Tuesday, November 7, 2017

First Post of 2017; changes abound

This year has found me embracing motherhood in a way I have never done before, celebrating every day, savoring every moment; the endearing ones as well as the frustrating ones. Tessa is almost twenty months old! I could go on and on about all that she is doing and becoming. But I'm sure you can imagine. We had the best summer; divided between our huge garden and playing at the lake or park with friends and enjoying afternoons eating watermelon and evenings grilling our dinner. Now that summer is behind us life is finally slowing down just enough to take a few breaths before the holidays.

This blog has been on my mind lately. I've been wanting to write. But I've taken so much time off that it is hard to know where to begin. I don't have time to write right now anyway. Not with a toddler in tow full time. I just recently started staying up later than her and I might start setting aside some computer time to write. Generally I'd rather be spending time with my husband though, or knitting while listening to a favorite audio book.

Well, I'm going to make this post short. I want those of you who are interested to know that I'm thinking of starting a new blog. I feel like this current blog belongs to another chapter in my life. I am going to take some more time to savor my baby/toddler, while she is yet a baby. These days are dwindling though and soon enough she will no longer be my baby and she'll start playing more on her own and maybe I'll have a little more time to myself. I have been thinking of trying to keep a blog that makes money - (without the pop up adds because I despise pop up adds). I want to continue to write about homesteading and making your own products whatever they may be. I also want to write about mindful parenting and distilled living. Is distilled living already a term? Is the meaning clear? When I think of busy hectic modern American lives, they are the opposite of distilled living. Distilled living is taking life and getting rid of the clutter and junk we don't need to have or be doing. Filtering out the unnecessary and being present with our loved ones.

So, hopefully another blog in the coming year. I'll keep you posted.

For now, I just have to share some big changes around here. So, I feel like the past few years have been nothing but radical changes in our life, not always good or bad, they just are. First we got rid of all our goats. Which was a huge lifestyle change. We all still miss having goats immensely and I take comfort in knowing that someday we will again have goats. Then, we had a baby! And now we can hardly remember life without her. Then our most recent big change is that both Noah and Avery have started going to Boreal Sun; a new public Waldorf Charter school. It became apparent about a year ago that no matter how hard we tried, my kids were lacking in socialization and in like minded community. I went through the various stages of grief over the course of last winter, as I slowly realized and accepted and begin to research the various options that were available to us. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and one that was so close to my heart. I just look on all those years as such a gift, to have my children home with me, exploring and learning all together. Amazingly enough, the opening of Boreal Sun this fall timed perfectly with our needs and it has been a blessing indeed.

The biggest change next to the kids being gone all day has been the driving! In past years I've gone weeks without leaving the house in the winter. Until recently I was driving them to school every morning and picking them up every afternoon. Fortunately, Dustin's work schedule has finally relaxed enough that he has been helping out! And Tessa and I have finally been able to tackle the piles and corners of disorder in the house that had been ignored all summer. We are finally relaxing into an enjoyable routine of cleaning and cooking and reading and playing together each day.

Well, I did say a short post. So I think I'd better start dinner. I hope at least a couple someone's enjoy this post and look forward to more to come.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Where do I begin?!

 Tessa around 8 months. Beginning to almost crawl.

I am acutely aware that I have not written a blog post since June!! So, where do I begin? I have been wanting to share our day to day with you. The main reason I have not been doing so, is that it requires  me having free time to do so, of which I have very little. I don't like to be looking at a computer screen while Tessa is awake. I spend her nap time either in one on one school time with the kids or bustling around in a frenzy trying to clean up from the last meal and prep the next one. By evening when she has gone to sleep, I have no motivation left and I usually follow her to bed fairly quickly. 

So, quick recap: We had a wonderful summer. Tessa went from being a helpless baby who found it too bright outdoors to open her eyes all the way, to a rolling, grass pulling, leaf eating baby by the end of it. We had perfect gardening weather and an early start to the season followed by a very rainy middle and a decent finish. The heat lovers needed the heat during the rainy time so they didn't do great, but everything else did well. A surprise to no one; I ended up planting the whole garden. Thanks to Dustin watching the baby on the weekends of May, I got a decent start to the season and managed to stay on top of the weeds early at least. 

