Friday, July 30, 2010

August: Reflection & Rejuvenation

Image courtesy the Nikki McClure calendar

The month of The Return to School is already here. Pure craziness! Let's check in and see how the reality of my life aligns with my intentions for July:
  1. Enjoy an amazing two-week road trip with Matt. Yes! Yes! Yes! It was so very fun.
  2. Attend professional development outside of Austin. This got canceled. At least I had a little extra time to start getting ready for school.
  3. Try to fill up registration for my e-course. I didn't get to 100 participants, but I'm excited about the people who did enroll!
  4. Facilitate grade-level collaboration among my Montessori colleagues as we prepare for the new year. Yep!
  5. Continue nourishing my body with good food and exercising my body. As much as I could, considering the constraints of my first trimester of pregnancy!

My intentions for August:
  1. Enjoy a mini-vacation with Matt as we trek to Las Vegas for a conference and spend a few extra days at Zion National Park.
  2. Have fun participating in my Purposeful Conception course.
  3. Accomplish my massive to-do list before school starts. Get to a place where I can actually sit and meditate in my classroom before school starts.
  4. Prepare to present a workshop at a conference in September.
  5. Organize our office.
  6. Spanish, Spanish, Spanish. Enough said.
  7. Finish learning all I can about pregnancy.
  8. Relax and rest!

What are your intentions for August?

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

First Visit to the Midwife

Today's post wraps up our little series about pregnancy. There will definitely be more to come, but it's not likely to be every single day like it has been this entire week.

I wanted to share my first visit to the midwife with you all. I suppose I should backtrack and explain why Matt and I chose to go the homebirth route with a certified-nurse midwife, in case I haven't explicitly talked about it.

I have to say upfront that I am not going to get on a soapbox and pontificate about why the entire maternity care system should switch over to homebirth. I just don't feel that certain about it. In fact, if I am one of those rare cases where something goes horribly wrong, I may wish I would have gone the hospital route.

But as it is right now, a homebirth makes the most sense for our family. Here are my thoughts about it:
  • Personally, I am more uncomfortable with the likelihood of receiving unnecessary interventions in the hospital than I am with the risks associated with homebirth. I am afraid of unnecessary induction and pitocin. I am afraid of wanting an epidural because other interventions changed the nature, frequency, and intensity of my contractions. I am afraid of the situation escalating into a cesarean, primarily because the doctor is afraid of a malpractice suit. I am afraid that years down the road, we will realize that many of the "common" interventions used in childbirth actually have unintended consequences and leave a negative impact on our children.
  • I can't imagine going through the most painful experience of my life while strapped to monitors that hinder me from moving in ways that are most comfortable to me. I can't imagine being encouraged to lie on my back in a very unnatural position, simply because it's convenient for other people. I can't imagine spending hours upon hours in a tiny room with different people coming in and out as the shifts change.
Even as I write all of that, I can imagine that many of you had hospital births and had much better experiences than the one I'm envisioning. I can also imagine someone writing a similarly negative list about homebirths (e.g., "I can't imagine having all that blood in my own home! I can't imagine how scared I would be to deliver a baby so far from the hospital....").

That's the thing about big, life-changing events: We have to do what makes sense to us. And then be okay with it.

And then we have to realize that there's a line between what we can and cannot control. I may very well end up in a hospital with a cesarean, despite all my intentions!

I actually think the most important thing in the whole process is finding someone you trust to be your caregiver, regardless of whether it's a hospital, birthing center, or homebirthing situation.

Luckily, Matt and I adore our midwife. She recently moved her office to our neighborhood, so it takes about four minutes to get to her historic bungalow office. While we waited in the front room, I immediately felt comfortable. It was so much easier to relax in an environment with natural light and comfortable furnishings.

When she called us in, she let us ask questions first. I asked her about how she handles Rh factor since I'm A negative and Matt is A positive. We asked her when our birthing classes begin, as well as her thoughts about eating soft cheeses/runny egg yolks, having sex even though I've had some spotting, and jogging. She then talked through our entire health history, as well as how we're doing psychologically and emotionally with the pregnancy. She even asked questions like: "Sara, how is your relationship with Matt's family? Matt, how is your relationship with Sara's family?" in order to get a picture of our emotional states and our general support system.

