Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WW: Blessingway

Saturday, March 19th. Photos by my friend Jenn.

My mom brought me a pussywillow with hydrangeas. Jenn and Megan made wonderful snacks and those cupcakes. They were Jenn's and they couldn't have been any better. The large amount of leftovers lasted an embarrassingly short time.

Megan made me a crown.

And did belly henna. The design is one we'd both been admiring from the woodwork in our church.

There were notes with wishes for my birthing time, gifts, birthing beads and a foot bath for me and then Jenn took some pictures of me and Jordan. It was a special day.

And I have really cool friends.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birthing time beads

I think every mother should have some. Because it's like... Even though the people who care about you can't all be at your birth, in a way they are, because they got you a bead for your bracelet and you see it and know they're thinking about you.

And I love beads. Handmade beads, stone beads, beads of all shapes and colors and sizes. I haven't ever really been into beading or jewelry making, but I'm thinking of trying it. The other day I decided to go get some little beads to go in between the birth beads from my Blessingway. We have a wonderful little shop in our town that I've been visiting with my mom since I was four or five years old, and I didn't realize this but they have a bunch of scrumptious beads all organized into drawers. It's where most of my Blessingway beads came from. While we were there Jordan picked out a bead for me and I picked out one that I loved, too. They all came together to form the most mismatched bracelet ever. The lady there helped me fix them on beading wire, so now they can go in the birth tub without getting soggy.

Ivey loves my beads too.

Now they are back on my birth shelf, waiting for me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My beautiful, peaceful birth space

It's hard to explain in words what it means to walk into this space to give birth instead of into a hospital room.

I feel relaxed here. It's our bedroom. It's big enough to hold everything I need for a birth. More importantly, though, I know what to expect. It's incredibly reassuring to be able to envision where our baby will be born. I already know there won't be any irritating odors or clocks in annoying places or distracting noises or signs. I already know where everything is located. We also don't have to haul my stuff in in bags at the last minute and hope we remembered it all.

Here is my birth tub, which is a La Bassine. We have a hose and shower adapter all ready to fill it up from our bathroom, but right now we are using it to store some of our supplies for the birth--extra pillows and two clean sets of sheets for our bed, along with a pool noodle.

We cleared the end of our dresser for our midwife to set up her supplies. (Yes, she brings life-saving supplies in case something goes wrong--a lot of the same stuff they have at the hospital.)

The rocking chair in the corner is the same rocking chair Jordan's mom rocked him in when he was a baby. The blue blanket was made by one of the ladies at my church. My mom bought it at a silent auction years ago and was saving it for her first grandson. She just gave it to me at my Blessingway.

Oh, and that thing standing up behind the chair is a Bed Bug Bumper--our device of choice to cosleep safely with Robert. It'll go over here, on my side of the bed, once he's arrived.

Speaking of the bed, the quilt was made by my mom as a wedding gift for me. Look at this gorgeous butterfly! It makes me happy to know it'll be at the birth.

This is the shelf we have overlooking our birth tub. It has candles, just in case it's dark enough for a candlelight birth. There's also the Willow Tree figurine Jordan's parents gave us for Suzi's birth and a photo of our family on Jordan's first Father's Day. Then there are my birth beads from the people I love.

There's also room on the shelf for other items such as an icy glass of coconut water with bendy straw and whatever else I might need. Down below the shelf are a couple of practical items: a lined trash can just in case I need it during transformation and an electric fan in case I get hot. I got so hot last time but this time will probably be better. There's a nice ceiling fan in the bedroom--and also, it won't be the middle of August. Oh, and the alarm clock on the table above is turned away from the birth tub so I can forget about what time it is and focus on Baby Robert's birth.

There is a TV in our room just in case Jordan and I feel like turning a movie or something on. I doubt it but you never know. I really like that picture frame and am planning to put a belly shot of me and Jordan in it.

I hung my Storchenwiege wrap up in the closet doorway. I could hold on to it and lean forward, or squat, or whatever feels comfortable. I'm pretty sure some women even get into position for pushing using one. I love this wrap. Jordan and I both carried Ivey in it when she was a baby, and the colors are vibrant and beautiful.

Last but not least, there are these two. We are planning for Suzi to stay for the birth (she wants to "help catch Robert") and for Ivey to go spend some time with Maw and Paw. Then Ivey will be brought over to meet her little brother as soon as possible afterwards. Jordan and I were able to talk things over and make that call. You can't do that just anywhere. Nor can you hand-pick every single person who will be with you at your birth, which is what we've done.

