Monday, April 29, 2013

Back From the Dead

 Good morning, everyone~

You'll have to excuse the long absence.
To be honest, the posts that went up last week had all been written ahead of time and scheduled, and a good thing too! I was in such a strange state since the Clothing Swap -- low energy, achey, no appetite, abdominal pain -- that I just didn't have the wherewithal to be posting any updates...
If it weren't for the scheduling function, there would've been zippo posts all last week, I'm sure!

But! As you can tell now, I am back and feeling 100% again~!
I would like to recap the events of last week with you since it was a doozie of a week:

Firstly, the weather has been glorious

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday = nearly comatose, laid up in bed for the most part, even cancelled some work, but then also stuck on the computer completing a translation project. So a weird combo of ailing but busy...hmm.

Wednesday = met with some mama friends in the park, then went to friend Sophie's for "knitting night" and to celebrate my birthday!! :) I had the best time: delicious sangrias, meeting new folksies, reconnecting with others, feeling generally loved in all directions ♡♡♡ Oh, and then there were "special" brownies ☆☆☆...of which I had quite a number...and which I can blame for what happened next...

Thursday = my birthday (big ol' 29!) spent in a dazed stupor that was something like a hangover or just that general weakness that had afflicted me earlier in the week. @_@ I took like two 2-hour naps, fell asleep at 7:30pm, and could barely register anything being said to me. Nor did I have much appetite, because Dash made this super chocolate cake for me...and I didn't even want to eat it! If you know me, I'm not about to turn down cake, so this was pretty serious for me.

We did manage to take a walk though...
(and this is why we don't have a cat -- the neighborhood cats
are our pseudo-pets!)

Friday = pretty much the same as Thursday, but a liiiiiittle bit better. We went to Yogurt Extreme, which is becoming something of a tradition around our birthdays. Which means we patronize that place a lot in the matter of a couple of weeks.

Saturday = back in action! Phew! Finally!! We went to the Farmer's Market and reconnected with lots of folksies; Dash resuscitated a Burley that'd we come into possession of (see below); and then the day culminated with an impromptu potluck at a friend's house. All in all, a great end to a topsy-turvy week.

This photo doesn't do justice to all the time and work Dash
put into scrubbing the years of grime and stuff off this trailer

Sunday = yesterday, and a day of Church-going + nature-walking!! We hit up Bald Hill and here are some photos that encapsulate the aura there:

Dashiells traipsing along~
Like some kind of Unicorn forest~~

Nursing at the summit!
 It was William's first time walking on very uneven ground, and it was pretty challenging for him, but he did well! Not too many foreign objects ended up in his mouth, which is always a good sign. I'd also packed a pretty creative lunch which I was proud of: peanut butter balls and onigiri, with apple slices, grapes, banana, and pretzel sticks to round it off. YUM!!

Well, here is to a new week of good energy, good weather, and not too much busy-ness!
Until tomorrow, take care and welcome Back From the Dead!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gluten-free / Chocolate-free Cakes??

Hey again, everybody!

So this post is about something I'd hinted at, but didn't really go into depth about.
Therefore, I'd like to take this opportunity to share with you a recent discovery:

The glory (and ease!) of gluten-free / chocolate-free baking.

I'm going to be honest with you, I didn't even know about gluten-free diets until I moved to Corvallis. And it's no surprise, since even people in Portland, upon hearing I'm from Corvallis, say "Oh, you mean Gluten-Free Corvallis?"
That's right, this place has at least three gluten-free establishments in the downtown vicinity alone.

And to be more so honest with you, my belief in this whole "gluten is the devil" mindset fluctuates day to day from "yes, totally!" to "give me a break please".
But for the two kiddos' parties I threw earlier this month, I went the gluten-free route for particular guests I knew would appreciate it.

The idea of baking gluten-free always sounded so intimidating because alternative flours such as almond flour have a reputation for being so expensive.
So what was I to do?

Well, when a friend mentioned chickpea flour, I remembered that I had a bunch of dried chickpeas in my cupboard and a grinder to turn them into flour! But when I tried looking up "chickpea chocolate cake" I came across this recipe.
Two things struck me about this recipe:

1) the chickpeas it calls for don't have to be some fancy flour... it's just canned chickpeas!

2) you use a blender to mix everything together. Energy saving!!

Add to that, the fact that it doesn't even call for typical cane sugar but rather OJ...and I was hooked.
I got many a compliment at Ella's party on the cake (though I wouldn't be surprised if some were pity compliments because the guests had seen me struggling with it...) and I really don't know if I could ever go back to conventional "white flour + white sugar" based cakes.

The second cake I fell in love with...I don't remember how I found it...but I've made it twice now is:

This baby relies on black beans in place of flour, and honey (or in my case apple concentrate) instead of cane sugar.
I made it for Willam's birthday party and for our friend's house-warming party.

And so my initial fear/misunderstanding/impatience/intimidation in regards to gluten-free baking has dissipated! If you come to our place and expect can expect one of these bean-based cakes for sure. :D

What about you? Gluten-free baking your cup of tea or worst nightmare? You think you'll be giving beans a role in your cake-baking from now on? ;)

Until next time, take care and Happy Gluten-Free Baking!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Radical Homemakers

Hey there~!

So this post is about a week overdue.
I finally finished Radical Homemakers, which is feels like I'd been reading since some time in Winter @_@
I can't remember which friend inspired me to read it, but I know at least two ladies who have read and recommended it. And with good reason!

Here is what I have to say about this incredible book:

Radical Homemakers looks at a number of different Americans in their quest to "reclaim domesticity from a consumer culture" from varying situations (old, young, East Coast, no kids, totally off-grid, living in L.A., etc. etc.) and explores how we got where we are; why we might want to consider reclaiming some kind of "domesticity" (or more importantly, break away from this consumption-based culture); and how to go about it.

I especially liked the second half of the book that covers how to go about pursuing a life of a radical homemaker, because it didn't give some kind of step-by-step program of what particular activities to engage in or classes to take. It was more about the mindset. The perseverance it takes. The mental hurdles to overcome to look at our lives and ask ourselves if we are really living in tune with our values. I also liked that the author, Shannon Hayes, was very realistic about the realities that come with a more "outside the box" lifestyle as the ones described, where it's not all "feed the chickens in the warmth of the rising sun while the children are happily setting the table for a wholesome breakfast of homegrown oats and Papa strums a merry tune on the banjo" (this isn't a direct quote from the book, just something akin to what she wrote). It's hard work, where a clean house probably isn't going to happen, energy levels take dips, children bicker and refuse to cooperate, and convenience food will be resorted to. I just really liked that realistic and forgiving look at the whole picture of these "radical homemakers".

And all in all, it inspired me to challenge myself to do more for my family and for my community not through dollars earned/spent but through fostering friendships, building skills, and finding the good things in life that are free. That's why Ella and I got our (tiny) garden started, the Clothing Swap stepped it up a notch, and I have my eye on more urban gleaning this summer!