Throughout each part of the conversation, she really listened to us and responded to our concerns. She also demonstrated her immense knowledge and connected with us as people. I also appreciated how she focused a lot on action steps. For example, she asked me what was stressing me out most in my life right now. I explained that I am most worried about the fact that Matt and I have different preferences for how frequently we are sexually intimate. I added that I was particularly worried about how our relationship would be impacted once we were more exhausted and stressed than we have ever been. She gave us the card for a couple who does counseling and suggested that we speak to them so they could help us get to the root of the issue. In terms of other next steps, she directed me to a local herb shop to pick up some red raspberry leaf and nettle tea. She also gave me a diet log to fill out and bring to our next appointment.

Although I feel a little unsettled by the fact that sonograms will not be a routine part of our visits, I am overall really happy with the route we've chosen for ourselves. I'll let you know how it goes!

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Genetic Testing?

[Editor's Note: Today's post and tomorrow's will be about pregnancy. Then we'll get back to our regular melange of topics (which will be a well-rounded mix of stuff, including pregnancy). And, by the way, there are only four more days to register for Purposeful Conception, my online course about preparing your mind, body, and life for pregnancy!]

A friend of mine is several weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy, and she's going the ob/gyn route in a hospital. It's interesting to compare our experiences (since I'm going the homebirth route with a midwife).

For example, genetic testing is a routine part of my friend's care, while it's something I have to seek outside of my midwife's care, if I want it. My midwife argues that Matt and I should first decide what we would do with the results. If we would have an abortion if our child were diagnosed with a chromosomal difference, then she recommends that we get the nuchal translucency screening. If we would keep the baby, she argues that we should not do the testing. She contends that it's better to spend all of pregnancy bonding with the baby instead of feeling like the baby is defective.

I'm so torn about all of it.

In fact, I keep staring at the screen, not knowing how to articulate all the thoughts that are swirling around in my head.

Here's my meager attempt:
  • Chromosomal abnormality is rare. The statistics are in my favor.
  • I am a planner. I think I would be better prepared to cope with a child with special needs if I knew about it in advance and had time to prepare.
  • Parenthood is about the art of dealing with things as they happen. So is life, for that matter.
  • I hate that much of the modern birthing industry is predicated on fear and anxiety. This process is stressing me out. The screening has an accuracy rate of somewhere in the 80th percent. It's a very non-invasive screening, but if the results indicate anything, I will be pushed to undergo much more invasive diagnostic testing (like an amniocentesis, which causes a miscarriage rate of 1 out of 200). If the screening shows something, I will likely undergo anxiety as I wait the requisite amount of time before the next test. If I get that next test, then I'll undergo anxiety as I wait for those results to come back (unless I pay more for the preliminary results).
  • If the screening comes back fine, I won't have to worry for the rest of my pregnancy.
  • My midwife argues that there will always be something to worry about when it comes to the health and well-being of my child.
  • I have to decide pretty much now because the screening is only accurate within a very small range, and I'll be out of town next week.
  • I am already scared about how difficult it will be to raise a child. I am infinitely more scared about how hard it would be to raise a child with special needs.
  • I feel guilty for saying that, but it's true.
  • I absolutely support a woman's right to choose. However, choosing abortion for myself feels very, very different.
  • Part of me wants to put all of this behind me and to just hope for the best. Part of me wants to trust that we can handle whatever comes our way. Part of me feels like not getting the screening would be akin to burying my head in the sand. Part of me feels like the baby is fine, so I should get the test and stop worrying about it. Part of me wishes I could just stop worrying about it without the test.
I would very much appreciate your perspectives on this...

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Trimester Reflection

Calendar courtesy of JosStudio on Etsy

I want this to be a well-rounded blog, so I don't want one topic to take center-stage. However, all the other things I could talk about right now (e.g., how I had a craft date with my friend this weekend and I appliqued a dress, how Matt and I celebrated our anniversary, and how I'm working hard to prioritize my to-do list as I head into the new school year) are already planned posts on my other blogs: 2000 Dollar Wedding and EdCatalyst. So what does that leave me with? Pretty much the same thing I talked about yesterday: Pregnancy.

I do apologize for the one-track nature of this blog for two days in a row. Can we just go ahead and make this "Pregnancy Week" on Feeding the Soil?

