Thursday, April 18, 2013

table for two

One of the things I hemmed and hawed and dragged my feet about was buying a first table and chair for Vicki.  This is sort of an essential piece of Montessori home equipment, to be used for meals, work, and other independent activities.  It's helpful because it allows the child to delineate whatever experience they are having:  eating your yogurt?  Go sit at your table.  Want to do some transferring with tongs?  Take the work to your table.  It provides a beginning and ending point for the activity.

Michael Olaf recommends a very specific first table and chair, ergonomically fitted to the infant.  I never bought these, because I really wanted something that would last a bit longer for Vicki Jo, size-wise.

For her 2nd birthday, Jeff and I got her the table and chairs you see above.  They are KidKraft, which is one of my favorite brands of children's furniture.  Jeff did the assembly - pretty quick compared to some other items.  You can see that it's still a touch big for her.  She can get into the chairs easily, but needs help pushing them up to the table.  I'm okay with this, as it means she will be able to comfortably sit there for at least another year or two.

There was really only one place in our small kitchen that the table and chairs could go.  We put them right in front of the big window.  Now Vicki has a spot of her very own to sit, gaze out at the neighborhood kitties and house building adventures, drink her milk, and not be quite so underfoot in the morning.  We both love it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

labor foods

As we approached our 36-week home visit, our midwives gave me a list of items to have ready before the birth.  They wanted them all gathered in one place.  Some of them make perfect sense:  old towels, trash bags, plastic sheeting, ibuprofen.  Some of them left me scratching my head a bit:  apricot nectar, three baby hats, bendable straws . . . ?

Then there was the food list.  This was really kind of fun for me.  In addition to the aforementioned apricot nectar, I am supposed to have prune juice, electrolyte drink, protein snacks, carb snacks, and food for midwives and support people (especially coffee!).

I got the juices, no problem.

For protein snacks, I decided to have on hand:
-boiled eggs
-homemade fruit snacks (lots of gelatin)

For carb snacks:
-assorted fruit
-homemade crackers

These are both carb and protein snacks:
-smoothie popsicles (yogurt + fruit)
-granola (oats + nuts)

For the support folks:
-oatmeal raisin cookies:  I made up a big batch of dough and froze half of it.  I kept the other half rolled in wax paper in the fridge.  I've baked up a few of them, and will just have them ready!  (I don't have a special recipe - I just use the one on the container of oats.)

And for the electrolyte drink, I found a few different recipes online to make your own.  They all involve these basic ingredients, in different proportions:  salt, water, honey, citrus.  Here's my recipe:

Electrolyte Drink
2 T raw honey
1/2 t sea salt
juice of one lemon
warm water

Mix first three ingredients in a quart-size mason jar.  Fill with warm enough water to dissolve the honey and salt.  Put the lid on and shake well.  Be sure to leave some headspace if freezing - it will expand.  Pop it in the fridge or freezer to sip as needed.

Hopefully I will just remember to pull it from the freezer when the time comes!

This drink would be really good to make up and have on hand for when your family gets a stomach virus, or if you are a big-time exerciser in the summer and need to replace lost fluids quickly.

Watch - when labor actually starts, I won't be hungry at all . . . oh well - these are still great snacks just to have around!

[This post is part of Fight Back Friday 12/20/13.]

Friday, April 12, 2013

the newborn toy box

We are in the final stages of preparing our home and our stuff to receive baby Todd.  Of course, there is no real "getting ready."  If there's one thing I learned the first time around, it's not to get too ready, because you'll have to change everything anyway.

But we got down the little cradle, the rocker, the nursing footstool.  We filled up a basket with diapers and wipes and other things we will need to change him.  And I sorted through the clothes, washed them, and got him a drawer ready in my dresser.

I also went through an old box of Vicki's toys and materials that she has outgrown.  Now, let's be honest:  newborns don't need toys!  They need holding and nursing and changing and feeding.  But having a little cigar box of items to help entertain him seems like a good idea.

Here's what I've got:

Clockwise from top left:  perfect pacifier from Michael Olaf, Plan Toys roller, a teether and a rattle from Little Alouette, Haba clutching beads, beads on a string (part of a 5-piece set from Pinkhouse Toys), and a wooden rattle I found on Amazon.  I only bought the Haba beads and the rattle from Amazon new.  Vicki had the beads and loved them, but we lost them somewhere along the way.

