Saturday, January 14, 2017

A New Journey for 2017

I am not a New Years Resolution kind of person.
I know...probably a good thing since it's halfway thru January, right?

To me, there isn't much more to that whole scenario than flipping a calendar page. If you can resolve to begin :insert choice here: as the new year starts, you can resolve to begin it anytime. The calendar doesn't make it or break it.

That said, over the past many months I have been looking ahead to some things around here. I have dreams I'd like to pursue. Truly my entire adult life has been mom and wife. That is a huge calling and I wouldn't trade it for a thing. Still, the Proverbs 31 wife had other things in her life as well. Not things that were oppositional to her first calling of wife and motherhood, but things that connected her to her community, and in many ways, more deeply with her family.

She had vision and when pursued, that vision worked with her Godly calling and not against it.

God doesn't expect a woman to sit idly by as a wife and mother alone. No, I haven't changed my long-held beliefs that a career is now somehow right for wives/mothers. I fully believe a mother belongs at home tending to the needs of her household and her family. Everything else takes a spot much farther down the list of priorities. 

Our family dynamics have changed some as the children have grown older. I still have 4 at home full-time schooling. One will be finishing her school adventures back north with her sister, no doubt planning to pick up with the veterinary skills her sister has. This past year I have dug deeper into my herbal studies and felt I wanted to do more. I was looking at a few directions when something came to my attention. The minute it was in my head, I knew what I wanted to pursue.

Doula is a Greek word meaning woman's servant. This may play out in several ways, but one traditional form has always been as a mother's pregnancy and child-birth mentor. A doula is often a trained, experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and practical support, encouragement, information and resources to the pregnant mother, the laboring mother, even the postpartum mother, as well as her family. She is not there to share medical advice, but can direct you to the resources and information you need to be able to make the most informed choices for yourself and your family's needs during pregnancy and in the weeks immediately following birth. Studies have shown that when a doula attends birth, labors are often shorter and have fewer complications or interventions, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more eaily.

I have always had a passion for pregnancy and child-birth. I mean, hello...10 pregnancies here :-)  I have had great birth experiences, I have had upsetting birth experiences. I have had natural births, caesarean sections, medicated births. I have nit-picked my doctors to no end, and had many a labor & delivery nurse bite their tongue when dealing with my non-compliant self. I have interviewed OBs and dismissed those I could not find common ground with a birth plan we could both agree on.

I am not certain what services my local area have, but I know we have lower income, often left-behind mothers, even teen mothers, who go thru their pregnancy without any real information because they have no idea what to ask, what they should do or how to go about doing it, what their rights as women even are.  Some, a great many I'd venture, have virtually no real support during pregnancy, let alone their labor or even postpartum time. Sure, they may have an aunt or mother who has had a baby or two, but often their experience was the one really explaied to them what to expect and how to deal with everything that comes with pregnancy, delivery, and a new baby in the family.

I believe I can do that.

I believe it needs to be done.  The medical community all too often leaves out information and education. Lack of time, a perceived lack of interest perhaps, lacking system protocols...any number of reasons. Do you know why you should boil the water for infant formula? Women are told just buy "nursery water" and use it. The formula powder is what requires the boiling water, not so much to sterilize your bottles but to sterilize your actual formula.

Don't even get me started on the need for breastfeeding support and the need for hospitals to stop overstepping boundaries by offering newborns pacifiers and bottles rather than helping to ensure the mother has every opportunity to breastfeed, with babies rooming-in, nursing support and teaching for the new mom.

And when the new mom goes home with her baby...what then? A postpartum doula is available in those first weeks, or even longer, to offer support and encouragement to the mother, to the family.  Simple things like helping with infant care while mom recovers from the birth experience and regains her own strength, sharing in light household tasks to allow mom and family time to create bonds with their new addition, information and resource sharing so they know where to find the services they may need in this season of their lives. Perhaps just sharing a visit and conversation.

