Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekend Fragments

Liz over at Eternal Lizdom does "Friday Fragments" where she publishes a post full of little things--events from her week or random thoughts that have been on her mind--not things that go together usually, just a bunch of stuff...
Today's post is something like that;
only not on a Friday.


Tuesday night Wolf was horsing around with my exercise ball (aka birth ball) and tossed it through the air in my bedroom, resulting in a collision between ball and overhead light...light cover is shattered, ball is punctures, and he got a pretty good gash in his side (it bled a lot but was minor enough that a couple of bandaids sufficed).
I was admittedly more than a bit frustrated, partly because of standard rules like "you have a playroom and a bedroom, so don't play in mom and dad's room" and also "the exercise ball is not a toy," but most especially because he did almost exactly the same thing (tossed a basketball and busted a light) when he was 3, and THAT incident resulted in a trip to the emergency room and 8 stitches between his eyes. He seems determined to be a "school of hard knocks" kid though. I guess it's teaching me the virtue of patience.


Thursday night Hubby was base jumping bowling goofing off with a couple of his players after basketball practice and he busted his ankle. At the time he thought it was just a twist or a sprain, so we iced it and he put it up...but Friday morning it was still extremely painful. The school athletic director taped it for him and lent him a pair of crutches and I took him in for an x-ray. It's a spiral fracture to the fibula (if you're like me and forget which is which, the fibula is the smaller bone on the back which facilitates movement of the ankle and foot). The break is just above the ankle, but thankfully all the ligaments and tendons in the actual ankle are intact, so it's not nearly as bad as it could have been. So now he's got crutches and an inflatable boot/cast thingie and he's going nuts. Our apartment is accessed via an exterior staircase, which is more than a little hassle for him. The doctor wants to see him back in just 2 weeks though, which is promising. Hopefully he'll be healed sooner rather than later. In the meantime he can't move very fast, and it's hard for him to drive so I'm doing a lot of shuttling.
Once again I am very thankful for insurance, and reaffirm my belief that everyone should have a right to free (or at least affordable) medical care.


Friday we got paid. This always makes me happy, because it's a once-a-month thing, and so payday means that I get to get caught up on all the bills and go grocery shopping (which, yes, I do 80+% of my grocery shopping in a once-a-month trip). The last week or so it had really felt like I was "cookin somethin outta nuthin" every day...but no more! Hubby is particularly happy to have meat in the house again, as I tend to use a lot of beans and lentils when we get to the 'nuthin' stage.
I also have to boast just a little bit. Safeway has an endearing practice of putting how much you saved at the bottom of your reciept--both in dollar amount and in percentage. I aim for saving at least 20%. This week's reciept (remember this is most of my shopping for the month) I saved 32%. Oh yeah, that's how I like it to look!! ☺


Eagle has sniffles and Bear has an ugly cough. Thursday night I was up with one or the other about 6 times, so it was no shock that by Friday afternoon I wasn't feeling well either. All the running around for Hubby's busted leg didn't help, but both the kiddos were great little troopers. (Wolf was at school through most of it, but has been a great help at home ☺)
Eagle has been nursing a lot so I'm a bit engorged again as my supply surges to keep up with his needs. Friday night I tucked blankets around his carseat (to make it stable) and put him in there to sleep so that he'd be more upright and be able to breathe better, but I still ended up needing to take him into the bathroom to steam him out around 1am and again around 6. The upside is that since we were up anyway, I gave him a chance over the toilet, and he had no hesitation putting something in on both occasions--and had an almost perfectly dry diaper in the morning! It seems that he doesn't like being wet any more than I like letting him be wet. I was pleased when Bear toilet-taught himself at 24 months, but if things continue like this Eagle may well be months ahead of his brother.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Frugal Friday--cleaning up

Household cleaning chemicals are expensive and (as research continues to verify) they may not all be as safe as we've been told! Here are some cheaper alternatives.

  • I use an old parmesan cheese shaker to store/dispense the baking powder. I pretty much use it anywhere I want something 'scrubby' or mildly abrasive...tub, sink, oven, you name it. It does tend to leave some residue (as most powdered cleaners do) so you have to rinse really well.
  • A great deodorizer/odor-absorber, I use it in my diaper pail, or sprinkle a little on musty carpet, let it sit a few minutes, then vacuum it up.
  • Good for clogged drains (see below)
  • Baking soda is also a main component of homemade laundry detergent.

  • I use a spray bottle for the vinegar (which I usually blend with water). This is what I use in place of most spray cleaners--in and on the fridge, the stove, and the microwave (when we used to have one). Sinks, counters, and the outside of the toilet.
  • Pour a cup or so of straight vinegar into a stained toilet, let it sit for 30 minutes, then scrub and flush and it will get rid of most rings and stains.
  • If you have a clogged drain, pack it with baking soda, then pour in vinegar...remember those elementary volcanos? Same thing in your drain...and yes it's effective as well as entertaining.
  • Vinegar is a germ-buster and odor-killer too, so I use it in places where I want to disinfect, such as places that have developed mold or mildew.
  • I am told that you can use vinegar in place of liquid fabric softener--just pour it into the dispenser in your washing machine where the fabric softener would go.
  • Vinegar does not work so well for windows, just FYI.
  • A great laundry enhancer, salt loosens the fibers of the fabric (without damaging them) allowing the water to flow through and clean them more thoroughly. Adding a little salt to each wash load allows you to use less soap.
  • Abrasive, good for things that need to be scrubbed (put some in with your baking soda for scrubbing a grubby tub).
  • Does great things for copper--see below

  • Pour a little lemon juice (with or without water) into a small microwave-safe dish and set it in the microwave on high for a couple of minutes. The humidity it produces will soften any stuck-on stuff so that it's easy to wipe out, plus the lemon scent will freshen it. Lemon juice can be used in place of vinegar for cleaning most things.
  • If you have a copper-bottomed pan, sprinkle it with some salt, then a little lemon juice, and scrub with a cloth (the abrasive salt does the actual 'scrubbing) and it will shine that copper right up!