So I wanted to take some time to reflect on my first trimester of pregnancy. Because Matt and I were tracking my cycle, we can pretty much pinpoint exactly when conception occurred. My midwife says our due date is around February 11, and an online calculator says February 15. I'm actually perfectly fine with a due date range, since I think the idea of trying to pinpoint a single day is pretty absurd. It seems to me like the practice of declaring a specific due date just creates unrealistic expectations and anxiety.

Regardless of my "due date range," I'm starting my 12th week of pregnancy today (that number is based on the 40-week gestational calendar, which starts on the day of your last period, so I'm really only starting my 10th week, if we were using a 38-week calendar).

I wanted to take a minute to echo what many of you mothers already know: the first trimester can be difficult.

I feel kind of guilty even saying that because my version of "difficult" seems to be much less difficult than others. I haven't been besieged by nausea and vomiting, and I've been able to eat more than Saltines. However, I have felt a general queasiness pretty much all day long. I have a complete aversion to leafy greens and pretty much anything else that's healthy, for that matter. When I wrote a post about healthy pregnancy snacks, I was actually only a week or so into my pregnancy when I could still eat healthy things (I was writing posts in real time but scheduling them in advance to cover my vacation time).

And brushing my teeth has been a nightmare. It makes me gag. For awhile, I was only brushing my teeth once a day. I finally switched from my Sonicare back to a regular toothbrush, and that seems to have helped.

I've also had to take a lot of naps. Fortunately, this hasn't been a major inconvenience because I'm on summer vacation (I know--lucky me!). I've experienced a lot of general discomfort (especially in my breasts), so it's been hard for me to sleep well at night (not to mention the frequent trips to the bathroom).

I don't say all of this to whine and complain. I merely wanted to add some realistic chatter to the pregnancy dialogue out there. Before I ever started researching conception, pregnancy, and birth, I was under the misconception that the first trimester was the easiest. I thought it would get progressively harder as the months passed on. I didn't realize that the first trimester brought its own host of difficult challenges.

And I've only mentioned the physical difficulty. For me, there was also psychological difficulty. I was expecting it to take months (or even years) for me to conceive, so I was pretty shocked when we conceived during our first cycle of trying. I had a lot of oh-god-I-can't-believe-this-is-really-happening-I'm-not-really-ready-for-this-but-there's-no-turning-back-holy-crap-I-feel-trapped kinds of feelings.

Fortunately, I can already feel many of my first trimester symptoms starting to fade slightly [insert happy dance!]. There will be new challenges, for sure, so I should definitely head into the second and third trimesters with realistic expectations...

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Pregnancy Project Plan

Wow. There is so much to learn about this whole pregnancy/parenthood thing! For example, I was just over at Offbeat Mama, learning about lochia for the first time.

I think it's so easy focus on learning about the immediate stage you're in and lose sight of the fact that by the time you're in the next stage, there isn't enough time to learn everything you need to know for that stage.

I've been trying to stay one step ahead (learn about conception before trying to conceive; learn about pregnancy while trying to conceive; learn about post-partum infant care while pregnant), but it's hard. I find myself wanting to nap all the time during the first trimester. When I'm awake, I have other work I need to get done.

I'm feeling a project plan coming on. I can't help it. Planning makes me feel better. I know I need to be careful not to overdo it. Pregnancy is a time for rest and reflection, not a time to be an overly-ambitious doing-machine. But when I feel overwhelmed by how much I have to learn or do, it helps me to spread it out over all the available time I have. Let's see:

  • Prepare to present a workshop at a conference in September
  • Organize our office
  • Finish learning all I can about pregnancy
  • Relax and rest
  • Work on Halloween costume
  • Organize the bedroom
  • Learn about taking care of an infant (breastfeeding, sleeping, bathing)
  • Relax and rest
  • Plan Matt's birthday present
  • Organize the kitchen
  • Make holiday decorations
  • Continue learning about taking care of an infant
  • Relax and rest
  • Buy holiday presents
  • Organize the living room
  • Develop plan for baby's room
  • Learn about giving birth
  • Relax and rest
  • Put up a tree
  • Organize the dining room
  • Start getting stuff for baby's room (including all necessary baby items)
  • Continue learning about giving birth
  • Start making stuff for the baby
  • Relax and rest
  • Organize the bathroom
  • Ask Matt to clean out attic
  • Put together baby's room
  • Continue learning about giving birth
  • Continue making stuff for the baby
  • Find a housekeeper for the next couple months
  • Relax and rest
  • Rest and center myself
  • Continue making stuff for the baby

Phew! That list seriously makes me feel better. Each month has a digestible amount of stuff.

