Sunday, January 4, 2015

This is not part 2 :)


I got a question from a friend recently asking how to eat cheap AND healthy.  I remembered this little article I'd written for an FPU class Justin was leading a few years ago, and thought I'd re-post it.  It was a good reminder to me, too. :)  The end of the article is the food part, just fyi. :)  Feel free to add in other saving ideas I may have missed.  I'm learning too!  And, hats off to all of you thrifty moms who spend far less than me on groceries.  I'm always amazed at how much stuff costs when I'm at the store!  :)


How We Make it Work on 1 Income x 5 Children

We’ve been doing the Dave Ramsey Financial Plan for 7 years now.  We’re still learning, but we’ve amazed ourselves, even, with the progress we’ve made.   It has been 2 steps forward, and 1 step backward, at times.  But, it’s been worth it!  I’m sharing this to be helpful, not to “toot my/our own horn” 

In a short list, here’s a few ways we’ve been successful in achieving our goals and working through Dave’s “Baby Steps”:

  1. Delay gratification-  there has been seasons (like when we were paying off the debts that we owed), where we only spent money on the basics.  “Horrors!!!”  This was a HUGE lesson for me to learn.  Us girls, we like our shopping, eh?!!  For some months on end there just wasn’t enough money for “extra” stuff: clothes, makeup, hair, etc.  And, WE SURVIVED!   It’s ok.  It’s just for a season!  I actually stayed out of stores, besides the grocery store, because there just wasn’t extra room in the budget for those “wants”.  It actually helped me be content!  We did this, because our goal was to use all of our extra money to do the “Debt Snowball”   That was “gazelle intensity” (from a girl’s perspective) J
  2. “Buy used and save the difference!”  (that’s a quote from the Dugger Familiy!)  It works.   We’ve done this: everything from vehicles to baby gear.  It’s easy to spend extra thousands, by buying brand new.  It pays to shop around.  Thankfully, there’s more and more resale shops around selling maternity, kid and baby gear!  Babies and children CAN cost a lot, but with the opportunity to shop at resale shops or garage sales, it’s VERY affordable.  I know people who sell all their baby strollers, furniture, and clothing and then go out and buy all new stuff for the next one.  Then, they’re amazed that we purchased our surburban with cash or fully stock our Emergency Fund.  It’s just a matter of priority.  I KNOW we were able to save a large chunk of money during what could’ve been a very expensive time in our lives by hardly spending any money on baby gear and kids clothes.   [And, just to clarify, it’s not “wrong” to get all new stuff between kids, that’s just the example that popped into my head.  It’s those people’s garage sales that I like to attend!!! J]
  3. Learn to shop differently: coupons, add matching, discount stores, price checking online, Ebay and Amazon (buy used!!), and have a plan for grocery shopping!
  4. Learn from everyone you can.  Glean ideas, tips, hints, and recipes!  It may just save you $$$ and time!

Grocery Shopping:

Saving money on grocery shopping is an art form!  What works for one person, may not work for another.  They key is finding out what works for you and your family.  I am slowly learning what works best for us, and how to fit it into our weekly budget for groceries.  I have 2 main goals: Eat nutrient-dense foods and do it as cheap as possible!  It seems like an oxy-moron, right?! J Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. I have a plan.  Saving money starts with a plan.   I never go to the store without a written plan.  I usually J don’t stray from my list.

 After I had my 2nd baby, I thought to myself, “Ok, I’ve got to get this figured out!  I need to be organized.”  With 1 baby, I could kinda float through my day, still keep an impeccable house, serve gourmet meals, and keep my peace through the whole process.   Well, things around my house have changed.  I’ve realized, that I cannot afford NOT to be organized and have a plan.  Yes, my house is no longer immaculate, a lot of times it’s more “crazy” than “peaceful”, and some nights are a lot less than gourmet, but I do have a plan, and work hard to stick with it.  Whether it’s my menu planning, grocery store list, or my daily routine, I’ve found that the key is being INTENTIONAL and having a plan!

