Birthday Freebies in Colorado Springs

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The annual celebration of my birth is coming up next month, and nothing says “Happy Birthday” quite like a freebie! I’m signed up with several shops and restaurants, and it feels like gifts all month long. Since many of the registrations require signup in advance (typically 30 days if any), I double check offers and update my information at the beginning of the year to make sure I’m in for a fun-filled February.  I get to treat myself with free meals, treats, and mini shopping sprees. Click on the links below to sign yourself up for some goodies.

Baskin Robbins:  Free ice cream treat.  Their chocolate ice cream is so deliciously rich.

Dickey’s BBQ:  BOGO Free Sandwich.  Have you tried their jalapeno cheddar sausage?  Oh. my.

DSW:  $5 gift certificate.  I usually use this on clearance, but they also always have cute scarves and boot socks for under $10.

Honeybaked Ham:  Free sandwich.  Yum.

HuHot:  BOGO grilled meal.  So not a total freebie, but a great excuse to call a friend or have a date night.

Jason’s Deli:  $5 off your purchase.  I love their soup & salad, and the ice cream is free all the time!

Noodle & Co:  Free noodle bowl.  In the past, this has included add-in’s like grilled chicken.

P.F. Chang’s:  Free appetizer or dessert.  Hmm, decisions, decisions.

Red Robin:  Free burger.  Like a full size burger with fries.  Get the campfire sauce for your fries.  Trust me.

Victoria’s Secret:  $10/$10 coupon and/or free panty coupon.  This one comes in the mail, and it could possibly change from year to year.

Which Wich:  Free sandwich.  I can never decide between the seafood salad and the Reuben…

Zio’s:  Free entree up to $12.  It might be tough to choose your entree with so many great options!  I opt for the calzone which is big enough for two to share.

If your birthday is coming up too soon to register in advance, you’re not completely out of luck.  Firehouse Subs gives you a free medium sub with ID.

I have a separate email account that I use for all of these kinds of signups.  I keep a folder labeled “Birthday Goodies” in that email account to keep them sorted, and I just move them into that file as they arrive.  Some of the offers require printed copies, and some allow you to use your smartphone to show the offer.  Just read the fine print.

There are so many more offers than I listed.  Those are just some of my local favorites.  If there’s somewhere you like to eat or shop, check out the website and see if there’s a club to sign up for.

What birthday freebies would you add to the list?

Parenting in a Secret Minority

At some point in the journey of parenthood, all of us find ourselves in a minority.

Maybe you find yourself feeding your little one with a bottle in a room filled with breastfeeding covers. Maybe you’re the only working mom in your group of friends. Maybe you celebrate different holidays than most around you. Maybe your spiritual beliefs are not the same.

It can be embarrassing to find yourself in a minority, especially when you didn’t expect it.

I grew up in a large and very diverse city. The norm was being surrounded by people with different backgrounds and beliefs, and therefore it wasn’t assumed that yours were shared.

When we moved to smaller towns and communities, I started to become aware of those things that put me into that unexpected minority. We lived in a very religiously homogenous community when our children were very small. I struggled with finding mom groups and friends because we weren’t a part of the same church. Eventually, I found great friends and started to feel less like I was living on the outside.  As my kids get older, I have continued to become acutely aware of when I catch myself struggling with being honest and open.

Often my kids are my role models.

My kids are quick to make people aware of their assumptions. They seemingly don’t have the inner dialog I struggle through, weighing the pros and cons of outing myself as the “other.” At guitar lessons this holiday season, my son quickly asked his teacher if he could learn the dreidel song instead of a Christmas song. He wasn’t embarrassed to speak up the way I would have been. I often just leave it unspoken, but my son was unencumbered by the anxiety and embarrassment that stands in my way, making me worry about inconveniencing friends. I flash to past feelings of being in the minority.

I see in my kids letting others get to know them. They welcome the attention that comes with being different from the person beside them. They may not always feel this way, but I plan to do everything I can to encourage them to own their unique otherness. To inquire and support their friends in their otherness. To ask questions to gain understanding without creating unease. To know that understanding and accepting a friend’s beliefs or differences does not diminish their own.

With that understanding comes tolerance and a new appreciation for those around us. My hope is that their friends will come away with more acceptance and less assumptions.

