Musings on my Unmedicated Births

After two full years of pregnancy, postpartum recovery, more pregnancy, and more postpartum recovery, being 9 months out from the birth of my most recent baby is leaving me feeling GREAT! Having two daughters just 11 months apart has really been quite an undertaking. Finally, I am beginning to feel this ongoing and consistent sense of renewal in my motherhood journey. As I perceive this new season in my life, I am beginning to reflect back on my birth experiences, especially since I am beginning to see a new wave of friends who are soon-to-be new moms! I thought about sharing my detailed birth stories on my blog and decided not to post them publicly since they contain some pretty explicit details that are very personal to me and my incredible experience. If you are interested in the ‘R rated’ version, send me an email and I’ll consider sharing. But for now, I’d like to take some time (for the first time in written form) to reminisce on how I prepared for these defining experiences and what they meant to me on a non-physiological level.

I remember John, my husband, and I watching a video of a natural childbirth a few years back and being overcome with both fear and awe. I seriously questioned anyone’s ability to do that. Especially mine, since I have never tolerated pain well. I was so relieved to come to my senses and realize that childbirth was not an impending reality for me in that moment.

Fast forward about 6 months and… I’m 4 months pregnant. WOAH! Talk about irony. My previous determinations about childbirth were uncomfortably all too relevant at this point. Turns out when you know you are going to have a baby, whether 9 months away or 1 month away, this climactic life event weighs heavily on your heart and mind. Some weeks after realizing my first pregnancy, in our little newlywed apartment, I watched “The Business of Being Born” on Netflix. I was astounded. By the way, if you’re pregnant, do yourself a favor and watch it, too! After watching it, for the first time in all my life, I wondered “Could I really do it?” Could I actually birth a baby without pain medicine or unnecessary medical interventions that are presently considered protocol?

From that documentary on, I began a quest. A quest to research the possibility of a natural birth in our extremely medicalized society. That documentary pulls a lot for home births, which I decided early on that I wouldn’t pursue just yet. However, it revealed a lot of information to me about what is considered acceptable in a labor and delivery room. This was the start of my becoming informed and prepared to naturally birth a baby in an obstetrician led Labor & Delivery wing of my local hospital. The follow up books I read and recommend for additional research on the natural birth process include Supernatural Childbirth by Jackie Mize, The Birth Book by Dr. Sears, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin, and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.

If you are interested in a natural birth, please take note of my reading materials! Why? Because, these were a big part of the reason I was able to maintain the mental fortitude to bear through a 17.5 hour long labor and a year later, a 6 hour long labor, with no pain dulling meds- because understanding childbirth to a maximum degree and knowing that it is a perfectly designed for success is what really helped make it happen for me. The more I read and the more I reflected on my will to birth naturally no matter the “pain,” the more prepared I felt. When I would share my plans to do this with friends and family, I fully trusted the statement that I will have my baby naturally. Yes, without an epidural or other pain medications that are so frequently used. As soon as I decided that a med-free birth was for me, I committed to it, 100%. I never thought “we’ll see, I might change my mind in the moment if it hurts too bad.” It was all or nothing in my mind.

An intense moment during a contraction, sitting on a birthing ball.

An intense moment during a contraction, sitting on a birthing ball.

The reason I’ve taken the time to mention the mental preparation for my childbirth experiences is because I feel that this is what really made a difference for me. One thing that stood out to me in my self-education process is that pain is essentially a derivative of fear. And with childbirth (and many other things in life), fear comes from a lack of true understanding. In this case, understanding the process, understanding the capability of a woman’s (my) body, and fully understanding the risks of intervening with nature’s perfect way, was truly what carried me through to that moment that my daughters were placed on my chest and I could see their sweet shining faces for the first time.

