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13Aug/147

And I thought she would never come.

I've been wanting to post Selah's birth story since it happened  on August 6th, but I've been a little preoccupied :-) . One week from holding my daughter for the first time, here is a "quick" version for those who might be interested.

The night before my Selah girl's arrival, I told some friends I thought she would never come. That's how it feels sometimes.

I woke up to a strong contraction at 6 the next morning. No big deal; I've been having contractions for months (?), and I wasn't too hopeful that this was "it." When they persisted, I started timing them. Ten minutes apart, sometimes a closer. Hmmmm...

6:45 am- I really wanted to make a good breakfast. I got to work making coconut flour- based zucchini bread and slow-cooked zucchini, to be served with eggs, heirloom tomatoes, and goat cheese. And coffee with cream, of course. Always coffee.

7:00 am-I informed Tim what was going on out of perceived necessity- he was sleeping on the couch (something he often did toward the end to allow me the best possible chance to spread out and sleep comfortably) and even though I was trying not to make too much noise, I wasn't as successful as I hoped. But I was having regular, strong contractions, and I NEEDED to make breakfast!

7:15 am-  I texted two dear friends to inform them about what was going on and invite them for breakfast.

8:00 am- I contacted my doula. I knew she wasn't able to come until 11:30 due to a mandatory deposition at her day job. No big deal.

8:15 am- One of my friends was able to come over (I think it was around this time?). We talked and cooked, and she ended up finishing the cooking while I stopped for contractions. I ended up taking my plate upstairs  to eat in the bath because contractions were getting stronger, and I thought the tub might soften the pain, as it did during my labor with Nolan.

No dice.

I stopped timing contractions, and just took them as they came. Faster and stronger. Tim took over without me asking him, arranged Nolan's pick-up time, made any other appropriate phone calls or texts, and told me when we thought we should leave for the hospital.

Nolan was uncharacteristically uninterested in me, a HUGE gift. Although I felt sad that we couldn't spend the time over breakfast that I wanted to that morning, I knew we'd be reunited soon and he'd be thrilled to spend the day with his Pop-Pop.

10:10 am- we left for the hospital, stopping for contractions on the way to the car.

10:20 am- Tim and I walked to triage slowly, stopping for many contractions. I could not fathom sitting in a wheel chair for any length of time. I was convinced I was traumatizing first-time pregnant mamas, but there wasn't anything I could do. Selah was COMING, and all I could do was live in that.

Full disclosure: Phrases like, "I don't think I can do this" came out of my mouth many times.

10:30 am- We check in. The woman at the desk seems unimpressed with my current situation, but since I've been to triage many times during this pregnancy (false labor and lots of non-stress tests), a nurse who knows and likes me gets a crew together immediately.

I get "checked." I've already determined that if progress isn't to my liking, I NEED drugs.

8 centimeters.

Water breaks.

The team tells me to move to a delivery bed, but I. CAN'T MOVE.

The team waits for me to comply while my hero husband rescues me and pulls me onto the appropriate bed.

A lot of pain. A lot of coaching. A lot of feeling overwhelmed and almost completely out of control.

And then.

11:00 am. My Selah girl is born. We lie skin-to-skin for at least 45 minutes, and I am still in some pain, but it doesn't matter because she is here. Just when I thought she'd never come.

Selah Marie, 19.5 inches long, 7 lb. 2.3 ounces (my nurse told me I should own that .3 because I pushed it out. Ha!), cherished, loved, and treasured.

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3Aug/144

Selah is due “today.”

I am 40 weeks pregnant and feeling giant and marshmallow-y.

I am, surprisingly and for the most part, not bothered by this.

I don't know when active labor will start, and although I've been having fun trying out some old wives' tails, I can't actually make it happen (outside of induction. or a schedule C-section. neither of which I want).

I've sort of had to let it go and just keeping living life.

Summer offers so much life. The sun takes longer to set, so we stay up later, making connections and not feeling rushed about it. The farmers markets are full of fresh, just-picked produce, and in some cases, we can pick it ourselves. (My husband and son take care of our garden; I just pick and eat.) Every weekend seems to hold something we want to check out or find out if our son is interested (he is mostly interested in everything right now, making trying new things that much more fun.)

Tim and I have somehow landed 2 dates two weekends in a row.

So much new keeps making itself available. New friends. New opportunities. New traditions. New ideas.

