Friday, April 1, 2011

moving things around

I'm sort of blog happy lately.

In order to try and get some actual "gigs" I'm making a blog just for my music. You can find it here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How Death and Dying is Like Labor and Birth (an assignment for my doula course)

My Grandmother died almost exactly one year after my first vaginal birth after cesarean. She was the most accepting and loving member of my entire family. I do believe that she chose to die the way she did in order to give us all time to accept her death and to say goodbye. She spent three weeks hooked up to machines before she passed. It was probably quite a harrowing experience for her but it gave us, as her family watching her, so much peace to be able to see her and hold her hand and say goodbye.

My birth with the Explorer, my second born and my first vaginal birth, was very similar. It took three days of labor to birth him. I feel like I needed those three days, as difficult as they were, to come to terms with what was happening in my own body. When the Explorer was born, I was so tired and so happy to be done. Obviously I was happy about my new baby, but the prevailing thought in my mind was relief that the pain and exertion were over.

I feel like my Grandmother, when she finally passed, felt some relief. She had rheumatoid arthritis since age 13 as well as lupus. Most of her life was spent in pain, ever increasing until she died. I was living in San Diego at the time, 2000 miles away. I flew out to spend the three weeks watching her in the hospital and finally flew home after that three weeks. She died while I was on the plane to San Diego. I was very sad at her going. I still miss her every day. But the part of me that worried about her being in pain, or being sick, or being unhappy, that part of me is glad for her. Just as I felt relief when the Explorer was born, I feel relief that my Grandmother is no longer suffering.

It was a struggle for my Grandmother to live and it was a struggle for her to die. She had to labor, there in the intensive care unit, we all had to watch her and know that we were powerless to stop it all. In the same way, my birth team at the Explorer's labor and birth could only watch and support and know that it all had to happen. I had a team of family, neighbors, midwife, and doula to support me. My Grandmother had a team of family, neighbors, doctors, and nurses to support her. I got a baby at the end of my struggle. My Grandmother got peace. We both got a reprieve from pain and suffering. We both got to rest.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

a million wondrous things...

Wonderful things are happening here in my life. Career wise things are blooming profusely. Bet you didn't know I had a career. Well, turns out I do. For many years , since the Artist was a wee babe, I've dreamed of one day becoming a doula. I even attended doula training (with DONA) back in 2000 when we lived in San Diego. I had the hardest time finding clients and babysitting so I never did become certified. I attended Birthing from Within mentor training in 2002. Still, could not find clients. Then we moved to Indiana. I briefly toyed with the thought of putting myself out there and planned two birth art workshops. No one came. But I had two beautiful baby girls and felt pretty busy as a mother of four. We moved to Wales where I spent my time getting used to having a house full of children and enjoying the beautiful Welsh countryside. (I wake in the night still with a deep longing for it.)

So then we wind up here. The last place on earth I wanted to move to. Maybe not the last place, but certainly toward the bottom of my list. When I had been here about 8 weeks I met a woman, a doula, who had also been here about 8 weeks and had attended 8 births! She supported her family doing birth work! She said all the doulas she knew were way overbooked and it would be very easy to find work in this town. This information inspired me. Months later when recounting this story to my best friend, Candy, she suggested I just call this doula up and offer to do paperwork and filing for her so I could kind of get to know how to start my own doula business up. So I did. It has been an eye opening experience for me. I feel like my doula mentor (because really that is what she has become to me) is getting the short end of the stick! So I told myself, once I find suitable childcare, then I will pursue training. Suitable childcare has been found! So I told myself again, once I find funding then I'll begin training. I was awarded a scholarship through Birth Arts International and am now training with them.

So I'm seeking doula clients (if you know anyone). I've also put together a six week course for parents planning a vaginal birth after cesarean. I'll not post the links here because I feel a little weird putting my location out there for anyone to see. Those who know me are free to contact me for more information if you want.

I'm sure you've noticed all the singing videos I've put up. I'm putting myself out there for sure. I brought a demo cd to a local coffee shop yesterday and have been singing open mics here and there when I get the chance.

Things are looking good. I am deeply grateful for that.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a rice free option)

Seems like some folks have multiple allergies, not just issues with gluten, but also with other grains. This recipe takes that into account. So far I have only used rice and sorghum flour, but I imagine one could use others as well. I'm also going to mess around and see if I can come up with an egg free version. Right now I have a batch in the oven for a Valentine's Day party at the Artist's play rehearsal tomorrow, so I'm reluctant to do too much experimenting for this batch.

1 3/4 cup rice or sorghum flour (or a blend)
1/2 cup corn starch
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 tsp Kahlua (or vanilla extract, I keep Kahlua around to use in baking as I prefer it sometimes.)
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit. Mix the butter and sugar. Add the eggs. Add the xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt. Add the rice/sorghum flour. Add the cornstarch. Add the chocolate chips. Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 F until it just barely shows a little brown on the edges. You do not want to overcook these!

