“Am I A Believer?” Week 2-Whole30

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I was overjoyed when my husband decided at the last minute to join me in doing the Whole30 cleanse! Not only is it great to have someone help hold me accountable, but I obviously care about his overall health and well being, and love seeing him take care of himself.

Moreover, it has been a great way to connect and nerd out about food and health issues. We both read It Starts With Food and since have had many conversations about it, over many tasty meals.

Initially, I think my husband was a bit wary of the whole “paleo” thing, though he may not have realized how many of the meals I was already making were “paleo.”  Still, ‘ya can’t knock it till you try it!’ So that’s just what he (we) have done! Here’s his recent testimony via a facebook (emphasis mine):

“Am I a believer now? For crying out loud, it’s only been 11 days. I can say this: I feel better, my energy is up and consistent throughout the day, and for some crazy reason I’m waking up early and actually feeling like a slept. We’ll see where this continues to go, but at this point I’m just thankful. It’s true, I’m quite excited for the day when I can return to a wee dram, or a bite of mintchip, but as I indulge in moderation I won’t soon loose the memory of better health.”

Music to my ears… 🙂

So, week two proved to be a bit easier (minus no chocolate on Valentine’s day!),  and I received such great feedback about the recipes from my last post, that I thought I would include a few more from this week:

Slow Cooker Parsnip Chicken Masala 

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I discovered parsnips this week and decided to try them out in a crock pot recipe. The texture and flavor is similar to carrots. It was delicious and another great starch option for the cleanse. You could easily add just about any veggie you have on hand. Sweet potato, celery, etc. 

Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts, uncooked

1 medium parsnip, chopped

2 cups of carrots, chopped

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 Tsp salt

2 TBS  (or more) Garam Masala spices (or combine cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, clove, cumin and pepper )

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in the crock pot and cook for 4-6 hours. Serve with kale chips on the side!

Easy Avocado Salad

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For a quick, tasty side and dose of healthy fats and omegas, toss together:

2 avocados, chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Juice of  one lime


Sweet Beet Stir Fry

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We dubbed this our “Valentine lunch” since the beets stained everything pink!

Ingredients:

1 medium beet, peeled and sliced

2-3 sausages (we used Trader Joe’s garlic herb chicken sausage which is whole30 friendly)

1-2 cups of fresh kale (also used trader joe’s organic, pre-washed, and cut)

1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 TBS coconut oil or ghee

1 Tsp salt

Directions:

Warm the oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the beets, cover, and let cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sausage and cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook until veggies are tender.

Green Chile Pork Avocado Cream Enchiladas

When I was purchasing the meat for this dish, Aria overheard me asking the man for  “1.5 pounds of pork butt, please.” Then, my sweet two-year-old announced to me, and anyone in the near vicinity, “I don’t waaaanna eat the butt!” (bless.)

I used this recipe  from PaleOMG as a base, and made a few tweaks of my own (added the green chile!).

http://paleomg.com/pork-avocado-cream-enchiladas/

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Ingredients:

For the tortillas
  • 6 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 6 tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
For the filling
  • 1.5lbs pork rump roast
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 cup vegetable broth
For the avocado cream sauce
  • 2 avocados, pitted and insides removed
  • 1 TBS green chile power
  • 1 TBS frozen green chile, chopped
  • ¼ cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • 3 tablespoons canned coconut milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 8-10 olives, halved
 Directions:
-Place pork butt in the crock pot with onion and seasonings and set to cook for 6-8 hours. Shred meat apart with two forks.IMG_2200
-Tortillas: Whisk all your tortilla ingredients together until all the lumps are gone. Warm some oil (coconut or ghee) in a large skillet on medium heat. Pour a 4 inch in diameter circle in the center of your pan and tilt the pan around to spread the batter into a large circle. Let the tortilla cook for a minute or so, until the tortilla bubbles and the edges begin to turn up. CAREFULLY flip the tortilla to cook the other side. Place on plate to let cool. Repeat with leftover batter. You should get 5-6 tortillas from your batter.
Cream sauce: Place all the ingredients for your avocado cream sauce into a food processor and puree until completely smooth.
-Turn on your broiler to high.
-In an 8×8 glass baking dish, lay out a tortilla, place a little bit of your shredded pork along with a little avocado cream sauce (be sure to save some to put on top of the tortillas later) then curl the sides of the tortilla around to make a mini burrito. Repeat with all of your tortillas so they are lined up side by side in your glass baking dish.
-Put your baking dish under your broiler and cook for about 6-8 minutes or until your tortillas become crispy.
-Then remove baking dish from the oven and turn broiler to low. Cover the enchiladas with the rest of your avocado cream sauce then place back in the oven for 5-7 minutes.
-Top with cilantro and olives (and for those post whole30 experiment, I will try a bit of raw milk cheddar cheese!)

Valentine Breakfast


Sweet Potato Hash & Heart Eggs Over Easy

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For fun, I used this little heart egg shaper that Greg gave me for a stocking stuffer this Christmas, but you can just do regular over easy eggs!

Simply chop some sweet potatoes and with a TBS coconut oil in a skillet, cook the potatoes till tender. Season with salt and pepper. Another tasty variation is to add bacon bits!

In a separate skillet, fry the eggs and lay over the pile of potatoes. Mash and enjoy!

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One Day At A Time: Whole30 – Week 1

The

“Do NOT Eat That Run-over Hershey’s Krackel

on the Ground in the Parking Lot!” 

No, that is not me reprimanding my two-year-old. That’s my inner dialogue (to the chocolate addict in me who is going through withdrawal) as I resist the urge to drop down onto all fours and go to town on that morsel!

I exaggerate.

But doing this Whole30 cleanse from sugar and, yes, chocolate, has definitely left me missing my Trader Joe’s chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and  having some (slightly irrational) fantasies about concrete crushed Krackels (which is really gross and sad when you think about it).

I have also had many dreams this past week about indulging in Chai Lattes and swimming in tubs full of pasta. I’m told these are all normal withdrawal symptoms (is there a support group for this?).

But seriously. It hasn’t been that bad.

Week one of Whol30 has been an adventure in discipline, and I’ve had a great time finding and making up some new, tasty dishes. It has gotten us back into meal planning, we are eating out a lot less (which is saving us a little money as well), and it has slowed us down in a good way. We are beginning to appreciate this clean eating, and are becoming more sensitive to what our bodies truly need.

Yes, Greg and I have both been a bit more feisty and foggier as our bodies begin to recharge and detox. There have been ups and downs in mood swings. We’ve had some headaches and felt “empty” and “hungry” as we learn to be less dependent on sugar and simple carbs.

BUT nothing worth doing is every easy. All in all, week one has proved to us how much we really need this cleanse, and we feel confident that hitting the “reset” button on our systems is a good thing!

Things I’ve learned this week:

1. Stir Frys are life savers!- With some pre-cut veggies on hand, meat, and a few spices, I made several tasty and easy whole30 meals using only one pan on the stove! See a recipe below!

2.Keep already cooked, or at least thawed, meat on hand. -The day would get away from me and I would be stuck at lunch time with nothing easy to prepare. This is where, in the past, I would so often reach for the fast, snacky, filler foods before like a quesadilla, or chips and salsa, or a box of mac n cheese (talk about putting Mommy to sleep!). Having some boiled chicken, or bacon left over from breakfast on hand was helpful.

