The birth story of Saoirse Maire

The story of Saoirse’s birth wouldn’t be complete with acknowledging the weeks of contractions before the actual day of her birth. They started most intensely at the end of May, just before I turned the corner of 36 weeks gestation. From that point on, I had many, many bouts of random contractions that I kept waiting to organize and do something, but they never did. This, combined with a possibility-of-leaking-amniotic-fluid scare at 32 weeks made those last two months of pregnancy pretty stressful.

On the morning of  Tuesday, June 12th, at 38 weeks and three days along, the random contractions finally started to regulate and strengthen, but were still 10-20 minutes apart. Around lunch time, they got to five minutes apart and I was having a ton of pelvic pressure. Aaron wasn’t home yet and for several minutes there I wondered if I would have to birth a baby all by myself with four kids! But he made it home, the kids went to some friends’ house (who then had nine kids nine and under…they’re amazing!), and the midwife and her assistant got here and all set up. And then…contractions totally stopped! And they didn’t start back up. So the midwife and her assistant left everything and went home and after our wonderful friends kept the kids for the afternoon and fed them supper, Aaron got them…and life continued. But this drama-filled, yet anti-climatic afternoon meant that my parents were en route from Idaho on their ten-hour drive.

My parents got here the next day and still nothing had happened. They were only able to stay ten days and we were hoping that the majority of that would be on the postpartum end so I ended up putting so much emotional pressure on myself to just HAVE THIS BABY…and unfortunately, that rarely ever works! The next five days were an emotional time of lots of walks, hanging out with my parents, and trying to relax about going into labor. Sunday was Father’s Day and I thought it would be fun to give Aaron a baby for Father’s Day, but no such luck.

The following morning, Monday, June 18th, 2018, my contractions started regulating again, but were hardly painful. I timed them throughout the morning as we went to the park for a play-date with a group of moms from our church. They stayed regular at about seven minutes apart, but still not very painful. After the play-date we went to Lowe’s to pick up tomato cages and then for a brief grocery run. During that time, the contractions started to strengthen and were definitely becoming painful and were now about five minutes apart.

We got home and I let Aaron know what was happening and he came home. I also called my midwife, Julianne, while my parents made lunch. She got to the house around 1:30 and checked me (my first cervical check of the pregnancy), but I was only three centimeters dilated and the baby was still so high that she could barely reach my cervix. With that info, and the fact that it was the middle of the day and with my previous births I had tended to progress the most in the nighttime hours, we were pretty sure that it would be awhile before the baby came.

My parents had taken the kids to a nearby park for awhile so Julianne asked if I would be fine if she ran a couple errands while we waited for labor to progress. I was fine with that so she left and I decided to take a shower to help with some of the pain. It didn’t really do much because the contractions started to majorly pick up. Super painful and very close together, I moved quickly from the shower to just lying on my side on the bed with Aaron pushing on my back during the contractions. The next hour is pretty much just a constant blur of pain as the contractions just got more and more intense, with hardly any break in between them. I was timing them with an app on my phone and I had a contraction that was FOUR MINUTES LONG. These super-fast labors are something else…

At one point I remember pulling myself out of my pain-filled daze (I really withdraw into myself during active labor) and telling Aaron that we should probably text Julianne and tell her to come back to the house. To which he calmly replied that he already did and that she would be there in a couple minutes. I was SO thankful for his solid presence the whole time and the fact he had definitely done this before! He also texted my mom to come back from the park as we were planning on her being there for the birth. She brought the two girls with her as they had expressed interest in being at the birth.

Julianne and her assistant arrived, though I have no recollection of when. She saw that I was in transition so she started prepping everything. My mom arrived with the girls and they ended up coming in right as I was moving into transition. Due to the intensity of the crazy fast labor (as amazing as it might sound, I do NOT recommend a two hour labor!), I was being very loud and somewhat out of control so the girls wanted to go right back out and swung on their play-set for about ten minutes while I was pushing. The windows were open and it was interesting to hear their take on it all since they could still hear everything, like when I yelled at Aaron near the end of transition!

My mom obviously stayed though and as the birth photographer hadn’t arrived yet, Aaron told my mom to take some photos with her phone. I started pushing and at one point the baby’s heart rate started dropping so Julianne had me turn over to my other (right) side and thankfully it went right back up. I think I pushed twice and the baby’s head was out and we saw that she was en caul (i.e. still in her unbroken bag of waters). Julianne asked for permission to break the bag, which we granted, and then we saw that the amniotic fluid was full of old meconium (which Julianne thinks was from the previous weeks of contractions). At 3:46 P.M.. another push and the baby was totally out and I pulled her up onto my stomach. She was a little purple and still at first, but started perking up quickly as soon as Julianne started rubbing her down with a blanket. I found out that she was a girl, which I had thought all along.

