as seen on...

The Multiples and More blog!

this interview was posted here today

and since it's long enough {grin} I'm going to stop talking now!


Today's Featured Blogger is Brittany, of 4 Little Men and Girly Twins! Brittany is a young mom of 6 kids, including twin girls! We think that she has a unique, and fascinating view of motherhood, and if nothing else her insights will definitely make you think. Read on to find out more about this big, happy family!

L: One of the many things I love about your blog is that you are not afraid to speak your mind, even when it isn’t necessarily the most popular opinion. Do the nay-sayers ever get to you? What do you enjoy most about blogging?

B: We'll start with why I enjoying blogging most... My grandfather always wrote in his diary every night, I admired that greatly, and have always wanted to do just that. However, I tried, and tried, and I could not get myself sit down and write in a diary more than once a month. I just didn't do it, no matter how important I felt it was. It wasn't until I started blogging that I realized why... I am a VERY visual person and when I can put pictures in with my words... they just flow and I want to write and write and write everyday... and I do! I love that I am giving my family a gift that will last a lifetime... and it's not just a photo album or a diary... it's both! And the bonus that I never imagined has been the amazing friends I have found through my blog. The support and love that pours out from these awesome friends blows my mind sometimes!
I am not afraid to speak my mind, after all, this is about my family and our journey through life. I am sharing my feelings, my thoughts and what is important to me and my family. But in some ways it is not just about us, God has put words in my mouth {or at my finger tips :)} many many times and the blessings that flow from that are many. So no, the nay sayers don't really get to me, although some have been down right hateful, it is okay. Plus I think it has helped build my character and a really tough skin. {grin}

L: You have written on your blog about your preference for using organic, natural foods for your family. Why do you think this is so important?

B: We are called {in the Bible} to take care of our bodies and to keep them holy. Paying attention to what we put in our bodies is incredibly important. As someone who has been on both sides of the eating healthy and eating the standard American diet I have felt the different it has made in my body and in my life. Getting rid of the junk and putting good wholesome foods in my body has given me more energy, less illness, better skin-hair-nails, less headaches, less desire for junk food and so much more. But there is a fine line... you can be obsessed with food on either side. We really try to keep a balance of making good choices and enjoying food. I tell the kids "treats are for those who have filled their bodies with the good stuff first!". Moderation is key... too much of anything... even good... can be bad. So we do what we can and let the rest go! {grin}

L: You have some amazing photography skills! Do you have any simple tips you can share with us for getting great photos of our kids?

B: Well thank you! I don't know if I'm the one to ask about photography tips but I guess I can try.
1. try try try again! Never be afraid to take a bad pictures, it is the best way to learn! Plus with this wonderful digital age it is so easy to take hundreds of pictures and delete all but 5.
2. Find beauty in the ordinary... sometimes the most touching pictures are the ones that capture everyday life in a simplest of ways.
3. Don't be afraid to look silly... get down, twist, turn, climb up, some of the best pictures are captured when you are making a fool of yourself!
4. Enlist help! Ask your kids to help you... they can help their brothers or sisters smile, retrieve the runaway child, entertain a baby while you shoot, and then usually somewhere in there you can shoot a few pictures of your helpers too!
5. Keep it short. Don't expect to take your children’s picture for 1 hour. That is just too long, instead spend 5-10 minutes then take a break, change scenes and try again. If it isn't going well, just quite and try again later. A frustrated mom leads to a frustrated child and that is no fun at all!
6. Always have your camera ready. Some of the BEST pictures are spontaneous captures and if your camera is tucked away in a camera bag in your closet you are never going to get to it in time. Just make sure to keep it up high so little hands don't get ahold of it!
7. Make taking pictures fun. Want to catch a shot of your son swinging... get on the swing next to him and make faces at him. Want to catch your babies big toothless grin... play peek-a-boo. I'm famous for playing while I'm shooting... so much that the kids say "watch out, mom has the camera" not because they don't want their picture taken but because too many times someone head has bumped into my camera and that doesn't feel very good! {grin}

L: What led you to make the decision to homeschool your kids?

