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Talk Books: Lost on Hope Island

Patricia Harman is an experienced midwife, beginning as a community midwife in the 1960’s and goatmidwivesthen becoming a CNM and maintaining a busy practice with her obstetrician husband Tom. Her memories about midwifery practice are some of my all-time favorite midwifery memoirs. She has a delightful gift with sharing stories, wisdom, and creating what feels like a true relationship with the reader. Now, she has put her attention into a new project: fiction for middle-grade children. Her first child’s novel, Lost on Hope Island: The Amazing Tale of the Little Goat Midwives, tells the story of two siblings, Trillium and Jacob (ages 12 and 8) who are shipwrecked on a small island in the Pacific Ocean and separated from their parents.

Lost on Hope Island is set in the modern day, it is not a Swiss Family Robinson reboot. On the island, the children must learn how to survive with only each other, and the goats the inhabit the island for company. They make some surprising (and convenient!) discoveries left behind by previous homesteaders on the island that help them survive and they develop close relationships with their goat friends. After the traumatic death of one baby goat, they learn how to help the nanny goats on the island give birth to their kids when they encounter difficulties (specifying that their mother and grandmothers are midwives and they know that if a mother isn’t have any trouble, it is best to keep your hands off and leave her alone!). This tale is not a fantastical or “glitzy” children’s read, nor does it shy away from complicated and difficult topics, instead it opens the door to real questions about relationships and feelings and how to draw on one’s own strength when you think you can’t go on. It is unusual to find a middle grade children’s book about realistic people in unusual, but not fantasy, circumstances. The book is illustrated with charming little hand-drawn pictures of the goats and the island’s adventures.

I read Lost on Hope Island out loud to my kids at bedtime over the course of a few weeks. My kids are ages 2, 5, 10, and 13. The older boys groaned a bit about reading it and found the goat-birth scenes to be a bit “icky,” but after they settled into the rhythm and pacing of the story, they listened with rapt attention and we often mentioned the story at other points during the day. My five-year-old daughter loved the book and it taught my nearly two-year-old son how to both say “midwives” (in a truly adorable fashion…he would get the book and bring it to me saying, “mid-wiiiifes”) and also “bey-aa” like the goats in the story.

If you are looking for a family read aloud, this adventure story with a birth-worker twist, is the book for you!

Past reviews of Patricia’s other books:


Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.

Crossposted at Brigid’s Grove.

Home from the Beach!

12783712_1710227505856131_31295821355430542_oSo, I posted that I’d finished my dissertation and then I ran away to the beach and haven’t posted since! We’ve been wanting to take a family vacation to Dauphin Island for several years now. Last year, Tanner was an infant, so we didn’t do it. The year before I was pregnant with him and it didn’t seem like a good time to take a long car trip. We have been feeling the itch for a family adventure for a while and then we found out how much lower the beach house rates are in the winter and in January we decided to just go for it. We went for a week at the end of February. While we have tight bonds with Pismo Beach on California’s central coast, Dauphin Island, Alabama is the closest ocean-access point within driving distance for us from our beloved but landlocked Missouri, so that was the clear choice. Paying for gas and driving six people somewhere is much less expensive than flying six people to California! Aside from a very short stop at Castaway Cay on the Disney Cruise Mark and I went on in 2001, we’ve never been to an island before, nor have we seen or experienced the Gulf of Mexico.