  1. Make a Menu! I have a weekly menu list.  Before I make my grocery store run, I go through my list and make sure I have all the ingredients to the meals I plan to make for the week.  This includes looking at the calendar to for-see “unusual” meal-events coming up: company on the weekend, my contribution to a Sunday Dinner,  a cookout or potluck, or FPU meal night!  It takes me maybe 5 minutes to make.  I actually made a list in my “Brain In A Binder” Organizer of “Fast Meals” and “Goff Family Favorite” Often, just looking through the list of meals, gives me inspiration for the particular week.  It also helps me not make the same old, same old every week.  I don’t like to be boxed in too much, so I just make a list of meal options.  I don’t assign a particular meal to a particular day, unless we’re having company (and I make a “company-style/sized” meal) or we have a very busy day and I don’t have time to make a meal.   I plan ahead for either a crockpot meal or a freezer meal, in that case. 
  2. I take $250 in cash for weekly groceries and that includes food, paper products, office supplies, replacements (socks, undies, gloves, or worn out towels, etc...) supplements, and any other household products or last minute gifts that I may need.  So, the amount is generous enough to be able to cover those items, when the needs arise.  I’m being transparent here, but when we first started FPU, I kinda wanted to see what our allotment for food  looked like compared to other families.  When we first got married, we spent $80/week…5 kids later, it’s tripled. J  We like to eat, and all of us, even down to the 2 year old, eat a lot!  We also have near-weekly company or “potluck” with another family…so, food is pretty central to how we live ‘round here.  I’ve had to come to grips with the “nerd” in me that naturally wants to be appalled at the amount of $$$ I spend at the grocery store.  I’m sure we could spend WAY less on groceries, if we only had 1 kid and never invited people over.   However, I’ve learned, food means mealtimes, fellowship & relationships, and to us, it’s worth it!
  3. Make a priority list: distinguish between wants and needs.  “Junk food” is just as expensive as “healthy food”  Should we cut out pop, chips, crackers, and kid-snacks, so we can afford more fresh fruits and veggies, and maybe treats like wild salmon, every once-in-a-while?  I quit buying most junk foods (pre-packaged crackers, granola bars, cookies, pop) a while ago, and it has freed up more $$ to spend on nutrient-rich food.  (I DO still buy chips sometimes—it’s a treat in my hubby’s lunch…what can I say…it’s one of his love languages!  J)
  4. Shop the perimeter of the store: that’s where the “healthier” foods are located.  Milk, eggs, cheese, fruits and veggies, and meat are along the perimeter.  That’s where 90% of what we buy should come from. 
  5. Shopping for health and cooking with more “whole” foods is my goal.  I’m trying to get away from buying foods with a long shelf life—there are no enzymes in those foods!  Pre-packaged crackers, cookies, candy, juice, etc.  If it won’t mold…don’t eat it!! J
  6. Cook from scratch: buying raw ingredients is ALWAYS cheaper!  (that’s why couponing hasn’t worked for me)  Think: bags of dried beans or rice vs. canned beans and rice-a-roni, or boxed plain pasta vs. macaroni & cheese or hamburger helper.  Do we really cook from scratch?  No, we DO buy boxed pasta, spaghetti sauce, bread, condiments, and some canned fruit.  But, I’ve found that it’s tons cheaper AND healthier to cook/bake from scratch.  Crackers, cookies, broth, beans,tortillas, cream of _______soup, seasoning mixes (taco, onion soup mix, etc), etc…I make from scratch.  I will do a separate post with recipes for these things.  And yes, sometimes convenience wins, when I am short on time during a particularly busy week.  But, it’s a conscious choice I make, not just a default mode, to buy prepared food.
  7. Speaking of prepared food, I make my own!  I do “freezer cooking.”  I’m not regimented about doing this once-a-month, or anything. But, when I cook hamburger I’ll cook 10 lbs instead of just 2 lbs. Since I already have the pots dirty, I might as well cook ahead!  It saves me time for other meals, to already have the meat cooked.  The same goes for when I’m making a chicken casserole, spaghetti pie, pie crusts, tortillas, bread dough, biscuits, lasagna, or even cookies!  (Many times, I’ll double the recipe and freeze a roll of cookie dough, wrap it in wax paper, and voila!  I have my own healthy-version of “slice and bake cookies”  It saves time, when the kids and I have an inconvenient craving for freshly baked cookies! 
    When I make bread, I mix it up in my Bosch mixer (my favorite appliance, btw)—it makes bread-making a snap!  I just dump all the ingredients in, and it does ALL the work.  I take the dough out, divide it 6 ways, bake 2 loaves and freeze the rest of the dough.  Fresh bread available whenever!!
  8. Buy in bulk!  I buy my dry-goods about 2 x’s a year.  We buy a hog and ½  of a beef once or twice a year.  I buy 100 lbs of blueberries during the summer and freeze them.  My hubby hunts, so we have venison in the freezer.  We also started [a “homeschool-project” w/ the kids] raising our own chicken in the summer, so we usually have a freezer full of whole chickens, as well.  It helps the weekly budget IMMENSELY, not to have to buy meat every week.  It also helps my brain space, to not have to think, “Do I have Oatmeal? Rice? Beans? Meat?”  I know that I have those!  Menu planning is a snap, when I already have the meat in the freezer!  Store meat, makes me too nervous…I suppose I’ve read too much, to eat it all the time. (ha,ha J)  [The meat I DO sometimes buy at the store includes: lunchmeat (the natural, nitrate-free kind), canned tuna and salmon, and frozen fish)]
    Also, I do the same thing with paper goods.  When my preferred brand of paper towels go on sale, I stock up.  Same w/ paper plates & cups, zipper bags (freezer, sandwich and storage),diapers, female products, etc.  I have some friends that go to Sam’s 1x a year and buy a year’s supply of paper towels, toilet paper, and etc.  I like that idea.  I do the same for cleaning ingredient supplies. (I make my own, and will post my recipes.)
    The Key:  *Reduce my weekly grocery shopping to food, as much as possible*

