The BS of Parenting


Somewhere in the middle of the night, my dear husband tried to hand off our five month old. His efforts to settle our sweet offspring had failed. Being the loving wife I am, I growled, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” Then I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, and came out saying, “You’re poo pooing all of my plans!” What plans? Probably the plans to solve all the world’s problems. Thanks to Chad’s poo poo we’ll never know.

Naturally I have no recollection of this exchange.

You see, it’s been over six months since I last had a night of uninterrupted sleep. Solly may only be five months old but you know I wasn’t sleeping those last weeks of pregnancy. I was waking overnight to pee, blow my perpetually congested nose, attempt to find a comfortable position, get a snack, or simply sit owl-like on the couch, awake for no good reason. Third trimester glory right there.

Here’s the truth: the first twelve months of parenting are about survival. It’s a swirling vortex of sleeplessness, teething, diaper changes, laundry, growth spurts, developmental leaps, feedings, mood swings (both baby’s and parents’), and drool (hopefully just baby’s). You tackle one day at a time, doing whatever gets you to bedtime…or just the next chunk of sleep you can manage to snatch. It’s nothing but BS.

What? I meant Basic Survival. Natch.

36-funniest-and-hilarious-parenting-memes-4We’re in the trenches with Solly. It is no joke. He is adorable, sweet, and lovable. He is also challenging. This being our second, we were surprised how much of the BS stuff we forgot. It happens pretty quickly once the infant stage ends. This is a necessary phenomenon; if it all remained crystal clear, parents may not sign up to repeat it. While only children are totally fine, if every family just had one kid eventually the human race would die off.

There’s a bit of a problem with that forgetfulness, though. We can lose the grace new parents so desperately need. Luke 23:34 ought to be the theme verse for the BS of parenting. “Forgive them, for they (have a helpless infant at home and therefore are so exhausted they) know not what they do.” (That’s from the AAT, Amanda’s Amplified Translation.) It’s for this reason my husband and I have committed to the following maxim: for the first year of a baby’s life, parents get a free pass. Cranky? It’s probably just BS. Inflexible? BS. Irrational? Snippy? Fallen off the face of the earth? You got it…BS.

Admittedly my timing is little self-serving since we’re not quite halfway through the Solly year of BS. Partly I want to plead for understanding and empathy in case my hubby or I do or have done something that offends or makes no sense to you. I also write now because it’s fresh and real and for our future selves, I want to set a reminder to extend that same grace to future new parents, no matter how their particular brand of BS manifests.

Every kid is different so the BS of parenting may be unique for each family, but if we can all agree to assume the best of one another – especially new parents – it’ll make all shades of BS a lot easier to handle. Then all of humanity, new parents, veteran parents, and non-parents alike, can raise their voices together in a grateful chorus celebrating babies, parents, the continued existence of humanity, and the varied BS skills we employ!

Pregnancy Following Miscarriage


It was the day after Easter when the labor cramps kicked in and the thing so many pregnant mothers dread began – I was losing our baby.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Until this year I didn’t know such an awareness month existed. I had no reason to know; I had never experienced such a loss. This year is different. This year there was our Smooch.

Most of you know I am currently pregnant. We’re expecting a son this January. People assume he is our second child, but they don’t know about the little one we lost earlier in the year. They don’t know about our doctor being unable to find baby’s heartbeat. They don’t know about the emergency ultrasound. They don’t know about the blood draws so HCG levels could be measured. They don’t know about the bleeding, the contractions, the guilt, the grief, or the sadness. Why? Because nobody talks about this stuff.

Now, here I am pregnant for a third time and the invitation to worry is strong. Thanks to the loss of Smooch there’s a cloud that stalks this pregnancy experience. That little doppler tool now not only checks for baby’s heartbeat, it increases mine. Until our 20-week ultrasound a large part of me didn’t feel safe anticipating a new child. I have no journal chronicling this pregnancy because I can’t imagine wanting to read it later. It’s not that things are much different physically from the first time around; it’s that they’re wholly different emotionally.

I want to connect with this baby, but it’s so much more difficult than it was with my firstborn. I have to work around the scar of miscarriage.

I was pregnant with Smooch for eleven weeks. For some reason, development did not properly progress and we lost the little life of our second baby. If this is not something you’ve experienced it can be very difficult to understand. So much of it is invisible to those on the outside. There is no funeral, many people didn’t even know there was a pregnancy, and in the midst of it few parents have the energy to put words to the experience. But for those who must walk this road the loss is quite visible. It is tangible. It is felt both emotionally and, at least for the mother, physically. I know the moment I was no longer carrying Smooch. That moment will be with me forever. Likewise, the memory of these lost lives linger with their families. These children deserve to not be kept secret.

My dear friend Lacey started a family necklace for me when I got married. There is a leaf with our anniversary date, a leaf with Phin’s initials and birthdate, and now a tiny heart to represent our Smooch. I look forward to adding a leaf with new initials and a new birthdate this coming January; mostly because it means our baby will be here, but partly because it means we know he was born safely. He made it.

