Monthly Archives: April 2010

Birth coaching!

I get to be the birth coach of a first-time mom!!  Woo hoo!  It’s her goal to birth with no meds and no interventions, and I say she can do it!!!  Her mother, who — very sadly — died when she was very young, was a midwife, and her sister has had two children who were born naturally.  So, the genes are good.  😉  It turns out that she has the same OB that I had with Fiala, and he is very cooperative with natural birthing practices, though I can’t say he quite follows a midwifery model.  It’s pretty close, though.  I have been the beneficiary of his great patience — HOURS of patience during birth, way beyond what most docs have.  And, he gives midwifery-style attention to the perineum, and virtually never gives an episiotomy.  And, he’s very cooperative with non-lithotomy laboring positions.  Hard to ask much more from an OB.  🙂

My friend is 37 weeks along, and was just diagnosed with mild pre-eclampsia.  I gave her some suggestions to try to get her blood pressure down:

  • 2000 mg calcium citrate daily
  • a gallon or more of water a day
  • no trans-fats
  • lie on her left side
  • up her protein intake
  • eat tons of veggies
  • especially eat tons of lycopene-rich foods:  tomatoes (particularly canned products), watermelon, red bell peppers, goji juice, and pink grapefruit
  • no caffeine

(Anyone have any other suggestions??)

I told her that the interventions mentioned above don’t guarantee that her bp will lower, especially since time is short until she delivers, but there’s no harm in doing EVERYTHING she can, that may even possibly have a positive effect.  I’d hate to see her go to deliver her baby, and have her bp up so high that they’d require her to be monitored 100% of the time, and kept in bed.

So, please be praying for this sweet mom, that her birth will go smoothly, and that her bp will decrease, and quickly so.

And, if you’re thinking about it, please pray for the timing to be such that would allow me to attend the birth!  I have three people on tap, not including my hubby, whom I can call to watch my children, but there are still a few gaps, time-wise, during the day…

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School, writing, bread, Clean Eating, and gaining weight

  • We’re not schooling this week;  I’m devoting as much time as I can to finishing the book that I’m ghostwriting for a friend.  We’re going on three months now, and I am feeling a need to FINISH, and need devoted, multiple hours to do so.
  • In bread news:  My gluten-free vegan bread makes FABULOUS hamburger buns.  We had bacon cheeseburgers last night (at least, those of us who can have cheese did;  the rest had bacon hamburgers).  Yum.  It’s just going to take a little while to get the entire post together — there are lots of notes on ingredients and technique for the recipe, as well as a ton of pics.  Hopefully, I’ll have it done some time this week, though!
  • Along the lines of FOOD, I got my first issue of Clean Eating in the mail last Thursday.  What a fabulous magazine.  It’s like it was made-to-order for me.  I can’t wait to try the recipes!!  A year has six issues, and is about $12 for a subscription.  Well worth it, in my opinion!!  Not every recipe is gluten-free, but there is a chart in the back which lists which ones are…  And most of the other recipes are easily adjusted to make g.f.  Each issue contains lots of recipes, plus health and ingredient info and news (For instance, did you know that broccoli and other foods in the Brassica/mustard family contain a phytonutrient that has been shown to activate a natural anti-imflammatory system in the nasal passages??), book and product reviews (both grocery items and kitchen gadgets), restaurant and travel info, bits on exercise, all packaged in a very attractive, yet unpretentious package!  At LEAST, sign up for the e-newsletter!  (And, no, I’m not being paid by the mag;  I fell in love with it upon seeing an issue in my doctor’s office, so I’m just sharin’ the love.)
  • I’ve officially said, “Farewell!” to a size 6.  It was fun while it lasted.  However, I’ve found that when I’m not “forced” (out of love and necessity) to eat a highly restricted diet on my daughter Fiala’s behalf, it’s a lot harder to refuse things like jellybeans and Karamel Sutra ice cream.  🙂  I still weigh less than I have in about ten years (not including the last six months or so), but now that I know how slender I can be, size 8 feels alarmingly chubby.  Maybe if I actually go running, instead of just thinking about it, I can re-lose those pounds…

