Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Open Letter to My Son

Hey sweet boy.

I don’t know how to put everything I feel and want for you into words, but here goes….

You have one of the funnest and funniest personalities I’ve ever known. I love how you react (ok – over-react) to so many things…your facial expressions are hilarious, your squeals of excitement, and your animation give my heart so much joy! You have *the* best laugh, and your smile can light up a room.

You have such a gift in that you are amazingly tender and loving, but also very much have a mind of your own and are SO smart. Your hugs and excitement to see me make my day, and even though you sometimes throw unnecessary fits…I understand that’s just because you’re two, and I try to just love on you more. I am confident that you will grow into a boy and man that will be strong and know his own mind, but who will also have sincere and beautiful compassion for those who need it.

I love guessing what you will be when you grow up. Yes, I know that you are planning on being a super hero, but I could also see you being so many things. I definitely think you will be athletically gifted like your daddy and maybe be a basketball player like him, or will it be baseball? It’s also very clear at this young age that you have some musical talent, and I can’t wait to see you blossom in that way as well. Will you be a scholar? Will you be a writer? Will you be a music star? Or maybe a doctor or legislator or speaker that helps thousands of people? Only God knows what your path will be, and my prayer for you is that you listen to Him, and follow the path He lays out for you. You are so gifted in so many ways, and I just want you to know how much I love you and that I will always be here for you…to encourage and love you, pick you up when you need me to, and watch you grow. I promise to do my best to give you the space you need to become your own person and to help you only when you need it.

It is because of you that I became a mommy of “children”, and I simply couldn’t be happier. My pregnancy with you and your birth is what has led me on my amazing journey, and is how I discovered God’s plan for my own life.

You are such a light in not only my life, but the lives of our whole family, and for now, I promise to let you be little


P.s. I think you would make a fantastic super hero!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let Them Be Little

Tomorrow I am planning to post a letter to my son (similar to the one I wrote to my daughter earlier this month).

As I was thinking about what I wanted to say to him, and as I was looking through things online, I came across this video, and I hope it is encouraging to you as it has been to me...

As a mommy, yes, we want to focus on helping our children to grow up to be the best people they can be, and to reach for their goals, learn to be responsible adults, have compassion for everyone, etc, etc.

But, what about now?

I wonder if there is a direct correlation to just letting our kids be kids. Maybe they don't need to be pushed to do all the extra curricular activities or learn too much responsibility at an early age, and maybe we just need to let them play, laugh, be silly (and encouraging it by being silly with them!), run around outside, and get dirty.

As a mama who follows much of the attachment parenting philosophy, I know the value of letting the kids sleep with us. I know the value of breastfeeding past a year, I know the value of simply holding my babies when they need it. It is a challenge, though, as a work at home mom who has so many things to do most days to just stop and enjoy my kids. I have had to force myself to just do it. When they need me (for whatever it is), I am here for them - I mean seriously - that's the whole point of me being home, anyway. I know that they will be grown up all too soon, and I don't want to miss a second with them because I'm just "too busy".

At this age they don't need to worry about interrupting mommy when she's working. They don't need to worry about being quiet so mommy can think. Though they both have chores (so to speak) that we expect them to do when we ask them (things like helping to put their toys away and bringing their dishes to the sink), their days are definitely not filled with things they must do. We want their days to be about playing, creatively expressing and exploring, learning all about the world around them and the people in it, and resting when they need it. They are, after all, just kids (little kids, actually)...and I don't want to miss out on this very special time in their lives.

I choose to "Let Them Be Little" - how about you?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Time for Gratitude - Birth Support Groups

I have a secret. Well………sort of.

Ok, so maybe it’s not a very well kept secret…

I’m a bit of a birth “junkie” as they call it – I prefer Birth Advocate, Birth Activist, Birth Educator, Birth Servant, and Birth Enthusiast, though. After all….birth is my calling and my passion. Not just giving birth (which I happen to really love), but helping others give birth and be educated about the entire process…not just about what is going on in their body and with their baby as they give birth, but also what can happen during their labor and delivery, particularly if they are giving birth in the hospital. I am also very passionate about making sure that mamas know how to talk to their providers and also what questions to ask and to make sure and talk about during their prenatal care.

On my Birth [Junkie, Advocate, Activist, etc – you fill in the blank] journey, I have run into SO many groups of like minded women where they share their birth stories, talk about evidence based practices, give tips on different procedures, interventions – how to avoid, deal with, and truly make the best decisions on them, and offer just some great support to women and families that need it. Most of these groups are online…either Facebook or the blogosphere, but I have also found some real, physical groups of people that I have had the honor to either associate with in person, over the phone, online, etc.

