Perennial Garden

Moving in to our new house at the end of April with limited time and resources prevented me from being able to have a vegetable garden this year. Or at least, one on the scale that I want to have. For next year, I want a couple of raised beds in the sunniest part of the backyard so I can plant plenty of produce. This year, I settled for some spinach, romaine, broccoli, and dill in an already existing planter box that wraps around the front porch. My vegetables are having to share their space with some perennials that were already in one section of it.

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The day I planted

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Lilies and columbine

What I did have, though, was the time and resources to plant a perennial garden out front.

See, I have this little island between the driveway and the front walkway.

11209695_10155529497160596_1965150593871578516_nIt wasn’t in the best shape, and things needed to change. We didn’t like the evergreen shrubs bordering the walkway. They’re ubiquitous in the Pacific northwest, but they get taller than a person and, particularly when they’re not meticulously and constantly tended, they tend to become spider traps that scream “don’t use this path!” when they line walkways. We also already have a fairly shady yard, and the front is one of the most constantly sunny places we have, so we didn’t really want to have something that would shade it. Out those went. There was also some rotting wood barriers (the past owners were terrible at regularly sealing or otherwise caring for wood outside; thank goodness our porches are roofed), and a stump. The wood came out, but the stump stayed because it’s small enough that I figured I’d just plant around it and let time take care of it.

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Grass and weeds removed and grass seed down and watered

Then we tilled and removed all of the grass and weeds in the island. Even though I wanted grass in part of it, there were so many weeds and the dirt was so dry and unhealthy, I wanted to give it a fresh start with fertilizer and new grass. I raked in some fish meal fertilizer and put grass seed in along the driveway and curb edges because I don’t want my plants to be trampled by anyone who parks close to the edge.

From there, my mom and I went to a local organic nursery and went shopping. I had a number of goals for this little garden. I wanted it to be perennial, because I don’t want to spend a small fortune replanting it every year. Planting veggies from seed every year is one thing. You get tons of seeds in a packet that costs no more than a couple of bucks and will usually last at least a couple of years, and you get food out of it. But planting annual starts can get costly, plus it means places that are either bare or have dying plants once the growing seasons is over. No thanks. I also wanted the perennials to include edibles and to attract pollinators and pretties: bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

Manure compost turned in

Manure compost turned in

Along with getting plants, my parents have a neighborhood barn that has compost piles. There are three bunkers that the neighborhood rotates through. The horse owners bring the wood chips and dung they shovel out, and people bring things like grass clippings and dead weeds. When a bunker is full, its closed off and allowed to sit for awhile to become compost, and then people can use the compost. I shoveled a bunch of this compost into the back of my dad’s truck (on the warmest day we’ve had this year, no less), and we brought it back to my house where I shoveled it all right back out into the island.

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Arranging before planting

While my little one took his nap, I turned the compost into the dirt. Hopefully between that and the fish meal fertilizer, the dirt will be healthier and life-giving.

Now it was time for the plants. I had gotten a number of plants to fit my goals. There are three blueberry bushes, which produce berries at different times of the growing season so that we don’t have too many at once. For the one spot that gets shade for at least half of the day I got a couple of bleeding hearts, and in the rest I got plants like bee balm, echinacea, aster, and lavender. Some are edible as herbs and in teas, and others are simply to attract my pollinators and pretties.

11150387_10155546855850596_6515258140420890126_nTo finish things off, I planted — which was interesting, because there are still small roots from the tree through the island –mulched, and watered.

I really can’t wait to see what this looks like when everything has had time to get established and grow.

Next year, when I have a real vegetable garden and I’m not using the front porch planter, I plan on putting some more shade-friendly perennials  in there. I already have a hummingbird feeder up, and yesterday I found fuchsia starts at Haggen so I made two hanging fuchsia baskets for the price of one established basket. That was an exciting find. I’ve already been paid off for my efforts to attract certain wildlife; I saw a hummingbird pay a visit to my feeder yesterday afternoon.