I am hopeful that I will be able to follow through on all the plans I'm so excited about in the next few months, but I know that I cannot control every.single.thing that I want to (even though I would really like to!). That, in itself, is living life. Who knows what opportunities will be made available that I have not even dreamed of yet?

With that, I'll leave you with a camera phone snapshot of my giant belly to commemorate this day.

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1Aug/141

Real Food Friday: Fast Food

I get that there are times when the prep work for a real food meal didn't happen and time is not on our side. I do.

For those times, I would say there are real food options that can be obtained relatively quickly and at least somewhat healthfully.

There are a couple of options in my area that I would consider when wanting something quick, "real," and satisfying. You might have different options in your area, and if so, I'd love to hear about them!

Chipotle. While I'm not a fan of everything they serve, Chipotle does a great job of being transparent about their food. You can make your own informed decision by checking out their ingredient statement here. Everything, with the exception of tortilla chips, tortillas, and possibly white rice, looks like real food to me.

Elevation Burger. While not quite as transparent as Chipotle, Elevation Burger does offer100% grassfed burger patties, organic bacon, aged & unprocessed cheddar, fresh-cut fries cooked in 100% olive oil, and organic milk, all of which pass my real food test.

If you're from the Reading, PA area, what am I missing?

If you're not, I'm curious- what fast real food options do you have in your area?

31Jul/144

two things to check out NOW for more affordable slave-free fashion

Okay, so I'm no fashion queen, and I've maybe a little bit (a lot) fallen out of the practice of being creative with my clothing choices. I enjoy fashion, but up until recently, I didn't think I could really be into it in a way I could afford, avoid supporting business practices I don't agree with, and even support the ones I really DO want to get behind. (My "being into fashion" may be very different than yours. I am talking about feeling good and like "me" in my clothes here).

I am slowly getting back into having fun with my outfits again. If you want to support slave-free and fair trade practices when you make fashion choices, too, I highly recommend hopping on the following ASAP.

Seriously, sign up for thredUp (link is my referral code). And get the app. I previously mentioned that  I opted to pay $20 to cover shipping for the entire year. I also discovered that signing up for the app means that return shipping is free, making purchases fairly risk-free. I posted my first purchases on Facebook, earning me $20 dollars in referral credits. So, this morning, when my very pregnant self needed a little pick-me-up, I opened up the app and ordered a completely FREE outfit for post baby days- larger than I would wear in normal, non-pregnant life because I'm not dumb. And I STILL have a few dollars in credit left in my account.

Have you checked out the awesomeness that is Noonday? I'm not an ambassador (yet), but the new line is launching on August 7th. Ambassadors and Noonday in general are looking to sell off last season's wares, so it's a good time to score some discounted gorgeousness while STILL being a part of sustainable fair trade practices and orphan care. Check out the sales at Noonday's main site here or a local ambassador's sample sale here.

29Jul/142

Holding This Season Loosely When I’d Rather Clench my Fists

This holding what I have loosely thing is a continual practice.

Definitely not a once and done "this is what I'm going to do, that's final, I've got it down, moving on" type of decisions.

It reminds me of my yoga practice (which I'm now feeling a little anxious to get back into. I do some prenatal yoga, but it's not quite the same. Any locals have affordable ideas for a mama in need of regular yoga, including childcare?).

Sometimes it's several times in one moment that I have to consciously determine whether I'm doing what I can on my part and then let the rest go. I have to open my hands, sometimes physically to let this trusting parts of my life that I cannot control to someone or something else happen.

Y'all, I want to control parts of my life that I can't, even though I don't really know how they are going to turn out best. I don't like that in-between discomfort that comes with letting life unravel. I want the comfort of knowing.

I don't know when my Selah girl is going to show up. I want to tell her any day but one, because I don't know how her being born then will effect others' feelings. I want to control her birth and I how other people feel about it.

My sweet niece was born yesterday to one of my favorite people in the world. She sleeps 1,450 miles away, and I don't know when I'm going to get to snuggle her.

I've been spending quite a bit of time researching Noonday, wondering if it's the right fit for me and my family. There's only so far I can go until I get the answers I need, and the one or two people who are assigned to answer them for me are currently occupied with other things.

Yesterday, I found out that one of my dearest, kindred-spirit-type friends is moving 1,600 miles away in less than 3 weeks.