Scratch that – WE made it.

Going Grey


It’s a fight I’ve been engaged in for over a decade. I was still a teenager when I found my first silver strand and the logical response at that time was of course to yank it out at the root. My hair is extremely thick, I reasoned…who cares if I tear out a few here and there? Sadly, into my 20s the little boogers continued to multiply in spite of my regular removal of their compatriots. I never really said anything about it to anyone but my mom, who gently reminded me that my dad went grey at a very young age.

My dad’s last name is Whitehead…guess we know how that family name originated.

Soon a friend from church choir who was studying at Douglas J convinced me to get highlights. Fairly quickly we advanced to all-over color and I faithfully kept it up for years. It looked good! We played with various tones…chestnut, auburn, brown with golden highlights, even a year or so of black with indigo highlights on just the right side of my head. It was fun to change looks and for the most part I could forget about my Whitehead roots.

In my 30s I got married and pregnant. Once the baby arrived it became more and more difficult to motivate myself to go get my hair colored. It’s tough to get out of the house with a newborn, no matter how accommodating the situation! I also noticed the grey we were covering seemed to be more plentiful and aggressive; regrowth was noticeable just two weeks after a color. I was tired of the frequency, the cost, and of using babysitter time to sniff chemicals for three hours. On a whim I googled something about greying in your 30s and found How Bourgeois. This girl makes grey look so good! I began to seriously contemplate giving up the dye.

After about a year of going back and forth, I missed a scheduled hair appointment and couldn’t get another one until three or four weeks later. Again I contemplated aloud the grey hair thing and my husband encouraged me to go for it. “You can always go back to color if you don’t like it.” With his full support, I made the decision. The last time I dyed my hair was February 27. I was growing out the grey.


Rather than drag out the process to mask what I was doing or to keep my length, I decided to let it go long enough so I could get a cute pixie cut and then lop off the color. The date of the big chop was set for July 2 and we had four months of growth to work with. There are still bits of color left on my head that will be trimmed off over the next couple of haircuts but for the most part, I’m now grey. My hair is shorter than it has ever been and my curls are on hiatus until I begin to grow them out again. For now, I’m enjoying the change, the uniqueness of my color (just try and get your faux granny hair to look like this, kids!), and the freedom from having to keep up the dye.

Beauty is available at every age and in every color. Embrace it!

Moving Forward


The theme of the last few years has been sweeping change. Apparently once Chad and I got together, God decided it was time to unfold some dreams rapid-fire style. We got engaged, married, then pregnant in the span of about six months. Once Phin was born I transitioned out of full time ministry and into stay at home motherhood. All this time, God was speaking to Chad about the future and what he was hearing was so exciting he was rather antsy to see it come to pass.

For a few years now Chad’s felt like his time as a teacher was winding down. His passion for creative ministry within the church was growing. He waited, serving both Okemos Public Schools and the church faithfully and with great excellence (I can say that un-objectively because he actually won an excellence award this year). Well friends, another part of the vision has come to pass. An opportunity for Chad to move into creative arts full time has been presented. Steve Bradshaw, a wonderful friend we met during his time with the Assemblies of God Michigan District, is pastoring again. He replaced a retired pastor in a mid-sized church, relocated his family, and invited us to join him with Chad as his Creative Arts Minister.

In Venice, Florida.

Whaaaaat?! (I assume that’s what you’re thinking…it was what we thought at first too!) Chad lived in Florida for two summers during his time employed at Disney World. I visited frequently during my time on staff at Mount Hope as Pastor Dave hosted a number of Church Planters Schools and Leadership Interchanges in St. Pete Beach. Neither of us ever dreamed we’d move there. But when we started talking with Steve and his wife Mary Beth, when we visited the church, we knew it was the right move.

This is a very bittersweet time in our lives; we are excited for the future while mourning the leaving. We have a marvelous community here in Lansing. We have family here, along with many people we love dearly and a church family we adore. Our hope is to simply expand our community to include Venice while maintaining strong connection with our Michigan loved ones. As we prepare for this big transition we ask for your prayers for wisdom, favor, and simplicity.

In closing, here are a few FAQs related to our move:

  1. When’s the big move? Chad’s first day on staff is July 29; our move will happen sometime the week prior.
  2. What are you doing with Chad’s house/the condo? We still aren’t sure what we’re doing with our two (count ’em, TWO) houses here in Michigan but are researching all our options.
  3. Creative Arts Minister? What’s that? Chad will be responsible for all things creative at the church. It’s a new position for this particular church so he has the privilege of building the department from the ground up, recruiting, training, and releasing people to flow in their creative gifting.

Michigan folks, we love you. Remember this isn’t goodbye, it’s only “see you later.” Trust me, I’m saying that as much for myself as I am for anyone else. Here’s to moving forward, into new adventures!

