize

This one sounds cheesy, but it's so true. I can't say enough how much visualization helps me in labor. Practice before hand. This one can get kind of spiritual too, so my disclaimer is that I am a christian and I use prayer and scripture when I'm in labor, but I have also imagined flowers slowly opening up or butter melting until it's completely liquefied. I'm really visual so using imagery like this helps me  focus.

8. Know the Stages of Labor

If you know what to expect then you can use that knowledge as a road map. Recognizing transition for example helps you know just how close you are to having that baby in your arms. Sometimes that is all the encouragement you need.

9. Have Help

Whether it's a doula, your spouse, or a trusted friend don't go into labor alone. Have someone with you that knows your birth plan and will be completely supportive of that.


10. Loosen Your Body

This goes hand in hand with number 4 and 7.

THE BEST ADVICE I HAVE REGARDING NATURAL CHILDBIRTH IS "Loose lips. Loose cervix" 

In the movies you always see women screaming their way through birth, and that's part of the reality of it, but ideally you want to moan or make the "puh" sound. Screaming, clenching your teeth, straining your neck- all that is tightening up your body and when your body is scared and tight it is is no position to birth. I wrote a post a long time ago about eliminating fear during labor and there is more info there.

I would say this is my #1 tip out of all of them, just to do your best to relax. Make a motor boat sound (or "blow horse lips") to help you keep those lips loose. That was a tremendous help when I was in labor. Your body will take over and do what it was made to do.

These are some practical tips that worked for me, but no matter what happens you are going to do a great job and I am sure you will be a fantastic mom! 

I hope this list was helpful. Anyone else that wants to chime in with advice please do so! As strange as it is, talking about birth never gets old to me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Her Toy Story

Two of my latest attempts at tweeting were some of my thoughts about Toy Story.





I just love Toy Story. The whole series is phenomenal if you ask me. I suppose the reason some of it is sentimental is because when I saw Toy Story 1 in the theater (multiple times) as a girl I had no idea that I would be seeing the prequel in the theater with my son 15 years later. The timing couldn't have been more perfect with how it all landed. 

Part of SJ's birthday tea party is inspired by the movie in a way. Remember the scene in the first movie where Sid's sister finds Buzz and he ends up dress up as the Mrs. Nesbit character "suckin' down Darjeeling with Marie Antoinette and her little sisters"?



Well, I don't on plan on having a one armed space ranger at the tea party, but I knew I wanted some of SJ's toys to be special guests along with her friends. First I had to decide which ones (because it is a surprise). Her Brave doll she got when she was two was definitely a contender, but she lost all her clothes,and that's not the kind of party we are going for. Some other toys were too big or too small to really fit in at the table so I narrowed it down to the final three and I think SJ will be really happy when she sees them at her party!



First off Minnie Mouse



If you watched the video about SJ's winter program then you know why Minnie was a front runner.


Second was the flower bunny.



When we went to Vermont last summer SJ carried this floppy bunny around the whole time!



She became super attached, but it wasn't her bunny. So when we flew back to Ohio they had to part ways. Shortly after that she found this bunny for 50 cents at a yard sale and so it became the rebound bunny. As with most of her stuffed animals  SJ likes to dress it up in her clothes. I didn't have a problem until I noticed her underwear supply seemed really low. I finally figured it out one day when I decided to undress all of the stuffed animals and realized all of them were wearing panties under their clothes. She's thorough!  So anyway all of that to say flower rebound bunny will definitely have a place at the table.

Lastly, dolly.



SJ received this doll for her third birthday, just after her second CI surgery. It was a gift from my Michigan friend, the one that made all those cupcakes for her first birthday. Dolly is very special
because she was hand made by my best friend and delivered with love in a time that best friends (and aunties) are needed most. SJ has already dined with dolly on several occasions. She's too floppy to sit up on her own, so SJ cleverly props her up by slipping Dolly's legs inside a tissue box. I couldn't imagine the tea party without this little rag doll.  

I know it's creepy for a grown woman to talk so emotionally about dolls and stuffed toys, but obviously this is for my daughter. To me they are just toys. You know, child's stuff...

Okay, fine! I'll admit it. I have had a little too much fun planning this tea party. It definitely makes me feel like a kid again. I think we could all stand to have a little more child like imagination from time to time.

What about you? Did you have a favorite toy/lovie growing up? How about your children?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Let's Network It Out

There are lots of things going on behind the scenes for MessyMom.com, but it's a secret for now.
One minor change that I did want to make mention of is this little follower widget in my sidebar here.



