Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"It Ain't Easy Being Green"

Howdy, folks!

Today I'd like to introduce you to my long-time friend Becky, who is an awesome woman and a mom to three-now-FOUR little ones, the youngest of whom has just announced his or her presence by means of a second pink line! Congratulations, Becky!

Becky has experienced severe, life-threatening hyperemesis gravidarum with her  pregnancies, and she has started a new blog to document her journey through this pregnancy:

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Please join me in praying that this pregnancy would not be a hyperemetic one for Becky, and that she would receive the good care that she needs and deserves during this time. Please also hop on over to her blog and give her lots of loving support and encouragement as she begins her pregnancy journey!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Back in the (Slow-Cooking) Saddle Again!

This week, our oven decided to go out! It's been going... going... going... for many months, and now it seems like it's finally taken the final dive. Not that I won't try it again anyway, but it seems pretty much gone. 

However, on our current budget, repairs and replacements are both out. While we wait, this means that it's back to the Crock-pot! I have been big on Crock-pots for the last three or so years, being that they are such a blessing in enabling me to cook dinner in the morning rather than the awful-horrible-hour-o'-crank known as "dinnertime." However, this past year or so I've gotten away from the Crock-pot just because Crock-pot recipes tend to be very high-carb, and thus very difficult to combine with the VLC diet. 

But I'm back! And ready to give it a go! Here are some of my latest projects:

Crock-pot Salsa (I would be doing this in the Crock-pot even if we had an oven, so this doesn't technically count!):

Crock-pot coffee cake! This got rave reviews! (Below was a half-recipe made in a 1 1/2-quart dish.)

Crockpot custard - custards do really well in the Crock-pot (2 1/2-3 hours on HIGH, covered with foil, lifted off the bottom with rolled-up foil, with 2-3 cups hot water added). 

I also made a friend's granola recipe in the Crock-pot - assemble as usual, and cook 2-4 hours on LOW, stirring every half hour. I did the full four hours and did end up burning the bottom, so next time I'll stop at three hours (and be careful of the stirring!).

I am looking forward to trying more Crock-pot desserts, as well as main dishes. I don't think I will try things like pizza and French fries, but everything else is fair game! I have learned that there are low-carb versions of most dishes, and now I am learning that there are Crock-pot versions of most dishes as well!

Things I already love cooking in the Crock-pot:

- Meat stock (meat bones, celery/carrot/onion, peppercorns, bay leaf, water + 24 hours = stock!)
- Soups or stews
- Wet-cook meats
- Vegetables for baby food, especially winter squashes
- Date-nut bread
- Spaghetti sauce
- Roast beef
- Mexican casserole

One of my favorite Crock-pot books is Mabel Hoffman's "Crockery Cookery" - highly recommended! Her Shell Casserole is always a huge hit, even with the kidlets. 

If you have any awesome recipes or other Crock-pot ideas to pass along, please do! 

Surviving an Attack of Hearts!

I thought about titling this quick post "Surviving a Heart Attack," but figured that that might lead to unpleasant rumors!

For Valentine's Day, I had planned for us to do this awesome Valentine's idea for one of our neighbors. However, I chickened out - it just seemed like it would be super-awkward to explain if caught in the middle of putting it up! (I did think later of forewarning them so that they would expect our "surprise," but it was a bit late. Next year!) However, so as not to waste all those good hearts, we did it anyway as a surprise for Daddy!

Possibly less photogenic than the original, but still appreciated!

For fun, I also added a few "Name That Quote" hearts for hubby - this is an ongoing game that we have between ourselves (randomly quoting a book or film, upon which the other person has to name the title, character, and situation). He got both of them! Anyone else?

Forgive the typo - this was from memory! 

Anyone? (I deleted the one identifying word from this quote that would have made it too easy.)
Next year - the real thing for one of our sweet neighbors!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Homemade Panda Express Orange Chicken

When our son was little (around age 2), he developed a very odd habit that puzzled us completely - when we were out and about in the car, he would suddenly exclaim, "Catfish!" and usually get very excited and then very upset about it. It took us months to realize that "catfish" was his version of "Panda Express"! He later updated to "Panda Effresk" and then finally to the real deal. It is still his favorite food. However, with a budget of, oh, zero, it isn't an indulgence that we can afford!

With that in mind, last week I decided to try making our own. It was fun! We first tried this recipe, but the consensus was that the sauce was not sweet enough. I then made extra sauce from a different recipe to go with the leftovers, and it was highly approved by all involved. (The two recipes are identical except for the sauce.)

Oddly enough, that sauce doesn't actually include any orange products (zest or juice), so next time I'm going to add some zest. But one way or another, reports are that it was pretty good!