Isn’t that something we can all aspire to?

minority
Photo Credit: Rachel Day Photography

The Truth Behind A “Perfect” Mom-Friendship

The question hit me like a toy that was being thrown from my toddlers hands. Never intending to hit me, but landing square in my face, leaving me reeling from what just went down.

“So is your guy’s friendship just perfect?”

In an instant, questions began flooding my mind, as I stood next to one of the best friends in our little trio.

Is that how we come off?

Are we only showing the good side of ourselves, and our friendship?

How much should we share?

What will she answer?

I quickly retorted with a reader’s digest story of a time we drove back at 1:30 in the morning after traveling for 12 hours, from the airport and got offended with each other. Then didn’t speak for a solid 24+ hours–which for us equates to at least a week. Which seemed to give relief to our other friend who had intially asked.

Since then, I’ve been mulling those questions over about the dynamics of our friendship. Often times, we hear about the beginning of mom friendships, or at least the desire. How it feels like dating all over again. What we don’t hear more of is how to keep them, and what they really look and feel like.

For the record… …our friendship is no where near perfect.

Perfect doesn’t exist, in any relationship, let alone mom friends. And if you feel like it does, then you aren’t being real with yourself, and your friendship probably is surface level. That stings a little bit, because I think we all desire a deeper connection. Especially with mom friends, we want to feel seen and heard in motherhood.

We’ve been friends for years. I can’t even really remember what motherhood was like before these two came into my life. We group text daily. Send video messages when we have heavy things our hearts, or are just too lazy to type out a message. Audio messages flood our text stream, and disappear in minutes. We do motherhood together daily thanks to technology. One of us shares her heart while she folds her laundry, and another one pours a cup of coffee and wrangles children in the background as she downloads us on her thoughts rolling around in her mind. One of us goes to bed early, and always wakes up to I’m sure 40+ texts from the night owls she is friends with.

We get offended. Get opinionated. And we get frustrated.

This is just a product of doing life together. And then we take a step back, remind ourselves that ultimately our relationship matters more than an argument, disagreement, or offense. Choosing to lay down our own pride and give the grace that we also desperately need at times.

We show up in inboxes, front doors, and in real life ways.

Resisting the temptation to pull away when things get messy. When we don’t see eye to eye, or even when we really, really want to because sometimes it is just too much. We hash things out together, and before they cause real damage to the relationship. Going to one another first with whatever hurt we have. And yes, we hurt one another without intending too, and still seek forgiveness and restoration of the relationship. Because that’s ultimately how healthy relationships work. It’s unrealistic to think that those acts wouldn’t be necessary in a friendship for the long haul.

We support one another’s dreams, goals, and choices…

…even when they don’t align with our own. Learning from each other, and continue to grow into the mother’s, and friends we want to be.

We ask questions, sometimes deep reflection type questions. Sometimes heart check questions. And sometimes just want-to-know-what’s-going-on-in-your-daily-life questions. Sharing way more than is necessary, things that will never be repeated. They are the first to celebrate the accomplishments, the growth, the victories in each other lives. We pray for one another in the hard times, and on the regular.

Ignoring each other when there is offense, or feeling unseen and unheard–for a minute. And eventually we either realize we were focusing on ourselves, and admit it, or just move on with life. Letting go of the offense we carried around there for a little bit. Calling each other out in love, and for the good of each other. Not to tear down, but to build up and encourage each other in this hard journey of motherhood.

When you find other moms who will see you for your real self, and continue to pour into you and your kid’s lives–do everything you can to reciprocate that, and don’t let go.

It certainly won’t be perfect, but it will be so worth it.

friendship
Photo Credit: Faith Photography by Kati

Baked with Love: Memories of my Grandma

Baking and eating special treats is one of my favorite pastimes.

I have deep and fond memories as a kid of helping my grandmother in the kitchen. Mixing ingredients, stirring, rolling, patting, kneading. We had so many family recipes that to this day still invoke a deep sense of pride when serving to others.

I have longed to share this baking experience with my own children.

I want to teach them the old recipes and instill in them that same fondness for baking and cooking. And I try. But they are little. Which means it’s been a really long time since I’ve had the opportunity to to bake anything and really enjoy the experience.  Not that I don’t love the activity, but the assistance of a bunch of little grubby toddler hands adds stress. And contrary to my fantasy, it really isn’t much help at all. Usually when I start making something in the kitchen, immediately little ears perk up and come running in to be my helpers.

