Changing lives one cup at a time

Monday, March 30, 2015

Autumn Spice

One of my favourite essential oil blends... this creamy-lathered, long-lasting soap has a hint of cinnamon and cloves but also quite a strong earthy note. All my soaps are 100% vegan, scented only with essential oils, and contain no artificial colouring or fragrances.  





Birth Choices in Indiana


Until two years ago, the choice to give birth at home was virtually impossible for most women in the state of Indiana.  Of course, many families still went for this option, birthing illegally at home either with certified professional midwives [CPMs], lay midwives, or giving birth unassisted.

Home birth was not actually illegal; CNMs [certified nurse midwives] practiced in Indiana legally but the majority of CNMs work in hospitals and choose not to attend home births. In the United States, medical = big business.  Doctors are paid per head for delivering babies, instead of per hour for the time they put in.

Two years ago, after years of hard work by the Indiana Midwifery Taskforce, a large bill legalizing certified professional midwives [CPMs] was passed by Indiana government and signed into law by the governor. This legalisation has allowed women the freedom to easily choose home birth in the state of Indiana.

There has been a definitive amount of opposition to this bill, particularly from the Indiana State Medical Association.  If CPMs, working as highly qualified self-employed birth providers, were legalised with no holds barred, they immediately present a threat to obstetricians working unchallenged in a state that has a high infant mortality rate.  [Home births not included in these statistics.]

1548 is the "fix" needed for two unworkable parts of bill, necessary in order to implement the law the legislature already created two years ago. 

1548 is due to be voted on in the Senate Health Committee within the next 48 hours.  If you are at all concerned about the freedom of Indiana women to choose birth at home with a qualified provider, please call or e-mail members of the Senate Health Committee TODAY!!

Ryan Mishler - Senator.Mishler@iga.in.gov, 317-233-0930
Jean Breaux- s34@iga.in.gov, 800-382-9467
Frank Mrvan - s1@iga.in.gov, 800-382-9467
Mark Stoops - s40@iga.in.gov, 800-382-9467
Vaneta Becker - Senator.Becker@iga.in.gov, 317-232-9494
Liz Brown - Senator.Brown@iga.in.gov, 317-232-9807
Michael Crider - Senator.Crider@iga.in.gov, 317-232-9493
Ed Charbonneau - Senator.Charbonneau@iga.in.gov, 317-232-9494
Ron Grooms - Senator.Grooms@iga.in.gov, 317-234-9425
Rick Niemeyer - Senator.Niemeyer@iga.in.gov, 317-232-9490

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Soap and Such


I've been soap-making again.  

The sights and smells of the soap process are my favourite part of this hobby-turned-pocketmoney-making venture.  Watching the saponifying cloud spread as I add the lye water to the hot oils and butters; then stirring, blending, seeing the completeness as the soap mixture arrives at the legendary, pudding-like "trace" is so satisfying.  I love the scents of cocoa and shea butters, and all the essential oils, but I also appreciate the tangy smell of the lye as it blends with the oils, and together they become "soap".

This is not your typical moneymaking craft project, something you can sell and make a small profit from easily.  I use good quality oils, butters, and essential oils, and they're not inexpensive! I'm hoping to at least recompense myself for what I've spent on soaping supplies this year at a semi-local craft fair in December. 

Because, of course, we use the soap I make.  Every once in a while a few bars go away as a gift, but usually every single bar is eventually put into use in this household.  

I've never sold soap on any measurable scale before, and I'm a bit daunted by all the insurance discussions on my online cold process soap-makers group. Should I word some type of disclaimer for the less discerning, or trust customers to make their own decisions about the soap they buy?  Every recipe has been in effect tested by us, as it's the soap we use daily.  Recipes that dry our skin or go soft too quickly are in my "tried but not our favourite" notes.

The craft fair will take place in four weeks, so my last few batches will be underway this week as they'll have time to cure properly before they're ready to sell.  And hopefully, I'll catch the time I need online to blog more about this latest venture.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Solomon

Just a few short weeks ago, I was nearly halfway through my fourth pregnancy.  At eighteen weeks, my midwife visited and was concerned when she couldn't find a heartbeat for the baby.  Days later, Dan and I sat in a darkened room for an ultrasound scan and saw our fifth child curled up peacefully inside, perfect but for his silence.  No heartbeat.

It's true that this was not a terrible shock.  I had felt something was wrong, for so many weeks.  As days of pregnancy had crawled by, the sickening nausea I experienced from the beginning was almost unbearable. I'd never had such stomach cramping and pain with the other three, even during the twins' pregnancy.  The kids and I had experienced symptoms of food poisoning in June after eating fruit that was part of a nationwide recall, and my "morning sickness" seemed to be entwined with normal "flu" symptoms until I couldn't tell the difference anymore.

The doctor was clear: this was not a miscarriage, and at nearly nineteen weeks, was not far enough along to be considered a stillbirth.  It was simply "fetal death", and as my body was choosing not to deal with it, labour would have to be induced.

