Approaching the day you are going to give birth need not be intimidating. There are good books that you can read, and great ways to be prepared. It's not that it's a "walk in the park" or anything like that, but it is that you can proceed somewhat prepared. Sure, things can definitely go differently than a textbook birth, but it's much better to understand what's ahead and what you need for it.

My mom had 12 children, I am the oldest. She also had 3 miscarriages. Several children were born at home and several in the hospital. As a result, I learned a lot about pregnancy, birth, and babies. Maybe that's one reason why I love the topic. I used to sit among my mother's friends and listen to them compare stories and talk together. I was with my mom for at least 8 births. I learned a lot and I'm grateful that she included me.

One thing I learned from her was the helpful importance of having two hot water bottles during labor (particularly during contractions). She would have Dad hold the hot water bottle on her lower back. When I became pregnant, she instructed me that I would want to do the same: My husband could hold one at my lower back and I could hold the other kind of under my belly and pull upward or towards me (you'll know what to do when you are in the contraction, because you will know what is helping).

But here's the thing: hospitals don't seem to carry hot water bottles! It's the craziest phenomenon to me, because it's one of the basic items that every household should have in their bathroom right along with the band-aids and towels and every must-have for a home. It's such a basic way to bring ease to sore muscles or ease to an aching ear! It's a no brain-er that it's a comforting help if you are feeling cold or achy! Why, oh why, would a hospital not have something like that? But the fact is that so many of them just don't. So... bring your own! Bring two of them, and use them ahead of time to be sure they are "broken in" and that you like them, etc.

And here is what's more amazing: After I had my son, my husband overheard the nurses or assistants talking to each other while taking birth notes. One looked at the hot water bottle and said, "What is that?"

"It's a hot water bottle," my husband said.

"What is it for? What does it do?" the nurse asked.

"I think it helps..." said the other.

"Oh. I better right that down," was the final comment.

Wow. Well, I sure hope they remember that conversation so that they can help more moms with their new-found knowledge. They are smart and kind ladies, but I cannot believe that that is not already a normal, helpful practice in the hospital, and that they are actually in this profession without knowing that that can help!!!

Admittedly, there was a point in which the bottles did little to help, and the greatest help was my husband's thumbs rubbed rigorously into a certain pain-ridden place on my lower back during really tough contractions! On the other hand, some ladies would prefer not to be touched at all while laboring, but you will figure it out when you get there.

I have lots more birth tips to share! I love this topic! Looking forward to sharing more tips with you...

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My husband has light brown skin and mine is white. I knew we would have beautiful babies if God blessed us to have any. Thankfully, we do have a son so far, and he is very cute! It's fun to see the observations our son makes. He gains his view of life from everything he observes. When he watches sports or something active, he shouts towards the TV, "Go, go, go!", just like Daddy does; when he greets people, he exclaims a pleasant, "Hi!" in a tone that I think sounds like mine. And when he plays, he imitates the life he observes: He loves to demonstrate the theme of Daddy, Mommy, and baby. One day, I realized that the two stuffed animals that he has come to adore (much like "Linus" of the "Peanuts" likes his blanket), were representing our family to him.

He has a sheep that is holding a lamb (they are attached to each other). It's white. He calls this "Lamb" and he also expresses to me that it's "Mommy" and "Baby". The other toy that he loves is a snugly light brown teddy bear which he calls "Teddy Bear" as well as expressing that it is "Daddy". One time, he expressed that he was "Daddy" (again, wanting to be like Daddy).

Your children really look up to you. They are sponges, learning from everything you put in front of them -- good or bad! Don't let it scare you, but they want to be just like you during their early years. If you are painting, they want to try it. If you are eating, they may want a taste of whatever it is. If you are a hunter, guess who wants to wear camouflage too? If you use bad words...you'll realize it by tomorrow!

This needs to be an inspiration to us! What kind of temperament are we going to display to our children? What kind of food and health habits?
What kind of morals? What theology? What world view?

Thoughts like this should cause us to desire to be more considerate of the things that we believe and understand, because as parents, we are no longer concerned for only ourselves. The little ones in our home are looking up to us for understanding and guidance, from the smallest to the biggest things. Our little ones trust us.

My greatest advice in preparing for that kind of responsibility, is to read the Holy Bible. In there, you can find life's answers -- for yourself and for your children. In there, you can discover God's love. And in experiencing parenthood, while reading the Bible and praying to understand, you may find yourself more amazed than ever when you realize that God gave up His only begotten Son as a sacrifice to gain adopted children (that may be you!).

Got children? It's a noble work worth handling with care. They are looking up to you.

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It was after the fact of having my own baby that I had the privilege of talking to another mom about how she was preparing financially for the arrival of her baby daughter. Knowing what it's like to have a baby, I felt she was very wise, and privileged to be able to do what she did. I thought I'd share some of her wisdom with my readers.