For my older daughter…

I began laboring with consistent, hard contractions at 11:45pm on a beautiful Sunday evening and I labored for 17.5 hours. The last 3 hours of which, I was not progressing past 9.5 cm of dilation and was given a 20 minute “ultimatum” to either progress or get an emergency cesarean section. I did not take contractions as easily as I had hoped. In fact, I had struggled so hard breathing during contractions that for two days after the birth, my lungs/neck/chest were extremely sore. During the pushing phase, it was all forced, loud, and overwhelming (the exact opposite of what I specified in my birth plan) and I ended up with some serious afflictions that most women do not usually experience. I later realized that this was more than likely due to what is known as ‘purple pushing’, that is, when it’s completely forced and timed (as opposed to mother-led pushing where you follow the cadence of pushing with contractions). But given my time constraints that I mentioned before, sheer exhaustion from being up all night, and desperation to finally see the little creation that all my suffering was for, I was determined to finally be through with my labor!

After some extremely intense pushing, it was over. Like that, it became a memory. I had done it! I had no intravenous fluids, no medicines, no epidural. And you know what? When it was all over, it WAS over! It was so incredible to go from being at the most intense, primal, struggling, raw moments of my life to… sheer bliss (what is most often otherwise known as relief), calmness, and happiness. Within 2 hours of my beautiful, furry headed, snow white, mini-me, newborn baby Eva’s birth, I took a shower and felt new again.

Shortly after Eva was born!

Shortly after Eva’s birth!

For my younger daughter only 11 months later

For several days leading up to true labor, I remember feeling some stop-you-in-your-tracks braxton hicks contractions (painless, but intense). I welcomed these, knowing that any pain free dilation would mean getting off the hook during that hard labor! I was awakened from my slumber around 5am after a solid two days of my body’s natural warming up process… to contractions that beckoned deep moaning. Though I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, we ended up making our way to the hospital after just a couple of hours of these (didn’t want to make a car ride too dilated). I was disappointed to find that I wasn’t as far along as I had hoped upon our arrival. Despite this fact, my labor progressed pretty quickly once we were there. Both times I labored, I agree for my obstetrician to break my water. Though I was very hesitant both times, it turned out to be an excellent catalyst for moving the labor process right along. Once that took place, it was show time within a few short hours.

I labored less than half the time as my first daughter’s birth, and I got my perfect ending that I didn’t get with my first birthing experience! From the time of my first “hard” contractions early that am, my labor lasted a little over 6 hours. During the weeks and months leading up to this birth, I think I was more nervous than the first time around. However, it turned out to be a bit more manageable than my first. Same hospital, same obstetrician, and my nurse was the best friend of the nurse who helped deliver Eva! She was so supportive of my birth plan and encouraged in those final moments when I felt extremely vulnerable that my body would “know what to do.” This is what I had told myself all along! I trusted, gave in to my instincts, and Lena June arrived before my obstetrician did! No lie!

And 11 months later... Lena June!

And 11 months later…
Lena June!

I highly recommend committing to an un-medicated birth if you and your baby’s health allow! I think that if you take the time to read or watch some of the aforementioned movies and books, you’ll find (as I did) that the case for it is strong in both statistics and intuition. I count it a true blessing (x2) that I was able to experience back to back all nat-ur-al births that ended with two beautiful and healthy daughters. I couldn’t have done it without the unconditional support of my husband and mother who were there in the delivery room with me both times.

Being able to tell everyone “I DID IT” (unmediated, as planned) was beyond gratifying. I am somewhat of a humble person, however I had zero qualms about sharing my accomplishments (and still do) with anyone who will listen. I would say that naturally birthing my two babies has empowered me on a very deep level to be the mother I was meant to be. Surely all other moms feel a great sense of accomplishment no matter the type of labor and delivery experience, but I have a sense of primal womanly pride that I was able to actively get through the roller coaster of labor and delivery that my body was perfectly able to accomplish. Most women are capable, but I would say that our minds are the key to whether or not we can tap into these capabilities. Truly, I am most complete knowing that I did it the hard way- natures way.

I sincerely hope that every woman can experience her baby’s birth in the way that is best for the two of them- no matter the level of medical intervention. I support life, in all situations where it can be assisted by the hands of a medical team. And secondly, I support a labor and birth allowed to manifest in its purest and most untapped version, wherever the health of mama and baby is not compromised.

I hope you enjoyed reading my reflections on my birth preparation process, abridged stories, and post delivery reflections. If you have any interest in natural birthing, I hope I have encouraged you to continue on your quest. Best wishes!

