Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reflections of a laid back Mama

I admit, in most areas, I'm extremely type A. I've always been high strung
In massage school, I hated getting massages because I couldn't relax during them. Having to lie still, trying to relax, it was impossible to not sit an think of all the better, more productive ways I could use my time. Mothering, however, is where I'm surprisingly relaxed and go with the flow.

9 months of a horribly colicky baby didn't phase me. Ok, the car screaming got to me. But not enough to keep me from wanting another before the colic had ended. Breastfeeding challenges happened, and were dealt with. I didn't fret over them or stop breastfeeding, I went with it and waited for things to work themselves out. A lot of nights with my oldest were spent walking her in the sling singing an endless loop of "Jesus Loves Me". I just figured that's what I signed up for when I decided to have a baby and went with it. If Anna-Lee had a cold or cough, we went to the chiropractor and waited it out. I don't think I called the doctor's office once with her except when she got a sinus infection at 10 months.

When Reese was born, I thought I'd need more routine and structure, since we had none. But it kept pretty much the same. Transitioning from one to two was easy for me. It through me for a loop when, at 15 months old, Reese put herself on an early bedtime schedule. Its still a struggle since the rest of us are night owls! But it was still a go with the slow sort of thing.

This year, my laid back approach to parenting has been thrown test after test. I have had some awful nursing struggles, some that made me understand how easy it is for Similac and Enfamil to convince struggling mothers that their products are just as good as breastmilk. I had postpartum anxiety that caused a lot of issues. Funny that something I'm so laid back about leaves me with an anxiety disorder, eh? Then, Joeygirl broke her leg when I was alone with the kids at the park during a high anxiety day. Even then, I simply threw her on my back, walked home, and loaded the kids up to go to the ER (I thought she'd simply hurt her ankle). While she was still in her cast I had to call poison control when she somehow found my bottle of imitrex missing 2 pills (no pills were missing, I forgot I'd taken some on vacation ).

Tonight I almost went high strung. Anna-Lee, who is five, was in bed. Her and Joeygirl go to bed together each night and talk until they crash. Tonight they were also playing around. My husband and I often sleep in our jeans for warmth. Especially me now that it's cold. I must've had change in my pocket because Anna-Lee comes screaming down the hallway that she has a quarter stuck in her throat.

I turned her over, patting her back as hard as I could. She was coughing and screaming. I swept my finger in her mouth to see if I could get it. Nothing. Tried the Heimlich. Nothing. She's still screaming, coughing, gasping, but it seemed like breathing was getting difficult. I couldn't tell if it was her being scared or that she was starting to choke. I grabbed my phone and dialed 911. As they were paging the squad, she coughs up the quarter. I stop them from sending the ambulance and lose it.

I'm shaking, crying...and hugging her like crazy. 15 minutes later she was getting sent back to bed. And as I sit and am readying myself for sleep, I'm so grateful she's ok. Seeing your own mortality is scary; seeing even an ever so brief glimpse of your child's mortality is downright terrifying. And I'm also thankful God has blessed me with such an out of character laid back approach to parenting. I know how high strung me is in an emergency. I freak out and freeze. Anxiety and fear immobilize me and I turn into a blubbering fool. Imagine if I did that when I was alone and faced with a child emergency. Being a laid back mom has allowed me to see my job as a parent with a clear head. Its allowed me to find great joy in the good parts, and tool with the punches in the bad times in a way I haven't been able to do with anything else.

Not that I don't get frustrated or lose my cool. I do. But far less than with anything else. We're all going to worry about our kids. Its what mothers do. But I wish I could tell moms to relax. Its not rocket science. Without medical need, how many wet or dirty diapers your baby has, how often they nurse, or how regimented their schedules are doesn't matter. Babies eat when hungry or thirsty. They sleep when tired, and don't sleep when overly tired. There's nothing wrong with helping them sleep better...but some kids are awful sleepers. And its ok. They'll work it out in time. If you're freaking and stressing it doesn't help you or them. A relaxed mama makes it so much easier for both of you.

So breathe. Its ok if you're not perfect. None of us are. And its okay to have a baby that's up a million times a night, who nurses more than what textbooks say they should...even if this is your baby, they're still a "good" baby (I hate when people ask if L is a good baby, by the way. WTF is a bad baby?!?). Relax. Take a deep breath. Do some yoga, read the book of your choice, light a candle, say a prayer, maybe down a shot. Whatever works
Just know you'll be ok. And don't forget to remember to slow down. If you're so tightly wound its too easy to miss all the awesome things that kids bring to your life everyday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My sweet Joeygirl. This was taken last fall. I was pregnant and we were with a friend downtown playing. This picture just captures her goofy wonderful side. Reese means enthusiastic. We chose the right name. Next kid will be Serenity or Tranquility or something like that. She lives with passion and vibrancy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Advocacy is not condescending.

