Friday, March 28, 2014

My Favorite Birthing Books.

Preparing for Child-birth and Motherhood is over-whelming (in many, many different ways). People prepare differently. I like classes. So, I took several classes during my first Pregnancy.

I am a Reader. So, I read. Lots and lots of books.

These are the books that were the most helpful for me, during both my Pregnancies. I re-read some of them (it's amazing how much you forget, especially about newborn care and the specifics of Breastfeeding), before my 2nd daughter was born. 

Hope this is helpful!

by Susun S. Weed

(The book is clunky and obviously self-published many moons ago. But, if you can get past the formatting issues, etc.., this is THE BOOK on herbs and women during Pre-conception, Pregnancy and Post-partum. Susun Weed is kinda out-there, but she knows her stuff).

by Laura A. Jana and Jennifer Shu

(A terrific resource. I will definitely be re-reading this book. It's so easy to focus on getting STUFF ready for the baby and preparing for Child-birth that sometimes you forget that you will be developing a new skill set...changing diapers, burping. putting to sleep, etc...).

by Ina May Gaskin

(A classic. Ina May is THE most famous Midwife in the country. She and The Farm Midwives are amazing inspirations, from the mid-70s until the early 2000's...when the book was updated...their practice had a 2-3% C-Section).

by Ina May Gaskin

(Another classic. This book was originally written in the 1970's and you can definitely tell. The words "heavy" and "psychedelic" are thrown around a lot. It's a collection of Birth Stories told by women who had their babies at the Farm. The last section has some interesting information for Midwives and folks interested in learning more about Child-birth. The photos and drawing are a hoot).

by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

(This book was highly recommended to me by one of the Lactation Consultants at the phenomenal Breastfeeding Center of Greater Washington. It's my favorite book on breastfeeding.

by Pam England and Rob Horowitz

(I don't think I understood how much I had absorbed of this book until I began re-reading it. Pam England is a Certified Nurse Midwife and began a teaching a series of classes with her husband back in the 1990's. The book is a little on the hippy side but I think it does a fantastic job of helping mentally prepare for Childbirth. I also adore the Art Therapy element of Birthing From Within, which I think it's particularly helpful for second-time Mamas).

by Leslie Kirk Campbell

(This book is a wonderful resource for women who love to write and are about to become Mothers for the first-time. There are tons of writing prompts in the book for every stage of your pregnancy and the first few months after. It is a terrific book for helping a woman deal with the emotional and mental shift that occurs when you have a baby.)

***Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate Links are included in this post. Thank you!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Maple Syrup Rutabaga Mash with Apples, Pears, Ginger and Cardamon.

My 10-month-old is all about feeding herself these days.

And, I am all about Simplifying my life.

So, I try and meals that ALL of us can eat. Preferably something that the baby can pick up with her fingers.

Enter Rutabaga Mash.

I had never cooked with Rutabaga before. But, I picked some up at Baltimore's lovely year-round Farmer's Market.

To make this side-dish that can work as a dessert, I started by peeling and boiling the Rutabagas.

I drained the pot, added some Lemon Water Kefir (or your juice of choice).

I threw in the peeled and cut up Apples, Pears and Ginger and simmered for a 10-15 minutes. Maple Syrup and Cardamom joined everything else.

I drained the liquid until there was only about 1/2 cup left and then mashed everything up. I left some nice smallish pieces for the baby to be able to grab onto.

It's a lovely way to use up any Rutabagas you may still be getting from your CSA.

This will definitely be joining our "Meal Rotation" next Winter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Don't Forget Your Doula.

If there was only piece of advice I could give Pregnant Mamas about Childbirth, it would be hire a Doula.

It doesn't matter what kind of Birth you are planning, every woman should have a Doula.

You may have the most supportive partner in the World, but they can only do so much. A Doula has been there and done that and seen so much (my Doula had attended over 400 births by the time she had attended my first Birth). A Doula's only job is to support you!

A Doula is particularly important in the hospital because they can be your advocate when you are at your most vulnerable. A Doula is worth their weight in gold!

Here is an interesting piece on understanding statistically how having a Doula at your birth can positively affect your out-come.

During my first pregnancy, I interviewed several Doulas/Birth Assistants; it was one of our Midwives' requirements for a Home Birth.

It's essential that you meet with several and find someone whose personality fits your own. Listen to your it a good fit? If not, keep interviewing...

