Monthly Archives: July 2009

Nesting, sort of

I’m in unchartered waters, nesting for someone else!!

My good friend Erin has asked me to be her birth coach… she was due on Sunday the 26th… so, any day now!  So, I find myself looking at my home with an extra-critical eye making sure all my ducks are in a row for me to be able to leave on short notice…

God is good, and the baby will come when it’s the right time.  I actually like the heightened sense of, “Any time now!!”  I’m not tense/nervous at all…  I’m just eager with anticipation!!

Audrey was eight days past my EDD, which were surely the longest days of my life.  🙂

So, if you think of it, pray for a good labor for Erin, who has never done this before!!  I have been present at a few births, but never as a “real” coach, so please pray that I remember helpful things at the appropriate times, and that I am able to encourage and bring peace.  Having hiked with Erin up a mountain, I am confident in her ability to have perseverance and strength for the long haul, but… the shorter the “long haul” the better!

By the way, I did some sewing for the baby’s room.  Here’s a valance I made:

Valance by Karen, Roman shade by Erin

Valance by Karen, Roman shade by Erin

And look at this AMAZING dresser, made for the baby by Erin’s dad:

The room’s all ready, so is Erin and her hubby.  Now, all we need is a baby!!

Babies ‘n’ Books ‘n’ Homeschooling ‘n’ Harmonicas

  • Fiala has started delightedly greeting every moving creature in the world by grinning, waving her left hand — palm inwards — and saying, “Hah-ah!  Hah-ah!” which, translated, means, “Hi!”  Not only is this just precious, it’s a relief.  Having a child with autism/autistic tendencies, I have bated breath until my baby makes a connection with those around her.  Not that being extroverted the the goal, but it makes my heart glad to see her establishing eye contact and greeting everyone.  Plus, she’s just so darn cute.
  • I did hear back from the allergist’s office yesterday.  Fiala, through RAST testing, tested positive to only egg.  (She was tested for milk, egg, almond, banana, and yeast.)  However, I’m not putting her back on those other food items yet, except maybe yeast — I’d like to try my hand at a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free yeast bread.  And, I’m keeping her off of all nightshades as well.  She definitely has a reaction to potatoes and tomatoes.  And soy.  I will ask the new allergist, when we see him on August 12, to lead us in testing for delayed-response to all the foods which I’ve noted a reaction in Fiala.  And, to look for other foods that we’ve not yet identified, because she’s only about 40% healed.  In fact, a couple of days ago, I resorted to using Protopic on her face, as it was apparent that, with the information I currently have, her skin was not going to improve beyond that 40%, and she’s still in discomfort, clawing at her face, especially when she’s tired or upset.  I definitely don’t want her to be in pain, but I don’t want her so medicated that we can’t find the source(s) of her allergies!  There’s gotta be a balance there.
  • I did officially stop reading Wuthering Heights, and I am strangely relieved about the whole business.  My friend Kathy gave me a copy of both Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice, and I think I’ll read P&P again.  Next time we go to the library, though, I’m going to ask for an inter-library loan of one of Frances Burney’s three novels — Camilla, Evalina (isn’t that a beautiful name?), or Cecilia — am I missing any?  Burney’s books were published in the late 1700’s, and were very influential on Jane Austen.
  • Speaking of books, I have been debating whether or not to recommend a book I really, really liked.  It’s called Truck:  A Love Story by Michael Perry.  It’s hilarious, insightful, and very interesting.  In a somewhat self-serving way, I realized that one of the things I really appreciated about Perry’s style is that he tells chunks of his story, in a seemingly random fashion, then gradually ties them together.  However… this book does have five or six expletives, and though Perry was raised in a very fundamental Christian environment, he’s not living in it now.  In fact, towards the conclusion of the book, he spends several pages arguing for gay marriage — of which I am not a supporter.  However, that’s not the point of the book.  The point of it is how he restores an old truck and meets his wife.  I am GREATLY looking forward to his latest, Coop:  A Year of Poultry, Pigs, and Parenting, in which he and his wife have an unassisted homebirth (however, Perry is a nurse, so I don’t know if that could really be called “unassisted”!!).  It’s too new for interlibrary loan, so my library agreed to order its own copy!
  • I have almost all my books and supplies for the upcoming schoolyear!  Since I didn’t need to order a new Sonlight Core, I was able to get everything I needed — mostly new math, English, and science curriculum — for all three boys for under $300.  I saved $101.50 by buying things second-hand, and by buying older editions.  As I was making purchases yesterday, I thought, “Hmmm…  Maybe I should order some stuff for Audrey, too.”  She only turned 3 in April, but is slowly and happily making her way through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and if nothing else, she just likes to participate in school.  I didn’t get anything for her, but whaddya know?  Late in the afternoon, my angel of a Stepdad called and said, “Hey, I’m at Costco, and there are all sorts of preschool books and workbooks.  Some of these look great!  If I buy some for Audrey, will you use them with her?”  Um, yes.  Yes, I will.  Thank you very much, Joe and Jesus, for knowing not only my needs, but my wants, too!
  • I think I may have posted about this before, but Home Science Tools is THE BEST science curriculum and supply company for homeschoolers.  They have great prices, reasonable shipping, and a huge selection.  Yesterday, I purchased a kit for all the experiments done in Apologia General Science (which Ethan and likely Grant will be doing) for $23.95, plus shipping.  Additionally Home Science Tools has THE BEST e-mail newsletter.  Seriously.  They are infrequent (which I like), and chock-full of actually useful information, like projects, experiments, pdfs, external links, and more.  You could seriously form an entire curriculum around those e-newsletters.  Of course, there are links to purchase items mentioned in the newsletter, but they also never fail to suggest alternatives so that you’d be able to complete the experiments at home without purchasing new equipment.  I couldn’t find a link to the most current issue, sent this morning, but here’s a link where you can sign up.  They have two newsletters — one for K-4 and one for grades 5-9.  Also, be sure to click on the Science Project Archive.  There are literally dozens of projects in 10 different categories.
  • Lastly, my husband bought a harmonica for Wesley for Christmas.  It was a “Pocket Pal” and Wesley took that seriously, taking it almost everywhere he goes.  He’s got some serious harmonica chops going — he can bend notes like nobody’s business!  However, because I don’t always inspect pockets thoroughly, it’s been through the wash several times.  The last time, the dunking ruined three of the draw reeds, which had Wesley in tears.  I pride myself on NOT being an impulse buyer, but on eBay, I saw a “C” harmonica (which Wesley’s is), with free shipping, for $5.99.  I clicked on it, and not only was it free shipping, it was further discounted, and was only $4.00 — that’s it.  Four bucks.  Wesley will be thrilled.