Note: To afford the “bulk shopping”, I use “extra budget” cash.  I DO NOT try to scrimp and save up grocery money each week, to buy my blueberry splurge in the summer, or the ½ hog we purchase, or the dry-good’s shopping trip.  Money that comes in a chunk, like a tax return, a bonus, or money that I’ve earned usually goes to fund these expenditures. 

  1. Saving $$$ at the store takes an investment in t-i-m-e.  It’s taken me awhile to figure out what my priorities are.  There are seasons where I’ve been able to go to more than 1 store and/or price match.  Since I don’t live 5 minutes from a big grocery store, I really do have to plan and prepare beforehand.  I know people who have good success with super-couponing, but I’ve found that it’s cheaper to buy the generic brand, the buy-1-get 1-free deals at Meijer, shop at a discount store (love ALDI’s!!!) or buy dry-goods in bulk.  The more time I invest in my shopping (looking online at the ads to price match, going to more than 1 store, etc…), the more money I save.  I’m in a very busy season raising and homeschooling 4 kids plus a baby, so I often don’t spend a whole lot of time doing that right now.
  2. Utilize a pantry.  It’s a smart thing to do.  Even the Federal Government recommends having 3-6 months supply of food on hand, in case of a national emergency.  I’ve been hearing this from more and more sources.   I love this idea more for convenience purposes.  For me, it’s very handy to have a “stockpile” of ingredients on hand, since we live about 30 minutes to an hour away from big grocery stores.  I always keep ingredients for tacos, spaghetti, and breakfast on hand.  Those are meals I can always fall back on.
  3. Keep tabs on where the cheapest place is, to buy your favorite brands.  I live in the middle of 3 towns that have grocery stores/farms that I buy food from.  For example: I buy Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter—at Meijer, it’s more expensive, so when I’m at Walmart, I instinctively know to grab a few extra jars of P.B., when I’m there. 
  4. Grow a garden!  Fresh and cheap…and organic too!  You can freeze the extra for winter-time soups and sides!
  5. Take a sack lunch!  I started making Justin’s lunches right after we got married…I’m sure it has saved us lots of cash, by him not eating out ALL the time.  I try to be creative, fun, budget-conscious and healthy. (more of these ideas in another post)
  6. Eat less meat and more beans.  (more on this in another post)  Look for other ways to add protein: eggs, beans, etc…
     
