Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Josiah's Birth Story

Birth Story

I'm writing this out now, while the kids are with Grandma and Jeff and I are still at the birthing center. I think there is more time for this now than there will be later!

So many things worked out as far as timing for this birth. Of course, since my other two were two weeks late, I was not expecting this baby for another month. We had been needing another vehicle to handle three carseats, but needed to wait for tax returns, bonus etc. Once the funds came in, several delays happened. First rotavirus made its rounds at our house. Someone was sick for almost two weeks' time, and Jeff had it for a week, the same week he was required to work 12-hour days (which he DID while sick!). Then he left for a weeklong design conference in Texas. That week was tiring, with no break from the kids and my worsening back pain, plus a busy teaching schedule and a trip to Greenville for a prenatal appointment.

Jeff's return on Thursday was a big relief. I had been feeling tired, not sleeping well, and emotional. Friday Jeff went out and found a wonderful, God-sent deal on a van. Saturday we looked forward to our first "normal" day in a while, with Jeff home and nothing big on the schedule. Friday night, however, I had Braxton Hicks on and off and didn't sleep well. They were not painful, but were continuous. I was sure it was false labor and didn't take them seriously. I taught a piano lesson Saturday morning, still having regular Braxton Hicks. Since they were not going away, I decided to start packing our bags when we returned home from errands that afternoon. I had everything packed by 4:00 and decided to call Amy and see what she thought. She said since they were regular it might mean something, and to slow down, pay attention to how they felt, and call back in an hour. I had a strong contraction that forced me to stop and breathe right before I called her. She said to come on to Greenville since we were 2 hours away. I decided to cut Jeff's hair first as we waited on a load of laundry to dry. (I'm still amazed we actually remembered everything we needed to bring. I had not finished assembling my labor bag ahead of time because I thought I had another month!)

We got the kids packed into our new van and had a comfortable drive up..though through a lightning storm...dropped the kids off with their grandma and arrived at the birthing center around 9:45 pm. I was still feeling fine and was able to talk through contractions. They were strong enough to make me "fuzz out" mentally (Jeff thought I was spacey, but he was still chatting about work stuff, etc., convinced we had weeks to go) but were not what I'd call painful.

Amy checked me and I was 6 centimeters already, with no pain! That amazed me and gave me a positive outlook on this labor (which I had frankly been just not stoked about.) She also checked the baby's position and found his head down, body aligned on the left side, but neck turned facing my stomach (partially posterior). However, since I'd already birthed a baby who was totally posterior with no complications, she was not really concerned. I was finding comfort in the fact that he was early, and therefore probably smaller. In fact, at my last prenatal I had measured 35 weeks instead of 38.

My contractions were just not painful, still. Strong, but not hurting. Jeff and I got settled in to our gorgeously remodeled bed-and-breakfast style birthing suite (how spoiled we are! It is truly gorgeous), I used Hibiclens for my Group B Strep (an antiseptic; alternative to antibiotics and IV) and got a hot shower. Then I sat on the birthing ball and tried to sleep a bit between contractions. They were 7-10 minutes apart. I didn't feel the need for any labor support, so Jeff got some sleep. I was honestly a little bored, walking around totally relaxed in between contractions. I did my makeup because I never have time to take my time and do that with the kids around. (I'm one of those road hazards who applies eye liner at the stop light.) I enjoyed peeking into the other rooms (all remodeled since we had our last here). I kept hoping labor would stay this painless. I've heard of painless births. Rare, but possible. Around 1:30 am Amy peeked in and asked if I'd been able to sleep. I told her no, and that things seemed to be staying the same. She asked me why I wasn't lying on the bed…maybe I could sleep some there. Actually contractions were much more painful on the bed. She suggested that "painful" might mean "progress" so maybe I should try a few contractions on the bed if I'd like to speed things up. I tried it and wow, contractions were much more powerful. By the third, my water broke. I was still feeling fine in between contractions. I woke Jeff and he got Amy. The water breaking was a relief, but after that contractions were stronger and longer. I stayed on the bed on my side and held Jeff's hand during contractions. He said he was amazed I was still making jokes occasionally (Jeff was trying to coach me on my breathing and I just told him "Your breath stinks"). He remembered transition with Lydia and how agonizing that was, and this was nothing like that. I started shaking with cold and excitement (and transition as I guessed later) and a blanket fresh from the dryer felt wonderful. A few contractions later I felt like pushing. I was remembering the effort it took to get Lydia out and was ready to take the bull by the horns and get this over with. I was still on my side and not wanting to legs felt tight and tense…so Amy and Jeff moved me on my back and I started a powerful push that Jeff said would have had him out in seconds. Amy had to slow me down and have me do short pushes. I was just so ready to get him out at that point. I was vocalizing a lot until Amy said to hush so I wouldn't hurt my voice. Josiah's head had turned anterior some time in the labor, so he came out with the correct presentation. I got his head out, then he stuck out one elbow which Amy looped out (still telling me to slow down) and then he was born. I kind of enjoyed the pushing (though it was painful) because I could tell it was actually working, whereas at Lydia's birth it felt I would never be able to push her out because of her posterior position and large size. Once he was born we saw a knot in his umbilical cord. He started making small whimpering noises as soon as he was born. He is a quiet, calm, easy little guy, and nursed well right away. He was born on the first day of spring at 2:56 a.m., under a full moon, and weighed 7 lbs 15 oz, 20.5 inches long.
This third labor was such a surprise as to the timing and the type of labor. Early pains were easy to deal with, and pushing was quick and effective. (I did have pretty bad afterbirth pains this time.) I don't know exactly what causes labor to be painful or not painful, but you just never know what you're going to get until you're in the middle of it. This labor was surprisingly easy, and if I'd been more rested and this were my first baby, I'd end up thinking there was not much to birthing babies!
We'll see how I do when Josiah joins the rest of our tribe and I'm home alone with three. Right now, though, I'm feeling pretty optimistic about this baby thing and…dare I say it…thinking about our next…?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Asheville conference

