Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Skype Books

In the past weeks we have set up for Grandpa to read to my kids over Skype. Before they rarely talked with my Dad. Now they look forward to their weekly story time with Grandpa. This is even better than cartoons :) What could be better than having your very own book reader? 

On Natural vs. C-Section Births

I am a woman with an opinion. I am influenced a lot of course by personal experience, by the advise of my midwives and by stories heard and books read.

I am always very saddened and heartbroken when I hear of yet another woman who has been made to have a c-section. I know there are times when a c-section IS necessary- when the life of the mother or child is at risk. But most of the time I would say that c-sections are made for the convenience of the doctor and to avoid any risk due to their incompetence. What doctor wants to risk trying something new or long when they can do it the easy way out? C-sections are also chosen by women as the easy way out or are necessary due to the interference of a doctors who having induced labor have to do deal with the stress of a rushed labor- which is not natural and therefore leads to problems and more intervention.

I read today of another woman desirous of a natural birth- but because her baby was in breech the doctors chose for her to have an emergency c-section. She was sad. I was sad for her. My heart screamed out wanting to help these sort of women.

I think I ought to go and study and start my path toward becoming a doctor who will correctly inform women of the risks, the possibilities and the options.

The stories I hear from midwives and even doctors and mothers in Latvia where I now reside convinces me that many doctors in the USA are far behind the times if they think that a woman who has had a c-section must have another. We are not cookie cutter people who must all be cut the same way. Each of us has a choice and if our doctor will not allow us to choose we ought to seek another.

A friend of mine here had her first two babies naturally, the third was an true emergency c-section and then when pregnant with the fourth she wanted a c-section. She was afraid. But her doctor told her, "No, you do not need a c-section.  You can do this." She went on to have an ideal natural birth.

Why don't doctors in other countries, states and facilities allow a mother to choose? Are mothers misinformed? Do they trust their doctors too much? Are mothers to fearful or doctors?

What are your experiences and opinions?

Birth is a process that is between mother and child. A woman knows how to have a baby. A healthy woman will give birth to a baby with no problems and in her way with the assistance of a good doctor or midwife. We do not need intervention when we are healthy and our baby is healthy and when nature is left to have her course both mother and child will come through healthy, whole and content.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Planning

So this year I am attempting to plan our meals each week and thus a grocery list gets planned simultaneously. I must say I love planning menus. I don't always have all that many fresh ideas- but I love getting it all planned out. Of course things get changed around a lot depending on how quickly or slowing we eat up the leftovers from a particular meal.

I really like this weekly menu planner that can be printed out.

This week we are eating: I don't plan the veges, I use whatever I have on hand either fresh or frozen.

Lunch- Chicken Gyros (I made the pita bread and these were very yummy). Even my three year old liked them- he liked that half of the pita could be filled and it looked like a boat:)
Supper: Beef and Mushroom Soup

Lunch: Leftover Soup
Supper: Soup (if it still left over) or Lasagna

Lunch: Leftover Lasagna
Supper:  Probably Lasagna again. (We don't mind eating leftovers several times if they are yummy)

Lunch: Trout and Rice
Supper: Homemade Pizza

Lunch: We will be gone
Supper: Pizza Leftovers

Lunch: Baked Potatoes with Toppings
Supper: Potato Soup

Do you plan menus? What are you eating this week?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Way God Works

Sometimes it seems that God is just doing His usual thing- helping my life run smoothly on track without too many daily times of derailing it. (Losing my patience with my kids, lashing out if I am tired or frustrated, etc)

Other times I have a "Wow, God" moment and stand amazed at the awesome things he is doing through my ordinary life.

The other day a friend had a little surprise baby shower for a mutual friends of ours. This girl we had the shower for is not a believer to our knowledge. But she attended our Mom's group and we so love her company. There was another girl we aren't sure about either. Anyhow, we had a nice evening at local pizza place, chatted and visited, etc.

Note: Baby showers are a not a Latvian thing. They are starting to become more popular among friends who know what they are- but it is definitely a US thing and they even use the same name we do for it :)

This girl we had the shower for was surprised and totally blessed. Not to mention the fact that we also want to take her meals after the baby is born. (Another totally un-Latvian thing which is also be adopted here). She was like, "I can't accept that. How am I ever going to make it up to you?!" We laughed and told her we didn't expect her to make it up. We told her there is joy in the giving and blessing.