I adore them and love when they help, but this usually means it takes everything I have to be able to complete the project without destroying the kitchen or contaminating the food with licks and “try its.” There is so much hustle and anxiety trying to micromanage the steps that it becomes an exercise in good sanitation practices and the value of math.

Good life lessons, but not the warm-fuzzy feeling I was aiming for.

However, this night was different. For whatever reason after all of the children were in bed, I decided it was time for pie. And I found myself pulling out supplies in the still and quiet of my kitchen. Suddenly out of nowhere, a thought struck me: I’ll wear the apron. This is perfect.

It has been 20 years since I baked with you, Grandma. You have been gone a long time. But while I was folding laundry a couple nights ago, your sister’s old floral apron fell out of the closet and landed in front of me and rather than sticking it back in the closet, I hung it up in the kitchen, close at hand.  While I was pulling out my supplies to start making pies, I grabbed it and tied it around my waist.

Immediately, I chuckled.

There would have been more string to tie the bow on my great aunt. She was thin and petite; I am not. Suddenly I could hear her in my head saying, as she often did, “My, you are getting fat.” She was never one to sugar coat things and always willing to tell it how it was. She thought I ate too much. I used to get offended when she would bluntly tell me to stop eating — that she thought I needed better control.

Your sister was right, Grandma.

I probably should have listened closer. Harsh as some of those talks were, now I miss her honestly.

I start mixing the ingredients for the pie, wiping my fingers off on the front of the apron, measuring, scooping, stirring. As I look down at my hands and the apron, I suddenly see your hands instead, Grandma. Then, I see your face. I see you sitting there in your kitchen, sifting flour in your flour drawer, one baking accessory notably missing from most kitchens today.

I never sift flour now and as I reach for my flour container, discover I am almost out.  That is something you’d have never let happen, I think, chuckling again.

Before I know it, I am overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with emotion. With memories, with love. The thoughts of you start pouring over me so thick and for the first time ever, the true meaning behind the phrase “baked with love” occurred to me. This must be what they mean. When baking requires you to pull from your childhood memories and knead into a dough that feeling of love that embraced you in the simple times of yesterday and now seeps out of your hands into meals for tomorrow.

I work to get my dough to the right consistency and I laugh at how out of practice I am. You were an expert in this field. You could roll it out quickly and peel it off in one smooth motion, never having to piece and patch. My pie looks more like a Frankenstein pie, scraggly and uneven—bits and pieces pressed together here and there.

As I pour in the filling, I feel a twinge of guilt. Even though I picked buckets of cherries this year from your tree, I made no filling. I had schedules and to do lists. There just weren’t enough slow moments to go the extra step of filling our shelves with preserves like you would have. My short cut of store-bought filling would have never gained your approval.

But I felt you pushing me to finish, anyway.

Sometimes, it takes giving yourself a quiet minute from the chatter and ruckus of a busy life to stop and allow yourself to reconnect with the past. It can be triggered by something as simple as an apron, memories are so strong. This one was so vibrant, I started to cry. My heart filling with thoughts of you, the love I had for you and that I know you had for me.

I think about all the amazing treats we could make together now and how patient you would be with my own children. My heart is flooded with this feeling of gratitude for those times together, but also with sadness that you’re no longer here. My mind turns back to my kids and my resolve is restored. I will ignite a love for baking in my children, despite the struggles.

On the next pie, I will invite them to help. I hope that someday they, too, will look back on these times and know that each of them was baked with love.

Community and the Class List

I am a Gen X mama, and I am mourning the loss of the class list and the stability of the home phone number. You know – that class list that schools provided with all the names and home phone numbers of students and their parents, and that family phone that was plugged into the wall.

Our culture has morphed away from the list and the landline.

Growing up, every school I attended (elementary, junior high and senior high) provided a thin, stapled booklet that contained the contact information for each student and their families and general contact information for the school. This was distributed at the beginning of each school year.

Here is what it was used for:

  • Setting up carpools
  • Setting up playdates
  • Coordinating parent-sponsored activities at school
  • Asking a friend to bring home books or assignments when your child was sick
  • Asking a friend or classmate a question about homework
  • Offering to bring someone a meal
  • Setting up time to work on group projects
  • Getting together with friends
  • Asking people to get together or go out on a date
  • Parents calling other parents with a question or to ask them over for dinner

The Landline

While I am sure that occasionally the list was misused at times, the simple function of a landline meant that someone’s parents were almost guaranteed to be answering or listening, so that put the kibosh on anything really terrible.