Once we were sure that Saoirse was breathing fine and everything was okay, my mom went out and brought the girls in so they got to meet their new little sister within a few minutes of her birth and it was so sweet. The birth photographer finally got there about five minutes after the birth so she started taking pictures. My placenta took almost an hour to detach so while we were waiting on that, Saoirse nursed for the first time and my dad and Caedmon came in to meet her (Cedar didn’t want to come in until everyone extra had left) . Once the placenta finally detached, Julianne examined it to make sure it was healthy and explained all about it to the girls. Aaron had never been super into cutting the cord and as it was the first of my births that my mom was able to be a part of, Mom cut the cord and I gave Saoirse to her daddy so I could rinse off.

After my shower, Julianne gave Saoirse her newborn exam on our bed. She was perfect, but tiny at 5 lbs., 12 oz. and 19 inches long. Sometime around then we announced her name: Saoirse Maire. I discovered the name “Saoirse”, the Gaelic word for “freedom”, in my teens and since that time I had always wanted to name one of my daughters that. Different things happened around the time that Saoirse was conceived and we discovered we were expecting her that impressed upon me really strongly that we were going to have a girl and we were to name her “Saoirse” as a declaration of God’s promise of freedom. So my entire pregnancy I had thought of the baby as a little girl named Saoirse…and she was. “Maire” is the Gaelic form of “Mary/Marie” and is to honor my maternal grandmother, Theresa Mary, and my mom, Karen Marie, both strong, Irish women who are some of my biggest role models as a woman, wife, and mother.

For my last several pregnancies, my labors have gotten shorter by halves: Avila was eight hours, Caedmon was four, and now Saoirse, two hours. Cedar and Genoa were both in the 24 hour range. And honestly, though it probably sounds really nice to only be in labor for two hours, it was probably my hardest labor. Going from three centimeters dilated to the baby born in two hours requires basically constant contractions and so almost all Saoirse’s labor is just a blur of pain to me and I don’t remember much. And as someone who loves the experience of giving birth, that’s been hard. But she’s here and we’re so thankful and the last six months with her have been sheer joy. We’re so beyond thankful for Saoirse-love!

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Review: Simply Charlotte Mason Elementary Arithmetic Book 1 bundle

I still remember the day that my homeschool journey changed forever.

It was the summer of 2016 and my husband, Aaron, and I were able to head together to a homeschool convention for the day, minus any kids except for a little infant tag-along. With both of us having been homeschooled, this was definitely not the first homeschool convention we had been to, but the first as homeschooling parents and not students.  We had just finished our second year of homeschooling and while it hadn’t gone horribly, neither of us were super happy with it. We both had been homeschooled in very different ways (his was a lot of workbooks and a stricter approach; mine was more eclectic and laid-back) and felt strongly about the strengths of our respective approaches. It had been incredibly difficult to find a middle ground that we were both happy with.

Once at the conference, we decided to attend most workshops apart in order to maximize our time. Aaron headed to his first one and I to mine: “Charlotte Mason and Her Methods” presented by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason. I had been told multiple times by different people that they thought I would really like the Charlotte Mason approach, and I knew some of her basic philosophies, but I wasn’t really clear on how her methods worked out practically.

Well, that workshop clarified many things and I pretty much walked out of the room on air. THIS WAS WHAT I WANTED. In that hour, I had fallen in love with the Charlotte Mason method and knew I wanted to use that approach in our homeschooling. I found Aaron and talked on and on about it all and we spent much time at the Simply Charlotte Mason booth, looking through their materials and talking with Sonya’s incredibly helpful husband, John. A lot of it really resonated with Aaron as well, but he wanted to hear more so we decided to attend the next SCM workshop together and this one was on math.

Due to a fussy baby, I ended up not hearing all of this talk, but Aaron did and I think that’s what finally sold him on the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling. Being a finish carpenter, he’s a very meticulous and mathematical person and how we chose to teach math is very important to him. And the CM approach just made so much sense. From that day on, we both fully embraced the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling and haven’t looked back. Finally finding a direction we both were happy with was literally life-changing.