If you are interested in all things anti-consumer culture and pro-DIY, check out this book.
I would like to recommend this for a Book Club -- but first I have to join one, right?? :D

What have you been reading these days?

Until next time, take care and Happy Radical Homemakers!

Monday, April 22, 2013


Yo yo~!

So you've seen William his little "peek-a-boo" fun before (I think...but I can't find it anywhere in my posts history~!), but here is a recent video Dash took of him after bathtime yesterday.

Let's see...what's new with William...

Well, if I haven't mentioned this already, I can give him commands now which is awesome.
Yesterday, especially, we were enjoying having him give us kisses. We'd point to our lips or cheek and say "William give me a kiss". Which would then prompt him to throw himself at us, mouth agape, as he "kissed" us (open-mouthed, already?? J/K ;) )
But it's mostly handy for getting him to bring us books to read him. He gets to choose them, so he digs it.

Also, this week is the 1st Annual "Diaper Free Week" (hence the ad in the right-hand corner about it!). I've been told the weather is supposed to be reliably sunny so I foresee many a diaperless outing so that I can better watch for signals/timing and water some plants at the same time. Ha!

I think that's all there is to mention about William now...
Gosh, I feel like I ought to do an Ella-post sooner than later. She is ever growing and evolving, so there is much to say about her too!

Until then, take care and Happy Peek-A-Boos!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Clothing Swap!!

Howdy, howdy!

So this post is about something that I've touched upon before and been looking forward to for the past six months, seriously!
The 2013 Spring Mama/Kiddo Clothing Swap!!

"What is a Mama/Kiddo Clothing Swap?", you may ask.
Well, it is pretty much what it sounds like. Mamas and kiddos swapping their clothes! That is, an opportunity to purge one's closets of clothes that have exhausted their use for their current owners, and replenish one's wardrobe with "new" (used) clothes from people doing the exact same thing. It's a win-win in this great cycle of giving~

The first time this was held was last September with pretty kickin' results too! Here is a photo from that:

William on the right; his buddy Henry on the left. I title this "Swap 'Til You Drop"

At these Swaps, anything leftover goes to Vina Moses -- a local center that supplies household items to needy families in the Benton County for free -- or any other charitable cause that comes up. The Spring Swap will also have a portion of the leftovers go to the OSU Folkstore because it supports the Waldorf After School Program and scholarships to students, and a woman in Albany who runs a second-hand store in the hopes of raising enough money to start a women's shelter.
Good causes all around!

Anyway, here are some photos of the 2013 Spring event:

The early morning hours...setting up...
The Fall Swap was held in the First Congregational Church, which was fine but a tad small and not as easy for entertaining the kiddos in. The space we opted for this time was the second floor of a church located more centrally in town, complete with climbing structures (seen right) for the kids and plenty of space for them to run around in too. Dash helped bring up bags of clothes from the RV (I had accumulated quite a bit, having made myself a "drop-off point" for a number of ladies), and Angela and Kim helped set-up tables, hang signs, organize clothes, and they brought food too! Yum!!

Things start warming up...
 People brought a lot of things to contribute. We had different sections (thanks to Kim for devising and labeling!) that went as follows:

- women's clothes S > XL
- child clothes 0 mo. > 10+
- maternity wear
- baby misc. (blankets, bumbos, bottles, etc)
- shoes
- toys
- hats/gloves/accessories
- home/decor

Aaaaw, so cute!
The shoe section was particularly entertaining for me because it felt as though I could come back to it every half hour and there would be some new shoes for me to check out (for William primarily). It was ever shifting on account of people steadily trickling in for all five hours that the event lasted.

Look at that mountain of baby clothes!!
 We didn't keep formal track of how many people came, but having originally emailed 60 people about the event, I think we had roughly 50 attendees (and not all people that I emailed or even knew! It's amazing how word-of-mouth works, eh? ;) )

The mandatory "Safe Zone"
At the last Swap, I had accidentally left my shoes out among the clothes...and they had fallen prey to someone in need of size 10.5 women's shoes! Ha!! We wanted to make sure things like that didn't happen again so we had a designated Safe Zone where you could leave your claimed goods without fear that somebody would walk off with it. I think it worked~ (no complaints, yet!)

All in all, it was an exciting/exhausting event that benefited many families, so I'm happy :)
Kim, Beth, and I (+ 2 selfless husbands!!) stayed behind until nearly 7pm to pack all the leftovers, put everything back to how it was, and set things straight.
I must be honest, my energy was pretty low by then... Ever since Friday evening, I've been not feeling right in the gut and though I barreled through it for most of Saturday, here I am sitting Sunday evening still not feeling good despite having spent most of the day in bed. >_0
Hopefully I'll be all better by tomorrow~~

I look forward to meeting with some of the core planner ladies involved later this week to confer about the Spring 2013 Mama/Kiddo Clothing Swap; when to do the next one (we're looking to make this a biannual thing), and what changes to make to it run better.

Until then, take care and if you didn't come to the Clothing Swap, I hope you can make it to the next one~! Unless you're in a completely different state or something, at which point I recommend you establish your own! :)))

Til next time, take care and Happy Clothing Swapping!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Corvallis Freecycle!

Howdy ho!

I would like to share some great news with you today!
The local newspaper, the Gazette-Times, has run a story on the local Corvallis Freecycle group that I started three years ago and moderate.
You can read the whole story here.

It took me almost three years to finally contact the paper and ask them to cover the story about our local branch of Freecycle. The interview was Monday and went pretty well~!

Deep down, I was kind of hoping it'd be a front story kind of "Story Next Door" series that they do (complete with photo!)...but the little article on page A3 is not too bad I guess ;)

The story's had a positive effect on the Corvallis Freecycle group already.
This morning there were 974 members...and now at 11:30pm are 983 members!
So that's 9 new members in one day. Not bad! Hopefully, as the week wraps up, there will be even more. Maybe I'll even get more aggressive with advertising and put flyers up~?

Yay for Freecycle~!
If there isn't one in your town yet, go ahead and start one! Let's keep more junk out of the landfill and circulate our excess, rather than hoard it!

Until next time, take care and Happy Freecycling!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Yogurt Extreme

Bon jour, everyone!

After yesterday's text-heavy recount of William's birth, I thought I'd show you what we actually did to celebrate the little guy on his big 1st birthday. Complete with a plethora of photos!!

After a dinner of his favorite fare (rice & beans!) we hit up our new favorite birthday destination: Yogurt Extreme!
If you don't know about Yogurt Extreme, it's a local chain of "fix your own froyo" that was started by two women! So that's two wins in my book: local and with women founders? I'm there!!

I was feeling more "fruity" than "chocolatey" last night :)

It wasn't until we dropped by there for Dash's birthday that we learned you get 10 oz. free on your birthday! So we went again for Ella's birthday, and now William (even though he didn't get a helping for himself...)

