Sacred Postpartum: Happy Tea + 40 Week Update

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After having already made Happy Mama tea with my friends at our family’s work party early in October, this past weekend we engaged in more tea-making adventures at the work party at my parents’ house. I had no idea how empowering it would feel to make my own tea blends. The Happy Mama tea based on our class recipe is exactly what I need. I adore it! I don’t have all of the ingredients in the original recipe, so the modified recipe blend I use is as follows:

2 cups each of alfalfa, motherwort, red raspberry leaf, nettle and one cup of cinnamon.*

After we made it the first time, two of my friends wrote to me independently saying, “this tea feels like something I need!” And, that is exactly, how I felt about it myself. It lifts my mood and feels like it replenishes something in me that I have been needing. The herbs used are intended for hormonal balancing, anxiety and stress reduction, calming, and immune system support. Until this class, I’ve never made my own tea blends or used loose tea. That has changed!

Here are some pix from our adventures:

And, we had a mini tea ceremony…

October 2014 018May You Never Thirst!

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(*Due to the uterine stimulant properties of some of the ingredients in this tea, it should not be enjoyed by pregnant women until they are close to full term.)

After the work party, we went to a Halloween party. Unfortunately, I didn’t re-discover this CBE teaching shirt until the following day or I would have worn it!

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Yesterday marked the first “due date” I’ve ever reached without already having my baby in arms!

40 weeks mama for first time ever!

I’ve been saying for a long time that I wouldn’t have been surprised to have him early AND I wouldn’t be surprised to have him late. However, I would also say, I wouldn’t be surprised to have him very close to or on his due date, since that is my pattern with my other kids (39w5d, on due date, and 39w5d). Note how very neatly I covered all of my possible bases, so that no matter what, my “intuition” on the subject will be impeccable! 😉 However, I don’t think that in my heart I ever pictured really going past the day. I don’t feel disappointed/distressed over it, more like BONUS! However, I also hope he doesn’t get the “bonus” message TOO long and wait until November. Then, I might be singing a different tune. I also want to make sure he knows that it is okay to be born and that, despite what I may have said several times, we ARE ready for him to join us. I really expected him on October 25th as very likely and I did have lots of pre-labor that day. I really only picture a nighttime birth too, so whenever I wake up still pregnant, I feel pretty confident that I have an entire bonus day ahead of me. At 39w6d I made good use of my “bonus day” by creating six new sculpture prototypes. I listed to Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly on audio book while I worked. I am over the moon about how very much fun it is to be able to “read” and do something else at the same time. It is like a miracle. I wish I would have gotten a library card for this purpose a very long time ago! My sculpture prototypes (not in order of picture) are for a new nursing mama, miscarriage mama, cesarean birth mama, VBAC mama, birthing goddess, and possibilities goddess:

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This will give Mark plenty to do while I sit in the recliner and nurse the new baby!

For my bonus day at 40 weeks, I got my online class all launched and all introduction messages responded to (yes, the new school session started on my due date). I also, thankfully, remembered that my January syllabus is due November 2 and was my own best friend and got it finished and submitted yesterday afternoon rather than scrambling to prepare it with a newborn in arms.

I find that when you are a 40 weeks pregnant birth blogger, you may find yourself paying special attention to lots of the details of the day just in case these details turn out to be the beginning of a birth story. Last night, I felt very much pre-laborish again—lot of low back ache and millions of contractions (regularly every six minutes apart for a couple of hours) that kept going mildly for most of the night. I didn’t sleep well at all and stayed up until 1:30 reading a review copy of The Secrets of Midwives (review actually posted briefly today, but reverted to draft after I found out I need to wait for a new cover image to use for the review).

Today, in addition to lots of little catch-up tasks with emails, etc. I also used my bonus day to add some additional new products to our etsy shop:

New Etsy Pictures 250

New mother-daughter pendant sets!

