The Iliad and The Audacity of Hitting The Ground Limping

My daughter just finished reading the Iliad for homeschooling. Like just about every high school age American youth, she was not a fan.
“Mom, they literally start in the middle of the story. You have no idea what is going on and who all of these people are. There’s no context or background. Why would they make us read this?”
I’m sitting here thinking that maybe I’m a little like Homer? He told legends of gods and men, sometimes retelling from others and, like my daughter points out, the beginning had been lost and cut off.  Except really, he didn’t even know that, did he?  He told stories and others wrote them down afterward.

Goodness, I don’t want to get so busy talking that I never sit down and put the words to a page as I’ve always meant to do.  I decided that I just need to start. It had to be somewhere and it just happened to be this week.  I will add some context over time, but if it’s basically “all Greek to you,” I ask you to just hold on a little while.

Let’s backtrack a bit.

 Sunday I shared a letter about my parents and celebrating 51 years of marriage.
18,629 Days and Counting – A Letter To My Parents

On Monday I dropped you into the middle of my story and basically flashed you with a baring of my soul and view into my spiritual journey.

My Body Was Broken, But My Soul Has Turned The Corner

Then yesterday I walked you around my house, without makeup on.  Obviously, something is going on but you can’t tell what I’m getting into. Even my husband said, “Why in the world did you carry around your laptop instead of your phone, with a better camera?”

Bringing Home The Awkward

(Note: My husband is a super awesome AV consultant who designs AV systems in the millions of dollars, for techie stuff I don’t understand. He was not home when I did this video and definitely facepalmed when he saw it. He won’t be showing it off to his clients, but did laugh and watch it again. While he was appalled, he also may be my newest recruit in finding better equipment. So Awkward wasn’t a total loss, right?)

Today I’m going to give you a little insight into my goals. I know that you want some context, so I’m going to give you what I’m working toward. While details of the health stuff may come out over our time together, as I use it to share what I’ve learned, I know you do not want it all at once in a 5,000,000 word blog post. 

You are welcome.

If you are new to my blog, you should know that I blogged for many years before. I had enough readers to feel absolutely content in my reach and very successful. At one point I started something like a podcast and absolutely LOVED LOVED pouring myself out for people.  It was wonderful. I want to do that again.
I cut it off over two years ago, cold turkey in a need to focus on my family and hold boundaries. What appears right now to be out-of-nowhere is more of a jumping-back-in and not skipping a beat. At this time, the majority of my older writings are private and may be repurposed over time, but there’s a lesson in that I’ll be getting to as well. 
See? You thought vaguebooking was bad, I’m over here vagueblogging… are you still reading this?

Here are the Cliffnotes on my “Why?” of this week’s postings. Maybe it will help:

Some of My Actual Goals FYI:

1. Be active here, on my blog, because I’ve avoided it like that friend you totally dropped while busy and now your ghosting because you know it’s your own fault. I didn’t mean to!
2. Finish one of the three books that I have sitting on my hard drive (one is close!) because I want them out there for you to read. 
3. Start awkward conversations in a podcast/vlog that will get us all thinking, challenging each other, and claiming the margins on the pages of our own history, even if you need copious amounts of footnotes as I do.

I don’t want an awkward story like the Iliad, but that is what I’ve been given. I want the audacity of admitting I’m a nobody with only a few minutes here and there, but the determination of sharing that with others.

I’m inviting you into my margins!  This is as close to an Iliad as I’ll ever get.
I believe I have important things for you to hear, and I know that God’s told me to do it. That’s it. It may take a while for this to roll smoothly. 
Please consider these random spurts as a sort of jump-start to a dead battery that still has some juice, or maybe it’s more of an awkward side-hug from that friend who you just haven’t seen or heard from in years.  Yeah, awkward, but man we used to share so much together!!
Let’s get right back to THAT!!

Also, have you LIKED me on Facebook yet? Please?
Followed on Instagram?

Give me two weeks. I have a point. I do. It’s just coming out with a limp instead of hitting the ground running.

My next step?
Another awkward video from the porch! It will be on my cell phone because my husband and teenagers are probably right about it being better quality.  And safer to walk around with, I suppose.  

