Nine years agoโ€ฆ

Feb. 20 marks the ninth anniversary of me and Jody’s first meeting in person. Of course we knew each other via the Internet for about 1 1/2 years beforehand, but it wasn’t until Feb. 20, 1998, that we met face-to-face.

I lived in MI. He lived in OK. So, while we wanted to get together, we couldn’t just meet up at the local Starbucks for a cup of coffee. (Wait, did Starbucks even exist back then?)

A lot has happened in those nine years. First I moved to OK and we later got engaged. In 2000 we moved to CO and bought our first home. We got married in 2001 and we’ve since had two amazing children.

It hasn’t all been roses though. We’ve made our fair share of mistakes along the way (the most costly being the purchase of a timeshare which we’ve since sold, taking a huge loss), but we’ve learned a LOT. I think we’ve grown up a lot over the years and really settled into who we are both as parents and people.

I’m thankful for Jody for a number of reasons, but one thing that really stands out to me is what a wonderful father he is. He has nearly endless patience, is able to play just like a child, and has a huge heart.

Dish Duty Father and Son

Pictures taken yesterday – 2/19/07.

I also love (and feel very fortunate) that he and I are on the same page for pretty much everything to do with parenting – from breastfeeding to cloth diapering to delayed/selectively vaxing to discipline. When I first started thinking about having a homebirth for our second child, he was supportive. Of course he first wanted to know that it was safe both for me and the baby, but after we talked to our midwife and both felt very comfortable with her abilities and with just how safe a homebirth really is, he was on board 100%.

I’m thankful that he loves me for me and supports me in following my dreams and pursuing my passions.

Happy 9 years, Jody. I love you.

Fun in the kitchen with Goji berries

Ava and I made oatmeal-Goji berry muffins and cookies today. If you’ve never heard of Goji berries (aka wolfberries) before, I highly suggest you read more about them, specifically about their nutritional value. These are some amazing little berries!

* 19 amino acids, 6 times more than Bee Pollen
* 21 trace minerals, including Germanium
* 6 essential fatty acids
* Vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, E
* More beta carotene than carrots
* More antioxidant power than any other known food source
* 500 times more Vitamin C than oranges
* 4 Unique Polysaccharides (Master Molecules) found in no other food source
* Linoleic acid, which significantly promotes body fat loss
* 15 times more nutritional iron than spinach

I bought mine from Goji Berries.US. They aren’t cheap (the 18 oz. bag I bought was $19.95), but they are coming all the way from Tibet and are chock full of nutrients, so go figure.

I tried to make the muffins and cookies as healthy as possible, so I used whole-wheat flour, less sugar than my recipe called for (I did 3/4 C of brown sugar and a little under 1 C of agave nectar), and of course the oatmeal and goji berries. I also threw in some ground flaxseed for the cookies. We ended up with 24 cookies and 19 muffins. They all turned out to be pretty tasty, and Ava and I had fun making them. She insisted on doing nearly everything with very little assistance from me, and even used the spatula to take the cookies off the cookie sheet (while I held it). She’s such a good helper!

Mixing in the goji berries and putting the mix into the muffin cups:

Ava making muffins

I love that she was concentrating so hard with her tongue sticking out.

Ava - more muffins

Showing off the goji berries:

Ava - modeling the goji berries

Tasty and good for ya. Mmmm. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Charlieโ€™s soap

Charlieรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs soap

I finally took Dawn‘s recommendation and bought some Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder. I’d been wanting to switch to a natural detergent for a while, but I put it off because I had a large bottle of All Free & Clear that I didn’t want to go to waste. Once that was nearly used up (I gave the leftovers to my sister), I placed my order for Charlie’s.

I’ve been using it for about a week now and so far, so good. I didn’t want blab about it on my blog until it passed the cloth diapers test, but it did so and with flying colors. I was a little surprised by how clean the diapers were. I’ve actually been reading some of the product reviews on their site and many people rave about how clean it got their cloth dipes, so I guess I’m not the only satisfied customer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder “is made with a unique blend of biodegradable coconut-based detergents and high-grade, completely soluble, Green River washing soda.”

It’s reasonably priced too. The size I ordered does 80 loads at 16 cents a load. (And they seem to have thrown in an extra bag for me too – maybe because I’m a first-time buyer? I’m not sure, but I’m not complaining.) You can buy a larger size too that equals out to 10 cents a load. Charlie’s also sells an all-purpose cleaner, though I like to make my cleaners myself.

