Growing Globe

"I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness." – Carl Sandburg

Why I Had a Natural Birth, Part I

Just this morning I had another newly pregnant friend quiz me about my natural childbirth experience. I am always so happy to answer these questions since it is a topic I am passionate about and one that I want to share. So, in my few moments of free time during today’s late nap, I jotted down several of the reasons I chose to have a natural birth experience. I’m sure I forgot some, which is why this is titled Part I.

Why I Had a Natural Birth

Because I am scared of epidurals and most other medication.

Because I don’t think modern is neccesarily best.

Because I wanted to.

Because after much research, I decided that natural is best for both baby and mama.

Because interventions increase the risk of c-section.

Because I didn’t want a c-section.

Because I am strong.

Because women were having babies long before childbirth was moved into hospitals.

Because I wanted my baby to be born without drugs in her system.

Because I wanted the best start to breastfeeding possible.

Because I don’t like people telling me what to do.

Because I read Peggy Vincent’s book Baby Catcher.

And then I discovered Ina May Gaskin.

Because I gave myself a crash course in pregnancy and childbirth and found NOT A SINGLE THING that made me question my choice.

Because birth stories are beautiful, and I wanted to remember mine.

 

Like I said, I am sure that I forgot several. If you are interested in natural childbirth, please talk to me! I am here to support you.

 

Audrey

 

{this moment}

. . . . . . . .

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

. . . . . . . . . .

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Celebrating Spring

In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle author Barbara Kingsolver writes of herself, “…I’ve measured my years by asparagus. I sweated to dig it into countless yards I was destined to leave behind, and for no better reason than that I believe in vegetables in general, and this one in particular. Gardeners are widely known and mocked for this sort of fanaticism. But other people fast or walk long pilgrimages to honor the spirit of what they believe makes our world whole and lovely. If we gardeners can, in the same spirit, put our heels to the shovel, kneel before a trench holding tender roots, and then wait three years for an edible incarnation of the spring equinox, who’s to make the call between ridiculous and reverent?”

Today is Ostara, the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. Today we celebrate equal hours of daylight and darkness, and the knowledge that from here on out there will be more daylight than dark. Today the jonquils are blooming all over this property, seemingly by chance, most likely where they were washed down during a spring flood, and the children and I gathered them and filled the rooms of our house with yellow blooms. Today I watered our seedlings (really just pots of dirt, seeds, and the hope of green things) and thought about tucking them into warm fertile soil. Today we fed the chickens wild greens from the creekside, played outside all morning, and took a long walk to pick up the trash that accumulated along our road during the winter months. Today I burned the greenery from my winter wreath – and with a whoosh, it was spring!

Ironically, I have spent naptime carrying in wood against the winter weather on the way. There will be more cold days before we can put away our jackets and galoshes for good, but we will take the sunshine whenever we can get it.

Today, we saw the first two butterflies of spring.

(Stay warm, little butterflies.)

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Audrey

Hands Free, Close Enough to Kiss

Since I became an expert (i.e. since I had a baby), I am often asked by expectant mamas what out of the millions of baby products offered they will actually NEED for their child. This is my answer:

A few soft onesies/gowns, depending on the season

A few soft flannel blankets

A safe car seat with extended rear facing capabilities

Cloth diapers

Boobs

A safe and comfortable baby carrier

My list is pretty minimal, and fairly inexpensive. It really doesn’t cost much to have a baby. If you are going to splurge on any item on this list, splurge on the baby carrier.