CarasFinalSigCaraJean

My Deodorant Recipe!!

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Here it is! My very basic and effective alternative to toxic, commercial antiperspirants. Did you know that the “deodorant” you likely buy at the store comes with a significant health risk? These widely consumed products contain aluminum salts that block the ducts of your body’s highly developed system of excreting toxins. Over time, this leads to excess absorption of the active ingredient, aluminum (linking them to Alzheimer disease), can cause skin discoloration, and is also thought to cause breast cancer. Not to mention, keeps your body’s toxins inside! While the National Cancer Institute disputes these health claims, many (including myself) still question the actual long term value of these products as so many people are falling prey to the continual rise of disease. I don’t know about you, but I would rather seek out a simpler, less expensive option and wait to hear of further research on the aforementioned negative claims. I say, why risk being a part of the experiment?

Alas, my deodorant recipe! I have found it fairly fun to whip up my own deodorant (baby food jars make great containers!) that is simple to make, effective, and lasts several months at a time. In my past attempts at this, I have made less than perfect versions where the coconut oil solidified in the winter (creating an almost impossible to use deodorant rock)… and one batch I made had too much baking soda and it irritated my armpits. So! My most effective recipe is the one pictured above. If you find that irritation occurs, you may add more cornstarch. You do not need essential oils, though they are a great addition. Personally I have found “icing” to be the ideal texture during preparation, as it can solidify slightly after it sits awhile. All you need is a blueberry sized dollop that melts in your hands. Hope you decide to put it to the test!

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Springtime Garden 2013

Spring is upon us! And one of my favorite ways to celebrate is by adding life to my collection of little planters. What is extra exciting about this year in particular, is that I have a real BACK YARD!! In past years, we have had the pleasure of balcony gardens only. And when I say garden, I mean very very simple and small scale. I’ve had no more than a handful or so of different plants at once, yet I do gain a sense of deep fulfillment by nurturing even just a single plant. I am beginning to realize that I have a passion for gardening! Though I wouldn’t exactly say I have a green thumb, my will to perfect my hobby over time is definitely there. *Note- I have only been able to properly plant just a couple of these new additions- I am in need of some small rocks to cover the holes at the bottom of most of my planters. Will take a nice picture of my properly planted backyard garden as the season carries on!

Hot pink geranium and miscellaneous plant which I love!

Hot pink geranium and miscellaneous plant.

This year, I am trying to think more practical than anything. New additions include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red bell pepper, a baby strawberry plant, a hot pink geranium, citronella, and a miscellaneous leafy beauty.

From left to right: broccoli, brussel sprouts, strawberry, and the bottom one is a little addition for fun (not sure what it's called).

From left to right: broccoli, brussel sprouts, strawberry, and the bottom one is a little addition for fun (not sure what it’s called).

Seniority goes to our beautiful aloe plant that I have raise from a 6 point, 3 inch high little pip squeak. As you can see, it’s grown beyond belief. So much so, that it has been busting at the seams for over a year now. I upgraded it so that it can thrive even more (by transplanting it to a bigger dwelling). We love to use our aloe for scrapes, cuts, and burns. I am having faith that it will continue to thrive! When I went to transplant it I found a creepy amount of tiny little fuzzy yellow eggs. I love nature and deeply appreciate it but the thought of numerous spiders hatching just two feet away from my front door really creeps me out. I brushed as many off as I could and only took as much dirt with the plant as necessary to not interfere too much with the roots (which were very shallow)! So happy to see this dear plant have a new glory spot to thrive in.

The glorious aloe. Currently not it best health but I'm sure it's very happy to have room to grow!

The glorious aloe. Currently not it best health but I’m sure it’s very happy to have room to grow!

Our other veteran is the gorgeous purple “wandering Jew” (actual name) that has survived through 2 winters, a drought, and tons of neglect at various times. I have to prune it back every couple of months to contain it. Planning to let some loose in our front walkway once the monster bush is gone (hopefully we will be taking care of that soon). The whole area that it fills will be a huge blank canvas for me to fill, but for now I’m focusing on the backyard since me and the girls spend most of our time there.

