Monday, December 28, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Here we go again! Please check out MckMama's My Charming Kids blog for more great "Not me!" posts.

I absolutely didn't make a batch of peanut brittle last week, only to finish most of it off single-handedly. No way. I am nothing but moderate when it comes to sweets, especially while pregnant.

And I certainly couldn't care less that Jeff and I get to go to the "the house is all done, let's just look it over and make sure it's perfect" walk-through this coming Tuesday. 'Cause I'm not invested in this puppy at all.

Speaking of the house, I definitely didn't drive the boys by there after church, simply because a friend told me that the front door is (finally) painted. Especially when I knew I would be going by the next day for my weekly milk & eggs run. That would be silly: a waste of time and gas. I certainly wouldn't do such a thing on account of a door.

I'm not super excited about the new book my women's Bible study group is going to begin; I mean, Beth Moore studies are tremendously boring and lackluster. I was not both thrilled to receive my book today, and wondering how I am going to keep up with the homework when the baby arrives. (Yet I know it'll be totally worth it!)

And in the last few weeks, I have definitely not found myself at times forgetting the tiny little detail that in just a little over a month, I'll be having a baby. Nope, not me! That would be a little strange, considering my girth and all. My mind is certainly not a bit cluttered with all the events of the past weeks, and the fact of how much must be accomplished in the next 2-4 weeks doesn't make it hard for me to imagine life after Moving, at all...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

snapshots of Christmas

Kyle reading part of the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke...

Owen cheesing in his new coat. It's nice for the kid to have something new: after all, he does have two big brothers.

Owen loving on his new bunny, Brownie. Jeff's parents have made something special from Build-A-Bear for each of the boys, and now it's Owen's turn. He really lit up when he heard their voices coming from Brownie's paw!
My guys joining forces on my brother-in-law's Rock Band game.

Playing checkers...

Thursday, December 24, 2009


For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
~Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas! Rejoice, for Immanuel...God with us... has come!

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Welcome to another Monday, which of course means another installment of "Not me" Monday. This is our chance to make our confessions, air our dirty laundry, and generally get things off our chests. Check out what MckMama over at My Charming Kids has been up to...she's the one who started all this!

I never leave a basket or two of clean, folded laundry sitting around for several days on end before I get around to putting the clothes away. Nope, not me! I am nothing if not on top of things around here. I never find myself scrambling at the end of the day, when one child or another comes to me with the words "I can't find any pajama pants," or "I don't have any clean underwear in my drawer." Absolutely not.

Jeff and I absolutely didn't go shopping for house stuff again this weekend. No way! We aren't excitedly planning for our new home at all. And I definitely wouldn't be thrilled with the shelves we bought for homeschooling supplies.

And after we didn't go shopping, we certainly didn't go eat at a place that "is kind of a sports bar," where I was amazed after Jeff counted 35 televisions positioned around the room. Because, as a decidedly non-sports fan, whatever would I be doing in a place like that?

I definitely didn't sit through the entire Sunday sermon while running a circle around my belly, hoping to entice my unborn child to get his sweet little head down. Nope. I'm not anxious about his position. At. All.

Certainly didn't miss blogging about my firstborn's birthday. I would never let two days go by before noting, in the blogosphere, the day of my child's birth. And definitely wouldn't let a little thing like a photo upload hold me back.

This year for Ben's birthday, I positively did not bow to stress, and make a cake chock-full of (and topped with) all sorts of unhealthy things. No, not me! I am always true to my principles, and I would never do something like that. Also, when shaping the cake into the Transformer Optimus Prime, I did not nibble on it so much that I gave myself a stomachache. Because I know better.

When typing Optimus Prime for the above paragraph, I for sure didn't accidentally type "Optimus Prince." That would just be totally bizarre...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

a Transformers party

This year, Ben requested a Transformers birthday party. Oy.

We decided to go for it. Here is his birthday cake, complete with food coloring galore.

I was pleased to hear one of the older kids at the party positively identify the cake as being Optimus Prime, shortly after he arrived. It's at least identifiable!

Being short on space, we opted to hold Benjamin's party at a local pizza joint. This certainly cuts down on pre- and post-party cleanup. All the same, we're hoping to celebrate at home next year.

Wait, is that truck on fire?

Ben received his first camera for this, his 7th birthday, and he is so excited. I may be sharing some of his (many) photos in the future. He loves to take pictures...we may have a budding photographer on our hands!

