Sunday, December 28, 2014

Our Second Unassisted Childbirth Story

I've had a few friends ask me to tell our birth story, and I figured it can't hurt to document this event for our new baby's sake, so here goes.

First of all, I don't feel like this Unassisted Childbirth (UC) was as exciting or eventful as the first one we did (you can read that story here), but it was still an amazing, beautiful day, despite how smoothly it went. ;) I also don't feel the need to justify or explain my decision to UC (like I did the last time), because I believe it is the best thing for our family, and that is all that matters.  If you're curious why or how we came to decide to have a UC, read my previous post.  It was quite the scandalous decision! 

This time around, we were able to hire a home birth midwife to do my prenatal care. I wanted to make sure baby and I were healthy before going into a UC, and having a midwife watch me during pregnancy was part of that. She herself has fourteen children, and a few of them she birthed unassisted. When we met for the first time, I was upfront with her, and told her I only wanted her care before and after the birth, but I did not want her at my birth. I feel so strongly about that being an intimate family affair, without strangers in the room. She was totally cool with that idea (which surprise me a little, but I was thankful!). She met with me monthly, and gave me shining pregnancy stars the whole way, so I felt confident that baby and I were going into this birth with nothing to be concerned about.

There was confusion about my due date all along, but it fell somewhere between December 13th and December 20th (we thought). For the sake of my sanity, I chose to believe I was due on the 20th. If I thought I should birth on the 13th, and kept being pregnant after that, surely I'd go insane. Looking back, I'm so glad I had the 20th in my head, because he came on the 19th. After looking at a few different indicators of baby at birth, my midwife is sure he was *maybe* 39 weeks gestation, but definitely not full-term. Can I just tell you how happy I am that he came when he did, and didn't cook longer???  He was 10lb, 9 oz (my biggest baby by 2oz), and if he'd stayed in another week (or longer), and gained the typical 1/2 lb per week that babies gain at the end, he would have been over 11lb. I'm glad he wasn't bigger, because being pregnant with heavy babies is painful.  I've never had issues delivering them, but there's that possibility too. 

On Thursday night, the 18th of December, I took Sadie to her dance rehearsal. She was scheduled to perform her hip hop routine at the High School girls basketball half time on Friday night. We got home at 8:45, and I laid down with Sloan to snuggle him to sleep. At about 9:00, I felt (heard?) a tiny "pop" in my belly. I didn't think anything of it until I stood up to get out of bed a few minutes later. And liquid came out. I wondered if I'd just peed on myself, or if this could be my water breaking? It wasn't a lot of liquid, but I also don't usually wet myself, so I wasn't sure. I went to snuggle Sadie to sleep, and after getting up from the bed with her, I had a big gush of water.

I told Mark I was pretty sure my water had broken. He was excited with me, and was super helpful getting me towels to put between my legs, because it just kept gushing and gushing! Eventually it stopped, and the contractions took over.

I'd had prodromal (false) labor for at least three months leading up to this birth. Knowing what four weeks of prodromal labor did when I had Wyatt (prepared my body, did lots of work before the birth, and allowed me to have a short, five hour labor), I was sure this labor was going to be quick! So, at about 9:45, I called my midwife to let her know my water had just broken. She lives three hours away, and wanted to come up and wait at her friend's house until my birth was over, then come and check on me and the baby. I didn't know at the time, that when I called her, she had just gotten home from being in my city all day, doing prenatal visits with other mamas. She had woken up at 4am, and got home at 9 pm. She had just made a plate of food for dinner, and asked me if I thought it would be ok if she ate dinner before turning around and driving back to my city. Poor thing!!!  (I told her not to rush. After all, I didn't want her at the birth, and didn't care too much when she came to check on us after). She didn't tell me all of this until after the birth, but how gracious and kind was she?!? It ended up taking her 4.5 hours to make the drive back, because it was a super foggy night, and there was a main bridge out that required her to take a detour. She got to her friend's house at 2something am, and went to sleep.Yikes!