Mise en place for sauce #1 (with eggs on the right for me since I couldn't eat any of it!). 

Plan on spending some serious time with the frying process - at least half an hour if not more. My husband did all the frying while I attended to everything else, and it was definitely quite a process!

Our in-house fry cook. 

Frying in process. It took ALL NIGHT to recover the kitchen after this! 
I spent some time rearranging the recipe to make it more user-friendly - the way that it is written out in the various versions online is fairly confusing and difficult to wade through (at least to me!). Hopefully this version will be easier for the reader to use!

Before sauce.... 

And the finished product! Voila!  I served it over whole-wheat spaghetti because I was too tired to even think about making chow mein! 

Panda Express Style Orange Chicken 

Sauce: Combine and set aside:

1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce 
1 1/2 tablespoon water 
5 tablespoons sugar 
5 tablespoons white vinegar 
1 tsp. orange zest, optional 

Mix together:

2 pounds chicken pieces, boneless and skinned 
1 egg 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
White pepper (I used 1/2 tsp. black pepper)
1 tablespoon oil 

Mix together, then add chicken and stir to coat:

1/2 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup flour

Heat oil for deep-frying in wok or deep-fryer to 375 degrees F. Add chicken pieces, a small batch at time, and fry 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp. Do not overcook or chicken will be tough. Remove chicken from oil with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

(See below for amounts) Clean wok and heat 15 seconds over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add and stir-fry crushed chiles and green onions. Add rice wine and stir 3 seconds. Add Orange Sauce and bring to boil. Add cooked chicken, stirring until well mixed.

1 tablespoon ginger root, minced 
1 teaspoon garlic, minced 
1 dash red hot chilies 
1/4 cup green onions, chopped 
1 tablespoon rice wine (or sherry) 

Stir together, add to above, stir till thick: 

1 tablespoon cornstarch 
1/4 cup water 

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Enjoy! Let me know if you have any input or suggestions!

Rights for Homebirth Activism

In case y'all are not aware... There is a lot of work being done right now in the state of Arizona to update the state midwifery laws and make more choices available to birthing mothers in our state. This work is being done by a dedicated group of midwives and citizens, and they need our support! To join the ongoing conversations and receive updates on progress, as well as notification of upcoming meetings, please like the "Rights for Homebirth" Facebook group and catch up on all the latest!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

One Moment of Brilliance in a Sea of Incompetency!

This January, our family celebrated four years of being in our home! It's the longest we've lived in one place, and we hope to be here many more years, if not forever! It's been a great home, and a wonderful neighborhood. We love it.

One of my biggest disappointments in the home, however, has been the fact that despite our four-year residency, the house remains undecorated! Seriously! Doesn't that just happen gradually over time?

I jest, but in all seriousness, I did somewhat assume that I would gain artistic inspiration for decorating once we moved in. Nope. Our walls are just as bare as the day we moved in, and I am just as uninspired. After my sweet aunt gave me a well-deserved scolding for leaving our house so dull-looking, I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on decorating - and read them all! I learned a lot and enjoyed them immensely, but they couldn't solve the root problem - a complete and utter lack of talent.

Hopefully some day I shall be able to gain that talent - or just copy someone who has it! (The latter is much more likely.) But in the meantime, I thought I'd share the one idea that has worked and that we love - our Christmas card wall! This idea came about through sheer laziness, but we've kept it up ever since because we love getting to see everyone's pictures all year 'round rather than just for a month at Christmas.

Yes, those are Christmas decorations still up in the background. And our glitter pumpkins from last fall. Have I mentioned that we have a problem with procrastination?
This idea has been sheer joy for us, and we hope to continue it every year. (Local friends, if you don't see your card up here... it's because we haven't finished opening our Christmas cards yet. Ack!!)

Have a wonderful Sabbath, everyone!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Three Techniques for Dealing with Morning Sickness

The title is something of a misnomer, since in many circumstances there aren't many ways to "deal" with morning sickness - one simply survives it and recovers afterward! But there are some tips and tricks to getting through that time period, and here are a couple:

(*Note: You'll notice that I said "morning sickness" and not "hyperemesis" - the two are entirely different beasts, and these tips aren't too applicable to hyperemesis, where the whole name of the game is simple survival. These tips are for a mama who is feeling badly - but well enough to be at least moderately functional - in other words, normal to moderate NVP rather than active HG.)

