Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Diaper deal

For those of you who have little ones in diapers, this might help! and Parenting magazine have a nice deal going on right now. If you're a new customer, you can get $10 off your order with this code: EMSD3780 (disclosure: this is an affiliate code - I get credit if you make a purchase.) You get free shipping if your original order is over $49. AND you can submit your receipt for a $14.97 rebate from parenting magazine. Even if you're not a new customer (I'm not) this can still be a pretty good deal. Here's what I just bought:

3 packs Luvs sz. 4
3 packs Luvs sz. 5
360 ct. Huggies wipes

After the rebate, I'll be paying $38.96 for six packages of diapers and a large box of wipes. If you've never ordered from here before, you could get the same thing for only $28.96. That works out to the box of wipes at about $8, and diapers about $3.50 a package. Good deal!

HT to Katie!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Socks and shoes

This morning I asked Jonathan and Thomas to get their socks and shoes on. A moment later I found Josiah at my knee, holding up his own pair of socks for me to put on him. I knew he was understanding more and more, but that was unexpected! Hurray for little ones learning!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Vons trip - yay for coupons!

I spent a bit more time than usual this week, preparing for this trip. It was a big one! But very worth the extra time. See everything in the picture? I paid $39.48 for it. The original total (pre-sale and pre-coupons) was $132.53.

What I want to highlight this week is the effect that e-coupons can have on your total spending. Do you use Cellfire and Shortcuts? You should. These are sites that allow you to load ecoupons directly to your Vons or Ralphs card, and the discounts automatically come off when you check out. Each month they come out with new coupons, and I generally load all of them to my card regardless of whether I *think* that I'll use them, because you never know when a really good promotion will coincide with their coupons.

This trip I saved:
$9.15 with shortcuts coupons
$7.30 with cellfire coupons
$19.70 with normal paper coupons
$10.69 with more specialized paper coupons (you probably have to follow a few deals blogs to get them)
$2.50 with catalinas

Total coupon savings: $49.34

Come to think of it, I just paid for a year of the Sunday paper (which I purchase primarily for the coupons) and it cost less than I saved this week.

Pretty sweet. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010


Thomas has discovered singing. He's still in the early stages, where there isn't much tune with the words, but it is awfully cute. The funniest part is that he tends to get stuck - he'll repeat the same phrase over, and over, and over, and over. A recent example is from Hello, Dolly. Thomas has been wandering around singing to himself "it's a s(l)ick town, Barnaby, listen, Barnaby, it's a sick town, Barnaby..." Hilarious!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Katie's birth

Posted with her permission, here are my memories of Katie's labor and birth. Please note: these are the thoughts of a doula-in-training, so if you're male, or just uninterested in birth details, feel free to skip this one. :)

Katie called me on Friday evening (around 6pm) to let me know that labor had started. It sounded like it was very early in the process, but since she lives just down the street from me, I went over to say hi and see how she was doing. It was very early labor…her contractions almost stopped just because I showed up. :) I hung around long enough to watch her breathe through one, then headed off to Artists’ Night with some admonitions to “do something fun and then go to bed early. And call me when things change and you want me.”

It was fun to go to Artists’ Night from there because I was late and everyone had been speculating on the reason that neither Katie, Daniel, or I was there! I didn’t stay too long because I wanted to take my own advice and head for bed. I was expecting a call sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

Sure enough, Daniel called around 4:30am. He thought that Katie’s water might have broken, but wasn’t sure because there wasn’t much liquid. I asked some questions and then said I’d be right over. I was so excited! One of the things that can be tricky for me, as I head to a birth, is figuring out how to channel all that excited adrenaline so that I am only projecting calm and happiness when I get there.

There was no question that Katie’s water had broken, and her labor had definitely changed. No longer “early labor”, she was active, and in pain. My primary concern for Katie, before labor, had been her childbirth class. It was a Lamaze style class taught by the hospital, and I was worried that it was entirely inadequate to address and prepare for the reality of labor. I hadn’t wanted to sound negative during our meetings, especially since Lamaze just isn’t my field of expertise, but I did suggest that having some Bradley tricks up our sleeves might be a good idea, too. Unfortunately, my worries were not unfounded. Maybe an hour after I arrived, Katie worked her way through a contraction and then ground out “I am so angry about that class! Holding ice cubes in your hands does not compare!” No. No, it doesn’t.

