Friday, December 31, 2010

Do your kids have off this week?

"Why, no, they don't. Making children work is what I do for fun."

Since this week is traditionally a school holiday, I had at least three people this week ask if my kids had the week off school. To which I was happy to say that, no, I was mostly making them stick with the normal routine.

At bedtime, the kids have been listening to Tim read through the book of Matthew. He's also reading them C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle (they're almost finished). Today, we read a couple of the "Sir Cumference" books from the library.

Patrick managed to do lessons three through nine in Saxon Math 6/5 this week. Delilah did three lessons in CLE Math 204. Both of them practiced math on

James is completely obsessed with playing checkers and does so at every opportunity. I'm counting it as math in his homeschool log.

On Wednesday, Patrick took part in a Lego building contest at the Dewitt Library:

 He enjoyed himself, and the other three kids didn't whine too much while we waited for him.

I've been reading The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, one of the required reading books on my BirthWorks CBE reading list. Hopefully, next week I'll be able to report that I wrote the book report about it.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Doulas: The Essential Ingredient

Enjoy DONA International's new video about birth doulas!

"Mothers remember their birth experience." - Penny Simkin

DONA International is one of many organizations that offer doula training and certification. Other good options for people who are interested in becoming a doula (or parents who want to find a doula) are:



Birth Arts International

Personally, I have taken the DONA Birth Doula training and the BirthWorks Childbirth Educator training. I welcome questions from aspiring doulas and prospective clients about my training.

We actually did science this week!

That sounded like a better title than my recent "Homeschooling Week of ..." posts. This week, we did a lot of science. We got a Magic School Bus science kit from Barnes & Noble last week. So this week we've been working on the experiements that came with the kit, in addition to reading library books about the different body systems and watching DVDs about the human body.

Patrick, Ben, James and Delilah in front of the poster that came with our science kit. It's a kid-sized poster of the inside of the body that came with stickers to label different body parts (like the ulna and radius).
The bone from our first experiment. Patrick asked the butcher at Wegman's for some bone, which he was happy to provide. We soaked the bone in vinegar overnight and made observations about what happened. Tim made the point that now if our kids ever become serial killers, they'll know how to dispose of the bodies.

This one is our "ball and socket joint" experiment. We talked about which joints in the body are ball and socket joints and felt how they worked with our ping pong ball/construction paper model.

Another homeschooling event this week was that Patrick's new math books arrived. He's starting Saxon 6/5, which says that it's for your average sixth grader or advanced fifth grader. He did the first two lessons and decided that it's too easy. Here's hoping it gets harder and I don't have to buy something else yet.

Doula stuff has been slow this week, which is probably why we got schoolwork done every day. All I really did was update my availability on and hang out at (if you're a doula, you can register there too). I am "on call" right now to babysit for a doula friend when her client goes into labor and  I have ambitious plans for marketing myself in January.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Are you a doula or aspiring midwife looking to learn things?

Have you looked into Gloria Lemay's online Midwifery 101 class?

The classes are Thursday nights at 10pm Eastern time. You can pay for a class at a time as  it fits into your schedule. So far, I've attended the Common Obstetric Problems class and the Prenatal Clinic Visit class. I enojoy Gloria's teaching style (and her accent).

Here are a couple of my notes from the Prenatal Clinic class:

"At beginning of the visit ask mom if she has to pee, offer her a drink. Ask moms how they would rate their own diets, what is important to them about this baby's birth, what would they like to be different or the same from their last birth?"

"A high resting pulse can indicate anemia. Give moms lists of iron rich foods."

"Doing pelvic exams doesn't give useful information about when she's going to have the baby."

I'm signed up for the class on January 6th and looking forward to it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Homeschooling Week of 12/13 - 12/17

What a long, crazy week. Between homeschooling, me working and James being sick, this week has been more than a little bit psycho.

Patrick finished CLE 4th grade math this week, scoring 100% on the final test. He'd been dragging out getting it finished and was happy to be done. He also did a couple of pages in Math Skills 5 and Key to Fractions. Delilah continues to work on CLE Math 2. James did a couple of pages in Counting With Numbers.

