Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Homebirth: The Birth Box

We are very excited to be having our second home birth!  You can read my other birth stories on my blog: number one, number two, number three, ... and number four soon to come.  I had a difficult hospital birth with my first, an unmedicated hospital birth with my second, and an amazing (fast!) homebirth with my third.  Ross and I both loved the homebirth and are excited to have the experience again.  He ended up catching Esther because I gave birth so fast, and this time around he wants to catch the baby again.  I love this!  He is NOT one who does well with blood or even talk about blood.  There was something special about him being the one to catch Esther though, and the midwife agreed he could catch this time around as well.  She commented that if she catches the baby, she is wearing gloves.  If Ross catches the baby, his skin is the first thing baby touches.  Hopefully he and the midwife arrive on time.  They are both about 45 minutes away from me during the day, and last time my total labor was not much longer than that!

Anyway, on to the birth box.  If you saw my post about our "nursery", I mentioned the birth box sitting in the corner of my bedroom.  This contains all of the items necessary for the birth that I have gathered together.  Some of these are required by our midwife, others are things that I added for my own comfort.

I have:
lots of disposable bed pads
disposable padded underwear
(in the bathroom I also have Seventh Generation pads for use after the birth)
gauze pads
olive oil (for perineal massage as baby is crowning)
trash bags
comfrey leaves (for soothing afterwards)
Emergen-C packets
baby nose bulb
a tennis ball (for massage during labor)
two old towels
receiving blankets
squeeze bottle (from the hospital, for rinsing after the birth)
after-ease herbal tincture for after pains
newborn outfit, diaper, and hats

Earth Mama Angel Baby stuff, soo nice to have on hand:
postpartum bath herbs
nipple butter
bottom balm
bottom spray
booby tubes

Other/ not pictured:
waterproof bed pad
set of old sheets to put on the bed
small mirror
arnica tablets
arnica massage oil (Weleda brand)
large water bottle with a straw

I put witch hazel on a couple of maxi pads and put them in ziploc bags in the freezer.  These will be for postpartum use and soothing those sore parts.

We have an exercise ball in the living room that I will use for getting comfortable during labor.

My bath tub!  Esther was born in the tub, simply because I couldn't get out and she was coming fast.  It made clean up easy and birthing in the water was quite comfortable.  I think I will end up going that route again, depending on how fast things are moving.

Is there anything else I should have on hand?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

SmartWool Review

I'm a SmartWool convert!  At first I thought it was crazy when I heard about these expensive socks and how much people love them.  I'm convinced now.  Ross picked up a pair on sale this Christmas and raved about how they kept his feet warm instead of clammy and cold like other socks do.  Soon after that, I was able to try some out for review.

Some background on my sock wearing habits: I always get adorable printed socks from my mother-in-law for Christmas, and I love them.  But I never wear them.  I hate how synthetic fibers feel on my feet.  They make me sweaty and claustrophobic.  This is how my feet normally look:

Comfy, but not very pretty.  I suppose plain white cotton socks are okay around the house, but with certain outfits or when you go to someone's house and take off your shoes and everyone sees your socks... yeah, the bright white sticks out a bit.  Enter: SmartWool socks!

SmartWool socks are made of wool (obviously!), and are quite comfy on my feet.  Unlike other socks, they allow my feet to breathe, and keep them toasty warm at the same time.  Thus I have successfully ended the bright white sock embarrassment factor in my life.

Esther got to try some SmartWool socks too.  I'm happy to say that she too loves SmartWool and will never have to grow up with sock embarrassment.  She likes to look for the little SmartWool guy on her socks:

Hers have gotten a little fuzzy from being worn on our wood floors, but that doesn't seem to bother her.  She does slip when she is wearing them, so grippers on the bottoms would be a nice addition.  My kids enjoy wearing printed colorful socks (ie synthetic socks that make me want to gag).  We'll definitely be buying more SmartWool for them instead.

It hasn't been a very cold winter so we haven't used it much, but we were also sent an adorable hat and mitten set.  Esther loves it!  The mittens do not have any thumbs in them, which is a great idea and makes getting them on super easy.  I love the patterns on everything that we were sent too.

Ok, my pregnant feet aren't quite that chubby, this pair is padded for more warmth outdoors.  We also received a couple of SmartWool undershirts (which don't fit over my enormous belly....).  Ross wore one to work and said that it kept him toasty warm.  The seams inside are nice and flat and the wool is very soft (not itchy at all).  I refused to let him wear it again though because I want to wear it once my belly shrinks a bit.  ;)

What about you?  Have you tried SmartWool?  Have you heard more than you ever wanted to know about my sock habits?

I'm so excited that I can now wear cute socks!  Thanks SmartWool.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


We recently purchased a set of little 6 ounce glass cups for the girls to use.  While they aren't perfect, (they could hold just a bit more), they are much better than the ancient tupperware cups that we were using.  I had no idea what type of plastic those were made of and had been searching for a better cup for quite some time.  Thankfully, we also got some Drinkbands around that time.  I don't know what I would do without them!

