Friday, March 29, 2013

The Birth of Emma Jane- by Kassie Lashua

It was about 1 AM on a Sunday night when I realized I was officially in labor. I had spent all day laying down at home not feeling too good, but had no idea it had to do with being in labor. Ryan was at work, and his mom had taken him for us as a favor that day (which was very rare for me to not drive him---during my entire 9 months of pregnancy, I think I had only gotten a ride for him 3 times total…an indication I really did not feel well). I had woken up that morning with a very sore back (and was super emotional being overdue at that point by 6 days and disappointed I didn't have her yet, so I was in tears) . I thought my back was hurting because my dad massaged me the day before (which happened to be Christmas Day), and I thought that I was just sore from it. It had felt SO GOOD afterwards just the night before…but I still thought that’s what it was from. My mom called to check in on me that afternoon, and I remember being so emotional and told her I had found a weird movie on Netflix that I was watching that was a really girly drama and I didn’t know why but I was sucked in. It was sad and emotional and I told my mom on the phone, “Why am I even watching this when I am already emotional?” and we laughed. That evening I suddenly felt the desperate need for a nap… but I wanted to sleep all the way through the night and I couldn’t if I had to get Ryan at 11p, so I called my sweet brother and he said he would get him for me. I was SO relieved that I could sleep! It was 9pm and I fell fast asleep. Little did I know that sleep was the most I would get for days…

Christmas Day- 5 days past due date
 Well…I heard Ryan arrive home that night (my brother picked him up) at around midnight and by the time he came into bed it was 1. I heard him fall asleep and suddenly, I was wide awake. My back felt slightly better from falling asleep on a heating pad, but then the moment I thought 'maybe it's better' it began hurting again. And then it hit me…does this have a pattern? If it was what I was hoping it was, I did not want to tell Ryan. I needed him to sleep because he was going to be my support through labor. I went out of the room and began timing it. 8 minutes apart…for an hour. They seemed to increase after a few hours, too. I timed it all night long…every 8-10 minutes I had that low-back pain. I was in labor!!! A rush of energy and excitement hit me. They were contractions!

I grew pretty sleepy by the time 6 am hit so I walked back into our room and Ryan immediately heard me and woke up and asked how I was and if I was just “getting up” for the day. I told him I never went to sleep and that I was in labor! He was like, “are you sure?”---not wanting to get his hopes up :)…So I assured him yes and that he needed to get more sleep…he was going to need it. I went downstairs and continued with my contractions until 7:45am then decided to call my mom just to check and make sure I wasn’t crazy…she was so excited and assured me I definitely WAS in labor and asked if she should come right over (I asked her to be there as my doula…). Ryan was able to fall asleep for another couple hours than came down about 8, and my mom arrived around 10:30a while Ryan and I were just going through the contractions together. During that time I realized it was comforting to get down on my hands and knees during the contractions, and so I began to do that during each contraction. I was thinking “Hey, I can do this!” …so naive in having no clue how bad it would get…

By noon by mom suggested I eat something so my mom picked up my favorite neighborhood Mexican food's taquitos with guacamole (it tasted sooo good to me), then afterwards Ryan and I took a walk around the block. I would say the pain of my contractions was about a 5-6 minutes at that point. I came back and felt like mint and chip ice cream we had in the freezer...I had some then we all just continued to kind of hang out until I realized the pain level was around a 7 or more and I started getting nervous thinking about being in the car and driving to the hospital. I didn’t want it to get any more intense because at this point I had to get on the floor every time I had a contraction. So we headed to the hospital.

Headed to the hospital!
 I HATED the car ride. Man, it was painful and I felt so trapped going through each contraction in there! We arrived around 3 pm. I remember just hoping/praying that I had progressed a lot because I just always had a fear of being sent away from the hospital for not being dilated enough. Well, we checked in and they took us to the “before being admitted” rooms that were just separated with curtains…They made me put on a gown and also insisted I put on a fetal monitor and contraction monitor. We cooperated but did not want to (I had written out an entire birth plan stating I did not want these things but I was not officially admitted so it didn’t count). So frustrating. My plan was to have a midwife at the hospital. My midwife, Connie, who I had all my appointments with during the pregnancy actually had been sick the past three weeks so I was going to have a different one check me. She was nice but not at all compared to MY midwife. But I had known she wouldn’t be able to be there so I had expected to have a different one. Well, it turned out even she wasn’t even available either just yet! So a nurse just asked if we wanted to wait for her to check me so I could get admitted.