 

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13279_10155562999955596_1826768025702838296_n My fuchsia baskets and hummingbird feeder on the front porch; My columbine blooming in the front porch planter

 

 

New House and Stuff

I haven’t had a lot to write about for a while. until suddenly I did.

We bought a house.

It’s beautiful. It needs work, but its beautiful because its ours. It was a foreclosure, and although it wasn’t a horror story as far as foreclosures go, the previous tenants weren’t exactly nice to it either. We have to fix and paint walls, replace carpeting, replace all of the outlets (we had a little adventure with one in little man’s room causing all of the outlets and lights in his room and ours to stop working on and off until my dad fixed it), and lots of other little things all over the place. They weren’t very clean and they cut holes in walls. Literally. There’s a hole in the wall from them mounting their TV and hiding the cord inside the wall.

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But it’s all things that can be fixed over time, and I have my own bedroom again. I don’t have to sneak through R’s room to get into the bathroom anymore. I have a kitchen that more than one person can comfortably be in at the same time.

I have flowers.

Of course, that’s not all that’s been going on. Our little guy turned one a little while back.

2014-05-11 21.42.502014-05-11 21.46.12And he’s, you know, the cutest thing ever. He has a few words now. “Hot” is his most recent, and it’s absolutely adorable because he kinda whispers it to get the “h” sound. I think it mostly just means food — maybe specifically cooked food — to him, but we’ll get the meaning down eventually. He also says “Mom,” “Yeah,” “No,” ” ‘gain” (again), and is working on a few others but hasn’t gotten them down yet. He jumps when we say jump, he’ll kick his little legs if we say kick when he’s laying down, he runs all over the place and is up and down the stairs like nobody’s business, he chases the cats with maniacal enjoyment, and he gives kisses.

Steven completed his locomotive engineer training. Unfortunately, the railroad over-hired and things slowed down a bit, so there’s not enough positions for all of the employees and some are getting furloughed. Due to some really annoying circumstances, Steven was furloughed (temporarily laid off) a couple of days ago even though he has enough seniority to hold a position. I think he’s going to try to get that reversed tomorrow, but even if he can’t, he’s pretty sure the furlough isn’t going to last very long, and we’re okay for a while. If it goes too long, he’ll just have to find something that will pay the bills until they take him off of furlough. The particularly unfortunate part is that it’ll be a lot harder to find something that pays well enough to cover the bills while he’s on furlough now that it would have been if we hadn’t just bought a house. Oh well. I may have to get an evening job too or something, if it comes to it. But hopefully not. Prayers appreciated.

Mom Moments With A 9 Month Old

My son is 9 months old.

He took his first step a few days before he turned 9 months. He’s still not walking on his own, but he’s taken up to two steps at a time, and he absolutely loves pushing the office chair around the living room. We’re also not trying very hard to get him to walk more. He’s on the early end, and he gets into enough and moves around enough without being a walker too. We’re in no rush.

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Trying diced avocado yesterday

He’s the cutest, most wonderful person. I mean really, is he not adorable? He so smiley, his giggle lights up my life, and he makes the cutest noises that make even people who have had multiple children comment on how cute and funny he is. He’s wonderful.

But, he’s also a little low on weight. He’s always been long and skinny, but he dropped below his normal percentile range, so his doctor urged me to work on getting more calories into him during the day. Thankfully, she didn’t suggest formula. Maybe she will if we go in to weigh him in a month and he’s still at 1st percentile (instead of his usual 5th-10th), but for now she just wants to see if we can shovel a little more food into that tiny tummy every day.

And she suggested avocado. I love his doctor. I’m not sure why I hadn’t ever gotten around to having him try avocado before, but he made some headway on the contents of that plate yesterday, and enjoyed every moment of it.