Most of you know what these bubbles are, but let's talk about why should click on them and connect with me in other realms of the internet.

Facebook-
I just recently launched a Messy Mom Facebook page. I haven't promoted it yet so it's still in the baby stages with very few followers, but I am all over Facebook.  If you leave me a comment with a link to your Facebook page I will follow back!



https://www.facebook.com/themessymom
*Note that it's THE messy mom. Messy mom was taken by someone that has an obsession with the Grateful dead.  

Twitter-
I am new to twitter. I've had an account for years, but just never did much with it. I am learning though and I am posting pretty regularly now, but it's been difficult because I am wordy (surprise) so I don't particularly care for the character limits. On top of that my friends in real life aren't twitter people so I feel very much like a stranger at a party full of friends. I do post on there regularly now though and I will definitely interact if you tag me.
https://twitter.com/themessymom
*again, I am  THE messy mom. You know like THE notorious B.I.G (surely there is a more relevant example than that)

Pinterest-
I use my Pinterest on a regular basis and all the genius creativity that you find on here (that was sarcasm) is usually spawned from what I have been pinning. For example, if you liked the camping party I blogged about you can follow my "Ezie's Camping Party" board to see what inspired me.



There are links to ideas I did use like the hand print campfire or the font and printables that I selected. But there are also ideas that I didn't use, but might work great for you! Anyway, I love me some pinterest. If you are on there feel free to find me at

https://www.pinterest.com/themessymom/
*THE messy mom, because you guessed it, just "messy mom" was taken. Sorry, I had no idea how popular my blog name was. It's a miracle that I own this domain name.

Instagram-



I am really active on instagram. If you have an account and you want to connect through little square pictures then let's do it!

https://instagram.com/messymom/
*On Instagram I am just "messy mom" although now I am wondering if I should change it for continuity sake!

You Tube-
I don't have a ton of content on youtube and what I do have is pretty inconsistent. There's some home movie stuff intermixed with some slideshows and randomness. As I move forward though you will want to follow this channel because I plan to do some Messy Mom movies that will BLOW YOUR MIND. Or they might at least make you smile a little. I would love it if they did. I'll keep you posted on this endeavor.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI14BRjVJRLF3Wp2GVLf3ug
*I don't have an official Messy Mom URL yet, but hopefully I will have something more catchy than UCI14BRjVJRLF3Wp2GVLf3ug, although it doesn't have a certain ring to it. 



The last little plug icon is just an ad. I know it's not very professional, but I don't know how to fix it. My whole blog is going to change soon enough that I decided not to worry about it this insignificant detail right now.

 I did want to mention though that I am also on

Google + 
Blog Lovin' 
and
Goodreads 

Basically I am all over the internet like white on rice. I know most of my readers are not bloggers and so this might seem like overkill, but Social Media presence is all part of the program. I just wanted these buttons to have a formal introduction.



They are pleased to meet you!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

3 Ways To Screen Netflix (and other forms of entertainment)

Yesterday I explained why the media diet your children are on is so important, but how do we know what is healthy when it comes to the entertainment they consume?

The answer is that it's pretty much the same way we figure out what is healthy when it comes to the food they consume, and it's easier than you think!



1. Read the Labels

Just like the packaged food we buy is required to have nutrition information, the shows you watch do too! They are called TV Parental Guidelines and appear in the upper left hand corner.

I am shocked at how many people do not know what those letters stand for (and for a while I was one of them). If you have wondered yourself than here you go-

  • Y is all children
  • Y7 is directed to older children
  • TV Y7 FV is appropriate for older children, but may contain more intense violence
  • TVG stands for General Audience
  • TVPG stand for Parental Guidance
  • TV14 is Parents strongly cautioned and probably not appropriate for chidden under 14
  • TVMA is for mature audience only (unsuitable for anyone under 17)





  • D is dialogue (which I used to think was drug references)
  • L is for crude language
  • S is sex
  • V is violence
  • FV is fantasy violence


And here is my nerdy little secret, although these ratings are intended to help parents know what is suitable for children, my husband and I use them as adults. Can you imagine!? We are grown ups that are allowed to watch whatever we want and yet we CHOOSE to filter some stuff out according to the TV ratings. We are that crazy.