I always knew I would wear my baby. I saw the mamas walking around the farmers market with baby in a wrap and went green with envy. But, in all seriousness, I wanted to wear my baby mostly because I thought it was cute – fashionable, even – much like the Birkenstocks many of these mamas also wore. When I got pregnant I registered for a Moby Wrap. I loved the look of the stretchy solid grey wrap and the newborn snuggled up in it. But during my pregnancy I had the opportunity to try out the Moby on my 6 month old cousin and discovered how cumbersome it can be to put on. It is HUGE, the fabric is very stretchy, and getting baby situated safely in the wrap felt akin to rocket science (though there are many mamas out there who love their Moby’s and, I am sure, can put them on in a flash.) After doing some research online and at the recommendation of another cousin who works part time as a nanny, I registered for an Ergo baby carrier. The Ergo is more expensive than the Moby (and other options that can be bought at Target, Walmart, and Babys-R-Us), but, for me, safety and comfort definitely come before cost. The Ergo features adjustable straps (the same carrier fits both my husband and myself comfortably), a wide seat for baby (to support her hips and spine – as opposed to a “crotch dangler”), and can be worn on the front, hip, or back.  It can be bought in conjuntion with a newborn insert so that the same carrier can be used for a baby from birth-toddlerhood.

When I did not receive an Ergo at my baby shower, I was dissapointed. I did, however, receive a Moby, and after Eliza’s birth confirmed that I am not a fan. Although I could get her wrapped snuggly, it took ages and the fabric had so much give that I never felt comfortable with much range of motion - which basically defeats the purpose. I held out for Christmas, vowing that if I did not receive an Ergo (the one thing I really wanted) I would buy one. My parents came through with a beautiful green organic Ergo – not the one I picked out, but one I like even better. I used it for the first time on Christmas day 2011 when Eliza was 1 month old.

ergo1Heading into West Town Mall for some after Christmas shopping.

These last 15 months, Eliza, the Ergo, and I have been inseperable.

 

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We’ve played pool.

We’ve cooked (and eaten) many dinners.

We’ve folded countless loads of laundry and stuffed countless diapers.

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We’ve shared with Daddy.

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We’ve voted AGAINST Amendment One (The Defense of Marriage Act)

(Look at those toes!!!)

We’ve cleaned our new home, packed our old home, and moved.

We’ve taken about a million walks.

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We’ve rambled in the woods.

We’ve hiked alone and with others.

We’ve fished.

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We’ve napped while mommy and daddy fished.

(I’ve found that the Ergo makes a handy changing pad…or sleeping surface if you are like us and lay your baby down for naps in the forest.)

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We’ve visited Asheville and eaten at Early Girl Eatery (my favorite!)

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We’ve ridden the chair lift at Tweetsie (several times)

We’ve ridden the Merry-Go-Round, too.

And a ferry.

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We have graduated to back carrying

I found that as a younger baby, Eliza preferred to be on my front where she could see me and snuggle into my chest (and nurse!) But, as she has gotten older, wearing her on my back has offered her the same view of the world as I have while freeing me up to garden, cook, ect. without worrying about jostling her or spilling things on her head.

We’ve gardened.

We’ve split wood.

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We’ve visited the Fort Fisher aquarium.

(Where we nursed in public in the Ergo for the first of many times.)

We’ve walked on piers.

We’ve walked on the beach.

We’ve played in the waves.

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We’ve played in the park, walked the sidewalks, and shopped in Blowing Rock many times.

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We’ve watched Daddy march in the Honor Guard in two different parades.

We’ve been to church.

We’ve been to parties.

We’ve grocery shopped, in the Ergo, every two weeks since December 2011.

We’ve eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We’ve cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We’ve eaten out at restaurants.

We’ve used the Ergo to get Eliza to sleep.

We’ve used the Ergo to soothe her when she is sick.

We’ve used the Ergo to nurse her while pushing a shopping cart.

We’ve even….used the bathroom.

When a tired new mother complains that her baby won’t sleep without her holding him, I say wear your baby.

When a parent complains they can’t get anything done because they can’t put the baby down, I say wear your baby.

When a parent wants freedom from a stroller, I say wear your baby.

It will be a sad day when Eliza outgrows our Ergo, though it won’t be for many months.

Luckily, this is in our future.

