Stress, Worry, and Sunshine

So I guess if I’m going to have a blog, I should probably blog more, hey?
I don’t know about you but I often get in my own head too much. I analyze everything. I think “oh hey, I should blog about that!” and then I stop, because I think it’s not good enough to blog about. Or no one wants to hear it. But you know what? I love that people read this, but I didn’t actually create this space for anyone other than myself so I am just going to blog what I feel, as I feel it. Ok? Ok!

So this week I’ve been hustling HARD. Saturday is the Berry Beat Festival in Old Downtown Abbotsford and I signed up to be a vendor. I have had a few “What on earth was I thinking?” moments as I’ve been prepping for this. Firstly, it’s a 12 hour day. 12. Hours. How am I going to man a booth for 12 hours?! Will the baby come with me for a while? I’ve never been away from him for 12 hours so I’m hoping so. Also, it’s on my father in law’s birthday and I’m going to completely miss his party and the family gathering because I didn’t think that through at.all. Also – what if no one buys anything?! I’ve spent a lot on materials, a tent, a table, the vendor space … with absolutely zero experience. On the other hand, what if I sell out?? I can only make so much right now since everything is out of pocket, and being a 12 hour day that’s a long time to keep stock! I think that scenario is probably more wishful thinking, because selling out is a good problem to have, but I also don’t want my booth to look pathetic and empty!

I think I’m feeling the stress of these worries a bit more now that my maternity leave is officially over. I’ve chosen to stay home and work on this business and my photography business so I can be home with Silas and be available for my big kids – the cost of daycare just didn’t make sense with only working part time. But having no consistent, expected income is a scary thing. Props to all you entrepreneur mamas out there for sure! It’s hard work, and I’m leaning on God’s provision and working on separating wants from needs. This, my friends, is a difficult thing to do!

Anyways, it does kind of feel good to write out my worries. I know in the end it’s going to go whatever way it goes, but this hustle is real and it’s a tiny bit stressful! My big kids are currently at daycamp through the day, which helps me get some work done (though I wish so much I could have some peaceful time to myself in that comfy hammock on the patio!) and the sun is shining which is a real mood booster for sure! But the overwhelm is real and the to-do list long.

Anxiety is a bit of a beast. I’ve always struggled with this and I wish I could just snap my fingers and make it go away but for now I will take a break and a drink of ice cold water, breathe deeply, soak in the sunshine and remember that I am a child of God and I can cast my worries and anxiety on Him.

What do you do when you’re overcome with worry and anxiety?

Owning Who I Am – This is Me!

So just recently I went to the VanCity Business Babes Mom Boss Mingle event. I posted about it on my instagram but I walked away feeling inspired and ready to just go out there and own who I am, share who I am, and hustle hard to chase down these little dreams of mine. I thought I would start with a post sharing a little bit about myself! And this post has taken me a long time to actually finish. Partly because I wanted to give it some good thought, and partly because nothing ever gets finished in one sitting around here. Blog posts, meals, coffee … I always have to come back to these things over and over again daily in my life!

So about me… well, first and foremost, I’m a Christian. I follow Jesus, I’m saved by His Amazing Grace and while some might prefer to keep their beliefs personal and separate from business I don’t think I can. It’s a part of me, it’s part of who I am. I will love you no matter what your beliefs are, I may not always agree with you but I will love you just the same.

I’m an extroverted introvert. I am starting to realize this is a “thing”… It takes a lot for me to get out the door and be social. I don’t think I was always this way, or I was really good at faking it. But now I’m nervous before I go out, often even when I know the people. And then when I do, I feel like I need a day or so to recover. Once I’m out I feel like I’m ok at it, most of the time. I can be good at striking up conversation with people – even people I don’t know – but it pretty much ends there. I over analyze the things I say to people and usually say something really dumb – at least in my mind – and it’s waaaay worse when I haven’t had caffeine or enough sleep!! After the initial meeting and hello I’ve realized I have actually no idea how to become friends with people after that. I guess I’m really good at making acquaintances? So if you meet me, or if you know me now, and your first impression is how friendly and outgoing I am but I never take steps to further the friendship please don’t think I’m a snob. I am just stuck in a place of social anxiety that paralyzes me and tells me that you probably don’t want to hear from me anyways. Socially AWKWARD should be my middle name, at least that’s how I feel sometimes! Can anyone relate??