Benjamin is 7

It's hard to believe, but my firstborn, my very first baby, is now 7 years old.

He is such a big boy these days. It boggles my mind. He's grown so much and learned so much in the past few years. He is such a great big brother, and such a affectionate and loving son.

Happy birthday time, Ben boy! I'm so glad to be your mama.

If you'd like to read Ben's birth story, click HERE.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

homeschooling update

I thought I'd share a little (just a smidge, really) about how our homeschooling is going.

Benjamin, my first grader, and Kyle, my preschooler, are doing great! They've grown used to the fact that yes, we do this Monday through Friday. They're getting into the rhythm that I've set for us. They are both reading really well, in my opinion, and they're rocking their math. They love the other subjects, which is fun for me to see.

For a while I was really feeling the pressure. In the sense of time, that is. Because of moving, the cruise, and various other factors, we did not begin our school year until the beginning of October. I've always feel that was the best choice for us this time, but the new year haunted me. Moving. Settling into a new house (early- and mid-January). Nesting. New baby arriving (probably) in February. I cannot fathom how much time we'll end up taking off. I've planned some break time, but ideally I'd like to get as much work done up until the baby arrives, in order to gain extra flexibility for the postpartum period.

So I'd been very consistent, taking unplanned no days off if we could absolutely help it. I've especially been focusing on reading and math, and although our course of study also includes science, history, and Old Testament. But we had a few hiccups. The flu, for one. And last week Kyle had croup (again). Mondays and Tuesdays are tricky for us, because of standing commitments on those two days. And we had Friday school (with the homeschool CO-OP), too. The fall session ended a few weeks ago. It was wonderful once again, but we would always arrive home around 1pm, completely exhausted. So we never managed to get much done at home on Fridays, while that was going on.

I admit I've been anxious. Homeschoolers always revel in the fact that this kind of education lends itself to flexibility. If you want to take the day off to go to the park, you can. If you want to go on vacation, you can plan around it. If you want to take the kids to Daddy's office to lunch with him, no problem.

But I had those two Events looming ahead. House and Baby. Both wonderful, exciting, very-much-welcome developments. But both bringing uncertainty into my wobbly educational endeavors.

Yet...good news!

Let me back up: when I first chose this particular curriculum, I ordered a special planner. It broke down the goals for year, term, week, etc. I set term dates, as well as breaks. I had carefully counted up lessons and worked out how many we could feasibly get through in a term.

I had been so dreading looking at that planner again. I just knew we were behind. But last week I dug it out, and...miracle of miracles, we're ahead! Way ahead. In terms of what we've accomplished already, we're well into what I had figured for the second term, which is set to begin in mid-January. I couldn't believe it! And I couldn't be more pleased. What a relief to have a little extra grace as we head into January and February.

Owen continues to be a challenge. But I've found that making a small adjustment in our schedule has made a world of difference. We simply wait to do math until after lunch, when Owen goes down for his nap. Math is done at the table, and we use a lot of manipulatives. Owen always wanted to be right in the middle of that, which....really didn't work. Yet moving that one subject to a different time of day has worked wonders. I am so thankful for the idea.

So that's it. We're finding our way, slowly but surely. There are many times that I really enjoy doing this. It definitely has its challenges. But the payoff? Beyond compare.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Monday greetings to you! It's time for another edition of "Not me!" Monday, the blog carnival originated and perpetuated by MckMama over at My Charming Kids. I encourage you to hop, skip, and jump over there for a refreshing look at life and parenting.

I absolutely haven't found myself dreaming about the cruise lately. My nighttime endeavors are much more wisely chosen than that. And in the midst of this busy season, when I'm preparing for Christmas on the one hand, a Transformers birthday party on the other, and less than a mere four weeks from moving, I definitely have better things to do with my mind than re-live our seven days of luxury. For sure.

Speaking of the move, I certainly don't find packing very fulfilling work these days. I take no pleasure in the steadily growing stacks of boxes. None at all.

After a very busy Saturday, I wasn't a teensy bit relieved to learn that our Sunday church service was canceled due to icy conditions. Because I truly love our church, so I would never be relieved to be able to stay home with my family, cozy and warm, on a cold and icy day.

Subsequently, I wasn't at all thrilled that the ice eventually melted, and we were able to go visit the new house in the afternoon. Also, I didn't get completely giddy at the still-boxed appliances. So, you can be sure that I didn't kiss the dishwasher box or anything...