No matter where I get the information – from my network of doula friends, from other members of South Dakota Birth Matters (formerly South Dakota Safe Childbirth Options), from Educated Mommy, from The Big Push, AABC, ChoicesIn Childbirth, ICEA, or any of the other groups, websites, or blogs that I frequent – I am just SO grateful that there are so many places that I can go to for reliable, evidence based, and real information regarding birth. I feel like a sponge who seriously just wants to soak it all in.

I can’t imagine living in the “old” days. You know. Before computers and the Internet.

Ok, I can imagine it, and I gotta be honest – I don’t like the thought very much. I mean, back in the day, were you able to hop online and get super-mega-support from a like-minded person living in Texas or Wisconsin? Nope. How about instantly reading ACOG’s updated opinion on homebirth (oh, how I remember reading that the morning after it was issued back in January of 2011. Argh.)? How about a real commentary on ACOG’s statement that shows why it should be completely ignored because it’s all driven by politics within the medical system? Something like that would have taken weeks, months, or years to get circulated in the days before the interwebs.

Could you have even imagined five years ago watching a LIVE stream of someone giving birth in their own home?? Amazing.

Since the advent of Facebook, CafeMom, blogs, vlogs, YouTube, live video streaming, etc, networking and connecting with people has reached a whole new level that couldn’t have been imagined before. There are a “gazillion” resources for women and families who would like to educate themselves on birth and all things surrounding birth. I love each and every one of them – mostly for different reasons (and I definitely don’t agree with every single one of them…that’s what makes it great, though! I get challenged in my thoughts and get to sharpen my opinions and beliefs because of it). I love researching and finding out new things that can help my clients or readers here.

So, today I am thankful for all of the information and groups out there where I get my information…I linked to a few of them, but there are SO many more! Let me know if you are looking for some good                     birth info/groups, and I will hook you up! J


Monday, May 21, 2012

Childbirth Professional Day - Meet Tracie Kruempel

What is your Childbirth Profession?
I am a Birth Doula.

Describe your profession and why someone would want to choose your profession for support in pregnancy and/or childbirth?
 A doula is a hired professional support person that is available during the pregnancy, birth and newborn period. They provide emotional, physical and informational support to the mother and her partner. A doula can offer help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movements and positioning during labor. Doulas are specialized in non-medical skills and do not perform clinical tasks.

Why did you get started in your profession?
 I loved being pregnant and wanted to continue to learn more about birth after my fourth child. So after several months of searching I came across a doula. It just took off from there. I want women to feel trusted, listened to and empowered to make decisions that impact their own bodies and babies.
I am completely dedicated to you and your plan, whatever it is. This is your birth story and I want to make it as positive for you as I can.  This is a truly personal, intimate and life-changing moment for you and it is essential that you are truly comfortable with me and can talk with me at ease.

In detail, what is your personal childbirth philosophy?
Every birth is unique and I am totally honored and blessed when asked to be a part of something so personal.  I believe any women who has the desire can achieve natural childbirth and benefit greatly from it, as long as there are no limited medical problems, and she has the proper support. It is about understanding the process and believing in yourself.

Natural childbirth is a highly rewarding accomplishment. The experience of an unmedicated birth is well worth the inherent effort, yet mothers cannot always control the circumstances or interventions that may alter the path of their goals.  With this in mind, I support natural childbirth while encouraging mothers to focus on the outcome, holding their new baby in their arms.

If you could tell all pregnant women in the world something, what would it be?
Trust your body and surround yourself with people that honor you. 

How long have you been in your profession? Are you certified? If yes, by who?
I am working towards my doula certification through Doulas of North America (DONA).

Do you have a business name? How can people contact you for pregnancy and childbirth support?

Tracie Kruempel, Belly to Birth Doula Service
People can contact me at or call me at 605.759.7408

Facebook: Belly to Birth Doula Service   

Where do you practice?

I provide support you in your home before you go to the hospital or once you are at the hospital. I take clients from Sioux Falls and surrounding areas.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Open Letter to My Daughter

Just keep scrubbing.

You know. Because you drew a picture on the bathroom door because you wanted to “make it pretty”. You were so proud and honest that I couldn’t be mad. But, you have to learn that there are *always* consequences for your actions. Sometimes the consequences are good. Sometimes they totally stink. Like having to scrub long and hard while trying to remove a lovely picture drawn on the bathroom door…even when you really knew better.

There will be many, many, times in life where you will have to keep scrubbing…and though it may seem like it is in vain, it never is.

