Friday, October 23, 2015

Five Things for Friday: Overwhelmed and Surviving Edition


My good friend Lani brought it to my attention a few weeks ago that it has been a LONG time since I did a Five Things for Friday post. I don't know that I have a very good excuse, except that my life has been full to the brim and lately all I want to do when I have a spare moment is to nap rather than write... or clean my house... or do the laundry.... or any thing else productive. But I'm feeling motivated tonight so I figured I'd give you an update.

{1}

I am 30 weeks pregnant already!

Physically I am feeling pretty good. I'm tired, have varicose veins that bulge and ache, heartburn, and hips that are starting to fall apart, but I also have a wiggly baby inside of me that sort of makes it all worth it. Emotionally though, I've been much more a mess this pregnancy than I ever have been before. I don't think I'm depressed or anxious, but I am very easily overwhelmed and my emotions are right at the surface. My family has been really patient with me.

It has also been hard because I've had a hard time deciding on a care provider and where we are going to have the baby.  Jon and I have been praying and debating about it for a few months but we finally decided that we are going to go back to Utah for Christmas and then just stay and have the baby there. Mostly it is because it is the path that just feels the best, but it is also because there just aren't very many great birth choices where we live. The law in Iowa will only allow Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) to deliver babies at home, as opposed to most other states where Certified Midwives, can also do home births. There are three CNMs in Des Moines who do home births, but only one who will travel to where I live. I had her for Tabitha's birth and have been seeing her again this time. She is a good midwife but she lives about 2 hours away from me. My labors are usually quick (about 3 hours) and this baby will be born in December, which means that if there is bad weather it is very likely she won't make it in time for the birth.

Realizing this I seriously  considered doing a hospital birth this time and interviewed the midwives at the hospital near us. One of the midwives in the group was a home birth midwife before she moved to Iowa and so I set up an appointment with her, knowing she'd understand where I was coming from. I was ready to jump into a hospital birth, but she was really honest with me. "I know what type of maternity care you've had in the past," she told me, "and I know what type of care you want, and I know you won't get that quality or type of care here." I was a bit discouraged after that, but was grateful that she'd been so straight forward with me. She was actually the one who suggested I think about traveling somewhere else for the birth, because there really just aren't many choices in our area.

So, I've been weighing my options for the last few months and even though going to Utah doesn't make the most logical or financial sense, all my other options make me feel uneasy inside whereas this path feels right. So I think I'll follow it. The midwife who attended Asher, Rose, and Abe's births has agreed to take me as a transfer and my in-laws are thrilled about us coming for a whole month (or a bit more). They even said we could have the baby at their house, though I'm thinking that we might go to our midwives's birthing center as their house might be full for Christmas... but I guess we'll just see.

My husband got permission from his company to work remotely and since we home school there is no rush to get back at a certain time. The only problem will be if this baby decides to come two weeks early or two weeks late. If he comes too much after Christmas I think I'll be dying and if he comes two weeks early we might have a baby somewhere along 1-80, which would be less than ideal. Yet, I'm optimistic that everything will work out how it is suppose to. Now the trick is to just hang in there the next two months!

{2}

Home school this year has been rough... really rough. A few weeks ago someone asked Asher how school was going and he replied, "Oh, fine... but my mom just cries alot." 

Which is pretty much the truth.



The amount of teasing, fighting, and bad attitude is at an all time high in our house and nothing I do seems to make a difference. In years past home school has always been fun but this year it is miserable, for everyone. I'm sure that me being pregnant and tired all the time doesn't help, and the fact that my emotional coping ability is at a 1/4th of what it normally is probably explains a lot. I also think my older kids are both at kind of hard ages (almost 8 year-old boy and 6 year-old girl) and I feel like my day is one long reminder to not scream, not tease, not hit, not lie, not complain, not whine, and to do other basic human skills. I am usually emotionally exhausted by about 12 in the afternoon and don't have a whole lot left over for being a happy, fun, or nice mom the rest of the day. It is a vicious cycle.

