Welcome to Our Muddy Mess!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Colossians 3:17

We recognize as wives and mothers that we are all still clay being shaped by His hands. Join us as we seek to share about our lives and our love for our God, our husbands, our children, and our world.

Friday, March 30, 2012

My Birth Story (Round 2)

Last week I shared about the birth of our first born. This week I'm going to share about my next labor experience. This is really part two of a two part story on my second labor experience. God really used this time to help me work through some of my guilt (but I have to admit, I'm still a work in progress). You can read the pre-birth story here. But since this post is geared on the actual birth, here's how it all went down:

Thursday afternoon and evening, my appetite began to dwindle. My mom said it was my body preparing me for labor. I tried to not get too excited about that possibility, but I was praying she was right. My time was running out to be able to have this baby without surgery.

After dinner, since it was rainy outside, we went to Sam's club so I could attempt to "walk this baby out," like I'd been trying to do most evenings. I must have looked pretty miserable. The door greater offered me a wheelchair to shop in. Any other day and it might have seemed fun to try one of those motored wheelchairs out, but not this day. I needed to walk.

On our ride home I felt a few contractions and these were different than the ones I'd felt before. As a side note, my mom was saying on our way home that she wishes it would just snow if it were going to be so cold and yucky. I told her (jokingly), "Be careful because Columbus can deliver." We put Noah to bed and I made sure my mom knew were everything was for in the morning, "just in case." This was around 8 PM on March 25th.

I was attempting to time my contractions while watching the UK game. It didn't work too well, but I also knew they had to be more intense before going to the hospital anyway. The game provided a good distraction to them. During halftime I decided to call and tell my dad to be on standby since I knew he'd still be up then. While I was talking to him, I looked outside and it was SNOWING!! Crazy!!

After the game (our last victory of the season), I decided I would go ahead and take a shower and try to lay down to get some rest in case this was it. I had a hard time deciding whether to try exercising to help progress things or rest, but thought I'd try to rest b/c that'd also help me know if they were the real deal or not. I had a couple of really intense contractions in the shower that confirmed to me this was not just more Braxton Hick's contractions.

I laid down and Nick rubbed my back and my contractions were actually happening about 5 minutes apart and lasting for about a minute. All of this was within the range of "when to call." But I thought they could probably get more uncomfortable. However, since I was electing to VBAC, I didn't want to wait too long and put the baby or myself at risk so around 3 am I called the hospital. The doctor who called me back said to go ahead and go to the hospital to be checked out.

So we got our things together and headed out through the snow to the hospital. We arrived around 4 am. I was dilated a 4 and 90% effaced upon arrival. They had me go walk around for an hour and come back and see if I was progressing. After walking for an hour (and both of us wishing we'd worn different shoes) they checked and I was a "4-5." The doctor suggested another hour of walking because they hated to send me home and then my contractions intensify and have to come back again, especially since I was a VBAC patient they wanted to be able to monitor the pressure. Before my second hour of walking was up, my contractions were too intense to walk through. I would have to stop and try some methods to deal with the discomfort. So we went back and at this point they decided to admit me so that they would be able to break my water, which should help me progress more and allow them to monitor the pressure inside my uterus (again, doing a VBAC they want to watch this closely).

Sometime just before 8 am I got my epidural, which wasn't a minute too soon because I think if my contractions got much stronger I would not have been able to sit still for an epidural. Around 8:20 or 8:30 am they broke my water. I was as upright as I could be in the birthing bed trying to let gravity help things progress. About an hour or so later they came to check on things and I was 100% effaced an a 10! Nick and I both couldn't believe it! They told me that at 11:30 we would begin pushing. My dad made it to the hospital just a few minutes before that so we were able to see him before I began pushing.

I loved my nurses! Debbie and Jen both were great. They were very excited that I was a VBAC patient and very determined to help me succeed. I cried because they were so great. That was an answer to my prayers as well- having medical staff that was supportive and who really worked with me to make this happen. They encouraged me that "we would get this baby out of there."

