Wednesday, November 30, 2011

(Not Really) Wordless Wednesday

Sometimes little things happen that remind me I'm human. It's these things that show me sometimes I just have to laugh and enjoy life.  I'm constantly reminding myself to live in the moment and not focus so much on the result. I try to savor the process. Sometimes this is easier said than done and the universe decides I need an extra reminder.

When I was making decorations the night before L.'s birthday party, I was tired, stressed, excited and anxious for how everything would turn out. I pressed the rubber stamp down a little crooked and ended up with this...
And there you have it. I shouldn't take things so seriously.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Birthday Decorations and Cake (with a super yummy frosting)

Okay, I know this is a little after the fact but at least I'm getting it posted before November ends. Right?

I've had a few requests for pictures of L.'s "horse" themed 2nd birthday party and wanted to share. We really tried to keep it simple. Decorations consisted of pink and brown streamers and balloons, pink and brown table clothes, little horse figurines, and vases full of baby's breath and pink Gerber daisies on the tables. I also made a personalized birthday banner out of construction paper, pink tulle, and a simple rubber stamp with horses on it.

I didn't manage to take pictures before our guests started arriving (I suppose that means I shouldn't cut things so close next year!) but I did my best to take some pictures after the fact. I apologize in advance for the bad, morning after photos. 

Here is a close-up of the birthday banner. It was fairly simple to make. I glued squares of pink and brown construction paper together and then glued a printed letter on top (I used a word program to type out "Happy Birthday L." in the size and font I wanted making sure there was enough space to cut around them after it was printed). I cut of the letters with fancy edged scissors to add a little detail. The I hole-punched each side and tied them together with a little strip of tulle. Just so you know, I totally stole this idea from a friend.
I tried to recreate the table decorations for photos the next morning (I wouldn't go so far as to call them centerpieces) but had a hard time getting the horses away from the birthday girl. The horses spent most of the party galloping around the living room and didn't want to go back on the table. 
This one actually had a few other flowers in with the baby's breath and daisies. My mother-in-law put the flowers together for me. She's wonderful like that. 

Party favors were in brown lunch sacks decorated with a little ribbon and a stamped piece of construction paper. I filled them with fun stuff like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, play dough, and fruit leather...I used a little embossing powder on the stamps to make them stand out a little more (the embossing powder makes the image shiny and slightly raised).
 
The cake and cupcakes were a one bowl chocolate cake. I followed the recipe exactly except for increasing the cocoa powder to 1 cup. The frosting is a Swiss Meringue Buttercream and it's my new favorite frosting. It's really smooth and not too sweet. After frosting the cake and cupcakes I sprinkled them with sparkling sugar and put the little horses on top. I put the larger horse on the cake and four smaller horses on four cupcakes...by the time we ate the cake, more horses had found their way to the cupcakes. I guess horses like cake...
Another special touch (that I didn't get a picture of) were the cups. A friend made little stickers to go on all the cups that said, "2" and "L" and "Happy Birthday L." They were really cute.

I'm no Martha Stewart but I was really happy with how everything turned out. In the end it all looked really nice (again, sorry for the bad photos) and I hardly noticed how badly the pink and brown clashed with our every day, red and yellow, decor!

I'm already starting to think about next year. I was really happy with the party this year but I failed miserably in the sustainability/green party department. Next year perhaps I'll have had time to make cloth banners, tablecloths, and wrapping paper...

P.S. We served fajitas for dinner and had chips with different salsas, guacamole, and hummus for appetizers. And I made chocolate chip cookies. I'm pretty sure L. had more sugar at this party that she's had the rest of her life combined. She definitely had a good time and so did we!

P.P.S. And I almost forgot a picture of L.'s birthday outfit. I have yet to get a picture of the birthday girl in the entire outfit (she wore it to the party but was frequently without crown or boots or both and didn't stop moving for a minute)...I have plans to dress her up another day for photos. Nonetheless, she wore her birthday crown and a cream colored t-shirt (it's hard to see in the photo but it's a picture of a cowboy on a bucking bronco and it says, "This ain't my first rodeo". It seemed appropriate for a second birthday). Her brown skirt had white polka dots and pink ribbon trim. I used the Lazy Days Skirt pattern. And of course she wore her pink boots.
I admit, the entire party was planned around these boots...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Tree

I'm a sick mama today so this post is going to be quick. We got our tree yesterday and decorated it this morning. It was heartwarming to see J. showing L. how to put the ornaments on the tree. This year is a little different than last year. Instead of keeping L. from taking all the ornaments off the tree we have to worry about her unwrapping every present she finds. We put the tree in the dining room so it would be less of a temptation...but I think they're going to have to stay in our closet until Christmas Day.
I promise our dining room was already painted red. I didn't repaint for the holidays...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Weekend!

We're having a relaxing family day today. Decorating our Christmas tree, hanging up speakers in the living room, listening to our favorite records, basking in the sunshine, swinging with friends.
I hope you're having a lovely weekend too!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cleaning (Or Not Cleaning)

I took a day off from cleaning yesterday. I was tired and figured it wouldn't hurt.

