Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Doula Bag

I packed my doula bag today. My client's official due date is the 22nd of January, but if we go by her dates, it's the 15th. She's 100% sure of when she conceived, so I'd rather not take any chances. The 18 week routine ultrasounds can be up to 2 weeks off either way.

I'm not a big gadget fan when it comes to doula bags. I find that if you bring too many accessories, you tend to want to use them all even if the mom doesn't need them. In my experience, the mom gets forgotten amongst all the machinery and doo-dads. My goal is that throughout her labour she will feel that I am paying attention to her needs, rather than trying out whatever new doula fad is going around that particular month. I bring the necessary stuff, and even so, it seems really heavy and bulky to carry around! Here's what goes into my backpack:

*massage oils and massage tool (I prefer using my hands. It's warmer, and it grounds the mom)
*hot and cold packs, both microwaveable and the kind you crack to get the temp going
*water bottle
*essential oils
*rebozo (long scarf to help with back pain)
*fake flickering candles & holders
*hair ties
*disposable gloves
*deck of cards (it can get pretty long!)
*paperwork & birth plan
*The Birth Partner book by Penny Simkin
*enough food and cash for me to last a day
*change of clothes & toiletries for me
*other stuff if I think the mom might need it

The hospitals I work at already have showers, jacuzzis and birth balls. There are many positions and tricks you can apply using the walls, halls, stairwells, chairs, and the birth partner. I'm looking forward to this birth!

Monday, December 29, 2008

La Belle Province

I'm feeling a bit sad this week. No, sad isn't really the right word. Perhaps nostalgic, pensive, melancholy, or reminescent would better fit the bill.

When I first came to this province, I had no intention of staying. I was going to save up some cash, and hi-tail it back to Quebec to go back to school. A few months in, I met Rich, got married and the rest is history. Now, a marriage, 3 kids, a house and a business later, this is my home. I do miss Quebec, though. I miss the people, the language, the culture, the pride (even if it does come before a fall), the personality, the energy that vibrates the streets, the charm of it all, the food, the store hours and coffee shops...

When I lived in Quebec, I didn't understand what the fuss was all about keeping our traditions and culture alive. Now, I struggle with keeping my ancestral roots alive in me, and growing in my children. My daughters, who cannot pronounce "poutine" correctly, and who look at me blankly when I tell them that they are "tellement jolie" or to "arrĂȘte tes niaiseries!". I am told how lucky I am to be bilingual, and that it is so important to teach my children another language. There's only so much I can do without support.

I am very aware of how long it has been since my children have been to La Belle Province. It's been too long for me, too. I wait impatiently for spring so that I can tuck them into the car and make the drive, but it's frightening. I don't want to be disappointed or hurt if it means less to them than I hoped. Will they understand that this culture is embeded in their very fibres? Will they love the people as I do? Will they be proud of their ancestry, or will this be a trip that they will simply tolerate?

I want them to know Franglais, the shores of the Saint Lawrence, the smell of boiling sap in March, the heavy scent of fresh cut hay, the cobblestones, the stubbornness of a people that won't let go of it's origins, the pick-up games of hockey, cheese so fresh it squeeks between your teeth, the two-cheek kiss...

I want to go home.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Every year, we bake a birthday cake for Jesus and sing Happy Birthday. Here are some pics of the occasion. For some reason, Blogger uploaded them backwards, but maybe you can read from bottom to top!
Here's Graedon having enjoyed his piece of birthday cake.

Eva and Maddie blowing out the candle. Richard suggested using 2008 candles, but I vetoed that idea.

Icing the cake...notice the tell-tale pink smudge around Eva's lips. Tsk, tsk, tsk!

Waiting patiently...
My little taste-tester.

Merry Christmas!

Here's our family wishing you a Merry Merry Christmas! Much love, family, and many blessings in the New Year - the Pattersons

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What About the Kids?

I've been following the Davis' family blog for a while. They're considering Newlife school, too, and I'm always surprised (and happy) to read their entries because they seem to go through what we go through. Here's a link to something that pretty much explains how we feel about the question: What about the kids?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Funny Girl!

Last weekend Rich and the girls braved the weather to choose a tree at the local tree farm. As Rich was zipping up Maddie's coat, he told her, "You'll have to help me choose the right tree, okay?" Eva piped in with, "And I'll help you choose the left tree!!"

I love that kid!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

O Christmas Tree!

I love Christmas trees! It makes me curious to see what people deem worthy to display on the tree - after all, that's the most prominent decoration in the house at Christmas. I've seen all sorts of different themes - the Disney tree, the Edible tree, the We Love Our Pets tree, the Snowman tree, the Castoff Ornaments from Grandma's Last Yard Sale tree...mine's a mix of all of those! Personally, I like hand made ornaments. My mom and siblings and I used to spend hours making ornaments. 20 years later, Mom is still hanging the tissue/cardboard doves on the branches. They're looking a bit ratty, but the memories are great!

The girls and I made these during school. I did the prep work, cutting out cardboard stars and covering them with aluminum foil. They glued, spread, sprinkled, glittered and generally made a mess. We had fun, though!

