Saturday, November 29, 2014

Apples to Applesauce

Last month we picked and gleaned some apples from a neighbor's yard. Some of them were small and imperfect, but they were colorful, organic and delicious! Our dear friends joined in the fun  Afterwards we lugged our loot home and made the majority of it into applesauce. We also froze a couple freezer bags full for pies and crisps. Yum Yum!

Friday, November 28, 2014


I wrote this post last month but forgot to post it. It feels just as relevant today as it did the day I wrote it and something I continue to wrestle with.

I often wonder if other people agonize over how to spend their "free time" the way I do. When I have a few minutes or hours to myself I usually feel mildly panicked about how to spend it.  I find myself asking "should I spend it cleaning, creating, with my children, husband, running errands, visiting a friend or eating? When I shared this with a friend of mine  she told me "to just do what I FEEL LIKE DOING". Why is that so hard for me to do?

Well, for two reasons actually.  First of all, it is REALLY difficult for me to be creative when their are dishes on the counter. Why? Well, from a young age, I was taught that work comes before play.  If I wanted to spend time with a friend or create something my room had to be clean and my homework had to be done first. While I think was wise of my parents to instill such good habits in me, they do not always apply well to motherhood.   I have realized, that as a mother of three children there is ALWAYS going to be a mess somewhere. If I fixate on having to have a clean house before I can play, I will RARELY, if ever, get to "play'. The problem is that I often spend my specious time (when Levi is napping) cleaning and then never get to/allow myself time for more creative pursuits. As a result, I end up feeling bitter and cranky when all my hard work is undone by my children only moments later.

Secondly, I am a little bit obsessed with productivity and the need to spend my time wisely. My husband, conversely, does not struggle with this. I rarely allow myself to zone out/relax. Even when I am watching my favorite television show, I am usually  also either nursing Levi, or folding laundry, or sorting receipts.  Sometimes all at the same time. Multitasking is my specialty. I have realized though, that I can either clean or create. I can't do both and I can't always freak out about one while doing the other. So lately I have been leaving the mess and enjoying being creative. It has been working out a lot better. Why? Well.....

1. My creative needs are being satisfied
2. I am not irritated at my children for messing up the house because it is already a mess
3. Nathaniel is happier because he in not being hen pecked by a cranky wife
4. We clean up the house together as a family at the end of the day

Every day is different for me. I never know what I am going to feel like doing when I wake up in the morning.  While some things are consistent from one day to the next, my life is largely unstructured. It is just one of the perks of being a stay at home mamma with small children. I am always amazed when people are able to follow a cleaning schedule and have a weekly meal plan The Type A part of my personality loves the idea, but in actuality, I find it confining.

Some days I have cabin fever and I am itching to get out of the house and run errands. Other days I am loath to leave the house and instead spend my day baking, blogging and painting furniture. Lately I have been working on photo books for my girls, and filling our home with Christmas bliss. Other days I just want to clean and PURGE. I reach a breaking point with my linen closet and turf half its contents, or notice the dust accumulating on my kitchen cabinets. I only tackle the bathrooms when guests are due to arrive as it is my least favorite household chore.

 At the moment, Levi is sleeping peacefully in my arms while I use my one free hand to alternate between typing this post and wolfing down some leftover spaghetti. My daughter is happily making paper snowflakes with her little friend at the table next to me. There are many other things I "should/could" be doing right now.  The practical side of me knows that I should lay Levi down in his crib and use this time to scrub my sticky floors, but watching him sleep is pure bliss and I have the rest of my life to clean floors. I am learning that giving myself the freedom to do what I feel like doing (within reason) instead of feeling like I should be doing something else is immensely freeing.  I have been more relaxed, creative and happy as a result. I still have small panic attack when I find out that someone is coming over, for dinner or for the weekend, but that is another post altogether.

These days

Recent Accomplishment: Made two photo books in one day (normally it takes me MONTHS)
Eating: Lots of roasted almonds and homemade applesauce mixed with plain Geek yogurt
Following: The Jian Ghomeshi story.
Currently: Sanding and waxing some chairs for our dining room table
Looking forward to: My wreath making party in December
Trying to: Do Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred video with my husband after we put the kiddos to bed.
Collecting: Evergreens and hawthorn berries.
Need to: Write my annual Christmas letter
Reading: The book of John (Bible)
Can't wait to: get our Christmas Tree!
Favorite new toy: A Portable Cocoon that plays/streams music from my iPhone.  It means  finally get to listen to songza/spotify music LOUD!
Waiting for: fluff mail to arrive (my woven wrap from Guatemala).
Thankful for: My soft, sumptuous bed.
Trying to decide: What to bake for Christmas this year.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My amazing man

As most of you know, Nathaniel has been on paternity leave for the past three months.

