Friday, December 28, 2012

Favorite Apps

This Christmas I was the happy/blessed/lucky recipient of a new iPad Mini.

I'm pretty excited.  Occupying my mind for the last few days is how exactly to help this awesome device reach it's potential.  I want it to help and serve me, but I want to be careful to ensure it does not take over and become the "master" and me the "servant."   

Andrew has an iPad 1, so I have some idea of what apps I like and what apps I think I'll use the most.  Here are my initial thoughts about what apps I think I'll use the most. These are all free unless otherwise stated.
Gmail--I like this better than the mail app that comes with the iPad.

Awesome Note--true to its name.  It can do so much.  It's $5, and it's totally worth it.  It can organize your lists of any kind in any way you can imagine.  It syncs with your google calendar, google docs, and youc an share things on email.  You can keep your journal in it, file pictures for a travel journal, etc etc.  That doesn't begin to cover it.  One list I'm excited to make is an "Abe Quotes" and "Ben Quotes."  I can type in their quote, and take a picture of them right when they say it, and I always have all their funny quotes, filed chronologically, with a picture!
I'm used to this LDS Scriptures app, but I heard the  Gospel Library app is getting better, and that it syncs with your account so you have your markings, etc stored online.  Any thoughts?  
Mormon Chanel is really great. Conference archives, Mormon Messages, interviews and other programs that inspire and uplift.
Instagram-I'm still figuring this out.  I don't want/need another social network, but it seems like a great way to share photos between close family.  For those of you late on the bandwagon (like me), with Instagram you can take a picture and quickly edit it to make it look old (and as though you meant to take a grainy picture).

NPR--'nuff said
TuneIn Radio--This app lets you listen to radio from all over the world.  It's a great way to keep up on my languages while doing dishes!
TED--another great dishes app.  Lectures on lots of fascinating subjects.
iBooks--Seems like the best ebooks app.
Deseret Book--It comes with a bunch of free good books ("Jesus the Christ," "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith," etc.)
Audiobooks--This app offers tons of free audiobooks, again from the public domain! You can download them so you don't need to be connected to wi-fi to listen. We had a good time listening to "The Invisible Man" on a recent road trip.
Barefoot Atlas--My favorite kid's app. It let's you explore places all over the world and learn about people, cultures, etc. This one costs $5.
PuppetPals HD--Another good one for kids, where they can make little "plays."
BYUTV--Some good programs (we do a lot of dishes); the speeches are great, but we also like the "Turning Point" program.
Free Books--Tons of free books from the public domain.
Pandora--Anyone have a great Pandora station to recommend?
Okay, that's what I've got.  What are your favorite apps?  How do you make the best use of your iPad/iPhone/tablet?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lovely Christmas

It's been such a lovely lovely day.

We put some jingle bells on the outside doorknob of the boys' room so they couldn't get out before we did this morning. Around 7:30, we went into their room to find Sammy dressed and waiting, and Daniel just waking up. We had a Christmas morning prayer and eagerly went to the living room for some fun.

Happily, we managed to avoid the sugary-ness associated with Christmas morning. Stockings were stocked with little mandarins, organic popcorn (made the night before by popcorn master Keenan), two cookies, a couple little toys, and a ticket for a day at California Adventure next week.  We opened presents one at a time, playing and talking all the while. I got a new slow cooker (mine went AWOL over a year ago), some Naturoli soap nuts, which I've been dying to try, and a stack of great new books to read. They're already occupying key reading areas: bathroom, bedroom, nursing station...

After a breakfast of sprouted wheat waffles and warmed raw apple cider, it was time for a showdown.

Sammy was in heaven with his new cap gun (no caps supplied), bolo tie, and leather boots from a genuine cowboy store. He wore his old ones until the soles fell off. He actually helped pay for these new ones with birthday money he's saved up in a jar.

When asked what his favorite present was, Daniel replied without heistation that it was the big bouncy green die from his stocking (held in right hand below). He didn't let go of it the whole day, not even for his nap.

The boys spent a good deal of time in their new play place (which they unknowingly helped build, thinking it was just another garden box... hee hee).

The much loved Sophie La Girafe for James.