The kids and I spent our mornings relaxing and doing house chores, afternoons in the garden and later afternoons and evenings enjoying our back porch while we shelled peas, sorted blueberries, read Harry Potter, grilled dinner and watched a bare bottom baby get filtered sun. My mother-in-law visited us from Florida. My grandparents visited us from Maine! We spent as much time enjoying our family as we could. 

This fall we celebrated Avery's 8th Birthday! We wrapped up the garden in record time as I did not want to be digging or pulling crops in the late fall cold with a baby. We dove into our school year head first. Both kids decided that they would like to learn an instrument this year. So Noah began guitar lessons and Avery began taking piano lessons. She loves her piano lessons! We are currently borrowing a keyboard. If anyone has a piano to sell for cheap, and you are in the Interior, let us know!! Our house has literally been filled with the sound of music all fall and it has been lovely. 

Noah has been taking blacksmithing classes at a nearby farm. He is also taking an ongoing woodworking class with the folk school. These are great opportunities but it has been a lot of driving and sitting around for the girls and I, so we will be taking the holidays off classes so we can stay home and do some fun things here! I am looking forward to having time for baking and crafting.

Well, I had better wrap up before this babe wakes up and I never get around to posting. The only reason I'm sitting on my duff on a Thursday afternoon is because Avery had the stomach flu yesterday and is recovering. Noah said he is feeling out of sorts. So we are taking our first full school sick day today to rest and hopefully the rest of us don't get the flu!! I hope to start posting regularly again. And gosh I'd like to find time to check out some of your blogs as well for those of you who keep them. Here a few recap pictures of our last several months. Enjoy!

 Recent Tessa picture. This is her nose wrinkle face that she does when she is proud of herself.

 Green Garden!

 The kids are such a huge help. They love to walk with her in the Ergo carrier.

 My blue eyed girls and the biggest wild blueberries!

 Happy me and my baby!

 Avery riding her first real horse and not just a pony at the fair!
(my daughter is horse crazy just like her mom was)

And my birthday girl on her 8th birthday, standing next to her garden. 


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Tessa in May into June

It is June in Fairbanks Alaska, and I have a baby, and we are all in good health and therefore; all is right in my world.

 Avery multi-tasking; making dinner and entertaining the baby.

Having a baby with two older children in the house has been one of the most rewarding experiences. There is always someone eager to hold her if I need a break as long as she is not overly tired and fussy. They do fight over her now and then so we have to allocate turns for who gets to entertain her when.

The garden was in by mid May - record early for me. I let the house get cluttered, cooked the most basic of meals and Dustin watched Tessa on weekend mornings for four weekends in a row. Now it is time to thin the carrots and start weeding and cutting the grass. The kid's garden's went in last as usual. Noah spontaneously decided he wanted a bean teepee and he built one on his own and it hasn't blown over yet so I think it may last the season.

 Noah built this bean teepee all on his own.

I'm not sure what is sweeter than a ten year old boy with his baby sister.  She just brings out all the sweetness in him.
Tessa in her happy place.

I love this picture of Tessa. It epitomizes her first twelve weeks of life; a thriving, chubby, happy baby surrounded by love, light and beauty. The fairy mobile was made by several moms at my blessingway. To me it represents all of the guardian angels in her life, her grandma, her auntie and my close friends who will be there to look out for her as she grows and blossoms into the girl and woman that she will become.

I don't have a lot of time to write these days but I'll try to share some more soon. Miss you guys!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tessa Brynn arrives

 Triumphant baby and mom by candlelight.