All morning my blood pressure seemed to be low and there were a couple of times they had to give me something to get my blood pressure back up again. I generally have lower (still in the normal range, but the bottom of the normal range) blood pressure, but they did not want it that low through all of this. After delivery my nurses were still concerned about my blood pressure but it eventually returned to "normal."

My dad left the labor and delivery room at 11:35 am. A few minutes later, we began "the hard part." It was an amazing experience feeling the pressure of the contractions and the pressure of everything as I worked to push the baby out. I could hear changes in the nurses' and Nick's breathing that indicated progress was being made, which encouraged me more. During some of the contractions I would just pray, "Lord, help me get this baby out!" and "Lord, thank you for allowing me to do this." I would also pray for strength and ask Him to make this happen successfully.

And the Lord delivered! I heard them say, "It's a girl!" while I was attempting to catch my breathe and take it all in- It had happened! I could hardly believe it. Our daughter was born at 12:09 pm on March 26, 2010. I was sure she was a smaller baby but the nurses didn't think so. Eventually they weighed her in at 9 pounds 7 ounces! She was even bigger than her brother! I was thankful that my doctor had thought she was smaller previously or I might have chickened out of attempting labor.

I have been so grateful for this experience. The whole process helped my prayer life and I was very encouraged by all the people I had praying for me through this too. One of my aunts even woke up at 3 am Friday morning feeling like God was prompting her to pray for someone but she didn't know who until she saw that I was in labor later that day, she said she then knew it was me she was praying for.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Remove Water Stains From Wood

A few weeks ago we had a spill at our table under a woven trivet. We'd cleaned up the water but forgot about the wet trivet (which was still being used at the time of the spill). So needless to say, we had a BIG water mark! So I looked online to try to find out what to do & read to use a dry iron (no steam) with a cotton towel over the spot. So I tried it.
I forgot to take a before picture but I think you will be able to make out the iron shape in the first picture. It took a long time! I left the iron on there while I swept the floor & then almost forgot. Anyway, it eventually did work!! I was grateful our stain was on a leaf so I was a little more willing to try it. So now all you Mamas with nice tables who might be afraid to iron your table can feel free to iron out your water marks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ashlee's Birth Story (Round 1)

During my first pregnancy, everything seemed to go great. I felt great (tired but no vomiting). My skin was the clearest it'd ever been. I did however, gain a LOT (read 52 pounds) of weight though. However, I was also very busy. I was teaching full time in a school who was not meeting the state's standards (which means more meetings and paper work for teachers) and I was taking 12 hours (yes, 9 is considered full time and I was taking more) of graduate school classes. And not to mention being married to a middle school youth minister who was in seminary. So, maybe it's needless to say, but I didn't really read much about labor and delivery. I sort of assumed that the nurses and doctors would be telling me what to do anyway.

Pregnant ladies out there: PLEASE READ UP ON LABOR AND DELIVERY! I was only partially right. They do tell you what to do to keep all of your vitals right. But at the hospital where my son was born, there was so much more I wish I had known! 

My labor began first with my water breaking, only it was not a flood.. it was just a small trickle. I got up from a nap and went to the bathroom and got ready to stand up (and you know 9 months pregnant, that's a task!) and felt like more came out. I know that they say you loose a little bladder control so I figured that must be what it was. So then my husband and I went to our favorite Indian restaurant. 

After eating I went to use the bathroom and then noticed that there was some green stuff coming out and so I was pretty certain this was not just a lack of bladder control. I called my MIL (who was a Mother/baby and OB nurse) and she suggested I go ahead and call the doctor. 

I called and they calmly said I should come to the hospital to check in. It wasn't until after I was changing into my hospital gown that I had more of a gush of fluids. I also later learned that the "water" was green because my son had already had a bowel movement. This creates a higher risk for infection so they began trying to flush out the fluids. 

I was not feeling my contractions yet (though the monitor showed I was having very mild ones) but they laid me in a bed to flush fluids. I was also not dialated very far...