He did get all the fruits/bobas in my bowl though ;)
I don't even remember how many toppings they offer, but it's a lot. I stocked up on blueberries, strawberries, banana, strawberry mochi, and strawberry bobas on top of sugar-free strawberry froyo. Yum!!!!!!

Something about Ella and I in this shot make us looks so gangsta. Ha!

Ella Rose was without much supervision at the toppings stations and piled her chocolate froyo with gummy butterflies, nerds, vanilla wafers, and bobas too... Bleeegh, I am not a fan of mixing fruits with chocolate, so that combo of gummies on chocolate froyo is very gross to me. Though I ended up eating what she couldn't finished anyway...

Well, as you can imagine after that sugar overload, the kiddos passed right out at home, and Dash and I enjoyed a romantic evening by ourselves...
To "offset" all that indulgence, it helped that we rode our bikes there and back and you can look forward to more non-car outings because guess what! We are carfree again!!! If you don't count the RV, which I don't because I can't drive stick. Ha! So yeah, perfect timing for the good weather a-comin'~

Anyway, until next time, I hope you have a great rest of your week and check out Yogurt Extreme!
William says bye-bye~~~! :
Ya'll come back now, ya' hear?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

William Turned One

Greetings, all.

It has happened.
We have reached one year with William. :)

It has been a glorious year, and it's hard to think that William has gone from a newborn to a toddling (wobbling?) little boy with a big personality.
I've been reminiscing about "where I was one year ago exactly" and revisiting photos and videos taken on that day back in 2012.

Did I mention that he was born at home too? Just like Ella Rose. But whereas Ella was in an apartment building in a complex of 100 in the suburbs of L.A., William was in our home here in Corvallis. I don't think I could say that one birth was better than the other. They were both complication-free, empowering, enjoyably challenging, and in the midst of family and friends. My twin sis, Kathy, actually got to be there for both and video tape the exact moments of the babies' exits. How special is that?? :D

I also wrote down the birth stories in the days following the events. I'd like to share William's with you here now (watch out, it's lengthy~!)