The bag says “Leaves nothing but the good old-fashioned sweet smell of clean. If you want flowers, go pick some.” ๐Ÿ™‚ I like that. I give Charlie’s two thumbs up. ๐Ÿ™‚

โ€œFarm livinโ€™ is the life for meโ€

Accompanied by my sister, Ava, Julian and I, along with some friends, went to check out a preschool program at a farm located a few miles from our house yesterday. The woman who owns the farm met with us and gave us a tour while explaining some of the basics about the program and filling us in on the various animals we saw along the way.
Here’s a blurb about the program from their website:

Every day is an adventure, designed to inspire wonder and growth and give your young child a sense of rural lifestyle. Even on cold days we will bundle up, climb in the wagon and tour the farm, feed animals, collect eggs, climb the giant treehouse, catch toads, follow bugs, or simply play together in the playhouse. Outdoor activities as well as indoor activities such as art projects, music, games and stories are all part of this program.

I really liked what I saw and heard and am seriously considering enrolling Ava in a one day (well, one morning really) a week spot starting in either the summer or the fall. I think it would be an amazing experience for her to spend a day on a working farm once a week.

While there yesterday we saw a mommy goat and her brand new baby that was smaller than a cat, a baby horse (who’s mom died) that was rescued from another farm during the December blizzard, peacocks, sheep, dogs and cats and chickens. Ava even held a rooster all by herself! (Wish I would’ve had a camera with me.) She really seemed at home as she walked around the barn, petting animals, picking up hay to try to feed them, etc. We also peeked in on the “class” which was 8 kids and two “teachers.” Ava seemed really comfortable and interested then as well. I’m quite sure she would’ve been fine with me dropping her off for the day. ๐Ÿ˜‰ She threw quite a fit when it was time to go home (ahhh, 2 1/2 year olds), but that’s another story.

I’m also looking into other preschool programs (am just starting to learn about Waldorf and Montessori) and would welcome any insight those of you with preschool-aged children (now or in the past) can share. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m really looking for something that’s fun and play-based, but still educational to a degree. I’m not worried about her learning letters, numbers, colors, etc. at preschool because she knows most of that already and can learn at home. I really just want her to spend some time around other kids her age (because she is such a social creature) and have a good time.

10 days old (pics) and a bit of an update

I know, I know – all I seem to do anymore is post pictures. :oP I’m trying to find the time to write some actual posts, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

So in the meantime, I decided to get out of bed yesterday and take some pictures of my “little” boy (he weighed 10 lbs., 6 oz. at his one week check-up) before he loses all of his newborn characteristics. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to doing it until the sun was setting (doh!), so I only had 15 minutes of daylight to snap, snap, snap away.

Here are the best ones of the bunch. ๐Ÿ™‚

Julian at 10 days old





Things are going well pretty here.

Julian is a cuddly little bundle, who nurses well and sleeps a lot.

I may have jinxed myself earlier by saying how well Ava was adapting. She is definitely in love with her baby brother, but she has had some meltdowns in the past week. I think it’s been hard for her to share mom and dad. Some days are better than others. Yesterday was really hard, but today was much, much better. While daddy or Aunt Carrie have been good about getting her out of the house most days, I think it helped that she had a playdate with another child today.

I am feeling good. I had a couple of migraines last week and ended up taking my acupuncturist up on her offer to come out to the house to treat me and prescribe more Chinese herbs. So she was here on Saturday and did a bit of acupuncture and got me more herbs (that taste even worse than what I had prenatally). Blah. No more migraines though since she came to see me. I’m knocking wood that they are gone (at least for a while).
I have my 2 week check up with my midwife on Thursday, then I don’t see her again until 6 weeks postpartum. After seeing her so much these past few weeks, I will probably go through withdrawal.

Jody is home from work this week again, which is wonderful. His help around the house and with the kiddos is priceless. I’m feeling very thankful for my husband.

The photographer is coming to our house on Friday to take some family pictures of us. I’m looking forward to that because (for a change) I will be able to just relax and be with my family while she worries about all the photography stuff. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now for my random thought:
I can’t believe it’s already December! We haven’t done anything to decorate for the holidays yet. That might have to wait until my parents get here next week. Oh, and Christmas shopping?? Hmmm, that might all be done via the Internet this year.

