January 12, 2015

It's Casper's first birthday today, yay! And in honor of that, I'm sharing his birth story for the first time, yay! And I didn't keep it short, so get cozy and settle in for storytime. It's a good one. (Yay!)

It was a cold Saturday morning in January and we needed groceries. We piled into the car and picked up where we left off with our well-established car ride conversation: baby names. We asked each other if we were leaning more toward boy or girl today (we could both picture it going either way) and confirmed our top name choices for each gender, still leaving room for last-minute changes, because we never like to close that door. A new name could hit at any moment. That’s how we roll. 

Since we only make the trek to the city grocery stores every couple weeks, I was pretty sure this would be the last trip with only one little in the backseat. My due date was the next day, but because Hadley was born 8 days past her due date, I wasn’t planning on labor starting any time soon. Maybe by the middle of next week or something. Anyway, knowing this would probably be my last chance at a coffee from Caribou for awhile I decided, “I’m definitely getting one today. Dairy and all. I’m celebrating.” Inside the store, as I grabbed my cup from the coffee counter, a couple of ladies noticed my belly and asked when I was due. “Tomorrow!” I answered triumphantly. I was dying for someone to ask me that question today because it made the baby's coming feel so real and imminent. I walked the aisles of the store and saw people going about their oh-so-regular Saturdays and that made me feel good. Little did they all know, I was due in a matter of hours. I liked waddling around with my coffee and my 9-month belly zipped up tight inside my winter coat, carrying my little on the brink of having a baby secret.

We made the 45 minute drive home, put away the groceries, and spent the rest of the day hanging out, doing the normal nap time routine for Hadley, picking up the house, and I think I may have baked some cookies. Ever since we finished up Christmas-ing my mind had switched over into baby mode. I routinely walked around the house, moving things from one room to another, grabbing onesies or blankets to stash somewhere handy. We were planning another home birth, so I had brought a basket of newborn things and my big exercise ball up to our bedroom. I also had a hospital bag packed, in case we decided to go in. I never gave the date a second thought as we went about the day, but when it was time for bed Grant and I joked about tomorrow being "the day.” Neither of us ever expected anything to really happen. And we certainly didn’t anticipate that we only had a few hours of sleep ahead of us.

I woke up at 2:45 am (Sunday, January 12 — the due date) and sat up in bed. My water had broken. Ok. My water broke. Right? That’s what this is? Already this labor was looking very different from Hadley’s (my water didn’t break until she was being born). I sat in disbelief for a second or two and woke Grant to let him know what I thought had just happened. As I waited for any contractions to start, I thought about how I had basically spent the whole day nesting yesterday, naively thinking we still had a week to wait. Everything we needed to do to get ready to have a baby was done. What a gift! The Lord gave us such a peaceful day of prep. Looking back, I'm so glad that only He knows how the labor timeline is going to play out- I would have been nervous and anxious if I had known how little time we had. 

I got up to go to the bathroom and wrap my head around my water breaking. I mean, that's like how labor starts in the movies! I never thought I'd have that dramatic kick-off experience, but here it is! When I came back to bed, we thought we better try and get a little more sleep if we could. Of course, that was not happening. Both of us were awake and the contractions started like clockwork. I am a terrible sleep-through-contractions girl. They were already coming about every 5-10 minutes, but they were not very long or strong. Those sensations... they're very convincing. You know them in a moment. You know what they're up to. Even though they aren't at all easy, they somehow feel natural, like something you have to accept. I think that's why labor pain is so different for me than any other pain- it's not a hurt to try to staunch or an injury being inflicted on me- there's nothing to fight. You just have to bear it. 

