Work, life, balance - what?!  Forget about it.  That single phrase brings me SO MUCH GUILT!  Guilt that I can't balance enough to work and be home with my kids.  As a SAHM (Stay-at-home Mom), I still can't manage to get a blog or vlog or etsy store or WHATEVER up and at 'em each day.  But here's the thing - it's not about 'balance', but satiation.  

O is strapped in his Ergo carrier, you can't see him - but can see his board!  More on that in another post (I've got videos to compile!).  Our first year snowboarding says everything about balance vs satiation.  Snowboarding is about balance but even the falls can be satiating.  There is a lesson in every single one.  This tested all of us and our ability to persevere.  And to do it as a family.  I wouldn't trade it for the world and we all look forward to the snow next year!

O is strapped in his Ergo carrier, you can't see him - but can see his board!  More on that in another post (I've got videos to compile!).  Our first year snowboarding says everything about balance vs satiation.  Snowboarding is about balance but even the falls can be satiating.  There is a lesson in every single one.  This tested all of us and our ability to persevere.  And to do it as a family.  I wouldn't trade it for the world and we all look forward to the snow next year!

What satiates my personhood?  Here's a few things:

Rhythm.  I just watched this fantastic live video about 'rhythm'.  For some it may be 'routine'.  Either way - it's vital in my life and my kids.  I see the benefits of it in our household.  Weekday mornings around here have a beautiful rhythm:

6a Wake with toddler - make lunches, coffee, breakfast (sometimes I get ready during this time) - 7a Dad home from work - 7:20/30a older boys awaken (dress, make their beds and come down for breakfast) - 7:50/8a Brush teeth and get book bags ready for school/mom gets ready for the day - 8:20/30 leave for school.  

This is from our evening rhythm.  The boys read for 15-20 minutes each night before bed.  We just recently altered this - O used to go to bed, he now joins them.

This is from our evening rhythm.  The boys read for 15-20 minutes each night before bed.  We just recently altered this - O used to go to bed, he now joins them.

The boys have time to play after packing their bags and before we leave for school.  It's a sight to see.  They know:  wake - dress - beds - breakfast - teeth - bags - play.  It's amazing.  And I love it.  They are confident, secure and independent - happy.

I like to read.  I am learning to take time out to read.  One of my favorite things to read about?  Parenting.  I know - huge shocker.  I now keep a book in the car door for just that reason (and knitting in the center console) when waiting in the epic car pick up line.  My current read - Masterminds and Wingmen.  Highly recommend whether you have boys or not.

Writing.  I love to write.  Communicating is paramount for me.  One of the things that brought the hubs and I together.  We are both talkers.  And this space allows me to do that.  Which is why I am back.  It's going to take awhile to get back into this rhythm - but I am looking forward to it!

Grace is last.  But most definitely not least.  Granting myself the grace to rest.  To fall asleep and take time.  Just because I am a SAHM, doesn't mean I have to work on the house, this family, the kids, etc... until my bones ache and I can't stand any longer.  I quit my job and career so I could minimize stresses in my life, making room to be a whole self.  For the kids, my husband - and me.  It's something I think a lot of SAHMs have difficulty with and can lead to some intense bouts of depression.  

Perfect example.  I was doing dishes when this was happening.  Trent had just gotten home from hunting and O was elated to see him (as usual).  He promptly brought over a book for Dad to read, which also required many kisses and squeezes.  This man misses his kids SO much when he's away.  I am grateful for his doting, uncensored LOVE for the kids.  I stopped - dishes could wait.  I needed to hold on to this moment.

Perfect example.  I was doing dishes when this was happening.  Trent had just gotten home from hunting and O was elated to see him (as usual).  He promptly brought over a book for Dad to read, which also required many kisses and squeezes.  This man misses his kids SO much when he's away.  I am grateful for his doting, uncensored LOVE for the kids.  I stopped - dishes could wait.  I needed to hold on to this moment.

Working outside the home brought me anxiety, but being at home - secluded from adulthood, immersed in parent and spousal responsibilities accompanied with the never lightening load of guilt when taking time out can result in the mind dipping into a dark, dark place.  That's when grace for self comes into play.  Something I work desparetly on each day.

What do you think of 'balance'?  Do you feel like grace could play a bigger part in your life?  What are some of your must do's/have's?

Welcome Back

Whew.  Wow.  It's been awhile.