Laying books down, the girl in yellow, muffins, margarine, and knocking Classical education down from its pedestal

  • I think I’m going to stop reading Wuthering Heights.  It is just unrelentingly disturbing that it’s making me crabby.  I did flip through the last few chapters, and it appears that “peace” is achieved by the main characters dying.  I’m on page 180 of 415, so I feel like I’ve given the book more than a passing chance, but I’m just not woman enough for it, apparently, even though it’s a blow to my ego and my quest to be Well Read.  The only other book that I can recall doing similarly with was For Whom the Bell Tolls.  If I’m barking at my children because a book is bothering me, well, then I need to lay it down.  My pride needs to be knocked down periodically, anyways.
  • Rather testing my 7yo son to see how much he noticed, in the quiet chat before praying for him last night, I remarked casually, “[your sweetie] wasn’t wearing pink yesterday.”  He replied, “Nope.  She was in yellow.”  😀
  • I have made three batches of gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free muffins.  One was great — Saturday’s apple raisin spice muffins.  I’ve also made two much-less-pleasing batches — pineapple coconut and chocolate cranberry.  Up until these batches (and other recipes like biscuits and crackers), I’d never purposefully made egg-free baked goods, but find myself needing to, because of Fiala.  One out of three… not great, but at least the good batch was for our big family breakfast on Saturday!  Of course, I did not write down the recipe…  That frequently happens:  I stumble upon a concoction that is brilliant, then spend the rest of my days unsuccessfully trying to duplicate it.
  • In semi-related news, Earth Balance Soy Free is FANTASTIC.  It tastes like real butter, and is a billion times better than Smart Balance, which I’ve used for a couple of years, due to dairy-free necessity.   But, now that we have to be soy-free, too, I’m elated that our only option for butter-like soy- and dairy-free margarine is delicious.
  • I’ve had mild homeschool envy for folks whose children are classically educated.  I have considered a classical education, and have decided that it would make like difficult for both mother and children;  mine are just not inclined that way, and I’m not going to force them to be scholarly;  I just want them to learn, love learning, and become learners for life.  Still.  When my Memoria Press catalog comes in the mail, I peruse it with wistfulness, and always feel just a little… not-so-smart as classical homeschool moms, and wonder if I’ve made the right decision.  It was with, then, a disproportionate sense of satisfaction that I noticed, on page 2 of the most recent issue, that the editor, in his “Letter From the Editor,” misspelled “amalgam.”  He spelled it “amalgum.”  And no one at Memoria Press caught it.  Hmph.  They’re NOT all that.  😀  (Note:  I am 100% certain I’ve misspelled words on this blog;  I’m not without grammatical error, either.  However, it felt strangely good — and maybe it was even beneficial! — to have Memoria knocked down from that pedestal in my mind.)