We were fine with that so we waited a while and when she finally checked me…I was only dilated to a 2! So discouraging. The hospital wouldn’t admit me into a room unless I was a 4, so they said we could either go home or walk around the hospital a bit. We of course didn’t want to go home, so we walked around and supposedly the midwife was going to meet us when we came back. She was going to be there at 6p. So we walked around the hospital trying to find corners and somewhat private areas that I could get through my contractions (which were coming anywhere between 1-5 minutes apart. I was so excited for it to be 6p and was expecting to be almost to a 10 by then by the intensity on my contractions!  I was very optimistic. Well, we got back to the triage at 6. The midwife turned out to not only not be there, but was on her way to deliver a baby at that moment! Oh well, at this point, I didn’t care who checked me…so I asked the nurse to once again. So she did. I was at not even a 3 ( I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t imagine the intensity of the contractions and couldn’t imagine much worse.

The nurse gave us the same option of staying or leaving. I couldn’t leave! Are you kidding me? And do what at home ? So we gave the nurse our cell numbers so that she would be sure to call as soon as the midwife was done. Well…once again we walked around the hospital and didn’t want to leave. My mom got her and Ryan some food, and they ate while I went through more contractions. My mom wanted me to eat for more strength but oh no, not at this point. I tried to not smell the hospital smells…at this point I started getting nauseous. I threw up…it was about 8. We kept moving…trying to find a “comfortable” spot somewhere to “hang out“ as we waited. We found some “cushioned” benches along a deserted entrance. I so badly wanted to lie down to relax and get a few seconds of rest! I laid on Ryan’s lap for about 15 seconds at a time (which was the shortest yet most heavenly moments)…the contractions would NOT allow me to relax. Every time I got a contraction, my spine would spasm to a point of jerking me to my feet, and not allowing me to sit or lay down. Also, I had to pee after EVERY contraction. Worst and most exhausting pattern. I was so grossed out by the bathrooms at that point! I couldn’t sit or lay down since about 6 pm. I would just stand towards a wall and push with my arms against the wall as hard as I could and my foot digging into the ground at the same time as hard as they could as either Ryan or my mom took turns putting a pressure against my low back. I was beginning to get really scared. These were crazy! At what seemed like forever later and with every optimistic thought I had left telling me this was almost over…we went to get me checked again. It was 10:30 PM. Still no word from anyone. We couldn’t believe she hadn’t called us by now. (She promised she would). It felt like an eery dream. Being in a hospital but not getting the planned help we had counted on. I felt betrayed! We went to the curtained “room” in the triage that we had reserved with my suitcases and waited for me to be checked again. At this point it was our third time and everyone knew us and saw us walking back. I waited (as a very crazy-like a monkey in a cage) as I went through each contraction about every 3 minutes…and then heard someone say, “where was that patient in room 6?” (which really was just a curtained off space we were in), then someone responded, “oh, they went home.”…………WHAT?!?!? We were right there!!! Ryan was furious! (I’d never seen such an irate expression on his face.) “Ummm…No, we’ve been here waiting for 45 minutes!” he suddenly very loudly announced behind the curtain. Then there was a silence. They didn’t know we could hear them! Immediately a nurse came in WITH the MIDWIFE we had been waiting for and just started hooking me up to the monitors again. They were like "Oops…sorry...” Then proceeded expressionless clearly realizing that we were not happy to have been overlooked so many times. Here we were all day waiting for her, and she was there and no one had told us!  She checked me. I was a 3.……still!!!! (and was about to die of disappointment and pain and exhaustion.) She gave us a talk. We could either go home and wait it out more, or we could stay and they could try some “interventions”. (Our every effort during pregnancy and plans of the birth was to do it completely natural, for the safety and health of our an intervention could mean taking medication in order to speed things up) She told us to talk about it, and she would be back. She left and Ryan was there just looking at me and I immediately begged him to just make the decision and that I couldn’t take it much longer. (in my mind I was thinking, “just cut me open!” but didn’t want to say it. I was hoping he would!) I threw up. The monitors they HAD to put on me EVERY time I went in that curtained room were making me SO SICK. I went to the bathroom (I had to go LITERALLY every 5-10 minutes the past 4 hours…Emma was pressing on my bladder and so low…) I came back and Ryan had gathered my stuff. He strongly felt that I would be more comfortable going through contractions in our home rather than in the hospital lobby. WHAT?!!? I screamed in my head. I mean, it sounded nice and everything, but there was NO WAY I was going to be able to get back to the car and drive all the way home…and for what?!?! To just be there a few minutes only to drive all the way back? Just thinking about that made me seriously feel like fainting and I wanted to just die! I let Ryan know it felt like an impossible thought, but he was completely confident in his decision and reminded me if we were to stay they would most likely force us to go against all we had hoped and prayed for with this birth…and not do it naturally. Somehow (I still don’t know how), we left (with lots of tension with the staff)…after of course signing tons of papers (the weirdest thing in the world signing all sorts of paperwork and getting ready to leave a hospital as I was in the worst pain of my life)…oh, and she handed me a paper about what it will feel like when I go into labor---so thoughtful---…I couldn’t even comprehend it all…

The walk to the car was insane…it was a cold and windy night and we had a 15 minute walk to the car. We finally got into the car and sure enough going through a contraction was so unbelievably wrong. It never felt like it was going to end! I mean here I was in labor now for 24 hours straight, and it seemed to be at the worst it could be, but I was told just 45 minutes prior that I was a 3???? AND I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A 10?????