You know there's a need. We've all been there at one time or another.

I have already started the process to get my qualifications and certifications in place as a labor and a postpartum doula, as well as lactation consultant and child birth educator. I would love to continue it even farther and get qualified as a midwife assistant as well. Perhaps one day. For now, I will start making a difference in just this one, small way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016's been a while...again

Obviously my plan of keeping the blog updated didn’t happen. Have I truly not shared here in almost 2 months??? Holy cow am I bad at this or what?
Well then, some updates. If you’re one who has followed me for any length of time, you clearly know that even if I haven’t been around for a while, I don’t have anything super spectacular to share. We just have one of those mundane, everyday-looks-like-the-next sort of lifestyles here. I swear, we had a lot more exciting adventures when we had the cow and a lot more goats. Now it’s mostly dog rescues, and they just aren’t the exciting adventure types. Not that I’m going to complain, LOL

Makes me wonder how I have any blog followers at all honestly. We are about as boring as one can get.

At any rate, here’s what I think happened in the past month that I neglected to share here…
We have been working on the kitchen area again. We weren’t making any progress with it other than using it for storage. It still needs some fine-tuning, but it’s finished enough I can call it the KITCHEN now. The farmhouse sink is in, the wood countertops are in, I’m still working on my wood cutting board tops for the work tables and electric stove, but the cookstove is piped in and all is ready for winter so I count it as done enough:

   the view from the new dining area into the kitchen. I’m loving the big “window” and can’t wait to decorate it for winter! I think it will be perfect for my Christmas village :-)

 the countertops are plain and simple…2x6 boards, oiled and ready for the abuse of a country kitchen :-) 

my sink…I love it, but I’m not yet convinced it will last. I’m worried about chipping the fireglazed clay, scraping it with the heavy pans when we wash dishes, etc. I’ll adapt in time I’m sure.

the woodstove is finally in place just waiting on cool temps to fire it up. I really love the tin we did on the walls, and I’m thinking about wooden ‘shutters’ to frame the windows, maybe using some old barn boards for them. What do you think?

We’ve done a lot of baking, put together some of the bulk mixes we use the most, made granola for breakfasts, and more. It was a very hot
and sticky summer so I was pretty excited to have cooler temps and extremely low humidity move thru for a short time. I admit I went a bit crazy with the baking and such then. I am so ready for winter and cooler temps. I want to really COOK in my new kitchen space, not slap together easier meals because of the heat. I’m ready for long simmering soups and beans, daily fresh baked breads or rolls, noodle-making, holiday cookies and all that good seasonal stuff.

  Liam had a blast helping grind the flaxseed for our granola

We grabbed a bushel of apples and made a few pies, then suing the cores and the peels, we did several jars of apply jelly for the pantry. Yum! 

We use a lot of cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups so what’s better than having a big jar of bulk soup mix ready to thicken and flavor our meals? We also stocked the pantry with dehydrated goodies as I cleaned out the freezers. Jars of dehydrated mixed veggies, broccoli, etc. all lined up and ready to add a handful here and there to our soups and casseroles this season. The best resource I can share online is this one, 21st Century Simple Living. No end to the ideas and recipes you can get for filling your pantry.

 I finally found my long lost cornbread recipe. We like this one, but of course, I pulled it out of the binder at some point, used it, and poof…never made it back to the binder. I shared it on my Facebook wall, and now here, so that maybe if I (ok, when…) I misplace it again, someone can remind me where it is, LOL

I pulled out all the poor, neglected cast iron so I could start getting it cleaned up and back into shape. I have a few favorites I use all the time, then I have a collection of pans in waiting. Some of them are horribly seasoned and not fit for use. I need to find ways to get them stripped down and start over with seasoning. Definitely a project on my list.