Editing, friendship, art, and the Body of Christ

I like editing.  It’s not that I enjoy finding fault, but when I read things that have been written by others, I frequently think, “Oh, this would have been so much more effective if the author would have done this or said it that way, or put this part first…”  Other than my own writing (and I feel like we are most often our worst editors), the only thing I regularly edit is a missions newsletter, and even then, I’m not the “executive editor” — final decisions are not made by me;  it’s more like I’m a second pair of eyes, and the grammar-check person.

I especially like editing when I know the person who is doing the writing;  I want their true voice to come out in what they’ve written, and I think that doesn’t come naturally to most people;  they have to be coaxed.  And, I have observed that many, many people write as if the reader knew their history, and there’s a major mental adjustment that they need to make, in order to frame their ideas for total strangers.  But, if I’m editing for someone I know, whose history I know, whose voice I know, I can help bring that out.

A friend of mine is working on a book, and — as I had hoped — she asked me to be part of the editing process.  I think she has something very unique and powerful and useful and what she has NEEDS to be written;  I believe very firmly in that.  So, I jumped in with great gusto.  But, when I saw how involved the process would be, I started dragging my feet.  It was not an issue of, “I don’t have the time;” the problem was, “There’s so much work to be done here, so much cutting to the core, so much asking her to do things that don’t come naturally to her, such a great risk of offense…” well, I started feeling like if I was honest, it could very potentially permanently damage our relationship, no matter how gentle I was about it.  It’s her baby, and I needed to tell her, “Your baby doesn’t look quite right, and it’s going to require major surgery to raise your baby to maturity.”

But, we had a conversation yesterday where she expressed her disappointment with how little I’ve provided for her;  she wants to work, and feels like she’s at a dead end until she gets more feedback from me.  We hung up, with me committing to send her more ASAP… After we talked, I ended up running errands by myself for a couple of hours, and had a lot of time to reflect.  That’s when I concluded that, really, I was afraid of destroying our relationship, afraid of highly discouraging her and offending her with strong words…

So, I prayed about it and decided to take the bull by the horns and send her an e-mail that addressed two serious, overriding issues with her book.  I suggested that she 1) enlist the help of a co-author who can write vividly and creatively with great detail (I have, a few times, written and asked her for MORE detail, MORE detail, MORE detail), and 2) write gently to unfold and build the reader’s trust, not from a position of, “I am the authority on this.”

I sent it off with great trepidation.

She quickly replied,

O yes… that is soooo helpful…..thank you for that…it makes GOOD sense. You are so right. This is the scoop….. I am a “get to the point person” and I am thinking people will be bored with what I have to say, so I make it straight from the cuff. I can see your view point and need to change.  Today [a friend] will give me a call and maybe we can do this together (making it more detailed and exciting)  You are so wise Karen and I love what you are doing for me I will try to rewrite my stuff keeping mind all you instructed. I do want to make this colorful like the pictures God gives me. There is so much detail going on in my brain, but I am afraid to let it all out for fear people will be bored. Please do not give up on me.

I was greatly relieved, and very excited about her response!

I wrote further:

After we talked yesterday, I was reflecting on the book situation, and what it was that was causing me to drag my feet, and it was this: That there is great risk of offending you, or discouraging you, because I think it’s going to take a lot of work to turn it into a real book. I am a lot less confrontational than I used to be, and a lot more worried about preserving relationship, and I don’t want to cause offense!! But, I dearly want the Body of Christ to benefit from what you have learned, and what God has shown you. I strongly believe there is a need for what you have! So, I thought I might as well just risk it, and send you two “hard” things, and we’d take it from there…

So, I’m very relieved that you’re not discouraged or offended.

