Monday, December 30, 2013

It's a girl!

Ella Sharon 

Born at home December 28, 2013 at 8:50 PM, in the water

8 lb 2 oz

20.5 inches

Caught by her daddy and adored by her siblings

Ella's first roses, from her daddy

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

the boy who made me a mama

Happy Birthday to my Benjamin, the boy who made me a mama.  It's hard to believe that he is 11 years old today, and yet he shows us more responsibility and consideration every day.  We are so thankful for this boy, and we thank God for him every single day!

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

40 weeks

Today I'm 40 weeks along in my pregnancy!  For me, this is when the real countdown begins.  How many days past the EDD will this birth-day be?

Will child #2 continue to hold the record as the earliest baby at 5 days "late"?  I sincerely hope this little one doesn't go for a new record of lateness...

This morning my children sang a rousing rendition of "Happy Due Date to You" (tune of "Happy Birthday").  I hadn't even reminded them (we try to be low-key about due date stuff around this house) sweet!

Monday, December 16, 2013

a few critical updates!

I had my belly drawing last week!

Got my last prenatal massage on Saturday!

After 9 weeks of warranty drama and many tears, we have a new washing machine being delivered today!

The fridge is clean!

The laundry is caught up!

My due date is tomorrow!

All the bathrooms are clean!

The scarf party is tonight! 

The pantry and fridge are stocked  - again!

I've started eating raw dairy again! (I know, it doesn't have anything to do with the rest of this theme, but it makes me a very, very happy girl!)

And perhaps most importantly, after a week of moping and feeling uber-impatient, I am feeling more at peace with the Wait.  I'm okay with a little more time to sleep, work on projects, play with my kids, and dream about my baby.  

Even so, we're ready...just saying.  I would love so much to have this baby before Christmas. Lord-willing!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Top 10 6 Reasons the Baby Can Stay Put (a bit longer) an effort to present a balanced perspective and all, I thought I'd offer my Top 10 Reasons the Baby Can Stay Put.   Sadly I was unable to come up with a full 10, so we shall have to make do with six.  Still, I think my six are fairly compelling.

Top 10 6 Reasons the Baby Can Stay Put (a bit longer)

1)  I still need to clean my refrigerator.
'Nough said.

2)  I enjoy sleep.
Really.  And while there is something sweet and bonding about those dimly-lit nursing sessions, those moments snuggling in the rocking chair...well, sleep is just lovely.  You understand, right?

3)  I'm going to this scarf exchange...
...and it's going to be a lot of fun, and I don't want to miss it.

4)  There are no prepared meals in the freezer.
It pains me to admit this.   Generally at this point in a pregnancy, I have at least, at the very least, four or five meals in the freezer, usually more. But this time?  Nothing.  Oh, I have a lot of grass-fed beef and some pastured chickens, among other things.  I mean, we have food.  But prepared meals?  Nada.  Truly I think it's mostly because with this diet I'm kind of struggling with finding meals that (1) I can eat, (2) freeze well, and (3) my family enjoys.  But I'll think of something.  Besides, I may lighten up the restrictions a bit for those first few weeks postpartum, so we'll see.  Or maybe I'll just freeze a bunch of things that my family can have, and then for myself I'll scramble an egg or something...

5) I'm re-reading my beloved Ina May's Guide to Childbirth...
...and it would be good to finish before the baby comes.  Just in case I've gotten rusty in the past two years, or this birth throws me some surprises.

6)  It's best for everyone if the baby is truly ready.
Maybe it sounds trite, but I believe that it's best to wait until the baby is ready.  Did you know that research suggests that the baby's brain sends out a signal when the time comes for it to be born?  I suspect that it aids in the labor process as well.  After, it seems that if the baby is ready, the mama's body is likely to be "ripe" as well.

There you have it, my 10 6 reasons.  We'll see what happens.  With my track record (all my babies have arrived well past their due dates), I'm not holding my breath for an early arrival...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

stevia-sweetened chocolate bars

Alright, so as I've mentioned before, I've been on this crazy diet since July.  I'm thinking I will modify it a bit when the baby arrives, although I'm still unsure exactly what that will look like.  But back in October I took it upon myself to make a change in what I was allowing myself.  I decided to bring cocoa powder back into my life.