Drinkbands are fun silicone bands that slip on a cup to help you know which is yours.  My girls enjoy picking out a color every morning when they get their cups.  Without these, I have no idea how we would keep glass cups separate.  I also like that the Drinkbands provide a bit of grip for little hands holding the glass cups.  The bands fit our Kleen Kanteens and regular glasses as well.  I've sent Lucy with a banded Kleen Kanteen to ballet class just in case someone else came with the same water bottle.

We received a set of 10 colors to review.  They have since changed the colors a bit and have added a smaller size for bottles.  The set that we have is stretchy enough and fits both the small cups and the bigger grown up cups too.  Of course the pink, purple, light blue, and green are most often in use here, but we do have all girls!  ;)  We've used the Drinkbands for a couple of months now, and they still look like new.

If you have more than one child, or ever have company over , or have a husband who sometimes steals your glass - you need a set of Drinkbands!  Great invention!  Thanks to Drinkbands for sending us this set for review.

(PS: Drinkbands were created by the same people who own hardlotion.com, our favorite lotion!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Our "Nursery"

We live in a small two bedroom home.   ....with three children, and number four on the way.  Needless to say, we don't have a nursery.  I much prefer sleeping near my babies anyway.  I love having the baby nearby and nursing/ snuggling through the night for the first couple of years.

When Esther was born, we put a bed rail on the side of our bed and she slept with us from day one.  This time around we have a new king size latex mattress that is rather soft.  I got a mini co-sleeper for the baby to use at first.  After baby outgrows the co-sleeper, we'll probably add the bed rail back on our bed; at that point the soft mattress won't be as much of a concern.

I've been nesting like crazy lately - I think the bedroom is all done and set up for the most part!  I even vacuumed the dust bunnies from under the shoes in the closet today.  Here is our new bed, co-sleeper, and the Gia nursing pillow that I'm excited to try out.  Oh, and the big sister gifts are wrapped and sitting up on the bookshelf there.  (Big Sister shirts and cute little silicone bracelets that say "I'm a BIG Sister!"  They even had a smaller size that I think will fit Esther well.)  The zippered part under the co-sleeper holds my aden + anais swaddling blankets, dream blanket (Black Friday deal!), and a few other blankets.

The co-sleeper still needs to be strapped tight to the bed under the mattress.  I am hoping the little sleep sheep will muffle some of the big sister noise in our small house.  This book light hooks perfectly on the co-sleeper and I can swivel it around so that its not shining right in baby's face.  It will be nice to turn on for nursing without having to get out of bed.  Ross has had this particular one for a couple of years and it has worked well.  I did steal it from him, but ordered him another one.  ;)

On the co-sleeper, I have this organic waterproof pad and this organic sheet.  They are much cheaper than the ones that Arm's Reach sells, fit nicely, and are stretchy and soft.  The waterproof pad is a few inches smaller around than the mattress, but still works well.  I have two of each for when one set is in the wash!  (Note: I have the Arm's Reach Mini Co-sleeper, in case you are thinking of getting these sheets.  You would have to find other sheets for a full size co-sleeper.)

From the other corner of the room you can see: my nicely decorated door (artwork that the girls give to us gets taped up there), handprint canvases, and my birth box on the floor.  (I'll do a separate post on that.)  The bottom drawer of the dresser holds baby's clothes.  The three basket shelf has my slings and nursing cover in the top basket, burp cloths in the second, and extra cloth diapering things in the bottom one.  My new diaper bag is sitting on top of the shelf and is partly packed with a few things (wet bag, changing pad, etc.).

Because we don't know if baby is a boy or a girl, I pulled out all of the neutral clothes and washed them. If its a girl, we'll dump the rest of the 0-3 month clothes box in the washing machine.  If its a boy, we'll have to go shopping!

On my desk I have a baby scale.  I bought that when Esther was having so much trouble nursing, just to be sure she was gaining well.  The shelves contain our homeschool books and toys, and cloth diapers on the bottom.  Baby's car seat is also sitting there, all washed and ready to be installed in the van.

That's about it!  I spared you a photo of the nursing bras and tanks, nursing pads, and pjs in my dresser.  I think our bedroom could use something decorative on the wall above our bed, but otherwise it is nice and cozy and ready for baby.  :)  Now I need to go "nest" the rest of the house....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Homemade Seasoning Mixes

I've been using homemade seasoning mixes for quite some time now.  I love not having to buy numerous packets of things any more!  If I run out, I just refill my jars using these recipes:

(Don't leave the taco seasoning like that, mix it up.  I just thought it looked neat.)