We arrived home around 1 am, and my mom had a plan to make things as bearable as possible. She said I needed to try to relax in some way…somehow. So we tried having me in the bath. When I was in the bath though…of course at first it was nice…when I was not having a contraction I was fine! But when it hit…there was no way of getting a break or relief from it at that point. It was like someone was torturing me…(I guess I would explain it as being tickled…it’s a horrible horrible feeling with absolutely no where to go…torture…) So the bath just made me even more trapped. So I got out of the bath as soon as I could and my mother (bless her heart, I would have been lost without her…which I thought originally all I needed was Ryan, but I guess a mother really knows how to handle a woman going through labor...and having both there was just perfect!) wrapped me up and had me lay down in bed and made me try to fall asleep. I thought she was crazy…how could I sleep? I couldn’t lie down! Just try, she assured me. She rested her hand on my back and Ryan lied down on the bed with me as my mom rested next to my side on the floor. It was dark and I think for possibly 3 glorious minutes I was asleep and oh so cozy. Then…a contraction hit and I JUMPED up out of my precious bed. My sweet husband was so concerned and appeared so hopeless…he was kind of looking pretty bad. If you know Ryan, he is very black and white, very steadily happy go-lucky personality and almost always has a plan. I had never seen him like this. He always seems to know what to do. And I think that's what was making him sick! It was obvious it was so much for him to emotional take that he couldn't help me or fix it, and he was shutting down. SO after the contraction, I told him to just please try to get to sleep. I needed him rested so I could focus and not worry about him. My mom would help me out and I assured him I would wake him if I needed him. Miraculously, he passed out and slept some.

At this point, there was nothing we could do but get through and wait until...I wasn't sure. I think that was what made it so extremely hard in a sense I wasn't expecting. I knew it would be painful, was. I knew it would be hard and was. But I wasn't progressing! I wasn't seeing any sign of an end! It felt like I was going to keep going forever and I did not know what to do!

My mom kept giving me the push to just get through each contraction. She told me, "Think of Emma. Every contraction brings you closer to seeing her. Just get through this one more..." I now realize she was trying to give me one thing to focus on. I didn't feel it at the time, but it really got me through each contraction. I had all sorts of verses written out and thoughts or quotes to get motivated from. But they were so far out of the situation, in my suitcase packed for the's kind of funny to even think about it now how every plan was just thrown out the window---we were just surviving. I needed my mom for those moments to give me a sense of everything is going to be alright. She of course had been through labor, and we hadn't! The one thing I remember telling myself over and over that really helped keep me focused---women have been created to do this, they HAVE done this billions of times...young girls have done this!--- I knew if I just endured, I would do it, too! God designed our bodies for this!!!

And then the moment that everything took quite a rapid change:
Once 6am that next morning hit,
I said, "I feel like pushing...just deliver her here, please mom!!! I don't think I can get in the car!"

Suddenly, my strong mom looked taken back, like she was not expecting me to say THAT. I think she sort of freaked out and brought me a hot pack. She then asked if she should call our friend Carol to see if she could come and check to make sure I had progressed so that we could know if I was ready to head to the hospital? I said yes and she went to call our family friend Carol, who was an at-home midwife. Ideally, I had wanted to have a homebirth, but we looked into it and could not afford her home births since it was not covered by insurance and a hospital was. I had grown up best friends with her daughter and used to watch her pregnant clients come in and out of the house and was so intrigued and naturally always thought about her delivering my babies one day. She remained a close family friend, and my mom had kept her updated by texting her during the labor for advice. I had been laboring for 2 days and seemed eager to push now and could not tolerate a car ride (and in my mental state was thinking the hospital would send me home again made me feel like I would go mad)...Carol said she could come right away to check me to give us a direction on what to do next. She arrived within an hour. I remember telling Ryan to clear our bedroom. I could not stand to see any mess and wanted it tidy. Funny I cared about that. He jokingly picked it up. He was so precious.

I was on the floor feeling so hopeless , and the moment Carol arrived, I felt a strong peace and sense of pressure taken away. She checked me and and just looked aside for a very long moment just to process things I guess, and then sweetly looked up at me and said the most beautiful thing I felt I had ever heard:

"You are ready to push!"

Ryan, my mom and I just paused for a moment in was time! Carol said was willing to take over and deliver the baby right there! All the pressure, and worry sloughed off immediately, and a surge of excitement and magic entered our house. We were going to do this! We immediately turned our master bedroom into a birth room using a shower curtain, hot water, towels, and several sheets. It was 10:30a. In a way it was as if my labor had started all over but in the way I had always pictured it and hoped it to be!