B: God. But he had put a few neon signs in my path so I would get with the program. {grin} I used to say I would "never homeschool". Oh my the things we say before we have kids! Since my son started Kindergarten homeschool has been in the back of my mind. During his first year of school we had numerous struggles. He didn't want to go to school; he would cry and say how much he hated it. We would gently but firmly force him to go each day and it was heartbreaking. But even then I thought he was just shy and he would get over it. We talked with his teacher to make sure it wasn't a problem with school and it wasn't. 1st grade rolled around and we won the lottery with the best teacher ever... that made a huge different... but he still didn't like school. During this year my heart started to feel the tug towards homeschool but I was pregnant with the twins and did not feel like I could take that on at that time. So into 2nd grade he went, and our second son was in 1st grade. This year was so-so but the biggest thing that happened was our very bright love to learn {just not at school} son started to hate math {his best subject}, reading, everything learning related. It was so saddening to see. So after many many prayers we decided that we needed to give homeschooling a shot.
And now, I think back and say "why didn't I do this from the beginning"!!! We LOVE it, all of us, me, the boys, my husband. It is wonderful! Our boys are excited about learning, and the best part is that I get to teach them. I get to be with them everyday and watch them learn and grow and become Godly men. What a blessing!
For those who think it's just too hard with little ones at home... it has gone surprisingly well with 2 1 year olds, a 2 year old & the 3 boys who are in "school". Our entire family dynamic has improved drastically. I recently told my husband that I felt like homeschooling the boys "made" me be the mom I wanted to be to them.

L: Your post about the down-side of dairy (link here) made me seriously reconsider my family’s consumption of it. (By the way, Almond milk is awesome!) What other foods do you supplement with to ensure that your family gets the proper amounts of calcium and protein?

B: Oh yeah, I'm so glad you tried Almond milk, it is delish isn't it! Aside from the fact that most dairy items are very tasty and people don't want to give that up, worrying about getting enough calcium and protein seem to be a huge concern for many.
Despite what most people have heard, dairy is not the best way to get calcium. Green leafy vegetables pack a calcium full punch! Especially spinach! Others include collard greens, kale, basil, thyme, dill seed, cinnamon, peppermint, romaine lettuce, broccoli, sesame seeds, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, garlic, Brussels sprouts, oranges, asparagus and many others.
Protein is very easily found in many everyday foods {at least for us}. You can find protein in nuts, seeds, beans, grains {wheat, oats, rice} & eggs. Some of the highest protein foods are Lentils, Chickpeas, Peanut butter, brown rice, live grain wheat bread & cooked broccoli.
Although soy is also a high protein food I would not recommend it. It is not an easily digested food and can cause not only digestion but endocrine system problems as well. Soy beans contain estrogens and certain enzymes that can deplete your intake of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Making it a lose-lose.
As long as you are filling your diet with the foods mentioned above you should not have any concerns about proper calcium and protein levels.

L: From reading your blog, I get the sense that you are a very calm, centered individual. With 6 kids, do you ever feel like you might lose your mind? And what do you do in those situations?

B: I am not calm, centered or patient... but God in me is all of those things and more. I can not even begin to take credit for being able to make it through the daily grind alive with 6 young children. {grin} There are most certainly times when I think I am going to lose my mind if I don't get to have one moment alone without a mess to clean up , diaper to change, child to attend to or food to prepare. But alas God is always there to carry me through, to see my struggles and my hard work when no one else notices. He is there to pat my back and say "good job"... of course he's also there to say "what are you doing" when I am losing my cool and doing the things I know I shouldn't... as we all do.
So what do I do? A few things really keep me going through the day. I like to say I'm a firecracker prayer... I talk to God all day long through many many "firecracker prayers". "Oh Lord, please help me hold my tongue and respond with love and kindness, please help me guide this child to listen to you in his heart" Those brief moments of prayer that I spend as I'm walking into the kitchen to take a child off of the counter as they are spilling nuts all over the floor {not that that really happens around here :)} really help me to put it all in perspective and keep cool.
I also tell myself over and over again that THIS is just a phase... the baby that wont' let me put her down will be too big to hold one day, and the toddler that keeps taking his pants off only to pester me ask me to put his pants on again will one day do it all by himself. And when it's all gone, if I didn't treasure it while I had it, I might miss it, and that isn't okay with me!

L: I think it’s amazing that you were able to exclusively breastfeed your twins, while also caring for your other children. Was it extremely difficult in the beginning, when they nursed more frequently? What would you say to moms who are pregnant with multiples, and unsure if they will be able to do it?