 We’ve been getting our herbal medicines restocked as well. I am way behind of getting the Fire Cider going for the year, but I can always dip into it early if necessary, while it does its thing :-) We did up the elderberries again as a glycerite, though I did one small batch in brandy. We did Mimosa flowers earlier in the season and we’ve collected a bunch of goldenrod. That’s what we have hanging in the large kitchen “window” photo above. It has dried and I have a jar of it in ACV as a daily tonic, some with ACV and honey, as well as a batch done up with vodka and honey. I almost hated to make anything up with it…they looked so cozy hanging in the kitchen like that, LOL

We took a few hikes up the mountain and gathered some American Beautyberry and infused it for a no-bite bug balm

As soon as the humidity dropped (truly it took a nose-dive for almost a week…barely getting 30% humidity was such a blessing!) we hit the trails at one of our favorite parks, Big Hill Pond State Park in Tennessee. Click that link and you can see some of the sites there with their virtual tour set up. There is a great view of the Dismal Swamp boardwalk we love, as well as an incredible 360* view from the top of the tower.

Liam went along on one of the hikes this time. We haven’t taken him ‘hiking’ at all yet, just visiting parks with paved trails or roadways we can use his stroller or the wagon on. This was his first hike with us. We took a long trail and it proved interesting to say the least. Apparently I have lost a vital skill set that includes planning all day hiking adventures with toddlers, LOL! We had a lot of steep grades, a rock, a large outcropping of boulders to navigate, and he fully expected to climb the 70 foot tower with the rest of the kids. I had to bribe him with a granola bar to stay down below with me, LOL He had a blast though, so it was all worth it. We’ll get better at the toddler hiking as the season moves along.

I’ve been working on some yarn work and a few sewing projects as well, The weather changes just make me antsy for winter gift making. I am so ready for moving my rocking chair into the kitchen, lighting my oil lamps, and working on yarn or fabric projects in front of the cookstove on a cold wintry evening. Sigh. Hopefully I get to this winter. So far, almost the end of October, and it’s barely cool at all again. I miss a good crisp autumn and chilly winter.
So, those yarn projects…have you tried your hand at the latest craze this season, Planned Color Pooling? If you’re a yarny type, you can’t have missed the gazillion posts on blogs, Facebook, and Instagram about creating those lovely argyle-looking scarves, washcloths, placemats, blankets and more. It’s definitely the ‘latest and greatest’ of the season. I am trying it out myself. I need to play around with some other hooks to fully achieve the affect, but I am yarned up and ready for Christmas gift projects. Here are some links to get you started if you’ve missed the idea…
Red Heart tutorial along with a list of their yarns that work for the best effect
Glamour 4 You has a good tutorial as well

But there’s always regular yarn work to do as well :-) 

And plenty of fabric gifts to be made. This went on to become a raggy quilt for a friend in town’s new baby. I love how it turned out, and have plenty of squares cut and ready for a girly version in rose tones and grays as well. Might need to make a larger version for the grandson next.

 And thinking about some other Christmas ideas…how about these neat denim stockings from Nebraska Views blog? I love them, and they definitely fit our rustic life here. You could easily dress them up with lace and other fancy fabrics, embellishments, etc, but I’m rather drawn to the rustic homespun cottons and ginghams myself. She has several pages of interesting ideas to share. I need more time to dig around, but the denim stockings and these cute little button men ornaments look like some projects I need on my list this year.

I think that pretty much sums up the events of the past couple months around here. We’ve been reading the My Side of the Mountain trilogy in the mornings before school starts.  

For my own free time I’ve been reading A Quilt for Christmas and The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas. She’s one of my favorites. I can get totally wrapped up in her stories, traveling along with the characters, her writing is so vivid :-) I put them in my audiobook list so I could keep reading while I did some handwork in the evenings. I don’t know what I’ll move to next…maybe Alice’s Tulips or The Quilt Walk. Anyone have any other reads I should check into? I’m always looking for something I can throw in the audiobook list or grab for the shelves here at home.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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