Can you see the "Edible" and "Grandma Castoff" themes in the picture? :P Also, you can't see them very well, but my awesome neighbour made us cute cotton batting snowmen - they're hiding behing the branches on the right. Very sweet!

I'm still scraping dried glitter glue off the table top. Worth it, absolutely!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Life Stages

I remember when my family moved when I was in grade 4. I changed schools, and even though my new home was only about an hour from my old home, the mindset was completely different in my new class. At my new school, the other kids were "going out" with each other. I never really understood the expression, since they never went "out" anywhere, but nevertheless, that was what they called it. That was the beginning of the dating phase of my generation.

Next phase - getting serious. That was "going out", but you actually talked to each other and in a sense, owned each other. The previous "going out" didn't actually mean that you liked each other, or even that you wanted to be was just a social status thing that meant you were popular enough for someone of the opposite sex to circle the "yes" on the note that asked if you wanted to be their girlfriend or boyfriend.

When I was 17, a new stage developed - engagement. Yep, early as 17, couples were getting ready to tie the knot. My college roomie was first to do so. That was huge, and a few years later, I followed suit and married the best man I've ever known.

Now I'm 28 years old, and entering into a brand new life stage - divorce. Not me, personally (see paragraph above - Rich is awesome!), but it's becoming an increasingly normal thing for my friends to announce they're going Splitsville. I admit, I am a bit naive when it comes to these things. It has caught me off guard.

I understand and I support the need to leave an abusive relationship. I also encourage these couples to seek counselling (together or alone), and to mend their relationship if it is safe to do so.

I have a hard time, though, with the lies of it all - the comments like, "The kids will be happier if I'm happy", or "We've fallen out of love (see note below)" or, worse "He's emotionally abusive to me" when in fact, he's simply an inconsiderate jerk. That sucks, but let's call it as it is, no?

The next stage - remarriage. Ah, yes, the second chance that boasts a 70% divorce rate compared to the 50% (or is it higher, now?) of first marriages. The stress of blended families, court battles and restraining orders against jealous first wives. Fun.

I'm not trying to teach anything with this post. I'm not going to offer advice, or cite verses or quote Dr. Phil (cough, cough, trying not to roll my eyeballs). I'm just writing about something I wish wasn't an issue.

Here's the quote I mentionned above. I love it because it's true:

"Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish it's source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings." Anais Nin

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quit Yer Whining!

I've decided to quit belly-aching about school. Still think it's going to happen, and I still want it to happen, but I'm going to stop letting it get me down. If this isn't God's timing then I certainly am not going to mess with that. He is, after all, better equiped at running lives, mine included.

My mom and I were chatting about it all, and she told me point blank that I wasn't ready. I appreciated that - I know I'm not, and it was cool to have someone who loves me unconditionnally tell me that honestly, in love. I asked her why, and she told me that I needed to gain more experience in the birth area of life, grow my children more (Graedon is only 10 months), and that with the economics crisis, raising support would be extremely difficult. True, very true. So, I'm getting ready. Little by little, I am inching my way to a place and time in my life where midwifery school will be a realistic option for me and my family.

In the meantime, we'll see what happens.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Our Week in Pictures!

To show that I'm human...this is a picture of what happens when you accidently wash an entire cardboard dominoe game with an extra large load of laundry. That bowl shows how much mushed up cardboard I was able to shake off the clothes before they hit the dryer. There was about another bowlful in the lint trap, too! What a mess!

My mom and the kids had a fun day together. They made a sugar cube igloo and jelly candy penguins. Super cute!

Maddie had her last class of gymnastics until the New Year. Here she is receiving her certificate.

Maddie also "graduated` from School Readiness. She`s very proud of her certificate.

Hope you`re having a great week!

January Client!!

I have a January client! I drove 2 hours to her house, spent a couple hours with her and her hubby, and was hired to attend her birth and help her through it. I ended up having to spend the night away from home since I got caught in a snowstorm (the 50 kms/hr on the highway kind of storm), but it was worth it. She is a VBAC, so this is especially wonderful. I am a 2VBAC myself, so this is near and dear to my heart. New Brunswick, especially this area, has a high cesarean rate. VBACs are beginning to be encouraged, but elective cesareans are still very normal - which doesn't necessarily mean healthy.

I am honoured and so excited to be asked to be this woman's doula. I can't wait!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Job Shadow

Yesterday was a big day! I had the opportunity to job shadow with a certified-nurse midwife (CNM) in Presque-Isle, ME. She was incredibly gracious and generous with her time. After all, she certainly didn't have to accept to have me tag along with her all day, but with her clients' permission, I was able to sit and observe prenatals, consultations and general GYN appointments.

It was a pretty normal day, no unusual cases, nothing tragic or out of the ordinary. I don't think I learned anything new as far as care, but we did spend some time talking legality and schooling. Up until now, a midwife hasn't had to have a Masters degree to practice in Maine. In 2010, new midwives will have to have the extra schooling. Most states are starting to adopt that rule, and I'm not sure about Canada. A CPM doesn't have a Masters, and not necessarily a Bachelors, either. It all comes down to where I would want to practice.

