Monday, November 25, 2013

Save Charleston Birth Place

I've been absent from blogger-land for like 3 months. What can I say? I have 3 kids and 3 dogs and this Kindergarten thing is way harder than I thought (for me, not for Man Cub)!

Recently, though, an issue has so impassioned me that I just have to say more than a Facebook status will allow.

The birth center where I delivered my third child, Charleston Birth Place, is facing closure after some health department policies are being "reinterpreted."

I call bull.

You can read Coralie's birth story and see some of the photos here.

You can read more about the issue at hand at

You can read statistics about birth centers in the National Birth Center Study II here.

You can sign a petition to support this cause here.

I fall pretty low on the "Hippie" scale. 
Probably somewhere above a chronic litterer and below weaving my own fabric to make my own cloth diapers.

When I have a headache I take an Excedrin.

And when I have a cold I take some DayQuil.

And when I have a baby I...
Well, I think that my body is doing something that it's Creator made it to do.
 And since I am considered "low risk" and "healthy," this time around I chose to do it in a freestanding birth center, attended by a Certified Nurse Midwife.

When I needed space to labor alone, she quietly sat in a nearby room.

When I started to puke, she brought be a cup and and cool towel and some peppermint essential oil.

When I started to shake, she told me that it was normal.

When I said "Judy, I wish you could just do this for me" she encouraged me that I was doing it wonderfully myself.

When I pushed so hard I thought my head was going to explode, she guided me to slow down and breathe.

And, when my baby's shoulder got stuck behind my pubic bone [shoulder dystocia], she knew just what to do. She handled the complication expertly and quickly. She kept me intact and my baby safe. She reacted without hesitation. And we were all fine. Great, in fact.

See, a midwife can handle lots of complications. And she knows when to call a doctor and transfer to a hospital if necessary. DHEC needs to leave the wonderful, competent, trained, skilled,  Certified Nurse Midwives of Charleston Birth Place alone. 

In over 1,100 births they have had 1% transfer to a hospital for a true emergency.
They have 0% infant mortality.
0% maternal mortality.
And 100% of my support, passion, and love.

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Birth of Coralie

I am sitting here with a fully-one-year-old Coralie asleep across my lap. The little lamb is sweaty and kind of inhibiting my typing, but I am too afraid to move her. It's quiet in here and a wakey-baby would spoil that.

Over the past several days, my fella and I have been talking about sweet Coralie's birth. It is undoubtedly the greatest accomplishment of my life to date. It struck me, though, that there are a lot of details missing from the blog version of this story. I blame it on an oxytocin haze, because when I wrote this original post [24 hours post-partum] I felt like it was the most complete version possible. I even gave myself a pat on the back for managing to get it all down in written word so soon after the event. Now, I look back on the day I hit the "Publish" button and realize that I was a lot like a very drunk person, in a complete fog but unable to tell just how foggy things are.

So today, Cori's first birthday, I decided to update the story, to fill in the gaps, and to share some of the post-partum ups and downs that I went through. Please know that this is a story about childbirth. If you are uncomfortable with talk of cervices and placentas, read no further.

This is the story of the birth of my third child. My first two children were born in hospitals with both IV pain medications and epidurals. While I appreciated (and very much wanted) the epidural at both previous births, by the time I was planning my third pregnancy, I knew that I wanted to get off the hamster wheel of the medical model of prenatal care and birth. I knew that there must be a better way to do this whole birth thing, and my many friends and acquaintances that had left the hospital setting to give birth only confirmed that feeling with their positive stories.

When I became pregnant with baby number three, I immediately scheduled orientation at the local birth center. I admit that I was scared to go through with the orientation, and when I filled out the initial paperwork, I thought; Well now there is no going back, I'm really going to have to go through with this in eight months. 

My husband was very supportive, which I expected. He was wonderfully supportive at both of my hospital births and he personally prefers to avoid unnecessary medical intervention and medication, so he was all for doing things the natural way.

I prepared for the birth by reading and watching every natural birth resource I could get my hands on. My favorites were all of Ina May Gaskin's books, and The Christian Childbirth Handbook. I watched The Business of Being Born and More Business of Being Born on Netflix about 10 times each. I also asked all of my friends with natural birth experience for tips and encouragement, and frequently read birth stories on blogs like Birth Without Fear. I had a lot of fear to work through and spent a lot of time praying about the birth and seeking God's peace. The whole pregnancy and birth were such a spiritual journey for me, and I grew as a person so much throughout that time.

The final weeks of pregnancy were plagued with prodromal labor that caused me to lose a lot of sleep, but other than fatigue, I felt great. I didn't gain much weight this time and baby wasn't feeling too large or keeping me too uncomfortable. At my 39 week check up the midwife found me to be only 2cm dilated, and I began to wonder if this baby would be my first to make it to her due date or even beyond. I had reached 4cm weeks before labor began with my other children, so I didn't feel that anything was imminent. Another midwife prediction was that this would be a small baby, with which I heartily agreed. I remember saying "I think you are right! I don't feel big or uncomfortable at all! I can breathe, I can eat! This is a small baby!"