So I tried to help Katie find something that would work for her. She labored leaning on two different birth balls, walking, standing and swaying, circling her hips, sitting on the toilet, and standing in the shower. She tried some different breathing techniques – sort of a combination of Bradley deep breathing and Lamaze patterns – and while that was hard for her to do, it did seem to help her get on top of the pain.

I think the most amazing part of Katie’s labor was this time, as I watched her grapple with anger and a sense of betrayal, and then emerge on the other side with focus and intensity. Instead of letting poor preparation get in her way, she chose to find her own path through her labor, and it was a beautiful thing to see.

The toilet and the shower were the hardest places for Katie to labor, because both ramped up the intensity of her labor. Initially as she realized this, she wanted to try other things, running away from the intensified pain, but she responded really well to my reminder that, in this case, pain was a good and productive thing. Accepting pain is so hard to do, yet Katie did this with grace.

Around 8:30 or 9am, Katie started to lose some of her poise. She was shaking and saying that she couldn’t manage the pain. I didn’t think she was really in transition yet, but I was starting to wonder if it might be time to head for the hospital. Right then I wanted so badly to have more training, even to be a midwife, so that I could check her and know where we were. She’d been in labor for 17 hours and active for 5, and I really wanted an idea of how much further she had to go. Since checking her myself wasn’t an option, I suggested that perhaps she could check herself. “Just reach up inside, and tell me if you feel your cervix or if you feel your baby’s head.”

I think I shocked her a bit, but she did agree to try, and the result told me everything I needed to know. “Oh, its a head, its a baby’s head…” and she dissolved into tears. The ease with which she determined that convinced me that she had to be past five centimeters, and based on everything else I was guessing more like seven. So I suggested that we get ready to head to the hospital.

Heading for the hospital is a little bitter for me, because I wish that we didn’t need to go. In this case, Katie was coping so well at home, comfortable in her own dim surroundings, and I hated to take her away from this into the bright lights and brisk nurses and electronics of Kaiser triage. And yet the hospital was Katie’s choice and Katie’s desire, and it was my job to support her in that choice. So we went. In the worst rainstorm we’ve had in years! (Edited to add: said rainstorm has now been trumped by the current one!)

Thankfully, triage wasn’t too bad for Katie. One of the nurses there, Deborah, was a nurse I’d met during Ingrid’s labor, and she was quite good. Brisk and no nonsense, but also kind. Katie was measuring at 6-7 cm (I could have jumped up and down, I was so pleased at being correct!) and she was transferred into the labor room pretty quickly.

And then she labored, and labored, and labored some more. Around 2pm they checked her again: 7cm. Poor Katie was so discouraged. I think she thought that she’d be about done by then, and it is so easy to think “all that work was for nothing”. Of course it isn’t for nothing, but it feels that way. At that point she asked her midwife, Hilary, if having narcotics would help her relax and finish dilating. I was so impressed with Hilary’s response. She stood by Katie’s bed, looked her in the eye, and gently said “Well, it might, but I think that you’ve been doing a pretty amazing job relaxing all by yourself.” And then she moved away, and then out the door. I felt like she was gently trying to help Katie stick with what she really wanted, by proving emotional support and then making herself slightly unavailable for giving narcotics. Katie didn’t ask again.

Those last few centimeters are the hardest – for the woman in labor, and also for me. There comes a point, around 8 or 9 cm I think, where there just isn’t much that I can do to help. And I remember what it is like, and how much it hurts, and all I want to do is fix it. And I can’t. And so I practice sitting still, just being present, offering the occasional encouraging comment, and carefully locking all my own emotions away so that nothing spills out to make it harder for Katie.