I ended up going with a Doula I thought I felt comfortable with but then I started have a little doubt at the very end. The Universe works in mysterious ways because she ended up having to call in her substitute.

I met Gwen for the first time when I was completely naked and had been in active labor for 8 hours. She had a motherly presence, an awesome white streak in your black hair and didn't mind when I kept calling her "Glen" instead of "Gwen."

For the next 12 hours, she was my Rock, my Anchor, my Savior. I don't think I could have spent 2 1/2 hours pushing out a malpositioned 9 lb baby with no drugs, if she hadn't been by my side.

My husband was great.

My Midwife was great.

But, Gwen was my Life-line.

She showed my husband how to do a hip-press and took over when he needed a break. She was with me through every contraction, every breath...using a myriad of visualizations and mantras. She made sure I was constantly sipping enough water. She held my hand and got me through the most intense pain I have ever felt. She was just what I needed.

And, I was absolutely thrilled she was at my side for my second Birth.

I was only at the Birth Center for two hours before the baby was born, but Gwen was still a huge help. Even though my Labor was much faster and I had already had an un-medicated didn't make any of the contractions easier. It was still really, really HARD WORK. Having her hold my hand and work through each contraction was AMAZING.

It was also wonderful having Gwen there the 4 hours afterwards, while I recovered.

Having her attend both my two very different Births was very special and very healing.

Doulas rock!

Buy your Maternity clothes second-hand, don't go on that expensive Baby-moon, scrimp on other things...but do yourself a huge favor and hire a Doula.

Student Doulas are ALWAYS  looking for more experience, so you may be able to hire one for free or for a reduced rate.

For tons more information and names of Doulas in your area, check out DONA International.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Learning How to Use a Spoon Video.

This one is for the Grandparents.

Yesterday, was the first day Anala Bears used a spoon.

Papa Bears HATES when the girls get messy. But, I think it's such an integral part of

Having plenty of Sensory Experiences and the space to just practice new skills. I think it's so very important.

Plus, I'm the one cleaning up the kid.

I didn't get a good shot of her actually using the spoon properly. But, she did for a minute or two.

Did I mention this kid HATES bibs?

Pregnant Mamas. On Eating and Making Your Own Greek Yogurt.

I ate A LOT of Greek Yogurt, during both my pregnancies.

If you eat dairy products, it's a terrific way to add more protein to your diet. I would have a cup with my Breakfast, one with Lunch and sometimes as a Snack. That's over 30 grams of protein right there.

I wish I had know how easy it is to "make your own Greek Yogurt."

Seriously, all you do is dump Plain Yogurt into the Greek Yogurt Maker and let it sit over-night.

It's so much better than the commercial kind, especially if you make your own Plain Yogurt first. I really can't believe it took me so long to figure out how incredibly easy it is to make Greek Yogurt.

Head Smack.

I used this tutorial on how to make Yogurt.

I bought this Greek Yogurt Maker. Totally worth the 30 bucks I spent (considering how much Greek Yogurt we still eat around here).

Pure Yumminess.

I promise.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cute Wordless Birthday Book. "Carl's Birthday."

Okay, so the first page and the last page both have a few sentences - making this book, technically, not wordless. But, all the other pages are just illustrations. Very sweet, charming illustrations.

The story is about a Toddler (Madeline) and her dog, Carl, who are sent to their neighbor's house for a nap, while their Mama gets ready for a Birthday Party.

Madeline and Carl sneak back home and discover lots of yummy and exciting surprises at their house.

It's been a hit at our house for the last 6 weeks. We keep renewing this library book.

Now, that Nye-Nye is turning THREE on Friday, it's been handled even more. I've been observing her sitting on the couch or her chair, telling the story in her own words.

This is BIG because she is NOT a kid, who wants to sit still and read books all day. 

I think we'll going to have to get our own copy.

This book is great, especially, if your family includes a special canine member. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Marshmallow Snowmen.

In honor of Northern Virginia's Last Snowfall of 2014 (hopefully), I wanted to share these cute little Marshmallow Snowmen.

Nye-Nye made them way back in December, but I never shared them. My Mama was visiting and had great fun making her own.

All you need is a bag of large marshmallows, tons of tooth-picks, pipe-cleaners, markers and some white glue. Cloves are optional.