Today, our living room looks like it was hit by a tornado. So does the kitchen. We weren't home most of the day. I haven't figured out where all the dirty dishes came from.

I tried cleaning up this morning but I gave up after a few hours. The tornado (who is a two year old I happen to know pretty well) was following me around undoing everything I did.

I manged to get the birthday decorations down. I put up our Christmas stockings.

It took four hours.

The tornado is currently asleep. In another few minutes I might just be able to work up enough energy to give it another try.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Favorite Thing about Christmas...

It's November 25th. The day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. A day of many names.

It's the day I realize I have to start thinking seriously about Christmas. Not about what I want for Christmas, but about what we're going to make and give to others for Christmas.

I've always loved Christmas. When I was a little girl I covered my parent's house in paper chains, and popcorn chains, and cranberry chains, icicles made out of beads, and reindeer made out of clothes pins. I taped paper snowflakes to every window in our house and most of the walls. I hung up every Christmas card we received. I loved making gifts and cards. I loved the excuse to bake cookies and drink hot chocolate. The year we cut down our own Christmas tree and drank hot spiced apple cider at the Christmas tree farm...I'll never forget it.

Still, no matter how much I love Christmas, I never manage to get started before Thanksgiving. I think trying to fit all the crafting and gift making into one month makes it all that more exciting.

This year is going to be amazing. It's going to be the best yet. Why?

Because I have a two year to help me paint hand print reindeer and frost cookies. She's old enough to be an active participant in Christmas this year.

This means the first thing on my list is to fill our advent calendar with projects and activities.

I can hardly wait to start making our own family traditions. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

What would Thanksgiving be without a list of things I'm thankful for?

Here is my list for today:

I'm thankful for a toddler who slept in until 8:15am for the first time ever.
I'm thankful she woke up smiling.
I'm thankful for the sunshine and the crisp fall breeze.
I'm thankful for a loving and supportive partner.
I'm thankful he's such an incredible father.
I'm thankful for fabulous in-laws who make me feel at home so far away from my own family.
I'm thankful for our good health, J's stable job, a rough over our heads, and food in our bellies.

Happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday

This rehabilitated Barred Owl was released at a park near our home this afternoon. We were lucky enough to witness the event and take some pictures.
L. said, "Owl-bird fly away over there?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And the "Award" Goes To...

It will never cease to amaze me that people read (and even like) some of what I write. I'm honestly surprised every time someone leaves me a nice comment.

Consequently, I was surprised when Nicole over at By Nicole left me a comment bestowing upon me the Liebster Blog award.
 
It's not the kind of award that comes with a trophy or a fancy gala...just some sweet and loving recognition from a fellow blogger filled with good intentions. 

While this award feels a little like a blog version of a chain letter, I really appreciate Nicole's kind words (you can find them here) and I'm going to play along and pay it forward. Thanksgiving week feels like a good time to do just that.

Here are my current top 5 blogs (in no particular order) with under 200 subscribers*:

The Hipster Homemaker: She's a doula, a hipster, and a homemaker (I suppose you got most of that from the blog title). She's honest, straightforward, intelligent and often hilarious. She says things out loud that I only think inside my head. She has nerve and I like that. I found her through NaBloPoMo. 

Journey Mama: Her blog says she "cultivates joy" and I believe it. Her blog is filled with peace and I bask in it every time I have a chance to read her writing. And she lives in India which is just awesome. I wanted to visit India since I was a little girl and I live vicariously through people raising their kids abroad. She was another NaBloPoMo find.

Elisa Loves: Her blog has a wonderful balance of serenity and reality. I'd like to point out that even though she has a great picture of a felt crown with an "L" on it on her blog, I didn't find her blog until after I finished L.'s birthday crown. It's a total coincidence. I also just found out from one of her recent posts that she wanted to visit India as a child. Great minds think alike. I also have her to thank for my clean dishes. Because of her I started putting vinegar in the rinse cycle of the dishwasher and my dishes aren't scummy anymore.

Bumfuzzle: This blog has been a guilty pleasure of mine for some time. They live aboard a sailboat in Mexico (coincidentally, in the same town where J. and I were sailing when we found out we were pregnant with L.) and plan to cruise with their two small children. Every time I read this blog I'm reminded that our sailing dreams are not so crazy after all. And like I said above, I live vicariously through people raising their children abroad.

thismummaslife: This blog is a recent find. It's is honest, tranquil, colorful, and creative. She seems like a very thoughtful mother living each day intentionally. I find that inspiring...and I'm going to have to try her recipe for Kale Chips.    

*In writing this post I've realized that the majority of the blogs I read regularly have more than 200 subscribers or I don't know how many they have. It's entirely possible that some of the blogs listed above don't fit within the confines of this award. I'm okay with that because I like these blogs and wanted to share them you.

Just for the record, here are the Liebster Award rules as I understand them:
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 blogs with under 200 followers and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. (Like I said, I may not have followed this one).
3. Post the Award on your blog.
4. Enjoy the love from your internet friends.