We finally came around to the idea that the birth was probably going to happen today (which was so strange for us since Hadley’s labor was stretched out over several days) so we got out of bed and Grant started filling up the birth pool and getting other things ready. I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, but so many girls talk about a hot shower feeling good during labor, so I opted for that. The contractions weren’t strong enough for me to really need relief yet, and probably were only lasting 30-45 seconds, but I hopped in the shower anyway. And since things weren’t feeling too bad yet, I went ahead and got myself all ready for the day. I wanted to stay busy, and I'm a pro at passing time with the blowdryer. I put my earrings in and thought about how funny it would be to keep them in all through labor and maybe I’d still be wearing them while holding my new baby. (I was.) Crazy, I thought. And crazy that earrings are part of the thought life during labor. Anyway, hair dried, earrings and contacts in, warm clothes on, I carried on with the business of contracting.

At 6:45 am we called our midwife to let her know what was up. We had a little chat and she said she’d be over in a couple hours. I was calm because labor was feeling very familiar and predictable. I had been nervous that my second labor would be more swift and powerful, so I was glad that things seemed to be shuffling along pretty slowly. I sat on the big exercise ball next to our bed and used a contraction timer app to keep track, bouncing through them as they came. Things were steady in the sense that I knew this wouldn’t fade away into false labor, but also sporadic when it came to frequency and duration. Grant sat in our bed and typed away at his laptop, making notes for a substitute teacher. He was planning to take a week off to be at home with us, so he hurriedly got things ready for his class. We knew that Hadley would be waking up soon, so Grant called his parents to ask if she could spend the day with them, because it looked like we'd be busy the rest of the day (wink, wink). They are always so ready to help, and we were so grateful. After Hadley got up, Grant got her dressed and packed a bag, and Grandpa came to pick her up right away. 

Erika arrived at 9:00 am and checked me over. Everything looked good, contractions were still happening regularly, but laboring had become less intense as the morning went on. I felt a little discouraged and aimless. Like I had lost sight of the end. The hardest part of labor for me is not knowing the timeline- not knowing how much longer I have to bear the weight of the work and make my strength last. Erika told us the baby was a bit posterior and it’s normal to see the pattern of labor be sporadic like mine until the baby gets turned around. She asked me where I was feeling most of the cramping and tightening when I was having a contraction and I told her it was mostly in the front part of my belly. I answered eagerly because I knew right away that was something to be encouraged about. And I was looking for encouragement! She said that was good and that my body was doing exactly what it should be doing. I’m guessing I would have been having more back pain if the baby had been truly posterior. She mentioned a few things to try to help the baby move into position and told us that once things are all lined up, they probably won’t slow down- the end could come quickly. I was feeling strangely sleepy, so I decided to get back in bed and lay on my left side to help the baby turn and try to rest at the same time. Grant used this window of time to make a quick trip to his school to finish preparations for a substitute teacher. 

By the time Grant got back (maybe 11:00), I was up and bouncing on the ball again, feeling more awake and contractions were coming steadily 5-10 minutes apart and lasting about 45 seconds. I switched back and forth between kneeling low on the ground, resting my arms up on the ball (letting gravity help the baby turn) and sitting on top of the ball. I read through the handful of promise cards that I had picked for such a time as this. The verse I was clinging to more than any other was Isaiah 41:10 - "Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness." These were the words that I could still summon to my mind, even in the deepest parts of labor. Or at least the first 9 of them. As John Piper says, "When my mind is in neutral, the hum of the gears is the sound of Isaiah 41:10." That is how I felt that day. I'm so thankful to the Lord for giving me His powerful promise to call to mind when I needed it most.

During the 11 o'clock hour, I felt my mind fill with enthusiasm for the goal. No longer feeling bereft or stuck, I wanted to keep working toward the harder parts ahead. And I was glad I had a chance to feel like this before being engulfed in the mental fog of late labor. Erika checked the baby’s heart rate and position regularly and I was so encouraged because contractions were getting longer and closer, and the baby was moving! I could feel the spine that had been nestled into my side gradually work its way toward the middle of my belly. Around noon, I felt things intensify and my adrenaline kicking in. My legs always get so shaky when I get to this point. (my fingers are starting to get shaky and my teeth a little chattery just remembering this part!) It was around this time that I remembered something that I wanted to do differently with this baby: I went into Hadley’s birth with an empty stomach and low energy and felt so weak for days afterwards. Birth really does take a stockpile of strength. So I tried to get in as much nourishment as I could take in between contractions. I drank coconut kefir and ate a couple clementines and some scrambled eggs that Grant brought upstairs for me. I talked with Erika and Grant when contractions weren’t bothering me. I started to need more coping methods during the peak points of the pain- my main one was pulling on Grant’s arm as hard as I could. The ball was still my best friend, too. I bounced and pulled, bounced and pulled. I wasn’t timing things anymore. I was absorbed in the work. Just doing what needed to be done. 