Back at our house, Mark and I started getting things ready for the birth. He got the birthing pool out, and set it up. I got all my herbs and homeopathy out that I might need after the birth. We lit candles, and put Norah Jones radio on Pandora. It was such a sweet ambiance. I decided to set up the pool in the living room, instead of where we'd planned in our bedroom. I'm so glad we did set it up in the living room, because I had the twinkle lights from the Christmas tree, and my wall of family photos to look at while I was laboring. I relished family memories through the years as I looked at our wall.

Here's a picture of my amazing husband filling up the birthing pool, one bucket at a time.

At about midnight, I realized my contractions had slowed down, and they were far enough apart that maybe I could rest (ha!). So, we got into bed and took a nap. Well, Mark did. I get too excited to really sleep, and well, there are those contractions every few minutes waking me up, but I at least got some rest. Mark wakes up at about 5:00 for work, and had been up for 19 hours, so I'm glad he got at least a little sleep. At 2:00, the contractions picked up, so I woke Mark up, and we went back out to the birthing pool. I labored in there until about 5:00, then decided to try to get some sleep (I was really tired!). I kept thinking how surprised I was that it was taking so long! It was supposed to go fast, right?!?? After all that prodromal labor I'd had?!?!

We slept until about 6:20, and then got back up to get in the pool. Wyatt woke up soon after that, then Sloan a few minutes later. As soon as they saw the pool, they asked, "Is baby brother coming today???!!" The looks on their faces were priceless!

While we hung out, the boys listened to Mommy's moans as each contraction came. At about 7 or 8, we told them they could go wake up Sadie. They ran in and told her that Mommy was in labor. She ran out, just as excited as them. We hung out awhile more, until they started getting bored. The boys went in their rooms and played, asking Mark to come play with them. My super awesome husband (and amazing Daddy to my kids) was balancing playing trains and Imaginext with his boys, filling my pool with warm water, bringing me water to drink, making sure I was comfortable, mediating conflicts between the kids, cleaning the kitchen...I could go on. He was doing this all on less than four hours of sleep in the last day and a half. How'd I get so lucky to have such an amazing man? I seriously love him.

Sadie, my little Mini Mommy, wouldn't leave my side. She asked me every few minutes if I needed anything. She brought me sips of water. She took pictures, and was our videographer. She was a superstar!!  I'm loving having an almost-eight-year-old around! What a luxury!!  She even got everything ready for the baby: A couple towels to dry him off, a swaddling blanket and cloth diaper (she picked the blue floral print one...because, he is, after all, a boy!), baby wipes, etc. She also kept asking if she could cut his umbilical cord when he came out. I just love how much she wanted to be a part of his birth.

I kept laboring.

For hours.

As each hour passed, I started to feel more and more discouraged. This was supposed to be quick!!  Why was I still pregnant?!?!  My longest labor was Sadie's, which was sixteen hours. My boys' labors were five and seven hours long. I was already past twelve hours!(And ended up going for five more hours!)

Fear started to creep in. And, if you read my other UC story, you know what fear in childbirth does--it makes more pain!  And that is NOT what I wanted! I was fighting it the whole time. It was a total mental challenge.  I was telling myself that "my body was created to do this", and that it was opening, and getting ready to bring this baby out in a way that has been done successfully for centuries. I'll be honest though, there was something in the back of my mind that kept getting me worried. And as a result, I had more pain than I wanted, or expected. I think part of it was that, because it wasn't my first UC, I didn't spend nearly as much time researching and reading up on it. My head wasn't in the game. I had been there, done that, and knew how it all worked, but didn't do the work I'd done previously to let go of my fears. I also knew, by the amount of pain I was in during pregnancy, that this baby was huge. I told quite a few people, "I think he's going to be an eleven pounder."  Maybe I shouldn't have said that so much, because I think part of me wondered if I'd have problems getting him out if he was that big. I'd never had any problems getting my two 10lb, 7oz boys out. I'd never pushed for more than ten minutes! I really think God gave me some birthing hips (and I'm thankful for that), that allows them to come out pretty easily! But in the back of my mind, I still wondered...

And then my labor was taking "FOR-E-VER"!

And it was painful. More than I want to admit. Looking back, I wonder if the contractions hurt more because my water broke first.  I've been told that is the case, so perhaps that was factoring in. 

