Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On the Twelves

Twelve bits of my day:

* Finished reading book one of the Sisters Eight series with the girls while having a tea party.

* Mailed out Christmas cards. Photocards. With professional pictures. And they will arrive before Christmas. This is kinda a big deal for me.

* Made venison chili for the first, and definitely NOT last time. Yummy!

* Proudly listened to Aubrey tell me about her babysitting adventure yesterday, and how she handled a particularly challenging child.

* Set Lauren's on-line curriculum settings to 2nd grade. Smart cookie.

* Cleaned out my yahoo mail box - aka the junk mail box. Any guess how many unread messages there were?

* Remembered some special events in my life. Namely, Sasha's birth and Grandma Marg's passing.

* Played with my new, yet technologically old, cell phone. No more internet-at-my-fingertips, thankyouverymuch. (Andy thinks I'm crazy. I might be. But, I'm also $50 richer per month. ;-) )

* Listened to Sasha attempt to plunge the toilet. Twice. It was not overflowing, she just likes to think it is.

* Had a giggle-fest with Zoe. On that note, have you heard of Laughter Yoga? I am intrigued.

* Thanked the Lord that I am not yet parenting teenagers. I know I'll get there, but today I'm glad I'm not there yet.

* Enjoyed Blue Bell's Cookies-n-Cream ice cream. The best. Seriously.

As requested, more pictures. Well, a picture.
Zoe is quite the people person, and finds herself in many different arms at church. It so happened that Pastor Heath had her one Sunday as Church began, so she helped him with announcements. <3

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Magic Wand

It's like my fairy godmother waved her wand, and suddenly my baby isn't a baby anymore. And a small (very, very small) part of me longs for more baby-ness. But that is mostly, I think, because Andy has had surgery, so now we *can't*. And aren't things that are off-limits more enticing? All that to say that Zoe turned 1 last month. At 11 months she decided that food was acceptable, and she LOVES to eat. Just about anything. But, after last night, I can safely say pizza is her favorite. After meals there are always bits in the high chair. Not after pizza. Not one little bit escaped her. And she ate a TON. She still doesn't care to walk, but as in everything she's done, I know that once she starts, she'll be running, so, really, she can take her time. And she is such a little cuddle-bug. Still a happy, mellow child. And quiet, always observing her world. Reminds me so much of Aubrey like that. But with more chill thrown in. I do some signs with her, and she has her own versions, completely different than what I've shown her. But we mostly figure out what we are saying to eachother. (and that sounds fancy, that we do sign language with her. it's not. it's a very, very few signs. Mostly, NURSE and MORE. The MORE always being 'MORE food to eat.' She is incredibly enthusiastic with that sign. Especially on pizza night. And NURSE is usually signed with a head bob, indicating she is tired and ready to cuddle in. I don't think she can sign NURSE without dropping her head. It's very cute.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Elephant and Piggie

You know that I love reading, right?

Children's books, especially. Because it's so fun to read out loud and do silly voices, scared voices, loud voices. You get the picture.

Anyway, lucky for me, one of the girls grabbed an Elephant and Piggie book at the library awhile back.

These books - there is a series - are awesome. So funny, so cute, so perfect. Mo Willems rocks.

I recommend We Are In A Book first. Haven't met one of them that I didn't like, but this one is probably my favorite.


You've got to read it. Go to your library. Or order it from Amazon. There is a little kid in your life who needs to know Elephant and Piggie, and they will love you forever for introducing them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

when the uncle comes to town

We've been having a fun summer, being busier than I would've liked, though I can't think of anything I wish we hadn't/weren't doing.

Uncle Eric (Andy's oldest brother) came to visit for a few days, and whoa, is he spoiling us. He's a bachelor, very patient, very kind. So his lap was rarely empty. Usually he had 2 or more girls on him/next to him/touching him/climbing on him. He read stories, listened to stories, took Andy out for a Bro's Only movie date, and joined me, two dogs, and anywhere from 2-4 girlies on daily walks.

He spoiled us, I tell you.

