Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Published 7:00 AM by with 0 comment

5 Steps to Better Health During Wintertime

Finally re-joining the land of the living. We're all getting caught up on sleep. Harmony's cough is still pretty bad, but she's playing and crawling again, hooray!

Every year since college I've done a special "refresh" boost in my diet around February or March. Now that I'm recovering from this sickness it seems like a great time to be refreshed! After months of heavy, savory foods, little sunshine, fighting off all the sniffles and coughs, and bipolar weather (thank you, Missouri), my body is ready for a change.

These steps are not prescribed by a doctor or intended to cure or magically prevent any diseases. I still catch a cold (like this past week), still get worn out with stress sometimes, etc. Rather, these methods of improving one's health are meant to give your immune system, your digestive system, your muscles, your mental state, and your overall well-being a better chance to recover, revitalize, and shine!

Here's what I do to become "refreshed" in the middle of winter. If it helps anyone else who reads this and wishes to give it a try, then that's wonderful : )

~ If the weather is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and not pouring rain, we go outside! Even in the dead of winter, it's important to get some fresh air. Sunshine is best, but don't let a few clouds stop you from venturing outdoors! Fifteen minutes a day at least in the wintertime is what I shoot for, with an accompanying brisk walk, or longer if the weather is amicable. With Harmony around, I can't go out if it's too windy since she doesn't like super breezy weather yet, but other than that (and rain), we go outside as much as possible, bundled up to our ears against the cold.

Harmony rides along either in her stroller or the Ergo baby carrier; I'm a fan of the Ergo in cold weather, because we keep each other warm ; ) This carrier was a resale store deal that I found for almost half the normal price! She loves being up near the action as I do house-work or cook, while riding on my back or my front, and will happily take naps in it too. The Ergo is my life-saver!

~ Water. Lots and lots of water. Take whatever you normally drink and double it every day. I would usually squeak by with 4-6 glasses, which really isn't great, and eventually I will feel the effects of it. By drinking 8-10 large glasses a day, sooooo many good things happen with my body that I always wonder why I don't do it all the time! I will also count one glass of juice and any mugs of herbal tea towards my liquid consumption. Coffee, caffeinated drinks, sodas, and sugary juices aren't useful for your body's health or rehydration, so avoid those as much as possible.

~ Cutting out processed foods and sugar! Yes, this is the not-so-fun part. As far as sweets go, my rule during this time is that if I make it myself, then a small amount is okay. The way I look at it: a few home-made peanut butter cookies, a small dish of vanilla pudding, or a slice of my mom's delicious skillet apple pie is better for me in the long run than a candy bar or sugar-filled cereal or a donut. Plus, if you cook it yourself, then you're burning off calories while making them, right? If I'm willing to go through the trouble of creating a dessert, then by golly, I must really want it!

I cook most of my family's food from scratch, so eliminating processed food as much as possible isn't too bad. Cooking at home allows me to put more vegetables in my family's diet, a big bonus! I still utilize some prepared items, like whole-wheat pasta, whole-grain bread, some sauce mixes, etc. We definitely have to plan our meals and preparation carefully, however, because it takes much more time to cook everything rather than heat a frozen meal or get take-out.

~ Probiotics do incredible things for my digestive system. There are many, many brands out there, so do be aware that all probiotics are not created equal. The one I take is in a powdered form, is extremely potent, and tastes dreadful, so I always have to put it in a small cup of juice. When I take the probiotic, my digestion works so much more smoothly, I feel more alert and well in general, my immune system is strengthened, and if I do catch a cold, then I fight it off quickly.

~ Here's my favorite part: green smoothies. Seriously, these things are so delicious! I don't like the taste of any greens in my smoothies except for spinach, but if you're one of those brave people who like the taste of kale, parsley, or lettuce in your smoothie, then more power to you. Spinach is my go-to green since it has a very mild flavor and is packed with good stuff. When you add it to the fruits, you can barely taste it at all.

Besides a generous handful of spinach (probably two dense handfuls, actually), I will add between 3-6 servings of fruit, water or orange juice to thin it out, occasionally raw honey, often two or three tablespoons of flaxseed meal (look at how awesome it is for you!), ice cubes if the fruit isn't cold/frozen, and a dollop of yogurt if I have it. Right now, bananas aren't expensive, oranges are on sale at a local store, and frozen berries are easy to come by, so I just use what my budget allows. Here's a list of the fruits I use at various times of the year, depending on what is in season or on sale:

~ Fresh or frozen strawberries
~ Fresh or frozen berries
~ Oranges
~ Bananas
~ Mangos
~ Soft pears
~ Peaches
~ Nectarines
~ Very ripe kiwis
~ Fresh or frozen pineapple
~ Cantaloupe

Side note: just noticed that my sheep salt-shaker is photo bombing these pictures...