By now, most of you have heard that the makers of Similac have recalled many of their containers of powdered baby formula because it contained beetle parts that were making babies sick. This has caused a series of condescending remarks from breastfeeding supporters over various social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Let me be clear; being thankful you breastfeed and are not affected is NOT condescending. I'm strictly referring to things like saying "that's what you get when you give your kid crap from a can" or insinuating that parents brought this on themselves. No, they didn't.

To them I say, shut up and show some respect! Yes, the company is awful. They give out unwanted samples timed to coincide with major growth spurts to undermine breastfeeding. They violate the WHO code at every turn. But, it isn't them who is most affected by this recall. Its the babies who use their formula and the parents of those babies. Who have, by choice or necessity, chosen a different way to feed their infants. And now they find out that choice could make their baby sick. Some of them are finding out the formula they have can't be used and now can't figure out what how they are going to afford food for their babies before the company begins dolling out refunds.

And all you can do is make jokes about how your breastmilk is bug free? These families are hurt by this recall. Some may already feel guilty that they couldn't breastfeed and had to use formula. Do you really think making them feel worse supports breastfeeding? Nobody is worried more about this recall than these parents. So let's kick them while they're down, shall we?

Yes, breastmilk will never be recalled. Yes, its best for a baby to be exclusively fed. Its also best for every family to have a home of their own, be independently wealthy, and to have a smaller carbon footprint. Best, unfortunately, doesn't always happen. Instead of taking the "I'm better than you because I breastfeed my kid," route let's lobby for more women to donate their breastmilk to milk banks. If that happened, providing baby's who aren't breastfed with donor milk wouldn't be cost prohibitive. Let's educate women on overcoming basic nursing problems so formula isn't so appealing in times of trouble. Work to make formula the 4th choice is should be (breastfeeding from mom, pumped milk from mom, donor breastmilk, formula) instead of the second.

But, before we can do any of that and be taken seriously, we have to stop acting like we're the catty cliques in high school. We're mothers and women. We're powerful. Our voices have weight to them. Let's use them for the greater good, shall we?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Autumnal Bliss, or something like that...

Autumn is fast approaching. The best time of year, at least in our family! Cooler weather means we get to bring out the hoodies. The favorite weather is when we can comfortably wear a hoodie, jeans...and flip flops. The air is warm, but with a nice crispness to it. September to November is our busy time. One of the best things about homeschooling (for us) is that we can plan our fall activities and travels without worrying about the hassle of pulling A-L out of school.

I found an ad on Craigslist for organic apples from a local farm. Bruised ones for making applesauce and cider are only $3 a bushel. I plan on getting at least a bushel of those and a bushel of non bruised ones for making pies, drying into apple chips, etc. There will be lots of apple-y goodness for us this fall!

At the end of the month is River City Roundup. I love going and letting the kids see the farm animals, play in the kids area, etc. And I love all the cooking demonstrations, crafting displays...and seeing the animals. Every year someone is selling lab puppies. And every year I have to remind myself that I don't really care for labs. Because I do care for puppies. This year, however, I'm hoping someone is there showing Silkie chickens. And looking to sell them after the show. Because I want a Silkie so bad. Cute little puffballs! And hubby doesn't care about the chickens because they are the easiest pets ever.

Then comes mine and hubbys anniversary. The end of September is ten years since we began dating. The beginning of October is seven years of marriage. Our celebrations will not be together, however. He's going to a 49ers game at the end of this month with his brother and cousins. I'm going with my little sister to Colorado to a Hanson concert at the beginning of October. Together we'll have dinner and take a long drive to nowhere. Its been our favorite thing to do for 10 years, why change it now?

October. Lots of pumpkin carving, costume planning/making, backyard bonfires, walks outside, playing in leaves, and going for drives. We soak up as many autumn days as we can. Since we took a long camping trip in the spring, we won't be taking one this fall. I plan to borrow a tent from a friend and have some backyard campouts. Which we can do I n fall and not get eaten to death by bugs!

I'm working on getting my laptop adapter ordered. So expect more posts on our autumn adventures complete with pictures! First up will be adventures in canning!