Please tell me what items are missing from my to-do list!

P.S. You can head over to 2000 Dollar Wedding to enter to win a free spot in my upcoming Purposeful Conception course!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

DIY: Chalkboard Window

I finally finished my chalkboard window project. Egad!

Well, it's not really finished, but I did make significant progress.

Here's what I did:
  1. Found a cheap old window from an antique store.
  2. Cleaned said mirror outside on the grass.
  3. Put masking tape around the inside edges to prevent the paint from getting on the outside frame.
  4. Painted a couple coats with magnetic paint.
  5. Painted a couple coats with chalkboard paint.
  6. Took the finished product to Hobby Lobby and asked them to attach picture hanging hardware (which they did for free!).
  7. Hung window on wall. Voila!

It's not done yet because I would like to attach a little ledge for an eraser and chalk, but I haven't found a good one yet.

My inspiration

Ribbon-on-Your-Finger Reminder: My Purposeful Conception e-course starts Sunday, August 1. Registration is open to the first 100 participants. Join us for five weeks of information, tips, reflection exercises and prompts, access to interviews, and a community of like-minded kindred spirits who are consciously preparing their minds, bodies, and lives for pregnancy.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pregnancy Snacks

I've been trying follow the specific nutritional guidelines put forth in the What to Expect When You're Expecting book:
  • 3 servings of protein (20-25 grams/serving)
  • 4 servings of calcium
  • 3 servings of Vitamin C
  • 3 servings of green leafy and yellow fruits and vegetables
  • 2 servings of other fruits and vegetables
  • 6 servings of whole grains and legumes

I track it on this form that I created (although I don't know how long I'll have the motivation to keep it up!). If I start to experience nausea, I know it will be harder and harder to eat healthy. I'd like to build up as many nutrients as possible while I can.

The thing I struggle with the most as a vegetarian is the protein piece. I don't mean to perpetuate the stereotype that vegetarians don't eat enough protein (because omnivores tend to eat way too much protein!), but I do have difficulty fulfilling my daily requirements.

For example, I eat whole wheat cereal + 1/2 banana + 1 cup of milk for breakfast which gives me the fiber I need to stay regular). That's only about 12 grams of protein. That means I have to try and incorporate protein into snacks, which isn't a piece of cake either. Last night before bed, I still had to take in one serving of calcium and protein. I decided to kill two birds with one stone (sorry for all the cliches!) by eating a cup of cottage cheese. That was enough to make me feel like I was suffering from morning sickness!

So today, I'm trying to eat smaller, protein-rich snacks throughout the day, like 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with blueberries and strawberries. The fruit makes the texture much more palatable to me. I actually like it!

Later today, I might make this dip for vegetables. It looks like another good way to beef up my protein intake.

Ribbon-on-Your-Finger Reminder: My Purposeful Conception e-course starts Sunday, August 1. Registration is open to the first 100 participants. Join us for five weeks of information, tips, reflection exercises and prompts, access to interviews, and a community of like-minded kindred spirits who are consciously preparing their minds, bodies, and lives for pregnancy.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thoughts on Making the World a Better Place

Oh, I am getting teary-eyed (no, it's not because I'm pregnant and a gazillion hormones are coursing through my body). It's because the first crop of third graders I taught in Franklin, Louisiana (a small, rural town two hours away from New Orleans and one hour away from Lafayette) just graduated from high school.

I got this message from one of my former students:

hey ms cotner,

I'm just trying to keep you informed with how I'm doing. I am officially a grown up now. i graduated number nine in my class and that's something that I'm very proud of. I'm currently in summer school at Louisiana State University. I'm trying to get a head start. I plan on majoring in architecture and maybe minoring in interior design. I'm going to try and keep in touch over the years!

ps, you are still the best teacher I ever had

She's going to college! And she has ambitious goals for herself! I could not be more proud. Since her hometown only has 557 college graduates, her accomplishment is even more notable. Franklin is a wonderful town full of strong community, life, commitment, and connection. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to teach there for three years. But it is also full of poverty, racism, and low expectations.