But really, what is a mom supposed to do when her baby’s health care giver says, “He needs a little more meat on his bones”? What is she supposed to feel? I know I haven’t been doing anything wrong, per se, but apparently I wasn’t as on top of his daily feedings as I needed to be. He was eating 2-3 solid food meals and nursing multiple times a day just fine, usually twice each wake time. I made sure to get at least one good protein source, like a full can of baby meat, into him each day. People commented on him being a good eater, so I thought it was enough, but there were some signs. I was starting to get a suspicion that something was up; I probably wasn’t too far behind the doctor, but she had numbers while I only had first-time mom observations. He hadn’t eaten as well when he had a cold. He had increased his nighttime feedings (he’d been down to waking me up 1-2 times before his cold, and now was back to 3+) and naps weren’t going as long as they should. All of those can be signs of not getting enough calories, and therefore waking up hungry.

I was definitely starting to realize something was up. So hopefully it really was his need for more calories, which he was communicating to me with bad sleep instead of by crying for food when he’s awake.

Last night was certainly encouraging. Yesterday, I got as much food into him as I could. He nursed when he woke up, then ate 3 ounces of baby oatmeal with fruit, then nursed again before his nap. He woke up, nursed a little, at some avocado finger food, we went for a walk, came back and got a good lunch of about 5-6 ounces of food into him, and then nursed a little bit before his last nap. When he woke up, I again gave him a full meal, probably about 7 ounces this time (a full 6 ounce 3rd foods jar of baby food and the last of some banana from lunch). Then he hung out in the kitchen while I cooked, and I gave him a couple of tiny pieces of bacon while I cooked. He had a final late night small meal of 2-3 ounces of meat and veggies, followed by bath, a last full nursing session, and bed.

The result? He woke me up only three times, and did it like clockwork at the times that I would expect him to wake me up (1, 4, and 6), and he slept in until 8:30. Now, after nursing, breakfast, nursing again, he’s well into his first nap without waking up prematurely.

This is amazing.

I have some very real hopes that this is the solution to his waking up from sleep so often. I have some very real hopes for him starting to sleep through the night, or at least get down to waking me up only once. That would be amazing. And while I doubt I’ll ever have a chunk, I am looking forward to him getting his little belly back.

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When he had a little belly at about 7 months when he was in a better weight percentile

 

Frustrations With Anti-Cry-It-Out Articles

Decades ago, Dr. Spock was the leading authority on parenting in American homes. His method of sleep training was to set a child in his or her crib, walk away, and not come back in until after they had slept.

For some children, who naturally learn to fall asleep on their own quickly and easily, this method might work. For an older child who is refusing to fall asleep on their own long after it shouldn’t be an issue, it might be the best method. But too many parents have children who will be more hysterical after an hour than they were after fifteen minutes, or who will scream so hard for so long that they they vomit every time. This method doesn’t take into account health issues like reflux that can make it difficult for a baby to fall asleep.

There are articles all over the place about cry-it-out sleep training, some for it and some against it. The confusion comes with the definitions and ages being spoken of, especially with the articles against it, because many methods of sleep training get labelled as “cry-it-out” even if it’s much milder than Dr. Spock’s method, and the articles against it don’t differentiate.

Let me explain. A lot of the time you’ll read something like, “Cry it out sleep training damages babies who are allowed to cry for extended periods.” The whole article is then based on that, citing sources that are be difficult to find or need to be paid for in order to obtain. But they so rarely define the most important terms.

Cry-It-Out: does this refer to Dr. Spock’s method, or any method that involves crying, even those that allow for frequent comforting or that limit the crying to a short time? It’s not hard to imagine that there’s quite a different between a baby crying for five minutes and then being soothed versus a baby being left alone to cry, perhaps hysterically, until overwhelmed by sheer exhaustion or defeat.

Damages: this is unfortunately the best defined part of the statement, leaving parents stressed out about what harm they may be doing to their baby.