I love being creative. I am totally that “pinterest mom” … or maybe I want to be? I think it comes from having a Pinterest Mom before Pinterest was a thing… my mom is an artist and was totally the one to make us our halloween costumes, make our cakes, send creative things in our lunches, make artistic gifts for all our classmates and friends. She was the girl guide craft leader. So I do come by it honestly, though I’m not sure I’m quite as talented as she is. But I love it. I love throwing themed parties, I love making the kids their costumes and going all out for crazy hair day, and cutting their sandwiches into shapes. When the twins were little I loved creating little “invitations to play” – both for a few minutes of sanity and for the creative outlet it provided. It’s partly what made me start Feather + Fern busy bags, knowing I wanted something for my own kids!
Case in point as far as my “pre-pinterest” upbringing:

Cute little flower Amanda

I am a total kid. I’m a nerd. I give up trying to be “cool”. You’ll find me running through the park with my kids, learning all the words to the latest Disney hit, (or fast rap songs! ha!) and having dance parties whether my kids are around or not.

Speaking of dance – that is something I absolutely love to do. I needed something that was just for me after my twins were born and found an adult group with amazing, talented ladies who love to compete! I’m a pretty competitive person – some people join beer league sports – I joined a dance team! I love it so much, and these girls have become great friends of mine, I’m so happy to have found them.

I love all things trendy and absolutely love to shop local and small but I’m totally the one who will try to find the trendy treasure at the thrift store, or the awesome score on the clearance rack.

But on the flip side, I want to live with less. I love minimalism, but it’s a journey and a process. I’m nowhere near “there”… I’m serious, in some rooms of my house I’m fairly certain people might be compelled to call the show “hoarders” … (but then I watch the show and feel way better about my situation… haha!) I get sentimental about THINGS and have a hard time letting go of them. But I’m working on it! Baby steps! I’ve created a capsule wardrobe that was AMAZING. Seriously revolutionary. Then I got pregnant with Silas and somehow it’s not quite the capsule it was. I keep waiting for when I have my “body back” but I am pretty sure no one took my body so I should probably get on that again!

I wish I could say I don’t care what people think, but I do, probably too much.

I’m a photographer and take approximately 34970137480173017381703 pictures of everyone else but have a hard time stepping in front of a camera myself. I’m trying to get better at this and get my hubby to snap a few (instagram husbands, am I right?) because I want my kids to have photos with their mama in the picture. It’s so important. I have to put aside and body image issues I have, because those issues are MY issues, they are not my childrens’. They don’t see me the way I critically see myself and I need them to see me loving myself. But mamas, it’s hard. It’s such a struggle. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone here. I’m working on it daily, but it’s definitely a struggle.

Anyways, that’s a short novel about myself. If you’ve made it this far, THANK YOU, you’re amazing for reading all this without falling asleep! 😉
So now it’s your turn – tell me one random thing about you in the comments – I love getting to know my readers!! 

Happy International Day of the Midwife! Welcome Silas – My Birth Story!

I shared my birth story over at my photography blog before I started this blog, but I realized I hadn’t shared it here, so I’m going to do that today as we recognize the superheroes that are midwives!