So that’s us in a nutshell. Hope you all are doing well. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m trying to read up on my regular posters when I can, but I don’t usually have time to comment these days. (Sorry!) Hugs. ๐Ÿ™‚

Three days old – update (with pics)

Thank you all for the congratulations and heart-felt comments regarding Julian’s birth. You are all amazing and sure know how to make a mama feel special. We are truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives (both “real” and online) that care about us. ๐Ÿ™‚

Julian is three days old today and it already feels like he’s been a part of our family forever. ๐Ÿ™‚

My midwife stopped in today for our three-day check-up. Julian’s weight was the same today as the day he was born – 9 lbs., 8 oz. (amazing that he hasn’t lost any with all the pooping he’s been doing – just ask Jody!) and, when remeasured, he came out to 22 inches again. He’s just a big, long boy. ๐Ÿ™‚ She inked his foot and did a footprint on a pseudo-birth certificate for us that says “I Was Born At Home!” (we’ll get the real one from the county), and in his baby book as well. We also elected to have the newborn screening tests done, so she drew blood out of his itty bitty heel for that.

My milk came in this morning and, I must say, it’s nice to have cleavage again. ๐Ÿ˜‰ hehe. I think the lil guy is enjoying the good stuff too, and has been in a blissful “milk coma” pretty much all day. If he follows in his sister’s footsteps, it won’t be long before he starts packing on the serious poundage.

Speaking of the big sister, Ava has been amazing us at how well she’s doing with this life-changing event. She’s slipped into the big sister role with ease, and is so loving to Julian and is great with helping out. My sister has come over the past several days and taken Ava out for a few hours for some special time with Aunt Carrie and I think that’s helped her a lot. (Thank you, Carrie!) She’s had a few hard moments, but overall, she’s doing remarkably well. We couldn’t be prouder. ๐Ÿ™‚ As far as nursing goes, Ava has asked to nurse a few times over the past few days, but not nearly as often as I thought she might. And, who knows, she may ask to nurse more as we continue in this journey, but, for now, I am sticking with only nursing her before bedtime and then maybe once during the day – depending on if I feel like she really needs the mommy time or not. So far, it is going well which is such a relief! ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been thinking a lot about what a different experience this has been for me – birthing Ava in the hospital and having complications (HELLP syndrome) myself that lead to a 5-day stay vs. birthing Julian at home and not having any complications. I really feel like I missed out on the first few days of Ava’s life because I was bed-ridden on magnesium sulfate and so sick. Whereas I’ve felt comparatively great since Julian’s birth and have been able to just enjoy the little guy. (Like noticing that he has a dimple in his right cheek when he does those dreamy lil sleep grins.) It’s been like night and day and I’m so thankful that I stayed healthy throughout this pregnancy and birth.

I’ll be posting with updates, etc., when I can, but they will definitely not be as frequent as P.J. (pre-Julian). I’ve got a few other pressing things in my life to attend to. ๐Ÿ™‚

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And now for a few pics from the past couple days. Click to enlarge.
He doesn’t look so big next to his proud big sister (11/25/06):

She’s so loving and sweet with him:

My midwife inking up Julian’s foot (11/26/06):

Looks good:

Our beautiful boy:

Julian Emerson is here!

We have sooooo very much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving day, namely the birth of our healthy, beautiful baby boy – Julian Emerson – who was born at 2:14 p.m. at our home, after a very fast and intense labor. (Congrats to Vivacious Vegan for guessing his name correctly!) We were very lucky that our midwife was already here (to draw my blood to make sure I was not showing signs of HELLP syndrome – something we never had time or the need to do – and check in on me). I started having contractions in the middle of the night, but nothing I couldn’t breathe through until around 12:30 this afternoon. Then I went from having some really intense contractions (that I had to vocalize through) to having the urge to push to my water breaking all in a matter of minutes. It’s amazing how fast it all happened!

Needless to say, because it all progressed so quickly, the professional photographer we hired to document the birth didn’t make it. Hell, we didn’t even have time to call her until I was already pushing. I think we may have her do some newborn and family pictures in a week or two instead.

In fact, my sister barely got here before he was born!

As for the “lil” (ha!) guy’s birth stats, he weighed in at a hefty 9 lbs., 8 oz., was 22 inches long (though they will remeasure tomorrow because that seems awfully long), and had a 15 cm head! Big boy.

Julian is doing great and is nursing well. I am feeling pretty good myself and had only minor tearing (requiring 4 stitches).

It is certainly a Thanksgiving Day we will never forget and we will always be thankful for the little boy we received today. Jody, Ava and I are all in love with him. ๐Ÿ™‚ There were some unexpected bumps and turns along the way (thank God for my awesome midwife and her partner), but it all worked out perfectly in the end. What an amazing ride this has been. ๐Ÿ™‚

Without further ado, here are some pictures of the new member of our family:

Daddy and Ava cutting the cord:




We are getting close!

Every time I head out to the grocery stores (Safeway or Vitamin Cottage) the past few weeks, I wonder if it’s going to be my last trip before baby. And because I’m in major nesting mode, I end up stocking up on more and more things each trip. If I end up going to 42 weeks before having this child, our house is going to be seriously bursting with food!