If we go to Newlife, then I'd be able to get my associate's degree, possibly a bachelors. That would make me a CPM, provided I pass the NARM exam. This would limit me as to where I can practice. The laws are up in the air in NB right now, so I have no idea what I would need to practice here. In Alberta, for example, you must be a Certified Nurse Midwife to practice - no direct entry midwives are recognized.

So - I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, there is the CPM way - more holistic, shorter, intense, practical, my style but limited in the areas I can work. On the other hand, there is the CNM way - very medical, long & drawn out, very expensive, but better chance at working almost anywhere.

Honestly, I don't know if I can take 7 years of University. That's a long, long time to be sitting behind a desk. The schools in Canada use mostly case studies and fake patients. Nothing like palpating a plastic baby in a rubber belly. And, for the expense of it, when I'm finally done with my decade long study, who's to say I won't be totally burned out but obliged to work anyway to pay off the mountain of student debt?

Grrr...I'm too tired to think about this right now. :P

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ho Ho Ho Hum

'Tis the season! In my mind right now, there are a bunch of topics I'd like to broach - and yet, I'll try to stick to one! Good old Super Jolly Fat Man.

I only have one memory of actually believing in Santa Claus. It was Christmas Eve and my mom was tucking us snugly into bed. She must have been exhausted, for she uttered those famous Christmas Eve words, "If you don't shut your eyes and go to sleep, Santa won't come!!" Good times! I also used to believe that dinosaurs roamed the first floor of our house at night because as I lay with my arm under my head, I would hear the blood rush through the veins in my arm. My pulse sounds a lot like T-Rex foot steps. I digress.

Early in our parenting years, Richard and I decided that we wouldn't encourage the Santa myth. Already, Christmas has become such a stressful, commercial time of year that we felt that adding Santa to the mix would be taking away from what Christmas is supposed to be all about. This summer, our wonderful babysitter told the girls about him - perhaps playing the "Santa won't come" card? - and this led to a truthful, and gentle talk about Santa, Jesus' birth and Christmas. As we told our girls, Santa is a fun story but he is just pretend.

Some people don't agree with this - rather than dashing through the snow, we are dashing our children's Christmas memories and robbing them of a precious, essential childhood memory. I don't believe that. When my children are adults, I want them to remember Christmas as a celebration of our Saviour's birth, as a happy event like a birthday party, cuddling on the couch with Mommy and Daddy, participating in concerts and caroling, hot chocolate, visiting relatives and friends, etc. I want them to associate Christmas with Christ, his birthday with giving to others (and I don't mean stuff, I mean time, volunteering, charity, etc). Yes, there will be gifts, but they won't be the focus. Yes, Santa will be at the mall and on Christmas specials, but he will not be an idol. Yes, we will probably spend too much on diverse Christmas paraphanalia (spelling?), but we will try to keep it in line with our budget to discourage waste and excess.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 1, 2008

They Listen!

There are some days when I look at my kids and wonder whether anything I've tried to teach them has sunk in - and then, there are days like today. At the breakfast table, Maddie told me of a recent visit to visit Grammy Pat. Her two cousins (A & G), Eva and she had snuck into my 14 year old sister's room (L). L has a gumball machine and an impress collection of Beanie Babies, so you can understand the attraction. A, G & Eva helped themselves to the gumballs, and took one for Maddie, too. As Maddie put it, "I told them I didn't want it cuz it wasn't mine. That's stealing, and I didn't want you to be mad." My mother's heart just about burst with pride. She does listen to me!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Ooof. That pretty much sums up my morning! Up since 7 am, and all I have to show for it is a pile of laundry, zero housework done, cranky kids and a couple worksheets that I had to force Maddie to do.

There are some days that I would love to be shipping my kids out the door to daycare. I dream of a neat, clean home and time to prop up my feet and read for fun. It would be great to just ask, "What did you learn in school today?" and be answered the usual, "Nothing.".

These are the days I have to remind myself why I'm a stay-at-home mom. These are the days I have to remind myself the reasons we've decided to homeschool. These are the days that I phone up the friends in the same boat and seek advice or a listening ear.

In the end, I know it's worthwhile. My reasons for being so hands on with my kids are still valid, and they are still more important than the inconveniences. Courage, Emilie!


On another topic, Rich and I went on a mini-date (does it qualify as a date if the baby is in the back seat and we only have an hour and 15 minutes before picking up the big kids?). We drove around and talked and it was pretty cool. We got down to business and had a frank talk about what it would really mean to move to Davao for 2 1/2 years. We talked about fears, challenges, roles, money. I don't think this means that we are any closer or any further from making the leap, but it felt really good to have that talk. It cleared the air and I think we understand each other better for it. I love Rich! He's awesome.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Doctor Knows Best?