I love how curious, creative, observant, and passionate with the desire to learn you are. You are so gracefully and quietly supportive of so many, showing compassion and love well beyond your four years would dictate. You are an encourager and a pleaser, and I love that…just make sure to always encourage, but don't try to please everyone all the time and get taken advantage of (I had to learn that the hard way). You are an amazing listener, and you have such wonderfully funny and creative ideas. Don’t lose that. You are strong and can do absolutely whatever you set your mind to. Don't worry - the Lord will lead your way...all you have to do is ask Him.

As your mommy, I promise to always do the best I can to encourage you, guide you, and give you the freedom to fly your own path. Even though I have a tendency to want to protect you from everything, I will try to let you fall on your own terms and will *always* be there to help you get back up if you need me.

I longed for and prayed for you for so very long before you were conceived and born. You are my blessing, my beautiful miracle, and it’s because of you that I became a mommy…the only thing that I have ever wanted to be. I love you more than I can ever express, and I promise to do my best to show you just how much I love you every. single. day.

Here are the lyrics of "I Hope You Dance" recorded by Lee Ann Womack…they state perfectly what my grandmother and own mom have demonstrated and prayed for their families, and they state perfectly my prayer and wishes for you, too.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance I hope you dance 
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin'
Lovin' might be a mistake, but it's worth makin'
Don't let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin' out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance I hope you dance

Vienna, I hope you dance...


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Becoming a Mommy

I had a couple responses to my request for mamas to submit their mommy stories to be featured here. This is Hannah's story, which I adore! I love that there are so very many different kinds of mommies out there, and we are all connected by one thing: the indescribable and passionate love for our children. Hannah very concisely and beautifully shares this with us as she tells about the way she became a mom - I hope you enjoy reading about it as I have

Hi everyone! My name is Hannah Cooley and I'm the mother of five beautiful, smart and goofy kids! My story is very interesting about how I became a mom...

Not quite three years ago I met the most amazing man (besides my dad of course). He started telling me about his four kids and how they were the light of his life. As his story unfolded I heard about his ex who was a nonexistant mom to their children and had neglected them - among other things. The state had custody of his children and he was fighting for them!

I met my soon-to-be kids in April 2010 for the first time. They simply wow-ed me! They were funny, cute, and excited to be with their dad! I fell more in love with them every day! As they started to move back in with their dad and I, they grew closer and closer to my heart. I never knew I could love four beings so much! They are my kids ever so much! Biologically they may not be, but they are forever in my heart. 

To make things even better, almost four months ago we brought into this big world our baby, Piper J.! She brought a whole new meaning to my already meaningful life! Being a mom to my 5 kids is the hardest, most difficult - yet sweetest, most rewarding thing ever! 

I'm by no means a perfect mom, but my imperfections are loved by my kids! :-)

~Hannah Cooley

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Time for Gratitude - I'm Home!

Today I'm thankful that I'm home.

No, I'm not home because me or one of the kids is sick. I'm home because I am super blessed to be able to work from here. I actually have several things going on that I do...obviously I do social networking for Elegant Mommy, I also am a doula (soon to be working on my childbirth educator training), I have a "WAHM-sewing" business, and I do some website design stuff for my folks' church.

Working at home has been such a blessing, but also a challenge!

For one, I get to spend with the kids. Blessing? Yes! Challenge? Yes! Do I love it? YES!! I mean, how fantastic to get to spend every waking minute with the little people that you love most in the world? I get to encourage their curiosity and learning, play with them, and you know...raise them in the best way I know how.

Secondly, I get to have a super-flexible work "schedule". Ok, let's face it. I don't really have a set schedule. I basically just work when I can for as long as I can. Some days I get a TON done, and other days I get next to nothing done. It's just the way it is. Luckily, I have an amazing employer here at Elegant Mommy, and the rest of my ventures are my own businesses, so I definitely have the flexibility (well, except with the doula part...I mean, it's not really possible to know exactly when a mama is going to go into labor - ha!).

Third, since I have some flexibility, I'm able to volunteer for things that I'm passionate about and where I see a need. I serve on the SD Birth Matters board, I am a member of the AABC and serve on their national Birth Center Licensure Working Group, and I was recently honored to be asked to serve on the Steering Committee for a Breastfeeding Summit right here in South Dakota. Also, my Dad is running for State House of Representatives, so I’m able to help his campaign in between all that, too.

So, with all this, how do I balance it all? 

I have no idea. 

I wish I could tell you I’ve figured out some great secret, but, alas…I haven’t. There are some days that I feel completely inefficient and like I have just wasted my time away. Other days are definitely more productive. One of my biggest challenges is that I usually feel like I have to work on something every single day…I rarely to never get an actual day off from “work” and just get to spend it with my family or doing something else, though I have gotten better at limiting myself from working at least on Sundays…usually. I’m still working on it.