Needless to say, since then I’ve always had a soft spot for SCM’s materials even if we chose to not use their curriculum for every aspect of our homeschooling journey. I love their organization and clear way of explaining things, and their intentionality in every product they design and sell. And I so appreciate that they take the time to make each of their products beautiful: that’s incredibly important to me and does much to help our homeschooling.

Currently, for our homeschool, we use SCM curriculum for language arts (I highly recommend their Delightful Reading kits…we’ve been very happy with them), art studies and habit training. (I also have many of their topical resource books on the CM method and philosophy.) For history and science, we’re using living books from lists that I’ve curated and narrating and notebooking the content. And after trying several other math curricula, we’ve settled on RightStart Math and have been incredibly happy with it.

From all that I’ve read and learned about the CM approach to math, RightStart seemed the closest that I could find in methodology. I have the SCM Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching book and accompanying DVD and while they’re helpful, I wanted something with a little more guidance. So I was incredibly intrigued last fall when I saw that SCM was releasing an Elementary Arithmetic curriculum! Book 1 was set to be released near the end of the year.

Having just purchased two grades worth of RightStart curriculum and manipulatives, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to put $100 toward another math curriculum when we were so happy with what we were using, but I was so incredibly curious how SCM compared to RightStart. So I emailed SCM to ask about doing a product review on it and they were more than happy to oblige!

As Genoa is in first grade, and doing RightStart Level A, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to compare the two approaches as the SCM Book 1 covered much of the same material. We received the Book 1 bundle (which includes The Charlotte Mason Elementary Arithmetic Series Book 1 book, the Book 1 kit filled with the manipulatives needed for the lessons, and a 3/4″ Gridded Math Notebook) and couldn’t wait to get started!

REVIEW

Being a very aesthetically-driven person, the first thing that struck me was how the curriculum looked. I know that might not matter to some people, but it’s huge to me and the book and accompanying kit were by far the most beautiful math curriculum I had ever seen! The book (non-consumable and used by the teacher to orally give the lessons) is a gorgeous hardcover with an adorable photo on the front that completely captures the spirit of the journey undertaken when starting to formally teach your child math. As with their other kits, all the manipulatives called for are neatly organized in an easy-to-access box.

The Book 1 kit of manipulatives is not a necessary purchase as all the manipulatives used (beads, buttons, mini pencils, chenille stems/pipe cleaners, craft sticks, etc.) could be easily gathered elsewhere, but I appreciated having it ready-to-go. However, this is a definite advantage that SCM has over RightStart as the manipulatives called for in the latter curriculum are a sizable investment.

Genoa, my six-year-old first-grader, has Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia, and one of the ways that has manifested itself for her is in some fine motor skills delays. Writing and drawing of any kind is difficult for her and that has made many math curricula not a good option for her as they are very writing-heavy. That’s one of the big things that stood out to me when hearing about the CM approach to mathematics was that it’s almost completely oral and tactile in the early grades, with writing the numbers and sums/equations as being something special that the student gets to do occasionally, rather than that making up the majority of the work. The gridded math notebook is an optional purchase to the curriculum, but the format (in 3/4″, 1/2″ or 1/4″ grids) makes it easy for the student to work on writing their numbers neatly and keeps the work organized. The gridded dry erase board, that can be purchased separately or comes with the Book 1 kit, works the same way.

As someone with a lot to manage outside of homeschooling, I love the idea of an open-and-go math curriculum as I feel like that’s an area where I don’t feel nearly as confident putting together my own curriculum. The SCM Elementary Arithmetic is definitely that and I really appreciated that aspect. The lessons are well-organized and clearly laid out, telling you exactly what to say/ask and do if that’s wanted, but also being flexible enough if you want to customize it to your student. Tips are scattered throughout as friendly reminders.

Like several other math approaches, money is used to help teach place value, but SCM also uses the method of “ten bundles”. Ten of the same type of manipulatives are bundled together, using the chenille stems/pipe cleaners, metal rings or elastic bands from the Book 1 kit. My girls loved putting the ten bundles together and the concrete act of making them seemed to really reinforce the concept.

CONCLUSION

“Lessons in Numbers are hallmarked in a Charlotte Mason education by the unfolding of ideas in your child’s mind. Storybooks are not used to teach concepts in arithmetic in a Charlotte Mason education, as she considered mathematics a logical and melodious speech in itself, fully able to meet the requirements of the mind.” – Richele R. Baburina in the introduction to The Charlotte Mason Elementary Arthmetic Series, Book 1

Overall, I really loved the idea of a completely Charlotte Mason method-based math curriculum. The more I learn about her philosophy on mathematics, it just makes so much sense and is definitely the approach I want to use with my children.