A week has passed and we wondered how she liked the shower. This evening my friend who organized the shower called me and said that our friend Ina (the Mom we had the shower for) was totally blessed. The following day she called a bunch of friends and told them there are people out there who don't just think about themselves, but who do things for others too.

To us it was something so simple. As believers we work together, support one another, take dinners when need be and just hang together. This lady outside our circle was shocked and blessed and taken aback that there are people like "us" in the world.

Isn't that amazing to see how God is using evening the simplest things to show people Himself through us?

What God moments have you had lately?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cheese Salad

Cheese salad is very popular in Latvia and since I am constantly hungry now due to my growing baby, I try to eat foods packed with protein. This salad can be dressed up for special occasions by putting it in on fancy crackers or in salty tart shells. It is served that way as an appetizer here.

Ingredients: (For 2 people)
1 boiled egg
1 boiled or steamed carrot (1/2 if yours are large)
6 oz. grated cheese - In Latvian almost all cheeses are white and I use a simple white cheese. You could probably use cheddar. Try a variety of whatever you have on hand.
2 cloves finely minced garlic.
3 T. mayo
Pepper to taste.

Grate ingredients. Mix together and refrigerate. Best if it has time for the flavors to "marry." We love it on crackers or with some delicious bread. Enjoy!

Monday, January 23, 2012


So ever since we were in Rome I had a hankering to try and make nutella. I like the real Nutella, but its list of ever so fake ingredients- despite the great taste deter me from buying it my kids.

So I did some research and decided to try this recipe. From this website: http://www.sugoodsweets.com/blog/2005/12/nutella/

I have added my comments in yellow because I think it will help yours turn out even better than ours. And ours is yummy :)

Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (easy version)
Yield: about 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups)
2 cups whole raw hazelnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
up to 1/4 cup vegetable or nut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast until the skins are almost black and the meat is dark brown, about 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color. Do not cook them this long- they get bitter.
  2. To get rid of the bitter skins, wrap the cooled hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Rub until most of the skins come off, but don’t worry if some remain.
  3. Process nuts in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until they have liquefied, about 5 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you only have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils, and you will get hazelnut butter! I have a small food processor and did this in parts. Be patient they really do turn into hazelnut butter!
  4. When the nuts have liquified, add the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Slowly drizzle in enough oil to make a spreadable consistency. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
  5. Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months. For best results, stir the chocolate-hazelnut spread before using.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

They Call them Invalids

Today I was in a bad mood. I sometimes don't feel like going to church. I don't get a lot out of the sermons when I have to keep two kids quiet and it is in another language. It is hard for me to concentrate at times. I told God on the way that I was in the mood for something different, I was tired of the same old routine.

I was therefore very shocked when we had some guest speakers from YWAM who are part of a organization Wings for Wheels. Two women shared their testimonies. Two women who by Latvian standards are invalids- people who don't meet up with the cultural "norm", who are in-valid (not valid). When I looked up the word "invalid" in the dictionary it has the definition of being "one who suffers from disease, someone who is weak or sickly." How wrong we are to term people with one "label." How strong these women proved to be through their testimonies.

I want you to understand that in Latvia people with disabilities are hidden away. You rarely see them on the streets, or in churches, or anywhere. This country is not friendly to those in wheelchairs. There is no way they could take the public transportation. (Only the newest trams in Riga are friendly to those with disabilities and there are maybe 2 of these trams in the capital). So over time it begins to seem like they don't exist here since they are so cut off from our every day lives.

One of these women was born with a speech impediment and coordination disorder due to a dramatic birth. She shared with us how she was able to conquer the odds against her and attend school and finish well. Then she went on to get a B.A and an M.A. She has served as a secretary  (which is a job she never searched for knowing she could never get that type of a position since in her her words, "A secretary is the face of the business." God is using her. I was amazed how one woman has fought her way through life, with God at her side and overcome so many insurmountable hurdles. In a country where she is looked down on she has been lifted up. She is not weak, she is not sickly. She has differences- but she is beautiful and used by God.

