About

I am a twenty-six-year old wife, married to my amazing husband Nicholas for slightly over one year, and I am pregnant with our first child.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in French and Russian (and lived and studied in France), then decided to pursue a graduate degree in Slavic languages and literature. I also had the wonderful opportunity to live and study in Saint Petersburg, Russia. I have received my MA and completed all the coursework required for my PhD, and have most currently been working as a university-level instructor of Russian language. I believe that language skills are an essential skill in our increasingly interconnected world (and sorely absent in public school curriculum). I am dedicated to teaching my children foreign languages starting from birth – the ideal time for them to learn another language – and am already researching the best methods for foreign language acquisition. Do not be surprised if this, along with homeschooling, appears as an eventual blog topic.

I am a firm believer in eating and moving in harmony with my evolution. I have been heavily (and very positively) influenced by both the paleo and CrossFit movements, for which I have my husband to thank; he is a certified CrossFit instructor and former coach at CrossFit Oahu (where we both used to work out), and he introduced me to a book by Gary Taubes entitled Good Calories, Bad Calories, which was an earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting health and nutrition revelation for me (and also, incidentally, increased my mistrust of government), as well as the writings of such scientists as Art DeVany, Loren Cordain, and Robb Wolf.

My views on food, agriculture, and eating are also influenced heavily by my personal history, working on my grandfather’s farm raising sheep and cattle when I was growing up. My parents were able to purchase the farmstead after his death, and we now have a large collection of chickens, both layers and fryers, three beef cattle, lots of growing fruit trees, and a vegetable garden that cannot be beat. I advocate pastured, free-range animals raised without hormones or antibiotics, produce grown with the natural fertilizer of chicken manure and without chemicals, herbicides, or pesticides, and generally speaking a sustainable, permacultural, humane method of producing food.

I am determined to give my child only the best nutrition and most nurturing environment possible, before, during, and after birth. I am currently engrossed in research concerning health and nutrition during pregnancy, and am planning the most gentle, unmedicated, intervention-free birth possible: a midwife-attended birth at home. I am committed to gentle, natural, and loving parenting choices such as birth bonding, bedding close to baby, babywearing, immediate response to baby’s cry, extended breastfeeding, and baby-led weaning. I am also heavily influenced by the Doctors Sears; I have found their parenting library to be a wonderful, compassionate, and down-to-earth resource as I am learning more about being a mother.

16 Responses to About

  1. Dasha Ivashniova says:

    Dear Ellen,

    This is such wonderful news! I am very excited for you and Nick and the timing couldn’t be better (at least someone got their prelims done, eh?) What you say in this blog is very-very to my own thoughts and I am very happy that we could possibly share our experiences and ideas along the way. I do envy you for having access to a farm. I grew up eating home-grown seasonal vegetables and drinking whole unpasteurized milk, and the present situation in the US food industry boggles my mind. I am still looking for a source of raw milk in WI and thinking about eventually getting a milk goat and four chickens for fresh eggs. I do not think our jobs and incomes will allow us to acquire a farm or to buy only wholesome food, but I am trying to make better choices in the conditions we live in. We recently bought a share in a CSA and I am definitely going to grow my own veggies once we get a house with a plot of land.

    Hurray again and stay in touch!

    Dasha.

    • elliemaeh says:

      Thank you so much! And I am so glad to hear from you. It sounds like we are very much on the same page. I am entirely in favor of making raw milk legal and readily available. I mean, what right does the government have to tell us what we can and cannot eat? It is illegal in Wisconsin but not in Illinois, so if you ever would want to take a road trip, there are a few places right across the state line. I am not much of a milk drinker (although I used to love the milk I got fresh out of my grandfather’s cow when I was a girl), but I would love to have some raw milk to make my own cheeses or yogurt.

      It would be very tough to eat well on a budget without access to a farm – I have it made now, but when I was living in Hawaii I was using a lot of canned, frozen, conventionally-grown stuff. Certainly not ideal. I know there are some awesome CSAs in the area. The Madison Farmer’s Market is a really great resource, too. I love going up and looking around at the variety there, although they can be a bit pricey.

      Thanks again for stopping by and leaving me a note, and I am very happy to hear that we share a lot of the same views! I hope you and Sophia are doing well.