It has been so miserable that I've thought about just sticking them in school, but if I do that then our trip to Utah to have the baby doesn't work out so well. Also, as much as I want to some days, putting them in school doesn't feel right at all. Even though I don't understand it, I know that they are where they need to be, and we are doing what Heavenly Father wants us to right now. It has just been hard.

I'm hopeful that things will be better after the baby comes and I start feeling better, but then again there is a part of me that worries it might just get worse. New babies are wonderful but they always throw a wrench in things for the first little bit. I'm trying to stay optimistic about it, but I get easily discouraged lately. So, if you have any advice or encouragement for what to do when you are pregnant (or have a new baby) and homeschooling is completely miserable, I'd be much obliged!


{3} 

After hearing my story you might understand why Jon told me a few weeks ago that I really needed a break.

I totally agreed with him.

I've been involved with Big Ocean Women since they organized last year and have been watching for the last few months as they have been preparing to attend the World Congress of Families that is being held in Salt Lake City, Utah next week. It crossed my mind several times that I should go to the conference, but I kept pushing it aside because I was going to be big and pregnant and it seemed like a lot of money to spend to just go to Salt Lake. Then out of the blue Carolina Allen, the director of Big Ocean Women, emailed me and asked if I was going and said that they had gotten some free tickets and hotel rooms. It sort of seemed like a sign that I should go.

I've tried to talk myself out of going about 10 times but Jon keeps insisting that I go... so I'm going! This weekend my in-laws are flying out from SLC to watch my kids and I am flying to SLC to have a week at the Grand America (sharing a room with a good friend from college!) and attending the world's largest conference on families. This is the first time this conference has been held in the United States and so it is really an incredible opportunity. There are some amazing people speaking and I'm excited to go, listen, and learn.... and to have a break from my kids.

Is that awful to say?

{4}

Thank you to everyone who has commented or emailed me about my series on "Cultivating a Heart Open to Life." It has been so good to get these posts out of my draft box (where they have been sitting for years) and out into the light. I've really appreciated the conversations and ideas that people have shared and hope that it has given you something to think about, for good or bad.

I still have two more posts left in the series but one of them is just not coming together like I want. I'm hoping that after a week at the World Congress of Families that I will learn or hear something that will help my thoughts and ideas come together better. So you might just have to wait for the last two posts. One thing I have learned through writing this blog is that God has His own time schedule and that if I try to rush things or do them when I want, they usually don't work out as well. I'm willing to be patient to get it right... so thanks for waiting.

{5}

Also, thank you for listening to me vent a bit in this post. Sometimes it feels much better to be honest than to pretend that everything is perfect. I know that many of you could WAY out do me in the "lets see who has bigger challenges" contest, so I know I can't complain too much. Life has been challenging for me lately, but it has also been really good. I think that sometimes it is when thing are hard that I am able to feel God's love for me the clearest. In fact, several months ago Jon gave me a blessing and the one thing that stood out to me was that he promised God would send me ministering angels.

And you know what, I've felt them.

In so many little ways I've felt divine strength and help, lifting my heart or lightening my burdens at just the right moment. I don't know who they are, but I can feel their influence in my life, and I'm so grateful for them.


A few weeks ago I splurged and went out and got this painting framed. It is by  Brian Kershisnik and is called "She will Find What is Lost". My Dad gave me the print  for Christmas last year and I knew that I couldn't wait any longer to get it up on my wall. I hung in our home school room (which also happens to be the dining room) just to remind me of my ministering angels; to remind me that I don't have to do this by myself, that I have power beyond my own, and that I will find what is lost.

But if in the meantime you want to say a little prayer for me, I wouldn't mind that either.

Have a wonderful weekend and if you want to stay better abreast of my life I'd love to have you follow me on Instagram. Just send me a request and I'll mostly likely approve it, unless your profile is creepy.







30 comments:

  1. Love your honesty...and no it's not awful to say you need a break from your kids. Moms are people too, we need to fill our lamps, just as we fill our families lamps. Enjoy your break!