On the afternoon of August 17th (39 weeks, 4 days), I was feeling my typical "false" contractions, so I hung out on the birth ball to try to get comfortable while Jason and I watched The Godfather II. My 5-year-old son was spending the day and night with his grandparents and our 22-month-old daughter was having a pretty mellow day. All in all, things just felt so relaxed all day. The painless contractions continued all afternoon and into the evening. We went for a walk, and still nothing seemed to be happening. I told Jason that it was just another night of false labor, and that I was sure I would be waking up pregnant again the next day. With that, I went to bed to read and watch tv. Sometime after 9pm, Jason laid down on the bed with me to watch a movie on TV. He rubbed my back and suddenly the painless, sporadic contractions transformed into strong waves coming every two minutes and lasting a minute or longer. When I mentioned that they were requiring more of my attention, Jason suggested that I call the midwife, but I didn't want to bug anyone for a false alarm, so I decided to time them for awhile. After almost an hour, he insisted that I call. I was hesitant, because although they felt powerful, there was really no pain associated with the sensation. As Ina May says, it was just "an interesting sensation requiring all of your attention." I really felt no pain, and I remembered that my "real" labors were extremely painful right from the beginning, so I kept insisting that this wasn't real. But Jason pushed me to call since he was worried about waiting too long and not getting there. No one wants to deliver a baby in their bathroom unless it's planned that way!
The midwife, Judy, told me to come right in. I even gave a disclaimer along the lines of "I don't want to waste your time, this doesn't feel anything like active labor to me!" She told me that when you are having your third baby and you are contracting every two minutes, you don't worry about wasting anyone's time, you just get there. We finished packing our snacks, Gatorade, and popsicles and headed out. Luckily, my friend was staying with us, so we were able to leave our daughter in her own bed and our son was still with his grandparents.

In the car, on the way to the birth center, I really began to doubt if we should be going in. We were laughing and joking between contractions and I still couldn't say that they were painful. I told Jason "I really hope she isn't coming all the way from home, I don't think this is real." I kept reminding him how much agony I had been in with my previous two labors.

We arrived around 11pm and the midwife checked me. "How many centimeters did you say you usually are when your contractions are this close together?" she asked as she checked.
Oh no! I thought. I must not even be four yet. Now I've made the trip up here for nothing! I was really embarrassed and thought that they would all be giggling when I waddled out of here baby-less, thinking I should know what I am doing by baby number three.

"You're a six!" she said. 

I was absolutely thrilled and so surprised. How could I be six already and the contractions not hurt? Don't get me wrong, they were powerful feeling, and it was an unpleasant sensation, but there was not the same pain associated that I felt in labor with my other kids. Not anywhere close.

As she checked me, Judy started to laugh and said that the baby was moving her head side-to-side and all around as if she were trying to burrow her way out or something. This might have contributed to the rapid labor, with all of that movement and pressure right on the cervix.

The midwife and nurses started to get the room set up and run the tub and I labored on the ball and kneeling on the bed. Someone said "It's Go Time!" and I had a fleeting thought of Oh my gosh, we are really going to do this! Between contractions I was laughing so hard while Jason and I discussed what device might be used to fish...ahem...debris...out of the tub. The nurse brought it out to show to us. It's pretty much a goldfish net. This led to lots of bathroom-type joking between me, Jason, and the two nurses that were on staff that night. One of the nurses [a L&D nurse from MUSC] was training and had already attended two other water births that night. She kept mentioning that it seemed like we were having fun, which we were. That is exactly what I had prayed for. I did not want a quiet, spa-like atmosphere. I wanted it to seem like we were just hanging out and bringing our baby into the world.

I got in the tub and Jason sat on a stool outside of the tub. We thought we had a long way to go, my previous labors were 11 hours and 12 hours respectively. He brought over my Gatorade, my phone that was set for my perfectly planned Pandora station, and a stack of note cards on which I had written about 30 scriptures and affirmations.
 I never got to use any of them, because as soon as I got in the tub I began to shake uncontrollably. I took two sips of Gatorade and knew I was going to vomit. I told Judy and she got me a container and some peppermint essential oil to smell to try to help with nausea. As soon as she walked away, I started throwing up, hard. Between the vomiting and the intense shaking, I could barely feel my contractions. When I finally emptied my stomach I said "Well that was a nice distraction." and again we were laughing. The shaking was making it harder to relax during contractions and I just felt so restless. I could not get comfortable in the tub, I felt like there had to be something I could do to stop this shaky feeling. Still, I wasn't feeling anything nearly as painful as I felt in past labors. I asked the nurses what I could do to stop the shaking and they said it was just a normal sign of transition. No way I am in transition. Things don't suck nearly enough. Transition is supposed to be the worst pain of your life. When I voiced that I really didn't believe I was in transition, they kept assuring me that I had all the signs. I began to feel really restless, like I needed to do something besides just sit there, so I got out of the tub to try to empty my bladder. I went to the bathroom and could not pee, even though I felt the sure sensation of a full bladder. Later, I realized that what I was likely feeling was my baby moving down, because things were progressing really fast.