Monday, August 30, 2010

"Bad Mom" Confessions

1. I loathe Dora the Explorer. Dora is banned in our house. My oldest is very aware of this, and has apologized for watching it at other's houses (which I don't care about, so long as I don't have to watch it). I don't have issues with teaching kids, or kids tv in general. But I do take issues with people yelling as their normal speaking voice. Billy Mays as well as the entire cast of Jersey Shore grate the same nerves within me as Dora. Plus, my mother ran a home daycare. The half hour or so of TV time was generally reserved for Dora or Blues Clues. I got played out on these shows long before I had the desire to be a parent. Other shows I don't allow include SpongeBob, Yo Gabba Gabba (we listen and dance to real music, thanks), Angelina Ballerina, Max and Ruby, and the vaccination episode of Sid the Science Kid.

2. I don't like that certain food brands, books, and experts are trying to convince and encourage me to hide the healthy benefits of food to my kids. We are not close to being a super healthy household. But I'm not trying to hide the benefits of healthy foods OR the pitfalls of junk food. If I always hide veggies in other foods, how are my kids supposed to know they love them? If I make yummy chocolate brownies and hide that they are full of healthy zuchinni, they go into the world only knowing they like brownies. Completely oblivious that they also like a healthy, good for them vegetable. Be honest! Offer different presentations of foods kids aren't crazy about, but don't lie about their presence. My oldest has proclaimed her hatred of broccoli for a year or so now, but loves broccoli soup. Knowing the soup has broccoli gives her a push to try it in other ways.

3. I don't buy into the idea of pushing learning on kids. Stimulate your baby's mind with these DVDs! Teach your newborn to read! If you don't, how will they get the early acceptance to Yale before their 10th birthday? Maybe they won't. And maybe they won't want to. We are definitely closer to unschooling than prep school on the education spectrum. We try to help the kids learn by fostering their own learning goals and interests. I've heard people say that kids won't learn without structure and an adult telling them what to learn and showing them how. Maybe for some kids that's true. But like most things, learning isn't a one size fits all thing. My 5 year old loves letters. She knows how to write all of the letters (and asked to learn how to write without pressure from us), and regularly sits with a notebook asking us to spell things so she can learn to write words. She asks what words in books, magazines, and signs are. We tell her, and she works on sounding them out and memorizing them. She is going to attend homeschool classes at the zoo because she's asked to learn more about animals. Expanding on her natural desire to learn has worked well for us, and I'm not embarrassed to say that we haven't gotten any acceptance letters yet, and my 5 month old is illiterate.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Music and Pictures and Midwives, oh my!

This past week, I took my Lucy to her second concert. Her first was a Casting Crowns show at 2 weeks old. This was a heavy metal festival that I took my little sister to. It was 4 bands, and we were there 6 hours (4 hrs of music). All outdoors. Now at the indoor concert we used earplugs and had a folded receiving blanket around her ears. She was also was in the Ergo, which added a couple layers of a strong canvas over her ears as well. Well, for this outdoor concert I didn't do any of that. We were outside, and chose a spot on the lawn that wasn't close to the stage and was to the side of the speakers to allow for sound dispersal. Frankly, the Hanson concert I had attended (without baby) earlier in the month was much, much louder than this metal show was due to the sound distribution and our location on the grounds.

I did my research before taking a baby to a concert. My oldest went to a show just shy of 2 months. We always make sure if we are in an enclosed location that proper ear protection is used. My own mother suffers from hearing loss, so its not something I am cavalier about. I do not feel after the research that I've done that I am putting my kids through any kind of danger.

So, you can imagine my surprise when my little sister, Lucy, and I were accosted at this show. We were on a quilt on the lawn and using the quilt as needed to block the sun from Lucy (same as we would've been doing in the backyard at home had we not been at the show...it was a nice day after a week of hellacious heat indexes). An older woman started yelling at me, saying I had no business bringing a child there (she was there with her own, albeit preteen, child), and that a mother needed to learn to make sacrifices and not be so selfish as to harm their child for their own pleasure. Wow. I calmly explained it would be more harmful to leave my child away from my lactating breasts and that I have three happy, healthy, thriving children so I think I'm doing just fine raising them as I see fit. Visually unsatisfied with my lack of emotional response, she huffed off angrily. My little sister asked why I didn't get angry AT the woman, because I was visibly upset after she walked off.