Y'all. I can't control any of that, and it's hard.

I can keep playing my own part and opening up my hands, even when I have to pry them open (several times in one moment).

I will. I'm going to practice that.

I have to believe that there are beautiful things to be had in

practicing openness, not shutting down

doing the best I can with what is mine to control

look for reasons to be grateful

for parts of life I don't love right now.

That is the hope I am holding onto.

27Jul/140

39 Weeks: Holding This Season Loosely

Still waiting on our Selah girl.

Look, Selah, your daddy and I went on a date to Wyebrook Farm- last thing on my pre-baby bucket list. You can come any time now!

Except I'm not just waiting. I thought I was going into labor about 2 weeks ago, and it's been confirmed: just waiting will drive me mad. I always like to have projects/a plan/something to contribute to this life.

I'm nestled into the in-between of mothering one child and two. I'm writing, reading, cooking lots from scratch, drinking somewhat peaceful cups of coffee, accepting and making dinner invitations, working toward adoption approval, exploring the possibility of getting involved with Noonday (I'm writing up a Q&A post on that, so please send me your questions if you have any), keeping our house somewhat clean, sending out actual stamped mail, and our new Sunday ritual of a church we might want to be a part of (we haven't regularly attended an established church in a couple of years- another blog post?), followed by the farmers market to talk with and buy from our favorite vendors.

There are always fun things to do with Nolan: play dates, painting, playgrounds, his gymnastics class (which is really an open gym for toddlers), a free movie at a local theater, swimming, picking fruits and vegetables and then creating something out of them.

I'm settled into this sweet spot that I'm trying to hold loosely.

I have no idea what it is like to be the mom of more than one child while my husband- my biggest support- works his regular job, studies for his PhD, and teaches classes.

I do know that life comes in seasons. Friends move away, jobs change, and winter comes, everything changes at least a little bit.

When the next season comes, I hope that I will have appreciated and reveled in this one. I hope I will have held it in the palm of my hand, not too tight, so that I can grab onto the next one when it comes and live it for all its worth, too.

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25Jul/143

Real Food Friday: Gelatin

This post is not for vegetarians. Grass fed gelatin, as discussed in the following post, is derived from grass fed cows and should not be consumed by those wishing to avoid some or all animal products.

Okay...I'm about to put my crunchy-real food- off the beaten path weirdness on display for you.

I bought a container of gelatin. Like, powdered plain gelatin made from grass fed cows.

Before you click away, remember gelatin is in marshmallows. And jello (which I don't love, but Tim and Nolan do). And fudgsicles. That makes it not so weird, right?

Besides the fact that, unless you're vegetarian, you're likely eating gelatin in some form (smores, anyone?), the stuff that comes from grass fed cows is really, really good for you.

After hearing a few casual mentions about how beneficial the stuff is, I decided to look up more info for myself, and I found out that gelatin can

-help tighten loose skin (hello, post-baby belly!)

-support better digestion and even help heal some digestive disorders

-help the body relax and sleep well at night

-promote joint health

-promote healthier skin, hair, and nails

-add protein to the diet without any of the weird, non-real food additives a lot of protein powders tend to have

Sold.

So far, I've added it to banana soft serve and smoothies. I've also tried it in Against All Grain's recipe for fudge pops.

On my to-try list of recipes using gelatin are

Strawberry Lemonade Gummies by Stupid Easy Paleo

Healthy Sour Watermelon Gummies by Meatified

Dirt Worm Pudding, a guest post by Fed & Fit on Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind (This one looks like it would be a lot of work, but I'd love to try it once!)

Rustic Homemade Marshmallows with Honey by The Urban Poser

There's a lot more yummy-looking, gelatin-utilizing recipes out there; these are some of the most delicious- looking to me at the moment.

So, really, what's NOT appealing about doing something beneficial for your body while eating your pudding/marshmallows/gummies?

21Jul/146

Coffee Date!

I love, love coffee dates. I'm particular to those in my home because I'm not quite sure where to get a good cup of fair trade coffee around here ,other than Haute Chocolate, but they don't open til 11. It's 6 as I type this. Also, I really want organic half and half, too, and while I will admit to carrying my own with me from time to time just come over to my house for coffee, please. It's cheaper. Easier on my conscience. And you can stay as long as you want.