Also, he came bearing gifts from the in-laws. Peaches they canned (after they grew, picked, peeled, and sliced 'em, that is) and my favorite Trader Joe's treat - Sunflower Seed Butter. Oh wow, that stuff is heavenly. He also brought 2 Idaho Spuds for Andy. Well, 1 for Andy, 1 for me. But really, I said I'd like 1 so that I could let Andy have it. Every time his mom goes to Idaho, she stocks up on this candy, with plans to share with the boys. And every time, his dad sniffs out where she stashes it, and eats all but 2 or 3. She needs a better system, I think. ;-)

Also, while here in town, Eric needed to buy some stuff found at HEB. (The best grocery store in Texas, maybe in the world) Everything on that list were things Andy and I have introduced the Family to. Some local (Texas local) yummies. Makes me feel good that they like the sausages, salad dressing, bbq sauce, and salsa enough to stock up when they are here.

Also, we had a small birthday party for Sasha while Eric was here. Cute, fun, and small. Almost perfect, except we got rained away from the splash park. So we're gonna take popsicles to the splash park on Wednesday, and have a mini party then.

Hmm, I just noticed that my last 3 paragraphs all start with "Also, " Screw it, I'm tired. ;-)

Love ya,
thanks for reading my ramblings

Friday, July 20, 2012

Whoa, Nellie

Thinking 'out loud' over here.

I just committed to being a preschool teacher at our co-op. And part of me knows I can do it. That part of me is really excited. The other part of me is kinda kicking my own butt right about now.

One day, maybe, I will be a member of a group without helping to run it. Phh. That's funny. I'm just crazy enough to help any chance I get. And it always works out. But yikes, I've got to make a plan.

Okay, 12 class sessions, one hour each. Spread out over 3 months. This is doable. Absolutely doable. So doable that I feel foolish worrying about it.

Looks like I've mostly got free reign as to how to do things, and what to do.

My first thought is to read stories, and do art related to the stories. Now to come up with book/art combo ideas....

Harold and the Purple Crayon (purple oil pastels on sketch paper)
Beautiful Oops (collage with mixed bits and pieces)
The Monster at the End of this Book (fingerpaint monster masks)
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
Ten Apples Up On Top (Apple stamping - maybe on t-shirts? And apple stacking)

Okay, but also, knowing the alphabet, and how to count (and how high?), recognizing/writing their own name. This class will probably be 3 and 4 year olds, maybe an older 2 year old, too. Lots of cutting, drawing, gluing, creating.

Sasha loves when I use dots to write her name, and she works on tracing it. (Thanks, Kristin - I remember you doing that with Jake.)

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Today my oldest turned 10.

And I am so excited for her. She is such a sweet, nurturing, creative soul. The world needs her, and I pray I am doing her justice as her mama

(and hopefully soon I'll get more pictures up. camera issues.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Yesterday was Zoe's toothday. :-) First tooth peeking through her gums. She's 3 days away from 8 months old, sits up on her own, rolls around, smiles at everyone, has the best giggle ever, AND refuses to eat. She is quite content with mama's milk, which is just fine with me. She has a lifetime of eating food, I'll exclusively nurse her a little longer!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"I think I need to wash my hands."

Yes, yes you do need to wash your hands, my dear. (Oh, and it is mud. Just so we are clear.)

Friday, July 6, 2012

say what?

Emily posted her family's wu tang clan names, and I had to stop what I was doing to generate ours:

Andy: Mad Swami
Rachel: Intellectual Madman
Aubrey: Mad Lover
Lauren: Thunderous Assassin
Sasha: Vulgar Assassin
Zoe: Shriekin' Watcher

Add in our last name, and things change a bit:

Andy: Crazy Criminal
Rachel: Lazy-assed Prophet
Aubrey: Irate Prophet
Lauren: Annoyin' Swami
Sasha: Respected Samurai
Zoe: Gentlemen Hunter

Oh, that just made my night. Want a giggle? Here ya go

For the record, I couldn't name a wu tang song, but could maybe sing along a bit? I wouldn't know, I don't know what they sing. I'd google a listen, but there's a sisterly sleepover happening about 3 feet away. Also, some say I'm lazy.

Peace, Lazy-assed Prophet

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

it's like this, and like that, and like this, you know?

Most days I hate titling my posts. I do it, but I hate it. And I know 'hate' is a strong word, but it's true. The title stumps me. Because usually I'm just typing about some random stuff. But I really don't want EVERY title to be 'Random' or some variation on the word.