A few things

  • I cleaned up my blog reader and blog roll.  I’ve pared it down to 39 blogs on the reader, which sounds like a lot, but I deleted about 10 or 12 of them, so it was even more!  I just had to re-prioritize my time spent reading, although I felt like a bad bloggy friend deleting blogs…  I hope none of them were yours!!  Also, some blogs were on the WordPress reader, and some were on the Sage/Firefox reader.  Apparently, reading blogs in TWO different places was too difficult for me, so I consolidated them.  There are only 21 blogs on my official blogroll on the right.  A few are new;  you might wanna give ’em a gander.
  • It is so lovely to be having a cool snap in the Phoenix area the last couple of days.  I had to shut the windows earlier today, because it was 67°F in the house, and getting cooler.  I’m enjoying it, because I know the heat will be here far too soon!  And, I’m happy for our electricity bill, as we’ve only had the AC on for two days so far this year!
  • It looks like the EIGHTEENTH TIME is the charm!!  My gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, whole-grain, rice-free, corn-free, millet-free bread recipe-tweaking is now DONE.  Seriously.  Eighteen batches.  Finally, I have some results that I’m very happy with.  95% happy with, but that’ll have to do, as it may be impossible to achieve the perfection I’m looking for, whilst still disincluding ingredients I need to leave out.  95% is still an “A”, right???  In spite  of it being “free” of nearly everything, it is surprisingly tasty bread, with to-die-for crust, works great for sandwiches, nice high rise, very healthy…  Mmmm…  Recipe to be posted soon.
  • My mom is very ill and in the hospital.  She is having severe trouble breathing — when she arrived by emergency transport, her pulse ox was at 78%.  The doctors just can’t seem to agree upon/figure out what is wrong with her.  First, it wasn’t pneumonia or emboli, but they didn’t know what it was.  Then, it was pneumonia.  Then, it was pneumonia plus something else, possibly bronchitis.  Now, they’re saying that maybe it’s not pneumonia nor bronchitis, but they still don’t know what it is.  My mom is very feisty… quietly stubborn.  She wants desperately to go home;  she’s been in since Monday afternoon.  But, obviously, she needs to be able to breathe.  Dear Jesus, help my Mommy, and give wisdom and supernatural insight to the doctors.

I got a KitchenAid!! (No, not a new one. I’m too cheap for that.)

Off of Craigslist, I purchased an old KitchenAid stand mixer for $60.  Sixty bucks!!  Though I dream of a shiny, new, professional $500, 6 quart capacity, ultrapowerful KitchenAids in some funky color, I am happy with this old, white, cheap one for now:  It’s more KitchenAid than I ever had before!!!   It’s a 4C, which is a model that was produced from 1962 – 1979.  So, at a minimum, it’s in its early thirties!  The thing must weigh 30 pounds, and has definitely been used regularly throughout its life.  However, it’s in perfect working order, came with two stainless steel bowls (one 4 quart, and one 4.5 quart), the paddle, whisk, and dough hook, and also an attachment which I think is a meat-slicer of some sort.

If anything, it works TOO well.  I wish it had a super-low setting for whisking together dry ingredients.

The man from whom I purchased it said that he bought it new, lo these many years ago, for his wife.  They then passed it to their daughter, who recently upgraded.  He explained a few operating details to me.

I called KitchenAid to see if I could somehow obtain an original owner’s manual.  After being on hold for quite a while, the girl returned to say that they could photocopy the original manual they have on file and mail it to me.  That works!  And, apparently, KitchenAid is owned or somehow affiliated with Whirlpool, which I did not know.  It was a tad disconcerting to have the lady say, “Am I speaking with Karen [last name]?”  At my surprise, she said, “You have registered some Whirlpool products, so we have your information on file.”  Oh.  OK!

I have whisked dry ingredients all over the floor.  I have determined that my normal bread dough is too thick for the paddle (the dough moves up and over the paddle), and too… something for the hook, as the hook does not mix it thoroughly.  So, ironically, I am back to mixing my bread with a sturdy wooden spoon and my right bicep.

Still, I’m very happy to have my decrepit KitchenAid, and extra-happy to have had to spend only $60 on it.

EDITED TO ADD:  I am especially thankful, because there are a number of needs and wants I have for my family, and a new mixer was among them.  (Although, a mixer being a “need” is debatable;  I really only NEED a wooden spoon and a bowl.  Still.  I really wanted one, and my old one broke.)  I had started to doubt the provision of God, and was starting to develop some… discontent in my heart, because my hubby and I were not in total agreement over how our money is spent.  I could tell that — obviously — my thoughts were not in the right place, and I needed a tune-up.  So, last week, I got some prayer over the issue from a man at kinship, and after I poured out my angst at length, he prayed over me.  I seriously started laughing as he prayed, and have laughed about it all week, because with no flowery speech, nor drawn-out prayer, he basically prayed over me and instructed me, “Don’t think that.  Trust God.”  And I NEEDED that simplicity:  Don’t think that.  Trust God.  OK.  Will do.  And, He provided almost immediately.

