The Life and Times of Monkey, Buster, and Yessa

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The Princess Extravaganza April 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 9:29 pm

About 6 weeks ago now, Zoe said to me, “Mom, I’d like to have a party.”

I said, “Okay.”

We sent out an email to some of our favorite (local) Moms and Daughters, surveyed for best date, and found one that would work for all of them!  Yeah!  In addition, Grandma and Grandpa Vermont were going to be driving through on their way to their vacation adventure, so they’d get a chance to meet our friends, too.

Zoe and Noa and I had lots of discussions about what the day would look like, and it eventually morphed into The Princess Extravaganza, with a Three Muskateers sub-theme.

The day could not have been more perfect.  Ten of our favorite young ladies, most of their moms, and one sweet young boy spent a splendid afternoon together.

The girls arrived and were greeted with much excitement: 

and spent some time decorating the Princess Palace:

A battle scene from Barbie And The Three Muskateers was screened, to set up the girls for the intensity of their “Quest.”

(Friend Ady arrived after this picture was taken.)

After the girls had been properly trained to understand the extreme danger they would face, they had to solve a riddle to discover the hiding place of their secret gifts–Warrior Princess Swords!

After some fierce battles, which included locking Grandpa John in the garden shed,

the girls decorated their swords:  (What Warrior Princess Sword doesn’t have a few camels and jewels on it?!)

Then we shared some Princess Fare,

Played some more:

One last bonding moment for some of the moms (and Raffs)  (Jenny is missing from this photo because she was off caring for someone.):

And the Warrior Princesses headed home with Moms on their individuals quests.

Special mentions must be made:

John Gemignani and Jenny Rulli took most of these fantastic photos.  Laura Randers-Pehrson also took some fantastic photos, which I have not yet figured out how to load onto my computer.

My staunch sidekick, Jenny Rulli, helped with cleaning, decorating, baking, and planning for the Extravaganza.

All the moms stood for my bossiness as soon as they walked in the door and helped to pull together the snacks and activities.

Mia R-P provided much inspiration for the activities for the day.

And finally, Dearest Buds braved the day with Zachary and Aidan so that all the girls could be just girls together.

Thanks to all for a splendid day!


Another Great Math Link April 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 1:33 pm

This TED talk came through on one of my lists.  It talks about a way to teach math that gets thoughts going and conversations happening.  It relates back to the “How do you think you can figure it out?” post from a couple weeks ago.

This teacher blogs, as well, and I’d like to find some time to read more of what he has to say.  The little bit I read just reminded me of the interest that can be felt for any subject when the person you are talking with is passionate about it.  I was fascinated to think about teaching math as I read through his blog posts.


Cool Science Links April 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 12:59 pm

For my own sanity and need to find things at a later date:

Home Experiments on Science is Fun site from University of Wisconsin-Madison Chemistry Professor Bassam Z. Shakhashiri.

The Happy ScientistVaHomeschooler members get free membership to the site.


Dying To Give Advice… April 20, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 2:53 pm

I have had lots of pregnant family members lately, and my friends, Jenny and Gina, are the only ones I get to talk to about birth because I’m sure my family members don’t want to hear most of what I have to say.  And I am dying to tell someone what I think I know about birth!  Absolutely dying to!

So, I’m going to write a blog post about it as catharsis for myself.

This is the story of Zachary’s birth:


Zachary James born 4/24/04 at 1:24 p.m.

As any VBAC birth story must, Zachary’s birth story begins with his sister’s birth, 21 months prior. Zoe was a breech baby throughout our pregnancy, and no amount of Eastern or Western medicine, plus a little bit of Internet knowledge thrown in for good measure, was going to make her change her mind. (Note to self, lying upside down on an ironing board at a 45 degree angle, not so easy.) If Zoe had been a frank breech, it would have presented few problems for our wonderful midwife who had delivered many breech babies. Zoe was a footling breech, which caused us enough concern that, after repeated attempts to turn her, we chose to have a c-section with the OB our midwife referred us to. As he was sewing up my incision, the surgeon was assuring me that I should have no trouble having a vaginal birth the next time, and he was doing his part to be sure with the type of incision he did and the way he was sewing me up.