Real Question:
Does anyone know how to actually use MailChimp? Apparently, I’m not really good at that either, but lots of people are signing up and you should, too!

The Opposite of Failure- Mec Happens- Part 2 of Lil Bit's Birth Story

65025_10200375207403190_1720942416_nI had my first three little ones in 3.5 years.  Memories are like smoke and wind chimes, hard to define anything from those few years really. Any mama who has done the same can attest to the truth in this.  Mostly a happy colorful blur, full of life and vibrancy, but a blur none the less.
Wait, did you miss PART ONE?
Ironically, I grew up suspecting that I may never be able to have bio babies.  I had several reasons for this, but the main one  was the horrible abdominal pain and issues that I suffered since I was a child but no doctor had diagnosed. That’s a long story for another post. Or 5 posts. We’ll get to that someday.
I warned my husband when we were engaged that he may be joining in holy matrimony with a lemon.  As he is clearly the right and perfect choice for me, he didn’t bat an eyelash.  We made plans from the beginning to have a family of adopted children, whether we were given bio babies or not. He new my heart was drawn to adoption, having lived in South America to work with orphaned children on the streets.   No matter how we were blessed with them, we just knew we wanted children. We agreed that our dream come true would be to have both.
That is why it was no surprise that even though we were only 23 when we got married, we decided to “try” before our first anniversary. We didn’t know how long of a road we would have to conceive.  It was only a few weeks our first year  I knew the, ahem, “window” was coming up.
We discussed it and decided to try on a Tuesday.
We….tried…. on Thursday.
We woke up on Friday and decided that maybe waiting 6 months or a year would be better after all.
Too late.   That Thursday night was the only night we have EVER “tried” intentionally in our entire 12 years of marriage.  Infertile? Umm. No. Not even close.  Just our hearts being prepared for the blended family that we will soon have.
I expected not to be able to get pregnant. What I didn’t expect was how hard pregnancy would be on my body.  My mother had 10 children and I grew up surrounded by pregnant women. She never complained about pregnancy.  My sister was pregnant alongside me with her 4th.  She is also amazing, although she does have morning sickness really badly in the beginning.
I was not as prepared as a though. I threw up the entire 9 months. I was throwing up the morning that I went into labor.  We considered homebirth for Big Sister, but that was a fleeting thought. With throwing up 14 times a day, losing tons of weight, episodes of bleeding and contractions starting early in my pregnancy, I went for the “We’ll just have the first in the hospital and then do homebirth.” approach.
No one in my extended family had ever given birth by c-section. I knew a few people who had but I knew nothing about csections. It’s just not what Fowlers do. My mother birthed 10 children. I was an unassisted homebirth, myself.  My sister was double trained as a homebirth midwife (CPM) and also had her masters to deliver in hospitals (CNM).  We’re Fowler women. Birthing babies is our thing. It’s what we do.

With my cousin, Alex, and my Uncle Mike who passed away a few months after this photo. I miss him.
With my cousin, Alex, and my Uncle Mike who passed away a few months after this photo. I miss him.

You need to know this for me to try to explain to you the peace and strength that flooded me at 20 weeks when we had our typical, routine ultrasound.  It made no sense. Everything was perfect. SHE was perfect, and we finally knew her as SHE. Something stood out to me though. Something small and inconsequential it seemed. I looked at the sonographer and said it.
Me: “Wait, she’s breech.”
Sonographer: “Oh honey, we don’t even call it that at this point. She’s just fine.”
Me: “I understand that, but look at her. She is perfectly head up. That looks so strange.”
Sonographer: “You’re right. She really is. Don’t worry too much about it.”
Me: “Oh, I won’t. Lots of time.”
And that was that. Except, it really wasn’t. I didn’t say another word about it to anyone.  I didn’t bring it up again for weeks, but something happened in my heart. It wasn’t scary, or traumatic. It wasn’t devastating or even disappointing. It was, well… we Christian folk would call it a peace that passes understanding and it really was.  Peace surrounded me as I looked at my baby girl on the screen and I just knew. She was going to need a c-section. I had never even considered a c-section or heard the word during my care. I knew that I didn’t need a c-section, but I knew that SHE did.  I saw her and I knew, and in the knowing I was ok.  I knew I could do whatever my child needed, and I wouldn’t do it in fear. I was strong enough for her.
With my cousin's wife and my dear friend since we were 16, happy to be pregnant at the same time!
With my cousin’s wife and my dear friend since we were 16, happy to be pregnant at the same time!

