Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Crafting 2011

I didn't do much crafting this year because we have a lot on our plate right now. My hubby took a job away from us and I'm having to solo-parent most of the time now. That along with trying to pack to get ready to join him have made it impossible to get all the fun projects done that I had planned. But, I did have some things I made a little while ago and never sent along with a couple of new projects. Here are links to the projects we did and a couple of crappy pictures too. ;-)

Here's a cute stuffed dog I made for my niece. No link for this one. The pattern came out of a wonderful Waldorf craft pattern book lent to me by a friend.

For my other niece and my 6 year old daughter, I made pencil and drawing paper holders. I love this tutorial! I've made it several times now. As you can see, I've changed it a little. I like to use a contrast fabric on the front and a velcro closure. I love that Target pads of paper fit perfectly too.

For my nephews and my boys, I made these miniature marshmallow guns. Seriously fun! So fun that my daughter insisted on having one too! I wish that all the boys lived closer because I'm sure it would have made for a fun and crazy Christmas day activity. We haven't made the goggles yet but plan on trying to make them soon.

We also included in the cousins' box some homemade gingerbread play dough. It smelled so good! We kept half here to play with too.

Every year I try to make sure the kids have a new Christmas tree ornament. At first I bought them ornaments. But, a couple of years ago we switched to making them ourselves. This year we made model magic snowflakes. Here's the post that inspired us. It was the first time we've used Crayola Model Magic and the kids had a lot of fun with it.

I also made the Eleventh Hour Scarf from Purl Bee for one of my sisters. I used Wool-ease Thick and Quick yarn in an off-white color. I wish I had taken a picture. I liked how it turned out so much that I almost kept it for myself!

I also knit a scarf for my mom. It was a light-weight lace pattern called Falling Water. I used a pretty blue bamboo blend yarn.

My dad got a Classic World War II Watch Cap made out of wool in black and red. My oldest kept trying to take this hat since it's been hanging around the house waiting to be finished for awhile. I think I'm going to have to knit him one soon too!

I put together a little gift package for my sister-in-law that had an earwarmer, coffee cup cozy and fun porcelein travel mug. I used this pattern - Blue Leaf Headband. I also made my daughter one out of a lighter weight yarn and smaller needles. It still needs a button but also came out cute. The coffee cup cozy started life as these fingerless mittens. I loved the pattern but I wasn't happy with the yarn so I frogged it down to coffee cup cozy size.

There was also a failed attempt at homemade Almond Roca. But, I don't really want to talk about it. It makes me too sad... :P There was success for Christmas Eve dinner though with a Snowman Pizza. I think we have a new Christmas Eve tradition.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday filled with love and laughter!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Recipe : Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I know I'm posting two recipes in a row (with lots of days in between), but I need to write down our version of pumpkin muffins. I started with this recipe (which is great on it's own.) I don't even remember how I found it. I think I was googling whole wheat pumpkin muffins and needed one without white sugar. Then I kept tweaking it until it was perfect for us. It's now at a point where it pleases everyone including my non-whole-wheat-eating hubby. I wanted it to have a little more umph so I substitute almond meal for part of the flour. I use my own pureed pumpkin that I freeze in 2 cup portions so I switched out that and reduced the other liquid. I use milk instead of buttermilk since that's what I usually have on hand. (Yes, I know I can make buttermilk easily. I'm just super lazy in the morning.) I generally use high quality butter or coconut oil for fat so I replaced that (either will work in this recipe.) My kids love chocolate chips in their muffins so out with the cranberries. Also I doubled the recipe. I make 24 and freeze half for another morning. Here's the final version:

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from Eating Clean Recipes

makes 24 standard size muffins

2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Almond Meal
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
5 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice (Here's the recipe I use to make up my own)
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs beaten
2 cups Pureed Pumpkin
1 cup Turbinado Raw Sugar
1 cup Milk
6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (make sure it's liquefied)
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 1/2 cups Chocolate Chips (I use the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Bittersweet chips)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins.

Whisk together flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt.

In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, pumpkin sugar, milk, coconut oil and vanilla. Add wet mixture to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in chocolate chips. Divide batter into muffin cups. I use an ice cream scoop to make it easier.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean (well except for melted chocolate.) Cool in pans for a few minutes before removing to wire rack to finish cooling.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Recipe : PB & J Waffles

We have a little bit of an obsession with waffles in our house. I have one kid who is very particular about what he eats. Breakfast can be tough since he doesn't like eggs, oatmeal or most cold cereal. But, he loves waffles. So, we tend to have waffles at least once or twice a week. I could never eat just waffles or pancakes and syrup for breakfast without feeling kind of crummy for the rest of the day. It was always too much sugar first thing in the morning. When my kids were little, I started putting peanut butter on their waffles (then it was frozen waffles) to give them a little boost of protein.

