The Dirt on Heather

My youngest BR and I cuddling.

My youngest Isabella and I cuddling.

This was a hard page for me to write.

You see, one of the first rules of being “social” that I teach my homeschooled kids is to ask a lot of questions.

This means that I’m almost always the “Question Asker” when I’m meeting someone for the first time.

…and this is why this page feels so awkward.

I don’t want to build a relationship with my laptop.

I want to build a relationship with you.  But instead of us talking back and forth, I’ve got to guess what you may want to know, and then blabber out the answers.

It’s a tough gig, this “mind reading” thing.  I’ll do my best to “Professor X” my way through your questions… *fingers to temple*

How It All Started…

My professional background is in social work and political science.  After graduating from Taylor University in 2000, I got my license and started counseling foster kids.  It was a life-changing experience for  me.

That said, God had a new adventure for me in 2005 when I stopped working to stay home with our oldest child, Lauren.  I enjoyed approximately 18 months of “Homemaking Bliss” before we figured out that I needed to go back to work.

I started researching work-at-home jobs and settled on writing about babies online, since my 2nd (Elena) had just been born and I realized I had forgotten everything there was to know about baby-care.

I started my first baby blog as a way to self-educate, and then created my second baby blog (this website) as a way of remembering when my third (Bella) was born.  (Note to self: no more babies…)

Since then, I’ve been so blessed to see God take this little “job” of mine and turn it into something that encourages over 4 million parents every year and financially supports a few “want to work at home” moms like myself.

Yes, this website provides my family and the other ladies who help me with an income.  See more about this on my disclaimers page.

Working with Mommy Bloggers

Disclaimer:  Honestly, I’m only including this because it’s one of my most common requests.  Feel free to stifle yawn and happily skip over!

Besides writing on this blog, I’ve been featured on several other websites as a guest poster, including Dave Ramsey’s Blog, My Kid’s Adventures, and Simple Kids (part of Simple Living Media) to name a few.

I’ve been featured as an Expert Mom at CafeMom.com, a Parenting Panelist for Sisterhood of Motherhood, and occasionally (when I feel like dressing up) give personal talks which, so I’ve been told, are entertaining and informative to listen to.

 

Getting Personal:
Do I Match the Blogging Mom Stereotype?

Taylor family snapshot!

Taylor family snapshot!
Me, Isabella (3), Cameron, Lauren (9), and Elena (6).

So I guess this is the part of the “About Me” page where I take all your glowing visions of me and dash them all on the sharp rocks of reality.

As I’ve been out in the blogging world for 7 years, I’ve come to learn the standard “Blogging Mom Stereotypes”.

Here they are:

  1. Photography – they are whizzes with a lens.
  2. They are crafty, doing DIY projects with their kids daily.
  3. Homeschooling – with or without the denim jumper.
  4. They gush about their spouse.
  5. Their home photos look ahhh-mazing.  Like they don’t have kids.  (Magic.  It has to be.)
  6. They are always talking about coffee.
  7. They love “walks on the beach”.
  8. They are Christians.

Let’s see how I do…. *nailbiting*

The Amazing Photographer Test:  FAIL

 Terrible. 

I’m just terrible at taking photographs.  Even picmonkey can’t help me.

Which is why I have a special section in my budget called “StockPhotos”.

Update!  I’m working on my photography fail!  Follow my not-so-much-but-maybe-a-little progress and hang out with me on  Instagram. 🙂

The Crafty Test:  FAIL

I’m not a very good “Craft” mom.  If I do a craft with my kids, it’s an event.

My number one rule with crafts is this: “Someone else get it ready, then I just have to have fun”.  No planning and gathering materials.

It’s why I like Kiwi Crate – It’s a monthly craft/bonding appointment with my girls already set up for me.

Unfortunately, a single afternoon of crafts does not a blogging mom make.  It’s an “F” for the Crafty Stereotype.