But the pain, I believe, was a direct result of my fear. Gah!  I was trying so hard to fight it mentally. It was such a challenge.

Sometime around noon, I got in the zone. The zone where mothers check out, and just get into labor mode. No talking, just focusing on getting through each contraction. It was Transition. I don't know how long it lasted, but it felt like it took longer than any of my other births. It was tiring, and hard. Even though my birth with Sadie was 16 hours, I got an epidural after nine hours. Sadie's labor may have had a long transition stage, but since I wasn't feeling it, it didn't matter.

This time, I'm feeling it.

I just kept praying for God to make my body push soon. I knew I didn't want to push before my body took over and did it voluntarily. Doing that would likely cause me to tear, and I didn't want that. I tore really badly with Sadie (because I had to push when the midwife told me to, not when my body felt like it, since I'd had the epidural). I hadn't torn with Sloan (even though he was a 10 1/2 lb baby) because I let me body take over. I knew this was important to wait for, even though I just wanted it all to end. Mark told me tonight that he walked into the laundry room and prayed to God to let this end soon. He was also having some fear about, "why is this taking so long!?"  As he walked back into the living room, I yelled, "I'm pushing!"  We had both been praying for the same thing, at the same time, and thank God, it happened!! 

I pushed for what seemed to me like a long time. Looking back on the video, it was only about fifteen minutes, but it felt long to me. It took all my strength to get his head past my bones. I could feel it very distinctly, pushing on the bones, but I just couldn't get it past. It turns out, he actually has a large head (which none of my other kids have had--they've all been pretty average). Once his head was out, it was only a couple more contractions, and his whole body was out. Once I felt him come out, I had such a feeling of relief! I turned around, and grabbed my baby, and held him to my chest. I told him, "I'm your mama!", and rubbed him until he started to breathe on his own and give a cry. My kids and Mark were at the poolside the whole time (when I started pushing, they all ran in), cheering me on, and giving me a play-by-play as he was coming out. Here's us, right after he came out.

A few minutes later, Mark called the midwife and told her we were done. She arrived about 30 minutes later, and helped me deliver the placenta. She checked baby and me, helped us clean up, weighed and measured him, and went on her way!

It was a beautiful birth, despite the challenges of working through my fear and pain. I'm so glad we were at home. I'm so glad my kids got to be a significant part of their brother's birth. I'm so glad everything went smoothly. I'm glad I didn't tear, too!

Sadie did end up cutting the cord. Here's a picture of that exciting moment.

It took us an entire pregnancy, and four days after birth to pick a name, but his name is Adler Jackson Pursell. Jackson is after my late father. 

He was born at 1:42pm on 12/19/14.

He weighed 10 lb, 9 oz, and was 22 1/4" long.

Here are a few pictures of special moments we've had with him during his first few days on earth:

(I told Sadie she could "babysit" him while Mark and I snuggled Wyatt and Sloan to sleep. I left her in the living room with him. When I came out a few minutes later, I found them in bed like this. How precious is that?!?! What a good little babysitter I have, huh? I'm going to be so spoiled with all this help this time around!)

Here's the sweet cherub:

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Five Years

Today marks five years since my brother died. Still, not one day goes by that I don't think of him. He crosses my mind I've also now lived a longer life than he was afforded. Sometimes I am shocked by that fact.

I dread this day coming every year.  I dread it because with each passing year, I feel further away from the time when he was here with us.  I hate that distance. I want to undo it.  I want to go back in time, and make everything happen differently.  I wish I could. 

But I don't want this blog post to be about the sadness, or dwelling on what can't be undone.

I want to talk about how this has changed me. 

As a mom, I often look at my children, and think, "What if that happened to me one day?" Having this thought in the backdrop of my mind has made me cherish my kids, and each passing day, in a way I never could have, or would have, had Andy not been killed.  It sounds so cliche to write that, but cliche is not how I feel.  I feel sincerely, that this loss has caused me to value each day I have with my kids, and my husband.  My biggest fear is leaving them too soon.  I want them to know how much I love them. I hope I'm telling them through my actions each day.

