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A Snowy Winter Day

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I had the bright idea to make the short drive to a friend’s house with the two and a half year old and the six week old to attempt a sledding adventure. My husband was at home napping away a cold and I thought it would be ‘fun’ to get out for a bit. AM I CRAZY??? We drove the fifteen minutes to her house and got out, donning all the best snow gear. The baby was bundled up in a sling and the toddler was jumping around with excitement. We went down the hill ONCE on the sled and the baby started screaming just as the toddler started to cry and insist that he was all done. In utter defeat, I climbed back into the truck to have a snack with the toddler and try to pretend that I wasn’t completely disappointed in this total failure of a sledding fun day. I was about to make the decision to bail when my friend’s husband knocked on the window and said that his two older kids were coming out to play.

An hour later, after MANY sled rides down the hill for the older kids, my toddler happily playing in the snow by himself, and the baby sleeping in the sling, we decided to stop for a snack. The three kids sat on the tailgate of my truck munching cheese sticks and Hannah, the older child, looked at me with her big, bright eyes, and declared, “You are a good mommy. They are lucky to have you.”. I could have jumped for joy. God knew that was exactly what I needed to hear just then, and used this sweet child to pass the message along. Despite my earlier anger at my toddler, my frustration with the baby, and really, truthfully, my sadness of a potential failed adventure- I AM a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, a good person. Hopefully my toddler will not remember the moments of anger when I feel like smoke might be coming out of my ears. He will hopefully remember instead the snack on the tailgate with friends, the hours spent building forts, the ‘little adventures’ where we roast hot dogs and marshmallows on our pretend campfire.

I realized that day, as I was driving home after warming up with cocoa in the house with my friend and the kids, that much of what we do with our children is somehow weirdly tied into our own memories. That our expectations and disappointments often have more to do with us wanting to give our kids the experiences that we remember enjoying so much. I also realized, that even if this day HAD turned out to be a miserable failure, that I am a good mom for trying, and trying again, over and over and over, because I love my kids, and I want them to have every opportunity for fun and adventure. Even if they don’t enjoy it as much as I think they should, they will be better people for having the experience, and not sitting at home watching the tele instead…..

25 Things I Never Thought Would Happen

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Some things that I NEVER thought would happen and kind of mildly horrify me still when I read them in print……

1. My T-Shirt would become the perfect burp rag (less laundry, and it already smells like sour milk anyway).

2. It would be acceptable to stay in my pajamas all day, for four days in a row, and not be ill.

3. I could pick a booger out of someone else’s nose.

4. I would willingly wipe poo off someone’s balls and not get paid for it (I’m a nurse).

5. It became normal to watch a movie with my husband and have a pump attached to my chest, and that making cow sounds while doing it still seems hilarious to us both.

6. My husband and I can complete a sentence without pause, ignoring the 60 second long toot that came out of our child’s back end.

7. Now that I mention it, can we complete a sentence at all?

8. I hear babies crying when I turn on the faucet- seriously, don’t you?

9. A shower has become a freak show- either with my toddler opening the curtain every 5 minutes, or with me madly soaping up and rinsing in a crazy rush to get it done before someone NEEDS something.

10. Pooping has become an escape- how long will it take for anyone to notice the door is locked and start wailing on the other side of it?

11. If your fingernails aren’t dirty, you probably don’t need a bath (this goes for anyone in the house).

12. You can gauge how fast to move by the intensity, pitch, and volume of the scream from the other room.

13. Watching my toddler eat food off the floor that might be from sometime this week seems okay.

14. If I eat that piece of chocolate REALLY fast behind the cabinet door- I might not have to share…..

15. There is no longer morning, noon, and night- it is when is naptime? How long until naptime is over? And when is bedtime?

16. I no longer worry about cleaning up a small something spilled on the floor- isn’t that what socks are for?

17. Opening the granola bars at the grocery store before paying for them is totally worth getting yelled at by the cashier- anything to survive the two-year old meltdown.

18. If the diaper isn’t sagging enough to be a third leg- it might survive one more pee.

19. Peanut butter and jelly is okay for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner. Same goes for cheese tortilla or cereal.

20. Clothes can be re-worn based on the sniff test (again, this goes for anyone in the house).

21. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would tell my child not to hug the dog because he might give the dog fleas. Nor did I ever imagine my CHILD would bring home fleas from the petting zoo…..

22. Sometimes I go to a social function based on whether they have babysitters or not… just to have a little bit of time away.

23. My husband could scare our toddler into moving faster by making a ‘moo’ sound (and subsequently having a toddler that is terribly afraid of cows).

24. My husband would ask if the clothes in the laundry bin were clean or dirty, and sometimes we wear the clothes right out of the bin until it is time for laundry again, at which time, the floor pile gets moved into the now empty bin.

25. I often have no memory of what happens between 8pm-10pm because my husband and I are so fried that we can easily waste two hours on something…or nothing….just to have quiet.

Prepared for Spring?