I knew now would be a matter of a couple of hours instead of the unknown. I was SO ready and eager and energized to take instruction/guidance from Carol! She gently coached me through a couple contractions on the bed, then while sitting on the toilet (where she gently broke my water---it STILL had not broken!!), and also while sitting on the birth stool. I hated that, but it helped me progress alot to the point where finally we saw her head!!! Such an exciting moment! Everything went so fast that my plan to have a mirror to see her head never happened. We then moved back onto the bed and I pushed maybe 3 or 4 times. I remember each time all the encouragement Ryan, my mom, and Carol gave me. Telling me how great I was doing, and it was so close! I remember being embarrassed by the screams I would make on each push as I used all my might to get Emma out. I have never yelled and screamed like that before. You really have to use all of the physically strength that is in you. Although it was the worst pain I have ever had, I remember thinking about how doable the pain actually was. I had mentally prepared for it, even though it was not something I really could have imagined, I could do it.

For me, it was all about endurance and patience (two qualities I lack horribly). It was as though God was guiding me along my greatest weaknesses and showing me I really could do anything through Him, and in His amazing love, He gave me the love of my precious husband, mom, and midwife.

During each push, I would close my eyes so tight in an effort to fully concentrate. I was positive that I would hear a reaction if they saw progress, and maybe that would encourage me to push a little harder to help guide Emma out. But instead, on my last push, I opened my eyes, and there she was! They all were so quiet, apparently not wanting to disrupt my concentration on pushing. It was as though I opened my eyes to the best gift in the whole wide world. Oh my gosh, the emotions come back as I write this. Indescribable thoughts of disbelief came over me. How could I be thinking of a baby constantly and working harder than I ever have for her, yet be so surprised and unprepared to see an actual baby the moment she came out? As Carol brought her to lay on my chest, I lifted my shirt to immediately nurse her as I had been waiting my whole life to do. Oh my word, the best feeling ever is to have what she wanted and needed! She loved it! She needed me! I was her mommy!

All bundled up for the first time
 I had second thoughts of the ultrasound saying she was a girl during my last few weeks of pregnancy. I second guessed so many things and was so anxious those last few weeks that came so out of the blue. So I immediately checked, and sure enough, there SHE was. My Emma. Born at 11: 36 am on Tuesday, December 28th 2010, just an hour and a half after Carol got to our house. 34 1/2 hours of labor. She weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and was 19.5 inches long. She had so much hair! And her tiny body was so perfect! Not too bony or plump...she was pink and her arms were so hairy! The blondest hair I had ever seen covered the back of her shoulders. I looked up for Ryan and felt like he was so far away. He was just standing there in disbelief on the other side of the bed, watching it all. I immediately wanted him close! We both were just blown away, speechless, just taking in every single moment.

 Carol then warned me that she would be delivering the placenta next, and as I held Emma, she took the best care of me. Holding my baby helped distract me from any discomfort at that point, and nothing phased me---Emma was here!!!!!!!!! It was so peaceful and beautiful! Ryan was texting family and got a call from his mom and said it would be about an hour for me to get cleaned up and ready for company. And oh how incredible that was! To watch everyone come into our home and into our room and see our healthy baby brand new and perfect. No IVs or beeping or getting a nurse's permission or needing to be checked in :) It was a dream that was made real when I did not expect it to be.

The day Emma was born was life-changing for me physically, I do not feel AT ALL the same. Mentally, I feel like everything I think about is so different. Emotionally, I think just now at almost two years later I am beginning to settle. And even now, the smallest things bring me to tears :) Spiritually, I see things in such a different perspective. The way God guided our path of going from a desire for a homebirth than being ok with a hospital since that was all we could afford yet finding a hospital with a natural midwife birth center, only to end up having the birth at home... I often wonder if my birth would have been shorter and easier if I just had it all at home with Carol's direction and guidance. But I know I learned and grew so much through the process it makes it all worth it to have had a long road. How is it God allows us to experience such amazing things? To create a life with the person you love more than anything is one of the many crazy gifts I do not understand. It is so unreal and wonderful.

                                                              GOD. IS. AMAZING.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Bucket List

I was talking to my grandpa the other day, and he made a statement that got me thinking.... he said “Happiness is always having something to look forward to”. He also reads my blog regularly (Shout out to you Tata- I love you!). I believe that true JOY does not come from external things, but from an internal and eternal God. BUT, there are some external things that can make you happy, and I LOVE having something to plan and look forward to. It’s just my thing!

So I sat down and wrote out my Bucket List!  Everyone knows what a bucket list is, right? A list of things you would love to accomplish and cross off the list before you “kick the bucket”. So, I spent an evening mulling over what I have done, what I have not done, and what I would like to do!

