Quick Checklist for Moms who Haven’t Had Their Coffee Yet

1. Did you leave your four-year-old and 18-month-old unattended with an open box of cereal?
2. Did you leave your creative four-year-old unattended near a giant shaker of salt (aka “snow”)?
3. Did you grind the coffee beans before putting them into the French press?
4. Remember–do not attempt to make phone calls to the bank, health insurance company, or anyone. It’s also probably in everyone’s best interest if you do not answer the phone either.
5. Do NOT attempt to record purchases, or even worse, balance your checkbook.
6. Drink your coffee already! What’s taking you so long?

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Things That Happened During My Ten-Minute Ab Workout

1. The lion cub came and sat in front of me to stare at me, alternately saying, “What are you doing?” “I’m hungry,” and “Can you get me something to eat?”  (Please note that he had just turned down pretzels.)

2. The Baby tried using me as a jungle gym.  I pressed on with the exercises, trying to ignore the 20 extra pounds that was throwing off my balance.

3. The Blue Dragon started yelling from the bathroom, “There’s no more toilet paper!”  When I told her where there was more, she proceeded to throw a fit, saying she couldn’t get it.  I told her I was busy.  Eventually the fit stopped.  Later on I asked her, “Were you able to find the toilet paper?” and she said, “What for?”

4. The Baby fell over (miraculously NOT a result of trying to climb on me) and spent the rest of the workout time blubbering while the Blue Dragon tried to comfort her.

A Moment of Astonishing Insightfulness from a Three-Year-Old

I nearly posted this as a Facebook status update, but it was too precious for that.

Today the kids’ Bible study teacher asked them to say what their favorite thing was about each other.  My lion cub said about his big sister, “Jesus in her.”

“Jesus in her.”

How could I be any prouder–of my Blue Dragon for being a good example to her little brother or of my Lion Cub for seeing the Jesus in his sister beyond all the crazy wildness and sibling rivalry?

May we all look beyond the shortcomings of our brothers and sisters in Christ to see the Jesus in them.

Bible Lesson with the Kiddos

This morning’s Bible story was about Jacob and Esau.  We have been reading through a children’s Bible that has short stories and questions for each day.  The first question was “What is a birthright?”

The Blue Dragon answered, “I don’t know… it’s hard to tell — a bone or a sock?”

Despite the results of today’s lesson, I am often surprised at her answers and how well she understands the stories and what is going on.  I highly recommend this little book, and the price can’t be beat!

Tessa’s Waterbirth Story

“Mommy, I want to deep wif you.”  My Lion Cub’s little voice pulled me out of sleep.

“Ooookay,” I mumbled.  “I’m going to go potty and then I will cuddle you.”  I heaved my pregnant body out of bed.  As soon as I stood up, something felt different.  I knew I was in labor.  I went to the bathroom and then tried to lay down with the Lion Cub, but I was extremely uncomfortable since I had started having contractions.  I woke up Batman and told him he needed to get his son back to sleep because I was in labor and I needed to go time the contractions.  It was 2:30 AM on July 21st.  I found an online contraction timer  (what DID we do before the internet?!?) and found that they were about 45 seconds long and 4-5 minutes apart.  Even though they did not feel very intense, I had a feeling it was going to go quickly.

I called  Tammy*, who was in charge of the birth center while my midwife was out of town.  (Tammy’s normal job is the massage therapist and  occasional birth assistant.)  Yes, my midwife and her apprentice were at a conference.  She had arranged for backup midwives, of course, but I was disappointed she wouldn’t be there to catch my baby.  At least, in theory I was disappointed.  By this time, I was 40 weeks and 6 days along, and I was more excited about the prospect of not being pregnant anymore and meeting my baby than who would help that happen. Tammy had Colette*, the backup midwife, call me. I told her what was going on and she said to meet her at the birth center.  We each had about an hour’s drive, so we didn’t want to wait too long.

During the drive, I focused on using my Hypnobabies cues to stay relaxed.  As long as I didn’t tense up, the contractions were tolerable.  The birth house was lit up when we got there, and Colette and Tammy welcomed us in as if we were coming to stay at a B&B.  There was even a personalized welcome sign for us.  Colette was very calm and I felt she was treating me as one would treat a shy animal, always asking permission before listening to the baby’s heartbeat or even sitting in the room with my husband and I.  I’m sure she was very aware of the fact that I’d never met her before and wanted to be considerate of that.  I could tell she was charting my contractions and taking notes, but she was very unobtrusive.  After I was there for a little bit and the contractions picked up, she said that my labor seemed to be moving along nicely.

I stayed up and moving around.  I would lean over something whenever I had a contraction–usually the bed, but sometimes a couch, the bathroom sink, or whatever was handy as I wandered around the house.   (I also had a lot of contractions while sitting on the toilet because I had to pee about every ten minutes!)  As labor got more intense, Colette rubbed my lower back and applied pressure during the contractions.  After only a little bit of that, I decided I was ready to get into the tub.  I’m not sure what time it was, but daylight was creeping in.  I spent pretty much the whole time in the tub leaning over the side.  At first, Tammy poured water over my back during the contractions.  It is amazing how such a small thing could bring so much comfort!  Then I started to get hot and nauseous, and Tammy brought me cold washcloths and held the barf bucket while I puked my guts out.  Again, the little comfort measures and kindness from my birth attendants made all the difference in the world.