If you have a very powerful blender like a Vita-Mix, then you can add more diverse fruits like apples, grapes, etc. My blender kinda sucks so I have to use only soft fruits without difficult skins. I simply throw it all in there a few bits at a time, mix it up, and drink it down with a straw! Typically I can drink an entire liter (4 cups) worth of green smoothie by myself. It helps to try different variations of flavors to keep my palate interested! If there is any left-over then I will put it back in the freezer for later or fill up an ice cube tray to use in later smoothies.

For more information about green smoothies, take a look at some of these posts from a lovely fellow blogger over at Happy Foody.


So there we have it: Alyssa's Five Steps for Health. It takes at least a week for me to begin feeling the positive effects of everything really kicking in. Diligence and perseverance are important. Feelings of laziness or wanting to quit after nine or ten days ALWAYS comes up, but I just have to press on and continue as best as I can! By the time a month has gone by, if I've done these five steps every single day, then I feel wonderful and ready to leap into springtime!

How do you combat the winter blues in your journey towards better health? I'm always looking for new ideas!
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Published 11:07 AM by with 2 comments

When I'm a Bad Mother

Drippy nose that turns raw after too much wiping, even with the gentleness of a warm washcloth. Coughing, coughing, coughing. Lethargic all day. Crying escalating to screaming at the drop of a hat when things don't go exactly her way. Throw-up all over herself and me and the blankets and the bathroom. Hours spent rocking back to sleep, only to wake up after ten minutes with another coughing fit.

All you veteran moms out there know what I'm talking about. Forgive me for the drama. I'm just now entering this realm.

I should count myself blessed that this is the first time Harmony has really been ill in her short eight months with us. She has had a few minor colds, but those were just a day or two of extra fussiness, more sleep than usual, and a stuffy nose. Now she is miserable. It must be frightening, confusing, for a baby to experience their first brush with a nasty virus. Previously healthy, they are suddenly in pain, their little bodies rebelling against what normally soothes them. Toys, cuddles, books, and music can only distract so much from physical ailments. "Mama" is her only desire when she is feeling her worst. She only sleeps when I hold her, sitting propped up with extra pillows and blankets so that she can breathe.

I'd do all these things cheerfully if I wasn't also sick.

Less than a day after Harmony became ill, my throat started to hurt. In spite of my best attempts to regain health, I soon found myself just as miserable as my poor little Bug. A lesson I learned very quickly is that one's weaknesses become glaringly apparent as a mother when sickness and lack of sleep take effect. Rather than being the patient, gentle care-giver, I was the grouchy, exhausted, sniffling mom who muttered curse words under her breath when she sneezed and woke the baby again for the billionth time. Calm and peace were non-existent; all prayers became bleary pleas for a minute of uninterrupted sleep.

Chris tried his best to care for Harmony, but she would have none of him at night when she was feeling her worst. During the day I could escape for a few minutes to rest on the couch or take a shower. He resorted to caring for me at night while I cared for Harmony. Even with his attentive help, I still ended up snapping at him when he wasn't fast enough with a towel during one of Harmony's barf episodes. My behavior, justified at the moment in my aggravated, sleepy mind, disgusted me in the morning when rational thinking kicked back in. Chris was forgiving and sympathetic as always. But I still felt guilty.

I feel like a bad mom when I'm sick.

I still care for my daughter. I don't yell at her or harm her or neglect her. But my attitude is resentful. "I am feeling like crap, so I do NOT want to deal with someone else who is also feeling like crap!" is the sentiment. Now I see why the statement "moms aren't supposed to get sick" exists. Ugh.

Yet there are lessons to be learned. I find new wells of love as Harmony and I curl up together in the bathroom with the hot shower on full steam so that we can breathe more easily. My family humbles me with their kindness in bringing food, helping while Chris is at work, running to the store for medicine and tissues, and selflessly loving us. Chris is attentive to every need. The list of blessings comes back out so that I can find gratitude on my lips instead of grumbling.

My patience is growing.

We sit together wrapped in blankets in front of our sliding glass door, watching the juncos and sparrows and mourning doves and nuthatches on the bird feeder. Life slows down.

Last night was the best so far. Despite me not getting to sleep until four in the morning, Harmony finally got more rest in between coughing and messy diapers and one more throw-up session. For the first time in four days she's taking a nap lying down on her own.