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Trees

Well, this is about all I have to post about the garden moving from Fall to Winter to Spring. The trees we planted three years ago are growing quite well to form a privacy screen that will probably be just about perfect by the time we move to our new property! The garden, well, it is just what it looks like- a big pile of straw. Being about 8 months pregnant when it was time to prep for Winter, I decided to go a different route this year. I knew after having one child already, that my time in the Spring will be tied up with other things besides weeding and prepping the garden. I decided to lay down a new layer of cardboard covered with a super thick mulch of straw to complement our lasagna garden. I knew from previous experience that this will not only inhibit weed growth, but also keep the soil nice and moist for planting. We have a heavy clay base, so the straw seems to keep the soil from turning into a big, baked layer of clay that is impossible to till and impossible to plant into. Last year I did not put down such a heavy layer, but where I did place straw, I was able to peel the straw back and have a nice, moist garden bed ready for planting. I am still uncertain what we will be doing with the garden this year, but I want to be ready just in case. At this point, we ar hoping to be transitioning to our new property in Minnesota- but at least this way I can have the option of planting if the circumstances allow. It will be a sad winter without all of our garden goodies!!

How Home Birth Healed a Family

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Another Boy!

My husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our first son on October 2nd, 2010. We knew from the start that we wanted a home birth and researched extensively on the topic. We knew the risks, the benefits. Having lived in Alaska for years, we also knew it was something that was common, normal, and did not need to be about fear or uncertainty. We watched videos, we read books, we planned and prepped. We began receiving prenatal care from a home-birth midwife. The baby was breech at most of our appointments, but we all tried our best not to be concerned. A breech baby could turn. I read more, I performed strange stretches designed to turn the baby, I went to a chiropractor. The day before my 39th week of pregnancy, I had an appointment with the midwife. My husband and I stopped for our customary greasy fish sandwich at the restaurant on the way home. The midwife was mildly concerned that the baby had not yet dropped. We discussed an ultrasound. I woke at 8:00am the next morning with contractions. They were 4-5 minutes apart fairly consistently and quickly. We went in for the ultrasound at 3:00pm and discovered that he was still breech, and probably not going to turn. I remember crying on the way home and my husband just holding my hand. Everything we had worked so hard for was about to fall apart. I was in constant communication with the midwife as we tried to decide what to do. At around 9:00pm, my water broke, and I knew it was over. The midwife still wanted to talk options, but I knew that it was time to go to the hospital. Our son was born at 11:04pm by cesarean section on June 1st, 2011. It was devastating. Of course we were happy that we had a healthy baby boy. But we were also completely shattered and traumatized by an experience that was everything that we did not want. Our son had problems with his feet from being breech that resulted in 18 months of braces. He had problems with his head and neck from the delivery. He screamed more than he slept, it seemed, and we cried more than we laughed. We both struggled with postpartum depression- my husband and I both grieved in our own ways, and often separately. We felt detached, we felt disconnected. We felt like it was difficult to really bond with this little person that was handed to us wrapped in a blanket behind the blue shroud that was my open abdomen. I don’t think that we really healed until December 15th, 2013, the day that our second son was born at home, assisted by the midwife.

The day began like any other day. We had just had company, and I was feeling unusually tired. I felt like it was fairly difficult just to get up and off the couch. I was making dinner at about 5:30pm and felt a little tightening in my abdomen- similar to the Braxton Hicks, but this one was slightly uncomfortable. The second one rolled in like clockwork 15 minutes later. This continued for about an hour. I casually mentioned it to my husband, cleaned up dinner, and put our son to bed. We decided to let the midwife know that things were probably starting. The phone call did not go through. I tried again…and again…..and again. The contractions were about 7-10 minutes apart when we finally got in touch with the assistant. She decided that she would need to drive the 3.5 hours round trip to our midwife’s house and pick her up, since the phone seemed to be out. That 3.5 hours seemed so long. I had sent my husband to bed to rest, and as I paced downstairs, he jumped out of bed upstairs every 10 minutes or so to see if they were here yet. I listened to music and prayed. I prayed like I never had before! At this point I had a pretty cool talk with God. I was feeling grumpy because I was uncomfortable and felt like I shouldn’t have to be alone. I was feeling a little bit abandoned. God and I had a pretty serious discussion about how delivering this baby WAS something that I was alone in, but with God by my side, I really wasn’t alone. He made it clear to me, though, that no one but him could really walk with me in this journey- that it was just him and I dealing with this pain. I felt him in the room with me that night, touching my shoulder, and reassuring me that even though there are times in life that I will feel totally alone- I will never be alone with him by my side.

The midwives finally arrived at the house at 1:40am. By this time, the contractions were taking a little more concentration, but we decided that everyone should try and rest. I was having a tough time resting, so I paced for awhile.
At about 3:30am, the contractions were getting more serious and the midwife came upstairs with me. I do not have a very good sense of time from this point on, but I can tell you that from about 6:00am until our son was born, I experienced some of the most intense moments of my life! My husband was absolutely wonderful- rubbing my back, whispering how much he loved me, encouraging me to keep going through each contraction. It was super tough, though. I felt frustrated, I felt hopeless at times, I felt exhausted, I felt like giving up. And then, in an instant after what seemed like an eternity, I held our son in my arms with my husband behind me, looking down on us with such an intense expression of love and joy.
There are so many things that stick out in my mind about being at home, delivering this new life with just my husband and midwives present. It intensely bonded my husband and I, and strengthened each of our separate and combined relationships with God. It bonded us with this new life in a way that I cannot even begin to describe. One of the coolest things about it, though, is what it did for us as a family. In many ways, it healed much of the trauma from our first son’s birth and changed how we view the whole experience with him. It really made us all feel more like a family, and not so disconnected. I cannot say that a home birth is for everyone, but for us, it has been, and probably always will be an extremely powerful moment in our lives as a family. I am so thankful that we got to experience it together, in the quiet of our own home. Welcome, little one!

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