Babies: What hurts a newborn may not hurt a six month old, even though they’re both babies. For instance, I read recently that the Ferber method (a strict method, but gentler than Spock’s) doesn’t damage babies after about six months old. That implies that, in this case, the “babies” it potentially damages are babies younger than six months old, rather than all babies. Virtually any sleep training method is going to be damaging to a newborn. But a few very gentle things can begin to be done very early, like beginning to put the baby down in their own crib once their asleep, or putting them down right before they’re fully asleep and letting them finish falling asleep on their own. The older a baby gets, the more you can reasonably do. Since we shouldn’t give in to a toddler’s demands just because they’re crying, there’s obviously a point where stopping a child’s tears is no longer necessary to their health in every situation. These articles almost always fail to define the age range or development of the children that can be damaged by certain sleep training methods, or define at what point the risk is lower or altogether gone.

Allowed to cry: there’s a clear difference between a baby who’s just complaining or mad because they aren’t getting what they want, and a baby who is truly in need of their caregiver’s comfort. I don’t soothe my eight month old when he throws a fit because I took away something he shouldn’t have, and the fit usually lasts only moments anyways. But I will comfort my son immediately when he’s hurt, anxious, or otherwise truly in need of my comfort. When he goes down for a nap, he’ll sometimes just complain for a few minutes and then go to sleep, but other times the cry will turn to a “Mommy save me, I really need you” cry, which is different. But what kind of crying are these articles referring to?

Extended periods: what is an extended period? Some parents may feel this is no more than five minutes, while others think it’s an hour. So what is it? Five minutes? Fifteen? Thirty? Sixty? More?

Obviously, it can be hard to make decisions about parenting when you don’t have all the available information. A parent who sees this largely undefined assertion, with the only thing being made clear is that babies can be damaged, might be afraid to do anything for a long, long time, perhaps even into toddler stages. They may put themselves under wholly unnecessary stress, and even rob themselves and their child of the ability to sleep better and longer out of fear.

It’s obviously important to not damage our children. But we as parents also deserve the full evidence available, rather than having unreasonable fear instilled in us.

A lot of parents to choose a middle ground, especially with children who don’t respond to longer sessions of parental absence well. Some kids sleep train quickly and easily, but others don’t. Most parents seem to be of the opinion that, at the very least, a child who resists falling asleep should be checked on and soothed at intervals, especially if there’s any risk of the child vomiting. Some sleep train gradually, one step at a time rather than all at once, which still often allows for some crying as sleep props such as being rocked through a nap or nursing to sleep are taken away and as the child is encouraged to sleep in their own bed and to put themselves to sleep. Obviously these methods aren’t nearly as harsh as Dr. Spock’s method, or even the Ferber method, which are the methods I suspect are being referred to.

Most parents also realize that their newborn should not be sleeping through the night, and that there can be many factors that delay sleeping through the night. Many, like myself, understand that maintaining at least one night feeding can be essential to keeping up breast feeding long term, even if the child is technically old enough and big enough to sleep through the night without the feeding. Most parents approach sleep training by what they can do for the child’s age without undue stress on either themselves for their child. This is again not nearly as harsh as some of the more extreme methods out there. I even read about one a few months ago that suggested starting to refuse night feedings to a baby starting at only weeks old. That one made me angry. Most parents instinctively know that such a thing is horrible to do to their baby.

But most parents also know that their six month old shouldn’t need to be rocked through his or her whole nap, or doesn’t need to be nursed to sleep every time, or can start learning to put him or herself to sleep. And sometimes, that involves a few tears.

It would be really helpful if the articles on sleep training would just define their terms or share more of the pertinent details of their cited sources. Instead of causing many parents to feel condemned or making people think that anyone who doesn’t use their extremely “gentle” method is cruel, we might actually be able to get some answers on what actually is best for our children, and what shades of grey between the extremes are acceptable.

Hard Days and Interviews

My last post showed some of the roughness of this passed week. My pastor resigned, even though he hadn’t been found to be disqualified and the elder board had put together a plan of restoration for the non-disqualifying sins they found him guilty of. My husband is facing something potentially problematic with work, although we thankfully have had some reassurance on that one, so it should be alright. I learned that it is pregnancy loss awareness month, and though I haven’t shared it publicly before, I am one of many women who have had an early miscarriage which I mourned. An LDS friend of mine, unwilling to see my heart of love and worry for those who follow false teachings, decided to unnecessarily inform me that she wasn’t going to allow my posts to show up on her Facebook newsfeed anymore because she felt that the ones directed at Mormon beliefs were “immature” and “negative.”

