Opal Wilderness A-frame Cabin | Oregon

Just east of Salem in a forest of old growth trees, flows the Santiam River. Clear turquoise waters , grey mossy boulders & fern covered grounds. It’s kind of a secret, perhaps, because we hardly saw any people the week we were there. It’s serene and one of the most beautiful rivers I have ever seen.

This Airbnb has been on my wish list for a few years, so it was a dream come true and we cannot wait to return! The a-frame cabin was perfectly located on the little north fork road with so many areas to explore. There were a few campgrounds as well, right on the river.

Lyons, the nearest town, doesn’t have much, not even a grocery store. So bring everything you could possibly need, coffee, ketchup, all those little things are more difficult to come by so stop in Salem before you head east. Mill city is a bit closer to Lyons than Salem, about 15 minutes away and there is a Select Market there & a few restaurants, but plan on settling into this cozy cabin and making all your meals.

The more we travel with Ivy, the more I realize how important home base is for us. When the rental has a view, room to play and just feels good, like we could just hang out there all day and still feel like we’re having fun, then I know it will be a good trip. Before kids we never spent much time at the rentals, just to sleep basically, always exploring, so I didn’t put a lot of time into finding that just right place…a bed and mini fridge was good enough. Now that we need to take things slower, have a nap, make meals and have time to rest and be together, Im finding that putting an emphasis on the rental and it’s proximity to the areas we want to explore is the most important because it sets the tone for me (when mama’s happy everyones happy) and we can all relax and have a good time even if we are not out and about.

The most memorable parts of this trip were in the cabin. Even though it was August I couldn’t help but keep the wood stove burning. We were always swimming, so the warmth felt good and there’s just nothing like the smell and feel of a wood fire. We star gazed in the hot tub with the sounds of the river below, it was truly magic. I couldn’t even remember the last time I actually took time to look up at the stars.

We stayed here Ivy is still talking about the ‘treehouse’!

Our favorite swimming spots were Three Pools and Salmon Falls. We swam in three pools after everyone had left and the sun was barely there. We felt like mermaids and it will be something I never forget.

There is town called Jawbone Flats at the Opal Wilderness TH, you can hike three miles to the town, population 10. 10! And stay in these cute cabins there as well. Maybe when Ivy can handle a longer hike we will get to explore more of the wilderness. The forest there was really beautiful.

If you’re visiting Oregon, Silver Falls is only 40ish minutes away!

 

pennington farms | grants pass, oregon

Pennington farms is a family owned berry farm & bakery just outside Grants Pass on William Hwy. I spent a couple years making jam on their antique pink oven, dreaming of the day I would someday get to bring my future children here and spoil them with cookies and berries. The orange glazed tea cakes are something other worldly Im telling you! I think back fondly on my jamming days, missing the smell of strawberry jam and the process of jarring up every variety of berry. You can order over the phone if you live out of the area or the bakery is open monday-saturday till 3pm. They also bring all their goodies to the grower’s market each week, but definitely plan a trip out to the barn and experience the aroma of fresh jam and pies for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our birth story | Ivy

Reading other women’s birth stories while pregnant was one of my favorite things, gleaning any knowledge I could from other’s experiences. Every one has their own unique body and story, it’s fascinating how each one can vary so greatly. Each positive experience I read empowered me so much for the labor ahead, so I wanted to share mine to hopefully give courage and strength to anyone who needs it!

My entire pregnancy I was obsessed with researching, reading everything I could swallow about childbirth. My favorite books were Ina May’s, Guide to Childbirth and Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. We have a Bradley instructor who offers classes here in the valley if anyone is interested or you can look up an instructor in your area on Bradley’s website. We went into the class totally naive & curious, so eager to learn and we came out confident. I felt so knowledgable and prepared for anything and I know that knowledge is what gave me the strength and fearlessness leading up to and during labor. I felt like I could give birth anywhere.

So, this is our story…

38 weeks pregnant, we were craving one last little adventure before Ivy’s arrival. I had been having painless contractions frequently, where your tummy tightens, mine would get a kind of hump at the top. Earlier in my pregnancy I just thought this was her bum sticking up at the top of my tummy, making it tight, but I learned they were actually Braxton Hicks contractions. Those were coming more frequently this day, but they had been happening for a few months, so I thought nothing much of them, besides I still had two weeks right? We were a little hesitant to go, little did we know later that night real labor would start!. We spent the day swimming by a waterfall, it was wonderful. I think maybe the icy waters of the McCloud River sent me into labor!

