Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas

My heirloom Christmas Cactus
I found it hard to get excited about Christmas the first few years Ben and I were married. Three extended families and both immediate families all within 30 minutes, reduced the holiday to a chaotic scheduling nightmare. We were hardly at our own home at all, so decorating seemed just silly, and our tree sat neglected and dying. Last Christmas we didn't get a tree at all because it just seemed like a waste of time and energy since I was 8 months pregnant and we were trying to prep the house for a baby.

This year was so different! We decided that our Christmas goal needed to be to keep the busyness to a minimum, so we approached the holiday with a willingness to say no if need be. Most of the extended family events got scheduled in a very spread out fashion, so the pace of everything was slower than years past. For Christmas day we decided that Christmas morning was going to be just ours. No running around to our families' houses first thing in the morning for us, thank you very much! We went out to Ben's folks house for a short brunch and presents, and then came back to our place and had my family over for the evening. Doing Christmas that way felt so much more relaxed and peaceful, and I was so thankful that it worked out that way.

There is just something about tinies and Christmas that brings back all the magic of the season. Having Ava with us this year has refreshed the excitement of Christmas for me, even though she is too little to remember it. I've been happily basking in the glow of our homey Christmas tree this week, just feeling thankful for her and so peaceful and happy about our little family. We had a very merry Christmas indeed!

There's just something so precious about flannel nighties...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An honest struggle and pushing the reset button.

I haven't used this space in quite a while now. It's been a mental struggle this summer to figure out whether I want to blog or not, and if so what the purpose of my blog will be? Part of the problem has been simply all the wonderful blogs I follow already. Sometimes I read their content and it resonates deep within me, leaving me feeling like I could never put my thoughts into words as beautifully as they do anyway, so what's the point? Other times the blogs I read leave my head full of so much learning and thought that I wonder if I can even come up with anything original anymore. The blogs I read each have their own unique voice. Some are beautiful storytellers who use lush poetry to bring me to tears; others research deeply and matter of factly write to inform and bring awareness; others have a mix of styles, but all have touched me and helped me grow into who I am today. So really the struggle for me this summer has been the question of what is my voice in this community? Do I have anything to offer here? What do I hope to gain from this space?

Finding a "voice" to write from sounds easy but I feel like for an introvert it becomes a more difficult task. It's finding that balance between being genuine and over-sharing. It's saying no to the temptation to be a chameleon and sound like someone else just to fit in. A lot of my mental struggle with this place has been just debating with myself... who do I sound like on my blog? How do I make sure that I am just being myself here? It actually has reminded me a lot of my struggle in college to find myself and stop making myself into the person I thought people wanted to be friends with. Once I settled into the realization that it was ok for me to be ME, I felt such freedom and that was when the true friendships deepened.

The other question I have been asking is what can I offer here? Obviously the point of a blog is that someone reads it. What insights, learning, or stories can I or should I share here? I've had so many ideas for a "theme" or general tone for this blog, but I have realized that I just can't pin it down that narrowly. I want to write about life, family, natural living, simple living, organizing, gardening... I don't want it to become a one-topic space. I'm not going to be strictly a how-to blog, or a garden blog, or a cloth diaper blog, or a parenting blog, though I will certainly write about those things. This blog is just going to be about life -  the people I love and the things I enjoy.

So what do I want from this space? I need a space to think out loud, clear my head, organize my thoughts. I'm naturally introverted, so most often there are a myriad thoughts spinning around in my head that go unsaid and unwritten. I've been feeling lately like it would be healthy for me to take the time to think out loud here and open up a little; airing out some of the deeper ideas I have and being brave enough to say them out loud is not a strong suit of mine and would be good for me to develop. The other thing I want from this blog is that little extra push of accountability; that extra little incentive to follow through on my interests and passions, instead of being consumed with a new idea only to move on a few weeks later with no follow through.

So I'm going to just go with the flow and just be myself. I'm going to write about what I love, and use this place to push myself to grow, learn, and get things done.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Green(er) Kitchen

I used to be a paper towel addict. They were used for literally everything you can imagine in our house and we went through a ridiculous amount each week. I knew there were cloth alternatives, but since that involved more laundry I wasn't too interested. One day it just clicked for me though. I was standing in the grocery store staring at yet another package of very expensive paper towels and I realized... I was quite literally throwing my money away on them. That was when I decided to kick my habit.