Tula Toddler Carrier

-Audrey

Margaret Attwood said that “In the spring, by the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” We must be doing something right around here.

Chip started busting up pallets early Saturday morning, and by midday we were ready to assemble the chicken run that we started working on indoors the week before. Up until now our chickens have had a very small run that was designed for a few chicks that we briefly kept last spring. The new run is an A frame design that allowed us to assemble each of the pannels indoors before putting them together on location. It also saves us the chicken wire we would have used to screen the top of a square or rectangular run. All in all, this run cost us about $3 (for various staples, screws, and nails) and labor. We have found that pallet wood works well for many of the projects we have around the place, and luckily have a good supply of pallets (and therefore free wood). It takes more work, but that’s kind of how we operate around here : we are willing to do more work if we have to spend less money. For the chicken wire, we utilized the upper part of the fence we hastily built around our garden last year. Now that we have had time to plan we are replacing the chicken wire fence that is easily bent out of shape with sturdier pasture fencing. The old fence is being used in the chicken run, duck house, duck run, and chicken tractors.

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Our laying flock enjoying their new run.

Which brings me to…Chip went ahead and ordered two breeds of meat chickens (Austrolorps and Americanas) that will be shipped in early April. Since our ducks and turkeys take longer to reach maturity, these will be the first domestic animals that we slaughter for meat. Before they arrive we have to build a fairly large brooder, then decide how we are going to keep them – in a coop with a run, in a wire pen, in a tractor, in a combination…Does anyone have experience raising meat chickens? What do you do?

On Sunday Chip worked preparing more pallet wood for our next projects, and I worked cleaning up the mess (leftover from depleted woodpiles and last summer’s weeds) behind the house. I stacked wood, raked, and mulche leaves. I then headed to the smokehouse (I should mention that this building is currently a sauna, but will be converted into a smokehouse before hog killing time) to ready a place to plant our grapes. Weeks ago Chip’s aunt and uncle gave us around 30 Pink Catawba grape cuttings which I rooted in wet soil behind our house. Last week they gave us around 20 Concord cuttings, and Chip’s mother added at least 40 to that number. Since there wasn’t enough room behind the house for all these new cuttings, I cleaned up a place for them where I plan to plant more domestic blackberries next year and outlined the bed with rock from our creek. I had to pull a lot of old honesysuckled vines off of the structure and out of the ground to get the area plantable. Chip joined me to freshly cut the grape starts and put them in the ground. We liked the soil in this area so much that I am thinking about building an asparagus bed in the same area.

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Concord grape starts

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Eliza in the compost box/critter carrier with the puppy, while Jed lays in the ditch.

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A hazard of living in the country – Chip and I both got into poison ivy over the weekend.

It was nice to have such a springlike weekend here at the beginning of March, to be able to spend time outdoors without freezing, and to be able to get such a good start on our projects. The children both enjoyed playing outside, and spent their weekend in rainboots chasing puppies (in Eliza’s case, sometimes being chased by puppies.) The chickens seem so happy with their new run that one laid us our first egg yesterday. Last night we mucked out their coop in thanks, and this morning I fed them oatmeal and strawberries. This next weekend promises to be more beautiful weather, so as I sit by the fire today and watch snowflurries fall, I am dreaming of baby animals, wildflowers, and green growing things.

Audrey

Earth Friendly

This weekend gave us a taste of spring, and it was so very appreciated. We spent hours outdoors completing projects left half-finished by winter weather and beginning (and evening completing) some things that have been sitting on our to-do list. I took photos and am excited to tell you about all of our progress, but first I need to address something else. You know those days when something is weighing so heavily on your mind that you can’t think (or write, as the case may be) about anything else? Today is one of those days.

This morning I woke up so angry that I could spit. (What does that even mean? Seriously, if you know, tell me.)