The Homeschooling Test:  PASS

Phew! Finally! One I can pass!

Only barely, because I actually didn’t WANT to homeschool my kids.  It just kinda happened.

After exhausting all our other options, it was either send them to the local district or homeschool.  Long story short…we chose homeschooling.

I used the classical approach for the first 4 years, based on Susan Wise Bauer’s book, The Well-Trained Mind.  However, this year we are switching to a new virtual online approach.  I’m excited to see how it goes.

We won’t homeschool forever, but that’s where God has us for now.

The Sappy Spouse Test:  FAIL

I believe this is the part of the page where I gush and gush about my schmuckems and talk him up so high that you can’t help but look at your OWN man and get angry that your man isn’t as sensitive and AWESOME as my darling little “Boo Boo Bear”.

Sadly, I’m going to fail on the sappy spouse test.

Not because I don’t absolutely love my husband (I totally do), but because he’s not the standard that all other husbands should be measured against. 

There are a lot of great men out there.

None of them are perfect, but many are really awesome.

It’s true that there really is no such thing as a Darcy, Wentworth, or Bates.  Peeta doesn’t exist in the real world.

Your man can be romantic and thoughtful and a great helper.  I think Cameron is all of those things.

But he’s also going to have moments of selfishness, pride, and laziness.  (Those qualities don’t sell books quite as well.)

And, what’s worse, I will also have moments of selfishness, pride, and laziness.  Two selfish people interacting sometimes.  Two lazy people.  Two prideful people.  It can create some sparks, that’s for sure.

Still, we’ve made a commitment to work things out every stinkin’ time until we both croak.  (Which, we’ve decided, is going to be right after sex on our 75th wedding anniversary – not much of a present for the offspring that finds us…but heck, we’ll be dead.  She can use her inheritance for counseling.)

It’s not easy, this marriage-thing, but it is rewarding.  God has been abundantly gracious in our marriage – to challenge and chip away old assumptions and build up new understanding of the words grace, love, forgiveness, and mercy. 

Of course, Cameron also gets bonus points because he also helped me make some cute babies.  That definitely counts for something.

*fist bump*  

The Designer Home Test:  FAIL

My house is teeny-tiny.  (Like teeeny-tiny.  My “office” is in the semi-finished basement.)

In my pre-kids days, I hosted some pretty awesome parties.  I LOVED to cook fancy foods and bake fresh bread.  My house was immaculately clean and everything had a place.

Since then…well, I’ll just share there’s a reason you don’t find a lot of pictures of my home on this website.  (I do share a picture of my office here, but that’s because it’s the only laundry-free room in the house.  #happyplace)

The Coffee Addict:  PASS

Woo hoo!  Another pass!

I do like coffee.  But before you get impressed, I have to confess something.

I like cheap coffee.  With about 3 tablespoons of International Delight Creamer dumped in.

Does that still count?

The Beach-Loving Outdoorsmom: FAIL

Not a fan of water.  Not a fan of sand.  Or being hot.  Or being half naked in public.  Or dragging 20 tons of toys somewhere just to forget half when we leave.

Still, since I live less than five miles from Lake Michigan, we end up at the beach a lot.  Mostly because…

  • Our extended families live in land locked states (IA and TN) so it’s a family hosting requirement.
  • My kids don’t agree with my “Beach Views” and love going.  By going to the beach several times in the summer, I get to remind them when they’re teenagers that I SACRIFICED FOR THEM.

 The Christian Test:  PASS

This is one test I’m very proud to pass.

I was raised going to church with my parents in the cornfields of Iowa.  (Not literally in the cornfields…that would be freaky-deaky cultish. I meant figuratively.)

My personal faith took a leap forward when I started my own personal walk with Christ at the age of 17.

But my faith really exploded when we started listening to Mike Bullmore’s sermons at CrossWay Community Church.  (I highly recommend downloading the podcast!)