See, on the Body Ecology Diet, cocoa powder isn't allowed, at least not for a long time.  But I know of other anti-Candida diets which do allow it.  For me, after three months without, it ended up being a quality of life issue...of a sort.  So I decided to try it, and I've been a quite a bit more fulfilled since that day, I've gotta tell you!

I played around with some quality ingredients and came out with a stevia-sweetened chocolate recipe I really like.  In all kindness, I decided to share it here with you, on the blog.  Well, kindness, and also so I can find the recipe quickly and easily.  I guess that qualifies as a win-win situation...?

Stevia-Sweetened Chocolate Bars
1 c. gently melted coconut oil
1 T. alcohol-free vanilla
dash sea salt
1 t. milk chocolate liquid stevia or other stevia, to taste
3/4 c. cocoa powder
2 drops pure, food-safe essential oils, optional:  cinnamon bark, orange, or peppermint are nice choices

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Stir well.  Pour into a pan* lined with parchment paper and refrigerate.  The coconut oil gets really hard in the fridge, so you may want to set it out 5-10 minutes before you plan to cut and/or eat it.

*Pan size depends on how thick you'd like your chocolate.  My perfect size is to use two loaf pans, but you could also use just one, or an 8x8 pan too.  Feel free to experiment!

This chocolate is absolutely divine used in my friend Kathleen's Sunbutter Cups recipe!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gabe is 2!

Happy 2nd Birthday to my Gabriel! He charms us, makes us laugh every single day, amazes us and sometimes drives us a little crazy. He is an incredible blessing...and I wouldn't trade him for anything!

Would you like to read his birth story?  Click HERE.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

the belly: a progression

36 weeks

37 weeks

38 weeks

And the latest contribution to our collection:

39 weeks

Monday, December 9, 2013

Top 10 Reasons I'd Love to Have My Baby Soon

1)  I'm tired of relying on my alarm clock to wake up.
It's time to shake things up, to add a little spice to my life.  Alarm clock, schmalarm clock.  I'm ready to be awakened by a tiny, new human.

2)  My house is (nearly) as clean as it's ever gonna get.
With a few exceptions (anyone want to come clean out my fridge??), my home is currently as clean as it's going to get before this baby is born.  I can't make any promises about how it might look three weeks from now, though.  Come one, little person!  Strike while the iron is hot!

3)  I could use a little break from my teething toddler.
Yes, I do realize that this sentence makes me sound like a horrible mother.  But honestly, this child has been an absolute bear lately.  I get that (1) he's a toddler, and (2) he's teething, but...wowsa.  Nursing around the clock might be a vacation compared to this...

4)   I am weary of drinking raspberry leaf tea.  
Not a bit tea drinker in the best of times, consuming this particular beverage on a regular basis is something of a chore for me.  I'm doing it, know, for uterine toning and stuff.  But once the babe arrives, I shall be finished.  Okay, okay, I guess I should drink it during the postpartum period too.  But it will seem like less of an obligation.  Maybe I can get away with a little less of it, anyway...

5)  The suspense is killing us. 
Boy or girl?  The Lord alone knows...

6)  I keep eating into my labor snack supplies. 
When you're on a funky diet like this, the things you are allowed to eat become special, almost sacred if you will.  You protect them fiercely and, when you're really digging them, you want to eat them.  I keep stocking up on legal snacks I suspect might appeal to me during labor, and then...I eat them.  So then I have to make more...  You see?  It's a vicious cycle.

7)  I don't want to have to scrub the bathtub again.
The soaker tub where I plan to birth this baby is scrubbed, shining, perfect.  I've been longing for a bath but don't want the beautiful tub to need another cleaning.  I want it to remain its lovely, spotless self.  So for now I'm abstaining, but not forever. No, not forever.

8)  I'm going to this scarf exchange...
The scarf exchange is the day before  my due date, and I'm really looking forward to it!  But see, I absolutely love the scarf I bought for the party.  So if I have the baby first, I get to keep the scarf...

9)  I'd like to be able to reach stuff again.  
Using the kitchen sink has become a bit awkward.  Things on the floor are difficult to reach.  And as for putting on my shoes...well, I'll leave that to your imagination.