I also responded to an interview request for an upcoming holiday promotion for etsy that I’m really excited about. And, I turned down an interview request from the PR department at the main campus of the school for which I teach, since they wanted to meet me for lunch on October 30th and I’m virtually certain I will be holding a newborn by that date (right?!).October 2014 055

I’ve been interested to note that I’ve dreamed with increasing realism about the baby for the last three nights in a row. Last night, I was getting him latched on for the first time. The night before, my mom and Mark had brought him to campus for me to nurse on my breaks from class. The night before that was a water birth dream (two actually, both about twins). To me this indicates that whatever lingering “not readiness” I might be experiencing in my waking life, my subconscious is getting it. At some level, my brain is getting down with the idea of really, truly having another baby and it is incorporating him into my dreamscape/life accordingly. One of the ways I’ve known in the past that I was actually going to recover from my past birth-related injuries is that I have a dream about it and realize that I am getting better and healing okay. To me, these recent dreams about birthing, and nursing, and holding Tanner, indicate that the door that I’ve felt like was “closed” and that I’ve never quite managed to fully open back up during this pregnancy, has, in fact, opened again (at least at the dreamtime level!). It has taken its sweet time to open, but I’ve been patient…

Year in Review (according to Facebook anyway!)

From Facebook’s year in review feature, here were my top 20 moments of 2013. Some of them are pretty right on, others are unintentionally hilarious…


Working on her own birthday cake!

Photo: Working on her own birthday cake! :)


15 years ago today, my sweetie asked me to marry him! I love the life, home, and family we’ve built together.Photo: 15 years ago today, my sweetie asked me to marry him! I love the life, home, and family we've built together, Mark Remer! <3


Today marks my eighth anniversary as an LLL Leader and it feels fitting that this month LLL of Rolla welcomed a new Leader! I never thought I’d see the day when we actually had THREE co-Leaders here in town. I’m so excited! When I began, I didn’t how long I’d keep doing it and I’ve had a lot of discouraging rough patches where I felt like giving up, but now I suspect I might end up as a “lifer.” I’ve logged over 1200 contacts since my accreditation, I’ve learned so much from the mothers I’ve worked with, and I continue learning new things all the time. I’d hoped to have a chance to finish a blog post today in honor of the occasion, but I’m bogged down with end of the session work instead. So, here’s to all the amazing women I’ve had a chance to meet, help, become friends with, and learn from!

(really close to 2000 contacts since accreditation now)


I was asked to be a permanent contributor on the Feminism and Religion blog and I feel pretty proud of myself about that.


My blog hit 400,000 hits today and my FB page hit 1700 “fans” (up from just 1300 in November!) Those both make me happy.

(now almost 600,000 and 2200)

(not sure why so many “big events” for March)

April 5

At Columbia College Main Campus for a faculty conference. Had to get a photo by iconic Rogers Gate in front of St. Clair Hall to post in my class!

Photo: At Columbia College Main Campus for a faculty conference. Had to get a photo by iconic Rogers Gate in front of St. Clair Hall to post in my class! :)


First day of Shannondale Craft Camp felt like a success! We did it anyway.

(this was immediately after my grandma died. It is an event we work all year on and we proceeded with it anyway, while my mom was still in California)

April 29
Today, Alaina went to the Dr for the first time ever to have a pre-op checkup (for her tooth work on May 14). When we left, she kept repeating the doctor’s verdict over and over and it was adorable! 🙂 (click for video via FB)


Happy Mother’s Day!
Photo: Happy Mother's Day! :)

(this one is only hilarious if you know how hard we had to work to prop up my iphone to take this picture! This was actually taken after our small family home memorial service for my grandma before we went to California for the large one)


I guess it wasn’t so “little” of a story about my class–just found out it was front page news! The Columbia College PR rep also emailed me about it!


Woohoo! Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about. Tonight’s wild raspberry adventure was pretty productive!
Photo: Woohoo! Now, THAT'S what I'm talking about. Tonight's wild raspberry adventure was pretty productive!