Nix the Kids' Pajamas

I actually learned this tip from a friend in culinary school many, many years ago. She had to get her three children up and out, and herself to school, by 5:30 a.m. in the morning. Definitely not an ideal situation, but one of the ways she made it work was by dressing all the kids (and doing the girls' hair) at night so that they could skip the "getting dressed" stage in the morning. Results aren't perfect, of course, but this technique works well to reduce laundry and mama's workload - especially if your husband helps with nighttime routines (like mine does!). This actually works so well that... we're still doing it, at least with our eldest. (I know, shameful! But it works so well!)

Bring on the Disposables

Real dishes are great... but in times of great stress and strain, the niceties of life go to the wall. Disposable plates, napkins, cups, silverware, etc., are indispensably helpful when one is too sick to deal with mountains of dishes.

Break the Laundry Rules

Here is what I did for laundry - I did one load a day, and that load contained everything. Darks, whites, lights, jeans, towels, kitchen laundry - whatever needed to be done that day was washed together and dried together. I daresay I broke some universal laundry laws and should be punished harshly, but it was a real life-saver. I still do it when I'm in a big rush!


Again, these rules only apply for a mama who is only moderately ill (as I was during my last two pregnancies, due to proper medication and God's mercy). Almost nothing applies when there is true hyperemesis and a mama is confined to bed (or hospital), as happened to us during our first pregnancy. But when NVP is mild to moderate, various lifestyle modifications like these can be very helpful.

What suggestions would you add to this list for a mama dealing with morning sickness?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Homemade Dye-Free Lemon-Orange Jello Jigglers!

I ran across this recipe for Lemon-Orange Jello Stars over at Gutsy, and decided that we had to try it! I love Jell-O desserts, but I tend to shy away from them most of the time due to the artificial dye content. This all-natural version looked just awesome.

See the original website for the healthier recipe (organic oranges, raw honey, etc.). This version that we worked out is the bourgeois version, which is what we're using while on a zero-budget. Enjoy! (Check out the original article, regardless of which recipe you use - great information!)

Lemon-Orange Jigglers

1 cup orange juice
1 cup lemon juice
5 tablespoons sugar (adjust to taste)
3 1/2 tablespoons gelatin

Whisk all ingredients together; let sit 5 minutes. Melt over low heat (I use a bowl over boiling water). Pour into greased molds (I used mini-muffin tins, not having molds). Let sit until firm, then pop out and enjoy!

To make a less-firm version, like regular Jell-O, I suspect that one could double the juices and sugar, while leaving the gelatin amount constant. I plan to try this!

These were lovely - a sweet, delicate orange color and lovely aroma (and taste, so the family tells me!) - with no food dyes!

Hope you all enjoy these!

It's Time for a Party!

Yes, folks! It's time for a party! (And that's a good thing, because this has been a hard week around here, and I could use the extra cheer!)

And the cause of our merrymaking?

Cause of Celebration #1.... We Survived a Blizzard!

Okay, the snowfall may not have "technically" equaled the exact definition of blizzard... and the snow may not have happened exactly at our house (or anywhere nearby)... but I stick with my original claim. If snow can mean a blizzard, then we had a blizzard. And furthermore, I survived it. So there.

In all seriousness, the valley did indeed see SNOW yesterday, which is nothing short of miraculous here in the valley of the sun. It has never happened (to my knowledge) in the ten years we've been Phoenicians. I didn't see any of it, but I saw plenty of Facebook pictures last night, as well as getting to drive through some of the post-hail/post-snow whiteness as I drove to Scottsdale last night. Absolutely gorgeous!!

Cause of Celebration #2.... My Blog Manager Is Fixed! 

Quite a while ago, I posted that I was having problems with my blogger blog-reader manager function. We found that it actually was a bug in my account - a bug shared by quite a lot of others - and we were quite unable to fix it. Thus, although I could subscribe to blogs in my reader, I could not unsubscribe from them - ever. At the end, I finally had something like 190 blogs in my reader. It was a nuisance!

Yesterday, however, we finally received a tip on how to circumvent this problem, and as of now it seems that the problem is finally FIXED! Hallelujah! I spent all of my free time last night blissfully deleting blogs from my reader - to the tune of something like 100 blogs deleted (*singing songs of joy*). It was absolutely marvelous. I deleted blogs that I've lost interest in, blogs that are no longer active, and quite a few blogs that, due to spiritual and personal growth over the past couple of years, I now find somewhat repugnant. It has felt absolutely marvelous to shake off that mental clutter and the monkeys that have been hanging around even though I have long outgrown them. It was a lovely feeling.

And now, the original purpose of the party...

Cause of Celebration #3.... Another Dietary Milestone! 

I have completed six months on the Very Low Carb (VLC) Diet! Woo hoo! I'm so excited to be at this point!