Finishing up… (or not)

We’re on week 31 of 35 for school, and about this time each year, I am confronted with the same thing:

  • Feeling that, on one hand, we’ve had a satisfactory and investigative year of school, where we’ve learned a lot and (mostly) really enjoyed doing so.
  • On the other hand, for most subjects, we didn’t cover nearly the prescribed year’s worth of work.

All of the boys will be done a week or two early with math.  Some subjects, like English, the way I’ve set up the pace (“scope and sequence”, if you like) of study, the pace is more nebulous and need-based, so I’m not concerned about a “year’s worth;” I just want specific areas of individual need to be addressed:  for them to advance in their abilities.  But, then, in things like our Core work for Sonlight, and in science, it looks like, yet again, we will only complete about half of what we’re “supposed” to, maybe more like 55-60%, but still not nearly… enough.

“Enough,” that is, if our goal is simply to FINISH.  I find myself not able to completely commit to that goal.  I’d much rather that we LEARN and ENJOY than to fly through the work.

~sigh~

Some people just work until the work is done, but I find myself unwilling to do that, because I feel like we (including myself) need summer.  We need the opportunity to accomplish big projects around the house, and to go see a cheap movie in the middle of the day, and to go swimming at a neighborhood friend’s house, and mid-week sleepovers, and swimming lessons at the city pool, et al.  We just can’t accommodate those activities whilst doing school.

We are going to do the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in early May.  (My Stepdad, who is  a semi-retired public school teacher, and an awesome supporter of homeschooling, is going to administer the tests.)  Even though there are many in the homeschooling community who say that no one should have to be subject to standardized tests, I find that I am not completely of that bent.  Though this will be the first time in eight years of homeschooling that we will be doing standardized tests, I support the idea of them.  And, I shall like to discover where my kids’ education needs some emphasis, and where we have excelled.  I do think that “those who compare themselves among themselves are not wise,” yet, I also agree that there are certain standards (which are, admittedly, highly debatable) to which students should attain.

I guess if they do “well” at the ITBS (we will get results within 1-3 weeks of completing them), I guess I’ll feel less badly about our perpetually “unfinished” school years.

Well, we tried

I think if we Photoshopped these, cutting and pasting, we might end up with some semblance of a family photo.  As it stands, it… well, it probably serves to teach some sort of lesson, but I’m not certain what that might be.  It does demonstrate how difficult it is to get a reasonably attractive picture of my whole family, especially when 5/7 of it is entirely uncooperative.

In this first pic, my fam is on the left.  Martin’s Grandma is on the blue recliner (we’re in her home).  His mom is in pink, and his (half) brother, Matthew, and our sister-in-law, Laura, are on the far right.  Note how thrilled EACH of my children look… And is my jaw clenched???

Next, Matt and Laura have split, and Audrey is on the floor, hidden.

Really, we’re not supposed to be making funny faces.

After that, what little patience everyone may have had ran out.

And then, my balloon bursts…

Writing with pen and paper is just so much more visceral than typing on a computer.  I have heard of writers who favor the old-fashioned typewriter for their works, as well.  I can easily picture that.  Though (obviously) I blog frequently (or, frequently in spurts), sometimes I just need to get something down on paper, by hand.  (Edited to add:  I started this post out this way, as I was going to type out a couple of journal entries I’d written… then, I hijacked my own post and took it in somewhat of a different direction.  So, this first paragraph has little bearing on the rest of the post.  Or, maybe it doesn’t… )

Recently, I have been considering the progress of my 10yo son.  Grant has Nonverbal Learning Disorder, which I explained in probably too much detail in this recent post.  In it, I was encouraged by some progress he’s been making, just becoming more alert to the world and the people around him.  Additionally, this week, I journalled some encouraging signs about Grant…

However, in the face of all these warm fuzzies, reality comes and whacks me upside the head.  This week has been FILLED with frustration with Grant.  He, highly intelligent, is convinced that he is always right, and that anyone who disagrees with him — parents included — is obviously wrong and that his intelligence is a trump card over authority’s obvious wrongness, releasing him, he feels, from righting his behavior, accepting correction for school work, obeying pretty much anybody, and so on.