I realized that I have been fortunate enough to have done many things that people put on their bucket lists, like: own a horse, visit Hawaii, learn to surf, learn to play the piano (not well), perform on a stage, go on a cruise, meet someone famous, find a street named “Aubrey”, birth a baby, have an out of body experience (labor!), fall in love, and start a blog! Just to name a few. But I was finally ready, after many times watching “The Bucket List” to make a serious list of what I wanted to do, see, or accomplish in my life. And I’m ready to start working towards doing these things NOW! Here’s my list...

-Visit Greece and possibly meet my relatives there
- Write a book and have it published
- Speak publicly to 500+ people
- Birth a baby unmedicated
- Learn to not be offended (over and over!)
- Visit Spain
- Record an album (as a backup singer, of course)
- Visit Niagara Falls
- Build a piece of furniture
- Witness a miracle
- Visit all 50 states (I’m at about 30)
- Read through every book in the bible
- Learn to say “no” without feeling guilty
- Break a world record
- Get my bachelor’s degree
- Meet my Compassion International Child
- Have a video featured on America’s Funniest Home Videos ( and win money!)
- Invent something (that hasn’t already been invented!)
- Visit Fenway Park
-Donate more money yearly than we live on
- Live in an RV (and travel!)
- See a Cirque Du Soleil show 
- Visit Amish Country
- Adopt a child
- be rendered speechless (I have a lot of words...)
- Help someone complete an item on THEIR bucket list

There are 24 items on this list, in case you were wondering. I like round numbers, so I would like to add at least 1 more to get to 25 (UPDATE: there are now 26 on the list). And 30 is also a nice, round number.  And who knows, as the time goes on, I may continue to add more as I check some off! I also really like when things are organized, but I decided to let this list be random. I would feel angry if I put them in order and then didn’t complete them in that order. So instead, I left it random because you never know what life is going to throw at you!

Here’s the cool thing- I think I may be able to check at least 2 of these off this year!!! I am so excited! Do you have a bucket list? It may be a good idea to start one- even if you never accomplish EVERYTHING on it, it gives you a good target and gets your mind going!

UPDATE: This fall I was able to check off 3 more things! Yessss!

What is one big item that is on YOUR bucket list?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Birth Journey- with Dianne Hamre

I wanted to write about a class that Daniel and I took before welcoming Piper into our family. It is called “The Birth Journey”, and taught by our doula, Dianne Hamre, who is very close to my heart. I don’t want to give away the whole schedule of the class (that would just spoil the fun), so I will give you a general idea of what is involved.

When Daniel and I signed up for the class, we weren’t too sure what to expect. We wanted to take Bradley classes, but they were expensive, long, and this class was included in our birth experience at the birth center. After many conversations, we discovered that this class was just as good, if not better than Bradley classes. It was a one-day workshop- and I started counting down the days to our class. We had heard so many great things and positive stories! I couldn’t wait to learn about birthing my baby naturally and building confidence in my body and my labor. We expected to leave feeling empowered and informed- but what we didn’t expect was the effect it would have on our marriage.

What a gorgeous day for a little walk!
 This class mainly focuses on the importance of support during labor. For many women, this support is their husband. To start the class, we reminisced over the “good ol’ days” of dating, falling in love, getting married, etc. Dianne was sure to establish a good foundation of bringing us back to love from the beginning. Then we practiced a few trust exercises where the husbands were blindfolded. After that, the men were able to experience, as close as possible, their OWN contractions (with ice!). Dianne wanted the men to get a little taste of what their women go through during labor and the confusion, fear, and pain that could likely set in. We used these opportunities to encourage each other and help to provide relief with touch and words. 
This is us experiencing and working through a 'contraction' together.
 Then came the hard part. Without giving it all away, the pregnant (VERY pregnant) mamas were blindfolded, led away from their partners, and thrown into an emergency scenario. Completely alone. We then were given our own obstacle (still blindfolded), with no help from our partners. No words, no touch, no idea where I was or what I was doing. It was terrifying. I finally was unable to hold back my tears- and I soon found out that there was barely a dry eye in the room.
Dianne did this to reveal how important it is to have support during such a difficult time. When Daniel and I were reunited, there has never been a moment (except for during our labor), that I have felt closer or more comforted by my husband. I NEEDED him. And I WANTED him. I couldn’t do this without him, and I definitely didn’t want to.

We left this class a new couple. We felt refreshed, closely bonded, and ready to take on our labor, no matter what it presented. I strongly believe that this class prepared us for our rough labor and strengthened us mentally and spiritually to face the obstacles that kept trying to block our way. And believe me, there were lots of them!

I am eternally grateful to Dianne for providing her time and energy to invest in the couples whose lives will soon be changed forever.  At one point, she leaned down to me and whispered in my ear “You can do this Aubrey. Your body was made for this, and you are ready for this”. Those words still resound through my mind. I will never forget them. Thank you Dianne. 