I was having a visit with a pregnant mom recently. Typical "high-risk", she was in her early forties, previous c-section, and severe vaginal varicose veins. She spoke over coffee, and I listened. She was frustrated and confused. Her general practitioner had warned her not to have a vaginal birth, that if she tore she could easily bleed to death. She had seen a new specialist in the city as well, and he had given the go ahead for a safe vaginal birth. She was afraid to go against her doctor's wishes, and although she wanted to avoid the surgery for all the usual reasons (difficult recovery, trouble breastfeeding, trouble bonding, pain, not being able to care for her baby and family, needing to get back to school immediately...), she scheduled the cesarean anyway. I urged her to get a 3rd opinion from an OB, but our conversation ended with, "Well, my family doctor knows my body better than anyone anyway."

That pretty much sums up the mindset I deal with everyday. How does giving a yearly pap smear and quick 15 minute appointments make a person an expert in your body? Doesn't living in your own body for 20-30-40 years make you the person who knows your body best?

Some of us have bodies who are malformed because of injury or disease. That's true. In this case, it's wise to seek counsel from our midwives and doctors. And that is the message I wanted to convey to this mom - ask! If your gut is telling you one thing, and you're getting mixed messages from the professionals, then keep asking. The peace of mind is worth the work.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

End of the Rope

I grew up as a PK - Preacher's Kid. My dad, who is now on hiatus, is an awesome pastor. People understand him, they "get" his sermons, and in his quiet, non-assuming way, he "gets" them, too. However, I think that deep down, my dad is first and foremost a farmer. He's farmed all his life, and he's good at that, too!

When we were growing up, we'd have various animals in the barn, outside, in the house - it was wild sometimes. We had a goat for a while which we kept tied to a post on our lawn. It would munch on the grass, shearing a golf green of sorts. It had a nasty temper though, and it was easily provoked. We'd stand just out of reach of it's rope and egg it on until it would drop it's head and run at full tilt to butt us across the yard. Silly goat - it never realized that we were standing only a couple feet beyond it's reach. It would run at full speed, until the rope snapped taut and the poor beast's body would slingshot toward the outside of the circle while the rope kept it's head and neck inside the circle. It was great fun, until one day, the post got loose without our realizing it....good times.

Anyway, the reason I'm posting this story is because it reminded me of our Philippines journey. When Newlife first became an option for us, I felt like God just threw me a whole pile of rope and I just ran with it. Then - snap - I reached the end of the leash, and God reeled me back in to the post. Slowly, slowly, I feel like He's been feeding me the rope an inch at a time, sometimes taking back a couple, but doing it slow and steady rather than at breakneck speed like last time. It's hard to know if I'll end up at the edge of the circle, or maybe just in the middle, but I am going somewhere. Somewhere.

Here are a few examples -
*I've been reading more birth stuff, with a renewed zest.
**I struck up a conversation with one of the moms at Preschool and turns out she's Filipina! She's given me advice, caution and has offered to get in touch with some missionaries she knows in the Philippines.
***Rich and I have decided that if someone offers to buy the house, it will be our sign. Obviously, not our only sign, and not the make or break of it all, but it would be like a smack on the back of the head to get our butts in gear. No one has offered, but, again, out of the blue, we met up with a couple who mentionned that they had put an offer on it before us...and, also out of the blue, a client of mine has expressed interest in pursueing a career in electrolysis - perhaps buying me out. Not that I don't like my job, but I've been hemming and hawing on whether to continue with it.

It's a hmmmm kind of day.

NOTE - For those who read the last post - I am feeling MUCH better! I'm all healed up, although still tired and a bit dazed. God is good - and He does work in mysterious ways. I think the Mastitis was just a way for Him to tell me to shape up and start taking better care of myself. More sleep, more water, better food. He's only given me one body - I better get the best use out of it as I can.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Breasts and the Rest

Sorry, no pics for this one. LOL

Well, this has been a different kind of week. Today was the day I was to job shadow with a midwife in Maine. This has been months in the making, so I've been counting down the days. Then, last night, I started feeling not so good. Really not so good. First was the nausea, then my skin started to hurt, my hair started to hurt. My body started aching, I got so cold I couldn't stop shaking despite the fireplace on full crank and the winter jammies and pile of blankets. Then, I was too hot. No sleep, and a killer headache. I figured that this crazy week had done me in and I'd given myself the flu. But, no, as I stepped into the shower I noticed it - red, puffy and tender to the touch - I've got Mastitis.

I cancelled everything for that day, job shadow included. I hope she will understand and allow me to re-book with her.

I spent 3 hours in the emergency room to get an antibiotic prescription. I knew what I had, I knew what I needed, but no doctor will fill a prescription without actually checking me out. So, I sat and sat and sat. Finally, I was ushered into the ER treatment area and as soon as the nurse asked me how I was, I started bawling. All I could manage was, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm so t-t-tired!" She was a sweetheart, though, and talked with me a bit.

Finally, a doctor and nurse came to see me. The poor doctor was clearly uncomfortable. He asked me how old my baby was, and when I said 10 months, he responded, "That's quite old to be nursing." At my chilly stare, he swallowed, and sputtered, "That's the perfect age to nurse." I would have smiled, but I just wanted out of there. Finally, he asked that I change into a gown while he stepped behind a curtain. The nurse fussed and made sure I was covered up. When he returned, gloved up, he apologetically prodded and pressed. He reminded me of a shy, awkward 14 year old boy - not sure what to do with his hands. I think they're so afraid of being slapped with a sexual harrassment suit that they have to be extra careful.