A little while ago, I came across a recipe in Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine for peanut butter waffles. I thought that was brilliant! I'd never thought about mixing the peanut butter into the waffle batter. We tried that recipe first and it was delicious but not quite peanut-buttery enough for us. I started to tweak our standard waffle recipe with added peanut butter. It was super yummy. One day we were out of maple syrup, so the kids used strawberry jam and PB & J waffles were born.

PB & J Waffles

2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Sugar 
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 cups Milk
1/4 cup Oil
2 large Eggs
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla


Whisk together Flour, Baking Powder, Sugar and Salt. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together Milk, Oil, Eggs, Peanut Butter and Vanilla. This will take a couple of minutes to get the peanut butter completely incorporated. It will still be in tiny clumps. That's ok. Just make sure it's mixed evenly throughout.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix until combined. Spoon into a heated and lightly greased waffle maker. My waffle maker uses about 1/3 cup of batter per waffle and I ended up with 12 waffles with this recipe.

Jam Syrup

3/4 cup Strawberry Jam
1-2 Tablespoons Water

Mix together Jam and Water. Heat either on the stove or in microwave for 1 minute. Stir and serve.

These waffles also taste great with maple syrup or bananas and a drizzle of honey!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Few Amazing Photos I Found on My Camera

Recently, my eight year old has decided that he wants to be a photographer when he grows up. So, I've been letting him take my camera from me when we are out and about. I haven't taught him anything really about taking pictures (since I don't know much myself LOL), but figured he'd have fun playing around with my camera. I was a little surprised to find these photos tonight when I was uploading pictures onto my computer. I haven't done any photo editing on any of them. I just love them!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

ONE : Sea Creatures Birthday Party

 I'm ONE!

Our littlest one turned ONE! So hard to believe that a year has passed since her birth. I have been looking forward to this birthday all year! I knew that when it came, we would hopefully be past the hardest struggles of having a preemie. And we are! She is still slightly delayed in her gross motor development, but has come such a long way! She is crawling and pulling up now and all the weight issues of her first several months are a thing of the past. She's still a petite little thing, but not far off from where her sister was at the same age.

To celebrate her birthday, we had a joint celebration with a very good friend of mine whose son also turned one in July. The first pictures of them together are so funny. I think we took them at around 6 weeks old and Baby V looks like his doll. Now she's still smaller, but the difference isn't quite so dramatic.

It was fun throwing a birthday party with a friend. It meant that I didn't have to do all the work. LOL She handled all the food and I did the cakes and favors. We chose the theme "sea creatures." I thought it would be a fun summertime theme and perfect for a birthday party celebrating both a little girl's and boy's first birthday. My friend made yummy cream cheese and turkey or ham on tortilla sandwiches cut in the shape of fish. My husband has asked me to make these at home (minus the fish cookie cutter.) ;) Of course, we had to have goldfish crackers too. Along with that some fruit, chips for the grown ups and flavored lemonade. We had the party at a park so we tried to keep everything finger foods.

I made the cakes and cupcakes. I used this tutorial on Hungry Happenings to make marshmallow sea creatures from the sand toys I bought to give as favors. These went onto two different 6 inch round cakes frosted blue like the sea. I made vanilla wafer crumbs to resemble sand and sprinkled it around the base of the cakes. My dear friend Tina, card-maker extraordinaire, made two mini pennants with each baby's name for the top of the cakes. I think they came out pretty cute if I do say so myself.

I didn't get a good picture of the cupcakes I made for everyone else. I used these instructions on Family Fun's website. Super easy and cute! I made not only orange but also blue, yellow and green fishies.

We kept the party really low-key. We had sand pails and sand toys for the kids. I also set up a baby pool with sea creature squirters in it. Overall, it was a fun party to put together. We kept the guest list small which made it manageable, but I wished that I could have invited all the families who have been such a help to us this past year!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our Story (7) : Birth Day

Our sweet baby - 2 days old

It's so hard to believe that this was a year ago! In some ways it seems like a very long time ago and in other ways not long at all. I was only in the hospital 6 days when I was rudely woken up in the middle of the night to be told that my liver function numbers were not looking good and that I would need to have a c-section first thing in the morning. That was a really horrific night. I sobbed to myself for hours. I wanted so badly to call my hubby. He is my biggest comfort. But, I knew that if we were having this baby 9 weeks early, he would need the sleep. So I just cried to myself in the dark in my hospital room. I called him at 6 am. He made it to the hospital by 7. At around 7:30 my OB/GYN called me to find out what was going on. She said she'd stop by on the way to her office to check on everything. She told me that I still had a say in whether or not I wanted a c-section right now. Even though my situation gave me very little choice, she always made me feel like I had a say in my care. I seriously lucked out having her as my doctor. Then my favorite hospital doctor came to my room. He explained that my levels were not looking good, but if they didn't get any worse, he didn't think that I needed to rush into a c-section. Yay!!