It was my 32 week appointment that I brought it up.  Yes, I was a first time mom, but I knew my body. I knew pregnant bodies. That big lump that hadn’t moved and was absolutely killing the right side of my ribs was my daughter’s head.
Me:  “She’s breech. I think we need to talk about flipping this kid.”
Midwife: ” I just felt her. She’s not breech.”
Me: “Yes she is. That’s her head in my ribs.”
Midwife: “No, that’s her butt.  I’ve felt hundreds and hundreds of bellies. It’s a butt.”
Me: “Come on. Don’t treat me like a first time mom. I dare you to check.  I’ll even bet you $5. It’s a head. That is too round and hard to be a butt.”
This particular midwife happened to know my sister from some midwifery conferences or something they did together, so she had a soft spot for me.  She laughed and agreed to walk me over to the ultrasound room to have a peek.  The second the sonographer put the probe on my belly she exclaimed loudly…
“Oh! That’s her little head up there!”
I never got my $5.  I got some advice on exercises to flip her. Nothing changed.  in the meantime I was dealing with lots of contractions. I know now that I just have a happy, overactive uterus and they were overreacting.  As a doula I’ve seen that happen to many moms.  Anyway…..
At 34 weeks an external cephalic version was suggested. I talked to my sister. She recommended it.  I knew that breech vaginal delivery was an option.  We talked about it. I read about it. It seemed crazy not to use every option available.  That’s how I am about everything. Know all the options…
Praying about it was where the decision was made.  My gut said no.  Every time I considered it, I saw that tiny girl at 20 weeks gestation head up at attention. It looked right for her. It looked like how she was meant to be. I have no other way to describe it, because I make sure that every mom I work with knows of the version for changing a breech.  I didn’t hesitate at all for it with my other children and it was very successful. It was that still small voice, that catch in my spirit that held me back. I would have a c-section for breech.
I ended up on partial bedrest, with meds. I spent my birthday in the hospital getting IVs to stop labor.  That happened a couple of times, actually.
Then December 26th came. I was 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant and my sister was coming to visit from Illinois in all her matching-me-she’s-pregnant-too glory.  I was beside myself. The only thing I ever wanted was my sister and mother to be at my births. Here I was barely 38 weeks and she was coming for 3 days.  Pretty unlikely window of opportunity and I knew it.  I couldn’t blame her though. She came with 3 little ones of her own and was due in 6 weeks. They showed up at 9pm that night, but I insisted that Travis drive me across town to be there when they got in.  I didn’t want to miss a minute with her.
She was so tiny. 6lbs 2oz and 18.5 inches long!
She was so tiny. 6lbs 2oz and 18.5 inches long!

My parents had their church homegroup there that night.  I walked in the door and threw a big hug around her neck but was immediately pulled into the front room by the group of friends who had decided that they were going to pray then-and-there for me to go into labor. Yes, THAT NIGHT.  I laughed.  I mean, who’s going to turn that down?  Let’s go for it.
Sounds pretty inconsequential and I didn’t think a thing of it.  At least, I didn’t until I woke up hardly a few hours later at 4am with the first rockin’-hardcore-contraction of my entire life.  I sat up in bed… I walked to the bathroom… That was no joke, ladies and gentlemen.
I paced outside the bedroom and didn’t wake Mr. Marvelous.  I have found this to be true of all my births. When it happens, I get quiet.  I find myself internalizing…pondering in my heart…wondering in amazement at my body.  Quiet, secretive.
Contractions were short, but serious. I hadn’t really expected this for a few more weeks so I still didn’t believe it. I wasn’t even packed.
So, and I’m not sure that Mr. Marvelous is going to appreciate the overshare…..but when he woke up I didn’t exactly explain anything.  I just, ahem….attacked him.  I was a well educated girl. I knew that sex at the end of pregnancy can be a tool.  I also knew that if this was itthis was it for several weeks.
There. Now you know. Moving on…
At 7:30am I called my parents house and let my mom and sister know that, believe it or not, something was happening. I had an appointment that morning at 9am anyway so we just went on in. Sure enough, dilation had begun. I think they said I was 1cm? All those false alarms before and all that preterm stress…yeah there was never any dilation. Let this be a lesson to you ladies. Contractions happen. They aren’t always labor…
They sent me over the hospital.  We took our time and got breakfast on the way.  Because I was ever doubtful I had sent my man to work and had to call him and tell him to come meet us.  I was that doubtful of it being the real deal.
4pm at 4-5cm and heading to the OR.
4pm at 4-5cm and heading to the OR.