The Class List

The phone number booklet allowed us to connect as a community. Parents could learn each other’s names and numbers by looking in the booklet, and could call each other. Kids could call someone they wanted to connect with. And parents were listening because that phone cord acted like a veritable umbilical cord. The furthest you could get was around the corner! Privacy was offered when your parents felt you could handle it, but there was an easy way to check on you, either from another receiver (google that if you need to!) or just staying close by. Getting a phone in my room was a total rite of passage. Lucky kids got their own phone line in high school, but I was never that lucky!

Today, there are fewer class and school directories. I find it ironic that in a digital age where people post details so many details about their families online, no one wants you to contact them directly.

How Things have Changed

Growing up, labor and delivery photos and videos were just for family – maybe! Vacation pics? Family reunion pics? Only shared when you went over to visit someone at their home. It was appropriate to know someone’s home number and address, but never have seen their wedding video. Today, it feels like the reverse is true.

Privacy concerns abound. I know there are some very serious ones at times. But in the past those families just opted out of the class list, or opted just to put their phone number and not their address. It would have been bad manners to opt out just because you didn’t feel like being social. Being part of the community was important, and it created a web of support for the school, the kids and their families.

The Value of Community

I struggle with meeting the parents of my kids friends, and creating the sense of community I felt I had growing up. We bare so much on Facebook or Instagram but have created a culture in which we back away from each other in person. Getting to know my kids friends and their families works well if we move in the same circles; but if we don’t, it can be a struggle to get contact information, especially as my kids move into middle school and high school.

With headlines blaring about epidemic loneliness across our country, and frightening increases in school gun violence and teen suicides, I think we need community more than ever. I wonder if bringing back the old school class list might help.

class list

Stepmom Struggle

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I have a son.  I buy him clothes, I fix his meals, I teach him how to read and write and do math problems, I help him learn to ride a bike, I care for him when he is sick, he calls me “Mama”, I read him books, I tuck him into bed at night with his daddy (he prefers my cuddles to his dad’s).  He is mine, by all intents and purposes, and I love him so very much. But I did not give birth to him. I am his stepmom.

The Stepmom Quandary

He does not remember a time when I was not in his life, but I am not his “real mom.” This one aspect of our relationship often makes me feel “less than” or not good enough as a mom.  I can spiral into feelings of jealousy, constantly living in a comparison trap. This feeling can gnaw at me, making me question my role in his life. 

But in my life, I also have a wonderful husband.  He knows this is a sensitive topic. He gently and lovingly reassures me.  I am needed here. I do have a purpose here. And I am enough.

For other mamas who may be in a similar place, this is for you.

Remember These Things:

  • Your role in your child’s life is valuable.  No matter the situation with their biological mom, you are in your child’s life.  Your child needs your love, your attention, your care.   
  • You are not “less than” because you did not give birth to your child.  You are just as important in your child’s life as his biological parents.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • Yes, it is hard sometimes.  Or a lot of times.  Parenting in general is hard, and it can be especially hard as a stepparent.  Hearing the “well, Mommy lets me do ____” or “we have ____ at Mommy’s house” can be really hard and get really old.  Hang in there, mamas. You are doing great.
  • You are enough.  Make sure not only your head, but your heart knows this.  This is a hard one to put into practice. You, exactly as you are, are enough for the little people that depend on you.  They don’t need you to be anyone or anything else. Just love your babies, mamas. They need you, no matter how you came into their life.
stepmom
Photo Credit: Faith Photography by Kati

Colorado Skiing for Beginners

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Our family enjoys adventure and trying new experiences. We have quite a list of activities to try as a family one day (surfing, sailing, zip lining, white water rafting, to name a few.) and now that we have lived in the Centennial State for a little over one year, we decided it was time to do what “everyone” does around here: ski.

Why Skiing?

Participating in activities that are popular and part of the culture is something we enjoy. We believe if you really want to experience a place, do something that area is known for. When it comes to Colorado one of those activities is skiing.

It is also important to us that our kids are introduced to challenging situations and have the opportunity to try something new. Kids need all the feelings of being a newbie, not being an expert and possibly even failure. Skiing provided our older two with a bit of uncertainty but afterwards, a sense of accomplishment.