I’ve been struggling with that anger throughout the day, trying to not let it get me down. But more than struggling with the anger, I have been struggling with the same question that always comes up when I feel this anger: Is it okay to not like someone? I don’t mean a mass murderer or a child molester – I’m really okay with not liking those people. But what about someone who is nice and kind to me? What about someone who hasn’t done anything wrong, exactly, but who is just so different from me that…that I just can’t like them. Is that wrong? Does it make me a bad person?

It boils down to this. In my life, I try to treat everything that I come in contact with with loving-kindness. I practice peaceful parenting. I am friendly to strangers. I try to offer support and encouragement to the people in my life. I am kind to animals. I treat the earth with respect and try to give back to her. I fall short. I lose my patience. I eat Reese cups. I yell at my husband. But I always strive for loving-kindness.

Many people out here in the country see things differently than I do. I am comfortable being the crazy hippy. But I’m not sure how comfortable I am continuing to associate and expose my children to some people and situations.

  • Time and time again I have been cautioned that I will have to shoot racoons, o’possums, weasles, hawks, bobcats, coyotes, and any other animal that could possibly be perceived as a predator. I protest that a good, strong fence and a solid coop will keep almost all *if not all* predators away from my animals. I add that we have bought two livestock guardian dogs to help us keep an eye on our poultry and to keep the predators away. And, time and time again, the person giving the advice just shakes *usually his* head, stops listening, and again encourages me to shoot predators.

 

  • I practice peaceful parenting. This means that I do not spank or otherwise physically discipline or punish my children. It does not mean that they do not have rules or boundaries. It does not mean that they are not expected to behave.  I find it absolutely offensive when “beating children” is talked and laughed about, when it is treated like something everyone does and should do. Your story about your grandmother sending you out for a switch and beating your legs until they bled? It isn’t cute and it isn’t funny. It shouldn’t be told to young parents as an example of how to raise their children.

 

  • Just like I practice peaceful parenting, I practice peaceful pet ownership (or whatever you want to call it.) Don’t offer me advice that includes the words “whip ‘em.” Again, this is not advice you should be giving anyone.

 

  • It seems so sad to me that people who live closely to nature in this rural setting and who owe some or all of their income to agricultural pursuits would be so disrespectful of the earth, but I see it all around me. Back in December loggers moved in to a section of forest along the road down the mountain and began tearing it apart. Two months later acres of barren, scarred landscape and piles of unwanted timber (small branches, root balls, laurel and holly) remain. I drive by this mess each time that I go to town, and my heart never fails to become heavy. At first I told myself “surely that are just getting it ready to grow corn or plant trees.” But the further up the hills the loggers push the more I believe that they are taking the timber and are going to leave a muddy, eroded, ugly mess. And it makes me angry. It makes me so very angry that I just want to roll down my window and yell “Don’t you know what you are doing!!!!?!?!?!”

 

Truly, these examples are just the tip of the iceburg. It saddens and angers me to live in a time where the things I hold so closely are not valued and where peaceful practices are looked down upon and laughed at.

For now, another cup of coffee, a warm bubble bath, and some more mediation on the neccesity of “liking” everyone.

 

Audrey

{this moment}

. . . . . . . .

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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Personal Space

A whole lot of your job as a parent is about giving of yourself. It’s about getting up when you are still sleepy because your baby has a wet diaper and is ready to play. It’s about reading Curious George instead of Cold Mountain. It’s about sticking to the trails because the ridges are too steep and full of brush for little legs. It’s about being tired, really tired, because no matter how very much you love your children, there is so much to DO and to REMEMBER and to THINK ABOUT every day.

It is really really easy to get so caught up in being a parent that you forget about being yourself. It is easy to spend so much of your energy being mama that you neglect the things and spaces that make you uniquely you.

