Friday, December 21, 2012

Mama's Herb Cabinet: Peppermint

Almost 8 months into motherhood, and there are a few herbs that I now refuse to do without. I wanted to write about this sooner but I thought it might be smart to wait for some more experience, and I'm glad I did. This is a small list, which I hope to expand in the near future.

Spearmint/Peppermint Oil Rub

Olive oil 
Peppermint or Spearmint essential oil

Directions: Heat olive oil and a few drops of peppermint very slowly, just until warm. Apply externally in small amounts.

This is the first treatment I ever used on Erin. When she was very little, and we were visiting my mom, Erin had some painful tummy gas. Mom disappeared into the kitchen and returned less than 5 minutes later with a warm, soothing bottle of "baby massage oil". Since Erin was all bundled up, we rubbed it onto her tiny feet (as opposed to her abdomen) and soon she was no longer fussing or arching in pain. Later at home and whenever she suffered discomfort from gas, we massaged the oil into her tummy. The antispasmodic properties of peppermint will relax intestinal muscles and help to quickly dispel gas.

Since then, I've discovered other uses for this simple concoction.

Add to humidifier to relieve cold symptoms. There have been times when Erin was so congested, I was afraid to let her nap alone and she had difficulty nursing. The high menthol content in peppermint acts as an expectorant, breaking down phlegm and thinning mucus for better drainage. Breathing it in helped her to sleep better, and cleared up her chest and sinuses. Knowing this helped me sleep better too.

Rub on temples and across forehead to cool a fever. I don't generally stress over fevers, but sometimes you just need to bring relief and comfort where you can.

Massage into lymph nodes to calm an overstimulated little one. Technically, Peppermint is invigorating. However, it is also used widely as a mood enhancer and anxiety/stress relief, and some studies claim it may improve the quality of your sleep. After a bath, or a little before bed, you can strip your baby down and give her a calming massage. Focus on the underarms, inner thigh, and neck.

Add to bath water to sooth aches, high fever, mild skin irritations, or a generally uncomfortable/fussy baby. You can add a few drops of the pure essential oil to the bath, or the olive oil mixture. Either will be helpful.

Note: Caution is recommended when using menthol containing products on children under three years. Always dilute, and apply sparingly.

Next up, Yarrow! An  important herb for combating winter viruses.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Crock-pot Chicken Stock/Broth

Homemade chicken stock is so healthy and convenient, I felt almost obligated to make some in preparation for the winter months ahead. A good homemade chicken broth will boost your immune system, aid the digestive system, and has even been said to prevent depression! A must during cold and flu season. 

I have yet to obtain a good stock pot, however, and put off the task until I had an, "Oh, duh!" moment while washing some leftover chicken soup from my crock-pot.

I compiled this recipe from numerous sources and it was molded around what was available to me at the time. I suggest wild experimentation when you try this yourself. :) 

Crock-pot Chicken Stock/Broth
Leftover Chicken Bones (necks, backs, wings, legs, etc.)
1-2 Tbls Apple Cider Vinegar
1-2 Tbls Coconut Oil
Dash of Cayenne Powder
2 Tbls Sea salt
1/4 cup chopped/grated Ginger
4 cloves crushed, chopped Garlic
1/2 cup Chopped Parsley
Place Chicken Bones in crock-pot. Cover with water and vinegar and let sit for one hour (The vinegar will help draw out the minerals in the bones).
Add coconut oil, Cayenne, Salt and Ginger. Turn your crock-pot on and cook 10-12 hours.
1 hour before the broth is finished, add Garlic and Parsley.
Pour through a strainer, then divide and freeze! 

I plan to perfect this recipe over the years, making it as healthy and flavorful as I can. Feel free to comment with any suggestions!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In Sickness and In Health

Growing up, my mama was a budding herbalist. I watched and learned, and aspired to care for my family with the same skill and efficiency she demonstrated. I came in to marriage absolutely convinced of my ability to handle sickness! One year later, I have been humbled. Head knowledge was proven to be somewhat unreliable, and my family has not been the picture of perfect health. I am however, determined to learn from my mistakes and experiences and would love to share them here.