Standing, and being out of the water, made the power and energy of the contractions harder to manage. I began to vocalize in low moans and feel a little panicky at the peak of each one. The shaking continued. I hung onto a rail in the bathroom and then to Jason's neck through a few. After each one I would say "I made it through that one." And I would think to myself that it was going to get much worse. It had to get worse, because it wasn't anything like the pain I had prepared myself for. The restless feeling persisted, and I wondered if I should try the nitrous oxide to relax me. But after each contraction I would think That wasn't bad enough for $150 (the cost of using the laughing gas). At one point Jason asked me if I wanted to try the laughing gas (because it was part of our birth plan) and I told him that I wasn't really in pain. The only thing I can compare the sensation to is a "charlie horse" type tightening cramp, but throughout my abdomen and back. It was a full-body experience and intense, but not really in a painful way.

 I said I wanted to rest, and Judy said I could try a contraction lying on the bed. I laid on my side and when the contraction hit I jumped right up "Help me up! Help me up!!! Don't let me do that again!!!" It was awful feeling. If you are reading this and considering natural birth, do not lie down!!! Everything, absolutely everything feels better than lying down! Judy said I was probably getting close, and  I asked her to check me again. I kinda think that I wanted to prove her wrong, like This is not transition, I am not moving fast, you people don't understand how much pain I prepared myself for! She said I was "at least an 8" and I could not believe it! I had been at the birth center for maybe an hour, in labor for maybe two hours!

Jason put on his swim trunks and we got back in the tub together. I tried leaning on him but found it really hard to rest. As each contraction would peak I would get this unbearable to urge to do something to make it stop. Maybe that is type-A personality in labor? I don't know, I just wanted to manage the sensations, and you really can't do anything, it is just happening to you. I would hop up on my knees, or roll to my side, straighten and bend my was as though I was trying to escape it instead of just letting it happen. 

At this point I would say that the intensity was becoming overwhelming, and there was some pain associated, but it was the power and the energy that was so uncomfortable and hard to handle. Judy was amazing, reminding me to relax between and telling me it was almost over. 

She said "Justine, it seems like you might be pushing a little. Are you pushing?"
"Well....I don't know...." I squeaked. And of course everyone laughed again. How do you not know that you are pushing a baby out?

I asked her if it could just be done now and she went ahead and checked me again. She felt a small lip of cervix left and said that I could push if and when it felt right. I didn't feel an urge to bear down, yet pushing gave me something to do during that intense peak, so I tried it, grunting while doing so. I rolled over and, kneeling, leaned my face into Jason's chest. As I was bearing down I felt something leak, which may have been my water breaking, I don't know. But I said "Oh no you guys! I think I peed!" and they all laughed, because really, that is what you are going to stress about while you are pushing out a baby? My grunts got louder and more primal with each push and I said "I just wish you could do this for me!" at which everyone laughed. I said "Is she almost out?" and Judy told me to check for myself. Now, pushing and delivering was the part I was most afraid of. The idea of feeling my baby come out just really unnerved me. At the time I really didn't think of it, and I just checked for myself. I felt something hard and smooth not that far in, and I could not believe it was her head. I rolled back over to a semi-reclining squat and asked Judy to check. I said "I can't tell if it is the baby! It's just something hard!" And of course, that got another laugh. Laboring mamas can be quite comical it seems. She still felt a little cervix and gently slid it over the baby's head on my next push. "That hurts! That hurts!" I yelled [really loudly Jason says] and she so calmly said "I know it does. I know." and for some reason that was so soothing. Just the fact that she knew how I felt and sympathized and I could tell. 

I continued bearing down and grunting and looking back I cannot even believe the sounds that I made. I got pretty loud. I never thought I would make noise or vocalize or anything like that. Its just not how I pictured it. At one point I pushed down so hard and for so long that Jason had to remind me to breathe. All of this, from the first push to this point, happened in about 10 minutes time, but it felt like we were frozen in time, I had no concept or awareness of how long. It could have been one minute or one hour. It seemed like such a lot of work to get her out, which surprised me, because my second baby had practically flown out. "Here she comes! Here's her head!" Someone exclaimed and Jason was supporting me from behind, saying "That's it babe. Here she is! She's coming out!" I prepared for the "ring of fire" that I had heard of, but it didn't come. I had prayed fervently that my perineum would numb naturally, as I had heard of happening. That was a truly answered prayer, because I felt absolutely no pain in my vaginal area whatsoever. There was just such a fullness. It wasn't pleasant, but still, nothing like the pain I prepared for. When they said "Her head is out!" I didn't believe it, because the searing pain I expected never came. 