I love it in here. It's exactly the birth space I wanted for me and my baby. I wish every mother could have her perfect safe, special birth space. I know every mother should have it--whatever it might be for her.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy Birthday to my mom and a late pregnancy list

My mom, photo by Jenn at my Blessingway

1) Today is my lovely mom's birthday. Happy Birthday Mama! I'm sorry I don't have your gift finished yet.

2) These girls. They play together so much these days. Of course, it also means they fight, but I love to see them interacting. Ivey yells "Shooozhee!" and tells her to "eet! eet!" and sometimes, if Suzi is throwing a fit, Ivey tells her to hush. Here's Ivey playing dress-up in the armhole of one of my shirts, much to Suzi's amusement.

And Suzi pretending to be a dog named Poopsie. It's funny when Ivey joins in and starts crawling around and panting.

They discovered that twice as much mischief can be had in the rocking chair with two.

The other day Ivey wore herself out so bad that we left her sitting in the recliner for a couple of minutes and when we came back she had fallen asleep looking like Winnie the Pooh.

I love them so, so much. But they make me so, so tired.

3) I just realized we need a couple of things from Whole Foods for the birth. Myrrh is one, which is for the placenta encapsulation process, and I also wanted some Rescue Remedy. I guess this means we'll be filling our gas tank again sooner than we thought. WHY can't we get a Whole Foods or an Earth Fare or a Trader Joe's just a little closer to home? They pile them into the cities!

4) In my desire to have everything ready for the birth, which we feel will probably be in the first half of April, I made a day-by-day countdown to-do list. Unfortunately my organizational enthusiasm exceeds my energy and I doubt all those things will get done. Everything wasn't done for Ivey's birth either and we survived and I'd even say it was pleasant. With Suzi, nothing was done. As of her birthday we were renting a house that was a gigantic mess, had yet to close on the new home we were buying, and were set to bring her home to my parents' house. Oh and Jordan had just started a new job the month before and had almost no time to take off. Compared to that nightmare, this time everything is perfect!

5) I can't wait to go to the chiropractor tomorrow. I'm pretty sure Robert has stayed in a good position since my adjustment Monday, but I want to keep him there. I've also been doing a lot of bending and lifting and don't feel great. What did I do without the chiropractor the last two times?

6) The priorities still on my list:
- buy those supplies
- sterilize Robert's umbilical cord tie we made at the Blessingway
- make my belly cast
- attempt to make a dress/gown for me to wear during the birth
- put together new activity bags for the girls
- do a wool wash and lanolize Robert's diaper covers
- get all the cameras ready
- make a playlist of birth music
- dig into my list of crafts, which are mostly for other people
- clean house one last time before the birth

Jordan is off tomorrow, so we are going to run a bunch of errands and get some of these things done. Everything will be fine even if we get none of them done, but I'd really like to do at least most of them before the birth. I am 38 weeks 5 days and so far, today is not feeling very productive.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

38 weeks: A bad day and then a good day

Sunday, March 20, 2011 - 38 weeks 1 day

I am just so irritable today, for so many little reasons.

Yesterday was my Blessingway, which Megan and Jenn did for me, and it was wonderful. Jenn made amazing cupcakes and Megan did a special henna design on my belly, and my mom and mother-in-law came. Everyone brought me a bead for a birthing time bracelet, wrote down wishes for me and Robert for the birth, and we braided the baby an umbilical cord tie. It was really special and I feel lucky to have such good friends. I'll have to do another post about the Blessingway later.

38 weeks, 3 days with henna by Megan


My midwife came over before the Blessingway for a prenatal and the baby, who has been measuring on the small side of normal, is measuring small enough that perhaps we should check on him. It probably isn't a big deal because we don't normally have big babies, and I went past 41 weeks with the girls. He has time to grow. Yesterday he was in a weird, oblique position too, though. Instead of settling into a head-down position and staying there, he's been rolling all around. Carey is sending us for an ultrasound just to be sure everything is okay in there. We're going to call tomorrow and see if we can get a chiropractor appointment first.

I've been crawling around on my hands and knees, sitting on my birth ball, and doing pelvic rocks just trying to get him into a favorable position. Sometimes I'll feel like I've gotten him head-down again and as soon as I check, he twists out of my hands in whichever direction he wants to go. I don't know why.

The girls and I have a cold, which is annoying. I've been trying to avoid dairy and a couple of other things I love because of the cold. I stayed home with them today but Jordan went to church because we had children's church and he had a meeting afterwards. For some reason Ivey always waits to poop until her dad leaves, and she did that today. It was a really bad one to clean up too. And then the girls screeched and fought with each other and Jordan came home later than expected.

