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Snow Day Fun: Mining for Gems

DC Blizzard 2016/Snowzilla actually happened! We got over 24 inches at our house. With the drifting, our cars became mere lumps in the driveway. Dave and V spent hours digging us out (not that a snowplow has come by yet).

Baby T’s first time in the snow was one for the record books in terms of snowfall. It was also memorable for us. T is the smiliest baby I have ever known, and it was a hoot too see him take that personality outside. At first, he just sat with curiosity as brothers dumped snow on him brought him snow, then he started reaching out to touch and taste and the smiles started. After awhile, he tipped  himself over on to his belly and scooted across as much of the sidewalk as he could with glee, just as he does inside the house. 

2016-01-24 09.20.50

As for indoor fun while snowbound, we decided to “mine” for “gems” by Read more…


Sharing Gifts, Sparking Imagination

At the beginning of January, I got to give my first sermon to an all-adult audience. I’ve done plenty of gospel-sharing to kids and families, and I’ve taught other material to adults, but this had new nuances for me. So, yay!

My congregation for the day was folks in a memory impairment unit of a nursing home. What dear, dear people. I taught on the Christmas story since I knew they had not had a church service since November. I had some props like a fiber-optic angel (our tree topper) and a stuffed lamb (thanks to my kids for sharing their toy), but the most awe-inducing thing was the baby doll wrapped in swaddling clothes. There were audible gasps when I held it because they thought it was a real baby, which clearly was a wonderful idea to them. No one was concerned that I had pulled a baby out of a bag, instead it was just sheer wonder that a baby would be there with them.

Babies transforms everything, right? New hopes, new fears, new milestones, new lifestyle, seeing things new again through the eyes of your child, new friends. Suddenly your neighbors notice you. Strangers stop you in the grocery store. You have this little person to snuggle, nurture, and sacrifice for. There just is something magical about babies, and these folks clearly felt the same way. Seeing a baby seemed to tap into something joyful and hope-filled from their pasts. At the end of my message, I brought the baby around to everyone. Several folks still weren’t quite sure if the baby was real or not until they touched it.

As I had prepared for the service, I thought on Mary treasuring things in her heart (Luke 2:19) as her very special baby and savior was born. I thought about how these folks are in a season of life where they may not be able to express things with words or memories, but they can still treasure the things of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. They can still treasure the preciousness of new life. It was amazing how such a simple thing, a baby doll, could spark imagination, could spread a smile, could touch such a core part of hearts, minds, and souls. 

Baby Doll


V Turns 5

2016-01-04 09.03.03

Five years ago we were blessed with our precious son V after a hard road to parenthood. He experiences the world deeply and notices things that others might miss. He cares deeply for the homeless, kids in need around the world, and our planet. He asks hard questions about why the world is the way that it is. It can be tough for such a little guy to have such big feelings and thoughts, and when the emotional bucket runs over, it really, really isn’t pretty. But he’s learning more about how to deal with those feelings every day. My prayer is that as he grows he’ll keep his tender heart while leveraging his passion into action to make a better world.

He has no lack of vocabulary and if you get him talking, he might just teach you some new, obscure fact. He’s silly and creative. He loves making up storylines about construction, police, and fire fighters. Every morning, he and his brother turn the living room into some new adventure land. His favorite things are trucks, animals, books, church, friends, dirt, art, and secretly teaching himself to read and write when no one is looking. Thanks to these emerging reading skills, he knows the speed limit of any given road and analyzes if other cars are going too fast, too slow, or are otherwise breaking the law. The kid loves safety and making sure others are following the rules. (Though sometimes remembering to follow them himself is a developing skill.)

He loves the leeway to accomplish tasks on his own. From chopping vegetables (with long-practiced knife skills) to calming his baby brother to packing a picnic lunch for the family to planning and executing a smoothie stand, his capabilities are often surprising. We can’t wait to see what the next year holds for our dear guy!