We went to the parade today (Happy 4th of July, by the way! I love the 4th, but it makes me miss my mom's family - it was a time when we usually all gathered.) Back to the parade. Apparently it's supposed to be one of the best. Even made USA Today's list in 2008. It was nice, but insane. 90 minutes of a parade, with a guesstimate of 30,000 spectators. So we parked at 8:30 for the 10am parade. In the sun. In Texas. In July. And we enjoyed it. But we probably won't do it again. At least not without some serious planning. A canopy to pitch. Comfy chairs. A stocked cooler.

I am working on Aubrey's birthday party plans. Scratch that. Aubrey is working on her party plans. I am offering creative assistance as she desires it, and also the annoying, but fortunately rare, "No" when her ideas are a bit too much. And, most of my "No's" have really been "Or's" to make a celebration she wants and we can afford/pull off.

But I really am working on Sasha's party. No input from her. I am not even going to ask. Because in another year or so she will be full of ideas and since I am prepared to honor those ideas to the best of my ability, this year, I pick. We're going to have a Harold and the Purple Crayon theme, and read some of Sasha's favorite stories (including Harold, of course!). And we'll be art-ing and craft-ing, too. And playing. There is always playing when you are 2-almost-3. Maybe a pin the tail on the donkey game, with a picnic blanket and pies (Harold once picnics with 9 pies - if I didn't already have a cake plan, I'd consider serving pie.) And, for party favors, I do not like giving out plastic thingies that break on the ride home. Nor do I like giving out candy. So I'm on the look out for one or two cute items to send home in lieu of a 'goodie bag.' The front runners are:

A copy of a Harold story; or

A crayon roll and simple journal

Also, I should be in bed. I am tired. And I know I will be mad at myself in the morning. But sometimes it's just too hard to get to bed. I can go to bed early tomorrow night, right? ;-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Do you have a library card?

Everyone in our house except Zoe has one. We'll get her one when she's toddling around, pulling books off the shelves. I love going to the library. We always have library books in the house. And honestly, we return books late often. I say that is how I contribute financially to the library. :-) Anyway, I learned this week that some friends that moved here a year ago don't have library cards. I was shocked. I didn't let it show, but I just assumed that everyone made the library one of their first stops after a move. As a kid, I remember going to the library with regularity. Especially during the summer. We even went to the library when visiting our grandparents over spring break and during the summer. If I think hard enough, I can remember the smell of the library in Albuquerque (the one that we went to, there are several). And, if I think hard enough, I can ALMOST remember the smell of my grandparents' library. We are doing the summer reading program this year, and it's got a mystery theme. Storytime Bear, who lives in the library and joins us at every story hour, has been bear-napped. We've got a list of suspects, and every week that we turn in our reading log to be checked, we receive a clue. The clue will lead us to a location within walking distance of the library where we will find another clue. CUTE! So we are headed to the museum this coming week, as our first clue pointed us in that direction. Fun, fun!

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Way back on January 1st I attempted to get back into blogging. And I mostly failed. My plan was to blog about some of my blessings, and I never got to Andy. But I probably ought to talk about Andy just a little bit, you think? So, in celebration of our anniversary, here goes: We met my freshman year of college. He had graduated the spring before, and was still involved with his fraternity. The summer after freshman year I moved out of the sorority house (house rules - everyone moved out every summer) and across the street into his frat house. Sounds kinda wild, huh? Not so much. His house was the first to 'go dry,' and they were strict about that. It was a cheap room that I shared with Ann. I ate brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts for breakfast, and spicy ramen for lunch. Juggled two jobs - at the law firm and in the office at a mobile home park. Anyway, this dude, Andy, had a cat named Oscar. I joke that Oscar is why I fell in love. He's not, but it certainly didn't hurt the situation! We never really dated in the traditional 'out to dinner and a movie' sort of way. We just started hanging out together, doing things together. We lived in the same building (along with 20= other guys, and maybe 12 girls), so it was just so easy to flop on his couch and watch South Park, or be in the kitchen making spaghetti, or go to the store together. I think almost instantly we were talking about the future, and it never seemed weird. We were pretty much inseparable from the start. Two months in, and he told me he loved me. Through tears. Very sweet, and very mutual. Obviously. :-) Four months after that we got an apartment together. Three months after that we were engaged (he proposed in a hotel bathroom in Vegas - it was a little spontaneous!). Two months after that he moved to Virginia for a job, and I followed three months after that. We got married June 23, 2001 - two years after we started 'dating.' I could attempt to list ways in which Andy has blessed me, but I wouldn't know where to begin, or how to stop. Just know that I am very aware of how lucky and blessed I am. Happy Anniversary, babe. I love you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

what the???