I believe it was shortly after the puking (probably during) that I started to beg the midwife to tell me it was almost over and to please make it stop, and I promised myself that this would absolutely be the last baby I would ever have–all classic signs that the baby is about to be born.  Before I knew it I was starting to push a little with the contractions.  I tried my hardest not to push on purpose and to just let my body do the work instinctively.  It seemed to take forever, but at a postpartum visit my midwife said I had started pushing at 7:09 and the baby was born at 7:24.  Things got a little interesting once the head was out.  The body did not slide out easily with another push as it did with my other two kids.  Colette told me to push hard–and still nothing happened.  I had been on my knees, and I turned my body sideways with one leg up on the side of the tub.

“Okay, BIG push now,” she said.  I pushed two more times with all my might as Colette helped pull the baby out.  She said she needed to unwrap the cord from the baby’s neck, and then she asked, “Would you like to bring your baby up out of the water?”

Would I?!  “Yes!” I said, as she passed the baby to me.  As I lifted my baby up out of the water, I exclaimed, “You are a girl!  I knew you were a girl!”  As I snuggled her to my chest I kept checking to make sure she was breathing, because she only made a little squeak and then no more noise!  She was such a happy girl, right from the start.  I settled on her name–Tessa Nicolette.  Tessa means “harvester,” and Nicolette is after my Aunt Nicki and means “victory of the people.”

After I delivered the placenta, Colette helped me cut the cord.  My husband has refused to have anything to do with cord cutting for any of our kids, and he likes to watch our babies be born from a safe distance.  Blood is just not his thing!  He got to hold Tessa while I got settled in bed, and then he gave her back to me.  She started nursing right away and spent most of the next hour nursing.  Colette and Tammy left us to rest and bond as a family, and Colette took the placenta to make a placenta print for me.  At some point (could have been before I cut the cord–I don’t remember) she also drew cord blood to send for Rh typing to see if I would need a Rhogam shot.  (I didn’t.  My blood wins again.)

Once Tessa had her newborn exam (8 lb 4 oz and 21″ long!) and vitamin K shot, we started getting ready to leave.  I took a quick shower (who knew a shower could be so exhasting?) and we were out the door around 11:30 AM with strict instructions to go home, rest, and do nothing but nurse the baby.  What a way to start a day, eh???

In my next post I will discuss how and why my experience was different from the average hospital birth experience.  If you have any questions about this please ask away in the comments!

*not her real name

A “Cranky Hour” Tip and a new recipe

It’s nearing dinner time.  You have to make dinner.  But first you have to wash the pile of dishes that are in the way.  The kids are whining and fighting with each other.  Take out or a frozen dinner is sounding like the only feasible option.  Sound familiar?

That was me this afternoon.  However, I had no money for take out, and the only frozen meal we had on had didn’t sound appetizing.  Then I remembered my ultimate trick to stop the whining.  I have been doing this ever since the Blue Dragon was itty bitty and teething, but it works to pacify non-teething cranky toddlers and preschoolers too.

“Who wants frozen blueberries?”

The lion cubs shrieks ceased and his sweet baby voice returned.  “Berries!”

The Blue Dragon’s complaints stopped and her princess manners appeared.  “Oh!  I can get the bowls!”

The kids sat at the table and stuffed their faces with frozen blueberries while I did the dishes and cooked the frozen ravioli.  Okay, so it was still a frozen meal, but I get bonus points for what follows.

I herded the munchkins outside to pick the basil for my first ever pesto making experiment!

I made some alterations to this recipe, and this is what I ended up with as my recipe:

  • About 45 fresh basil leaves
  • A generous sprinkling of garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese, kind of packed into the cup
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • enough lemon juice to help it blend in the food processer (a few tablespoons?)

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend.  YUM.  This made enough to put on a 24 oz bag of cheese ravioli.  I had to add a little water when I was mixing it with the pasta.  Even the kids liked it!

Sorry for the blurry pic.  It’s all I got today.

How hard is it to get one good photo?

Today I dressed my kids in matching tees that have a little monkey holding a suitcase and saying, “That’s it!  I’m going to Grandma’s!”   This mandated a photo shoot of them together.  Right?

Here’s the best shot I got where you can (mostly) see their shirts.

Here is what I went through to get it.

Lion Cub getting adventurous.

And Blue Dragon flying high.

That’s my Lion Cub saying “Cheese!”  (sounds more like “deese!”)

Finally I resorted to bribary.  (Sit nice for mommy and you can have a cookie!)

This works with horses too.

“What?  Do I hear you opening a peppermint?”

“Is that the hay wagon we hear???”

Some lessons from wrangling horses do translate to kids quite well.

(PS: camera settings for the kids’ pics today: f2.8, 1/200 (I think), ISO 800.  The first pic I did brighten and sharpen a bit and the rest are SOOC.  The horse pics are scanned from old film prints.)

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