Triumph at last! Our baby entered the world Saturday at 7a.m. at home and in our tub as was hoped for. I've been thinking that I might get around to sharing her birth story but I'll try and give the condensed version for now. Friday night Avery went for a sleepover at her grandparents and Dustin and Noah stayed up playing Dungeons and Dragons. So I also stayed up past my normal bedtime knitting and re-watching the first season of Downton Abbey. I finally got into bed at 11p.m and was noticing the familiar contractions that I've been experiencing for the past few weeks. However, as I lay there trying to fall asleep they began to take on a slightly deeper and stronger tone. Thinking that this may be it, I got up and walked around and sure enough the contractions progressed. After another hour to make sure it wasn't another case of pre-labor, I had Dustin call the midwives to give them a heads up.

From 1 to 2 a.m. my labor continued to progress and I had Dustin call the midwives back to have them come over. I think they showed up around 2:30 or so. By then I was having strong contractions but they were 4 or 5 minutes apart and I wanted to speed things up and be done with it all already so I asked Vanessa if she could pop my water. As I was already about 8 cm dilated, she was willing to do so and sure enough my contractions picked up the pace to just a minute or two apart. I continued to labor, mostly hanging on Dustin until around 6 a.m. I hopped in the tub once for quick relief and then got back out and cooled off. I started having the urge to push, so I got back in to the tub and was very relieved to feel her head crowning soon after. I took my time and let my body do the work, doing very little intentional pushing myself until I actually thought I could get the whole head out in one push, upon which I exclaimed, "Yes! That's the best feeling ever!" and flipping over to my back revealed her head to all, who hadn't realized I was that close. From there, all was fairly easy and I was able to finally hold our baby in my arms for the first time, which actually is the best feeling ever and one of the most precious moments in my life.

She was alert and calm. She hardly uttered a squawk, but just looked around at all of us for several minutes. We were surprised by her size and her abundance of dark hair. We woke up Noah as soon as I was holding her in my arms. He got to see his dad cut the cord. We called my folks to let them know to bring Avery home. Then we all hopped into bed together.

 Noah, taking a cue from mom and dad and having some skin to skin time shortly after birth.

Avery holding her sister.

Smiling and cooing at four days old.

 Tessa Brynn; 9 lbs. !! 21 in. head circumference 14 1/2 cm. !!
and look at all those rolls and all that hair!!

In my pouch.

So it has been one of the very best weeks of my life; laying around holding my baby, nursing, changing lots of diapers, experiencing explosive poo-cidents, and staying off my feet as much as possible. Dustin stayed home and has been taking care of all of us and feeding us well. 

I feel too well rested to have a one week old. Last night we fell asleep by 9p.m., nursed briefly at midnight, nursed briefly at 2 or 3 a.m. were up for an hour from 4-5 nursing and diaper changing and then back to sleep until 8 something this morning. 

Despite giving birth to a nine pound baby six days ago, I am feeling remarkably well. I attribute a significant portion of how quickly I've recovered to some of the essential and herbal preparations I made as well as taking the homeopathic remedy arnica, during labor and after. I'll review some of the things I made and took in another post.

Avery has picked up her knitting. She and Noah are each knitting a square for a baby quilt for Tessa. So, I've got to pay close attention to make sure she doesn't drop any stitches or do anything weird. So for now, goodbye.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Trying for patience

I am four days past my due date and I can not say that I am feeling content and patient. I can say that the kids and I have enjoyed most of these quiet pre-baby bubble days. We have relaxed our school schedule, with my goal being for us all to read together, for the kids to have reading time, to play educational games together like Quiddler, and we have just been starting a typing curriculum that I hope to do for a short period a few times a week. My favorite part of our day has been first thing in the morning when we sit on the couch and read together. We just finished The Little Princess, which we all enjoyed immensely. Tomorrow morning we start The Secret Garden.

We have had unseasonably warm weather so we've been able to get out daily. The kids have been sledding on our driveway while I just hike back and forth until I feel the need to come in and lay down. I've been enjoying a small amount of yoga followed by daily afternoon naps which are just lovely and another highlight of these late winter afternoons. For the most part we have been enjoying and trying to make the most of this pre-baby calm. The sun is returning and filling our house with light.