I took a long, hot, salty bath (mid-day!) and enjoyed the first chapter of a new book. I've followed this author's blog for some time and am so glad to finally have her book. (I know, I know, my stomach's been churning over those cowboy boots... I'll just have to make sure he works those feet muscles!)

For dinner (which Keenan prepared!), we killed the fatted calf:

  • Grass-fed (soy free) duck from this farm, prepared à la Julia Child. Amazing. I can't wait for the stock and rendered lard. :)
  • Whipped sweet potatoes
  • Asparagus spears sautéed in butter with lemon pepper
  • Fermented ginger carrots
  • Raw chocolate ice cream and a simple Bûche de Noël for dessert

We talked with family on and off throughout the day, but mostly I just wandered around the house, relishing my time with Keenan and the boys, and feeling the spirit of the day. I was glad for such a happy day because I had a hard time finding the spirit of the season as Christmas steadily approached. We were out of town for a few weeks early on, so getting ready for Christmas was coupled with prolonged trip recovery. I finished James's new diaper inserts and wipes just last night (I knew if I didn't give myself a Christmas deadline for that one, it would keep not getting done).

As we prepped dessert, we let the boys watch some of the Church's recent bible videos, which invited more dialogue about Jesus Christ as we ended the day. Christmas left me ever grateful for my Savior and strengthened in my desires to sacrifice my weaknesses at his feet.

 Merry Christmas, friends. Sleep in heavenly peace.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Yet Another Update on Dessicated Liver

I began taking dessicated liver when I was pregnant with baby number 2. (Oh man, is he just the cutest giggly little man ever!) The results were amazing! I felt energized in a way that I hadn't for quite sometime, and if I missed a day I could feel my energy level waning.

At about month number 7 of my pregnancy, I was again feeling sluggish. I attributed this to being so late in my pregnancy -- it happens. You get tired when you are so suddenly, you know, 30 lbs. larger than you normally are. One day as I was talking to my midwife about the supplements I was taking she mentioned that it might be a good time for me to go off the liver pills. Being the proponent that I am for liver, I was bowled over at the suggestion. But here is her wisdom behind the suggestion: Many maladies in our body can be healed by ingesting that part of the body; eyes for eyes, livers for livers, kidneys for kidneys, glands for glands (i.e. adrenal gland), ligaments etc. When ingesting glands, known in natural health as glandulars, one must be careful to not take the substance for too long, or the body, after repairing their damaged whatever it was, will register too much of the organ and begin to tear away what it had been repairing.

I had been taking the liver for about 5 months, my midwife told me that glandulars usually are not ingested for over 3 months. Liver is not technically a glandular, she hypothesized, though, that it could have the same affect on the body. Oops!! Don't worry, my liver is still in great shape -- the body heals very quickly when proper measures are taken. I stopped taking the liver capsules and felt immediate improvement. (Life lesson? Too much of a good thing?)

On the up and up, I have been able to resume EATING liver, and have been feeling great postpartum. I still recommend it at least once a month, if not twice a month... and slip it into your relatives meals during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Easy Stocking Garland

Last year, I was inspired by this post at one of my favorite blogs, and thought maybe I could try my hand at a stocking garland.  I'm sure it took me much more time than it would a more experienced crafter, but I had fun spending time at the sewing machine figuring it out!

I'm sorry I don't have step-by-step photos, but here's a rough rundown:

1.  Find some fabric scraps (I found a few at home and bought a few more since I don't have oodles of scraps lying around).

2.  Draw a little stocking shape on a piece of cardboard and cut it out.

3.  Cut your fabric around the cardboard stocking, and pin them right sides together.  A few of my scraps had hems already, so I made those the tops of the stockings.

This one is my favorite.

4.  Sew around the edges and flip them inside out.

5.  Sew a piece of twine into a loop in one corner of your stocking.

6.  Tie some bells at increments around a length of twine and hang a stocking on each bell.

This could be a fun advent calendar if you made more (and smaller) stockings.  It was rewarding to feel successful at making something festive to brighten up my home during the holidays.