My friend Becky at Simply, in the ‘Burbs gave me the idea of a birthday interview, so here is what V has to say at age five: Read more…


The Christmas Story in Pictures

Luke 2:1-:20

In those days, Caesar Augustus made a law. It required that a list be made of everyone in the whole Roman world. It was the first time a list was made of the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  Everyone went to their own town to be listed. So Joseph went also. He went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea. That is where Bethlehem, the town of David, was. Joseph went there because he belonged to the family line of David. He went there with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby.


While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born. She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. That’s because there was no guest room where they could stay.


Read more…


The Future

I started 2014 with a heaviness inside. I couldn’t pinpoint anything wrong, yet I knew it was that heaviness that comes from not living fully within God’s best for my life. A friend at work shared that she went through a similar period of questioning during a sermon series on Jabez years before. She prayed that God would expand her territory and she began to seek out wise people to ask their opinion on what was missing. Shortly thereafter she left her life in academia and began her path as a pastor. I loved her story, but I was scared of it. I was not ready for that kind of prayer. What I needed was just margin to hear God more clearly, so my friends prayed that for me. Within an hour, I received a phone call from my two little boys’ babysitter saying that she was quitting. Rather than seeing this as innocuous event—a teen moving on to a different path— I was ravaged with emotion. The depth of my feelings convinced me, that very day, that the answer was that I should work less.

It made no sense. Why would I work less at a ministry job that I love, that I feel called to over and over again, that I’d been longing for even further professional growth at? Yet, I knew that this was the beginning of God answering my prayer. Shortly thereafter I reduced down to 30 hours of work, but I knew I wasn’t to stay there. The next thing on my heart was to begin teaching a class for adults. It was another thing that didn’t make sense on paper: why cut back work hours only to add them elsewhere? What about creating that margin? I said yes to this calling despite it not making human sense. With that yes, God laid four additional goals on my heart: Read more…


Upcycling Craft: Wine Cork Boats

Years ago, I had a dream of making one of those cork boards made from wine corks. Since I don’t drink much wine, I asked others to pass on their corks. I’m about 9 years out from that request, and we might have enough wine corks to cover a wall. I went to Pinterest for ideas, and finally got to work. In honor of E’s third birthday, big brother V and I teamed up to make boats for the kids in our family plus the two local cousins. We thought these would be fun for the pool, creek, and bath. I am creative, but not really an artist and definitely not spacial, but these were doable and fun. We had a good time making them together.

Wine Cork Boat


Step 1: Hot glue a bunch of corks together. Lay them out first to make fairly even lines, I liked pairing them up  length-wise with glue and then gluing the “columns” together.

Wine Cork Boat

Wine Cork Boat

Step 2: Add some bumpers, if you’d like. Glue on some supporting craft sticks to give stability. I don’t recommend colored sticks. We soaked them overnight so they wouldn’t leach dye  into the pool, but even that wasn’t enough. 

Wine Cork Boat

Step 3: Accessorize

  • We screwed a tiny eye hook into each front bumper so we could attach long strings of yarn (with another craft stick to be a handle) to facilitate races in the creek, keeping track of the boats in the pool, and to “winch it up” (V’s priority).
  • We put faces on champagne corks to be our captains.
  • Each boat got an initial flag made from a craft stick and colored paper faux-laminated with clear packing tape. Wine Cork Boat

Wine Cork Boat

Step 4: Play!

pool toy

creek play

Winching power!

creek play


I am a huge fan of Dr. Laura Markham and her website, so when she put out a book on sibling relationships, I was thrilled. Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings (PPHS)is a welcome addition in the world of positive parenting. Really the only other similar book I know of is the wonderful classic Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, but I needed to do a lot of adjustment to the concepts in that book to make it work for the baby, toddler, and preschool set, especially when I was living in the world of two-kids-under-two. PPHS fills that gap and addresses how to apply gentle parenting concepts for the younger ages.