I explained to her an important lesson. One that the lady, and many need to know. Some people will ALWAYS need to belittle others to boost their own ego. They need to point out the flaws of others in order to overlook their own insecurities. Perhaps she was having a bad day and trying to cut a seemingly young, new mother down was going to be her easy fix to get her jollies and feel better. But, the lesson is this: be confident in yourself and do what you know is right for you and yours, and those people can't get to you. They can try, and they will try. And yes, it upsets me when they do simply because I don't like being exposed to rudeness, ignorance, and immaturity. But as long as you are 100% ready to stand by your choices, its best to not let those people ruffle your feathers. It gives them what they want and encourages them to spread their toxicity to others. Make the cycle stop with you. Maybe that lady simply moved on and was mean to someone else. But maybe, just maybe, not getting a rise out of me made her think before attacking someone else. I hope it did.


Lately, the need for creative expression has become more important to me. I haven't really done anything creative since my oldest was born some 5 years ago. This is a lifetime for me. Before that I played piano, journaled (not online, but pen to paper), took pictures, acted a little, sang in chior, etc. I had been using massage therapy as a creative outlet. But my wrist issues had that on the backburner as well. I was stagnating. This pent up creative energy was threatening to explode out of me like a volcano bubbling beneath Earth's surface.

I bought a $1 composition notebook. I've written 3 short poems and a few lines of stream of consciousness writing. All of it fit on one page. But it calmed the bubbling lava within me. Then, I busted our my camera. Shooting candids of the kids. Playing with focus, aperture, and cropping. Its made me feel renewed. I'm currently doing a photo shoot for my little sister. We got some amazing nature shots today, and will be heading downtown to do some in an urban setting later this week. Its great to have a creative outlet I am passionate about and that comes naturally to me.


Speaking of passions; I've decided its time to actively persue a midwifery education. Its time. I've looked at my options. I am vehemently uninterested in persuing a degree in nurse midwifery. There are amazing CNMs out there, and we need more great ones. But I'm not supposed to be one of them. I'm still figuring out my personal feelings on licensure for non-nurse midwives. I can see good and bad in both options. That being said we don't have a lot of education options to begin with, and less where I live, an area currently unfriendly to DEMs and C/LPMs. Of the distance options, there were two that I could realistically consider, given the financial and travel obligations. I'm still in the process of deciding for sure, but am currently leaning towards a program in Michigan.

This isn't my only option. Another local 'birthy' mama who I feel honored to call a friend is using self directed learning to work toward practicing as a DEM. I have so much respect for her. I know the discipline self teaching takes. And I just don't have that in me to give right now. I need the structure and guidance because otherwise I become too easily overwhelmed and wind up never making forward progress.

Because of the fact that neither of these schools participate in financial aid programs, I will be paying out of pocket. and working full-time in order to do so. Its a sacrifice, but one I feel compelled to make. Women need options for providers who will give them, their bodies, and their babies the respect they deserve during such a vulnerable, miraculous time in their lives. Especially women in our area. I feel excited and honored and humbled knowing that in just a few years I may be that option for some of these women.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Homeschooling By the Seat of Our Pants

This summer, like last, was spent debating whether or not we would enroll Anna-Lee in our local public school. In the end we kept her home, but didn't really do any official homeschooling. We watched a ton of PBS shows, she played on her Fisher Price Computer Cool School, and we practiced capital letter writing and letter/number recognition. But we weren't particularly consistent or structured. This was, in large part, due to me being miserable and pregnant.

So this year we were faced with the same dilemma. Anna-Lee is a smart kid. She has amazing potential. But I was feeling a lot of outward pressure to send her to public school. To give myself a break. To get her the speech therapy she needs. After all, I had both of the kindergarten teachers when I went to school, so wouldn't this be the best year to give public school a try?

I thought Kelton felt this way. Mostly because of his lack of opinion! He's the strong, silent type and it isn't always a good thing. Last night, after going through the motions of getting ready to enroll her, I asked Kelton if he felt as bad about the decision as I was feeling. To my utter surprise, he was!

So we are homeschooling! We have decided to not go with a formal curriculum. We have more of the add-on discs for her computer, and will be doing lots of activities on it with her. We also plan on utilizing our zoo's homeschool classes, going to the children's museum, etc. Our goals for the year are to get her writing upper and lowercase letters (and using them in the correct places), learning phonics and reading, and really work on numbers and counting. This is an area she has demonstrated a weakness. I don't think these goals are particularly lofty or unrealistic, nor are they so attainable as to leave her (or us!) bored and unchallenged.