Going in to the switch from paper to cloth I knew that my system would have to be easy in order for me to stick with it. I did a bit of research and ended up finding these fabulous unpaper towels from Athena Creates. I bought a family pack of 56 because I knew I wasn't going to want to do laundry too often, and then I bought a cute bamboo organizer to set them in on the counter. These unpaper towels have been amazing! They are made from cotton birdseye fabric and are about the same size as regular paper towels. They clean better than paper, wash up well, and we use them for almost everything that we used to use paper for. (Dog messes still get paper. Yuck!)

The next thing I had to figure out was what to do with the dirty ones. I found this wet bag at My Beautiful Girl and just had to have it! I have an accidental rooster theme going on in my kitchen, so this wet bag was perfect. It has the perfect amount of space for my unpaper towels and washes up beautifully each time.

My favorite reusable kitchen products, though, are these washable bowl covers that I got from MBG to match my wet bag. They have elastic to fit snugly around all shapes and sizes of bowls and casserole dishes. The adorable cotton print on top has a food safe nylon hidden under it. If they don't get too dirty a wipe with a damp cloth is all they take, and if they happen to need a wash they go right in with the unpaper towels. We absolutely love being able to reduce our use of aluminum foil and plastic wrap in our kitchen with these!

I also bought cheap microfiber cloths from the auto cleaning section of the hardware store for cleaning around the house. They get tossed into a laundry bag in our basement and washed separately from everything else.

So that's my green kitchen set-up! I love how much I have reduced our paper towel usage since switching to cloth and my purchases have already paid for themselves a couple times over with the cost savings of not buying paper towels.

I'm linking up to Your Green Resource this week. Check out other blogs via the linky at SortaCrunchy!

*Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the shops mentioned in any way and they did not sponsor my review. I purchased products from them of my own accord and all opinions here are my own.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sometimes you just need to feel epic.

I forget sometimes that what I do has significance. The daily monotony can get to me and it seems like all I do each day is change diapers, wash diapers, offer my boob to Ava every hour (high needs baby!!), and (maybe) make dinner and do the dishes. Sometimes it just seems impossible to get everything done. When I need a pick-me-up I make a cup of coffee and play this song:

This song makes me feel like I just ran a marathon, climbed a mountain, and conquered nations. I'm really not sure why or what it is about it. It just does.

I finished telling my birth story to a friend a few weeks ago and she exclaimed, "Becca! You are WOMAN." And that's how this song makes me feel. What I do is important.




Monday, June 4, 2012

My thrift haul today

I'm joining up with the links at SimpleDesign this week to share my thrift finds. I headed out to the thrift store today to find some towels to use as dog beds and hit the jackpot on a couple cool vintage things!

 Hand-crafted wooden pull toy: $2.

Pair of vintage chairs: $20.

I'm so excited about finding a cute wooden pull toy for Ava! I've been watching for one for a while now. The chairs need some serious TLC but with some sanding and a few coats of bright paint they are going to look so awesome! I'm thinking maybe purple, green, or red, but white would be pretty too.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

I am so honored to be featured on Megan's blog, SortaCrunchy, today for her What I Wore Wednesday feature. She asked a while back for brave volunteers to share outfits and I decided to send her some of my postpartum transition outfits. This is a really difficult phase of life for a lot of reasons and often cute clothes are the last thing on my mind. Megan's blog challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, pull together some cute outfits, and post the pictures. I can only hope that my outfits help other mamas get some inspiration for their postpartum wardrobes! The best tip I can offer is: thrift shop! There is nothing better than finding a great deal on a piece of clothing that will only be worn for a short time. Click here to see her post and my transition outfits!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Baby steps toward a greener life, or how I became an earthy-crunchy mama

It all started with cloth diapers.