  • Put some on a soft cloth, and it will give you lovely streak-free mirrors and windows.

That's what I know...what do you know?!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

History on Film

I saw three fantastic historical movies last year, and wanted to recommend them to you all.
I have to add the disclaimer that they are realistic depictions of the periods/situations in which they take place, and all have some disturbing content/images because of that. These are not children's movies, however, I thought they were excellent, and recommend them.

Glory is the true story of the first colored regiment in the Civil War. A young white officer was assigned to lead them, and he, unlike most of his contemporaries, treated the black soldiers the same as white soldiers. He insisted that his fellow white officers do the same, and also promoted some of the black men to be officers. The higher-ups seemed to see the regiment as laborers --better for clearing roads than for fighting--but the young officer diligently drilled his men and repeatedly requested that he be able to take his men into battle. In the end of course they finally do get to prove themselves in battle...but I won't tell you the ending because of course then you wouldn't need to see it for yourself.

I am not sure if The Great Debaters is a true story or not, but it's a good one regardless. It takes place 90 years later, in Texas, when racial tensions were high and lynchings were commonplace. A debate team from a black university is doing so well that they send a challenge to a local white school. The resulting debate sparks a lot of press--and a lot of tempers. Subsequent white schools refuse their challenges, all except one big school up north...Harvard. The final meeting of course is a thinly veiled debate about racial equality and rights, and presents some powerful, thoughtful arguments for civil disobedience.

Finally, Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) is a French-made film about Christmas Eve 1914, when troops from both sides of the warfront left their trenches and joined in 'no man's land' to sing carols and share cigarettes and whiskey. It's not strictly historical, but is based on the actual events, and is a heartwarming and inspiring film.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WFMW: baby cradle cap solution

A lot of babies get cradle cap, which is more or less the same thing as dandruff--flaky skin in their hair (my babies seem to get it in their eyebrows as much as the crown of their heads, go figure!) When Bear was little, I remember having a conversation with another mom who said that her pediatrician recommended a dandruff shampoo for her baby's cradle cap. Well, my husband has a dandruff shampoo, and do you know what the active ingredient is?

Yup, coal tar. I don't know if all of them use the same thing, but this is a pretty high end shampoo, so I'm guessing that most dandruff shampoos have something at least that nasty. I don't want to put that on my baby's head, let alone in his eyebrows!! Especially considering that I don't even use soap on my babies' sensitive skin, but just bathe them with warm water and a washcloth.
Then I remembered that my mom had had a soft plastic brush that she always used to loosen the crud off the baby's head (again just using the gentlness of warm water). So I went hunting for one...I looked in every store in town (and I lived in a big town at the time!) and I was not able to find anything appropriate, so finally I figured out something else:

A soft bristle toothbrush.
I even labeled it so that nobody accidentally scrubs a toilet with it ☺

So that's what works for me! See more "works for me wednesdays" by clicking the icon below.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Twilight--the Singles Ward Edition

one of the funniest things I've seen in ages. (Thanks Nessa!)

Twilight Years from Tom on Vimeo.

(as a note, this will not be nearly as funny if you are not familiar with Twilight and/or mormon culture.)

Two Birthday Cakes

As I mentioned in my goals at the beginning of the year, I decided to make a fun cake for each family member's birthday this year. Today you get to see the first two, since Hubby and Bear's birthdays are less than a week apart (Bear's due date was Hubby's birthday, but he came a few days earlier). ☺

Bear's 3rd Birthday
He requested a "brown cake that I can eat," I decided it should be a big lego:
(The front bumps actually had his name, but I edited it out here...)

Hubby's birthday
A green dragon (green is his favorite color, and his 'wild thing' designation in the family is 'daddy dragon'...also The Green Dragon is the pub that the hobbits always go to in Lord of the Rings, and if that is as significant to you as it is to him, well, then you must be a geek too ☺ )
face and front feet

from the back you can see the lines for the legs and tail...

see, I used a fancy pan so there were layers in the half-dome
mmm, more cream cheese frosting!

Bear said it looked like a turtle. I'm afraid I must concede the point. I had considered making a double batch of cake and doing the tail and legs in 3-D as well as the head, but I decided that an hour was long enough to spend on a cake right now...perhaps when I don't have an infant I will consider spending 4 hours on a cake.

The Wiggly Truth

I'm in a low with body image issues right now.
There, I said it.
In my pre-teens I hated my flat chest.
In my early teens I hated my hair (and the fact that curl + humidity = frizz).
In my later teens (having gained both a chest and some defrizzer and also a slender waist and really hot legs due to some pretty intense ballroom dancing) I finally was happy with my appearance. I stayed pretty happy into my mid 20s. I struggled with other things (like zero dating life and later on multiple miscarriages) but my body looked good even if it didn't seem to be working right. After Bear was born I had a few months of adjusting to my striped and ripply tummy, but I could still squeeze it into the same jeans as before the pregnancy, so I just kept it covered up and went on being happy. But for some reason this time is different.
Maybe it's that it's still less than 3 months since Eagle's birth. Maybe it's that I still have 5 extra lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight (they came off faster last time). Maybe it's that I have more stripes, or more jiggles in my middle than last time. Maybe it's that those breasts I once prayed for are really big and very droopy. Maybe it's that my face is starting to get lines. Maybe it's that I spend all my time being a mommy (changing diapers and doing laundry) and not so much time being a woman (going out with my Hubby or doing much of anything for me).
No, I'm not depressed like I was a year ago, truly I'm not. I'm just struggling with looking in the mirror right now... and because I'm not finding myself attractive, it's hard to believe that anyone else could find me attractive, and of course that opens up a whole other can of worms. But that's not what this post is about. The reason I'm writing this post is just to say yes, even the most confident and happy of women go through periods like this. I love being a mother, truly I do. I have no regrets over choosing motherhood, in spite of the things it does to my body, and I would (and probably will) do it again without hesitation. I know that this season of my life is one for giving--my youth was for me and my old age will be for me again, but right now is my time to create and give. It's just that on some days it's hard. And that's ok.