Since I can't get Notes to work on FB with my iPad, I'm back to my neglected blog. Maybe I'll keep up better from now on! I'll at least have a birth story to post soon!
This was Jeff's third year going to the Organic Grower's School, a weekend of educational sessions held in Hendersonville in the past and this year in Asheville. I signed up to attend classes Saturday and Jeff, both days. I need all the help with cooking I can get, so the class on Gourmet Cooking in a Flash was appealing, as well as one on French cooking. I also wanted a general overview of the how and why of Permaculture (sustainable living), so signed up for two classes on that.
Cooking classes first:
Gourmet in a Flash:
To be honest I and my family don't have the sophisticated palates for most of the recipes she made, but here is some of the valuable info I took away:
1. BEST idea: fold a regular-sized piece of printing paper lengthwise. Write your grocery list on one side and your meal names for the week on the other. Beside the meal names, write the recipe book and page where each is found. This way you can tell if an item can be substituted...if you find something on sale, or if you want to just try another side item with it or whatever. Also, you can file away a great recipe week and it'll save you planning when you're busy.
2. If you need quick lunches for yourself and a couple kids, make rice or another grain every weekend and add toppings to it throughout the week.
3. Look at what you have on hand and google those ingredients to figure out what you can whip up.

French Cooking:
1. BEST idea: think about how many movements it takes you to reach for things you use every day, like salt or pots and pans. It should take you one movement, two at most, to grab these things. Rearrange your kitchen so that you save yourself time. (I moved my knife block and put the salt and pepper a cabinet closer to the stove.)
2. Get a cutting board that is big enough that you don't feel cramped. (Did this today. I was wasting a lot of time trying to keep everything on my tiny el-cheapo plastic one. When our CSA is in season and I'm blanching tons of veggies, this purchase will be so worth it.)
3. Learn to sharpen your knives, and never use the blade side to scrape food off your cutting board. She gave us a quick demo.
4. Dont be afraid to improvise. Look at cookbooks or internet to see what kinds of ingredients go well together. The teacher actually did this right in class. She didn't have tomatoes for the tomato tart so used apples instead. Apples, herbs, garlic and mustard actually made a tasty dish.
5. Choreograph your meals. Which item takes the longest for prep and cook time? Start that first. Know what you're fixing the night before so you can prep. (Soak the beans, chop some veggies.) This is kind of a "duh" thing but if I don't think it through I inevitably get the timing wrong.
6. Don't be afraid to splurge on a few important ingredients...a good cheese, for example. If what you're making does not satisfy your taste buds, you'll eat more of it in an effort to really "taste" something. She cites "Why French Women Don't Get Fat."

1. As seen in the current gas crisis and record prices for food, we need to become less dependent on transportation to get us our food. When we find local solutions, we not only have a more dependable food source but we build community.
2. First grow for yourself, then give away surplus to friends, then figure out a way to get rid of surplus. Don't sell to local stores as they'll buy it from you at wholesale prices and mark it up. Look at grocery store prices, undercut a little to give the consumer a deal, then sell at local stands or markets.
3. Plant berries. These are always the first to go at a market. Larger berries are less work to harvest and fill a container, for the same weight and price.
4. You need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight, preferably from 9-4 when light is the strongest, to have decent yields. Less than that, and you'll still get something, but not much.
5. You can cut down muscadines at waist-level and trellis them so you can reach the grapes. Muscadines are the most nutrient-rich and are the easiest to grow of all grapes. They make good jelly and go for high prices in grocery stores.
6. Use your rain barrel to raise a few tilapia! They are hardy and will eat up mosquito larvae.