I know you said you are hard to offend, and it’s not like I’m TRYING to offend you; I want to be gentle… but still, maybe it was the enemy whispering to me that you’d be so hurt by anything I had to say that it would permanently damage our relationship, and maybe have even worse fallout!! Must have been his lies…

I will dive back in, and while I will still be careful how I speak, I will now be able to identify the enemy’s lies, and will no longer be afraid that our work together will break our relationship.

And, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do not be afraid that people will be bored. You are a unique woman, with a unique history, and God has taught you unique things, and used you in unique way. I think it’s impossible for you to be boring. So, just say all there is to say, and if we need to pare it down, then, we’ll do that. But, if you have MORE, please write more.

There are a few people who like art like this:

Red Square 1915 by Kasimir Malevich

Red Square 1915 by Kasimir Malevich

But, MORE people like art like this:

The Last Days of Summer by S.M. Lee

The Last Days of Summer by S.M. Lee

Do you know what I mean?

And she did know what I meant, because she responded:

Yes it did help…. and now I am crying because I soooo get the point. It so spoke to me … ( the blah and the vivid picture). It actually knocked me for a loop.. a good loop. ” Oh God… open my eyes to be able to present the world with a colorful exciting picture of what Prophetic Art is all about” ” Please Lord help me to get it out into the open “

You are soo precious Karen and please be as rough with me as you need to be. As you said… this needs to get out… I so believe this. It is all for the Kingdom and I do not care if it offends me…. I quickly get over that kind of stuff … for I sure know that it is not about me.

I think I will go into some fasting and see if there are some blocks in me that need to be knocked loose…. something that is holding me back.

The thing that is amazing to me about this whole exchange is that… no matter if you believe the source of the confusion is satan or not, I do.  I just do.  He’s the father of lies, and the author of confusion.  Here I was thinking that my friend was going to hate me, that what I had to say was going to hurt her, hurt our friendship, that our working together, in turn, would hurt me… and instead, the exact opposite has happened.  She appreciates my input, I am able to communicate with her in a way that really makes sense, makes an impact, I am re-invigorated to work with her, and far from her hating me, she regards me all the more precious!!

This might seem off-topic, but to me, it just goes back to the value of the Body of Christ.  Yes, you can be a Christian without being part of a local community of believers — that is, a church.  But, I SSSSOOOOOOOO don’t want to ever be apart from the Church.  It’s too valuable.  I am convinced that God the Father has designed that we, as believers, be in a place where we can give and receive, where we can grow in relationship, where we can be stretched, where we can be challenged, yet given the grace to stumble, then rejoice with each other when the stumbling ends up producing fruit after all the error and confusion is rooted out.  We tend the garden together, and celebrate and enjoy the abundance all the more, together!!

My son notices a girl, an update on Fiala’s skin, Hubby and I fight, and I learn more about my heart

  • I must say that I am totally thrown for a loop that it is my youngest son — not quite eight years old — who has a) noticed a girl (he’s liked her “forever,” i.e., since preschool); and b) cares what clothes he wears.  The girl is darling, one could hardly blame him.  And, I find myself impressed at his plan of action:  “I try to get her attention by helping her, and trying to start conversation.  Seth is my rival [yes, he said that], and he tries to get her attention by being crazy, and I don’t think she likes that.”  However, it seems surreal to be having girl conversations with my seven year old son.  And, only in the last year did I stop picking out my now-12yo son’s outfit for the day;  both my older two sons couldn’t care less about clothing.  Yet, Wes is extremely particular, though for very boyish reasons, proclaiming that a striped yellow tee shirt I purchased for him, “looks like pee-yellow.”
  • Fiala’s skin is improving, as is her digestion.  This is probably TMI for 90% of you, but over the last couple of days, has had her first fully-formed stools of her life.  I called the allergist’s office;  they’re still waiting on the results of the RAST testing, but I have definitely seen an improvement by excluding soy, milk, and now potato and tomato.  The other things that she tested allergic to… well, I’m just not so certain that they’re truly problematic.  We’ll see.  Her skin is still only about 40% improved, which is GREAT, but when I’m eager for her to be fully HEALED, 40% is unsatisfying.
  • Martin and I had a fight yesterday.  The last time we had a fight was a good six months ago.  Two fights a year might be acceptable, sort of, especially when we used to fight daily, or nearly so, earlier in our marriage.  We have resolved it, and all is peaceful, except the lingering yucky feeling that remains from fighting, even when all is forgiven.  😦
  • It appears I have mitral valve prolapse.  I heard the “click click click” during the echocardiogram I had on Wednesday, and saw the swirled red-and-blue where no swirling should be.  However, I have yet to hear back from my doctor.  😦  That explains fatigue (seems like “fatigue” is from many sources, though), weird, tight chest pain that sometimes extends sharply into my upper right arm, and dizzy spells.  I don’t know if having MVP means I don’t have WPW, or what.  My doctor theorized, based on my electrocardiogram, that I had WFW, and from what I understood, we were doing the echo to rule out his second-best guess, MVP.  I am also wearing a 30 day “event recorder,” which is an itchy, stupid pain in the patooty, and seems superfluous to me.  Although there is an oddly relieving sense of, “Ah, so that’s what it is!” and even though I’m happy that the things going on in my heart are not altogether serious, quite common, and not necessary to medicate, I’m still not very happy to have things wrong with my heart.  Neither is my husband.  He’s rather freaked out by the whole thing.