    ~Now, I know it’s tricky to be shopping for health and staying within the budget.  I was in a conversation at one of the FPU classes, where people were expressing frustration over the cost of “healthy” food verses “cheap” food.  The McDonald’s menu, is “cheaper” (in all respects) for their daily “Dollar Menu” But, to me, it’s pay now or pay later.  It’s worth it, in my opinion, to buy healthy food and make my hubby’s lunch here at home.  I’m sure I could make it cheaper by buying “fake” cheese, bologna, and white bread, or sending him to McDonald’s, but my goal is cheap AND healthy.  And, sometimes that means spending a bit more now…otherwise, you’ll probably end up spending it at the Dr.’s office down the road.
     
    Update: It’s been about 2 years since I wrote this article…so I had to change a few things.  I still agree with all the above, but I will add that I’ve become an ALDI’s fan.  I used to think that ALDI’s only sold junk foods.  Not the case.  I buy all I can at ALDI, then finish up at Walmart.  Aldi’s everything is way less expensive.  On the weeks that I’m not able to make the hour long trek to Aldi’s, I just price match what I can and go to Walmart. 
I will also add, that food prices have gone WAY up.  Buying quality meat, dairy, and eggs is NOT cheap!  Prioritize what you can, buy the best you can afford, and leave the rest up to God.  I don't buy all organic.  We try to grow a lot of our own food.  I do buy organic celery and free-range eggs when available.  I do opt for wild-caught seafood.  I buy organic yogurt, simply b/c it is the variety with the most strains of probiotics, and no weird ingredients in the list.  I try to buy Greek yogurt when I can.  I have been very impressed w/ the variety and even organic products Aldi carries now.  I have saved  LOT of $$$ by shopping at ALDI.  I can buy a lot of food for $100 there!


I will also add that I do NOT buy milk unless I'm in Amish land.  It's just a choice we've made to not drink store milk.  I pay $4/gallon for raw milk.  I've switched over to almond and coconut milk, for several reasons.  We don't consistently drink milk, simply b/c I don't make special trips just for milk.  I do keep powdered milk on hand, for recipes.  I also use "cheap" eggs for baking and save the expensive/free range/delicious eggs for breakfast.  So, yeah, I've just had to kinda wiggle my way through the whole saving money thing AND eating healthy whole foods.  No, we don't eat all organic or perfect foods without weirdo ingredients, but I do my best.  Hope these ideas help.  Feel free to add in your own ideas in the comments!  I'd be happy to learn how I can spend less than $1000/month at the grocery store!

Friday, December 26, 2014

My 2 cents on having babies...


Postpartum Thoughts on Pregnancy, Childbirth, Baby Care and Parenting…Part 1

 

Here I am nearly 4 weeks after having my 5th baby, Daniel.  I have been reflecting on my pregnancy and birth experience this time around.  I am so very grateful to be able to say, it was my best one yet!  I did some things differently, although I was conscious of my diet and exercise in my previous pregnancies.  I didn’t need naps hardly at all and had lots of energy.  I still had morning sickness (which for me, was nausea/food aversions/sensitivity to smells—I’m so very thankful I wasn’t night & day sick like my dear mom and one of my sisters) till 14 weeks.  True to my “boy pregnancies”, my nausea was connected to my blood sugar.  Even though I didn’t feel hungry, eating a snack, curbed the nausea.

 I am always trying to learn more.  And, I have been learning about pregnancy, childbirth, and raising kids for 9 years.  I certainly don’t know it all…but my experience has taught me and I’ve been gleaning from new books and articles.  I am not a medical person, so, as with everything, do your own research and check w/ your midwife or Dr. before taking my advice in this letter.  I am documenting this not only for myself, in case there are more pregnancies in my future, but especially for my daughter, Madeline.  I’m posting it on my blog, in case it may be of help to another young mama.  Here are some of the things that helped my pregnancy…

Pregnancy Thoughts:

Spiritually:

Pray.  Pray for the pregnancy, pray for the baby, pray for your own attitude.  Pray before conception, if possible. J  And, pray in specifics.  I would pray detailed prayers, from my baby’s developing organs to his/her usefulness to the Lord, and His divine plan for their life.  Record your prayers.  Consider keeping a “Mom Journal” for all those special thoughts and prayers.  I’ve enjoyed re-reading back through mine. 