Peaceful Parents Happy Siblings

Part One of PPHS explains what positive parenting/gentle discipline is. In short, this style of discipline eschews both rewards and punishments and instead relies on empathetic connection with emotional coach parent(s). If you are new to these concepts, it will be a meaty and compelling read. If you are already on-board, it serves as a good refresher and also begins to apply the style to sibling relationships specifically. Part Two of the book is loaded with examples and strategies for many scenarios that resonated with me as a parent of two preschoolers (e.g., how to address hitting, harsh words, fairness). Part Three focuses on sibling relationships specifically with a baby in the mix (prenatal to age one). This is helpful since we just had baby T two months ago.

Here are some stand-out things from the book:

  • “Schedule” a child’s emotional meltdowns (p 43) We all know that emotional meltdowns are going to happen. The question is when and how many people in the family will lose it at once. Markham proposes a method of gently provoking a child into an emotional release (popularly called a tantrum) when we’re feeling emotionally together ourselves.  At first the idea was disturbing to me, but when I gave it a try, I realized that this really is about leaning into emotions that are on the cusp of coming out anyway and providing an open door to the child to just start the tears rather than holding back until they simply explode out. If we’re going to have 20 minutes of screaming and crying, I really would rather have that an hour before we need to leave rather than when I’m running late and feeling tense.
  • Coaching kids to problem solve (p 80) Markham gives a great step-by-step for coaching kids to solve their own problems that is very similar to her article as well as Siblings Without Rivalry. Say goodbye to asking (or assuming), “Who had that toy first?” throw our adult version of “fair” out the window, and let the kids make their own plan. I have had great success with this method in the past, but the unique twist in the book is to write down each child’s problem-solving ideas in a list and then go through it after each person has shared. I love how this helps hold space for each child, reduce repeats, and doesn’t allow Child A to veto Child B’s proposal immediately.
  • Markham gives a great list of twelve ways to help acclimate older siblings to a new baby. My favorite idea is a way talk to the baby about the older sibling. “Help your older child to feel like she doesn’t always come second by telling the baby, at times when he is actually quiet and happy, ‘I am helping your sister with her shoes right now, so I can’t pick you up yet. I will be with you in a little bit. Everyone has to wait a little bit sometimes.’” (p 244) I think this tactic will work wonders with my three-year-old who likes to censure baby’s behavior (i.e., “Mama, he’s hitting me,” as baby’s clumsy fist vaguely waves in the air and makes gentle contact.)
  • Special Time is the idea of spending one-on-one time with each child that is directed by them.  She talks about this concept throughout the book. The unique thing about Markham’s approach is she suggests aiming for fifteen minutes a day. Fifteen minutes around the house is much more doable for our budget and time than special outings (though those are still good on occasion). For our first attempt at Special Time, one child and dad went on a quick bike ride while the other child stayed with me and took every pot and pan in the house, put them in the bathtub, and tried to create a cascading waterfall. The look of joy on his face as I simply leaned into his desires and gave him all my attention was heart-warming. Kid 3, our new baby slept through this all. 

The idea of three (or more) kids brings me to my first negative about PPHS, there are only a handful of references to larger-family sibling dynamics. My other frustration with the book, at times, is its over-simplification of the effects positive parenting. Markham acknowledges that parenting is hard and we are all going to get it wrong sometimes. But, it was frustrating to read that certain behaviors will likely just go away if you switch to this style of parenting. This is the only way I’ve ever parented and we still have these struggles, hence why I am reading the book.  So, just remember that even if you do all of these things, stay calm, and be empathetic sometimes kids are still, well, human.

I wish this book had been published three years ago when I was trying to figure out what attachment parenting two-under-two looked like. At least I have it now as we add a third sibling into the mix. This book is going to be my go-to recommendation for anyone in the two-under-two demographic as well as for anyone with at least one child under age seven.