I've chosen the title for this series, "In Sickness and in Health" for a number of reasons. First and foremost it is a familiar yet beautiful allusion to our wedding vows, and one of the main reasons I find natural health so fascinating. And then, as any alternative health expert will emphatically insist, it refers to the fact that to lead a truly healthy and wholesome existence you must think of it in terms of lifestyle rather than supplement. Your exertions must extend to times of health as well as sickness (More on this later). Finally I intend to describe all  aspects of my journey as an aspiring herbalist, including the seasons of illness that I don't necessarily conquer. This is meant to be both an encouragement and a warning to my readers.

I would like to begin by highlighting various herbs, natural remedies, and preventative measures that I have either had direct experience with, or have been studying. I will do my best to cite sources whenever possible, but as is common with traditional medicine, experience is often the best  teacher.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Grand Vizier: Part II

The Vizier sat down on the ottoman heavily and pulled off his pointy shoes. Dropping them each in turn, he sank his bare, aching toes into the thick carpet.  Eyes closed, he put out a hand and as always Carlisle placed a fluted femur in his hand.   The Evil Emperor in whose mighty Black Spire he now resided had sumptuously fitted out his own chambers with thick rugs, canopied bed, and bones.  Lots and lots of bones.  Taking a sip, he wrinkled his nose.  It was always the same vinegary draft.

“What is this swill again, Carlisle?”

“Orc’sh Blood, my lord.”

“That’s nice.”

“Yesh, my lord.”

“Where do we get it again?”

“From the Darkwoodsh, my lord.  The orcsh make it.”

“Do they by any chance bathe in it?”

The homunculus stood silently blinking his enormous eyes for a long moment. “I can’t rightly shay my, lord.”

“Not, with your lisp, no.”

Unperturbed, Carlisle continued. “Would you like a bath, my lord?”

“No. This swineherd will be along any moment now and I really would rather die with my boots on.  My pants also.”

“Ash you wish, my lord.  Would my lord, like shome shupper?”

“I’m not hungry.” There was another silence.  “Carlisle?”

“Yesh, my lord?”

“How long have you been here?”

“Oh, I can’t rightly shay.  Three, four hundred yearsh, maybe?”

“You ever feel like leaving?”

“What doesh the master mean?”

“You know, collect your earthly goods in a hankie, put it on a stick and make a run for it.  Down the side of the volcano and past the Darkwoods and the Evil Caves and the Troll Bridges and the Dragon Lairs and the Beast Pits and the Haunted Mines and through the Fanged Pass and over the Black Fire River to the Greenlands?”

“I don’t think they would like me very much in the Greenlandsh, my lord.  Only nishe and pretty folksh in the Greenlandsh.  Carlisle is not a nishe and pretty folksh, my lord.”

“What if I went with you?”

“Who would be the villain, my lord? Shomebody hash to do great evil upon the land.”

“Oh.”

There was a horrendous wrenching noise in the hall. The Vizier stood with a sigh as the door was flung open.  Without looking over his shoulder, he moved to the window and stared out over the glowing volcanic landscape. It was time for the monologue.

“We all want it my young friend.  That great elixir, that lustrous potency which alone can quench our thirst…”

“My lord?” The homunculus sounded worried.

“Not now, Carlisle.  The monologue.  Very important.  Must explain how I can justify all the evil I’ve perpetrated.  Makes me much more human and relatable.” The man at the window cleared his throat. “To stand atop this spire and…”

“Whaaa…” This was not Carlisle.

The Vizier hazarded a look over one shoulder.  The swineherd was careening across the enormous room toward him, both arms outstretched, his head slightly askew.  There was saliva dripping from his slack jaw.  The wound across his abdomen was still gaping.   Caroming off a bed post, he spun, fell over the ottoman and lay struggling like an upturned turtle.

“Mashter?”Carlisle was standing next to the fireplace. He was holding a fire poker in both hands like a great sword.

“Huh.”

There was a flash of white light and the room was flooded with the smell of hyacinth.  A willowy, dark-haired teenager in a flowing white gown and winged helm was suddenly hovering above the floor.  Somewhere in the distance ethereal voices were chanting.  The girl blushed violently.

“I’m really, really sorry!  He ran off before I finished.  I didn’t even get to give him the speech I practiced.”

“Me neither.” The Vizier said dryly, folding his hands behind his back. “Could you please do something about the drool, I really do like this rug.”

