Saturday, April 30, 2011

Random man talks boobs

I was sitting on the front lawn of our new house (like, we just bought it yesterday new) nursing Inga. I had my V-neck shirt pulled down and was nursing "from the top." An unfamliar car pulled into our driveway and a middle-aged man stepped out. He looked at me and started approaching. I was thinking, who are you random man and why are you walking towards me?

I probably stared at him a bit too forcefully, because the first thing he said was, "I have five kids and my wife nursed all of them. So don't worry, I'm used to seeing breasts."

I had to laugh. That was the last thing on my mind. I was just trying to figure out who he was and why he was at our house. The fact that I had one breast exposed was a non-issue.

I replied, "Oh goodness, I wasn't even thinking about that, especially after three kids!"

It turns out he owns a millwork shop that specializes in crafting historic reproduction wood windows. I didn't want to replace our original windows--they're in great shape other than being painted shut--but I did need storm windows made. He can do that too. So I am glad that Mr. Random Man stopped by.

Speaking of our new house, we spent the day clearing brush & volunteer trees. Some friends stopped by to help, so the adults played with the chainsaw while the kids played hide-and-seek in the house. I got into some poison ivy, which is my nemesis. Eric and I are feeling more overwhelmed than elated as we realize how much work this house needs. But it will be such an amazing house once it's all done. 
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guess who is 2?

Dio! His birthday was two days ago. I can't believe it's already been two years since he was born. Read his birth story here.
Dio's serious look
He got a toy airplane from my mom and has been carrying it around night and day. That, and a book about airplanes, was his only birthday present. We're pretty low-key with gifts at our house.
playing in the sump pump water...a favorite pastime this rainy spring
We made a vegan chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and decorated it with blueberries to look like a ladybug. Kind of. The kids didn't care about aesthetics.
those are smiles, really
wearing swimming goggles after we ate birthday cake
Inga got her passport pictures
I finally painted our kitchen!
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Ergos for 50% off

There are Ergo carriers for 50% off at BabySteals. They'll probably be gone in a matter of hours if not minutes, so act quickly! I love my Ergo.
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Monday, April 25, 2011

What if something goes right?

I love reading birth stories where everything goes right. Where mothers plan and prepare and get what they want. Where their wishes are respected and they feel elated at what they accomplished. Where things work out perfectly in the end, even if labor throws them a curveball or some initial plans have to be abandoned.

Here are a few such stories I'd like to share:

First off, my youngest sister whose son was born two days before Inga. She had care with a hospital-based midwifery practice and also hired a doula. She hoped for a spontaneous, unmedicated vaginal birth--and that's what she got! Read all about it here at Grayden's birth story. Way to go little sis!
baby Grayden, from
Next is the story of Busca's fourth child and second home birth. Busca blogs at Birth Faith. This was her longest pregnancy, going to 41.1 weeks. Her other three children were all 5-10 days early. She also had a much different labor pattern this time, hardly feeling any pain or intensity until the last few minutes. Read her story of Surrender in four parts: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.
Busca with her newborn baby, from

And you've probably heard that Gina, aka The Feminist Breeder, just had her third baby! It was her second VBAC and first home birth. Gina also had a different labor pattern than her first two. After lots of prodromal labor, Gina finally got labor to kick in using a combination of sex, breast pumping, and AROM. She even took a nap at around 9 cm dilated (and still wasn't feeling much pain at that point). Gina, you rock! Read the story of Jolene's birth here. She also had a friend who live-blogged the birth, where you can watch video clips of labor and pushing.
Gina & Jolene, from

And finally, Desiree of Hitting My Stride had her baby Sofia! We started corresponding during our pregnancies and have become friends along the way (and she's letting me stay with her during the Lamaze conference this September!). She has two serious clotting factors, which meant heparin injections twice a day throughout her pregnancy. It also meant induction if she didn't go into labor by 38-39 weeks. She was induced at 39.2 weeks with a very favorable Bishop score and had a fantastic birth. Her birth story comes in four parts--Suck Ball City, Labor Faces, The Mirror, and After Birth.