It was interesting and encouraging for me to note how similar the SCM “pure” Charlotte Mason curriculum was to RightStart, the curriculum that we had been using for the past year and had loved for my first and third graders with very different learning needs. Especially as SCM has only released the Grade 1 book so far so I need something as my third grader continues to progress.

Though it’s hard to fully deduce from just the first book, in some ways it feels like the SCM Elementary Arithmetic scope is somewhat narrow. It covers numbers 1-100, money, skip counting, addition and subtraction. Those are all good things, but for the same grade, RightStart also adds in things like introductions to geometry, time, measurement and fractions. I really appreciate the early introduction and gradual building on that knowledge. While math is math, I wonder if a “pure” CM approach would adequately prepare children for the mathematical demands of the 21st century. However, as stated earlier, this can’t really be accurately seen in just the first book of a curriculum and I’m very curious to see how it progresses. The overview of the coming books is:

Book 2: The Four Rules and Tables/Work with Numbers to 1000
Book 3: Tables continued/Work with Numbers to 10,000
Book 4: Long Multiplication & Division/Weights & Measures
Book 5: Decimals/Factors/Fractions/Percentages

That concern aside, I really loved the curriculum! The beauty and organization of it was huge for me and if I had to purchase it, the affordability and flexibility of it were great. As with every single other SCM resource I’ve seen and used, it was incredibly user-friendly…SCM knows how to make life easier for the homeschooling mama and they do it well. They’ve taken the Charlotte Mason mathematics concepts introduced in their first math resources (Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching  book and “Charlotte Mason’s Living Math: A Guided Journey” DVD) and broken them down in easy-to-use chunks, perfect for the busy mama teaching her little one the basics of math.

As I shared at the beginning of this review, my first introduction to Simply Charlotte Mason was through a conference session that took the ambiguous philosophies I had heard floating around and made them concrete. They showed me how I could take these wonderful sounding ideas and make them real for my children and I in our homeschool. To me that’s the biggest beauty of this SCM Elementary Arithmetic curriculum: it took all these great ideas I’ve heard about the Charlotte Mason approach to math and made them real for me. Now I can finally teach math to my littles the way that I want.

(Note: I received this product in exchange for my honest review, and all opinions stated are my own.)

The birth story of Caedmon Isaiah

From the beginning, this pregnancy had been very different from my previous three pregnancies. There had been several scares in the first half of the pregnancy, when I had unexplained spotting and discovered the beginnings of a prolapsed cervix (which thankfully resolved itself as I moved into my second trimester). The spotting got worse around 22 weeks, and along with checking some other possible issues, I ended up having an ultrasound to check for the possibility of placenta previa. We had avoided ultrasounds (unless medically necessary) with the other pregnancies, so this was the first time I had gotten one of this kind (after my first spotting episode, I had had a very basic one at nine weeks to make sure the baby’s heart was still beating). Since we were having to have the ultrasound anyway, we decided to find out the gender this time…we hadn’t with the other three, and while we enjoyed the surprise, we also thought it would be fun to know ahead of time for once. And also, while I had always had strong feelings about what the gender was with the other three (and was right every time!), I had felt even more strongly than normal that this baby was a boy and wanted to make sure so I wasn’t calling a girl a “he” for the next four months! Turns out, I was right again…it was a BOY!…and very thankfully, there was no sign of placenta previa. After ruling out a couple other possibilities, my midwife determined that all my spotting was caused by a friable cervix; basically one that’s very irritable. Thankfully, it generally is harmless and doesn’t cause labor issues. Interestingly enough, after the ultrasound, the spotting stopped completely and never came back.

Thankfully, the second half of the pregnancy was pretty uneventful though I was significantly more tired than my other second and third trimesters. Even though Cedar had come four weeks early, I was pretty convinced that this baby would come close to his due date as Genoa had come on her’s and Avila, the day before her’s. Also, my Braxton-Hicks had been very minimal and no preterm labor at all!

So when I started having regular pains in my back and hips in the evening of Monday, February 22, 2016, I immediately brushed them off as gas ((the joys of pregnancy!) from the lentils we ate for supper. The baby’s due date wasn’t until March 16, which was over three weeks away…and I could never feel my uterus tightening when I had the pains. The “gas” pains continued through the night, and I didn’t sleep much. I woke up Tuesday morning, mentally vowing not to eat lentils again until after I had the baby! My thoughts of lentils disappeared as soon as I went into the bathroom and discovered some bloody show. While I had never had bloody show with my other births, I knew that it meant that something had definitely been happening throughout the night and those hadn’t been simple gas pains! I called my midwife, Dina, and let her know. While the bloody show didn’t necessarily mean that labor was imminent, she wanted me to keep her in the loop if what I now knew were contractions picked up again.