William Leon’s Birth:
At around 10:30pm on Sunday April 15 2012, I was putting Ella Rose down to bed for a very late bedtime, and was telling her a story about “Ella, Ariel, and Ursula” when I felt my first “real” contraction. For about two weeks I’d been having Braxton Hicks on-and-off, with the most noteworthy ones being a session of 20-minute-apart ones late at night the day before Easter (April 7) and one more recently, Friday April 13 at 6 minutes apart during the evening. All those Braxton Hicks contractions had really been irritating me because I was so sure there were equivalent to the pangs of early labor, and therefore I kept being faked out and was afraid that when “real” labor started, I would do as many second-time moms do and be in denial or not think it was the real thing.
But no! With the very first real contraction, I remembered “oh yeah, this is what it feels like!” Whereas Braxton Hicks are just a tightening of the abdomen, the real deal is something happening much deeper down. Right in the vagina, is how I’d put it. So in the time it took me to finish (sloppily) my story to Ella, I had three of these real contractions. When I was sure she was good and asleep, I slipped out of bed, and went straight to Dash on the sofa (he was on his DS) and let him know that this was feeling real. We timed a couple and lo, they were 8 minutes apart and about 1 minutes long. Much like how Ella Rose’s birth began if I recall correctly. Mind you, these weren’t back-breaking or the type that take your breath away. Just unique enough for me to have to give due attention too. Another difference from the Braxton Hicks warm-ups: I was apt to miss a couple out of lack of concentration as some just slipped past me. But every one of these was worth taking note of.
So! We went back into the bedroom, and talk about good timing on my part: I had just written up a list of “things to do when real labor begins” and stuck it on the stand by the bed. They were things like “turn the space heater on, start texting folks, get that cardboard box downstairs, line the bed with waterproof liner”. The waterproof liner is what Dash and I took care of first, timing contractions all the while. Around midnight, I knew I was going to drive myself crazy timing every single contraction so I tried to go the route of Dash and get some shut-eye. Of course, I first made sure to text a few select folks that I felt would appreciate knowing real labor was starting. Firstly, Kathy who would need to buy a plane ticket. Also, our neighbors Brooke & Mac because I had just spoken to them at length earlier that day about Braxton Hicks vs. real labor and thought they’d appreciate knowing that the switch had been made. Also, my friend Beth to apologize for not coming to her house again…but explaining that I had a good excuse: my body knew I’d be going into labor soon! And lastly, Hari Jot because I had just been to her Blessingway and acquired some Primrose Oil said to help soften the cervix. She had assured me that she’d been taking it for weeks and was still pregnant, but I had just taken my first pill that morning and boom! What do you know? Real labor.
Anyway, throughout the night, I suppose I got a little bit of sleep in those 8 minute or so stints between contractions. Nothing that great though. But of course I was very excited and feeling good by the time the morning sun was coming into the room. Because of all the stories I’d filled my head with, I had this fear that labor would stop randomly, so though I wanted to tell people, I didn’t want to have to “un-tell” them later on. With these light contractions continuing on into the morning, I was feeling confident that this was for real, talked flight times with Kathy (she’d be due to arrive around 3pm) and then went to walk Tak’e. On the walk, I had at least three contractions where I had to stop and bend over with my hands on my knees to deal and when I went to the bathroom upon returning, I wiped to discover I had some “baby goo “ (mucus plug) on the toilet paper! It was 7:30am then, so I immediately phoned Ellie Rose, the midwife who would be at my birth, to give her the stats and a heads up that things were progressing. She reminded me to call again when it felt like “I was working hard” and said she’d be on stand-by. I then had some yogurt + strawberries (my official birthing food of choice J ) to break my fast.
Ella Rose had her second Ballet/Tap class scheduled at 9am and I very much wanted Dash to see how adorable the class was, so together we all went (by car, boo, but oh well). The entire time, I knitted and alerted Dash as to contractions which were now about 5 minutes apart.  Hurray! More signs of progress! At this point, I had to stop knitting or assume a squat if I was standing to “deal” with the contractions, but it really was no big deal and people that I ran into at the Osborne Center (where the classes were held) were all very surprised to hear that I was in the early stages of labor right then and there.
Upon arriving back home, Dash got lunch going for Ella and I called Kae to ask her to come over as planned and watch Ella. She walked over with Douzen in the stroller and arrived around 11am. Dash engaged the kiddos with some Mario and Thomas, and Kae and I got to catch up and talk birth experiences for a while. At this point, the contractions were more like 4 ½ minutes apart and intense enough that when they hit during our conversation, I had to politely ask her to hold on a second, and rock on my hands and knees with slow deep breaths to deal. Of course, once they let up I would pop back up and continue what I was saying.
After about an hour (perhaps?) Dash suggested we retire to the bedroom and leave the rest of the childcare to Kae. On the bed, Dash tried a bit of nipple stimulation which we had relied on quite a bit last time to ramp things up more, but after only two or so more contractions at that same “I can’t talk right now!” level, I reassured him that we didn’t have to ramp up anything and all I really wanted was some nice back rubbing and talking to me. He talked to me in a different couple of ways from reassuring words of how we’d be meeting our baby and other mushy stuff like that, to a story about a cat which was pretty goofy and I think I asked him to drop that pronto. While I was still up on the bed, I took a call from mom who was interested in an update and I had to stop the conversation to breathe through the contraction with mom sympathizing on the other end. I think that told her things were serious enough to probably start alerting other family members.
At one point, Dash left the room and I built up a nice stack of pillows that became a mainstay for the rest of the labor, but that I soon moved down onto Ella’s bed while I labored on the carpet. I don’t recall why I wanted to move there, I think I just needed that firmness beneath me. My primary position was hands-and-knees with my head/upper body resting on the pillows as needed. Though things were ramping up, I still had the wherewithal to text friends that it was commencing and to also happily read texts as they came in. That was nice.
It’s hard to say how long this went on for, as the intensity built up, but it must have been around 1pm when I told Dash I felt like I might be “working hard” and there was definitely a bit of a “pushy” feeling to my contractions now. Again, we had started on the bed, me assuming the hands and knees position and quickly losing my clothing, but had moved onto the carpet with a stack of pillows to lean against on top of the improvised bed I had whipped up for Ella in the corner just the day prior. Unlike with Ella’s birth, where I would describe the contractions in these painful sort of ways (Decepticon, hornets, etc) this time around I greeted each contraction with the visualization and full acknowledgement that they were opening me up, which was just what I wanted and needed in order to have this baby. J I think that helped a lot. That, and Dash being a fantastic breathing coach to remind me to keep the breaths long, deep, and connected like waves – raising up, cresting, and then down again for the exhalation in one steady stream.
Ellie Rose arrived at around 2:40 pm and after witnessing one contraction from me and Dash (we were really working as a team) deemed that yes, that was hard work and so she set about getting things ready. During the contractions, naturally I was concentrating hard and sometimes even moaning “shit” or “fuck” because of the intensity, but once they let up – and oh how nice it felt when they did, as I always accompanied them with a “goodbye breath” – I was able to pop back into conversation again, asking questions about why we needed so many receiving blankets, how the other birth she and Lisa were tagteaming on was going, etc. I also requested to Dash that he remove his shirt so that I could feel nice warm heat instead of scratchy fabric, which he so nicely obliged me to.
While I was down on the carpet by Ella’s bed, Ellie Rose came by to hear the baby’s heartbeat before during and after a contraction and accidentally knocked over the spider plant I had (precariously) set up right before the window on a pedestal. That prompted me to go onto the bed so that Dash could vacuum up the soil mess, and the bed is actually where the rest of the labor took place. While Dash vacuumed, Ellie Rose helped me through the next contraction, which actually felt like two in a row without a break, but she was excellent and her usually chilly hands were nice and hot on the small of my back.
Once on the bed, the pushy contractions definitely ramped up in general, until I actually succeeded in breaking my own water bag! It was 4:00pm on the dot. This is a big deal for me, because with Ella Rose I was so much more uptight and nervous about pushing in general, that I had the midwives pop it for me artificially. Boy, that warm gush of water felt sooooo good leaving the body, and all the little leftovers I kept pumping out with ensuing contractions. As I had mentioned before, on the bed I had like two contractions in a row without a break, and this was a sign that I had a lot of pressure built up, so once the bag broke, the wave-like nature of the labor returned. Hurray for that! I should also mention that Rachel, the third midwife of the practice whom I had only met twice, came because Lisa was so busy with the other birth. I recall that Ellie had summoned her while I was down on the carpet with a quick “back pressure” or something akin to that – no “Hey, this is Ellie, you should get hear soon”. Such was the communication between the midwives I noticed. Very intuitive, silent, and succinct.
After the water broke, I was all push then and still somehow able to communicate little messages between contractions. I recall at some point saying that I thought I might like to birth the baby in the hands-and-knees position I was in. I also let them know that if they were interested in offering me to feel the baby’s head with my hand on its way out, they could scratch that because I had no intention of doing that whatsoever. In general, I reiterated a few times how much I was looking forward to this being over so that I could eat and all the things I would be able to do in general: wear the baby on me in a Moby, sleep on my back, dance, etc. Dash was also so great at listening to my requests. From asking him to remove his shirt early on so that I could feel his warm skin against me instead of his t-shirt, to promising he wouldn’t smack his lips if he stole sips of my Jamba Juice (I think he went back on his word with that one, though ;) ) Oh! I should mention that while I was still down on the carpet earlier on, Ellie Rose stepped out of the room for something and then came back with a tray of three fruit smoothies from Jamba Juice. Apparently, Kim had stopped by with them for me! How thoughtful and delicious! Ella and Douzen ended up stealing two of them, but that was all fine and good because they were a tasty treat that kep them happy and occupied elsewhere. I stuck with my orange smoothie. YUM!
I would like to mention here that the pushing I did from this point on had a pretty regular pattern. The contractions would start to rise up from the depths of my body and I would gingerly push with them, then the crest of the pushy contractions would draw out this amazingly fulfilling “taking a huge dump on the john” kind of whole body experience that would actually get me moaning out “YEEEEAAAAAH…” and obviously my body was doing something right because I would always get these murmurs of approval from the midwives that that was perfect. All in all, I felt more coherent than the first time, so I think when that first one happened I even piped in “wow, when I say ‘yeah’ that means it’s a really deep push”. Though I enjoyed the real intense pushes, I would still get wimpy at the end and contentiously let the last two or so potential pushing contractions go by without exerting myself just because I wanted to go slow and not overdo it.
Oh! Kathy came at some point during this time too. I had my face pretty buried in my stack of pillows but was able to acknowledge her presence at least to some degree (big accomplishment all things considered). She was in and out of the room, going between watching Ella and video taping the birth. Just the perfect blend. Ella Rose was also in and out, and at one point even got some gloves on and told Ellie Rose she would like to help. She also started to strip off her clothes, I assume because she thought that birth is something you do without clothes seeing as how I was naked and Dash was shirtless. I recall a few funny comments from her like “hehe, it looks like she’s peeing” whenever I would push my amniotic fluid out. And I believe she was talking about blood coming out of me (she’s pretty matter-of-fact about blood these days). Ella eventually disappeared and that was all fine by me, which is good because I had been rather concerned about how I really wanted Ella there but not necessarily force her but what if she felt traumatized, etc etc. I was also waffling between feeling very warm and chilly cold so I asked Dash to redo my ponytail a couple times and would also have a blanket put on me. Oh, hormones. They do such funny surprising things. This I also do not recall happening at Ella’s birth.
Anyway, so I eventually moved from my hands-and-knees position onto my left side because my arms were getting tired. So what do you know! Same position I took for pushing out Ella. Because that is how I stayed for the remainder of the labor. Though it felt a lot shorter, from the time my water broke to William’s departure, it was 1 hour and 18 minutes. Boy, how the time flies and how easy it is to regress into one’s self. I suppose it took as long as it did because I greeted each contraction in the same way. So, as you may know, contractions come in a bell curve kind of pattern: light at the beginning, heavy in the middle, then they peter out again. Rather than call it one “contraction”, it really feels more like a “set of contractions”. And I typically greeted them with “Here comes another one” to alert Dash that I would need more attention from him and to alert the midwives that I would need my leg lifted. Then the first contraction (of the set) I would gingerly push but not necessarily feel gripped by the push…then with the heavy in the middle contraction I would become gripped by the contraction, moan low and loud and really exert pressure down and out. Then the light contraction(s?) would take over, and I’d typically let them slide. I think mainly because I felt I needed the break and also because I was a little afraid that they’d take me over too and perhaps I’d pop something (in my face, I think I recall expressing some concern about, heh). Speaking of things popping, I recall Dash giving the midwives this bottle of almond oil I was really thinking I’d like applied in the hopes that it would prevent tearing, but though they said they would do so as soon as I gave the word, I guess it slipped my mind, because it was never applied, which is fine seeing as how I ended up pushing it out, I doubt it would have made much of a difference anyway (see below). What Ellie Rose did do, though, was apply some counter pressure to my perineum with a washcloth soaked in very hot water – actually it was Kathy’s job to get the water hot and she was having a hard time about it, making it only lukewarm and not hot enough to their liking. Either way, all I could feel was the pressure and the texture of the washcloth against what felt more like my anus, so go figure.
Anyway, back to pushing. It didn’t feel like that many pushes before I had a great long push in which I felt the baby’s head sorta go “clunk!” into a whole new lower region of my body. And the moment the contraction let up I told the midwives “wow, that one moved it (the baby) really low, didn’t it?” They agreed, and I believe that with the next couple of contraction pushes they would then say “oh, we can see this much of the head” (size of dime shown with their fingers) and then “now we can see this much of his head” (size of a quarter). It was encouraging but I recall having the concrete thought of “man, I wish it was more!”
So with the next push, I not only let the heavy contraction take me over but I didn’t let up with the petering out ones and I felt him barreling out of me! I think the midwives were a little caught off guard too, maybe, because this was not how I had been handling my previous contractions and he went from relatively still deep in me, to POP! His head is out. I distinctly remember the sensation of his facial features passing through me: his nose and chin and all that – bump bump bump! And there he was for little while between contractions, just his head. I heard them suctioning his mouth which had not been done with Ella and there wasn’t that automatic crying so I asked why I couldn’t hear my baby crying. But I think Kathy reassured me that he was all good. And then I pushed again and his upper body came out, but only up to his belly. So I asked if I could/should keep pushing and Ellie Rose said if I felt like it. And boy did I because I was thinking “come ON! Just get all of you out!” So one more push and pop! He was out!!
They immediately slid him under my leg up to my torso so he lay beside me and it was on his way over that both Dash and I saw between his legs his bright red swollen ball sac and we both said “it’s a boy!” and then all I could say for a while there was “I love you, oh I love you…!” All that previous trepidation about having a boy just POOF vanished and I was automatically so happy that he was who he was and how he was. His cry was also deeper and louder than Ella’s which made me comment “wow, he even sounds like a boy”. Ella was ushered in my Kathy shortly after and her first comment was “I want to see his cord” which was rather obscured by the fact that the placenta was no yet quite out and I wanted to keep him close for warmth rather than move him aside. Either way, she then announced she was going to go find some new shoes for the baby and that was the last I saw of her until later that evening because she somewhat promptly fell asleep out in the living room along with Douzen.
Back to William, he was so nice and hot and very very slick, his black hair all plastered to his head. And his face! Wow, it was pretty puffy and grayish purple and that’s when I knew that this had been a big baby. Within seconds I figured I’d offer the nipple and wow! He latched on right away, to the surprise of the midwives too. He was automatically given the “nursing champ” title, heh. It was so interesting how since the time that the labor had gotten heavy, I hadn’t really been able to open my eyes or speak above a gaspy whisper, and the MOMENT he came out, my eyes popped open and I was alert and energized and just bursting with happiness. I felt so accomplished!! All that was left was the delivery of the placenta, and inspection of my vagina to check for tears. The way I did not “rock” him out as I had Ella, I had an inkling I would need some kind of stitching, but man I did not CARE!
I don’t think it was too long after his delivery that I asked about the suctioning and Rachel explained how she had seen some meconium-tinged amniotic fluid toward the end there and so she wanted to be extra sure that he didn’t inhale any since she had seen “meconium aspiration before and it is not a pretty thing”. So it was more out of precaution than anything, and the way his heartbeat had been so regular throughout the labor, it was unlikely that he had been in any real “distress”. Maybe he was just ready to get poopin’, because that’s just what he did a couple more times that evening during the examination and whatnot.
It wasn’t too long before Kae and Douzen came in and got to meet little William and I was just on Cloud 9 and telling her how it was a boy just as all those Spaniards had predicted! Ha! I was still toward the edge of the bed and they kept a steady stream of oven-warmed receiving blankets on the both of us which was so pleasant! Then I had to deliver the placenta, about 10 minutes after he had been born (?). It was far easier due to the lack of bones but still pretty large and to get all the parts (membranes, etc) out I had to cough just to really get them on their way out. But all in all, it was an uneventful passing of the placenta and I loved how Ellie Rose announced that I had delivered the baby and the placenta and now I was done! Dash then cut the cord and I think it was after the passing of the placenta that Lisa showed up! So I had all three midwives for a little while, before Rachel was the first to excuse herself. But not before I had had a nice conversation with them about the names of their children and thanked her profusely for her wonderful help and expressed my gratitude that it was she who was there for the birth despite having never had her at a prenatal visit. How funny, it turned out a bit like Ella’s birth in that the “head midwife” with whom I mostly met was not necessarily present for the birth itself. Ha!
Shortly after that, I moved up to a semi-seated position propped up by pillows against the wall where I remained while they explained the placenta to me (it was healthy and its size was a sign that it had fed a large baby), did his measurements, examination, and checked me for tearing. Indeed, I needed all of ONE stitch! Since Ellie Rose had not done so many of these, Lisa walked her through it while Kathy and the others tried to distract me with conversations about this that and the other thing. Not even the injection of local anesthetic hurt that much and soon she was all done. How nice that unlike with Ella’s birth, I never had to necessarily get up and shower or anything so I never missed a thing! Seishirou showed up around 7:30 (maybe?) and got to meet little William too and then the midwives left around 8:40 (where did the time go??) and then it was just us.
Of course, the midwives didn’t leave without first emphasizing the importance that I rest up and be given very generous bed rest for at least the remainder of the week. It was hard to wrap my head around, but with Kathy here I knew that it’d be easier to indulge as she could do little errands/chores and mainly watch Ella. When Ella eventually awoke, she came to say hi to the baby and then dinner that night was a little unceremonious as Dash just made some rice, heated up some curry Kae had brought, and I ate it out of a bowl on the bed with just me and William. Going to sleep that night also proved a little trying at first, as Ella didn’t want to sleep and then didn’t want to sleep with my back turned to her and even said she wanted the baby outside. Gulp! But thankfully she eventually fell asleep and remained so even when William woke up with mewls of needing this or that. It’s also interesting how unlike with Ella’s birth, the midwives didn’t emphasize putting a hat on his head nor a diaper on his bum. And so he remained for the first three days – just a cloth diaper positioned under him, but other than that, completely naked against my naked torso and only covered with blankets so that he was receiving warmth from me and having it kept in with the blankets.