The Home Birth of Baby T

Baby 3 is here. It’s a boy, and he is now eight weeks old!
Baby T 8 weeks


Baby T was born on Father’s Day and is a dream come true in every way. To be a mother to three (three!) children is such a mind-blowing thing after a road to parenthood that involved loss and infertility. We are so grateful for our sons. They teach us and grow us every day. Baby T’s birth was also a dream come true in another way: he was born at home. This had been a dream of mine since I was a teenager when I babysat for a mom of three who was a lawyer, Bradley Birth instructor, homebirther, and later went on to be a midwife. When the kids were asleep, I would peruse her educational bookshelf. These readings left a deep impression on me. I learned that birth need not be a unbearably painful, drama-filled thing like in movies. I learned that birth is a process that harnesses the amazing design of the female body and our incredible hormones (the classic Childbirth Without Fear is a good read on this).

Fast-forward many years: for V’s birth, we finally settled on a hospital birth versus home birth in the 3rd trimester for financial reasons.* The hospital, even with a doula, ample preparation, and self-advocacy, was not a fit for me.  For E’s birth, we knew we’d find a way to make the money work, as certified professional midwife (CPM) care was a vastly better fit for processing birth trauma as well as pregnancy with pelvic instability. But, with pending construction at our house, we opted to deliver at a freestanding birth center rather than home. It was an amazing home-away-from-home birth, with all the same (lack of) equipment as home, but we still had to load up, drive to get there, drive home, etc. So, for the third time around, we knew we wanted to be at home for the whole thing. Provided baby and I were healthy, it was time for the dream to come true! Now, here’s the story.

*Check out this irony: a hospital birth cost $11K-$30k+ but our part is $0 with insurance. In contrast, non-hospital pre-natal care and the birth is about $4k, but our insurance covers none of it.


The Birth of Baby T

Disclaimer:  this is a birth story. It involves bodily functions. I have not shared anything here that I am not comfortable saying aloud to you face-to-face. But, if you aren’t interested in such details, stop reading now.

Late pregnancy is hard. Not only is it uncomfortable and exhausting but there is this big question of “When?” hanging over every day. For me, it was also stressful because baby June Bug would not stay head down and engaged in the pelvis. Baby would stay down for a few days, then come up and go fully or partially transverse. Then baby would go down again, sometimes occiput posterior (“sunny side up” and harder for labor—just like my other two kids), sometimes occiput anterior (optimal). Swimming encouraged baby to do these big movements, so I stopped swimming (a key form of pain relief from pelvic instability). The other trigger for these big position changes was unavoidable: lying down. For months, I had been in bed for 14-16 hours each day to cope with pain so that also was not something I could avoid. I just had to accept that each night June Bug would be engaged and by morning baby’s head would be out of my pelvis. It was stressful, kept me up at night, and made the weeks tick by slowly. As my 40th week came and went, I decided to tell myself that baby was never coming out and I would forever feel this way. Of course baby was going to come, but I decided that if I resigned myself to just accepting my discomfort and enduring pregnancy forever then it would be a nice surprise when labor actually started. Additionally, this helped me shelf the stress of wondering if baby could actually be born at home since a baby who stays transverse in labor needs a c-section delivery.

At 41 weeks pregnant, I was having dinner at my in-laws’ house and telling my brother-in-law my new approach when I recognized that I just could not get comfortable, even more so than normal. Standing led to intense downward pressure; sitting led to pressure and pain. The best thing for me was to have my knees on the ground with torso bent over the couch. I read to my kids and their cousins this way until dinner was ready. This was a clue that things were moving, even if I didn’t believe it yet.

During dinner, I noticed contractions, but I thought it could be another bout of prodromal contractions as they were not consistent or progressing. I had half a glass of red wine to see if this would relax my body out of the contractions. When they kept pressing on, and sitting at the table became more and more uncomfortable, I realized that this might really be it and we needed to get out of there as quickly as possible so I could get home and into relaxation. At that same time, a tornado warning started blaring from various cell phones around the table. We decided to leave anyway, knowing we’d need time to call the midwife, get the last things set up for the birth, and get the kids to bed. The drive home was stressful with intense rain and wind and my body railing with every pothole and road crack we encountered, but we made it, and it was the right call.