I'll be posting more about our adventures in homeschooling as the year progresses. Right now I'm just excited a decision has been made and set into motion!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Breastfeeding Woes

I have been breastfeeding since Anna-Lee was born on June 28, 2005. Through two full term pregnancies. I tandem nursed for six months after Reese was born and for two months after Lucy was born. I've been through pump incompatibility resulting in recurrent plugged ducts, an 8 month battle with thrush (that caused a 1lb weight loss in Reese), and the normal pains of nursing while pregnant. None of these things ever made me think of stopping breastfeeding.

However, I'm in the midst of the most draining string of nursing troubles. Troubles that make me see why giving up is so tempting to so many moms. It started July 4th. I had mastitis. No big deal. It was on the left side, which is the side I rarely have problems with. But my immune system was weak, I'd had surgery 13 days before. I took garlic and felt better in a few days. A week and a half later, I had some gallbladder sttacks. They lasted a week. During that time I could hardly eat, which tanked my milk supply. So I was nursing a ton to get it back up. I got a plugged duct on the right side which caused another round of mastitis and a milk bleb. Which causes the duct behind it to keep plugging. It'll keep releasing then reforming. Even with taking lecithin, nursing on demand, heating packs, etc. We saw a breastfeeding doctor last week and the bleb had went away but returned last night.

I am getting so discouraged. I'm doing all the right things and none of it seems to be working. This is the first time I can see formula as tempting. Me, who has nursed two kids into toddlerhood. I won't go the formula route. But I'm considering giving up nursing on the right side. The pain is awful. Even worse is the relief I get when the bleb goes away, the duct unplugs, and all is well for a few days only to wake up with it starting all over again. I'm calling the doctor again tomorrow. And, if she thinks it will help, I will yet again make the 60 mile one way trip to see her. I am not giving up on breastfeeding. Not yet. I admit, if Lucy were older than 4 months, I would probably give it more consideration. Then again, breastfeeding hasn't been optional for our family since a few weeks after Anna-Lee was born. And my stubborn streak is a wide one. So if we were to give up, it would only be after one hell of a fight.

This battle does make me a lot more understanding of women who DO give up when faced with challenges. I'm lucky to be staying home right now and to have a supportive partner. If I were dealing with a demanding job, regular pumping, a husband who didn't share my strong opinions on breastfeeding importance, and a tribe of mamas who have helped make breastfeeding my norm, I probably wouldn't have nursed the older girls as long as I did or continue to fight through these blebs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Getting beneath the surface

It's pretty fair to say that our lives have been pretty chicken-centric as of late. So, it makes sense that when trying to put my battle with ppa into words, the images coming to mind have to do with eggs.

Broken, cracked shells. An egg shell doesn't shatter. The shell breaks and cracks, while being held together by a thin, transparent membrane. My outer shell is cracking, too. My ability to hide my reality was forced upon me my.whole life. I was the only one not surprised by my parents' divorce. Because they hid the problems and acted happy around everyone else. I was told without words that I was expected to help protect the facade of the perfect nuclear family.

So I still hide problems. I feel like showing imperfections is weakness and makes me an imposition on others. I try to act like things are great.

Great. What a lie that word is! How many times do we say that we're doing great when the truth couldn't he further from that? I know I'm not the only one who is like this.

And now, with this facade, this shell, cracking away there's exposed vulnerability. This is new to me. Me, the girl who finished small talk while paying the hairdresser seconds after finding out her Pa had died. Who doesn't break in front of anyone. Who's pulled together, at least marginally so.

This affects me in ways I'm not used to. Which brings us to the inside of the egg. Two words that fit an egg and my nerves: fried and scrambled.

I am constantly on the verge of tears. Stress of any kind renders me incapable of handling even daily life. And I can't take excess noise. The baby crying, the girls playing loudly, dogs barking, tv. All can cause me to mentally shut down. Because I can't cope if there's noise around me. I start to get why they put people in padded rooms. Because one sounds really nice about now.

Most of my days are spent outside with the kids (where noise doesn't bother me as much) or in the house sending them to play in a different room. This doesn't make me proud, and I feel guilty for constantly shooing them away. I keep saying soon I'll feel better. But when is soon?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, and Family Planning

I've been battling postpartum anxiety again...which gives way to postpartum depression. I had this after R was born, too. Then I was in denial it was happening. I stopped taking the Zoloft I'd been prescribed, and acted like I was fine.