Okay, for some reason I cannot publish paragraphs? I had everything in my previous post all nice and cute - two short paragraphs, followed by a picture, followed by a paragraph, followed by a picture, etc. And I hit publish, and everything runs together, with pictures thrown in. Hmm. Mildly frustrating.

Ahh, lazy days

Really, it's more like lazy moments in the middle of busy days. Lauren planted a little fairy garden. Kinda lost interest once the plants were in the dirt - we'll see if she wants to do more later. Sasha LOVES the trampoline. Especially when she is the only one on it. She used to run circles around, but now she jumps around, and wants an audience. This little girl is already SEVEN months old. I cannot believe it. Such a happy, social baby. And she is learning that she can be loud. Loud like Lauren and Sasha. Poor Aubrey, she was really wanting Zoe to be a quiet child. And no picture of Aubrey today. She was inside enjoying a quiet house for a few minutes. We are counting down until her birthday. Her 10th birthday. Yikes, I am not sure how I feel about that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Veggie Tian

Some people love to shop for shoes. I love to shop for veggies. I love my CSA. I love the Farmer's Market. I love gardening friends that share their bounty. I love Bountiful Baskets. Awhile back I pinned a recipe (that I think my friend Angela had posted on fb?), and when I saw all the yummy squash and tomatoes this week, I knew we'd be making it. Veggie Tian This is the recipe I used, but I substituted dried dill and dried marjoram for the dried thyme. Oh, this was so tasty. Aubrey and I loved it - ate more than half at dinner. (The other veggie eaters in my house have texture issues, and squash in any form never flies. Makes me sad, but then Aubrey and I fight over the last bite, and I'm not so sad anymore.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A sign

Last week I was thinking I wanted to get back into blogging. And within hours I received an e-mail from a woman from eFoodsDirect, asking me to consider reviewing their products here. I'm not one to ignore the signs (well, I try not to ignore the signs, anyway!), so I am waiting to receive a package of emergency food. I am really hopeful that the food will have decent ingredients, and be tasty. Either way, you'll be the first to know. ;-) And, unrelated to emergency food stashes, Andy's car is hitting the crapper. It's been paid off for awhile, but we're about to spend $800 to replace the clutch. Perfect timing, except that we wanted to play with $800, not be responsible adults!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

so this homeschooling thing

I think we are sticking with it. I think we are homeschooling Lauren in the fall, too. Man, there are some tough days, but man, there are some awesome days, too. And I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing. My plan this summer is to focus less on 'core subjects' and more on whatever we want to learn about. Kinda the unschooling idea. Not sure what the fall will look like yet, with the expected exception of being in a co-op (meets once a week for 'class' time in group sessions), but for the summer we are learning as we go. :-) One of our To Do's is a virtual road trip. We started in Connecticut. Got a book from the library. I think Lauren's practically memorized all the facts in that little book. We'll be checking out more facts on line. And, the most exciting part - a friend in Connecticut is sending the girls a postcard. We've got a little folder labelled "Connecticut" and we will put all the cool info we learn, along with the postcard, and anything else we want, in the folder. I think Florida is next. L picked CT, A picked FL. Good thing this trip is virtual. ;-)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Lovin' Summer!

On our first morning of Summer Break we made our To Do list and hung ii on the wall. Some of our goals are maybe a bit unrealistic, but most are do-able. I think. One week in, and we are also doing things not on our list. Which is awesome, as our list was mostly for inspiration, and when we happen upon a bored day we can look at our list and try to make something happen. So now we have a second list, a Done list. I think it'll be fun to compare the two at the end of summer. To do: make clouds swing in a hammock picnic at Whistle Stop Park learn to crawl fly a kite start an art club grow a little garden visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center make art make my (Lauren's) hula hoop into a swing swim in the lake at sunset play in the kitchen - make marzipan and mints have a tea party in the backyard (iced tea!) climb a tree jump on the trampoline with MOM plant an apple tree skype with friends learn some new constellations virtual roadtrip skype with friends Done: (so far!) gingerbread train (I always buy these kits after Christmas on clearance and save for 'rainy' days make cake pops/donut holes skype with friends virtual road trip - Connecticut! eat chicken noodle soup for breakfast (because we've got colds!) help mom recover from surgery (incredibly minor - removed a wart from the bottom of my foot. wtf, who gets a wart on the bottom of her foot??? anyway, it's just a pain, recovering, as it's ON THE BOTTOM OF MY FOOT) art class Woohoo, we're having fun! Andy might disagree, as he's been on deck caring for all of us today. Surgery recovery AND colds at the same time kinda sucks.