The week wasn’t all bad. I’d say there was really only one truly rough day, when three out of the fourth things happened.

There were good things too. My son brings me joy daily, and is sleeping better at night plus starting to go down on his so own for naps more often. My husband works hard at his job and has been hitting the gym lately, and his upper body is starting to look really strong. I got to spend a morning with my awesome midwife, who became a friend, and that same evening was spent with my sister-in-law and at Mom’s Night Out. Life isn’t bad. It just has its hard moments.

One of the best things about this week, though, was getting to interview for a leadership position in student ministry with my campus pastor, Pastor Ryan, and his intern. I hadn’t quite realized when the intern emailed me that “meet with Pastor Ryan on Sunday” meant “interview,” but I actually had a good time with it.

The purpose of the interview was largely to establish that I’m not a heretic and that I know what I’m getting into with this position.

The theological part left me feeling really positive. Pastor Ryan asked me if He could just kinda hit me rapid-fire with theological questions. I said sure. The questions weren’t too surprising or deep, but the were important. “What is the gospel?” “Who is Jesus?” “What is the role of the Holy Spirit?” “How are people saved?” “What is complimentarianism?”

Some of them, I pretty much had to get right to be able to do ministry. Like the gospel one. Others, like complementarianism, if I’d disagreed with the church but didn’t hold a heretical position, I would have simply had to agree not to cause discord about. Thankfully, I attend Mars Hill because my theology generally lines up with theirs, even on most secondary issues.

What made me feel really good was that they said a few times that if I had been sitting in reach, there would have been high fives for my answers. I was told that I’m very good at giving concise answers to these important questions, but in a way which makes it clear that I could go much more in depth if necessary. Pastor Ryan told me that that is extremely important in teaching, especially if I need to give a quick and simple answer to something that one of these teenagers asks.

More exciting, feel-good things came from that interview too.

One was finding out that, once a month, the leaders will be answering one or two questions these teenagers have, which can (and often will) be questions that require apologetics to answer. He told me that in a few months I could start teaching on these sometimes. That was exciting, and gave me an opening to share that I love apologetics and am considering getting a degree in them in the future, and that part of my heart for doing student ministry was to help keep these kids from being part of the statistic of about 50% of kids raised Christian leaving the church for at least a time after graduating high school and moving away from home. I shared that I want to help them with their theology and their questions so their foundation is firmer and they know they have places to turn when skeptics ask hard questions. Pastor Ryan thought that was great, and shared that he was able to do the same when he was in youth ministry.

The second thing was him asking if I’d be willing to share my testimony–my conversion from Mormonism–with the church on a Sunday sometime, if eh gave me a few weeks warning. I was very surprised, but agreed. It’s one of those things that I’d thought of doing before, but had never been asked to, and I wasn’t about to be so presumptuous as to ask if I could unless there was an invitation for people to share their testimony with the pastors with the possibility of sharing it with the church. I know my story of God’s work in my life is not a super common one, and that it has a real potency to it, but many others have beautiful and important conversion stories too. But I’m excited and nervous to share it at church, in front of people. I hope, if and when it happens, that God will use it well.

Also, my own little amusement that I just can’t get over…Pastor Ryan is Australian, and he says “mate.” It’s made me smile since we started attending over a year ago, and now that my husband and I have had some personal conversations with him, I STILL get a little smile inside when he says it. I think part of it is that I grew up absolutely loving Steve Irwin. You know, the crocodile hunter. I cried when he died. He said “mate” a lot too. I’m just fond of it I guess.