Except I wasn't. When R was 5 months old we moved into our house. Same town I've always lived in. I, the woman who never locks a door, would be awake all night worrying. It was just me and the girls home, K works overnight. Every tiny sound was lurking danger. If I dared fall asleep, my dreams were nightmares of people breaking in and doing horrible things to me and my children. So, I stayed up.

At the time, I had a part-time job. A job I loved, actually, full of people I loved seeing everyday. Every day I felt sane, that is. I called in more than anyone should. Not trying to slack off, but my anxiety was so bad at times that I had huge panic attacks just trying to get out of bed. I still feel bad about that.

This time I was trying to avoid PPD/A. I spend time outside for vitamin d. I'm taking fish oil and encapsulated placenta. It didn't work. I am not as bad as I was after R's birth. Which surprises me because I have family issues that I figured would be a catalyst for any anxiety issues.

This time, though, I feel like my kids are suffering more. I yell. A lot. They play in their toyroom without me a lot. because sometimes I just can't cope with the incessant talking and noise. I'm just not an engaged parent, and I get mat at them far more than they deserve. Apologies are an everyday occurrence around here.

Which has me questioning if we should consider more kids. I have said since we decided to have more than one that I want four kids. And K has agreed to four, but I know he feels 3 is a better number for us. I really don't feel done. But is it fair to my children to put them through this postpartum Hell again? I don't know. But the only kind of birth control that has ever worked for me isn't safe while breastfeeding...and my sleep isnt conducive to charting. Which has me at a loss.

I hate the idea of birth control (for me! No issues with it for anyone else...) anyway. I very much believe there is a plan for us all, so if I'm supposed to have another child, it'll happen. So what's the point? This is a very poor way of expressing what I'm trying to say, so I'll stop while I'm (somewhat) ahead.

I'm also considering looking for part-time work again. I would have to get a job where I could work on K's days off and days K2 (aka my non-bio little sister) would watch the girls. And find a bottle L will take. She didn't do too bad taking some from K2 on our trip, but has refused any K has tried to give her. I'm thinking a little extra money and a few hours a week away from the house would be good for me. In the past I've wanted jobs close to home. Now I'm liking the idea of a reasonable but decent commute. Just for some time alone with my.thoughts. Or the radio. Without interruption.

Again, I feel like I'm left with decisions to make, but no clue where to start.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer is here.

Summer has meant heat, humidity, mosquito bites, trips to the zoo, walks, and The Park. We are boycotting the park by our house. Why, you ask? Well one week Reese fell off the ladder going up the slide and broke her leg. Of course this had happened when we walked there, and Reese hadn't rode in a stroller, trike, or wagon. We got home by her riding on my back in the Ergo. Thank God for babywearing!

The next week my husband sprained his wrist in the same park after a fall from his bike. Yes, this park is not a favorite place of ours. Reese just got her cast off two weeks ago, and the park will be avoided for another month or two until its completely healed.

Another big event happened two weeks ago. I had surgery to correct the nerve problems in my wrist. The decision to have this surgery is one that has been stewed over for months. But the pain was quickly and progressively getting worse. Obviously within 2 weeks its hard to tell how well it worked. But, besides incision pain, it seems to be a tiny sliver of what it once was. I'm praying it continues to heal well and that I wind up with a complete reversal of symptoms.

Now the summer is just about family. We spend time outside with the dogs and chickens (NOT at the same time!). We go to the zoo. We watch movies. It's very relaxing. Which is good. Anna-Lee turned 5 this summer and has decided to attend kindergarten. I want to enjoy every last minute with her before I lose her for the better part of the day. So bittersweet.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Our Journey in Urban Homesteading begins...

I have often said I am a walking contradiction. This is true in many aspects of life, including where I want to live. I'm a farm girl trapped in a city girl's life. I want to live in the country...but I also want to be close to everything. A bustling metropolis isn't for me, but a smaller one is. I dream of having a small hobby farm one day, though. Living sustainably off of my own land.

In that mindset, I've teamed up with my reluctant but accomodating husband to create an urban homestead. The first project? Chickens! I've loved chickens since I was a kid and my great uncle let me play with baby chicks on his farm. And who can resist a fluffy chickie?

Turns out that urban chickens are gaining popularity. I was surprised to find entire web communities dedicated to backyard chickens. Last year many of the moms in our local babywearing group began discussing keeping chickens. I was interested, but looked on with envy, still dreaming.