There were quite a few more activities involved in the class- but you will have to take it to find out for yourselves! It is absolutely worth it. If you are interested in taking this class, it is offered at BabyMoon Inn and I have included this little flyer above with more information. Call Dianne for prices and to schedule your day; usually around your 37 week mark. If you have any more questions regarding the class, also feel free to contact me! You won't regret it.

Here are a few more pictures from our labor. Doulas also take pictures and document your birth story! We had two doulas- I think that Kelly took the top 2 and Dianne took the bottom 2.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Favorite Place

I’m missing my island today. 

I call it mine because I have decided to claim it. It is the island of Kauai, or the “Garden Isle”, in the Hawaiian Islands. It is the oldest of the islands, and covered in lush greenery, vast mountains and sparkling beaches.

My first visit to Kauai was when I was 16 years old, and I went with my parents and a friend for a week long vacation. From that day on, we were hooked. My parents eventually purchased a condo on the island, and we were able to go back about once a year. I longed for these vacations, because I feel so at-home on-island.

When I was 18, I spent the entire summer living there and nannying for a good friend. I also got a job at a local lunch/coffee spot and served ice cream and shaved ice. It was pure bliss to go to work in my swimsuit, a cover-up, and flip flops (or “slippas”), and then go straight down to the beach afterwards. We developed friends there quickly, and we knew we were “in” when we were with them and they pointed out “tourists” to us! YES! We were locals!

My Dad on the Kalalau Trail

I spent the days nannying 3 precious kiddos. Nannying is a piece of cake in the beautiful place. We ate fresh fruit for breakfast, packed a cooler, and spent the day at the beach. EVERY. DAY. I dropped the kids off at Wai-pai, a summer camp where they learned to live off the land of Kauai. They were taught how to roast a pig underground, use Taro to make Poi, identify different species of plants, and take trips to the beach. Now, this is a place that actually has to send a note home to parents to send their kids to school with shoes because they are going on a field trip!

The view from the porch of Java Kai
Every morning we would start the day with a coffee from Java Kai. The one time we stayed close enough to the coffee shop, we rode our bikes there. Every Monday night was potluck time with our friends either at the beach or at the soccer field near the school.If it rained, we would move a little further up the beach to the Pavilions. This was past Grandpa’s, Pine Trees, and before the Pier (the local names for the different parts of the bay). On Saturdays, we would go to the Farmer’s Market and pick up fruit, local treats, and maybe some homemade jewelry or clothing. There was also a building that offered classes, and we once took a “Poi Ball Dancing” Class. We usually got caught in the rain, but there is nothing better than a cool sprinkle in the middle of the day that only lasts 5 minutes before the sun returns. The Craft Fair is always my favorite. It is only open 4 days a week, and has lots of different vendors there. I have purchased dresses, jewelry, wooden bowls and toys there. We would hike the Kalalau Trail at least once a week, going the 2 miles back to the hidden beach and exploring the caves there. It was the best hike EVER. We were always wet, but who knew if it was rain, ocean water, sun tan oil, or sweat? It was glorious. 

Backpacking the Napali Coast with my main squeeze
There are so many reasons why I love this place. I have spent summers and winters (ha) here, and I have spent my honeymoon, my birthday, and my parent’s 25 year anniversary on these beaches. We have backpacked the Napali Coast and explored the vast beaches. We have reached the end of the road on both sides. But the beauty is not the only thing that brings me back...

I love the atmosphere of this island. It is calm, laid-back and goes with the flow. Businesses open around 9:30ish, unless the surf is up (see picture to right). I don’t have to wear makeup. In fact, NO ONE does. It is not needed and more in the way on your sun-kissed face. I don’t have to do my hair. It is up and down all day according to the wind, the waves, and whatever the salty air decides to do with it. I can eat healthy- without even trying. Everything is so fresh and local, that it is not difficult to have yogurt and a papaya for breakfast. The veggies were fresh picked the day before and purchased at the Farmer’s Market. You get a workout-without even trying. We usually bike, hike, or walk to most places. Once you get there, you are usually in the water surfing, SUPing, boogie boarding, or snorkeling. On our honeymoon, we even snuck in hikes, kayaking, boat rides, etc. No need to stop moving, this is relaxation at it’s best! You feel closer to God. Something about being in the beautiful nature and watching life as it was intended to be lived in inspiring. My favorite moment was seeing a woman at least 9 months pregnant and in a bikini on the beach with her kids. Now THAT was beauty. And that was “normal”.   

Exploring an ancient Hawaiian garden
 I hated that I had culture shock coming back to the mainland. I hated that I felt like I needed to wear makeup, do my hair, and wear “real” clothes to fit in. I hated that every time I met up with friends, we met at a restaurant. There is nothing to do but EAT here! I hated coming back to cell phones, computers, tvs, and freeways. I longed for the little two-lane road around the island where drivers would stop to let you make a left hand turn or cross the street.