Happy endings (or not)

I like it when books and movies aren’t necessarily tied up neatly with a satin bow at the end;  I like when there are a few question marks unanswered, and the finish leaves you with a little room for wonder and conjecture.  In other words, me ‘n’ chick flicks do not get along.  However, I don’t like tragedies, either, where everything is unrelentingly bleak, everybody dies, relationships are broken and left unmended.

Earlier this year, Martin and I watched, in three weekly installments, Tess of the D’Urbervilles on PBS’ Mastperpiece Theater.  (Note — spoilers, sort of, ahead.)  I started out thinking that it was Dickensian, with everyone’s lot in life apparently sad and destined for disaster, but with hope, redemption, justice, and a rich uncle glimmering around the corner.  I kept waiting for it… waiting for it…  Nope.  No one was redeemed.  The inheritance never showed up.  The plights of all were destined for disaster.  I recall watching it, wholly unacquainted with the story and realizing only at about 90% of the way through it, that there was no way that the story was going to be pulled out of the hole that Thomas Hardy had dug.  Martin and I both felt totally slimed at the serial’s end, and we turned to each other and said in unison, “Well that sucks,” as the credits rolled.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me what kind of social commentary Hardy was attempting, or even accomplishing.  I felt as manipulated by his pessimistic literary devices as I do when watching an unrelentingly, unrealistically sappy and happy chick flick.

After being totally delighted by all of Jane Austen’s works last year, I decided to work my way through the Brontë sisters’ books.  It’s been much more hit-or-miss.  Villette — unsatisfying and a tad creepy (but, hey, there’s a free e-book download, here!).  Jane Eyre — beautiful and satisfying, perfect in many ways, though the plethora of fortunate, plot-advancing coincidences maddened me.

Now, I’m reading Wuthering Heights.  I’m about 40% of the way through it, and it’s starting to smack of Tess.

At the wonderful book club I’m a part of (wonderful because of the ladies involved — enough alike to thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, yet dissimilar enough to have rousing discussion, unique perspectives, and disagreement), we discussed Jane Eyre last Saturday, and my friend Erin was “outed” by our friend Allison as someone who reads the end of the book first.  I was shocked.  😀  Though I understand her reasoning — she would rather enjoy a more leisurely and thorough reading of the book, than fly through it just to see how the story is resolved — I don’t think I have ever, ever done that.  Seems book-sacreligious or something.

Oddly enough, though, Emily Brontë included a family tree (of the characters) at the beginning of the Wuthering Heights, revealing many of the shockers on the outset.  But… I am, again, wholly unacquainted with the story itself, and I have found myself referring continually to that family tree, thinking, “He marries her???  How does that come to be???  She dies when???  Tragic.  Oh, look, her death coincides with the birthdate of her daughter.  She dies in birth.  Oh…”

So, in a way, it’s like reading the last few chapters.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself, trying to convince myself it wouldn’t be so bad to read the last few pages of the book, because I don’t want to invest myself in it and have the story turn out to be a tragedy.  And,  Emily Brontë already told us a good 90% of the story, there on the first page!

However, if you’ve read it, don’t tell me the outcome.

I probably won’t skip ahead.  I’m going to be really upset, though, if it’s all pessimistic at the end.