Within seconds, almost as soon as I had the thought that delivering the head wasn't as painful as expected, I felt like I was being ripped in half. I screamed and began yelling "Get her out! Get her out! Oh my God get her out! HELP ME! HELP ME!" It was so frightening, and such a blur of just blinding pain and fear. All at once, Judy got so serious and quickly said something very medical-sounding to the two nurses. Each leaned down into the tub and grabbed my feet and pulled them up and back into your typical, hospital-style frog squat and Judy reached down, telling me very firmly "Keep your bottom in the water!". I was still yelling this whole time. I don't know exactly what she did, but it felt as though she reached both her hands into me and freed to baby. It turns out that she had shoulder dystocia, meaning that her shoulder got stuck behind my public bone on the way out. According to Jason, this all happened in a matter of seconds, but to me it felt like an eternity. It was the only part of the whole experience that really and truly hurt. All I can say is that I panicked, I freaked out, I did not handle it well at all, and I was loud. Later, she explained that she used the McRoberts Maneuver, in which the mother's legs are hyperflexed tightly to her abdomen to make extra room in the pelvis, while the midwife simultaneously applies external pressure above the pubic bone and gently guides the baby the rest of the way out while freeing the obstructed shoulder. 

The very instant she was out, it all went away. Like nothing ever happened. It was the most amazing feeling, nothing like the epidural-numbed moments after my hospital births. I was so elated. I held her and looked at her and said "I can't believe it's over!" a lot. After a moment or two, she was still not breathing or crying, which was okay since she was still getting oxygen from the umbilical cord. I asked if we needed to do anything to get her going and Judy took her from me gently and told Jason to help me stand for just a second. She held Coralie low, and I stood up, shaking, and sat right back down. As soon as I stood, she began to cry. Judy explained that raising the placenta [still in my uterus] above the baby for that split second gave her a big surge of cord blood and got her started. It was really cool and to this day Jason talks about all of the knowledge that midwives have and how they are so in-tune to the mom and baby.

  I peeked up at the clock and couldn't believe it was just after 1am. No one had made it to take pictures or anything, so the nurses took photos for us and the three of us snuggled in the tub as we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.
When it did, I cut it myself, which was so cool! Then Jason got out of the tub and took the baby over to the bed for some skin-to-skin bonding and Judy helped me out and over to the bed to be checked out and deliver the placenta. As I walked over to the bed I asked if I had any tearing from when she got stuck. Everyone just said "I don't know....I don't know...." so I think that they really needed to assess the situation. At this point I really did not realize how big she was or I probably would have been more concerned about it. It was so wonderfully different than the hospital experience, lying on the bed next to my husband and baby while waiting for the placenta. Everything was perfect. Healthy cord, healthy placenta, and no need for stitches despite the large baby and shoulder dystocia. I really don't know how Judy was able to maneuver the baby out and keep me intact, but I am so thankful for her skill! Since Coralie's birth I have heard many stories about moms whose baby got stuck during hospital births and they ended up with 4th-degree episiotomies, vacuum or forceps deliveries, and lots of pain and rough recoveries. I had none of that. In fact, I really didn't experience any vaginal soreness at all in the days and weeks following her birth.

Coralie Mae was born at 1:21am weighing in at 9lbs 1oz and 21 inches. I think it was about 3 1/2 hours from my first noticeable contraction. 
My mom and Jason's mom both arrived in the next couple of hours and we hung out and visited and ate goodies from Panera. We were discharged at 5:15am, just shy of 4 hours after the birth of our daughter. I climbed into my own bed and slept with sweet Coralie on my chest for about an hour before my 22-month-old  woke up. And I wouldn't do it any other way. Ever.
As I said earlier in this post, Coralie's birth was an accomplishment that I still sometimes can't believe that I did. My prayers were so faithfully answered, including the countless times that I prayed "Lord, if there are any complications, give the midwife skillful hands and a sound mind." 

The first few days home were hard. We had a lot of help and received dinners for almost a month from friends and family. But, Coralie had a rough start. She slept in 10 minute increments for 2 days, and I was exhausted. I could not figure out how to make her happy, and I cried a lot. I ended up giving her a pacifier on her second day, something I avoided for several weeks with my other two. I told Jason one day "I love her and I have every desire to care for her...I am attached to her....but I don't like her at all." And that was rough, because I felt guilty for resenting my baby. The day after delivery a nurse from the birth center visited us at home for a check up. I told her about how cranky the baby was, and she assured me that in a few days when my  milk came in things would be fine. She was right! It was like someone flipped a switch and suddenly we had this placid, happy baby! 

At my one-week check up I reported that she was right! The baby did calm down when my milk came in! She said "Oh thank God! I really wasn't sure but I wasn't going to tell you that!"

The afterpains were intense, something that I am told is normal the more babies a woman has had. I was often doubled over in pain for at least a week after delivery. I also experienced more post-partum depression than I had with my other babies, which really manifested itself as anxiety and compulsive tendencies. I felt that I had to keep everything spotless for the people that were dropping off meals to us. I wigged out if there was even one dish left in the sink. It didn't help that my oldest started kindergarten the day after the birth, so we were in an entirely new routine and recovering from birth. There were lots of tears as I told Jason "I can't do this" and "I'm never going to be able to keep up." I got so tired and so resentful and sometimes felt angry that I had been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for so long. I wanted to feel "normal," whatever that means!