I decided to eat breakfast and wait it out through another round of blood tests. I still was feeling good and not having any of the scary symptoms of pre-eclampsia (well except for extremely high blood pressure.) My good friend stopped by to chat. Everything seemed fine. I told her I was going to try to hold out for another day or so. It seemed completely doable.

This is the picture my husband took so I could see our little girl for the first time

Here is when I tell you that all the crazy precautions that I hated (like being in the hospital) probably saved my life. Right after my friend left, I started to have incredibly intense right upper quadrant pain. Pain right under the right side of my ribcage. It came on so suddenly that it took me by surprise. I had what is called HELLP syndrome. My liver decided that it wanted to stop working. It was so painful that I even asked for pain meds. I was rushed over to the labor and delivery side of the hospital so they could start prepping for an emergency c-section. My doctor was called and she rearranged her afternoon schedule to come over to the hospital and do my surgery. My favorite hospital doctor was there too. Within two hours everyone was there and ready for surgery. The c-section was not a big deal. I'd had three others so I knew what to expect. My doctor told me that I could have had a vbac for sure after she did the incision and saw that the scar tissue from the previous c-sections wasn't bad at all. Well, if I hadn't had pre-eclampsia and HELLP. I know I should have felt vindicated a little for fighting for a vbac, but since I was in the middle of another c-section, it just made me feel sad.

Having a baby this early meant that I didn't get to even see her before she was whisked away to the NICU doctors. I heard her cry. That was it. Gah, it's making me cry thinking about it. Then I was taken to the recovery room. The NICU doctor came in to tell me that my baby was doing really well. She said that she was more worried about me than she was about my daughter. I guess I didn't look so great. They tried to wheel me past her bed in the NICU before taking me back to my hospital room. They were in the process of trying to get her IV in and it wasn't going well, so I still didn't get a glimpse of her. I was told that she weighed 3 lbs 13 oz and was 17.5 inches long. But I didn't get to see her much less touch her and tell her how much I loved her already.

Back in my hospital room, I couldn't move. I was put on magnesium sulfate which is standard procedure for anyone with pre-eclampsia. Let me tell you - that stuff is nasty. I was doing ok at first and then I started to feel worse and worse. I have recovered from a c-section before and while it's no fun, it was nothing like this. I had started pumping to try to get my milk to come in, but I couldn't do it anymore. That's how bad I felt. I was throwing up. I think it was a reaction to the pain meds. I even told the nurses that I didn't want anyone but my husband in my room. It was a miserable 24 hours.

24 hours after her birth, I was taken off the mag and wheeled over to the NICU. I got to hold my precious itty-bitty baby for the first time. I cried and cried. I cried because she looked so helpless with all those cords attached to her. I cried because she had spent her first 24 hours in this world (2 months before she was supposed to) away from her mama. (For the record, she did have her daddy.) And I cried because the whole thing was just so disappointing to me. Yes, I was thankful that she was doing so well for being so early, but it was still stressful and scary. I had wanted so much more for her and for me.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th!!

Here's the yummy dessert that I made this evening. I used this strawberry shortcake recipe. It came out delicious! But I tend to like anything with strawberries. 

Yum yum!

We will be celebrating Independence Day by not lighting our own fireworks. The kids are a little bummed, but the state of New Mexico is having serious wildfires so we decided not to purchase any fireworks this year. Instead, we're going to find a fun place to park the car and watch the city fireworks. Hope you are all enjoying the holiday!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


We had a birthday to go to for a wonderful friend turning 9 years old. We weren't sure what kind of gift we could make and then remembered that he is crazy about LEGOs just like my boys. I had a LEGO ice cube tray I bought a few years ago for a LEGO themed birthday party. Since then I have been collecting silicone ice cube trays in fun shapes whenever I see them for my soap making. I hadn't tried making soaps in that mold yet, but thought they would come out super cute. This project was something that all the kids could help with too. We used a melt and pour soap base that I melted in the microwave. Then the kids added food coloring and a scent of their choice before we poured it in the mold. The result was a colorful assortment of yummy smelling mini soaps! I especially loved that the kids all got to be a part of the crafting this time.

I had to show off this awesome pop-up card my oldest made for the birthday boy. He used this tutorial. I thought he did great! 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Our Week : 6.25.11

This week was pretty low-key. We kept up our studies with Lesson Pathways. I'm still trying to get into a good rhythm with homeschooling, but we're not quite there yet. We have made progress though. I saw an idea on funschooling that I thought might work for us. She uses a private blog to record assignments for the day. We tried that this week and it really seemed to work well. It was easy to fill in each morning, and I just edited the previous day to reflect what actually got done. We will continue with this for this next week and hopefully it will continue to work for us.

Here are some highlights from this week. Boog has been reviewing multiplication facts. We've never played Timez Attack before although I've seen it mentioned on other homeschooling sites in the past. It's been great for multiplication practice. He also built a mini solar cooker out of a Pringles chip can. He cooked himself a hot dog that tasted pretty good (he said.) It did take about 2 1/2 hours though.