All I can say is: a Pitocin induction with no pain meds? Amazing! She also sent me her birth video, and I was amazed at how non-medical it felt. The atmosphere in the room was calm and quiet. No shouting or coaching or anything, just her pushing and vocalizing when the urge hit.
Desiree, Drew, & Sofia from

A big congratulations all around. And here's hoping for many more birth stories where everything goes right.
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Baby smiles

Baby smiles help me feel less sad about how quickly newborns change. Inga has been giving us smiles for the past two weeks. I still haven't captured a huge grin on camera, but these come close.

Thinking about it...
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You know home birth is mainstream when...

...Pampers shows a home waterbirth in their ad:

This isn't an endorsement of Pampers--I love my cloth diapers--but it is pretty darn cool to see a very large, very mainstream company include home birth.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Milan Maternity giveaway winner.. "cat13"

To claim your prize, please email me within the next 48 hours.

Thanks to everyone for entering!
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3 before 33

When I was growing up, I remember planning to be done having children by time I was 30. Maybe 31 or 32 max. Because, you know, being in your 30s is So Old. Yeah.

I knew a woman whose plan was to have Five by Twenty-Five, and she did it. Too ambitious for me.

It's my birthday today, so at least I can say I had Three before Thirty-Three.

The oldest 3 (of 5) in my family
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Molten lava science experiment

A few days ago, I was browsing through some clearance bins at the grocery store and saw a package of Betty Crocker Decadent Supreme Chocolate Molten Lava Cake mix. I haven't made a cake from a box in decades (I think cake mixes taste disgusting, and making something from scratch doesn't take much longer anyway.) But it was marked down about 75%. Perfect for doing a science experiment.

I had a group of friends coming over that night for a wine & chocolate night (or as we like to call it, wine & chocolate--and sparkling juice for the Mormons & pregnant women--night). It's basically an excuse to stay up way too late, eat lots of chocolate, and have girl talk. I had originally planned on making a dark chocolate tart, but when I saw the molten lava mix, had a better idea: a blind taste-test of the boxed mix versus a homemade version.

I had a hard time choosing which molten lava recipe to use. They all are variations on the same theme--chocolate, butter, flour, sugar, & eggs--but which one to use? The one with 3 eggs or 6? Do I bake at 350 or 400 or 450? 8 minutes or 14 minutes? I ended up combining two recipes and came up with this:

8 oz dark chocolate (60% cocoa)
1 cup butter
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c flour
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

I put the cake mix into 9 muffin tins and the homemade version into 12 ramekins.

I baked both at 400. The cake mix version was in muffin tins and the "real" version in ramekins. The mix baked for 11 minutes and the ramekins for 13. I baked them until the tops just started to puff up (which in retrospect was too long).

The verdict:
The cake mix version was less overbaked and had a bit of the "molten lava" texture in the center, whereas the homemade version was way overdone and the centers were entirely firm. The homemade version was also very eggy tasting--so I'd definitely go for a recipe with about 3 eggs, not 6.

During the blind taste test, many of the people said they preferred the texture of #1 (the mix) but the richer, less sweet taste of #2 (the homemade version). It was pretty easy to tell which was which, because #1 was so, so sweet. It tasted just like brownies from a mix, just runnier. Total sugar shock on your tongue. Plus my friends know that I like really dark chocolate and that I would never make something so sweet.

It's ironic that this molten lava mix even exists. The process is almost identical in both recipes: melt butter & chocolate together, add eggs & dry ingredients, and bake. The boxed version has a bag of dry ingredients (sugar, flour, & cocoa powder), whereas the homemade version has you scoop the flour and sugar yourself. Such a difficult task, isn't it?