Not sure what exactly I’m thinking after our big CA trip this year, but I just booked a room for a mini-vacation to Arcadia for our 15th wedding anniversary on the 25th! The last time we went to Elephant Rocks was when I was pregnant with Lann–time to go back and this time bring THREE kids with us! Rather than go with a chain motel, I reserved a “third floor apartment” at the historical Arcadia Academy. I think it is going to be super fun!


Fifteen years ago today we got married in the rain! Today, we got home from our mini vacation to Elephant Rocks and Johnson Shut Ins.

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Screen shot just from this weekend. 😉

After 18 years with Mark and almost ten years of boy-momming, they’ve finally rubbed off on me–just now I danced around the kitchen in genuine triumph and excitement because I beat Nerezza the Assassin in Knights and Dragons. ;-D

(side note: Facebook is correct that this was a pivotal life event, because I’m still playing this game—indeed, I’m over level 100 now and the Guild Master of my guild!)


Lann’s bday choices courtesy of Skyler, Jenny, Shasta, and Sean arrived this afternoon! A small cotton candy machine and a blue morph suit (for making movies and using himself as a blue screen). We’ve made cotton candy with Werther’s and peppermints so far!

Photo: Lann's bday choices courtesy of Skyler, Jenny, Shasta, and Sean arrived this afternoon! A small cotton candy machine and a blue morph suit (for making movies and using himself as a blue screen). We've made cotton candy with Werther's and peppermints so far! :)


Zander is a playdough master!
Photo: Zander is a playdough master!

We’ve spent ALL day on a major household reorganizing project converting our extra bedroom into Alaina’s room!!!
Photo: We've spent ALL day on a major household reorganizing project converting our extra bedroom into Alaina's room!!! :)

All my kids skated for the first time ever at playgroup at the skating rink today! (We’ve been going to said rink for playgroup once a month for about 7 years, so this is a big deal!)

Photo: All my kids skated for the first time ever at playgroup at the skating rink today! (We've been going to said rink for playgroup once a month for about 7 years, so this is a big deal!)

(they all got skates for Christmas and skate all over the house now)


My sister already outed my Thanksgiving shame, so I might as well too. Several hours in to our family gathering yesterday, I noticed my shirt was on backwards. (The “shame” being that Mark had already expressed puzzlement over me having had my pj shirt on backwards on two different occasions this week and also gone to class with inside-out undies on.) Then, as I was switching the shirt around in prep for family photo op, she came running in to show me…the tag sticking out of the front of her own shirt! What would Thanksgiving be without an opportunity for fun family ridicule as well as thanks?! ;-D

(this moment making the final slot on my FB “top 20 moments from 2013” auto-generated list was the icing on my shame-cake!)

It is funny to me how many of these moments did not make it into blog posts and for that I feel grateful for Facebook (I guess). I’m a personal archivist at heart. I love the opportunity to remember, to not forget things, and to capture slices of my life and world.

I also wanted to mention the cool video slideshow year-end tribute that our friends made of all of our work party projects over the past two years. Pretty incredible: Work Party Tribute | Our Hand-Built Home.

(clicking the screengrab below should take you to the video too)

None of our pewter-casting pix or updates made FB’s list, but that was a pretty great part of 2013. My husband quit his regular job in July and we’ve been enjoying our home-based life ever since. Our sculpture and pewter-casting collaboration has been very fun and rewarding. This year as a whole has been a creativity-rich one.

Notably absent from my FB moments too are any mentions of my own classes (either those I teach or take) or of the women’s rituals/ceremonies I priestessed (I guess because that concentrates in my other blog) or birth-related stuff in general (because that’s all on this blog).

And, on Thanksgiving this year my brother and his wife announced that they’re having a baby! This is probably the best moment of 2013! More about this soon…

Happy New Year!