The girl wrung her perfect hands. “Could you possibly kill him over again and I could try one more time?”

Copyright 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Grand Vizier: Part I


My husband (Ben Feehan) has been working on this amazing story since before we were married. It's the kind of writing that completely takes over your imagination! There's no way we can keep it hidden in a folder any longer. Hopefully his work will frequent this blog, with the continuation of this story and others. Stay tuned and check out Part 2!

                                          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

The Grand Vizier was everything an evil grand vizier should be. Tall and narrow with a hatchet face and a fiercely aquiline nose, the whole spoke of a sharp and canny danger. Under oiled raven hair, black eyes rimmed in gold were set like icy agates in pitted sockets. Beneath black silk, his arms were lean and hard and ended in spider-like fingers, each encircled by rings of amethyst, ruby, and emerald set upon gold and iron and silver.   Grasped in these fingers was an axe carved from the shoulder of a dragon, the haft white and winnowed, the blade narrow and cresting to a fierce point.

The Grand Vizier’s hall was long and dark, with black pillars soaring away above into the acrid, smokey reaches where it was said, unspeakable horrors nested among the ancient rafters.  The floor was an icy black marble, glinting and ribboned with quicksilver.

A figure in a leather jerkin was sliding inelegantly away from the Vizier across this floor, whimpering. A vivid crimson streak went in his wake.  The Vizier swung the axe and rested it on his own raven black shoulder. “You’re bleeding on my floor, swineherd.”

“I’m…not a swineherd…”

“Oh?”  The Vizier took a few more steps, keeping pace with the figure as he moved crabwise.  “My ravens said you were a swineherd…”

“I am Prince Bryan…”

The dark eyed man slapped his brow with the back of his free hand, and made mock obeisance. “Oh, your greatness, how could I forget?  You’re here to free your father’s benighted realm.”

“You and your evil hordes can never…stand…in the…way of…good…the laws of the universe…will…never allow it…it’s impossible…”

“Oh.”  The tall man paused and tugged on his pointed goatee. “How is it that nobody tells me when they change the laws of the universe? The postage service is really dreadful up this way.  It’s getting very near impossible to get a reliable periodical up here.”

“You…will…”

The Vizier leaned forward. “Yes?”

“…fall….”

There was a long silence. The Vizier cleared his throat. “Are you dead?”

 He nudged the prostrate figure with a toe.  “Oh da….”

There was a rustle of ancient parchments and suddenly the room blossomed with soft golden light and the smell of old binding.  “You weren’t supposed to kill him!”

The Vizier looked down at his pointy toes where they peeked out from under his cloak and drummed his fingers around the haft axe. “Was he really Prince Bryan?”

The Storyteller adjusted his spectacles and sighed. “Would it matter?  You’re an Archetype. You play a role here, Vizier.  I let you have the spot after Evil Emperor quit because you promised to behave.  Now what is this?”

“You have to admit he wasn’t one of your more stellar creations.” The black robed man let the axe fall from his shoulder to the floor with a thud.  “Isn’t he supposed to take longer on the death traps and riddle doors and secret chambers? I mean, really, my hall of tumbling fire was a work of art.”

“It had a lever.” The bearded man waved his quill at the Vizier. “You’re getting too predictable. If’s he read anything by Prince Charming in that magazine of his, that…that…”

“Maidens and Dragons or Sword and Staff?”

“Which one has the free cologne samples?”

“Maidens.” The Vizier scowled.  He had stopped getting the glossy rag after a feature  article had described him as frog footed and smelling of old fish.
  
The Storyteller blinked for a moment and continued. “Yes…yes…well if you got it, you might have noticed the last issue had a whole section on ‘fiendish ploys’.”

“Da…”

The Storyteller raised a bony finger. “This is a strictly child friendly story here, my friend. No swearing.”

“I just killed the protagonist. I think I can swear now.”

“Nonsense. Now I just have to have him raised by a kindly magical being who will remind him that his work is unfinished.” The ancient figure produced a book and started flipping through it. “I’m thinking something in the glowy, white female department…”

“Which means I’ll get chucked from the top of the tower into the mouth of a volcano.” The Vizier snapped. “I’m rather tired of that, you know.  Getting killed is not nice.”

