Saturday, August 24, 2013

John Amos Vail

In my long absence from this blog, this happened. 

38 weeks

So then, naturally,  this happened.

A couple minutes old
 Our third boy entered our family and our lives, and he's already four months old!

We named him John Amos, although he is going by Amos. John is after Cory's dad, whose name is John Barry but has gone by Barry his whole life. Amos is just because we liked it! It means "God carries my burdens." That was a good reminder during my pregnancy, and my prayer is that it will remind him throughout his life that God is faithful to carry our burdens when we need him to.

I wanted to sketch out the story of his birth before it fades from my mind (as it already is!). What is it about birth stories that we women gravitate towards so strongly? It's such a momentous moment in your life, whether you take the drugs or not, schedule a C-section or go all natural, birth at home or in the hospital. I find it hard to believe that I've done this three times now, but thankfully it's gotten a little bit easier every time! Amos's birth was picture perfect for this crunchy (but still hospital-going) Mama.

So I have Braxton-Hicks - a lot. The weeks leading up to the birth sometimes feel like perpetual labour, but I am encouraged that that is one of the reasons I go so quickly when the time actually does come.

I managed to avoid any internal examinations until the day I was actually in labour. I woke up on a Monday morning feeling gross, slightly nauseous, and crampy. This was two days before my due date. I had an appointment scheduled for 9:30 that morning and also needed to get groceries. Cory had arranged to take the day off work and come with me, and my mother-in-law was already planning on watching the older two. I fixed breakfast, got the kids dressed and ready, and was having contractions about every 10 minutes. Nothing too painful or out of the ordinary yet, but when I went to the bathroom and saw a slight "show," I knew this might be the day. So along with the kids' diaper bag I packed them some pajamas and toothbrushes to take to Nanny's, and grabbed my hospital bag to take with us as well. We dropped the kids off and headed to my appointment.

By the time we got to the hospital I was pretty sure that today was going to be the day, contractions had moved up to about every 5 minutes and were slowly getting more painful. When I went in to see my OB, she checked and found that I was 3cm dilated. She recommended that I stick around the hospital and head up to Labour and Delivery whenever I felt that I wanted to. Cory and I went to the Tim Horton's where he got a coffee and I grabbed a bagel, and we sat in the lobby and chatted for about an hour. Contractions continued, but I stuck it out until I started to notice people staring at me as I had to cringe, close my eyes and focus on my breathing every time one hit. Also chatting with my husband was going from a fun date to the most irritating thing in the world (I prefer silence when in pain!) We decided to head up to L&D.

We got there, checked in and got changed and settled in our room. Cory went to get my hospital bag and I wandered around the room a little bit and sat in the chair. It's funny, as much as I'm an "all natural" kinda gal, I'm really not a big fan of walking or bouncing on a ball during labour. I know it helps speed it up, but honestly my labours progress so well on their own that any extra help in that department is really not necessary and causes me to loose my focus. My preference for early labour is to just sit quietly. Once it gets harder I want to lie down and just focus.

I had the best group of health professionals for this birth. My lovely nurse was actually a friend of mine from playgroup, the intern was very kind and helpful, and my doctor was the most caring I've had yet. It made such a big difference. When they asked what my plans were for pain management and I told them that I didn't want anything they were very supportive and didn't mention it again. I also requested delayed cord clamping (where you wait until the umbilical cord stops pulsing before you clamp and cut it - this is so that the newborn gets every last drop of mom's blood instead of leaving a lot of it in the cord). While I could tell that the doctor didn't really think it was a big deal, she graciously agreed and complied with my request.

After a couple hours they offered to break my water to speed up the labour if I wanted. I hemmed and hawed for a bit - I'm not a big fan of interventions and I knew my water would break on its own before too long, but in the end I decided to just go for it. I wanted to hold my baby, and with my past history I wasn't worried about labour stalling after my water broke (which would have required more interventions). The intern came in and broke my water around 1:00 PM. I dilated very rapidly after that, and then after 5-10 minutes of pushing our wonderful Amos arrived easily at 1:45 PM.