Eva says, "Purple!" She loves this plant.

Eva says, “Purple!” She loves this plant.

John and I have also been tackling the weeds that have had free reign of our yard for months. What a mess! Needless to say, hand pulling weeds is a daunting task. We spent over an hour outside today clearing one small area so we will be taking that project in strides, never EVER to be ignored for so long at once!

Our citronella (left) and the best looking broccoli plant (right).

Our citronella (left) and the best looking broccoli plant (right).

I have 9 little plants each for both broccoli and brussels that require 18 inch spacings each. Since I don’t have my raised bed set up yet, I am going to plant as many of these in spare planters as I can, and plant the leftovers directly into the ground next to my potato patch experiment to see how they fare. I might try to put some wire mesh fencing around it to keep our pup Todd from lifting his leg on them, which he loves to do.

Recent picture of the potatoe patch.

Recent picture of the potatoe patch.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading up on my 2013 backyard garden! My girls and I are outside several times a day so it shouldn’t be too hard for me to keep up with watering these little guys. Having a hose within close proximity to plants makes gardening life so much easier. I used to have to fill an empty milk jug and water my plants one gallon at a time from our two story apartment, so this should be a great planting/growing season indeed! ๐Ÿ™‚

Tomato and red bell pepper!

Tomato and red bell pepper!

Stay tuned for more garden updates! Until next time…

CarasFinalSigCaraJean

The Potato Patch Experiment…

One mid-December afternoon I looked upon my potato stash and realized that a handful of small organic russet potatoes had sprouted! I had a fresh sack that hadn’t yet sprouted so I decided to experiment with the older ones. I took those 6 little spuds and planted them, right in my backyard. It took me about 20 minutes to clear all the grass from the soil in my designated area, and scoop up some dirt to soften the soil and plant them.

BEFORE (A few minutes after they were planted and watered):
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AFTER (2 Months of Neglect):

IMG_20130213_161927HA! I supposed that my experiment was so unplanned and came together so fast from the time I thought of it, acted on it, cleared a spot, planted, and watered it, that it really never even had a chance to sink in. AKA: I was so busy that I forgot to check on my first little potato patch until almost 2 months later! And by golly I’ll say it caught on! I could only identify what seemed to be plants from 4 potatoes. Still, a 66% success rate is fairly impressive! I had gone outside early to check on it while John was in the shower. When he came downstairs, I was awaiting his appearance with the most proud grin and stance to which he appropriately responded, “….Yes????” I was so happy to share the good news of my first impromptu attempt to grow food. To my surprise it really was not so hard at all! ๐Ÿ™‚ Some of the potato plants even have dainty little white flowers.

I hope this is an accurate precursor to my soon to come raised square-foot garden bed- I have been planning for it since last Fall. (I promise, I’ll put more effort into that one.) My square-foot garden is currently under construction but I promise to post on that as the project is underway!

CarasFinalSigCaraJean

Green Living: An Introduction

When I became pregnant with my oldest daughter, my life changed in many ways. I learned that everything that I ate, breathed, and put on my skin would be passed along to my precious unborn baby. And I realized that for years I had unknowingly been using products that contain known harmful ingredients. Boy did this open a whole can of worms. Enter: completely new lifestyle and lifelong quest to choose the most natural and healthy options over synthetic chemicals and toxins. Along with pregnancy, birth, and mothering young children, “green living” has been a huge interest of mine since late 2010.

Living green actually means a lot, to a lot of different people. I think the most general definition, for those that are not as familiar with the topic, would be: a conscious effort to minimize exposure of environmental toxins, seek holistic treatments, minimize direct impact on the environment, and an all around attempt to live a more self-sustainable life style with simple/nature based options. Its now been about 3 years since I have taken on this consciousness and I have found my endeavor to become “green/earth conscious” has been very rewarding. Knowing that I am not slowly poisoning myself or my family and the environment and not wasting money on toxic products has been an obvious benefit. But honestly, understanding that I am a being of nature that can greatly benefit from healing (or otherwise useful) things that come directly from nature has truly enlightened me as a human being. I feel more connected to the planet we live on, knowing that its more pure substances provide the highest amount of benefits for my body or even my environment. A big example of this is essential oils (which I will, no doubt, be expanding on in future blog posts). I know that by the merit of my own deeds, though seemingly insignificant, I am taking a small amount of action against a way of life that is damaging to humans and environment. I guess you could say that this is a way for my to fight the status quo in my own way, to hopefully help affect the change that we so desperately need as a civilization.