Yesterday, we were talking about some Aunts and Uncles in our family. My middle child started to ponder. 

A few minutes later, he asked me when I was going to die. 

I think he has made the connection that his cousins are still kids, but their Daddy is dead, and could that happen to him?  He was worried, and he wanted me to tell him when I was going to die.  He wanted me to assure him that I would "be alive when [he's] a grown up."  I feel sad that he's worried about that.  I wish I could assure him that I would be alive when he's a grown up.  I want to be alive when he's a grown up!  I told him that for sure! It was a good lesson on death, and life, but not one I wanted to have, because it seemed like it was coming from a place of fear inside him.  And that makes me sad.  I just hope, again, that I'm telling him that I love him through my actions each day.  Not just my words, because those mean nothing if my actions don't confirm them.  I'm not a perfect mom.  I make lots of mistakes. Lots.  But I hope my kids know that I love them to the moon. I would do anything for their little hearts to be protected.  I  hope they never have to experience the pain of losing a parent before they hit adulthood.  No child should have to experience that pain.

I feel like I have let go of my anger toward these two men who took Andy's life.  They were high, and stupid, and should not have been doing such a heinous act, but they are now paying the penalty for their decision.  I'm sure they are suffering, and I feel sad for them.  I feel sadness for their kids, who also lost a dad that day.  I feel sad for my sister-in-law, and my nephews.  My heart breaks for them often.  I just wish I could fix it for them.  But I can't.  I feel sad for my kids, who never got to know their Uncle.  Or for my new Sister-In-Law, who never got to meet her Brother-In-Law.  And for hers and my brother David's kids, who will never get to meet their Uncle.  There are so many people who were affected that day.  Even unborn people.  The consequences are so widespread.  And so is the sadness.  But in the end, I want to focus on the tiny good that has come from this.  That being that some of us are cherishing life just a little bit more because of it. 

{If you are curious about the outcome of the people who murdered my brother, this article, and this one are good summaries.}

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pallet Staircase

So my Hot Little Contractor came up with this ingenious, resourceful solution to a recent problem of ours.
We moved into our double-wide in July, and upon inspection by the County Inspector, were told that the stairs we were using (given to us....bought by us...from the manufactured home company) were illegal.
We failed our inspection and had only 90 days to remedy the situation.
So The Hot Contractor spent a few hundred dollars on nice lumber, and built us a staircase. Out our laundry room door.
Then we called the inspector back out.
We failed again.
He saw us using a "pallet staircase" we had created (a bunch of pallets piled on top of each other) out our back sliding door.
He told us we now had to build another staircase.
We weren't planning on ever building a staircase in the backyard. We eventually want to put a big deck back there, but we don't have the time or money right now for a deck as large as we'd like. So, in an effort to not waste another few hundred dollars in lumber, just so we could pass our inspection and legally live in our home, The Hot Contractor took all those free pallets we had, and turned them into a real, genuine staircase!
And I must say, I think they are supah cute! I kinda wish the other (very expensive) staircase matched, because its just so shabby-chic and homesteady to me. I heart them.
So let me show off my hubby's handiwork, if you don't mind me bragging for a minute.
Here he is mid-project, putting the stairs together.

And here is the finished product!

The only part he couldn't use pallets for was the handrail. So he used a piece of scrap 2x4 and, using one of his fancy tools (which I have no idea what it was called) formed the wood into a circular hand rail that meets the specific requirements by our county.

Looking down from the top

They are super sturdy too! To prevent our feet from falling through those pallet cracks, he sawed off some other pieces of pallet to fit in the spaces. Other than the handrail, it is completely made from pallets.
And guess how much it cost us???
I love that price!

We just got the report back from the inspection office. It says "Passed! Very inventive staircase!" Woo-hoo!

Thank you, Hot Contractor! ❤❤

Thursday, April 18, 2013

How To Make Your Own Kombucha {while living in an RV}

I've had lots of friends ask me how I make kombucha over the years. Instead of typing it out in another email, I figured I'd do a blog post, and refer everyone here in the future. Please excuse the funny placement of my items...I currently live in an RV with less than 2' of counter space, so my stove doubles as a counter. :)
Here goes!