I'm glad I have waited though.  It's been a huge year for us; for me.  I've been a stay-at-home parent for a year and half now and I'm starting to finally feel comfortable in those shoes.  I'm getting there - although never really knowing if I will ever be completely there.  Accepting that indecisiveness seems like the greater portion of the battle.

It's been a year of homeownership trials and tribulations.  Parenting woes and successes.  Marriage earthquakes and rainbows - you get the idea.  It's been a lot.  We are a family of 6, 7 including our pup (although she sleeps the majority of the time).  Our little world feels epic most times, but is just that.  Little.

By comparison.

Our country and the world has seen changes - trials and tribulations, woes and successes, earthquakes, rainbows, floods and more on scales much larger than these four walls hold.  But that doesn't mean these four walls are not capable of epic change.  This is what brings me back to pen and paper - keyboard and screen rather.

I wrote a blog size Facebook post a few days ago (bleh - my face goes green on two levels, 1 - becoming a keyboard warrior and 2 - I wrote something lengthy and heartfelt on social media for everyone to see - yikes, not my style) about the safety of our schools.  Or rather, my disturbed and saddened take on the situation.  I couldn't take it.  There've been so many posts and shared pages about gun legislation - how Congress isn't going far enough or doing the right things or arming teachers is a bad idea - or a good idea, etc....  It's over whelming.  

As a stay-at-home parent, not once - ONCE have I seen a post about the significance of child rearing.  How we've abandoned it.  There is no financial benefit to a parent quitting a career to be home, rearing their children - in fact, quite the opposite.  Home to hear their woes, frustrations, issues in school, cyber bullying.  To speak with them about vengeance, love, hate - the emotions that fuel the turmoil that causes ANY human to act out in violence.  How many families still sit at the dinner table every evening?  Show of hands?  Ours.

This is my job.  This is my duty.  To be here for them.  I am not an educator - I am not a teacher.  I am an environment.  And aren't we all just that?  A product of our environment?

Slow down.  Soak it in.  Take a moment to reflect on what our true core values are in this country.  What have we abandoned - logic, love, compassion, kindness, foundation, community; the village.  What have we adopted - greed, negligence, entitlement, privacy, fear, piety - pride. 

Large million dollar houses or a community filled with love and compassion.  Not without it's faults and crime.  But a dedication to a great good - a larger picture.

A few months ago I came across a collection of videos I've had since Orion's birth.  They are beautiful to me.  And each time I watch it, I am reminded of why I gave up my 12 year career, my final Grammy Nomination nod - they are worth every moment.  Being there for them in anyway I can - and they for me.  This is our family.  We treasure all of it - the core to extended to surrogate.

I look forward to posting more in the future.  Stay tuned and please engage.

E02 Political Discourse and Marriage

Episode 02!  Below I discuss the 5 steps that help prevent divorce when Trent and I are discussing current political and social issues.  We are not one in the same politically which results in some interesting discussions.  Most importantly we try to remain respectful and honor one another's individuality.  To do that we try to stick to these 5 rules:

1.  Don't Yell (super hard for me)

2.  Stay on Topic (Trent... this one is particularly for you and your incessant habit of arguing semantics instead of the topic at hand)

3.  No Name Calling - that goes for politicians and pundits as well.  The name calling can become inadvertently (or purposefully) personal far to easily.

4.  Love Timer - seems juvenile, but this works for us.  A timer that forces us to reflect on the conversations, our differences and what brought us together.  There is a world outside of our political views that is beautifully vast and full of culture.  Our politics are not what brought us together - our love and respect for one anther; our personhood did.

5.  Active Listening which is great in any situation.  I could talk for hours on this subject alone and how we have become such a self obsessed species, that we could stand to work on this with everyone in our lives.  Hearing and listening are completely separate and different acts.

How'd we get here?  The Women's March in DC.  

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was just a couple weeks ago and Marley was studying key words like protest, picket, character, etc... in his class.  So we were asked as parents to use those words in the house in conversation so the kids could become familiar with them.  Conveniently the Women's march was that following weekend (after we received the email).  Our friends were going to DC, and the kids are very good friends with their children (we carpool and they are the other half of the Woodburn Village - I can't wait to discuss that further) - so it gave me a great opportunity to use these terms.

My husband noticed it on my screen that Saturday morning.  He immediately asked about it and I told him I was explaining it to the kids - in their terms.  His reply 'they asked? or you offered?'.  I explained that we received an email from the teacher and I felt it was a great way to connect with them about the words being used in school.  Also - the kids have been exposed to the political climate as of late through their peers and what has been said in their company (a whole other blog worthy topic on appropriate political discourse with children).