Slowly, though, things got better. I started taking a blend of B-vitamins and an additional calcium supplement and those things really seemed to level out the anxiety and OCD. One day I realized "I haven't cried in several days!" and I realized that I was out of the woods. In the future, if I have another biological child, I will look into options like placenta encapsulation to assist in regulating the hormonal drops that can lead to PPD. I decided to include this "negative" information about the post-partum time period because I realized in this past year that I have been living so much of my life to impress other people, and putting way too much stock in what people think of me, both the good and the bad. I don't want to just show people the highlight reel of my life, I want people to see the real me.The real me is someone that had a great birth, a great recovery, and dealt with PPD anyway. 

Now I sit here, with my one-year-old on my lap. It has been a great year with this girl. I can't tell you just how awesome she is. She still nurses once or twice at night, but my expectations have changed to match her needs, instead of trying to change her to match my expectations. She is sweet and funny and the perfect addition to our family. Happy Birthday, Coralie Mae!


Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Friday, June 21, 2013

"That Mom"

Yesterday I woke up feeling so run down and exhausted that no one would guess that I had slept a solid eight hours with zero interruptions.

When Man Cub approached my side of the bed and asked for breakfast, I told him to climb in next to me and go back to sleep. Because that is what every 5-year-old boy wants to hear at 7am. When he asked again, five minutes later, I didn't even open my eyes. I whispered "Go ask Daddy." You know, Daddy...the guy who is busy getting ready for a morning meeting. Yeah, I was that mom. 

I did get out of bed when Girl Child began to yell "Mama, Mama, Mama!" from her crib. Blessedly, my fella had already poured dry cereal for them. A cup of coffee and a sugar and butter laden muffin did nothing for my energy level, so I sat and watched my fella finish getting ready instead of doing any of my own morning routine.

By 8am I had decided that I had to take the kids to the water park. Not necessarily for their own enjoyment, but rather because I knew that the water park would entertain them and tire them out...and I needed them to be too tired to require much effort on my part in the afternoon! I was that mom.

My plan to sit in a lounge chair in the sun and merely supervise their activity (that mom!) did not go over very well. Girl Child decided that this was the day to take on the water slides. I did not count the number of times she insisted that we go "again! again!" but I am relatively certain that we climbed those stairs about 87 times. At least. Finally, I decided to let her brother take her and I waited at the bottom to catch her. The first time it went wonderfully. There was hope! But the second time, she fell on the stairs and another mother carried her to the lifeguard to find out which heartless, neglectful mother this pitiful, crying toddler belonged to. Oh, that would be me. You know, that mom.

Around the time her tears and my guilt subsided, the kids started complaining of hunger. I had not packed a lunch. No biggie. But I also had not packed any snacks or drinks to hold them over until lunch. Very out of character for me. So we headed over to the snack bar and, forgoing the many healthful menu items, shared a plate of loaded nachos and a humongous Dr. Pepper. Yeah, I was that mom.

After some more play time, we headed home. I put Girl Child down for a nap and started a cartoon on Netflix for Man Cub. My plan was to let him watch one show while I did a hair cut, and then engage him in some sort of non-electronic activity for quiet time. Well, over the course of the afternoon he watched four full-length movies. And ate cookies. Lots of cookies. I was that mom.  

Sometime during this movie marathon, he asked "Hey mom, why didn't we have lunch?" Oh, I guess because I fed you nachos and soda and cookies all day long and forgot to actually feed you a meal. Yeah, I'm that mom. 

And speaking of meals, something needed to be done about dinner. Spaghetti! Spaghetti is low effort! I pulled out the ingredients, started boiling water, and headed back to the couch. When I heard it begin to boil, I dragged myself up. But, just as I was about to open the box of noodles, my fella arrived home with Chik-Fil-A for all of us! Hallelujah!

So, after a day of nothing but processed convenience food, I fed my kids Chik-Fil-A for dinner. And not even the nuggets-with-fruit-and-milk version that they are used to. No. Kid's meals straight up with french fries and soda. Yep. That mom. 

After running a quick errand, we were back home again. And it was only 6:45. This day was slower than the last day of school. Slower than the DMV. Slower than listening to that guy Mountain Man on Duck Dynasty. So, I put my daughter to 6:50. That mom. 

And then I put on another movie for my son. And then another after that. And I sat on the couch and read blogs and blogged. That mom. 

Truth is, I don't even feel that bad about it. Because, some days, it's okay to be that mom. 