I don’t remember much of the next few hours other than that I wasn’t in a rush. I wanted my body and baby to experience labor and I wanted some dilation to prepare my cervix for next time.  I got that, even though I never hit active/hard labor.  I simply closed my eyes, exhaled in release and then went back to conversation after each contraction.  That was it.  During those hours of labor I lost my plug, I had bloody show and my water broke.  My body knew what to do.   I was 4-5cm when they checked me before my c-section at 4pm.  To be honest, I was still afraid that they would check me, yell “Just Kidding!” and send me home. They did not.
Words can not express my awe in joy at seeing my man fall in love with another girl. Our girl.
Words can not express my awe in joy at seeing my man fall in love with another girl. Our girl.

The c-section went smoothly enough. They played my music. They were respectful.  The epidural was heinous. It took them 7 tries to get it in. I threw up. I was alone with strangers and cold.  I hated it. That was the worst part.
Because my sister was a CNM, they allowed her to join us in the OR for Big Sister’s birth, 34 weeks pregnant in scrubs.
It began. I lay there in wonder that of all people I was having surgery for birth.  And that I had chosen it over other options. And that I was ok with that because my spirit knew it to be right. But I wondered at it all…why was I ok with this?
I had hives, shaking and swelling from the epidural. No surprise with all of my other random allergies. It was horrible and I was so groggy from the drugs they gave me to counteract it that I don't remember much of her first 24 hours. Actually, none of it.
I had hives, shaking and swelling from the epidural. No surprise with all of my other random allergies. It was horrible and I was so groggy from the drugs they gave me to counteract it that I don’t remember much of her first 24 hours. Actually, none of it.

I remember the feeling of not feeling,  completely numb but there being pressure. So much pressure. I didn’t feel a single touch of the surgeon, yet there was sensation then suddenly I knew I was empty. She was out!  And then it happened. The lightbulb in my head. I knew the reason.
OB: “Woah!! That is a short cord. That may be the shortest cord I’ve ever seen!  Look at that.”
My sister did.
Sister: “That is a seriously short cord! That’s crazy!”
OB: “Really, I’ve been delivering babies for almost 20 years and I don’t remember one that short! That’s less than 12 inches!”
OB asked the tech to take a picture. They did.
That’s all it was. I had been told earlier that my placenta was toward the top.  I never saw the cord myself. It was enough information. Suddenly I could put two and two together and I knew what added risk there would have been to an external version, or to attempting a vaginal breech delivery. I knew what forcefully moving her could have done. I knew that being born butt first could have pulled the placenta down on top of her, too early to be safe.
I knew. And it was good.
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And that is how I, of all people, had a c-section for my first baby. I was confident and strong. She was and is worth every bit of it.
Continuing with Lil’ Bit:
It is 9pm on January 16th, 2014 as I write this. All four of them are in bed.
Things changed about this time five years ago. I was starting to think maybe this would fizzle.  I mean, these were real but they had spaced a bit.  It could happen to me again. I could have 12 hours of steady contractions that just suddenly evaporate into thin air, like  2 1/2 years earlier with Ruckus.
For an hour they were at 3 minutes but now they were back to 5.  I didn’t want to go through that again. The confusion and disappointment of a big stall. I couldn’t control it either way, but I prayed. Please not that again.
We arrived home with the older three and went straight to work putting them in bed.  Mr. Marvelous was in our room and I was doing bedtime duty. I hefted the big lug of a 2 1/2 year old up onto the changing table to put on a clean diaper for the night.  That is when it happened.
I felt the pop.
Warmth down my legs.
Fluid pooling around my feet.
So….. that was gross.
I called Travis to come take over and waddled across the hall to the bathroom, leaving a trickling trail behind… there was no going back now. With water broken I was sure to be in labor, slow or not.
I’m not one to panic when water breaks.  I knew that my OB wanted to know right away but I wasn’t inclined to rush.  I knew my risks and was still planning to take it slow.
At least I WAS planning to, until I started cleaning things up. It took one glance for me to know what was going on.
“Oh heck.”
No wait… It was “Oh Mec”.  Actually, I didn’t say mec. Mec is short for meconium. Baby poop. I did say another word for poop, to be exact. It’s not a word that I want to put on my blog but I’m sure you can figure it out.
So there was meconium. Thick. Tons of it. Shocking amounts of it. As comfortable as I was with the idea of laboring at home with my water broken, this was different. Mec happens.  I didn’t expect it to happen to me.
So I cleaned it all up, and took a few minutes to stomp my foot and pout like a diva.  I don’t know if it was the loss of that lovely protective cushion that had been my bag of waters or if it was the stomping pity party.  The next few contractions were seriously sturdy.
I got my act together and told Mr. Marvelous what was up. He agreed. It sucked. At almost 42 weeks, with that much meconium, I didn’t want to be home for this. I called Dr. Tate. I knew what the answer was.
Calls were made and kids were dispersed.  I honestly don’t remember how that happened or how long it took.  My water broke between 8:30 and 9:00pm.  We got to the hospital around midnight. No panicked rush, but begrudgingly earlier than I would have liked. And now contractions were more like 10 minutes a part. Boo.