That’s when I really started to understand the true awesomeness of the Gospel.  That Christ was more than a golden ticket to heaven.  That he’s alive and working now.

Through studying His Word and applying it, he works from within my heart, transforming me into something much better.  I’ve seen God do things in my life that I KNEW were impossible.  And yet, they’ve been done.  He constantly tests my faith, and then surprises me with his faithfulness, which only deepens and grows my love and commitment to himself.

I’m humbled and awe-inspired at what he has done in my life, and what he’s still doing.  (I love talking about this, so if you have questions or thoughts contact me and we can talk about it!)

That said, I do have to warn you. 

I’m a pretty open person.

So I will use words like “crappy” and “butt” and other potentially not-stereotypical Christian words.  I even talk about sex in my free pregnancy ecourse.

I’m sorry if that offends, but it’s just the way I am.

Feel free to substitute the words “unfortunately bad” and “posterior” when necessary – or if you’re on the other end of the spectrum, pick your choice of cuss words.  

Whatever speaks your language.

Let’s not get hung up on semantics, I’m more interested in talking and connecting with you. 

And There You Have It

So the final “Blogging Mom Approval Grade” is:

  • 5 Fails
  • 3 Passes

I know what you’re thinking:  What a rebel!

Yes, it’s hard not to be impressed by my deep dedication and perseverance in this whole blogging venture, considering my failing grade.

I do what I must.

*chin up, looking bravely into the distance* 

*eagle cries*

Comments

  1. Finding this was like finding a drop of water in a scorching desert, especially the part about there being three involved in your marriage (you, your husband, and Jesus). I would like to ask some questions but the most important is about infant formula. I gave birth and now live in China. I plan to stay here while my daughter is young which means finding a suitable and SAFE formula is very important. I had A LOT of problems breastfeeding, but had no help from the doctors here in China. All they did was offer me a wet nurse. Plus I read lot and even wrote an email to what I thought was the La Leche League here in Guangzhou, but to my horror I found out that the email address which I sent my LONG PLEA for help didn’t exist. I would have just called my mom, but, well, she passed away when I was 5 months pregnant and I buried her on Mother’s Day…so not only did I have the blues because of that, but I also had the baby blues, plus latching and feeding was horrible. (I wasn’t given much help in China from the women. Plus, they didn’t give her to me to feed at first. They gave her formula first. I don’t speak Chinese and I’m a first time mother, so communication wasn’t the best and I didn’t know what to expect IN CHINA). All in all, I needed a hug and didn’t get one, but luckily after constant prayer and an angel’s comfort and support…aka: my husband, I’ve finally started to have more milk, but it’s still not enough. So that’s why I need formula. But I need to find one that fits. I have changed from enfamil to Cow & Gate to Nactalia and just bought Frisolac Gold today. I changed from Enfamil because I noticed red spots on her face and she would vomit so much, it was like watching the girl from the exorcist (no joke). It was scary to watch and I had to hold her upright while she vomited just so she wouldn’t choke. She was smiling afterwards and didn’t cry, but I didn’t think that was normal. But when I asked my Chinese doctor why this was happening, she said it was normal. So after asking a fellow co-worker, who also gave birth here and is also a foreigner, what formula she bought, she mentioned Cow & Gate. But we still had this kind of vomiting, (I think, I can’t remember much. Maybe it was due to the baby blues or depression? I really can’t remember.) The reason why I changed to Nactalia was because I didn’t have enough time to go to Hong Kong, where this brand can be bought and is safer to buy than in China. Nactalia was imported from Italy so I thought it would be ok. Plus it had OPO, which sounded nice but I’m not exactly sure what it is or if it’s even worth it, but it’s extremely expensive, especially here in China. ($56 USD for a can 900g). Plus she started throwing up again, not so much but a lot more than seemed normal after feedings.At first I thought this was because I didn’t mix Nactalia with Cow & Gate to help ease her into the new formula because I was prescribed some special powder that helped infants to digest. I gave her this Chinese motherlove powder for 3 days and things seemed better. But because it’s so expensive I decided to change again. Frisolac isn’t as expensive ($40 USD for a can 900g) and seemed “normal” so I bought 2 cans and started mixing it with the remains of Nactalia. I wish I could rewind and known more about formulas before giving birth but I am just happy that I didn’t completely lose hope after losing my mother and am trying to make up for being so sad and a bad mom during the first month after giving birth. But I was in so much pain both physically and mentally and nearly gave up on breast feeding altogether. But now I noticed she drinks less of the formula and more of my milk. So all I need to smooth out is this problem with choosing the right formula, at least until I can put her exclusively on breast milk. Any help you can give would be fabulous, and probably better than what the doctors here say. Although I’ve changed hospitals and they seem to know more at this clinic. I hope they continue this trend.