3. Hard boiled eggs! – A great, quick protein snack for in between meals. Chop them up with some avocado, raw carrots, celery, and a pinch of sea salt and paprika for a kind of egg salad. The avocado could be mashed a bit to create a creamier texture (akin to mayonnaise). You could also add some bacon pieces (now we’re just getting crazy!).

maté

4. Maté- Yerba Maté is a wild shrub from Argentina that makes a delicious, flavorful tea. It’s a great alternative to coffee (though coffee is not banned on Whole30). I found it helpful to enjoy some in the late morning during this first week when I got cravings for sugar (as long as I knew that it wasn’t legit hunger I was feeling, but a sugar craving). As a nursing mom, I still need lots of god fats and calories, so I would snack as needed, but maté helped curb my appetite for unhealthy snacks. Maté is a good source of calcium and antioxidants and gives you a natural boost of energy without the spike and crash that coffee or caffeinated soft drinks often result in.

Here are a few of our successful meals

from this week!

 

 

 

 

CHIPOTLE CHICKEN & PROSCIUTTO STIR FRY 

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Easily thrown together from left over boiled chicken I had on hand, and some veggies.

Ingredients:

2 Boiled chicken breasts, shredded into chunky pieces

4-5 slices of Prosciutto, torn into smaller pieces

1-2 TBS Coconut oil

1 1/2 Cups torn kale leaves

2 large yellow & red bell peppers, cut into strips

1-2 cups of red cabbage, chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1/2 a medium red onion, chopped

Chipotle Seasoning to taste – I used a local mix I bought, but you could just sprinkle to taste some or all of the following: Black pepper, sea salt, oregano, gran. onion, cumin, orange peel, cilantro, spearmint, and bay leaves.

Directions:

In a large skillet pan, heat the oil on medium. Add the onion, garlic, and kale and cook for 2 minutes. Add the prosciutto and red cabbage and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, peppers, and seasoning. Cook for 2-4 minutes or until peppers are slightly soft, but not limp.

SCOTCH EGGS 

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A protein-packed snack, or dinner!

Ingredients:

Hard boiled eggs

Ground turkey or beef

Seasoning (salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, whatever else you feel like throwing in!)

Spicy mustard for dipping

Directions:

Mash up ground meat with your seasoning of choice. Peel and pat dry the eggs. Wrap the meat around the eggs (I just used my fingers and stuck a bit at a time, some people roll out little pancakes of meat and roll it around the egg…whatever works for you!). Place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Serve with mustard, or pico de gallo, and a side salad. We added a dessert of kiwi and blood oranges!

PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED

SPINACH & ARTICHOKE STUFFED CHICKEN 

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The title is a mouthful, and so were these delicious morsels! Juicy and super easy to prepare. We enjoyed them with roasted sweet potatoes and yams, and kale chips on the side.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C Spinach

1 can artichoke hearts

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 Pkg Prosciutto

8 Chicken filets, or 4 breasts sliced lengthwise into filets

Sea salt

Lemon pepper

Toothpicks

Stuffing:

Steam the spinach then combine with artichokes in a food processor. Add coconut milk gradually. Add salt and lemon pepper to taste.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 350.

First pat the chicken filets with a paper towel to remove excess water. Then, spread about a tablespoon of the stuffing onto one side of the filet. Roll the chicken and wrap with one slice of prosciutto. Hold together with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining breasts.

Place side by side in a Pyrex glass baking dish.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until juicy and chicken is white through when pierced.

 

SEE WEEK 2 on WHOLE 30

Whole30 Here We Go….

The

My palate is dull, my energy levels are down, and my gut feels overworked. I’ve also been leaning a little to hard on the chocolate for those afternoon energy boosts. It’s time to hit the “re-set” button!

Many friends have vouched for this cleanse and its benefits. I’ve danced around the diet for some time now, trying recipes here and there and slowly taking out some unnecessary “go-to” foods.

Finally, I’ve decided to try taking the 30 day challenge for my health, and hopefully to help me better serve my family with more energy!

I plan to begin on February 1st and would love to invite some of you to join! (It’s always nice to have accountability in these things 🙂

I’ll be giving weekly reports and would love to hear feedback from people who have tried it, or are doing it.