The last couple days we've been getting a little restless. I'm ready for baby. The rest of the family is ready for baby. We have had a break from commitments and get togethers but the kids are starting to miss their friends. It has been nice not to be battling any new colds since our outside contact has been limited. Today we found ourselves looking for reasons to go to town and at the same time eyeing every door knob with suspicion - it is just that time of year where everyone has either been traveling and bringing back bugs or they are low on vitamin D and everyone is getting anything that is going around. So while we are getting restless and the kids would like to see their friends, we are simultaneously wanting to keep our distance so that we remain in good health for this special time.

I am trying to be patient but am only having mixed success. I had a night of pre-labor a couple weeks ago that was hard to bounce back from as it got me all excited and ready for labor and baby. Ever since then I have been having contractions off and on again which are quite a tease. I prefer to tackle challenges head on and waiting for them to come to me is not a strength of mine. So, these days I am very distracted, always half paying attention to the babe stirring in my belly and what she is or is not doing. I have no interest in distracting myself with books which is quite unusual for me. I can't seem to really get into this latest knitting project that I've started but I don't want to start something else. I know we should be getting in as much crafting and school as possible but I'm so over trying to have productive days. I want the baby to come so I have a good excuse to just lay around and not have to think about what I should be doing.

Last week Noah brought in a Willow tree that is budding out and we decorated it with past year's decorated blown out eggs. We planted rye grass around the base, as that is what I had in the pantry- not keeping wheat berries around anymore and never having used up all the rye berries. The cat thinks the new soil and indoor grass is for him, so we'll see if we can keep it looking nice. Avery and I wet felted some plastic eggs with plans to possibly embroider on some. A couple of them I cut open and hung from the tree. They aren't quite how I envisioned and need some more work, but one has two Amanita mushrooms inside and the other has a bird nest with eggs. We've decided for our hard boiled eggs this year we are going to try pressing fresh flowers on them and wrapping them with onion peels. The kids also want to paint some blown out eggs, which we could do sooner than later. I've been trying to get motivated to snip some willows and make a few woven baskets for decoration.

 I have to say that I am at war with myself, knowing that I need to relax and enjoy these final days of pregnancy and at the same time put an end to this waiting with some Cohosh blend tincture. It is not even that I am terribly uncomfortable or anything. I love being pregnant and with few exceptions feel pretty good still. I'm just not good at waiting for things I'm really excited about. I know that really I just need to distract myself and allow this baby to come when she is ready. I've been trying to think of what I could get excited about and today I realized that it is time to buy some seedling mix. It's a little early for here but I could start some herbs and flowers which would occupy me for one afternoon and making nests would occupy my hands and mind for another. I've been wrapping my belly for support but I can't stand in the kitchen as long as I'd like to make all the foods I'm inspired to make. So, I'm having to budget my kitchen time to make sure I have enough energy for dinner at the end of the day.

Wishing and trying for patience here. Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes and kind words.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Preparing for Birth

Is there anything so awe inspiring, so amazing and yet so common?
I'll never forget the empowering feeling I had after my first child's birth. I felt like I was just amazing, that I had created and gave birth to such a perfect being. I felt like if I could do that, I could do anything I set my mind to. In the weeks following his birth I started noticing all the moms and babies everywhere, especially at the store, babies and toddlers and kids everywhere. I had an epiphany realizing that almost half our population experiences this phenomenon at least once in their lives at that every person I see comes into the world in this manner.

My two children's births were like night and day. Noah's birth was long and hard. It was a good thing that I wasn't at a hospital or I probably wouldn't have been given the chance to have him naturally. He was large, two weeks overdue, not in the right position and he came out hand first, trying to claw his way out. I tore and needed stitches in three places, and I crawled around the house for a couple weeks, unable to stand upright due to the pressure on my stitches. Despite how beat up my body was, I was triumphant.