Reflect. Take time, especially if there are already a couple of kiddos running around, to reflect on the new baby.  Sometimes I’d get to the end of my day, and finally sit down or lay down in bed, and think, “Oh, yeah!  I’m pregnant!”  Taking time to visualize the little one, pray for him/her, and just relish being pregnant again, was helpful for me.

Sing!  Your baby can hear.  He or she will hear rhythms, sounds, and tones long before he/she is born.  Music is very powerful.  It can heal, comfort, encourage, and bless.  Playing music is also beneficial.  It also helps Mama’s mood, attitude, and outlook.

Emotionally:

Remember that your state of mind does/will affect your little baby.  Choosing to be thankful and joyful, even and especially when it is a sacrifice of praise, will not only be a sweet savor to God, but it will bless your little one, more than you know.  Choosing a “soft answer” instead of yelling at the kids or hubby will bless and comfort your baby.  Choosing to relax instead of stressing or freaking out and learning to be a little less Type A—in the perspective of eternity, will it really matter?  Try to avoid relationships or circumstances that cause you stress or anxiety.  If conflicts cannot be avoided, attempt to resolve them right away.

Physically: 

Learn to research.  Learn all you can about pregnancy, diet, and exercise…and even child training.  Read cookbooks.  Surf the internet for great, healthy cooking sites.  Branch out.  Eat quality meat, eggs, and dairy.  Grow your own veggies!  Eat lots of veggies and fruits.  Shop in the fresh section of the grocery store…or better yet, shop at farmer’s markets.  Eat as much locally grown food as possible.  It’s still possible to eat well on a tight budget.  Learn to make tasty dishes from beans, eggs, lentils, rice, and inexpensive veggies. 

 


1st Trimester:

Physically:

Ideas to try for easing morning or all-day sickness:

*Lemon Water and fresh ginger tea—when you think “nothing” is going to help the sick feeling, these actually did help me when I remembered to make some (Faulty digestion, due to changing hormones, can cause morning sickness or make it worse.  That is why, for some, lemon-ginger-and organic apple cider vinegar work well in helping)

*From my experience, stress and lack of sleep make nausea worse

*Water—drink 2-3 quarts/day…dehydration will slow you down!  It’s so simple.  But, we all get busy and forget to drink water! I fill up a quart jar with ice and water and sip it all day, refilling as needed.  I never leave the house w/out my Bubba keg, either!  Many times we are tired or get a headache simply because our body needs H20!  Drinking plenty of pure water also helps with digestion and avoiding constipation.

These next 2 things were especially “light bulb” moments for me in the last 2 pregnancies.  Consistently increasing the amount of quality protein and healthy fats in my diet dramatically improved how I felt:

*Protein, protein, protein!  This was SO very helpful and was something I didn’t do enough of in my first 3 pregnancies.  Protein stabilizes blood sugar and keeps you full longer.  I noticed in my 4th and 5th pregnancies, my body could not handle carbs 1st thing in the morning.  I ate 3-4 free-range eggs most mornings in my pregnancy w/ Benjamin, on top of salad greens.  With this pregnancy, I ate supper for breakfast nearly every morning.  It sounds strange, but worked for me.  It helped me avoid the 10 am necessity of a nap and gave me lots of energy for the day.  No foggy feelings anymore!!