We also have some high-contrast black and white art cards for observing or hanging.  And of course our assortment of board books.  It's so nice not having to start from scratch!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

36 weeks and moxa

I've been a little scarce.  I apologize.  Easter has a tendency to do that to us clergy types.  Add in pregnancy, toddler, best friend's wedding in New York, attempting to sweep and mop on some kind of regular basis, asking my dog to stop shedding so much godforsaken hair everywhere, and a winter that just wouldn't stop . . . and blogging kind of seemed unattractive?  But I'm back.  And I want to tell you about moxa sticks.  First, though:  pictures.

Here's a little side-by-side for you of 36 weeks with Vicki (on the left), and Todd (right). He is still a good deal higher than she was, and I don't feel nearly as miserable.  Plus, you get the bonus puppy AND baby photobomb in the more recent picture!  I am way less swollen than I was at this point with Vicki, not having the backaches and shoulderaches that I did with her, and I just generally feel better.

Okay, back to the moxa.  See, I went for my 34-week appointment with Bobbi, one of our midwives, and she shocked me.  First of all, my blood pressure was up (ugh).  That wasn't really so shocking.  I think the culprit is something I can't do a lot about:  stress.  I'm trying a few new things, including acupuncture, chiropractic, and more magnesium in the form of Epsom salt baths.

Bobbi also closed her eyes and used her hands to manipulate my belly, making a visual map of where she thought the baby was located.  She felt and felt, and then opened her eyes and said, "Yep - baby is breech." What?!  But I had been feeling that firm little bottom just below my right ribs for weeks!  Turns out the firm boulder-ish lump is really a skull.

Now, at 34 weeks, this was really not a huge concern.  Babies flip all the time.  He could flip right-side down, then flip back up again!  But it's something I want to work on while there is still a good amount of room for movement in the uterus.

My midwives will not deliver a baby that they know to be breech.  Sometimes it happens by surprise, and they go with it.  But I will have to find other care if Todd persists in this position - something I'd really rather not do at this point!

I decided to try acupuncture and chiropractic.  I was able to book an appointment at our community acupuncture clinic (sidenote:  how awesome is it that we have a community acupuncture clinic half a mile from our house that charges $15 per appointment!?) first.  I went in, described my issues (high blood pressure and a breech baby), and Alexa said, "Oh, the 34th week is perfect!  We are going to do some moxa."  It turns out there is a very specialized Chinese Traditional Medicine technique for breech babies.  Here is what she did:  she took two little things that looked like earplugs, and lit one end of them with a lighter until they burned brightly like coals.  The other end was adhesive.  She stuck them on my pinky toes, just below the base of the toenail.  She said to tell her if they became uncomfortably hot.  She also did some "regular" acupuncture with needles in my arms, shins, and feet.  Then she reclined my chair and left me to rest.

I immediately felt the baby become very active.  He kicked and pulled, and I felt his head turning to my right side, almost totally transverse.  He didn't flip all the way (I don't think), but he was certainly trying!

Alexa also sent me home with my very own moxa stick, instructing me to use it every night for ten minutes until I felt the baby turn.  The one she sent with me was different from the little plugs she had used.  My moxa stick is like a thick incense stick - the size of one of those big "first crayons."  It's actually a cigar made of mugwort herb.  I have to light it with our oil lamp because it takes so long to glow.  A lighter would burn me. Then, I sit down and hold it near the base of my pinky toenail, switching sides when it becomes too hot to withstand.  I go back and forth for ten minutes.  Every time, I feel the baby becoming very active again.

After I do my moxibustion each night, I feel very calm and peaceful.  In the same way, going to the acupuncture clinic is just a very calming experience.  It is a large room full of recliners, with people sleeping or reading as they rest and take their treatment - no loud talking, no phone conversations.  Just little murmurs between the acupuncturists and patients, and occasionally a snore.  It is dim, and they have lovely herbal tea you can sip from small ceramic teacups.  Just spending half an hour there, regardless of what they do with the needles, feels really good.  I've decided to go twice a week through the end of pregnancy.

Like I said, no big flip yet . . . but we still have time!  I went to the chiropractor a couple of weeks ago too, but I will save her techniques for another post.