And then Jordan looked in the fridge and said, "oh, there's goat cheese!" and I snapped at him not to eat all my goat cheese, and then felt bad.

I told him "I am just so angry today!" And, really, it's not the best day. It feels like there's more I want to do than I can possibly get done before the birth, I'm getting a little OCD, and I am quite pregnant after all.

But on the way to buy some more goat cheese I realized, I am mostly just worried about Robert.


UPDATE! Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yesterday I called the chiropractor and got an early appointment for an adjustment and the Webster technique. Just before we left, I called Carey and she had gotten me set up to go for the ultrasound in the afternoon. Dr. Wickiser adjusted several different things and explained that when the round ligament is too tight, it can make it so the baby has a hard time getting into position. That is probably why Robert was moving around so much--he was trying to go the right direction, but it just wasn't comfortable. By the time we arrived at my parents' house to drop the girls off before the ultrasound, I already felt different, like he was settling in. The chiropractor is awesome. I don't think I'll ever go through another pregnancy without chiropractic, especially not at the end. I'm going back a few more times before the birth (assuming Robert stays in for a couple more weeks).

The ultrasound couldn't have gone better. We only had to wait a few minutes and the first thing the tech told us was that Robert is head down. Yay! The chiropractor helped! He was moving, practicing his breathing, and appeared to be drinking amniotic fluid too. We got to watch him moving his lips and sticking his tongue out, which was really cute. As for his size, he is supposed to be about 6 pounds 7 ounces, give or take a pound, which is a fine size. His projected due date (although, really, dating is best done around 20 weeks) was April 11--the date I guessed as soon as I realized I was pregnant! Apparently I just like to take my time growing babies.

So everything is fine. The only unusual thing about the ultrasound is that the little boy had his feet crossed up by his head. I have no idea how he got them there but even the ultrasound tech thought it was pretty interesting. I know he isn't stuck that way because he has already been kicking me up high this morning, so I guess he was just showing off.

These are the happy days of pregnancy. We are all set for our waterbirth--the tub is set up, our supplies are packed away, and it could be anytime but probably, and I'm hoping, it will be a couple of weeks. After going to 41 weeks + 2 days twice so far, this time I won't feel late, I'll feel normal. Today I am going to try to get a little cleaning done and hopefully I won't be too tired to take Suzi to dance this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cashmere shorties, modeled by Ivey

I love these short, chubby little legs.

I made these shorties (Ivey calls them "pents") out of a funky-colored cashmere sweater in my stash, one I really didn't like that much, because this was a practice run. I wasn't nervous about cutting into this holey cardigan. It wasn't like when I cut into the sweater I used for the owl shorties. Julie gave me that one and it was the perfect thickness and a hard-to-find color. I was kind of scared to cut it, but luckily it ended up a success.

The cashmere was really soft and, even though I had to cut into the shoulder seams on one side to get enough material, and there was a hole in the butt, I think the shorties turned out pretty nice. They were my first try in a totally new size.

I sewed up the hole in the butt and put a heart patch over it. It needed a little something anyway.

I love making these. Next I need to wash and lanolize them so they can be used as water resistant covers. I've never had to care for wool diapers before, but I'm hoping these will be easier than most. They're already felted so that's one less way for me to ruin them, right?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fancy wool shorties for Robert!

I put off trying to make these for so long. I must have thought it wouldn't work and I'd end up sitting at the sewing machine crying. But today I got up early and made one diaper cover using these instructions from Cloth Diaper Blog, which were ever so helpful. Once I'd done the first cover (not pictured; it is just plain) I altered the leg cuffs a bit and these are what I got. I love making them, but these are both sized for a newborn (or a little bigger) and I have no idea if they'll fit right. I'm thinking of making Ivey some. I am also going to have to get Jenn to remind me how much of what to use for washing and lanolizing. She walked me through the whole thing a few weeks ago and I should have been taking notes.

I can't believe how much we did today. Making diapers. Getting to church almost on time. Going out for Mexican afterwards, and then taking the girls and the dog to the botanical gardens for some fun outdoor time. Then Jordan had a session meeting at church and I stayed home with the tired girls and worked on these diaper covers! It was a big day, and made up for our lazy Saturday yesterday. We both went for eye exams and got contacts and that's about it. I love my new daily lenses.

By the way, I am 37 weeks and 1 day today. If you look closely, the picture above doubles as a belly shot.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Top 10 ways I'm not very good at natural parenting (and why I keep trying anyway)

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


At the birth of my first child, I knew practically nothing about natural parenting. I realized breastfeeding was good, and I thought baby slings were neat. Yep, that's about it. I did not grow up observing many natural parenting principles, and I wasn't the least bit crunchy before I got pregnant.