It’s interesting how for being such a huge event, the order of events could start to get mixed up in a matter of mere days. For example, I described Rachel leaving, then me moving up to a propped up position, and then receiving an explanation of the placenta…though that was done by Rachel. So I guess I don’t really remember when she left in relation to those other things. And the midwives did at least a load of laundry, which was so kind of them!
Let’s see, things that happened after the birth that are noteworthy…
-       in just a couple of hours after his birth, William started to give a clear pattern of cry-then-void that I am looking to take more advantage of (today is only 4/20, the day I had been HOPING he’d be born, oh well) to get some early E.C. going on.
-       It was in the middle of the night following his birth, that Dash and I were up with William and decided to solidify his entire full name: William Leon Dashiell. Though we won’t be using an accent mark, the Leon is meant to be pronounced León. The day after that I was already experiencing some doubts about it though thanks to poor/ugly pronunciations making it sound more like “LEE-on” and even mom commenting on how nobody will know to pronounce it the Spanish way and even trying to do so is strange because William is not a Spanish name. Thanks mom, ugh! >_< I like it because it’s another noun-name, like Ella’s middle name, and all together “William Leon” means “the guardian lion” which is visually very nice. Plus, his initial cries were kind of like roars of a lion. Ha!
-       His first guest was Brooke the evening following, who came with homemade spring rolls and with whom I got to go over the entire birth blow-by-blow. Her visit was quickly followed by Jamie, Dave, and Annika’s with burritos! So nice!!
-       In the middle of Tuesday night, my milk came in and my boobs ballooned up so that’s even faster than with Ella. So much for always having thought that my milk came in so fast on account of eating the placenta (it is still sitting in the freezer, waiting to be prepared)
-       On Wednesday, he had his last meconium-colored non-breastmilk-only BM, which Kathy and I attended to. After messing in his diaper, he then shot out more thanks to Kathy pushing his legs onto his abdomen and she had to jump aside to avoid getting hit which made me laaaaaaugh until I peed right through my pad and onto the carpet. Oy ve, this carpet’s been getting more action than it ever has in one mere week. Ha!

