Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nutritive Tea Blends for Pregnancy and Life

There are a lot of nutritive, supportive herbs out there that are beneficial to the pregnant body.  Here are some ideas for nutritive tea blends that give tasty combinations (although I'm not a magician, they still taste like herbs and not juice) and some ideas for blends to support some of the different states of pregnancy.  These blends are also helpful for lactating mamas, and really anyone who is looking to nurture their bodies by increasing their intake of minerals and phytonutrients.

Nutritive Blend I
Raspberry Leaf
Red Clover Flowers
Burdock Root

This is very "green" tasting.  I like it that way, but milk, honey and maybe even some chai spices (licorice or fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger) can be added to improve flavor.

Calming Blend
Catnip (optional, for stronger brew)

Passionflower or motherwort can be used in place of catnip to change the strength and quality of the tea, but both of these herbs brew a bitter tea.

Nutritive Blend II
Dandelion Root
Red Clover Flowers
Rose Hips
Mint or Ginger

This may generally be more palatable, especially with the hibiscus and mint or ginger.  The hibiscus and rose hips are high in vitamin C, which favors iron absorption from the green herbs whereas the first nutritive tea recipe contains iron as well, but the calcium from the green herbs is more likely to be absorbed in greater quantity from Nutritive Blend I.

Tasty Herbal Blend
Rooibus (also called Red Tea)
Dried Orange peel

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend Update: Baby Names and Blessingways

It's been a busy weekend so far, and I'm not even half-way through!  We're getting major progress made on cleaning up the property.  We made what seems like the semi-final trip to the dump.  I don't know if I've already mentioned how much trash was here when we moved in, but it was SOOO MUCH!  And we've been charged with the clean up of said trash, which is almost finished!  We, or rather our very generous friends who came down from Seattle to help us with our workload, also took about a year and a half's worth of glass recycling in too.  (Our garbage service didn't have glass recycling as an option).   We got some packing done (half of Ami's 70-year collection of National Geographics, which btw is definately in our top three craigslist scores of all time-- they were free!) and reconstructed a load of cardboard boxes too. 

This was all before heading off to my friend/classmate from midwifery school's blessingway.  It was a really lovely party where I got a chance to catch up with some mama friends I haven't seen in a while, one of whom is also pregnant with almost the exact same due date as me...so exciting!  It really made me realize how easy it is for me to get sucked into my little zone out here and neglect the friendships I have with all kinds of amazing, beautiful, fun, inspiring people...especially lately with moving.  So my social life needs more attention (I'm wondering if there is some sort of astrological explanation in my chart for this so I could get some more insight...) but anyhoo, back to the blessingway...I proceeded to get completely trashed on chocolate cake and icecream sundae (also with chocolate) and a chocolate covered strawberry.  The amount of cake I ate was only about 1" by 2" and the sundae was also tiny.  But since I've been pregnant I've had a sugar aversion in general and lately, because I feel like my bodily flora is a tad on the yeasty end of the spectrum and also because I just like having consistent levels of energy and blood sugar, I've been avoiding sugar. I haven't had any caffeine either since I was about 5 weeks pregnant (well, except for the occasional nibble of chocolate)...but the point is that tiny amount of dessert was way too much for me to handle.  I felt totally buzzed, I feel kind of ridiculous :)

With the crazy weekend I've had so far, I would think I needed some sleep at this early hour (I woke up at about 4am and couldn't get back to sleep).  But I'm up and going, excited for another day of packing, cleaning and, if I'm lucky, a bit of extra time to do some crafting...the thing that really got me out of bed though was realizing that I still have a whole list of baby name possibilities to work on (I know, this is ridiculous.  This is not really a good reason for a pregnant mama of a toddler to get out of bed in the morning after just 6 hours, but I really couldn't get back to sleep after I started thinking about this).  I've already compiled a list of about 43 potential girl's names for Ami and I to review together.  I was kind of surprised to find that a lot of the names I liked for this list were derived from Mary, which is not really one of my favorite names.  Hmmmm....but it does mean "star of the sea" which I like.  (I also found out last night that one of my pregnant mama friends (the one who's blessingway it was) has chosen a Mary derived named for her baby if it's a girl.)  We have kept our naming process pretty private in the past, which I still pretty much intend to do (no one outside of our sweet little family unit will know the name until this baby is earthside) but since this is such a long list, and may or may not include the name I'll share it here:

1) Raina
2) Roxanne
3) Riona
4) Magdaline
5) Mairin
6) Mai
7) Macaria
8) Malina
9) Marika
10) Maribel/Maribella
11) Maura
12) Melia
13) Mayra
14) Meriona
15) Mia
16) Mirabel
17) Moira
18) Muriel
19) Morgan
20) Mia
21) Mila
22) Myra
23) Morela
24) Sariah
25) Saskia
26) Samara
27) Sibyl
28) Solana
29) Sirena
30) Siria
31) Althea
32) Amara
33) Angelica
34) Ania
35) Anwen
36) Annalisa
37) Artemesia
38) Aubree
39) Camilla
40) Cassia
41) Korina
42) Kyra
43) Epona

 Now, to work on the list of boy names...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Current Pregnancy and Parent Reading List

While packing away my extensive library for the move (that's only a week away! yikes!) I made my selections of the books that I wanted to have available for reading and reference.  It seems like a lot of reading material for a week, but like I said some is just for reference and most of them I've already read before.  It will probably be a while before we're settled in at the new place with the library back in full swing too, so it's maybe for more like a month of reading.

Here's the books, with my comments on them (including many extensive thought tangents).

Pregnancy selections:
I've already read all of these :)

Birthing from Within by Pam England:  This is a pretty popular one, I think mostly famous for it's emphasis on birth art.  This is a lot of why I kept this one out.  Probably also because I was going through my art type supplies recently too and felt inspired to take some space to create.  It's really amazing how I'm just over half way through this pregnancy and I feel like I've barely had time to even think about it!  I mean, I do think about it, but not like I did with the first where it was kind of like I had nothing else to do but space out and wonder who this little person growing inside of me would be.  So far I've been busy busy busy so I felt like taking some time to follow some of the art promts would really help me to get into a deeper and more focused space, which I feel like I need more of in this pregnancy, especially now that it's not just the beginning.  I remember the prompts for the art projects in this book being really helpful for me in the past.  (I actually read it while I was training as a Doula, before having been pregnant, and did all the art stuff then and it was still really good).

The other thing that I really like about this book is that it talks about the experience of labor and birth from the mother's perspective and experience, rather than a clinical progression of the stages and centimeters of dilation.  I also got some good focusing techniques to help slow down the brain waves and get into a good altered state/labor land zone.  But she's seems to really downplay (or maybe not even mention?) that labor is not always painful and doesn't have to be.  I know that is controversial to talk about because so many women do have painful births and that experience shouldn't be invalidated (not that you have full control over the pain or not, or that pain in labor is some kind of failure), but I don't think we'll ever change that if we don't at least start talking about it.  I think that it is this book where she proposes the idea that pain in labor can be a guide for your body to find the best positions, activities, etc. to open and help baby come.  That's good stuff.

The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm:  I love Aviva Jill Romm's books!  They are always intensely practical and informative.  She's got lots of herbal care recipes, examples from her practice and a listing by concern of all of the different discomforts that may come up in pregnancy. She's my go to guy for when things get uncomfortable. 

Although so far nothing has been too bad.  Morning sickness, but I just kind of ignored that since it seemed easier to sleep and go on with my day, but I do feel like yoga helped me a lot....although yoga kind of just helps me with everything.  Lately I've been having more issues with heartburn and indigestion, but my dear dear lovely midwife taught me last time around that papaya enzymes are my friends and they've really done the trick for me ever since!

But back to the book, there is just a lot of really good self care information in here.  Looking at this one really reminds me to nurture this growing baby by nurturing myself.

The Complete Organic Pregnancy:  This is a reminder of all of the things that are toxic in the world.  What I like the most is that there is a lot of info about what is most and least toxic, so that I can make those unfortuately necessary decisions about when to allow the toxins in for logistical reasons (mainly financial, since organic products are so F****N expensive).  These authors do not seem to be at all troubled with these kind of financial burdens, so budget oriented readers beware that the suggestions in here might not all apply.

Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth by Jeannine Parvati Baker:  This is my number one hippied-out classic for pregnancy.  She has a really good relaxing yoga routine in here and shares all of her birth stories, including her oldest daughter's birth of her grandaughter at the end.  She is a very powerful woman and I remember her stories being really inspiring to me.  Mostly I just hope to see this and feel motiviated to actually do my yoga routine.  I think I've been doing pretty good though, at least three times a week even during this hectic move time.