At this point, the diet is not at all difficult. It's extremely restrictive, yes, but now it is just a way of life. I have developed a repertoire of recipes (still under development), I'm used to mixing VLC cooking for me and somewhat more standard cooking for the family, and I'm used to taking my own food to every party, potluck, and gathering. It's not as difficult as it looks from the outside (thanks to the grace of God!).

Reporting In...


I feel better than I ever have! Also, I find that now that I am accustomed to the diet longterm, I can go for longer amounts of time without eating, and not suffer nausea as a result. All postpartum nausea is gone as well (as it was within a few weeks of starting the diet).

Weight Loss

Unfortunately, I am stalled about 10 pounds short of my target goal. This may be due to breastfeeding, or a longer-than-usual plateau, or I may need to add intermittent fasting or increased functional movements to get to that goal.

However, where I am is fine with me, and I am not planning on trying anything to go any further. I'm completely happy with how far I've come, I feel much better, and I'm satisfied!

This has been my first experience with weight loss (serious weight loss, that is), and it's been a thoroughly interesting experience. Here are a few things I've learned:
- The VLC diet is the first method that has had any effect for me. Typical recommendations of low fat, move-more-eat-less, etc., have done nothing. 
- As I've read on so many nutrition blogs, weight loss really is in the kitchen. The weight that I have lost has been 100% through diet - I have not added any additional exercise to my daily routine. 
- Weight loss is slow! I had expected that a few weeks would do the trick, but no, it's quite a bit longer than that (bummer!). I had to settle down for the long haul. 
- Weight loss includes plateaus - after steady weight loss, one will stick at a certain weight and stay there for some time before continuing to lose. I experienced weight loss plateaus every five to ten pounds. 
If You're Wondering Why I'm Doing This...

Newcomers to the scene may not know why I am doing the VLC diet. (Hint: It's not weight loss.) I started my researches into this diet several years ago, when I read the following article:

The Low-Carb Gynecologist

This article is an interview with a Florida fertility doctor (reproductive endocrinologist) who uses the very low carb diet to treat infertility problems and increase rates of spontaneous conception (thus reducing the use of IVF technologies). This is a great article - please go and read it!

(*crickets chirping*)

The part of the article that stood out to me, of course, was the following:

WD: I was also interested in hearing more about your experience with morning sickness and the effects of a low-carb diet. Could you tell us more about this? Also, any thoughts on why this happens? 

 MF: As we continued to expand our thoughts about VLCD and fertility/pregnancy, we began to extend the nutritional approach into pregnancy. We know that pregnancy hormones dramatically worsen insulin resistance that is responsible for the condition, gestational diabetes. If insulin resistance is worsened, then reactive hypoglycemia is worsened. One of the biggest symptoms of hypoglycemia is nausea. So, in response to this, we have counseled our patients on the diet in pregnancy and have found a dramatic reduction in nausea. We recommend snacking every two hours in pregnancy.

Continuing in these researches, I have spent the last few years reading and self-experimenting to find out if this diet has any effect upon hyperemesis. The jury is still out! But you can read about the results (so far) of my experiment here.

Next stop... Nine months!!! See you all then!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spending Time With WEEDS

Lately, I have had great opportunity to think about weeds. Lots and lots and lots of opportunity. Why? Because some spring weather, nice rain, and a couple of months of good, solid neglect of our yard have produced an over-abundant supply of them, and I have spent the last two days trying to begin the process of hacking ourselves out of this mess. I have no doubt that at this very moment, our neighbors are directing accusing glares in our direction and planning very well-deserved revenge. (I jest. We have great neighbors. But if they did revenge themselves, at this point we'd deserve it.)

Weeds have often been compared to bad habits or character traits in children (or ourselves!), and over the past two days I have had ample time to contemplate the similarities between letting weeds grow in my yard, and letting the "weeds" of bad attitudes or bad habits grow in my children.

Here are just a few of the analogies I've drawn:

Different Times, Different Weeds

We've lived in this house for four years, and each spring I have been astounded to see a different weed take preeminence. Three years ago it was the cute little broadleaf plants that start so innocently and then grow to six-foot monsters. This year it's a pretty lacy sort of thing that I love because it's so easy to pull. In my children? Different ages = different challenges. At a younger age, it was plain ol' obedience (and tantrums... lots and lots of tantrums). Now it's attitudes. Later it will be (*gasp*gulp*choke*) boy-girl relations and teen issues. But the issues are under constant change - there's never a dull (or stagnant) moment.

I'd never even seen these before this year! 
Easy When New.... Harder When Mature

Have you noticed how blessedly easy young weeds are to pull? So quick, so smooth, so easy! But when those critters get a true hold in the ground, it takes blood, sweat and tears to get them out. This morning I fought against one such monster, and retired worsted. That critter is out there yet, grinning insolently at me and daring me to try again. The same thing with bad habits and sins in our kidlets - they're so much easier to take care of in the beginning than when those habits have a true hold in their hearts.