*Healthy fats- coconut oil, avocados, butter, nut/seed butters, fatty fish, virgin olive oil, & supplemental oils: cod liver, flax oil, hemp oil, fermented cod liver/butter oil, evening primrose oil.  I ate these as much as possible—in treats, smoothies, frying, and in supplemental form (1 tbsp or a capsule)

Food Ideas when everything tastes, smells, or sounds gross:

Some of the snacks I ate in the first trimester: dried mangos, cocoa dusted almonds or roasted/salted almonds (sometimes dipped in almond butter), smoothies, plain baked potato with butter and salt, tortilla or potato chips (sea salt only—I tried to limit the additives), granny smith apples with peanut butter or almond butter, hamburger with ketchup wrapped in lettuce, and whatever sounded good (within my self-imposed healthy guidelines), even if it was a high calorie comfort food. J

The food items on my No-no list:  prepared foods, fast foods, and foods with a long line of crazy ingredients.  Example:  (craving for chips) Sea Salt Potato Chips or Organic/Non-GMO Tortilla Chips instead of generic Doritos with flavorings and additives.  (craving fries): homemade oven fries using red potatoes, sea salt and olive oil, roasted at 425 degrees

Confession:  I allowed myself a few cheat meals in my 1st trimesters.  Yes, I caved a few times.  I bought McDonald’s French fries and ate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  It’s weird, since I don’t eat those items EVER, normally. J I didn’t eat perfectly.  Sometimes on yucky days, the goal was nourishment, not perfect food combining or perfectly balanced blood sugar.  Give grace to yourself.

*Consider: sometimes we crave certain foods, because our bodies are needing certain minerals.  Think: salty food cravings may be a sign that you need more minerals/nutrients…dose up on the unrefined sea salt…take some alfalfa and/or iodine.  Often our every-day diets are sorely lacking in trace minerals.  Pregnancy can just expose it.

 My weirdo-healthy foods did NOT sound yummy during the 1st trimester. Although, I always tried to pair fruit with some protein and not just eat “naked” carbs.  Blood sugar will stay stable longer if there are healthy fats or protein.  Sometimes eating what sounded good over-rode what was “healthy”.  I tried to eat has healthy as I possibly could, even through the nauseas period. 

I do know some women think pregnancy is their time to over-indulge in their cravings and eat whatever they want.  Knowing what I know now, it can be selfish and very unhealthy and fat-promoting to eat that way.  Eating and drinking healthily promotes healthy tissues, placenta, and (usually) a healthy baby.   I know of a lady who kept a bucket of candy by her bed b/c she was pregnant and could eat “whatever she wanted”.  She had 4 pre-term babies and pre-eclampsia.  In my opinion, there is more than a little connection there!  Loads of sugar, white bread, processed food and fast food hinders, not helps!

~Sometimes there’s nothing that seems to help morning sickness/nausea/food adversions/sensitivity to smells.  Sometimes there are things that help.  In my opinion, it’s worth trying…although I tended to suffer, simply b/c I didn’t feel like trying anything b/c I thought there’s nothing that would take away the gross feeling.  As hard as it can be, focusing on the positives during the sick times, reminding yourself that the hormones are doing what they’re supposed to, can be comforting.

*Hint: Sensitivity to smells can be helped by eliminating food-coking smells: grilling or even setting the crockpot in the garage to cook all day.

 

2nd Trimester:

Diet and Exercise:

I started feeling better and tried to make sure to eat good quality protein, healthy carbs, and plenty of fruits and veggies.  I ate tons of salad with homemade salad dressings and lots of avocados.  Learn the art of roasting!!  I ate tons of veggies this way…the kids love them!  Non-starchy ones are great: broccoli, cauliflower, green beans…etc!  Sauteeing cabbage (red or green) in coconut oil is quite the treat!  Don’t forget bone broth.  It is highly nutritious. Drink kefir and/or eat yogurt, and cultured foods for the probiotics. 

Exercise didn’t happen as much as it should’ve in the 1st trimester for me, but during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, I aimed for an average of 3-4 times per week.  I would either walk 2 miles pushing my double stroller, jump on the trampoline with the kids, or bike around town w/ Benjamin in the bike seat and all the kids on their own bikes.  I also kept my kettlebell (5 lbs) or my 5 lbs hand weights on my counter so I’d remember to do a few reps throughout my day.  I consistently did squats either w/ or without the weights and stretching exercises. 