The older two kids both worked on letter writing for language arts. Delilah wrote to her email buddy from the Well-Trained Mind boards and worked on revising a thank you letter to a friend. Delilah has started reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and thinks that it's hillarious.

Patrick did a couple of lessons in CLE Bible Elective 1 and worked on chapter 21 in Latin for Children A.

All of the kids had fun with our new science kit, "Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body."

Wednesday afternoon, all of the kids went to the homeschool PE class at the YMCA and the older two had their swim lessons on Thursday.

On Tuesday night, Tim and the kids set up our little Christmas tree and I got this card-worthy picture of Ben:


Between Wednesday and Thursday, James had three different doctor's appointments. Since September, he's had this cough that just won't go away. We saw our family doctor Wednesday night, a chiropractor Thursday morning and a naturopath ( )Thursday afternoon. The family doctor said that he thinks it sounds like asthma and sent us home with a nebulizer and a couple of prescriptions. The chiropractor and naturopath both suggested dietary changes and supplements to treat the asthma.

James' nebulizer

Luckily, James doesn't seem to mind using the nebulizer. I've been learning a lot this week about allergies and asthma. There are so many different recommendations of what to do for a kid with asthma that it's hard to know where to start.

Last night, I "went" to the Prenatal Clinic Visit class in Gloria Lemay's online Midwifery 101 series. That was a nice break after our busy week.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another Service I Provide

Yesterday, on, I found a link to this great article that breaks down the process for doulas who want to help their clients try to get reimbursed by their insurance. There were doulas there on the message board who shared that they had been able to get families money from their insurance companies.

I was suprised to learn that at least twenty different insurance companies have paid out some or all of the fee that families paid their doula.

Last night, I got my NPI (National Provider Indentification) number so that families who use me as their doula can try for insurance reimbursement after the birth.

Just another thing that makes my doula services awesome :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tomorrow, the world...

Ben, adjusting his sling

The investment that I'm making now towards the parenting of my future grandhchildren is the brainwashing, er, teaching of their parents.

Each of my children were nursed until they were preschoolers, slept with us as babies and were always being worn or carried by someone. Stronger immune system, less crying, reduced risk of SIDS and higher IQ aside, the reason that we've chosen to parent the way we have is because I want things like natural birth, breastfeeding, baby wearing and homeschooling to become the norm rather than being "alternative" choices.

When Delilah says that she doesn't know why people would want to go to the hospital to have a baby if they aren't sick or Patrick points out to me that wearing a backpack and sitting at a desk is bad for kids' backs and those school kids are going to need a chiropractor, it gives me hope that they'll be saying those same sorts of things to the person they marry. Whether Delilah chooses to have her baby at home, in a birth center, or at a hospital, she's being raised with a consumer mentality that will mean that she'll be comfortable telling a caregiver that she's not going to pay them if they can't get with the program. And hopefully one day, Patrick's children will have the option to choose where they want to do their learning.

Thinking about it makes me want to have more children. Even if my four only have 2-3 children apiece, that's ten or more granchildren, followed by generations of healthy, positive, balanced people :)

That, or my kids, in an act of rebellion, will all end up as public school teachers who take their kids to McDonald's after work. Shoot.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

An afternoon of S&M


Sales and marketing is quite possibly my third favorite thing to do, after attending births and taking the kids out to eat so people can compliment their behavior.

After church today, I dragged my four well-behaved children to the library and printed out flyers for this season's Doula Connection Meet & Greet nights. We made 150 copies at OfficeMax and left one there for the pregnant lady who works in the copy center.

Between 3:00 and 5:30pm, I managed to drop flyers off at 28 businesses on Rt 11 in North Syracuse, including but not limited to Speedy Greens, Fitness and Dance of CNY, Olde Wicker Mill, Tim Horton's (where I explained to the cashier what a doula is), Dominos (who taped the flyer in their window), Panera Bread, Moe's and Sprint.

It was so much fun going to all those (28!) businesses, telling them about our group and what doulas do, even more fun than when I was a telemarketer in high school. I really can't wait to do it again... on Tuesday.

If you have any questions about our group, our doula open house nights or finding yourself a doula in Syracuse, check out

Friday, December 3, 2010

Homeschooling: Week of 11/29-12/3

For Bible this week, the kids have been listening to Tim read through the book of Matthew. Patrick also did one lesson in CLE Bible Elective 1.