Aaron had been planning to go to an interview later that day so thankfully he was home for the morning. Unfortunately, as the morning progressed, the contractions increased and we realized that he should probably stay home (though thankfully he was able to reschedule the interview for a couple days later). The increasing contractions also presented us with a dilemma: while they were only four or five an hour at this point, I knew from my previous labors that those type of contractions definitely still “did something” for my body and that real labor was coming. However, I wasn’t 37 weeks along until the next day, and in our state, a midwife cannot legally deliver a baby at home before 37 weeks gestation. Even though it was only one day from that, if I gave birth that day and my midwife delivered me at home, she could have her license taken away. So the plan became to try to slow contractions as much as possible and just try to make it past midnight, so that we could legally have the baby at home. (PLEASE NOTE: if there had been any other complications, etc., we would not have hesitated to go the hospital and were planning to if active labor started that day.) My midwife recommended a tincture by Wishgarden called “Welcome Womb” that is specifically made to calm the uterus. Aaron picked that up at our local health food store and every half hour I took the dose recommended by my midwife. It tasted SO nasty, but thankfully, along with trying to rest as much as I could and take warm magnesium baths, it seemed to slow my contractions down. I let some family and close friends know what was going on so they could be praying.

The day slowly went by, my contractions down to two or three an hour. At my midwife’s direction, I stopped taking the tincture around 9 that evening and took another magnesium bath before bed. The contractions seemed to be petering out and I didn’t know if we’d have the baby the next day or if this was indicative of the next several weeks.

I slept for a couple hours and was awoken around 2:00 am by a contraction. They were back with a vengeance, and were happening every five minutes or so. We were definitely having this baby today…but very thankfully, it was February 24th, and I was officially 37 weeks so we were legal for a homebirth! I let Dina know and she headed over to our house. The contractions were quickly increasing in intensity, and I resumed the laboring position I had favored with Avila of lying on my side on our bed. When each contraction hit, the only thing that helped the pain was for Aaron to push heavily on my back and hip.

Dina got to our house around three, and checked my progress. I was already at 4 cm, so we started to get set up. The kids’ bedroom is right next to our’s and I’m not a quiet laborer, so we turned up their sleeping music, turned on their bathroom fan, and shut their door, hoping they would be able to sleep through my moans. In between contractions, Aaron and Dina prepped our bed. While I had waterbirths with Cedar and Genoa and loved them, I wasn’t comfortable with birthing in our city’s water, and we also didn’t really want to deal with the hassle of setting up a birth pool in our upstairs carpeted bedroom. I had planned on laboring some in the shower, but the contractions were already so painful that the thought of standing up through them sounded horrible!

The next several hours passed in a blur of incredibly painful and intense contractions. Dina’s assistant arrived around five, though I wasn’t aware of much outside of getting through each contraction. Aaron stayed by my side, pushing on my back and hip through every contraction…his arms very pretty sore later on! Around 6:20, he was going to quickly head downstairs to call the friend we had on call to watch the kids during labor (my parents were planning on coming closer to the due date, but we had someone on back-up in case the baby came early). He left right after my last contraction ended, thinking he had at least a couple minutes to make the call. However, within a minute, another contraction started and it was bad! I screamed at my midwife to come push on my back and hip, and then immediately felt my body start pushing on it’s own. When that happened, I felt the baby’s head start to crown, and yelled, “The head is coming!”. I was still lying on my side and was vaguely aware of Aaron coming back (apparently Dina’s assistant ran downstairs to get him as soon as I said that the head was coming), but was focusing on keeping my body from pushing the head out all at once. I had instinctively reached down once the head descended and I felt his hair and noticed the tininess of his head as it pushed out. In all, the entire pushing phase was probably about a minute long, with my water breaking as I was pushing him out.

As I pushed his little body out, I pulled him onto my chest as Aaron helped me sit up. The baby was SO tiny, and covered with a lot of vernix. He wasn’t moving much or making much noise at all, which, after Cedar’s birth, really scared me. Dina gave him a couple puffs of oxygen from the tank she had, and a brisk rub with a towel and he started to move and cry a little bit. It was SUCH a relief!