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  2. I love you, Heather!!! Thank you for your vulnerability and for sharing your heart with us. P.S. I'm so excited you get to stay with your friend. I hope she makes you laugh a lot. ;)

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  3. It is ok to need a break for sure! Have you discussed your emotions and overhwelm with whoever you're seeing? I ask because that is how my depression manifests itself. It took me a long time to recognize it because I wasn't sad and didn't have a hard time getting out of bed or any of the other things that I associated with depression. All the hormone fluctuations during pregnancy exacerbates everything for me. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! I will keep you in my prayers!

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  4. It is ok to need a break for sure! Have you discussed your emotions and overhwelm with whoever you're seeing? I ask because that is how my depression manifests itself. It took me a long time to recognize it because I wasn't sad and didn't have a hard time getting out of bed or any of the other things that I associated with depression. All the hormone fluctuations during pregnancy exacerbates everything for me. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! I will keep you in my prayers!

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  5. What curriculum are you using for your homeschooling? I'd say that it might be time for you to ratchet back whatever you're doing and find something easier for a few months that your kids can handle on their own, or even that doesn't feel like schoolwork. I've found a few Facebook groups for homeschooling with Netflix and YouTube and technology that I intend to use more in the future for days when we want to *feel* like we're taking a day off without really taking a day off ;) Take whatever time you need to get life back in order for your family - even, or maybe especially, if it means doing a few things out for awhile. When I get frustrated with how our homeschooling is going it helps me to take a step back and realize that even though my son might not be focusing as well as I'd like or getting through the curriculum as quickly as I'd like - he's working at a grade level above what he'd be doing at school. Even if you cut back I'm sure you're doing more for your kids than they'd get from the public school because they're learning directly from you in a way that's tailored for them. I think it's good for kids to witness and be part of these amazing life events - even the crazy, hard and not so fun parts. And I'd agree with The Hatch Batch that it might be good to talk to your midwife about depression. I had postpartum depression after my first and didn't realize that's what it was until I was about to have my second. Depression is scary because it is so hard to recognize when you're in the middle of it. Don't be afraid to ask for help! You're doing great mama, you'll get through this <3

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    1. Thanks Brittny,

      I do think I need to re-evaluate our homeschool routine, because obviously it isn't working any more :) I think that my biggest insecurity is that neither of my kids are strong readers yet and somehow it makes me feel like I am doing a bad job. They are learning and progressing but neither of them have really taken off with it yet. I know that it is totally normal and that they will eventually get it. But I think that when you homeschool the pressure to make sure your kids are doing well is increased, because it makes you feel insecure. So I think that is part of my problem. I really think though that I do need to just back off and not stress so much about routine. I'm thinking if I just focus on having them read to me everyday and do some math, we can call it good. Because you are right, they do learn so much on their own!

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  6. What curriculum are you using for your homeschooling? I'd say that it might be time for you to ratchet back whatever you're doing and find something easier for a few months that your kids can handle on their own, or even that doesn't feel like schoolwork. I've found a few Facebook groups for homeschooling with Netflix and YouTube and technology that I intend to use more in the future for days when we want to *feel* like we're taking a day off without really taking a day off ;) Take whatever time you need to get life back in order for your family - even, or maybe especially, if it means doing a few things out for awhile. When I get frustrated with how our homeschooling is going it helps me to take a step back and realize that even though my son might not be focusing as well as I'd like or getting through the curriculum as quickly as I'd like - he's working at a grade level above what he'd be doing at school. Even if you cut back I'm sure you're doing more for your kids than they'd get from the public school because they're learning directly from you in a way that's tailored for them. I think it's good for kids to witness and be part of these amazing life events - even the crazy, hard and not so fun parts. And I'd agree with The Hatch Batch that it might be good to talk to your midwife about depression. I had postpartum depression after my first and didn't realize that's what it was until I was about to have my second. Depression is scary because it is so hard to recognize when you're in the middle of it. Don't be afraid to ask for help! You're doing great mama, you'll get through this <3

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  7. I would put the brakes on any sit-down teaching work for the next six months or so. They are little - they will be fine. Look into some unschooling methods, invite their friends over for regular meet-ups or set up a regular home school group at an indoor play place or something. Still get out of the house for sure, but when you are all home, just let them play.