All Natural, Low Carb Electrolyte Drink Recipe

A few weeks ago, my cardiologist recommended I drink a quart of G2 every morning to boost my blood pressure five points or so (I have low BP), stating that it would perk me up better than a cup of coffee.  He also said that some people — celiacs especially — may just not absorb water well enough, and if I start the day with an electrolyte drink, it will help me to better absorb water throughout the day.  He recommended G2 because it’s low carb;  I agree I don’t want to start the day by chugging a corn syrup-laden liquid.  However, I knew that I was going to have to find an alternative.  1)  I am too cheap to buy a quart of G2 for every day, and 2) even if G2 is low carb, it’s also chock full of artificial colors and flavors which I really don’t want to drink every day.

So, I did a little research online, but wasn’t able to find any recipe that really fit my needs.  Homemade recipes, yes… but either they were chock-full of sugar, and/or recommended using unsweetened Kool-Aid to flavor it, or they seemed too incomplete, or something like that.  So, I have experimented the last couple of weeks, and finally came up with a recipe that works.  For me, the biggest challenge was overcoming the taste of baking soda.  Many recipes online use a whopping 1/2 tsp of the stuff, and it leaves me thinking, “Did the creators of this recipe actually drink this???”  However, it’s my understanding that you need the baking soda in order to balance the acid content of electrolyte drinks, so you don’t want to just omit it.

A few notes:  I tried a lot of different flavors and flavorings, but True Orange, which is 100% natural, seemed to work best.  Also, I use stevia and fructose as a sweetener.  As with any sugar, fructose shouldn’t be over-used.  But its benefit is that you need significantly less of it to produce sweetness, and fructose has properties that boost the apparent sweetness of other sweet substances.  Some studies show that fructose has a much lower glycemic index than table sugar, but other studies show that it really depends on how fructose is combined with other sugars, and how it is metabolized in the body…  Ugh.  It gets very technical.  Still, from what I understand, fructose is still comparatively healthier as a sweetener than sugar.  So.  I use 1 Tbsp fructose and 2 packets of stevia for a total of 14 carbs.  I had to use 3 or more Tbsp honey to make this drink palatable, and that’s 51 carbs, which for my purposes, is too much.  Ditto other recipes which call for 3 to SEVEN tablespoons of regular sugar per quart (36 to 84 carbs total).  You can try, of course, using plain stevia or other sweeteners, but I have tried many and none of them did the trick.  If you come up with a palatable combination of alternate sweeteners — or any other improvements to the recipe — let me know!!  I’m especially curious about agave syrup/nectar, which I’ve never purchased, but just may, if someone tries it and says it tastes fabulous.

The total price of a quart, following the recipe below, is less than $0.25, with the biggest contributor being the True Orange (which I found for $1.99 for a box of 20 packets, on sale.  Its regular price was $2.49/box).

So.  Without further ado…

All-Natural, Low Carb Electrolyte Drink

  • 2 packets True Orange
  • 2 packets stevia
  • 1 Tbsp fructose
  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp salt substitute (“No Salt” or Morton’s, or other potassium chloride-based substitute)
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • optional:  ¼ tsp granulated citric acid, or ascorbic acid, or 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 quart (32 oz) purified water

Measure/pour all ingredients except for water into the bottom of a quart container.  Add a little bit of purified water and swirl to mix (solution will fizz a bit).  Fill the container the rest of the way with water, cap and shake to mix.  Tastes best refrigerated.

(NOTE:  On 28 Feb, 2013, I made a gallon of this, so a quadruple recipe… I used 1/4 tsp pure stevia extract, 2 Tbsp fructose, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp No Salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp citric acid, and 1 tsp pure lemon extract.  TASTES GREAT, and half of the fructose used in the original recipe.)

Surprise photo

Many Sundays, when I am scheduled to sing on the worship team, and I am at practice before church starts, my 12yo son Ethan watches my 3yo daughter, Audrey. I was going through the photos on my phone yesterday, and had a sweet surprise when I saw that he had snapped a couple of pics of Audrey last week!  I know I’m biased, but I think she is such a lovely little girl.  (We’re working on being pretty on the inside, not just the outside, but that’s another matter altogether….)


Help for natural childbirth in a hospital setting!

(NOTE:  I updated links as of Aug 8, 2015.  If you find any links that are dead, please e-mail me at reillworld (at) cox (dot) net.  Thanks!!)

Fiala, my daughter born in 2008, in the hospital, 100% naturally.