So how do I apply this to real-life? For me, this means many different things. To name a few: cloth diapering, having the hobby of reading the ingredients on just about everything, avoiding certain harmful ingredients, buying and eating organic wherever possible and feasible, doing as many do-it-yourself projects from home as possible, reusing anything and everything, choosing natural fibers in products over plastics and/or synthetics, pursuing a diet that is simple and plant based as much as possible, avoiding petroleum, avoiding the word “fragrance” on ANYthing, minimizing my general consumption of any given product, avoiding pharmaceuticals as much as possible, utilizing the therapeutic benefits of essential oils, and choosing nature and simplicity over what is usually accepted as the norm in today’s society.

As I continue to add to my site here, I will take specific aspects of my own personal “green living” approach and expand on them. I hope you will find that such a lifestyle is not as extreme as one might believe. It’s actually a very freeing thing to live more simply and naturally! My interest in this topic and gradual attempt to shift to a more earth conscious way of life has spilled over into other areas of my life as well. For example, I am beginning to evaluate the amount of waste my family produces makes me question what it is that I am consuming… and, do I really need it? Naturally I have become more minimalist in my approach in food consumption, pharmaceutical consumption, pest repellent, beauty regimens, and overall consumerism. And after all that, I just know I’m leaving some things out. What I ultimately mean to say is that the green living approach really begins to overflow into other areas of life and can become an actual mindset that is applicable to other things.

What’s fun about it is that it’s not just all or nothing! You can really pick and choose what is most feasible and makes most sense to you and utilize it the way you see fit. I am definitely not a perfect example of what it is to “be green” and I have a long way to go to be where I’d like to be with it (for example: I would like to make my own laundry detergent, quit buying and using plastic bags altogether, grow my own food, etc) I do, however, think that I can be a little bit helpful to those that are interested in it and maybe just don’t know where to begin, or to those who are in the game with me and just want to learn some new ways to reconnect with and respect this earth a little more. I am always down to learn some new things, so if you take the time to share your tips and secrets, I would love hear them!

I can’t wait to share my various approaches with you. What I’d like to do is title any post where I specifically expand on this aspect of my life is title it “Green Living: _______” to distinguish it from my other posts. You will definitely find me mention some of these things amongst my other reflections though! Hope you enjoy what I have to offer. Until next time…

CarasFinalSigCaraJean

Diaper Rash Help

Need help with diaper rash? I have a cure-all that works within 24 hours, guaranteed. You might be surprised how simple it is! It’s taken me about a year to figure this one out. And I have paid quite a few bucks testing out expensive “green/earth friendly” tubes of butt paste!

  1. When any amount of poop is present, bring baby directly to the sink and splash warm water on the buns until they are nice and clean. *Do not use soap. Even the mildest soaps will sting that raw bottom and make baby very upset!
  2. Pat dry with a clean, dry cloth. I use either one of my clean cloth wipes or a hand towel/washcloth that is handy. *Pat very gently!
  3. Cuddle baby if he/she is still upset from rash or step 1 or step 2. Or just because.
  4. Lay baby outย with no diaper on a pee and poop safe blanket/burp cloth/towel/etc to catch some air. This step is one of the most important parts! While baby has any amount of redness, this step is imperative to do for a minimum of 5 minutes. The longer, the better. Beware though, this step comes with a risk… However, it’s worth it. Personally I’m not too weird about poop getting on blankets/burp cloths since my washer sees its daily dose of baby poops from cloth diapering (more on my adventures in cloth diapering soon)!
  5. If baby pees or poops, go back to step 1.
  6. When you’re tired of anxiously waiting for baby buns to become happy once more, apply Lanolin, very gently to the rash.
  7. Reapply diaper and clothing.
  8. Cuddle baby some more!