Monday, January 25, 2010


I believe that everyone has a right to eat the food that is best for them.
I believe that everyone has a right to eat without having to hide the fact that they are doing so.
Therefore, I breastfeed my baby and I don't put a blanket over his head. Blankets are hot and stuffy, and frankly Eagle is still young enough that I frequently need to see him so that I can adjust his latch on my breast (he likes to slide off halfway which leaves him improperly latched and can cause problems for both of us if I leave him that way).
I do make an effort to be discreet when I nurse in public--I typically dress in layers so that I can get out what I need without exposing anything extra. The baby's head and body usually cover most of my exposed parts from any perspective except mine. It's true that I may show a little more skin than I mean to while adjusting the baby or something, but it's not intentional. I really don't want to flash anybody, and as I said, I am trying to be as discreet as I can.

In addition, for those who do see a bit of something, well, I think it is healthy for people (especially young people) to see that a breast's primary purpose is to nourish children. The media is full of breasts, but rarely in as appropriate a context as breastfeeding. A relative once expressed to us that she was uncomfortable about my breastfeeding when her teenage son was in the room, and Hubby looked her in the eye and said "you let him go to PG-13 movies with his friends, trust me he's seen a lot more breast than this, and in less appropriate contexts."
It reminds me of this (double-click to see it larger):
(From Sunstone Magazine, Oct 2007 issue)

Well, a couple of weeks ago I got a phone call from a woman in my ward. She is a friend of mine, and someone whom I respect very much. Apparently some men and/or young men had expressed discomfort about my nursing in Sacrament Meeting. I don't know quite what channels the discussion had gone through (although I suspect that half the ward knows), but the Bishop had made a request (which was assigned to my friend to deliver) that I be given this message from him: "Breastfeeding is a great thing, my wife did it with all our kids, and we certainly don't mind your nursing in church. But some people are uncomfortable with it so could you please use a blanket." My friend went on to state that she was just the messenger, and that she wasn't going to tell me what I should or shouldn't do (she's quite pro-breastfeeding herself), but that she'd been asked to deliver the message and so was doing so.
My first thought was when is anyone seeing enough to be uncomfortable about?! But then it occurred to me that I typically sit on the outside edge of the pew (so that I can step out easily to change diapers etc). If I'm nursing during the administration of the sacrament (which I often have been, because it keeps the baby quiet) then the man/young man who brings the tray to our pew would be standing next to/over me and be privvy to my perspective of the nursing babe...ok, yes, I can see that that could make someone uncomfortable.
So now I have this dilemma.
On the one hand, I firmly believe in nursing in public, and I prefer to do it without a blanket or cover, for all the reasons explained above. I know that Alaskan law excludes nursing mothers from public indecency statutes. On the other hand, my leader has asked me to do something, and I have covenanted to sustain my leaders. He is not being obnoxioius either, he is trying to find a gentle way to resolve everyones concerns in the matter.

So Hubby and I discussed my options.
There is a room where mothers can go to change diapers and nurse their babies, however there is no speaker hooked up to that room, and I want to be able to hear the meeting. Bear nursed frequently but briefly, but Eagle likes to tank up for 30-40 minutes, so if I were to go out with him I would miss half the meeting. There is a classroom that has a speaker hooked up, but it is on the far side of the building (ie--one has to walk through the chapel to get from one room to the other), and there is nowhere to change a baby over there. If they would provide both a speaker and a changing space on the same side of the building I would be much more inclined to utilize them. (I shared this with the woman who initially called me, and she said that was a very good point and she passed the information back up to the leadership, so hopefully they will install a fold-away changing table on the other side or something, but thus far all they've done is make an announcement in church that the room over there has a speaker and that young mothers are welcome to utilize the room in caring for their little ones.)
A second reason why I do not want to leave the chapel is actually far bigger--it means leaving Hubby alone with the other boys. It's not that he can't handle two kids in church, but we are both able to get more out of the meeting when we tag-team on the parenting. And as I said, when nursing Eagle, it's not like I would just be gone for a few minutes.
I could pump milk and bring a bottle to use for feeding Eagle during the meeting. In a way that seems the simplest solution...but what if I don't bring enough? Then we are back where we started anyway! I don't have any problem with teaching my child to take a bottle, but if I use a bottle in church solely because someone felt uncomfortable about breastfeeding, then it seems counter-productive in the whole goal of normalizing breastfeeding and the primary purpose of breasts.
A final option--and the one we've decided to go with for now--is that I will continue to breastfeed in church (without a blanket) but that I will sit next to the wall. If I'm against the wall then I'll automatically be more discreet because there won't be anyone standing over me at the edge of the pew. If (as yesterday) there are no side pews available when we arrive at church, then I will probably step out.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Light and Love

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that."

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Breastfeeding among Great Apes

I just read a fascinating post about great apes and when they wean.

Of course there is variation between the species, but they all nurse until at least 3 years, and some routinely nurse until 5 or 6 or even 7. Their biological development is similar to ours (how and how long it takes the brain to develop for example), so then logically humans' "natural" weaning time is probably in a similar time frame.
I'm not saying that we all need to nurse our kids until they start kindergarten, but I do think the oft-preached practice of weaning at 12 months does a great disservice to the average child (and mother). My plan was always for 2 years. I nursed Bear several months longer than that because he wanted it, but weaned him at about 2 1/2. At 12 months old he was actually still consuming more breastmilk than solid foods--it would have been hard on both of us to make him give up his primary source of nutrition. Besides which, the older a child is when he is introduced to a new food, the less likely it is that he will have an allergic reaction to it.
Eagle I will nurse until we reach some mutually agreeable age--it will probably be around 2 as well. There is a huge difference in the maturity of a child between age 1 and age 2, both physically and emotionally. So that is why I continue to believe in extended breastfeeding.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Human progress is not inevitable

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable...
Every step toward the goal of justice requires
sacrifice, suffering, and struggle;
the tireless exertions and passionate concern
of dedicated individuals.