2. Do your research

Just like at the grocery store you can't always count on on the FDA when you get really serious about your diet you have to actually do some research to see what is in the foods you are eating. Same thing with TV  and movies, the little labels don't tell the whole story. That's why I love Focus on the Family's Plugged In  website. You can look up any show, movie, music, or video game and it will give you a thorough review of what to expect according to specific categories which include

  • Positive Elements
  • Spiritual Content
  • Sexual Content
  • Violent Content
  • Crude or Profane Language
  • Drug and Alcohol Content
  • Other Negative Elements

There very well may be spoilers when you have this much detail in your review, but this resource has been absolutely critical for me. I want to kiss the computer screen when I look up a movie for my kids and realize what I avoided exposing them to thanks to this website! And again, I would be lying if I didn't admit to using it to see what I wanted to invest my personal time watching.

Common Sense Media is a very similar concept to Plugged In and is an excellent resource. The main  difference that I am aware of is that Plugged In is from a specifically christian perspective. The advantage of Common Sense Media is that many of their reviews are built right into Netflix. 

If you are browsing Netflix and click on the title of a show or movie, then you will see the members star rating, and the description. It's kind of hidden, but if you scroll down on the right you will see movie details, awards, rating, and then BOOM "Common Sense Media Rating".


Click on that to get a detailed description of how kid friendly the content of the show is. I just randomly chose Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and My Fake Fiance' for screen shots to show you what it looks like . 


This is such a great option for me when searching for what to watch because I usually want to read the description anyway and then you have this Common Sense rating conveniently right there.



3. Don't put the junk where they can access it

Another Netflix option that I am so grateful for is the customized account settings.



When our kids browse through Netflix they only have access to children's programing, which is so nice even if only to avoid some of those disturbing movie covers. To set up this option click on your account icon in the upper right hand corner then select manage accounts and click on that to create an individual account for everyone in your family. For your children's accounts you can check the box that says children 12 and under. Then you can click the option for little kids or older kids to make it even more customized. We don't have TV,  (we have a TV screen, but we don't have access to any channels) but for those that do the V-Chip is a great way to do the same thing I have just described here. If your TV was purchased in the past 15 years than it has one!

Almost all of our modern day technological devices conveniently have parental controls built in you just have to know how to use them. 

For us this means having passwords on the Wii and Apple TV. No little early morning risers can just sneak in the living room and watch TV or play games without going through us first because they have to have the password.

To set this up on the Apple TV go to the main menu then select Settings >General>Restrictions and choose a 4 digit pin number.

To set this up on the Wii go to options>Wii Settings then pus the +button, and click parental controls. Then Click yes and a make a 4 digit pin number.

And here are some other links for parental control setup for the iPhone/iPad, Xbox, You Tube, and Amazon instant video.

Just remember, that while these features are certainly helpful they are NOT a substitute for parents actively observing and deciding what is being viewed in their home.   



Those are just 3 basic tips for trying filter what our children are watching. This of course is only scratching the surface. My children aren't old enough to have their own gadgets or use the internet yet. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it and I'll do another post twice as long for how to screen that content! I loved reading the comments yesterday about how some moms have chosen to make reading or outdoor playtime and artistic expressions the priority in their home. Why not tell the TV to take a backseat, especially during these critical formative years. I like that! However, if you're children are going to have any television or movie time at all, these resources are such a blessing for parents to really know just how healthy or UNHEALTHY their media choices are. 

If you have any other advice or tips for content filtering please share in the comments. I know this list isn't exhaustive and I'd love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Healthy Media Habits For Children

Last week I blogged about the entertainment industry, 50 Shades of Grey and all that stuff (and there is a lot of STUFF). I really appreciate the tremendous amount of supportive feedback I got from you all, but that was for adults. What about what our kids are watching?

How do we know what is appropriate entertainment for our children in a culture that is saturated with disrespect, lust, greed, and all kinds of mixed spiritual messages? 

To some degree it's the same way we find things that are healthy for our kids to eat in a culture that is obsessed with sugar, preservatives, and convenience food. I'll admit that I am not the best example of feeding my kids a healthy diet, but I have made it a major focus this year and since then the magnitude of the junk they consume is becoming apparent to me.

We don't have to let food trends and cereal commercials determine what we feed our children, the same way we don't have to let production companies dictate what they consume on a spiritual level.

We have the opportunity as the gatekeeper of our homes to decide right now what kinds of content our children are viewing on television or in movies.



Children, especially preschool age, are little sponges. At that stage they are observing and soaking up everything they see every waking hour and using it to shape their worldview and learn how to navigate through life. So this TV stuff is pretty important, but what do we do about it?