Dan and I went to the local hospital Sunday evening after a day spent with friends, family, and our children.  We sat in quiet and near-darkness for hours.  Dan played his guitar and we spoke in hushed tones to each other and with nurses as they periodically came in to check on me.  In the end, I was only in proper labour for an hour, and gave birth to our tiny baby boy around 7am yesterday.  He was still in the amniotic sac, placenta fully attached --no complications or need for any other interventions-- it was a complete birth.

Not quite six inches long, weighing about 1 1/2 ounces, this little boy was small but clearly one of ours.  His long legs, big torso, and scrawny arms were an exact replica of his two oldest brothers!  Though I will never see him as they are now I can easily imagine him with auburn hair, freckled faces, and big grins, just like theirs'.

We called him Solomon simply because it means "peaceful", which perfectly describes how we've felt during this time.

My father built a box using cedar wood that Dan found in the woods last autumn.  Solomon, wrapped in blue flannel, rested in the box, and the kids placed treasures inside: a bird drawing from Righty, a long letter from Lefty, and a card from Coo.  Mr J wrote a note and shared some of his special things with his little brother: an English penny, a plastic ring, and three crystal "jewels".  


We buried baby Solomon in his little box, halfway between a white oak and a cedar tree.  Dan played the guitar and some of us spoke out our thankfulness to God for Solomon, in spite of his short life.  Wildflowers are everywhere at this time of year and we gathered handfuls of them to cover his box. The children decorated the mound that remained with chestnuts, acorns, sticks, and more flowers.



We sat outside on the ground nearby as the sun dropped down in the evening sky.  Golden sunshine  scattered ribbons of light around us and the quiet was peaceful.

Sadness is close, always nearby when we think about the unexpected death of our baby.  But a deep peace is near, too, always there.  The life of God inside us is the same breath that gave life to Solomon, and we are at peace knowing that Solomon is now with Him.

Dan and I are so thankful for our parents, who've been so helpful and supportive, and for our friends far and near.  Even though many of you are faraway, we've felt so much love from all of you. :)

All photos for this post were taken by Tracey Stanton.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Twelfth Birthday Interview With Righty



Righty has become quite the creative entrepreneur since we arrived in the US.  He's been drawing birds, something he's always enjoyed, but taken it up a notch by framing the drawings nicely and then selling them at our favourite local coffee shop, the Cherryghost.


He's also been mass-producing model airplanes and ships using cardboard, toothpicks, ice lolly sticks, and string.


What is the adventure you would most like to have?  
Having an adventure like the ones in the Adventurers Wanted series

What would you like to do when you grow up?  
Be a professional footballer [soccer player]

What's that going to be like?  
Fun

What's your favourite supper?  
Bean burritos with salsa, cheese, avocado, and salad

What's your favourite cake or pudding?  
Chocolate cream pie

What's your favourite book[s]?  
The Adventurers Wanted series; the Henry Huggins series; Otis Spofford, by Beverley Cleary; and tons of others 

Who do you like hanging out with?  
Lots and lots of people

Who are some friends you miss from England?
The Costello kids, James, Hannah, Rich, the kids from our Underground Kids' group

What do you enjoy doing with me?  
Playing cards

What do you enjoy doing with Dad? 
Going into the forest, and visiting Glendale [nearby wildlife reserve]

What do you enjoy doing with Coo?  
Having tea parties with her, because that's what she likes

What do you enjoy doing with Lefty?  
Lots of stuff: playing football [soccer], playing games, fighting with him (ha ha, not really!)

What do you enjoy doing with Mr J? 
Playing chess

What's your favourite thing to do on your own? 
Play cardboard footballers, read, and draw

What's your favourite family day out together?  
Going to Wroxeter

What makes you happy?  
Eating good food

What makes you sad?  
Thinking about my little brother Solomon

What do you enjoy learning about the most?  
Learning about insects and reading stories from history, and I've just learned how to do joined-up writing, which is fun

If you could choose any time in history to live in, when would that be?  
Right now

Is there anyone famous that you'd like to meet?  
Steven Gerrard, Lionel Messie, Gareth Bale, Christiano Ronaldo, Neimar, [all famous football/soccer players]

If there were any imaginary/pretend things you could choose to do, what would it be?  
I'd be a magical dragon because then I could fly, and be very powerful.

[Righty, 2003.]

You can read Righty's eleventh birthday interview here.  Our birthday interviews were an idea from Lauren, who blogs at Sparkling AdventuresThey're a great way of seeing the changes that take place as our kids grow older, as well as noting the things that remain the same!

Twelfth Birthday Interview With Lefty

[Lefty & Righty, 2003. Hint: he's the one on the left!]