As for church itself, with the first Sunday since the sad news, it went alright. I almost cried listening to the announcement about it before the sermon, even though the statement was very similar to what had been posted online by the church already. There were no surprises, it’s just hard. No matter what he did wrong, I feel terrible that part of Pastor Mark’s decision came because of the danger his family had been put in during the whole mess, and even if he deserved any of what happened, his wife and children didn’t. But people were there. I was afraid there were going to be a lot less, since a number of attendees and members have abandoned Mars Hill rather than riding out the difficulty like the family a church should be, but it wasn’t too bad. As long as the pastors keeps faithfully preaching Jesus and reaching out to the community, I think growth can start again.

Well. Obviously, I’m now looking forward to my first time with the student ministry, which I think will be the second Sunday of November. I’m sure there will be more to share then.

Thank You, Pastor Mark

I read the news of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s resignation from Mars Hill Church in Seattle today.

After reading it, I went and snuggled up with my husband, fighting tears, because the news saddened me deeply. We’ve been attending Mars Hill for over a year now, and I’ve been following Pastor Mark’s sermons online since a few months after converting to Christianity about five years ago. When he stepped down about two months ago, I was extremely hopeful and optimistic about his return after the investigation and review that he submitted himself to. I was shocked, saddened, frustrated, and grieved when I read today that he voluntarily resigned even though he wasn’t asked to and the findings have even been that he is still qualified.

I know we have other gifted teachers at Mars Hill. I know our elders are very committed to the Word of God, and I will be hesitant to leave Mars Hill as long as that is true. I would certainly need to find a church that is similarly faithful to the Word and that my husband and I feel we should attend instead. I wouldn’t walk away from Mars Hill for any less, even without hearing Pastor Mark every Sunday. We didn’t attend because of Pastor Mark, we attended because of the teaching, and definitely developed a little group of friends through community group who we care for very much. In many ways, attending Mars Hill has given us the ability to fight through some of our roughest points of marriage, the points where other couples would sign the divorce papers, and I have great hope that the preachers still at Mars Hill will continue to be so faithful to the members.

That said, though, there have been many things that Pastor Mark has brought to Mars Hill, and I very much believe that he has brought these talents and teachings into the church through the gifting of the Spirit. And if, by some chance he ever reads this, I want him to know how much God did through him, and how much I hope he finally pursues the changes he needs.

I want him to know that, as an ex-Mormon and a new Christian when I started listening to him in 2010, his preaching helped shape my theology and helped me know what I should be seeking to learn. His “Doctrine” book and series was hugely helpful.

I want him to know that my husband and I have had a very rough road in our almost five years of marriage, but his faithful preaching of biblical marriage and sexuality has been helpful in knowing what we should be striving for. We have stuck together even when we could have been justified in divorce, and the preaching we heard at Mars Hill contributed to that. It can be hard to know biblical theology on marriage in this culture, so Pastor Mark’s willingness to be counter-cultural where the Bible calls for it is something that I will always be grateful for.

I want him to know that the community groups that he so strongly encouraged people to join is responsible for introducing us to the other Mars Hill member who was instrumental in getting my husband his career. The environment that Pastor Mark created or allowed wasn’t all bad. In fact, I am confident that it wasn’t so bad that Mars Hill can’t change it, because the members have the great ability to be hugely helpful and giving to each other, as we have experienced in this fundamental area in our life.

I want him to know that, when he expressed that he wished to be teaching as Mars Hill until he was too old to do so anymore,nI was rooting for that and thought that it was God’s plan, too. Perhaps it still can be, if Mark works out the sins that the elders found him guilty of. I know that he always felt called to plant church, equip men, and teach the Bible, and I hope that he won’t let pride remain in the way of that calling, because whatever else is in the way — personal and family health — pride is what will bring him back down. I truly believe, based on the fruit I’ve seen in Mars Hill, that he was equipped and blessed for that calling, even if he didn’t steward it the best he could have.

I want him to know that I do believe that the head of the church has always been Jesus, not Pastor Mark, so I do trust that we will still have the guidance and blessings of God, no matter how rough the transition of eldership will be or what will happen to Mars Hill over the next  season. But I also think that Jesus used Pastor Mark in some very powerful and tangible ways. Many lives have been changed, many people have called on Jesus as their Lord and Savior, many people have been baptized, because of the message that Pastor Mark faithfully taught every Sunday.