Lessons learned from this science experiment:
  • Take the molten lava cakes out of the oven before the tops start to puff up.
  • Don't underfill the ramekins or muffin cups--I should have put the homemade version into 8, not 12, ramekins. 
  • Choose a recipe with 3 eggs per 8 oz of chocolate, rather than 6 eggs
  • Ramekins release the cakes much better than non-stick muffin tins (I greased both before putting the batter in)
  • Don't skimp on the sugar. Even if you're totally addicted to super-dark chocolate--I eat 85% and even 70% tastes too sweet to me--you need enough sugar to make the cakes taste right. 1/3 cup might have been a bit too little; I might up it to 1/2 cup.
I'm ready now to make version #3, which I hope will be the ultimate chocolate molten lava cake. All in the name of science, of course. Stay tuned for the results.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

6 week pictures

When I said Inga was chubby, this is what I meant...

And some now & then shots...
1 day old
6 weeks old
1 week old
6 weeks old
2 1/2 weeks old
6 weeks old
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

6 weeks old already?!

Every time I have children, I experience intense feelings of sadness and loss as my newborns disappear and turn into roly poly babies. The newborn stage only lasts about two weeks and then it's gone forever. Sigh...

We're back in the swing of things at the Freeze household (although I still have a few more dinners coming--thanks to everyone who has made us meals!). Inga has adapted quite well into our family. She's pretty easygoing. When she fusses, it doesn't last long and she can be settled down quickly. She's learned how to sleep on her back and how to nap by herself. She loves the sling and will nap quite soundly in it, so sometimes I leave her in and go about my tasks. Although she has no predictable rhythm yet with her sleeping and awake periods during the day, I usually get at least one good stretch of time every day that allows me to get stuff done. Things like making dinner, sewing slings, or playing outside with the other kids. I'm also resetting my expectations for how much I can accomplish in a day.

We close on the new house at the end of this month. I've started packing for our move, which will probably be in about a month. I'm so excited! We found a renter for our current house, a new tenure-track hire. It's just her and her husband, and she seemed to love the house (and she likes gardening!). We keep walking by our new house, taking surreptitious glances as we go by. I'm trying to plan where my gardens will go, since I hope to transplant many of my plants: asparagus, fruit bushes (honeyberries, juneberries, gooseberries, red currants), rhubarb, strawberries, & raspberries. I also want to plant several dwarf fruit trees at our new house.

Speaking of sleep, I feel SO well rested-ever since I gave birth. A million times better than when I was pregnant. I've never found the newborn stage particularly exhausting. My babies (almost) always wake up to nurse every 2-3 hours at night and then go right back to sleep. Now that Inga will sleep swaddled on her back, things are especially good. She often has a 4-5 hour stretch when she first goes down. I try to take advantage of that and go to bed at the same time.

Inga is super chubby now. Her double chin is so big that it wraps around her head, spills over onto her shoulders, and totally hides her neck! I don't know how much she weighs, but she was 9 lbs 6 oz at 3 weeks old. So she's probably close to 11 lbs now, I'd guess. She's done a total 180 with her cousin who was born 2 days before her. He weighed almost 2 pounds more than her at birth, but now he's a slim baby (it runs in his dad's side of the family) and she is a chunker. Go figure!

I anticipated that Dio would have difficulty adjusting to a new baby in the house, but Zari has had a much rougher time. She's finally found her equilibrium in the past week or two. Dio seems pretty unfazed by Inga. The biggest different is that he asks to nurse more frequently. I don't blame him, now that there's lots of milk! He doesn't nurse all that often, usually once a day.

A friend gave me her old Ameda Purely Yours breast pump (she forgot to send the bottles; they should be arriving soon). I hope to start pumping once a day so I can donate like I did with Zari. It will take dedication, but I really want to do it.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Special pricing for vaginal breech workshop

My co-organizer and I have created special pricing for the vaginal breech workshop coming to Indianapolis this July.

  • Midwifery, nursing, or medical students receive a student discount; the full workshop is $350 ($400 after May 1st).
  • We are also offering the Sunday workshop with Betty-Anne Daviss for $100 for doulas, childbirth educators, and parents--i.e., anyone who is not a birth attendant or medical professional. 
  • Don't forget to mark your calendars for the free public lecture on Saturday evening by Betty-Anne Daviss about upright breech birth.
  • Finally, we have extended the early registration deadline to May 1st.  

