Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bookworm takes a nap

Sometimes when you're two, you just need to take a nap. Even if you're in the middle of a book.

We're full-swing into the school year. Zari and Dio are playing soccer, which means practice and two games every week. I've tamed our gardens back into shape and have spread 10 cubic yards of mulch so far (and I am still not done!).

I submitted a grant application a few weeks ago to develop an international breech training course. I don't hear back until the new year whether my application will be chosen. Crossing my fingers!

Dinner tonight is Peruvian chicken with spicy mayonnaise and tarte au chocolat for dessert. I can feel the habanero pepper oil on my hands, even though I tried my best not to touch them.

Ivy is really mad that I woke her up. Poor thing. If I let her nap, though, she won't go to bed on time. She's gone through some major transitions since we came back from France: she's completely done with diapers AND she is sleeping through the night. Woohoo!
Read more ...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Help Midwives for Haiti at The Amazing Raise

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the amount of suffering and need around the world? Sometimes I feel paralyzed because I don't know where to start and wonder if my small efforts will do any good.

Here's something you can do today (and only today!) to help a new birth center in rural Haiti:

Here's the medical director explaining how and why you can help:

To learn more about the organization, visit Midwives for Haiti
Read more ...

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Did you have a breech baby? Please participate in this short survey

To anyone who has had a breech baby:

Three consumer advocacy groups are working together to improve access and informed choice for women seeking a vaginal breech birth. In order to ensure that our efforts are meeting women's needs, we would like to know how you were impacted by your breech birth experience. All breech experiences are important, even if you didn't have a vaginal breech birth (whether that was your choice, or for other reasons). Your personal information will remain confidential. We intend to present this as a collection of experiences and analyze for trends.

Please complete this short survey if you birthed a breech baby any way. Responses are required by September 15th in order that we compile them in anticipation of a scheduled meeting with the decision makers at the Ottawa General Hospital who are presently writing the breech protocols for care providers. Thank you for your participation!

Here's where you can find out more about the groups involved in this project:

The Coalition for Breech Birth - contact Robin
The Informed Choice Coalition - contact Wendy
Mothers of Change - contact Céline

To take the survey, click here

Please share this link widely! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8GX7HC3

Read more ...

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

BeliBea Nourish pumping & nursing bra

How many of you have ever tried to nurse and pump at the same time...or pump hands-free? (Me!)

I wasn't very successful because I'd end up slouching over and holding the pump flanges with my forearm while I tried to use my "free" arm to read or check email. Once, in desperation, I cut slits in an old bra that I had outgrown. Voila! A functonal but very inelegant hands-free pumping bra! Of course I couldn't really *wear* it outside the house because hello, I had two slits smack dab in the middle of my bra. It looked rather funny.

I've also tried a different brand of hands-free pumping bra, one of those huge contraptions that covers your entire torso like a gigantic Ace bandage. They work, but they certainly don't resemble a normal bra. And they are only for pumping--not for nursing.

I was excited to try out a BeliBea Nourish bra: it's a nursing bra AND a hands-free pumping bra (or both at the same time).
So here's how it works:

It looks like a regular nursing bra...(ignore my flat-chested mannequin!)

But when you unhook the clasp, you find a second layer inside. It's a hands-free pumping bra!

If you unhook both layers, it turns into a nursing bra!

The BeliBea also has removeable molded inserts.

My thoughts on the BeliBea

Great idea having the two sets of clasps. It solves the problem of how to have a pumping bra without having a big slit showing in the middle of each cup! Because it's actually designed like a normal bra, rather than a corset-like contraption, you could easily wear it night or day.

I don't like molded or padded bras, so I promptly took the pads out. I don't need any more cleavage thankyouverymuch! So another thumbs up for having removable pads.

I wish this bra were less expensive. It's a great idea: comfortable, functional, practical. But over my almost 9 years of nursing, I've never spent more than about $15 on a nursing bra. (Or a non-nursing bra for that matter.) Perhaps some day I will discover the joys of expensive underthings...

The BeliBea is very stretchy. It comes in just four sizes (S to XL) so each size accommodates several band and cup sizes. It's very comfortable, but also less supportive than the bras I'm used to wearing. Ever since I became pregnant with Zari, I have had to wear underwire. I'd say that this bra would be fine for everyday use if you're an A or B cup. Beyond that, it's not supportive enough for daytime use. (I'm currently between a C and a D.) It feels like my favorite sleep bras.

Right now, the BeliBea Nourish only comes in a pale nude color. It would be great to at least one darker tone (and perhaps a few basic colors down the road) for all those mamas who aren't of Scandinavian ancestry :)

More about BeliBea

Read more ...

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Adjusting to life back home

We've been home for three weeks. We had less than a week of downtime before the kids started school. Eric and I began teaching today.