Thankful today for my sister visiting this weekend.

Thankful today for the bells ringing at the church next door.

Thankful today for black cherry tea.

Thankful today for no headache or sore throat anymore.

Thankful today that I don't have to teach tonight due to rehearsal week.

Thankful today for moments of peace.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Published 10:16 AM by with 0 comment

This Moment

{this moment}- A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.

Linking up with Soule Mama on this snowy morning.
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Published 7:58 AM by with 0 comment

Friday Finds

If you are as big a fan of LOTR as I am, then you'll get a little teary-eyed too when you watch this video of the final scene made for the shooting of "Return of the King".

Chris and I aren't planning on telling Harmony that Santa Claus brings her presents, or that the Easter bunny brings eggs and candy. She will grow up knowing their legends, just not thinking that they're real. But when she asks me one day, "mama, do fairies and elves exist?" then I'll be happy to say, "I don't know. You should look for them, because in your search for hidden wonders of the world, you're sure to find some magic."

What would happen if people deserted all social media? Would we go back to more face-to-face interactions? Or would we "miss opportunities for self-expression, personal growth, learning, support, and civic exchange", as this author says, in favor of Facebook?

Racism is not dead yet. Sadly, places in the U.S. still suffer from segregation, even if it is unspoken or hidden. Here is one teacher's account of what she hopes to teach her students in Mississippi about Martin Luther King Jr.

Lovely, lovely photographs of children, seeing them at their most honest, curious, and beautiful. Take a look at this series by a group of photographers called "You Are My Wild".

How do you save a public library? Make it into a seed bank, of course!

Every once in a while even the most experienced writer needs a pep talk. Here are the juicy words of advice from authors like Mark Twain, Anais Nin, Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman, and more as they ponder why we write. 

And now for a different kind of Friday Finds! Here are two purchases I made at the grand opening of a new local thrift store, where I showed up right at the opening ceremony to get the first selection on summer clothes for Harmony.

If you've never heard of Unifex cubes, then you must not have been a mathematically challenged home-schooled child like I was : P  Just kidding! I used these in the early years of math, and they gave me a lot of help visualizing large groups of numbers. Figuring out fractions, division, and multiplication was easier because of Unifex cubes. For a few bucks, I invested in this huge bucket of 'em to put away for a few years until Harmony begins arithmetic. Yay! 

Edit: I accidentally called these Rubix cubes earlier. Oops! The correct name is Unifex!

Here is one of the gifts Harmony will be receiving for her 1st birthday. Once again, just a few dollars for a huge set of giant wooden alphabet blocks! Only the letter D was missing. I'll keep searching for that one at thrift stores ; ) 

Last, but not least, here is a gorgeous home-crafted bracelet I received as a late Christmas gift. It makes me wish for summer so that I can wear it with short sleeves. The colors make me feel peaceful, and I could definitely use a bit of peace. So thankful!

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Published 8:51 AM by with 0 comment

You: Three Possibilities

In a dream last night, I was told by a voice that everyone is at one of three different stages of themselves. There is the "Goo-You", the "Almost-You", and the "Me-You".

Yes, I'm weird and have weird dreams.


People in the "Goo-You" stage are still figuring out what they enjoy, what they dislike, who they want to be, where they want to go. Their character is fluid, easily influenced. Children are often here. Even adults may still be here, currently in a position in life they don't want to be in or struggling to figure out who they truly are.

People in the "Almost-You" stage are close to who they want to be, but are still dealing with major roadblocks to their personhood. Something might stand in the way of them blossoming. They might need more space, more energy, more determination, a different job, a change in scene, a change in the way they look at themselves, a deeper delving into a spiritual or emotional issue, for the final transformation to occur.

People in the "Me-You" stage are comfortable with themselves. They still have room to grow, and are by no means perfect, but they are content and at peace with who they are. They know where and how they can change, and growth does not worry them.  They are even willing to step out of their comfort zone into newness, because they are so confident that they know positive change will be good for them.

The voice in my dream presented these three ways of Being to me. Then the voice said, "WHICH ARE YOU?"

Which am I?

Something to ponder this morning.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Published 8:27 AM by with 0 comment

The -Ings of Life

Knitting a brand new pattern, the Seaglass Cowl created by Mamma4earth. My first time being a test knitter! 

Planning some exciting new projects, in writing, art, and yarn over the next few months!

Realizing that Harmony will throw a tantrum when she falls over not because she is in pain, but because she so much wants to walk like a big girl. 

Keeping my heart in Lent with the words of C.S. Lewis.