10) There's this Christmas present under the tree...
...and we'd really like to give it to the baby on Christmas.  Although I suppose it will still serve its purpose a week or so later.


There you have them, my Top Ten Reasons I'd Like to Have My Baby Soon.  Even so, since I'm just hitting 39 weeks on Tuesday, I likely have a while yet to go.  The average "lateness" for our five children is 9.8 days past the due date, so I'm pacing myself, settling in for a bit more time.  Still, I've love a surprise...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I stink.

As a blogger, I mean.  Two months since my last post?  This may be the longest silence my poor blog has ever endured.  And if there's anyone out there who still cares about, much less remembers my little blog...well, God bless you.

I could say I've been busy, but the fact of the matter is that I simply haven't felt like writing.  Not really, anyway.  Sometimes I'll have ideas, or compose little snips of things in my head, but as far as sitting down and putting words on the screen?  I just didn't wanna.   So there you have it, the best explanation I can come up with, the reason why I haven't been blogging?

I stink.

But here's the thing that's always appealed to me about blogging, at least the kind that I do: I am my own boss.  If I am busy, out of ideas or simply don't feel like doing it, I don't have to.  There are no deadlines, no bosses, no stress.  Easy peasy.  And when those creative juices start to flow, when I start to get the urge, I can hop back on and pick up where I left off - assuming I still have any readers out there.

Readers or not though, it's a good outlet for me.  A chance for me to hash things out, focus my thoughts, maybe even get creative here and there.

So here's to blogging, the lazy way. The flakey way.  My way, apparently.

Monday, October 7, 2013

why my kids are invited to the birth

My husband and I are planning another home waterbirth for this baby's arrival.  Our past birth experiences have been wonderful.  Four of our five children were born at home, and all five had gentle waterbirths.   We love the freedom of being in our own space, with people who trust the birth process - and yet are trained to deal with problems as they arise, too.  

(photos taken in 2010 are not an accurate reflection of how tidy my bathroom is at present)

It is so nice to be home for all of this - such a comfort to only be able to sleep in my own bed afterward, to know my children are being cared for nearby...and to not have make that horrible drive while in labor! Once we switched to homebirth, we knew we didn't want to go back.

When I first began to consider having my child/children present in the birthing room, I was unsure.  Would it be weird?  Would I scar my son for ever?  Would the things he saw and heard frighten him?  I don't remember an actual decision being made when our second child was born.  Our oldest was not yet three years old, my labor was during the night, and the baby was born in the wee small hours of the morning.   We asked Jeff's parents to wake our toddler up to meet his new brother, and that was that.  

But after that point, I'd really started to consider inviting my children to be present for our births.  When I was expecting baby #3, our oldest was five years old,  and he asked to be there - but once again it was very, very early in the morning, so we let him sleep.

The next time was a little different, though.  When I went into labor with my daughter (aka baby #4), it was the afternoon, and she ended up being born in early evening.  The timing was perfect - I hadn't been laboring all through the night, and right about the time all the excitement died down and the baby dozed off, it was bedtime.  But even better than that?  My boys got to be there.  

Yes, they were there, all lined up beside the tub like stair-steps.  They'd been floating back and forth between the birthing room and the family room, but they were summoned (by the birth team or by my sounds?  I'll never know.) at the end and they were able to see their sister enter the world.

It was beautiful.  And then they went off to bed.  

When my youngest child was born, the two oldest boys were there again (the others were already in bed).  You may remember that they were very attentive to me, and played a role in my support team.  That made a big impression on this mama.

So here are my reasons to inviting the children to attend the birth of the wee one.  In no particular order:

~I've been told that most kids do fine at a birth, as long as they want to be there.  
We would never force our kids to be present while I was laboring.  If they want to be there and it's not a problem for me or the birth team, great.  If they don't, that's completely fine too.

~We've read and talked about the process.  
They understand, even my 3-year-old daughter, that labor and childbirth are hard work.   They get that it can hurt.  I've told them that it helps the mama to make noises, sometimes strange noises.  And we've read books.  Our favorite homebirth book, pictured above, is "Hello Baby" by Jenni Overend.  Told from the youngest child's perspective, it is the story of a family welcoming their fourth child into the world, in their home, in front of a fire on a blustery night.   And it has absolutely beautiful illustrations!