May 5th is International Day of the Midwife! Did you know that the word “midwife” means “with woman”? And that’s exactly how I felt going with midwives this time. I felt like they were with me, beside me, supporting me the entire time. I hadn’t gone with midwives with the twins – I just stayed with the OB I’d been with leading up to the twins, and being high risk just because it was twins and opting for a c-section I felt I needed to stay put. ALSO, if we’re being honest, I thought midwives were for more of the “crunchy” hippie type. And having not been a Mama yet, I was definitely NOT like that. (Oh how motherhood can change a person… I became more of a babywearing, cloth-diapering, co-sleeping mama as time went on) So when I ended up with midwives in my post-natal care of the twins I must say I was a bit skeptical. But quickly my mind was changed. The two ladies I had with the twins were incredibly supportive, encouraging, and helpful as they came to my home for visits and opened up new mama groups. So I knew right away when we got pregnant with Silas I wanted to be under the care of a midwifery this time. Especially since I was trying for a VBAC. But I still had my reservations at first – were they going to try to talk me out of my desire for an epidural or all the drugs? Because I was not against pain management at all. Having never been through labour, I was so scared I couldn’t handle the pain, so I wanted the drugs to still be an option and I didn’t want to feel pressured out of it. Within the first couple appointments with my midwives, I realized there wasn’t going to be any pressure. It was entirely my choice, all the way – and they were there to support me and my choices. What a relief!! From then on, I really enjoyed my appointments. I never felt rushed, rarely had to wait the lengthy waits I had been accustomed to in a doctor’s office, and felt listened to and cared for by all the staff at the midwifery.

When I started to go into labour, Nooshin was the one on call. She met me several times at the hospital to help figure out how far along I was, and in between hospital visits answered texts and questions I’d had. When labour was finally picking up and becoming more apparent it was truly time to go, it was, of course, the middle of the night. She met me at the hospital and didn’t leave my side. I remember Jason on my left holding my hand tight, caring for me and loving me through my pain and fear, but also Nooshin, holding my right hand, finding a pressure point to help alleviate a bit of my pain. She cooled my forehead with a damp cloth, and encouraged me with her supportive words and guidance. Even Jason remarked afterwards how amazing she was, and how we couldn’t imagine our experience without her.
Not pictured was Bethany who arrived at the end of Nooshin’s shift, just in time for everything to completely hit the fan. She was everything we needed in these moments as well, and we are so grateful for her and her quick response and support!
So if you are on the fence about going with a midwife – my vote is to do it. The care was amazing, the support and encouragement and empowerment that I felt in the moment – even with the ending I had – was unparalleled. THANK YOU again to my incredible midwives, and to any other midwives reading this on your day. Thank you for the work you do, thank you. <3

And now, here is the birth story I posted originally on my photography blog! 

I’ve never shared a birth story before. With the twins it was all pretty straightforward… all I did was show up on my scheduled c-section date and boom – parents of two. Then of course the whirlwind of newborn twins, and who has time to document the birth story?? 😉

This time was a little different though. I was going to let my body decide what was going to happen and attempt a VBAC. Since I had never gone into labour I was considered a perfect candidate to attempt to labour – they would just consider me like a first timer. I went into it with zero birth plan, and no expectations. I had no IDEA what to expect.

So as I approached my due date I had been getting really anxious. Waiting is the hardest part, isn’t it? Friday evening we went to Costco and I figured the walking around couldn’t hurt. That evening around 9pm I noticed my braxton hicks contractions had a little bit of crampiness to them and started to time them – 10-15 minutes apart but consistent. I went to bed praying this was the start!

The next morning I woke up at 6:00am and knew these had turned into real contractions. I timed them and they were around 3-5 minutes apart – so after a while I decided to phone my midwives and find out what to do. They had me come in to check where I was at. Driving to Abbotsford from Mission was NOT my favourite thing ever! I knew I wasn’t very far along so I wasn’t surprised when they said I was only about 1cm dilated. They gave me morphine and I went home to rest.

As an aside – this was all happening on the one day I DIDN’T want it to happen on!! I really preferred that no one except my closest circle knew when I went into labour, and this Saturday was my twin nephews’ 2nd birthday – the entire family and some friends were celebrating and it was INCREDIBLY obvious when we sent my mom with my twins what was happening. But that’s ok. I was grateful for the prayers I knew people were praying for us.

That afternoon I was told this was likely prodromal labour and that this could last for days. DAYS?!! No thank you. This wasn’t super intense but it wasn’t a walk in the park either. I wanted these to progress to something more so I could meet my little boy!