The Details

Your ski experience will vary depending on where you go and how old your kids are, but if you are a first-time skiing family like we were, here’s what I suggest: ask around. Coloradans who have skied for years have all kinds of insight to offer us beginners. Based on the advice we received from a handful of skiing friends, we:

  • Started on Monarch Mountain.
  • Purchased package deals that included lessons, lift tickets, and gear rentals.
  • Only took our oldest two (9 year olds) on this trip and left our 4 year olds with grandparents.

What Worked

Getting lessons was the best advice we received and we are glad we followed it. Our kids were taught in a group with patient, enthusiastic instructors and were also provided lunch. My husband and I had a 2-hour private lesson where by the end, we got on the chair lift and tackled two green runs (beginner). By the end of the day, we felt confident and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Our kids learned basic techniques and rode the bunny hill with us about 10 times at the last part of the day. They had fun and felt like they knew what they were doing.

Renting our gear at the lodge was an excellent choice. We did not have to lug ski gear back and forth to the car and then to a rental facility once we were back home. When you are new at something, adding in gear can feel intimidating. If we had not rented our gear along with our tickets and lessons, it would have cost more money, as well.

Saving time + saving money = winning!

Taking only our older two this first time around was another decision we don’t regret. Monarch does provide childcare for potty trained kids ages 3-6, but since we had grandparents in town, we let them take over for the day. I asked our ski instructor what his recommendation was for best age to learn. He said you really need to know your child. Some are ready at 2, some at 6, others at 9. There is no perfect age and a good attitude goes a long way if your child is older.

What we would do differently

Because we all enjoyed our experience, we are looking for opportunities to go skiing again! But there are a few things we will do differently.

We will put our older two in lessons again, but my husband and I feel confident enough to go it alone next time and possibly rent our gear at an outside location.

Because skiing is excellent exercise, and you’re at high altitudes in Colorado, you get thirsty. Our next ski trip, we will take hydration packs. It’s time consuming to take your gear off just to run inside to grab a quick drink of water. Lesson learned.

Pack lunches. Not only are the restaurants extremely crowded at lunch time, they are expensive. Monarch had a picnic area where you could eat food you brought with you and I assume most lodges are similar. There is always the option of eating in your car too. We brought snacks along with us, but nothing that would sustain us for lunch. Next time we will take lunches and purchase snacks.

Other Tips

Because you will most likely be at higher altitudes when skiing, begin hydrating 2 days prior to your trip. Nothing ruins your fun like a splitting headache.

Use sunscreen, chapstick, and lotion. Dry cold air, coupled with sun and high altitude means dry skin! Do yourself a favor and be prepared.

Bring your layers, but also be prepared to sweat. The day we skied was supposed to be 24 and cloudy. It ended up being the most beautiful day at 35 and sunny. But that meant we were HOT. Definitely layer up, but don’t underestimate that awesome Colorado sunshine.

Have Fun Skiing

The most important aspect to remember is to have fun. You don’t need to ski triple black diamond runs to have a good day on the mountain. You don’t even need to get to the intermediate level. Ski at your own pace and have a great time doing it! And if you try skiing and don’t enjoy it… good job trying something new and move on to the next new adventure on your bucket list. Trying new activities creates memories and is good for you in countless ways.

What new experience or activity have you and your family tried lately? Or what new adventures do you have planned for this New Year?

skiing colorado

My Kid Wasn’t Prepared for First Grade; Neither was I

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Can I just be vulnerable for a second?

Some days you completely win as a parent and your kid uses their manners, follows the rules and even eats their vegetables.  Other days you send your kid to Sunday school in yesterday’s clothes with an applesauce pouch and some crackers in a zip bag for breakfast. Because, you know, you pick your battles.

My kid handled kindergarten like a boss.

She loved being in school and the weekends struck her as too long to be away.  She constantly talked about her teacher, her classmates and what they were learning.

I am a realistic parent. She wasn’t top of her class, but she loved learning and I couldn’t have been happier.  As far as I am concerned, the love of learning lends itself to the stick-to-itiveness that is critical in learning.

So first grade rolled around and I couldn’t wait for her to meet a new teacher and have new friends and learn some brand new things!  I was excited for her to enter back into an environment in which she thrived.

And then it happened.

I got an email from her first-grade teacher with her name in the subject line.  Did she go to the nurse today? Fall down on the playground? Perhaps have an interaction with another student that I need to know about?

No. Her grades were slipping.