The Opposite of Failure- Part 1 of Lil Bit's Birth Story

n502182112_1384615_2186[1]I didn’t mean for it to be like this. Me, sitting at the computer five years later trying to pull some semblance of  ordered memories out from this befuddled brain.  It isn’t that I was avoiding the truth.  It wasn’t about hiding it either, because I’ve told the story many times over always with an exultant rush of tears and joy.  There is just something about sitting here, banging away on this dilapidated laptop with missing keys, that makes in permanent. It puts it in the books. I don’t know how I want it to be. Or really if I want it to be at all. But I must.
Birth is never a failure. It never is. It’s an experience. A part of life we walk through, are dragged and drugged through, or are pushed through on a stretcher. In the case of the birth of my fourth child, it was all three of the above over the span of three days.
I haven’t really written my other three  births out either, so it would appear that I am just not the kind of girl to write them up.  The truth is, I knew that if I write the  first three, I must also write the fourth. So I didn’t.  I stalled. I said someday, but I never wrote. It’s so definitive, that last one.  It was my Alamo. My last stand. I did it, and did it well. I celebrate every contraction and every moment.   But sharing it gives others that opportunity to label it a failure. To see mistakes and a labor that was a lost cause.
No one needs to analyze my decisions but me.  For me to be able to share the first three stories I have to face the giant. The one where I said enough.  Where we decided it was done. It was time, and boy do I HATE it when an OB pulls that line. I have to share where I accepted being done and being broken all in one fell swoop that I didn’t see coming.  Where I surrender and moved on to being a mother of 4 and
The-doula-who-couldn’t-do-it-herself, all without losing my thankfulness and the beauty of it all. That wasn’t easy.  Birth is huge. It is powerful. It is not all of who I am or who these children are.
I refuse terms like “FTP” (Failure To Progress).  I progressed. I labored for 43 hours. That was progress, regardless of what my cervix decided to do about it.  There was progress in my soul, in my very being.
I don’t call it a “Failed” VBAC(Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).  My birth was an amazing beautiful success that didn’t happen to end in the use of my vagina for delivery. That is not failure. I am a success and I worked my butt off for my daughter, loving every minute of it.
So maybe I’ve held off because I don’t want words or acronyms to define this sacred experience of mine, yet my biggest struggle has been how to describe it to people because I want to.
The easiest way IS to say “I had 4 c-sections”.  Yet that doesn’t tell anyone about the strength and beauty I have found through my births.  About confidently fighting for your body to work, trusting it to do what it needs to, and then peacefully surrendering to the process that leads you, once again, into the O.R. for the surgical extraction of your child from your womb.
I loved every one of my births!! Yet in no way would you ever hear me say the phrase “I loved my c-section.”  Heck. No. Never.   They are a part of my life and growth, but they aren’t who I am. I can’t let them be.  They were something I went through, in spite of all efforts, that brought me these amazing little people that surround me. And in that I say, it is well. I am well. So is my soul.
And with that, the story begins like this:
About this time in the afternoon, 2:00pm on January 16th, I had the first few contractions for the day.  I didn’t think anything of it. I had been contracting for weeks.
The day before at 41 weeks and 2 days on a Thursday, I had gone to my OBs office and waited 2 hours to be checked and have my membranes stripped. That wait sucked but I had refused it two days earlier at my 41 week appointment.    I was in again that day, Thursday, for a NST (Non Stress Test) to check on Lil Bit since I was getting to the end of full term (Yes, you are NOT LATE UNTIL 42 WEEKS, LADIES).  
I decided that I did actually want to be checked and have my membranes stripped to see if something would happen.  I could have skipped it but I chose to do it. So the wait was my choice. It felt right and I didn’t complain.
So on Friday, 5 years ago about now,  when the contractions started I knew that it may just be the effect of the membrane stripping and not true contractions. I took note, but didn’t call the press if you get my drift.
It was about 4pm when I had that feeling.  The feeling I had at 8am the day that Big Sister was born.  That feeling I had after 10hours of contractions with The Brainiac.  I had it the night Ruckus was supposed to come and then everything fizzled into disaster.  I may not have had a full labor and vaginal birth before, but I knew this.  These were it.
Mr. Marvelous and I had plans to go out to dinner without the kids and eat the famous Eggplant Parmagian at Scallini’s. Did you know, they’ll give you a baby onsie if you have your baby within 24 hours of your meal?  Sometimes when a mom tells me that she heard about that and is on her way there… I laugh and laugh…
Birth 087
I sat through that meal contracting every 5 minutes. They were stronger than before.  This was changing.  I didn’t realize that this was the first day of labor and I had 2 more.  No onsie for me.  Actually, I spoke to the manager and they admitted that the success is partially due to moms that come in before a scheduled induction or c-section.  Posers!!!!
Anyway, It was good. I ate it.