I wish I could be there, but my life is here. So on occasion, I let myself reminisce and remember why I love that place. And I cherish every time I can visit. It has been a little while now, since we had the baby and found “other” ways to spend our money, but I will find my way back soon. In the meantime, I will hold these feelings in my heart and live life out here, as if I was living there. I want to feel the same calm, relaxed, and happy feelings. I want my life to reflect love and a certain ease about life. I want to “fit” here like I fit there. This is where God has me for the present time, so I will find contentment here. But I will be back, sometime.  

Where is YOUR favorite place and why?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Natural Mom's Medicine Cabinet- by Robyn Thatcher

This woman needs no introduction, but for those of you who may not know her- allow me. My mother, Robyn, is one of the most amazing women you will ever meet. She is beautiful, witty, energetic, and a total joy to be around. She radiates fun and spunkiness (is that a word?). As kids, we would call her the "witch doctor" because she always had some herbal remedy to cure our ailments. But here's some background- we had very little money when we were growing up, and no health insurance due to my father owning his own business. My mother, having had 5 children in 8 years, had to find another way to keep us healthy and cure our illnesses. This woman has cured scarlet fever, mumps, multiple colds and flus, effectively treated asthma, and even spent two weeks nursing the dog back to health with enemas. Still when I am at her house, she will come at me with an herb and say "open", and I do it, knowing that she is treating whatever she has seen. The picture below is of MY herb drawer- which I owe all to my mother. And there are more- it doesn't all fit in there! I hope you find this post helpful :)

Hi all, it’s the maternal unit here…Aubrey’s mom.  She asked me to share with you my ‘Natural Mom’s Medicine Cabinet’.  I am eager to do so, as creating strong healthy children who grow up to choose to live strong, healthy lifestyles has always been important to me. In Ethics class, we are often asked to define ‘the good life’.  It involves happiness for sure, and purpose, without a doubt.  But how often do we fail to include feeling good, being physically healthy as part of that equation? Well, enough of my soap box.  Here are some simple, natural remedies that I have used for over 2 decades and even still to keep my kids healthy, get them well when sick, and avoid the doctor’s office as much as possible. I figured if humanity has used these for over two thousand years, long before over-the-counter meds and prescriptions, they were good enough for me.

The Basics:

Garlic oil capsules: Garlic oil is one of the only known VIRUS killers in nature. My little cherubs got a garlic oil capsule daily from about 4 months old to any time I can get them in my kitchen even now. Garlic works as a preventative, staving off flues, common head colds, streptococcus, vampires, and overbearing grandparents.  Give it at night, before bed, as the odor can be lethal. The kids got one/day, and when sick they popped 4 or so in a day, and enjoyed a healthy foot massage with the oil as well. I then covered their feet with warm socks before bed.  Garlic absorbs into the lymph and circulatory systems through the feet and begins killing infection all over.  Garlic also lowers serum cholesterol levels, and stimulates the circulatory system, so it’s just good for life in general.

Echinacea/Goldenseal liquid (caps for older children): this is an herbal tincture, usually in an alcohol base.  You can find it in a glycerin base which tastes better, but it is stronger in alcohol. One squirt at FIRST sign from the body that the immune system is on alert—that can be droopy eyes that have lost some sparkle (as a mom, you know), sniffles or runny nose, unusually tired, irritable, or just plain cranky. As soon as I saw cranky, my kids got garlic and Echinacea/Goldenseal and went straight to bed.  Think PREVENTION. Echinacea does not actually kill infection, but helps create runny mucus that traps bacterium and runs it out of the body.  So don’t fear the runny nose.  Blow, wipe, and let it run.  It’s removing the bad guys.  Goldenseal on the other hand, is a powerhouse.  Know as antibiotics in the herbal kingdom, it begins killing bacterium right away.  Countless times we avoided doctor visits and antibiotics by treating with garlic and goldenseal-- AT FIRST SIGN of trouble.

Lobelia:  I kept liquid and capsules on hand at all times. Liquid lobelia in low doses can stop a hacking cough or an asthma attack in about 2 minutes.  In high doses, it acts as an emetic, inducing vomiting in the event of poisoning.  The capsules are used for older sick kids, when coughing, aching, and restlessness are issues of illness, and for relaxation during high stress. It is a nervine herb, with direct affect on the nervous system, and pretty immediate. This is why it can halt an asthma attack so quickly.