    Your instinct is right - once you have the baby, things will have to be altered significantly anyway. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Kids can't help but learn! They will be fine.

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  8. I love reading your blog. One of my friends who home schools was expecting twins last year and decided to put her children into the public schools in her area until after the twins were born. It did the trick - the children thrived in their public school experience and she was able to cope with the arrival of the twins which would take up most of her time. She was guilt free and her children did well in a new situation - maybe something to consider as a temporary measure.

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  9. You've gotten some great advice here, Heather! Take some time for yourself, scale back on the homeschooling, and make sure you're talking to other people about being overwhelmed. And don't be afraid to ask for help!

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  10. Sent you an email! Hang in there momma!

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  11. You are amazing, your kids are getting what they need (YOU!), and honestly I'm glad I'm not the only one with kids that fight a lot! ;) Good luck with your birth plans. The Lord will take care of you. Be gentle on yourself. I decided the last few weeks that if I have another baby, we will cancel all other activities (piano lessons, sports, etc) for the first year of the baby's life. lol.

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  12. I agree that it's time for some unschooling. Your kids are so young, they really don't need formal instruction. And, as I've heard, the baby is the lesson.
    By the way, some of my kids are singing Tuesday morning for the World Congress of Families. I hope you have an enjoyable time!

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    1. Fun! How neat they get to sing. I'll be excited to hear them :)

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  13. Hi Heather, First of all, thanks for your wonderful & inspiring posts. Great for you to be honest! Motherhood is not easy, pregnancy is not easy, home schooling is not easy, our lives are not supposed to be without opposition. One thing that I did when I was feeling overwhelmed is I designated one month a "Mommy Mental Month" For that month there was no structured academic work being done, but there was certain;y a lot of learning happening. My children were young and enjoyed having a break as much as I did - well, maybe I enjoyed it more as I really needed it for the health of my family. I am confident that you will find what you need to be doing for yourself as well as your family.

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  14. Hang in there, Heather! I felt like a wreck a lot of the time with my fifth pregnancy too. Not to scare or discourage you, but she is five months old today, and I am just starting to feel like my old self. Around four months I started feeling like "Happy Shauna" and dancing around the house like I used to. So just be aware that you might not feel like yourself right after the baby pops out. :)

    I'm so glad you're getting a break! And there's nothing wrong with wanting and needing one. Even Jesus took breaks. We are mortals, after all. Thanks for your example of following your gut feelings and the Holy Ghost. Walking by faith can be daunting at times, and reassuring as well. All the best to you!

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  15. Oh, and we have had great reading success with "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" if you've never given that a go and want to try something new.

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  16. It seems like kids go through one "last hurrah" before they turn 8, and boys do it at 7 and girls do it at 6. So you have an almost-8-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl, kudos to you for allowing them to survive!

    When I'm pregnant, I like to find educational TV shows that can keep kids occupied and happy while I nap. Some of our favorites have been North America (an animal documentary about North American animals) and other like that (I can't remember their names, sorry!).

    We homeschooling mothers do need occasional breaks from our kids to refresh and come back ready to be better Mommies :)

    We use the McGuffey readers and handwriting for our reading curriculum. (And Starfall to teach basic letter sounds and get them started in sounding out words.). I have my kid read the lesson in McGuffey, and listen to see what words he/she struggled with, then make up a handwriting assignment that uses that word. The next day I might use refrigerator magnet letters to spell words like that problem word to test whether my kid "got it" or if it still needs to be worked, and if so I just keep on doing handwriting that uses words like the one giving him/her trouble. When it is mastered, we move on to the next lesson and repeat :). ALSO, having them read out loud in the Book of Mormon during our family scriptures at night has HUGE results. Msomething about that combination of the Holy Ghost with their reading practice just makes it all come together :)

    Thanks so much for blogging. I'm a homeschooling, home-birthing, mother of 4 (and not done!) who often feels like an outsider/weirdo for making choices different from the norm. Having your example as a faithful mother who makes some of the same choices I do, lifts my spirits and helps me keep on keeping on :)

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  17. Oh, one more thing! When I was pregnant with my fourth, we did just phonics and math most days. And it worked. But at the end of the pregnancy, we all hated homeschooling! So next time I'm pregnant, if I absolutely have to scale back, I'm going to do phonics and math one day, and literature and science the next. The fun stuff not only refreshes the kids but the Mommy, too! Good luck to you and your family!