Anyway, I left with my prescription, too late to go to the Dr. Jack Newman conference, and frankly, too sick to care all that much. Although, I'm pretty sure I saw him cross the hospital foyer with a crowd of doctors surrounding him - perhaps hoping to woo him to our little hospital. That would be nice.

It's Here, It's Here!!!

I am so excited! I've been looking for a copy of "Birth Reborn" by Michel Odent for quite a while now. Finally, I found one on E-bay for very little mullah. I haven't gotten very far in reading it, but here I am taking a quick peek...

Sadder news, now - Graedon was injured this week. He caught his little finger in the hinges of my office door. It bled like a stuck pig, and his pinky was squished almost flat. I was almost sure he'd need stitches and an x-ray, but while I was on the phone with Telecare, his finger sprang back into a finger shape and the nurse suggested keeping an eye on it at home. It bled for quite a while after that, so I put a band-aid on it. Now, 10 month olds don't do so well with band-aids. Actually, they eat band-aids. So, I rigged up a band-aid protector with one of my (clean) socks and safety-pinned the sock to his sleeve. Graedon is fine now. Here's a picture of my invention:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Crazy Week!

I shouldn't be at the computer right now, but I need the 15 minutes of decompression...

This is the mother of all weeks. It seems like every minute is accounted for, and I am dreading most of my activities. The funny thing is, I love all the things I must do this week, but because of the stress of such a full-tilt, barge ahead week, I'm not feeling the Love! When I am rushed like this, I feel my shoulders hunch, my back get tight, my jaw get the picture.

As crowded as it is - here is a list of things I'm excited for that are happening this week:

1) I ordered Birth Reborn by Michel Odent on Ebay. This was the last of the required reading list for Newlife. It should be in on Thursday. I've heard awesome reviews for this book.

2) Friday night Dr. Jack Newman is coming to town!!! He's what I would call a Breastfeeding Guru, and he's coming to my little town! Yay! It should be extremely informative, and I'm so happy!

3) I'm waiting to hear whether or not I am getting a client for January. She's a VBAC, so it's very near and dear to my heart. Fingers crossed!

4) Saturday night we're going to an appetizer party at our friends' home. They are such warm, hospitable people. It's always a good time!

5) The girls are sleeping over at their cousins' Saturday. That means sleeping in for us on Sunday! I can't remember the last time that happened...

I know, this isn't huge news. It's probably not all that interesting to anybody other than me, but that's what life is, right? Just a bunch of little things that make us happy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Face/Angry Face

This is my latest addition to our home. I tweeked it a bit from the original version (I <3 MacTac!), and I added the strings so the faces don't lost:

I saw this on another woman's blog, and for the life of me, I can't remember who she was! Either way, Lady Who Made This Emotion Thing, if you see this post, please comment and let me know so I can link to you!
My eldest child has a hard time with expressing herself and showing her emotions in a proper manner. One minute, she might be very loving and huggy, and the next minute she will stomp off or rip up her books. There are days that she is aggressive, and will test herself (and me!) by acting out. For example, she might deliberately hold your arm and squeeze as hard as she can just to get a reaction. Now, I know what some of you are thinking, "Surely, there's some kind of medication for that!!" Probably! LOL! Let's not underestimate the healing power of parenting, though! I think a lot of it is simply that she hasn't developed the tools yet to express herself in a constructive way.
Enter the Happy Face/Angry Face poster. Whenever I've seen Maddie get into a funk - whether she is angry that Eva hasn't shared, or that Graedon is hogging all my attention, or even that she is moody because she is tired, I steer her to the poster. We go through the different faces together - happy, sad, angry, silly, sick, surprised - and choose one that fits her feelings. Then comes the talking. "I am sad/angry/etc because ___________". So far, it's worked! I've seen both girls use it with me, and on their own. I've even seen Maddie switch the faces on Eva's poster to match her mood.
Hopefully, this will be a tool she can build on for the future.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Struggling #2

This is an update for the blog I wrote earlier. I came across this entry in another blog, and it touched me. Like she says, dying to self is not popular, nor is it understood, but this is something I need to work on. Perhaps this is what God is telling. Take everything away from me, bit by bit, and I will see what I am really made of.

Have I done everything I can for my family today? Have I listened and nurtured and taught my children 100% today, or have I brushed them off in favour of a textbook or educational website? Have I focused on my marriage, or have I found fault in the way my husband has reined me in to tend to the here and now instead of what maybe could be kinda might happen? Have I been too busy building myself up, worrying about me, my education, my desires?

Ouch, this entry hit home - and rightly so. I may have been pushed off my pedestal, but it was kind of shaky anyway. I am humbled.

I still need the prayer, though, please.