Finally, to the wonderful blogs I have listed above, nothing bad will happen if you don't have time to (or don't choose to) award your own Liebster awards. I just wanted to pass on the love and share your awesomeness with my readers.

And, thanks to all of you out there who take the time to read what I write. I appreciate you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Judgmental Parenting (I'm a total hypocrite and here's my confession)

Sometimes I feel like parenting is a competitive sport. Yes, I called it a sport. Sometimes I feel like we're all in competition to raise the best child be the best parent. Parents can be judgmental and competitive. Obviously that's a huge generalization. But that's how I feel at times. 

And I'm a hypocrite. Let's just get that out of the way. I judge just as much as anyone else. I wish I didn't but I do. I'll be the first to admit that I watch Toddler and Tiaras when I'm feeling like a bad mom. It makes me feel better because at least I'm not that kind of mom...not that there is one kind of that mom.
This is L.'s first birthday crown. I thought it was an appropriate photo for this post.
Every single person has an image of that mom in her head and I bet every single one of them is different. Which is why it's so frustrating when people are judgmental of other people's parenting style or preferences.

I've sat down to write this post several times and so far I haven't managed to finish it. I think this is due in part to the fact that I get anxious because I know I'm a hypocrite. Once I publish this post, people will read it and then everyone will know I'm a hypocrite. Consequently, I keep editing and editing and editing. But the fact remains I'll never write this post in such a way that everyone agrees with me.

I honestly try not to be a hypocrite. I try so hard to be sincere. 

I try REALLY hard to keep my thoughts to myself and to banish the negative thoughts completely. I remind myself that I don't have all the answers. I haven't walked in their shoes. I don't know the whole story. I'm not necessarily doing any better. I struggle too. We all have our bad days.

But it's always there. That pride in our personal decisions that taint conversations.

My child has never had any processed sugar.

I've never used disposable diapers.

We eat all organic.

We co-sleep with our six children.

We would never co-sleep, it's not safe.


My child started sleeping through the night when she was two months old. 

We don't have a television.

We have DVD players in our car. It's the only way to travel.

My daughter has never been out of my eye sight.


We don't have the word "no" at our house. 

We'd never tolerate
that behavior.

Whenever I hear people say things like this, or when I read it in an article or book, I start justifying our decisions in my head.

L. didn't really have any processed sugar until she was a year old. She doesn't eat it all the time. But I want her to know balance. I don't have to make things more desirable by outlawing them. I don't want to promote extreme eating habits...everything in moderation right?

We used cloth diapers except when we were traveling and a few times when her eczema was really bad and we had to use this ointment...

I buy as much organic as I can. I try to make sure L. doesn't get any milk or cheese with growth hormones.

She only watches educational programming and no commercials.

I hate that this is my immediate response. I shouldn't have to justify our decisions to anyone. And I don't want anyone to take our decisions personally. If I do something in a different way than you it doesn't mean I think your way is wrong. It's just not right for us.

For example, I try to feed L. unprocessed food because I think it's good for her. It also makes it easier to figure out what caused the problem if she has a reaction. If you give your kids candy, I'm not going to assume you try to feed your child unhealthy food all the time. I'm not going to assume you think candy is healthy food. I'm not going to assume you only feed your children candy.

I assume you want what is best for your child.

What you think is best may be different from what I think is best.

But I'm human. I get frustrated when people act like their decisions make them better than me. If you want to have lots of kids, don't look down on me because we only want to have two. Don't tell me I'm failing to give my daughter consequences because I held her and let her cry when she threw a tantrum. Not getting what she wanted was consequence enough for a just-turned-two-year-old in my opinion.

In return I'll try not to act like I think you're carelessly endangering your child's life by turning their car seat forward facing before they're two years old. I'll assume you didn't know the guidelines had changed...and I'll probably casually mention the new guidelines just in case you hadn't heard about them. 

I told you I'm a hypocrite.

I desperately want people to be supportive of one another. I want people to help each other instead of shaking their heads in disgust when someone handles a situation differently.

Who is to say my way is better than yours? All the parenting books in the world certainly don't know which way is right. I've read more than two parenting books that contradict each other. Which one is right? Are any of them right?

Of course one of them is right. Obviously the parenting book I like and use as a reference is the best one. You should read it.

Just joking.

But no really, it's a great book. Let me know if you want the title.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Sad Day for Our Winter Garden

I've been waiting to post a garden update. I planned to take a picture this weekend and write about all the zucchini we harvested last week. Our tomato plant is just covered in blossoms and little green tomatoes. The colors in our rainbow chard are becoming brighter as it gets bigger, our broccoli plants are going strong.
 
But things don't always go according to plan. A few days ago we noticed our zucchini plant looked a little droopy. I thought it was because we missed watering a day. Yesterday we realized lack of water wasn't the problem. Our zucchini and our yellow crooked neck squash were infested with squash vine borers.

Let me just say that grubs are disgusting--seeing grubs in the vine of my wonderful zucchini plant made me gag a little. It made my skin crawl. Ugh. So gross.