The revised flyers are available here ( Please spread the word!
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Monday, April 11, 2011

"Is she a good baby?"

Of all the questions that people ask, this is one of the most difficult to answer. What exactly is a "good" baby anyway? Have you ever met a "bad" one?

One person's "good" baby might be another person's headache. For me, a baby who wakes up every few hours at night to nurse is entirely normal and good. But other people expect their babies to sleep long stretches at very early ages. I am also used to babies who nap a lot during the day, especially when they're little. But my youngest sister, whose baby is just 2 days older than Inga, has a baby who literally stays awake all day long. He might nap once if she takes him for a long walk. (Then he sleeps 6-8 hours at night, wakes up to nurse once, and sleeps the rest of the night.) Good baby? Bad baby? Who knows...

The words "good" and "bad" are far too vague to describe an infant's attributes. I prefer specific ones with a generally agreed-upon meaning. Dio, for example, was definitely a fussy baby from about 2-8 weeks old. Not "bad," just cranky and difficult to console at times.

So how do I respond? I laugh and deflect the question by saying, "I don't know. Is there such a thing as a bad baby? I think all babies are good!"
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Friday, April 08, 2011

Milan Maternity review & giveaway

I can't STAND the sayings splashed all over maternity clothing nowadays. Add some rhinestones to make them even tackier. Ugh. Here are just a few maternity shirts that earn a thumbs-down:

Please don't wear this to your holiday party
More is more: slogan AND ugly screen printing AND horizontal stripes
I guess this one would help fend off questions...
This shirt makes me want to ask how ripe her cervix is...

***End of the Maternity Shirt Hall of Shame***

I saw a woman wearing a Milan Maternity shirt several months ago. I loved the fit and style, so I contacted the company to see if they would let me review one of their shirts or dresses. I chose the Annalisa in Mocha, size M. Isn't it lovely? (And Inga too?)

I really like Milan Maternity's line for several reasons. First, the styles are classic; the tops and dresses are all solid colors. No patterns that will go out of date, no obnoxious slogans. Just well-designed basic pieces.

I also love the versatility. The tops and dresses are stylish and flattering even when you're not pregnant or nursing. The fabric is super stretchy. It will hug your pre-pregnancy body, expand to fit your growing belly, and then shrink back as you transition to motherhood.

The Annalisa is both a maternity & a nursing top. To nurse, you first pull aside the V-neck. There's a second layer--still giving you full coverage--that reaches underneath the bust line. You lift up the second layer to nurse once you've opened up your bra. It's much simpler than some of the other nursing tops I have tried, with their mysterious hidden layers and flaps.

If you'd like a chance to win a top of your choice, visit Milan Maternity and tell me about your favorite top or dress. For a second entry, link to this giveaway on FB, Twitter, your blog, etc. (new comment, please).

Giveaway ends Friday, April 15th. Open to US & Canada residents.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Birth Around the World: Midwifery in Tanzania

Today's "Birth Around the World" feature is a guest post by Pauline of Infomidwife. Pauline is an independent midwife in Australia.


Midwifery in Tanzania

This is a snapshot of midwifery in Tanzania from my perspective. It does not refer to anyone specific; the judgments are made from my personal observations.

Tanzania is a country in which health resources are minimal and much help is required--the lack of staff, general caring, and privacy being high on the agenda.
Clean room
In the public hospital the labor ward has approx 12-14 beds. The beds are hard and there is no visible linen. The windows and doors remain open and there is a problem with flies. I did notice curtains around some of the beds, but they are rarely used. The ward is split into three sections with a resuscitation area for the babies; however, I did not see any resuscitation equipment.

Labor bed

There is a long wooden bench for the women to sit on after birth, and there is a clean and dirty room. However, it is a stretch of the imagination. There is a small room attached that has four beds and this is called the eclampsia ward. The incidence of eclampsia appears to be high, and the antenatal care is insufficient in the prevention of the condition. This could be due to the low resources, therefore not enough education. There are some rudimentary posters on the walls for treatment of PPH and eclampsia. Generally the ward is constantly busy, noisy, and often used as a thoroughfare.