The family renting our house took great care of it, but the record rainfall this summer meant we came back to a jungle. When we left for France a year ago, I had weeded and mulched every square inch of garden. Not a weed in sight. Now...well...I've been hauling weeds away by the truckload. I am determined to tame my yard back into shape!

I'm working on a grant proposal to design a vaginal breech training course. I've been writing in my head, but haven't got much down on paper yet. That's typical of how I work with four little children underfoot.

I was going to write a celebratory post about Ivy sleeping through the night...She's been doing it for almost a month now. Of course last night she had to break her pattern and wake up twice to nurse! She's crying again right now (10 pm), and I feel grumpy and don't want to nurse her.

Here's a peek into how our kids amuse themselves. They might dress up (Ivy and Inga), or take off most of their clothes (Dio). They dance to classical music. They jump off the edge of the couch and do somersaults. They laugh hysterically.

Also I got my first smartphone. I wanted an emergency cell phone and priced out all the options. FreedomPop was the winner, beating out the cheapest prepaid options. I got one of their hidden deals: a refurbished Kyocera Hydro Icon for $39, plus the free basic monthly plan of 200 minutes, 500 texts, and 500 MB of data. I opted out of all upgrades, special offers, free trials, and premium services and disabled automatic topups.

Read more ...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Attic before & after pictures

One of the very last rooms we finished, just a few days before we left France, was the attic bedroom where Zari, Dio, and Inga slept.

This is the "oldest" room in the house; you can see the original beamed ceiling and stone walls. In contrast, everything has been plastered over downstairs.


The attic was definitely the ugliest area of the house with peeling plaster and paint, no lights (just one outlet for the entire room), and a crumbling painted floor. The main room is a large rectangle with an area for a big bed and built-in shelves.

The ceiling painted was cracked and peeling. See the single outlet? That powered everything in the entire room.

In the middle of the floor is the access hatch with a very steep staircase--almost a ladder--leading down. The circuit breaker is on the left behind the pile of bedding. The little "room" on the right, above the downstairs hallway, had no floor and was criss-crossed with electrical conduits.

Renovations included....
  • Scraping, sealing, & repainting the ceiling beams
  • Building an elevated wooden plank floor over the little hallway room (where Inga sleeps)
  • Wiring the entire attic,adding 3 light fixtures and about 16 outlets
  • Scraping, replastering, wallpapering, and painting the walls
  • Repainting the bookshelves
  • Leveling the floors, then laying the same flooring that's in the rest of the house (Amtico Spacia in Warm Teak)
  • Installing guard rails on the attic window (it's an 8-foot drop to the staircase below!)
  • Renovating the staircase (you can't see it much in the pictures, but it was old painted staircase with lots of chipping paint. We painted the sides white and put the matching wooden flooring on the treads.)
  • Making sea glass art with pieces we'd found on the beach
  • Sewing curtains & decorative cushions


See Inga's little room? I made two curtains for it: one in the far back to hide some shelves and another in the front that was see-through. Just for fun!

Here's a wide-angle view of the room. The window of the right leads to a storage room above the back bedroom. We also wired that room with a light fixture. Let there be light!

We also built a wood hatch that completely covers the attic opening (not pictured). It can be folded in half or removed completely. It's strong enough for adults to walk on.

And that is the attic!
Read more ...

Monday, August 17, 2015

See us on House Hunters International!

So remember last winter I made some cryptic comments about a TV show that we were going to be on? It's finally announced:

We're going to be on House Hunters International!

It airs Thursday, August 20th at 10:30 pm EST, and again at 1:30 am on the 21st. Our episode is called "Nice To See You Again."

It was really fun to tape the episode. I have no idea what our story will be on the show :) Take 5 days of taping and edit it down to 25 minutes...anything could happen!

Keep in mind that you'll see our apartment about halfway through our renovations. I haven't yet shared our final renovation pictures, especially in the attic and back bedroom. Hope to get those up soon!
Read more ...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Our last day in France

The house was a mess, suitcases scattered everywhere, clothes in piles on the floor, but we still made time to go to the beach.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Read more ...

Friday, August 14, 2015

Linen baby hammock for sale

My cloth diapers are sold! A lucky blog reader has a fluffly package coming her way....

The next item I'm selling is a handmade linen baby hammock. It's brand new--used just one night to test it out.

The hammock is made of 100% ivory linen and has a snap-in quilted pad with wool/silk batting.

The support bar is made of cherry with a hand-rubbed wax finish.

The hammock is spring-mounted, so it bounces your baby gently every time she moves.

Includes all hardware for mounting on a ceiling joist or door frame.

Ideal for small babies...but still big enough for a 2-year-old!

If you're interested, please email me and make an offer! Ships anywhere in the US.