My working-mom guilt set in.  I felt like a total failure and had an overwhelming urge to quit everything just to focus on her little needs. I reasoned that this was likely unrealistic and the first step was to talk with her teacher.  The appointment was set.  As I prepared for the meeting, I realized I had no idea what questions to even ask; I felt helpless.

The most valuable thing I took away from that meeting was that not only does my kid’s teacher teach my kid; she teaches the parents too.  Our kindergarten teacher had trained us.  We knew her communication style, she was explicit when it came to instructions about homework and she really taught us a lot about how to be a parent of a school-aged child.

First grade was different.

I am sure this was a no-brainer for most of you, but here are some things I picked up in my meeting.

1.       Teachers tell you to read for 30 minutes a night with your kiddo. We were doing just that.

Here’s the fine print.  Reading with your child for 30 minutes every night does not just consist of reading.  It is also asking questions to test comprehension.  It’s reading specific books that have words they can follow along with.  It is testing your child’s imagination based on the story they are weaving in their head.  Perhaps it is asking your kiddo to identify sight words on the page if they see them.

2.       Did you know there are such things as nonsense words?   And they play a valuable part in learning to read?

I sure didn’t.  But I do now.  I have now found a brand new use for that old Boggle set we have stuffed in a closet somewhere.  Scrabble, anyone??

3.       Teachers have fun pet-names for things that explain the -isms of the English language.

Trying to find the right words to explain to a first-grade student why the letter in the word “gate” says its name? Teachers have already figured this out.  Ask what these are and start using the same terms with your kiddos when you are reading together.  Using the same jargon like “magic e” or “letter teams” will help solidify those concepts during your reading time.

We are not out of the woods yet.

We are half way through the season and just found out that half of the team (that would be my kid’s parents…) were not even in the same ballpark as she has been.  (This zip-bag-breakfast moment is brought to you by yours truly.)

Luckily, I think our team has what it takes to hear a good locker-room pep talk over halftime and turn it around in the second half.  But, man has this particular lesson been a tough one to learn; and it has only begun.

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Finding Peace in 2020

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Peace. It is what we all want right? We don’t have to be pageant queens to wish for peace…in our homes, with our families, and in our communities. I really struggled with finding peace in the turmoil of life that was 2019.

And while this turmoil came from a variety of places, I finally recognized that peace in my life equals finding peace in three main places… my mind, my body, and my relationships. Here’s what I’m doing to find peace in these areas as this new year unfolds.

Finding Peace in your Mind

They say you can’t be happy with others until you’re happy with yourself. So, I started with me… my mind.

I began to find peace of mind when I began to focus on the NOW. I stopped dwelling on what the future may (or may not) hold or what I royally messed up in the past. And I began to meditate and sit quietly for just a few minutes per day (it feels like that’s all my schedule and kids allow sometimes). During these few moments I focused on my surroundings, what I heard, what I felt.

I found that by focusing on the present, the world slowed down and seemed less chaotic.

My mind began to quiet. I have also found peace in my mind through finding hobbies that I enjoy. For me it is running, walking my dog, sewing, and writing. Find what brings calm… and make time for it!

Finally, I began to write (or journal) about all the things that consumed my thoughts. Some days it was venting my frustrations at ridiculous behavior from my kids or husband. Other days it was deeper concerns… guilt over my actions… goals I have yet to achieve… or worries about the future. Either way, by expressing them, I found my mind calming… I found a path to peace in my mind.

Finding Peace with your Body

See, I’ve spent a very long time not being at peace with my body.

As a young girl, I compared myself to others and I always felt I fell short… very short. Confidence in my body and my physical appearance didn’t get any easier with age. As an adult, I could usually find more things wrong with how I look than I could find right. I decided that finding peace with my body was essential to finding peace in my life. But how in the world would I go about it?

I happened to be out at a local store and ran into another mother wearing a sweater I absolutely loved. It was the perfect color for her and made her shine. I told her.

And in that moment, given the look on her face, I realized that helping others feel good about how they looked made me feel better too.

So, I set out to compliment someone every time I was out. In doing this, it made me feel more peace about my own physical appearance. I began to not only compliment others, but to find one thing each day to love about me. Peace with my body image is still a daily battle, but I do feel like even if I lose the battle one day, I’m winning the war and finding peace with my body… slowly, one compliment at a time.

Finding Peace with Relationships

I’ve always been a pretty compassionate person, willing to sacrifice myself to make those around me happy.