But why shouldn't I be able to talk to them about it?  The smug reply he had was enough to set me off.  And we did.  We debated, we got personal, we threatened our marriage over words and hurt feelings.  Over semantics, miscommunication, hearing but not listening.  We almost destroyed our family through blind passion and anger.  My husband left for work that afternoon with our foundation crumbling - tears in my eyes and fear in my bones.

And then I received this text message.

Beat 5 - my husband is a police officer.  He's had guns pointed at him, been attacked by drug users, dealt with over doses - you get it.  It's dangerous.  I can't stand when things are left like this.  Everyday he goes to work vowing to protect and serve us - our community, you and I, he takes the risk that he may not return home.

I know that seems dark - but it's the truth.  And the fear resting in my bones was just that.  The tears - shame and guilt that I couldn't let my pride down for the brief moment it takes to recognize our differences.  

The beauty in our individually and how much I love that man.  After this exchange we had a very important discussion on how to handle conversations like this in the future.  And then I received this:

pussy hats are the pink knitted caps seen at the Woman's Marches - they are worn to bring feminine solidarity - and I love to knit and yes, my husband knows how to as well.

We decided not to pretend we DON'T have our differences.  We've chosen to embrace our mental autonomy.  To honor our personhood and never, NEVER let one another forget how much they are loved and cherished.  May this be a lesson for all of us.  That we are here, and our actions and words effect one another delivered passively or for purpose.  Take care in these days when the political climate is hot and liberties may be at stake - that our words truly reflect the greater good.

authored by Chelsea Crutcher

Vlog E01 & Staying Home

Drum roll please... 

Ta Da!  My first Vlog.  I will spare all explanations on my new medium for converstation to the below video.  I hope you enjoy - if you do, let me know - if you don't, well - let me know.  Comments below!

As promised above - my decision to stay home.

In September we welcomed our fourth Son into the family - Orion.  An absolute joy and treasure - and a phenomenal home birth.  More on that here.  But that brought our count to a whopping 4 boys (the boy part being less significant but kind of cool - come on?! We almost have a basketball team!).  One of which was a newborn and now an infant. 

Truthfully - Trent and I were headed down this road from the beginning.  We knew if we added another muchacho to the mix one of us would need to stay home both financially and to support the family emotionally.  And I, after an awesome 12 years at the station and with the Symphony was ready.  I'd completed some amazing projects, nurtured a new relationship between CPR and the Symphony, worked with some incredible and historical individuals and even knocked quite a few things off my bucket list.  And - I missed our boys.  

I wanted to be home... and Trent had just gotten into the Police Academy and finally had the opportunity to achieve his childhood dream of becoming an officer.  It was a good fit.  So I took the longest maternity leave possible while I came to terms with my decision (I still had one foot in the door, I wasn't completely ready to be a 'dependent') and then, I wrote it.  One of the quickest, most honest letters I may have ever written.

Thank you Cincinnati Public Radio for the experience and life at the station.  But it's my time.  My time to be with my family, support my husband and explore new opportunities for myself.  I am ready.

Heh - kind of.  It hasn't been an easy transition for me.  I miss my financial autonomy.  I've never been a dependent.  And I've always been working in Music.  There have been many tears, fights and questioning over what I have chosen.  What kind of proud feminist becomes financially dependent and subservient to her husband?!!  Well - here is the kicker.  I'm not.  

My husband and I are a team - and if it weren't for him being the much needed broken record reminding me of that in my days of doubt - I'd still be a train wreck.  Here's the thing I've realized.  It takes a strong woman.  Not to become a stay-at-home mom, but to realize what is truly important to them.  For me - being there for my husband and children means the world to me.  I am tired of navigating my work schedule to fit my needs at home.  And then the one thing, most important sacrifice I'd been making?  Me.

What I've learned is that being at home isn't just about being home for everyone else, but finally having the opportunity to carve time out for myself.  I love to knit, write, chat, talk, communicate - I've joined a knitting club, we have Woodburn Village dinners, and now I can write and vlog here.