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's not that I love diapers....I just hate potty training

Maybe I am the only one. I'm sure that the majority of mothers look forward to the day when their little one begins to show signs of potty-training-readiness. That probably explains all the stories of "I started before he/she was ready" that I hear. I, on the other hand, loathe those pre-potty indicators. So much so, in fact, that Girl Child has been asking to use the potty for weeks, and I have been ignoring those requests. Here's why:

  • There will be a new baby in this house in approximately 6-9 weeks. I don't want to put all the work into potty training just so that, a) Girl Child can revert back to diapers because of the upheaval or, b) I will be totally overwhelmed and not have the time/energy/hands needed to assist a newly potty trained toddler.
  • A potty-trained child is a lot of work! Not just the initial training, the weeks and months afterward. Requests for "potty" right as I finish strapping her into her car seat or just as we sit down at a restaurant, or [my favorite] halfway through a crowded grocery store.
  • Potty training is disgusting. Yeah, so are diapers, I know. But at least a diaper is a carefully contained mess. Between the tiny (un-flushable) potties, uncoordinated hands trying to wipe themselves, and the inevitable accident of the #2 variety.... I shudder. And this is coming from a cloth diapering mama. Yeah, I said it; I find potty training ickier than washing my child's poo off of a cloth diaper.
  • I'm not any good at it. It took me ONE FULL YEAR of diligent training to fully house break.... er....potty train my oldest child. I read all the books, tried all the " fool proof" techniques, and still nothing. I once read that high-IQ children are harder to potty train.... so we'll go with that theory.... yeah.
I met a mom at the water park the other day that proudly proclaimed that her 19-month-old is completely potty trained. I congratulated her on her awesome parenting and told her how bright her little one is. And then I enjoyed the pool while that rookie took her little prodigy on, no lie, five trips to the bathroom. On the other side of the park.

So, when Girl Child approaches me with her hands on her backside and says "I poo poo," I choose to praise her emerging verbal skills and ignore what her pediatrician would call " Early Toilet Training Readiness." If that lady wants to point out signs of readiness, she can come over and bleach out the tiny potty and help with all the extra laundry. Until then, I'm standing my ground on this one.

**Please note, the title picture was taken on the day that my fella finally insisted that I end the mommy-denial and at least let her sit on the potty when she asks. She sat there for like an hour. And then she got up and peed all over the floor. I think my point was made.

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Non-Recipes: Kid's Favorite Ranch Chicken Strips

This recipe is always quickly devoured at our house. I serve it with a simple veggie and some macaroni and cheese usually. Because this dish is fried, I only put it in rotation about once a month or so, and I always fry in Smart Balance oil. Don't worry about the hot sauce in the egg mixture, it does not make the chicken spicy, it just adds some flavor and balance to the coolness of the ranch.

2 lbs. chicken breast tenders or chicken breast cut into strips
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
dash of hot sauce (I use Louisiana brand)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
salt and pepper
oil for frying

  1. Whisk together egg, milk, and hot sauce. Salt and pepper your tenders generously, and place in egg mixture. Soak for 10 minutes.
  2. While tenders are soaking in egg, mix flour and Ranch seasoning. Remove chicken from egg mixture and toss or dredge in flour mixture.
  3. Fry in 1 inch of oil at medium heat until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Like this non-recipe? Please click on the banner below to vote for my blog!! All you have to do is click, there are no extra steps to vote! Thanks for helping me get back on top!
Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Non-Recipes: Cheesy Bean & Rice Burritos

Lately, I have been seeing lots of supposed "recipes" on Pinterest that can barely live up to the name. Other than the list of ingredients and numbered instructions, there isn't much to them that would warrant being called a recipe. Most of them are just ideas for how to put together packaged foods and make a meal. But, here is the real truth: those are the ones that I love to make! Most of us do! When I click on a recipe link and see lots of ingredients, steps, and words like "julienne" and "braise" I tend to file those away for someday-when-I-have-more-time use. But, when I open up a page and there are just a few ingredients, all of which I can easily identify or already have and they are put together in a way that I hadn't thought of, those are the things that make it onto my weekly menu. So, for the next few weeks, I thought I would share a few of my personal "Non-Recipes." Creations of my own that don't require much skill in the kitchen and are always requested around my house. 
The first one is a recent family favorite:

My fella loves Taco Bell, and they used to have a burrito called the Cheesy Bean & Rice. They don't sell it anymore, so I now make them at home. Mine are better, in my opinion :)
Yes, my kids do eat this. They love it! This recipe makes 14-16 burritos, and they freeze great! We each eat one and then individually wrap and freeze the rest for lunches. Way better (and cheaper) then store-bought freezer burritos!
16 burrito-sized flour tortillas
2 large (16oz) cans of refried beans (I buy vegetarian, low sodium)
1 packet Spanish rice mix (I use Knorr)
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
whatever toppings you like (salsa, sour cream, lettuce, etc)
  1. Prepare rice according to package instructions. Begin heating beans in a sauce pan over low-medium heat. As they warm, melt 1 cup of the cheese into them.
  2. Fill each tortilla with approx 1/3 cup of beans, half as much rice, and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll.
  3. Place burritos seam-side down in a hot, ungreased skillet or on a griddle. Cook approximately 2-3 minutes on each side to seal and sear. 
  4. Top as desired and enjoy or freeze for later!
I always make sure to save the little packets of sauce leftover from visits to Taco Bell, so that I always have a few packets of Fire Sauce to stick in the Fella's lunch box with his burritos!
Like this non-recipe? Help me out and click on the banner below. Please and thank you!
Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory
It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tee Ball: The End Of The Season