Drinking home-made hot chocolate as the weather continues chilly.

Reminding myself that a perfectly clean home isn't necessary for a happy baby.

Preparing for next week's annual recital with my students. Lots of practice, rehearsals, and coordination between teachers.

Enjoying these moments of quiet in the home before the day starts.

What have you been "-ing" lately?
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Published 8:07 AM by with 2 comments

43 Things, or Maybe Just 26

There's a website called 43 Things where you can list life goals. I recently remembered that I had created a profile there, so I dug it back up. These goals were created five and a half years ago in 2007! I was still in college, still trying to figure stuff out. Let's see how I did:

1. Never, EVER grow up.
     Well, I don't feel like a "grown-up". I know less, question more, and seek wisdom increasingly every year, but still just feel like myself. Does that count?

2. Juggle four items.
     Not yet. The concept is easy, but doing it is hard! 
     This goal has changed over the years to "Successfully juggle clubs". 

3. Publish a book of poetry.
     Not yet. Poetry writing has taken a back-seat for the past year.
     This goal has changed over the years to "Publish a book".

4. Play classical guitar on tour.
     Done! I performed with a guitar ensemble in Germany several years ago.

5. Have lots of children.
     Working on it! Now what is my definition of "lots"...?

6. Travel to Vienna.
     This goal is no longer a dream. I had hoped to study abroad in Vienna during my final two years of college, but it didn't happen. Touring in Germany was way better!

7. Play electric guitar on stage with a band... just once.
     Maybe someday if the opportunity arises. But this goal is no longer a dream. I started playing mandolin instead of electric guitar like I thought I would. The mandolin is AWESOME!

8. See my sister's art at a professional art show.
     Not yet. She changed her college major, so art may not be her career after all. I still think she's an incredible artist though!

9. Get married.

10. Read a book by Dostoyevsky.
     Working on it! Chris and I started reading "The Brothers Karamazov" out loud together two years ago. The book was super tough, then I became pregnant, so we stopped. Some day we plan on continuing.

11. Visit my friend Peter at his (future) ranch.
     Not yet! This is a goal based on Peter's future; he could build a ranch in twenty years, or thirty years, or never. We'll see! He's a great guy no matter what he decides to do, but he would fit so well on the ranch that he's always dreamed of establishing.

12. Have one of my students get into a top ensemble.
     Done! I have six students currently in the ensemble.

13. Watch Boy Meets World.
     Done! I think I watched three seasons several years ago. Now a new series is in the works called "Girl Meets World", about Cory and Topanga's daughter

14. Visit the Redwoods.
     Not yet! Still a dream!

15. Meet the L.A. Guitar Quartet.
      Done! I've heard them perform multiple times, and had master classes with three of the four. 

16. Eat at a five-star restaurant.
     Not yet! Definitely a dream!

17. Sing solo in a public place.
     Done! I led the music at a vacation Bible school several years ago and sang in front of a freaking ton of kids and adults. Way more nerve-wracking than playing guitar or mandolin!

18. Go to Ireland.
     Not yet! Chris and I would love to go there someday.

19. Have a guitar studio.
     Done! I currently share a studio space with several other teachers, but I have my own little room where I teach students. 

20. Write more hand-written letters.
     Definitely working on it!

And here are the goals that I had put on the list and completed in the school year 2007-2008:

1. Practice Yoga.
     I took two Yoga classes in college which were great. I find it peaceful and energizing at the same time, and I think it's pretty awesome, despite it being called an "unchristian" activity.

2. Adopt two cats.
     My roommate at the time and I adopted two adorable kittens. After keeping them for several years as I had different roommates, I finally had to give them back to my original roommate who had gotten married, because I realized that I was having major asthma attacks in reaction to their dander. Sad day.

3. Be a vegetarian.
     Turns out I get very sick, lose a lot of weight, and become completely anemic when I eat vegetarian for any extended time. So vegetarianism is not for me.

4. Kiss in the rain.
     Yep : )

5. Visit the East coast.
     Several road trips during college led me to New Jersey and Florida! Quite exciting.

6. Knit a scarf.
     I've knit several scarves since then, and many other things. Knitting is the bomb.

So I'm going to add the unmet goals here to my "about me" page, along with some new goals!

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Published 12:45 PM by with 0 comment

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Linking up with Soule Mama on this day celebrating my husband's birth.

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Published 7:36 AM by with 2 comments

Friday Finds

When Harmony pushes my hand away as I offer to help her with something, I know that means "stop, mama, I can do this on my own". This article helped me feel better about letting her be independent.