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  18. Heather!
    I know we've only met a handful of times but I feel like so much of our lives are going the same direction at the same pace. I just had my 5th and she was born in the hospital. From the moment I saw a positive pregnancy test I just KNEW this birth would be different. It was as if a voice told me loud and clear to go to the hospital. I think it might have even been the baby herself letting me know where to deliver her. I have gone unmedicated for my last 3 births in a beautiful birth center surrounded by strong and capable midwives. My babies were born in the water and they were all beautiful, and speedy births (within 7 minutes or less of pushing). Labor came on fast with baby #5 and by the time we made it to the hospital I opted for the epidural. I was almost to transition and out of time, but I really felt like I would be okay if I had it. After it took effect it was time to push, and after 20 minutes of pushing I had still not delivered; and was worried something might be wrong. As the baby descended the doctor discovered the she was posterior and spent the next few minutes in between contractions turning her around, all while I was laying on my back. Being on my back during natural labor is more than I can bare. I have always been on my hands and knees. I'm sure the midwives could have turned her, but it could have been a scary situation, because I would have been in the tub, on my knees, not wanting anyone to touch me. In that very instant I KNEW why I needed to be in the hospital, and I was so grateful for the angels that helped guide me there. She was delivered safely. About 19 hours after she was born, she coughed up A LOT of amniotic fluid but couldn't get it out. She choked long enough to turn a scary purple and we ran her to the nursery where the nurses worked fast to suction everything out. Again, it was made clear to me why I needed to be in the hospital.

    I love how the guidance of the Spirit is so individual. Even if it doesn't always make sense, there is sense to it. You have a gift of making the world a better place, even if you feel like you are currently drowning in it. Your blog is a treasure for so many people. Thank you for writing it. Follow your gut/the Spirit and you will be taken care of. As for school, that's a hard one. My kids go to a school 2 times a week, we do home school 2 days a week, and leave Friday's open for playing or cleaning. It's a nice balance. I wonder if your school could accommodate something like that.

    Enjoy your time in Salt Lake all by yourself! You definitely deserve it. :)

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  19. You might like this series about homeschooling. Lots of good ideas about homeschooling with toddlers/newborns. http://timeflieswhenyourehavingbabies.blogspot.com/2015/10/how-do-they-do-it-home-schooling-blog_19.html?m=1

    Thanks for the update. I love reading your blog :)

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  20. You've had lots of good advice so far. My fourth pregnancy was extremely difficult and homeschooling was a major stress for me. I was so worried about taking off so much time that I also thought they needed to go to public school even though that didn't feel right either. When my baby arrived, I felt like I couldn't take any time off since I had taken so much off for my pregnancy that I tried to get right back into schooling when my baby was only 4 days old. Let me tell you how well that went over!

    4 kids was a super big adjustment for me for some reason and it took a lot longer than I anticipated for us to find our new normal. But we did find it. And we are back on a schedule that works and the kids are progressing, and you know what? It's like that break never even happened. And sometimes I wanna kick myself a little for being so stressed out for so many months when in the long run, it didn't even matter. Not at all. So I would just throw in my two cents to try to let go of the stress of school and of life in general. In a few years this will be a very minor blip on the radar, and time goes by way to fast to spend it worrying anyways. :-)

    Sending you lots of positive energy! Everything will work out!