We discovered the grubs just minutes before our guests arrived for the birthday party yesterday and we didn't have time to do anything about them. The plants themselves still looked okay...a little wilted but not dead yet. I crossed my fingers that none of our guests would glimpse the nauseating grubs. I don't think anyone saw them.

This was our garden on October 31, the day of my last update
 
This morning I when to check on the plants. I'd read there wasn't much to be done once the grubs were in the vine. They were right. This morning my zucchini and yellow squash plants were dead. Wilted, shriveled, dead.
Sad day.

I'm pretty sure this is what happened to my squash plants last spring also. I never identified the problem. Now I know. Next time around we'll focus on prevention. Next time will be better. I'm learning as I go.

On the plus side, you can see how much the chard, tomato, and broccoli plants have grown!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Birthday Party Success

Let me start by saying that planning birthday parties stresses me out. Just the how/why birthday parties stress me out could be another post entirely. I get stressed about the stuff that really doesn't matter. I worry way too much about every little thing.

Today we hosted L.'s second birthday party. It was a lot of work. I had my stressed out moments while we were preparing. We worked up until the last minute to get everything ready...

And it all worked out.

We rolled with it. We ate dinner a little later than planned but it was fine. The food was yummy. I was really happy with the decorations. We had a great time with our friends and family. People we love from different parts of our lives came together and it was fantastic. L. had so much fun and she looked adorable in her birthday outfit. Everyone said the cupcakes were delicious.

It was a wonderful day!

Friday, November 18, 2011

{this moment}

I've been wanting to do a {this moment} post for a long time.
{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -via soulemama.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Overcoming Fear: Our Birth Story, Part 4 (The Final Installment!)

When I was preparing for our daughter's birth I read every birth story I could get my hands on. It helped me overcome my fear of the unknown and accept the fact that every birth is different. It helped me really internalize the idea of relaxing and trusting my body and my instincts.

The problem was that all the stories ended as soon as the baby was born. I knew I would need some recovery time and probably bed rest. I knew I would be sore. But, in reality, I had no idea what to expect. So, when I sat down to write our birth story nearly two years ago, I included the first few hours after L.'s birth. It doesn't cover my entire recovery period but I feel it is an important part of our birth story.

As I adjusted to my newly not-pregnant body and remembered how to breathe deeply in lungs not being squished by a baby, I began to process my daughter's birth and accept my new role as mother. It was emotionally overwhelming to realize I had conquered my fears and accomplished something amazing. I had birthed our baby. I had the birth I wanted. She was born without pain medication or pitocin, in the water, and into my husbands hands.

Continued from Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3...

When our midwife told me I was bleeding and needed to get out of the tub, I stood up and started to climb out. They put a towel around my shoulders and helped me to the bed. I still wasn't feeling any pain but vaguely remember seeing blood running down my legs.

Once I was lying down on the bed the midwives gave me a pitocin injection to help my uterus contract and stop the bleeding. J. cut the umbilical cord even though it hadn't stopped pulsing. The cord was short and tight and putting pressure on my uterus. They massaged my belly and a few moments later I felt my body pass the placenta. I was still bleeding. L. came into the world very quickly with her elbow by her face and I had torn badly. I also had several burst blood vessels and another small tear. Our midwife was amazing. She went right to work, stitching me up and stopping the bleeding. I was barely aware of what she was doing. She gave me a local anesthetic shot but I didn't feel it. She told J. the basics of what she was doing but was very focused and did not talk much. Her assistant helped me get L. to latch on and nurse.

After a little while I heard J. ask our midwife if everything was going to be okay. I heard her said that everything was going to be fine. She spent an hour and twenty minutes cleaning me up. I had a third degree tear and three burst blood vessels that all required attention. The other little tear did not require stitches. The pitocin had taken care of the hemorrhaging. I was pretty out of it throughout everything. I knew that L. was nursing and that I was worried she was cold. I was a little cold. Conveniently, I was still attached to the fluids I had been receiving during labor and someone had placed blankets on me and L. We were skin to skin and L. was wearing a little hat.

When our midwife was done, they helped me put on a pajama top and lie down more comfortably to rest. L. and I slept for what seemed like hours. At some point my mother brought us breakfast (eggs and hashbrowns and bacon and sausage). I think that must have been before our nap. When I woke up the midwives helped me sit up. I felt dizzy and short of breath. They explained that this was a normal feeling as my lungs adjusted to having so much room to expand. It was really overwhelming and I started crying. I had expected to cry when L. was born but I hadn't. It took me a while to process that we actually had a baby and it really struck me when I sat up and could breathe--my body felt different. I wasn't pregnant anymore, but it didn't feel like my body either.

They helped me to the bathroom but I couldn't pee. My bladder was really full from all the fluids I had been receiving and emptying it would help my uterus contract further. I felt like I had forgotten how to pee. I was really unsteady on my feet and was helped back to bed. They ended up using a catheter to empty my bladder. I was able to rest a little longer. At some point they examined L, weighed and measured her, and gave her a Vitamin K injection. We had decided ahead of time we wanted to do the injection and were glad we had. She barely noticed. She had some bruising on her head from the birthing process (it was gone by the next morning) but she was a healthy, alert, and relaxed baby.