  2. Pingback: MIdwife and OB Care: A Comparison | A Mom On A Mission . . . . . . to nurture and nourish her family

  3. Molly Blasing says:

    Dear Ellen,
    Congratulations to you and Nick on your wonderful news! I’m also pregnant–approaching 24 weeks and feeling great–and Keith and I can’t wait to meet our little one in mid-July. When are you due?
    I’m really enjoying your posts and recipes! Best wishes to you in the weeks, months and years ahead.
    Best,
    Molly

    • elliemaeh says:

      Congratulations! That is great news . . . I had no idea! I am only about 11 weeks along, so I have to wait all the way until mid-October to meet my little one. I am glad to hear that your pregnancy is going so well. I have been feeling great, too. A little more tired than usual, but I am not experiencing any of the nasty pregnancy symptoms so many women seem to have – I’m feeling healthy and super excited. Good luck to you, Keith, and the baby, and thanks for stopping by and leaving me a note!

  4. It does my heart good to see you beautiful young women taking the healthy route you choose to raise your families. I grew up having raw milk delivered to our door in Southern California. Took a serious healthy approach to having a baby with the best nutrition before, during (birth at home) and after birth. Eschewed the horrid childhood vaccines for my son. Now my son, who is going to be thirty, is exceptionally healthy and me, I’ve beat a genetic cancer (testing discovered I had in 2008) with diet. Stay the course, it’s worth it!

    • elliemaeh says:

      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! It can be hard sometimes to stay the course, especially when some of the people close to you do not necessarily agree with your choices, but my husband and I believe that it is worth the effort. And I bet that so years down the road we will also be able to look at our healthy and happy grown up child and know we made the right call.

      And by the way, I checked out a few of the recipes on your site, and I love the idea of butternut squash chili . . . we are going to have a lot of squash come fall, so I am already beginning to build up my recipe arsenal!

  5. I really like template! Was it free?

    • elliemaeh says:

      Thanks! Yes, it’s “Twenty Ten” by WordPress. I just designed the picture collage for the banner using gimp.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Hello,

    I look forward to reading more of your website as my husband and I someday reach the point of starting a family. Do you mind if I ask where (what state) you grew up and went to public school? I’ve been teaching in a public elementary school in MA for 7 years and while I agree that the system is quite flawed, especially the special education subsystem, I think there a lot of teachers who work very hard to overcome the challenges of mandatory standardized testing and a rigorous curriculum that leaves little time for “the fun stuff”. I like to think that despite the shortcomings of public education, my students depart 4th grade better prepared for the schooling, social issues, and life ahead of them. I don’t mean to grandstand, but each state is different in their requirements for testing (read: how you structure your school year to teach to the test) and in how teachers are supported with resources and personnel, so I was just curious which state did you so wrong. Thank you and again, I look forward to checking back often!

    Elizabeth (@www.wickeddomestic.com)

    • elliemaeh says:

      I went to public school in Wisconsin. I would agree that there are many wonderful and hard-working teachers in the public school system, and I was lucky to encounter several of them in my 12 years of public education, which made the experience much more bearable. Some of them were instrumental in getting me into more challenging classes that were more suited to my interests and abilities.

      I would entirely disagree with the problem in public schools being a “rigorous curriculum.” I finished the normal curriculum at my high school during my sophomore year and the AP curriculum during my junior year. My senior year the school had to send me to college full-time because they had run out of classes for me. I was bored stiff during the majority of my schooling, and resentful that I was forced (quite literally, by federal law) to sit in my desk every day and waste my time. I could have been learning so much more, and my time could have been spent so much more productively, but instead I was in a class of 20-30 students, where the teachers were forced to teach to the average student – would not say that this is any fault of their own, rather a massive flaw in the system. I was never the average student, in terms of learning style, interests, or speed of knowledge acquisition, so I was constantly frustrated. This sort of frustration also led to my desocialization. Although it was no fault or shortcoming of my classmates, I was still impatient with their different learning styles and speeds because it meant that I could not learn what I wanted to learn at a more reasonable pace for me, and instead was wasting my time reviewing what I never needed to review. Add to that the frustration that comes with having to deal, on a daily basis, with gaggles of girls who are more concerned with boys, fashion, and gossip than they are with learning, and I really would just have rather been somewhere by myself, reading a book.

      The best class I ever took during high school was actually an independent study for AP calculus. Since I was not stuck in a classroom, I was able to work at my own pace. I met with a very helpful and encouraging teacher once a week to go over my progress. I finished the entire year-long curriculum in six weeks, and then for the rest of the year I went home from school an hour early, and got to do whatever I wanted – read a book, practice my piano lessons, play with my dog, whatever.