Thanks to my outstanding prenatal care and a superb surgeon, the surgery and recovery came off with no problems. I was home in 2 days and feeling good. The main issue was that my body did such a good job healing me from the c-section, there was nothing left to produce milk. Hence, breastfeeding was a struggle for the first 6-8 weeks. Again, with the help of our midwife, we got that figured out and we settled into our life.

Fast forward 12 months and we discover baby #2 is on the way. After much research and discussion with our same midwife, we again committed to a planned home birth.

The pregnancy that was to be Zachary was smooth sailing. The only procedure we had done was an ultrasound at the beginning because we had no idea when we became pregnant. Gosh, we were 12 weeks along by then, so we didn’t even have to wait to tell people.

My in-laws were staying with us in our new house on the night before what would be Zachary’s birthday. In my quest to be their favorite daughter-in-law, not only did I have their first grandchild while they were visiting us from Vermont, I was going to have their second grandchild while they were in town visiting as well.

I talked to my friend, Gina, at 9 p.m. on April 23. “Go to bed,” I told her. “It isn’t going to happen tonight.”

Gina was going to make a 4 hour drive to be with us once I went into labor. Having four children of her own, this was no small favor. After talking to her, I went in to sleep with Zoe and dozed off. Around 11 p.m., I woke up, very uncomfortable. I woke up Chris, and asked him to go lay with Zoe so I could be moving around. For some reason it was critical to me that Zoe not be alone, even though she was asleep. I guess I realized this would be her last night as an only child, and I didn’t want her to feel like the new baby was taking us away already.

Until 3:30 a.m. I shuffled back and forth from our bed to the bathroom. Sitting on the toilet was the only comfortable position I could find when the contractions came over me. After a contraction passed, I would make my way back to bed, where I would lay down on top of the covers to sleep for 3-4 minutes until I felt the next contraction coming on.

At 3:30 I had had enough of doing this alone. I woke Chris up, again, asked him to get his parents up and tell them to pack up their stuff because they were going to need to get out. (I was getting a wee bit testy by this time.) His parents had known this was a possibility, and since my parents live 1/4 mile away, they had another warm, inviting home they could head to, with Zoe, to pass the time until they got to meet the latest addition. I also asked Chris to call our midwife. She has 6 children, and her husband was out of town this weekend, so we knew it might take her a little time to get things organized so she could get to us.

I passed the time by taking a shower and sitting on the birth ball, walking around the house, and asking Chris why the heck his parents weren’t already gone. I had very strong urges to vocalize my way through contractions, and I wasn’t totally comfortable doing that with the extra people in the house. Plus, a few curse words were coming to my mind, and I didn’t want Zoe to hear them.

Just as the house emptied of our house guests, our midwife arrived. Her two nurses came soon after that, and Gina made it around 7 a.m. Everyone was comfortable and friendly and so amazingly supportive. I was very much in a faraway place, though I was aware of what everyone said to me. Our midwife, was making suggestions on position, encouraging me to drink, and keep moving. I spent a lot of time squatting, moaning, talking to the baby, encouraging it to work its way down, and walking around. Soaking in our sunken tub was a tremendous respite. I was able to relax enough between contractions to fall asleep. Then I realized I was slipping under the water as I fell asleep, so I asked Chris, who was sitting on the end of the tub READING A MAGAZINE if he could keep an eye on me so I didn’t drown. He agreed.