It sounds so simple to say, “Eat healthy and exercise!!”  But, I’ve found that it is KEY to a healthy pregnancy and it’ll make you feel GREAT!  It’s not easy to do.  It’s hard to be consistent.  But, as with anything, IF you are consistent, it’ll make a big difference on how you feel, how much energy you’ll have, how your body and tissues respond to labor and birth, and it’ll greatly impact your postpartum recovery period and even your emotional health.  Sometimes we suffer, simply because we are craving certain nutrients, minerals, or essential fatty acids.

New foods I ate during this pregnancy: chia seeds, hemp protein powder, glucommanan, goat milk kefir and yogurt, goat cheese, quinoa, buckwheat, almond and coconut milk/cream

3rd Trimester:

Diet and Exercise

I continued eating healthy.  I was conscious to eat plenty of quality red meat, eggs and salmon.  I ate lots of avocados, gobs of almond butter, chia seeds, coconut oil-meat-and water (coconut anything!), and consistent supplements. 

I started getting leg cramps, typical in all my pregnancies in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. I upped my mineral supplements (Krebs), and took Cal/Mag CALM or Cal/Mag Liquid (found at a healthfood store) drink before bed, when I remembered.  The thing that helped me the most was consistently drinking my pregnancy tea, which I started in the last part of my pregnancy.  It contained red raspberry leaf, nettle, and alfalfa.  The minerals in the tea were well absorbed by my body, apparently, because it was the #1 thing that helped.  Plus, I felt like it gave me an extra boost of energy.  I tried to drink a few cups to a quart of the tea per day.  Oh, and coconut water also helped.  My midwife suggested it, since leg cramps are often not a cal/mag imbalance, but not enough potassium.  Coconut water is very high in potassium, as are bananas and potatoes.  I did end up eating bananas and potatoes to attempt to up my potassium levels, even though both can spike blood sugar. 

The other supplements I took:

(it is beneficial to take vitamins prior to conceiving)

SuperMom Vitamins (www.beeyoutiful.com)

400 mg Folic Acid (mainly in 1st trimester)

Alfalfa Capsules- 2-3, 2-3 x’s/day

Krebs Chelates- extra minerals, up to 4/day, divided doses

Iodine- a few times/week 12.5 mg ( I found that I was lacking iodine and had issues with hyper-thyroidism/Graves disease, prior to this last pregnancy)

Evening Primrose Oil- taken orally and vaginally 2 weeks before the due date.  It helps soften the cervix.

Cod Liver Oil/Barleans Omega Oil Blend/Hemp Oil

Probiotics

Pregnancy Tea-

*After multiple pregnancies and heading into my 30’s, I believe supplements are important, if not, crucial to supporting a healthy pregnancy and beyond.  Our bodies need more support, and often, our diets are not nutrient-dense enough to keep up with our body’s needs.

Labor and Birth:

I was prepared this time with my tricks and tips.  During labor, it’s the “little things” that helped me.  Here’s what I packed:

*1 quart of double strength Pregnancy Tea in a tall thermos—it’ll make the contractions more efficient, and hopefully a shorter labor! (adding ginger and peppermint is helpful too—both are stimulating herbs)

*A few containers of coconut water

*Scripture cds—“Hide ‘em In Your Heart” (from www.reviveourhearts.com)  They were very soothing and relaxing…plus it’s scripture!! What better way to labor than by listening to the promises of God!

*Essential oils and a carrier oil—olive oil  (lavender was the 1 I used—it definitely helped the relaxation process near the end)

*Scriptures on a card or in a notebook and other helpful self-encouragements to meditate on.

Thoughts on birth:

The biggest help, besides the “little things” was my preparation.  A healthy diet, kegels, stretches, knowledge of the stages of birth are all helpful in the process, for sure.  But, especially, mental preparation has been very important in my non-medicated births.  Maybe it sounds weird, but it was essential for me.  Naturally, I’m a wimp and very type A.  I like to plan.  I like to know what’s going to happen.  I like my lists.  Non-medicated birth requires, in my opinion, lots of preparations.  Here were my mental preps:

Acknowledging the obvious:

~”It’s going to be long (most likely).  It’s going to be uncomfortable.  It’s probably going to be painful.  It’s worth it.  I will get to meet my baby, that’s been growing inside of me for 9 months.  Jesus is my Helper.  I am strong.  My body was created to do this.  Let’s enjoy it!  No one but me can do this.  I am the birther of my baby.”