Just like with diets there are hundreds of different approaches to living a healthy lifestyle. What your kids watch and how much they watch is a very personal decision. However, no matter what your convictions are you have to know how to implement them.

First of all whether food or TV, leading by example is going to be the most effective thing you can do. This is really true in any area of parenting. "Your words and standards will carry more weight if you practice what you preach and limit the amount of time you watch TV or spend on the computer. Also, your kids notice the kinds of movies and shows you watch, so model responsibility there as well." (from the book "Wild Things The Art of Nurturing Boys")

Another TV tip that goes hand and hand with the food comparison is to focus on the positive and make an activity out of it. If your children are involved in cooking with you, or really engaged in learning about gardening they are more likely to want to eat healthy.

So consider watching TV with your child. I know, that is the one time you have to break away, but on occasion you can really see what it is that they are consuming and take the opportunity to talk about it whether it's good or bad. For example "Oh, that was not a nice. They shouldn't call people idiots". It's also a great time to discuss emotions or interests with your child. On the contrary, If you just bark out orders about what they should be eating or watching it is less likely to be a habit they will ever truly obtain.

These are just a couple of the many strategies for implementing media boundaries and guidelines in an effective way.

Tomorrow I am going to share some really practical advice on how to use some of the free content filtering options that are available.

So check back then for Part two (Monitoring TV and Netflix).




Monday, February 23, 2015

My First Guest Post



I know this might be confusing because I just announced my first guest post a couple weeks ago, but this time I am the guest.

This is my first time getting to share on another blog and I am so honored and just giddy over the whole opportunity. Thank you so much to Holly Barrett for featuring this post for today's Testimony Tuesday.



 I hope it touches people's hearts. It has been an emotional experience to step out and share and I felt the Lord healing broken parts of me as I wrote it.

Here is a just a little excerpt from what you will find on Holly Barrett's blog today:

" I picture my [future] self as a very experienced, mature woman that has more wisdom than I do now. The woman who has made it to the other side of this journey. The woman who's finally somehow arrived?  She will share my testimony.
 So when Holly put out inquiries for submitting guest posts I didn’t think it applied to me. I don't have a testimony, or the one I do have isn't ready. I'm just trying to stay afloat in the storm. Then the Lord spoke to my heart and showed me that I am in fact a testimony of His grace, His provision, His faithfulness, His forgiveness, and His patience as I am..." 
To read the rest please visit Holly Barrett .org

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Little Girl's Birthday Parties

SJ's birthday is two weeks away and I am in full blown party mode. When I get going with party planning you have to use the emergency brakes just to get me to stop talking about cake and decorations.

 The theme this year is Tea Party. There maybe a sneak peak coming soon to share a little bit of what I am dreaming up, but until then let's look back at some of SJ's other parties.

I never would have thought of myself as "That Mom". The big pinterest party type. But for the record, half of my children's theme parties where pinned onto pinterest long before I had an account or even knew it existed. I just enjoy celebrating and creating, so birthday parties allow me to do both.

SJ's first birthday was a cupcake theme



You have to visit the link to get the full effect with some close up photos, but thanks to my BFF who is a professional baker we had 70 GORGEOUS cupcakes that tasted insanely delicious. I want to recreate this for my birthday! Anyway, when I was pregnant with SJ we had announced to the entire church that we were having a girl by bringing pink cupcakes to a fellowship dinner. So that is what inspired this party.

The following year I was all pinked out, so I went a completely opposite direction with this Green Eggs and Ham party.



 This is my second most popular party on the pinterest circuit.  Again, you have to see the original post, but there are so many fun tiny details like green deviled eggs and green beverages. It was such an awesome party.


Then last year we went with a donut theme. I don't know why all the themes are food related, but HEY it works. 


Click the link to see the incredible brunch spread with donut hole fruit kabobs, and a SJ's adorable donut invitations. SJ's offscreen name is Sedona and when she was just a tiny baby her two year old brother thought her name was donut. Sometimes we still call her our little donut so that is where the inspiration for her 4th birthday party came from.

Besides each party being food related there was also a bit of a book theme.

For the 1st birthday we gave her "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake



Then her 2nd birthday the book was "Green Eggs and Ham" of course.



 And lastly the 4th party was "If You Give a Dog a Donut



So this year I need to find a Tea Party Children's Book. Let me know if you have any suggestions. I am so excited for the whimsical tea party that is just around the corner. It's going to be in our teeny tiny apartment this year so that will be a challenge, but I've got some tricks up my sleeve. I think SJ and her guests will be delighted!