It seemed my labor was not progressing (now I know that laying down like I was was probably the worst position to try to progress labor)... my contractions weren't strong enough... long story short, they wanted to give me medicine to try to move things along because they do not want to go beyond the 24 hour mark from when my water broke due to the meconium. 

Turns out my son was also face up (now I know that spinningbabies.com offers some good ways to help with that too). Long story short, I was permitted to try to push. We saw his forehead and all of his hair.. but he did not move any further. My doctor said she would not try to pull him out (I think there had recently been a law suit over a baby dislocating a shoulder or something)... he didn't seem to move anymore... 

Three hours into trying to push his heart rate began to decel with the contractions so I was prepped for a c-section. At the time, I was more concerned for his safety, but later felt like a failure because I felt I should have known more, been able to push harder, or something.. 

My son was in NICU for 5 days after his birth, some of the things that kept him there being complications of a long time in the birth canal (22 hours after my water broke he was born). But now he's a very healthy growing boy.

I've also shared the story of my second birth story if you'd like to read about God is showing me His love for me and helping me let go of my guilt through that labor experience.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fun in Marriage

Our church hosts a monthly date night (Thank you so much!!!) which is often the only night my husband and I get out without the kids most months. I'll admit I'm a little over protective, but it's hard for me to trust my kids to people, especially since I've only lived here/known most of the people for 2 years or so. Anyway, last month another couple from our church invited us over for coffee & dessert on the same evening as our date night. So we went to dinner just the two of us and then went to their house where we were able to hang out with 2 other couples. During our visit I had multiple opportunities to laugh at my husband's jokes. Later, as I reflected on the evening and how much fun I had I realized that even though we spend time together and we even get time alone together, it had been a long time since we'd laughed together and had fun.

I could not even remember the last time we'd "just had fun" together. We've had so many things to talk about and plan together and figure out together- budgets to crunch, letters to write, trips to plan, projects to discuss, Community Groups to care for, family to relate to, and so many other things. We eat together and discuss all these things, but we had not just had time to just relax and enjoy each other for the people we are. It took hanging out with others to remind me that my husband is hilarious! I think I'd forgotten.

Sometimes I think I feel guilty to spend money on "fun" stuff because our budget is pretty tight in areas we have to have (like food and utilities) so I'm tempted to cut the "extras" that might be fun. However, I think I've seen the value in having fun together too.

We often host others in our home for meals and often we do so because we want to have some time we can intentionally get to know people. But I think we might need to start inviting people over to do other things- like a game night or wii night or movie night too. Nick and I are most likely always going to have projects and plans to discuss so we can't just hope for a day when we have more time. Instead, we need to be intentional about having planning time and play time.

How do you find time for fun in your marriage?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Decluttering the family vehicle

It seems that after about two weeks of shuttling my children from place to place, grocery shopping, commuting, and vacationing, my van looks as though a family of nomads live in it. Everything-clothing, toys, garbage, food, drinks, DVDs, mail, diapers, wipes, blankets, pacifiers, and a million other things can be found strewn throughout. So I finally decided it was time to do some de-cluttering. Here are some things you can do to help organize your mobile space.

*Get a trash can. Don't just throw a plastic grocery bag in the floorboard. It'll get lost. I purchased a cheap can at the dollar store and lined it with the plastic bag.

*Buy some inexpensive plastic tubs or buckets (I like the shoebox sized ones) for toys or baby items.

*Keep a manila folder in the car for incoming mail, receipts, and other papers that accumulate.

*Keep a static duster in the console or door. While you're waiting at the drive-thru, give your dash a swipe.

*Keep a tote in your trunk/cargo area for small items. When they roll around sometimes pieces get lost.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Exquisite Pizza Sauce

I recently stumbled upon a pizza sauce recipe that was so simple yet so delicious that I thought it would be good to share it on here!  Find the recipe below, the changes I made in italics.