Alternately, you can make a sort of log out of the dough and freeze it for later. I brought a plate full of these made from frozen dough to a playdate and it was promptly gobbled up. (And nobody noticed that it was gluten free.) If you want to bring a plate of these somewhere but hope to have a few left over for midnight snacking, you'd better just leave a few at home because you are unlikely to bring home anything but an empty plate.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Working with the Place Value Apartments

Place Value Apartments

Last night I made this big posterboard creation to help cement the idea of place value for the Explorer. He's been doing this type of math for some time now but still often needs prompting to begin the addition or subtraction in the ones place.

It should be pretty self explanatory how I made the apartments, but if you have any questions, just post them in the comments and I can explain further.

Because it is so large, I'll have to post it in three sections.

First we have the Billions house:

Next, the Million house:

Now the Thousand House:

And finally, the Hundreds House:

I'm having problems with Blogger, so I'm going to put some photos of the work we did in a separate post.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


No pics of the blizzard but we are all well. We spent the day with some lovely friends sledding and chatting and playing. Turns out my sled from when I was a little girl is very very fast. Growing up in the American south I didn't get to use it much.

Now we are cozy inside watching the snow. A chicken is in the oven, a bowl of "jacket potatoes" (British for baked potatoes) waiting on the table, a hearty salad, and baked fish for the non-chicken eaters and after dinner we will have hot cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Bring it on, Mother Nature, bring it on!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

75 years

This year is the 75th anniversary of our local Quaker meeting. Tonight there was a sort of kick off celebration. I was, of course, late (with very good reason and totally worth it!) but I arrived in time to hear a song written about our meeting.

Now some background. For those of y'all that haven't moved around a lot, let me just explain things to you. In my experience at about the six month mark of being in a new place you begin to miss the old place very very much. It sort of, well, eats your soul this deep longing for the old place. Now add, I don't know 3 or 4 old places and one begins to feel a bit chewed up inside. To say the least it is unsettling. I miss Wales like you wouldn't believe. Seriously. After the Arizona shootings I spent the day crying in the bathroom wondering what kind of messed up country I had moved my family back to. (Ok, now hormones did play a small part in this day of bathroom weepiness. Not to mention the 2 hour podcast on the subject I kept listening to.) Before that we had traveled down south to see family and to Indiana to see chosen family. So I was in a bit of a post holiday meltdown of missing people and places. (I'm also, strangely enough, homesick for Ireland a place where I spent just a week. And that week we were mildly ill with mono!)

But I digress, tonight at the 75th Anniversary kickoff, this wonderful singer songwriter sang a song about our local meeting. When in the first verse he mentioned the name of our town a bit of warm hometown pride started spreading in my heart and by the last verse I was weeping happy tears. You see, now I do feel like I've found a new home. Does this make Memphis, California, Wales, or Indiana any less home? Nope. But it does add a new home to the list.

Soon as I got home, I did what I tend to do when a musician inspires me, I pulled out my guitar and sang. I sang and sang. I sang the songs that made my mind visit the lands I longed for, songs I had kind of shelved for a while. Below you'll find one of those songs. I am forever grateful to the members of my community for bearing with my homesick longing for Anywhere but Here. And with love I offer this song, from a land I've yet to visit (but is at the top of my list), to all of you.

Diolch yn fawr i bawb

Now Westlin Winds

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Technology mishaps

I'm not sure if I've mentioned here about the death of my iPod touch. It actually happened twice, only the first time was my fault and I got it repaired. But the second time, well I just figured it's not the right time in my life for a tiny gadget that costs over $100. The little girls dropped it in a bucket of apple cider vinegar. Now, granted, there are plenty of times when I wish I still had that iPod touch, but overall I think it's one of the best things to happen to me. I no longer have that constant temptation to just "real quick" check email or facebook or whatever.

I do have an iPod now. I use it for music and podcasts. It's one of the earlier nanos. As for all the notebooking and stuff I did on my old iPod, well now I use a notebook. Yep, I've gone old school. I have a notebook and calendar. If I need to remember something, I just write it down.

One of these days, perhaps I will do a long notebook post.

Then more recently my laptop bit the dust. It's salvagable. I mean, we are pretty sure the info stored on it can be retrieved, but it will need a new hard drive. We don't have the extra funds at the moment to do this, but we will do it eventually. For now I'm on the Lord of Sound's computer in the evenings or on weekends, and those aren't the most convenient times for being online so my online time has really gone down. This is a very good thing! If I need to "look up" something, I just write a note and do it later. This has also cut back the boys' computer time. They think this is a bad thing but I think it's good. It means more time outside or reading a book or playing legos together.

I'm rethinking my usage of technology and trying to find a balance that fits my life better.

I did get a nook for Christmas (comes with insurance so if another Apple Cider Vinegar Incident occurs, I'm covered) and I'm LOVING it. I'm finding myself reading more. That's always a good thing. The Artist has been reading a bit on my nook, too. I think he may need to get one next Christmas.