That night around 10pm the contractions started to hurt like period cramps, progressively getting more painful through the night, I didn’t sleep at all. By 2 am I felt like it was time to go to the hospital just to see if I was dilating, was this real labor?

We called our Dr. in Ashland, she said the hospital was accidentally understaffed because of a conference and that we would need to find somewhere else to deliver. A little panic, but no time to really freak out, we decided to just go to the hospital here in Grants Pass. Looking back now I feel like maybe this happened for a reason because she was born with an extrememly rare skin condition. The pediactrician on staff that day recongnized her condition right away and had her transported to a NICU. You can read more about that here.

Once we got to the hospital I was only 1 cm, you guys! Worst news ever! All I could say was, ‘ so you’re saying this pain is going to get worse?’ Haha! She laughed & said it could just be early labor and last for days. Thankfully it didn’t. We went back home to labor. Billy tried to sleep since I kind of kept him up all night and I needed him for the laboring ahead.

At 2pm, we headed back to Three River’s Hospital and I was 4cm. This was it! We stayed there, labored in the tub (having my belly in warm water helped the pain so much!), bounced on a yoga ball. I was naked, having extreme hot flashes & then be freezing. I was throwing up with every contraction. It was tough. Billy was covering me with a blanket then ripping it off of me, trying to anticipate how I felt and giving me lots of water between contractions so I had something to throw up. He is my hero!

Once I was at 7cm I asked if the Dr. on call could come break my water. I just wanted to get to pushing. Once my water was broken the contractions were so much more painful having her head right against my cervix. A couple hours later I was at 10 cm and ready to push.

I pushed for two hours. Pushing was painless, I was making jokes and each contraction just gave me the urge to push her out and then I could relax between them. By this time I had been up for almost 48 hours since the contractions had kept me up all night. I was so exhausted. The nurse applied oil to my cervix. I actually think she went and bought it for me because I mentioned wanting that in the birth plan I brought with me to the hospital. All the nurses that labored with me were so amazing. They honored my birth plan and did everything they could to support my wishes. There was a moment in pushing that felt like burning and that was the little ripping that happened. I needed one stitch afterwards. It’s better to rip than having the Dr. do an episiotomy because the nerves and vessels can heal and connect better if it’s not a straight cut. Also always bring a printed out birth plan. I had one ready and Im so glad I did because I was delivering with a different doctor and at a different hospital than we had planned. It made all the difference being able to hand over the birth plan to the nurses and have them support me through this day.

You can see our birth plan here if you want to use it to come up with something that works for you.

The Dr said she could see her head moving back and forth, trying to help get through the birth canal! Isn’t that amazing! The moment Ivy came out was the weirdest sensation that I’ll never forget. Once her head was free I could feel her legs kicking as if she was swimming and her feet push off inside of me.

They placed her on my chest and all I could say or think was, she is so huge! Haha! Her warm soft body against me was so surreal. 1/3 of a babies blood is in the placenta so we let the cord stop pulsing before Billy cut the cord.

It was beautiful, it was painful, I felt it all and remember every minute. It was exactly what I hoped for and Im so thankful to the women and Billy who supported me through the whole day. I labored until delivery for exactly 23 hours. She was 7lbs 15oz. Our miracle, our Ivy.

Having a natural childbirth was something really important to me and I feel so proud of myself for making it through. I believed with all of my heart that my body was made for this and could do this. I feel like it was my mind that brought me through. I have no judgements towards women who choose to have an epidural. Birth is so personal, unique to each woman. After going through it I see why an epidural feels like something people would want. An epidural honestly never even crossed my mind the entire labor. I think if you go into it thinking maybe I’ll get one, then you probably will.  It just wasn’t an option in my mind and I knew my whole pregnancy that I wasn’t going to have one. Visualize the experience you want to have, literally play it out in your mind and most of all believe in yourself. You are doing the most beautiful thing, bringing, creating, sustaining, life. I’d also like to say that if you’ve had a c-section or will have to have one…you are amazing. AMAZING. You are strong and brave and what you are doing to bring your babe into the world is just the same and more.