Urban Permaculture:
The teacher was redesigning the agriculture department at Clemson. He's a master at placing things in the right spot to perform multiple functions. He showed us several back-yard projects he'd done that created food sources and minimized heating and cooling costs.
1. Close in your porch, and ideally have it a few inches lower than the rest of the house, facing the midday sun. Heat rises and will funnel back into the rest of the house.
2. Create curbs to channel roof run-off into a small fishpond. The initial run-off is dirty but can be caught in a downspout that then closes off and lets the clean water run through. His fishpond reflected light onto his sun porch as well, adding more heat.
3. Curbs (and the wet leaves around them) are great earthworm habitats. You can also "inoculate" some logs for shittake mushrooms. The logs need to stay wet, so place them next to the drain curbs.
4. Dig up some of your lawn and plant food. He actually dug up his ENTIRE lawn, which would not work if you have an HOA or picky neighbors. I would have liked to have seen a more aesthetic approach to this...he was big on practicality and not so much on looks. :)

So that's what I learned this past weekend! I'm glad Jeff talked me into going. He actually was out in the snow Sunday while learning to build a mud brick oven, but that's another story.
When you've been out of a classroom for awhile, it sure is nice to have some information tossed at you again, and for $50 a day it was eminently affordable. :)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Advent Calendar Idea

It's not too late to make a fun advent calendar for the kids. I have a 3-year-old who loves art projects, plus a 17-month-old who doesn't like being left out either. Every morning Benjamin asks me what fun thing we're going to do today. With this calendar and a little brainstorming, I've got an answer for him. The projects I chose had to meet two criteria: 1) very simple and 2) most must be possible with on-hand materials.

The calendar I made is not fancy at all. I used two file folders glued together for a stiff background. Then the kids and I went through old Christmas issues of home & garden magazines. They tore out pictures they thought looked nice, and I cut them out a bit cleaner. Benjamin used the glue stick to put them in place (with some supervision). Then I used cardstock to cut out the number cards. A really cool advent calendar would be interactive and you'd be able to open the cards, but I wasn't that creative. In retrospect I could have done folded number cards with the activity named inside. Ah well. As the days go by I'll cover up each number with a bit of wrapping paper. I hole-punched each card to add yarn (you could use ribbon) to make them look like gift tags. A super-simple advent calendar could be a paper chain with a number on take one off each day.

The crafts:
1. Marshmallow snowman: use a chopstick or stick from the yard. Stick on marshmallows for the body and head. Add toothpick arms and cupcake sprinkle eyes. I used a rubber band for hair to make it a snowgirl. Stick on multiple marshmallows for a snow bug. Add toothpick antennae and arms, and sprinkles for eyes.

2. Window snowflakes: Have the kids color large sheets of tracing paper or regular paper with red and green crayons. (Tracing paper lets more light in from the window). Cut out the snowflakes and let older kids help you tape them to the window. They look surprisingly nice behind a sheer curtain.

3. Paint a wood ornament: Buy a cheap ornament from a craft store like Joann's. Mine were 50 cents each. Let the kids paint them, and hang them from magnets on the fridge. Or you could cut out circles from cardstock and hole punch in some pretty ribbon for a hanger.

4. Handprints wreath: Cut out a wreath shape from cardboard or stiff paper. Let the kids dip their hands in green finger paint and make prints all the way around the circle. Then dip their fingers in red paint so they can make berries. Hang it with ribbon.

5. Ornament and snowflake mobile: Cut out perfect circles by tracing cups of various sizes (older toddlers can help) for ornaments. Let the kids decorate them with crayons or paint, or even glue on scraps of holiday ribbon. Let smaller kids color on a large piece of paper which you will cut up into a snowflake. Hole punch the ornaments and hang them from a coat hanger with yarn. If you're extra crafty you can wind a padded coat hanger around with yarn so it matches your ornaments.

6. Pill bottle snowman: Cover an old pill bottle with glue. Tear apart cotton balls and stick them to the sides. Add a cotton ball on top for a head. Wrap a bit of yarn around the neck for a scarf, glue beads on for buttons, and cut out a little hat from black felt if you feel extra crafty.