The bottom line is, though, that I get to be home. With my kids and my husband – well, on his days off, anyway. Even with all of the challenges, juggling acts, and temporary lapses in sanity, I wouldn’t trade it for the world! I am blessed beyond measure and am so thankful for the opportunity to have my own businesses as well as a wonderful employer like Shelly at Elegant Mommy.

Yep. I’m thankful to be home.


Monday, May 7, 2012

May Giveaway - Undercover Mama

Hello, all you mamas out there!

How would you like to win a nursing tank from Undercover Mama?? Well, just in time for Mother's Day, here's your chance!!

From their website:
The Undercover Mama is a strapless camisole that attaches right to any nursing bra. Layer it under any shirt, keeping your style without having to invest in a whole new wardrobe of nursing shirts. Essentially, Undercover Mama easily transforms any shirt into a nursing shirt!
So, you wanna know how to enter?

It's easy!!

Just click this link, fill out the form, and that's it! Easy peasy.

You have until this Thursday (May 10) to enter, so don't delay - enter NOW!!

Good luck!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Midwifery - Yes, please!!

So, I usually don't post on Saturdays or Sundays unless there's something really big I want to tell you about or a major announcement, or a very important event or something.

Well, today I would be completely and utterly remiss if I didn't give a shout out to MIDWIVES!!

Today is International day of the Midwife, and so I would like to challenge you to reach out to your local midwives and THANK THEM for what they do every single day to improve maternity care worldwide.

I don't know about elsewhere in the world, but here in the US and especially in South Dakota, we need more midwives!!!! I truly believe that midwifery and the midwife model of care is the answer to the maternity care crisis in this country, so let's give those amazing and wonderful women who work so tirelessly to help other women and families through pregnancy and beyond, some heartfelt love and appreciation!

To those of you reading this that are midwives, Thank You for the wonderful work you do, and I pray you are able to continue to make such an amazing difference in the lives of so many mamas, babies, families, and the world. You rock!!

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'm So Crafty...Happy Mommy Month!

Ok, so this month is all about mommies of all kinds!

I wanted to start out the month with a really cute little cartoon that I'm sure some of you have seen, and if you haven't, I hope you enjoy it! I totally dig things like this, and love that there are people out there who are so creative and are willing to share with the rest of us!

If I ever get pregnant again, I *totally* want this on a maternity shirt :)


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Educated Mommy...We're Here!!

Back in August of 2011 Shelly Gaddis (Elegant Mommy owner) made a very exciting announcement of her plans to open a non-profit organization to run alongside Elegant Mommy. Her vision was to move to a new location that has enough space for the organization, Educated Mommy, to hold events and classes like Baby Wearing 101, Cloth Diaper 101, the monthly La Leche League meeting, etc. They were to be an independent place where parents can get evidence based and un-biased information on anything and everything pregnancy, breastfeeding, and natural-parenting related.

Well, we would like to announce today, that because of YOU, we are here! We have had several fundraising events throughout the start-up process, and we just want to give you all an idea of what we have been doing with the money that we have received from your generous donations and also give you an idea of where we are going!

Since launching our fundraising efforts, we have raised a total of $4,551! That is simply phenomenal support, and we are SO excited that our readers, customers, family, and friends believe in this effort the same way we do! This money has helped us get Educated Mommy up and running in the following ways:

  • $1,550 was spent to get Educated Mommy's legal status as a 501c(3) initiated and finalized
  • $1,651 was spent to get Educated Mommy's room ready to go. It was spent on things like carpet, trim, paint, etc
  • $100 was spent on business cards
I'm also excited to announce that Educated Mommy just ordered *8* more breast pumps to rent out, for a total of 10 rent-able pumps!! How exciting is that?? Not only will we now have 10 pumps for rent, but we are renting them out for less than hospitals rent them for *and* less than MSRP! That is just one of the many ways that Educated Mommy is working to make sure families in our community have the information and resources that they need - at affordable rates!

In addition to that, there are several group events and classes that are being planned to begin very soon: We are putting together a "Going Back To Work After Baby..." support group that will focus on breastfeeding after returning to work, as well as a group called "Milk Monologues" that will be for mommies and newborns and will help mommies with everything from breastfeeding to dealing with diaper rash. There are also discussions in the works about putting together a "Frugal Moms" group. So, be looking for all of these things (and so much more!) coming your way in the near future! You can always check our webpage or our facebook page for upcoming events and more information.

Since we are a non-profit, we will forever (and ever!) be holding fundraising events to help fund these things above, as well as any new services or information that our Board of Directors feels we need to implement as we evolve into the most useful resource we can for the community.

Thank you SO much for your support in the past months, and we look forward to serving you!