I remember looking around our bedroom and getting the sense that Erika was watching me very carefully now. She was not talking, but she was gauging me and worked quickly making preparations around the room. Clearly, she could see I had switched over into the last stages. Erika doesn't check dilation unless there is a reason to, in order to prevent infection, so I wasn't sure how "close" I was, but it was at that point that I realized, I can get in the pool! I like to save that until I really really need it, like when I feel overwhelmed, but it hit me that I'm probably at that point. In fact, I may not even have that much left. Whoa. I told Grant and Erika I thought I was ready for the pool and by 1:00, I was in. The water was soothing, especially to my shaky legs. It didn't take away the pain, but it helped me relax and feel more capable and in control. I felt excited about getting to this benchmark and was waiting to be convinced by the power of contractions about far along we were. I was hopeful that the end was near, but still had no idea how much longer it might be. I sat by the side of the pool, in the exact same spot I had claimed when laboring with Hadley, laying my head on the wall and holding Grant’s hand. I was quiet. My mind was blank except for the work I was doing. Moving around (rocking, bouncing) and praying Isaiah 41:10 throughout contractions was still my go-to coping mechanism. Only half an hour later, I felt the switch from regular contractions to pushing contractions. For me, these feelings are less desperate. They're effective. From that point on, I could feel the baby moving down with each contraction/push. Erika kept checking the baby and me regularly and things looked good- very close. Grant kept praying over me and letting me pull on his arm. I pushed for quite awhile apparently, but it didn't feel like a long time to me at all. It felt like seriously strenuous work, but without the sense of dire urgency that you see on tv. Because there wasn't anyone telling me, "push!", there was no rush. It felt purposeful, slow, and steady, which was what I wanted.

At 2:47 pm (exactly 12 hours after my water broke), our Casper was born! Grant pulled him up to me and we held him in the pool for awhile. He was a perfect peachy pink from the moment he came out. He was never bluish or purplish. His eyes were very alert and he was calm. He didn’t have much hair, but the little bit he had was blond. He was so adorably round- faced and just the right size, with a the cutest nose and full, rosy lips! I have so many sweet memories of our first week with him. Sleepy, cozy, quiet, snowy. We sat for hours, camped on the couch, just admiring his newness and perfection, passing him back and forth and nestling his tiny body on big pillows. Casper Job. Our little winter baby. Our son. We are so glad you're here and so thankful to the Lord! We love you.

November 10, 2014

Hey guys, just wanted to announce that my little shop is officially open! Yaaaaaay! Happy Holidays!

The new version (debuted last spring) of the 50 Promises collection has been re-stocked in time for Christmas! They always sell out fast, so come on over and grab one for a gift or for yourself :) Who doesn't love a good set of flash cards? With this collection, you are getting 50 mini prints for the same price as one normally priced print. And these mini prints are loaded with handpicked, faith-building promises that God wants us to be using daily. These are not merely nice tips for nice living, these are the gospel. Believing in Jesus means believing that He keeps His word. 2 Corinthians 1:20 -- all the promises find their Yes in Him! If there is one thing that the Lord has taught me lately it is that faith is the greatest gift, and I'm thankful for the way Jesus has used these promises over the past 3 years to sustain and deepen my faith in Him!