My initial interest in cloth diapers has led me down a path toward being counter-cultural and "earthy-crunchy" in many areas of my life. The more I learned about how cloth diapers would save me money, keep waste out of landfills, and keep chemicals off of my baby's bum, the more I realized that those were goals that could be achieved in other areas of my household as well. Through wonderful bloggers who I respect and read faithfully I learned about reducing waste in my house, using natural solutions instead of products with chemicals, and saving money by reusing things or re-prioritizing what is truly important.

My home has less toxins, we waste less, and throw away less since I first heard about cloth diapers. I've become passionate about things like extended breastfeeding, natural childbirth, cloth diapers, baby-wearing, un-paper towels, reusable alternatives to disposable products, natural alternatives to chemical-based products, and real food. Every little change takes us one step further toward helping our environment and our budget, and every time I fold a load of cloth diapers I am so thankful that I discovered this wonderful doorway to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. I'm going to start writing a few posts here and there on some of the things I've changed around my household to be more environmentally conscious and I'll occasionally post reviews on some of the products I've found that I just love.

After all... how do you not fall in love with a cute fluffy bum?!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A new beginning and a fresh start

It seems fitting that I restart this blog with the story of Ava's birth. She is after all, most of the reason that I gave up writing here for a while. My preggo tiredness didn't leave me with much energy to care about the garden or my blog. This year though I'm hoping to be more organized and more motivated. The garden is cleaned up and our seedlings are all planted in starter trays and I am ready for a fresh start. So with no further ado, here is Ava Josephine's birth story.

My labor with Ava was long, difficult, and not quite as I had planned. It began at midnight on a Wednesday right as we were heading to bed. I never really had a slow start with contractions. They started off close together and stayed that way most of the labor. I labored with Ben's help all night, and our doula came in the morning to our house. We continued just taking them one at a time and worked through the day until about 6 pm when our doula thought that I was getting close to transition. My contractions were almost on top of each other at that point, coming every two minutes and lasting for a minute and a half each! We headed to the hospital and after we got all checked into our room a nurse checked my dilation and we discovered that I was only at 3 cm. I was disappointed, but I was determined to keep going without pain meds. Ben and our doula were so fantastic and helped me focus on working through each contraction.

A few hours later I was still only at a 4 and we got more bad news: I was positive for Group B and no one had noticed it in my records until right then. We had to quickly decide if we wanted the antibiotic IV and then it took three nurses and five different veins before they got me all hooked up to it. When they checked me just after midnight and I was still at 5 cm, I knew I needed some help. I had been at it for 24 hours so far and been awake for 42 hours, and I knew that I needed to sleep and get some energy back so that I could still push her out! They had the epidural in by 1 am and we all settled in to get some sleep.

I woke up around 4 am and a nurse checked me and found that I was at a 6. The doctor on call told us that she wanted to either break my water or start Pitocin, but I was still hoping to avoid any further interventions. We told them that we would prefer to wait a bit longer, so we were told that they would come back at 6 am to check on me and then would want to start some interventions. One of our dear friends from church was praying in the hallway for us, so I asked our doula to go get her so that we could pray for things to start moving. Ben, our doula, and our friend all gathered around to pray that God would bring our baby out in His timing, and then we settled back in to sleep, pray, and wait.

What an answer to prayer we got! No one bothered us again until 8 am and when they did finally come in to check me, I was at 9.5 cm! My OB was there since I was now laboring during business hours, and at 9:45 am she was ready to have me push. My water broke on its own during my first few pushes, and after that my body took over. Ava was turned sunny-side up, which we think is why she was taking so long, and so my OB had me try some different positions to get her to rotate. They finally worked and through back labor and feeling everything despite my epidural, Ava was born at 11:56 am on a Friday after two hours of pushing and a total of 36 hours of labor! She was 9 pounds even, and 21 inches long. She was limp when she came out and had swallowed some meconium, but after a little bit of the doctors working on her she was all cleared out and had a good loud cry going on. She has been a champion nurser from the start and such a strong girl, able to hold her head up on her own since birth.

Learning to do this whole Mom thing has been awesome, challenging, exhausting, and a huge blessing. Even though the birth didn't go how I had planned, I don't regret anything. We have our girl here now and that's all that matters.