Fast forward a year. After lots of convincing, begging, and pleading (yep, I'm an only child! lol) we decided to get chickens. Kelton and I agreed on 2. No fancy ones; he wanted normal chickens. I took my very excited 4 year old, and headed to the farm store. We got 2 Rhode Island Reds at our local farm store. Fluffy little chicks that took up residence in a cardboard box in our living room. One is still there. Sadly, Nugget was a rooster, and he's now living with my family in Oklahoma.

Twinkle is about 7 weeks old and almost completely covered in beautiful auburn feathers. She loves to sit with us, and go out in the yard after the dogs are in to scratch and search for bugs, leaves, and any other goodies she can find.

Now, one chicken doesn't do well on its own. Kelton tried telling me the rabbit and chicken could he great companions. But I wanted chickens for pets...and eggs. First eggs, but all animals are pets for me. I have too big a soft spot for critters. So I was on the search for more chicks. I was going to order 3 from online, but couldn't get the breeds I wanted within the next 2 weeks. And I am impatient. I decided to look for older pullets who were already laying or close to it.

I found 3 white leghorn hens on Craigslist about an hour from us. Already laying an egg a day each. At $10 a hen, it was the same price as ordering chicks...but no waiting for eggs. I drove down to get them yesterday. Ugly birds, but we got our first egg when we got home...waiting for us in the cardboard box.

Kelton is still working on the amazing coop he's building, so the hens are living in a doghouse in the shed right now. They are pretty skittish. And dirty! They were kept in a pretty old coop, and given the ridiculously long length of their nails, they weren't let out to scratch. I gave two of the three baths tonight.

They seemed to like their baths. First you dunk the hen in a container with water and castile soap and borax. Then a second bath in water (not knowing if they had any mites or fleas, I followed recommendations and added a splash of bleach...next time I'll use tto, but I'm out right now). Finally, a rinse bath in a water/vinegar mix. I was expecting a mess, but the skittish birds seemed calmed by the bath. They weren't "madder than an old, wet hen" at all! After the bath they got taken inside and blow dried. Their feathers were very matted, and this fluffed them up nicely. Those nails got trimmed, as did their wings. They are kind of pretty now! And the two bathed hens seem much calmer and accepting of people then the one that's still needing bathed. I hope they become friendly and fun birds. And call, so we can let them free range when we're outside. They seems quiet, which is great since we're outlaw chicken keepers!

I think our 4 chickens will be a great jumping off point to teach our girls about sustainable living and responsibility. Anna-Lee already has her pink egg basket to collect eggs in. Along with hang drying our clothes, and our six tomato plants we need to transplant into the ground, our little mini farm is coming along great! I can't wait to make a tomato omlet knowing exactly where it came from- our own backyard!

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I love making goals for myself. It gives me something to look forward to, and something to keep me driven. I love making lists with my goals. So that's what this post is about.

Short-term goals (within 3 months):
-Lose 20 pounds
-Become debt free, except mortgage and student loans
-Make morning devotionals with the girls (and hopefully DH) a habit
-Give up the evil soda in exchange for 1 morning coffee and then water and teas
-Add more local food to our diets (hopefully including eggs from the two chicks currently residing in my living room!)
-Make a workable budget
-Learn to knit
-Find a schedule/routine that works for the girls and I during the day

Six month goals:
-Learn to ride a bike
-Get a new kitchen table
-Take a nice family vacation (God willing, in the camper we're looking at!)
-Spend more time with my mom
-Find a home church we all like, and attend regularly

One year goals:
-Read the entire bible
-Have my wrist issues taken care of, by surgery or other means
-Make a concrete plan for massage school
-Run a 5k race
-Start saving for and purchase a zigo leader bicycle (since Lucy will be big enough to ride at this point)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The birth of Lucy Navene

Prodromal labor set in at the end of February, at 36 weeks pregnant. I'd have hours of hard contractions that would pitter out to nothing. I wasn't too concerned. My other pregnancies lasted 36 and 37 weeks. Nobody expected me to go past 38 weeks.

38 weeks came and went. And as irrational as it sounds, it was at this point where I started to feel like I'm guessing other women do when they go past 40 weeks. I know that worries about personal topics and childcare for the big girls wasn't helping my body relax and focus on birthing.

39 weeks passed. I tried acupuncture. Nothing but the continued prodromal labor. I was becoming severely sleep deprived. Contractions started after the big girls were in bed, and did let me sleep until just a couple hours before they woke up. I was cranky. The Clary Sage oil I was using helps balance emotions, but mine were strongly leaning to the "raging psycho" side.