It should be obvious that now, less than four years since I started learning about all these things, it is still a work in progress. Here are the top ten ways I screw up daily as a natural parent, starting with the least of the evils and counting down to number one. I'm pretty sure I might have read similar lists by others, although I can't remember where. I tried to find one but couldn't. If you know of one please tell me and I'll link to it! Here's my list. I hope you still like me once you get to the end.

#10 - I cloth diaper, but not very well. We have a mix of cloth diapers, mostly consisting of velcro-fastening covers with the cheapest inserts we could find that were not prefolds. We have no wool anything. I have never lanolized or done a wool wash. Our diapers get ugly stains and I just leave them there. I recently bought a bunch of diapers for the new baby from my friend Jenn. They are cute and some of them are, well, beautiful. I never thought of a cloth diaper as something that needed to be beautiful. It was something that could save me money and would be covered by my baby's pants. But I love these tiny little diapers. For Baby Robert, I am going to make upcycled wool shorties and applique something adorable on the butt and buy him some t-shirts to wear so he can show it off. Because now I see that diapers can be an art form.

#9 - I don't ever want to be on the news for being harassed while breastfeeding. I love breastfeeding, and support a woman's right to nurse wherever, covered or not. I think the women who go on the news and out establishments for bullying nursing moms are amazing and important. I've attended a nurse-in held for another mom. And if I realllly had to, I'd stand up for myself and my baby. But probably, my husband Jordan would be the one giving somebody a piece of his mind. I am not one of those women who is like I just hope somebody does say something to me because they won't know what hit them. I probably would go on the news if I had to but I'd much rather just sit there and nurse my baby and be ignored.

#8 - Our toys are not all handcrafted wooden ones, and we even watch princess movies. I enjoyed Disney movies as a child, the princesses especially. There was no way I was going to keep my kids from watching them. But Suzi has not been swayed into being ultra-girly. After viewing a Disney classic such as Sleeping Beauty, Suzi pulls on her rain boots and announces in a gruff voice that she "is the prince! Off to rescue the princess and marry her!" Ivey doesn't currently care about TV one way or the other, except for turning it on and off repeatedly. As for our toys, we usually opt for simple, wooden, handmade toys, but sometimes we don't. Other people frequently gift us with battery-operated plastic items, and if the kids love it we usually keep it. Sometimes I even like those toys, if they aren't just noisy for the sake of being noisy.

#7 - We plan to homeschool, but we haven't nailed down the details yet. Suzi is going to be four in May, so we have a while to figure this out. We don't legally have to do anything until the year she'd be in first grade, but we probably could do a little more than we're doing right now. It's tricky, because Suzi is not into being drilled or directed. She is probably more of an unschooling type, but I went to public school so that approach does not come easily to me. I need to make a point of jumping in and doing more, trying various things and seeing what works, especially in this year before she'd be going to kindergarten.

#6 - I'm not a good cook. I just never really enjoyed cooking, for whatever reason. It's a victory for me to come up with a halfway balanced meal at all, let alone something creative that contains whole, unprocessed foods my kids will enjoy. I try, but all my ideas come from other people. There are also many good foods I've never tasted. Since becoming a parent, and thanks to my more knowledgeable friends, I've been introduced to such things as steel cut oats, real whipped cream, quinoa, spaghetti squash and goat's milk. I need to branch out, have fun and think of my time in the kitchen as working on a craft project. I've always liked the Waldorf idea of having a different grain for every day of the week, so I might go buy the ones we don't have and try some of these recipes. I might accidentally stumble upon something Suzi will eat!

#5 - Hand-in-hand with #6... I'm a junk food junkie. Ice cream, cheetos, cookies with milk, little powdered donuts. I get started and can't stop. At least I have pretty much conquered my soda problem, though, because I drink mostly water now. I'm not going to pretend I have any intention of giving up sweets, but you know what I could do to improve? Bake more of my own goodies with wholesome, real ingredients and leave the barely-qualifies-as-food stuff at the store.

#4 - My kids get sick and I freak out. I know there was something I read one time about treating (whatever) at home, but what was it? Then I find the answer and, of course, we need some obscure herb that I should have carefully packed away in a medicine cabinet, but I never did. Why? Because it's overwhelming and expensive to buy all these things before you need them. Someday I am going to learn my lesson, compile a basic list, drop a couple hundred bucks at Earth Fare and be done with it. Our kids are usually fine without a doctor's visit anyway, because we've acquired some basic knowledge and the most commonly needed items. But we do need to work on this.