This mother is a working mom. When she was pregnant, she continued to work (which was okay for her pregnancy -- admittedly, some moms need bed rest to have a healthy pregnancy, but each story is different). They had been trying for awhile to have a baby, so I don't know if this is how they were able to save so much, but she and her husband managed to set aside at least the equivalent of 12 weeks or so pay (her income amount) so that she could take a maternity leave without feeling stressed by the finances. This was important for them because her employer was able to give her the time off (I believe it's the law that a pregnant woman cannot lose her job over needing a maternity leave), but I don't think there was maternity pay involved in this line of work. So, as I said, she and her husband created their own cushion and "paid' themselves (by saving ahead of time).

Meanwhile, throughout her pregnancy, they replaced some of their eating out activities with spending the money on baby diapers. That may sound boring, but when new parents are looking forward to their new arrival for the first time, diaper buying together is a pretty sweet date! They are simply sharing the joy of what is coming in their lives together. Those will always be sweet memories. (If you decide to do this too, I highly recommend saving the receipts and stocking up more on size 2 and size 3 --- oftentimes babies grow out of newborn and size 1 in a hurry).

Not everyone will be able to prepare the way they did, but it's nice to know the different things people do, to help us figure out a good path of our own. I hope that this was helpful and inspiring to someone. Enjoy the preparations!

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I was up and ready for my customers... not because I was eager to please them, but because I couldn't sleep. Okay, so I was up --- I felt it was a good time to do some reading, thinking, possibly writing... and drink coffee, a little facebook, you know --- but wait! Not too much of that facebook stuff or this "Bed and Breakfast" is going to get "2 stars" --- no, maybe "1" --- or perhaps a foreclosed sign! Well, at least I'll have to give myself that score because my two main "customers" rarely complain. They are very kind and compassionate, and would never tell on me that I didn't do the dishes or that the floor needs mopping.

So, after the people sleeping in the establishment arose this morning, there was coffee waiting for one, and a diaper for the other (when I finally got around to it). I managed to get good food to them, and send one off on his way to work with more food packed for his dinner. The other is two-years-old, so he will be sticking around to receive attention all day --- I'm happy to care for him!

But I look around and this place is a mess! I do have a lot to catch up on in the kitchen, gotta make the bed, mop the floor, pick up the messes of a room or two, before more guests come! That's right! There's a play date in a couple of hours here! No matter. I'm happy and excited for the chance to practice more hospitality --- more of making sure people are happy and comfortable here! So, I best get to work, because I'm not ready for them yet! If they show up early, I will entertain them whether I'm ready or not! All they need is a good caring conversation and something to drink (and maybe eat). They won't mind if the house is dirty...but still, I must do my best to make it better than it is.

Later, after the visit, they will go home again, and I will want to be ready for my favorite guest! He will return home from work, and I hope he will find me in a clean, nice-smelling home with a smile on my face!

I know, you are thinking, "What in the WORLD is she talking about?"

It's simple, really, I have my husband and my son whom I can serve everyday (cheerfully is the aim) and I have my friends who come to visit along with their children who come to play with my son (again, cheerful serving is the aim). I am so appreciative for family and friends and the fact that I'm home alot. Meanwhile, I have often dreamed of owning a Bed and Breakfast someday. Technically, I don't own one. But I can have fun making my home to be a Bed and Breakfast, in my own way.

Hospitality and the art of homemaking, is caring, creativity, work, and don't forget --- not making a big deal about little inconveniences, but serving with a smile. That's the kind of home I want my husband and son and family and friends to experience when they come over -- warm and like a B & B.

Serve your family with a smile! I hope this encouraged someone today (I had fun writing it)!

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When you become a mom, you just know one thing: you are pregnant. You don't know a gender (nor do you know how many), you don't know a name, you don't know what his or her personality will be like --- you don't know anything. And it's O-K!

Let me tell you, the world and role of Mom can be so fun!

The other day, I was brushing my teeth with my two old standing nearby "brushing" his. As I rinsed and spit into the sink, my little guy bursted with laughter! Oh, I guess that was funny. It's so great to have a little one around who sees everything with new eyes and has his own sense of humor, not to mention classic toddler humor and giggles!
When I was pregnant with him, I wondered what the future would be like, but I couldn't see all the little moments that were coming that only God knew about. I could only look forward to them and let the story play out.

I didn't know I would find him sleeping with a peanut butter face on a regular bases.

Nor did I foresee the time I would walk into his bedroom and find him sleeping sitting up!

(Kinda creepy...)

I didn't know how fun it was going to be to watch his little personality develop.

I didn't know what it was actually like to be an actual Mom, and I now know it's AMAZING!!!

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A is for Apple

So, what's been happening here that will make your life as a mom totally fun? I have been creating an alphabet video series for your toddlers (and preschool age in general)! That's right! With the inspiration and help of my own toddler, this series is a sure winner! Feedback from other moms has proven that as well.
For your enjoyment, I'm posting the first one here. Your feedback is also welcome.

A new video will be added every Monday until we reach the letter Z. Enjoy!