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We were worried about how Tanner would handle the drive, so we split the trip there into two parts, but on the way back we just powered through and did the whole drive in one day (it is about 11 hours if you don’t stop, but took us 14 to get home due to one dinnertime stop and then a disastrous accidental wrong turn when we were only one hour from home! And, yes, somehow, it is actually possible to be in five states all in one day!). Tanner did an amazing job, no tears and just kind of accepting of his state of confinement. I sat in the back seat with him the whole time, crammed between two car seats, unable to face my body fully forward and instead having to sit sideways. Was it worth it? YES! Not only did we feel like brave, intrepid, adventurous explorers doing cool things with our family, but we had a beautiful and fun and unforgettable time together on the island. The weather was quite variable with the kids able to be in just bathing suits the first two days, the wind becoming so ferocious the following day that we couldn’t really go out (and the house literally shook the whole night!), to icy gusts of wind that required down coats and hats (and horrible windburn for Mark on his hands). We ate fresh crab legs and shrimp, bought amazing cinnamon rolls and french bread, and ate one dinner of delicious whiting that Mark caught in the ocean. We petted stingrays at the aquarium, drove back over the thrilling bridge to the mainland and ate dinner at Golden Corral in Mobile, AL (and got our week’s groceries at Wal-Mart). We stopped at a bayside park and all went on the swings together. We spent hours upon hours walking on the beach and picking up shells, just like we imagined. Except for Mark, we also all got fevers and coughs and sinus headaches to varying degrees, sprinkled throughout the trip. Tanner was extremely clingy the entire time and I spent what felt like 12 hours a day wearing him in the Ergo and nursing him at the same time (in addition to the coughing, he is also getting what seems to be six new teeth at once!).

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Excited about stingrays!

I became obsessed with taking full moon, sunrise, and sunset pictures with my new camera and not only did I not succeed, I ended up annoying Mark by fretting over the photos instead of enjoying the moment.

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We built sand castles and dug holes and sketched a labyrinth in the sand with our toes and walked it. I made a goddess in the sand and spent hours memorizing the charge of the goddess poem and reciting it on the beach into the hair of my dozing baby.

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We took boxes of goddesses and Womanrunes books with us and mailed them to people around the world from the tiny island post office (hope they all make it to their destinations!). I got sidetracked by Facebook advertising campaigns that weren’t working. We baked pound cake and ate raspberry sorbet. We went to bed by 10:00 and were up by 6:00 to watch the sun rise.

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We were very often the only people within sight on the beach. We had trouble differentiating whether that made us fools or geniuses, but there is nothing like a broad open stretch of sand and sea, with only your most treasured loved ones around you.

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The Return from a trip is often exhausting, not just the travel day, but the re-integrating into “real life,” especially when it doesn’t slow down (and all my students submitted their final papers Sunday night!) Maybe I will come back and do a more detailed recap post with more pictures some other day, but I’m betting that this is all I’ve got!

I have the Red Tent and Womanspirit programs beginning on March 21st and I also go back to teaching at the Fort that same day. I have a training manual to finish writing, a website to update, and spring ritual kits to finish creating. The kids are still coughing and I’m sitting in my bed next to my sleeping baby writing this post when I really should be grading papers. And, I’m so, so glad we carved out the time and space to be adventurous together anyway. It was totally worth it.

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After the third try to take awesome priestess robe beach pictures I gave up and asked Mark to take a reality mamapriestess beach picture instead.

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“I and so many other mothers before me have fully lived this ritual of connection and sustenance. We are the Life Givers, and we are holy in our work.”

–Jennifer Pratt-Walker (in SageWoman magazine)

Wednesday Tidbits: Life

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Tanner’s hair is fuzzy and sticks straight up in the back. He is thirteen months old now and doesn’t say many words any more, just grunts and points (I remember this from others kids, so I’m not worried about the “regression.”) He wants to spend as much times as possible with me, ideally simultaneously destroying something I like at the same time. 😉 He helps stir when I’m cooking, he throws laundry into the machine, and he tries to put goddesses and business cards into purple bags.

We promoted ourselves to real adults and got our first ever brand new stove. Our other one had started to shock us somewhat roughly at random intervals (usually while cooking something in a saucepan with a metal handle. This went beyond a static electricity shock and into, “malfunctioning electronic equipment is electrocuting you” territory). We’ve never had a stove manufactured within the last three decades before! Exciting stuff!

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Talk Birth hit ONE MILLION HITS. I never would have dreamed that when I started this site for my local childbirth classes that it would reach this kind of growth. I was waiting for the day it hit one million (like watching the odometer on a car roll over to 100,000, or is that only me?!), but I missed it by 7,700 hits. Oops!