A normal 24hrs could see anywhere from 74 – 120 births. On the days I spent there, the average birth rate over 24hrs was 75-85 births--a quiet time. The lack of staff is a massive problem and the ward is laden with students. As I commented in my nursing in Tanzania blog, the structure of nursing is very different to Australia. Nursing and midwifery are together in every course and I suppose this also will assist with the shortage of staff.

Just to remind you of the career structure: enrolled nursing & midwifery is now a 2 yr course (previously 4yrs). Entry level is equivalent to yr 10 (form IV). As student midwives, these students conduct 20 normal births and 10 high risk (breach, face, brow presentations etc) supervised by a qualified midwife. Diploma nurses and midwives, if they have moved up from enrolled nurses, will do a further 10 normal births and 5 high risk, and this takes a further 1 yr, also supervised by a qualified midwife. Diploma nurses/midwives straight from school good scores for form IV, three yr course. These nurse/midwives, if they want to convert to a degree course, will have to do another 3 yrs (6yrs in total). Lastly there are degree nurses and midwives (3yrs course) entry level form VI (TEE / TER level) these students require 30 normal and 15 high risk births. Confused? It took me a while to work it out.

Part of the problem is that students outnumber the registered staff. You don’t know who is an enrolled /diploma or degree nurse/midwife student until you ask, and then I was still not clear who is accountable for what. On my shift there were 6 students and 2 registered nurse/midwives and a doctor. At one stage I had four labouring women at fully [dilated] with just me myself and I. Oh, and my nursing students (as if in a maternity setting). It was frantic.

The African women need to bring with them 4 Kangas; these are traditional cloth /dress, pieces of material 2 meters long. One piece is cut in half, so there are two for the baby. The women use one as a sheet on the bed. They often have one they are wearing, and the others are for after the birth and the baby. Often the women are naked; privacy does not seem to be an issue. People walking in and out of the labor ward as if it was a thoroughfare.

Flies were annoying. It was hot/humid; everyone was sweating, no way of cooling down. There was no visible water anywhere. At times I felt useless and helpless. I allocated my nursing students to stay with each woman, attempting to provide some comfort and encouraging them to drink some water, which the women bring in themselves. I found a Pinard [wooden stethoscope] on the desk and was showing the students how to use one. There was no electrical fetal monitoring (not such a bad thing).

Delivery pack

Two women had syntocinon [Pitocin] running, so I listened to their fetal hearts first. All seemed well. Then I moved to the second two women. These two seemed to be going head to head as to who was going to deliver first. I called out for some help, and a doctor came forward. He was less than helpful; however, he did yell for someone else to assist. Whilst he was with me, I asked if he could translate to my women as I wanted her to stand up or turn over to aid her birth. His response was “no, we like them on their backs so we can see what is happening.” He promptly called for a student midwife to assist me and yelled at the women to push harder. I regretted asking him to translate.

As we were preparing for birth, I found the delivery pack but could not find a cord clamp. By now the woman was pushing well. The student midwife had disappeared momentarily, so I asked my favourite doctor who had taken his spot at the desk--watching the events, no curtains, three naked women in the room all pushing--"excuse me, I can’t find a cord clamp." "Ah, you want a cordie clampie. Ask the woman or look in her bag, she has them.” Now the student has returned and I am informed that the women bring in a cord clamp, a roll of cotton wool for the birth, her Kangas, and food and water for herself. If the woman does not have a cord clamp, you find some cotton or tear a piece of material to tie the cord. Thankfully the woman had purchased a cordie clampie. I could not find the scissors to cut the cord. Emm that’s because we use a blade. At one stage I needed to clean around the perineum and asked my student nurse for a paper towel, forgetting where I was. (The poor student went looking for one until I called sorry forgot where we are. We both nervously laughed.) It was tough to use cotton wool for everything. It is hard doing a vaginal examination using cotton wool.