Exquisite Pizza Sauce on allrecipes.com

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (or 1/4 cup of paste.  Or the paste & water can be substituted for 1 cup of tomato sauce.) 
  • 6 fluid ounces (3/4 c.) warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) 
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (We can't find this here. I replaced it with a dollop of olive oil.) 
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove, pressed) 
  • 2 tablespoons honey (This is too sweet for my taste.  Reduce this to 2 tsp. or 1 tbsp.) 
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional) (Um, yeah. Left this out.) 
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (I replaced the oregano, marjoram, & basil with 3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning.) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (Omitted this.) 
  • salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine tomato paste, water, Parmesan cheese, garlic, honey, anchovy paste, onion powder, oregano, marjoram, basil, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes and salt; mix together, breaking up any clumps of cheese. Sauce should sit for 30 minutes to blend flavors; spread over pizza dough and prepare pizza as desired.

The recipe says it's for 1 pizza, but I made 2 medium ones with it and still had enough left over to dip the crusts in.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cleaning a Flat Cooktop Stove

I think that flat cooktop stoves are awesome, because they ARE way easier to clean than the ones with the electric coils!  However, sometimes something spills on a hot spot and burns, and then it is extremely difficult to clean since you're not supposed to use harsh cleaners that might damage the surface.  I never knew how to get the burn marks off, and so they turned into kind of a brown ring around each element - not pretty.  I ended up googling around to try to find a way to get the stovetop actually clean, and I found this set of instructions on eHow.  It's not complicated but it takes a few hours and quite a bit of elbow grease, but it worked VERY well!  There are some black scorch marks in the hottest part of each element that I think won't ever come off, but it took off ALL the brown burnt patches.  So if you've got some burns on your flat cooktop you don't know how to remove, try this!  *Note - I didn't have a straight razor or a utility knife, so I used a spare blade from my box cutter.  I was nervous about damaging the surface with it, but it worked great and didn't hurt the surface at all.  So don't be afraid to just scrape away - it WORKS!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Got Bananas??

Did you happen to overbuy bananas on that 29 cent per pound sale last week? Are they going ripe on you too quickly?? Here are some great options to use up those bananas!

Frozen banana bites
Slice banana into one inch discs. Dip in melted semi-sweet chocolate and roll in any variety of toppings (sprinkles, coconut, crushed nuts, graham cracker crumbs, crushed cookies). Lay on wax paper on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer for 4-6 hours.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Parenting Perspective: TV/Videos

When do you let your children watch tv/videos? How often? What videos? There are so many questions concerning this, how's a mother to decide? This will be a topic where I'm sure there's going to be a wide variety of answers on what works with different families. Here's what some of the Muddy Mamas have done with their children:

Ashlee: We tried to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics suggestion that children under 2 do not watch television. This was pretty hard to do, especially when we would go to other people's houses who would have a television on either for themselves or their children. According to PBS, 74% of children have watched tv before the age of 2. Our first born got to watch a few clips of some Baby Einstein videos about 2 weeks before his 2nd birthday, so I guess we're still in that 74%. His little sister was born 9 days before his birthday and Mama just needed a break! We've tried to follow this as well with our second child, which means there's not as much time for big brother to watch tv even now that he's 3. I sometimes feel like he might know his alphabet and such if he were watching more educational videos, but then I just try to remind myself how creative he is and how well he can play by himself because he has such a good imagination. I'm sure he'll eventually know his whole alphabet in order and be able to count before school. For other Mamas who chose to follow this guideline I'd suggest 2 things: 1. Tell your family and friends about your decision early on so that you don't have to interrupt them in the middle of their favorite movie to say, "Our child can't watch tv." or so they'll understand why you haven't opened the video they got him for his first birthday yet. Plus, letting them know in advance will help prevent having conversations like those I'm suggesting avoiding in point number two. 2. Be careful in how you speak of your choice as to not judge others for not choosing the same thing. It is very hard, and there are lots of good reasons why a mama might decide that this is not best for their family.