That evening I went back to get more morphine in hopes of getting more rest that night. (Which, incidentally, meant ANOTHER DRIVE TO ABBOTSFORD. See above. Not my fave.) We got home around 11:30pm and I fell asleep at midnight.

I woke up thinking it had been several hours…. Wrong. It was 1:00am. It had been one hour. But suddenly these contractions were strong. And coming fast. 1-2 minutes apart. This was definitely happening. We texted the midwife and off we went. Yes… another drive to Abbotsford. This was my least favourite one!

When we arrived it was around 3:30am. My midwife Nooshin (who is the greatest EVER) checked me and I had jumped to at least a 5cm. I was finally going to be admitted and I wasn’t going to be leaving there without a baby! So I had a popsicle to celebrate!

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When I first got admitted I asked when I could get an epidural, since I had heard I needed to ask early for these things! She encouraged me to try the gas first. Oh, the gas. Apparently it doesn’t work for everyone – well, it worked for me. It didn’t take away the pain of a contraction but in between I was high and a little loopy and felt okay. I was able to focus on breathing through contractions by using it.

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This man. This wonderful best friend of a husband I have. He was amazing. Held my hand through every contraction and was the best support I could’ve asked for.

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You guys… I was so scared! In each moment I knew I could do this, I was empowered in the moment itself but the fear of what was yet to come was overwhelming.

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JJ Heller seems to be my go-to music for when I’m anxious and scared. Prior to this it was my playlist for when I was on an airplane. (I hate flying…) Something about the lyrics and the songs themselves that speak God’s truth to me and bring a peace that I can’t quite explain.

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In what didn’t feel like long (I guess it wasn’t long at all – around 7:00am) I was able to start pushing. I pushed for a half an hour, and then Nooshin’s shift was over and Bethany took over for her. It was around this time that they started to try to move me in order to get Silas into a better position. He wasn’t moving into optimal pushing position. While they changed my position around, they started to have a hard time hearing his heartbeat and decided to attempt to put a scalp clip on him. His heart rate was low, or kept dropping, so they brought in the OB to make sure they had it on correctly. When he put it on Silas he realized he was definitely in distress and I needed a c-section immediately. These next moments were chaotic. So many people in the room. I was in so much pain and they let me know that the anesthetist was not available and that I would have to have this c-section under LOCAL anaesthetic. Local?! That’s not even a thing usually. Apparently this was an emergency and needed to happen NOW. It wasn’t until later that I realized how terrible that really could’ve been. However, I truly truly believe in the power of prayer and there were some HUGE prayers going up at this moment. Bethany (my super good friend who took all these photos minus the OR photos) had spoken to several people who were praying hard. When we arrived at the operating room there was an anesthetist there waiting for me to do a spinal before the cesarean. PRAISE God!!

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That spinal brought me so much relief. I had been pushing for about an hour at this point and was so exhausted and just done with the pain. After some prep and some pushing and pulling and tugging (always so strange!) we heard that little squeak of a cry and Silas was here! All 8lbs 15oz of him! It turned out that his umbilical cord was just too short and he wasn’t going to come out any other way.

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Breastfeeding twins was such a challenge I wasn’t sure what this would be like. While I was in recovery I was able to have skin to skin time with him and he started to breastfeed right away. I feel so blessed that I get to experience this. I’m a firm believer in a fed baby being best, however that looks and have zero regrets from the first days of my twins’ lives, but really wanted this experience for myself.

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Eli and Livvie absolutely adore their baby brother. It’s been really amazing watching them get to know Silas, and step up and help with things he needs, or I need. It’s definitely been an adjustment for everyone and it’s surreal to have a new member of our family to love but it’s incredible how your heart just grows to accommodate him. I feel like my heart could burst at any moment, it is just so full.

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And with that, we are a family of 5. My heart is full.