This is what you'll need:

• One gallon of spring or filtered water.

• A tea kettle.

• A large bowl and wooden spoon. Do not use metal or plastic bowls or spoons. Or at least don't let metal, and preferably not plastic, touch your finished kombucha.

• A large glass jar. I use some that are 3-liter jars, and some that are one gallon.

• One cup of white sugar. I personally think its important to buy organic sugar, since most sugar is now GMO. If you think it's crazy that this healthy drink is made using a CUP of sugar, you're right! But the sugar is necessary to feed the SCOBY (I'll tell you about that in a bit) during the fermentation process. You can also use honey, but it's a lot more expensive. I personally just got over the horror of using so much white sugar once I researched kombucha, and learned why the sugar is important, and how it is used up by the end of the process. It's SCOBY food, and if fermented long enough, there will only be trace amounts of sugar remaining.

• Five tea bags, using a mixture of green and black tea. The ideal ratio is to use three bags of black, two bags of green, but you can mix and match, or use just one type. It does need to be caffeinated tea, as the SCOBY uses the caffein for food also. If you choose to use green tea exclusively, you should eventually cycle in some black tea, as your SCOBY needs the tannins from the black tea.I recently read this article about commercial tea bags, and I will soon be switching to using only loose leaf tea.  I will probably use about 2 tsp of green tea, and 3 tsp of black tea.

• A cloth and rubber band to cover your jar while the tea ferments. I use an old cloth napkin or a kitchen towel.

Boil as much water in your tea kettle as you can. Don't fill it any higher than the bottom of the spout, or it could burn you when you open it.

Pour the hot water into your large bowl where you have placed the five tea bags and one cup of sugar.

Stir with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Leave sitting until it gets to room temperature.

Once it's at room temperature, remove the tea bags and pour the tea into your large glass jar.
Fill the jar up with fresh, room temperature or tepid water, leaving about 2" at the top. Pour in some starter tea from your last batch (if you don't have any, that's ok). Place the SCOBY in the jar.

A SCOBY is a "Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast". It's not technically a mushroom, even though it's commonly referred to as one. It's a funny looking thing. Here's mine in a jar, demonstrating the proper way to store a SCOBY. They can last for months in the fridge if they are covered in kombucha (this kombucha is also what I use as my "starter tea" when I pour in my SCOBY...I just pour the entire contents of the jar in).

If you are in need of a SCOBY, you can try growing your own from two store-bought bottles of kombucha (unflavored).  Just leave the kombucha on the counter, covered with a cloth, until you see a SCOBY form.  I got my first SCOBY from someone on my local freecycle.  I personally don't think you should pay for these, as anyone who makes kombucha quickly has them coming out their ears!  I am hay to share one with people who are local to me, and I've even been known to mail them to friends using the US Postal Service. Just ask around...natural minded friends and neighbors. If you absolutely cannot find one, you can always buy one here.

Once the jar is filled almost to the top, and your SCOBY is in it, place a cloth on top with a rubber band around the top to hold it on. This is just so no bugs or anything gets in there while its fermenting, and so it can breath. You don't want to put the lid on your needs the air during fermentation.

Place it in a location that is warm, but not hot. A dark cupboard is sometimes suggested, but I always have left mine out on the counter, and it has worked well for me. Just don't stick it by a sunny window or anything.

If you've never had kombucha, or don't prefer the taste, you can acquire the taste. I hated it at first. What I did to acquire the taste, was to ferment it for the minimum time at first. That is five days. There will still be some sugar in the kombucha, but it's ok if that's what it takes to acquire the taste. I gradually increased my fermentation time by one day. I really liked the sweet drink at first, and once I worked all the way up to a 14 day ferment, I still liked it! Typically I ferment for 7-10 days, but you can go as long as 14. It will taste more vinegary the longer you ferment, and sweeter the shorter you ferment. There are more health benefits to a longer ferment, but even a shorter one is good. It's better than drinking soda!