It was a beautiful birth, a truly special moment. Third stage went well, syntocinon given as usual. The woman was exhausted. Now it was time for her to get up and go and sit on the bench. I had taken too long, and the student midwife was hurrying me along. It was only 40mins after the birth. The student midwife cleaned the bed with the two dirty Kangas. I asked, "what happens to them now?”  She continued to clean the bed, rolled them up, put them in a plastic bag and gave them back to the woman. No laundry required. The woman sat on the bench, drank her water, and had a bite to eat (a piece of bread I think) and started breastfeeding.

We then weighed the baby. The woman was then transferred to the postnatal ward (we walked her across) within 90mins. She then stays on the ward for 6hrs and walks home or catches the bus with her baby. The postnatal ward may have two or three women to a bed. I counted 12 beds, saw no baby cots. The women lay exhausted on the bed with their babies, some crying, soulful eyes watching you. They have a resigned look on their faces as if this is my life. The nurse is sitting at the desk. The ward is packed a sea of faces. There were be a couple of nursing assistants walking around assisting with breastfeeding. It was heartbreaking, poignant, and I was saddened by the obvious pain of life.

Resuscitation bed

It wasn’t long before there were two more babies, all healthy and well. The last woman was having difficulty and was going for a Cesarean section. They don’t have forceps or ventouse [vacuum] births in this hospital; however, I could see the benefit of using a kiwi cup...but that’s a different story. The Cesarean section rate is about 20% and on the increase. Only about 40% of women birth in the hospitals; the rest are out in the rural areas.

Traditional Birth Attendants

We did visit a dispensary that was well-equipped for births. I met some traditional birth attendants, who also stated that they birth women on their backs on the floor. I did find this interesting. I tried to share my experience of changing positions and it was met with great laughter.

Transport poster rural area
In the rural clinic the women come whenever they have time or feel they need to attend. With their first babies they seem to be more vigilant. Clearly, the more babies they have the less inclined they are to come to the clinic early. They normally show up at about 32 weeks. The clinic we visited was 2.5 hours away from the hospital, and transport if things go wrong is difficult. They often have to cope or find alternative ways of getting to the hospital.

My students really enjoyed this placement and I am sure that 4/5 students will go on to do their midwifery. For me I was dismayed and the visions stayed with me for days. I am still troubled by the conditions that women are in, and I would be keen to be able to help in a more substantial way. The issues that struck me most:
  • Technology v no technology
  • Caring / compassion v no caring / compassion
  • Women being totally alone with no support
  • The total lack of staff
  • Birth flat on their back in bed

There was a complete contrast in the private hospital. The birth rate for November was approximately 50 for the month. There were no patients on the day we spent several hours there. Privacy is still an issue with three labour beds in the one room. The labor ward has just been renovated so was very modern.

beds in the private hospital
There were brand new beds. However, I was disheartened when I saw the strips remain in place on the bed. For me, this would mean because they are there they will be used. There was a CTG [EFM] machine. In another room there were two labor beds, and there was one private room (the executive room, of course at a price). What was surprising was they had a spa bath. It was great to see. However, they would need education regarding its use. (I was asked to give a lecture on waterbirth, but that’s another blog). There seemed to be more staff here, and they did seem more caring and provided one-to-one care. But this was only a snapshot, so I really could not give an accurate account. It was reassuring but sad at the same time, because most women could not afford this care.

My maternity time was an experience, as was my whole Tanzanian clinical practice. I met some phenomenal people and some I hope to continue to keep in contact with... more in my next blog.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

We're moving!

Only 8 blocks away, but we're super excited about our new house. It just came up on the market this week: a forecloure, really rough on the outside but beautiful on the inside. It was built in 1900 by a local brick manufacturer and is in a historic district about a half mile from campus. It has more than enough space for as large a family as we could ever hope to have. There's also a carriage house out back with a "gardener's quarters" (needs to be totally gutted) that we can turn into a writing studio for Eric. Just what we need--another huge renovation project!

On a whim, we looked at it on Thursday afternoon and fell in love. We put an offer in on Friday and a few hours later, we were buying another house!

We've already found a university family on a 3-year contract who are very interested in renting our current house. That gives us the flexibility of not having to sell it right away.

Here are a few pictures:
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