Today I decided to pick up an organic cake and frosting mix (never tried one of those before) to make while I’m in labor so we have a birthday cake for baby boy. Ava immediately told me that she will have a piece of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think it will be something fun for us to do together in the early stages of labor and will be a nice way to celebrate the little one’s arrival. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wanted to get chocolate cake AND chocolate frosting, but settled on a marble cake mix with choco frosting, because I know not everyone (*ahem* – Jody) likes chocolate as much as Ava and me.

I also bought some things for our Thanksgiving dinner today, including stuffing mix, ingredients to make a pumpkin pie, and cool whip. I’m not exactly sure who’s going to be making our Thanksgiving dinner because my sister may well be flying back to MI to spend it with her boyfriend (provided that baby boy has made his grand entrance) and my parents will probably not be in town yet – so I’m thinking Jody it is (with me yelling instructions from the bed or couch – hee, hee). I plan on making the pie this weekend and freezing it and may end up making some side dishes that can be frozen if I have time next week.

My estimated due date is Nov. 16 – less than a week away. After today is done, I feel like I am OK to have this baby. The photographer who’s coming to photograph the birth had a wedding to shoot today, but after that her calendar can be easily freed up. So I think baby boy and I will have a talk tonight so that he knows that any time he’s ready to come now, we are ready to meet him. ๐Ÿ™‚

I went for another acupuncture appointment on Wednesday. All is going well and the supervisor of the clinic I go to was very encouraged by my recent lab results. She mixed up a special blend of Chinese herbs for me (in addition to my usual “pregnancy” herbs) to be cooked up while I’m in labor and drank right after the baby is born to help prevent hemorrhaging (which was an issue with Ava because my platelet levels were so low). She also said to call her if I do have any bleeding and she will come to my house with other herbs that will help my recovery. So nice of her! But anyway, the way everything with this pregnancy has been so different (for the better) from my pregnancy with Ava, I feel like while it’s great that we have courses of action for “just in case” scenarios, everything is going to go so well with this birth that we won’t need any of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

My midwife STRONGLY recommends that I take it very easy for the first two weeks after the birth, which will help significantly with my recovery. (She suggests this with all of her clients, I’m no exception.) In fact, for the first three days after he’s born, she wants me laying in bed with the baby, sleeping as much as possible (even though I may feel great). I have to admit, that part is rather appealing to me. Sure, I know I will have a baby pretty much attached to my breast the whole time, but just chillin’ with the little guy will be nice. After day 3, I can venture downstairs, but still need to stay off my feet and am NOT to do any cooking, laundry, picking up toddlers, etc. I think after a week I can start spending a little time on my feet (no more than 10 minutes at a time), but still should not be cooking or doing household chores. (Do you see why I’m not fighting this? *wink, wink*) Although I am sure that I will start getting a little stir crazy and will want to be getting back into the swing of things, which she says is fine by the time I am 2 weeks postpartum. So we’ll see how it goes. I think having the house well-stocked with food, organic fruits and veggies delivered to the house each Monday, as well as having our milk delivered, it should help Jody out a lot. Thankfully, he has two weeks paternity time off work to be here with us, and has some additional vacation time he may take later. After he goes back to work, my parents plan on coming from MI to help out with Ava for another week or so. I am sure all of this assistance will be very much welcome as we adjust to our new life.

So now, the waiting game begins. ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, the picture of the book above, “Welcome With Love,” is a wonderful children’s book about natural childbirth. In the book, Jack, his family and the midwife await the homebirth of his baby brother. There are beautiful pictures depicting the midwife preparing for the birth, mom in labor, the birth itself, the baby after he is born with the umbilical cord attached, and many lovely images of the family. Ava has greatly enjoyed reading this book in the last few months and I think it well prepares any child for the natural birth of a sibling, whether it be a homebirth or hospital birth.

Nursing a toddler (a 2-year-old) while pregnant

I said a long time ago that I wanted to write about my experiences nursing a toddler – not only for my own record, but in hopes that it might provide some insight to someone else out there. I figure I need to tackle this topic soon (and actually started this entry a couple weeks ago), while I still have time to reflect on it and blog about it before baby boy gets here, so here goes…

I always knew that I would nurse my children, but I never thought about the length of time I would do it. The American Academy of Pediatrics has their recommendations, as does the World Health Organization. Both seem to agree that breastfeeding should continue “as long as mutually desired by mother and child.” I figured I would play it by ear with Ava, allowing her to self-wean if possible, but not commit to anything one way or the other.


