Sage’s Home Birth Story

I’m posting my second birth story because I think women’s experiences of birth are essential to share.  This is true whether the birth went perfectly, was miserable, or anywhere in between.  In sharing our birth stories, we share our power as women and are able to process, learn, and grow. 

Having hung around the birth community enough, I feel the need to say that I share this to educate and inspire, not to belittle any other birth experience.  I want women to know they have choices in their providers, in their birth environment, and I don’t think women usually even consider this until they are pregnant at which point they just assume they should do whatever everyone else has done!  But birth is an event that we’ll never forget and has lifelong impacts on mothers and babies.  It’s important to choose your birth team wisely!  Your birth team and environment may look completely different than mine (and that’s great — I totally understand my path is not right for everyone), but I hope you researched and investigated your options for what is best for YOU.

As with my first home birth, I opted to receive co-care.  This means I went for prenatal visits with a team of hospital-based midwives in addition to my home birth midwife.  I was thoroughly screened to ensure that I am healthy and a good candidate for home birth.  In addition to my amazingly experienced midwife, I also had a doula, my brave mother, my incredibly supportive husband, and my 3.5 year old daughter attend the birth.

(Oh, and one final note! All high-quality images are courtesy of Barefoot Smiles Photography.  All other photos were lifted from a home video or came from an iPhone which explains the disparity in quality!)

Sage’s Home Birth Story

This pregnancy was another positive experience overall. There’s nothing that can compare to the feeling of another life growing inside. There were no complications aside from some intense bouts with allergic reactions that I’ve never seen the likes of before!  At one point I spent over a month with a swollen face and extremely itchy hives.  Not fun.

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The last weeks of pregnancy also threw some curve balls – my 3 ½ year old came down with a viral illness in week 38 and my beloved grandma passed in week 39.  I thought there was a very real possibility that I’d be in labor during her funeral as my first born came 5 days “early”. Continue reading

the most wonderful time of the year {spring ephemerals}

Nothing helps to lift me up at the end of a stressful week like spending some time outdoors.

This time of the year in particular is one of my absolute favorites for geeking out with  plants — the ephemeral wildflowers only show up for a short time each year, and it thrills me to find them! As soon as the leaves branch out completely, the forest floor is too dark to support these beauties.

I was worried that I might miss them this year being about to have a baby any day, but I waddled my 39+ week pregnant body to the woods yesterday and was happy to see how much is already in bloom.

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Red trilliums…

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Trout lily after trout lily…

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Spring beauties…

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And the chicken pox queen finding spring beauties, too…She’s getting to be quite good at plant identification!

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Hepatica…

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Virginia bluebells…

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Squirrel corn…

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Cut-leaved toothwort and spring beauties…

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Blue cohosh…

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And of course ramps…

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What spring wildflowers are showing up where you live?

From dark to light. Blessed Imbolc.

Yesterday evening, leaving my midwife’s house after my 4:00 appointment, I exclaimed, “I think this is the first time I’m leaving when it’s still light out!”.

And this morning, while rising to get Cora ready for Montessori school I was similarly taken aback that we weren’t going through our morning routine in the dark.

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The dark.

It feels like there’s a lot of darkness around lately.  I live a relatively insulated life surrounded by people who value peace, equality, and justice, but the difference between my bubble and what actually exists in the world is hard to accept.

And yet, all things in nature, our world, and our human psychology move in cycles from dark to light, dark to light.

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Just as the winter seems like it can’t get any longer, the light begins to return. I hear birds calling where yesterday there were none.  The tracks of awakening creatures scurrying out of their burrows catch my eye when I walk to the compost pile.

And when my inner landscape looks dark, like I can’t face the realities of this world, the realities of how hard it is for me to parent my 3 year old the way that I imagine, then light returns to my heart, too.  I see her smile and tell me I am the best mother.  I feel new life squirming and growing within me. I see people rallying together for the world I believe in.

 

The world that is coming. The world that awaits when old, outmoded structures of being and doing and seeing from a place of fear are finally put to rest. From dark to light.

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The light is returning once again. We are halfway to spring.

Blessed Imbolc.

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(The photo of Brigid on my altar is by Joanna Powell Colbert)

Read last year’s Imbolc post here.

Gather has some awesome examples of Imbolc fare.