I've been drooling over this new magazine for over a year now, longing to flip through each issue's pages and frame the covers for my walls. Maybe it could be my birthday request this summer...? So gorgeous.

My husband and I don't really watch t.v. But we do enjoy a few shows that we can find for free on websites like Hulu, such as Iron Chef America, American Pickers, Face-Off, and Chopped. This episode of Chopped called "Sweet Second Chances" showed what redemption is all about. Seriously made me cry at the end.

I still ponder questions about Facebook and how we present ourselves in social media. How much do people really know the true me? Is my online self the real me? The benefits and drawbacks of living your life out loud. 

Beautiful words written by another mama, with her newly born child and four other children, on the turning of the seasons. "These cycles are not like a life cycle, or the slow turning of the earth. It's more like the wheel of a bicycle spinning through a tree-lined neighborhood, the sun glinting off its spokes. We ride quickly and the wind on our faces is like the gentlest touch, it's full of the scent of flowers."

Lent began on Wednesday. The church I attend follows the changing of the liturgical year in a way that I've not seen any other protestant church do. It has been a blessing to find that some traditions are worth keeping. If you're wondering, "why bother with Lent", then here are five good answers. As a woman more skilled with words than me wrote, "Lent is preparing the heart for Easter. Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we might come face to ugly face with our enemy."
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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Published 5:07 PM by with 0 comment

Heart Happy

We say that grace is "unmerited favor". And we are instructed to love as Christ loves us. He shows us grace; we are show each other grace. What does that mean? It means we are to be kinder to people than we think they deserve. ~ Unknown

Valentine's gift, a flower I've always loved
True love ennobles and dignifies the material labors of life; and homely services rendered for love's sake have in them a poetry that is immortal. ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Goodies from a friend
The greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved- loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves. ~ Victor Hugo

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Published 8:00 AM by with 0 comment

Getting Involved in Politics. Yes, Me!

Yesterday Chris, Harmony, and I went to a rally. There are very few reasons I would ever go to a rally, and very VERY few reasons that Chris would ever attend one, but this rally was so important that we both felt led to participate.

The event was the Annual Cookie Day for Midwives at the Missouri state capitol, where everyone and anyone who supports the home-birth community can let their representatives and senators know how much they care. I baked six dozen peanut butter cookies, wrapped them up into small packages, attached a formal letter and a photo of our family, and we walked all over the capitol building, up and down stairs (soooo many stairs!) to the offices to deliver the cookies. Mostly we spoke with the legislative assistants, since the reps and senators were in session, but towards lunchtime we were able to connect with the officials themselves. 

Harmony was an instant hit. Having her along with us was a good way to mention, "yes, she was born at home. We would really appreciate your support for women to have the choice to birth at home safely and legally"!

Disclaimer: I do not believe that home-birth is for everyone, nor do I wish to make anyone feel guilty for the birth path they chose for their own children. I've written before about my reasons for home-birth, and there are many sources for information about it, including information regarding the safety of home-birth.

The cookies, of course, were also appreciated. And I'm hoping that the letter I wrote will be read. It's a shorter form of Harmony's birth story. We wanted to provide our legislators with a personalized, non-aggressive way to understand a little more about our individual path into the home-birth community and why it means so much to us. 

Dear Sir or Madam,

Thank you for your work in our state's capitol! We appreciate your service to the local Missouri families and hope that you will take a moment to show your support for the communities supporting midwives. Here is some information about our family and the reasons we support midwives. My husband, Chris, and I had been planning a home-birth with a midwife ever since we found out I was pregnant. 

Our daughter, Harmony Emelia, was born on June 19th, 2012, at our apartment, ten days after her estimated due date. After a rapid, nine hour labor, Harmony was alert the minute after birth, even raising her head up off my shoulder to look around the room. We were happy to find that she weighed eight pounds, four ounces and was twenty inches long! Due to my midwife's wonderful care, extensive training, and years of experience, there were no complications with Harmony or me. 

This was my favorite part of having a home-birth: I was able to crawl into my own bed, clean and happy and healthy, with my family around me and my new baby girl, in the comfort of my own home! My step-dad and mother brought Dewey's Green Lantern pizza with lots of feta cheese to celebrate; it was the best pizza I've ever tasted! 

My husband, Chris, was especially grateful for the local home-birth preparation class we took together because he wasn't surprised by anything that happened. He knew how to support me even without me asking for it, because we had planned and discussed everything beforehand. Even if I had needed a hospital transfer at any point, I knew that Chris would have been able to help me with everything, since he knew the benefits and risks of medical interventions in the hospital. We felt like a team throughout the entire pregnancy and birth.