The promises collection makes a sweet, meaningful gift for sisters, moms, friends, new mamas, and anyone who wants to see Jesus prove His faithfulness! :)

God's promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper; He intended that they should be used. Our Heavenly banker delights to cash His own notes. -C. Spurgeon

September 21, 2014
Heyyy! Long time, no see my dear blog friends! I'm sorry I left without a word. Things in life are really great, leaving me little time to sit at the desk and write, but I also wanted to try getting away from this spot for awhile to find out what I would gain or miss. But I'm very active on instagram (@summerharms) with posts about life stuff, food we're eating, things I'm learning, and captive thoughts about growth in Him. So come on over there if you want to catch up!

I wanted to mention to you guys that I'm going to be a part of this lovely project called "Autumn On Purpose" with my sweet, expectant-mama blog friend Laken Nix. I'm so excited and honored! Each Monday morning throughout the fall season you'll receive an email with encouragement about living intentionally and wholeheartedly this autumn. It all starts tomorrow morning! If you'd like to join in, head to peach and humble to read more or sign up -- I'd love to have you be a part of it with me!

August 20, 2014

Honestly guys, this peach crisp is what brought my mind around to finally blogging again. Couldn't wait to share it with you. It's so great! I'm no stranger to apple crisp, but this is my first experience with it's summery sister edition, and I'm sold. My mother-in-law made this crisp the weekend we were packing up at camp and sent us home with a deep, heavy dish of it. We chilled it in the fridge and ate bits of it after every meal until it was gone. (which was a sad moment.) It was fantastic warm too, but I loved how jellied the peaches got, how intense the flavors became, and how refreshing it felt when we ate it cold. Yum. If you give it a go, you'll see what I mean. Just savor every sweet bite.

So I know that some of you guys already know and love Grandma Marian's famous apple crisp, and in that case, you'll be happy to know that this recipe is based on that piece of perfection. Big thanks to Mom Judy for creating the masterpiece and giving me the ok to share it here! You're wonderful, Judy!

Mom Judy's Peach Crisp
gluten and dairy free 

5 peaches, chopped 
1/4 cup coconut sugar or raw sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. tapioca flour
2 T. melted coconut oil

1/2 cup rice flour or a gf flour blend
1/2 cup coconut sugar or raw sugar
1/2 cup gf rolled oats
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 T. coconut oil (or palm shortening) 

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Arrange chopped peaches in an 8x8 or 9x9 dish and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and tapioca flour. Drizzle coconut oil over this and mix it up a bit in the pan. Combine all topping ingredients in a small bowl, cutting in the coconut oil last. Scatter the topping evenly over the peaches. 

Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden and crunchy on top and peaches look bubbly-caramely. Serve warm with vanilla bean coconut milk ice cream. Or set it in the fridge until it gets good and cold - it's truly delicious when eaten cold. Leftovers are awesome and get better by the day. Double this to make a 9x13. 

July 9, 2014
Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know that every summer my husband Grant and our camp staff friends make a music video. And they turn out amazing! I'm always so proud to know these guys who aren't afraid to entertain us. Without further ado, here's the 9th annual Maintenance Men music video...

June 30, 2014

Hey guys! Every year I look forward to getting a couple postcards from my sweet blog friends during mail call. I love it so much! If you'd like to drop me a line while I'm here at camp, you're sure welcome to! You know that camp mail is the best kind. My friend Kami already sent me this lovely little piece :)

For those of you interested in a camp life update: Today we switch gears at camp. We're all done with the groups that travel down from Minneapolis to rent our campgrounds in June -- that is when our staff simply provides the meals and facilities. The first week of July we begin "our camps" - where our counselors arrive and our staff runs all the programming; the schedule, games, chapel, etc. This is also when Grant jumps into his role as the videographer! And me? I'm helping Casper get through a rough teething patch (so. much. drool.), waking up a lot in the night, rejoicing over a regular nap pattern, and helping Hadley learn how to put her undies back on by herself, to eat her meat and veggies before getting full on fruit, to not run through the camp kitchen, to stay in bed once we've said goodnight, and to share with her cousins. :)

The past 2 weeks have been full, rainy days and late, late nights. Grant and his fellow maintenance men have been hard at work recording music and filming for their annual music video. I'll be sure to post it for you guys once it's finished and debuted at Skit Night on Friday!