Once home, I requested a hot pad for my tense shoulders and the exercise ball for my tense everything else. Before kiddo tuck-in, I read bedtime books to the boys, pausing to relax as contractions flowed. The boys were sure to do the chant from the book we had been reading daily for weeks: Waiting for Baby. “Rum, tum, tum, baby come!”
T Birth Early Labor

With the kids in bed, Dave spent some time assembling the last of our birth supplies while I rested in bed and timed contractions (roughly 7-10 minutes apart) and tried to distract myself with Netflix. As the contractions moved to every 5 minutes, it required a lot of effort to relax through them. I texted some friends to let them know that we would probably meet baby soon. As it got later, Dave made sure I was set for snacks and drinks, came to bed, helped me with counter-pressure on my back, and fell asleep. His sleeping was fine, as I knew from previous labors that I liked to work through the contractions on my own for as long as possible. Plus, Dave was coming off an illness and I knew he needed to get in some sleep to amply support me through the birth. I attempted to sleep through contractions by dozing for a few minutes and then waking for one minute to consciously relax through a contraction. As they became more frequent, sleep was not possible, so I put on some nature visualization videos and Pandora’s Ambient Radio station.

Eventually, I woke Dave up so he could get our last few things ready: filling the tub and preparing warm compresses and blankets. At 2 AM, with strong contractions every 2-5 minutes, I decided that I would soon want support from our midwife, Kim Pekin (CPM). Dave called her and then called my dad and stepmom to come, as they would be in charge of the kids.

Because of baby’s many large, late position changes, the possibility of a cord issue was on our minds so Kim had arranged for my neighbor Brittany, a student midwife, to be with us for the hour until she arrived. Brittany arrived within minutes and checked my vitals to see that all was well. We talked about me going to the basement to get in the water, as the bed was no longer comfortable. I did not want to stall progress by getting in the water too soon, but she assured me that things seemed to be moving well along. (Note the theme of me being in denial about my progress. The same was true in my last labor, as well.)

Our big tub was ready to go, and it was helpful to get in, though we had some issues. The water was too hot and in the process of cooling it down and draining some water out, the plug jammed in the up position. Dave tried to stop the water from flowing out with a washcloth, but we had to keep working to keep the water deep enough and at the right temperature. We forgot the other elements of keeping the room relaxing like candles and essential oils, though we did have my visualization posters up and I had music until the computer battery died. That said, the water was very helpful. I labored in the tub on my back until well after 3 AM. At some point in there, Kim and Megan (RN birth assistant) arrived. In addition to relaxation and deep breathing, low vocalizations were helpful, namely the word open as I meditated on the idea of energy pushing down and flowing outward, similar to flower blooming imagery.


As it got harder, I had Kim do my first and only progress check of the entire pregnancy: seven centimeters—the exact same place I had wanted a progress check in my last labor. I knew that meant things would probably progress quickly. In other words, transition was coming.
Being on my back in the tub was no longer comfortable, so I tried side-lying in the water and later a hands-and-knees position. This was helpful for a while, but my arm and leg started cramping painfully. I knew if I got out of the tub now I probably would not get in again to have a water birth, something I was hopeful about doing. But, in the moment I needed to get out and get more comfortable. I think I was already starting transition, and if I was more aware of that I would have stayed in because nothing is comfortable in transition. But, I didn’t register that or have the ability to process that in the moment, so I heeded what my body was telling me in the moment, which was get out, get in bed, and lay on my side. The desire to lay on my side was strange one because of my pelvic instability, where side-lying is often painful. But, that is what my body was telling me to do so it was the right call for that moment.

Transition was very, very intense physically this time—more so than in my other deliveries. My whole body tremored, and I was incredibly hot and dripping with sweat. Unfortunately, we had not set aside the small fan as requested on the birth supply list, so Kim and Megan fanned and fanned me intently with a piece of paper while Dave applied counter-pressure to my back. At one point Dave asked if he should get the fan—and dared to slightly move his hand away—and I snapped at him to not move. I was very particular about absolutely nothing changing during the peak of a contraction.