Monday, April 2, 2012


- we went to Disney World for Spring Break. Awesome awesome awesome.

- Andy's grandfather died. He was just three weeks shy of 96. We cried, and then we were relieved. It was time.

- Zoe is getting B I G. 12 lbs already. Which really isn't that big, except she's my baby, so 12 lbs is far too big. And she's teething.

- Sasha likes to sing along to Adele. Today it was, "sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."

- Whenever an insect strays into our house, I quick give it a name, and pretend like it's a long lost friend - the idea being that the girls will not run screaming every time they see a bug (this has actual proven quite effective most of the time). Lauren, being the crafty girl that she is, caught on to my game and found a bug and named it Rebecca. After her teacher, who has "the most beautiful name in the world. Besides, I didn't know teachers could have real names."

- By the way, I never name the flies. I say kill 'em. Especially the twerp that keeps landing on my leg as I type this.

- Aubrey is now being homeschooled. She was falling behind because she'd get too easily distracted by just about everything. We pulled her out at Spring Break, figured that would give us long enough to see if we thought we could do it, without being too detrimental to her if we couldn't. So far, so good. We are still working out the kinks as to how long to work each day, and what to be working on, etc., but she is learning, and she is happy. She used to be the happiest kid, and somewhere that happiness slowly dripped away. It's coming back, and for that alone, I am so glad we are homeschooling her.

- I have been reminded several times recently just how lucky I am to have my 4 girls. So I am hugging them extra tight, and reading to them past lights-out time, and saying "Yes!" to cookies (oatmeal!) for breakfast.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


#7 - Lauren. My second daughter.

She's almost 6, and everyone she meets isn't a stranger, but a friend she hasn't made yet (have I said she's just like my dad in this regard?). Her day isn't complete without drawing at least 12 pictures. Lately she's been enjoying Harold and the Purple Crayon, so last night's drawings were done in purple marker, with scenes from one of her favorite Harold stories.

Lauren loves everyone, and assumes they love her, too. She rarely hears the word 'no.' Even when you say it, she rarely hears it. Her brain seems to translate 'no' into 'just do it quietly so no one knows.' This is actually much more effective than I would like to admit, but dang, she's sneaky. But also, she just rarely hears 'no.' (the exception being at home, and with a handful of people who are not wrapped around her little finger too tightly!) She'll ask so sweetly, with her toothless smile, and few seem able to resist.

She is really bright, and at the beginning of this semester started reading 1st grade books. She loves rainbows and princesses. Tina Cocolina, Queen of the Cupcakes is her favorite book. And she could live off of oatmeal and fluffy - aka scrambled - eggs.

She loves sparkly shoes, feathers and flowers. We rarely go anywhere without her finding at least one 'treasure' that nature left for her to discover.

Friday, January 20, 2012


#6 Aubrey. My oldest daughter.

Made a mama out of me 9 1/2 years ago. This girl of mine is so creative. And nurturing. She's passionate about the people, things and causes that are dear to her, and has quite a stubborn streak. She is a stickler for the rules, and gets so frustrated when she sees people breaking them.

Aubrey loves reading, creating recipes in the kitchen, Futurama, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and ANYTHING artsy. Also, Garfield and the Far Side (she's enjoying Andy's books of collections of these comics).

She doesn't hesitate to take care of anything Sasha needs, even though Sasha is very good at pushing all of Aubrey's buttons. I love that she lets Sasha take a bath with her. She'll spend her days being annoyed by Lauren, and then practically beg to sleep in Lauren's room with her.

She loves her cat, Biscuit, and he loving tolerates being babied by her. And he swipes at her sisters without provocation. Just solidifying that he is HERS, and no one else's, lest we forget.