~They've seen me in labor.
In addition to the boys' presence at my last two labors, we have all the kids' births on video.  They have seen them many times.   In fact, they've seen a lot of birth videos; that's what happens when mama is pregnant.  My daughter loves to cuddle up beside me and watch whatever birth videos I'm sobbing my way through.  I've even shown Gabriel a few; he views them with great interest and tenderly points out the "baby!"  That's one of the biggest factors, for me...that the kids have seen and heard what it can be like.  If the things they hear are not scary to them, they'll likely not be fazed to see their mother behaving like that during labor and childbirth.

There are no guarantees here. If it's not working for the kids to be present, or if it's in the very middle of the night, then they may not be there.  I expect to be in the bathroom again, in my tub, and although we have a nice-sized room, it could get a little we'll see.

But if it seems like a good fit, and if they want to be there, my children are welcome to be with me when their new sibling is born.   After all, it is our family...growing.  Beautifully, astoundingly...joyously.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

an autumn tradition

'twas a circus theme this year

"lost" in the corn maze

Friday, September 27, 2013

my birthday do-over

Yesterday I had a birthday do-over, of sorts.

It involved using the new dishes I bought with my birthday money (thanks, Mama, Daddy, Mom and Dad!)...

...a couple games with a newly-minted 8-year-old...

...a delicious Prime Rib dinner...

...and time stepping out with my beautiful family.  Priceless!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

and now he is 8

Our dearest Kyle is turning 8 today!  In honor of the event (though actually he's felt even older than 8 for awhile now...), I thought I'd post his birth story here on the blog.  I promise that I won't do it for every child's birthday, every year, but sometimes it's a sweet way to mark the occasion.

We love you, Kyle!  You are a wonderful kid, smart, loyal, honest, and an amazing big brother.  Have a brilliant birthday!


Kyle Warren
September 26, 2005
5:15 A.M.

On Sunday, my contractions began to feel more like powerful menstrual
cramps than the tightening sensations they had been before By 10 P.M. my husband
and I were pretty certain that this was It. We called our midwife and the
birth team headed right over. We also called our parents. By 11 P.M. or so
the team was assembled, and at around 11:45 my in-laws arrived.

Around 12:15 or so I requested a vaginal exam. The suspense was killing
me! I was 5 cm and 100% effaced, and my midwife said I was far enough along
that I could get into the tub whenever I wanted. (My husband had started filling
it after we made our phone calls at 10.) I relaxed through a few more
contractions, then decided to get in. My husband joined me after a few minutes,
and we labored together through most of the night. We were doing so well
as a unit that the birth team mostly hung out in the other room. Every
30 minutes someone came to check baby's heart tones, both during
contractions and not. During contractions I let my whole body float on
top of the water. It really helped, especially with the imagery of
"floating over a contraction."

I think it was maybe around 3:45 or 4:00 A.M. that the contractions started
to feel pretty overwhelming. Between that and my oh-so-lovely vomiting
episode (thank goodness we were prepared for that, having remembered
what happened in my last labor), my husband & I were pretty sure were hitting
transition. When I would be working through a contraction, I would think
"This is so hard, I don't know if I can do this," but after the
contractions would end, I would remember that was classic transition.

A little while later, I could literally feel myself opening up, and soon
I said "I feel like pushing." My husband was surprised (I never felt the urge my
my last labor) but kept his cool and called the birth team. I decided to
try getting on my knees and leaning my arms and forehead on the edge of
the tub. The pushing stage seemed like an eternity-- so I was shocked later,
when I found out that I only pushed about 25 minutes. Quite a change
from my last labor, where the pushing stage lasted almost 2 hours!!

The time came. We could feel the baby's head. Even though I nearly
panicked a few times, I remembered to use low tones pretty consistently.
Soon the baby's head was born, and then the rest of him came slipping
out too.

We had someone wake our 2 1/2-year-old son, so he could come and meet his
baby brother. He was pretty sleepy, but I'm glad we included him in the

Kyle began nursing like it's what he was born to do with his life(a huge
relief considering the bumpy start I got off to with our first baby) and was ruddy and healthy. He weighed 8 lb 2 oz, and was 21 inches long. He is
such a joy to our family!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

a new start

Aprons and I have a checkered past.  I wear them a lot.  A lot.  Primarily because:  (1) I am an extraordinarily messy cook, and (2) I spend a lot of time working in the kitchen.  So in order to protect my clothes, an apron is definitely in order.  