So that was our decision.  My husband and I.  Is it always easy - uh, no! but what marriage with 4 busy, chaotic kiddos is?  But it's our's.  Our decision, our family.  And my life.  It was my career, it is my passion to be here - present in this nest filled with hectic schedules, homework, laughter, fights, conflicts and communication.  I'm fulfilled and proud to stay-at-home.

authored by Chelsea Crutcher

Orion's Birthday

A blog!  A blog!  It's been a whopping 5 months since I've written a post.  We've moved, the kids started back to school, we had a baby, I quit my job, I took over shipping cards for the Gathering Site and now we are just outside of the busy holidays.  Time to get back into the swing.  

Disclosure - this is a birth story, therefore a long novel of a post.  For those that enjoy these sorts of things, those looking for insight and my own guilty pleasure.

Orion Gregory Trent Crutcher: September 08, 2016 @ 2:10pm

Orion was an afternoon babe. 

When we found out we were pregnant we started our prenatal visits with the TriHealth Midwives through Good Sam.  I met them through a client I had as a doula and remembered how amazing they were.  They are kind and have altered the practice to be as close to a home birthing environment as a hospital can give you.  Truly amazing, conscientious midwives.  Love them!

That being said.  I don't know if it was being busy with 3 five year olds on summer vacation, work or my husband being in the police academy but at week 32 I noticed I'd been really detached from the pregnancy.  I didn't look forward to my prenatal checkups and was battling some pregnancy blues.  After a lot of thought and reflection I realized it wasn't being busy or depression - I wasn't preparing for the birth in a way that was intimate and personal to me.  I wanted to home birth.  I needed to home birth.

After training as a doula and assisting births both in and out of the hospital I truly felt I knew my body and the biology of birthing well enough to handle it stress free at home (actually less stressful than being in the hospital).  Trent and I talked and in a nut shell - we both decided it was what we wanted, not just me - so we found KaiaJade (in Cincinnati, this is a great place to start a search for the perfect Midwife).  

The amazing KaiaJade!  You will never meet anyone with a heart so kind and large as this woman.  My AMAZING midwife.  She is truly incredible.  We met in week 33 and OUR  minds (all three of us) were set.  We had 7 weeks to catch up on prenatal information and get prepared for the big day.  Or not....

We moved the first week of September, which would have been week 35 into 36.  It was a crazy week, but we got through it with the help of my brother and his family (OMG!  Thank you!!) and our Woodburn Village (more on that later).  By the next week, I was working hard to get the house in order so I could focus on getting ready for the birth.  FYI - we didn't know the gender of the baby nor did I have any of the supplies needed for the birth.  Just my doula bag - yikes.  By Wednesday of the following week (pregnancy week 36) - I called my mom in a fury.  

'What was I thinking?!  I can't handle another baby?!  Am I crazy?!' Sobbing, screaming full fledged anxiety attacks.  And... that's when my mom started packing.  The beauty of her knowing me SO well.  She knew the big day was if not hours, only days away.  My manic break down before birth.  

That night I decided to replace a window unit in the boy's bedroom and put the bigger one at the stairs for Trent to carry down.  Not a great move while pregnant.  But taking it easy hasnever been my forté.  

The next morning started like any morning.  My alarm went off at 6:30a.  I was definitely at the sore & tired part of pregnancy, so I laid in bed and listened to the kids wake up around 6:45.  I listened to their play and went to check my phone around 7a, go through email, etc....  When I put my phone back I felt a little - well, squirt.  Incontinence in that past month was kicking in so I figured it was just my inability to 'hold it' and I'd be up soon (TMI?  I don't care.  It's a fact of having children).  Not minutes later came the gush.  No question what that was. 

My waters broke with Soren as well.  Just following in my mother's footsteps with both my brother and I.  We are two of the very few that water breaking signifies active labor.  I ran to the bathroom saying - 'No, no no no no no.  Not yet!!!!  We aren't ready!'.  Trent came running in and asked if I was sure I wasn't just peeing my pants.  Heh.  Yeah honey.  I stood up and another gush of clear liquid came out.  

He shrugged.  Smiled ear to ear and quickly ran upstairs to tell the kids they weren't going to school.  'We are having a baby!'  He may deny this, but it was one of the few times I have seen him so ecstatic he couldn't think straight.

We quickly called KaiaJade, made a list of supplies, asked my dear friend-amazing-human being-that happens to be an ER nurse, to call off sick and attend the birth (which she did VERY willingly.  I love you Sarah!), my mom who responded 'duh!  I knew it! I am on my way!', my boss - there was a CSO concert that weekend and school for the kids.  Trent took the boys out to run some errands - birth supplies, food, etc.... Sarah came to check on me and then left to snag my pitocin script from Bethesda and couple more supplies.  