The second lady was one who is in a wheelchair- I didn't catch all of what she shared because she was rather soft spoken and my girlie was being noisy  by then. But she shared 7 myths people have in churches about people with disabilities.

Needless to say our churches eyes were opened to and people sat in silence listening to people we normally never see much less hear from in this culture.

I was blessed. I was challenged. I was reminded that we serve a God who loves the impossible. That to him no one is in-valid. Each person has a purpose and can be a mighty tool for him, against all physical and cultural odds.

We serve a mighty God.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Banner Help!

So I am trying to make a new banner for my shop and for an upcoming ad I will be having on another blog. I need some other people's opinions. Please tell me which of these you like best! Thanks! Or  perhaps you have some idea/suggestions?!





And one more option for the ad- but I couldn't get it to work for the banner.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Water Births

As I muddle through where I want to have this third baby I keep running into the idea of water birth. My midwife is for water births. She told me a neat story that babies born in water "swim" the length of the tub and their umbilical cord. She said while a baby's skin has not been reached by air it will not breath but will continue to use the oxygen from the cord.

Yesterday the leading midwife in Latvia with water birth experience was on the radio and I just finished listening to the program. It was fascinating and makes me want to try. She said it is easier on the baby to be born in water. My midwife says the same and especially for big babies- she is promising me a big baby this time.

I have been reading about the topic and found this site helpful, here is a section of benefits copied from their page.

What are the potential benefits of water birth?

Benefits for Mother:
  • Water is soothing, comforting, relaxing.
  • In the later stages of labor, the water seems to increase the woman’s energy.
  • The buoyancy lessens her body weight, allows free movement and new positioning.
  • Buoyancy promotes more efficient uterine contractions and better blood circulation, resulting in better oxygenation of the uterine muscles, less pain for the mother, and more oxygen for the baby.
  • Immersion in water often helps lower high blood pressure caused by anxiety.
  • Water seems to alleviate stress-related hormones, allowing the mother’s body to produce endorphins, which are pain-inhibitors.
  • Water causes the perineum to become more elastic and relaxed, which reduces the incidence and severity of tearing and the need for an episiotomy and stitches.
  • As the laboring women relaxes physically she is able to relax mentally, concentrating her efforts inward on the birth process.
  • The water provides a sense of privacy, which releases inhibitions, anxiety, and fears.
Benefits for Baby:
  • Provides a similar environment as the amniotic sac.
  • Eases the stress of the birth, providing reassurance and security.
A couple of my friends have also had their babies in water and are all for it. I guess my biggest fears/concerns are:
  • Privacy- I think I would feel too exposed in the water. 
  • Comfort- With my births at home I have gone in the tub and didn't like it during my contractions. But the tub is small at home and I didn't have freedom of movement. I don't know if water is my friend enough for me to enjoy a water birth.
And yet I still feel tempted to try this. I want something easier this time. What are your personal experiences? Have you had a water birth after a normal birth?


Sleep calls me by name and whispers to me
Wooing and luring and beckoning on
Eyes suddenly heavy and burning with sleep
This babe in my womb is long fast asleep
My energy's gone now, all used up in haste
Too much baking, too many cakes. 
Too long have I stood here brush in my hand
Too long have I turned from this beckoning hand. 
Sleep calls to me now, and once yet again. 
Come hither my child
Come rest in my arms.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Velcro and Elastic

I sometimes have the feeling I am held together with Velcro and compression stockings.

I hope I am not the only woman out there who as she bears more children and grows a few years older finds herself needing more shall we say, "support?"

I have a very minimal problem with veins and so am wearing a compression sock. I usually only wear it on one leg because it annoys me to have a thigh high sock to wear every day. To be honest I do not wear it everyday because I can't put it up with it. I have noticed though that my other ankle swells by the end of the day when I have been on my feet a lot. So I am wearing both compression socks now-no swelling. Yay!

I also find that when I am pregnant my back hurts a lot- from the very beginning. My midwife suggested I try a support belt. I got one the other day FINALLY. It is a dream, though a bit annoying to put on since I have to do so laying down so my tummy and baby will be in the right position. I really enjoy the extra support. But worry I might become too addicted to this. When I take it off my back hurts right away. . .  also when I eat I feel I have no room and have to loosen it if I hope to eat anything.