Parenting Books:

Raising Our Children Raising Ourselves by Naomi AldortI haven't read this one yet, but it's been recommended to me multiple times by other parents.

You are Your Child's First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin:  This is my latest source of Waldorf style inspiration, along with the next title, but it's a bit more Waldorfy than I, so I water it down a bit.  It does talk a lot about developmental changes and needs between the difference stages from infancy to early childhood.  I'm liking getting inspiration from this right now because it covers both of my little ones.  I know that she deviates from hard core traditional anthroposophists in the since that she strongly supports attachment parenting.  There are some good ideas and discussion in here about ideas for play, establishing a daily rhythm for your family, and discipline (although I haven't visited that so much since we've been handling that in a way that feels good for us so far, but since Ami has started working so much and Chobe is becoming ever more and more opinionated about some things, I think I might revisit these sections on discipline and boundary setting in the coming weeks).
Creative Play for Your Toddler:  I've made a few of the projects out of this book and I plan to keep them coming.  One of the big things about the Waldorf toys (which I like because they emphasize imagination organically by being simple rather than being imaginative by being overly colorful, battery powered and noisemaking) is that they, like organic and natural products in general, are often cost prohibitive.  But with this book I've been able to enjoy the process of making toys for Chobe for an affordable price (often essentially free because I've been able to use crafting stuff that I have on hand).

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Handmade Baby Goods II: Cloth Stacker

Who doesn't love a stacker toy? I recently endeavored to create one out of cloth.

Here's how I did it, if you want to give it a try...
While shopping at the fabric store, in a bit of a hurry, I picked out this pre-coordinated stack of fabric. *sigh* Convenience purchase.
To make the stacker, I started by making drawing patterns on paper with a compass. Five circles total with a difference of 1" diameter each: 7"-11" with a 1 1/2" diameter circle for the middle of each. This makes a pretty large stacker, it's about 20" high finished, so scaling things down some could definately be in order. I am fairly new to sewing three dimensional objects, and things with curved lines so I wanted to give myself plenty of space.
I cut these out, pinned them to the fabric, which was folded with the right sides together. Around the center circle, I made eight small snips 1/4" in toward the outer ring of the circle. This will be important later for turning the rings inside out and sewing the inner circle together.
With the wrong sides of the fabric facing out, sew the outer edge of the circle, leaving about an inch and a half for turning the circle inside out. DO NOT SEW THE INNER CIRCLE.
Turn the circles right side out by pulling the opposite edge of the circle through the small opening left from sewing the outer circle. Now, using the tabs created by the eight slits in the fabric, fold each one in and pin to create the seam for the inner circle. Sew the inner circle with the right sides of the fabric facing out.
Stuff the rings. Use baseball stitch to close the stuffed rings.

To make the center pole and base for the stacker, use another sturdy fabric (felt, canvas, denim...) I used felt. To make the pattern for the pole, I used a piece of posterboard retrieved from the recycling bin. Something like a cereal box would work nicely too. I rolled it up and stuck it down inside the the stack of stacked rings, then marked where I wanted the top to be and what the diameter should be (with some extra to allow for a seam allowance), then unrolled and trimmed the board and used it for my pattern for the felt. It turns out looking like a rectangle. Then I cut a small circle out of fabric about 1/2" wider than the diameter of the top of the pole of rolled fabric to use for the top. It's wider to allow for seams. At the bottom of the rectangle, I cut about 6 1/4" slits, which will be used like the tabs on the inner circles of the rings, but this time to attach the pole to the base.
I re-used the biggest circle pattern for the top and bottom of the base to the stacker, minus the inner cutting of the circle on one circle. The inner circle is cut on the other circle, but WITHOUT the eight slits.
I cut a 2 1/2" wide strip of fabric long enough to wrap around the circumference of the base circle with some extra length. I was lazy and just kind of marked a spot on the base circle then rolled it along the fabric until I got back to the spot I marked then added a few inches and marked it on the fabric I was cutting from. I could have used math. Either way.
So the finished pieces of the base are two large circles, a rectangle, a small circle, a long strip. I also decided to make a a cardboard/posterboard support to sit in the bottom of the base. I made it the diameter of the bottom circle minus the seam allowance.
Sew the long side of the rectangle together folded hotdog style with right sides of fabric facing in. Open the end of this tube to make a circle and pin the small circle evenly around the one end (the one without the slits) then sew in place. Turn right side out and stuff firmly.