To find out all you need to know about this Paleo cleanse, go HERE.

Check out: WEEK 1 on WHOLE 30

 

Paleo Comfort Food: Shepherds Pie

 

COMFORT FOOD is the word on the street during the Holiday months. Yet, all the simple carbs, sugar, and “filler” foods often leave me feeling sluggish, guilty, and run down. Too much of a “good” thing is not always a good thing!

So, I’ve been experimenting with my own versions of some of these “winter” staples.

One of my husband’s favorite comfort foods any time of year is shepherds pie, which is very nearly paleo, except for one major item: the taters!

And you CAN’T have shepherd’s pie without those creamy, delicious mashed potatoes!

I thought about trying sweet potatoes, but they are so rich and would differ quite a bit from the taste he loves, so I tried it this time with celery root boiled and mashed just like potatoes.

It was delicious! AND I felt good about eating it and serving it to the family, knowing that it was being processed by our bodies more efficiently as well as adding vitamin c, and a much needed dose of iron and calcium to the meal.

All together with the beef and veggies, you almost wouldn’t know the difference. It gave the pie a nice celery flavor, which I didn’t mind, but most importantly, I got the thumbs up from the hubbs!

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Paleo Shepherds Pie With Celery Root

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef

1 medium to large celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 can of tomato sauce

1 bag of frozen organic veggies, thawed (for less prep time)

1 cup chopped onion

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

Granulated garlic

Granulated onion

Sea salt

1 tbs olive oil

2-4 TBS butter, coconut oil, or ghee

1/2 cup of milk (coconut or hemp is nice)

 
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Peel the celery root and chop into chunks.  Bring water to boil and add celery root pieces. Boil until a knife or fork easily slides through a test piece. While the root cooks,  heat olive oil on the stove and add the garlic and onion. Cook till onion is translucent (5 minutes). Add the beef and cook through. Add the can of tomato sauce and simmer till it cooks down a bit and thickens up (about 7 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.

Making the mash: Strain celery root pieces and return to warm pot. Add your butter, coconut oil, or ghee and begin mashing (I use an electric hand mixer). Gradually add the milk until desired texture is reached. Add granulated garlic, onion, and sea salt to taste. (A little lemon pepper is nice too!)

Assembly: In your pyrex baking dish, first pour in the meat base, then the veggie mix, then spread your celery root mash on top.

Bake till the sides are bubbly and it is heated through (25-30 minutes).

**If you are “paleo light,” as we are, sprinkle some raw milk cheddar cheese on top also!

How To Get Kids To Take Herbs….And Enjoy Them!

At the onset of a cold or flu, you may be quick to reach for that soothing herbal tea, but getting your kids to drink it is another story. Fortunately, there are ways to make herbs fun and enjoyable for kids while they still reap the benefits. You may even find yourself getting requests for some of these herbal goodies when no ailment is to be found!

Here are just a few ways I make herbs palatable for kids:

Herbal Popsicles 

Great for teething, soar throats, swollen/cut lip or gums, etc.

1. Make a strong herbal tea.

2. Pour freshly boiled water over fresh or dried herbs and let steep for a good long time (15-20 min at least).  My go-to blend consists of chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, and catnip (this blend helps with digestion, nausea, calming nerves, restoring electrolytes and stimulating the immune system).

3. While tea is still warm, mix in a little maple syrup or raw honey to sweeten. You can also add a splash of juice such as pomegranate, carrot, or cherry. Do not to use juice that has added sugars, preservatives, or “colors.”

4. Let the tea cool down, pour into popsicle moulds (or you can use an empty ice tray), freeze and enjoy as needed!

Have a Tea Party!

When Aria has been especially feisty or restless, or if she’s fighting off a cold, I like to make her some herbal tea. Sometimes, the best way to get her to drink it is to put it in her tea pot (which is shaped like a puppy dog), and make a special “tea time” with her. I let her drink from a real tea cup or small mug and we sometimes have a treat to go with.