Oh, and after getting this post ready and scheduled, I got a year-end summary from WordPress also…

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 220,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Birthdays! (and lots of other stuff)

My birthday was at the beginning of this month. I uploaded some pictures and was going to just post a quick post, but then some days passed and then some more days. I added some more pictures and thought of more things to write and it has just been languishing in my drafts folder. Things keep happening and so I think I’ll add a couple more pictures before I post, blah, blah, blah. I almost deleted the whole thing since now May is practically over and my bday was weeks ago, but since I bothering uploading the pix, I’m just going to post it!

May is a busy month for us. It is my birthday and then Mother’s Day and then my mom’s birthday and my dad’s birthday and Zander’s birthday. We also have a whole group of our work party friends who have May birthdays (and playgroup friends too!). May 12th was the 18th anniversary of my first date with my husband. May 16th was the fifteenth anniversary of my college graduation. I feel like I’m getting old! And, it is weird to think about how close that college student girl feels and also how very far away she feels. My parents both turned 60—I had a surprise party/healing ritual for my mom as part of our spring women’s retreat as well as a ceremony for our 12-year-old work party friend whose birthday was the same day. On Mother’s Day, we had a family memorial ceremony for my grandma. In the middle of all these celebrations, I’ve been wrapping up the school session (including grading almost 100 papers…split up in two batches of almost 50), preparing for the summer school session, plotting with Mark about him quitting his job, trying to help motherbabies breastfeed happily, trying to stick with some kind of homeschool “schedule” for my kids (using the term extremely loosely). Oh yeah, and my tiny little sweet daughter also had major dental work under general anesthesia last Tuesday. One of my Facebook friends pointed out that no wonder I’ve been feeling taxed. Yeah, duh. I don’t know why I can’t extend myself that grace. Instead, I’ve been berating myself at various intervals about my “inability” to handle it all. I’ve also been planning our big trip to California. $2300 later and WAY too many hours thinking, checking, and strategizing, I ended up with five plane tickets and we’re going. We decided to to go ahead and make a full vacation out of it—Disneyland, tourmaline mining, Legoland, and Pismo Beach! My grandma’s committal service (which I am planning and facilitating) and her celebration of life luncheon is in Fresno in the middle of our trip.

This week as I tried to finish those last bleeping papers, I found out that I’d made a mistake with our plane tickets—having a p.m. flight from San Diego to Fresno rather than the a.m. flight I thought we had. I almost lost it. Flipped out. I’m serious. I felt like I had officially exceeded my actual ability to cope and that I may possibly break down in some way. More. Than. Humanly. Possible. To. Handle. As it was, we made the semi-bizarre choice to just buy some new tickets that restored the “rightful” a.m. flight schedule. These middle-of-the-journey tickets were only $68 each and we decided it was really a fairly trivial amount and we should just do it. We’re taking our family of five to CA with carry-on luggage only and we’re packing like a boss! Seriously, we’re rocking this thing.

Oh, and just this afternoon I also finished my twelfth class for my D.Min degree. I’ve got about 14 left, plus my dissertation. I have three in progress and signed up for two more to start during the summer session. How do I do it?!?!? Heck if I know. 😉 Maybe it is time to feel impressed at my own capacities again rather than mad at myself for not getting more done, for being “behind,” for staying up too late, for taking too long to return phone calls, for leaving some emails unanswered and books unreviewed, for being sometimes short-tempered, for screwing up a.m. and p.m., for not getting around to the blog posts I’d hoped to write, for not keeping up with requests for new sculptures, for not having a birthday surprise of some kind for my dad too, and for never feeling “finished” enough to rest.