Among other unpleasant scenes this week, he had a complete meltdown when I gave him some correction about writing dialogue.

I love writing.  I think Grant has the potential to be a fabulous writer.  He is truly creative, and his natural take on the world is from quite a different angle than how most see it.  For his age, he is extremely well-read in both fiction and non-fiction.  He has a solid grasp of grammar.  He has a great sense of humor.  All of those things could add up to a best-seller someday.

However, I’ve been trying to explain to him that when he writes, unless it’s for personal journal use, it needs to be in a form where people can understand what he’s written.  It needs to communicate.  In other words, writing unpackages and opens up the the world of the mind of the author for his reader.  But, if there are gaps in explanation and leaps of assumption, in addition to structural errors in the actual writing itself, then people are not going to be able to appreciate what he’s written because they won’t understand it, and/or won’t take the time to slog through his written work to decipher what he meant, which is often not apparent upon first (or even second or third) glance.

I’m not able to convince him that my desire is for him to be a better writer so that people (both now and in the future) can better appreciate him.  All he hears is that he’s done it wrong, which he rejects.

~sigh~

But, maybe God had me recall to mind several encouraging things, lately, about Grant so that I wouldn’t lose it altogether and become a bundle of frustration, banging my head against the nearest solid object.  It’s hard, though, for me to see the big picture at times, when the daily details are whipping me.

Lord, help me.

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

You know you’re getting old when your flower girl is getting married.

Bethany in 1994:

Bethany’s wedding is next Sunday…  I had the privilege of attending a shower for her recently, and concocted this recipe to bring along.  Over the course of a couple of days, I crafted it in my head — which doesn’t necessarily assure its success, but this time, I was really pleased with the results.

Since I didn’t make this for my family, I “splurged” to include dairy.  So, it’s gluten-free, but obviously, not dairy-free.

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

In a large bowl, toss to combine:

  • 2-3 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and diced into ½” cubes  (I grilled mine)
  • 6 oz. dried, sweetened cranberries (about 1 1/3 cup)
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped, toasted*, and cooled
  • 1 small can (usually 5 oz., dry) water chestnuts, ¼” dice
  • ½ cup celery, ¼” dice
  • 1 bunch green onions (scallions), sliced (including tops)

In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the following ingredients until well-combined:

  • 16 oz (2 cups) plain, full fat yogurt (I used Mountain High Original Style)
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup minced fresh dill
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 – ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper

Add the dressing to the chicken mixture, and stir to thoroughly combine.  Sprinkle with additional dill as garnish, if desired.

Serve with crackers, rolls, or sliced bread.

Enjoy!!

——————————-

*Place in a pie tin under a hot broiler for a few minutes, shaking or stirring occasionally, until they start to brown and have an aromatic scent.  Remove from tin immediately after toasting so that they don’t burn.

Awkward homeschoolers, pretzels, and natural induction

*“presumed” because I fit the list of symptoms, which were alleviated by a gluten-free diet, but I would not return to a gluten-containing diet to have an intestinal biopsy done.  I should have been scoped before the diet, which neither I nor my doctor knew at the time.

Soapboxing: Birth, etc.

I have a number of soapboxes on which I like to stand.  Well, not really.  I don’t like to think of them as soapboxes, because I don’t think street preachers with a megaphone on a soapbox really get listened to all that much.  I’d like to think of myself at least slightly more influential than that.

Still.

The topic of birthing has always been close to my heart.  I’ve learned much more about it in the last, oh, 13 years.  But even before I ever gave birth, I had some opinions that seem like they shouldn’t be all that controversial, but it turns out they are, like:

  • Women can birth babies with no medication, just the way God created ’em to.
  • Breastmilk is the best food for a baby.

Whoda thunk that such things would be frought with controversy, politics, and vitriol?  I’m a simple gal at heart, really.  It seems to me that those topics SHOULD be simple, end of story.  But, they’re not.