She makes me so proud, and I can't believe she's already have way to being an adult!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


#5 My mommy. BTW, I still call my mom 'Mommy' and my dad 'Daddy.' Part of me is still 5 years old. :-)

Sheesh, I kinda don't know what to say. My mom is always supportive of whatever I am wanting to do.

She is such a great grandma. She finds the best Christmas and birthday gifts, because she remembers that Lauren loves feathers, and that Aubrey likes to play in the kitchen.

When she visits, she always helps me do something to improve our living space. This week she helped me rearrange some paintings, re-pot some house plants, and bought us another bird feeder. Little things that I would otherwise ignore for a bit longer. :-)

We spent hours sitting at my table, drinking tea, watching the birds at the feeders and watching the Zoe wiggle naked on her sheepskin on the table.


My parents were just here for a week, and we were busy not being on the computer, so I've got to play catch up on my blessings!

#4 I knew on their second day here that my dad would be my next blessing. :-)

Sasha loves being read to, so Buddy Tomm (that's what the girls call him) sat in the recliner and read. And read. And read. Never once did he tell her no.

He always tells me he's proud of me, and that's so nice to hear.

He loves that I stay home with the girls, and to help us do that, he buys my gas.

He has such a positive attitude and outlook, which is amazing considering the way he was treated by his father.

He was a police officer and otherwise involved in law enforcement throughout my childhood. With all the crap he's seen, he is still always smiling and assuming that each person is good unless they've given him reason to think otherwise.

His world is full of friends he hasn't yet made, there are no strangers. (Lauren seems to have inherited this trait, btw.)

(this is what much of their week here looked like, but with Sasha awake)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

my sister

#3 Alison

I am blessed beyond measure to have Alison as my sister. Among other things, she is the best aunt to my girls (she did have some awesome role models, KRISTIN!!!).

She is so creative, so compassionate, so patient, so intentional. Other people will occasionally say that they have the best sister in the world, and I just nod my head and think to myself that they are mistaken. ;-)

She is an art therapist, an artist, a friend to everyone. She may be my younger sister, but she has taught me so much. I want to live next door to her. Not sure that'll ever happen, but I do dream about living closer some day.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Zoe Ruth

#2 Zoe Ruth. Remember that I was pregnant? Yes, well Zoe was born November 16th. It's been awhile since I've blogged!

She is such a blessing to our entire family. You can read her birth story here, if you want.

I love this picture. My baby, one day old, and Sasha's baby, of indeterminate age. Zoe's onesie is one that the girls and I made (well, decorated - tie-dying with sharpies is awesome!). It's my favorite, and it's too small now.

Edited to include her birth story. The link still works, but I want it here, too:

Where and how we brought Zoe into this world stemmed from our previous birth experiences, so here’s a quick summary of the births of Aubrey, Lauren and Sasha:

birth #1, 2002, Virginia – induced at 36w4d because of suspected IUGR. A labor full of interventions (just about everything except a c-sec), and, as it turns out, I grow small babies. Aubrey Ellen was 4lbs 8oz, 17.5 inches long, and spent ZERO days in the NICU. I will never know if my induction was truly necessary, and I am thankful for that!

birth #2, 2006, Wisconsin – midwife-attended hospital water birth. The most euphoric experience of my life – I would relive that birth a thousand times if I could. Lauren Elizabeth was 5lbs 15oz, 19 inches long, born 11 days before her ‘edd.’

birth #3, 2009, Texas – intentional homebirth, unintentionally unassisted. I thought it was pretty cool that just Andy and I were there when Sasha Lorraine graced us with her presence, but Andy had a moment of freaking out. 6lbs, 19.5 inches long, born 9 days before her ‘edd.’

And now Zoe’s story…

I found a midwife I really, really liked (Sasha’s midwife is not currently practicing as she’s taking care of her own baby). And Andy and I were discussing another home birth or a birth center birth. But I woke up in the middle of the night about 20 weeks along with an overwhelming feeling that this baby needed to be born in the hospital. Intuitively I knew that both baby and I were fine. That my need to be there had nothing to do with the health or well-being of either one of us. There would be a person (or several) that needed to be in my life. For me to learn something from them, for them to learn something from me… some combination of something.

I really felt like this had something to do with living in a rather conservative community where hospital births are often very managed. Please know that I have no problem with a woman choosing to have a managed labor, but this was more about people knowing that a natural birth CAN happen, that it is okay to let nature do it’s thing, that it is okay to simply watch and listen to a laboring woman. And since I trust my body, know what it can do, and have done it 3 previous times, I knew that I could have as natural of a birth as I wanted, that I would not consent to procedures unless they were truly necessary.