Friday, December 11, 2009

healthy peanut brittle

Yes, Virginia, there is a healthy way to make peanut brittle!

It's not all about the candy
. But very same week that I posted my plea for a corn syrup-free peanut brittle recipe, one of my favorite bloggers answered my cries. Not that I have any reason to think that she reads my blog. In fact, I'd be surprised to hear that she does. Nevertheless, the timely answer thrilled me down to my toes.

Ultimately unable to wait for my weekend grocery shopping trip, I ventured out yesterday and bought some more peanuts. I was dying to try this recipe. And this morning, I did.

It takes a bit of time (you must stay at the stove to stir constantly), as candy-making often does, but it was quite easy. And best of all, it has a stellar list of ingredients. Not so much as a drop of corn syrup, refined sugar, or other unsavory stuff. I am tickled pink, I tell you.

And I assure you, it's been a big hit around here today. I love it, and my boys are wild for it. In fact, Kyle told me that he likes this peanut brittle "better than Halloween candy." Score one for this beaming mama!

To view the recipe in all its glory, head over to Passionate Homemaking by clicking HERE.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

why I cried when we put up the tree

I suppose it's safe to say that I was a little emotional this year.

Extra-emotional, even. Jeff kept looking me over, and grinning. Yes, the tears flowed freely this year.

Decorating the Christmas tree is always a special time for our family. We have a special, very particular order in which we put on our ornaments. After the tree is upright and the lights and garland (when we can find it, which isn't the case this year!) are on, Jeff and I hang our "Our First Christmas Together"ornament from 1997.

Then we pull out each of the boys' "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornaments. Each is silver, and each is inscribed with the child's name and birth year. Benjamin hangs his sweet baby rattle, Kyle hangs his Mother Goose book, and Owen has a tiny silver-and-blue baby shoe. It's like a re-telling of how our family became what it is. Two hearts joined as one...Ben...Kyle...Owen. I wonder what sweet silver ornament will join the telling in 2010.

There's something so sentimental for me about taking out all those beloved trinkets. Each one has a story. The clay, white-and-azure "Noel" we found at the Renaissance Festival in Kansas City. The potted daisy my very first best friend painted for me when we were in kindergarten. My snowman collection. The Snowbabies Jeff's parents gave my boys, each of which bears the simple, true words "From God."

But I think it was the music that really got me.

Those words. Those tried and true words.

"For Unto Us a Child is Born."
"Emmanuel, God with us."
"What Child is This?"

And one of our CDs has a reading of the birth of Jesus by a child: it undoes me every single time I hear it. Those familiar, unbelievably precious words.

These words speak the truth about the meaning of Christmas. It isn't about the gifts. It isn't about the candy. It isn't about the warm fuzzies, or the lights. It's not even about family.

It's about a promise.
Oh what a precious promise
Oh what a gift of love
The wait is finally over
And the time has finally come

For the God who made this world
To draw back the curtain
And unveil His passion for the heart of man
Oh what a precious Promise
Lying in a stable in Bethlehem.

Oh what a precious Promise
Lying in a stable in Bethlehem

~"Precious Promise" by Steven Curtis Chapman

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

my journey to homebirth, part 2

In September of 2002, when I was 7 months into my very first pregnancy, my husband and I made an exhilarating choice. We decided to walk away from my OB, and instead hire a midwife to attend our child's birth. In fact, in that moment we also walked away from hospital birth, standard interventions, and the "norm." We were planning a midwife-attended waterbirth, at a freestanding birth center.

It felt huge. It was huge. People tended to be pretty stunned when we told them. "What about the drugs?" they'd ask. (Answer: no drugs. I didn't even want the option of any drugs.) And "wouldn't the baby drown?" (Answer: no. Babies don't inhale until they get into the air, anyway.)

The change in my prenatal care was astounding. Instead of the short, hurried appointments we'd experienced under an obstetrician's care, my prenatal visits now lasted around 1 1/2 hours each. There was no rush. They offered us ice water or hot tea. There were questions such as "How are you doing, emotionally?" and "How are you eating?" Although I stepped onto the scale at each visit, no comment was ever made about how much weight I gained.

When my estimated due date came and passed, no one mentioned induction. At my 41-week appointment, my midwife brought up the subject of a non-stress test, but that was all.