I have been fortunate that Aria enjoys herbal tea without added sweeteners, but for the kids who are harder to convince, simply add some honey or maple syrup to the tea. You could also try just adding a few more peppermint leaves (which are naturally sweet) to your blend.

If you aren’t into using loose leaves, Traditional Medicinals makes great bagged teas.

Eucalyptus Herbal Steam

One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to boil 1/2 cup of dried eucalyptus leaves in water on the stove. Its antiseptic properties disinfect up to about 50 feet in any direction, so it helps to clean the air when colds are going around. For kids with respiratory issues, bad coughs, phlegm, etc., once or twice a day help  fan some of the wonderful steam toward them and encourage them to breathe deeply. It’s usually fun for them to watch the steam and boiling water too (as long as they are monitored at all times…or else you’ll be treating burns next!)

Dilute a Tincture

Tinctures are a concentrated extract of an herb. Some tinctures are made with glycerine, but most are made with alcohol which make it rather unpleasant to take, and must be diluted for kids.

A few drops of echinacea tincture in a small glass of juice, diluted with some water, is a great way to guard against colds and flus in winter.

When a cough or congestion is present, horehound is wonderful, but it is very bitter. A shot of juice with 10 or so drops of the tincture is will help expectorate.

**You can also add some tincture to already sweetened tea.

Make a Lavender “Buddy”

Lavender is a powerful herb in bringing relaxation and restoration to nerves. Children are very responsive to this herb. You can always put a drop of the essential on their shirt or favorite stuffed animal, but another fun option is to make a special lavender “buddy.”

It can be as simple as an odd sock, or you can bust out the sewing machine. Either way, fill the “buddy” with dried lavender flowers and let the relaxation begin! Encourage them to hug their buddy when a they’ve had a tumble, or while you may be attending to a boo-boo.

Warm Lavender “Buddy”

A variation on the above: make a mixture of rice and lavender leaves. The buddy can then be warmed up in a microwave to help sore limbs and muscles, or to keep warm during fever chills, while getting the lovely effects of the lavender as well.

So, when the dog bites, and the bee stings,

don’t forget to try a few of these herbalicious things!!

Violet Sky: A Birth Story

15 days late right on time, Violet Sky finally graced us with her presence on Sunday, September 16th at 10:49 PM, just 5 hours after labor began. She was gently birthed at home in water.

Here is our story!

Waiting

No matter how hard you try, you can’t get that prescribed “due date” out of your mind. For nine-ish months you are counting down the weeks and then days. You know it’s never a guarantee, but it is hard work to not get sold on that due date.

My first baby was 8 days past her date, but somehow it hardly phased me. Perhaps it was the freedom I had at that time to take leisurely naps, walks, shopping trips, and get massaged, pedicured, and stay luxuriously distracted until she decided to come.This time however, the bustle of moving, settling in to a new town/church/house/life, and trying to enjoy my 2-year-old’s endless energy in the midst of exhaustion may have had something to do with my more anxious state this time around.

I really had to fight to stay at peace about God’s timing. Well-meaning friends and family came to us with concerns about the length of time passing and the potential “risks” they had heard of. We sought our midwife’s counsel and prayed and weighed out every scenario. Thankfully, none of these scenarios presented any cause for concern for us. Our little one was active and healthy at every check-up, and I was healthy, so there was no reason to do anything but wait till she was ready.

In the first week past the date, I tried to stay distracted and rest. When two weeks past the date began, I started exploring some gentle, natural things to encourage labor. I tried walking a bit more, ate spicy foods, spent some “quality time” with the hubby, ate lots of pineapple, had a few good cries, and even tried some herbal tincture. Still, I had little more than a few random cramps here and there.

Feeling a bit like this birthing ball….