I remember the nurses chuckling while I was pushing because when they would ask how I was doing I would answer "pretty good, this really isn't that bad!" It really wasn't - I remember with both my first births reaching a point in the labour where I felt like I had reached the end and I just couldn't do it anymore. Then they were born. With Amos, I never felt like I reached that point. I always felt in control and like I could do it. It's a great feeling!

After he was born they placed him immediately on my chest. They did his APGAR's, his Vit. K shot and his eye cream right there on me. I held him while they stitched me up (this doctor was the first I've had who did her darndest to not let me tear, but he was big and I tore along the old scars from the first two babies). I was able to nurse him almost right away and he latched on no problem. They then left us alone with our new boy for an hour while we called people to let them know. The first question on everyone's mind of course is "how much does he weigh," but we didn't know for over an hour because they just let me hold him. When they finally did weigh him, he was a solid 9lbs 1oz of perfection.

Cory held him while I showered and got changed back into some real clothes and we went to our room. I would have loved to have gone home right then (and next baby I'm going to try harder to make sure that happens!), but it didn't work out this time. The pediatrician had already left for the day so there was no one to discharge Amos, so we had to stay overnight. By morning there is no point in leaving right away just to come back for the 24 hour heel prick, so we stayed until he had his test done and then went home. We skipped his Hep B shot and nobody gave us a hard time about that either (thanks Lord!). My recovery and the transition to three kids has been slow but steady, tiring but better every day.

And today?

At our church picnic, 4 months old
My little guy already has his first two teeth. He loves bouncing in his jumper and being worn in the Ergo during long walks. He loves nursing, bonfires and his big brothers. He hates, hates, the carseat, but makes up for it by being a happy gem the rest of the time. He loves to giggle, play with his feet, and he doesn't need nearly as much sleep as his older brothers did. My sweet Amos brings joy to my life every single day. I'm so glad God sent him to us!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Theology of Housekeeping

So I got into FlyLady. And she sends me umpteen e-mails a day and drives me batty, but my house is cleaner - so that's something. But I'm sorry, NO ONE is going to tell me to wear lace-up shoes in my own house. Ask me again when I'm 40 and my knees are worse than they already are.

Truthfully, I've been very pleased with the extra motivation of the Zones, Daily Missions, the "Hot Spot Fire Drill," "Declutter for 15 minutes" and "27-fling Boogie." Corny, but it works. My sink is shiny and my bathroom has been swished and swiped.



As I gaze around at this new, neater home, I wonder though... why. Why do we bother? What is the purpose of keeping our homes neat and tidy? So I pondered, and I came up with three reasons. So here it is, my tri-perspectival view of housekeeping (my theology nerd husband will be so proud of me).

1) GOD: Because God is not a God of disorder, but of peace [1 Cor. 14:33]. A disorderly home does not accurately reflect the image of God. Sure there are times and seasons when it gets out of hand a bit (that first trimester of pregnancy always does me in completely), but our goal should be to return our homes to order as an example of who God is.

2) OTHERS: We keep our homes neat to bless others. It's so much nicer to visit somebody when you aren't picking cheerios out from between your toes and moving half their worldly possessions so you can sit on the sofa.  A neat home is more welcoming to visitors, and God calls us to practice hospitality [Rom. 12:13].

3) OURSELVES: A neat and tidy home blesses the whole family. While it is mostly my job as the homemaker to keep things organized, the home is also the shared responsibility of everyone who lives there. Dad takes out the garbage, kids help Mom when she asks. How much nicer is it to go to make supper and open the cupboard to pull out the exact pot you need, already washed and put away? It makes Cory's life much easier when he goes to get dressed for work in the morning and finds his work clothes folded and in his drawer, instead of having to find them in the dryer or (yikes!) just wear the dirty ones from the day before (I can't promise that hasn't happened before... or won't happen again...). I like being able to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night without stepping on sharp little plastic dinosaurs.

I could mention other things - the principle of good stewardship or the health benefits of less dirt and dust, but I think I'll leave it here for now. These are the reasons that run through my head as I toss in my one load of laundry a day or sweep my dining room floor, and they keep me going.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Catching Up

I know, it's been awhile.