Once in a while, I like to host these virtual coffee dates. Maybe that's weird. But basically, I tell you some random stuff about me that I feel like spilling this morning and then it's your turn.  This works out because maybe you're not awake at 6 and/or maybe you're pretty picky about your coffee, too, but I don't make it like you like or I don't have your favorite creamer.

So.

I should first tell you that I ate 3 giant marshmallows last night while sacked out on the couch with my exhausted son, watching Phineas and Ferb. Yes, I did. Those marshmallows were not the real food, homemade kind (although that needs to happen in our house!). They were the store-bought, grabbed for a trip to the mountains and stuffed in the back of our pantry kind. I tell you this not out of guilt, but because I want you to know that when I write my Real Food Fridays series, I'm not talking about perfection. I'm talking about the choices we make most of the time.

I wake up every morning wondering if this will be the day I meet my Selah girl. I am trying to keep making plans as usual, enjoy my one-on-one time with Nolan, and relax in the fact God knows the day and hour of her birth. My challenge is that the cramps and contractions I've been having don't let me forget for too long that I am about to give birth, and I've kind of stopped formally exercising because holy cramps (!).

My current obsessions include Noonday and Don't Waste the Crumbs.

Noonday is all about creating a sustainable marketplace for women around the world who are otherwise economically vulnerable or oppressed. The jewelry and accessories are gorgeous, the stories are compelling, and the work being done is redemptive and beautiful and it seems like the right place for me to be right now.

-Don't Waste the Crumbs is a blog/ website all about eating real food on a budget. I can't get enough and pour over the posts when I have the chance. As a stay at home mom (read: brings in minimal income) with a passion for quality, sustainable food systems, I am mining this site for all its worth.

Your turn!

What's something that you think about every day?

How do you like your coffee?

What are you obsessed with these days?

18Jul/145

Real Food Fridays

I've tried a few forms of eating in the past few years.

Vegetarian. Vegan. Paleo.

I was and will likely always be a die-hard fair trade enthusiast.

In all of those ventures, my main goals were (are) to be respectful of the people who make my food, the earth it comes from, and to take good care of my body and the bodies of those I love and feed.

While I no longer attach a label to my eating choices, I still want those things. I would like to one day buy all my food from the farmers market, through a CSA, or via fair trade companies that I trust, but in the meantime, I do the best I can with what I have and I focus on eating real food.

I would love to encourage you to do the same. If you want to eat better but aren't sure where to start, pick one little thing and try it out. I promise you that one "little" thing is doing much better things than throwing up your hands in defeat. If you want to eat local/organic/fair trade, find ONE way to do that, focus on that, and then when you are ready add another thing.

I'm hoping to reserve Fridays around here for talking about real food. Let's talk. Maybe we can learn from each other?

First, let's define what I mean when I say "real food." When I use the term, I am referring to food in its basic form (meat, vegetables, fruit, eggs, oatmeal) or that, given the time and a recipe, I could make myself.

Sometimes eating real food can be a little tricky. For example, bread can be real food, but you have to read the label (or make it yourself!) to know. Don't go by claims like,"low sugar", "low fat," or "all natural" or "high protein." <---Those are just a few of the claims you might fine. Just flip that baby over and read the ingredients! What are they?

If you could make the bread yourself using the ingredients listed, you're good to go.

If, however, you find something like this, skip it. It's not real food. It's a food-like product, and it's not doing you (or the environment, for that matter) any favors. I mean, really, where are you going to get calcium carbonate, calcium propionate, or stearoyl lactylate? What are they doing in your body? How is your body going to process them?

I have lots of ideas and questions to share with you in the coming weeks. I hope you'll join me on Fridays for some real food discussion!

For now, how do you define real food?

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14Jul/146

And….I’m Full Term

I'm full term + 1 day today.

That means if I go into labor, no one is going to try to stop me.  Selah's got the green light to make her entrance into the world.

Bittersweet.

I'm excited OF COURSE. But you know how it is when you know something is about to change your life forever and you can never, EVER go back and there's a still, gorgeous calm before the (however beautiful) storm?

Do you know what I mean?

I can't stop staring at my boys. I can't get away from how things are going to be SO different soon. They will still be good, richer even, and soon, I won't be able to imagine life without my two best boys AND my Selah girl.

Maybe soon none of us will. But for now, Nolan is wanting his mama more. He KNOWS life is about to change in a big way, too.

And me? I'm just soaking them up.