Here it is with marshmallows. Why? I have no idea. I forgot to get a pic of it in action.

Roni read Mercy Watson to the Rescue this week and wrote his own animal story. It's the first time he's ever tried any kind of creative writing. He's my "facts only" kid. At the library, we can usually find him in the non-fiction section. This was a stretch for him. It's short but cute!

The Rat Problem
One day a cat named Elwood and his brother named Jack lived in New York. They had a problem. RATS!!! They had to think fast or the rats would take over the world. Jack had an idea. He thought about using rat repellant, but Elwood had another idea. He wanted to scare the rats away. The brothers agreed to use both ideas. First they scared the rats. Then they used rat repellant. And it worked! Then they lived happily ever after.
He also studied the Indus River Valley civilization. Is it ok to admit that I don't remember anything about this civilization? I feel a bit embarrassed. I think I enjoyed learning the history as much as he did. He even made some cool mandala art and Pixie got in on that project too.

Pixie and I read lots of books this week. She had gotten a bit behind her brothers on the library reading program so we went to town on a bunch of books this week. One of our favorite books from the library was Fairy Houses. We made plans to build our own fairy house very soon. We thought it might be fun to build one down by the river so we need to plan a day to go down there. She also practiced writing her numbers. She is very businesslike about her schoolwork. It's pretty fun to watch. She's definitely the one I have to break my no-worksheets rule for. She loves them.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Story (6) : The Hospital

Within a couple of weeks of getting my prescription for blood pressure meds, they stopped working. My blood pressure was all over the place. I emailed my doctor about it. She told me that she was at the hospital that day and I needed to come in. Again, everyone flipped out when I got there. They admitted me to monitor me while they did another 24 hour urine test. I would not accept the possibility that I might have to bring this baby into the world so early. I was only 29 weeks pregnant. I believed that this was merely a medication issue. I just needed to find the right combination of meds to get me to the end. They sent in a NICU nurse to talk to me about what would need to happen for Baby at 29 weeks gestation. I thanked him kindly for his time but told him that I wasn't there to have this baby - only as a precaution. I fought with nearly everyone who came in mostly about the vbac issue. It seemed that all the residents and doctors wanted to convince me that I was wrong. I again reassured them that if I needed to have an emergency delivery then I would probably opt for a repeat c-section but that I still believed I could go full-term and have a safe vbac. It was a miserable 24 hours. I really hate hospitals. We finally got back the results from the 24 hour test and it showed an increase in protein levels. Thankfully, at that point, my levels indicated mild pre-eclampsia. One doctor in particular tried to convince me to stay in the hospital. I refused. I wanted to go home.

I was home on bed rest for less than a week. That weekend we celebrated Fourth of July and my sister came for a visit. She had been planning the trip for awhile to help me get ready for baby #4. The day after she arrived, she drove me to my doctor for an appointment. It wasn't good. My doctor came in and sat next to the exam table. I was lying on my side to try and bring my blood pressure down. She said I needed to go back to the hospital. I asked if I had time to go home and pack a bag. "No," she said, "You need to go straight there." My husband and I had spent the weekend talking about whether or not to have the steroid shot to prepare the baby's lungs in case she needed to come early. I was hesitant, but after researching it and talking to one of the doctors at the hospital, I felt like it was the best choice for our situation. But, we hadn't had the shot yet. I knew that would be the first thing to do once at the hospital.

My sister drove me back to the hospital and waited with me until my husband could get there. What did I freak out about as I was waiting to be admitted? The fact that I hadn't knit a purple hat out of cotton yarn for the baby to wear when she was born. I was giving her instructions on where to go and what to get for me. I had to at least have a homemade hat for her. I'm sure I sounded a bit crazy. It was easier to freak out about a silly hat than face the realities of what was going on with my body.

Ahh, teaching hospitals. For the most part, we had a really good experience. But, there was one resident that drove me insane. He talked to me like I was a complete idiot. He sat down next to me while admitting me and said in a very syrupy voice, "So, Mrs. B, you have what we call high blood pressure." No sh-- sherlock. I wish I could remember his name, because even that was annoying, and he looked like he was 17 years old too. Anyway, it became a joke because this person kept showing up. Every time he would walk into my hospital room, my husband would start chuckling to himself. He thought it was funny especially because he annoyed me so much. The flip side was another doctor there that I really came to trust. He knew first hand the stress of having a baby premature. I trusted his opinion because he "got" that I wasn't in this to just save myself. I was determined to give my baby the best possible chance which meant I needed her to stay safe in my womb for as long as possible. He explained things to my husband and I (like the steroids) with respect and real data about risks and benefits. He was never condescending. Thank God for him. Truly.