Sometimes I think I want to retreat to my own homestead in the country to grow fruits and vegetables, raise chickens and goats, sew, and hang out with my family. But moments like these remind me that there is real work to be done to make the world more just for all. The trick, I think, is finding balance between those two.

I've worked in non-profit organizations where the culture and pace were so demanding that we all made our own lives worse while we worked to make the rest of the world better. On the other hand, if we all focus solely on making our own lives good, then there aren't enough people to do the work that it takes to create the kind of world where all people can lead happy lives.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Game Recommendations

Anyone out there like to play board games and card games?

I have two new recommendations to add to my list: Quiddler and SET.

Quiddler is a fun word game that has some elements of Rummy in it. To start, each player is dealt three cards with letters on them. The goal is to make a word. On your turn, you can either draw a letter from the discard pile or pick a new card. Once a player "goes down," then the other players have one more turn before they, too, must put down their words. Points are awarded based on the letters you used. In the next round, the number of cards increase to four. The rounds continue up to 10 cards.
The other new game I learned is called SET. The dealer lays out a bunch of cards with shapes on them (four different shapes, four different types of filling, four different colors, and four different numbers of shapes on each card). All the players look at the cards and try to make a set. A set consists of three cards that are either all different or all the same in each of the four different ways. It takes a lot of concentration and brain power, but it's really fun!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Matt and I Are Having a Baby!

I am honestly in a happy state of shock. I was on Day 39 of my cycle.* I came home from an all-day photography class and decided to finally take a pregnancy test (I was so resisting turning into a crazy-obsessive tester). Matt went into the backyard to check on the chickens, and I peed on the stick. Right away, I could see that both lines were starting to darken, so I left it there and went out to fetch Matt. I wanted us to experience it together.

On my way to the backyard, I found myself wondering why I didn't wait just one more day to take the test, so that Matt and I could have one more day before changing our lives completely.

I spent a few minutes relaxing with Matt, Hoss, and the chickens in the backyard and then asked Matt to come inside and read the results with me. The pregnancy test was a random free one that came within a box of ovulation test strips, so we didn't have any instructions for it. We stared at it for a second and realized it had a faint line intersected by a very dark line. Matt said, "That dark line must be a negative sign." I agreed but then quickly realized that the dark line was the vertical line and the light line was the horizontal control line. We were pretty sure we were pregnant, but we decided to retest after dinner.

And then we went to dinner pretty much like normal. We did talk and wonder about the baby, but it still felt like just us. It didn't feel like our lives had changed completely (yet).

I am still shocked that our conscious conception process took only one cycle. I've known all along that conception is not something we can plan. We can invite it into our lives by creating the most welcoming conditions, but that's where our control stops. And the same thing goes for pregnancy. I will now do everything in my power to create the conditions for a healthy pregnancy, but that's where my control stops. I have to recognize that and embrace it.

I'm excited about this journey!

*The timing of this blog has been a little off for various reasons. First, Matt wanted to wait until our first appointment with the midwife to confirm the pregnancy before announcing it to the world. Secondly, I've been writing posts about things happening in my life at the moment but then scheduling them to run later in the month, so I could keep a consistent posting schedule, despite my various trips. It's been driving me crazy to have such a lag between what's happening versus what you're reading, but it will normalize pretty soon!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Purposeful Nurseries

Finn's room showcased by his mom, Meg of Sew Liberated fame

I'm definitely not going to be one of those people who focuses more on the "stuff" of having a baby as opposed to the deeper emotional implications and psychological changes that come from having a baby. It's so easy to get wrapped up in the consumer side of life changes (hello, Wedding Industrial Complex!).

But at the same time, there is an intersection between one's parenting philosophy and the way one chooses to set up a baby nursery. In the Montessori philosophy, for example, the physical environment is an absolutely crucial component. The "prepared environment" embodies all the important elements of the philosophy. Everything in the room should be at the child's height because it places the child at the center. Also, everything should facilitate independence, since the primary goal is to cultivate a child's independence, thereby building a really solid foundation of self worth. The objects in the room should help the child develop his/her senses, and everything should be organized to help the child develop an internal sense of order.

That's why I'm in love with Finn's room, showcased by his mom, Meg over at Sew Liberated. Everything is so intentional and purposeful. And there's not even a crib! They aren't used in Montessori environments.