    • Tiphanie, thank you so much for sharing all this! You my friend, have had some trials! I’m so sorry to hear of your loss, but I’m thankful also that you have your daughter and husband and God to help you get through it. I think you are NOT a bad mom, but actually, from where I’m standing you sound like a really exceptional mom: you are trying new things, trusting your instincts instead of what everyone else tells you. You’ve been trying different things to find a better solution. That has every mark of a great mom. Your daughter is so blessed to have such loving parents!

      I think the best help I can give you is to tell you that I think you are doing a great job. It sounds like you are on the right path in regards to the formulas. Since these are formulas I’m unfamiliar with, I’m confident that by watching how your baby girl reacts to the formulas, and by knowing her as well as you do, you will find the perfect match. Keep trying different things that you can get your hands on until you find something that helps. If she continues to spit up after every feeding (breast or formula) and is really screaming and upset you may want to get her tested for reflux. Otherwise, it sounds like it’s just a gassy tummy that’s having a hard time digesting the formulas. Keep doing what you’re doing.

      Tiphanie, you are not a bad mom. And if your mom were here, I’m sure she would agree with me. You are a NEW mom, which is feeling scared, unprepared, and anxious. Fortunately, you are not alone. You have your husband, you have online friends, :-), and (most importantly) you have God. Through Christ we have all we need to conquer the emotions and condemnations that beat us down. Ask for His help, and let him rescue.

      a dozen hugs, Heather

  2. I just found your blog recently, and not only do I think we’d get along “in real life,” I respect you. My oldest is only 3, and he’s turning out okay so far, but I love hearing moms talk about childhood, since I’m just now entering that phase with him. I’ll be visiting and recommending your page often! 🙂

    • Thanks Jenn! That means a lot! I’m sure we would be friends in “real life” as well. I’ve read your blog and found my self smiling and nodding right along! 🙂 Just a little heads up…in my experience the threes were ALWAYS worse than the two’s. Not trying to freak you out…but I felt very frustrated the first time around when my three year old was a nightmare, thinking “we should be past this”. Three has always been the tough age for us. 🙂

      God bless you up there in MN! We midwest-northerners have to stick together! (We can pretend the great football divide doesn’t apply!) 🙂

      • Yeah…the 3s…they’re starting with a vengeance. He’s such an awesome kid – thoughtful, patient, observant, responsible – but my word, his meltdowns have gotten quite dramatic! Good to know this might be a phase that’s around for a while.

        And I’m brand-new to MN, and I (fortunately? unfortunately?) don’t know much about the sports teams here yet…so we don’t even have to pretend! I’ll just cheer for your team.

        AND I might be developing a web-crush on you and your site. You not only have mentioned LotR on one page, on another page you mentioned Cylons. Don’t tell me you have ever played WoW or cried about Firefly?