My labor felt long. It began one evening and ended around 14 hours later. We were up all night, and the baby was born just before noon. I remember feeling so tired during the last part of my labor. Jeff and I drove to his parents' house across town and labored there for most of the night. Their home was considerably closer to the birth center than ours. We decided to wait to go to the birth center until the morning, and when I was checked upon arrival, they found that I was 8 cm dilated. Wonderful! We got into the birthing tub for the rest of the labor. It was hard work, but I did it! My midwife was wonderfully attentive, and my husband was an amazing support. After my baby was born, I wasn't tired at all anymore. I was riding high on a wave of adrenaline. And being at the birth center was wonderful; we received such tender care.

When Jeff and I began talking about the birth of our second child, he brought up the subject of homebirth. I admit, I was shocked. I didn't know anyone who'd chosen homebirth...except my midwife, who'd had her baby a few months after ours. And I had always thought that a strange thing. Why had she not chosen to have her baby at the wonderful waterbirth center?

Yet the more we spoke about Jeff's idea, the more it seemed like the natural next step. Have things set up at home, stay where we were, and have the birth team come to us. We took a while decide for sure, and I still received prenatal care at the waterbirth center. It was very similar to how the last part of my previous pregnancy had been. The difference was, that when it came time for the baby to be born, we didn't leave home.

Birthing at home was wonderful. I still remember that first homebirth as the easiest of my births.

Part of the beauty of homebirth is that the mother is in her most comfortable, familiar place. She doesn't have to fight for her privacy. She has control over who is present during her labor. She has the freedom to move, eat, and drink as she desires. Many of these factors were present during my birth center experience. But this time, I didn't find myself hitting transition inside a car, on the highway, during rush hour.


When it was time for our third birth, Jeff and I chose homebirth again. That, too, was a wonderful experience. I know that the day may come when I will bring forth a child in a hospital setting. We may not be able, financially, to always manage the kind of births we love. Or, conditions may arise which would necessitate more complicated medical care.

But for the time being, I am so pleased to be planning for another birth, at home.

Something that recently struck me was this: recently I heard someone comment on the language women often use when they speak of birthing in a hospital. "They let me move around." "They let me eat." "They let me labor in water until _____." These kinds of statements speak volumes about where the control lies. In that kind of setting, it comes down to having permission, or not. A laboring mother is dependent on the benevolence of the setting where she has chosen to birth.

At home, it's quite a different story. I have control over how I labor. Afterward, I can crawl into my own bed with my baby and my husband and rest.

With a low-risk, healthy pregnancy, under the guidance of a wise midwife, homebirth is a wonderful option. I'm so glad I found my way to it!

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Come one, come all, to the blog carnival that just keeps on going. Week after week, Monday after Monday. And don't forget to check out the Mistress of "Not me" Monday herself, Mckmama! She's over at My Charming Kids. But I suppose you knew that.

Over the weekend, we certainly didn't buy two chairs and three bar stools, for a house that's not even finished yet. I mean, the place doesn't have doorknobs. Or toilets. So we wouldn't be worrying about things like seating just yet.

I am absolutely not nesting. It's way too early to nest. And a bit difficult at the moment.

You can be sure that I definitely did not send my midwife an email, explaining that I'm fairly certain that the baby is in a transverse lie. She doesn't need to be bothered with details like that. And I definitely didn't copy and paste various techniques I found as suggestions for encouraging the wee one to turn head down...for the purpose of asking what she thought of those techniques. What kind of an annoying client would do that?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

be still, my heart

It's beginning to look a lot like...a home!

All the laminate is in...

...and check out the kitchen! Still missing a few key pieces (major appliances, the sink...) but looking like a kitchen, nonetheless.

Here's a bonus: another shot of the pantry, but this time with a couple of cheesers in it

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I want candy.

Homemade candy. I want chocolate-covered almonds, peanut clusters, almond bark candy, and peanut brittle. I want my mom's famous Yum-Yums. I want fudge.

There's something about December that brings out the chocolate lover in me. Although, of course, I'm not exclusively about chocolate.

For some of the things I'm wanting to make, I've found great new recipes. This Delicious Fudge recipe from The Nourishing Gourmet is wonderful. I made the peanut clusters in this photo using this recipe as my guide. I found that a stretch of uninterrupted time was a big help, but it was so easy.

There are many recipes out there that I want to try, but for now I have a question. It's a burning question, actually. Are you ready? Because I really want to know.

Is it possible to make peanut brittle without corn syrup? I have been unable to find any good recipes. Surely peanut brittle wasn't dreamed up after they created that horrible stuff? If anyone can help me out here, I'd be eternally in your debt.