~Martin Luther King, Jr

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

High Five

Destiny from The Prudent Woman tagged me for this.

My High Five (5 highlights) from 2009:

1) Giving birth, especially at home and in the water... Giving birth is a remarkable thing regardless, but (as I've repeatedly mentioned) this qualifies as one of the highlights of my life, not just of the year.

2) Driving around the corner above our new town and seeing it for the first time. (Also our subsequent realization that it was Home.) Also leaving Pelican. I don't mean that to sound harsh, and moving to Pelican was a good thing because it brought us to Alaska...but I was oh so very ready to leave.

3) Watching my kids grow up...Wolf had his first canoe trip, got busy with cub scouts, learned to focus on his schoolwork and get things done (usually) in a timely manner, and is a wonderful helper with his little brothers. Bear has learned to use the toilet, speak like a grown-up, and gone from being a clingy-doesn't-even-want-to-stay-with-daddy kid to loving going to church nursery by himself. This summer they also got to see their maternal grandparents for the first time in a year, and their paternal grandparents for the first time in two years. For Bear that meant developing relationships, and for Wolf it was re-developing them...and that's another beautiful thing to see.

4) Seeing how much income I'd brought in via my etsy shop in 2008 (as I did the tax paperwork), and realizing that it was more than a hobby, it was actually a viable little business--making enough to pay not only for my supplies, but also for our internet service!

5) Getting our first PFDs (and knowing that we'll be getting them every year for as long as we stay in Alaska ☺ Oh how I ♥ living in this state!)

Refuse to Hate

"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence
but also internal violence of spirit.
You not only refuse to shoot a man,
but you refuse to hate him."

~Martin Luther King Jr.

Everything in life is a choice. Today, consider the power of refusing to hate!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The ultimate measure of a man

"The ultimate measure of a man
is not
where he stands at times of comfort,
where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The appalling silence

History will have to record that
the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition
was not the strident clamor of the bad people,
but the appalling silence of the good people.

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Is it Just Me?

...or is it sad that frozen turkeys now come with a gravy packet included? "Pour drippings and contents of gravy packet into a saucepan and mix well over medium heat."
Have we forgotten how to make a simple gravy? Um, meat drippings, flour, water, cornstarch if desired...maybe a little bullion (or a few cubes of frozen bone broth) to round it out...this is not a difficult thing to it?
In the last couple of months I think I have seen a dozen facebook status updates that reference the person taking on some new and 'elaborate' cooking endeavor (often after watching "Julie and Julia"), and then I see what they are making: quiche, alfredo, a turkey... No, you're right, these are not necessarily beginner projects. But they are not terribly advanced either...most are more in the intermediate range. In and of itself there's nothing wrong with that, but some of these people are, well, a lot older than me. Women who have been stay-at-home-moms for a couple of decades, and yet have never attempted to cook anything complicated.
I am not suggesting that everyone needs to be a gourmet chef, but we all have to eat every day, so why would we not at least make quality food? And if you are already a pretty good cook, don't you get bored just making the same things over and over, no matter how good they may be? Don't you (and your family) deserve some variety? I chose to be a homemaker--shouldn't I care enough about my profession to be good at it??
So I'm issuing a challenge to all of you, my readers. It doesn't matter what level you are starting from; this coming week try something new. A new recipe, a new technique, a new something-that-will-make-you-a-little-better in the kitchen. After all, we could all try a little harder to be a little better. ☺

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Accidental Abuse?

Disclaimer: I know domestic violence is a serious thing and I don't in any way mean to pretend that it's not. However these events the other day were so amusing that I had to share...

A few days ago I was doing some dishes. Hubby had just finished making himself some lunch, and I knew that he'd boiled some potstickers, so as I grabbed things from the sink I was careful of the pan that he had used because I knew it would be hot. I reached into another dish to grab a spoon and YEEOOWWWW! I burned all four fingers of my right hand. Even as I thrust them into the cold faucet water they still felt hot. What the...???
Apparently when he had drained the potstickers, Hubby didn't pour the water down the drain, it had gone into a pan already in the sink and he had just left it there. I had not thought that a pan from the prior night would have nearly-boiling water in it...obviously I mis-thought.
Hubby felt so bad, but I really wasn't mad at him, I was just frustrated at the pain and the situation in general. Being the strange people that we are, we started joking about it "well if you wanted to hurt me there are more direct ways to do it" "no, I wanted to do it in a sneaky way, plausible deniability you know..."
Well if that's how he wants to play, maybe I'll have to accidentally leave a strategically placed dirty diaper on the floor for him...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Notes on Waterbirth

Waterbirths are touted as gentler than 'land births' because the baby emerges from a warm liquid to a warm liquid (rather than cold air). Water is also called 'the natural epidural' because it is so effective at relaxing and comforting the laboring woman. I have come to believe that the lubricative properties of the water help mother to stretch rather than tear, adding yet another aspect of gentleness.