A few reasons I decided an epidural wasn’t for me…

-Epidurals & pitocin effect our bodies natural hormones we release during labor that help your body deliver a baby, which can cause longer labors. That’s why the percent of c-sections have gone up enormously. If you haven’t watch ‘The Business of Being Born’, it’s a must see. Having Oxytocin disrupted by epidurals causes your milk to not let down and can cause you to get off on the wrong foot with breastfeeding.

-Epidurals can cause a life time of back pain and sometimes don’t even work or wear off.

-The drugs enter the baby’s blood stream. The epidural is meant to numb your entire lower half so I didn’t feel like I wanted to expose my baby to something so strong. We take such caution while pregnant to not eat to much fish, deli meat, etc. Why should it stop there?

-It’s been proven that babies who are born with epidurals come out less responsive, with less color, their heart rate is lower and might not even be able to latch to nurse because their palette is numb.

-One thing that was really important to me was being able to walk around freely without being connected to an IV and wires. (You can refuse an IV or get a hep-lock) Being able to labor how I wanted, in a tub or however, meant everything to me. Once you get an epidural you have to just lay in a bed and have an annoying monitor hooked to your belly, a catheter up your urethra and then have someone tell you when to push. It’s just not what I wanted. Being able to stand, rock, walk, bounce, labor in water, progresses your labor so much faster. I wanted to experience it all instead of being sedated.

Most epidurals are not administered until you’re dilated quite a bit, you’re almost there, girl! Once you get to 10cm the contractions don’t hurt anymore, you get to push and it’s such a relief. You get to feel your body, feel your baby, know when to push. When I was just about to a 10 I kind of started moaning, I couldn’t help it. I needed to push. There was no screaming like in the movies, but I was a beast. Pushing is tiring, so so tiring but it’s filled with so much hope and anticipation also. We have this one day of pain, but remember that it’s not pointless or endless. At the end of the day you will be holding your sweet baby. Is there anything more hopeful to carry you through? After going through all of this I felt like I could do anything, it’s truly empowering.

I hope this was a little encouraging to anyone feeling like they needed it. You are so strong, stronger than you know, we all are.

You are so powerful and wonderfully made. We are kind of the greatest creatures ever, that we are given this incredible ability to grow and care for a baby solely from our body. This body is yours and when you go into the hospital, remember that. You do not have to take anything or do anything that you dont want to do. Dont let anyone scare you into something that you feel isn’t best and surround yourself with a team of people you trust and can look to in times of fear or uncertainty. That’s why it’s the most important thing to become knowledgable about your body, about birth, figuring out what you want and the experience you want to have. Things might not go according to plan, but having the support of your partner is everything. That’s another reason I loved The Bradley Way so much, was that it’s just as much focussed on the partner as it is on the baby and mom. It trains them to assist you, know you, stand up for you and be your advocate. You can also look into having a doula beside you through the whole birth. They are like a mid-wife except then don’t deliver babies. They know labor and how to relieve pain in natural ways, reminding you of your strength and helping you in more ways than I know to write here. They are really amazing. I didn’t have one, but the births Ive watched where the mom had a doula by her side were incredible to witness because they knew what she was going through and had methods, positions, knowledge to help make the whole process into a more wonderful experience.

I would love to talk to you if you have any questions or fears about birth. This is ours, as women and it’s time to claim that.

 

You can read what to pack in your bag here

Pregnancy essentials here

New mama must haves here

 

five affordable ways to update a room & add value

Most houses have so much potential, but are hidden under decades of trends and clutter. Going through each room and taking out all the stuff that doesn’t serve a practical or sentimental purpose can be so freeing. I think I take a basket to goodwill at least twice a month. I just love the feeling of getting rid of ‘things’, stuff that’s been sitting around untouched and un-admired.

If your home isn’t newer you can peel back the layers of trends. I think we removed 5 layers of linoleum from the kitchen! It’s so funny to see what was in style each decade. If you don’t need to take down walls or anything too invasive you can focus on just the cosmetic of your room.

1) Texture: if you have popcorn ceiling please oh please take it down. I know the sparkles are pretty, but it will make your room feel so much better having smooth walls! All you need to do is spray the popcorn with water and scrape it off with a flat head shovel. It’s one of the easier updates that cost nothing and makes a dramatic difference. Walls are a bit trickier and if your texture is heavy you might be able to re-skim them, but it can get expensive. 