Most often the smile on my friend’s face was enough to make my hard work worthwhile. But lately that hasn’t been the case. Well, not with my recent acquaintances at least.  These interactions have left me feeling taken advantage of and steamrolled.  After several of these situations in a row, I decided that finding peace in my relationships was also necessary. The effort I was extending to make these situations right just wasn’t worth it.

I began to step back, step out, and say “no” more often. Instead of always being the first to save the day, I’m leaving that to others and picking and choosing my battles.

I’m tidying up my people list Marie Kondo style.

I’m asking myself if this relationship brings me joy. If not, I’m letting it go. I’m asking if the effort or work I’m putting in brings joy. If not, I’m letting it go. Relationships aren’t always easy, but if they continually bring you pain… let them go.

In making this choice, I’m finding peace in my relationships. And that peace is strengthening the relationships that do bring me joy.

So, with this new year, and new decade, I’m finding more peace in my life. By doing these few small things and focusing on peace, I’m finding peace is spilling out into my everyday life. I’m not yelling at the crazy driver who cut me off in traffic. I’m not blowing up at my kids for making a mess five minutes after I cleaned the living room. And I’m finding myself smiling more and yelling less.

When we find peace, we share peace. When we share peace, it spreads. Wishing you much peace in 2020.

finding peace
Photo Credit: Faith Photography by Kati

An Empowered Birth: Why I Chose To Use a Midwife

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“Are you pushing?!” My midwife, Emily, walked into my bedroom on a Sunday morning after receiving our call that it was time. 

“Yes!” I said between breaths. I was kneeling on the floor with my head and arms resting on the mattress, hard at work. 

“Then we need to get those pants off!” She and her team of two quietly and efficiently arranged their supplies. Within 30 minutes of our call, they were at my side, completely set up and attentive to this birth. 

The Home Birth

About an hour and a half later, I was laying on my side in bed. One of the midwives had my leg up while they carefully supported my body during the final pushes. First my son’s head, then his fists, then the rest of him was born, into my husband’s waiting arms. After looking at him, my husband placed my boy on my chest. Emily observed, checked that all was well, and she and her team began cleaning up. 

After catching my breath and spending time together with our new baby, I showered. The midwives had laundry going and removed all the birth evidence by the time I was done. They performed a full newborn exam, prepared us a meal, and made sure my son had a good latch and was nursing. With fresh sheets on our bed, we called our parents to let them know it was time to to bring our daughter over to meet her baby brother. It was a lovely, relaxed morning.

Why I Decided on a Midwife

I once thought home birth was for people who don’t wear bras or who didn’t make it to the hospital in time. But then a good friend shared her experience. And then another friend, and another. Listening to these stories of home birth (from normal, everyday women, might I add) moved me deeply. They spoke of birth as though it was the most sacred, beautiful thing they’d ever experienced. Like it was incredibly empowering, and at the same time, totally normal. 

When we meet our pregnancy care providers, we have a lot of questions, probably some doubts or fears, and a lot of excitement. A midwife approaches this time from the assumption that you don’t need her to tell you how to do this. Your body knows how to give birth and your heart knows how to mother. Because it does and you do. She helps us realize that truth. The support and information she provides during pregnancy and the early postpartum weeks give mothers confidence that they can do this well. A midwife constantly puts the parents behind the wheel. You make the decisions. She is a guide. 

Midwives are highly trained professionals. They have gear. They have energy. And perhaps most importantly, they’re passionate about empowering women. Because of Emily’s loving guidance, I approached my births with excitement and curiosity rather than fear. We never had the “now what?” feeling I’ve heard described when parents arrive home with their new babies. We were prepared and empowered. 

Midwife Costs and Details

In Colorado Springs today, the going rate for midwifery services is $3,000-$3,500. Many insurance providers reimburse, and if not, the grand total for a home birth is often lower than your insurance deductible. It’s a cost-effective way to give birth. It’s also at least as safe as other birth options. Those are the tangible things. I could write a book about the intangibles. 

If you want to know more about home birth, call a local midwife and ask for a consultation where you can ask your questions. It’s so worth exploring. Or contact me, because it’s one of my favorite topics. 

Laboring naturally was the best preparation I could’ve had for motherhood: hard, hard work, literal blood, sweat and tears, and then the unspeakable joy. And I’d argue that joy was much richer because of the hard work that preceded it. Labor so soulfully captures the beauty of motherhood. It’s like we were made for it.

midwife
Photo Credit: Carolyn Crochet Photography

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