The more I look into these things, the more I realize what an anomaly my births have been — five births, uninduced, unmedicated, all-natural, all in a hospital setting.  It appears to me that, despite some great attempts to the contrary, the birthing camps are becoming more polarized — the “gimme and epidural NOW” folks in one corner, and the homebirthers in another, and neither the twain shall meet on middle ground.

I understand that’s a sweeping generalization.  However, especially as I look into possibly becoming a doula, and as I’ve been researching more and more on natural birth to help with my dear friend Erin as she births her first baby, it does at least seem like things are pretty much stridently divided into those two camps.

I’ve even read some stuff from the perspective that my own babies’ births don’t count as “natural” because they were in a hospital setting.  Forgive my strong language, 😉 but that’s a load of crap.

I realize that medical costs are out of control in the U.S., and our 31.8% cesearean surgery rate and unnecessarily medicated vaginal births contribute greatly to the excesses, and that birthing at home is a much more affordable alternative — and possibly even a part of the solution to taming medical expenses.  HOWEVER.  It makes me a wee bit upset to read — as I have, and read a LOT — stuff that makes it sound like a natural hospital-based birth is impossible.  There is definitely homebirthing propaganda that tries to scare women out of trying to birth naturally in the hospital, which in my book, is shooting mothers in their own feet (or uterus??) and lending to the passive, defeatist attitude that many women adopt at the hands of hospital medical staff, instead of empowering them to advocate for themselves and their baby.

Now, I will say that my… umm… strong personality, personal convictions, and willingness to swim upstream were all definitely aids in my success.  I had to stand my ground on more than one occasion to advocate for myself to be able to have a natural childbirth, going against the advice of my doctors, and definitely against the advice of L&D nurses — declining induction, refusing continual fetal monitoring, getting a hep lock in lieu of standard IV fluids, eating and drinking during labor, declining pain medication, declining Pitocin, declining AROM, declining episiotomies, etc.   Nothing has been handed to me on a platter;  I’ve had to read, research, know my options, and stick to my guns.  But, I am proof, five times over, that it is definitely possible to have a natural, hospital-based birth.

However, I have frequently wished for more information online to support those who — for whatever reason(s) — choose to birth in the hospital, yet have a desire to birth naturally.  There just hasn’t been enough readily-available information on it, at least not that I’ve seen.

Voila! Here it is.  Mother’s Advocate (co-produced with Lamaze International).  I love the name.  I more greatly love what it provides:  Well-produced, concise print materials, and similarly well-produced short videos, all with the purpose to help women birth naturally especially in a hospital setting.

Seriously.  If you watched the seven videos, each 2 – 3½ minutes long, and really applied all six of the steps illustrated, you would be well-equipped to have a natural birth.  The 18 page complete pdf document (also downloadable in seven separate sections) is helpful, as well.  I would suggest watching the videos first, then printing out the pdfs as a reminder.  There are also 14 pages of additional information, like a birth planning worksheet and a “references” document if you’re a research-wonk and want to look into it more thoroughly.

I did not take Lamaze classes or anything, but I did each of these steps, partly on instinct, and partly gleaned from other various resources.  It’s great to have them all in one place — short, sweet, and effective.

Intro:  Birth —  As Safe and Healthy as it Can Be (click for pdf)

Step 1:  Let Labor Begin on its Own (click for pdf)

Step 2:  Walk, Move Around, and Change Positions Throughout Labor (click for pdf)

Step 3:  Bring a Loved One, Friend, or Doula for Continuous Support (click for pdf)

Step 4:  Avoid Interventions That Are Not Medically Necessary (click for pdf)

Step 5:  Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back, and Follow Your Body’s Urges to Push (click for pdf)

Step 6:  Keep Your Baby With You — It’s Best for You, Your Baby, and Breastfeeding (click for pdf)

I dearly hope that this info and these links are a help to someone, anyone out there.

Also, if you are a natural childbirth advocate of any kind, and have further links to suggest, do leave them in a comment!!

Our new favorite cereal


Lots of berries — not just eensy weensy berry bits.  Truly crispy rice.  (What is up with gluten-free “rice crispy” cereal that’s mushy???  Too many of them are.)  Very lightly sweet (from brown rice syrup and honey).  Fantastic overall taste.  I don’t even eat cereal any more, but have to restrain myself with this one, keeping it at one large bowl.  😀

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