The good news is that Matt likes it too! It's always a relief when we're on the same page about something (we usually disagree when it comes to home decor). But then again, my whole point is that a nursery shouldn't just be about "home decor." It's a chance to put your parenting philosophy into action. Anyway, I love this room!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Yummy Smoothie Recipe

I'm getting a little sick of my "mango ice-cream," so I decided to shake it up. I still used plain yogurt because I'm trying to reduce the sugar content in my diet. I simply added strawberries, a banana, a splash of calcium-fortified orange juice, and ice. I didn't even add honey or other sweeteners. Yum!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Procrastination Project: Cleaning the Kitchen Pantry

In a desperate attempt to procrastinate productively, I decided to clean out our kitchen pantry. We even had little bags of Fritos in there since Halloween two years ago (we made a pumpkin chili). You have to admit that's pretty disgusting. We also have way too many appliances and not enough storage space.

I started by taking everything out of the cabinets. As I took stuff out, I threw things away that we no longer needed (bye, bye Fritos) and grouped like items together (apparently we have a lot of tea).

Next, I wiped off the surfaces to give us a fresh, clean start.

Finally, I tried to put everything back in more strategically. I put our lesser used items (like an ice-cream maker) in the back, and put our more common items (olive oil!) up front. Since we had so many loose packets of tea, I grouped everything into a plastic box I had lying around in my car.

The whole process too only about 20 minutes and it was so worth it. It's one of those things I always want to do but never make time for.

Hooray for avoiding my other work with a little home-improvement project!

What have you been meaning to make time for?

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Potluck Brainstorm

I'm going to a potluck tomorrow, and I'm at a loss for what I should bring. I really want to bring something unhealthy, like cupcakes. I have such a sweet tooth! My default is always to bring something unhealthy. I want to get out of that habit! (Oh, man, I could even make cupcakes in a jar! How perfect would that be for a picnic potluck?!?)

Hmm...maybe I could bring fruit kabobs. Or I could do a whole wheat pasta with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar.

Maybe I could bring something healthy and bring the cupcakes (but not eat them)? Okay, who am I kidding, that would never work. Not only would I eat them at the potluck, I would also eat the batter and then eat them when the first came out of the oven. I really have no self-control when it comes to sweets.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

On Miscarriage

The decision to reveal whether or not you're pregnant is a very personal one. The books recommend against it until you have passed safely through the first trimester, since the likelihood of miscarriage is so high.

I don't know how I'll feel once I'm actually pregnant, but right now I think I want to tell people as soon as possible, precisely because the risk of miscarriage is so high. It's something we should talk about more, so that people don't feel as lonely when it happens.

Knowing how attached I am to the idea of getting pregnant, I imagine that I would be devastated by a miscarriage. I definitely would not want to tell people face-to-face, "Oh, by the way, I'm no longer pregnant." I am 99.99% positive I would cry over and over again if I had to do that.

So if Matt and I are going to tell people that we're pregnant in the first trimester, then we will also have to have a plan for how to tell them if we lose the baby. Maybe that should be the policy: Whoever we decide to tell, we should be thinking about how we would untell them.

Like this blog would be easy. I can write a post when I'm pregnant because I could also write a post about having a miscarriage. Family will also be easy. I will tell my mom over the phone, and she can spread the news to the rest of the family. If I have a miscarriage, I could rely on the same process to spread the news.

What about colleagues? Maybe I could tell my closest colleague and inform her that she is welcome to tell other people, but if she does, she will also have to tell those people if I have a miscarriage.

I know some people thinks it's wonderful to have a little secret for twelve months, and I can understand and honor that inclination. But I am not really a secrets kind of gal. I like sharing my joy with others. I find that the process of sharing multiplies that joy.

So maybe the reverse is true for miscarriage? The process of sharing the sorrow multiplies that sorrow?

I haven't found that to be true in my life. When I share my sorrow with others, it helps me feel less alone and more connected.

I'll have to talk through all of this with Matt once we become pregnant. He's already a bit stressed out by the fact that we are actively trying to conceive. Making him process hypotheticals does not seem like a good way to calm him down...

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Friday, July 9, 2010

DIY: Birthday Cards

I finally made time to knock out some handmade birthday cards. Woo-hoo!