Ella's Dance Class

Hey there, everyone.

I thought I would share with you a dance class that Ella Rose has recently started taking.
It's offered through the Corvallis Parks & Recreation, and it's Part II of their "Tap & Ballet for Tots" program.

Actually, Ella Rose took Part I one year ago exactly, and I would know because I was laboring with William during one of her first sessions in it. Then, Ella Rose repeated the class again over the summer (just because she could) and who should be in that class but our midwife Ellie Rose with her two daughters! So in many ways this "Tap & Ballet for Tots" class holds a lot of fond memories for our family :D

Anyway, if I haven't mentioned this already, Ella Rose is really into dancing. Like really. We've watched the documentary "First Position" nearly 10 times in the past month, and almost every night after dinner there's the obligatory dance to The Nutcracker soundtrack. So this class is a big thrill for Ella.

Here are some photos and videos:


Just some simple leaps. The teacher speaks incredibly fast...and yet the kids get what she's saying for the most part. It's pretty impressive.

There's a long video I took of this dance routine they practice every class (to a song from the movie "Anastasia"!) but I think that will have to go up another day.

Until next time, I hope you are enjoying this glorious spring weather, gettin' your groove on, and looking forward to a great rest of the week.

See you soon and until then, Happy Dance Class!!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

William's First Birthday Party!

Hello, all!

Although William doesn't technically turn 1 until Tuesday, we celebrated today with some fellow 2012-born-babies.
The weather was cold and cloudy, but inside was warm and fun!
Ella Rose got to play with two other child guests her age, and they so sweetly put on a dance show for everyone! Behold it here:

Pretty interesting that Dash chose to record it from behind so that you mostly see the audience's reactions, rather than the performers' moves -- but I think it gives you a sense of the relaxing little get-together we had.

The cake part was pretty fun too. I baked another gluten-free cake, that was also dairy-free and sugar-free! The only sweetener used was apple concentrate. Incredible, right?? My goal was to bake a cake that everybody could feel good about feeding their kids, no matter how young. I think it worked out. I will blog about the secret behind these gluten-free cakes and my recent obsession with them soon. ;)

Here is the presentation of the cake and blowing out the candle:

 I love how the girls start mauling him with tickles. Ha!

It was a brunch-style potluck that ran from 11am to 2pm.
We made biscuits and greek yogurt with a variety of fixings for both, and guests brought fruit galore. Yum!! No decorations, no gifts. Just celebrating this little boy with the endearing grin and, of course, honoring the family who has gotten him through his first year of life.
One least 17 to go, right?? :D

Well, there will be more birthdayness happening when his real birthday arrives on Tuesday.
But until then, take care and Happy Birthday Party, William!!♥

Saturday, April 13, 2013

What a Saturday!

Howdy, howdy!

Woo-ee, today was a big, glorious day!
Firstly, the sun was a lot more present than it's been of late. Granted, there were also scattered showers and strong gusts. But at least there was sun!

So, we started off the day with a run to a mini Plant Sale to benefit an art center that focuses on repurposing "junk"...into art! Love it~~ We got 3 bean plants, 2 pea plants, and 1 tomato plant. All for $5. Ella Rose and I planted them in the front of the house where we get the most sun. Ella's favorite part was labeling the Popsicle sticks with the correct names.

A little shady and you can't make out anything...but by the end of summer I foresee many a tall plant!

After that, we attended the birthday party of a "Peachie friend" (Peach Blossom classmate) at the park. Naomi is a sweet little girl, and her mother is a midwife who delivered William~! Her name is Ellie Rose... Very similar to Ella Rose! :) That whole family is something special -- all so beautiful, inside and out and they just radiate joy!!
The "theme" of the party was supposed to be "soccer", but the intermittent rain sorta didn't make that happen. Not that I cared! It was a lovely time marked by great people, great food, and happy children all around. I love the community I have found here in Corvallis and getting to know everybody more and more too.

William chowed down on the cake and popcorn BIG TIME. Look at that little scowl, aaaaw~

At home, Dash made pizza for dinner (muy yum!) and then he and Ella rose went on a little father-daughter date to a local dance performance! A number of different dance institutes in the area showcased their students in a myriad of genres. Ella Rose came back home exhausted but happy and as I write I am sure she is nestled in her bed while "visions of sugarplum (fairies) dance in her head"...