"Waterbirth" by Cary York

Waterbirths have been practiced for years by tribes who routinely birthed in streams or lakes or even the ocean, however much of the western world has been scared to try them, fearing that the baby might drown, or, more especially, that it would be very inconvenient for the provider to try to assist a woman in a tub.
Let me begin by clearing up the 'drowning' myth. The baby has spent 9 months completely surrounded by fluid. He gets all his oxygen through the umbilical cord. So long as that cord is intact, he has no need to breathe air or use his lungs. Most midwives do bring the baby right to the surface of the water, but unless the cord has broken (which is rare), they don't really need to. Eagle's head emerged (underwater), and it was at least a full minute before the rest of him came out. During that time his head remained under water but he was fine because his cord did not break until the last moment, and the midwife brought him promptly to the surface and put him in my arms. He did not cough or sputter or anything. He just took a breath of air and stuck out his tongue at me. ☺
I very much hope to have all future babies in water as well. It was that awesome.

So, with that introduction, I thought I would share a few tips about waterbirthing.

First of all, you'll need a pool. Some women birth in their bathtub--this is ok, but tubs are narrow, and all the tub-birthing moms I've talked to have said that it was not very comfortable because it was just too crowded. Some women have a large jetted tub, or a hot tub to birth in. This works well, although the temperature of the hot tub should be lowered to something close to body temperature. It should be comfortably warm, but not hot. (Think about the temperature you use for a baby's bath, and go with that). The third--and most common--option is to rent or buy a birth pool. Some midwives bring the pool with them (and use disposable liners for each woman), some midwives require the mother to purchase her own pool. In my case, I needed to buy a pool.
There are a number of online stores that cater to waterbirth, and sell pools and accessories. There are several companies that manufacture pools specifically designed for birthing--they are large and have high sides. Some even have handles for the mother to hold on to, or a raised seat at one end (see below left). These official birth pools cost anywhere from $125-$450. Alternately, many mothers buy "fishy pools" which are regular inflatable wading pools that are relatively deep (though not quite as deep as the birth pools). The waterbirth stores carry these as well, and they usually cost $25-40. One downside is that pools are heavy, so in my case I picked out a $30 pool but then found that shipping was going to be another $25! A lot of people buy fishy pools from a local store, but that option was not available to me (especially in November!). I mentioned the dilemma to Hubby and he suggested I try amazon and their free shipping. Sure enough, I found the pool on the right for $38 and free shipping (photo is linked to the listing). I actually really liked the star shape, as it provided both flat spaces and 'corners' that I could lean into. It also has a padded floor, which most of the fishy pools do not. I highly recommend it as a birth pool!

One thing to keep in mind--many women want a larger pool so that daddy can get in the pool too, however if you get a pool that holds more than about 100 gallons, you may run out your hot water heater while filling it. So plan ahead and order something that will work with your space, your budget, and your water heater! (My pool held about 90 gallons and fit us both just fine, though it would have been nice to have about 4 more inches of water, Hubby used a pan to pour water over my back during contractions and it was fine.)


  • You will need a hose for filling your pool, and an adapter for attaching the hose to your sink faucet or shower head. The adapters cost just a few dollars, but the hose will be a little more. Some women are comfortable using a regular garden hose, but many prefer to buy a medical-grade (lead-free) hose from one of the waterbirth sites.
  • It's worth investing in a good size pump for inflating the pool--a manual one is fine (if it's big) or an electric one might be nice if you have an especially big pool. You do not want to try to fill it by mouth!
  • I strongly recommend a debris net. It is very common for things besides the baby to be pushed out during birth *ahem* and having a little net to clear them away is very nice. The net only costs a couple of dollars, so if you don't use it it wasn't a huge investment...but if you do need it you'll be glad you had it!
  • A draining pump can be attached to the hose to siphon all the water back out of the pool (and down your tub or toilet) after the birth. I did not buy one of these because it was $50 and I had been told that it was easy to set up a manual siphon either into the tub or out the window...however we tried both those things and neither one worked so Hubby ended up having to empty the pool bucket-by-bucket, and got a very sore back in the process. He said next time we need to spring for the pump.
Some sites that offer waterbirthing supplies:

  • Lay a tarp or a plastic shower curtain on the floor under the pool (unless you have it in your kitchen or something). Make sure the plastic extends at least a foot beyond the pool on every side--I left about 6inches and we ended up with damp carpet in several places.
  • Do a test run with your pool before your due date. Find out how long it takes to inflate the pool and make sure the space you have planned is large enough.
  • After the test run, if you have the space to do so, leave the pool 80% inflated. Then when you are in labor it will be much faster to get it fully inflated and then filled.
  • Usually very warm water feels best to the mother, but then there is potential for her to overheat. I did not encounter this myself, but my sister said she really recommends having an electric fan in the room in case mom is getting too hot, so that she doesn't have to get out of the water.
  • If mom does get out of the water for a while, lay another shower curtain or tarp over the top of the pool. That will contain the steam so that the water will stay warm. If she is out for a while, the water may cool down and then she won't want to get back in, which more or less defeats the purpose of having the pool in the first place.
  • Have a bunch of towels--ideally old ones that you don't mind leaving on the floor or getting dirty. Anytime mom (or anyone else) is in or out of the pool, water will get spread's nice for mom to have a little path of towels to take to the toilet or the bed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Musings on Powerful Birth

I have been thinking for two months now about what made Eagle's birth so different from my last one. I was not at all unhappy with Bear's birth--I did not feel bullied or ignored or disrespected or any of those other things that so many women talk about. On the contrary, I felt empowered. But something about this birth was, well, more empowering.

I tried to narrow down each birth to just a few words, and this was what I came up with:
Bear: relief, out-of-it, disconnected, tiring, fulfilling, empowering
Eagle: intense, personal, hyper-aware, primal, powerful, peaceful, beautiful

Both births were unmedicated. Both births were in the place of my choosing, and with a provider of my choosing who respected my birth plan. I went into each birth well-educated about the process and what to expect and what I would need to do. Each birth was proceeded by mental and emotional (as well as physical) preparation on my part. With both births there was a point where my care provider had to step in and help facilitate the baby's getting out. Both babies were healthy. Both times I had a relatively uncomplicated recovery.