I feel so very blessed that Harmony had a natural, smooth transition into our world in the security of our home. In spite of the pain of a natural, unmedicated labor, I can definitely say that it wasn't anything I couldn't handle. The majority of my labor was intense but manageable. While I am truly thankful that a hospital was only ten minutes away in case I had any complications with my baby's birth, there was no need for it since everything was fine. I have no regrets about having a home-birth and will happily plan for future children to be born at home, as long as my health and the baby's health are stable.

We hope that you will join our family in support of Missouri's midwives, who make it possible for couples like us to have beautiful, peaceful home-births. If you have any concerns about the safety of home-birth, please visit the website or the website for resources and statistics. Thank you, and feel free to contact us regarding our home-birth experience or interests in the importance of the freedom to birth at home!

Gratefully, etc.

We will definitely be back next year, Lord willing, to support midwives again. Even if I end up having a hospital birth with any of my future children, due to health issues or a need for transfer during birth, I will still be completely grateful for the work midwives do for many other women in this state. 

At the rally in the afternoon, the president of the Friends of Missouri MIdwives spoke, along with two male representatives who support midwifery (one even supported his wife as she birthed two of their five children at home), a home-birth friendly OB/GYN, a pregnant mother planning a home-birth, and a home-birth friendly female doctor. It was encouraging to hear their words. Everyone stressed the importance of vigilance over issues that could make midwifery in Missouri illegal or impossible once again**. 

I was able to see some old friends and meet new friends. One lovely, peaceful woman chatted with me on our way to deliver more cookies. She was a birth doula, and I felt so calm in her presence that I understood why! I asked her if she'd had any home-births. "Oh yes, dear. All twelve of mine were born at home. I have five of my younger sons here today, and you'd be welcome to meet them, but I think they're off meeting representatives." Whoa. Twelve kids, and she's that level of calm? This woman is A BOSS. 

It was awesome to see so many families, single women, small babies, and teens united together. There were two other rallies going on at the capitol that day as well, which made it a little crowded. One was a group for retired school teachers, and the other had something to do with worker's unions and motorcyclists, so all the elderly people wearing red and tough looking guys in leather walking around made the day even more interesting! 

** Midwifery was illegal in Missouri for a long time. It became legal again in 2007. Several states still demonize home-birth, though, and midwives are still being served cease-and-desist letters or getting arrested for practicing there. 

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Published 8:17 AM by with 0 comment

Harmony Finds the Guitar

Harmony crawled across the entire living room for the first time today.

Because I was playing my guitar.

Sitting on the ground across the room from her as she rolled around with stuffed animals, I was playing my guitar for the first time in a while. A long while. It's been months (maybe since before Harmony was born) since I picked up my guitar simply to play, not practice, and even my practice time was limited mostly to whenever I was at the studio in between lessons.

The instant Harmony heard the sound of the guitar playing, her head whipped up from the toy she held. She immediately crawled straight towards me, no wobbling, stumbling, or hesitation. My jaw dropped. She's been holding out on us this entire time!

We spent the next half hour learning what kinds of sounds, touches, scents, and textures the guitar has. She beamed, screamed with happiness, and used her tiny fingers to explore, as we learned how to be "gentle" with mama's instrument. Then she sat in my lap while I played the music she heard before she was born.

My heart sings.

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Friday, February 08, 2013

Published 4:47 PM by with 2 comments

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Linking up with Soule Mama on this cloudy yet peaceful day.

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Published 7:53 AM by with 2 comments

Friday Finds

After being taken aback by the snarky, slightly condescending tone of the author who penned "Maybe You Are Ready for Kids, You're Just Not Paying Attention", I was relieved to see that she posted an apology. Because I do believe that just because a woman becomes a mother doesn't mean that she'll be "wiser or more ‘aware’ or more generous – if [they were], there wouldn’t be so many clueless moms swaggering around like they know everything, now would there?”

These lovely art kits created for children are making me drool! What a great idea!

"The Little House in the Big Woods" and the rest of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are wonderful. Many of my childhood hours were spent pretending to be a "pioneer girl". The book series stated that Laura's older sister, Mary, went blind from complications due to scarlet fever. But now a new medical study is saying that they've found the real reason Mary went blind, and it's not what I thought it was. Quite fascinating.

Wisdom from a seven year old. Oh, what a different world we would inhabit if we had the same simple faith and strong confidence as adult woman as we do when we are young girls just starting out. 