There were other fun little happenings today, such as receiving a pizza stone from a friend (who just so happens to be a pro pizza-maker herself!!), shopping around for a replacement bowl (as you may recall, I broke one last night...and gluing it together just did not work!! ;_;), and going over our expenses with Dash (a trying but necessary thing to do on a regular basis).

Tomorrow's going to be a good day too and I hope you had a great Saturday.
See you all tomorrow, and until then, Happy Saturday!!

Party Hardy~!

Good morning, good morning.
And how do you do?
Good morning, good morning. I'm fine, how are you?

Sorry, that preschool song from my youth just struck me and I had to go with it ;)

Anyway, I am checking in to let you know that last night -- WHOOEE! -- I think I partied a little too hardy :D

I went to our friend's House Warming Party and had a blast!
Met some great folks, reconnected with others, and had some wonderful conversations too.

Wine and beer were my drinks of choice...and though I didn't throw up or pass out (thank GOD), I am now feeling a little dehydrated this morning and, worse than that, do not entirely remember everything I said last night @_@

Don't you hate when that happens? I just hope I didn't say anything too embarrassing.
At least Dash was able to reassure me that I didn't do anything too bad.
Though I did break a bowl!! >_< Which I am going to patch up today for sure.

Anyway, that was just first social affair of this social-packed weekend...and I'm going to make sure I don't do any drinking at any of the other ones!

Until then, take care and Happy Partying!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Work Week

Hey all,

I feel like I have been low on the photo-content these days.
But I am sure more photo opportunities will be coming, so stick with me.

I know it's only Thursday night, but in our household, that's as good as the end of the work week.
I guess the reason is because Ella's school is Tues, Wed, Thurs -- so Friday feels like the weekend already! As in, first thing in the morning it does. We might go to a playdate, or some other social outing, but besides that there are no classes or anything scheduled.

This week has marked a good change for Dash's and my work habits, in that we have (re)adopted the
"3 hours for you, 3 hours for me" model. That is, Dash gets to work from 9 to noon while I watch the kids, and then I work from noon until 3 while he watches them. It sounds like a no-brainer, but for a long while there, we were not as regimented, I would often find myself having to do an entire book over the weekend, or he would stay up late into the wee morning hours, because we weren't being disciplined about our daytime work hours enough.
But not anymore!

It's only been five business days of this change, but we can already feel the benefits. It's funny how sometimes being more precise with scheduling can actually reduce stress, rather than create it (which is my usual take on "schedules").

Anyway, we are in for a fun-filled weekend which I will fill you in on as the days go by.

Until then, take care and I hope you had a Happy Work Week!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weekly Meal Plan Rejiggered

Hello, all!

Pardon the short respite from blogging -- completely unintentional as night would fall and other duties would demand my attention.
But I thought I'd update you all as to a change in our Weekly Meal Plan.

Though one of the points to planning meals is to reduce waste, we were finding that some of that was not working out so well. Namely, the beans/rice leftover from Wednesday's Mexican night. We weren't typically in the mood for beans twice in a row...but by Friday we were wanting Pizza only! So the beans would sit and sit and sit...and sometimes go bad >_<

So with a bit of reworking, we have a new schedule that looks a little something like this:

Monday - soup
Tuesday - Mexican
Wednesday - veggies on rice
Thursday - casserole
Friday - pizza
Saturday/Sunday - social outing, leftovers, brinner, random

So the main changes are at the beginning of the week.
By having soup on Monday instead of Tuesday, Ella won't have soup twice in one day (they serve soup on Tuesdays at her school...not that she'd complain because there's no such thing as too much soup!)
And by having casserole two days after Mexican, the beans will have had a good amount of time to percolate in their juices (yum!) and make for a good refried/casseroley kinda dish without waiting too long.

And that's about the gist of it.
Have any of you gotten some meal planning down?
If so, how's it working out~? What's your philosophy behind a well-balanced week o' meals?

Well, thanks for reading and until next time, Happy Meal Plan Rejiggering!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Nice Weekend

Howdy all,

I haven't blogged since Thursday, so I thought I'd recap the last three days (a.k.a The Weekend).

Friday was pizza-and-a-movie night, so Dash made some awesome pizzas and we watched a musical called "Bandwagon". It's supposedly a great musical movie...but I did not dig it very much. I feel like I am in search of a musical movie that could rival "Hello Dolly". The costumes! The songs! The humor! There's got to be more like it out there somewhere... Anybody have any recommendations?

Saturday was an all-day affair at Sophie & Chris' home! The guys brewed beer, while the ladies talked gardening -- no joke, it really was split down the gender line that way, ha! ;)
I am feeling the need to dig in the dirt coming on strong this year. I think one of my New Year Resolutions is really going to be fulfilled! :D There was also much delicious pizza eaten and a variety of beers sampled. But I didn't overdo it, so yay!

Sunday was a brunch at Sarah and Maia's new pad -- they have really landed a great situation with their house/location/housemate! I am so happy for them!! We brought fruit to compliment these delicious "Dutch Babies" that Sarah whipped up. Might have to make them weekly~!
Then we made popcorn and hot cocoa at home, did some painting, watched "First Position" again (amazing documentary!!), and then went to bed. Well, the kiddos did, at least.

We're trying something new this week, and that is we've moved the Family Bed just a foot or so closer to Ella's bed. This is in the hopes that it will make her fill her need to feel "close" to us, while still maintaining separate beds. If things go well over a couple of weeks like this, we'll move it back to where it was without mentioning it to her...and hopefully she'll still feel perfectly safe and all right. We'll see...

Aaaaanyway, that's all there is to mention me thinks.
The weather's been gray 'n' cloudy with some rain and wind! And occasional sun breaks.
Hopefully sunny Spring weather will be back some time this week.

Until then, take care and I hope you all had A Nice Weekend!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Peach Blossom Preschool

Greetings friends,

So, since I last wrote in my blog, the weather has soured a bit which has put a damper on my mood. I guess I get a little ahead of myself when the sun peeks out. I assume it's here to stay! Alas, it looks like we are in for at least a week of rain and clouds. Boooooo. >_< So quickly my hopes are raised and then dashed. Phooie.

Today we still had some cheer, of the indoors variety.
That's right. At Ella Rose's preschool, the whole class took part in celebrating her 4th Birthday.
Really, that makes it feel like three parties she's had for her birthday this past week.
The one on Saturday, then Easter was full of merrymaking in general with an egg hunt and all that, and then today's. Phew! I personally look forward to a return of the ordinary mellow rhythms of our life.

And I'd like to take the opportunity here to share with you Ella Rose's preschool.
It's called Peach Blossom and it's headed by a lovely woman named Miss Christine who has a way with the children the likes of which I have never seen. The philosophy behind her teachings and the general workings of her school are grounded in Waldorf. For those of you unfamiliar with the Waldorf education model, I would briefly summarize it as a style of learning that incorporates a lot of art, a lot of nature, and at a pace that is considerate of a child's developmental stage (generally a little more slowed down than the "more! sooner!" model that a lot of American schools are adopting). I first learned about it from one of Dash's friends while on our honeymoon and it really struck a chord with me, that has left me in love with it ever since.