That's because my life has been a little crazy the past couple weeks. My beloved husband had to spend a week in Ontario training for his new job, so spending a week as a single parent occupied most of my waking hours! He returned on Sunday, when I greeted him enthusiastically and... promptly threw up. Flu.

I've spend the week recovering, but today both boys came down with it pretty bad. So this is sort of how my day went:


  • Wake up. Do some laundry. Make smoothies for breakfast.
  • Scrub diarrhea off the couch. 
  • Make biscuits for poor sick tummies. 
  • Scrub diarrhea off the carpet. 
  • Play soft music. Do laundry.
  • Make lunch. 
  • Laundry. Work on supper prep. 
  • Make snacks for Awana (even though we most definitely weren't going!)
  • Go to get Theo up from his nap - find him rolling in vomit. 
  • Baths. 
  • Laundry.
  • Theo pukes again: clean vomit off the rug.
  • Try to work on supper. Call Cory to come home in desperation. 
  • Just as Cory walks in the door - Theo vomits on the floor.
  • Clean vomit off floor and baby. 
  • Alternate making supper and cleaning vomit as Theo proceeds to puke numerous times. 
  • Laundry.
  • Put Theo back to bed, sit down for supper. 
  • Eli pukes all over the table. 
  • Baths. Clean vomit off floor/table/chairs. 
  • Cry because Cory has to leave for youth group. 
  • Get kids into bed. Don't brush their teeth because I am a terrible mother. 
  • Laundry.
  • Collapse. 
SOMEDAY... I will blog again. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Asian [Inspired] Noodle Soup

I insert the "inspired" into the recipe title to acknowledge that there is probably nothing whatsoever authentic about this soup recipe - I completely made it up out of Asian-type ingredients in my cupboard.

However, it was one of those meals that turns out so well you just have to write it down so you can remember what you did and repeat it!



We've all got colds in the Vail house, even Theo finally succumbed. I was hoping he would avoid it but nope, the symptoms showed up yesterday almost a full week after Eli started. When we're sick I try to watch our diet even more carefully. We don't want to be feeding those bugs! Lots of bone broth, garlic, mushrooms, spices and veggies. This soup is all that and more, plus it was delicious!

Normally Eli won't touch mushrooms. He's not really a picky eater, but if he notices mushrooms in something he says "Yuck!" and picks them all out. Tonight though, in the different context of the soup - plus I had diced them smaller than usual - he didn't recognize them. He fished one out of his bowl and held it up to me. "Wass diss Mom?"

I stuttered for a second for an answer - "It's... uh... fungus. It's yummy! Try some."

It worked! He popped it in his mouth, said "Mmmm, fuggus!" and ate all of them. This probably won't work forever but for tonight I was thrilled that my ever-so-slight deception was so effective.

Asian [Inspired] Noodle Soup


5-6 green onions, sliced thinly
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1-inch knob fresh ginger, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
2 carrots, grated
1/2 pkg. noodles [I used whole wheat spaghettini, rice noodles would be divine!]
2 eggs, beaten
5 oz. baby spinach
2 cups bean sprouts
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp Asian chili sauce [I used Sriracha]
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Prep all the veggies. Heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the green onion, garlic and ginger for 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking for another minute. Add the stock and bring the soup to a boil. While it's coming to a boil, season with the fish sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce, vinegar, honey and pepper. When it's boiling rapidly, add the grated carrots and the noodles. Make sure it's back up to a good rapid boil and then drizzle the beaten eggs over the soup. The eggs cook when they hit the boiling stock so drizzle them around so you don't end up with one big lump of egg! Add the baby spinach and the bean sprouts. Stir until the spinach is wilted. Taste for seasoning - if it needs more salt add more soy sauce, or if you like things spicy more Sriracha - and then serve it up! You'll need a spoon and a fork for this soup, to get the long noodles out.

Not only was this DELICIOUS, it also came together incredibly fast. My mouth is watering thinking of the leftovers in the fridge. I'm not sure they'll still be there come morning...

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