Aaron and Dina helped me move back on the bed to lean against our headboard, and despite his tininess, the baby started nursing right away, and his latch was perfect from the beginning. He nursed for awhile, as Dina and her assistant worked on cleaning up the birth mess. Aaron called back our friend who was going to watch the kids, letting her know the baby was born and we didn’t need her to come and watch the kids for the birth anymore. Even though the baby was nursing so well, my placenta wasn’t detaching and coming out. Dina stopped cleaning up to focus on kneading my abdomen to get my uterus to contract more, with these afterpains being almost as bad as the labor contractions! It took awhile, but the placenta eventually detached and I delivered it. Even with all the work to get it out, it was thankfully completely intact and Dina prepared it to give to the woman who was encapsulating it for me. Somewhat humorously, I had an appointment with that woman later that morning to sign paperwork, etc…and we also ended up giving her the placenta then as well!

Shortly after I delivered the placenta, Genoa and Avila woke up and Aaron brought them into our bedroom. It was so fun to introduce them to the baby since they had no clue he was coming when they had fallen asleep the night before (and amazingly, they had all stayed asleep through my very-less-than-quiet labor, despite their bedroom being right next to our’s!). Cedar woke up a bit later and came in as well.

After all the kids were there, and the baby stopped nursing for awhile, Dina did the newborn exam. Everything looked great, and the baby was so small that he fit into the hood of Avi’s bath towel that he was lying on for the exam (he was 5 lbs., 7 oz…the tiniest of my babies by a whole pound!)! Once the exam was finished, Aaron held the baby while I got into the herb bath that Dina had prepared. As I was kind of tired of baths after so many magnesium baths the day before, I didn’t stay in there long. After I cleaned up, I got back in bed and started nursing the baby again, while Aaron and I talked over the name.

As I mentioned earlier, I had an incredibly strong feeling all of the pregnancy that this baby was a boy. And along with that, even before he was born, I had felt like his name was Caedmon Isaiah. For awhile, we were leaning toward a different form of Isaiah for the middle name, but the basics of his name were the same since before he was conceived. Though Cedar and Genoa’s names were chosen just because we liked how they sounded, Avila’s name ended up having a lot of meaning behind it (the details are in her birth story), and Caedmon’s name held much meaning as well. For a variety of reasons, the previous year had been the hardest Aaron and I had ever gone through, by far, and “Isaiah” was a reminder of the Biblical book of that name that is full of promises of the Lord’s redemption. A reminder that, even if we can’t see how, Jesus can redeem all the pain and hardship of the past months. Caedmon was a name that we had always liked, and after we chose it, I found out it meant “wise warrior”. That had meaning as well, knowing that the Lord can fight our battles that we have no idea how to fight.

Even though we had that name chosen throughout the pregnancy, we didn’t want to “officially” name him that until he was born and we saw him. After talking it through, Aaron and I agreed that the name definitely fit and we told the kids and called our families to let them know. And in the last month, it’s become even more apparent how perfect it is for him. Despite his tininess, Caedmon is so strong…he’s been picking up his head since the day he was born, and started rolling himself from his side to his tummy before he was a week old! The “warrior” part is coming through clearly, and he also has regular times when he looks so serious and “Wise”. And though it hasn’t happened how I envisioned it, I’m already seeing the Lord’s redemption of the hard things.

In the craziness of our life right now, Caedmon has been such a little island of sweetness for me. He’s such an incredible gift, and I’m so thankful!

Almost three weeks later…

…and I have yet to do another blog post here! :So much for my hope that an Instagram account and updated blog look would inspire me to blog more…  Though honestly, it’s not inspiration that I need…it’s time.  There’s lots I want to blog about, and I would gladly do so regularly if someone would just come over and watch my kids, fold my laundry, and cook supper for us — for free!  Anybody?!

Despite the lack of blogginess, I have been posting to Instagram quite a bit…or at least quite a bit more than I originally thought I would.  It’s been really fun — I’m so enjoying sharing our “natural” approach to living, from what we eat and how I cook, stuff I use for skin care, what type of tea I drink, etc.  I’m also (slowly!) going through my cookbook shelf and sharing my favorites.  And as is now obvious, I opted pretty quickly to not do the Instagram round-up posts I mentioned in my last post.  It just seemed a little overly repetitious since the Instagram feed is on the blog sidebar.