We didn't have our own stockings where we were living last year, 
so I used the garland stockings for some little stocking stuffers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Road Trip Tricks

  Living in the DC area, we live within driving distance of some pretty awesome cities, so we go on road trips a lot.  Our kids are just good travelers, but there are also some tricks that I've learned.  (Flying not driving?)
  • Eat healthy snacks
    • Don't use trips as an excuse to eat a lot of junk food.  It just makes everyone feel sick and grumpy.  Because there is (at least for us) a tendency to want to just snack the whole time, bring lots and lots of carrot and celery sticks, and even peppers, green beans and baby cucumbers if your kids will snack on those, as well as sliced apples (to make them more snackable), oranges, other fruit, raw nuts, dried fruit, and a few crackers or pretzels.  Plan on one fun treat as a reward for good behavior :).  Stopping for ice cream is much more fun than eating candy for hours.  Here's another good list of healthy snacks.
  • Don't stop at restaurants, stop at playgrounds!
    • There are playgrounds in every city.  Don't look for fast food, plug "park" into your gps and see what you come up with.  Then run around, with the kids!  
  • Because you will need real meals if you're driving long enough, pack real food.  We like to either use something we've made beforehand, or get a delicious pre-fab meal from Trader Joe's, and either warm it up on the way (those big gas stations always have microwaves), or warm it before you go and keep it warm on the way.  
  • Sit by the baby
  • Limit the technology.
    • Just like with junk food, you can over do it with technology on a road trip, and it can make everyone feel sick and grumpy.  Save it for the end of the day when it's dark, and keep it to one movie/turn on the _____.
  • Load up on tons of new library books before you go.
  • Bring books on tape.  
    • If your kids are young, there are most likely picture books on tape at your library that your kids can bring and follow along.  Try out the Mercy Watson series; it's a lot of fun.
  • Give presents
    • Although a 1$ toy goes against most of what I believe when it comes to children's toys, I realized that it's a great investment for a car trip.  Go to the thrift store, or the $1 area in Target.  You'll find all kinds of things!  A little bag of gummy lizards will go a long way on a road trip.  And because it was $1, it's disposable!  The investment was in a happy trip, not the toy.  
All this was just $5 at the thrift store!
  • If you're worried about the mess from drawing utensils, get a doodle pad (keep your eyes out at the thrift store).
  • Sing lots of songs
  • Bring plenty of fun music.
  • Play car games with your kids, like "I spy," "20 Questions" (minus the 20 question limit) or the license plate game if they're old enough.  There are lots of online lists too.
  • Be creative and have fun!
What are your road trip tips?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Brian Kershisnik's "Nativity"

Brian Kershisnik's Nativity

My sister sent me this video of Brian Kershisnik (my favorite modern painter) talking informally to a group of children. I thought it was really wonderful and insightful. I appreciated the new perspective on this oft recited story, and I hope you can get something out of it too.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Body Butter and Ginger Bread

Body Butter 

I moved from a semi-tropical climate to a very dry climate early this year. I never wear any moisturizer on my lips, but I considered it when I first moved and my lips were chapped for a whole month... Then I remembered I had snatched the following recipe from KIWI magazine. I've now tried it, and I use it daily in this harsh winter dryness! I use it all over my face, elbows, and it's heavenly everywhere else. The recipe was created by Todra Payne, and many thanks to her!


1/4 cup gently melted cocoa butter (I used a double boiler method)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1tablespoon sweet almond oil
1 tablespoon wheatgerm oil

Stir above ingredients together, allow to harden before using.

Helpful hints:

Sweet almond oil, and wheatgerm oil are highly susceptible to oxidation, (free radicals = not something you want on your skin). I would recommend melting the cocoa butter slowly enough that it doesn't really get hot. That way when you add the other oils, you won't be damaging them on a molecular level.

Store in a cool place where it won't be exposed to a lot of light, not necessarily in the fridge, though. It will be hard so you'll want to use your fingernails, or anything else that will scrape some up so it can melt in your hand for application. It can be considered a nuisance, but it will save you from those free radicals -- remember, anything that is on you skin will enter your body.

Ginger Bread

This is the best ginger bread I've ever eaten. While not good for cookie cutting projects, it makes marvelous muffins, and ginger bread loafs. If you like a nice slightly crunchy, slightly chewy cookie that is nearly flat, by all means, makes some drop cookies :)

Pardon the cereal... remnants of my husband's slowly changing breakfast habits.