Hugest shoutout of thanks to Mission Midwifery (specifically Nooshin and Bethany who were there for me at my most vulnerable moments, but really all of them in the office along the way in this pregnancy. They are amazing.) The maternity staff at Abbotsford Regional Hospital – also amazing people who took fantastic care of me and brought me medicine lol! To Bethany for taking these photos that I absolutely treasure and for your prayers and support along the way, to my mama for taking good care of my biggest littles, and to my Jason for being in this with me and helping bring another gorgeously cute tiny human earthside.

I made a slideshow of these photos and some more to share our story. I can’t watch it without crying – I am beyond blessed and grateful for this family and these littles that God has given me to raise up.

6 Self Care Tips – Things I would rather be doing – and the importance of “me time”

I’m so tired today. It was a busy weekend followed by the regular busy school days and everything that goes with that. And in the midst of tidying, making lunches, bathing kids, brushing hair, and the list goes on and on and on… it’s really easy to put yourself last. I love my job as a Mama to my littles but it’s a full time job. It’s a fuller-than full-time job. It’s an always on, never ending job. Any other job that would demand this many hours would result in massive levels of burnout. And sometimes that’s exactly how I feel, burnt out. I’d NEVER trade this job, not for anything, but it’s definitely made me realize the importance of taking time just for myself. It’s so important, this self-care thing.

Through the day I find myself filling my short little “breaks” with things like facebook, instagram, emails, or some sort of time waster, like reading comments on news articles. (Just don’t. It’s bad news, always.) But I find myself wishing later that I had more time in the day to ________. Fill in the blank with so many different things! Lately I could fill that in with:
*read a book
*take a nice bath
*do a facial mask
*paint my nails
*shop on my own
*enjoy a sappy movie
*go for coffee with a friend
*go for coffee by myself!
*drink hot coffee anywhere!! LOL

Honestly there are more, I could totally go on. Some of those aren’t super practical with little ones running around, but would be so lovely to be able to stop for just a few moments. But for whatever reason I, like many others, am drawn back to the world of social media and the world wide web, and before I know it my couple minute break is over and I don’t feel any better. Perhaps just poor time management but I would venture a guess that I’m not alone in this.

So here are a few of my self-care tips, and believe me, I’m reading them for MYSELF just as much!!

1. It’s ok to say No.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a yes-er. If someone asks me to help with something, volunteer somewhere, etc. my initial gut reaction is to say “Yes, of course!” … but I know now what happens is my plate gets fuller, and fuller, and fuller until I’m so burnt out. Add motherhood on top of all those yes answers and I’ve basically set myself up for an epic meltdown. (And I don’t mean from the children.) I know I have to step back and look at my calendar and decide if that will leave enough time on the schedule for “nothing” moments.

2. It’s ok to do “nothing”
So that brings me to this point – our culture seems to be obsessed with BUSY. I hear it even from my own lips, and in conversations with others: “Hi! How are you??” “Oh, busy!” “Yeah, me too!” … Why is this celebrated?! I never thought I’d say it but I long for the days of my childhood where the words “I’m bored” were uttered more than “I’m busy”. It’s ok to schedule days where you don’t have any plans. It’s ok to let the children be bored and not take all the responsibility to entertain them for a time! It allows them to be creative and find something to entertain themselves. It’s ok – no, more than ok, I’d say it’s important – to sit in the quiet stillness of nothing, and just listen. I find I pray more when I do this, and as a result get closer to God in those moments. I find myself wondering why I don’t do that more.

NOTHING. (Thought that’s probably more due to my lack of filling this out than reality. ha!)

3. Have something that’s just YOURS.

Be it a hobby you did before having children, a project you love to work on, a time you take each day that’s YOUR time, find something. It’s easy to lose yourself in this job. I started dancing the year my twins were born and it was and is my outlet. I can leave for a short time each week, meet up with some beautiful, wonderful women I’ve gotten to know over the years, and leave my worries and problems at the door. It’s given me a piece of my old self back, and I’m so grateful for that.

(I was very pregnant with Silas in this group photo!)