 

How One Small Garden Can Change Your Life

You don’t have to own acres of farmland to enjoy the benefits of gardening. Growing your own food and enjoying some fresh flowers can be done even with just a few patio pots if need be, but even a small patch of dirt can change your life for the better. Gardening is the number one hobby in the country, and its popularity is growing as more people discover the joys of growing their own organic food.

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Check out some of the biggest benefits of starting your own backyard garden patch: Continue reading

Everyone’s favorite WWOOFer is back!

 

IMG_20160523_122534854_HDRSince the last time I spent some much needed time at Light Footsteps (read about it here), I’ve finally realized that growing things, and teaching communities how to grow things, is actually really important to me. Because of that, I’ve recently started a journey to becoming an urban farmer. Over the past week, however, I’ve taken a break from stressing over the approaching school year to try out a different season at Light Footsteps. You’ll have to forgive me, because the August humidity has all my thoughts jumbled, so I’ll keep the words short and share some photos of this week with you.

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Most of my mornings were spent spreading wood chips on the paths in the Keyhole Garden

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I finally got to meet Pony. I would hate to make him insecure about his size, but in my mind he’s a horse.

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I spent the cooler afternoons picking herbs (peppermint, thyme, oregano, sage, and lemon balm pictured here)

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or beans!

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luckily there were rainy days

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…and there were a lot of sunny days to share with our pollinator friends.

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The bees really love the Rose of Sharon.

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On a particularly sunny day we went to Red Beet Row to see their permaculture farm.

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There was a lot of child-wrangling during the stay. Pictured is another WWOOFers son, Sebastian.

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Cora has grown up so much since I last saw her! (Photo taken at Chardon’s farmers’ market)

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I finished my week off helping Christine share her love of herbalism at a workshop for kids and adults about medicinal plants.

Like always, you can learn more about WWOOF here. Hope to be back soon, but until then, HAPPY GROWING!

4 Reasons I’m Teaching My Kids to Forage

{Today we have a guest post about foraging from blogger James Smith. James is a passionate blogger who loves to write on trending topics. If he is not doing anything, you will find him writing. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter for more updates}

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I’ll never forget the first foraging outing I took my children on. They were about four and six years old at the time (I opted to leave my two year old with her grandmother for a few hours). Following our guide along the trail we learned all about the local river ecosystem, local history and culture, and got to put our eyes and hands on a wide variety of plants – sharpening our observation skills in the process. The best part, however, was getting a chance to smash open raw ripe pine nuts with rocks right there on the dirt trail – an unforgettable first experience and one my son loved!

Teaching kids to forage local native food has numerous physical as well as psychological benefits.

Children become more aware of their surroundings. Even without a field guide or clear goal, foraging hikes with an experienced guide can help kids with their listening and comprehension skills. It also introduces them to new vocabulary. As they sharpen their observation skills they quickly learn to discern between different types of plants. They also eventually learn to make well-reasoned and well-explained decisions about their choices.

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Foraging Instills compassion and understanding of the local ecosystem

We spend so much of our time indoors that we’ve lost touch with the world around us. We’ve also lost touch with a piece of our humanity that requires connection to nature. By getting outside, and getting dirty, sweaty, and observing our surroundings, we deepen our connection to the planet and the other creatures that live here with us. We learn that birds and other critters love fruits, berries, roots, and nuts too! That common bond we share is one that will help our children have compassion for all the animals and plants in their local environment.

Wild foods are nutritious

Contrary to what you may believe, most foods found at the grocery store, or even the garden varieties we grow ourselves, have been bred for color, taste, and palatability – not nutrition. Wild foods however, are often more nutritious – and this is evident in their, at times, slightly bitter taste. Higher mineral content and micronutrients make wild foraged foods healthy for us and a nice supplement to an already well-balanced modern diet.

Foraging food also helps instill a deep appreciation for the effort it takes to make and prepare foods that haven’t already been conveniently packaged for us at the grocery store. Give kids a rock or two and help them crack open a walnut. Let them grind their own flour from grains and seeds. Teach them how to make their own dried fruit. Make them climb and reach to pick fruit from the trees, or dig in the dirt for roots and tubers.