So I found an ob/gyn that seemed pretty receptive to my desire to have a natural birth in the hospital. While she always told me that she would like me to do just one ultrasound, take the GBS test, etc., she never pushed, and she respected that I didn’t want the doppler used. (I did consent to the doppler on two occasions – my first appointment with her at 20 weeks, and again in labor just long enough for the nurses to hear the heart beat.) My doctor actually was pretty paranoid that I wouldn’t make it to the hospital in time, and gave me some umbilical cord clamps and a bulb syringe, just in case.

So I wrote up my birth plan, which mostly said, “I do not want x. I do not want y. Do not offer z.” I assumed my doc would take issue with some things, but she and a charge nurse both thought my plan was okay. At this point I was really feeling so glad that it looked like I would have no problem being supported to birth this baby as *I* needed to.

Labor began slowly on a Monday evening. Things were not really intense or consistent, but these contractions were no longer braxton hicks, either. By Tuesday midday, things had picked up just enough that I decided I’d rather be at the hospital than at home. Still not too intense, but progressing.

In triage I did not consent to the 20 minute Non-Stress Test, and the triage nurse and the resident on call really didn’t know what to do with me. There was only one L&D room available, and the charge nurse absolutely refused to consider admitting me without the NST. No room to negotiate with her. I was on the phone with my doc (who was across the complex seeing other patients), who had tried to talk with the charge nurse to see what we could work out, while this poor triage nurse and resident are standing there, not knowing what to do. We never did see that charge nurse that refused to admit me. But anyway, while all this stress was circling around us, my body stopped laboring. No surprise, but initially very frustrating!

Wednesday at lunch time I had an awesome mother blessing with some amazing friends of mine, and I was still having these non-braxton-hicks, not- consistent-and-not-long-enough contractions Picked up the girls from school. Took one to dance class, where contractions picked up a bit, but I was hesitant to say anything to hubby about it because of the previous day. While eating dinner (sloppy joes) I told him and the girls that maybe tonight would be the night. Everyone put on comfy clothes, brushed teeth, etc. but instead of going to bed, we drove to the hospital.

This time the triage nurse (a different one from the day before) didn’t bat an eye at my refusing the NST (first sign that it was okay for my body to stop laboring yesterday – loving, caring SUPPORTIVE staff on shift today!!!). I was asked about my birth plan – something no one had mentioned the day before! I consented to one quick vaginal exam from the resident on call. I really didn’t want an exam, but after the previous day, I needed someone else to confirm that I was really in labor this time. The nurse and doc were so kind in talking with me about why I didn’t feel comfortable with the vaginal exam, and they proceeded to work together to take individually packaged, sterile gloves out of their own package right in front of me, so I knew exactly how sterile things were.

I was 4 cm dilated – far enough along to be admitted. This was shortly after 11pm. Andy and Kathryn, my friends there to take care of the girls as needed, took turns rubbing my lower back through contractions. My nurse Carly was barely in my room at all (I’m pretty sure my birth plan was kind of intimidating), but I was her only patient, so I told her that she could certainly be in my room as much as she wanted. At that point she hung out with us a bit more.

Dr. M (the on-call doc) and Carly (these were not the same ones from triage, but equally cool) were very respectful of my plan. Hospital protocol really, really wants that NST on file (actually, the hospital wants 20 minutes of monitoring each hour – a bit excessive in my opinion), and since the triage nurse let me slip in without it (Oh, I love that lady!), Carly asked me about it. I kindly refused. Then Dr. M asked me about it, reminding me that my doc and I had discussed it. I very nicely said something to the effect of, “Yes, we discussed it, and I was never comfortable with it.” I think Dr. M tried to get me to consent 3 different times, and I honestly wasn’t bothered by this. I know that there’s a bunch of CYA in the medical field, she was doing her job. What finally got her to stop trying to convince me was when she said, “So we’ll write on your chart that you are refusing the NST?” and I replied with a confident “Yes.” Pretty sure she wasn’t expecting that.