We come to 39 weeks 5 days. I freak out yelling at the girls for being too loud, then break into hysterical sobbing for having done so. I scared Kelton. I was exhausted, physically and mentally. I'd stopped answering the phone days before, and pretty much limited all communication to Facebook. Because its easy to ignore.

I went back to the chiropractor and he did acupuncture again. This time with 12 points instead of 6. When I got home, I took a nap. Woke up for a bath. I wasn't angry, but was still very weepy. I told Kelton if the baby wasn't here by Friday I was getting induced or committed one. And I didn't care which.

I took some tylenol pm and the big girls and I headed to bed at 9:30. I woke at midnight and got up to eat. I decided to vacuum while I was up. Since the contractions I'd had when I woke up stopped, I went to bed at 3 fully convinced that I would be pregnant forever. I prayed and journaled my worries to get them out.

At 7:48 am I woke up with a strong, painful contraction. The big girls were asleep, so I got up and took a bath. The contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, and the bath didn't relax them. They were getting progressively stronger, but I was able to breathe through them easily.

At just before 8:30, Kelton got home from work. I told him I thought this was it and he called the midwife. I had him get the birth ball and rocked on it. Contractions were getting stronger and I began to vocalize through them.

The midwife checked my dialation when she arrived. Even though I know it means nothing as far as labor goes, I wanted to know where I was. 4cm. This made me happy because getting to 4cm seems to be the hardest part for me.

I had some more contractions while the midwife set things up in the bathroom by the tub. Reese had woken up, so Kelton was tending to her. The midwife's assistant arrived and got me some gatorade. After this, her and Kelton traded off tending to the girls in Anna-Lee's room.

I had to pee, and had 2 contractions while doing so. My vocalizations were different, and I could feel my cervix dialating during contractions. When I was done, the midwife asked to check me again. 5cm. I thought at least 45 minutes had passed, so I was disappointed. The midwife had her assistant get the tub ready with more hot water.

I got in the tub. I started to get contractions on top of one another. The midwife was reassuring me, putting wet washcloths on my neck and forehead. Kelton was also by the tub, and I know during one contraction I had him do really strong counter pressure. After the 3 hours of strong back labor with Reese, he knew to do it much harder than most people would think a girl my size could handle. I felt her turn anterior. And then I felt pushy. I asked to be checked, because I pushed when I wasn't ready to push with Reese, and it made recovery harder. I was 7cm! A lot of progress in very little time. Maybe 10 minutes.

Shortly after, I started screaming that I couldn't do it. And even as the words were coming out of my mouth, I felt relief. This was my standard transition moment. With Anna-Lee, I asked for an epidural. With Reese I said screw an unassisted homebirth, call the ambulance. This time I just said I was done.

Contractions slowed. They were less intense, and I groaned during them, pushing. In between the midwife put cool water on the back of my neck and Kelton gave me sips of gatorade. I talked to Lucy, telling her we could do this, that she was doing a good job, etc. As I pushed, I visualized her coming down the birth canal.

After 2 or 3 pushes, I felt the "Ring of Fire." And almost started laughing, as the Johnny Cash song began playing in my mind. I could feel her head with my hand. I kept waiting to feel the POP! of my water breaking. It was something I distinctly remembered from Reese's birth; that sound. I didn't hear it. Her head was out after that contraction. I could hear the midwife's assistant telling the girls the baby was almost here, and heard them in the hall giggling. It was a rejuvenating sound.

Another contraction came. I reach down while pushing and caught her as she slid into my hands. I tried to pull her up to me, but had difficulty. The midwife pointed to the cord around her neck. We both reach down and unlooped it. It was also under her arm and between her legs!

She was here! I couldn't believe it. After almost 40 weeks, I had my baby. The pregnancy was difficult. Whiplash, morning sickness, chronic sinus infections, 2 cases of the flu, a stomach virus,spd, and prodromal labor. I'd enjoyed the other pregnancies. I'd survived this one.

Lucy latched on pretty quickly, and her placenta came out quickly without effort. We got out of the tub and the midwife checked me. A small tear, nothing requiring repairs. Lucy was checked out and was, of course, perfectly fine. We settled in on the couch for rest and snuggles. Kelton got me a protein bar and beef jerky. That, along with a shot of floradix made me feel better.

She was born at 9:58 am on March 23. 6 pounds 13 ounces and 18.5 inches.