Here is what I originally swiped from my Facebook to share about my birthday:

Uh oh. I spent the first 8 minutes of my 35th year still working on these dang bibliographies. This has been my worst/least productive grading stint yet (the CA trip planning/purchasing ate up my usual “free” day). I’m determined to have a FREE day tomorrow (okay, technically, today, but it doesn’t count until I go to bed!)–I’m going to wallow around in books and listen to guided meditations (you know, with the three kids climbing on me!) and plan rituals and celebrations and not do anything I don’t feel like doing 🙂

It is SO flipping hard to focus on grading these bibliographies when my brain is turning over Disneyland plans, hotel reservations, car rental, and also finding just the *right* stuff for my grandma’s memorial service. The good news is that I have some really rocking students this session and they make some of the grading easy!

Later update:

Thirty-four years ago I was born! As my birthday present to myself, I DID manage to finish grading the last bibliographies and I’m taking the day off to hang around and wallow in books. I think I might do a tech-off day (or, at least, a class-off day!) Oh, and I bought two tiny little Japanese dolls for myself at Goodwill too. I do birthdays right!

When I wake up and hear rainfall on my birthday I always feel like the planet is wishing me a happy birthday too (there was a heavy rainstorm the day I was born). Alaina told me I should have a cake with “nonnie babies” on it. On my actual birthday, my mom took me to a tea room in a neighboring town for a birthday lunch and then I came home with three kinds of tea and the kids and I had a tea party! (in many ways an excuse to eat sugar cubes and this involves sort of obsessive negotiation over them rather than just enjoying ourselves!) I asked the boys if they would play with Alaina so I could have an easier time getting ready to go. After about ten minutes, Lann said, “whew, she’s pretty much like an energy tick.” I rolled! I love having a nine-year-old and a toddler. So much different and easier than having a toddler and a preschooler was.

Okay, so here is a gallery of the pictures I meant to post on several occasions, plus some more I just added in today:

Blog Integration (and Greenhouse!)

I go back and forth a bit on my relationship to blogging. Sometimes I feel like maintaining separate “spaces” in the form of different blogs and sometimes my attention feels too splintered and I feel like integrating everything together under one umbrella. I originally started out as a book blogger and kept my book blog going for several years as well as starting a blog specifically about birth art. I started this Talk Birth blog really as just a website for my local birth classes, but as it took off (while the classes themselves did not) I started to devote more energy to it. As time went on, I started a blog for Citizens for Midwifery during my time on their Board. I retired from the Board several years ago, but maintain the blog on a limited basis. As the role and presence of Facebook grew, I steadily moved more of the content I normally would have shared on the CfM blog to the CfM Facebook page instead and find this seems like the most effective use of my time. I was one of ICEA’s bloggers for a short time and wrote book reviews for CAPPA for two years. With all of these, I get an itch to centralize my writing in one location…here…rather than dividing my attention (hence the retirement of my book and birth art blogs several years ago also).

However, then sometimes things happen for which a separate space feels more appropriate–this was true when I had my first miscarriage-birth and felt very strongly that my writing about miscarriage needed a new, distinct home. Interestingly, now that three years have passed, I’m bringing more and more of my miscarriage writings over here, mostly in conjunction with The Amethyst Network, and I feel like it is important to include and acknowledge pregnancy loss in the spectrum of topics covered on a birth blog. After Alaina’s birth, I felt my miscarriage-specific blog was officially complete and I no longer update it. This summer I became ordained as a priestess and again the urge to differentiate blog spaces struck. I started a separate blog for my more spiritually oriented writings and my thoughts about feminism and religion. More recently still I became a contributor to a blog on Patheos. While these blogs intersect, my interest in Goddess spirituality having been born out of my own commitment to birthwork and women, separate spaces at the time feel most comfortable to me.

I’m not sure if anyone noticed and the actual words on the screen are hard to see in my blog header’s layout, but in an effort to communicate my own expanded focus, a while ago I did add “WomanSpace” to the title of Talk Birth.