We stuck a tooth-pick (or 2) connecting the head to the belly. Then another tooth-pick (or 2) from the bottom up to the belly. 

More tooth-picks became the arms. 

Cloves made nice eyes, noses and nipples (totally my then 2 1/2 year old's idea).

Nye-Nye had a terrific time wrapping the pipe-cleaners into scarves and adding details to each face. 

I twisted pipe-cleaners into a loop and stuck the on top of each head, so we could hang them from our Christmas Tree. 

They kept coming apart when we hung them, so I just added some glue between each marshmallow. Problem solved.

Can't wait to make another set next year!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How Clary Sage Helped Me During Labor

During my second Un-medicated Birth, I used "Clary Sage Essential Oil." 

I wasn't very familiar with Essential Oils, before my Midwife had mentioned it at my 40 week appointment. Some of the other Midwives at the practice had just come back from a workshop where "using Clary Sage Essential Oil for pain management" had been discussed.

I found a Study of over 8,000 women in the U.K conducted over 8 years that showed that Clary Sage can be useful during Labor, so I decided to give it a try.

"The evidence from this study suggests that aromatherapy can be effective in reducing maternal anxiety, fear and/or pain during labour. The use of aromatherapy appeared to facilitate a further reduction in the use of systemic opioids in the study centre, from 6% in 1990 to 0.4% in 1997 (per woman). "

My first Labor lasted 20 hours and my second was 5 hours. My Midwife said she had expected it to last about 10 hours, since often Labor times are halved at second Births.

I think eating Dates and drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea had an impact. Letting go of my Fear definitely played a part.

Who knows, how much the Clary Sage helped ease any anxiety or fear I felt. But, it smelled good. It helped cover up certain other smells.

Afterwards, I used it to help with my Afterbirth Pains. For the first three days, they were as intense as my Labor contractions.

Every time, I would steel myself for the pain, by dabbing some of the Clary Sage mixed with Olive Oil under my nose.

Here is a post that explains various methods of application. Luckily, I enjoy the smell of Clary Sage - I know it can be pretty strong for some folks. Remember Essential Oils should be put in some type of Carrier Oil before putting it directly on your skin.

Have you used Clary Sage before? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Belly Cast? Do It.

Making a Belly Cast.

Have you heard of it?

I'm sure you have, if you even the slightest bit crunchy.

Two of my absolute favorite possessions are my Belly Casts. They are reminders of two very special times in my life.

My husband and I made the first one when I was 36 weeks pregnant. He put up a minor fuss during the beginning of the process (using plaster is very messy, if you didn't know) and kept saying "I'm not the artist, you're the artist. I don't want to do this." But, by the time we finished, he had gotten into it and was very glad that we did it.

The second time around was so much easier (except for the fact we were being cheap and using the remains from our first Belly Cast kit).

Some people paint their Belly Casts. I happen to love the stark white of the plaster, so I'm not going to paint either of mine.

Make sure you cover EVERYTHING while working plaster (with newspaper, an old plastic table-cloth, whatever you want to use as your drop-cloth). We accidentally got some plaster in the cracks of the wooden stool I was sitting on and they are still there. We used our Bathroom as our work-space, which was nice because I could then immediately jump into the shower.

It's a nice bonding experience with your partner and I definitely recommend celebrating your pregnancy by making one. It's a fun Date Night! Enjoy!!!

This is the Belly Cast Kit we used. (Disclosure: Affiliate Link).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Birthing Month. Motherwort.

I love this stuff.


It truly can be a Mama's Helper.

I took Motherwort 5 times a day, during my first 2 weeks Post-Partum. It helped my hormones tremendously. Every time I started feeling weepy and a little out-of-control, I would look at the time and realize I had missed a dose.

I seriously had NO Baby Blues. Unlike after my first Birth. It was amazing.

Saturday, I was feeling frazzled and anxious and so I reached for Motherwort. The new tincture of Motherwort I had made was finally ready.

I took 20 drops and felt calmer within the hour.

Motherwort (part of the Mint Family) is also great for PMS symptoms and Menstrual Cramps. I think I need to start taking it, along with drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea during my Period.

Gotta love the Mints!

Susun B. Weed talks about how helpful Motherwort can be in all the stages of a woman's life right here.

Kiva Rose wrote an excellent post on 10 Reasons to Love Motherwort.

Here is some information from WebMD about possible side-effects.