*Repeat the process for every poopy diaper until the redness is no longer present.

Wait so, what’s this about Lanolin, you might be wondering? Ah yes, a note about Lanolin. Okay so Lanolin is that stuff that comes in a purple tube that’s for sore or cracked nipples. Woah! For diaper rash!? Here’s how I came to discover this extremely effective product for diaper rashes. When I bought a second hand Medela pump, it came with a big fat tube of this stuff. I also received some tiny sample tubes from the hospital during both of my daughters’ births. I never did need it for nipple issues, but I never had the heart to throw it out. When I had my girls, I found myself washing my hands constantly for countless reasons. And man did my knuckles suffer!! It seems like nothing would relieve the dryness and cracking.

I tried various lotions and coconut oil as well (more on the amazing uses and benefits of coconut oil soon) but I found these to be to thin and some commercial products straight up stung when I put them on my hands! I tried lavender essential oil with coconut as well which helped a little, but I needed something more heavy duty. Then I had an “aha!” moment and remembered this gigantic tube of purple stuff and gave it a go. Not only did it relief the dryness, I swear it did the healing within 2 applications. And actually, it’s on my hands as I type this moment.

One of my favorite parts about this product is that it’s 100% pure. And anyone who knows me, I love it when I see only a small handful of ingredients on the label for ANYthing. Let alone it is rare to find any cosmetic product that literally is made up of just one single thing. So what is it made of then? Well, it is actually an animal product. Lanolin is the naturally occurring wax that animals with wool produce (commercial Lanolin is mostly derived from sheep). It is highly water proof wax that aids sheep in shedding water from their coats and it has been used for centuries for the protection, treatment, and beautification of human skin (according to wikipedia). Lanolin is taken from the harvested wool when it is squeezed between rollers. Therefore, no animals are harmed in the process.

So back to the point here… Lanolin is amazing!!! Once I started using it on the tops of my hands (it’s way too sticky to use anywhere that will touch anything else), I thought ‘hmmm… I wonder if this would be good for a red butt!’ Coconut oil was actually my minimalist first choice, but with diaper rash the goal is to coat the butt to create a buffer between additional poops and pees that actually stays. And with cloth diapers especially, I find that coconut oil is to thin and rubs right off (or absorbs into the skin too soon). Coconut oil is a close runner up though. But Lanolin just blows it out of the water.

When I applied Lanolin to red buns over night, the next morning they were good as new. During the day, it takes maybe 3-4 diaper changes/applications to cure the rash! (Not without rinsing and air drying, of course.) Now I will say that anyone who cloth diapers should be aware that too many applications of this will get on the cloth and can cause build up… which can lead to leaks. Usually when I use Lanolin more than a couple times, I have to strip my diapers. But in my opinion, it’s worth it. Lanolin is also commonly found where other diaper rash pastes are sold, so this is a big plus (look near the nursing pads and other nursing items). I hope you try my method of chasing diaper rash. If you do, please let me know how it works for you! It is my fail-safe and I hope it becomes yours too.

Wrappings on Christmas Time

Well I am proud to say that our first family vacation is now complete! After getting pregnant within our first 6 months of marriage and then getting pregnant again by the time my oldest daughter turned 3 months old, we’ve certainly not been in the business of travel lately.

We decided to spend Christmas with some of my husbands family just south of Abilene, Texas! It was quite the road trip experience through central Texas. With semi frequent stops for changing, nursing, feeding, burping, and stretching, it was an 8 hour trek for us both there and back.

Our youngest daughter, Lena June on Christmas Eve Eve

Our youngest daughter, Lena June on Christmas Eve Eve (5 months old).