The midwives stayed with us until I woke up again and was able to pee and have a bowel movement on my own.

Due to the extent of the tearing and the resulting stitches, I was told to avoid stairs for a minimum of two weeks. This obviously ruled out the possibility of going home to the boat with stairs to the boat cockpit and a ladder into the cabin (and the dock ramp is worse than stairs at low tide) . We could stay at the birth center for twenty-four hours. J. and I had already been planning to spend the next few days at a hotel and we quickly made plans to move up to my parents house for a few additional weeks.

And with all that, not necessarily in that order, L. was a few hours old, J. and I were tired, and we settled in for our first night as parents of a newborn baby girl.


I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Happy Birthday to my sweet girl who is two years old today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Overcoming Fear: Our Birth Story, Part 3

If you read Part 1 and Part 2 of our birth story, you're probably wondering when I actually get around to having the baby. This is the post. Fair warning if you're don't like graphic details--this post maybe a little TMI!

I woke up at 3:15am having strong contractions. There was no way I could sleep through them. I got out of bed and went to the restroom. The caster oil had definitely done the trick. The acupuncturist was right--I needed a good bowel movement to really get things going.

J. got up and stayed with me in the restroom for the next 4 hours. It was the only place I was comfortable. Periodically I got up and tried to go back to the bed or sit on the birthing ball. Half the time I didn't even make it out of the bathroom before I turned around. The toilet was the only place I could relax. Due to the caster oil I think I was afraid of making a mess if spent any amount of time anywhere else.

J. set me up with a pillow behind my back so I could relax between contractions. I was cold so he got me a blanket and socks and a towel for the floor under my feet. He was there with me every second, helping me through each contraction. I chanted a long, low "Om" each time one came, concentrating on keeping my tone as low as possible. I knew it would help me open up. I was uncomfortable but not in pain. I kept reminding myself that it didn't hurt and that each contraction was bringing our baby closer to us.

Our midwives came in to check my vitals and listen to the baby periodically and once to give me another dose of antibiotics and fluids. Other than that they left us to ourselves. It was a wonderful, intimate experience and I'm glad that J. and I had it all to ourselves. I know I was as relaxed and comfortable as I was because it was just the two of us focusing on bringing our baby into the world.

About 7:30am I told J. I wanted the midwives to check me. At that moment they came in and asked if I wanted to be checked. Their timing was impeccable. I remember telling J. that if they checked me and I was only at 4cm I would cry. Not because I was in pain (mind you I wasn't terribly comfortable), but because I was tired and wanted to be done. I wanted to have this baby.

It took me a little while to get to the bed so the midwives could check me. It was so uncomfortable to lie down. At that point I understood why women in hospitals who have to stay in bed or on their back get epidurals. If I had to stay in bed for the whole of labor, I think I would have wanted an epidural too. It was the only time I thought about pain medications--not once did it cross my mind that I wanted to take pain killers myself, I was just glad I didn't have to stay on my back long. I didn't feel pain, just discomfort. But I knew each time I had a contraction that it would pass and each one was bringing our baby closer to us and I focused on that.

Once I was able to lie down the midwives told me I was a solid 7cm. That was motivating. I knew we were close. They went to wake up my mom who had been sleeping in the other room. They asked me if I wanted to get in the pool. I said yes. They started getting everything ready and I headed back to the bathroom. As soon as the tub was filled I got in as quickly as I could. It was immediate relief. It felt so good. I had a few contractions in the water and felt like I had to go to the bathroom again.

Back on the toilet my whole body convulsed. I felt myself arch back a little as my belly tensed and hardened into a little mountain. The midwife saw me and said, "Honey, I don't think you have to go to the bathroom, I think you want to push." Once she said that and I could identify the convulsing feeling as the urge to push, I knew what I had to do. I got back in the pool. Again the water brought instant relief. The contractions were getting stronger. It was harder to keep my Oms low and long. I was almost screaming. I knew I was in transition and this was as uncomfortable as it would get. I knew pushing would be a relief.

I kept telling myself it didn't hurt and that each contraction was bringing our baby closer to us. As the contractions became more intense, the breaks in between contractions were a little longer. I waited for each contraction to come, to see what it would bring. I consciously made myself relax. I had another contraction like the last one on the toilet. I knew my body was starting to push. I reminded myself that pushing would feel like I was constipated and focused all my energy low in my body. I focused on trying to poop...that way I knew I would be focusing my energy in the right place and not worrying about whether or not I would go to the bathroom in the water. I knew I wouldn't because the caster oil had eliminated everything during my four hours on the toilet.
[I found out 6 months later when I watched our birth video that I did poo a little...the midwives scooped it right out with a little net...I warned you this post was a little TMI!]