I'm not the only person taking a break from Facebook in 2013. Do you agree that up to a third of Facebook users will give the social media site a rest

An orchestra that brings warring nations together in peace. "The fact we play the "Ode to Joy" and "All men should become brothers" is great. It's beautiful. It's a great idea. It's a great idea, but it will not bring peace. We are not politicians. We cannot do that. We are trying to achieve some kind of small utopia in our little community that can maybe give an example outside."
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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Published 8:56 AM by with 3 comments

The Stone Queen and the People with Two Hearts

Oh man. I have such crazy dreams.

Last night I dreamed that I and several other people I knew were transported into another universe. The inhabited world there was flat (kind of like Narnia) and had kingdoms centered around materials such as ice, stone, desert, forest, etc. (like the world from Naruto) and were each ruled by a queen. The kingdom I was dropped into was the realm of stone.

People there had two hearts. One heart controlled bodily functions by circulating their blue blood. The other heart controlled the flow of an almost invisible substance called "mether", which was the magic/soul/emotion of the person. Over the mether heart was a small patch of short tentacles that was almost always kept covered with a shield, to protect their life-source and allow them control over how they were affected by others magics. It would be uncovered to work magic, allow them to connect in a deeply emotional way to another person, or to connect with the magic around them. They could regenerate the physical heart, but not the mether heart.

Other than the heart differences, the people looked identical to humans. They followed their kingdom's queen like ants, almost blindly, because her magic linked to theirs and compelled them to do her bidding even if they disagreed with her.

The Stone Queen
The stone queen was hard-hearted and power-hungry. She was in the process of conquering the sand kingdom when I arrived. Her subjects were sorrowful that so many of them were dying in battles, but they had no choice.

I remember little scenes from the dream. The dream stretched out a long time, with an over-arching storyline. Here are a few bits:

~ I almost got close enough to assassinate the stone queen. She vanished at the last second. I was afraid that she knew about my plan, but it didn't seem like it. She wasn't used to "hearing" the thoughts of a one-hearted person, so I had an advantage over her subjects that way.

~ I was about to kidnap the stone queen's daughter, the princess, who was about ten years old, in order to use a hostage as leverage to stop the war. But the princess whispered to me that she was on my side, and already was part of a plan to "eliminate" her mother, possibly in battle, and then she as princess would become the next queen and begin to right the wrongs her family had committed. So I stopped. That girl was pretty awesome.

~ The stone queen sent out a group of spies to scope out the edges of the forest kingdom. I went with them, but was afraid that I would get found out if I was injured, because my blood was red instead of blue. The forest was CRAZY cool. I can't even begin to describe the complex beauty of the trees.

~ I met a male who had figured out a new magic that allowed him to have free will from the queen's controlling magic. He was trying to perfect the magic so that he could offer freedom to other people, who could join him in a rebellion against the queen. I introduced him to the princess. He swore fealty to her and vowed to help her win the throne so that she could bring peace.

~ The stone queen was getting so powerful that she caused an entire mountain to crumble and fall on one of the desert kingdom's main cities, completely destroying it and all the people there. I witnessed this while traveling on the spy mission. It was awful.

At the end of the dream, the stone queen had decided that she wanted to begin conquering the kingdom of ice, since that was in the middle of the world and would be a stepping stone to other kingdoms on the other side of the world. But the ocean was a dangerous place with its own alien inhabitants (another kingdom? I didn't get to see that part), so going in ships across the water wasn't an option. The stone queen decided to build a bridge to reach the ice kingdom.

With more magic than she'd ever used before, she summoned all the whales from the entire ocean. They flocked to the bright blue stream of magic the stone queen was beaming across the waters. All the whales were pulled into a line, head to tail, just above the surface of the water, making anguished sounds. The magic intensified, then pulled the whales rigid, and froze them into place like stone. The queen now had a bridge of stone whales stretching from her land across the sea to the ice kingdom. At this point, her magic was so powerful, it didn't seem like anything could stop her.

The last image I saw was the stone queen's young daughter watching her finish the magic. The princess had a determined look, but tears were trickling down her face as she watched the whales killed and turned into a stone bridge.

That was my dream. There are so many unanswered questions that I wanted to find out from the story, though! I can't believe that I woke up at this point. Arg. I haven't been reading any science fiction or fantasy lately, either. So I don't know where all this stuff came from. But it was pretty cool to experience ; )

P.S. If you haven't yet voted in my poll about creating an Etsy shop on the sidebar, please check it out! 

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Published 9:34 AM by with 2 comments

Is Etsy for Me?