These things are soooo cute when they're young... and then they mature into hideous beasts with foot-thick trunks. 
Slow and Steady Does the Job

Pulling weeds quickly results in stems that break off, leaving roots in the ground - roots that will spring back very quickly with new fruit and new stems. Same with parenting! Quick fixes never work (for me, at least... if you know of any, for goodness' sake pass them on). It's slow and steady that works well over the long-haul - consistent application of parenting practices and a willingness to correct with longterm goals in mind.

No Root, No Good!

From above - if a parenting technique deals with the outward without dealing with the heart issue also, longterm positive change is unlikely.

Some Weeds Are Easier Than Others

I love the nice, clean, smooth weeds that come out easily and completely - rather than those stickery, painful monsters that snap off and leave the taproot in the ground. But oddly enough, I find myself neglecting the ugly ones to deal with the easy ones! Can anyone see how this applies to parenting? Yikes!

Man, I hate these things. They are evil. 

Weeds Breed Weeds

I don't just find one weed... I find one weed that has spawned a whole bunch of other weeds, and which is now a huge problem patch. In parenting, I find that one sinful habit leads to another. Disobedience leads to disrespect, which leads to strife, which leads to bad sibling relations, etc. Neglecting weeds causes a huge spread.

What used to be our lawn. 

Weeds Choke Out Good Plants

Weeds breeding weeds breeding weeds... eventually, the weeds choke out good fruit. Letting the bad habits and attitudes in my children go unchecked will undo any good work that I'm doing in their lives.

Our garden, currently being choked out by weeds. 
And finally...

Weeding makes me sneeze. You make the connection.

Thoughts, all?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Two Must-See Articles! Enjoy!

If y'all don't know my blogging sister Cindy over at Get Along Home, you should! She provides amazingly accurate (and often convicting) posts on homemaking, mothering, home education, politics, and lots of other fun topics, and I have enjoyed every one of her posts (all the more so because she is a strikingly witty humorist!).

This week Cindy has posted two great articles on the topic of the meaning and theology of human suffering, a theme that I touch on here and there on this blog. Hyperemesis was my first up-close-and-personal encounter with intense physical suffering, and I have to admit that it hit me like a tidal wave. It knocked me over, beat me black and blue, and left me for dead - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. That last part left me somewhat surprised, as I had "dealt" with the subject of human suffering in a theoretical way and felt comfortable with the topic. After all, the theology of human pain is pretty easy to understand on paper. Easy peasy. But when it meets you in person, it's a whole different story, and it has to be worked out from the ground up all over again - much more painfully and much more slowly. And it has to be done individually - no one else can do it for you. You have to face God on your own and deal with the reality of your pain.

Letting God work through the suffering in my life has been invaluable - but it took a long time (five years? more? still getting there?) and it's not an easy process.

Can I get an amen?

Anyhow, check out these two articles: "On Pain" and "Running Ahead of the Teacher." Good stuff!

I won't bother to quote and comment, being that I'm running behind on my schedule (and the mess level is getting higher as we speak). Just go read the articles and enjoy!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Muffin Tin Mania!

It is now several years since a friend introduced me to "Muffin Tin Mondays," and since then I have truly come to love this simple concept - chop up fruits and vegetables, find bits of crackers and snack foods, cut up leftovers, and pop it all into a muffin tin for a very kid-friendly lunch! It is very visually appealing, and it finds easy acceptance with the little ones - much more so than the very same foods presented together on a plate.

Cucumber, celery, cereal, plum tomatoes, crackers, yellow plum tomatoes, graham crackers, cheese, bell pepper, dip. 
This idea has become so popular around here that I don't just use it on Mondays... it's pretty much every day. For our 6yo I use a mini-muffin pan, and a regular size pan (or pans) would work for multiple kidlets.

I love how simple ideas like this (which are so easy to implement) can make our days run more smoothly!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chilling at the Liberty Festival. Literally.

This past weekend we traveled into Phoenix for the first annual American Liberty Festival, put on by the good people at We Make History - the same organization that puts on the American Heritage Festival (see our pictures of that event here) and local historical dances and balls, as well as many other events! (Check out their website for more information and lots of great pictures!)

We had a great time! Like the Heritage Festival, the Liberty Festival had displays, reenactors to talk to, and great battle reenactments - all of which pertained to the Colonial Period and the Revolutionary War.

Talking to reenactors. 

Watching a battle reenactment. 
Period fashion show. 

Redcoats preparing for action! 