7. Sparkly Christmas wreath: This one requires buying some sparkly pipe cleaners, so save it for a time you're going by the craft store anyway. Wrap the pipe cleaners around a circular ring and hang the wreath from the fridge.

8. Bottle cap ornament magnets: Save a couple juice bottle caps and let the kids pick out wrapping paper they like. Cut it out to fit inside the cap and glue it well. Glue a magnet to the back side and stick to the fridge.

9. Q-tip snowflakes: Lay down some wax paper, and get out the Elmer's glue and some Q-tips. Glue the cottony ends together to create snowflakes. Use lots of will dry translucent. These hold together surprisingly well, and you can hang them in a window or make a mobile. Decorate with glitter if you like.

10. Footprint reindeer: Trace your child's foot (with shoes on). Paint it in with brown paint. Then dip their hands in red paint and let them make two "antlers" coming out of the heel part of the shoe print. The toe end can be decorated with a red nose made from tissue paper or a pom pom. Add eyes and nostrils.

11. Christmas cards: Let the kids help you decorate Christmas cards and envelopes for close loved ones with stickers, markers and crayons.

12. Follow the yarn: Use yarn to make a trail to a special treat that you've wrapped up in multiple boxes. It can be as simple as a piece of candy. The multiple boxes make it more exciting and fun.

13. Make treats: Make gingerbread or another Christmas treat with your kids. If you have Christmas cookie cutters they especially love using those and decorating the cookies with sprinkles or candy.

14. Ok....I haven't finished but I"ll keep adding as I think of more!

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I used a very ordinary off-white yarn, nothing special about it. Next time I'll get more creative. For the first time making this sweater, though, I wanted a "skinny" yarn so it would be easy to see if I was getting the pattern right. I really like how it turned out though, and I think Lydia looks cute in it!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lydda Sweater

I've almost finished a crochet sweater for Lydia. This is my first time following a pattern through to completion (almost completion, anyway). I don't like to figure out all the technical language, but this was a simple free pattern on and I'm shocked and pleased that all the dimensions actually look right and the pieces all fit together.
It may be slightly small but we'll see. Can't wait to try it on. Pictures coming.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Room project

Jeff and I have been working on a mural for Benjamin's Big Kid Room. It turned into a lot bigger project than we originally envisioned, but I think it's going to be pretty cool when finished.

Books for 2009

This list is going to be a LOT shorter than last year's list! The pace of life has quickened with two kiddos, so my reading has suffered. Anymore I find crafting to be more relaxing than reading (tired brain I guess!), so that's becoming my way to unwind. I've actually started way more books than I finished. If it doesn't grab my attention right away, sorry, it's a tosser. The vagaries of mothering small children. :) Books I especially enjoyed are marked with an asterisk; books I loved, with two.

1. Finished reading the Bible in a year in late January last year

2. Leading with a Limp: Taking Advantage of Your Most Powerful Weakness by Dan B. Allender

*3. John Newton by Jonathan Aitken

4. Mommy Calls by Tanya Reimer Altman, M.D.

5. Why Johnny Can't Preach by T. David Gordon

*6. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Tim Keller

**7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

**8. A Praying Life by Paul Miller

*9. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson

**10. Conquistador: Hernan Cortes, Montezuma, and the Last Stand of the Aztecs by Buddy Levy

11. Happy Spouse, Happy House by Pat Williams and Ruth Williams

Best book I read this year, in terms of enjoyment: "Conquistador." I've been on a historical narrative kick ever since reading "1776." This book is much in that same vein, with not a boring moment. Cortes was brilliant leader and motivator, an audacious planner, and also a morally flawed man who was aided by circumstance (take the smallpox epidemic among the Aztecs, for example). I can't help but see Providence in this improbable, sometimes disgusting, action-packed story that taught me a lot about human nature. Man without God, or an imperfect understanding of Him, is still an amazing reflection of His God, though tragically so because he is fallen.

Best book, in terms of being helpful to me personally: a toss-up between "A Praying Life" and "Crucial Conversations." Miller's book on prayer dared me into the throne room. I saw myself in his description of reasons we don't pray: unbelief, guilt, wondering if God really wants to hear us anyhow. This book is like a good spring cleaning to get rid of the cobwebs and dust in your prayer life. "Crucial Conversations" was sometimes painful to read, and a lot of the information I was not yet ready to process, but it was self-revealing, and that is always helpful. The most helpful soundbyte I took from the book was "stop and think about the patterns of behavior you're exhibiting in pressured situations. Now take the time to put the brakes on the instant response of anger or blame or whatever it is you jump to, and choose a better response."

That's 2009 in terms of books. :)