“Oh, but the audience loves it.  Rebirth and victory are important pay-offs.” The Storyteller looked down his nose at the book as he paused.  “We should probably do this on a trash heap.  Would you mind having his body carted away disdainfully?”

“What if I fed him to the dragon? What would you do then?”

The Storyteller looked aghast. “Smokey?  Smokey is vegetarian.  He has very sensitive digestion.”

“Fine.  What if I dumped Prince Bryan into the volcano for a change?”

“You won’t.”

The Grand Vizier sighed and shuffled back to the Throne of Bones where it sat white and stark on the dais at the end of the hall.  The seat was unbelievably hard and slippery, requiring one to firmly plant their toes in the crack at the foot of the throne and push the entire time to prevent sliding off in a most un-menacing fashion during an audience.  “Carlisle?”

A tiny, grayish, hunchbacked creature emerged from behind a pillar.  With a matching pair of arms and legs it was vaguely humanoid.  “Yesh, mashter…?”

“Be a good little homunculus and put the swineherd on the north tower for the ravens.”

“Ooh.” The Storyteller clapped gleefully. “That’s good. That’s very good. Much better than the midden heap.  More skulls and ominous bony bits. Also chains.  Chains are good.”

With another rustle, the Storyteller was gone and The Vizier was left alone to watch the ugly little figure drag the boy down the hall and up the stairs.  It was with only momentary pleasure that he heard the swineherds head meet the first tower stair with meaty clunk.

Copyright 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Advice for New Moms: Before, During, and After Baby Comes

These first three months of motherhood have felt like a lifetime unto themselves. Looking back and learning so much, there are a lot of things I wish I had known before I had my first baby. If I could go back in time and talk to my little pregnant self, these are a few of the things I would have told me.

Books

I really enjoyed Babywise and The Baby Whisperer. Each of the books highlight different and important aspects of bonding, and child training, feeding, naps, and various other subjects relevant to parenthood. A thorough perusal of them both should give you a pretty balanced perspective. Discuss the concepts with your spouse and pray for wisdom. (There are many other wonderful books out there, but I found these to be particularly helpful.)

After Erin was born, my husband and I had to work twice as hard at our relationship! The Five Love Languages has been very beneficial to us, even just as a conversation starter.

Asking for help

Ask a loved one to stay with you and your spouse for a few days after your baby is born. My sister in law took the initiative to spend at least three days with Ben and I while we were recovering and adjusting. She cleaned our home and cooked our meals, doing wonderfully unexpected things like washing our laundry, and cleaning up the less pleasant nooks and crannies of our bathroom. She also took it upon herself to make sure I drank lots of postpartum smoothies, and various other helpful things.

During my pregnancy I was very forgetful. Since I've had Erin, I'm not so much forgetful, as I haven't had the energy or time I need to plan and think ahead. I have found it very helpful to keep running lists of the household inventory that needs restocking. If someone offers, or if Ben happens to be going out, I can send a list!

Health and Recovery

Please, please take everyone's advice and SLEEP whenever you have the opportunity. Even after it's been several weeks, or even months, and people stop asking how you're feeling, try to at least fit in a nap.

Make (or have someone else do this!) a bottle of diluted grapefruit seed extract hand spray. Erin is three and a half months old and I still like to have people sanitize when they visit (or wash up after a trip to the grocery store). I'm not a big fan of commercial hand sanitizer. Grapefruit seed extract is an excellent substitute.

Making a soothing peppermint oil for your baby is very simple. While visiting my parents, Erin was suffering from painful tummy gas. My mom simply put a few drops of peppermint essential oil into a tiny vial of olive oil and shook it up. Erin was wrapped up tightly so we just rubbed some of the concoction on her little foot and within a few minutes her gas was gone! I usually rub some into her tummy now, and it works even better. Spearmint essential oil is another option, as I've heard that it is gentler on your baby's system. Just make sure to dilute!

Communicate how you are feeling emotionally and physically. Sometimes women assume the exhaustion or discouragement they feel is normal, or just a temporary no-biggie. Trust me, it's not worth the trouble! The right supplement, or a small diet change can help significantly. Communication with your loved ones and physician or midwife is very important.

Activities/Things to fill your time

After your baby is born, it might be difficult to find the motivation to do anything extra. I would suggest however that you get started on your baby scrapbooks as soon as you can! It's really easy to put this off, and I can tell you it's very likely that you will regret doing so.