Labor with Bear was 23 hours long--but when it started it started, and over the course of the day it gradually increased in intensity until he was born--just like the books say. Early labor with Eagle occurred in little fits and starts over the course of two weeks (causing me no small mental and emotional exhaustion because I kept thinking this was it...and then it wasn't). When the time came though, I was wakened in the night (by Bear actually), and within minutes was in active labor and Eagle was born a few short hours later. Eagle's labor was more intense--harder in many senses--and yet shorter. Ironically I spent the 'active' part of Bear's labor in bed (because I was tired). While laboring with Eagle I found I could not bear to lay down, I had to be upright and constantly moving. Even while I was pushing Bear out, I was sufficiently exhausted that my contractions were several minutes apart and I was falling asleep between them. While pushing with Eagle everything seemed to move very quickly, and even as he was coming through the birth canal it still seemed a bit surreal that this was finally happening.

Because Bear's coming had been preceded by so many losses, I spent much of my pregnancy connecting to him. I talked to him, sang to him, and during labor thought mostly about finally meeting him. Eagle's pregnancy was such a busy time that I didn't connect to him in the same way...on the other hand, I did get in tune with my body in a way I had not before. During labor I was excited to meet him of course, but I was mostly focused on myself, my body, and what I was doing. It was an entirely different perspective, and for the purposes of labor, I think a more effective one.

During my labor with Bear I was an active participant, but I was following directions. I was too tired and out-of-it to do anything else. While laboring with Eagle I was the leader, doing what felt right when it felt right, without being told to breathe this way or push that way or wait just a minute. I was hyper-aware of every sensation, but I also had the energy and presence to be able to respond to them, so they were more manageable in spite of seeming more intense.

Bear's birth was empowering and triumphant. Eagle's birth was a thing of beauty and peace...and a whole new kind of power.

"Cradle of Love" by NancyBright
used with her permission

Monday, January 11, 2010


Baby made a the toilet!!!
At one day shy of 2 months old.
Today was the second time he stayed dry through a nap, so I took him to the bathroom and held him over the toilet and said "psspsspsspss" and voila, he peed in the toilet. Bear sat and watched and was oh so impressed (in spite of the fact that he was doing the same thing when he was even younger). ☺

I wrote about the little bit of Elimination Communication I did with Bear, and I do believe that it contributed to his learning to use the potty (on his own initiative) around his 2nd birthday.
I definitely believe in cloth diapers, and I don't hesitate to put a diaper on my kid...but especially when I'm at home, I try to pay attention, and if I pick up on patterns (like staying dry for a 2 hour nap and then filling a diaper really full right afterward) then I can use that information to make my baby's life a little more pleasant. Why use/change/wash a diaper if you don't have to, right?

Maybe Eagle will potty train himself at 18 months...shall we take bets on it?! ☺

ETA (edited to add)
We had our second EC catch an hour later (after another little nap). We're off to a good start!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

10 10s in 2010

"We are not called to do great things, but small things with great love."
~Mother Theresa

So I'm taking a different approach on goals for the year this year. Last year I opted for simple, because I more or less flopped on my list from 2008. (Well, ok, I did most of it, but not the scrapbooking.)
SO, this year here's something new:
10 goals in each of 10 areas for 2010. (Posted on Jan 10, because I'm a sucker for numbers like that.)
That's not quite as huge as it sounds, because really each area is a goal, and then the 10 within it are sortof the mini-steps. Furthermore there is some overlapping between goals (ie, some of the mini-steps fall into more than one of the bigger goals, so there's not really quite 100 of them). Just keep reading, hopefully it will make sense.
Please note that there is no significance whatsoever to the order in which these are written. (Is that something like when my dad used to draw a map to a place and then write in big letters in the corner "no scale"?!)

1--Keeping My Home
  1. Create (and then stick to) a housekeeping system
  2. Try out at least one new recipe each month (this is what keeps the doldrums out of my kitchen)
  3. Serve balanced meals (with a protein, a vegetable, and a starch/carb) at least most nights
  4. Grind my own wheat flour
  5. Make bread all year (2 months down and so far so good!!)
  6. Build up my food storage--at least 3m worth of all non-perishable items
  7. Learn about gardening in Alaska--what foods grow well, when/how to plant and harvest, etc
  8. Have a garden
  9. Can/freeze produce in season
  10. Participate in the butchering and/or preservation of a moose that Hubby shoots (that's one of his goals for the year!
2--Read Books (ideally including the following specific titles)

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird
  2. A Christmas Carol
  3. something by a local author
  4. a biography or memoir (I just read Alan Alda's, of all random people...and it was engrossing!)
  5. *Going Rogue by Sarah Palin (mostly for cultural literacy)
  6. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Time top 10)
  7. Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis et al (about Bertrand Russell) (Time top 10)
  8. Beauty by Robin McKinley
  9. Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith (Time top 10)
  10. Icy Sparks
  11. (alternate) Fablehaven

3--Improve Financial Stability
  1. Pay off (at least) one account
  2. Keep current with tithing (unfortunately some months this has been hard for us, and then catching up on our tight budget is even harder)
  3. Live within our means, always considering wants vs needs, and making the modest choice even with the latter.
  4. Use coupons and shop sales at the grocery store
  5. Use our tax returns and PFD's wisely (for food storage/debt, not playing!)
  6. Build up our food storage
  7. Build up my year's supply (the non food stuff, like toilet paper and toothpaste and laundry soap) to 3-6months worth
  8. Do not buy any new diaper/etc fabric
  9. Sew items to sell using the fabric I have
  10. Actively market my etsy shops

4--Be More Present with my Family
  1. Read more books to my kids (I've been doing better with this through this last fall, and hope to continue it)
  2. Acquire a couple of new children's books in order to do #1 without losing my mind ☺
  3. Cuddle my kids every day
  4. Include the kids in the housekeeping schedule (give them assignments)
  5. Stay OFF the internet one day a week (generally Tuesday)
  6. Be a good example for the kids by limiting my screen time on other days (haven't settled the specifics of that)
  7. Say "just a minute" less often
  8. Play with my kids, not just work near them
  9. Have a monthly 'date' with each family member
  10. Go to bed at the same time as my Hubby (so we can have pillow talk and cuddle time)