We put up our tree over the weekend and of course, I had to add Gingerbirth Mama back to the tree:

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My Little Women dolls also decorated my grandma’s dollhouse (gifted to me through the efforts of multiple relatives and their relatives earlier this year in a massive undertaking of travel from California to Missouri).

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We somehow shipped 360 orders in the month of November (ranging from one to 30 pieces)! It was a beautiful, thrilling, exhausting, exhilarating, overwhelming, inspiring, heart-expanding journey to create so many special ornaments and other treasures for our customers this season. We’re closing the shop for a winter break on December 20th and look forward to returning refreshed and energized from our own celebrations at home.

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This photo was shared by one of our customers and I LOVE it so much!

We’re also going to do lots of brainstorming and work in our new Leonie workbook bundle that arrived at the end of November. I’m thrilled to get it, but too busy with the biz to really look at it yet!

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We enrolled in the Academy this year and it dramatically improved our business life, even though I feel like I’ve still barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer.

Alaina wanted to make “bear claw” cookies a few days ago so we made no bake cookies and stuck in slivered almonds for the claws:

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I’ve been having fun using my kids’ gel pens to color designs for bookmarks. I incorporated ‪Womanrunes into some of the mandalas from our goddess greeting card freebie bundle.

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You can easily get your own cards to decorate (or just print and use!) here. We have a fun birthy one included too! (Mark drew all of them.)

peaceonearthAnd, speaking of Womanrunes, if you’re interested, I have a fun free 101 class available: Sign Up for Introduction to Womanrunes.

Happy December!

(*Affiliate links included to Leonie’s stuff. Because it is Amaze.)

Birth and Breastfeeding Goddess Christmas Ornaments!

October 2015 108I am beyond excited to share these with you! We are offering birth, breastfeeding, and goddess ornaments for your holiday celebrations this year! Perfect for nursing mothers, pregnant women, doulas, midwives, as well as for goddessy women in any stage of life, these ornaments are offered in four of our classic designs and in one mini-design. Each ornament is individually hand cast in clear casting resin from our original sculptures. Their beautiful translucency gives them the appearance of being glass or crystal, while still being extremely durable and nearly damage-proof (we have four energetic kids, so our products get a lot of serious product testing to make sure they can hold up to being dropped!).

Each ornament is about 3 inches tall and is $15. The mini goddesses are only an inch tall and are $6. Each is freestanding and can also sit on a mantle or table, or can grace your tree with abundance, empowerment, and bountiful blessings throughout the season!

These are extremely limited edition. We will be making them by hand from November 1-December 5th only. After that, they’re gone!

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Happy Halloween!

pumpkingoddessesHaving a one day old baby last year on Halloween eclipsed my years-long blog tradition of making a Halloween-themed blog post. I was taking a walk down memory lane reading older Halloween blog posts today and gathered them together into a new mini-post. A constant in the pictures for each is my Halloween troll pin. It was a part of my massive troll collection as a kid and I wear it every year! (I have two of them, so that’s why the hair color is sometimes different from year to year!)

In 2010, I was Scully: Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

In 2011, their skeleton sweatshirts were new (Tanner now wears Alaina’s and Alaina wears Lann’s original from 2006): Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

In 2012, I was Luke Skywalker wearing Yoda on my back: Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

2013 was significantly more adventurous and involved wearing a gypsypriestess costume to Sirloin Stockade while wrangling five kids through the buffet by myself. It also involved some fabulous kid-quotes:

Let’s go to another park and continue this torturefest.” (as we were leaving the wet, cold, stormy park after homeschool playgroup)

And… “I guess this is the ‘trick’ part of the day.” (as we staggered to our various destinations)

Source: Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

This year I dressed up as a sort of elf-priestess for my parents’ Halloween party:

October 2015 072And, as already shared in other posts this week, the boys went as Freddy and Bonnie from the computer game Five Nights at Freddy’s.