Unfortunately our trip was delayed a few hours due to a major puking mishap! When we were just 30 minutes into our journey, Eva threw up, EVERYwhere on her and her carseat. We had to go home to bathe her, wash the carseat covers and dry them (and of course feed the baby and do diaper changes once more), and spray out the carseat molding. It was…. no word can really describe the sense of panic, disgust, helplessness, and defeat that I felt in response to the event. It was probably the first time as a mother that I have been in a situation where I was truly bewildered and couldn’t say anything but “I don’t know what to do!!” like 5 times after I looked upon the disaster. John calmly said, “lets just go back home.” And so we did. And I got through the cleaning ordeal (after a minor break down) with as much love and forgiveness in my heart as possible. And our trip began again… 3 hours after the first departure. I gotta laugh now… although it was not a laughing matter for awhile! I suppose it does make for a good story though.

Eva Kathleen, very excited about presents on Christmas morning

Eva Kathleen, very excited about presents on Christmas morning (16 months old).

We also endured some simultaneous crying for some blocks of time on the road (not unexpected). So after 8 hours, we were just thrilled to arrive at our destination!

We stayed with Johns family who lives on a beautiful 20 acres estate, complete with cows! The girls got to spend time with their great aunt and great uncle, second cousins, great grandma, and great great aunt!

The first night there was really rough as Eva was very out of sorts and not feeling well. We got maybe a total of 3-4 hours of sleep, and broken up at that. It was one of the hardest nights I can remember as a mother so far. John will speak to this as well. But, the quality time, great conversations, and special moments made it all worth it.

This was the first Christmas that either of us have spent away from our immediate families (and our dog Todd) so it was a bit out of norm, yet wonderful. My most memorable moments included: story time with Eva on Christmas Eve with John’s Aunt Nancy and Cousin Brooke, Nursing and snuggling with Lena for awhile with her in private on Christmas eve, home-made peanut butter balls, getting in the hot tub late Christmas Eve and hearing coyotes howl in the distance, gift exchanges on Christmas morning, seeing Eva excited over wrapped presents as well as unwrapped presents, the fireplace, SNOW on Christmas day (albeit a very light snow, but still… SNOW!!), delicious meals prepared by Aunt Nancy, seeing the girls have quality time with family who adores them, sharing the joy of my girls with the family, playing Wahoo (the best board game ever), visiting the Mall of Abilene and buying goodies from Earthbound Trading Co., the scenic drive, our detour we took getting lost on the way home, Eva learning to say “socks,” and getting to know our extended family that much better.

These are the hand made dough hand print ornaments that the girls and I made for our parents and family in Abilene! They were a huge hit.

These are the hand made dough hand print ornaments that the girls and I made for our parents and family in Abilene! They were a huge hit.

Needless to say, when we finally made it home, it felt like a belated Christmas miracle. John and I feel so very accomplished after the undertaking of traveling so far from home with two little babies. It’s been almost a full week since we arrived home and I am just now feeling caught up on the vacation recovery as far as unpacking and resting goes. Unfortunately the girls have come down with a cold- Eva first, and, unsurprisingly, Lena as well. I brought in the New Year in the comfort of my own home. And now I am glad to say that I am writing my first blog post of 2013! Yes, we made it! I feel like I am entering this new year with a very good scope on the future. I wrote my thank you cards for all our Christmas blessings, I paid a couple bills, the downstairs of my house is cleaner than usual, and my nails are freshly painted. Oh, and I’ve had a shower! So right now, I’m ready to conquer whatever the year may bring. ๐Ÿ™‚

Family Christmas Day picture!

Family Christmas Day picture!

Beginning this month, I will be featured once a month on Hybrid Rasta Mama’s Blog! I have been communicating with her for a couple of weeks about becoming a monthly regular on her page. I am positively thrilled about the opportunity she has given me to hopefully bless many other people as well as bring some traffic to my site. I’ll definitely link my writings for her blog up to mine somehow or another to keep you all posted! That’s a wrap for now. Well really, for 2012. My husband and I have a young tradition where every January we reflect on a set of prompts about the previous year. A small sample of these include the following: most beautiful moment- giving birth to Lena, biggest fail- the first time we tried to go to Abilene, best purchase- my vintage 1963 vintage Framus bass guitar, best surprise- a beautiful new house for rent that was cheaper than our apartment, etc. I won’t bore you with the others, as they are mostly inside jokes between my husband and I, so I’ll leave it at that.

Happy New Year, world!!

With Love,

Cara Jean