I was left home alone to focus on birth.  The contractions started up quickly.  I did miles circuits as instructed by KaiaJade to insure the baby would be anterior and in a good position.  

By the time Sarah (my amazing ER nurse working friend and other mother of the Woodburn Village) got back I was moving pretty quickly into active labor.  I could still talk between contractions and move but my hips were starting to feel it.  And this time - my abdomen.  Soren was all, I mean ALL back labor.  I never knew what an abdominal contraction felt like.  Back labor was extremely painful.  I was in tears this time.  Of happiness.  

I remember laboring in the kitchen and screaming how much better this felt.  My hips still felt like they were ripping but WOW!  I can stand.  I can move.  I can bear down!  Yes!  Thank you baby!  Keep it up!!

KaiaJade got to the house around 9/9:30 (I think, I am a little foggy on time at this point).  We continued miles circuits until I couldn't do them anymore and we ended in our bedroom where we prepped.  Trent came home with the kiddos and Carol (the Woodburn Village Resident Nana) took them out to play.  I continued to labor and lean on Trent with sounds of the kids playing in the background (they hunted for butterfly larvae - yes, caterpillars.  But they are privy to the terminology).  He never left my side but once to answer a text from my traveling mom.  

The contractions were strong and hard.  I pulled, squeezed, grunted, breathed, dry heaved, you name it - on my husband.  But he stayed, looking me straight in the eye.  Always there - my rock, my confidence when it seemed impossible, the reminder that I wasn't in this alone - ever.

My mom arrived around noon.  I will never forget her scent entering the room - the comfort I needed at the time.  Trent wanted this birth to be the two of us along with our labor and delivery assistants.  It meant a lot to him.  I just required my husband and our kiddos if they wanted to be present.  I just wanted to be home with my family while we welcomed our new member.  My mom respected that, as hard as it was to hear her daughter laboring and not be there.  She went out with her grandsons and became the liaison between our room and the kids.

Shortly after that I started losing hope.  I told KaiaJade and Sarah I didn't think I could do it.  I didn't have enough strength and I was losing reality.  I felt like I was wilting and giving into the pain.  KaiaJade knew me, she knew I had to prove I could do this.  

She said softly - with no judgement 'I understand you are tired.  We can go to the hospital if that is what you wish.  I honor your decision.  You are ok, the baby is ok.'  I responded with a 'hell no! Let's do this!'.  She promptly gave me a couple homeopathics in hopes they'd wake me up (they did!) and some encouragement and sure enough I made it through transition and started pushing around 1:30p.

This I remember vividly.  The head crowned.  Trent was waiting to catch, both of our hands down by the head as encouragement and support for both myself and the baby.  He called out for the kids.  My mom brought them up.  All three - they looked in awe and excitement.  'There's the head! The head!  There's hair!?!?'.  

There was still some pushing yet to go, so we asked if they wanted to stay or leave.  They meandered and two ended up staying by the time Orion's shoulders began to come out.  After that and couple more pushes, there he was.  In my husbands hands.  Soren ran over to my side and Mayer jumped on the bed.  They couldn't wait to get a closer look.  Trent put him on my chest and the comments and questions began to fly.  

I was so aware - so awake.  I answered them between gasps of disbelief, tears and kisses.  I finally held him up to see what we had and looked at my husband 'Orion?', and he shook his head.  Marley came running into the room and on the bed.  So many questions.  They were curious about everything.  In awe that this new life - their baby brother just came into the world.

I had less shaking with this birth and more clarity.  Although they were both unmedicated, this one was so different.  My placenta came and we quickly realized Orion's EDD was incorrect and he likely had a twin that I counted as my last cycle.  He was more likely 37 weeks, almost 38.  He was 6lbs 10oz (Soren was 6lbs 14oz @ 39 weeks), no small fry but not huge.  Healthy, quick to latch, big eyed, full head of hair - our little peanut.  All of us, absolutely in love.  

I know home birthing isn't for everyone, but it was definitely the right move for us.  KaiaJade was phenomenal.  The perfect balance of hands on and encouragement, with a depth of knowledge that is astounding!  She is so in tune and selfless when it comes to birth.  

The kids - oh the kids.  Hearing their voices, their energy - seeing their faces, touching their heads and holding them close during and after birth.  I can't imagine it any other way.  

authored by Chelsea Crutcher