2) Paint: I always choose something neutral, but still warm and light. You can try Benjamin Moore Simply White or Glidden Wedding White, they are almost a match to each other. You can accent with decor, it’s easier to switch out than repainting and you can change it up with the seasons instead of holiday colors clashing with your walls.

3) Light fixtures: This makes a huge difference. Get rid of the boob lights and update to something that doesn’t feel like builder material. Wayfair & Overstock always have affordable fixtures that look expensive. We just bought this for our stairway and Im obsessed. Try and stick to the same finish through out your house to give a cohesive feel. We have a lot of oil rubbed bronze mixed with antique bronze & stained glass and they fit well together for this house. 

4) Flooring: This one could get spendy. Look under your carpets for original wood flooring. Having them sanded and stained a color you love is way more affordable than laying stone, wood, or even carpet in it’s place. Updating with stone and wood is always the best choice over synthetic materials like carpet and linoleum when you’re looking to get a return on your investment. That goes for showers too. Instead of opting for the acrylic shower insert, look into tile instead. Subway tile is timeless and at under two dollars a square foot you can’t go wrong. Always remember to red guard your cement board before tiling in wet spaces. 

5) Adding in character. Even if you have a newer developed home void of all character you can still give it charm. We have a craftsman house and the previous owners had removed a lot of the trim & baseboards inside. Billy re-created the headers for the doorways, built a mantel for the fireplace and we also just added in some board and batten to the downstairs bath. If you have a period home try and stay true to the style and bring it back to life. You can add built in bookcases, base boards, crown molding, beams, mantles… there’s endless ways you can add touches to a room that make a dramatic difference and create the feel of a custom home.

 

You can see the before and afters of this room here.

What to pack for delivery + our birth plan | oh baby!

A few essentials during labor and after birth that I loved:

A yoga ball- bouncing on one during labor helps bring baby’s head down, dilating your cervix more quickly. Check with where you’re delivering and they might have one already.

diaper bag

Sports/nursing bra with a gown that can be easily removed- I was just naked, haha! But next time I’m packing a few more things to labor in. I was extremely hot than suddenly freezing, laboring in and out of a tub, so having something comfortable and that you can remove quickly is helpful.

Witch hazel wipes– for your face and your downstairs after labor to sooth and promote healing. I just couldn’t live with out these. After delivery its painful to sit or even walk, dont get me started on pooping. These wipes soothe your lady parts and cleanse in a natural way while healing.

Period undies– who wants to wear giant paper underwear with a huge pad? Bringing several pairs of period undies sounds so much more comfortable.

Nursing pads & extra nursing bra- bring more than you think you need of this one. We ending up needing to stay at the hospital a week in the nicu and I was not prepared for that. I was drenched in dried milk and tears for days. Being in the nicu is so tough. Every meal and clean shirt people brought us meant so much.

Yoga pants or something stretchy & comfortable to wear home.

Minerbs mama bundle. The mama glow serum and rose water are my favorite products to indulge in.

Infant car seat- My sister in law just bought this one and I think it’s so cute. We initially bought a convertible carseat but it was still to big for our new little girl so Billy had to run to wal-mart and grab an infant one 🙂

Something comfortable for baby & a swaddle- bring a couple sizes in case one doesn’t fit. My friends shop will always be my favorite. Her soft bamboo newborn things are so sweet.

pacifier – just in case. I didn’t get to stay the night with Ivy her first two nights (biggest heart break of my life) so Im glad I packed this paci. Its a natural rubber from a tree.

You can bring music and essential oil diffuser or anything to create that atmosphere you want to bring your baby into.

A printed out birth plan. This saved me because we had to deliver at a hospital we had never been to and with a different dr. than planned. Being able to hand over my birth plan to the nurses on staff made everything so smooth. All the nurses honored my wishes and supported me.

Chapstick

Healthy snacks or have family/friends bring you things. Hospital food is not the best!

Personal toilettries

Massage oil

Hair tie

A camera

Baby book for footprints and to write anything down if you have time. Artifact Uprising just came out with this cute one. Love this Promptly one as well!

Our birth plan if you need it to help come up with your own.