For the base, pin the long strip around the outer edge of one of your large circles and sew into place, leaving about 2 1/2" for turning right side out. When finished sewing, pin to the other circle and sew around the edge. You can sew all the way around the edge this time, or leave another gap for more space when turning it right side out and inserting the cardboard support.

So after sewing the two circles and the strip together, turn right side out through the gap in the side. Insert cardboard base into the gap by rolling it up to fit through then allowing it to pop open. Adjust the position. Stuff firmly and use baseball stitch to sew closed.
Last, hand sew the tabs on the bottom of the pole into the open circle on the top of the base.
Stack rings on pole.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Happy Mother's Day

So I actually spent mothers day harvesting our homegrown chicken crop for this year (I thought this was a nicer way to say slaughtering, plucking and sending over to Ami for gutting, which I can and do know how to do, but he is much more practiced).  We are very thankful for these animals and what they have given to nourish our family. 

The evening was much more celebratory, however.  We had a delicious Coho salmon for dinner.  It's hard to say "this is the best salmon I've ever had" but seriously, this meal was up there.  We couldn't get Chobe to nap during the day, so he went to bed about two hours earlier than usual so Ami and I had a chance to stay up late watching a movie and eating delicious grown-up snacks (ice cream sandwiches). 

In honor of the special day I decided to put my sugar fast on hold and make a carrot cake, which I've been craving for months.  I did do what I could to reduce the sugar in the recipe and increase the protein and mineral content to help balance the sugars.  I used brown sugar, maple syrup, and fruit to sweeten, all of which are healthier alternatives to regular sugar (brown sugar and maple syrup still have more of the plants natural mineral matrix intact).  Then I used neufatchel cheese and ricotta instead of cream cheese for the frosting to increase the protein content.

Here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 325.

2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, not packed

Stir to mix well. Then add:
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 can of crushed pineapple with the juice

Stir again then add:
2 cups carrots, grated and packed into measuring cup
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, pecans or other nuts of your choice (optional)

Stir once more and put in a greased 13x9 baking pan.  Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.

1 8oz. package of Neufachel cheese at room temp
1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk or use a handheld mixer to mix well and minimize lumps (although this is by nature a lumpy frosting because of the ricotta). Just neufatchel cheese can be used to achieve a smoother frosting if desired.  I like the texture of the ricotta myself.

Here's the finished cake:

This recipe is loosely based off of Sandra Woodruf's Secrets of Fat-Free Cooking recipe for carrot pineapple cake.  I added a lot of fat and reduced the amount of pineapple in mine. 

And then we had a midwive's appointment Monday afternoon where we got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time!  We don't use doppler or ultrasound unless there is some compelling reason, which at this point there isn't.  Fetoscope works just fine.  It's so amazing because what you hear when the baby is still this small is less of a sound and more of a felt vibration in your ears, which is really sourced in the baby's body rather than mediated and interpreted by a machine.  It was nothing less than magical.  What a happy mother's day!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Past Week- Update

We are moving in just two weeks!  I can't believe how fast this is going.  I'm 19w6d pregnant today...I can't believe how fast that's going! 

projects update:  I have always been notorious for overestimating my production capability, but lately I've really been hoping to get a lot of my the projects that I planned to do during pregnancy done since the second trimester is known for being the easiest most energetic time of pregnancy.  Things that I think should take a week, or less, end up taking way more time.  I have a couple of toy projects in the works that I'm going on the third week of working on.  humph.

pregnancy update: my belly feels like it's gotten HUGE over the past two weeks. I've been thinking about the birth a lot more lately.  i'm still months away, but it is coming up spontaneously in my thoughts and dreams so I'm letting myself go there.  A lot has been coming up about the possibility of an unassisted birth.  Not in the sense of actually planning one because I really want a midwife, but our new place is kind of out there so I just feel like if things go fast I should really be ready.  And really, that's something that they say all pregnant women should be aware of because you never know how fast your labor will go.  I've had a couple of dreams where I birthed unassisted, but I don't know if I should interpret this literally, or if its some kind of psychological processing about me fully coming into the awareness of my body's innate ability to give birth and that whoever is there to support me, no matter how much I love them and connect with them (ami, midwife, doula...) I am the one birthing this baby.  I think maybe last time I was relying too much on cues or official progress reports from my midwife rather than just being in tune with my own body's process and my body's progress signals.  Although at the same time, at Chobe's birth I had never done it before so I don't have the same experience base for understanding my body's signals not that I think that I couldn't have without previous experience, but maybe my dreams are just affriming and reminding me to trust and listen to them in a different way.