Oh the joys of pregnancy. This is the third time around for me and though I do have more complaints I must also say I have more joy too.

I want to get some professional photos down during this pregnancy- you never know if there is another baby in the future or not. I am also working on preparing for birth and the section of the book I am now on is art. My first assignment was to draw myself as I see myself pregnant. I had my husband do it as well- we had a good laugh. By the end of my drawing/ sketching assignments it will be interesting to look back and see how I saw myself in various ways: as a pregnant woman, mother, etc.

What did you do to prepare for birth?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

One of Them

If you have ever had the chance to live abroad for an extended amount of time or perhaps have permanently changed your country of residence perhaps you have encountered the feelings of "belonging."

6  years ago I moved from the USA to Latvia. I came as an English teacher to teach in a church. Yes, my ancestors on my Dad's side are from this land. But I am American.

I love Latvia. I love living my life  somewhere other than where I grew up. But sometimes I wonder if I am really one of these people. I wonder have they accepted me? Do I belong? Am I one of them? In some ways I have carved that niche and "fit" but at other times I feel such an outsider.

There is so much red tape to living in another country- things that we never encounter in America. Things we take for granted in our own country. Arranging documents for living abroad, using another language fluently, just learning to make the best use of the local products that are cheapest and healthiest.

What are your experiences of living and belonging in another country?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January Plans

One day I realized that I need to start making some plans for the time I spend with my children. Granted, I am a stay at home mom and have lots of that. But I wanted to plan things like I used to when I was a preschool teacher.

So I decided to make a calendar for January. I chose a theme- which for us will be winter. I went through a site on the Internet and got some great craft ideas which I put into my calendar. We will try to do one or two crafts a week. I also chose a verse and song for the month which we will try to learn. My kids are only 3.5 and 21 months. But I feel good knowing we have a plan. The teacher in me LOVES being so organized.

I have also been working on weekly menus. I love planning what we are going to eat. Though it keeps getting readjusted according to what comes up that day. I flip flop my days some of the time to fit into our schedule as need be.  I think part of my sudden interest in meal planning has to do with my seemingly never ending appetite which has suddenly appeared at 26 weeks :)

So how about you? Do you plan menus or schedules for your life and kids? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Birthing From Within

"Mothers know something other people don't but sometimes they don't know it."

In the book I am reading, "Birthing From Within" by Pam England and Rob Horowitz-it suggests we listen to other birth stories which can help us learn, encourage us and empower us.

What are your birth stories?

  • What helped you most when you gave birth?
  • If you could do it over again what would you do the same? 
  • Is there anything you would do differently? 
  • What do you wish you had known beforehand? 
Send your birth stories to silkscarvesbyeli@gmail.com (if you don't want to write them  here)


Friday, January 6, 2012

Too many ambitions?

Today I was chatting with my Mom on Skype as we do most afternoons. I like to talk to her while I am making supper. We have a Skype phone and I can visit while I work. This is always the best time for us to chat.

Anyhow- I was telling her all the things I am doing now and the things I am hoping to get done before our baby is born in April.

I then realized that these are the things I have resolved to do as much as possible this year. The rest of the year after the baby comes in completely left blank in my mind because I know it will take several months to readjust to life.

Here are the things I hope to do by April and the things I am working on now:

  • Eat healthier 
  • Exercise a bit daily 
  • Continue to paint silk though not as intensely because I have other things to get caught up on. I am now working on two ties and one scarf and have my new Valentine's Cards and earrings available
  • Catch up on the kids scrapbooks and begin a family scrapbook. 
  • Make a quilt for this baby and for A- she never did get one. It could be her gift for her 2nd birthday. ( I have the blocks cut out for the background)
  • Plan lessons or rather crafts for the kids on a weekly basis. More to come on this topic in a later post :) 
My Mom said I am too ambitious. After the baby comes I hope to adjust to life with 3 kids and do a bit of gardening. Then in the Fall it would be nice to back into painting again. But we shall see :)

Worries about Pregnancy, Birth, Motherhood.

I am working through a book for preparation for birth. True this is not my first birth- but I want something different. I want to work through the pain and try to understand if I can birth without it as others do.