Disclaimer: Like most handmade products, this hammock has not undergone safety testing. 
Read more ...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cloth diapers for sale

Note: cloth diapers are sold

Ivy is done with diapers (yay! wait...sniff...but yay!).

Anyone want to buy my handmade cloth diapers? I have 23 size newborn and 23 size small. (I gave away the size M diapers in France--sorry!) I will also throw in 2 small wetbags and 8 assorted diapers (some name-brand) sizes S & M.

Dio sporting a NB size diaper

I made the NB and S diapers with the Chloe Toes AIO diaper pattern using FOE and diaper-grade hook & loop.

The diapers are all loop, so no diaper chain when you do the wash! (They close with double-sided hook tabs.) They're cut high in the back and low in the front for a perfect fit.

The absorbent insides are made of hemp fleece, hemp terry, and cotton terry. The soaker is stitched in on just one side, allowing it to wash & dry more easily. It can be folded over for extra absorbency.

Half of the diapers have appliqued Canadian maple leaves.

NB fits until 6 weeks (for the chunky babies) up to 3 months (for the skinny ones).

S fits until 6 months (chunky babies) up to a year (skinny babies).

The 8 other diapers are an assortment of name brands and a few homemade ones that have lost their elastic.

Please email me if you're interested! I can ship within the US.
Read more ...

Monday, August 10, 2015

The long road home

On Wednesday morning we hurried to get everyone dressed and all the suitcases in one place so we could do last-minute cleaning. We handed the keys over to the person who would be taking care of our apartment.

On our way out we said goodbye to our downstairs neighbor, who has a son Inga's age. We're going to miss them! Then I headed to the bus stop with 4 kids, 1 purse, 1 messenger bag, 4 backpacks, and my violin. Eric left a few minutes later with a friend who drove all 8 suitcases to the airport.

In our hurry, we forgot to communicate where to meet up in the airport. I was waiting in one area, Eric in another, and we almost missed our trans-Atlantic flight because we didn't find each other! At the last minute I herded all the children to a new area and found Eric.

But of course it had to be more adventuresome than that.

Out of the blue, Ivy puked all over me.

A minute later, she puked all over herself and the floor.

We couldn't do anything to clean up because we were checking in. We made it through security and got onto the airplane. Our flight sat on the tarmac for over an hour, waiting for several passengers arriving on another flight. As soon as we took off, Ivy puked again, all over me.

After the third time, I was prepared. Good thing: she puked at least 10 times on the way home.

Zari got to help the Air Canada Rouge staff serve drinks. Inga also wanted to wear one of their stylish fedoras.

Ivy took several naps.

Besides puking ten times, she was an easy traveler.

I managed to read a book.

Our late start meant we missed our next connecting flight, so we got re-routed to a different city. Our third flight was several hours later than planned. We finally got home at 1:30 am local time (7:30 am French time) and got the kids in bed an hour later.

But the fun didn't stop there. No, that would be too easy.

The next day, I came down with a nasty stomach bug. Thanks Ivy. When the puking ended, the fever started and it wiped me out for the next 36 hours.

Then Inga got it.

Then Eric.

Fun times.

We're all recovered now, but only have two days left until school starts! I thought we had until next week so it was an unpleasant surprise when I checked the school calendar.

Goodbye, France.

Read more ...

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Things I'm loving right now

Only four days left  until we fly across the Atlantic! In between last-minute repairs and deep cleaning, I wanted to share some favorite things I bookmarked this past month:

Homebirths in Spain
Read about the struggle to access home births in Spain, including hurdles mothers have faced birthing outside the Spanish medical system.

Effect of skin to skin and breastfeeding on primary postpartum hemorrhage
This recent research investigates the effect of S2S and BF right after birth on reducing primary PPH rates and found a strong positive correlation. The paper is titled Does skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding at birth affect the rate of primary postpartum haemorrhage: Results of a cohort study.

Upright birth support
A Scottish midwife designed an inflatable birth support called Comfortable Upright Birth that's being used around the world. Read about it here:

If you buy a CUB, the company donates a clean birth kit to mothers in developing countries. With every 5 birth kits, they include a CUB as well! So consider buying one for yourself if you are expecting or for your practice if you are a birth attendant.


Home Birth
Read more ...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


One of my younger sisters visited me this month. She came with her husband and left her four kids with my mom.

The two of them visited just about every museum in Nice, walked miles and miles every day, ate lots of ice cream and pastries, and enjoyed going at an adult's pace. They took a trip to visit some friends in Germany, spent a day in Paris, watched a stage of the Tour de France, and even biked up and down Mont Ventoux. Well, her husband did!

We joined my sister on a few outings, including a visit to Eze, Cap Ferrat, and Fort Alban.