Drilling outside the British camp. 

The one bad thing about our Combi stroller - the shades are worse than useless. But with our new invention - using the umbrellas from our wagon - voila! Shade! We may have been a walking spectacle, but at least it worked! 


The soldiers took groups of the kids and taught them how to drill with wooden muskets, and then coached them through a battle reenactment! Our 6yo absolutely loved this!

The only problem with the day.... it was cold. Cold as in COLD (at least for us thin-blooded Phoenicians... all you northerners probably would have been in shorts!). An hour or so in, we fled to the car to eat lunch and huddled inside with the heater on until we could warm up before we again ventured out. But try as we might, we only lasted for half the day, though we had planned to stay for the entire time.

Does this give you an idea of the weather? 
However, despite nearly freezing to death - and spending most of the rest of the day trying to get warm - we had a fun time. We love the events from "We Make History," and we hope to attend many more!

Article: Safety of Morning Sickness Drug

Thought y'all might be interested in this article, "Morning Sickness Drug Shown Safe for Babies," concerning metoclopramide, which is an anti-nausea drug that I've never even seen before!

From the article:
"The Israeli study, led by researchers at Ben-Gurion University, included pregnant women enrolled in Israel's largest HMO from 1998 through 2007.
"It compared the health of newborns of 3,458 women who took metoclopramide, for as little as a week to more than three weeks, with 78,245 newborns of women who had not used it. Rates of problems were low and similar in both groups.
"In the U.S., other drugs — Compazine, Phenergan and Zofran — are generally used more often than Reglan, which is made by Schwarz Pharma Inc. of Smyrna, Ga. The new study should lead obstetricians to prescribe it more often, some experts said.
"Until now, doctors have only assumed it is safe, based on a couple small studies and the lack of reports of serious problems, said Dr. Jeffrey Chapa, head of maternal fetal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic."
On how the drug works and its side effects....
"Metoclopramide, which works by speeding emptying of the stomach and reducing heartburn, can have side effects, including sedation, insomnia, depression and anxiety."
I am never in favor of using drugs during pregnancy when it's avoidable... but in terms of hyperemesis, it is not unavoidable. For the health (and life) of the baby and mother, it's essential - especially in the more severe, life-threatening cases. I'm happy to see more options in the arena to treat HG, especially since different things have different levels of effectiveness in different women.

The only thing that alarms me is the fact that this "safety" was based on newborn health only, not long-term studies. I'm sure that the studies of DES babies (babies whose mothers used diethyl stilbestrol) would have shown healthy babies... until those babies grew up into adult women who had ridiculously high rates of certain forms of cancer. Healthy newborns don't mean that drugs have no undesirable side-effects in the long-term. Thus, the statement that "[This study] compared the health of newborns of 3,458 women who took metoclopramide... with newborns of women who had not used it. Rates of problems were low and similar in both groups," is quite accurate, but it might be a bit of a stretch to say (as the article's title implies), "This drug is completely safe for pregnant mothers and their babies."

However, again, HG has to be treated, and I'm always glad to see more options out there - not to mention the fact that most of the other drugs used to treat HG have even fewer safety studies to support their use than this one! Whether or not it will catch on in the U.S. is another question.

Thoughts, all? Hat tip to my friend Becky at Refuse to Be a Womb Pod for notifying me of this article!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine's Day Craziness!

Hello, everyone! Hope you all are having a great week!

This week started out with the Moose's first birthday! What a wonderful year he has given us! He is the sunniest, most cheerful baby ever, and he has been such a special joy.

Of course, as I'm writing this he is being a total and complete CRANK, due to the fact that he has decided to get eight teeth at once (no joke). Only three are through so far, so he has spent the week being quite cranky - weepy, bleary-eyed, and emotionally fragile. Thankfully we had decided to postpone celebrating his birthday a week or so until an anticipated visit from family, so hopefully he will cheer up by then!

Also this week was, of course, Valentine's Day! In keeping with my ongoing efforts to do holidays well (instead of completely forgetting them), we had a very busy week!

We made a valentine for the postman using this free printable from "The Happy Home Fairy,":

We made valentines for our homeschooling group's Valentine's Day exchange and party (I made these myself! So proud!):

Then we had our own family time with homemade valentines and candy...

And finally, we ended the day with these super-easy-to-make marshmallow pops!!

I've got to tell you - I am having so much fun with learning to "do" the holidays! I've been forcing myself to do this in order to benefit the kids and our family culture, but - completely unexpectedly! - I am having a blast with it! I didn't know how much I'd been missing for so many years. It's exhausting, and I don't do nearly what other more artsy mums do, but I'm having fun.