She celebrated her second birthday in June 2006 and nursing continued. By this time, Ava was only nursing a few times a day and had night-weaned as of 22 months. I’m not sure if the drop in nursing came as a result of her age or as a result of my milk drying up with my pregnancy. I had become pregnant with our second child in February 2006, and my milk dried up somewhere around 15 weeks pregnant.

While nursing a toddler was not something that bothered me, nursing a toddler while pregnant (with all the lovely pregnancy hormones coursing through my system) and without any milk coming out was less than appealing to me. I kept at it despite the fact that it wasn’t always easy, partially because I felt like it was easier to grin and bear it rather than wean. I know that may not have been the best way to respond and others chose different paths (which I can totally understand), but that’s how I handled it.

There was a time, several weeks ago, when I was seriously contemplating weaning Ava before baby boy is born. I was having such a hard time and feeling very overwhelmed with nursing (even though it wasn’t that often) and life in general. But after talking with several other moms who are either nursing now while pregnant or have nursed while pregnant, and reading the chapter about nursing while pregnant and tandem nursing in “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler,” I was reassured that all of the feelings I was having were completely normal. Such a relief! That didn’t make nursing any easier, but it did reassure me that there was nothing wrong with me for feeling the way I did.

Here we are now – me at 37+ weeks pregnant and Ava at 28 months old. She is still nursing 1 to 2 times per day – which consists of always before bedtime (though she doesn’t nurse to sleep) and sometimes once in the middle of the day. I managed to cut out the morning nursing session fairly easily by way of distraction. When she does nurse now, I place restrictions on it and it’s only for 2 to 3 minutes at most, which is really all I can handle. There have been times when nursing is just too much for me at the time and I tell her that mommy is feeling frustrated, etc. She understands and has been fine with me placing restrictions, so it works for us.

I’m hoping that by continuing to nurse her, it will make her transition from being an only child to an older sister a bit easier, since we will still have that special connecting time together each day. I know that moms who wean are still able to connect with their older child, but maybe by sharing something as sacred to her as mommy’s milk with baby brother, it will help calm her uneasiness with the changes of having to share mommy with someone else. Time will tell.

I never expected nursing while pregnant to be as difficult as it has been. Hormones can do crazy things to a person. I can totally understand why women wean while they are pregnant and I wouldn’t have been too upset if Ava had decided to wean on her own. Of course, that didn’t happen. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m still not making any promises as to how long nursing will continue. We will take it day by day, even after baby boy comes. No matter what happens, I feel good about the nursing relationship Ava and I have had and know that we both have shared some precious memories together over the years.

I welcome any tales from mamas who have nursed while pregnant or tandem nursed. It’s always nice to know I’m not alone. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, I did some searches for nursing a toddler and found this info on LLL’s site with “Toddler Tips”, as well as info about nursing while pregnant. Also found this with “Toddler Nursing Testimonials.”

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A pic post – Veggies, a belly and a silly girl

The trip to the farm this Saturday was a lot of fun. We, along with about 10 other families from our AP group, rode a hayride around to various spots on the farm where we got to pick a variety of vegetables. I thought we came home with quite a bit ourselves, but one of the other families with us weighed their produce once they got home and they had 125 lbs. worth! The couple gave us all sorts of suggestions for freezing and otherwise storing them so I’m sure most of that will get consumed in their house over the winter. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Oh, how I wish I had a chest freezer.)

The day was sunny and quite warm at about 80 degrees (though it cooled off considerably Sunday, and today was only in the 40s and rainy). Unfortunately, I didn’t have my batteries in my camera the right way (doh!) so I didn’t get any pics of the lil miss picking veggies or eating them (tomatoes and carrots) along the way. She had a lot of fun though, as did Jody and I. ๐Ÿ™‚

After the veggie-harvesting hayride, we went on a little “train” ride and Ava spent some time bouncing in one of those big bouncy castle things, as well as feeding some animals in a petting zoo.

As for all of our veggies, I made a recipe for Chicken Pumpkin Stew for dinner Sunday night (which used some of the pumpkin, carrots, and potatoes), after I spent much of the day washing, peeling and cutting carrots to be frozen, and washing potatoes to be stored. My fingernails actually turned orange from all the carrots. Sheesh.



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I finally took some new belly pics today (at 34 1/2 weeks).
Here they are:


For comparison, here are the belly pics I took at 28 weeks. I really need to do some more shots like those (with the backdrop and all), but I will probably wait until 36 weeks.
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And lastly, here is Ava (on 10/4/06) “sleeping” under daddy’s “covers” (i.e. under his shirt – which he is still wearing!). LOL – What a goof, er… a couple of goofs actually. ๐Ÿ˜‰