First, I dug around in my craft closet and found some envelopes I could use. Then I cut some white cardstock to the right size (in this case, the cards are 5" x 7"). Next, I used my paper cutter (I love my paper cutter!) to cut strips of security envelopes that were about 1.5" wide. Then, I simply cut along the strip to make triangles (exactly the way Stephanie suggested).

Then I made piles of flags. For each card, I would set up 8 flags and then go back to put a small dab of white glue on each flag. I would then stick the flags on the card. After I had a bunch of flags done, I used the sewing machine to sew across the top.

To make the stamp, I followed the technique I talked about here. However, instead of using fabric paint, I just used a regular stamp pad. Luckily, I remembered to carve out my letters backwards, so they would face the right way when it came time to stamp.


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Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Family-Unfriendly Nation

Autumn shared an awesome article with me on Facebook: an interview with Sharon Lerner, the author of The War on Moms, a book about the difficulties women face as they try to raise children in a country that is unfriendly toward families.

A lot of the ideas seem to echo Naomi Wolf's in Misconceptions: Truths, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood.

It's overwhelming, really, trying to think about how to make the transition into motherhood a smoother one. It seems like it's going to be difficult on so many fronts. First, it's simply going to be exhausting. The constant feedings, the diaper changes, the interrupted sleep--and the overarching idea that life now revolves around one tiny baby.

And then there's the decision to make around childcare. Does one of us stay home? If yes, how do we subsist on one income?

And how do Matt and I continue to cultivate our relationship with each other, separate from the baby?

And how do I continue to connect with and cultivate myself beyond the baby?

Although answers to these questions are nowhere near being clear to me, it is becoming increasingly apparent that surrounding oneself with a supportive community is key. But what does that look like for two people who live so far away from their families? How do you cultivate a "village" of support apart from your biological, extended families?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Maximizing Small Spaces

Photo courtesy of Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day

I'm so inspired by this Work Station Armoire that Jordan put together to help save space in her home. Right now, Matt and I have an entire room devoted to our office and craft space (with wall to wall tables!), but once we bring a baby into our home, we'll have to consolidate. I'm not sure if I'll want my sewing machine in the baby's room (in something like an armoire that can close up nicely), or if it will make more sense to put it in our bedroom.

The lovely folks over at Young House Love just created an office/play room in their third bedroom. That's not an option for us since we only have two rooms, but it's making me think that it would be nice to have a dual-purpose space where the baby could play and I could work on stuff. Then again, maybe I'll want to do craft stuff after the baby has gone down for the night. But if we do co-sleeping, then that would mean the baby would be in our room, which means I wouldn't want the sewing machine in there anyway. Okay, all this pre-, pre-planning is starting to get confusing. I think I'll add these ideas to my inspiration folder and go think about something else now...

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

Argh! It's very frustrating to me that corporations are allowed to put harmful chemicals into the products we put on and in our bodies. I'd like to think that the products I buy at Whole Foods are safe, but apparently that just isn't true either.

While writing a lesson about eliminating toxins from our lives for Purposeful Conception, I found this link to a website that helps you evaluate the chemicals in sunscreen. It turns out that my Alba Botanica sunscreen has a rating of 5, which means that it should be used with "caution." Oy vey.

Apparently, here are some better options:

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mama!

Today is my dear mom's birthday. (Happy Birthday, Mom!)

I have to confess that I get her the exact same present for every single one of her birthdays: I make a photo calendar of the past year. (But it's okay because you like it, right Mom?). I figure I get more creative and original for Christmas and Mother's Day, so it's nice to have a good ol' standby for the third holiday.

Snapfish always does a speedy and satisfactory job printing and mailing the calendar. I always search retailmenot for a coupon before I place my order. This year, I saved a ton (although I would have paid full price for you, Mom...).