It. has. been. AWESOME!

To tell you the truth, I had quite a few reservations about having my husband home for an extended period of time. I know that sounds bizarre, but I was pregnant, hormonal and emotionally volatile at the time. I was nervous about relinquishing my sphere of influence and nervous about allowing Nathaniel to take ownership of our older girls; not to mention general management of our home.  I was also worried about how having another child was going to effect our marriage and our family dynamic. When I tearfully and rather dramatically expressed my fears on a trip to the mainland earlier this summer, he eased my fears by suggesting that we check in one another at the end of each week to discuss what was working and what wasn't. It was a wise and comforting suggestion that has worked well for us. We still have moments when we need a little space from each other, but for the most part it is working out splendidly. When both of the girls are whining and Levi is yelling at the top of his lungs Nathaniel and I find ourselves trying to make the best of it. The other day we took bets on how many more meltdowns would happen before bedtime.

In September he took our girls to Port Hardy for five days and then took them to the mainland via public transport for nearly a week.  When he wasn't gallivanting around the province with the girls he was canning, harvesting honey, picking fruit and teaching Claire how to ride her bike without training wheels. He cooks most of our meals, does ninety five percent of the the school drop off and pick ups and takes care of the laundry. Yesterday,  I was thoroughly impressed when he de-junked and organized the girls craft cupboard and then re-hung a mountain of clothing that had been dropped on the floor of their bedroom. Who needs romance when you have that kind of awesome stuff going on? Oh and then last night he made the most delicious  hearty stew with leftover ham, stewed tomatoes and sprouted beans. So wholesome and satisfying. I don't normally gush about my husband, especially on Facebook, but I am so impressed and thankful for his help. He truly is an amazing father and husband.

 I am often sheepish about telling people that my husband has taken paternity leave if the topic happens to surface. Usually, it is because I feel bad that it is not an option for most people and I dread the possibility that they may think I am "high maintenance". I must admit,  I was a little nervous to have all three kiddos on my own for eleven days when Nathaniel had to be away for  a course, but everything went really well. I really enjoyed having them all to myself.

 Ultimately, Nathaniel's paternity leave has been a gift for our family.  Not only has it allowed Nathaniel to tackle projects that have been on the back burner for ages, but it has also given us time to grow closer, have adventures and rest. We also get to do things like eat meals together as a family every night of the week,  something that has been impossible for the past eleven years. The other day we were sitting around our thanksgiving feast, sharing the things that we were grateful for and I realized that the last time Nathaniel and I had a chunk of time like this together was when we traveled around the world, which coincidentally, was also for nine months. Here we are, nearly six years later, with another chunk of time, but this time around we get to play "house" with our three kiddos.

Nathaniel recently started helping out with children's church and we have enjoyed hearing him play the guitar when he practices.

Hiking in the great outdoors

My handsome bee keeper with a frame full of honey comb

Covering the sandbox and building proper stairs

Spinning out the honey

 His hives did really well!

Looking for frogs with the girls

Off to court

He picked nearly 90lbs of blackberries with his grandma this summer.

Collecting ferns for our backyard

Early morning snuggles

He has perfected salmon Eggs Benedict. So freakin GOOD!

At the pumpkin patch 

He is good at taking naps with Claire. She fell asleep sitting up while watching her favorite show "The land before time"

Finally building the pergola! Whoot Whoot!


It has certainly gotten cold in a hurry. I couldn't believe how white everything was on Monday morning when we bid our friends Jae and Cristina farewell. It looks like winter has arrived! I am not quite ready to bust out the Christmas decorations yet as I would still like to take more pictures of leaves, brew some apple cider and bake a few more pumpkin flavored deserts. Our family enjoyed some tea and the most delicious pumpkin scones at a friends house the other day and ever since then I have been longing try and make some myself. 