Try to be intentional about which activities you choose to fill your down time. Realize that whatever you end up doing on a regular basis will probably become a habit, or at least something that happens way more than it used to. Be warned, and also take advantage of this! Some suggestions:


  • Research interesting topics. I love books on interior decorating, container gardening, household organization, personal finance, travel...basically anything that catches my eye in the moment. Ben and I used to frequent Barnes and Noble, and I started to keep record of all the cool things I learned in a tiny moleskin he gave me. 
  • Start a new hobby. What have you always wanted to do, but never thought you actually would? Immediately after you have a baby, most people are extremely helpful! When someone asks if they can do something for you, this might be the perfect time to get the supplies you need for a new hobby. You might not even get to it right away, but at least you are prepared to begin whenever you want to.
  • Revive old favorite past times. The guitar you haven't touched in ages. The paintbrushes you've almost forgotten how to use. Remember your old journal? This is a great time to pick up hobbies that have fallen to the wayside.

A couple of things I would have like to have put more thought into before labor began:

  • How I did my hair! Looking back, a sturdy up-do would have been perfect. I should have asked one of the ladies present to do a nice braid for me. :) (I'm terrible at braiding my own hair!)
  • My birthing outfit. I chose a flowy, stretchy purple dress that hit about mid thigh. This would have been perfect had I not decided to jump in the bath! Unfortunately it became very uncomfortable and difficult to manage once I was partially wet. I think next time (Since I plan to labor in a birthing tub next time!) I will wear something made of swimsuit material that reaches mid-calf.
  • Set up a birthing tub! Even if you don't think you want to use one, I strongly suggest you have one ready to go just in case you change your mind mid labor. I did change my mind, and I did not have a birthing tub. And let me tell you, a bathtub just doesn't cut it. :)
  • Make sure the birthing room has the option to let in/shut out day light, or a small lamp to replace the overhead light if you are laboring during the night. It's nice to have options...I found it more comfortable when the room was dim.
I'm sure there will be much more to come! My baby hasn't even started crawling yet. In the meantime, hopefully some of this advice goes to good use. :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dear Daddy in Chicago

Dear Daddy,

I woke up this morning just a few hours after you went away. I was cheerfully talking to myself for a long time before mom came to get me. She told me that you asked her to help me remember you while you are gone, so we talked about you while I had my diaper changed.


Mom she decided to listen to a sermon on her kindle. There was loud, silly singing at the beginning and I turned my head all around looking for you. I'm used to you singing to me in the morning. 

It's a beautiful day, so we decided to dress light.


I realized how hungry I was when Mom asked me if I wanted to eat.


Time for burps!


...and naptime. I hung out in my stroller by the flowers while mom and her siblings splashed around in the pool.


Things are going pretty well our first time on our own, but we miss you so much Daddy, and can't wait to see you again. We love you so much. Be safe, and come home soon.  :)

Love, Mom and Erin

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lessons Learned: Month Three of Worm Bin # 1

Ironically soon after painting a reminder to have patience regarding my worm bin, I had the biggest distraction of my life (Welcome, Erin Elizabeth!) and neglected the poor thing for several weeks. When I finally popped the lid, I was stunned by the drastic changes.

Obviously, there was little to nothing left of the food scraps I had last fed them. Well over half of the contents of the bin had turned into pure castings, and my worm population had increased significantly. Moisture content was a little high, however, and I could see right away I would need to do things a little differently next time.

I'm pretty anxious to start over with fresh materiel, and an improved bin system, so yesterday I just jumped right in to the sorting process. Unfortunately, I'm stuck picking out some large chunks of bedding that were not shredded small enough as I occasionally added new bedding. I think next time around I'm going to have to be much more conscientiousness about the size of the materiel and food I put in there.It took me forever, but I was able to send a bag of nice, fresh vermicompost home with my mother. Here are a few tips I've learned along the way:

  • Worms really actually do not favor the citrus. I thought maybe that was just a nit picky suggestion, but no...it's true.
  • If you plan to add eggshells, do crush them very small beforehand. It was really inconvenient having to pick through large chunks of shell in my finished product.
  • Punch enough air holes in your  worm bin, especially if you are using a plastic tub. You want to control the moisture content as much as you can, and plastic makes that difficult enough. You don't want to end up with mud, and you don't want to "drown" your worms.
  • Keep your food scraps in a container on the counter for a few days before adding them to your worm bin, it will help speed up the feeding process. Your worms are not eating the scraps, they are eating what happens as the scraps begin to decompose.
  • Don't choose a hot day to sort your worms from your product. Choose a day that is bright, but preferably not cloudless and sunny. 
  • Don't be careless when it comes to maintaining your worm bin, but, relax! I made many mistakes along the way and still ended up with some pretty good product. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

She

Erin Elizabeth Feehan was born on April 23rd, 2012. 