The tremors were so extreme that I called out no during each contraction. I begged my team to help me, help me. Internally, I processed through why anyone would ever have a baby at home and not use medication when this was so hard. But, I also reasoned how going to the hospital now would mean I would have to stay there after the labor and the other kids would miss the birth and we would be apart for days. I also remembered how in my labor with E, I had been disturbed by my desire to leave my body during transition, and how this time I had prepared myself to be in a more positive mental place in transition (thank you, Spiritual Midwifery). So, I changed my vocalization to yes. Yes, I would get through this. Yes, I was strong. Yes, I would join with eons of women who have done this amazing thing that God designed our bodies for.

In time, the intensity stopped and transition was over. Time to push! Though my water had not broken nor had I experienced any mucus or bloody show, it really was time. (Kim later said that I did have a scant bit of clear water during pushing.) But, something was strange. My brain told me to push but my body was not putting in any effort. In fact, I wanted to keep my legs closed around my snuggle pillow. I tried to reason through this. It might have been out loud, but maybe not. Either way, Kim encouraged me to push. As my brain had surges of pushing desires, I decided to put effort into pushing but I still did not understand why my uterus was not taking over.

During pushing, I was mentally stuck on the lack of work from my body. I thought through what might be holding me back and decided that it was because the boys were not there and we had told them that, if possible, we would give them the option to come down for the birth. As I was processing this, Kim got more urgent about me pushing, cautioning me not to delay my efforts to wait for the kids. While I was telling my baby to help come out (talking to baby about this made sense at the time), she was telling me—now, in a more directive tone— that it was up to me to do the work. Her approach in this moment reminded me of the tense moment during E’s birth when I needed to get out of the water quickly so I knew that her guidance meant she had a concern since normally she is all about the mother leading the birth. The pressure of baby’s head was great, and I had no intention of holding off, but I did need the mental release of keeping my word to the kids. I yelled up to my parents to wake the boys while I kept on pushing.

When baby still did not emerge, she made the call to shift me from my side into the same position I delivered E which allowed for getting baby’s head out quickly: on my back with legs up and bent against my belly (the McRoberts position, I now know). The last moments of delivery are a bit of a haze, but I remember seeing that both kids had chosen to wake up and come down. V was rapt with attention with my stepmom; E was snuggly and burrowing in to my dad’s chest. I was doing my “lion roars,” asking for my team to give me verbal encouragement, and pushing, pushing. Yes, there was physical pain and the ring of fire, but my emotions were not conflicted like in transition, so it felt very doable. My focus was on urgent pushing and Kim’s focus was on getting baby out, so I did not get to catch baby, like I’d hoped, but the reason for that became clear when I heard what she was seeing that I could not.

Many babies have heart decelerations during labor, and my baby was no different. But, a rate of 60 beats per minute increased the sense of urgency to get baby delivered especially because though baby had crowned, I just was not getting him out while lying on my side. When Kim rolled me on to my back, this helped baby to get out. As June Bug emerged, she somersaulted baby to disentangle a double nuchal cord (twice around the neck) and a loop around the torso. Between these three wrappings, the cord was taught, which may have been why I did not feel the urge to push—baby’s head was not triggering the pelvic floor. This also might explain why baby had been disengaging and leaving my pelvis at night when I lay in bed, the little bungee corder!

Once out (at 4:50 AM), Kim laid baby on my stomach. June Bug was blue-grey, floppy, and quiet, precious, peaceful, and also a little creepy. Kim and Megan dried and stimulated baby and listened to the strong heartbeat indicating ample oxygenation via the umbilical cord. Since baby wasn’t making an effort at respiration yet, Megan asked Kim if she should give baby some help and pulled out a little ambu bag but ended up directly giving a puff or two on the mouth. After that, the mighty newborn baby scream started. I was taken aback by how strong and persistent it was.