Once it's done fermenting, you can take the SCOBY out. You will have a "baby" growing on top of the "mother" SCOBY. The baby will be whitish, and look so pretty and new. The mama will be a little darker, but will still work fine. Unless the SCOBY turns a dark brown, or grows mold on it, you can keep using it over and over. Pretty soon you'll have them coming out your ears!
Here's a picture of the top of my jar (the baby) after nine days of fermenting.

Here you can see the mama and the baby that I'm separating. The baby is touching my thumb.

It is ok to leave the mama and baby attached, and just use a thicker SCOBY for the next ferment (it will ferment a bit faster). Or, you can eat it (its really good for you!). Some people put them in the blender, in a smoothie. I've given them to my chickens many times. My chickens love them, and it makes my eggs more healthy!

This part is optional, as your kombucha is perfectly good to drink the way it is. But if you'd like to flavor it, or make it naturally carbonated, you'll want to do a second ferment.
Our go-to flavor is strawberry, although we've used every fruit (and combination of fruit) under the sun. Don't try banana though--that one doesn't work. Some we have done:

Rhubarb (especially strawberry rhubarb!)
It is best to use fresh or frozen fruit, not dried. You can either put the fruit in whole, or blend it with some kombucha, then pour it back into the large jar. I like the way the whole fruit looks (it's really pretty), but I think the kombucha takes on the taste better when the fruit is blended.
I buy organic frozen strawberries in bulk, and keep them in my freezer. This is about how many strawberries I use for a gallon of kombucha. You definitely don't need this much fruit, but my kids love it this way, so I stick with it.

Before blending, make sure to pour some kombucha in with the fruit to create a frothy drink. Then pour it all back into the jar and put the lid on (SCOBY is out at this point). Stick it back in your warm spot, and leave it for 1-2 more days for the second ferment. It will take on the flavor of the fruit, and will also become carbonated. If you have trouble getting it carbonated, make sure the jar is filled with kombucha to within 1/2" from the top. This will help it to carbonate better.
Here it is with the fruit in it.

Because wine glasses make everything taste better, I try to drink my kombucha from a wine glass.

I hope you enjoy yours!

Friday, April 12, 2013

How I Became Such a Hippie

I've had lots of friends from my past ask me how I turned into such a hippie.  If you knew me ten years ago, you knew I was about as mainstream as they come. And I never planned on changing that.

So, how'd it happen?

The short answer: I became a parent. 

That's what started it all. Someone introduced me to cloth diapers.  I started researching.  But more than cloth diapers, my husband and I decided way before we ever had kids that we wanted to practice Attachment Parenting.  I'm pretty sure that was my hippy gateway drug, more than anything else.  Let me explain.  

Once The Princess was born, I began doing all these "strange" parenting things.  Like sleeping with her in our bed, breastfeeding her exclusively, wearing her on my body most of the time, cloth diapering, and not leaving her with other adults for more than a few minutes until she was about two years old.  I started feeling really lonely.  We were invited to weddings and other fun events, which we turned down because children weren't allowed, and I wouldn't leave my baby.  I also refused to let her Cry It Out (CIO), or sleep train her, but had zero freinds who were in the same boat.  I wanted more sleep, but the only suggestion I got when I mentioned my sleeping woes, was to make her CIO.  I'd researched enough to know this was potentially very dangerous for my baby, and I was adamantly opposed to it.  But then I realized I had to keep my mouth shut around my friends. 

I was a lonely new mom.

So I started Googling.  I found this forum called Gentle Christian Mothers, which is an online community of christian moms who practice Attachment Parenting (AP).  I began looking for friendships there, and even found some moms local to me!  We got together for play dates, bible studies, and family dinners.  We began forming an awesome bond, which we still have today, after seven years, and many miles between us. Even our husbands and kids became close. I cherish those sweet friendships. 

Through Gentle Christian Mothers (GCM), I began learning about all sorts of natural things.  Like natural healing through nutrition, homeopathy, and essential oils.  I also started learning from them how to make my own non-toxic cleaning supplies and toiletries. I learned about family cloth, the Diva Cup, and how menstrual matter is amazing for my garden plants!  (Did I just admit that publicly?). I learned about the wonders of coconut oil, unassisted childbirth, and tandem nursing. I was introduced to the Weston A. Price Foundation. These are all things I've come to love, and that have inspired me to research and learn more. 