I knew I was stuck in the hospital until Baby arrived. Everything I was trying to avoid - extra tests etc., I was now having ten-fold. Two non-stress tests a day, ultrasounds, medications, blood pressure checks all the time...the whole works. I felt like I was defeated. My hope for a natural birth was completely destroyed. And I felt like I couldn't be sad about it because this was what was going to keep Baby and me alive. I did my best to focus on staying pregnant. We were past 30 weeks which was better than 29 but I really wanted to get to 35 weeks. My awesome friends kept my spirits up. They all came bearing gifts of snack foods (the hospital food was getting to me) and nail polish. They gave me a pedicure and chocolate. What more could a girl want? I passed the 31 week mark. Another week down. I just kept thinking that every day I was still pregnant was a good day. So far I was maintaining all my levels and the tests showed that Baby was doing fine. But, how long would it last?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

We've had a low-key day today. The kids and I made cake pops for Brad (or maybe mostly for us???) to celebrate Father's Day. They weren't as pretty as the ones by Bakerella in her cool Cake Pop cookbook I checked out from the library, but they sure tasted yummy! We told him the orange was for the Harley's he loves. He didn't get the carefree day I think he was hoping for, but I hope he knows how much we appreciate him. He's an amazing daddy and husband, the rock of our family. Love you sweetie!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our Week : 6.18.11

Homeschooling mama is back! I'm sure everyone could hear the weeping and groaning from my house this week. No more lazy days of Netflix and Roblox. I'm kidding. The reality is that this past year has been incredibly stressful for my kids too. They've had to become very self-sufficient and learned a ton of life skills. They all help me so much and help take care of their baby sister. Thankfully, as I've gotten stronger, they've had to do less but that means it's time to get back to our studies.

I just learned about a free curriculum site, Lesson Pathways, from a new friend. I am such a huge fan of Charlotte Mason style homeschooling and this is not CM at all. But, we need something a bit different right now. So, we're giving it a try and so far are really enjoying it. It's so nice to have a bunch of links to information on the internet all together in one place. We made it to the library this week so I did get some books to supplement the online information as well.

We also squeezed in some craft time. My two middle kids have been begging to sew something on my sewing machine. We opted for some pillows for their first project. They traced a square washcloth onto their choice of fabric. Then they sewed and stuffed.

They came out great, funny faces and all! 

And the littlest one has been hard at work too. She has learned to clap this week. This is significant because it's one of the milestones that we haven't been able to check off the list. I wasn't worried because she was using both hands and passing toys back and forth, but it's good to see her figure it out. We still can't convince her to try crawling though. Here she is mid roll. That's her preferred form of transport right now. 

And I thought I'd share the poem that Boog wrote this week. He was supposed to make a list of things that bother him and he turned it into a poem. It made me chuckle just a little...

The Things that Bother Me
My brother’s a nuisance
My sister’s a pain
My dog’s a nut-brain 
And dishes are just LAME!
Bees i dislike
Whining i just hate
Spiders make me sick
And headaches make me shake.
All of these thing fill me with rage
I just wish i could make them go away!  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hello My Friend

I actually dragged out my long lost friend, my sewing machine, this past weekend. It felt good to do something crafty even if it was something so simple. One tea towel apron for a special friend of my daughter who had a very fun horse themed party. I had a heck of a time finding little cooking utensils to go with the gift. I ended up finding these cuties at Bed, Bath and Beyond but that was my 4th or 5th stop. I'm going to have to keep a look out for kid's cooking utensils. I know I've seen them at Michaels and Target before. Next time, I think I'll stock up so we always have a few extra. These aprons are so quick to put together, and I know my daughter and niece use their aprons all the time. I've made this apron and this one before as well as a few that never made it on this blog.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dear 39,

Ate half a doughnut...what a treat!

I had a great first day, 39. We had treats, my favorite dinner, new shoes and a trip to the library. I had lots of birthday wishes that made me feel very loved. It was my kind of perfect day.

I really have high hopes for you, 39. You see there were several doctors that thought I wouldn't make it to 39. They told my family to say goodbye...even my young kids. I don't remember that part because I was pretty out of it, but it was traumatic for the whole family. And now, here I am celebrating another year. Is it selfish to hope that 39 is better than 38? You know that 38 was not that kind to me with all the medical issues. I mean I'm incredibly grateful for my beautiful family, my kids and husband. I'm especially grateful for the birth of my sweet baby. I'm so thankful for her health and her happy demeanor. But, seriously, it was the day after 38 came into my life that all of my medical issues started - my first trip to the hospital. And those hospital trips just kept coming and the stays got longer each time.

I still have healing to do, but I feel so much stronger than a few months ago. I'm home being "mom" again. That's really all I want out of life. It seems so silly. I was so ambitious when I was younger - fancy college, fancy job. Now? The fanciest job I could ever ask for is at home with my kids.

Library Trip

I really wish I could see into the future. I really want to see if I'll get a different kind of year this year. I want a year of good health, peace and maybe even some room for me to get a little entrepreneurial. I don't want to worry about pain and sickness. I want to focus on wellness.