What is the adventure you would most like to have?  
An adventure like Alex has in Slathbog's Gold

What would you like to do when you grow up?  
Be a footballer [soccer player]

What's that going to be like?  
Fun

What's your favourite supper?  
I'll eat anything

What's your favourite cake or pudding?  
Anything that's not store-bought 

What's your favourite book[s]?  
The Adventurers Wanted series, the Henry Huggins series, and the Middle-Earth books by Tolkien

Who do you like hanging out with?  
I enjoy hanging out with lots of people and I like making new friends

What do you enjoy doing with me?  
Helping you with the shopping and cleaning, playing Scrabble and Kings in the Corner

What do you enjoy doing with Dad? 
Having sleepovers, playing football and chess

What do you enjoy doing with Coo?  
Building tents with her and having tea parties

What do you enjoy doing with Righty?  
Playing football and chess

What do you enjoy doing with Mr J? 
Playing football and trading our cardboard footballers

What's your favourite thing to do on your own? 
Play cardboard footballers, read, take photographs



What's your favourite family day out together?  
Going to National Trust places but we can't do that anymore. We went tornado chasing together once here and that was a fun family day out.

What makes you happy?  
Eating and playing games

What makes you sad?  
Whenever I lose something, either a game or one of my things

What do you enjoy learning about the most?  
I like maths, learning about insects, and more about Roman times

If you could choose any time in history to live in, when would that be?  
The time of Julius Caesar, because I'd like to watch gladiator fights

Is there anyone famous that you'd like to meet?  
Peter Jackson, who directed the LOTR and Hobbit movies; Martin Freeman, who acts as Bilbo in the Hobbit; Richard Armitage, who is Thorin in the Hobbit; and Steven Gerrard, the English footballer [soccer player]. 

If there were any imaginary/pretend things you could choose to do, what would it be?  
I'd like to be the character Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings books, because he didn't get wounded much but he fought a lot and was very brave.


You can read Lefty's eleventh birthday interview here.  Our birthday interviews were an idea from Lauren, who blogs at Sparkling AdventuresThey're a great way of seeing the changes that take place as our kids grow older, as well as noting the things that remain the same!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ninth Birthday Interview With Mr J




What are some of the things you want to do when you are big? 
Be a farmer and play football [soccer]

What are some of your favourite things to do now?
Play football [soccer] and Lord of the Rings

Which books are your favourites?
The "Shoot" football book and Lord of the Rings

What are your favourite things to play with right now?
I like to play with my Legos, and my toy swords

What is your favourite colour?
Yellow

What's your favourite animal?
Dogs

What do you like about dogs?
They're fuzzy and fun to play with

What are the names of the people [!?] that you enjoy spending time with?
Righty, Lefty, Coo, Mummy, Daddy, my stuffed toy dogs

What do you like to eat?
Bananas

What makes you happy?
Thinking about getting a dog

What makes you sad?
Thinking about never getting a dog

What do you like to do with Lefty and Righty?
Play Lord of the Rings

What do you like to do with Daddy?
I like it when we watch movies, go to the Cherryghost [coffee house], and get secret snacks!

What do you like to do with Coo?
Play shop and Lord of the Rings

What do you like to do with me?
Play games like Uno

What do I do all day?
You cook and make soap, and when you have time you play with us

What does Daddy do all day?
He learns maths and science with us, reads, works, and plays with us

What do you do all day?
Everything


Mr J's birthday interview from last year can be found here.  The birthday interviews we do are an idea from Lauren, who blogs at Sparkling Adventures. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fifth Birthday Interview with Coo



What things would you like to do when you are big like Mummy?
play with my kids

What do you love the most?
chocolate cake

Which books are your favourites? 
books about Stella, and Alfie

What are your favourite colours? 
pink, purple, red, and every single colour

Who are some of your favourite people?
Mr J, Lefty, Righty, Hannah, Sydney, other Hannah and James


What do you like to eat?
cucumber, bagel with Nutella, walnuts and raisins, biscuits [English biscuits-- cookies]

What makes you happy? 
eating chocolate biscuits

What makes you sad?
doing difficult things

What's your favourite thing to do with Righty?
play with bubbles and have tea parties

What's your favourite thing to do with Lefty?
play tea party

What's your favourite thing to do with Mr J?
play doctor and nurse


What's your favourite thing to do with Daddy?
play paper dolls and go to Starbucks with him

What's your favourite thing to do with me?
painting and colouring with you


Do you have a favourite toy?
my tiny fairy doll

Where is your favourite place?
my house in England


You can read Coo's fourth birthday interview here.

The birthday interviews that I do with our kids are an idea from Lauren, who blogs at Sparkling Adventures.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Machynlleth (from 19 October 2013)

(The first in a series of posts from last autumn that were never published due to our move.  Enjoy!)

This is one of our favourite places in Wales.


Machynlleth is a historically significant town, nowadays full of unique shops, yummy cafes, the best fish and chips ever, and Mr J's favourite sweet shop.  The sweet shop owner remembered the boys from our trip in August and offered to send them sweets from Wales even after we've moved to the States!  They were beside themselves with gratitude.


It's always lovely to be back... a little bit like having one of those "going home" feelings.  At the local park, which looks out over hillsides dotted with faraway sheep, Coo learned to use the monkey bars.


Machynlleth was in the news last year for a difficult reason, but it's a place with an incredible sense of community; because of that I still think of it in a positive light rather than a negative one and hope that others do too.

We love the Quarry Cafe and all the treats it has to offer.




We even found a hobbit house door! Time for the hobbits to go on a great adventure, so we're saying goodbye to the Shire Machynlleth, for a while...