Another (granted, minor) difficulty for me was all the people in the hospital waiting room. By this time Katie was so far into labor land that I’m not even sure she was aware of it, but there were about twelve people sitting in the waiting room, waiting for the baby to be born. And wanting to know what was going on. I felt some unreasonable pressure to keep them informed, even as there just wasn’t much to inform them of! It wasn’t how I would have chosen to labor, and I found myself feeling angry for Katie (even though I know she wasn’t angry herself!) wishing that they’d all go home and leave us alone to finish this hard work!

Compounding everything was the fact that Naomi’s heart rate started showing some decels around 2pm, and these got worse as the hours progressed.

Around 4pm Katie started feeling the urge to push. I had thought/hoped that pushing would be somewhat simple for her, because she was in such good physical shape. But it wasn’t. Katie had a hard time connecting with the pushing urge and figuring out how to push effectively. Fatigue may have played a role, and also fear of pain. Whatever it was, pushing just didn’t click. Ideally, we would have tried a bunch of different positions until we found one that worked for her. But Katie started pushing right at a shift change. A new nurse came in and took over. She was nice enough, but she had her ways of doing things and she just wasn’t interested in trying anything different. She got Katie on her back, legs up (Daniel and I on either side, holding her legs), and instructed purple pushing. By which I mean that she stood there and shouted “pushpushpushpushpush! Ok breathe! Now pushpushpushpushpush!” Ugh.

Hindsight is 20/20, but how I wish that I’d chosen that point to stand up and get pushy myself! I knew that pushing like that wasn’t going to really help Katie, but I also didn’t want to cause a problem. Fights in the delivery room help no one. And so I was silent, and Daniel was silent, and Katie was silent, and it was only after it was all over that we talked and discovered that we had ALL HATED THE NURSE. Next time, I’ll discuss that kind of situation in advance, and I’ll be ready to stand up for my client, even if it means requesting a different nurse.

Pushing was awful for Katie, and it was a tense time for all of us because of Naomi’s heart rate. The decels were bad enough to warrant an internal monitor, but because of technical problems they had to insert FOUR different monitors. By the time they got to the fourth one, I was so angry I actually had to go take a walk to cool off. I knew that it was important to know what was happening with Naomi, but I also knew that the technology was causing more problems than it was fixing. The need for utter and complete control over myself and my emotions is, I think, the most difficult part of assisting at births.

The actual delivery was both fascinating and frightening. Naomi’s heart rate was dipping into the 40s, and it was abundantly clear that she needed to come out right away. But she just wasn’t coming. Usually, the baby’s head bulges against the perineum as it gets ready to come out. The perineum stretches (and sometimes tears) under that pressure. But this time it looked different. The perineum didn’t seem to be under that much pressure. Naomi’s head was right there – she just wasn’t pushing against it very hard. It was like she was stuck, somehow, further up. I think Hilary must have thought that, too, because her supervising doctor tried to hand her the episiotomy scissors and Hilary said “Actually, I don’t think that’s going to help right now.” She was incredibly cool under pressure, even from her supervising doctor! Hilary’s choice, instead, was to use the vacuum. Which is much less awful than I had thought – it is actually just a soft donut shaped cap that suctions onto the crown of the head, and adds just a little extra assistance to the mother’s pushing. (In fact, if they pull on it too hard, the suction releases and it simply comes off.)

And then it was over, and Naomi’s body slid out, and in that split second before they passed her up to show to Katie, I thought “no wonder she was so stuck – her arms are wrapped around her chest!”

Because of the heart decels, the cord was cut immediately and Naomi was passed off to the pediatricians to be checked over – but after that first eternal moment of silence, Naomi cried loudly and it seemed clear that she was just fine. The pediatrician gave her back to Katie almost immediately.

I stayed just until Katie was stitched up and cleaned up (there was some tearing, probably due to the need for a quick delivery and that massive girth of arms and chest!), took a few pictures with the new family, and then left. Which is also hard to do, because I’ve invested so much into the labor and delivery, and it feels strange to just walk away after all that.