So 39, I'm counting on you taking me out of my thirties on a high note. I want to be able to look back at 38 and say that it was incredibly difficult but we made it through. 39, I want you to be the year that I can look back on and smile. I really like smiling. :)

Sincerely yours,


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pac-Man Cake

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Roni's 8th birthday. He loves homemade cakes. Well, home-decorated cakes...I still usually end up using a cake mix. I am by no means "good" at cake decorating. My mom is amazing. She hasn't done much recently, but when I was a kid she made amazing cakes. I should make her dig up a few pictures for me...hey, mom?! Anyway, my cake decorating is purely for fun and not professional at all. In the past he has had a dinosaur cake, space shuttle, a horse and a cute little teddy bear for his first birthday. This year he wanted Pac-Man which totally cracked me up because it seems so eighties. Because of our crazy year, I wasn't sure I could get it done. But, somehow we managed. It was the first time I've ever used fondant. I used this marshmallow fondant recipe. It actually didn't even taste too bad. I just made two round cakes and didn't trim the top but left the top kind of rounded. I cut out the mouth and covered it in the yellow fondant. Then I used a cup to cut two dots from the cake I had cut from Pac-Man's mouth. I covered those with white fondant. Hopefully, I can try using marshmallow fondant again. I can see where I could have cleaned it up a bit, but overall I was really pleased with the results. And my-now-8-year-old was pleased too which is what's important!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Story (5) : Specialists and Arguments

The week following my first trip to the hospital, I had an appointment with a Maternal Fetal Specialist that my doctor had recommended. She had been suggesting I see him for some time, but I had put it off because, as much as I liked her, I didn't trust that another doctor would be as supportive of my choices. I had finally decided to see him because of her recommendation thinking that perhaps one more person in my corner might help especially since I was now "high risk." I thought maybe he might have some additional ideas about ways to keep my blood pressure down. Thankfully, the medication I had just started taking was working at this point and my blood pressure was ok that day. But, that meant that we didn't spend much time discussing what was important to me, keeping me healthy, and instead focused on my request for a vbac. He came at me guns blazing telling me all the reasons why I shouldn't try for a vbac. I was so shocked. I had come in to discuss hypertension not vbac. I had read A LOT on vaginal birth after multiple c-sections. This was something that was extremely important to me...something I had discussed at length with my own doctor. I knew that most doctors and some states won't allow a woman to try for a vbac if they've never had a vaginal birth and more than one c-section. But, the research just doesn't support that kind of restrictions. In fact, the problem with vbamc (vaginal birth after multiple c-sections) is that there isn't much research on it at all. Here was my standard answer to anyone questioning my decision,
I've read up on the stats as much as I can. I feel strongly that my risk is with any kind of birth after having three c-sections. Whether I choose vbac or repeat c-section, I'm at a higher risk. Because of that, I'd rather go the natural route especially since I know that I have healed well from my other c-sections based on the assessment done by my doctor during my last Cesarean. I will have the highest chance of success with the least amount of interventions. If I need interventions, I'll have to weigh the pros and cons of continuing with a vbac. 
There actually was one recent study that showed that the risks of a vbac after three or more c-sections was the same as someone with only one c-section or with the risks of having a repeat c-section. (I emailed this to the doctor after my visit.) Anyway, this doctor visit was incredibly frustrating especially since it ended up being about something I wasn't expecting. He even left me in the exam room to go get the head of the department to try to convince me I shouldn't vbac. (This was in a state with very low c-section rates.) I think his intentions were good, but his method was everything I hated about the western medicine model of care. Thankfully, the head of the department was a pretty mellow guy and saw that I wasn't budging on this issue. Through the whole pregnancy, I said that if I needed interventions, I would reconsider vbac. But, I wasn't signing up for a repeat c-section unless it became obvious that I needed one. I was actually nervous about going back to my doctor, but again she was wonderful. She was not happy about how I described the appointment and reassured me that it was my right at anytime to refuse a c-section. The ironic thing about the visit with the specialist was that it shouldn't have been about vbac or hypertension. It should have been about pre-eclampsia. The lab had messed up my 24 hour urine test so we didn't have the results at the time of the appointment.  Had we had the results (which I found out a couple of weeks later), it would have shown that my protein levels were increasing. Pre-eclampsia was probably going to rule out the possibility of vbac for me. Maybe it was a good thing that I didn't know yet. Maybe just talking it over with me gave some doctors a different perspective? Doubtful, but I still hope so.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Our Story (4) : Hypertension