The moms on GCM are some of the most researched and well-informed moms I've ever met.  We don't all agree on everything (there are people from all walks of life....the Right, the Left, Unschoolers, Public Schoolers, Vaccinators, Non-Vaxers).  But we all agree on gentle parenting, and we're all aiming for that goal together.  In those moments in my parenting journey, when I've been at a loss on how to gently teach and guide my children (without using punitive measures like spankings or time outs), I've been able to go to these moms for help, advice, and encouragement.  It's been my safe haven.  When I didn't have friends in real life to talk to about my challenges, because I knew I'd only hear "she needs a spanking!", I had some friends to go to who would give me practical tools to try to actually teach my child how to behave.  It has been so comforting, and so empowering!

A little background on how Mark and I decided we wanted to practice Attachment Parenting:

When Mark and I were newly married, we were trying to figure out how we would raise our kids.  We took note of a few families in our church whom we really respected, and whose kids we would want our own kids to turn out like.  We had dinner with two particular families, and informally "interviewed" them, to find out their parenting philosophy.  We knew that in the christian church, there were two main perspectives on parenting, both diametrically oppposed to each other.  We'd heard that churches had split over this parenting issue!  It was that big of a deal! So we were curious about it.

Because we weren't yet parents, it wasn't a heated, emotional topic to us.  We were open to anything, and just wanted to honestly expore our options.

The first family told us they practiced Attachment Parenting.  We hadn't heard much about it, but they gave us a brief description.  I remember the mom saying, "I just always want my kids to know I am their safe place.  Whether they're four or 40, I want them to always know they can find safety in me."  That was so profound, and it has stuck sharply in my mind to this day.  It's an attitude I'm attempting to emulate with my own kids.

The second family we met with (the father also happened to be the counselor who did our premarital counseling, and whom we respect highly) also told us they practiced Attachment Parenting.  We started to perk our ears up a little, and take note that both of these families, whom we regarded so highly, practiced this kind of parenting called "Attachment Parenting".

We also asked a little about why these churches had divided over parenting, and tried to learn a little about "The Other Side".  There was one other family we interviewed, who were neighbors of ours, whose kids were so perfectly well behaved, it was amazing! We were awe-struck by their kids' compliance and obedience, even as toddlers!  We thought there was something to it, so we "interviewed" them too.  It turns out they followed "the other side", a book called Growing Kids Gods Way (GKGW) by Gary Ezzo.  We wanted to have obedient kids too, so we were curious about it. We had dinner with them a couple times to find out more, and we thought it sounded pretty good! We surely noted their compliant children!

Our counselor, when we had dinner with him and his wife, was hesitant to tell us his feelings about GKGW, and why he'd chosen AP over it. He just kindly shared his own experience and journey, and told us that when he Googled "Gary Ezzo", he learned enough about him that he knew he didn't want to follow his lead.  It sparked my curiosity, and I went home that night and Googled Gary Ezzo myself.  I stayed up way past midnight, reading stuff I couldn't believe I was reading.  I shared it with my husband the next day, and we decided that this whole AP thing just felt right to us, and we wanted to pursue it more.

We began reading books on Attachment Parenting and Biblical Discipline when I became pregnant.  The more we learned, the more we just felt such peace about raising our children this way.  And I have to say, it has been a wonderful, growing, challenging experience, this Parenthood.  Especially in an AP way. I definitely don't think we chose the easy route, but I do believe we chose what is best for our children. 

And that's it!  The story of how I became such a hippie.  

Added note: Although our friends who followed GKGW had very compliant children, I've since learned that this compliance was out of a motivation of fear.  Fear is not what I want to motivate my children. It's God's kindness that brings us to repentance, and I hope that my kindness brings my children to repentance, not a fear of me.  My discipline is a work in progress, and I still have so much to learn, but this is my goal: to teach my kids how to obey because they want to please me and God, not because they are afraid of me.  If fear of me is their motivator, in my absence, I fear what their freedom from fear will produce in their behavior.  I'll blog more about this another time, but I wanted to make a point that I no longer admire those perfectly compliant children, because I know how those kids got that way, and it's not something I want.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, GAPS Chocolate Cake Recipe

Before going on the GAPS diet this past January, we were on a Gluten-Free diet for about two years.  One of my favorite recipes I discovered during that time was Gluten Free Goddesses Flourless Chocolate Cake.!  This stuff is delicious!  I dare say it's the best cake I've ever had.  Moist, delicious, yummyness! 