Being in the tub felt fantastic, but it also slowed my contractions, so our birthing team set up the birthing chair as I began the quest to push the baby out. My memory of the pushing phase is rather odd. It seemed like a lot of time was spent waiting for each contraction to come, then working my way through it, then waiting again. It was very hard to give myself up to the pain and do things that would make the contractions harder, stronger, and more frequent. To make yourself do something for the greater good isn’t easy, even when you recognize the reason for it. Our midwife wanted to see stronger labor patterns, so I began to use the breast pump to up the hormone support in my system. She also had me getting up and swaying between contractions to use gravity to my advantage.

Gina was faithfully videotaping for us and trading off with Chris as the person sitting behind me and supporting me as I leaned back for contractions. Having a female friend there who has also given birth was really a huge factor for me.

On the video of all of this, there are some classic moments where people are talking to me, I respond, and then everyone laughs like I’ve just said the funniest thing in the world. For example, our midwife says as I am sitting on the birthing stool, taking my hand and guiding it, “Here’s your baby’s head. Can you feel that?” “No,” I respond, thinking to myself, if this baby’s head is that squishy, that surely can’t be good. Another precious memory is the midwife and the two nurses constantly encouraging me, telling me “that was a great contraction, the baby’s really moving down now.” The other three of us, who don’t attend births on a regular basis, began to feel that these were actually fibs and that this baby wasn’t really going to be born.

Despite all this, I never once doubted that I would succeed at having this baby at home. And I never once thought of needing pain relief. It hurt, but it wasn’t a bad pain, and it was manageable.

Finally we were almost there, and since I wanted a water birth, now was the time to move back to the tub. Chris climbed in with me in his swimming suit, two pushes, and out came Zachary. I was so suprised he was finally here after pushing for over 2 hours, our midwife had to say, “Reach down and pick up your baby.” There he was.

Zachary needed some oxygen to perk him up after his exhausting journey, but less than an hour after he was born, he and Zoe and I were back soaking in the tub, relaxing together. Shortly after that he met all his grandparents who were all thrilled to be present, and then we had a family nap.

I needed a few stitches for a mild tear, but other than that there were no problems. I completed a sprint distance triathlon 11 weeks later, and I will forever be grateful that we chose to have Zachary at home. It was an amazing experience, surrounded by amazing people.

This is the story of Noa’s Birth:


Noa Moxie born 11/09/06 at 3:03 a.m.

Since it was only the second night after my father’s death, our family was again staying overnight at my parent’s house. The children were asleep in bed, Chris was up at our house trying to get some work done, and I was laying in the recliner, visiting with my mom. I was exactly 38 weeks pregnant, and praying this baby would wait until after Thursday night’s visitation and Friday morning’s funeral to be born. God’s timing is often better than our hopes.

Chris came back down to the house around 10:25 p.m., not having been able to get much work done. I got up out of the recliner, glad to see him back, and as I walked across the living room floor toward him, my water broke. That had not happened with either of my previous two pregnancies, so that was a new sensation.

I immediately called our midwife, who suggested I try and go to bed and get some rest since no contractions had started. My mother came out to say goodnight before we went to bed and Chris said, “Wait one minute.” It took her a minute to believe me, but then she looked thrilled.

By now it was 11 p.m., and I realized I was not going to want to stay at Mom and Dad’s, but needed to be at our house, near the birthing tub. Mom gladly agreed to take care of the kids for the night and Chris and I headed up to our house.

I was having great success staying focused on relaxing, as my weeks of hypnobirthing practice had trained me to. Chris was talking me through surges with lovely images of our hiking in Italy, a trip to the beach, and just being with me. I spent a great deal of time in the tub, relaxing into each surge. Then things got really intense.