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Friday, July 2, 2010

July: Reflection & Rejuvenation

Image courtesy the Nikki McClure calendar

So my first month of summer is officially finished. I have to confess that it doesn't exactly feel like summer. It feels more like keep-working-full-time-but-work-at-home-instead-of-at-school. I'm suspecting that my goals for June have something to do with it:

  1. Work on creating an e-course about purposeful conception: Um, yeah, this has been a lot of work. I always underestimate how long something is going to take me! Perhaps that's why I commit to so many projects? At first it was super-exciting work because I was doing the graphic design and the technical stuff. It was very new and challenging. Then I started writing the content for the course, which is fun stuff too, but I already do a lot of writing, as I try to maintain two other blogs. I've also been trying to write extra blog posts for both of my blogs, so I can schedule them to run while I'm on vacation. Needless to say, it's been a lot of work.
  2. Update the look and functionality of my blogs (have you noticed the banner doesn't match the URL? Oops!): I've done a little bit of this, but not as much as I would have liked to (see goal #1 for my excuse!).
  3. Completely immerse myself in a yoga retreat with my best friend: Yes! This was so much fun. Aaahhhh. I relax just thinking about it.
  4. Prepare my workshop for the KIPP School Summit in August: I'm almost done! It feels so good to get things done in advance. I mean, I'm going to have to spend hours working on it anyway, so why not spend hours in June, so I don't have to worry about it and get all stressed in July or August?
  5. Start my charter school application: I changed this project at the last minute because I got asked to work as a consultant for a Montessori charter school that is trying to get started in another state. Although I have been doing a solid job of turning away additional requests for my time, I actually said yes to this one because it's so aligned with what I want to do. I can learn from their experience!
  6. Host a picnic/silent film event for friends: Yes. I hosted two potluck/silent films this month!
  7. Invite someone over for a dinner party: Check! We made flatbread pizzas. Delicious.
  8. Run and do yoga regularly: I've been running regularly, but for some reason, I keep resisting the yoga. I'm not sure why. I just need to do it.
  9. Work diligently on the Taking Flight e-course: Check!
  10. Study Spanish for 20 minutes every weekday: Um, no. I have not been doing this one. Argh.
  11. Make a travel pillow for our impending vacation to California and Canada: My craft date with Katie got rescheduled from June to July, so this isn't done yet.
  12. Take a photography class to learn how to use my new DSLR camera: Check!

My intentions for July:
  1. Enjoy an amazing two-week road trip with Matt. Oh, I can't wait! We're flying to L.A. and then driving up the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington into the wild of British Columbia, Canada. I want to read books and see amazing places and immerse myself in nature and play games with Matt and hike and hang out near water and chat and listen to TED talks in the car and bask in the sun. (I should also bring along my Spanish CDs...)
  2. Attend professional development outside of Austin.
  3. Try to fill up registration for my e-course. I'm limiting the first class to the first 100 participants.
  4. Facilitate grade-level collaboration among my Montessori colleagues as we prepare for the new year.
  5. Continue nourishing my body with good food and exercising my body.

I'd like to throw in some stuff about organizing our house, but I don't want to over-commit myself. This is enough for July!

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Registration is Now Open!

I can't believe July 1st is finally here! Today is the official start of registration for my Purposeful Conception e-course. I've been working diligently on the course (read: I've missed showers and meals!) for the past five weeks, and I am elated to finally be able to open it up for registration. For the first course, I am limiting registration to the first 100 participants to ensure smooth logistics.

The Nitty, Gritty Details

  • An online course and community focused on preparing our minds, bodies, and lives for pregnancy
  • August 1-September 3
  • $99 USD

Here's the more detailed version:

Are you thinking about getting pregnant or are you already actively trying? Welcome to Purposeful Conception! This course is for all of us.

The idea is simple: bringing a baby into the world is both an overwhelming joy and a life-changing commitment. When we approach conception with intention and purpose, we create a welcoming and prepared space for children in our lives.

This online course will help us position our minds, bodies, and lives for pregnancy. Over the course of five weeks, a new lesson will be uploaded each weekday. The lessons will address a whole host of topics, such as preparing your body through solid nutrition and exercise, finding balance between what you can and cannot control, making space in your life for pregnancy, deciding whether to track your cycle, building a solid partnership as a foundation for your future family, and much, much more. As a participant in the course, you'll receive information, tips, reflection exercises and prompts, access to interviews, and a community of like-minded kindred spirits who are on a journey similar to your own.

Interested in learning more? Visit the Course Overview or About the Author. Already prepared to join the community? Register now! Spaces will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and will be limited to the first 100 participants. The total cost is $99 USD, and the course will begin on August 1, 2010. Happy Conceiving!


Please consider spreading the word by sharing this post via the buttons at the bottom of the post or by reposting the information on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thank you so, so much!

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