It was pouring as I ran out to the car, and once I got in I just sat there, listening to the rain, and then crying really hard for a few minutes as I came down from the adrenaline peak that I’d been living on. I think that for future births, I need to keep this adrenaline issue in mind…I wasn’t safe to drive for a good fifteen minutes or so. Another thing to consider for future births is the difficulty with “re-entry” into normal life. Labor is surreal, and you can’t just pop out of it and be fine and normal and ready to go back to regular life. For both Ingrid and Katie’s births I needed the next day to ease back into reality before being ready to be 100% Mom again. After Ingrid’s birth I thought it might just be because it was so incredibly long, but Katie’s was 25 hours start to finish (and I was only there for 15 of those hours) so now I think that it has more to do with the fact of labor than the length.

Right after a birth I have so many conflicting and overpowering emotions: primary among them being “that was amazing!” and “why do I do this?” But after a day or two “why do I do this” becomes “when can I do it again?”

Katie, thanks for asking me to be there with you. It was a wonderful day.

One final note: I have started a doula training course through Childbirth International. While I’m in training, my fee will only be $250 (mostly to cover the costs of childcare for my kids). If you, or someone you know, would like my assistance during labor (and before – I think relationship and education are really important), please let me know!

Joining forces

Every now and then I watch Gabe around a little baby girl, and I think "Well. We may need to have another one." Not that I'm ready to do it just yet, and not that I'm conceding that I'll do it just ever, just...saying.

Apparently my little boys are joining forces with their daddy in the "we need a baby girl" department. Today Katie came over with baby Naomi, and you should have seen my boys melt. Jonathan was dreadfully disappointed that I wouldn't let him hold her all by himself (she's only just six weeks old). He and Thomas stood beside me and talked and oh-so-gently stroked her head for a truly amazing length of time. Naomi smiled at Jonathan and I think she won his heart entirely.

After they left, Jonathan came up to me and asked "Mommy, please can we have another baby, so I can hold her really gently? I don't want to just borrow someone else's baby." I replied "well, maybe someday. I'm not sure." His response? "Well, Mommy, but it has to be really soon, because I'm really fond of it!"

(I should mention that Gabe is in no way pressuring me to have another baby any time soon! It is just that something in his eyes when he looks at little ones.)

Rainy days

It is raining raining raining here. I haven't seen a storm like this for five or six years. It is glorious!

And it creates a serious mismatch in energy around here. I want to curl up with a good book, or sit and look out the window and just watch it fall and listen to the thunder.

My kids? Bouncing off the walls.

We're working with it, though, and having a good time!

One evening we built a fort with sheets and chairs:

Jonathan has spent days creating his very first *real* model. He painted each piece so carefully,

and the finished space shuttle really is pretty impressive. I'm very proud of his efforts!

Thomas enjoyed painting, too.

Yesterday morning we went on a rain walk in the puddles.

And when I say "puddles" what I mean is "the lake that used to be our front walkway."

Today the kids have created their very own kitchen table, and are serving soup and salad.

You know what? I really like raising these kids. Even if I don't have much time for watching the rain come down.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Graco stroller recall

Graco is recalling some of their Passage, Alano, and Spree strollers. You can read the specifics here. Be aware that this is a serious recall - there have been seven children with lacerated or amputated fingertips. Check your stroller.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ultimate Christian Novel

Jessica tipped me off to the Ultimate Christian Novel. The author writes:
I’ve come up with the ultimate idea for the ultimate Christian novel. This novel seamlessly blends today’s most popular genres into one beautiful, compelling, cohesive whole. I thought you would want to know all about it. So I give to you…

Cassidy: Amish Vampiress of the Tribulation

Keep reading for the back cover blurb and an excerpt! It will definitely be a best seller. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Lord, you are in the midst of us, and we are called by your Name: Do not forsake us, O Lord our God. Jeremiah 14:9,22

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

Prayers taken from the Anglican service of Compline.

We are giving through Mission Aviation Fellowship, a Christian missions organization that has been working in Haiti since 1986. They specialize in communications and transport to areas that are otherwise cut off from aid. We encourage you to consider giving as well.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Free coffee is always good...