October 2015 037Tanner was an epic tiny Draco Malfoy:

October 2015 070Alaina went as a “nursing mama witch” to my parents’ party and as Bellatrix Lestrange to the playgroup Halloween party and to Trunk or Treat:

October 2015 038IMG_8839We love going to Trunk or Treat at the University, because the students always recognize and appreciate our kids’ costumes and hardly anyone there has to ask who they are–they recognize them without needing explanations! It makes the kids happy and this year it made me super thrilled because I was so tickled by my tiny Malfoy that I loved having him appreciated by all the college students!

IMG_8861The boys carved really good pumpkins this year and Alaina had the mummy pumpkin:

IMG_8838Childbirth educators will enjoy knowing that Halloween clearance can be used for CBE teaching aids in this post from Science and Sensibility: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Trick or Treat – Halloween Spoils Make Great Teaching Aids
Stacie BABE3 Two other tangentially related Halloween posts that I usually share around this time of year are:

What Really Scares Me: Social Attitudes Towards Women | Talk Birth

Fears About Birth and Losing Control | Talk Birth

 

Tuesday Tidbits: “Bad” Homeschooler’s Lament…

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Draco, Freddy and Bonnie from Five Nights at Freddy’s, plus “Nursing Mama Witch.”

Sort of a mish-mash round-up of posts for this week! Homeschooling has been on my mind a lot since this summer, when several of my friends decided to send their kids to school. Recently, we toyed with idea of sending Alaina to preschool, but after an impassioned discussion during our nightly walk on the veranda, we decided against it. As I’ve learned over and over again, usually our family is pretty happy until I get a bee in my bonnet to start monkeying with our “school” routine and issuing sweeping decrees about what must be done to whip us into shape into More Awesome Homeschooling People. Then…we’re all miserable, including me, even though we’re doing more of the “right” things. What happened this time is that I found this cool-sounding, do-it-yourself, homeschool journal workbook, and decided it would be perfect for my kids (I still think it could be!) to liven up our very stale homeschool routine, which has been pared away to virtually nothing after a busy summer and now a busy fall (it is really easy to keep coming up with endless excuses about why we can’t do school today…or today…or today). Anyway, short story is: tears for all.

A few nights ago, I was making rice crispie treats for the kids and Mark was doggedly laboring over phenomenal homemade costumes for the boys. I was holding the baby, a home-raised-by-us chicken was in the roaster for dinner, Alaina was painting Christmas decoration presents at the table, and the boys were advising Mark on costume fabrication. I noticed that I had a “tape” playing in my head about what a “bad mom” I was and, yes, what “bad parents” we both are. I was feeling bad because I keep not having time (that is also grabbing-baby-hands-free) to sew Alaina a neat felt goddess that she’s been wanting me to sew for her for at least three weeks. This was rolling around as well as homeschooling woes, some snappy moments, and listening/empathetic failures, and a few other miscellaneous woes over the last week. I suddenly thought: hold on. Where are these “bad parents,” of whom I think? I see a mom making rice crispie treats and a dad making costumes. Why am I doing this to myself?!

Anyway, I suspect I am possibly doing the same thing with New Homeschool Plan of Awesomeness. Last week, we took the kids to Magic House in St. Louis (while I was having a mini-mother blessing for a friend who lives there. The Magic House tickets were prizes they earned from the summer reading program at the library). We spent ages on Halloween party prep and enjoyed a fabulous Halloween party extravaganza at my parents’ house. We had some best friends visit from out-of-town and stay overnight, during which we had a cookout on the veranda and brainstormed collaborative business adventures. The boys spent tons of time on the trampoline and also playing computer games. They also read every single day and drew every single day as well as helped me with cooking projects (we’re digging roasted vegetables lately and also Chocolate Covered Katie’s almond butter brownies, except we use peanut butter in them. And, speaking of “digging,” the boys also helped Mark dig up a bunch of potatoes that we grew in our garden!). We finished watching the second Hobbit movie and moved on to enjoying the Worst Cooks in America. Perhaps we’re doing all right after all…