I want him to know that I am confident that the Spirit will bring about the necessary repentance and change in his personal life. I am confident of that both because I have seen positive changes from his position at the pulpit over the last few years, but also because I am confident in the power and faithfulness of the Spirit to convict and change.

I want him to know that I am sad by everything that has happened to him, his family, and Mars Hill in this rough season. I am saddened by how the media contributed in horrible ways. I am saddened by the damage this likely did to him and his family. No matter his failings, he was not a heretic who needed to be called out publicly and loudly the way that he was by the media. I am saddened by the persistence of so many Christians in tearing him down based on the media hype rather than simply demanding that the truth be sought out and reported, and then having patience during the process.

I want him to know that we aren’t abandoning Mars Hill now that he has resigned, even though we are deeply saddened, even frustrated, by the loss of such gifted Bible preaching and what led to that loss. Perhaps in a month, a year, a decade, we will be called elsewhere or life circumstances will cause us to have to seek a new church home. Perhaps — please God, don’t let this happen — Mars Hill will lose its focus on the Word of God and the great commission, and we’ll resign our membership because we refuse to be a part of that.  My husband and I know that this is going to be a rough season, and that we valued Pastor Mark’s teaching greatly, but we know good Bible teaching isn’t exclusive to Pastor Mark, so good Bible teaching is what we will expect from Mars Hill and pursue if and when Mars Hill is no longer our church home, whatever the reason may be for us leaving. We’re not about to leave this Sunday just because we know Pastor Mark won’t be behind the pulpit again for a while, if ever, but we do have expectation on Mars Hill to continue to preach the Word faithfully and powerfully.

I want him to know that our expectation for faithful preaching of the Word of God as a requisite for our church home comes largely because he demonstrated what that looks like. He wasn’t perfect, and neither was his preaching, but even before we started attending Mars Hill he helped shape our expectations for what good preaching should look like. I hope and pray his example will continue to shape the preaching at Mars Hill in the future.

Most of all, if Pastor Mark ever reads this, I want to say this to him: thank you. Thank you for your service to God and to the Mars Hill family. Thank you for obeying God’s calling on your life, because though you did so imperfectly, God worked through you powerfully to make an impact on my life and marriage, and I’m sure on the lives and marriages of many other. Thank you for preaching God’s Word almost every Sunday for years. Thank you for your faithfulness to your wife and your transparency with everything you’ve learned in your marriage, even the hard stuff. Thank you for loving your children and being willing to show your father heart for them in a beautiful, positive, emotional, masculine way.

Thank you, Pastor Mark.

Mama Needs Sleep

We have a little one bedroom apartment. We made a rough transition to my husband being the source of our income in early spring of 2013, so we couldn’t afford anything bigger even knowing that we were expecting a baby. At the time, we thought we were going to be renting my parents house from them by now, since they thought that they’d be moving onto the new property that they’re building on. Unfortunately, their building plans have had changes and delays, and we’re still in a little one bedroom with a seven month old.

We do have prospects for moving out; it’s mostly a question of when, and whether we’ll be making our first home purchase or renting again and waiting a year or two to purchase.

Until then, we’re a family of three in a one bedroom apartment.

At first, having our son in our bedroom was a blessing. Newborns need to eat regularly through the night, and safe co-sleeping — which can include simply sleeping a few feet away from the parents in a separate sleeping space — can be highly beneficial to breast feeding and to reducing the risk of SIDS, assuming parents aren’t smokers and such.

But my son is old enough that he doesn’t need to wake up multiple times through the night. He doesn’t need me the way he did as a newborn, or even as a three or four month old. He’s old enough, big enough, and on solid foods, which all means he can sleep through the night, or at least wake up significantly less often than he tends to.