T Birth First Moments

As V&E came near, I think that V asked if it was a brother or a sister. Dave told the kids they had a brother and thus I learned that our baby was a boy. I had hoped to look for myself, like I had done with E. But, it was all a furor of excitement. I snuggled with baby and we let the kids come close and chatted with them a bit before sending them upstairs as I felt the placenta coming 30 minutes after the birth. Once the placenta was delivered, Dave cut baby’s umbilical cord and we were ready to try nursing. After an hour for bonding, it was time for the newborn exam so we had the kids come back downstairs. June Bug weighed in at 8 pounds even, 21.5 inches long, with a wee bit of light-colored hair and very dark grey eyes.

T Birth Sibling

After a bit more family time, we sent the kids upstairs with the grandparents to finish preparing the birth day celebration (complete with our traditional decorations, birthday crown, and baked oatmeal) and then go with them for the day. In the quiet, Dave and I enjoyed snuggling with baby and tossing around name ideas while our birth team worked on notes and cleaning up.

By three hours after the birth, I was stitched (one very small tear), showered, nourished, and upstairs in my own bed ready for a day of snuggles and sleep. In the evening, when the other kids returned home, we had a family party in our bed, sang Happy Birthday, dear June Bug (we did not settle on his actual name for another day-and-a-half) and started our journey as a family of five.

T Birth Baby

More Information
Are you curious about nuchal cords, delayed clamping of the umbilical cord, how you somersault a baby, or delayed breathing at birth? This piece gets into all four topics:

About our Midwife
We are so grateful to Kim Pekin, Birth Outside the Box, for her loving, respectful care. Not only did she provide excellent home-based care to me during this pregnancy, she cared deeply for my children, involving them at prenatal visits as well as showing concern for their well-being during the birth. (We later discussed that her hesitancy at having them come downstairs for the delivery was in case resuscitation for baby was needed because of my tricky pushing.) Kim’s job is one of the hardest and  sacrificial ones that I can imagine: unpredictable hours; driving all over the place; providing emotional, nutritional, and health care at each hour-plus visit; thinking fast on her feet; responding to each mom according to her unique personality and vision; swimming against the flow of a medicalized birth culture but at the same time building bridges to improve both midwifery and OB care; and on and on. Kim does each of these things with incredible grace, wisdom, and empathy. She has been such a blessing to our family for two births.

T Birth Kim Pekin Midwife Birth Outside the Box


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When E turned two, I started this series to reflect on how an attachment parented child naturally grows in independence. While every child  is different (my three boys sure are), I hope that attachment parenting parents are encouraged to see that a bedsharing baby  will eventually do fine in his own space, a nursing toddler doesn’t  continue at the breast into high school, and a babyworn kiddo learns to walk, explore, and assert himself. 


Baby Bee E

Our Dear E at Age 3

You sleep in your own bed, a crib mattress on the floor in a room with your brother. You like to sleep with your baby and a lantern. Sometimes you like a parent to lay with you for a few minutes, but usually you just want your own space. You usually are aware of your tiredness and fall asleep easily and quietly, though some nights you do like to use your pass (“get out of bed free” card) to do spins in the living room. Your body seems to have a natural clock when it comes to sleep. You sleep through the night and wake up at 6:00 am, and you nap from 1:00-3:00 each afternoon.

You weaned from nursing at 26 months when my milk dried (I was 15 weeks pregnant). You were only nursing once per day so it was not a jarring transition. Since T was born 6 weeks ago, you sometimes ask to nurse again. This means a 1 second attempt before you move on.

Your favorite foods are baked oatmeal, dried apricots, and hot dogs (the last of which you get to eat far more rarely than you would like). You end just about every meal with mixing your remaining food together and dumping water on it or mushing it in your cup. We think this means you like to invent new recipes. You certainly do like to help us prepare meals.

You spend most of your time with a parent, big brother V, and now newborn baby T, but you do continue to spend one day each week with grandparents and another day at home with a babysitter. You love both of these special days in your week. You occasionally do things without V, but you ask about him the whole time you are apart. At church, you separate easily but are always glad to get picked up.

You really wanted to go to vacation bible school this summer even though you were a bit under the minimum age of 3. You worked for months to switch to using undies full-time so they would make an exception. (You had been running around bare-bum and using the potty for a long time, but adding underwear was a new dimension.)