Finding Joy in Losing Me

I have found one simple answer for finding the greatest joy in being a wife, mother and keeper of my home, and that is in losing me. There is hardly a moment in my life when I have time to myself. Hardly a second when I don't feel someone else very close to me, if not literally climbing all over me :0).There was a time in my life when I definitely felt tied down. My heart was not right at all. I was full of my self. Self is a HUGE joy killer for many women today and one of the main reasons why there is no joy in the home. It isn’t popular opinion, I know, but I am not writing for popularity. When even an ounce of “self” is allowed in, the joy of the home is squelched. It cannot run properly, according to the will of God, when self is an issue for the home keeper.One of the most difficult things for the SELF to do is to put OTHERS first. One of the sweetest blessings in life is when we learn to put ourselves aside and live in servant hood, dedicating our lives to the service of others! When we love God and want to serve Him, one of the best ways we can do this is by serving those that have been placed in our lives.Christ was a perfect model of servant hood. He never put Himself first. The verses in Romans 15:1~3,5 say:We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell upon Me.”….Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like~minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus…There are so many ways we can seek to serve those precious people that been placed in our lives. We do not even have to leave our homes to begin! Wives have their husbands and children to think of. Girls have their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers to think of. The Bible says in Galations 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”How can we help bear the burdens of those who are under our very own roof tops? Ask yourself, “What can I do for this person, whom I love, to bless them and make their life more joyful and pleasant?” Live according to 1 Corinthians 10:24, which says, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well being.”Serving others is the Lord’s perfect will! It takes the focus off of ourselves and we begin thinking of ways we can bless the lives of others! The most beautiful gift you could ever give to someone is to show them how much you love them, by laying yourself aside.And you know what!? You will find that it is the greatest gift and blessing you could ever receive yourself! When we put others first and ourselves lastly, we begin to experience bountiful joy!


Somedays, I really struggle. I mean, really, really struggle. I'm not going to go into all the ins and outs of it all, but I'm being seriously tested right now!

Since I've been a kid, I've seen missions in my future. Since I was a teen, I've known I've wanted to do something medical, in the birth area of life. Since being pregnant with my first child and hiring a midwife to follow me through that pregnancy, I've narrowed it down to midwifery. I checked out various schools in Canada (BC, MB, PQ, ON), but none really clicked.

Then, two years ago, I found it. Newlife International School of Midwifery ( It's a midwifery school/clinic in the Philippines that gives free prenatal care & births for women who cannot afford healthcare. It's non-profit, and all tuition goes toward running the clinic. Best of all, it's a Christian school. It sounded perfect for me - education for the mind, spirit and character, missions, midwifery all wrapped into one. For over a year, I prepared myself - I lived and breathed midwifery & the Philippines. I started reading through the required reading list, I followed some of the students' blogs, I e-mailed with the director, students, missionaries, scrimped and saved. I became a birth doula, had another baby...

Finally, this summer, we felt that it was time to make a decision. On the advice of a missionary I met at VBS, we asked 10 people to pray for us to finally figure out if it was time to apply. And the answer was "no", loud and clear.

WHAT??!! We had asked for clarity, and we got it - debt started piling up in the form of leaky rooves & broken-down cars, I became so busy with the kids, their schooling, work & life in general, Richard started enjoying his job, certain key people pulled out their support, extended family started getting was a no go, but I didn't understand.

Why would God allow me to find the school in the first place, give me such a huge desire to go, get me all hyped up, then take it all away? I am left confused, angry, frustrated, disappointed, resentful and very alone in my struggle. Is this a test from God to see how faithful I am? Is this a test to see how much I really want this? Is this a test to see if I will give up what has been most important to me for years in order to honour and obey my husband? Is this a joke?? Or, as some people have commented, is this an attack from "The Enemy" (note here: I hate when people call Satan "The Enemy". I mean, obviously, he is, but "The Enemy" sounds so silly, like we're in a role playing game, and wearing capes and swinging swords. Why not "The Terminator" or "Space Captain"?) to wear me down and steer me away from what might be God's plan for me. How do I know the difference? WHAT IS GOING ON??!!

Wishy washy, some weeks the desire is back and it looks like it could be possible. Then, we're back to square one with a reminder of the "no" answer. I am tired.

So, for those who are following this blog - please pray for me. Please try to understand that I need encouragement, and on the days that I am not my usual cheery self, I might need to talk. I need to be reminded that it will work out. Please don't take it personally if I vent. Please pray for peace and healing. Thank you!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Oooh, I just love a good deal! If you look up "frugal" in the dictionnary, my picture will be right next to it. It will also be right next to the word "cheap", but let's not dwell on that!

This purchase made my day. I bought an entire trunkload of homeschool books for $50! Canadian! Some of these books were listed at $60 a pop, so what a bargain. The fun globe was originally $100, and the lady was kind enough to throw in some ice skates and a funky karaoke machine complete with revolving disco ball. Sweet! The expense of homeschooling had been weighing on my mind, so this was a huge blessing. The woman I bought these from introduced me to an excellent curriculum that won't break the bank, so I'm feeling pretty optimistic!

Next on the "ka-ching" list, is Toad Broth! I don't normally buy juice boxes, but I couldn't resist!