Fajita Seasoning

1 Tbs cornstarch
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1/4 tsp cumin

2 Tbs of this mix = 1 packet.  Mix with chicken broth and add to cooked sliced peppers, onion, and chicken strips to make tasty fajitas!  Serve with homemade tortillas of course.  ;)

Ranch Seasoning
from heavenlyhomemakers.com

5 Tbs dried minced onions
7 tsp parsley flakes
4 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbs = 1 packet.  I use this for ranch potatoes or as a seasoning on chicken.  I haven't been able to make a dip or dressing with it that I love yet.  I need to try again though.

Taco Seasoning
from passionatehomemaking.com

6 tsp chili powder
4 1/2 tsp cumin
5 tsp paprika
3 tsp onion powder
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Use about 3 Tbs for 1 packet.

Are there any other spice mixes I should try?  linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Egg Drop Soup

My girls love eating egg drop soup.  Its healthy, easy, and inexpensive using these ingredients from Costco:

Egg Drop Soup
one carton chicken stock
3 cups water
3 tsp Better Than Bouillon chicken
1 garlic clove, minced
Bring to a boil in a large pot.

2 handfuls of noodles
Add and boil 12 minutes as directed on package.

2 eggs, beaten
While soup is still boiling, pour eggs slowly into the pan.  As you pour, use a fork to vigorously stir the egg in the pan, to avoid any large clumps.  Continue boiling for a minute or two and then serve.

Enjoy!  (And check out my Tips for Feeding Soup to Kids post for help making it less messy!)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Favorite Crock Pot Uses

My crock pot gets plenty of use over the winter!  I enjoy having the house smell nice all day long and sitting down to a warm dinner without much effort on my part.  Some of my favorite recipes:

Baked Potatoes - While you're at it, make Baked Potato Heads!  We also like using baked potatoes for taco potatoes or hashbrowns and eggs.

Whole Chicken - This tender juicy chicken always gets rave reviews.  After the meal, put the bones back in the crock pot and cook them overnight to make yummy broth.  Use the broth in recipes, or make a batch of chicken soup.

This Gumbo is extremely easy to make, using dry beans and uncooked chicken.

Soaking dry beans is easy to do and frugal.  If I am cooking a batch of beans we usually have beans and rice for dinner.  Add some homemade tortillas and this is one of my favorite meals!

Slow Cooked Beef and Potatoes is another yummy comfort meal that we enjoy.

Do you have a favorite crock pot meal?

linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesday

Sunday, February 5, 2012

33 weeks

Some days I feel like I have a looong way to go yet with this pregnancy.  The baby feels huge and I am exhausted and out of shape.  Other days I feel like I have a ton yet to do and my due date is quickly approaching.  I warned Ross last week that nesting was probably about to begin soon.  He is usually a pretty good sport about helping me get things done and ready for the baby.

To Do:

- Keep taking my vitamins: prenatals, fish oil, and red raspberry leaf tea (steeped for two hours, blech).  Add in evening primrose oil and more tea at 36 weeks.

- Finish gathering items for my birth kit and put a waterproof cover on the mattress.  I was able to run out this weekend and gather a few things.  I also just placed an order with Vitacost for Earth Mama Angel Baby (nipple butter, bottom balm, etc.), Seventh Generation pads, and misc things.

- Make and freeze meals for after baby arrives.  My goal is to freeze at least one a week starting now.  Or maybe I just need to have one big baking day and do it all at once?  I should at least make a list of what I want to freeze and go from there.

- Sort out neutral baby clothes and wash them.  Figure out where to put them.  This may involve reconfiguring the dresser situation in the girls' bedroom and changing how I store their clothes.  I don't know, we're about out of space in our tiny house.  I need to think of a creative solution!

- Choose names!!  We have a few that we like, but nothing is settled on.

- Make a few more baby purchases: the co-sleeper, sheets, and a portable swing.  First we have to get the box spring and frame for our own bed, then I can measure the height and order the co-sleeper.  We got a nice new mattress this past fall, but its been on the floor so far until we could decide what kind of bed frame to get.

- Organize and wash cloth diapers.  Figure out where to put these as well.  Take inventory and decide if I need to buy anything else.  Maybe another cover or two?  I'll have to post a newborn cloth diaper stash photo soon.  :)

Eeek, what else am I forgetting?  This is just my "baby to do" list, then there is everything else I would like done - the bedroom organized, - school papers all filed and sorted, - the basement playroom cleaned, ... and so on.  Nesting has definitely begun!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Art Projects

A few fun art projects we've been working on lately:

Charlotte's Web activities: 
spinning a web with yarn and popsicle sticks, handprint spiders 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Julia's Math Book

Lucy decided to make this for Julia one day.  The ideas were all her own!

trace the dotted lines, count the items 

dot to dot, goes up to 25 

trace the dotted lines, finish the pattern, what number comes next? 

draw petals on the flower, trace the dotted lines 

a picture to color

Julia loves it and will only do one page each day, in order to save it for a while.  :)