This evening, 4pm-7pm, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is offering a FREE 12 oz. Mocha, Sunrise Ice Blended, or Berry'd Treasure Ice Blended drink. Call ahead to be sure your local store is participating. I took advantage of this the last time they did it and my drink was very good, so if you have the opportunity to take a bit of an evening out, I'd suggest that tonight is the night! More details here. Remember, it ends at 7pm!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ant cities

Jonathan wanted to learn about ants today. I was reticent. I don't particularly like ants. But persistence paid off and we sat down to look up ants. And what we found was incredible. Did you know that ants can build entire cities? I knew that they worked together and built "colonies" but I didn't know they could do it to this extent.

The music is silly and the voice over a bit dramatic for my taste, but hang in there because the project they're covering is amazing! The aerial photo at minute six is worth the time.

I have to admit that I felt pretty sorry for the ants who lost their city for the project. But it is neat to get a better understanding of the amazing ability that God has given these obviously under-appreciated insects.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Worthy of life

Caleb Jones, a young man living with cystic fibrosis, has written an incisive, profound critique of the current debate on "quality of life", prenatal testing, and diseases such as Down's syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
Virtually no one will say that a group should be killed because of their handicap or condition, but many will say that prenatal testing can provide women useful information as they exercise the right over their own body.
Read the rest.

Thanks, Jessica, for the link.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Bacteria and blood cells

Last night Jonathan developed a fever. He wanted to know what gave him the fever, so today we did a little mini study on bacteria and viruses, fever, and white blood cells. He's four, mind, so this was on an incredibly basic level ("white blood cells fight the bad bacteria and all that work makes your temperature go up"). We also talked about how very tiny all these things are, and how scientists can see them through microscopes.

We found a couple of pictures - a microscope, a girl with a microscope, and diagrams of bacteria cells - all quite good for coloring.

There is also a very clear, labeled diagram of a standard microscope here.

And then we looked up "biology", and he traced the word and read through the definition. Jonathan has definitely grasped the concept of "sounding out" basic words.

Who knew that getting a fever could lead to so much fun? :)
(He's fine, now, by the way!)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

A very fun "surprise!" home birth story

This woman, who describes herself as "SO not a home birth kind of gal" had her third daughter on Christmas Eve in the living room right next to the Christmas tree. She showed up at the hospital later that morning and said "I just had a baby - where should I go?" :)

New year, new schedule

It is close to naptime. The boys are happily playing outside while I write this. Cookies, made with lots of helping hands, are in the oven. We've had snuggle time on the couch and read a pile of books. Dinner is made and eggs are boiled (to become tomorrow's lunch). The kitchen is nearly clean and the entire house has been vacuumed. Laundry has been folded and the boys helped put it away. Imaginative playtime abounded. I'm half-way through my list of "must be done today" desk work items, and plan to finish during nap time.

Why is it that new routines work so incredibly well for the first couple of days?

Yes, I'm being a bit facetious, but it is a real question. I re-work my routine approximately every six months. For a few days, or maybe a week, it seems perfect. And then it slowly begins to fall apart. Why? I suspect that a fairly large part of that is my own lack of discipline. Today, as nice as it has been, has required a lot of discipline. No, Em, don't sit down. No, Em, you may not waste your time on the computer. No, Em, you must wait until nap time to read your book. And that is hard, and sometimes it seems to just get harder as the days go by.

But I think that if I can make myself stick with it, eventually it will get easier. Virtue by habituation?

For anyone interested (and for my own curiosity two months from now): here is the schedule we're following:

6am Wake up/shower/read/cup of tea
7am Boys get up/breakfast/dressed
Morning chores (with boys)
8:40am Read books to boys
9am Workout
9:45am Quiet time/Siah nap/desk work
10:30am Preschool with J and T (reading, math, baking, or animal discovery)
Baby Einstein for Siah when he wakes up
11:15am Kids outside/weekly chores/make lunch
Errands if necessary, or outside playtime/chores
2pm Naptime (J quiet time)
3pm Chapter book with J
3:30pm Dinner prep/desk work/whatever hasn't happened yet/J legos or starfall
4:30pm Kid movie when T wakes up
5:30pm Dinner