I bought 44 boxes of Toad Broth for $1.97! That's 4.4 cents for each box. Wow! And, on top of that, it contains real fruit juice. 'Course, the juice is listed way at the end of the ingredient list, so I'm pretty sure that when they say that it "contains pure fruit juice" they probably just waved an apple and a handful of grapes over the juice maker at the factory. I'm going to overlook that for now. BTW, I am not going to take kindly to anybody commenting on this note and telling me that I didn't save any money because I spent it on fake toad broth when I could have been drinking free water. I know that, but on what other occasion can I safely feed my children toad broth?

While I've got that picture up - did anyone notice the frame in the background? That's a picture of me with cute little Charlotte. I was her mom's doula this summer. That's a story for another time, though...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I am not a social butterfly. I always wanted to be like one of those girls that floats around parties and crowds, giving two-cheeked kisses, tossing her shiny blond hair and waving her dainty, manicured hands at all her adoring fans. You know, the kind who giggles into her ever-ringing phone and gets invited to all the coolest parties.

Nope, not me. I've been known to duck behind pyramids of canned veggies at the grocery store at the sight of an aquaintance. Too shy to know what to say, and terrified that they might think I have nothing better to do than hang out at the Superstore on a Saturday night. It's a whole lot easier to give in to my social awkwardness than to step outside my comfort zone and strike up a conversation.

Today, though, something happened. It's been a long time coming, really. The girl in paragraph 2 actually existed only a few years ago. Slowly, she's been morphing into something far different from the chubby little caterpillar she once was. Today, I called up a girl and asked her to go shopping with me. Just like that. I never do that, but today I did. And we went, we had a great time, and she even helped me find a very flattering outfit.

I'll probably never be the flitting butterfly from paragraph 1 (gosh, I hope not!), but I am trying out my wings a wee bit. Turns out it's kind of nice out here beyond my comfort zone.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

God's Measure - Getting out the Soap Box

I volunteer with Pregnancy Care Center. They provide free pregnancy tests, emotional support, counselling, education on options for unplanned pregnancies, a "Give Mom's Credit" program (they can "earn" Walmart money toward buying baby stuff), free maternity and baby clothes, free layettes, etc. They are there for pregnant women who might otherwise have nowhere to turn.

When we receive used clothing donations, it's our job to go through and discard whatever isn't in top shape. It's important that the clothes we have available for our clients be in like new condition - no stains, no tears, no over-washed look. So, at our last clothes sorting, we sat around and inspected the cute little bibs, onesies and sleepers. I admit, I don't sweat the small stuff. I've been known to bring my kids grocery shopping in mismatched socks with smashed carrots on their shirt sleeves. But, at work, I am professional! Now, what is "like new" for me, may not be "like new" for someone else, so there were quite a few times when one of us would hold up a little dress and ask, "Is this little stain on the collar noticeable?" or "Do you think this sleeper is too pilly?" When in doubt, throw it out.

This blog entry really isn't about stained clothes. It's about something deeper. What I came to realize during our keep or chuck session was that it didn't matter if there was baby barf stain all the way down a onesie, or if there was just a little discoloration on the sleeve. If it wasn't perfect, it didn't make the cut. Like us. It is so tempting to compare ourselves to the people around us. If we look hard enough, we'll always find someone who is a bigger liar, a lazier employee, a more disrespectful son/daughter...but that's not the issue. If we measure ourselves against the world's yardstick (or metre stick for us Canadian folk), we will never know exactly how tall we are because that measure is faulty. If we measure ourselves against God's yardstick, then there is no hiding our true measure.

One lie makes a person a liar, one murder makes a murderer, one theft makes a thief, one sin makes a sinner. One saviour makes us saved.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Underground Movement

This week we're learning about how animals get ready for winter. Bears hibernate, foxes adapt, geese migrate, insects...hmm, what do insects do? I wasn't quite sure, so we went on an insect hunt. Armed with a Mason jar to collect the little critters, we hit the yard. We looked under rocks, in holes, on branches, dug in the garden...and that's where the trouble started.

Looking for bugs quickly turned into an underground adventure. I was ordered to dig, but after a few minutes of scraping, the hole was pronounced too small to fit all three of us in. Maddie gave it a shot, but found the rake too awkward. She ran inside the house to put on some work gloves (winter mitts), and knelt in the mud to get the job done. Still, after a few more minutes, she was only up to her ankles. I suggested we wait for Daddy to come and help us with some bigger tools (I was sick of digging), but Maddie had a better idea. She ran to our friendly neighbour's to ask if she could borrow the tractor! She came back 10 minutes later, heartbroken, to announce that her dear Grammy Margaret - the adopted grammy from next door - didn't believe her in her quest for the underground. They also wouldn't let 4 year old Maddie borrow the tractor. Darn.

We did find out what bugs do during winter. They hide - I mean, hibernate. We also ended up with a load of muddy laundry, a bath, mud all over the floors and what appears to be an empty mason jar upended on Madeleine's bed. Oh dear.

Monday, November 3, 2008


We've been unofficially homeschooling for a couple years. Madeleine is 4 1/2 years old, and Evangéline just turned 3. Here are some photos of what you can expect to see on a school day at our house! Keep in mind, some of these pictures are from Halloween week. We don't always do pumpkin math!