Aria’s birthday, a trip to the beach with Nana

My mom came to town early to help me in the last days, (which ended up being over a week!), but her help with Aria and her loving care during that time was SO needed. I was getting weary, so her presence was a blessing in so many ways.

When the rest of the family began to trickle in and a couple of Sunday’s passed with increasing amounts of raised eyebrows and sympathetic hugs over the fact that I was still pregnant, I began to feel as if I just might be pregnant forever!

Birthing Day

On the 15th day past my “due date,” I went to church (during which the pastor, to my surprise, asked the congregation to pray for me), then went to lunch with my mom and mom-in-law, talked on the phone with a good friend and fellow homebirth mama who encouraged me that “it would be soon!,” and then got a little nap in.

Around 5:30 PM I began to get some crampy feelings. I tried not to get too excited since I’d had a few false starts earlier that week. But it quickly became clear that these were the real deal. I ate a light dinner and we decided to wait till about 7:30 to call my midwife and doula and let them know what was going on.

In the meantime, I decided to start my labor project which was, again, baking! It is really the perfect project to focus the mind on during early labor, in my opinion. It presents just enough distraction and easy to follow directions to keep you from focusing too much on the growing intensity of surges, and it’s wonderfully satisfying after all is said and done and everyone can enjoy the finished product!

(This time I baked these yummy paleo vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting from Elana’s Pantry. They turned out great!)

Aria’s final moments as the “baby!”

Around 8:00 we sent  a very wired Aria (who no doubt felt the growing energy of the pending birth), to spend the night with Greg’s parents. At this point, I was already having to concentrate more with each surge and was busy baking, cleaning, hydrating with coconut water, and nesting.

As the surges grew in intensity over the next hour or so I began to focus more on relaxing. I could feel myself tending to hold in my abdomen with each surge, my mind and body wanting to fight the surge rather than go with it. So I hopped in the shower for a minute and let the warm water help me to embrace those familiar feelings.

When I felt the urge to resist the pain, I began to let out a slow breath which I imagined traveling down through me to where the baby was. I found humming and singing a little really helped, and I visualized those lower pelvic muscles releasing. Using the image of a flower opening its petals was extremely effective. I was surprised at how quickly I progressed once I began to really let go with each surge. I kept talking to Violet, encouraging her and myself that “we can do this.”

After the shower, I used Greg to lean on through several surges, or leaned on the couch or dresser. I kept moving, changing positions and letting Violet move down. Throughout labor, Greg sweetly whispered prayers to me, softly and gently encouraging me. His confidence in me and his joy that Violet was coming was so evident. This gave me courage, and his words and gentle touch greatly contributed to my ability to relax through each surge. I am certain that his love was communicated to Violet as well and it helped us both to birth quickly and smoothly.

By the time Marianne and Christina arrived, I was laying down and using deep breathing and low moaning through surges. I knew I was in transition and began to feel the urge to push. Marianne checked my cervix around 9:45 and I was 7 cm dilated and with a bulging bag of waters.

Praying over me after a surge

They filled the birth tub and as soon as I got in I was immediately so much more relaxed. I had several surges and was really able to  let Violet move down the birth path. I could feel her moving so clearly in between surges. She was swimming her way down so beautifully. I just kept rubbing my belly and talking to her and laying against the side of the tub, consciously trying to deeply relax. I listened to the soft music, let my arms float out to the sides, palms open and relaxed, and drew in deeper.

During a surge just before she crowned. Breathing her down the birth path.

Marianne encouraged me to gently push and breathe the baby down with my next surge. Two pushes later, the water broke with quite a pop! From there it only took about two more pushes before her head was crowning. I could hardly believe how quickly she was coming. I reached down and felt a head full of hair and her tiny ear. Marianne wisely encouraged me not to push too hard at that moment, but to let her head gently emerge.