You had not asked to be worn in a baby carrier for months until baby T was born. Now, you do ask to go “up high” around the house for a few minutes here and there.

You continue to spot animals before other people in the family and have an interest in nature. You love digging in the dirt pile, jumping on the trampoline, all things trucks, and reading books. Your favorite Bible story is David and Goliath.

Your favorite things to pray for are mama and baby T, but sometimes you want to say “poo poo, pee pee” many times before we pray to get the sillies out.

You tell me, “Mama, I like to be with you” several times each day. You like to watch out for my well-being, which was most apparent when we were holding hands while I was pregnant and I fell. You tried to help me up then, and, for days after, you insisted on holding my hand and to make sure I wouldn’t fall again.

You like to play “buddies” with V which involves various imaginative storylines where you two work a job together (firefighters, repair team in a cherry picker, trash truck, etc.). You sometimes initiate play by pinching, biting, or destroying V’s projects, but you are growing in your ability to use your words to invite him to play.

With baby T, you like to squeeze his arm, look at his face (which sometimes involves moving him, which we discourage), and tell me when he says, “wah”. 

You adore rough play with daddy which typically involves using a very specific pink pillow to whack him. With me, you like to chase me and take me to jail (your bed) and then snuggle.

You like to wear mismatched socks and rain boots and love to dress up in construction and firefighter costumes, but really any costume will do.

You love to make up stories and sing songs to yourself. You can speak in sentences and paragraphs but will default to singing to participate in a conversation at times when you don’t know what to say or are tired. Out-and-about you are usually very quiet and observe with a neutral face that sometimes others perceive at sadness. You put a hand over your face to shield yourself when you feel overwhelmed in social situations. At home, you are much more smiley and talkative and recount even tiny details of something we did together. (Though if everyone else likes something, you’ll make a passionate case for not liking it even if you’ve previous liked it.) Your observations are fascinating, so when you choose to relay a story, we hang on to every precious word you speak.

Three years have now passed since your lovely entrance into our family, and we celebrate the person you are.  We love you, dear E.


Protein for Morning Sickness

I’m almost in my third trimester with Baby 3, and this pregnancy is flying by! This time around, some things are easier because I have a base of knowledge about my body, I have a midwife I adore, etc. But, other things are just as hard: fatigue, nausea, intense back pain.  The good news is that at least now I have some strategies.

With V, I threw up until 37 weeks of pregnancy (thanks to acid reflux from new, unbeknownst-at-that-point lactose intolerance). With E, throwing up wrapped up at 16 weeks. This time, things were mostly settled by 16 weeks, but certain smells will still set me off and I cannot drink plain water without intense reflux or vomiting (same held true with the other two pregnancies as well).

So, what is a natural-minded pregnant lady supposed to do to combat these icky (but for a lovely reason) feelings? Eat protein! Every single time you start to feel nausea, eat something with protein in it. Crackers and carbs are for the birds. I followed the not-so-helpful Saltine advice in my first pregnancy. But, for babies two and three, I knew about the benefit of protein. If you are like me, the idea of protein meat might sound just horrible for a couple of months in there, but there are other options. Instead, try:

Baked beans (or whatever kind of beans you like)
Deviled eggs (or whatever kind of eggs you like)
Guacamole or other form of avacado
Edamame (organic)
Oatmeal (or maybe some baked oatmeal or no-bake oatmeal date balls)
Bar like ProBar Base (20g of protein)
High-protein nut (almond, brazil nut, hazelnut, pine nut)
Spoonful of peanut butter or nut butter (or some power balls)

On the non-protein front, I’m a big fan of Psi Band acupressure bracelets and chewing small amounts of dried ginger. I also found help from two things that are a bit more controversial in Western medicine, but my herbal-minded team was comfortable with even in the first trimester: NORA tea and a bit of powdered ginseng once or twice a day in another drink. Even with all of my tricks, nausea was a part of my pregnancy, but these things helped me keep my act together enough to work, take care of the kids, etc.

What are some of your favorite non-meat protein sources?