2 1/2 cups sprouted grain flour (I used half wheat, half kamut)
1/3-1/2 cup rapadura
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (I used cultured sour cream, because I didn't have buttermilk handy. Sour cream offered AMAZING results!)
3/4 cup butter, or butter/coconut mixture
1/2 cup black strap molasses

Mix all ingredients until batter forms. Bake at 350, check at 20 minutes for muffins, 10-15 for cookies, and 30-45 for loafs. Tastes great by itself -- tastes heavenly with cultured butter!

Friday, November 30, 2012

DIY Advent Calendar

I've always wanted to make my own advent calendar, but never had or taken the time.  Finally this year, I looked up this list of diy advent calendars, and made what looked like the easiest one!  It was really fast.  This is what it was supposed to look like:
Mine didn't turn out quite that cute, but it was really fast :)
Instead of painting the numbers on, I used some stickers I already had.
I also put an activity and a scripture on the back.  The scriptures I mainly took from this list.
There are lots of great activity lists you can find online.  I looked through a bunch, and made my own to match our schedule.
1-Sat—String popcorn or Cranberries for tree
2-Sun—Temple Lights & Concert
3-Mon—Make Nativity
4-Tues—Make Snowflakes
5-Wed—Send Christmas Cards
6-Thurs—Take cookies to local fire station
7-Fri—Watch a Christmas movie
8-Sat—Make treats for neighbors
9-Sun—Deliver treats
10-Mon—Drive around and see the Christmas Lights
11-Tues—Make Christmas Tree ornaments
12-Wed—Sing Christmas Songs
13-Thurs—Play a Christmas game
14-Fri—Watch Nutcracker
15-Sat—Doorbell Ditch w/treats
16-Sun—Picnic next to the tree
17-Mon—Look at pictures of Christmas past
18-Tues—Collect coins to put in Salvation Army Buckets
19-Wed—Dance to Christmas songs
20-Thurs—Downtown Christmas
21-Fri—No Lights*—Wrap presents
22-Sat –-No Lights—Make bird seed ornaments
23-Sun—No Lights—Sing at Rest Home
24-Mon—No Lights—Dinner for the Holy Family & Feed the birds
25-Tues—Merry Christmas!

*We're going to try to limit our use of lights and electricity in the evenings on the last few days leading up to Christmas.  In my experience, candles do much to calm people down and create a special and even sacred atmosphere that regular lighting can't duplicate.  I'm also hoping it helps us to get to bed early these nights!

One thing I liked about this advent calendar, was that it was so quick and easy, I didn't feel like I was necessarily committing to a lifetime of doing these same traditions.  We'll see how it goes, and if we want to use this again next year, or come up with something different.

Are we starting too many traditions this year?  We're also going to try the Christmas Book Advent this year.  We'll be mostly using library books.

Did you make an advent calendar that you loved?  What activities would you add to your list?  What other Christmas traditions do you love?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Fred and me at 39 weeks. Love those cell phone shots!
This is the story of Fred's birth. I am copying this from a little journal I am keeping for him, so it is written to him.

The night before you were born I did a very silly thing. Your dad and I were watching a show, (Downton Abbey, in case you're interested), and decided to watch one more episode. The episode was entitled "Christmas at Downton", and so I thought it would be a regular Christmas special, about 20 minutes long... It turned out to be almost an hour and a half long, and we didn't get into bed until after 1 am.

I took the risk of staying up that late because I had been having timable contractions for about a month, and you hadn't decided to come. So I had declared to myself that I wouldn't anticipate it anymore, I would pretend we were going to be bosom buddies forever!

I fell asleep quickly, but slept very fitfully. I kept semi-waking, feeling uncomfortable. I assumed in my drowsy brain that I needed to use the bathroom, but I kept slipping into sleep again. Finally I got up. It took only a few minutes before I realized why I'd been so uncomfortable: I was having some very motivating contractions. I sat there through a few powerful ones trying to decide if I was hallucinating. I think I was there for half an hour before I decided to come out and wake up your father.