I asked J. to get in the pool with me. The midwives had all of their equipment set up. Our midwives quietly gave J. instructions. After I had pushed several times one of them suggested I reach down and see if I could feel the baby. I could. I could feel the head just an inch inside me. I knew we were close. I briefly thought of my friend who spent six hours pushing. I told myself I was going to get the baby out--soon. I was going to open up and our baby was going to be born. I kept repeating that in my head over and over--I'm going to get huge, our baby is getting closer, this doesn't hurt, we're going to meet our baby.

J. rubbed my hips in between contractions. I told him in between each one that I was going to push our baby out, that our baby was getting closer, that the next one would bring us our baby. I told myself I could do it. J. kept telling me how good I was doing. The midwives continued to give J. instructions. On my third to last push I knew we were having a girl. I told myself that she was coming out on the next push. I repeated that for two more pushes and she came out. I could feel her when her head was out of my body and then as her body slipped into the water. I don't remember feeling pain, just relief and joy. J. caught her and put her on my chest. She was covered in thick, white vernix and snuggled into me. We stayed like that for a minute, all three of us close together. The midwives reminded us to check if we had a boy or a girl. We had a girl--I had to look twice to believe it was true.

It took a little coaxing for her to start crying. Our midwives suctioned her mouth and she perked up quickly. At that point the midwives told me that I was bleeding a little and needed to get out of the tub. I couldn't feel anything. All I knew was that I was holding our baby and I was done pushing, done laboring, done contracting. We had done it--we had our baby. 


Continued in part 4

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Overcoming Fear: Our Birth Story, Part 2

This is the continuation of yesterday's post. I laugh when I read what I wrote almost two years ago. Following L.'s birth I definitely wanted to write down every little detail. I remember my anguish over deciding when to go to the birth center and my fear of waiting too long and being stuck in the car in the rain in the middle of the night...


Twelve hours since our water broke and we have a list of ways to induce labor. First item on the list--take a walk.

J. and I bundled up and set out for the capitol building. It was still raining like crazy but the wind had died down since the night. It was a bit chilly but we were dressed warm and the walk was fairly pleasant. As we were walking up the hill at the park we turned and looked back at the lake. We saw a huge Bald Eagle dive-bombing a flock of little ducks. Each time he dived at them they all dove under the water.

We walked through the capitol grounds and back downtown, stopping at our favorite consignment store to look at baby clothes. We got home and took a shower to warm up. I was still having infrequent contractions but nothing regular or progressive.

We started item number two on our labor induction list--nipple stimulation. Then we tried clitoral stimulation. And by now you're probably asking yourself, "why don't they just have sex? Isn't sex the easiest way to induce labor?" Well, you'll remember that my bag of waters was already broken, ruling out sex...

We took a nap and continued with our list. We went to see the midwives and they hooked me up to a breast pump for more intense nipple stimulation and monitored the baby for a while. We passed our non-stress test. We went for another walk. We did more breast-pump stimulation. We went to see an acupuncturist (she was amazing). She helped me get past the adrenaline I was feeling during contractions (each contraction felt like a little panic attack). She also said my digestive system was tired--and that this was why I hadn't had much of an appetite lately. She said I would need to have a good bowel movement before the baby came. She poked me with some needles and I went to the bathroom (in the restroom, not her office!). I felt much stronger and relaxed when we left her office. My contractions were getting more regular.

We called the midwives and told them we were ready to go to the birth center. We knew neither of us would relax enough to have the baby until we were there. It was raining hard and the highway was scheduled to close at 11pm. We wanted to get there before the highway closed...we didn't want to take a longer route.

We stopped and picked up some caster oil--our last resort to really get labor going. We stopped at the boat to say goodbye to our dog. We called my parents. My mom would meet us at the birth center and my dad would come hang out with Otis on the boat. We made it to the birth center about 10:45pm. My contractions were a little stronger and between 6 and 12 minutes apart.

When we got to the birth center our midwives were there. They had dimmed the lights in our room and lit candles. J. helped me take a warm shower and put on pajamas. We lay down in bed and I got hooked up to an IV. Because it had been more than 24 hours since my water broke we decided to do antibiotics to eliminate the risk of infection for me and the baby. They also gave me some fluids as I was slightly dehydrated. I had a lovely chocolate-caster oil milkshake and went to sleep, waiting for the caster oil to work it's magic.
Read more in parts one, three, and four.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Overcoming Fear: Our Birth Story, Part 1

Today's NaBloPoMo prompt is about facing and overcoming fears. When I read the prompt, I wasn't sure what to write about. I considered taking the easy way out and writing about the zucchini we harvested from our garden last week. I went back and forth between before settling on the obvious choice.

My daughter's birthday is this week and I've been rereading her birth story. I wrote it in four parts about a week after she was born. In retrospect, I realize I was scared. I had researched everything I could get my hands on, I'd read birth stories, I had complete faith in our midwives and my husband, but I was scared. Even though I felt prepared and ready for labor, I was terrified to let go and let my body do what it needed to do.

I was scared of not being pregnant anymore. I was scared of having the responsibility for a little human being who was in my arms instead of my belly. This wasn't a conscious fear but it was there. Once I recognized that fear and faced it, when I realized I had to surge ahead regardless, there was no turning back.