The stretch between 4am and waking up in the morning, usually by 7am, is the worst. He always wakes up at least once, and it’s not uncommon for him to wake up 2-3 times in that short stretch. A seven month old does not require that. I know he doesn’t require it, because only about two of the times that he wakes me up through the whole night are for actual real, full feedings.

I know that hearing his every little complaint or difficulty getting comfortable doesn’t do my sleep any favors, even on the occasions that he doesn’t start crying and demanding me, and having us and the cats in the room didn’t help him either. Worrying about my husband needing to work first thing in the morning kept me from being able to ignore my son while he complained and resettled, too, because it would wake my husband up and make him potentially get even less sleep than me.

My husband and I finally did what we needed to do a couple of days ago. We rearranged our apartment.

This does mean that the bedroom is not longer our bedroom. It’s like we have a studio apartment for ourselves, and a bedroom for our son. My bookcases are now our headboard, and I can dive onto the bed from our dining area if I wanted to. And from our desk. And from our living room.

I really can’t wait for a house.

However, this is already significantly better as far as getting a good nights’ sleep. My son has actually been able to sleep in after we’ve been out late with family, which used to be a never. Last night, he only woke me up twice through the night, and when I thought we were about to be up at 7:30am, he ate and fell back to sleep for another hour-ish.

Its very possible that I’m simply sleeping through him waking up. He has to actually get kind of noisy instead of just complain in order to wake me up. I’m totally okay with that. It is very normal and healthy for him to learn to put himself back to sleep when he rouses, just like adults do. Adults don’t usually even remember resettling. If he’s truly distressed or in need of me, he’s going to get loud enough to wake me up. That kid is capable of some impressive yells when he wants to. But if he’s not truly in need of me, I’m okay with him complaining to himself for a few minutes and putting himself back to sleep. It will teach him to resettle the same way adults do, which is ultimately more restful for him, and in the meantime I get more sleep, which is more restful for me.

What about nursing, you ask? Well, I’m okay with him waking me up 1-2 times. He’s not going to go without. This is the plan, which worked out perfectly last night: nurse him shortly before or right at bedtime (8pm) so he goes to sleep well fed. Wake him up again when I go to sleep, which is usually around 10-10:30pm. Then he can have up to two feedings through the night, around 1am and around 4pm, give or take about half an hour. He then normally wakes up around 6:30-7am, and gets fed again not long after waking up. All this means that he gets to eat every 2-4 hours through the night still, without taxing me beyond what I feel I can continue to maintain long-term. He could probably be perfectly healthy and well fed with one less feeding at night, in fact, but I’ll let that happen after we’ve gotten used to this new schedule. We’ll give up night feedings over time, ending them altogether when he stops needing to breastfeed if they haven’t ended already. Waking up at least once through the night helps keep milk supply high enough to breastfeed to 1 year or longer, but 1-2 times isn’t so stressful on my body that I don’t get enough sleep to function well.

What about getting enough calories in him, you ask? Well, he is on solid foods for some meals now, and I’m increasing as needed. A few other moms have told me that getting foods with higher fat and protein content, like meat, make the most difference. That makes sense, since those are more useful to the body than carbohydrates and take longer to digest. Evening feedings are the priorities with solid foods right now, and I’ve been trying to get in at least one food with more fat and/or protein in it. Basically, he doesn’t get so few calories during the day that he can’t go longer at night, which will be important as we start dropping the night feedings.

I know a lot of people are about feeding on demand for as long as the baby/toddler wants. The problem I was having with this is that he came to expect to be allowed to latch every time he got upset and wanted comfort during the night, because my reaction to any crying or complaining was to nurse. The truth is, you don’t have to stick a boob in your nursing baby’s mouth every time they cry to be a good parent, or to feed them enough. It’s okay to truly take a careful look at their actual needs and your actual needs, and meet both. And its okay for both of you to need to sleep better at night. The transition to doing so may be a little rough, and like my son, they’ll probably need their own room to do it.

That’s okay.

Heck. I know my son and I have both slept better the last two nights than we have in a few months. That’s definitely okay.