When things began getting really intense I suggested that Kathryn and the girls go for a walk. When they got back to the room I was on my hands and knees, about ready to push. Aubrey came on in to be there, Lauren and Sasha walked with Kathryn a bit more. When I felt like I was about to have to push, I had Carly get Dr. M. My water broke, gushing out onto Andy’s feet, as he was right behind me, constantly rubbing my lower back. At this point with Sasha, I could feel her head, but I wasn’t feeling Zoe’s head, so I had a moment of freak-out – even though we knew she was head down. But Dr. M said the baby was crowning, and let me know that I could push when I was ready. (Something I knew, but it was nice that she phrased it the way she did.) I breathed through another contraction and then began pushing. I know I didn’t push very many times, but this pushing phase was longer than any of my other births. My others each kinda flew out once pushing began.

Out baby came into Dr. M’s awaiting arms at 11:59pm on November 16, 2011, and someone – Dr. M or Carly??? announced that baby was a girl. Of course, girls are our specialty!

We quickly got settled so that I was no longer on my hands and knees, and I held Zoe Ruth – who had yet to make a peep, and who promptly fell asleep curled up on my chest. She had no problems breathing, and was only slightly bothered when Carly suctioned her. Zoe slept and nursed and cuddled with me for over an hour before we cut her cord and I delivered the placenta (with help from Dr. M – my body had not yet decided to push it out, but I was ready!). We got the placenta all bagged up and in our cooler bag for Andy to take home.

Carly massaged my abdomen a handful of times over the next two hours, and she was pretty aggressive – a first for me – but wow, has that helped recovery!

6lbs 1 oz – my biggest baby! And 19.5 inches long.

After Andy, the girls and Kathryn left, I showered and got moved to recovery. Because I declined the GBS test (did you know that your body can change from being GBS+ to GBS- and vice versa so quickly that it’s really not a true measure of your GBS status at labor?) the pediatricians on staff wanted to monitor Zoe for 48 hours. I decided that staying an extra day was a better bet than dosing Zoe up with antibiotics unnecessarily, so I enjoyed watching cheesy Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel for a day.

With the exception of the charge nurse that we never met that Tuesday, every person we dealt with was very respectful of our wishes as to our care.

I had some amazing conversations with my assorted nurses about natural birth, extended breastfeeding, schooling choices, etc. and one awesome conversation with a hospital volunteer about vaccinations.

I will never know if my choice to have Zoe in the hospital will have made any impact on anyone besides me, but I now know that I CAN stand up for myself and my wishes, and that I can do so while in intense situations. That being said, if a 5th child is in the cards for us (don’t think so, but I’ve learned to never say never!), we’d plan on a home birth.

The placenta that Andy brought home – we encapsulated it. Ancient Chinese medicine. I know it seems pretty unusual, but the benefits are wonderful. A faster recovery from labor and delivery, baby blues and ppd greatly reduced, increased energy. I am feeling great!

Oh, and a funny little aside – I’ve only had my care provider attend one of my births. Lauren’s midwife was there. Aubrey, Sasha and Zoe didn’t care who attended their births.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


In an attempt to frequently remind myself that I am so very blessed, I am going to try to note one of my blessings each day. Here goes...

#1 Sasha. What a crazy, loud, silly, beautiful blessing this child is to our family!

Her vocabulary amazes me. And sometimes makes me blush (because I know where she heard *that* word, and it wasn't Daddy!).

She calls her goggles her 'lady gaga' and thinks penguins should be called 'mangoes.' When asked how old she is, she never says '2,' but instead says, 'so big.' I hope she never outgrows these things.

She has striking blue eyes and the coolest hair. I say that not as a biased mama, but as the adult who escorts this child everywhere. People stop us to remark about how beautiful she is.

She loves reading. Pete and PJ is a favorite, as is But Not the Hippopotamus and Pat the Bunny. But really any book will do.

More than reading, she loves singing. You are My Sunshine is kinda 'her song' in this house. Every night when Andy puts her to bed they sing the ABC's and then her sunshine song.

When she's having a rough time, she'll say, "I having a rough time." When she's done crying, she'll say, "I all done crying now." When she has to poop, she'll say, "Have to take a dump." (THAT is all Daddy-O right there, in case there was any question.) She thinks she needs chocolate.

She wants to be just like Lauren, and she loves cuddling with Aubrey. And she adores Zoe, wants to hold her all the time.

She is such a sweet little firecracker, and I am so blessed to be her mama.