Birth 084 copy
To be honest, I didn’t eat much of it between the contractions. It’s hard to chew when your abdomen suddenly balls up in a rolling thunder trying to turn your whole body inside out.   I got a few fun looks from other patrons of the establishment. They could look all they wanted. After all the waiting I was one happy mama.
I suddenly realized that the problem was actually that I needed chocolate, in one of it’s most amazing forms, as all pregnant women know.  So across the parking lot we went, in the middle of January.
For Ice cream.
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We didn’t stay out late. At this point contractions didn’t seem to be doing anything or changing. I figured we had a long night and day ahead and was in no rush. We picked up the kids and headed home to put them to bed, hoping that something was happening.
Five minutes after we got home, something did happen. Oh it happened, and it wasn’t pretty.
But right now, today in 2014, I have to go get that almost-fiver-year-old from preK.
Come back tonight if you want to hear more. 😉  Be sure to enter your email on the right to follow and get updates, or “Like” YOUR MOMSTINCT on Facebook!
 This birth took three days to happen. I foresee it taking that long for me to write. It’s that jam packed of twists and turns. Join me!

Which Came First, The Chicken or The Dumplings (GLUTEN FREE RECIPE)

I didn’t expect to need this, I was just making soup because it sounded delicious.  Maybe this was a prophetic pot of Chicken and Dumplings.  Was it “If you build it the headache will come?” Or could it be more along the lines of the old “Which came first, the soup or the sickness?”  Chicken or the egg… whatever.
Oh, I’m sorry. I’m not making any sense, am I?  That may be because I just spent the last 3-4 days caught in the snare of a migraine, maybe fibro flareup, felt like the flu, wanted to bang-my-head-on-concrete-to-make-it-explode-and-relieve-the-pressure kinda alternate universe.  The migraine started on Saturday, with all the talk of crazy cold temperatures on the way for Atlanta.  Somehow, I was inspired to immediately start a pot of warm, wholesome Chicken and Dumplings.  The timing coincided a bit.  I’ll never know which came first. The truth is, if I had not had this marvelous, nourishing pot of Chicken and Dumplings to cautiously savor in rare moments that I was able to manage a bite or two, I may not have survived the last few days. Honest, I was that miserable.
Wait! The timing of it all, going into  a few days of miserable ick,  may be a deterrent to you trying this recipe. Don’t let it stop you!   I suppose this is not the way to make it sound good, I suppose.  As if it brought it all on.  Let me try again…
Growing up my mother made was homemade chicken and noodle soup.  Lots of mothers made it, and maybe it was not all that unique. To me there was absolute magic in those homemade noodles. There was nothing on earth that tasted better in winter, warmed your insides and helped clear anything that was holding a body down… nothing compared to a steaming bowl of those homemade hand-cut noodles that my mother could whip out in copious amounts for a family of 12, in record time.