The end of the tee ball season has arrived. This year, we have been blessed with wonderful coaches! They worked hard to teach the kids real baseball skills, make the season fun, and keep things fair. They put extra effort into rotating the batting line up and the positions on the field, so that each child had an opportunity to play all the positions as well as the thrill of being "first batter" and "last batter." All of that would have been enough on it's own, but then they planned a great end-of-season party at a local restaurant with lunch and ice cream and paid for everything out of pocket. They also gifted the children with awesome trophies (twice the size of anything he has ever received on any other team) and a goodie bag full of baseball stuff, like a real ball and baseball tattoos. These people were seriously the best coaches in the league!

I really wanted to show our appreciation for the excellent job that they did, but my budget was small and I had three of them to appreciate. I decided on simple but cute baseball-themed baskets. Each plastic basket contained a baseball-topped tumbler, sunflower seeds, Cracker Jacks, and Big League Chew bubble gum. They were embellished with raffia basket filler, ribbon reading "Batter Up," and a handmade tag with their name. I wrote a personal note on the back of each tag, and Man-Cub signed his name to them. My total, including ribbon and filler, was a whopping $22! (Thank you Dollar Tree!)
As we were loading into our van after the last game, the realization hit me: this was Man-Cub's last tee ball game....ever. Sigh. Next year he moves into machine pitch and before I know it, he will be playing "big boy" baseball. I can't believe how time flies sometimes. I often think to myself that I'm not one of those moms that say "Where did the time go?" but in this case, I really felt it. Wasn't I just telling a disappointed 3-year-old that our local league wouldn't let him start until he turned four? Now, all of the sudden it seems, he has finished his two years of tee ball and is moving on and up.

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How To Make Popcorn on the Stove

By request, to follow my post Snack For Pennies, here are instructions for making popcorn on the stove top. 
You will need:
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
1-2 tbsp oil (I use Smart Balance)
a medium-sized sauce pan with a lid
salt if desired (you can buy ultra-fine popcorn salt next to the regular salt and pepper)

Add your oil and kernels to your pan, shake around a little to coat the kernels in oil, and turn the heat to the highest setting. Do not cover yet. When the first kernel pops, put the lid on. Begin shaking the pan back and forth, maintaining contact with the burner. You want to keep the kernels moving to prevent burning. Remove from heat when your pan becomes full or when pops are about 2 seconds apart.

A few hints:
-If steam builds up in the pan, the popcorn may have a tough texture. Choose a lid with a vent if possible.
-I have purchased store brand kernels and all the name brands. They all taste the same. Some claim to be fluffier, but I have never noticed any difference. Buy whichever is the best value per ounce.
-Spritzing your popcorn with a little cooking spray or Kernel Season's popcorn spray will help your salt or any other seasonings stick.
-You can make kettle corn by adding about 1/4 cup of sugar to the kernels and oil before popping starts. Sprinkle with a little salt afterwards for the perfect salty-sweet combination.
-To make a sweet treat, salt your popcorn a little bit, and then drizzle with melted chocolate. Stir to coat as you add any mix-ins you like. We like milk chocolate with M&Ms or Sno Caps and white chocolate with slivered almonds.
-Some other yummy flavors to try; chili powder and lime juice, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, or experiment with anything else in your spice cabinet!

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Snack For Pennies!!

I am not going to give you a whole long post about all of the ways that microwave popcorn is bad for you. If you just begin to Google the word "popcorn" you will see things like "cancer" and "Alzheimer's" in conjunction with the word. I don't want cancer or Alzheimer's, but that isn't why we stopped eating microwave popcorn.

A little over a year ago, I was combing a grocery store ad for deals. I noticed that they had 1 pound bags of bulk popcorn for $1. Yes, one dollar! For a pound! The fella and I had popcorn for snacks several times each week and we always made a bag or two for family movie night on the weekends. That meant that I was buying one box (10 bags) every two weeks. While microwave popcorn is not terribly expensive, I was spending approximately $8 each month on popcorn. The ad for bulk popcorn got me wondering just how much money I could save in my grocery budget if we tried it the "old fashioned way."

My family did not have a microwave for most of my childhood, so my parents always made popcorn on the stove. A quick call to my mother gave me the info that I was looking for; I would only need about 1/4 cup of kernels to make a bowl full of popcorn. Guessing about 2 ounces, this would mean that I could make this snack eight times for a dollar!! I really can't think of any other snack for the whole family that costs less than 7 cents! That's not 7 cents per serving or even per person, that's [to be exact] 6.25 cents for the whole bowl!