In math, James did four pages in Counting With Numbers. Delilah did lessons 8-10 in CLE Math 203 and pages 92-94 in Singapore Math Practice 1A. Patrick finished CLE Math 409 and did lessons 1-4 in CLE Math 410. He also did ch. 9 & 10 in Life of Fred: Fractions. All three of them practiced math on

Patrick measuring the dining room for a math assignment

We had an embarassingly light week in Language Arts. Patrick did one page in Writing Skills 5. Delilah did p. 52-55 in Writing Skills 2 and picked a couple of things to do in First Language Lessons. James practiced the alphabet and made a picture with alphabet stickers to use for practice.

We all went to art class at Miss Donna's house on Monday. On Tuesday, the kids watched "Molly: An American Girl." We've been reading the Molly books for the book club at the Manlius library (which we missed this week because Ben was sick).

James at art class

We've started learning about invertebrates in science and are reading about them in the Usborne Pocket Nature guide.

Patrick did ch. 18 and 19 in Latin for Children A this week.

Patrick, Delilah, James and Ben all went to the homeschool P.E. class at the YMCA on Wednesday. Only Delilah went to swimming Thursday night. The boys didn't want to go, so I let them stay home with Tim.

In Mom-schooling this week, I read Giving Birth: A Journey Into the World of Mothers and Midwives. It was a page-turner, at least for people who are into birth. The author examined the different kinds of midwives (CNM, CPM, CM, DEM) and the different settings in which they serve families. During her research, the author got pregnant and chose to use a midwife she had met while writing the book, so we also get to hear about that relationship. One thing that stood out was her mentioning that many of the midwives she interviewed "knew" that midwifery was the path they wanted to take. Some of them felt like they had always known and for some of them there was a point where they realized that was what they wanted to pursue, but all of them knew that midwifery was calling them somehow. I also read ch. 2 of The Doula Advantage, which covers some of the research on doula care and how having a doula can contribute to a safer, more satisfying birth.

Delilah at art class

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What is your birth experience worth?

After every birth I've attended, my husband has pointed out that I don't charge nearly enough. He's right. Considering the amount of time that I've put into learning about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and newborn care, then taking into account the number of hours that I put in with each couple I work with, I don't make very much money.

What I do is a lot more than just staying with someone while they're in labor. I meet with each couple 3-4 times before the birth of their baby. The prenatal meetings are a combination of getting to know each other and an individualized childbirth education class. The idea is that these visits help the couple feel comfortable with me (important for when you're in labor) and also cover any questions that they have about the birth process.

In terms of the birth, I have to be close to Syracuse for weeks before (and sometimes weeks after) their due date. Until their baby is born, I am "on-call," phone in my pocket. I have to be prepared to head out at any time, with babysitters on standby for my kids. There has to be gas in my car and money in my wallet. I have to be completely sober and relatively well-rested. There's a lot that goes into being ready for someone to call.

When they call me, I make arrangements for the kids, grab my bag and head off to either their house or whatever hospital they're on their way to. Then I stay with them through labor, getting the mom drinks, rubbing her back or feet, suggesting different positions, reminding both parents of things they wanted to try and helping mom's partner support her. I stay whether labor is six hours or two days and I've been to some long labors.

About a week after the birth, I make another home visit. Then we talk about the birth experience and I try to answer any questions that the parents have about the birth, basic baby care and breastfeeding. If they need referrals to anyone for breastfeeding help, postpartum support, etc, I give them people to call or books to read. And the families that I work with know that at any point, whether it's six weeks postpartum or six months, that they can call me when they have questions.

In our area, the going rate for all of this seems to be anywhere from $250-600. I don't think that's nearly enough. When you break down what a doula makes, between the prenatal visits, the birth and the postpartum visit, it's rarely more than $15/hr. Take out paying the babysitter, gas, parking at the hospital and hospital cafeteria food and that's not very much money.

You can read review after review on about how awesome people's doulas were, how they got parents through when they thought they couldn't do it, guided them through rough patches like the sherpa leading you up a mountain. Yet these same professionals are making slightly more than my babysitter.

What do you think? If you had a doula, what did you pay her? What do you think doulas should be charging?