After-labor/delivery reflections:

~I didn’t ever get to the point of “I can’t do this any longer.”  My labors haven’t been short (less than 12 hours)…and most of them, I have at least a day or days of pre-labor and/or early labor.  I have lost many nights of sleep birthing my sweet babies.  Staying positive during the labor and delivery is SO important.  I was dreading the “pushing” phase…but I knew it was necessary and pushing through the pain and not giving “wimpy” pushes was crucial! 

To the 1st time mamas:

~Non-medicated deliveries require a hefty want-to attitude and mental toughness.  I was reflecting on all the character qualities that birth requires: patience, fortitude, self-lessness, endurance, joy, diligence, faith…

~All mamas are heros, no matter which way they birth. 

~You can do this.

Postpartum:

#1: Give yourself grace- allow yourself to not be perfect. 

#2. Know that your world is turned upside down.  It’s ok to not jump right back into life, even after 6-8 weeks.
#3.  Enjoy.  This stage is fleeting. 
#4.  You are ministering to your new baby in each moment of the day.  Relish it.  Thank the Lord for His mercies and blessings.

Breastfeeding:

I am armed and ready with ideas on this topic.  Surely the 5th time is the charm.  I was shocked how HARD nursing a baby was, for the 1st month—with ALL of my babies, except this one.  Yes, it’s natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and without pain.  I can proudly say, I learned from my 1st 4 babies.  I was horribly sore, cracked and bleeding with my previous babies.  This time, the soreness lasted 2-3 weeks and it never got as bad as previous nursing experiences, mainly due to pro-active preparation on my part.  I did not want a repeat! 

Here were some things that helped it go more smoothly this time:

-I had a nurse come in for each nursing session, to check our latch, for the first 24 hrs, or so

-The lactation consultant at the hospital was so very helpful!  She helped me lots, giving me tips, re-latching, and reminders

-A great nipple cream—not the usual Lansinoh lanolin product, but a homemade herbal recipe using extra virgin olive oil and coconut oils. 

-Changing nursing positions

-Carefully checking latch each time
To be continued...

Friday, June 13, 2014

Picture problems...

I have had some trouble getting blogger to upload pictures.  Hmm...  I tend to post on Facebook, because it's easier and all my "friends" are there.  Whoever looks at my blog and isn't on Fb, is kinda out of the loop with us.  Haha!  I will try one more time to post some pictures here, though. 


The biggest news we have, is that we're expecting another baby...a BOY in the beginning of November!!  :)  We are thrilled, but slightly in shock, because we felt very strongly that this baby was a girl...haha!!   I guess, we can't go by "feeling"  haha!!



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Life at the Retirement Island!

Sanibel Island is a GREAT place for a relaxing, family beach vacation.  It is not commercialized at all, there's no night life, and it's pretty much retired folks and Midwestern snowbirds...people were so friendly to us.  We had a much-needed, restful, family time.






























I am so thankful for pictures.  It definitely makes the memories last longer!!

Thinking of blue skies and hot, sunny weather!

Enjoying a run on the beach...


 Soaking up some Vitamin D with Grandma Janeen!



Tampa Aquarium...




The U.S. "American Victory" W.W. II Ship...
Yep, definitely a highlight!










Sanibel Island, 2014! 


Sanibel has been our "Every-other-year" trip.  It's fun to see the kids date the pictures.  The 1st trip, Madeline was a baby and Ben wasn't even a thought. ;)


We like to vacation Dave Ramsey Style...stay in a condo and cook all our own meals.  Saves a bunch!  :) Booking a condo 2 days beforehand, also scores better-than-a-hotel-room prices!  
 The heated pool was lovely!










Ahh...just gorgeous!  Honestly, this was my 1st relaxing vacation since my honeymoon 9 years ago.  Every other time, we've had a baby and 1 or 2 toddlers.  I actually laid in a lawn chair and, well, just relaxed!