So, all that said, I read this article about what schools are like in Finland:

Once Morning Circle—a communal time of songs and chants—wrapped up, the children disbanded and flocked to the station of their choice: There was one involving fort-making with bed sheets, one for arts and crafts, and one where kids could run a pretend ice-cream shop. “I’ll take two scoops of pear and two scoops of strawberry—in a waffle cone,” I told the two kindergarten girls who had positioned themselves at the ice-cream table; I had a (fake) 10€ bill to spend, courtesy of one of the teachers. As one of the girls served me—using blue tack to stick laminated cutouts of scoops together—I handed the money to her classmate.

Source: The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland

I thought about how people devalue caregivers of all kinds:

What’s really going on here is we are discriminating against people who have to care for others, which is a role that society needs people to play. Right now we’re focusing on the problem that, if you’re at the top and take time out to take care of others, you’re knocked off your leadership track. But much more important is that, if you are a woman in the middle class or a low-income woman and you take even a day or two off to care for others, you could lose your job. You get docked pay. You don’t have access to affordable day care.

Source: Nurses, fathers, teachers, mothers. Why do we devalue someone the minute they care for others? – The Washington Post

I laughed about how we’ve been having babies for “too long”:

The maternity clothes you wore during your first pregnancy resemble the ones your mother wore much more closely than they resemble the ones you wore during your most recent pregnancy.

Source: 17 Signs You’ve Been Having Babies For Too Long – So-So Mom

(I didn’t actually identify with that many of these signs, but they were funny! I do identify with having spread out my parenting years quite a bit longer than many people I know!)

I thought about being an extroverted-introvert and how this is a challenging personality type to pair with the relentless “on-ness” of parenting, the constantness of a homeschooling family + home-based business.

4. You find it easy to connect with others and exhibit both introvert and extrovert qualities. You love meeting and interacting with other people and at times can be the life of the party but eventually, you have to go home and recharge.

Source: 13 Signs You’re A Classic INFJ | Thought Catalog

And, I mused about being a mother of sons and how that relates to “funny,” memes of the “hands off my daughter” variety:

The idea of threatening young women to keep their hands off young men is ludicrous, yet when roles are reversed it’s completely accepted and even encouraged. Why? In order to raise a generation of kind and respectful men we have to stop telling our boys they’re inherently bad (but it’s not their fault because hormones.) In order to create a culture of strong and competent women who can save themselves, we must first stop teaching girls that they need to be saved.

Source: Please Don’t Threaten My Son For Dating Your Daughter | Kasey Ferris

And when one family’s offhand joke becomes a viral reinforcement of the old message that a girls’ sexuality is somehow a negotiation between her father and her boyfriend, it’s just not so funny any more.

Source: Stop cheering for the old “Hands off my daughter!” shtick – Salon.com

My new school session began this Monday and runs until almost Christmas. My uncle is visiting from California starting tomorrow, we’ve got our playgroup Halloween party, then Tanner’s first birthday followed by Halloween, my aunt comes to visit from California, and we’re hosting Minecraft Club and then a Pink Tent event (for mothers and daughters) next week. I’d better stop blogging, we’ve got a lot more bad-parenting to pack in before the end of the year!

Look at this “bad mom” (gasp!) having FUN with her kid…

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Pumpkin Goddess Giveaway! (+ Baby Draco Malfoy)

pumpkingoddess Announcing…The Great Pumpkin Goddess giveaway! In honor of Tanner’s first birthday on October 30th, we’re giving away this trio of birth goddesses in shades of fall. Enter the giveaway on Facebook or on Instagram.

It is hard to believe that this time last year I was one day away from my due date and now, look at this…

12185287_10208075671679579_677535692079486418_oDraco Malfoy as a baby.

With that blonde hair, we simply could not resist.

Next up on the agenda, finish putting together his birth video! I really, really, really want to be able to post it on his birthday!

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