I realized at that time it had only been and hour and a half since we gotten to bed. I felt so alive and energetic, though. I woke your dad, and we laid in bed and smooched for a while. We were thrilled we would be meeting you soon.

Pretty soon the contractions were a little too uncomfortable to be lying down, so we got up and called Richelle.

Katy, Richelle's assistant, got here first. Richelle and Sharla, Richelle's other assistant, arrived a little later. I just need to express how much I love these women. They each did specific small things that really stand out as making this journey so lovely to look back on. They are wonderful!

My contractions were about 4 or 5 minutes apart, and were easy enough to integrate at first. It was a real change being able to have conversation during labor. (My water broke first with George's, and so it was quite intense from the start really.) I was able to joke and laugh, it was really nice.

I spent that time walking around the kitchen, pausing here and there to hold a chair during a contraction. Little by little my energy began to fade, and it became a little harder for me to be around the people who were present to give support. I retreated to the bathroom, turned on the fan to drown out any noise, and leaned over the sink. Sometimes I held onto the towel rack.

I had gotten into a rhythm of swaying my hips from side to side, and that released some of the intensity of the contractions. And I even found myself dozing off as I leaned over the sink. After some time I ventured out, but the buzz of conversation was too much for me on some mental level. I walked into a bedroom nearby and found a bar in the closet that was just the right height for me to hang from. It was so relieving! So for a while I went back and forth from leaning over the sink in the bathroom, to hanging in the closet of the room next to it.

After having so little sleep, my energy was waning, and it was becoming harder to integrate the contractions. I began to pray for more strength. And soon I was praying more earnestly that the time to push would come.

My midwife and I had discussed before hand that I did not want to be told how and when to push. I believe so strongly that the body knows instinctively when this should happen -- a woman does not need to be told, save in very rare circumstances, when she should push. It is so empowering and much easier on the body to allow the body to take control at that point.

After saying those prayers, I strayed out of the bathroom into the kitchen. Your dad walked in and just smiled at me. I love him so much! We kissed during a few contractions, which was so nice and grounding. I cried a little as I told him it was getting a little difficult. The contractions were so strong at this point. He told me that Richelle had mentioned she could check my dilation, and if it was alright, break that bag of waters you were in. It could help speed things up. I felt instinctively that was the answer to my prayers that I would be able to push soon.

I came into the front room, where everything was set up, and Richelle asked me to lean over our yoga ball as she made her assessment. I was dilated 7cm, and our bag of waters was sagging through my cervix, (I intentionally call it 'our bag of waters', since it was part of both he and me). I'm not sure how it works, but Richelle told us that can slow dilation. I'm so grateful for a loving God who heard my prayers, and for a midwife who was the conduit through which he was able to answer.

Richelle ruptured the bag of waters, and the contractions came on strong. I have heard, and truly believe, that having a grateful heart makes labor and birth a nicer and faster experience. So I stood holding Richelle's hand on one side, and your dad's hand on the other, swaying and chanting all of the things I was grateful for.

Richelle sang you a nice song at one point. "Come baby. Come.", were the words. It was so soothing to me.

I am much more comfortable standing in labor, but something came over me to kneel. I knelt leaning over the yoga ball, and asked if we could say a prayer. Your father offered a lovely and short prayer for me, for strength, and again that I would be able to push soon. I was so tired by this point.

Directly after that prayer I recognized changes in the contraction -- slowly I realized my body was preparing to push.

I didn't say say anything to alert anyone it was happening. I remember thinking to myself that Richelle would know, because she is so good at reading a laboring mother's energy. And she did. She quietly knelt near me, and had your dad come to where he could catch you.

It had only been a half hour from the time Richelle had ruptured the waters, to the time you came. It was so nice, and actually felt good to allow my body to just push with each contraction. I didn't really even have to bear down, as they say, my body was just doing this amazing thing!

I could feel you making your way down slowly. I was praying, and praying the whole time. (God is really with a laboring woman.) Your dad proudly announced that you had lots of hair -- we now had two babies born with so much hair, you and your brother George. It was so good to hear about you as you were emerging!