Ivy didn't want to walk up the stairs. We played a game of chicken to see who would capitulate first. She won.

Read more ...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Countdown & car races

We're leaving in 12 days! Or rather--12 days :(

I packed two suitcases today, put a few bags & boxes in the attic, and have bags labeled "stay in France" scattered around the house.

We've been in a heat wave since the beginning of July with no cool weather in sight. Compared to summers in the midwest US, it's lovely here: sunny, around 30/31 C (high 80s F) during the day and only cooling off slightly at night to 25-27 C (high 70s F). But air conditioning is still rare in French homes, meaning that it's as hot indoors as out.

I open all the windows at night, place fans strategically, and close up in the morning. But between the unremitting sun, the warm nights, and being on the 4th floor, we are TOO HOT!

We usually go swimming late in the afternoon when the heat inside is just too uncomfortable. We cool off in the almost-too-warm water and head home a few hours later for a late dinner. We don't go out much in the morning unless it's a place with shade.

Sometimes we improvise, like this morning when we played in a nearby water spigot and then raced cars down a little drainage ditch on the rue Rosetti.

Looking down the street towards the Place Rosetti

Zari was sitting on the ground taking pictures. "Mama, you're a giant!"

Read more ...

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The Freezes at the splash pad

Here's a little movie we made at the Miroir D'eau in Nice. Enjoy!

More about this area:

Old Nice is a triangle hemmed in by the sea, the Paillon River, and an enormous plateau housing a ruined medieval fortress. The Paillon was slowly covered over to make space for parks and gardens and, later on, roads and traffic circles and parking garages and bus depots. The river still flows underground.

Over the past 15 years, the city of Nice has transformed the area above the underground river. It moved several traffic arteries into underground tunnels, transformed other roadways into tram lines, created huge pedestrian squares such as the Place Masséna, and removed the hideous bus depot and parking garage.

Now the Promenade du Paillon is the jewel of the city, with parks, playgrounds, gardens, and outdoor theaters. One of our favorite places in the Promenade du Paillon is the miroir d'eau ("mirror of water"), a huge zero-depth fountain with hundreds of jets of water. In other words, a gigantic splash pad!

And in case you missed it in the last post, here's a movie of our family at the beach:

Read more ...

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chamonix and doppelgängers and swimming

Our school year is winding down--only one week left! Eric and I are already getting nostalgic and a bit depressed about leaving France. We fly home on August 5th and won't be back until early May next year.

At a school festival
Dio trying to pop a water balloon with a pair of scissors
Property managing

We found an American family to rent our apartment from the end of August until the end of April. They have three kids ages 7,9, and 12. We're hoping they will adapt well to life here. None of them speak French, but they decided to put their kids in the French public schools (private international schools were too expensive).

During the first few weeks of August when we're gone, we already have the place booked as a vacation rental. So we are really glad that everything is taken care of until we come back. Crossing our fingers, of course, that we have no emergencies!

We've had our share of emergencies back home with our various properties. Our boiler back home--almost brand new--went out during the worst cold snap this winter and didn't get replaced for 2 weeks. In our rental properties we've also had a leaking roof (fortunately, an easy repair) and a caving foundation wall (not so easy of a repair, but at least it seems to have stabilized enough that our repair people, will be working on it as soon as the rain dries up).


Eric drove to Chamonix, near Mont Blanc, to visit a writer's workshop. He gave a reading and had a blast meeting the authors who were teaching the workshop, including Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild, which was recently made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon) and Pam Houston.

He used Blablacar, a ridesharing service similar to Uber, and was able to find people to ride with him both there and back. One was an artist who lives in Chamonix, and the other was a French Canadian woman. I was glad that he had company-- I always worry when he's driving long distances alone with no one to make sure he stays awake.

Meeting Ryxi

While Eric was gone, I hosted some unexpected guests. I know a shaman/earth healer named Ryxi (aka Renee Shaw in real life) and she just happened to be traveling in the Swiss/Italian Alps not too far from where Eric was. I saw her update about it on Facebook. Turns out she was planning on coming to Nice next, so I invited her and a young woman traveling with her to visit.

They stayed for 3 days, and we had great conversations about religion and the environment. They did an energy healing session on me--why not?--and both of them independently picked up on a hip injury I've had for the past year. Ryxi put a yarn "dreadlock" into Zari's hair in her favorite color, turquoise. Zari's friends love it. So yeah, good times with my new-Age doppelgänger Ryxi.


We've been going to the beach almost every afternoon after school. Two weeks ago Eric found a GoPro Hero4 Silver on the ocean floor 60 feet below the surface. It still worked! We've been having fun playing around with the camera and documenting our everyday lives. I put together some of the footage into a little film about our family at the beach. Enjoy!

A random picture of us at church...

A day's catch from spearfishing...

Read more ...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...