Now we’ll switch to a timeline:

2:00 Chris says “Maybe we should call Carey now.”
Jennie says: Okay
2:15 Jennie says: Call Carey and see if she’s on her way.
Chris calls and gets Don, Carey’s husband, who said Carey was on her way.
2:20 Jennie says: Call and see where she is.
Chris says: I just called, she’s on her way.
Jennie says: CALL HER!
2:30 Jennie says: Call her and tell her this is going really fast.
2:40 Jennie says: Buddie, you need to call her and find out how to deliver this baby.
Chris calls Carey: Carey, Jennie thinks this isn’t going to take much longer. What should I do to get ready?
Carey tells Chris: Just two things: First, get out of the water. We don’t want to have this baby in the tub. Second, don’t pull on the head.
Chris says: Carey says you’ll need to get out of the tub if you get the urge to push.
Jennie thinks: Try and make me get out of the tub.
2:50 Carey calls and tells Chris: I’m in Altoona, and I’m stuck behind a train.
Chris tells Jennie: She’s in Altoona.
2:55 Jennie gets out of the tub and moves to the bed.
Jennie tells Chris: I’m sorry but you’re going to have to deliver this baby.
Chris opens window shade so he can see lights on our driveway the minute they appear.
2:59 Jennie says repeatedly: Tell me if you see lights.
3:00 Chris says: I see lights. She’s coming up the driveway.
(We learned from Carey at her first postpartum home visit that she drove part way up the driveway and came to some new reflector lights we had put in. Not recognizing those she almost turned around.)
3:02 Carey walks up the stairs to our bedroom as the baby crowns.
3:03 Carey walks in the bedroom door as the baby’s head emerges.
The body quickly follows and Baby Noa has arrived. Her father doesn’t pass out from relief, and her mother is over the moon with excitement, relief, and euphoria. Baby and Mom are doing fantastically well.

Noa squawked for a couple seconds, then opened her beautiful blue eyes in the dimly lit room and looked around and started nuzzling to nurse.

3:30 Angie, Carey’s nurse, arrives to help with the baby processes. Jennie and Noa take a bath to relax.
5:30 Carey and Angie are on their way back home, while the newest family member snuggles down to sleep.

Noa weighed 7 lbs. She was 19 inches long. She is doing fantastically.

What I did not mention in Noa’s birth story is that, for the third birth in a row, I managed to have our babies when Chris’ parents just happened to be visiting from Vermont.  Not only do I win the “Daughter-In-Law of A Lifetime Award” for this, but it also worries Buds and me that his parents have some sort of unnatural control over my birth hormones.  Hmmm…

So, here’s what I believe about birth:

1)  Have an outstanding midwife–who has a stand alone practice.  For us, homebirth was a magical, critical piece of the puzzle, but I realize it is not for everyone.  A midwife, though, should be a part of the puzzle for every woman.  The care you receive, and the education available is unmatched.  Even if you high-risk out to an OB, the midwife is still a critical partner.

2)  If you choose to give birth in a hospital, hire a doula.  Even if you have the most amazing partner in the world, you must have another support person there.  At the very least, having a friend who has given birth makes a huge difference.  I have served as an untrained doula for two friends, and the amazing gift they gave of allowing me to be there was a blessing to me, plus I was able to run around and do the little things to help make life easier for them and their birth partners.

3)  If you choose not to have a midwife or a doula, at the very least, do your own homework.  We are big fans of The Thinking Woman’s Guide To A Better Birth by Henci Goer.  It is not a feel-good book.  It is very biased, very study-based.

4)  When you are choosing a health care partner, ask the interesting questions at your first appointment:

  • What is your c-section rate?  (If they say, “We don’t track that number. We only do c-sections that are medically necessary.”  Run like the wind.)
  • How do you feel about me eating and drinking during labor?  (It is called “labor” for a reason.  No one runs a marathon without refueling.)
  • When should I bring in my birth plan for us to discuss?  (If they laugh or indicate derision about a birth plan, again, run like the wind.)

5)  We took a birth class, I read more than 20 books about birth, watched educational birthing videos, and countless “Baby Stories,” but nothing equaled Hypnobirthing for a fantastic birth experience.  Not only did it allow me to work with my body in a way that amazed me, it allowed Chris to be a fully-present, vital piece of the birth.  It was one of the most awe-some moments in a marriage that has been pretty magical.