Important Note: these traditional medicinal are all yucky to the taste buds.  They are astringents, the strongest of the herbal world for infection and immune system stimulation.  I encourage you to not lie about or hide yucky from your children. Illness feels yucky, and should, so that the human psyche desires and knows what it feels like to feel good. Children who know the difference between feeling yucky and feeling good tend to be sick less, and for shorter duration. They long to feel good, recognize it when it comes, and make better choices overall to avoid feeling yucky.  So I don’t hide pain or yucky medicines from my kids.  I let them feel the wrath of illness so they will stop, rest, treat themselves right and recover well, and then make choices like eating right, sleeping 8 hours/night, getting exercise and sunshine and hand washing  to avoid getting sick as much as possible.  I also let fevers reign, provided they stay below the 104 range.  The fever is the body’s first line of defense, alerting the brain there is an invader, and signaling the lymph and immune system fighters to attack. Bacterium and viruses are denatured (fatally wounded) by heat.  It also signals the human and the mommy that the body needs all the help it can get in the form of rest, water, nutrition, herbals, and probiotics (bifidophilus).

A few more, but will keep them short.  You can Google them for more information.

Aloe Vera juice- belly aches of all kinds

Charcoal capsules- indigestion, stomach flus, belly aches, food poisoning

Bella Donna -in homeopathic pellets for colic/irritability especially for babies and toddlers

Chamomile -any form—tea, caps, oil for sore throats, restlessness, coughs.  Also a nervine herb for stress

Bifidophilus- a multiple strain of acidophilus used to repopulate the healthy flora in the colon.  Studies show healthy flora maintains intestinal health and equips the body in immune defense.  ALWAYS follow a round of prescription antibiotics with a week of high doses of Bifidophilus to replace the flora (and thus restore the immune system) killed off by the antibiotics.

Arnica cream-a homeopathic rub for bruises and bumps.  Apply immediately and frequently. Circulates the affected area and reduces inflammation and pain, lessening the severity of the hematoma.

Onion/Honey cough syrup-made by slicing onions, drizzling with half a cup of honey, and simmering for 30 minutes. Keep refrigerated and treat as necessary for coughs, or just because the sick little one likes it.

Chewable Vitamin C- popped as often as desired during sickness or wellness, as too much only results in diarrhea, which probably needed to be cleaned out anyway. Vitamin C is a key nutrient for the immune and the vascular system, and it’s so easy to take.  I grind up half a pill and mix with water to make a mild eyedrop for sties, pink eye, and conjunctivitis.  
Licorice root- in liquid form, makes a yummy warm tea that kids really like.  I used to give a squirt into their mouths as a treat after taking the yucky stuff.  Circulator/energizer, for grown ups, too.

Essential oil of Lavender- kills infection topically, internally, and in the air. I usually have a tiny bottle with me at all times for cuts, bites, stings, mouth sores, or weird things that show up on the kids skin that you have no idea what it could be.

Thieves Oil- A mixture of 5 key essential oils, known for protecting the body and nasal passages from floating toxins in the air. Used by thieves to protect them while they plundered victims of the Bubonic Plague in France.  Fascinating story.  Look it up! We patted some on our chests and under our noses before entering airplanes, nurseries, or crowded places.

Enemas- performed with a bulb syringe for babies and children, or enema bag for older kids and adults. When suspecting dehydration, or refusal to take traditional medicinals, enemas are lifesavers.  Literally.  An enema will hydrate the colon far quicker than any hospital IV drip, and can bring down a dangerous fever in a few minutes.  You can put herbs, garlic, and bifidophilus in the water to get right where they need to be. ***If you plan on performing an enema, speak with a healthcare professional FIRST to ensure that it is necessary and done correctly. There are certain risks for small children****

There is so much more, but this is a good start if you are new to natural health and prevention.  You are the best doctor for your kids.  Save the professionals for serious disease and illness, when you have done all you can.  You will be surprised at how quickly the body responds to natural supplements, and can actually heal itself.  We all would be far better off by taking responsibility for our own health and learning how our bodies work.  Fascinating, really.  Enjoy the journey.

Oh, one more thing—stop by Lavendar Moon in Goodyear, or online at to get mommy some Nutricalm.  I lived on this multiple B complex loaded with herbs, bee pollen, and various nervine herbs while raising children.  Sometimes the nervous system gets fried, and we don’t respond to the joys and difficulties of parenting as we would like.  Nutricalm was a lifesaver for me, and my kids!

Yours in Christ,

Here she is in all her beauty.... in case you were wondering! 

We are not stating that this is the RIGHT way to treat illness, simply that it is the method that worked for our family. Please use your best judgement with your own family when choosing to try herbal remedies. You should always contact your pediatrician FIRST if you are concerned about your child's well being and let them know what you are giving the child. If they jump straight to prescribing and antibiotic and you do not like that, please find another pediatrician. There are so many different doctors in this great city, that there is no reason to not find a pediatrician that you love and trust. If you want someone completely natural, there is always the option of a naturopathic doctor. Please always use common sense when it comes to using herbs and homeopathy in your home!