By the time I gave birth to Avery, I had learned not to have expectations. With her birth I was smiling all the way up until it came time to push her out. She was two weeks early, smaller and my body had already been through the process once. I thought that labor probably couldn't get much easier than Avery's. Having said that, labor is named aptly. It is hard work. It can be intense and painful and can seem never-ending. It is easy to want to just skip past all the work and wish we could wake up with a new baby in our arms.

At my blessing way, a mom wished that I would have beautiful moments during my labor. I have been dwelling on this wish. How many women in our society have or look forward to beautiful moments during labor? What a foreign concept? Doesn't that almost sound like an oxymoron? Well, I had beautiful moments during Avery's birth. There were the moments that Dustin and I stood, embraced in front of the crackling wood stove after he had built up the morning fire. I remember him lighting candles in the bathroom window as I looked out at the fully golden Birch trees. I sat in our bathroom stall and moved back and forth moving my body however seemed natural. When the second midwife showed up I had the satisfaction of hearing the first midwife tell her it wasn't going to be long. And all through that time I smiled and glowed, knowing that my body knew what it was doing and that everything was happening as it should. 

I pulled out a private photograph album that Dustin and I have with the gorier pictures of both our children's birth. We looked at it last night even though I wasn't sure that I wanted to. The pictures are hard to look at, but they are testimony of my strength and the inner power and inherent ability that all women have; to give birth naturally using the power of their bodies and without the interference of drugs and surgery.

I have been physically preparing with cleaning and cooking. I have raspberry tea frozen in chips in the freezer for sucking on and frozen perineum pads frozen and read for soothing application. The diaper bag is full of cleaned diapers and rags. Baby clothes, hats and slippers are cleaned and stored away where the cat can't lay on them and dust can't settle. 

Even more importantly, I am feeling mentally prepared. Less prone to panicking then I was a week ago. I have been mentally preparing for weeks as I think of what is to come. One of the things I really wanted to do was this chalkboard drawing I'd been envisioning. The verse is the beginning of the song, "We are one"; "For each child that's born, a morning star rises and sings to the universe who we are."

I am surrounding myself with beautiful words and images for a beautiful birth. When it comes to birth, it is hard to have pre-conceived notions or plans set in stone. But one can set positive intentions and visualize the birth and outcome they desire.

My wish for myself today as well as all other mamas getting ready to give birth is that we may all have beautiful moments as we labor to bring our babies into this world.

My Blessingway

I was blessed this weekend with my first Blessingway; traditionally a Navajo ceremony to prepare and bless a mother and her baby before birth. As with many traditions and ceremonies, I'm sure this one has evolved and become vastly different from what it once was. I had never heard of a Blessingway until I had the honor to attend my friend Sami's a couple years ago. When I was pregnant with Noah I hadn't had a Baby shower because I couldn't get over the stereotypical baby shower with streamers, pink cake and obligated gifts; it just so wasn't me. With Avery a small group of friends hosted a baby shower for me and at the time I needed a special afternoon with girlfriends and it was much appreciated. A Blessingway goes beyond a baby shower in that it takes on a more spiritual and sacred aspect. There are soul searched words spoken and heart felt tears shed. Here are some pictures from my first and most likely last Blessingway.

 My birth dream catcher with a bead holding intentions and dreams for me and the babe, from each thoughtful mama.

Hand knit baby blanket, made by the mama's and young girls in my family community.

My sister-in-law, and her daughter Petra; who will be just nine months older than this baby girl.

 Everyone made a wool Fairy/Angel for a mobile to hang above the cradle.
Avery and I each made one together the next day.

Birth Alter with stones, plants and birth statues brought for loan by friends.

One of my midwives happens to be an artist. So, I got my first Henna Belly tattoo!

 I have never had a henna tattoo. But I was told to leave on the paste until just before going to bed and then scratch or rub it off with coconut oil. This lighter brown design is left behind to last a week or two.

 Visiting and eating, crafting and singing, sharing birth stories and blessing this birth to come, gifting and receiving; I have been floating on a cloud for the last couple days. I feel so thankful to be bringing a baby into this world with so much love and support to welcome her.