Phew!  I feel so much better.  Even if no one is ever influenced by this post:  My mom and Gina, the two people who consistently read my blog are both done having children.  (Right, Gina?)  I’m glad I wrote it.


Guess I’ll learn about worms… April 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 10:28 am

My friend, Laura, and I always used to joke, before we both became homeschoolers, that we didn’t feel like we could be homeschoolers unless we were running an organic chicken ranch.  We thought that was hysterically funny, and for those of you that don’t get it, it was a reference to feeling like homeschooling had to be an all-encompassing lifestyle, where we were only teaching the children how to be amazing and self-directed, eco-conscious and business-savvy, as well as self-sustaining and extremely motivated;  all that is good in the world.

Well, I probably won’t ever get the organic chicken ranch, but right here in our little space of the world, I am doing something cool, that brought about something funny.

I’ve had my own vermiculture experiment going on for over a year now.  One medium-sized rubbermaid bin of worms has been going strong, eating up recycled paper, cardboard, and food scraps quite happily.

Last week it was time to empty out the precious, beautiful, dirt-smelling, worm poop, and give the worms a clean new set of bedding and rotting food.  I dump the bin out on a tarp, and then separate the worms and compost out by hand.  I have a high squeam threshold, I like the kids to have a chance to help if they want, and since they don’t always have gloves that we can find that fit, I just go through the worms by hand.

One of the ways you can tell if your worms are happy is if they have been having babies.  Well, my worms LOVED their wormie home, because there were gazillions of babies.  Truly thousands!  And worm babies are so, so tiny.  The kids were scootering around on the sidewalk while I worked, and I kept exclaiming, “Look at all these baby worms!”

Yessa was the one child that was interested in helping to actually sort the worms,

but The Buster and Monkey hung out with us for awhile to watch the process, and inevitably as I was screeching about worm babies, the kids asked where worm babies come from.  I remembered that worms were hermaphroditic, but I couldn’t remember if two worms were needed to have babies, and I told the children this.  I believe I phrased it as, “Worms are both male and female, but I can’t remember if there have to be one or two worms for them to have babies.  We’ll look online when we go inside.”

By the time I got around to doing a google search to get my information (Two worms are necessary.) it was after the children had gone to bed.  I was inspired to make sure I learned the answer because when I was snuggled in with Zachary as he fell asleep, out of the blue he said, “I can’t believe worms have both a penis and a vagina.”


Zoe goes bounce, bounce…

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 10:06 am

There are some stories and adventures that are destined to become family lore, and we had one happen last week.

Our huge new tent was put up on the back deck for the Princess Extravaganza, and we decided to take advantage of that by sleeping outside to test it out one night.  Zoe, especially, was very excited by this plan.

We had the beds all set up, and everyone was ready to bunk down, except for final bathroom trips and tooth brushing.  Zoe popped out of the tent, zoomed toward the house–not realizing the new sliding screen door was shut–hit the screen door at top speed, and bounced backward like she was on a trampoline.  She hit the ground back about 8 feet, and once we knew she was not hurt, we all laughed and laughed.

We’ve already referred to it several times throughout the week, and I can see it becoming a descriptor for this sort of thing:  “That’s like the time Zoe tried to run through the screen door.”  “Remember when Zoe bounced off the screen door like a raquetball?”

I’m so grateful to have children with a good sense of fun.  Zoe gets the biggest laugh of anyone when we mention “The Screen Door Incident.”


Experiences Bring Happiness, purchases don’t

Filed under: Uncategorized — mommie2zs @ 9:48 am

I’ve only read the blog post, not the full study, but I thought this was such
a great idea/point:  Experiences vs. purchases.

I was reminded of our trip to Costa Rica when I read it.  The trinkets the children
bought have been passed on to other people, but we were looking at pictures
of the trip a couple days ago, and we were laughing about the million steps we
had to walk down to get to this amazing waterfall, and how the tree fell on our
“funny van” while were gone.  Amazing memories…