Next up, St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Reaching a Life-Goal... and Having Fun Doing It!

Last month, I got to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time... I hosted my first baby shower! This shower was for a sweet friend in the homeschooling community who is currently awaiting the arrival of baby #4 - a baby who ought to be arriving any second, as she is currently at 41+2 weeks. We can't wait to meet her precious little one!

I had a lot of fun planning the shower. We had pink and white frosted cookies, vegetables and dip, lemonade and coffee, and a couple of other things that I have unfortunately forgotten due to how long ago this was! I made favors out of the extra cookies, and we played a couple of games and handed out "labor candles" - candles to burn while the mama is in labor as a reminder to pray for her and her baby during their birthing time.

To accommodate mamas who didn't have babysitting available, we made this a "mommy and young children" shower. Whether that was smart or not I'm not sure - it got pretty crazy! (But I didn't want anyone to have to skip the shower due to a Saturday-working hubby.)

This shower confirmed what I have long known - that I am much better at "back of the house" operations (food prep, etc.) than "front of the house" operations (hostessing, leading games, etc.). The former is something that I greatly enjoy (and can do reasonably well); the latter is something in which my performance is miserably behind-hand. I simply am not good in front of groups or in leading events. Next time I have the opportunity to bless a mama with a shower, I shall happily do the grunt work - but I shall ask somebody to lead it who can do it with less stuttering awkwardness than I!

I love helping with showers. There is something so special and precious about honoring and celebrating a mother as she prepares to give birth and to welcome a new baby into the world. Each time is a special event, and each birth and transition into motherhood is something to celebrate. Hopefully I shall have this opportunity many more times!

Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take pictures - until I was putting the last few things away afterward. And that is why this entry is ending with a picture of lemonade... because that is the only thing left out by the time I said, "Oh shoot! I forgot to take pictures!"

Lemonade. Aren't you impressed? 
Babies are such wonderful things - and so are baby showers!!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

In Which We Sell Everything, Buy a Farm, and Move to the Country

Okay, not really. Just dreaming for a minute... but I'd sure like to!

Facebook friends may have wondered why I didn't publicly announce the job that DH was supposed to start two weeks ago. The answer, of course, was that the job didn't happen! DH flew successfully through each of four interviews, and all went well... until the job was formally offered, at which point we learned that the salary was only half of what had been originally discussed. After several frenzied hours of prayer and discussion (he didn't have much time), DH made the decision to turn down the job.

Oddly enough, both of us were wonderfully relieved about this turn of events. This in itself was odd, as we have been concerned to see time marching on with no other job in sight. We can't hold out financially forever, though we're doing our best. However, I was dreading seeing DH begin this job, knowing that it would be stressful, be far away, have a high commuting time, involve work he wasn't crazy about, and would keep daddy away from his family for most of every day. We have always wanted to have DH work from home, but it has never happened - and as taking this job seemed to be a financial necessity, we were prepared to get back to the grind.

DH revealed after the fact that he had been dreading this job as well, but had kept quiet about it. So both of us were quite surprised to find that neither of us had been positive about the position, but each was trying to keep doubts and apprehensions quiet for the sake of the other. The day we turned down the job, thus oddly enough became a day of rejoicing!

But we were back to the starting point... no job. And more importantly, no income!

Fast forward two weeks.

As of last week, I am pleased to say that DH now has a position, working with someone whom he likes, working from home, and doing something that he likes and will (I think) be very good at.

The only complication?

No salary! (Ack!) It's commission-based only, and he has to start from the ground up. Meaning, of course, that he has very little time to prove himself and work into this position before we will have to see (monetary) results.

Either it's sheer brilliance, or sheer insanity. At least half of the extended family thinks the latter! But we both feel much better about this than we did about the steady, salaried position that we turned down, and we're very excited about this opportunity. Nervous, but excited.

The same friend with whom DH will be working lent us the following video (I'm showing only the trailer), which we watched yesterday and absolutely loved. It is about one family's journey from being busy suburbanites to giving up all of their modern conveniences and lifestyle and moving (temporarily) to a farm in the country. (They are not Amish/Mennonite, as it may appear - they just chose the Plain lifestyle, including dress style.) Though we are not planning any such drastic move (yet), this was a wonderful video that highly encouraged us in our quest to bring DH home as much as we can, whether now or eventually, and it was a great encouragement to our faith. We highly recommend this video! (You can buy it here.)