***Remember to always check with your Health-care Provider first when taking any Herbs. Thank you!

Office Supplies. The Best Birthday Presents for Kids.

Okay. Maybe this might not be true for all kids. But, most of them LOVE post-its, right?

Pens, note-pads, return address labels, business cards. All cool stuff.

Recently, I created a Mail Center for my soon-to-be three year old. She's really been into envelopes and making cards. So I created a whole box just for her.

It has everything she would need to mail off a card. I had some return address labels made that she puts on EVERYTHING.

She spends probably two hours each day working on her cards. It's definitely worth the headache of organizing all the cards, stickers and pieces of paper strewn around the house every night.

Today, her business cards arrived.

Yes, I ordered business cards for a three year old.

She has spent hours playing with my Mother's business cards. So, I figured a card with her photo on it, would be tons of fun.

I was right.

She refused to let go of them today, when we went to the playground. She ran around, climbing things and sliding down the slides, all the while clutching a stack of business cards.

It's gratifying to see something that cost so little money (and took such little effort) could bring such Joy to my daughter.

There have definitely been several projects that took A LOT of effort and time on my part, which she played with it for a grand total of five minutes.

I am going to bed one Happy Mama.

I wonder how long it would take her to start handing out her cards.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Birthing Month. Birthday Time Capsule.

One of my favorite things that we did for Nye-Nye's First Birthday, was to make her a Birthday Time Capsule of sorts. 

I wrote about it here when I was thinking about doing a Christmas Time Capsule.

It took a while to explain it everyone at the Birthday Party, but once all of the Indian Aunties understood my Odd-ball Idea they ran with it.

We handed out a letter form and a number to each group (we decided that it might be a little to overwhelming for each person to fill out their own, so we asked people to find a partner). The number was the Birthday they were suppose to write about on the paper they were given.

On Nye-Nye's 2nd Birthday, we opened the first letters. It was so sweet, I can't wait until she actually understands the concept. I have a special box where all the unopened letters remain.

Originally I wanted to do this for our Baby Shower but I wasn't able to get it together in time.

Here is an example of one of the letters.

Dear Bright Eyes,

Happy Birthday! Today, you are turning 5 years old. I am Catoctin Mountain Mama, your Mama.

My favorite memory (of when I was 5 years old) was when I was playing Soccer and I looked up from where I was standing and realized my Aunt and Uncle were on the side-lines. They had drove over an hour to come and surprise me. I felt so loved.

I loved playing soccer, going to my Ballet class, playing dress-up with Aunt Mimi, cuddling with the many, many kittens on our Farm, listening to my Mama sing, sitting behind Daddy when he drove the tractor in the fields, eating oatmeal in the Morning, listening to my Popop play the piano, learning how to read and playing with my Mama's long hair when I was your age.

Don't forget to spend many hours outside playing in all sorts of weather.

My wish for you is that you will always be fearless and willing to take chances (and fall flat on your face), that you will have faith in your ability to adapt to any situation, that you will learn to always listen to Your Inner Voice, that you will come to see Life as a Journey and not as a Race, that you will always treat others with Kindness and share that gorgeous of your yours and that you will be comfortable in your own skin.

I would also like to say that I want you to question EVERYTHING, especially when you are told that it's the only way (even if the person saying that is me).

Enjoy today. Greetings from the year 2014!

All My Love Forever and Forever,

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day. Free Streaming of "Lost in Living"

Mamas (and Mamas who make Art) this one is for you.

My favorite writer, Karen Maezen Miller, alerted her readers about this wonderful opportunity that is available just for today.

"About a year ago, I recommended a documentary called Lost in Living that follows the lives of four artists in different stages of work and motherhood. You might have caught a screening of the film in your community, purchased a DVD or attended a house party viewing. Now, Lost in Living will be available for free streaming for 24 hours beginning Saturday, March 8 to coincide with International Women’s Day. This global Web screening event is an opportunity to share Lost in Living with women around the world."

"I hope you can find a quiet corner sometime Saturday to watch the film, not least because you’ll spending a few hours with yourself. That opportunity alone is worth cherishing. As you watch the film you’ll see beyond yourself into the connection women have with one another in every phase of life, and how motherhood transforms our aspirations. It’s poignant, funny, powerful and oh so good."

The trailers look great and I've been meaning to see this movie for awhile.

Free streaming right here.

Friday: This Moment.

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