Let them truly experience the amount of activity and effort that goes into shelling one nut or grinding up their own grain for bread-baking. Once they know how much effort goes into it, they’ll begin to learn empathy for others who work on a daily basis to bring them their food at the grocery store in nicely packaged containers.

Wholesome exercise

There’s no mistaking that foraging is hard work. Even at a leisurely guided tour pace, hiking outdoors, trekking up and down hills and across rivers and bridges, is certainly a nice workout – and one that deserves all the tasty wild fuel you’ll find. Carry a walking stick for stability and encourage your children to go at their own pace.

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A few final thoughts. When foraging out in the wild and in unfamiliar areas, be sure to keep a lookout for poisonous and irritating plants and animals. Stay on the trails as much as possible to avoid disturbing native wildlife. Wear loose, weather-appropriate clothing in layers to protect against the sun and any stinging and biting insects. Wear comfortable shoes with a strong grip. Pack a small first aid kit to cover the basics in case of minor cuts and falls. Also, be sure to bring lots of water and healthy snacks to keep you hydrated and energized.

New to permaculture? Start here.

What’s it like to fairly take care of people and the earth? It’s a concept called permaculture, and it can provide a guiding spirit to the creation and tending of your landscape.

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Continue reading

Make Your Own Chive Blossom Vinegar

Starting in late May and lasting through June, the garden is speckled with the vibrantly purple blossoms of chives.

Chives are a welcome addition to salads, vegetables, and eggs by adding their mild onion flavor.

Their blossoms are edible as well and can also be added to salads by pulling them apart into smaller bits.


Another simple way to use the flowers is to make a chive blossom vinegar.

Start by snipping the blossoms.  You’ll need a cup or two to fill a pint jar 3/4 full with the blossoms.

After collecting the blossoms, it’s a good idea to soak them for an hour or so in water.  This way any resident bugs can evacuate . We didn’t find any bugs in our freshly-opened blossoms, but if you do find them, consider changing the water another time to make sure they’re all out.

Towel dry the blossoms.

Lightly pack a sterilized pint jar with the blossoms and cover with vinegar.  I wanted the color of this vinegar to be lovely so I used white vinegar,  but generally I make my herb-infused vinegars with apple cider vinegar as if offers numerous health benefits on its own.

Place a piece of wax paper underneath the lid so that the vinegar doesn’t corrode the metal top.


For best flavor, infuse the chives into vinegar for 2-4 weeks before straining them out. After, keep the chive vinegar in a cool, dark location.

24 Hours Later

 

one week later

 

To recap, you’ll need:

  • 1-2 cups chive blossoms, soaked to remove any bugs and then towel dried
  • a sterilized pint jar
  • wax paper
  • enough white or apple cider vinegar to cover the blossoms

And then:

Add the chive blossoms to the pint jar and cover with the vinegar ensuring that all of the blossoms are completely submerged.  Place wax paper over the opening and screw on the lid. Wait 2 -4 weeks before straining out the chives. Store the vinegar in a cool, dark location.

This vinegar can be used wherever you might use vinegar, but I plan to use it mostly for salad dressings.

A simple Chive Blossom Vinaigrette could be made like this:

(for one cup)

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chive vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dried herbs and snips of fresh chives (optional)

Place all ingredients into an empty jar, make sure the lid is on, and shake away!

 

 

 

Spring updates from the farm

I apologize.  It’s been awhile.

Spring is always this crescendo of activity and energy that can feel overwhelming at times.  There’s so much momentum, growth, doing.

Add to that a family illness nearing its end, a stay in the hospital with little LF, typical spring farm growth, and you have a tiny piece of the puzzle explaining my absence.

However, we’ve still had so much going on around here.  We manage to squeeze projects into any spare moments we can find.

I’d love to share some glimmers of our life around the farm with you!

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The Time of Imbolc is Here!

For most of us reading this, we are generations removed from a truly meaningful connection with the land. Gone are the days where stocking a larder meant the difference between life and death. We no longer spend long hours huddled around the hearth, connected to the flame for vital warmth throughout long winter days.

We are no longer wondering if there is enough food and fire to ensure the elders, infants, and breastfeeding mothers can make it through the final months of cold, dark, winter.

For these reasons (and more), we have lost touch with the spirit of this season. We no longer remember why this day (February 1st or 2nd depending on the year) is a time for pause, a time to celebrate, and a time to rejoice.

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