  1. Create (sew or knit) at least 6 things per month, for my family or my shop
  2. Introduce a new product (or two or three) in my shop(s) this year.
  3. Allow myself the thought-outlet of blogging frequently ☺
  4. Finish Wolf's sweater
  5. Knit something for myself (I have no idea what yet)
  6. Use up existing stash rather than buying new materials
  7. Try out at least one new recipe each month
  8. Learn how to make shampoo/conditioner (ideally by doing depends on how hard it is to come by ingredients)
  9. Make handmade gifts for my family/friends (not necessarily to the exclusion of purchased items)
  10. Help my children make things

6--Focus Inward

  1. Be more active (I'd like to go walking, though in winter in Alaska with two little ones and no where to walk indoors this is a challenge...)
  2. Work on my poor ignored abdominals...crunches or pilates or something
  3. Get outside more often
  4. Read more fiction (see list above!)
  5. Read my scriptures
  6. Pray more (an ongoing challenge for me unfortunately)
  7. Get the local breastfeeding support group on it's feet. (There isn't one, so I took it upon myself to make one. The social support helps me so much and I believe in the cause)
  8. Sing more
  9. Take time to be still and quiet
  10. Check in on these goals at least quarterly to monitor my progress (I'll post those here on the blog)

7--Focus Outward
  1. Do my visiting teaching every month
  2. Become a Big Sister with Big Brothers/Big's something I've wanted to do for a long time, I just am not sure how it will go with a newborn...
  3. Build up the local breastfeeding support group.
  4. Fulfill my church calling (I am the coordinator over the Relief Society meetings formerly referred to as "Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment meetings")
  5. "Pay It Forward" whenever I can (in whatever ways I can)
  6. Look specifically for opportunities to PIF/send out good karma
  7. Shop locally or handmade whenever possible.
  8. Feed the local missionaries each month
  9. Teach a friend how to do something new (a lady at church has asked about learning to make a babywearing pouch and another has asked about cloth diapers)
  10. Teach my kids how to do new things (Wolf has expressed interest in knitting and trying the sewing machine, Bear is learning to put away the silverware from the dishwasher)

  1. Read a parenting book
  2. Read a marriage/relationship book
  3. Read a political book
  4. Read a nutrition or health book
  5. Read a biography or teachings of a latter day prophet or apostle
  6. Read my scriptures
  7. Learn new knitting techniques (starting with increases from opposite sides)
  8. Learn how to make shampoo and/or conditioner
  9. Try out at least one new recipe each month
  10. Seek to find/recognize the sacred in all aspects of life, and the connections between truths ("spiritual" and otherwise)

  1. Write a series of posts about The Family proclamation
  2. Finish the final post in my "motherhood" series
  3. Finish the birth-related posts that are sitting in my drafts folder
  4. Research and write more posts on specific vaccinations
  5. Write reviews of the books I have read but haven't written about yet: Hold On To Your Kids, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Raising Your Spirited Child
  6. Write reviews of books I read this year
  7. Post more regularly on my cooking blog
  8. Post more regularly on my family scrapbook blog (it's private, for keeping extended family updated mostly)
  9. Fill in gaps by posting older stuff on the family scrapbook blog too
  10. Leave comments on my friends' blogs ☺

  1. Celebrate the earth cycle holidays (equinoxes, solstices). I have some ideas about what I want to do, but would love to hear ideas.
  2. Finally start our long-planned family tradition of having an authentic medieval meal (ie, big meat, candlelight, no utensils) once a year. I can't decide between Michaelmas and Spring Equinox--thoughts?
  3. Establish a new family tradition for Jesus' Birthday (April 6--I'll write about it when we get there)
  4. Have a family pizza night at least twice a month (we are currently doing about 3x), and invite someone to join us.
  5. Have a family or couples game night at least once a month
  6. Go to playgroup and mom's support (breastfeeding) group and RS meetings and thus rejuvenate myself often
  7. Visit some major sites of my own state (this will be our third summer since moving here, but we've never really traveled IN state!) We're looking at Denali NP and Fairbanks at least.
  8. Play music in the home/car, and sing more
  9. Get outside often and breathe deeply
  10. Do my best to live deeply and suck the marrow out of life

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Spelling Stories

Each week Wolf has a list of spelling words. As part of his homework he's supposed to either write a sentence for each word, or a story using all the words. He usually opts for the sentences, because trying to make a coherent story out of a list of random words is daunting, but a couple of times I've looked at his list of words and seen story just begging to get out, so I've helped him make a story with them. They are awfully cute and I thought they should be preserved. (When I told him I'd like to copy the stories to share he got quite excited.) ☺
Keeping in mind that these are written for/by a 9 year old boy, enjoy!
(spelling words are italicized)

Orion and I went on a trip by ourselves. You have to understand our background. Orion always gets homesick whenever we go to an airport, so I thought this time we could go by railroad. I was just putting on my seatbelt when Orion barfed everywhere. I had never seen anything like it. He barfed everything he had eaten since breakfast. Meanwhile I already knew we would go home by afternoon. That night as we sat by my fireplace, we talked about the ninety-nine places we want to go Maybe next time we will go on motorcycles and then Orion will be all right. It's a good thing our trips are all make-believe, otherwise I might not go with him again; that barf was really bad!
The End
(The teacher wrote back that this was "the best spelling word story [he] had ever read!")