The book challenged me to write for 15 minutues about what I fear. Here are a few of those things:
  1. Not knowing where I will have my baby ( With the first two I knew where I wanted to- this time I am unsure)
  2. Not knowing which midwife to give birth with. (The one I had the first two with or the one I am seeing now?)
  3. Tearing 
  4. Being out of control during labor. 
  5. Pain during the pushing stage that makes me feel I'm going to die. 
  6. Health problems after birth. 
  7. My kids (where will they be? How will they handle the new baby?)
  8. My baby being too big (The midwife says he will be at least as big as the last. She was almost 10 lbs! )
  9. Money (I want to be able to afford the kind of birth I desire). The most expensive senerio is still cheap when compared to other countries.  But not cheap for us. ($1200 max.)
  10. Child Support (It looks we may not have the government support this time around since I had to leave my job)
What are your worries in regards to birth? What were they then? Did your worries come to pass? 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bran Muffins

For a delicious bran muffin recipe head over to my cooking blog :)


Valentine's Quotes

If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.  ~Attributed to Claudia Ghandi

Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!  ~Thomas Hood

When love is not madness, it is not love.  ~Pedro Calderon de la Barca

Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.  ~Albert Einstein

 For you see, each day I love you more
Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.
~Rosemonde Gerard

Love is a symbol of eternity.  It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end.  ~Author Unknown

Trip over love, you can get up.  Fall in love and you fall forever.  ~Author Unknown

Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.  ~Author Unknown

A hundred hearts would be too few
To carry all my love for you.
~Author Unknown

We're all a little weird.  And life is a little weird.  And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness - and call it love - true love.  ~Robert Fulghum, True Love

 Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.  ~William Shakespeare

kisses are a better fate
than wisdom.
~e.e. cummings

Who, being loved, is poor?  ~Oscar Wilde

In melody divine,
My heart it beats to rapturous love,
I long to call you mine.
~Author Unknown

Grow old with me!  The best is yet to be.  ~Robert Browning

The hours I spend with you I look upon as sort of a perfumed garden, a dim twilight, and a fountain singing to it.  You and you alone make me feel that I am alive.  Other men it is said have seen angels, but I have seen thee and thou art enough.  ~George Moore

We loved with a love that was more than love.  ~Edgar Allan Poe

  Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.  ~Henry Van Dyke

Are we not like two volumes of one book?  ~Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

 I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.  ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I love thee - I love thee,
'Tis all that I can say
It is my vision in the night,
My dreaming in the day.
~Thomas Hood

The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of.  ~Blaise Pascal, Pensées, 1670

At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.  ~Plato

True love stories never have endings.  ~Richard Bach

Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold.  ~Zelda Fitzgerald


Monday, January 2, 2012

Ideal Mom

Sometimes I get to thinking I am no the Mom I would like to be. There are so many ways I could improve and yet I am doing my best to be the best Mom I can be. When I imagine the ideal Mom these are some thoughts that come to my mind: (Not in any particular order)

  • Patient always.
  • Sings lullabies and songs with children. 
  • Reads books and spends time teaching children. 
  • Has time to home school and do all the other things needed to make a household function. 
  • Cares for oneself and looks lovely. 
  • Has a good relationship with husband- makes time for date nights. 
  • Has a growing relationship with God.
  • A mother in prayer for the salvation and spiritual growth of her children. 
  • Knows how to creatively discipline and meet each child's individual needs. 
  • Cooks well balanced meals that everyone eats. 
  • Sews, knits and makes all kinds of handmade goodies and gifts. 
My list could go on and on. There are so many little quirks to these that I am not doing, and so many that I am working on.

I am continually desiring to be a better Mom. Yet so often I am tired, worn out and stressed. Being 25 weeks pregnant my back often hurts and I feel so tired I just want to lay down. Sometimes I do just that- then my kids play next to me and we are all happy.

In my quest to become a better Mom, God is continually speaking to my heart. Lately I have been meditating on these verses:

Romans 5: 3-5 (New Living Translation)

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our our confident  hope of salvation. And hope does not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. 

How encouraging to know that God is using ever trial I face as a Mom to make me the person He desires. And what a blessing to know  that the Holy Spirit dwelling in me is proof of God's love for and in me.

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My blog is on there today. How fun!