Some of my recent thoughts on birthing:

  • My sister, for various and important reasons, recently decided to move from Tennessee and her government job, to Texas to work for my Dad’s company.  The first place of employment had fabulous insurance.  Our Dad’s company:  None.  The “problem” is that when she moved, she was newly pregnant.  She is now 24ish weeks along.  This is problematic because a) she makes too much money to qualify for state aid, and b) she has a condition that places her in the “high risk” category for pregnancy and birth, so even though she would rather birth at home with midwife (which she could easily afford), no midwives will take her because of the potential risk.  So, it looks like she’s stuck with a hospital birth.  BUT, since she doesn’t have insurance, she is required to pay out of pocket, up-front, which is $6-8 THOUSAND DOLLARS, which, um, she doesn’t have, before a doctor will even see her for prenatal care.  Total rock and hard place kinda situation, don’t you think??  (BTW, I do have her permission to share this.  She said:  “I knew our health system had problems, but I didn’t understand that you could actually be in a position where you couldn’t get care.”)  Any ideas, anyone???
  • Stand and Deliver is by far my favorite birthing blog.  It just seems that nearly everything Rixa posts resonates with me, and I find extremely relevant.  Though I don’t see eye-to-eye with all of her opinions, I hold her in high esteem, as she is learned, kind, thorough, and humble.  In one of her recent posts, a statement caught my eye:  “if 80 to 90 percent of women exclusively breastfed for as little as four months and if 90 percent of women would breastfeed some times until six months, the US would save $13 billion in excess costs annually and avert 911 preventable deaths per year”  Yes, you read that right.  And, unbelievably enough, the study which came to those conclusions wasn’t published in some neo-hippie publication, but Pediatrics An article from CNN, which summarizes the findings of the study is well-worth reading.  The entire original article is available by subscription only, but you can read the abstract here.  By the way, the costs mentioned do NOT include the cost of formula itself, which would certainly add millions, if not billions, to the associated cost;  they are only the costs associated with premature death from conditions medically linked to formula-feeding, and the costs of parents’ missed time from work.
  • Another good post is from Midwifery Ramblings, entitled What Pitocin Does to Your Baby.  I have become increasingly alarmed about the blasé attitude women have towards pitocin.  It has become standard in hospital births (I read somewhere semi-recently that pitocin is used in 90% of U.S. hospital vaginal births… gotta find that source…) instead of the last-ditch effort that it is supposed to be for, or for other situations of true medical necessity and emergency (normal giving of birth is not an “emergency” even if it doesn’t proceed at a pace according to hospital protocol, the doctor’s personal schedule, et al).  Pitocin is pretty much evil in an IV bag, in my opinion, often the first step in the “cascade of interventions” that lead to our nation’s shameful, staggering, needlessly-inflated 31% c-section rate.  Pitocin is NOT good for you, and it is NOT good for your birthing baby.  The only person that pitocin is good for is the OB, who wants you to just hurry up and have that baby so he can make it to his dinner party.  (I don’t believe that all OBs are evil and chiefly motivated by self-serving interests, but I do believe that they — with virtually no exception — out of habit, convenience, or whatever the reason, overuse pitocin in their patients, and not in the patients’ best interest.)  And/or, pitocin is good for the hospital, whose protocols are usually prioritized with its profitability in mind, thus, protocol is formed to maximize turnaround rate in the L&D ward.  The quote in her post which stuck out to me in Midwifery Ramblings’ post was this:  “Consider this: in nearly half of malpractice suits involving damage to the baby, synthetic oxytocin is cited as the culprit.”  (MW was quoting Jennifer Block on that.  And, pitocin is synthetic oxytocin.)  JUST SAY NO TO PITOCIN!!!!!!! You have the RIGHT TO REFUSE IT!!!!!  The best way to go about that is:  Don’t schedule an induction.  If you’re already in spontaneous labor, and the staff determines that your labor is not proceeding according to their protocol, STILL refuse it.  Do your research before you go into labor, and let your doctor know that you will NOT agree to pitocin.  (By the way, I did agree to pitocin once.  It was after the 100% unmedicated, slow birth of my fifth baby.  I went nearly six hours with **NO** dilation, “stuck” at 7 cm, refusing pitocin all the while, and went from about 7 cm to 10 cm and safe, healthy birth in literally 10 minutes.  My doctor supported me in my NO INTERVENTION goal of birth, but I guess understandably, started to waver five hours or so, asking if he couldn’t at least do an amniotomy — breaking my water.  I agreed to pitocin in an IV because, post-birth, I was hemorrhaging.  It did — painfully — cause my uterus to clamp down and more forcefully and quickly expel the afterbirth, and surely saved me from losing more blood.  However, in retrospect, I still wonder if even THAT was necessary.)
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