It may sound odd to say, but we are still really enjoying unemployment. It's stressful, for sure. And it would be nice to have an income. But the family time is tops, and the discipline imposed by lack of funds has been really good for us. We are currently in a no-spending mode - if it costs money and it's not essential gas/groceries/bills, it isn't purchased! Period! It's so good for us. I've always been good at not spending money, but this is forcing us to tighten our financial ship considerably - to "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" (Amish proverb) - and it is a great exercise for us. We're also enjoying the spiritual journey - it is drawing us closer to each other and to God, and to discerning God's will for our life and our family. Besides the worry (which we shouldn't be doing), this time of unemployment has been a great blessing.

Not to mention that the longer we're unemployed, the easier it will be to convince DH to buy a farm, move to the country, and live off the grid! Woo hoo!

Seriously, though, I hope to have good news soon with which to update you all! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Monday, February 4, 2013

What's New From the Shelves!

Hello, dear readers!

I thought that for fun today, I would give you a taste of what I've been reading over the past, say, four to six months. And so, without further ado, here is a glimpse into all of the radical, counter-culture, seditious literature that has been forming my literary ventures (i.e. when I lock myself in the bathroom to brush my teeth without company and read for two minutes before diving back into the fray).

"Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism" - We actually watched the video edition of this, and it took us about three or more months to finish (we did perhaps 15 minutes per night). Wonderful material, very well done, and it sparked some wonderful conversations!! I highly recommend this film.

"What Is Reformed Theology?" by R. C. Sproul - It doesn't get much better than Sproul... and this was great! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am not new to the doctrines of grace, so this wasn't too hard to wade through, but I still think it would be a good intro for anyone studying reformed theology.

"The Coconut Oil Miracle" - I've heard about this book for years and finally decided to look it up! Some of the nutritional info is a bit dated, but it's a great source of information about coconut oil and the health benefits thereof.

"Raising Godly Tomatoes" - I would be lying if I said that I wasn't doing a fair bit of nail-biting as I anticipate the rapidly approaching "terrible twos" - which, as we all know, are really the "terrible one-two-three-fours." Frankly, I shiver at the very thought. That being the case, I am nervously thumbing through my favorite parenting book in order to be ready (and to do all the training I can before the dreaded tantrum age begins). *Shiver*

"The Federal Husband" by Douglas Wilson - DH and I are studying the concept of federal headship (fascinating topic!), and I decided to dive into this book. Don't you just love a book that seems written to get people mad? I do! This guy is a master at the art of blunt speaking, and he had me in stitches throughout the book, even in the parts with which I disagreed (which were few). Highly recommend this book.
"Common Sense Parenting" - Love this book! I got it a few years ago and decided it was time for a re-read. This book is rich in ideas for creating positive family culture (traditions, meal times, etc.), and I find that it has tons of reminders and helpful advice for creating good family life.

"In God We Trust: Why Biblical Authority Matters for Every Believer" by Steve Ham - This book was excellent! Thoroughly eye-opening, and it gave me so much to think about. Highly recommended!
"The Lie: Evolution" by Ken Ham - I have been raised, trained, and immersed in evolutionary theory from early childhood through college. Now it's time to see what the other side has to say. The verdict? I'm going back for more. Which leads me to...

..."Why Won't They Listen? The Power of Creation Evangelism" by Ken Ham - More great stuff by the same great guy! I'm currently in the middle of it, and it is really good stuff. I love it when people bring up things that are very evident in the Bible, but which have completely escaped me for the time. Good stuff.
"Wives and Daughters" by Elizabeth Gaskell - My light reading at the moment (and possibly my favorite book ever!). We were introduced to the movie (excellent!) by a dear friend, and I love the book as well - though the great tragedy of the ages is that Gaskell died before finishing the book (and no one else has ever attempted it, that I know of). My favorite - highly recommended!
"Return to the Hundred Acre Wood" - Have you ever read the real "Winnie the Pooh" series by A.A. Milne (not the Disney stuff!)? It is excellent! And this is one rare case in which a new author has managed to take over the tradition very capably - though this book is only "in the style of A.A. Milne," it is excellent and I can't wait to read it to the kids when they're a bit older!
"Homeschooling with Joy" - Despite the fact that I tend to misquote the title as "Homeschooling with Comfort and Joy" (breastfeeding moms will get this one!), this is an excellent book, put out by a delightful Mennonite company that I absolutely love. Every chapter can stand alone on a specific topic, and each is helpful with advice, tips, and encouragement.
"Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch" - This is excellent! Truly excellent! I have always been a big fan of Queen Elizabeth II, and this book only increased that respect. This book was a great education in
British history and politics, and it was both informative and a joy to read.

"A Weed in the Church" - The companion book to the film "Divided." It was definitely an "Ack! I can't put this book down!" type of book. I enjoyed this tremendously!

So.... have all y'all been reading anything stupendous and life-changing recently? Do tell!