      I do not think that public schools are bad for most ‘average’ kids that fit easily into the system, but I do feel that I could do much better by my children if I educate them at home. I like this analogy. Have you ever worn a tailored dress or suit, designed to fit your exact measurements? It fits so much better, feels so much better, and looks so much better that a mass-produced dress straight off of the rack. I already have a more than sufficient education to teach k-12, as well as years of teaching experience, and I will be able to provide my children with an entire education that is designed around their learning styles, which capitalizes on their strengths and helps to shore up their weakness, and which engages them in the topics that they find most interesting. If I have the resources to provide them with this sort of personalized education, why would I send them to a public school?

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I actually didn’t say that the “problem in public schools is a rigorous curriculum”. I try to stay away from such sweeping generalizations. I’m not familiar with the quality of education in Wisconsin, but Massachusetts is known to have some of the most challenging benchmarks and curriculum frameworks in the country. While I can’t speak for what goes on at the high school level, my experience in teaching elementary school has been that the scope and sequence of what we are expected to teach is often beyond the developmental level of the students and is difficult to squeeze into 180 days. It’s also a challenge to balance the demands of the curriculum with the social and character development that is a necessary part of elementary school. But – educational expectations and curricula vary from state to state, so perhaps you’d have a different perspective had you attended school elsewhere.

    It actually sounds like your high school did a lot to meet your needs – independent studies, college courses. I would think that such advanced students are few and far between, and therefore it’s impractical for a school district to develop higher levels of curriculum for the rare student. Most schools I’m familiar with have a general curriculum (that, yes, is aimed at the “average” student), but offer leveled courses so that students can learn in a homogeneous environment with peers of approximately the same intellectual level, and where teachers can adjust, reinforce, or extend the curriculum according to the students’ needs. Perhaps this was not the case in Wisconsin.

    I applaud your commitment to homeschooling. It is certainly an effective way to make sure a child receives one-on-one instruction in precisely their areas of interest, strength, and weakness. The main drawback, I would think, is the social aspect, though I have heard that there are strong social networks for homeschooling emerging(at least in Mass.) I think that school is about more than just learning and accelerating as quickly as possible; it’s also about forming relationships, developing interpersonal and leadership skills, getting involved in extra curricular activities and clubs, and finding your own way. Of course, some of those opportunities depend on the school/system/state. And I think that a little giggling and gossiping about boys and fashion is normal and healthy! It’s all a part of growing up.

    • elliemaeh says:

      Actually, many administrators and some teachers, as well as the school board in one case, fought to deny me access to those advanced courses, independent studies, and college courses. Every grade level from sixth on up, my parents had to fight the system to get me a more appropriate education. If it were not for their effort, involvement, and investment in my education, as well as the efforts of a few wonderful teachers who were willing to buck the system, I would have been tracked much differently. I find it very sad that teachers, administrators, and a school board, all of whom are supposedly looking out for the best interests of students, would make it such a challenge for someone to attain appropriate educational opportunities.

      As far as socialization, community, and leadership skills – I met these sorts of developmental needs through programs independent of school, such as 4-H, church youth group, and independent community service work. Almost all of my life skill skills, and all of my lasting relationships, I developed outside of school.

      But to each his own. There may be students who, because of whatever circumstances, are not involved in such outside activities, and who find that school is a positive social environment. Neither my husband nor I found public school to meet our needs, socially or academically, and we doubt that our children would fit well into the public school mold. If, as they get older, however, they decide that they want to attend a public school, then that is an option we will consider, and a decision that will ultimately be for them to make.

      As for public schools teaching character development, however – it is my responsibility and my husband’s to teach our children about character, not that of any public school. This imperative, which seems so pervasive in public education (and which I personally saw as a student and rebelled against), is another main reason why our children will not attend a public elementary school.

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  9. Rufruf says:

    I love your blog! Have just gone through all your posts and can’t wait for future instalments. Just one question – any chance that you could add a feature that allows people to sign up? Feedburner or something similar? Thanks.

    • elliemaeh says:

      Thank you so much! My blog should be set up so that you should be able to subscribe with an RSS reader, although I probably ought to figure out how to make the subscription button a bit more prominent. If you scroll down along the right-hand column there should be a little orange square button, and if you click on it it should take you to another page that invites you to subscribe using your preferred reader. At least that is how it works on my computer – I am able to subscribe using NetNewsWire without any problem. Please let me know if it does not work, though. Food is my specialty, not technology, so if there are some issues to be worked out I will find somebody (probably my dearest husband) who can help me with my computer issues.

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