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  21. The World Congress on Families conference has been in the news a lot lately. Especially among the LGBT community in Utah. Outside of the circle it runs in, the World Congress on Families is seen as one of the largest anti LGBT groups in the country (if possibly the world). And they call it pro-family, but it could as easily be called "anti-gay families" because there are no sessions devoted to families that don't fit the perfect mold. There are no LGBT families represented or even divorced or single parent families. The panels that they have put together to discuss issues are entirely one sided. There is not a single pro-planned parenthood or pro-LGBT person on that agenda. And a one-sided conference like that can be harmful. The Human Rights Campaign actually specifically focused on this conference because they received feedback from LGBT families in Utah that it has been very damaging to any progress made on the LGBT front and is hard on their kids and family. Looking at the agenda, there are whole entire days devoted to anti-planned parenthood sessions and sessions about why traditional marriage is the only way society can flourish. I don't know if it can be called pro-family unless all times of families are included. And I know we have very different opinions on almost all of those topics (I realized while reading your "Cultivating a Heart Open to Life" series how much larger those differences have become). But during the conference you should keep in mind all the different types of families and keep your heart open your to all the ones that aren't like yours.

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    1. But I am happy you are getting a break! And a week in the Grand America sounds like a dream. And I'm sorry things have been so stressful lately. It will all work out. Love you!

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    2. Hilary, thanks for the reminder to keep an open mind. That is an important part of attending a conference.I never expect to agree 100% with everything that it said at a conference, it is just a big buffet of opinions and ideas and you take some and leave some. But it is valuable to hear lots of different opinions, which has been fun this conference. You are right that the conference has had speakers that are anti- planned parenthood (not whole sessions though) and that there has been a lot of talk about LGBT issues and how that affects the natural family, but that hasn't been the main focus of the conference. The conference is about how to build strong families and that is something that any family-- even non-traditional ones-- can apply to their life. Like I said there has been a WIDE arrange of speakers and some of them I've disagreed with and others I've loved. It has been nice because I feel like the liberal side of the family and sexuality discussion dominates the internet and the media and so it is nice to get a different view point too. Both are valid and both are important. I think it is important to be able to speak intelligently and compassionately from BOTH sides of the issue if you are really going to make anything important happen.

      Also, the conference has been almost free from protesters. There is a lot of security at the hotel but from what I was told was that Pride Utah looked over the program and said that they didn't find anything offensive in it and weren't going to protest the conference. I even picked up the SLC Tribune this morning and the coverage of the conference was positive. There are people who hold more extreme views (you'll find people like that everywhere) but for the most part it is a lot of people who feel passionate about children, families and about making our nation a better place. I feel like a big focus has been on unity, love and not being afraid to share your opinion and your faith-- even if it is mocked or unpopular. I hope that you and I can talk about it more!

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  22. I had my first baby in Ames Iowa. I went to the hospital thinking that the less I prepared the less likely I would be afraid. (Ha! What an idea!) I'm so grateful for the nurses that I got. What a major blessing! They encouraged my husband to help me through contractions, taught me how to use a stability ball, suggested I walk the halls, and kept the room quiet. I delivered my sweetie without an epideral and with my husband doing most of the coaching. Looking back I see how unique a "first hospital" experience this was. I wish I could go back and find those nurses and thank them. I didn't know how unusal it was until I delivered my second in a hospital in Hawaii.

    This has little to do with your post other than the location! It just came to my mind as I remembered where you live.

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  23. Remember that everything we do is to improve our relationships with God and others. Pray every morning to know what is the most important thing to teach your children. Gather them around you and pray over your homeschool day. Then do the things that are most important. Focus on being loving rather than getting through stuff. Explain to them your feelings and ask for their service. Tell them how you imagine your home feeling when everyone works together and serves each other. Pray for those angels in every moment that you feel the emotions rising, and they will help so quickly! I have had meal ideas, lesson plans, cleaning tips, and sometimes just permission to rest by asking for angelic help. They can also surround you with light and help you ward off those bad guys throwing the fiery darts of overwhelm and inadequacy at you. I just had my 8th baby at home and I am in my 11th year of homeschooling, and this is all very familiar and real to me! Because you don't know what the future will hold (things may not get better after baby, as you expressed!) focus on making right now as good as it can possibly be. For me that often means thanking God for the pain and trials I am experiencing so that I can be in a better place of submission and learning from them. Life is hard, but it is so beautiful! Thank you for adding to that beauty in my life.

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  24. Hugs and Prayers. Sounds like things are challenging, but appropriate given your circumstances. You can do it!!

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