Violet’s head is crowning

Though my instinct was to push as hard as I could and just get through it, I knew she was right. To keep this birth gentle, I needed to breathe down, allowing those few seconds pause to get a good flow of oxygen down to my baby, even through that “ring of fire.” This greatly lessened my chances of tearing as well.

It was then that I also called to mind what my midwife back home had said about Aria having “paved the way” for Violet. She had encouraged me that when I reached that moment of the most intensity a woman can feel, I should let my body remember and embrace that path once again. So, I leaned my head back and let myself smile through the fire of it. Keeping my jaw loose and my countenance as lifted as I could helped me soften and relax those lower muscles once again and I was able to ease her head out with just one more breath.

For a moment she was suspended between worlds. I could see her head and knew that only one more push would bring her fully into this world and into my arms. My head swirling with the rush of the intensity of it all, I gave in to one last surge and her body easily and gently followed.

 

IMG_3802She was violet. Not just in name, but in color! She glowed in that semi-dark as I lifted her out of the water and brought her to my chest. She sputtered and stretched and Greg and I took turns feeling the pulse her heartbeat in the umbilical cord as the last of the bood flowed from me to her.

After 5 short hours, Greg and I welcomed Violet Sky into our arms. She weighed 6 pounds 6 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.

 

 

Like her sister, Violet needed some convincing to fully wake up right away, (perhaps due to such a gentle transition through the warm water!) Marianne took her and pointed an oxygen tube toward her nose to give her a boost and helped get her heart rate up a bit. I was pretty anxious to have her back right away and get that skin to skin contact which is key in regulating a newborn’s heart rate and breathing. With some help from Christina, I stood up and birthed the placenta so I could settle in, hold Violet once again, and we could begin bonding.

She was wide-eyed, dark-haired, olive skinned by then, and ready to nurse right away. She latched on beautifully and I felt such a rush of oxytocin, the “love” hormone that fiercely bonds mother and child, as we began to get to know each other.

I had no tearing, no hemorrhaging, minimal swelling, and recovery has been swift, thanks be to God!!

 

Aria meets her little sister for the first time

Violet’s sweet little life inspired these lyrics many months ago when I was working on my EP. The song became the title track:

Dark Is Light

For Violet

Hush, be still my heart
this violet sky is full of stars
Love, donʼt fade away
soon the night will turn to day

but thereʼs a warning in that light
a call to war is on the rise

Life is not a choice
Even the smallest one must have a voice
Fear will turn to joy
In the arms of the God who satisfies

And there is hope for our souls yet                                                                          In this, the Love that conquers death

We we are safe in this Love….
We are safe in HIS love….

Fearfully and Wonderfully

When she was about 30 weeks in utero, I recored Aria’s heartbeat with a little doppler machine in hopes that I would use it as part of a song I would write for her. Over the course of the next year the song took shape, inspired by the intimate and profound miracle of how we are formed by God’s beautiful design.

I was finally blessed to be able to record this song a few months ago while pregnant with Violet. So the song is dedicated to both of my baby girls.

To my Aria, on her 2nd Birthday, and to Violet, who I am dying to meet, and who is fearfully and wonderfully still “baking” 😉

Listen to the rest of my album HERE!

Aria’s Song

The womb of life
is in Your hand
the dark is light
as You command

Fearfully and wonderfully made
Fearfully and wonderfully made

Hemmed in behind
hemmed in before
You know my ways
where can I go?

And when I rise
or when I fall
You pierce the night
and bring the dawn

The stars, the stars are spinning
This universe is singing
Creation’s heart is beating
In secret, You are weaving

Fearfully and wonderfully made
Fearfully and wonderfully made
Fearfully and wonderfully made…

credits

from Dark Is Light, released 22 June 2012
Words & Music: Caitelen Schneeberger
Vocals: Caitelen Schneeberger
Piano: Caitelen Schneeberger
Guitar: A. J. McQuay
Bass: Jon McMillan
Drums: Ian Byrd
Cello: Caitelen Schneeberger