Plus, I've found that during my clumsy pregnancies, an apron doubles nicely as a bib.

Back to my history with aprons.  I've had some very cute ones in the past, but for unknown reasons, they always seem to end up getting ripped.  Yes, ripped.  I don't even know how it happens.  I just discover holds, tears...rips.  My last apron didn't even last two months before it looked like it ought to be made into rags.


After my last attempt (an adorable red number with white polka dots) I waited awhile, but then I started shopping around again.  I'm a little bit particular about aprons, but I found a few that I really liked and put them on my wishlist.

Lo and behold, I received one as a birthday gift!

Isn't it cute?!

The material is a bit heavier than the aprons I've had in the past, so I have reason to believe that this will be a bit more sturdy, a bit more durable.  Maybe it will stand the test of time...I sure hope so!

So here I am beginning again with another apron, ready to take on a myriad of kitchen projects.  Birthdays, fall goodies, Christmastime.  May the "citrus stripes" protect my wardrobe and bring cheer to those around me!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

a milestone

(photo courtesy of my almost-8-year-old)

Well hello there, 3rd trimester!  So nice to see you!

Monday, September 23, 2013

worst. birthday. ever.

This year, my birthday started off with a great deal of promise.  It was a crisp (almost) autumn day, and the sun was shining.  We didn't have to go anywhere - always a bonus for this homebody - although we were planning to go out for dinner in the evening.

But then, I had a child who was coughing.  Actually there were two of them.  One whose job it was to set the table for breakfast, and he apparently felt so badly that I let him lay on the couch and rest.  The other cough-er was my toddler, who is almost always difficult as I'm prepping breakfast anyway.  And so, I found myself doing extra chores with a fussy toddler on my hip.  Then I noticed that my back was hurting.

But things didn't really get bad until just after lunchtime. Suddenly I was coping with horrible muscle spasms in my back.  This was a nearly paralyzing pain, which rendered me pretty much incapable of doing...anything.  I'll spare you the details, but it wasn't pretty.  In fact, it was all fairly ugly.  I'm pretty sure I put up more of a fuss than I do during labor - first stage, anyway. (*wink*)

Still, it was terrible pain.  I could do very little for myself, and it took Jeff and I a good 20 minutes to figure out how to get me off the just hurt so much.  

And that's how the day went.  Gone were our plans to go out for a celebratory dinner.  My only goal at that point was to avoid or minimize the pain as much as possible.

So obviously, that aspect of my birthday stank.

But there were sweet moments, too.

My oldest son was very concerned.  He stayed very close to me during the afternoon, calling his dad (who was coming home early, but didn't get home for a few hours after my distress began) and helping me as much as he could.  At one point in the afternoon, he asked if he could pray for me.  So precious!

My daughter patted my arm, smiled reassuringly, and said, "It will be okay, Mama.  It will be okay."  I wonder how she might do as a sort of child-doula...?

And then there is my sweet husband.

I cannot even begin to tell all the selfless things he did during my time of back trouble.  He helped me use the bathroom.  He convinced me that moving (off of the couch...onto the bed...) would be a good thing, even if it did hurt to bend myself.  He helped me maneuver in and out of the bathtub, which was torturous.  He served us all meals and took care of the kids.   Time after time, he blew me away.

And that's just Thursday.  There was so much more that he did over the next few days.  He was amazing.  A rock star.

He brought me flowers.  And then moved them to where I was throughout the weekend, so I could enjoy them even while stranded on the couch.

There was a lot of time to read and watch "Call the Midwife" on Netflix.  So there was that....silver linings and all.

But yeah...not the best birthday.  In fact, it may actually be my worst, though the one when I turned 19 was pretty lousy too.

(I haven't even mentioned the fact that I couldn't have a real birthday cake this year, although there are certainly worse things to endure.)

I lived through one of those "worse things," though, and I came out on the other side.  With the grace of God and the love of my family, I survived.

Next year, it will be different.  Lord willing, it will be different!