B: YOU CAN DO IT! If I can nurse the twins while recovering from a broken chest {sternum, ribs, collar bone} and take care of the 4 boys, you can do it too! Don't be afraid to give it a real shot. It is saddening that there are so many moms out there who think they can't do it. Either it's a bad story they heard or not enough encouragement from others who have done it or doubting themselves because they are new to breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding can be hard, it can be painful, it can be tiring and very time consuming but it is one of the most intimate bonds you can ever share with your child. And there are other perks too... you get to take a "break" every time it's time to nurse, you don't have to buy formula or wash bottles, BF baby poop doesn't stink, and to look down and see 2 babies nursing is positively the most beautiful sight!
Since I had already nursed 4 babies for 18-22 months each I wasn't exactly new to nursing... but I was new to nursing twins. And I'll admit I was a bit intimidated because I had heard so many twin moms say they tried and couldn't do it. When the girls were born I was unable to pick them up because of the accident so I had my husband put the girls in my arms to nurse. I would hold on in each arm with their feet cuddled together in my lap. I usually had a pillow under each arm for support {but I never bought a nursing pillow}. Somehow you figure out how to maneuver each baby into place and pick them up to burp and then back on again. It may take a few weeks to feel comfortable but once you do, it's easy peasy!

L: What is a typical day like in your house?

B: busy, loud, messy, fun... oh do you mean schedule?! {grin}
7-7:30 everyone gets up. I nurse the girls while the boys do their morning chores {make their bed, dirty clothes to the hamper, get dressed, ect.}
8:00-9:30 We all venture into the kitchen to make breakfast. We take turns reading through our devotional while we work on breakfast. We try to have a hot breakfast most days {oatmeal, eggs, peanut butter and toast, fruit} Once we're done with breakfast we all help clean up.
9:30-10:30 The boys start working on school work while I shower and bathe the girls and sometimes Ozzie. After we are dressed and ready I nurse the girls again.
10:30-11:00 we have a snack and sit on the couch for school reading
11:00-11:30 while the boys are working on school I play with the girls & ozzie before naptime... while still being able to help the boys if needed.
11:30 the girls go down for their nap
11:40-12:30 we finish up school and start lunch together
1:00 since the boys are supposed to have their beds made and room clean in the morning but sometimes it doesn't get done. I've told them they don't get lunch until their room is finished. We eat and clean up together.
2:00 the boys are free to go do their thing while I spend one on one time with Ozzie and put him down for a nap.
2:30 the girls wake up, I nurse them and will sometimes feed them a small lunch
our afternoons are pretty laid back but this is how it flows... with some nursing, playing and laundry in the mix!
3:30 Ozzie gets up we all have a snack
4:30 I start dinner prep. Or at least thinking about it in my head.
6:00 dinner. We all work together before and after dinner. We like to sit and talk about the day. I have the boys retell dad about school or something cool we read in a book that day {for Gavin and Ozzie}
7:30 family play time, this is usually crazy time around our house. Wrestling, laughing, running, wild!
8:00 book reading time, get ready for bed
9:00 lights out
I am not a big schedule maker... but we do follow a routine. It wasn't until I wrote down what we were doing daily for a few days that I realized we were naturally following a schedule. We do sway off of the time marks here and there but this is our usual.

L: You are also a proud cloth-diapering mama. Did you use cloth with all of your kids? If you had to give a ballpark figure, how much do you think you have saved by using cloth?

B: Oh my gosh, saved... thousands for sure! I have cloth diapered over half of my children and I wish I would have started in the very beginning. We, yes we, my husband is totally on board with CD's, are very thankful we gave CD's a try. Now days they are so easy to use, they rarely leak, they are super adorable, they save you money, you're keeping diapers out of the landfill and my husband's favorite... your trash can doesn't stink!

L: How has adding two new babies to the family changed the way you do things?

B: Adding 2 babies and my accident all at once really changed our family. I was unable to do so much and my boys {big and small} all had to really come together to help each other. It wasn't always easy but we have traveled some rough terrain together and are all better for it.
Even though the boys were only 7 1/2, 6, 4 1/2 & 20 months when the girls were born they have become an instrumental part of keeping our family functioning. They do so much for me and the girls and it has really helped build their confidence to know how special they are in our family.

L: If you had just one piece of advice that you could pass on to your children and be guaranteed they always follow it, what would that be?

B: Have no fear; trust in God, he will always guide you on the correct path. As we all do, we sometimes think we know best and that couldn't be further from the truth. God is bigger than we can even fathom and his understanding of our life and our plan for our life is greater than we can see. His way is always the best way!

Brittany's question to our readers:

B: If you could have another set of twins or other multiples... would you?

I know I would! If we could have another set of ID twin girls I would just be beyond thrilled! It has been such an amazing treat to have these 2 little girls in our family and I would love the blessing of doing it again. But I think I'd like to get a little sleep first! {grin}

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