Ugh. This is a tough topic for me. It's one of the areas of my life that I've tried to ignore over the last ten years. Not a good thing to ignore. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was in college. It is one of those conditions that make life frustrating - weight gain, infertility, and a host of things like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol that I'm now at an increased risk to develop. I stayed fairly healthy but gained weight after getting married. When I was pregnant with Boog, I had my first high blood pressure reading. It continued to rise while I was pregnant, and I was diagnosed with chronic hypertension brought on by pregnancy. I never showed any signs of pre-eclampsia - just really high blood pressure. Well, after he was born it did go back down. But when I got pregnant with Roni, the high blood pressure returned and never went away again. For that pregnancy, I was immediately put on medication. It did marginally well in controlling my blood pressure but I felt like a zombie. When pregnant with Pixie, my ob/gyn suggested we try a different med, something stronger that she liked. She made me feel a bit silly questioning it. A quick google search of Atenolol and pregnancy will show how dangerous this drug really is to developing babies. I have very strong regrets about allowing her to be exposed to this drug. My pediatrician at the time even asked me to switch to something else while breastfeeding. Thank God I listened. Since she hadn't nursed in quite awhile and we weren't planning any other children, I had just switched to yet another medication to try and control my blood pressure. I felt like it was my dirty little secret -- allopathic drugs for hypertension. I had tried some natural ways to treat it in the past but never had much luck.

We had the news that I was pregnant and I knew the medication I was taking at that time was not safe for pregnancy. I immediately stopped taking it. There was enough medicine in my body that it took several weeks before I started to see it rising again. Here's the decision I most question about how I approached this pregnancy. I don't question my motives at all, but I wonder if the outcome would have been different if I had made different choices. I read up on blood pressure drugs and decided that I wanted to avoid them as long as possible. I knew that I would probably need them eventually, but my goal was 6 months. My blood pressure was already going up at 6 weeks though. First I tried herbs to control it. I think they would have worked, but I couldn't keep them down. I typically don't have bad morning sickness, but this tincture made me vomit. Then I tried supplements, specifically magnesium, and exercise, walking. This did a pretty good job keeping it below stroke levels, but it was by no means "good." Generally it hung in the 140/95 range. My blood pressure monitor and I became buds. I took my pressure all the time keeping a meticulous record to show my doctor. I needed it because every time I went in for an appointment, it was high. Really high. But she believed my record and let me make the choice to stay off the meds. Right around 6 months, I started feeling awful. I got some really high readings and I tried to get a hold of my doctor but she was out of town and it was a Friday. I wish I could remember the exact reading. I think it was like. 160/110. The staff told me that I had to go down to the hospital to get it checked. Grr. I was so mad. I'd been through this before. I just needed a prescription for the drug that my doctor and I had decided on and that was it. It was hypertension NOT pre-eclampsia.

The doctors and residents freaked out a bit when I came in. But, my blood pressure did start to come down a little after I'd been there for a couple of hours. I finally got a doctor to give me my prescription but also made me do a 24 hour urine test. This was really the beginning of the end. I just couldn't see it at the time. I was heading into the medical monster called "high risk pregnancy." Heading straight for everything I wanted to avoid and my head was still firmly planted in the sand regarding pre-eclampsia.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Favorite Things :: 6 year old Prayers

I've decided to start a new feature (not sure what to call it) on my blog called Favorite Things. It will be something fun or funny that's making me happy right now. I thought about making it Friday Favorite Things, but I know that if I do that, I'll rebel against myself at having to post something on a specific day. LOL It's bad when you like to be a rebel against should see the drama surrounding my menu plans. :P Anyway, today I start with something sweet...

Every time my 6 year old says her bedtime prayers, this phrase is tucked in there somewhere.
"...and help all the people in the hospital, especially those with babies, so they can go home soon..."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bye to My Baby

Ok, so he gets really mad at me when I call him my baby, but you know it's a mother's prerogative. My 10 year old left for a week long adventure with his best buddy in the world. He is going to have so much fun. It culminates in a solo airplane flight home at the end of the week. Mom, Dad and his 6 year old sister really miss him. I bet his brother does too, but he's too cool at 8 years old to admit it. ;)

Our Story (3) : Bittersweet Beginnings

I was pregnant. So what did I do for the first month? I hate to admit this, but I cried. It was hitting hard that we were going back to sleepless nights, changing diapers and a crying baby. Thank God that I have the most level-headed husband. He calmly reassured me every time that this really wasn't such a bad thing. We knew how to love a baby...all the rest wasn't a big deal. Of course he was right. Then I started bleeding. A lot and frequently. I thought for sure I was losing this baby. I felt so guilty for all of my complaining and fit-throwing. I really did want this baby. I had a miscarriage before becoming pregnant with my oldest. I knew how heartbreaking it is to go through that. I tried to tell myself that I couldn't care about this baby because there was no way we could avoid what I thought was surely a miscarriage. But then I would stop bleeding and think that everything was ok and then it would start again. What a roller coaster of emotion! It went on for most of the first trimester.