Our tiny baby girl came after only 8 hours of labor, weighing in at 6lbs, 10oz.


She has grown so much in 7 weeks, and is so beautiful.


She takes my breath away, and for a very long time, the words would not come.This little poem is the closest I've come to saying what I mean.


My creative spurts are random at best, so I'll probably stick to photos and little phrases for awhile. Her face says it all, anyway. :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Because I love you


"Why are you so good to me?

"Because I love you."

I lie still as the words really sink in. "I don't deserve that."

"Nobody deserves anything. I chose you. I wanted you. I still want you."

Tears rise, unbidden.

I should not be this lucky. I should be the one on welfare, not the one with no cares as to where the money is coming from. I should be the one with vacant eyes on the bus, dumped and bruised many times over. Not this happy woman who will always have someone to love her. I shouldn't be forgiven for all the hurt I've inflicted, the time I've stolen, the happiness I've demanded at who knows what cost.

Tears now flowing freely, I move quietly away from my tired husband and let him sleep. The thought comes suddenly. That this really isn't all about me. It's him.

He will always be there. There is nothing I can do that will cause him to leave me, or stop loving me, or give up on me. I don't have to worry if he actually wants to listen to my side of the story. I know he does. I am and will always be beautiful to him. And it's not because I am so wonderful. I prove everyday that I am not the one keeping him here.

"Because I love you."

My eyes fly open as those precious words resound through my mind so loudly it's almost audible. The tears stop almost as quickly as they began as awe and wonder fill my heart. Of course. How simple, and self centered of me not to realize.

As I drift to sleep the pervasive truth spreads over me like a blanket. It isn't just him. It's HIM. Jesus loves me, this I know. But, do I  know?

God was there last night, telling me what I could not recognize on my own. I have been so humbled, to realize that every time my husband wrapped me in arms of forgiveness, Jesus was there. When I cried and Ben's words brought me comfort, Jesus was there. He has been so close, literally touching my shoulder, the whole time. And I know that when against all odds and everyone's predictions I came out on the green side of the pasture, Jesus was waiting...because he planned it all. Because he walked with me.

Because he loves me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Don't Feed The Worms!

After days and days of eager anticipation, the little cardboard box had finally arrived. Tucking it happily under one arm, I practically skipped back from my mailbox and plopped it on the counter. The first order of events was to tell my husband all about it over Skype. This I did, with many exclamation marks and smiles.

Ten minutes later I was sheepishly explaining to him that I was afraid to open my box. It had never even crossed my mind that I might be squeamish about this, but there I was, warily circling the package and completely unable to bring myself to touch it. I suppose it's somewhat understandable. It did, in fact, contain 1,000...wiggling...worms.

I've had an urge to try my hand at vermicomposting for a few years now. It started out as a concept when I lived on 2.5 acres with my family, and is a reality now that I have an adorable little apartment balcony in the city.



Vermicomposting is pretty simple and can be modified to work anywhere. Your kitchen, your balcony, a corner of the garden. It's basically composting with worms. Because the Red Wiggler can consume it's own weight each day, it's much faster than regular composting. The castings left behind create a highly productive fertilizer, which has been referred to as the "richest compost ever known." Compared to average topsoil, worm castings have five times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus, and 11 times more potassium. The pH is also a perfect balance of 7.

I did finally open the box. After my husband informed me that they were merely tiny princes a long way from home with a mind to get some fresh air, I felt much calmer about the whole affair and dumped them into their new home. "Home" consisted of a small Rubbermaid tub with ventilation, bedding, and food scraps I'd buried in there the previous week.