But, it does have sugar.  And since GAPS is a sugar-free diet, I had to figure out a way to adapt the recipe.  So, here's what I came up with:

Grain-Free, Sugar-Free, GAPS Chocolate Cake:

8 pastured eggs
1 C butter (room temp, preferably cut up into pieces)
1/4 C cocoa powder
1 T vanilla extract
3/4 C hot coffee
1 1/2 C raw, local honey

Put the above ingredients in your blender, and mix.

Pour into a greased 9" square or round pan.  I grease mine with coconut oil, but you could also use pastured butter. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until a knife comes out clean. It will be really puffy when you pull it out of the oven, but will soon shrink down to a dense, moist, delicious cake. 


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Coming Out of the Closet

I've thought about writing this post for YEARS.  Yes, years.

But I've been afraid.

Afraid that people will judge me, and think I'm weird, and that I'm permissive with my kids or something, and that I'm harming them, and that I'm....just...weird.

I'm not weird.  I promise.  At least I don't think I am!  Before having kids, I was so mainstream, it's not even funny.  How did I get to be such a hippie?  That's a long answer, and I'll need to do it in another post, but much of the answer has to do with becoming a parent. 

I just want to do the best thing for my kids.  Emotionally, nutritionally, educationally, physically, spiritually.  I want the best for them in their lives.  I want to do the best job as Mommy that I can.  It's my vocation, and I want to do it well.

Wanting to do it well spurred me on to research a lot as I became a parent.  I've read a lot on breastfeeding, and a long time ago (when The Princess was a baby) decided I would let my kids self-wean, because that is what I deemed best for them.  {For more info on extended breastfeeding, and why I chose it, see this article.}

The Princess nursed until she was three years, nine months old.  I was already pregnant with Baby Brother by this time, and was nursing both Little Brother, and The Princess.  I wasn't sure how I was going to tandem nurse all three of them if she continued on, seeing as how God only gave me two boobs, but I was OK with with trying, if that's what would happen.  Thankfully, she gave up on the Nursies when there was no milk on tap (due to my pregnancy).  Little Brother, on the other hand, continued on, and still nurses like a champ at three years, four months old.  I don't think he's planning on stopping anytime soon.  And I'm nowhere near pregnant, so I should have plenty of milk on tap for both the boys, for quite awhile. 

Whenever I have considered coming clean with my breastfeeding choices, I've remembered back to a time when I worked at a large church in Orange County, in the Children's Ministry.  I remember sitting in my office, with all the other women (moms) on staff, and they were joking and making fun of people who nurse their toddlers. This was pre-kids for me, and I didn't think much of it, other than, "Ya, those moms ARE weird! (I think?)"  These moms were talking about how "When your kid can ask for it, you know you've gone too far", and how "That's just WRONG!". 

Then I decided to be one of those moms.  Uh-oh.

And this is why I've been in the closet.  But I'm coming out.  This TIME magazine cover that was released today was my inspiration. 

Maybe I am weird.  But ya know? I'm ok with that.  I'm confident in my choices, and hope that people can respect my decisions, and understand that these decisions have been based on research and thoughtful consideration.  I NEVER would have imagined myself as this kind of mom.  I never planned on being this kind of mom. Honestly, when I pictured myself as a mom, I assumed I'd work, my kids would probably go to public school, I'd vaccinate my kids, and I'd spank my kids when they disobeyed me, just like all other "normal" American parents. Now I'm a Stay-At-Home mom who homeschools my kids, doesn't vaccinate, and practices Gentle Discipline.  Someday I'll explain how I got here.

For now, I'm starting by coming out.

Ahhhh......that feels good.