As a young girl I learned to make homemade egg noodles easily and did so many times as a teenager.  I was thrilled as a young wife and mother to prepare them for my family, looking forward to many years of warm bowls to share on cold winter days.  Then 9 years ago our journey into the world of gluten-free living began and somehow the idea of noodles and dumplings was far from my mind.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started making it again.  I had to work out the gluten-free aspect which wasn’t that hard, but I decided that mom’s chicken and noodles needed another twist.
You see,  I am just too lazy to cut noodles.  Hand cutting noodles was messy, flour all over the counter,  taking up tons of space. Heck I don’t even remember the last time counter had enough  space clean  off and roll them on. Also, I’m always in a hurry. For me to be able to make this, I’ve gotta get it done quickly.  Cutting the noodles by hand always frustrated me, as much as I adored the finished product.
Well, now I get the finished product with a much simpler process. I make them as DUMPLINGS!  just dropped into the bubbling goodness of a pot of prepared broth. They melt in your mouth and warm you through to the bones.  It tastes like home.
Ok, enough of the nostalgia.  Let’s just get to the recipe, shall we?
As always, I highly recommend you use organic ingredients for this, as much as you are able.

Chicken and Dumplings- Gluten-free
3 tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2-3 c. cooked chicken (chopped or shredded)
6-8 c. chicken stock
1 t. parsley
1 tsp. sea salt (omit if your stock is already salty)
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 t. turmeric
In the bottom of a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in butter for a few minutes until clear.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
While the pot is on, DON’T WATCH IT! Haven’t you heard that a watched pot never boils? Yeah, well, it actually will but you can make better use of that time by throwing your dumpling dough together.
In a medium bowl, combine:
2 c. of gluten-free flour (I use a mix of brown rice, millet, amaranth and quinoa)
3/4 c. tapioca flour (corn or potato flour can be substituted)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. sea salt
Make a well in the middle of the dry in the middle of the dry ingredients and add in:
3 eggs
1 tbsp. olive oil
Combine into a nice messy dough. Make sure that it’s well mixed.  Now, guess what!! I bet your pot is boiling or close to it. Aren’t you glad you didn’t watch? Once it is rolling well,  take your dough and drop it by spoonfuls right into the boiling goodness.  I prefer to drop smaller spoonfuls, knowing they will expand.  I LOVE the outside of each dumpling bite the best so the smaller they are the yummier to me.   Just keep dropping them in there one at a time until all your dough is gone. If it looks like it is getting too full you can stir a few times and you’ll find there is plenty of room because they are all crowding the top. If there actually isn’t much room, just add more chicken stock.
Once all of your dumplings are, well, dumped… give it a good stir and put the lid on it. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
You now have a huge pot of delicious goodness like this, without sticky hands, a messy counter top and flour floating in the air of the four nearest rooms.
And, one more photo of a delicious bowl.  Mmmmmm.  Maybe I should go make some more.