Though I researched like crazy before I even ordered my little colony of worms, I've discovered that the application of my hastily gotten wisdom is a teeny bit more complicated in real life.

For one thing, I could hardly contain my curiosity about everything that was happening in there, so I ended up mixing the system more than I should have. At least, it looks messier than I would like. I may also have over fed them a bit, because my bin has a slight odor and it's a bit too damp in there. Theoretically your bin will be odorless if maintained properly.

As long as I let them be for awhile, without disturbing or feeding them, hopefully everything will be fine. To remind myself not to peek when I have the urge, I've made a sign to hang over the worm bin.

James 1:4


Eventually if I get the system going pretty well, I might try to turn this into a mini business. The finished product is sometimes referred to as "Black Gold" and can be sold at farmer's markets and garden nurseries around the area. This first run is just my little experiment. They're more like pets than resources at this point. It might just turn out to be a crazy idea, but I'm going to have alot of fun in the meantime.

Reference:

vermicomposting.com
unclejimswormfarm.com
Manual of On-Farm Vermicomposting and Vermiculture By Glenn Munroe

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Birth Plan...Romanticized


The birth of our baby girl is nearing. 

Lord willing, Erin Elizabeth Feehan will be born in our cozy little apartment with only the midwives, my husband, and my sister present. As instructed in childbirth ed  class, this was meant to be a very practical, bare bones birth plan incorporating the pain management techniques learned during the class. What happened was...something else. What follows is a highly romanticized vision of what our home birth may look like. 

Erin's Birth

I imagine...

I begin to feel contractions very early Wednesday morning. It's barely light outside, and my hsband is holding me tight in his strong arms. I wait, and let him sleep. Deep breaths...relax.

I imagine...

7am alarm sounds. This time, we don't roll over and go back to sleep. Quick! Find the timer. Don't get too excited! Relax. Save your energy.

I imagine...

Our foreheads touching. Whispered prayers, sweet Savior listening. Healthy baby, happy baby. It's not time yet...rest, distract, deny. Don't go to work! Stay with me.

I imagine...

We've covered the clocks. If this takes 40 days and 40 nights...I don't want to know. I want to draw. Paint. I want to splash color on a creamy white page. Laugh, rejoice! Baby is coming.

I imagine...

I'm pacing. Someone is holding my hand. Find a surface, lean...and breath. Visualize Erin's journey. Contractions are massaging my baby. Someone is massaging me. Relax your face, Jessica.

I imagine...

I'm in water. Let's flood the gates, overwhelm the senses. Pouring, pouring...do you want to push? Out of the bath, kneeling beside our bed. My toes krinkle plastic. Gatorade through a straw.

I imagine...

My husband supporting me from behind. Tells me I can do this, tells me how proud he is. Midwife is checking me...who remembered to call her? Loosen your jaw, breath with me. ...my rock and hard place.

I'm imagining...

One last push! Something little is crying, I'm opening my eyes. I'm finished? They give me...my baby. I'm overwhelmed all over again. Skin, I'm touching her skin! My husband says she is beautiful. She has ten fingers and ten toes. And she is well, and I am well...

Friday, April 13, 2012

My Year of Change

It's quite appropriate that this is the year I've finally decided to keep a blog. Life is kind of exploding right now. In a good way. Whatever inhibitions I've held about putting myself out there are quickly being consumed by sheer excitement. And no wonder.

The last 12 months have been a whirlwind of change. It feels like all my "firsts" came creeping up behind me and pounced all at once. My first car sort of found me. I landed and quit my first official job, moved out of my parents home and rented my very own apartment. I met the man of my dreams at afore mentioned workplace, said "Yes!", and flew across the ocean to visit Maui as a happy young bride. In a few short weeks my wonderful husband and I will be holding a sweet baby girl in our arms. There have been bills, and taxes and a whole lot of ups and downs. My life now bears little resemblance to the one I was living last January.



Change is good. The door to all the little interests and hobbies and hopes I've tentatively touched, has suddenly sprung wide open. I am surrounded by opportunity. There is so much I want to accomplish, so many ideals I hope to see fulfilled. It's cliche, but I feel like I've found my wings.

The timing, as I said, is quite right. I have a suspicion that actually putting down my thoughts and projects and ideas will help me to focus, and sift. Like making tiny brush strokes, then stepping back to see what you've made.