This is Part 1 of our birth story:

Sunday, November 15th, 8pm. The evening before my first official day of maternity leave.

I was relaxing on the settee when I had a very small, crampy contraction. It felt different than the Braxton-Hicks contractions I'd been having. I sat up and felt warm water rushing out of me.

I turned to J. and said, "babe, I think my water broke."

He said, "are you sure?"

I said I was pretty sure because I couldn't think of anything else that would result in so much fluid and asked him what it was supposed to smell like when your water breaks (it was the only question I could remember from the little check-list of how to tell).

J. responded, "well, last time my water broke..."

This made me laugh, which just made the water pour out even faster, which made me laugh harder, which made the water pour out faster, and you get the picture. I called our midwives and told them what happened. They said that labor usually starts spontaneously within twelve hours of the water breaking and that we should just try to get some sleep.

Instead of going straight to bed we went to storage (remember we were living on a small sailboat at the time and had a storage room for stuff we didn't need immediately at hand on the boat) and got the last few items we needed to take the birth center. Storage closed at 9pm and we didn't want to risk going into labor over night and not being able to get what we needed. We filled the car of up with gas and went home to rest. All the while I was leaking water and trying to contain my excitement. J. and I had a good laugh over the fact that it was dark, rainy, windy, and a super low tide. We'd always joked that the baby would come at low tide and in bad weather...

I had a few more contractions between 3 and 4am but nothing very strong, nothing progressive, and nothing that stuck around. Nonetheless, we got a few hours sleep and woke to find that we were still not having regular contractions. It had been twelve hours since my water broke and we consulted with the midwives. Then we set out to get labor started.


To be continued...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Her Name is Destiny

We bought a sailboat today.

Don't be alarmed. We didn't just run out and buy a boat because it struck our fancy over breakfast. It's been in the works for a while. But today was the day. We handed over the money and signed the paperwork this morning. She's in our driveway right now. I can look out the garage window and see our boat sitting there.

It's ours. It's crazy. It hasn't quite sunk into my brain yet.

We had another boat before we moved last year. It was our first boat and the first home we'd owned ourselves. We lived aboard for almost two years. It was where I spent my entire pregnancy and L.'s first three months. I felt like a little part of me died inside when we sold her (the boat, not our daughter, obviously).

J. and I were heartsick. It hurt to let her go. But we didn't have a choice. We couldn't bring her with us. We told ourselves we would get another boat someday but neither of us knew when we would be able to.

As sad as I was to see that boat go, I think I was really worried that we would get stuck. Neither of us had any intention of living on land again yet there we were--moving half way across the country and into a house. We were very firmly on land. I was worried we would forget our sailing dreams and what it was like to wake up to the peaceful calm of a marina. I was worried we'd get caught up in our new lives and our plans would just get pushed back indefinitely until they faded away.

It took me a while to get used to a bed the didn't move. Eventually I adjusted to the noises of the air conditioner and the neighborhood. I missed the quiet lapping of the water against the hull of the boat and twilight on the dock with friends.   

I felt better when we started racing again. We found a boat to crew on and were able to get out on the water a little. Periodically we'd get online and look at boats. (We go around and around about what would be the best boat for long distance cruising with a family.) I would read the blogs of families living aboard with children and envy the time their little ones spend on the water. I still do.

Finally, a few months ago J. proposed we buy another boat. Not our dream boat but a smaller boat. All the stars in the universe had aligned just right and it was actually a possibility. We wanted something big enough to handle the bay but small enough to trailer. Something with a cabin.  It didn't take us long to decide what we wanted and we started our search.

About a month ago we found the Catalina 22 we were looking for. And now she's ours.

Her name is Destiny.

I think it's the perfect name for our new boat. We couldn't have thought of a better one ourselves. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Felt Birthday Crown (an almost tutorial)

A few months ago I decided to make L. a felt birthday crown. I really wanted something special she could wear every year. I wanted it to be simple and beautiful and I wanted to make it myself.

So, I started looking around online for guidance. I found lots of examples and a few instructions. Some were more complicated than others. See The Crafty Chicka and Frontier Dreams for the tutorials that inspired me. In the end I took the information I could use and messed around until I came up with something I liked and could sew myself.

I was a little worried at first because I could only find 8x10 pieces of felt. I thought I was going to somehow have to sew them together to make pieces long enough to go around L.'s head. That seemed hard. I didn't want to make things harder than they needed to be.

After several trips to multiple stores I found out the store down the street sold felt on bolts like all the other fabric. I bought a 1/4 yard each of brown and pink and it was way more than enough. I figured it wouldn't hurt to have extra on hand in case I needed to start over at some point. I got a few 8x10 pieces in other colors for the decorations.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and needed options.

Here's what I had to work with:
Felt
Fabric Glue
Ribbon
Sewing machine
Scissors/pinking shears
Old buttons

Here's the part where I tell you what I did. I don't think I'm experienced enough to call this a tutorial. It's probably not detailed enough and I don't have enough pictures (I used a friend's machine as mine is on the fritz and I left my camera at home) and it's definitely not very organized. I have a feeling it won't make much sense to anyone but me. That said, it should be enough to remind myself of what I did should I ever need to do it again.