Whatever it Takes to Get By

Heads up: this post is about breastfeeding. I don’t want to freak anybody out, so I figured I’d spring it on you right off the bat.

imageBefore I became a mom, I fell into the “I support breastfeeding, I just don’t want to see it” camp. Then I had Phineas.

We struggled to feed Phin in the early months of his life. He was labeled by a specialist as “failing to thrive” (a diagnosis we refused to speak over him ourselves), he needed a lip and a tongue tie revision in order to suck effectively, and by the time we figured all this out my supply was so low I had to nurse him at least 15 times a day. Do the math on that one, folks. 24 hours in a day, and remember even mamas try to sleep here and there. I couldn’t miss a feeding for fear it would hurt my crippled supply. I was also pumping to encourage my body to produce more, which I supplemented right back to Phin. We gave him a couple bottles of formula daily. We tried early introduction of solids that left him writhing in pain with terrible gas because his body wasn’t ready to process them. There were doctor visits, weight checks, and hours spent with a lactation consultant. We kept a borrowed infant scale in our bedroom to regularly weigh him and make sure he was gaining. When we missed the mark, we were devastated. It ruled our lives for months.

With that schedule, if I wanted to go to church, get my hair cut, or simply get coffee with a friend, I had to make peace with the fact that I’d need to nurse Phin outside our home. In some instances I was able to find an empty office or some other more private place to get the job done, but that wasn’t always the case.

We dropped some serious coin on paraphernalia to make nursing in public more discreet. I found the fancy (and expensive!) nursing tanks most effective. I could layer them under my clothes and get him to latch with minimal exposure. Nursing covers, which you’d think would offer maximum discretion, did me wrong. They lulled me into a false sense of security, allowing Phin to rip them off and leave me more exposed than ever. Of course, this was just how things were for us. Every mom/baby pair is unique.

Firsthand experience with an issue can often change your position. When I see a nursing mom in public, even if they’re not as covert as I tend to be, I assume the best. We mamas are just trying to do whatever we can to raise healthy children. Never once while I nursed in public did I think, “Wow, I’m really sticking it to those puritanical folks offended by public breastfeeding.” You know what I was thinking? I’ve gotta feed my son. Most mamas aren’t doing it to make someone uncomfortable or make a political statement. They’re just trying to feed their children and still live their life. They’re doing whatever it takes to get by.

I’m the mother of a little boy. I want to raise him to be a supportive husband and father, just like his daddy is for us. Part of that involves teaching him about the human body and helping him not to be ashamed or grossed out by God’s grandest creation. Should an older Phineas one day witness a nursing mother, I hope I’m brave enough to use it as a teachable moment.

The path we walk often dictates our passions. When people poke fun, bash, or mock moms who I know firsthand are doing a very taxing service for their baby, it’s personal because I am that mom. We struggled and fought to breastfeed our son, and our success was hard-won. I share our story not to change anyone’s mind about the issue, but rather to encourage empathy. When you see a mama nursing in public, consider the fact that you don’t know everything about her situation and extend a little bit of grace instead of judgment.



I don’t blog here much anymore. I’m too busy keeping up Phin’s private blog, documenting all the fun happenings of his young life. Besides, sometimes my deepest contemplations these days involve poop. Or the little one’s drive to dive head first off of beds and couches. Or how, when my son is the one with the runny nose, I am the one covered in snot.

You don’t want to hear that stuff.

Today is Phin’s first birthday which of course means I’m all nostalgic. This morning I pulled up the pregnancy journal I kept where I wrote notes to him while he was “baking” and recorded his birth story. That was a tough couple of days’ labor working to get him here. Shoot, it was a tough week when we had to leave him in the NICU and then I wound up with a spinal headache and couldn’t hold myself upright unmedicated. Despite all that, we made it, thanks in no small part to the grace of God and the amazing team of people who surround us. We have a cheerful, friendly, healthy son who spreads joy everywhere he goes. Sweet Phineas is one year old. He’s not the only one celebrating a birthday, though. Continue reading

Dear Mamas: You Are Enough


He’s adorable. I know.

Keeping a tiny, helpless human being alive is difficult – this truth is universal. Many parents face the same set of struggles in raising their healthy newborns; the experience varies based on which of the struggles comes to the forefront. Phineas is a happy, content baby. He’s a good sleeper. He hasn’t dealt with reflux or colic. He battled cradle cap for a couple of months and although it cost him a lot of his hair, it clearly bothered his dad and me more than it did him. We were blessed with a very “easy” baby. Then when he was four months old, we learned he’d completely fallen off the growth charts – he was so small compared to other babies his age that he couldn’t be assigned a percentile and was in fact well below the lowest percentile. This was a big deal considering he was born somewhere around the 75th percentile for weight and even higher for height. Righting this problem was – and still is – our greatest challenge with Phin. Continue reading