The other day Nathaniel took the girls to our local fish hatchery and  on the way home picked up a huge bouquet of dahlias. Oh how I love their vibrant, colorful blooms. Eleven years ago when we got married, I had hoped to have bouquets of dahlias but couldn't find enough. They are my favorite flower and bring me such joy. 

I had planned on going for a run this morning, but by the time I dropped the girls off for school Levi was ready for a nap and I needed to eat some breakfast. Perhaps we will go this afternoon once the world thaws out a little. I love quiet mornings at home. Nathaniel is out hunting and Levi is fast asleep so I truly have the house to myself. It's good morning for  big woolly socks, good toast and a mug of peppermint tea with vanilla almond milk. 

I recently wrote this quote on our chalk board.

I would like to dip some leaves in wax with my girls.

It seems like every pocket of their jackets are filled with these. 

We made from "leaf art" over thanksgiving and I was thoroughly impressed with their creativity. 

Enjoy what remains of fall!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Levi's Birth

"How you approach birth is intimately connected with how you approach life."  - William Sears

I love this photo my dear friend Pamela Rosales captured of Levi and I. 

I have been looking forward to sharing Levi's  birth story with you since he was born nearly four months ago.  I have decided to share some very intimate, intense photos of my labor and his birth because it is something I am immensely proud of. My hope is that it will help people see birth in a positive light and encourage future mothers to look forward to the day they bring children into the world. 

As a mother of two children and a doula, who knows how inaccurate due dates are, I should have known that my baby was NOT going to arrive on its "guess date", but one always secretly hopes that they will. My labor started and stopped numerous times in the five weeks leading up to Levi's birth and it drove me CRAZY? I can't tell you how many times I collapsed into tears of frustration and despair. Oh and did I mention that I was nearly three centimeters dilated from thirty seven weeks onward. Do you know what that is called? FALSE HOPE! I also had three membrane sweeps, none of which yielded the desired results. My midwife recommended castor oil a few times, but I was hesitant to try anything that involved pooping my guts out. Sorry for the visual. 

In the weeks and days leading up to Levi's "guess date" I drank copious amounts of  raspberry leaf tea, walked, and went to the chiropractor. When that date arrived and passed,  I swam laps at the pool, climbed the stairs at the University with a friend, jogged, visited a reflexologist and had my fair share of sex. I was thirteen days post dates when I decided I was finally ready to take castor oil. I was scheduled to have my third stress test Monday morning and I was dreading it.  So I went to London Drugs and picked up some castor oil. Mixing the midwife's recommended dose of 50 ml with Greek yogurt was a great idea. Having spicy tandoori chicken and butter chicken for dinner afterwards was not.

By six thirty I was experiencing contractions similar to the ones I had been  having for the past couple of weeks. The only difference, was that they didn't stop after an hour. Nathaniel put our girls to bed and I started timing my contractions using an app on my iPhone.

 Around nine thirty that evening I called my midwife  to let her know how things were going.  I told her that I was having contractions but that they were not intense and still about seven minutes apart.
She decided to come and set up her equipment in case things picked up.

Now let me take a moment to tell you just how AMAZING midwives are.  The maternity and postpartum care they provide is exceptional. Appointments with midwives are leisurely, if not thoroughly enjoyable. You drink tea, you chat, you laugh, you cry.  You can call them anytime and ask them questions.   If you planning a home birth, they will often come to your home in your third trimester.   In the weeks and months leading up to Levi's birth my midwife and I covered many topics, but my two main concerns were; establishing a good latch as soon as possible and not tearing during delivery. One of the reasons why I chose not to to deliver in my beautiful birthing pool was because I wanted a lot of perineum care during delivery. Sandi used  hot compresses and was amazing at helping me deliver him as slowly as I possibly could standing up. Yup, I delivered him standing up beside me bed. There was NO WAY I would lie down. That is just one of the beautiful things about birthing at home, the freedom to do what you want to do. I hadn't planned to deliver him like that, but in the moment, it was what felt best. I actually didn't have a birth plan at all this time around. I had confidence that my midwife understood my wishes and would do her best to fulfill them.

I love how involved my girls were in the whole process.

While my midwife set up her equipment and prepared the bed I paced around the house, bounced and my ball and hung out with Nathaniel.  Later that evening I did a bit of project life, snacked on frozen blueberries and listened to music.  We enjoyed chocolate covered ice cream bars with our midwife and chatted away the hours while I waited and waited  for my body to kick into active labor.