One of the great things about homeschool - you can wear your tooth fairy costume all day, every day! Here, Maddie is working on the number 6.

This week, we are talking about how animals prepare for winter. We are learning about hibernating, migrating and adapting. People adapt by eating lots of food, wearing winter coats and building fires in our homes.

We made cupcakes - this taught Maddie motor skills (peeling the paper cupcake holders apart, placing them in the cups, scooping, filling, cracking the eggs, etc), fractions (okay, tell me when the oil gets to 1/3), comparisons (are all the cups filled the same amount?), following instructions, and PATIENCE (are they ready yet???).

Pumpkin math. I had no idea Maddie could do this until Richard taught her using her fingers.

Eva is barely 3, so I don't push her to do too much. She has her own workbook that she colours. For the most part, she can keep up with Maddie on most subjects.

Apple picking field trip during "Where does our food come from?" week.

Field Trip during "Where does our food come from" week. We visited Grampy's work at the farm. This pic shows Eva feeding the calves.

Grampy showing where milk comes from. The girls were allowed to taste the fresh milk, but it wasn't a big hit!

Grampy and Eva feeding a newborn calf.

Maddie has other activities during the week. This takes care of the "S" word - socialization! Here she is getting ready for her first day of school readiness (like preschool). Obviously, she intends to ride her horse there :) . She also goes to gymnastics, and they both go to Sunday School, Cubbies and visiting friends.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Importance of the Doula

Often, when I tell people that I am a birth doula, the first thing they ask is, "What's that?!" I explain that I am a trained labour assistant - a helper of sorts who is hired by the pregnant woman to support her physically and emotionally through her pregnancy and labour. I am a go-to person for education and information on her rights, options and alternatives. I help with comfort measures during labour, and breastfeeding the baby afterwards.

Question #2 is usually, "Isn't that what the father is for?" or, "Doesn't the nurse do that?". Yes, to a certain degree. If the mother and father have a great relationship, it can be a wonderful bonding time for them. These fathers want to be involved, but they don't always know how. In this case, I am their guide. I suggest practical ways for them to help. I reassure them on what is normal, and what to expect at different times. If it's a long labour, I step in so that they can go get a snack, a hot cup of coffee, or a quick nap. It's a lot to ask of one person to be the full support for a labouring woman - especially if this person, being male, has not and will not ever experience labour.

As for the nurse, they can be absolutely wonderful! I've met some labour and delivery nurses who are excellent, compassionate and respectful. It takes a certain temperament to be a labour and delivery nurse, and I've worked with some nurses that I would handpick for my own births. And herein lies the problem - they can't be handpicked. Unfortunately, they are governed by their work. When the shift ends, they go home - and rightly so. It would be too much to ask of a nurse to come in and stay through every labour she began. A recent birth I was at lasted 40 hours. There were 3 different nurses, each with a different personality and birth philosophy. I know the parents I assisted took comfort in the fact that I was there from beginning to end. I was a constant, a friendly face who made it my priority to know them, and adopt their values. I worked for the parents - not the hospital, not myself. For them. In a hospital environment, there have to be rules if everything is to run smoothly. It's a nurse's job to make sure the mom and baby are healthy. They document, they chart, they check on the baby, check on progress, and start all over with the other moms on the floor at that time. If a mom wants personal attention, that will depend on how much time is available. On a good day they might have a nurse's undivided attention. On a busy day, they may have to settle for a check every other hour. A doula fixes this problem. It's a doula's responsability to ensure that the mom is never left alone, unless it's absolutely necessary.

From my own births, I remember the support as the best and most important thing about having a doula. Knowing that I could call or e-mail her about anything birth was a huge relief. Sadly, I didn't feel that I could really connect with the medical staff. I rarely saw the same doctor or nurse during prenatals, so there was no time to get to know each other or even to establish enough trust to ask about anything other than test results and heartbeats. Having someone to listen to me, and who respected my values and decisions was key.

I am grateful to have access to healthcare (free healthcare, at that!). I am grateful to my husband for the love and gentleness he gave me during my pregnancies and labours. But, it was my birth doula who taught me how to make the most of my labours. She taught me by example how to love myself, to respect my body, to mother my child, and to trust my instincts. She was a key player in my birth team, and I am forever thankful.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let's Get This Started!

This has been a long time coming! For months I have been trying to decide whether I want to become a blogger. Part of me wants to guard my privacy, and part of me wants to reach out and share. The truth is, I love blogs. I love being able to peek into another woman's home and grab onto whatever tips and tricks she can offer me. I'm partial to blogs that mirror my own life. I'm a wife, mother, homemaker, entrepreneur, birth doula and aspiring student. With so many roles to juggle, I'll take whatever help I can get, right?

And so, I start a new project. Part outreach, part hobby and part therapy, I present The Better Life. A place for me to share my ideas on achieving a better life, and being a better me. A place where our family and friends can catch up with our projects and ideas. A place where, perhaps, you will find something that you can use to make your own life better. Let the bettering begin!