In the midst of the crazy emotional ups and downs, I started talking to the one midwife I thought might take me (and was covered by our insurance.) But, I had major obstacles. I have struggled with hypertension since my first pregnancy. Because of the hypertension and the type of care I was receiving at the time, I had had c-sections with all three of my children. Over the past ten years, I became more and more drawn to a more natural way of living, a more holistic model of care. I became more and more frustrated looking back at those births because I felt cheated out of something so powerful for me and more gentle and natural for my babies. My dream was a home birth, but I knew that would be a tough sell with my history. I had to try. New Mexico has such a wonderful home birth community. If there was ever a chance of my dream coming true, it would be here. I started to plead my case. The midwife was wonderful and encouraged me to pursue a natural birth, but I could feel her apprehension regarding a home birth for me. She asked me to contact an ob/gyn to discuss the possibility of a natural birth in the hospital. I was so scared. I still felt like doctors were bullies and I didn't want to be bullied anymore. I brought Brad with me to have my back. We sat in the exam room and waited to meet the doctor. I had just started Hypnobabies meditations so I put myself in my "bubble of peace." ;) In walked the doctor in jeans and a sweater with long straight hair. She introduced herself by her first name. And we talked. I swear she sounded more like a midwife than a doctor. I could feel that she wanted me to have a voice in my care. She wanted me to choose the kind of birth I wanted. The only thing she brought up was the possibility of pre-eclampsia. She said that if I showed signs of it, she would need to talk about a repeat c-section. That wasn't a problem for me. I told her I was a reasonable person and would of course be interested in discussing a different approach if any serious condition arose. Honestly, I wasn't worried about pre-eclampsia. I had three full term births all with hypertension. I just didn't think it was a risk for me. I knew it would be the first question anyone would ask because of my risk factors and my previous hypertension issues. My head was really in the sand on this illness. But, I left her office encouraged that I might actually get a chance at a natural birth. It wouldn't be at home like I wanted, but I guessed it would be the best I could get. As Brad said to me after we left, "You didn't even need me there. She's perfect for us!" I thought maybe he was right.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Our Story (2) : New Year's Surprises

I was thinking about where to start this story and I felt really strongly that I had to start it at the beginning -- when the news that Baby #4 was on the way rocked our world. We had just returned from Colorado after spending the 2009 holidays with my husband's family. We went to a New Year's Eve party at my wonderful friend's house to welcome 2010. It was one of those parties that just makes you happy. Good friends, good margaritas, good food and happy kids running around the house. Over the last year or so, I had been heard saying (several times actually) that I really wish we had had just one more child. But, with job loss and our three kids getting older and easier, Brad and I had pretty much decided that we were done. I remember thinking that maybe it didn't matter when I stopped having kids...I'd always wish we had just one more.

At that party my friend shocked me. She told me that she saw us with another child and when she did our numerology for the coming year, it foretold a possible child. Well, I thought that there might be a possibility that I was pregnant. But, I had tested a few days before and it was negative. (Thus the heavy consumption of margaritas.) You can imagine that that freaked me out a little. How did she know?! I continue to tease her that she scares me just a little with her psychic abilities. On January 2nd, I took another pregnancy test to make sure and it was positive. I was floored. It really wasn't probable that I could have been pregnant, if you know what I mean. I have said that this baby had to work really hard to come into this world. I was really shocked and unsure about having four kids. I mean, who has four kids??? We would be one step away from denim jumpers! But, as much as I was freaked out, I was also really excited. A new fourth. The one that I could finally bring into this world the way I wanted. We were finally confident about how we wanted to parent. So many hopes and dreams for this little one.

ETA: I just wanted to say that we have friends with 4 (or more) kids that have amazing families. I've never even thought twice about the size of their families. It was when we were faced with the reality of four kids that I took on what I believe is the prevalent attitude in our culture which is that that's too many. I think even my friends with one child would agree that there is this attitude that two children is best. Three is ok especially if your first two are the same gender. But only one or four or more? Not so accepted. I actually had a dentist say to me after finding out I was pregnant with number four, "Where I come from, we call that a litter." I didn't respond then so here's what I wanted to say, "Where I come from we learned not to say rude things to people." Ahh, that feels better. I've been holding that in for a year. :P

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Our Story (1) : I'm Back!

I had kind of written off this blog. I didn't feel like I had the energy or material to keep it up. It's still up because I was too lazy to actually discontinue it. ;) But, the other day I was thinking about everything we've been through in the last year and a half and thought that maybe it would be cathartic to tell our story. Those of you who know me personally, know that it's been an incredibly difficult time for us. And quite a bit of it, I wasn't ready to talk about until recently. The other night when I couldn't sleep, I was writing blog posts in my mind and I realized that perhaps it was time. I thought about just journaling it, but then I thought that maybe someday, maybe someone might stumble on this little blog and find some comfort if they need it. Maybe they could see themselves in the struggles we've had and might be encouraged to keep going and not give up. So, I've decided to tell our story. But, I think I'll start tomorrow....
But there is one thing I wanted to announce since the last blog post was about the daughter we were expecting. She was born last July and is a complete joy to our family...but that's part of the story too so more on that later. She's now 10 months old! I can't believe it! Here's a picture I took this past Easter. She's such a cutie!