4. Ask for, and accept help.
Oh, I’m not good at this one. I definitely complain to the hubby when I start to burn out but if I step back and really think about it, I don’t ask for help. Complaining is not the same thing as asking. It takes a certain level of humility to accept the fact that I can’t do it all. I’m NOT super-mom no matter how much I wish I was! When someone offers to come over and help with something, ANYTHING, I know I personally need to swallow my pride and let them help.

5. Go outside. 
Sometimes just the act of stepping outside, seeing God’s creation and just taking it all in is enough to bring me back to a place of thankfulness that I can’t get elsewhere. We haven’t had the very best weather lately but I’ve been trying to walk to pick up the kids more. As I walk to the school I breathe deeply, taking in the smells of spring, the flowers about to bloom. We got a hammock for Christmas and I can’t wait to set that up and find a few moments to sit in it, with a book, with a coffee, or even snuggling with one of my littles.

6. Put the technology away. 
Just for a short time to start if you are really dependent on it, put the timer on, put the phone down or turn the computer off, and check something off your “what I’d do if I had more time” list. If you’re less dependent on it, see what happens when you log off for an entire day. I think I’m going to challenge myself to an entire day at some point, but for now I am going to start small!

I need to become more intentional in taking even just 30 minutes daily to myself to do some of these things. So here’s my challenge to you – do you find yourself wishing you had more time in the day for the things you used to do? Try to schedule 30 minutes to yourself somehow. Use the hashtag #30minutesformama on Instagram (if you aren’t following me – do that! ) and show me how you are spending your 30 minutes for self care!

Motivational Monday – How to beat the rainy-Monday-blues!

Motivational Monday – I’m sure I didn’t just make that up but I kinda just spontaneously decided this day desperately needed some motivation.

What is up with Mondays? Especially Mondays with MORE rain, after a nice sunny Sunday that just gave us the tiniest taste of Spring.

Anyone else find this weather affecting their mood? I’m so blaaaah on days like today. And I find myself unmotivated to do anything, grumpier and more short-tempered, and praying for patience a whole lot more.

So how do you cope?
For me, happiness and peace comes from a cup of coffee and a moment of quiet. Those are hard to come by these days, but it’s important to find it now and then! If I can take a moment to open up my She Reads Truth app and do a quick devotional I find I feel more at peace in my day.

Sometimes I find that perusing Pinterest gives me the motivation to get up and get going on whatever I need to tackle that day – something about the perfect, shiny, organized spaces that kicks me into gear (however there are times this backfires and I find myself overwhelmed at how UN-“pinteresty” my house is! If that happens I just shut ‘er down and walk away!)

A short workout. Ok, I’ll admit this one is HARD when you’re already grumpy, tired, and just all around MONDAY. But, I will say if you can muster up enough energy to even do a 20-30 minute workout, you’ll at least feel like you accomplished a little bit of self-care during the day! And it’s surprising how a little bit of a workout actually results in some more energy!

Drink.More.Water. How much do I have to remind myself of this? I tend to gravitate towards coffee, but honestly I find my brain foggy and I’m tired and sluggish unless I am remembering to hydrate. Find what works for you, but I find I drink a lot more water out of a bottle that has a straw. Weird, right? But hey, it works!

Do a 10 minute tidy. Set the timer! If I can get started on this and tell myself “just 10 minutes” I usually end up on a roll, and start doing even more. And even if you only actually do the 10 minutes you’ll feel like you accomplished something in your day!

Focus on the good. This one was hard for me today! I kept thinking about how annoyed I was that I had to drive to get coffee creamer so I could have coffee, how much it’s been raining, and how tired I am today. But just taking a minute to reflect and realize that I have a beautiful home to have that coffee in, that rain is going to make those flowers and that greenery so much more beautiful, and later today I’m going to snuggle my kiddos and rest – all these things, plus a lovely visit from a friend, and kind words from strangers help lift my spirits.

Maybe these things are just petty little things, but I know I personally need a kick occasionally to get through these hard days. Even just writing this blog post was a method to bust out of these Monday-blues.

So now I’m going to go drink some more water, prep some dinner and this week’s lunches, and then call it a day. Tuesday is a new day.