The following photos were taken by my photographer Nancy Tait

  I noticed that when I stopped moving, my contractions slowed down, so I spent a great deal of time  rocking and bouncing on the ball. By one thirty in the morning  I was  tired and wanted to go to sleep so I climbed into bed and listened to a hypno babies  track on my iPhone. When I woke forty five minutes later, my labor had stopped altogether. I was not impressed! I asked my midwife to check my  dilation. I think she said I was between five and six centimeters. I tried walking around the house to get labor started again but it didn't help much. At that point we started talking about the possibility of rupturing my membranes. Normally, it is not something I would go for, for many reasons. Namely because it puts a time limit on labor and increases the risk of infection. In the end, I decided that it was the best course of action given the circumstances. Around three thirty am my midwife ruptured my membranes. Thankfully, it did the trick and I launched into active labor shortly afterwards. I started to need Nathaniel to hold me during contractions and I showed him how to do the double hip squeeze and apply pressure to my sacrum (an area on my back). I had never experienced back labor with my girls, and it was uncomfortable.  At one point I remember him gently trying to help me make noise and I remember thinking "oh, I'm not there yet". Not even 45 min later I was making more noise then I had EVER made with my first two births. 

Around six am I remember saying something about it being time to call my photographer Nancy. Throughout my labor Nathaniel had asked me numerous times if we should her, but I kept saying "no". For the longest time things felt so slow and I didn't want to a house full of people waiting for me. Up to that point part of me had felt as though my baby would NEVER come out! Thankfully she arrived quickly because Levi was born about forty five minutes after she arrived. I remember saying  "ooooooooooopening up"over and over and over. I would get louder and louder as my contractions intensified. Between contractions I would joke about how loud I was. 

Up to that point I had either been standing or on all fours. Anytime I tried to lay down or pee on the toilet, the contractions became unbearable. The most painful part was when my midwife pushed the remaining lip of my cervix aside during a contraction. As a doula I have witnessed other women have this procedure done and now I understand how it feels. Yowzers!  

That was definitely my least favorite part of labor, but immensely helpful. Once that was done all that I needed to do was push my baby out.  I remember the exact moment that my contractions changed from dilating my cervix to bringing my baby down. I wanted to feel what 10 centimeters felt like so I checked myself and let out a wail of frustration that my baby's head was still high in my birth canal . What's crazy, is less than five minutes later, I could feel his head crowning into my hands. My midwife told me not to push and to let the baby gently ease itself out. I braced myself and let that baby glide into the world. It was INTENSE and amazing!

Oh the intensity. This was the part where I was concentrating on NOT pushing and just letting baby ease out. 

Yup, that's me roaring my baby out.  I love that Nancy (my photographer) was able to capture this shot of  Claire dashing into another room. If you look closely you can see her hands clamped over her ears. She thought the whole thing was pretty interesting, but didn't like the yelling bits. Shortly after this I told her to go get Amelia. I remember hearing Amelia say "no thank you mommy". She was more comfortable listening from the next room while enjoying her cheerios.

Finally in my arms. I love the intense emotion on Nathaniel's face.

The relief was instantaneous and euphoric. 

Almost nine pounds!

Explaining what a placenta is...

Going over details from the birth with the attending midwife. She was  explaining to me that Levi was born with a malpresentaion known as "brow presentation".  Most of the time, when a baby is born, their  chin is tucked into their chest and the smallest part of their head leads the way. With a brow presentation, the largest part of the head, the brow leads the way. Apparently it occurs in about 1 in every 2,000 births and more often then not ends in a c-section. She said that if Levi had been my first baby, I may have not have been able to deliver him vaginally, but because he was my third baby, I made short order of it. Crazy!  All I knew is that it was my MOST intense/painful labor yet!

Enjoying a warm bath with my sweet new babe.

First precious moments with daddy

Elated and relieved. 

A nurishing snack and a cuddle on the couch.

First photo as a family. 

Nathaniel grandma had been staying with us and she was excited to meet Levi when she woke up.

 In a nutshell,  Levi Nathaniel Lord entered the world on August eighteenth at seven twenty am  
 after fourteen hours of labor. His birth was attended by two midwives and took place at home in our bedroom. Nathaniel, our youngest daughter Claire and a photographer were also present. He was  eight pounds  fifteen ounces and twenty one inches long at birth.