#3 - I'm a pregnancy slacker. I don't exercise like I should, although my midwife kindly reminds me that housework (like running up and down the stairs to put laundry away) is exercise. I don't cut things out of my diet that I probably should. I sit in my recliner a lot. I forget to take my vitamins, although this time around I have been very good about taking my cal-mag. That's because if I don't take it I can't sleep, and it tastes good too. It makes me feel better if I look at my first pregnancy, when I was eating large bowls of ice cream all the time because I thought that was what pregnant women did, and think how far I've come.

#2 - Sometimes I lay guilt trips and nag my children to say please and thank you, and that sort of thing, when I should be modeling the behavior I want from them. I should be treating them politely at all times, but sometimes I get downright rude if I've had a hard day and I'm irritated. I say things to them that I wouldn't say to another adult, like telling them to move instead of saying "excuse me" when they are under my feet and I'm trying to get work done in a hurry. And then I expect them to blow people away with their politeness. Silly.

#1 - I yell. I have a temper and get frustrated easily. Sometimes I hurt my kids' feelings. I don't want to yell, but it's a hard habit to break. This is my biggest, most difficult problem.

My reason for sharing all this is not only to make a list of areas I'd like to improve, but also to point out that the idea is not to be perfect, it's to do your best. We didn't choose natural parenting because we thought we'd be so great at it. It's just that the more we got acquainted with natural parenting, the more we realized it would be better for our family. We wouldn't grow as parents if we didn't challenge ourselves to take this better but less familiar path.

So, please tell me I'm not alone. Do you do any of these things? Do you have totally different issues? Any advice to help with some of mine? Please share.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Crafted for play: Tent!

This project was inspired by Suzi. The other day we were going to the recycling center/dump, and the girls were already waiting in the car when I asked Jordan to grab the box that Suzi's new car seat had come in. The girls had been playing in it, but it was sort of torn up and wasn't big enough for the girls to share, and we just don't have the floor space to keep big boxes around our house indefinitely. Jordan picked the box up and headed for the door, and I mentioned that he might want to break it down in the house and then carry it to the van. He did not heed my sage advice. Suzi looked out her window and saw what he was doing and a tantrum of epic proportions ensued.


It was heartbreaking. This continued all the way to the dump and then some. So while I tried to comfort Suzi, I started to wonder why we couldn't have something better than a box for the kids to play in. Something easier and faster to put together than a camping tent. Something we could put up for playtime and take down when we needed the space, without hearts being broken. Something that could go inside or out, and wasn't too big or too small, and that they could eventually learn to put up on their own. I told Suzi we were going to make something cool.

We stopped by Lowe's and got ourselves some PVC pipes and joints. We were able to make ourselves a frame out of three 10' pieces. The connectors are 3-hole elbow pieces, but one hole is threaded so we had to buy pieces with one threaded and one non-threaded end to make them work.

When we got home, I marked off the length I wanted and Jordan sawed the pipes into pieces. I can't remember the exact length of the pieces we cut (oops) but I will share the dimensions of the fabric. Here are Jordan and the girls playing in the frame. It was entertaining all by itself, apparently.

We had been given this bolt of fabric by someone who was cleaning out their supplies. I had no idea what I'd use it for but I knew I'd figure it out someday. It was perfect for a play tent!

I cut five pieces--actually, I cut a little slit and tore most of it to be sure it would end up straight. My mom swears this is the easiest way to get a straight line on your fabric. There's the top (23.5" x 43"), the two small ends (23.5" x 35.5") and two pieces for the front and back (35.5" x 43"). I cut them larger than necessary because I didn't want the cover to be too hard to pull over the frame. I can't really describe how I got them all sewn together, but it probably wasn't the best way. I used my new serger so it would have neat seams on the inside and the work would go faster. It wasn't without mistakes, but I finally got it done, and once I did I spread it over the frame. I was so happy to see it actually fit! (Here is one mistake--I accidentally sewed the top piece to the side instead.)

Then I cut a little slit in the middle bottom of one end, where Suzi said she wanted the door, and tore it straight up to a few inches from the top.

I switched my serger to rolled hem and went over the opening I'd torn and all around the bottom of the tent. It's amazing how fast I was able to hem such a large area! At this point all the tent needed was a little Fray Check applied to the thread ends. To make it easier I turned it inside out and placed it over the frame to apply the stuff.

And now our tent (dog house, Suzi says) is ready to provide hours of open-ended fun, or a little shade!

Join the playdate at Beneath the Rowan Tree!