Over the weekend I discovered a mix CD that I made to play at the pool the summer that I met Chip. I couldn’t remember what I had put on it, and as I laid in the bathtub with Eliza listening to the music, each track was a surprise and a chance to remember that time in my life when I had stacks and stacks of albums. The time when I knew months in advance when each new Dylan album was coming out, and when I celebrated an Old Crow Medicine Show album release by sitting on my porch listening to the album while drinking Old Crow whiskey (yuck!) straight from the bottle. The time when, when getting ready for a car trip, I had over 200 albums to choose from. I can say with no doubts that the music is the only thing I miss from my relationship before Chip. I made the bad decision to let my love of music slide when I began parenting, only celebrating it by listening to my local free range radio station (free range, I say, because the DJs choose what they play instead of being told by a cooporation. WNCW is one of the best things to ever happen to me, musically.) I miss having a friend to listen to music with, someone who gets as excited about “Powderfinger” and “Pocahontas” and The White Stripes rocking out on “Saint James’ Infirmiry” as I do. But that doesn’t mean I have to give my music up. Lately I have begun creating Pandora stations and putting all the songs and artists I can remember loving into them. The kids and I listen to these throughout the day as we play or do housework. Watching them dance to an old Dylan song fills my heart with happiness. I have also begun to fill my Amazon cart with the albums that are most important to me, in hopes of soon creating a music nook in this house and bringing that special music and special feeling back into my life. Being a mother doesn’t mean I have to give up my music. Actually, it is quite the opposite. Sharing my music with my children makes me a better mother. Someday soon, maybe Chase or Eliza can be the friend who listens to music with me and can’t contain their excitement when Old Crow breaks into Patti Smith’s “Horses” in the middle of “Johnny Get Your Gun.”

I am also trying to carve out a niche for my personal self in our house, collecting and displaying the things that I love and cherish in a space where I can see them every day. I spend a lot of time thinking about the space I have given my children and making sure it is right for them – that it encourages imaginative play and suits their personalities. That it is filled with the things they love. Why not do this for myself, as well? It is so very easy to spend each day just getting by, just staying afloat, just doing what dishes and laundry and sweeping must be done to make it to the next day. On the days that it is possible, I want to also spend a few moments personalizing my space and our communal space – hanging photos and displaying things we have made or collected on trips together. I am really interested in making a shadowbox for each member of my family that I can display important momentos in. Right now my space is small, but it is uniquely mine and it makes me happy.

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My space is currently housed on my dresser

Right now, in my space I have a beautiful two-toned piece of wood we found while splitting firewood; the first flowers of the season down here in my valley (daffodils and a small purple flower that came up in my yard;) a small piece of rose quartz I found near our creek while on a walk; a framed photo of my young husband during his Civil War reenactor days; various pinecones and rocks  and a snail shell that I either found myself or that Chip or Chase brought to me; a teething ring made by my sweet neighbor; and a beautiful piece of birch bark Chip saved for me.

As I clean, I plan to move this space to my larger dresser top and to add my smuding bowl and incense holder.

And, of course, whatever other treasures I find between now and then.

It is nice to have a space of my own.

Audrey

Growing

On Friday, the children and I drove two counties over to pick up a flock of year old barred rocks. Six hens and two roosters made it into the coop – and one hen is still wandering around our woods (or in the belly of a fox or coon.)

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Eliza loves the chickens.

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If it weren’t twenty degrees outside and snow flurrying, she would have spent the last two days staring into the coop and making chicken noises.

On Saturday morning we drove to Southern States and bought 660 feet of fencing, steel posts, chicken feed, scratch, straw, and puppy food. The fencing is for our pig and goat pens. Although we aren’t quite ready for the animals, we are about to begin readying their habitats. The puppy food was for our newest addition, a Great Pyrenees boy from Mountain City, Tennessee.

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Welcome home, Tennesse Jed.

Our little farm is growing every day and beginning to take off. Chip began the new chicken run last night, and we are hoping to finish it this afternoon after the baby goes down to nap. In the meantime, coffee and watching the boy play with his new puppy.

Audrey

{this moment}

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. . . . . . . .

A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

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