I also recently did a couple more guest posts for my friend, Gretchen‘s, “For the Love of Babywearing” series.  I concluded my “Babywearing Basics” series with an “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions” post., addressing all the different questions I’ve been asked about babywearing that I didn’t get to in the first two posts.  I also ended up writing a post on “5 reasons not to ‘help’ a babywearing mama with her carrier“…it ended up going pretty viral on Facebook, and I’m guessing because it’s a subject that a lot of babywearing mamas can relate to.  My littles and I were also featured in Gretchen’s photo gallery post “Wear All The Babies“…so fun to see “real life” pictures of other mamas wearing their babies in everyday situations.

So that’s where I’ve been on the web these last weeks that I have not been here!  We’ll see what happens over these next months…

Some changes and some guest posts

The last couple of years have brought a lot of changes for our family, and it’s been almost all I can do to keep up with it all!  Last summer, we moved back across the country from eastern Tennessee and are now living in the mountains of Colorado.  And although we love this area, the transition has been hard — we’ve been here over a year and have yet to find a church and make any close friends.  Finding our way in a new area is always time-consuming, and the past six months have also brought new challenges: we “officially” started homeschooling, made some pretty significant diet changes after we discovered that Genoa has gluten and corn intolerances, and now I’m growing our fourth little one…coming in March!  Needless to say, writing has been pushed to the very back burner.  But when a good friend asks you to write a guest post (or three!) to contribute to her month-long series on a subject you’re very passionate about, what’s a girl to do?!

And that’s what happened.  My friend, Gretchen, is doing a series this month on babywearing, and wanted me to do a “Babywearing Basics” post.  That post morphed into three and reignited my love of writing…which turned into a public Instagram account since I still don’t have much time for regular long blog posts…which turned into a new blog theme that’s actually mobile responsive (which I didn’t even know was a thing until recently!) and a slight name change to mesh more thoroughly with my public Instagram account.  Lots of changes, and most of them spurred on by Gretchen who “gets” this stuff way more than I do and put up with all my techy-inept questions…so big thanks to her!

First — the babywearing guest posts.  The first one is a run-down of carrier types, and the second is on babywearing safety.  The third, coming at the end of the month, will be a babywearing Q&A…so if you have any questions on the subject, leave them in a comment and I’ll try to be sure and address them there.  There’s also a great giveaway going on right now for a custom babywearing wool felt figure…I have one (that’s mine pictured in the post) and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Definitely enter!

Second — the new Instagram account.  Yes, I’m very late to the party, but what else is new?!  I’m going to have a live feed of the account on my sidebar, and I also hope to do a regular (hopefully weekly, but I’m not promising anything!) round-up of my posts here.  And obviously, you can follow me on Instagram too.

I’m hopeful that all these changes might spur me on to blog regularly again, but we’ll see.  It’s always a matter of time, and with a new baby coming, I doubt I’ll be getting more of that any time soon.  If you haven’t given up on my blog yet, I thank you all for your patience!

Simple Essential Oils – Part Six: The follow-up post

This post should have been written a long time ago.  But it wasn’t.  One reason being that I’ve found it incredibly difficult to find the brain space and time to write much at all since having three little ones five and under (as is clearly evidenced by the fact that the last post here was written over a year and a half ago!).  But the main reason is that I’ve been really conflicted on how to go about writing this post.  I don’t want to cast a bad light on a company that I still dearly love and use often, but at the same time, the information I presented and recommendations I made when I first wrote this series a couple years ago has changed.  And considering that this series still gets some traffic and people reading it, I felt it was necessary to do a follow-up.

In short, I no longer recommend Beeyoutiful essential oils as a great option for those wanting to get into using essential oils.  It’s not that I think they’re horrible oils, or that I no longer support Beeyoutiful as a company.  I fully support Beeyoutiful as a natural supplement company and still order quite a bit from them (we use their Miracle Salve almost daily!).  However, I don’t think they’re the best option for essential oils, and have found several that I think are better.

Several years ago, when I first started researching and using essential oils, there were two options that I knew of: essential oils from the popular multi-level marketing companies, Young Living and doTerra, or those purchased from health food stores.  I didn’t want to buy from the MLMs as I thought their oils were incredibly over-priced, and even with the little research I had done up to that point, I recognized that the majority of their usage recommendations were unsafe (using them undiluted/neat and taking them internally without the supervision of an aromatherapist).  Even though I knew I wasn’t required to use the oils as they recommended, I couldn’t, in good conscience, support companies who made such recommendations just to get people to buy more of their products.  I didn’t really want to buy the majority of the essential oils offered in health food stores as most of the ones I had seen up to that point didn’t seem like they were very good quality (i.e. there was a lack of basic information about the oil on the bottle, all the oils were priced the same regardless of type, etc.).  At the time, Beeyoutiful seemed like the great third option: they weren’t over-priced and the company was very conservative in their usage recommendations, but from what I had researched about essential oils so far, they still seemed like quality oils.