      • Lol! I’m sad to admit I have NOT played WoW – but only because I know I’d get sucked into it like one of Tad William’s Otherland books and leave my family to starve. 🙂 I have however cried bitter tears over Firefly. BITTER TEARS. Some things you just can’t forgive. 🙂 You can definitely join us on the Packer football side of things. 🙂 Minneapolis is one of my favorite cities – all the lakes and parks…it’s really a Midwestern diamond. 🙂 And the city I’m always threatening to drag Cameron to for a B&B is Stillwater (suburb of Minneapolis) – stayed there once with girlfriends and have wanted to get back ever since! I’m so glad we’ve met!

  3. My WoW days are over, but my husband and I dream of the day we’re empty-nesters and leveling up together again (ha, who am I kidding – we don’t sleep enough to dream!). I’m loving it here. I just love the green! Except for when it’s white. Like right now. It’s very white. And cold, so I don’t venture out much lately. Glad I found your site! I’ll be subscribing to updates on the Currents app on my phone (so I can read all night while I feed my nursling). 🙂

    • haha! I know what you mean Jenn! Cameron and I look back fondly on the days when we would put to Lauren to bed at 7 and then play rounds and rounds of LoTR Xbox! He refuses to get rid of any of it…”for when the kids are older…” oh dreams… I know what you mean about green/white. Snowville definitely took some getting used to! 🙂

  4. Heather,
    First, you are amazing! I found your site today searching for answers to why my oldest twin baby girl is vomiting her formula. They are 4.5 months and this is a new thing… Sigh. The baby thing, not so much. I have a 17 year old daughter, can we say hormones and crazy are perfect for describing her

    • Thanks Brandy! I’m so glad it can encourage you! Wow, friend! You’ve got it on both ends for sure. You’ve gotten to age 17 with your daughter, which gives me hope! 🙂 I’ve three girls to get through teenagehood with… Let’s make a deal, you encourage me through teenagehood, and I can encourage you through babyhood! 😉

  5. SleeplessNights says:

    LOL! Thanks for being real. And you know, crappy, crap, and craptastic are some of myfavorites! They’re my way of “expressing myself”…hahaha! Except when my almost 3yr old is around…she repeats and then stores everything she hears. Genious, yes! Good for me-…Um, No! Anyway, keep the laughs and great advice coming my friend. The Lord has blessed you with communication, a great sense of humor, and an entertaining way of writing that I, and others, can relate to. No one needest take themselves so seriously, right? 😛 And thank you, for respecting your husband and the idea of others not measuring themselves or their spouses or even their kids against others. Biblical and Respectful. God Bless you and your family. Most Sincerely.

    Oh, and I have 2 precious babys that I’m so thankful for…and I’m good with that. Praying the Lord and I are on the same page there…hahaha!!! Um, okay…in the end, whatever He chooses I’m cool with. 🙂 God Bless you Heather and Family!!

    • Danielle Miller says:

      Thanks for the kind words. I will make sure Heather see them! 🙂

    • Oh friend, what a wonderful thing to read at the end of a long day! Thank you so much. I’m so thankful that God has used this website to encourage and build your faith. Comparison (family, husband, self, children) is the death of joy and peace. And yet, it’s a trap I can fall into way to easily sometimes. Thanks for your encouragement. Maybe it’s just the hormones talking, but I’m tearing up a little. 🙂 God is so good, in so many ways. Mega cyber hugs headed your way! xo

  6. I’m sure that years ago I read this part of your blog, but I just this morning…err…afternoon, reread it.  This is so you!  I read this and it is so authentic of who you are.  So the things that stand out the most to me are the following:

    -Still drinking international delights coffee?  Do you still buy the cans of instant coffee?

    – You may not have the crafting down, but I know that the imagination certainly is.  I would love to be a fly on your wall in your itty-bitty house just to watch your 3 daughters pretend.  I can only imagine how much fun they have.

    – The Chin up, eagle crying at the end…Oh. My. Gosh!  I believe I have a picture of you doing that–coffee in hand, clad in a giant, crazy, blue dress, sitting up on your top bunk.  Oh yes, those eagles flying around English Hall were definitely singing your praises!

    Love you!

     

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