Then your head was out, but you had such broad shoulders, you didn't rotate so the rest of you could slide out. I needed to stand. That moment is so intense, I thought that I couldn't. Katy and Sharla came to each arm and helped me stand, and move my legs to give you more room. And then again, they helped me to kneel. And with a mighty push, and some great warrior noises, you were born! Your father caught you, and told me that we had another son.

And then, to steal a phrase from another mother's story, I was joy. It was so beautiful. You cried, which surprised me, because my first babe had been so quiet when he was born. But it was so wonderful to hear you as we met face to face.

Your face was blue, even for a newborn, from our experience of you having such broad shoulders. So I called you my little blue man.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Birth of Evelyn Bea

This is the story of my third child, Evelyn Bea.  You can also read about Benjamin James (my perspective, or Andrew's perspective) and Abraham Craig.  I have been blessed to have three beautiful, natural births.
Evelyn was “due” September 21.  That day, my mother came to visit (and save the day).  I cleaned aggressively for her arrival and in hopes that it would kick in my labor.  It didn’t.  Neither did many other attempts at trying food myths, long walks, meditation and generally staying busy.  However, that week we had lots of fun running around DC and MD.  It was difficult to not be overly-anxious about the birth of my soon-to-be-new-best friend!
At my 40+ week appointment, my midwife started talking about natural induction methods, and how I should call and schedule an ultrasound to be sure that my fluid levels were okay, etc.  It was discouraging.  I didn’t want to force my baby out, I wanted her to choose to come out all on her own (and I wanted her to choose to come out soon!).  The days passed, and Monday loomed near, when I was supposed to have scheduled my ultrasound appointment as well as my appointment with my midwife where they were going to take more aggressive steps to bring my baby.  I still felt like I wanted my baby to come out on her own, but I decided to take castor oil on Sunday if she had not come by then.
On Saturday I went for a long walk.  I invited everyone to come with me, but everyone else was busy, so I had the (unheard of) chance to take a walk by myself.   I was dropped off near a trailhead.  As soon as I was dropped off, I crossed the street and found myself face to face—closer than I had ever been to two dear: a buck and a doe.  The buck ran away, but the doe (who was just twice my arm’s length away) stood looking at me for a long time.  It was a sacred moment, and I wondered if perhaps she was a messenger for me.  As I walked away, I turned back and took a picture on my (very poor) camera phone.
I saw no one for the first part of my walk.  I was able to pray out loud, and then talk out loud to my baby girl whom I longed so much to see.  As I walked and talked, any anxiety I had melted away.  It was a perfectly beautiful crisp Indian summer day.  I told my sweet Evelyn Bea what a beautiful day it was, and that I had so many things to show her.  I had the sense that one of the reasons I was naming her “Evelyn Bea” was because the women for whom she was to be named—Andrew’s Grandmother, Evelyn Marshall, my great-grandmother Beatrice Evans and me, Ariel Beatrice—all had (and have) great love for nature, and have spent much time alone in the mountains.  I believe it is something my own Evelyn Bea will take great comfort in.  I walked and walked and walked, becoming more peaceful, energized and happy with each step.
The only "natural induction" technique that worked.
I was then picked up by my husband and little boys, and we had a busy few hours: going to a service project, then to a little play, the park, then home.  Again, in order to keep up the pace and bring my little baby, I mowed the lawn, then showered and got ready for a church meeting (the Relief Society General Broadcast).  Refreshments were first, and I struggled to stay social and pleasant while we waited for the conference to begin.  My legs and body were starting to really feel tired from all the exercise and being on my feet all day.
During the conference, I was able to concentrate on what was said, but I also kept track of my “waves” (contractions) on the side of my notes.  They were consistently seven minutes apart (this was at about 8:00 p.m.).   I didn’t think I was in labor, because I typically experienced consistent waves when sitting for extended periods. I came home and felt exhausted.  I wanted to go straight to bed, but against my better judgment I stayed up an hour or two and talked to Andrew and my mom.  I told them about the waves, and we all hoped it was finally happening, but still couldn’t be sure.  I did hypothesize that if I were in labor, we could have the baby by the early morning. That was a happy thought.  I finally put myself to bed around 11:00 or 11:30 but couldn’t sleep through my waves.  I was concerned because of how quickly they had become uncomfortable. Andrew gave me a powerful priesthood blessing with promises that would shortly be fulfilled. I then told him to sleep, as he would need his strength.