Joni: Boy, I have a hard time even chiming in on this one because I'm so uncertain about whether we did it right or not!  But the point of the Muddy Mamas blog is sharing about real life, so here I go.  :)  We had intended to not let our now-3-year-old watch any TV before he was 2 because of the guidelines Ashlee mentioned above.  However, we didn't hold out that long!  I can't remember exactly when we started letting him watch Baby Einstein, but it was sometime around his first birthday.  Seeing how much he loved it, though, and how much he learned through the videos he was watching caused us to quickly let him watch more things.  Even now, he watches mostly only PBS shows (Thomas & Friends, Super Why, Curious George, Cat in the Hat, Elmo's World) or educational or faith-based DVD's (Go Diego Go, Boz the Bear, Veggie Tales), but I am concerned about how much he watches, and try very hard to moderate it.  Most days he gets 1.5-2 hours of TV.  He does learn a LOT from the things he watches, though, and honestly it's so easy to let him watch TV, which he LOVES, which allows me to get things done.  So part of me feels guilty when I let him watch TV, but another part justifies it with the fact that he loves it so much and he learns so much.  It's a tightrope walk for me, and I often feel uncertain about whether I have the right balance.  But he seems to be doing ok, and I just have to keep praying for wisdom to make the right choices!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Help with Decluttering!

I just found a pin on pinterest that I think it going to be really helpful for me! I feel like I have a decent cleaning routine but I STINK at de-cluttering. So, when I saw this pin, I decided I'd take a look.

This site has a link to a pdf that tells you one thing to work on each day of the year to help declutter your home! It's very simple and it takes the "What should I work on today?" out of it for me. Some of the tasks [like declutter the tops of your cabinets (I assume she means your countertops??)] will take me multiple days. But there are others (like "keep only your good, sharp knives") that I won't have to do anything for because I only have knives I love (Thank you Pampered Chef!). I also liked that the tasks make me feel like I'm not the only one who might have a "pile in the hallway" to deal with. :)

So, if you're hoping to get rid of clutter, you might check it out. I think that you could easily jump in anytime and then you could go back for any days you missed when there's a day with something that doesn't apply to you. Hope this helps you (and me)!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Back away from the can...

It's 5:00 and you have no idea what to make for dinner. You open your cupboards...and the lovely red and white can stares back at you. "Open me" it says. And you are happy to oblige. But really, does something that flops out of an aluminum can in the same shape as the can really taste that good? Short answer-no. Not really. So how can you step away from the canned soup without creating a ton of work?

One of our favorite "don't have any time" go-to meals is tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. No problem, except the taste of canned tomato soup isn't really that appetizing. It's just convenient. So I've tried out a few recipes and wanted to share my favorite. It's a crock-pot recipe and still a quick option, but much tastier!

Crock pot tomato soup
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup water or chicken stock/broth
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp basil (dried) or 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped finely
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup half and half

Add all ingredients except half and half to crock pot. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Add half and half 30 minutes before serving. Stir well and serve!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy 1st Blogiversary!

I cannot believe it was one year ago today that we posted our first post! I intended to post our blogiversary post earlier today but as you mamas know, life happens and sometimes our well meaning plans don't actually work out.

I want to thank you, our readers for journeying with us this past year. I also want to let all the readers know how much I appreciate my fellow Muddy Mama writers. Not only do we all do our part to share ideas with our readers, these ladies are also ladies with whom we are able to share life together. Though we are not all in one place geographically, I know that anytime I need someone to join me in prayer over something, these Mamas are there for me (and I do the same for them). So, I thought on our blogiversary I would share what our top 5 posts were from this past year (in terms of what was viewed the most). So here they are:

5. Product Review: Shark Navigator Lift-Away Vacuum 
4. Guest Post: Furnishing Your Everyday Needs from Es... 
3. Time Management: Weekly Planner 
2   Bell Pepper Recipe: Unstuffed Pepper Bake 
1.  She Has A Name { T-shirt Giveaway}

So, as we embark on our second year of blogging, what topics would you like to see us share about more in the future?