June 26, 2014

Hey guys! So, last weekend I had the opportunity to speak at Camp Shetek's Ladies Camp event... which explains this mid-sentence photo that my mom snapped of me behind a podium. :) I'm sorry you have to see me looking unenthusiastic and kinda nervous, because it was such a great time and I don't think I stopped smiling all day. I got to talk about food! (you know how I love that.) I talked about the top 10 healthy choices our family makes; the things that we've learned or have put into practice in our household that really, honestly help us. It was really fun and I loved getting to chat with the ladies and my mom and sister (who made the long trip to be there) afterwards! I thought you guys might like to see my presentation also, so here are my slides and speech:

Hi, I'm Summer Harms! (and this is my family - cue slide with our pictures on it) I get to talk to you about food today. Which I’m really excited about because I love food (obviously) and I love to cook and feeding my family is one of the biggest ways I show them that I love them. I was asked to speak about making healthy choices today, and was having such a hard time trying to nail down a particular topic under this umbrella. I just love it all! Then Grant suggested making a list of the 10 most practical, important things that we’ve learned or that I try to do for my family when it comes to food. I thought this was brilliant. I know I love hearing how other families get through 3 meals a day, so here's how we are doing it. Eating healthy is a lifestyle. And lifestyles are built on little things - the choices we make throughout the day and small changes here and there. So these are some of those little things that have helped our family, or that we’ve learned along the way as we try to be healthier eaters. I share these things not as an expert, just straight from our family’s experience, with the hope that there might be something in the mix that’s helpful to you. 

1. If there’s junk in the house, we’ll eat it. So we don’t have junk in the house. Grant helps me with this one a lot because I’m easily tempted at the grocery store and he sticks to the list. We don’t buy much snack stuff at the store because we know we can make our own snacks and treats at home. That way we know exactly what’s going into our bodies and get the most nutrients out of our snacks. (Our favorites are homemade popcorn, bananas or apple slices and nut butter, pickles, nuts, chips and guacamole, homemade muffins or cookies, or trail mix.)

2. Fats are good. And use the good fats. Our brain is 60% fat and the fats we eat strongly influence our levels of brain function, as well as cellular health. Most processed foods contain the harmful kinds of fats, while healthy types of saturated fats provide a major source of energy, the building blocks for cell membranes, vital hormones, and they help your body absorb important vitamins, including A, D, and E. Coconut oil is our favorite for cooking and baking and we love olive oil for dressings and marinades. Just a few other good-for-you fats that we like are avocados, eggs from pastured hens, and grass fed meats. I know from experience that I feel a lot better when I’m eating enough good fats. When we first started eating less processed foods and having a lot more healthy saturated fat (specifically coconut oil), I noticed that I had more energy and better mental clarity, and felt more full and satisfied for a longer time after a meal. 

3. Take a good probiotic and fermented food. Gut health is something that has been a really big deal for our family, because we’ve experienced tremendous health recovery benefits by focusing on cultivating good bacteria and forcing harmful bacteria out. You can tilt your balance toward the good bacteria simply by eating more of them, in the form of probiotics, which are live bacteria contained in foods and supplements. We take a strong probiotic supplement and also eat probiotic-rich fermented foods like sauerkraut and pickles and kombucha in order to boost the beneficial bacteria in our guts. 

4. Say no to sugar. This is another big one that has dramatically improved how I feel in terms of overall wellness. We’ve learned to stop when we’ve had too much sugar, and try to view it as a treat. We also like to use sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or even just fruit to make things sweet, instead of using sugar. These alternatives are real foods found in nature that actually contain health-giving properties, where as sugar is so ultra processed that it is stripped of any nutrients. Not only that, but it’s extremely addicting, and it feeds the bad bacteria that live in our gut. 