The fella was skeptical when I announced my big idea. But the very first bowl had him convinced. It tasted better and was healthier. Not to mention the novelty of "homemade" popcorn. We made popcorn on the stove top several times per week for about 6 months before I stumbled upon the Nordic Ware Popcorn Popper at Target.

This awesome bowl and lid give me everything that I love about non-microwave popcorn, in the microwave! Quick, convenient, and you don't even have to add oil like you do in a pan! As an added bonus, it only cost $8.99.

We have accumulated quite a collection of Kernel Season's popcorn seasonings and have become quite the popcorn chefs at our house!

I can't imagine buying the bagged stuff ever again. We eat popcorn even more often now, and I have had fun making chocolate popcorn with all sorts of mix-ins (almonds, M&Ms, Sno Caps) for special treats and parties! I even had a little popcorn buffet at a baby shower I hosted last year!

Whether it's for health, taste, or budget, I challenge you to try making real popcorn for yourself!

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Why is my daughter crying? {A Special Vacation Edition}

On our recent mini-vaca to Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, North Carolina, I tried to capture as many of the Girl-Child's meltdowns as possible. Don't get me wrong, we had a blast on our trip! But, with this girl, it doesn't matter how much fun we are having, there will be opportunities for an emotional breakdown.

 "I begged to put these flip-flops on, but I didn't actually want to walk while wearing them!"
 "I would rather cry on the floor of the lobby than participate in the fun, kid-friendly activity happening in front of me!"
 "You can't actually expect me to walk to the hotel room!"
 "I want to sit on this leather couch with you but it squeaks!!!"
"I'm way too tired to sleep!"
 "You helped me climb on this toy!!"
 "I asked for my doll and pillow pet and now that they are on me I can't stand it!"

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Practical Mom's Guide to New Baby Must-Haves

I have always been a frugal individual, and now that I am on my third pregnancy I feel confident that I have narrowed down my true must-haves for a newborn. Wipes warmers and adorable hooded towels are wonderful, and I am definitely not condemning those that would purchase such items. This is also not meant to be an all-inclusive list (you all know that you are going to need diapers, right?) This is a list of the items that, once I have them ready, I feel ready to bring baby home. These are the items that I do not feel like I could manage [easily] without.

A Car Seat
It's the law, as we all know. Install it by 36 weeks gestation! My first child was born at 37 weeks on the dot and we thought we had plenty of time. Trying to figure out the intricacies of car seat installation during the stress of checking out of the hospital was not very fun!

A Pack-n-Play with Bassinet
I am not against the traditional bassinet, but I like this option because once baby grows out of the bassinet attachment you still have a play yard to use for naps, travel, etc. More use for your money!

Moby Wrap
Every experienced mom has their favorite carrier, and there is nothing wrong with the other options out there. But this is my blog, and I love the Moby. Until I got pregnant again I was still regularly wearing my then 12+ month old, and I have worn both of my kids from days old to toddlerhood. This is a definite can't-live-without item for me!

Bouncy Seat
This can be interchangeable with a swing, and I actually use both, but if I had to choose one piece of gear it would be this. It's a great place for baby to nap, be soothed if he likes vibration, and can be moved to wherever you need it in the house. This is how I accomplish showers, styling my hair, cooking meals, etc. We also sit the bouncy seat on the table each evening during family dinner, so our kid's are accustomed to "sitting at the table" with the family, nightly, from birth. 

Swaddling Blanket
Many first timers do not know this, but regular receiving blankets are not large enough to properly swaddle a baby. I personally swaddled my kids at night until they were 4 months or even older! They slept so much better, were much less fussy, and generally just loved to be swaddled. These contraptions have Velcro in them that makes swaddling so easy, and a newborn's natural movements won't undo all your hard work. I also love that these come in both warm fleece and lightweight cotton, so you can swaddle your little one comfortably in any season. 

Newborn Scratch Mittens
Newborns do not have much control over their movements, and they often have claws like a wolverine. My first child came home from the hospital with socks on his hands to spare his precious face, because as first time mom I thought that these things were dumb. Little did I know that within the first days of life he would scratch his face to the point of bleeding at times. This is now a must have for me for those first few days!

Breast Pads
Here is another item that, as a new mom, I thought seemed unnecessary. I mean, how much can a boob leak, right? You have no idea how much. Thank God that the kind nurses at the hospital cut a maxi pad in half for me to wear in my bra at night, because I was stunned by the amount of milk I leaked during that engorgement period. Breast pads are a must even if you do not plan to nurse, because your milk will come in regardless.

I want to reiterate that this is not an all-inclusive list. But, if I had these few items plus some diapers and clothes on hand I would feel totally okay with bringing my baby home. 

***Photos from This is not a sponsored post nor do I receive anything for recommending these brands. These are simply brands or products that I have used and personally recommend, mom to mom.

Like what you see? Then please click on the banner below. That is all you have to do, click! There are no other steps, but each click gives me a vote. Help me reclaim my #1 spot in my category!!
Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

It just takes one click to vote, and you can vote every day!