Who knows, maybe it will help you too. I hope so. Definitely check out the tutorials I linked to above. 

Anyhow. First, I made a pattern by folding a long piece of paper in half and drawing what I wanted to crown to look like. I measured the paper again L.'s head first so I had an idea what size to make it. I folded the paper in half so each side would be approximately the same. I used all straight lines because they're easier to sew than curved ones. Then I cut it out. I had a pattern.
Second, I cut out my top layer of felt using the pattern. Then I started messing around with what I actually wanted to put on the crown. I did this all at home before I went to my friend's house to use her machine. This is what it looked like during the design phase:
Once I had a general idea what I wanted (this went through many, many variations) and I had a sewing machine in front of me, I started sewing everything on to the front (top) layer of felt. Well, I sewed on everything with straight lines. I knew I couldn't sew nicely around the edges of the flowers so I didn't. I glued them on and sewed the button in the middle to hold everything together. I sewed the ribbon on also. Everything that was going to be on the crown was on the crown. Then I trimmed the top edge with pinking shears to give it a little more detail.

Third, I made the fabric casing for the elastic. I'd held my pattern up to L.'s head and knew how long the elastic needed to be. I cut a piece of fabric that was twice as long and twice as wide as the elastic (with seam allowance too). The I folded the right sides together and sewed along the edge to make a tube. I turned it right side out and put in the elastic. I sewed the elastic to the fabric at each end of the tube (thank you Frontier Dreams for that tip!). That way I didn't have to worry about losing my elastic.

Fourth, I sewed the front piece of felt to the back piece. I hadn't cut the back piece at all (it was just a big rectangle because I didn't want to worry about lining up all the edges. I knew I was going to trim them later. So, I sewed the bottom together and sewed the top together. I left the sides open. After I trimmed the top, bottom, and sides, I pinned the elastic in place (in between the front and back layers) and sewed up the sides.

That's that. Here's my final product. 
 

I'm really happy with how it turned out. I'm can't wait for L. to wear it on her special day.

And I feel really crafty. I like feeling crafty!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Three Wishes on 11/11/11

I want to warn you up front that this is going to be a lame post. It's just past 7pm and I feel like it's 11pm. I have nothing left. I'm tired and I still have stuff to do before bed. I'm sure you do too.

Today is 11/11/11.

It's Veteran's Day. It's corduroy day. It's Nigel Tufnel day. It's the 11th day of NaBloPoMo.

Happy all of those days to everyone out there.

Today's prompt was to make three wishes. Here are my wishes. Remember, you had fair warning this was going to be lame.

1) I wish I fall into my bed in the very near future.
2) I wish I have a wonderful dreamless, uninterrupted sleep tonight.
3) I wish the entire next week goes smoothly. All of it. It's going to be a doozy.

Not only are they lame wishes, they are completely self-serving. I'm can live with that tonight.

Okay, I'm going to go get some stuff done so I can get a little bit closer to fulfilling my wish list.

Sweet dreams...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Wish I Smelled Like Stinky Feet

Seriously. As I walked quickly through the grocery store at 10:45pm last night, I realized I wished I smelled like stinky feet. Or a durian fruit. Or the compost bin. Any smelly and easily washed out bad smell I could think of would have been preferable.

But I didn't smell like any of those. I was slightly disheveled, wearing mismatched pajamas and running shoes. My hair was everywhere.

And I smelled slightly of skunk.

I wondered if my fellow shoppers thought I'd been smoking weed.

No, no dear friends. I haven't been smoking. Our dog got sprayed by a skunk. Again. The second time in a month.

Fortunately, in a lot of ways, it was not as bad as last time. I don't think we're going to have to shampoo the carpets. I washed the shower curtain and threw away the plastic shower curtain liner. I'm hoping I can get away with airing out the comforter. I'm washing everything else.

Unfortunately, in other ways it was worse. The poor little dog got most of it in the face. It wasn't a direct hit but it was close enough. That's where the smell is focused. He has stinky ears and stinky whiskers. He had a bath right away but all of the skunk smell remover methods say to keep away from the face.

All except for the over the counter douche. I didn't have one on hand.

That's why last night, as I rushed through the store wondering what my fellow shoppers thought of me, I bought several gallons of tomato juice for his second bath (his first was hydrogen peroxide/baking soda/dawn dish soap), oranges and cinnamon (for boiling on the stove to make the house smell better), and a package of douches for the little guy's face.


I'm pretty sure the cashier thought I was crazy. Or maybe she didn't notice at all. I don't know, it was late after all.

I definitely felt crazy. I envisioned a crazed housewife running through the store in her robe and slippers. That's how I felt. But I shouldnt' have worried. I felt way more crazy when I got home.

There we were at 11pm, my husband and I, trying to figure out the best way to douche our dog's face.

Just a typical Wednesday night at our house. We're totally normal. I swear it.

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