I hope you're enjoying the season!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

my not-so-secret obsession

I can't stop watching birth videos. Really, I'm completely obsessed. I watch whatever I can get my hands on: the waterbirth DVD I got from the birth center, YouTube homebirths, and my own three babies being born. I can't seem to get enough.

I watch them like a football team watches game tapes. Comparing, assessing. Noting differences. The thing that strikes me the most is that I seemed to be so quiet during Kyle's birth (my 2nd labor) compared to the others. I do remember feeling much more in control of myself, and on top of the contractions. Also, my water broke early on Owen, and I suspect that's why things seemed so much more scary and intense. Owen's was my smoothest, easiest labor, though, in terms of time, pushing, and the fact that I didn't tear a single bit.

If nothing else, my boys have watched the videos with me enough that they ought not to get upset by the sounds of me in labor. Especially in the video of Owen's birth, I'm making plenty of pained, intense, when-will-this-be-over? sounds. So, there is that!

The baby is still quite active, which I love. I am fairly sure, though, that s/he's solidly transverse (which is a sideways position). I'd rest easier if the baby was head down, but my other babies have all been the same way...and there's plenty of time for him to get into a better position.

That's what I'm telling myself, anyway!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


My family is...

....from God.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ~James 1:17

Monday, November 30, 2009

my journey to homebirth, part 1

I haven't always been an advocate of natural childbirth.

In fact, my views on birth used to be very much in harmony with the status quo. Use an obstetrician, birth in a hospital, go with the flow. Why not?

When I became pregnant with my first child, I was seeing an OBGYN. And so, seeing no reason to change that, I continued to make my appointments with the same office. I liked the doctor; she was energetic and personable.

Jeff and I signed up for a class which taught the Bradley Method for childbirth. We knew someone who had spoken well of the Bradley Method, and we decided to check it out. As it would turn out, that decision changed everything for us.

The class was taught by a nice woman, about our own age. She had two children, and taught the classes in her home. Her first baby had been born in a hospital: the second in a freestanding waterbirth center. We took in that information, but it wasn't until a few weeks later that we ever really started to entertain the idea of not birthing in a hospital. We learned so much from that class: about how a woman's body functions before, during, and after labor, and about a slew of interventions commonly pushed on birthing mothers.

I was 7 months along. Jeff joined me for my prenatal appointment, as he always did. I remember that it was my birthday. We had come to the doctor's office with a few new questions this time. What did she think of routine fetal monitoring and IV use in labor? What was her position on episiotomies? Was there a time limit for the pushing stage of labor? These are just a few of the questions we brought to the table that day. In retrospect, we may have put her on the defensive just a bit. Two earnest, eager parents-to-be, wanting some answers. We did get answers, but they were not the ones we had hoped to hear.

It was a beautiful autumn day. We walked out of the office building that day with the distinct sense that we would have to argue for what we wanted all through the childbirth process. We would have to be constantly questioning, reminding, being on guard. We stood there under the fall leaves, in the dappled sunshine, and we both knew that this wasn't how we wanted to bring our child into the world.

I believe that it in that moment when Jeff's thoughts turned toward the waterbirth center. I was a bit slower than he was, still thinking of finding another OB. But the more we talked, the more I liked the idea of visiting the birth center. We could at least check it out. Besides, if we were going to fire our OB at 7 months into a pregnancy, we had better examine all of our options.

So we went. The birth center was 45 minutes away from our house, but as we made our way inside the door for the first time, it felt almost like a homecoming. Everything was lovely, comfortable, and relaxed. We were ushered into a room called the "Lavender Room," where we spoke with a midwife named Desiree for more than an hour.

We'd brought our list of questions again. I remember being nervous as they were pulled out, but with each answer we heard, Jeff and I relaxed more and more. No routine episiotomies? No electronic fetal monitoring or standard IV use? I could push as long as I wanted to, as long as everyone was doing well? Really? We were thrilled. And all the while we talked, Desiree had a little smile on her face, as if to say, "Of course."

I've heard it said this way: most obstetricians consider birth to be complicated, until proven otherwise. Midwives consider birth to be a normal, usually healthy process, until proven otherwise. For many doctors, "normal childbirth is a retrospective diagnosis." (from Babycatcher by Peggy Vincent, pg. 58)

And so, in a way we had come home. Home to the place where our first child would come into the world. Home to the very room where we would spend the first night after his birth. And home to a view of childbirth which would change the way our family grew, forever.