For a long time, I've considered creating an Etsy shop online. The things holding me back are uncertainty that anyone will purchase my work, uncertainty as to what niche of my creations I should make available, and uncertainty that I will have time to keep up with demand (if there is any?). There are four categories of home-made crafts that I've considered selling on Etsy:

~ Art related to synesthesia. These would be personalized names, verses, quotes, or abstract art. Nothing huge, nothing mind-blowing, just small art pieces that can be put around the house to liven things up a bit. I'm a fan of Kandinsky's artwork which was inspired by his synesthetic responses to sound and color. I mostly draw or use water colors. No painting (I would if I owned paints) or collages yet, though I'd love to do that someday.

~ Knitted items for babies. Small things like baby booties, baby hats, dolls. I can also knit sweaters, but right now those take so much time and effort that the price I'd have to charge probably wouldn't be worth it for potential buyers. I used to be shocked with the prices a crafter would charge for home-made clothes, like socks or sweaters, but once I realized how much time it takes to knit those suckers, I totally agree! It's an arduous process, especially for a rather slow knitter like me.

~ Other knitted items. I can knit washcloths, scarves, cowls, hats, cup cozies, and small bags. And hand-warmers, if need be. They're not super fancy, but that touch of home-made is always nice.

~ Postcards, blank cards, and birthday cards. I really enjoy creating cards that are one-of-a-kind,  using watercolors, colored pencils, pens, photos, words, etc. I can make several similar versions of a card design, but none will look exactly alike.

All in all, everything I create is simple. It looks like it was made at home by someone who isn't an expert, just a girl who loves to create tiny bits of handmade love. I guess you can view that as good or bad. Each item has its own character, with unique design and detail, not looking like it was bought from a store where thousands of others just like it can be found. At least I thoroughly enjoy making all of it, even if I never end up selling anything!

In the side bar of my blog, I put a poll asking which of these items people would be most likely to purchase. Could you help me out and give your opinion? I'm still on the fence about opening up an Etsy shop, and getting some feedback would be awesome! Thank you in advance : )

Edit: Sorry for the typo in the poll! It won't let me change it. Oops.
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Monday, February 04, 2013

Published 7:57 AM by with 5 comments

Can Boys Dance Too?

Okay, here's my question of the week. Another one that's been mulling in my thoughts for a while. Let's say that your seven year old daughter says, "Mom, I want to take ballet lessons! May I?" Would you say yes? Now what if your seven year old son says, "Mom, I want to take ballet lessons! May I?" Or what if the question was about tap dancing? Or modern? Or Irish dancing?

Would you allow your child to take any kind of dance lessons they wanted? Would your answer change depending on whether it was your son or daughter asking to dance?

Last week we had some lovely people share their thoughts regarding the way children address adults. How about we get some more comments here?

Always Be Willing to Rethink 
This post is part of the "Questions for You!" series.
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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Published 5:30 PM by with 0 comment

Hooray, you can now...

... sign up to receive my blog posts through email!

Here's the deal: the two things that mix me up the most are numbers and technology. I'm not good with them. So when I figured out how to do separate pages here on my blog, it was pretty much just the result of a happy accident. Then I discovered more ways to organize the layout. INNOVATION.

So now you can actually subscribe to my blog! As far as I can see, there might be two different ways to subscribe at the top of the page, but I'm not sure of the details.

Anyway... if you'd like to read what I write, would you consider signing up? It would make my day : ) I know a lot of people read blogs and hide in the corners without commenting, so for all you invisible readers, maybe it's time to come out into the open...?

This is what's been going on lately. Look out, world. We're all learning new things.

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Friday, February 01, 2013

Published 1:21 PM by with 0 comment

Friday Finds

Being off Facebook has given me much more time away from the computer, but I still read a handful of blogs, browse the news, and occasionally watch a video or two. Besides keeping up with emails and business stuff, of course. This week I found a couple gems in the online world. Take a look!

Here's a very interesting article called "Why You Never Truly Leave Highschool". It's lengthy, but worth a perusal. As someone who never went to high school, I was intrigued with some of the assertions the author made. Do I agree with him? Do YOU agree with him? Hmmm...

Are you an auditory, kinesthetic, or auditory learner? Take this test and see if it's accurate!

Guys would have a lot more respect and understanding for women giving birth if they went through childbirth pains themselves, like these two dudes. Kudos to the one who stuck with it until the end! That takes some guts!

Before you judge someone, ANYONE, think about this: you just never know what they might be feeling or going through right now. Taking these beautiful, convicting words to heart. Worth reading many times.

I'm playing her music constantly this week. Besides having an awesome name, she creates music that lets me simply be and breathe, like this piece.
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