Peach Blossom (like all things Waldorf) follows a beautiful respect for natural rhythms. The rhythm of breathing in and out is reflected in its indoor activities followed by outdoor activities...and its outward energy sessions (playing around) and inward energy sessions (handwork)... In and a constant and balanced flow.
And the rhythm of the year is honored as well, as each season is given its due attention and appropriate activities. When the weather is nice in Autumn and Spring, the class enjoys a nature walk at the end of the week, while in cold Winter they opt for a rest time complete with blankets and story time instead. Every day they are outside, be it hot and sunny or cold and snowing/raining. They really embrace the old adage "there is no such thing as poor weather; only poor preparation". So all the children don their hats and gloves and rainpants and rainboots. And they have a hand in the preschool garden, where they help make real changes happen, be it planting bulbs or transferring fresh soil into the plots. There are also a lot of sweet stories told, sometimes with the aid of beautiful woolen puppets, that are so endearing, and told repetitively so that the kids memorize them and can call upon them whenever they want.

Meal time has to be the sweetest part, where they enjoy homemade bread and butter along with a hearty soup that rotates between lentil stew, peas porridge hot, and vegetable soup depending on the day. Miss Christine engages them with a story while they eat their meal and they practice basic manners like table etiquette, please-and-thank-you, not interrupting and more. The way this woman can get twelve children to do as they are told without fail -- be it sitting and quietly listening to a good 10-minute-long puppet play, or stopping their play and picking up all the toys strewn across the room -- is jaw-droppingly impressive.

I could go on and on about this school, it really is like stepping into a magical world. I swear, Ella Rose was a nice enough girl before, but Peach Blossom has instilled this quiet and focused energy in her that I appreciate very much. And having gotten to spend the day there to join in on their in-class birthday celebration, I feel like I've absorbed some of that quietness at least for the day. I wonder what I'd be like if I could have that every week! :)

Anyway, I see that I have written something of an essay here, so on with the photos!

Blowing out the candles on her cake.

I wore wings and entertained William. There's a glimpse at the sweet play kitchen the kids have at their disposal.

Okay, so Dash didn't take that many shots. I don't blame him: it might not have been appropriate to be flashing this camera off during the quiet celebrating. Not to mention Waldorf is definitely a little more conservative about the use of electronic technology and such. At least, that is my understanding and what my observations have shown me. Instead of plastic, there are toys made of natural materials, and "old-fashioned" (tried and true!) avenues for play are alive and well as they have to call upon their imagination to play house and even fill in the faces of their dolls (they are left blank for that purpose).

It was lovely how Ella Rose was definitely the honored Birthday Girl for the day, but the attention wasn't so lavish that it might make her uncomfortable or shy. Oh! I should also note that on a classmates' birthday, all the children are asked to bring an offering in the form of something from nature to give. So Ella Rose got to collect in her basket pretty rocks, a feather, different flowers, and even a sea shell from all her friends. Such a sweet collection and so representative of that age -- finding beauty in the simple things and knowing that the best gifts come from nature!

I think I've raved about Waldorf and Peach Blossom long enough.
If you have a kiddo who is not of preschool age yet, but you are looking around, I highly recommend this school. The families that it attracts, I have found, have values in line with my own and can offer even greater wisdom on things I want to know more about like gardening, making pants out of old sweaters, and more! A great community all around.

And now for a random photo of William from the day before:

Guess who's been listening to ballet music...A LOT? ;)

And that's all for today.
Phew, what a doozy of an entry!
Hope you enjoyed it and if you have any questions about her school or anything like that, I'd be happy to attempt to answer it for you - heh!

Until next time, take care and Happy Peach Blossoms!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ella's Bed Canopy

Hello, there!

Today was a gloriously sunny day. We celebrated more of Ella's birthday with a mid-day treat at Yogurt Extreme. Second time in less than a week - ha! Then I did "gardening" out in the yard with the kids, which mainly consisted of pulling weeds while Ella hacked off the heads of the wilted daffodils. William seems to love gardening more than Ella has ever expressed. He generally likes to clean things, too, like sweeping the walkway for me and such. My little custodian... ♡

Anyway, I wanted to share with you here what I made for Ella's 4th birthday.
We have something of a tradition of making her gifts, rather than buying them. Let's see, in the past they've been....
1st = ...oh my gosh...nothing, I think! Ha!
2nd = learning tower
3rd = Princess tower (doll-sized)

And now the 4th!
A canopy for over her bed:

I didn't follow any kind of tutorial, but just sort of winged it after seeing various styles online.
It was made of the following materials (all found in the house already):

- wire clothing hanger
- colored tissue paper
- sheer curtain
- ribbon
- carboard/paper/crayons
- safety pins
- yarn
- ceiling hook

If I had to give steps, I'd say only this:

1) bend wire hanger into a circular shape
2) feed the tube at the top of the sheer curtain through the wire
3) decorate with paper tissue flowers and ribbons, attaching them with safety pins in a discreet way
4) tie yarn to four of the safety pins (relatively evenly), loop at the top, and hang on ceiling hook

From the center of the yarn, I hung the sun emblem from Disney's "Tangled". That way, it looks like  baby Rapunzel's mobile.

You'll notice I don't have any shots of Ella Rose resting on this bed fit for a princess. Alas, my efforts at sprucing up her bed to get her to sleep on it are not paying off...yet. It's only been a couple of days, and during daytime hours she'll proudly announce that she's going to sleep in her bed! Only to retract that once night falls. Le sigh~
Thankfully, her ever-wise preschool teacher, Ms. Christine, has offered to personally guide Ella Rose to bed independence and will be working it into her in-class birthday celebration coming up this Thursday, as well as providing us with some good guidelines to making the bedtime ritual something Ella Rose willingly partakes in.
Wish us luck~!

Oh! Ella's daddy also got her a nifty set of fairy wings:

And that is Ella's 4th birthday presents in a nutshell.
Aba so generously sent her a check to do with whatever she likes -- I am thinking of experience gifts! Namely, in the form of dance class or something :)

I hope I can keep up the tradition of crafting one useful/heartfelt gift every year and not fall into the pattern of inundating her with presents. So far, so good!

Until next time, take care and Happy Bed Canopies!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

William Loves Cats

Greetings, all:

Okay, so today is Ella Rose's actual birthday, and she is now four years old! Woo-hoo!
But I actually wanted to share this little video about her little brother instead :D
It shows you a glimpse of the adoration William harbors for all things feline:

No joke, be it a photo or a cryptic drawing like the kind Eric Carle does, he just starts grinning like a fool. It's adorable.

And one more video just for good measure:

The family is kinda pressuring me to therefore get a real cat, but I am steadfastly against it still.
Maybe we could make visits to the local human society a regular thing instead.
Hopefully that would satisfy his need for cats ;)

I will recap all things Ella tomorrow, and until then, take care and Happy Cat Love!