the move:  The garbage is on it's way out!  All of the piles of old plastic junk, dysfunctional tarps, rotting furniture, tires, etc. etc. that we inheirited when we moved in are shrinking rapidly.  WOOO HOOO!  This week I start packing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Granola, for real

I am proud to announce that just a few days ago I officially underwent an important hippie rite of passage and made my first batch of home made granola!  I found this awesome menonite cookbook that used to be Ami's grandma's.  Can you believe it? A hidden gem lurking unbeknownst to me for all this time inconspicuously tucked into our bookcase.  It's got all kinds of goodies in it, really practical stuff like basic recipes that you can add to depending on what you have and need to use up or whats in season (like for muffins).  It also has this recipe for a home made baking mix (think Bisquick) that you store in a container to make quick biscuits, pancakes, muffins, etc.   So this has been the first of what I anticipate may be many recipes from this cookbook.   Although, I actually think I deviated significantly enough that it was kind of my own recipe by the end.  The original wanted me to use things like wheat germ.  I know it's high in vitamin E and iron, which are really important nutrients in pregnancy but I took one look at it in the bulk bin and saw what, to me, obviously looked like chicken feed.  I decided that since I don't have a gizzard I probably don't need any right now.  Maybe next time :)  Anyway, this is one of those projects like making my own bread that amounts to pretty fantastic savings in the grocery bill compared with buying the prepared product.

The Recipe:

4 cups old fashioned oatmeal
2 cups puffed millet cereal (any puffed grain cereal could easily be used)
1 1/2 cups coconut flakes
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped almonds
1 1/2 cups dried cherries
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1 1/2 cups honey

Mix it up, press it into a generously oiled cookie sheet, then bake at 325 for about 30 min.  Allow to cool then crumble and store in an air tight container.

This recipe made me over a gallon of finished cereal, so I might caution that if anyone else decides to try this is for serious hippies only (tee hee hee).  Maybe cutting it in half or even down to a quarter of the amounts above might be advisable if you're not cooking for a family (or in my case mostly your pregnant self since Ami doesn't eat much cereal and Chobe has to be rationed or he'll try to live off of it and go CRAZY).   My review, after having it for breakfast for the last few days is that it's delicious.  It's a little sweet, it doesn't make my blood sugar spike and crash or anything, but you could probably get by using less honey.  Agave or maple syrup would probably work too.  I can't do agave because it makes me feel like I've been drinking heavily minus the whole drunk part, so I just feel like I have a mild hang over the next day (I've heard it can be hard on your liver, but I haven't heard anyone else with as dramatic of a reaction to it as me).  Maple syrup I think would be more tasty, but it's not as cheap for us over here as honey is, and the honey is local for bonus hippy points.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Belly Bands Part II- With pics...

So I already posted about the belly band thing, but I did do another one since then and I took some pics.  So here it is illustrated, with my 17 weeks pregant photo stuck in here too.

find a tank to sacrifice:

cut off the top:

wear. Duh.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Productive Week!

Hooray for last week!  Of course and as usual I meant to do this on Sat or Sun, but we actually had another crazy, busy weekend (yes, for the 8th time in a row!).  But I finally finished the little legwarmers!  They were done on Sunday.

Next I started a couple of Mei Tai carriers made from this pattern.  I made a regular sized one for me and then a little one for Chobe based off of the same pattern.  I did his with a 10" by 12" middle section (including seam allowance) with 36" x 4" straps (folded in half with 1/2" seams).  For the waist strap I cut the strap in half and sewed it to each side of the bottom of the middle section (different than for the adult one, which would compromise the structural integrity of the carrier for carrying an actual baby rather than a doll).   Anyway, I finished these about Thursday.  Chobe loved his and wanted to put it on with his baby right away.  We tried it out at the Co-op over the weekend.  He was so cute pushing arount his tiny shopping cart (he loves when stores have those) with his baby strapped on. 

Then I started a little gnome style pink and blue hat for the new little one.  But it mutated into something atrocious midway through so I had to do a lot of unknitting on that one.  Then reknitting, so it's still a work in progress.