My No-Wreath Door (TUTORIAL)

I have been accused of being anti-wreath. I admit it, I used the term once in a comment on my FB page and a good friend called me out.  I am here to say, it was a bad choice of words. IMG_4584 I am not anti-wreath. I do not discriminate against a door based on it’s attire, adornment, or the door handle’s left/right orientation.   Doors are cool.  I simply don’t want a wreath on my own, at this time. I want something different. Something other-than.  I recognize wreaths as attractive, but I am not attracted to them. Come on, I own one wreath.  It stays up year round in my kitchen. I represent, see? IMG_4634 copy Wreaths simply aren’t my thing, and I’ve been looking for something else for a while. I mean, I do want something snazzy on the door. Inspiration hit me a few months ago when I saw a monogram hoop on my cousin’s door. I was blown away by it’s simplistic beauty and  I-could-make-that-ness.  It was simple, it was gorgeous. It was ME!! It was not a wreath.
Making things is my gig. I’m all about the DIY. Also, I like to save money because I rarely have any.  This great adornment fit both criteria, since I have an embarrassing amount of fabric and crafting things on hand.
I did not buy a thing. I scrounged and found the following:
Large embroidery hoop Cardboard to fit inside hoop
Burlap or other fabric of your choice (be sure that it is somewhat translucent to see your design through it)
Permanent Marker
Spray adhesive or other craft glue Paint Beginner Google skillz A door, or heck…a wall
First I googled “Letter S” and chose images only. I looked for one that I liked and kept it on my screen as my example.  You would be amazed at the options that come up when you google a letter. Who knew? Not I. Next, I cut a circle out of my cardboard that would fit snugly inside the INNER HOOP. Now for full disclosure, the hoop that I used was missing the inner portion of the hoop. It was used last year for another craft when I went out on a limb and tried to make… wait for it… a WREATH. It bombed. You never saw a tutorial on that for good reason.  Really, I am no good a wreaths. So I made my circle fit inside the OUTER HOOP because I didn’t have an inner one. Hopefully you have your inner hoop and don’t need to worry about all that yourself. Or, maybe you are better at wreaths than me and I just gave you the idea to get two decorations out of one embroidery hoop set.  Have fun with that.
IMG_4522 copy Take your cardboard circle and start drawing your letter.  I say go with pencil, and be sure to find your center. Personally, I freehand everything.  I am a henna artist. I don’t even use patterns for my sewing. Patterns intimidate me, but you may feel better about printing your letter and using it as a stencil. Even better, print your letter, cut it out and glue it to your cardboard. That would work, too.  Once you’ve got the idea in pencil, go for a final outline with a marker that you will be able to see through your fabric.
IMG_4523 copy
Next you need to attach your fabric.  Yes, I still dig burlap. I do not care if it is overdone, trendy, dated.  I loved burlap before the trend and I still do.  So there. I’m using it.  I fixed the burlap to the circle with spray adhesive because I had it on hand. I am too cheap to have gone out and bought it, if it were not sitting in a box waiting for a purpose. I could have used school glue, tacky glue or even a glue stick to get the fabric secured to the circle. It doesn’t really matter.  Glue an X across the entire circle to start from. Lay your fabric centered and press it down by hand from the center out.  Let it sit for the glue to dry. IMG_4524 copy It may surprise you to know that I don’t like to paint. I don’t do well with brushes.  Yes, I’m creative. I do henna and many other similar things. My art styles are done with cones and applicator bottles. I like pens and pencils.  Brushes and I simply make messes. Feel free to use a marker again for your outline. I did!  Take your time to get clean lines.  Don’t rush. IMG_4526 copy Now you fill in your large spaces. I actually liked the contrast of the black outline. It’s not what I originally expected to do, but it grew on me. It is quite possible that having a brush in hand caused me to think of ways to minimize it’s use.  Either way, I left the black marker outline exposed and simply filled in the larger areas with my dark blue paint.  You can really use many different types of paint.  This is left overs from my shutters. Yes, that would be exterior house paint.  Don’t go spend money! You surely have some paint sitting around. Let your paint dry.
The last step is to put the hoop on.  I now slide the inner hoop BEHIND the fabric to fit the cardboard into it, then add the outer loop over the top.  Because I didn’t have the inner loop, I actually added 4 beads of hot glue around the edges of my outer loop, after inserting the cardboard,  to keep it secure. That’s it!!! Try it out. Just be careful not to let it make the wreaths in the neighborhood feel inferior. That’s not cool. IMG_4556