The harvest moon, under which Evelyn was born
I went into our library and turned on some mindless movies.  I watched a little Fantasia, Dick Van Dyke Show, and finally settled on the Mormon Radio YouTube channel.  I realized that I wasn’t comfortable before because I hadn’t found the best position.  I was able to go through many strong waves kneeling down on my couch leaning over the side.  The waves felt like they were getting stronger and stronger, and lasting longer and longer, but they weren’t getting any closer together.  From about 12:00 to 3:00 a.m. they were five minutes apart, but by 3:00 they were about a minute and a half long.  I woke Andrew up to collect our (large) bag of food and things we thought we might need at about 2:00 a.m.
I definitely waited way too long to go to the birthcenter.  In my previous labors, I always left the house when the waves were about four minutes apart, which provided plenty of time.  Well, this time my waves were never four minutes apart.  They went from fives minutes to two to three minutes, and I started to feel a lot of pressure, and almost the urge to “bear down.” This all before our fifty-minute drive to the center!
Love at first sight
We got in the car, and Andrew sped as fast as he safely could from the DC area to the center in Annapolis.  I was definitely in transition the whole time.  I couldn’t stay seated; I again kneeled, bent over between the front seats and vocalized deep and low.  I felt good.  Andrew reminded me later that I declared, “I love having babies!” in between the powerful waves. I felt like I was really able to listen to my body and respond to what I needed.  I even pushed a little bit.  I wasn’t that worried that Evelyn would be born in the car, however, because apparently I have extremely strong water bags.  With both my previous births, the midwives have broken the water after long labors, and the babies were born right after (the first was born in 20 minutes, and the second was born in six minutes). 
Three Generations
I was grateful to be strong enough to walk into the birth center and we arrived just after the midwife who was scurrying around in preparation for the birth.   I sat down on the toilet, and asked Andrew to have the midwife fill the Jacuzzi (no time to fill the big tub!), and ask if she could break my water as soon as possible.  This was the most frustrating part of the labor.  I was in transition, and pushing, yet knowing that my pushing probably wouldn’t produce a baby until the bag of water was broken.  The midwife checked me and I was at 9.5. Andrew hesitantly asked the midwife if I needed an IV for my earlier diagnosis of Group B Strep--she said there was no time. The twenty-minute wait for the midwife felt like an eternity, but she finally came in with the little crochet-type hook to break the bag.  I was beginning to worry that Evelyn would come out in the bag!  (I’ve heard of that happening, and it doesn’t sound like anything I ever want to do.)  She broke the bag while I was in the tub, and she left to put the hook away.  I turned back over to a kneeling position, and gave one good push, and pushed out her head.  It didn’t matter to me who was there to help or not, I was bringing this baby!  Andrew noticed her head, and yelled “baby!”  In a moment of strange clarity, as I took another breath and pushed out her body, I heard from the next room, “Did he just say, ‘Baby’? What does he mean?”  Her body was basically out, so I told Andrew, “Take her!”  As he took her, the midwife rushed in and helped hold her out of the water so I could turn around and hold my new baby!  Little Evelyn Bea was born under the harvest moon at 4:45 a.m. on September 30, 2012.
Greeting the New Day
My first impression was just how beautiful she was.  She had lots of dark hair, and a perfectly round, beautiful face.  I noticed her dimple, and “princess curl” right away.  She cried a beautiful, clear cry for three minutes.  She didn’t sound frustrated or angry; it was simply a declaration of dislike for the birth experience.  
100% More Hair than our boys
Three minutes after birth she started to root (look for food).  I didn’t think she’d be ready to nurse yet, but I let her try.  To my surprise, she latched right on, and didn’t let go for three hours!  As she nursed I was helped to the bed. If we got disconnected at all, she’d cry.  After three beautiful, peaceful hours of snuggling and nursing in bed with Andrew snoozing by our side, she awoke with the soft morning light and quietly observed this new world I had told her so much about.  
I would love to hear the birth stories of James Reesor and Frederick Marshall! Let's continue the dialogue around positive, natural birth stories!