Don't you think they should make electric jackets? It would work like an electric blanket.
I made the mistake of bringing up this peculiar topic with my friend Fred. Fred didn't hear me, he was too busy telling me about his tropical trip. He told me an aquatic story that made me sick to my stomach.
He was at a public beach with his pet squirrel when he decided to go surfing. He went to his dad's truck to get a surfboard but the only one left was crooked. He decided to go anyway. He went out on the water but the wobbly board made his back ache so he decided to lay down on the board and look at fish.. He saw a beautiful speckled one swim next to him and then sink again. He didn't stop to question why, he struck out after it. Unfortunately something else had decided to track that fish too. Fred saw the shark just in time to avoid attack. the shark bit the speckled fish in half and Fred swam away very fast.
I'll stay home with my electric jacket thank you!
The End

Friday, January 8, 2010

Friday Feel Up

Get your new year off on the right foot, er, breast--do your self exam!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Life With Children

Bear: Hey Mommy! Don't take my picture, just get Eagle

Mom: Okay

Eagle: He's still touching me!!!

Mom: Honey can you move ove...

Bear: HI!!!!!

Mom: [moves the baby to another room]

Eagle: [smiles]

[audience sighs...]

And if you're dying to see pictures of Bear at the same age (so you can compare and then argue about whether they look the same or not...) here's Bear at 5 weeks. (Unfortunately I don't have anything digital of Wolf that young...)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2009 in Review

A couple of my friends have done this sort of thing, and I find it fascinating.
Take the first most interesting sentence of each post, find the best one (or few) from each month, and post them together as a synopsis of my year. ☺(For your browsing ease, I have linked each post...enjoy!)

At one point, my sweet innocent son explained to someone "this is the plain eggnog, and that one is for alcoholics."

Square miles on Chichagof: about 2000
People on Chichagof: 1100
Freakin Huge Bears on Chichagof: 1600
Now see, don't you feel educated?!

Well, the little-Bear-who-is-not-so-little has just come and stuck yet another body part into my face so that I can kiss it better.

The other night Hubby and I were talking, and the subject turned to a particular relative of ours whom I'll call Marge (because that is not her name). ☺

He looked at me very seriously. "No peepee door," he agreed, pointing.

I know I’m supposed to leave comments about how cute the kids are…but sometimes I just can’t, because some kids are not cute.

I can make his favorite dinner and wear his favorite color and get the kids to bed early, but unless I actually say "hey baby, I'm feelin frisky tonight" then I can't take it personally if he settles in with his book.

I am 27 23.

Wolf spent most of his time climbing the piles of snow at the edges of the field (where the plows pile it up) and then 'skydiving' off them onto the field.
Bear mostly wandered around picking up chunks of snow and sucking on them.

When a 2 year old has an 8 year old brother, he gets a head start on learning about stuff like super powers and bazookas.

I'm going to read the entire book. (And if I one day suddenly stop blogging, you may assume that I died from the experience.)

Hubby made the excellent point that if someone is too dumb to be able to read the directions and understand that one line means no and two lines means yes, well, they’ve got no business having kids.

I feel lousy this afternoon. And a little bit nauseous.

I just don't like the idea of public nudity, even when I'm dead.

This is my life, how could I be content with mediocrity?

As a child, I had a lovely mental picture of Heavenly Father. He was huge, and He sat on a big white throne nestled in puffy clouds. There were birds and flowers and angels and books all around him.

Long ago, before much of anyone bothered with things like bathing or changing their clothing, everybody stank a bit.

All you lower 48-ers, eat your hearts out. ☺

I was awakened by him standing over the edge of my bed, peering into my face at close range. "Mommy," he explained, "you have a nuggert, I'm gonna get it for you," and without further ado he stuck his finger into my nose

Unfortunately, this has led to the not-infrequent recurrence of what happened today: we collect a large pile of stuff that needs to be packed, and then Hubby turns serenely to me and says "you can get that all in, right?" and goes on his way...

The short version of it all is that I believe (and have heard quite a few birth stories which vindicate the belief) that most women get the labor they expect. It may not be the labor they planned for, it may not be the labor they wanted, but at least to some degree it was probably the one that they expected.

Remember diapers are to catch poop, not to win beauty contests; it's ok if they look a little funny.

The real irony is, if either one of us was going to be a handcuff-myself-to-a-tree sort of activist, it probably would have been me.

I am only one, but I AM one.
I cannot do everything, but I CAN do SOMEthing.
And if I am too lazy or selfish to do the things that I can do, well, shame on me. And if I take some small pride in doing the small things I can do, well, I think that's probably healthy.

Imagine the impact we might have on our culture's concept of birth if little children of both sexes grew up comfortable with birthing! Imagine if not only the future mothers, but also the future fathers, and the future doctors, midwives, and nurses all had witnessed a birth (or several) prior to adulthood

In other words, for many women, giving birth is the one time in her life when she is being true to what she is--when she is actually doing something as nature intended--and that can be a powerful (and empowering) experience. It is her chance to be a WOMAN rather than another androgynous clone.

Don't expect to have time to grab stuff if your house catches on fire, you will probably have to just run as you are (so don't sleep in your underwear!!).

I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm cranky, and it's entirely possible that I'm losing my mental acuity at least a little bit (remember how I keep waking up confused at still being pregnant? Yeah, that...)

I'm not saying that great gifts cannot be purchased items, just that the greatness of a gift is not correlated to its cost.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I just scheduled (or tried to schedule) a post, and then it posted instead of scheduling...whoops, forgot to set the date. So I pulled it, and I'll post it in a week or so (which is when I actually want it to post). ☺

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"Birth is not merely a means to an end..."

"Birth is not merely a means to an end,
it is an event that changes a family and is imprinted on a woman's life forever

The memories of their children's births are among the most vivid memories a woman will ever have

Get any group of women together and ask them about their birth experiences, and you will hear of joy, pain, sorrow, triumph, and a myriad of other strong and powerful emotions."

~Andrea Lythgoe, doula and childbirth educator
(from her website, posted with her permission)

Linked Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...