5. Be prepared. Have a plan for dinner- whatever that looks like at your house. At our house, we often have meat thawing in the fridge for tomorrow night’s dinner. When 5:30 rolls around, if there’s not a plan in place, it’s just way too easy to start eating whatever you can find fast. Don’t wait until you’re starving. Also, bringing snacks with you wherever you go has been a big help to us. If we have enough food with us to get by until we get home, we can avoid the drive-thru. 

6. Quality foods. We love to know where our food is coming from. We buy organic produce whenever we can, we love to hit the farmers market as much as possible, and we switched to buying local grass-fed beef without hormones or antibiotics. 

7. Don’t give up on something- and when in doubt, roast it. 
A few years ago I found out that if I cut back on sugar, everything else started tasting better. Before that time, my tastebuds were so trained and dependent on sugar for flavor that I was a really picky eater. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but as my sugar dependency went down, I was so encouraged, because suddenly I started liking so many new things! And now it’s hard for me to find a vegetable that I don’t like- especially when it’s roasted. Roasted vegetables are the big favorite at our house. So if there’s a food or meal that you haven’t liked in the past, I want to encourage you: don’t give up on it. Try preparing it a few different ways- you never know if you’ll find a new favorite. For us, that was the case with brussels sprouts. We tried roasting them one night and now we can’t get enough of them!! 

8. Read labels as you shop. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you should probably put it back. For me a “proper diet” means eating real food... wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that come from nature. The longer an ingredient list gets, the more likely it is to have undesirable stuff and the less likely it is to be nutrient rich. We try to buy things with as few ingredients as possible or single-ingredient food items like eggs, rice, apples, avocados, etc. 

9. Make meals that stretch.  If you make dinner big enough, you can use it for lunch the next day. This one is kind of just common sense, but we just put it into practice this past school year and it made a huge difference. At my house, especially on week days, lunch often ends up being a scavenging kind of meal, unless there is something already made. Which is why having leftovers is perfect - it doesn’t get much easier than that. And planning one big meal always beats planning 2. 

10. Have the right mindset. Know why you want to eat healthy. A healthy mindset about eating is just as important as the food you are choosing to eat - because eating matters to the Lord. Our motivation for eating well can be found right in 1 Corinthians 6:20: ”You have a body, but it is not yours. You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 

I loved this quote from John Piper that I found the other day about Worshipping Christ through eating.

-Don’t think worship services when you think worship. That is a huge limitation which is not in the Bible. All of life is supposed to be worship. Take breakfast, for example, or midmorning snacks. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Now eating and drinking are about as basic as you get. What could be more real and human?” You are always in a temple. Always worship. -John Piper

-What does worship look like when it comes to eating? It means getting the proper diet your body was designed by God to have. This is how we applaud and enjoy His design and understand that He made us stewards of these bodies. We honor Him when we take care of our bodies!

June 24, 2014
How we've been crafting a gluten and dairy free, good-for-you burger lately:

Udi's gf buns, local grass-fed beef (no hormones or antibiotics, yay!), thick slice of tomato, a little lettuce + a spoonful of homemade sauerkraut, mustard and plenty of mayo (without partially hydrogenated soybean oil). I'm a cheeseburger girl at heart, but I didn't even miss the cheese here. We did miss the bacon, though. Where is the good quality bacon in our local grocery stores?! Here's hoping for better selection in the future. The Harmses are missing their bacon. 

Since we are currently living at camp, we get to eat food from the yummy camp kitchen, but on the weekends we still like to make ourselves some burgers. We usually serve them with baked beans and grilled veggies + onions or some roasted home fries. Perfect.



about this blog

Hello, I'm Summer. A people-loving introvert whose hope and life is in Jesus. His promises are my passion and my ministry is homelife. This blog is a place for me to write about everyday things. Especially food. My favorite thing to do is sit around a table, lingering over a long meal with good conversation. I live with my husband and our 2 littles. We like blizzards, thrifting, grammar, guacamole, cheerful hearts, nice manners, good movies, and making simple, real, nutrient-dense food.

"If Christ be anything, He must be everything."
-C.H. Spurgeon

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