I’ve minimally kept up a separate farm/land blog as well in various incarnations and this brings me to my motivation for the current post, as I’ve decided I’m going to go ahead and just include those farm life/land picture posts here in the future. This is my primary internet home/presence and I’d like to integrate the two spaces. I’ve resisted because I don’t want to turn off any regular, birth-oriented readers (same logic behind separating out to a new spirituality blog) by “boring” them with greenhouse pictures. Likewise, I have nonbirthy family members and friends who follow me here just for the few slices of “other life” that I include amidst the birth and breastfeeding content!

So, that brings me to…updated greenhouse pictures! 😉 The greenhouse has been almost exclusively a work party project. Mark has done a little bit of independent work on it, but it has primary been built by the members of our work party over the last year (we started it in March of 2012). During our work party this month, we got the building finished and got the grow beds (for aquaponics system) much closer to being finished!


Soffit and fascia up!


Washing river gravel for the grow beds.


New grow beds!


Cat investigating the ooky muddy water coming from the river gravel.


Grow beds looking the other direction.


The clear front wall.



This picture was taken before the greenhouse was actually finished, but it is still my favorite greenhouse picture!

Family Mandala Project

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, my family participates in a work-party co-op with four other families who live within the same 20 mile stretch of highway. We alternate houses every other weekend and work on each other’s household projects (for example, tomorrow we are building interior walls at a straw bale house as well as plastering the inside of the exterior, bale walls. Earlier this month, the men put underpinning on the bottom of a family’s mobile home to weather proof it for the winter, while the women made soup and muffins, finished our family mandala project, and had a birthday party—including rocking homemade Creeper pinatas—for one of the kids inside). Each family gets about 5 turns at their own house per year and goes to another family’s house about 20 times. While we’re not perfect, I really feel like this work party has been one of richest blessings of the past year for our family collectively. I hope to write more about it for an article someday, because we’ve created something pretty rewarding that seems fairly unique. At the beginning of December, we decided to invite the members of our work party co-op over for a winter solstice/New Year family ritual. We wanted to have a family project to do together and Mark and I came up with the idea of creating a family crest or mandala. My dad made a wooden circle for each family and each family designed their own “family symbol” to put in the center. Then, at our next work party we each added our family symbol to every other family’s circle—so, the end result was each family’s personal symbol in the middle, flanked by the mini-version symbol of each other family…

Perhaps a picture will illustrate this better…


See what I mean now? 🙂

For my own family’s symbol, it was important to me to communicate that we each have our own paths (labyrinth) and our own unique gifts (tiny personal symbol each), but that together we make a beautiful whole. We had some debate with the kids about what personal symbol to include for them. It was important to me that it be something they genuinely wanted to include and not my idealized conception of what it should look like (i.e. a peaceful waterfall or something!). Lann, of course, wanted a Creeper head and Zander opted for a “Wolfgang” head. Wolfgang is Z’s kind of alter ego/imaginary friend/invented character. Wolfgang is awesome. He doesn’t feature as prominently in Zander’s narratives as he used to, but he was really important for a while there. My favorite Wolfgang story is this: “When Wolfgang rides an airplane, he stands on the wings. And, when he jumps off, he lands standing up on a skateboard. Rolling in lava…” So, that little brown devilish looking face is supposed to kind of capture Wolfgang. The rainbow is for Alaina, the gem is for Mark, the footprints are for Noah, and the seated mountain pose goddess is for me. The four other work party family’s mandalas surround ours (on on theirs, ours surrounds theirs).

After we got home from the work party, I decided to embellish the white space around ours:


When we came up with this idea, I originally envisioned them eventually hanging over the front door of each family…

It doesn’t actually work for each family to do that, but it did for us…



After we hung it up, as I looked at it I said, “hey, this as a whole is our work party symbol!” Each family is unique and beautiful on their own, but when we join together, we create something bigger and more lovely than we could on our own. That basic truth is what underlies the whole functioning of work party and it is cool to see it symbolically represented above the door. I look forward to having these families come over during the year and add more of their handprints to our walls…