As I talked about when I first wrote the Simple Essential Oils series, I used Beeyoutiful oils for several years and was very happy with them.  I had a basic collection and I was slowly figuring out how to safely use the oils for different ailments my family came up against, and how to effectively use them to replace conventional cleaners and the like.  However, in the last two years, I’ve been researching essential oils a lot more and a whole new world has opened before me!  I discovered that there were a lot of others out there like me who were striving to learn more about essential oils, but didn’t want that to involve the MLM companies.  And through these others, I found out that there’s quite a few essential oil companies that sell quality oils for a reasonable price.  I was so excited about all the options that I now knew about!

The more I researched though, I discovered several signs that made me wonder if Beeyoutiful oils were as great as I thought they were.   They failed to supply some information about the oil that I was learning was very important — things like where the plant was grown and what part of the plant the oil was extracted from.  Also, the more I read about aromatherapy and discussed things with certified aromatherapists, I started to wonder how much Beeyoutiful actually know about aromatherapy.  Not that they were trying to pass themselves off as something they weren’t, but essential oils are just a small part of their company, and therefore they couldn’t make aromatherapy their focus.

Along with those wonderings, I started to become concerned about some of the usage recommendations that I was seeing from Beeyoutiful regarding different ways to use their essential oils.  Now that I had a much better grasp on the safety considerations that come with delving into aromatherapy, practices and recommendations that I had originally taken at face value raised some red flags for me.  Things like not mentioning when an oil would be unsafe to use around young children (this article has a lot of good information about that), and recommending dilutions that were much higher than they ought to be.  Seeing these tendencies in the recommendations made by the company made me feel that I could no longer recommend them as a source to others beginning their journey into using essential oils.

But all is definitely not lost — there are several other options out there to use as essential oils suppliers without having to get caught up in the over-priced and dangerously-marketed MLMs.

My top favourite supplier is definitely Plant Therapy.  They are an amazing company and I have yet to hear anything bad about them (which, if you’ve read much online about essential oils, is pretty rare!).  Their oils are great quality and very reasonably-priced (with free shipping on every order!).  My favourite aspect of their company though, is their focus on essential oil safety.  There are no crazy recommendations specific to their company just to get you to use up your oils faster so you can buy more.  All their recommendations follow basic guidelines recognized in the global aromatherapy world.  Plant Therapy even teamed up with Robert Tisserand, the world-renowned expert on essential oil safety, to develop their line of KidSafe blends, specifically made with oils that are safe to use with young children.  As a mama to little ones, this was huge for me!  I could go on about the company, but suffice to say: I highly recommend Plant Therapy to anyone looking to get started in essential oils.

While Plant Therapy is my go-to, I have also been very happy with Florihana essential oils.  They’re a small company in France, and make great quality oils, but with international shipping and all, ordering directly from them can be pretty expensive.  As such, I’ve ordered all of my Florihana essential oils through Tropical Traditions.  I’ve been very happy with the oils themselves, but Tropical Tradtions’ stock seems to fluctuate significantly so I’ve only purchased from them a handful of times.

Well, I guess that covers most of what has been mulling around in my brain about this post for the past year or so.  I hope to do (another!) follow-up post sometime in the near future with links to different websites and books that have been helpful to me as I’ve continued to learn more and more about using essential oils in my family.  I definitely don’t know everything about the topic (not even close!), but if you have any questions, I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned.

 

Crunchy interviews

As you may have noticed, what with a new baby in the house and me figuring out how to be a mama to three littles three and under, not much blogging has been happening.  Type-able computer time is at an all-time low, as is creative brain power.  However, I can still answer questions, and so recently I participated in two interviews at the blog, Nourishing Simplicity.  It was “So Long Disposables, Hello Cloth” month and as the entire topic is one I feel strongly about, it was fun to share my experiences.  Along with several other mamas, we talked about using cloth diapers and cloth menstrual pads (mama cloth).  And as fun as it was to participate, I also really enjoyed hearing other women’s perspectives as well.

So Long Disposables, Hello Cloth Diapers {Interviews with Four Bloggers}

So Long Disposables, Hello Cloth Pads {Interviews with Three Bloggers}

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences as well!