Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two Week Meal Plan

It's probably a bit strange that I write two week meal plans in the middle of the week :).  I do it based on pay checks, so that's why it is sometimes at a random time.  I just take the check to the bank, get out our cash for the two weeks (we're still not perfect at living by cash, but we're getting there), then go grocery shopping.  That's my routine for the most part.  There are things that we end up needing in the middle, so I'll just get those while I'm in Marble Falls for work.  I guess I was in more of a routine with grocery shopping than I thought!! :)  
We have been eating out WAY too much lately (because we have been so busy)... so we don't need much as far as groceries.  For the most part, I'm just pulling from the freezer and pantry, but I will be buying a few things.

Here's our two week meal plan: 


    Breakfast tacos

    Peanut butter and honey on homemade bread, fruit

    Yogurt and cereal, fruit

    Boiled eggs, toast, fruit

    Egg sandwich

    Baked oatmeal

    Shake, fruit




    Dining hall


    Grilled cheese

    Baked potatoes



    Breakfast (1, 2)

    Pasta and sauce w/veggies, steamed spinach, homemade bread

    Cheese and lentil loaf, steamed broccoli

    Black bean wraps

    Black bean quesadillas (with leftovers from wraps)

    Parmesan tilapia, salad, roasted zucchini, bread

    Cheesy Chicken and rice (crock pot meal), veggies

    Pan-seared, Lemon Pepper tilapia, veggies (we have enough tilapia for two meals)

    Leftovers (1, 2, 3)


    Things to Bake/Make:

    Breakfast taco filling

    Wheat bread (1, 2, 3, 4)

    Boil eggs

    Cook black beans

I've decided that even though we will have all three meals served during the summer in the dining hall, we are going to pick and choose which ones to eat there.  It's just not very healthy during the summer (because when serving 800 campers, you have to just make what's easy!).  So, I'm going to see if I can get a copy of the menu, and just choose which meals to eat in the dining hall and which meals to eat at home.  Robert will be eating in the dining hall no matter what, and cooking for the kids and me will be easy.  BUT, I love eating in the dining hall at times because I get to be around everyone!  It's a great time to get to know the summer staff, and I get to at least see Robert in passing.  It's worth it.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Crazy but Wonderful Life

It's funny. We are in a place in life in which things are finally not constantly changing. We are settled where we are, and we're content with where God has placed us. This is the first time since we've been married (and for me, since I graduated high school). Even though we are finally in this place, life never calms down :). I am learning that walking with the Lord isn't ever "comfortable." I'm beginning to be okay with that. Being at camp means that there will always be crazy days, and we never know what the day will hold from one day to the next. That's the beauty of ministry. This isn't just a season because this is what we are called to. The same goes for just being a parent. Craziness is just part of life.
Some days I feel like I've got it all figured out; other days, I feel like I have NOTHING figured out. Some days I have my mind set about something; the next day I'm not so sure. Ultimately, God is sovereign. I am just a human living in a broken, messed up world, with broken, messed up people (myself included!). I am constantly reminded of the gospel. Praise God that I don't have to suffer judgment for all the stupid decisions that I make and the horrible attitudes that I have at times. Some days my sin just breaks me… I have to lay it at the foot of the cross and move forward. If I wallow in my dirty sin, Satan is winning. God knows my heart, and He desires to take those things from me.
I'm so thankful for the life that God has blessed me with. I have a relationship with my Creator; a wonderful, godly husband; two amazing, beautiful children; I am able to just work part time (at a wonderful place); I have a beautiful home (provided by the camp!); and we are in need of NOTHING (of course, even in the hardest times financially, we were never in need; God always provides!).
I am blessed to have had a wonderful homebirth with Ethan, and I love to share that experience! It is hard at times because most people don't understand it and think I'm just weird :). I am blessed to have the opportunity to learn a lot about doing things naturally; it is so much better than the way I used to do things. I still struggle with this at times, especially when we're not home. But, I'm getting there. Baby steps.
We still struggle, at times, with following a budget. We still struggle with wasting money. Robert and I aren't savers; we're both spenders. But, we're getting there. Baby steps. We have been blessed with the opportunity to pay off a significant amount of debt, in a short period of time. Praise God. We couldn't have done it without Him. This put us much further ahead than we could have imagined a year ago. We have come a long way.
I still struggle with getting up early enough to have a true quiet time with my Savior every morning. But, I am at a place in which I HAVE to have some kind of time with Him, or it's hard to function. That's a good place to be. My reliance upon Him has grown significantly with-in the past few years. I still have a long way to go, but don't we all? I'm thankful that when I don't rely on Him, things start falling apart.
I still struggle with being self-centered and think that everyone should think the same way I do. I have made great strides in this area, but I still fall. I have always been a talker, and I need to learn to be a listener. I need to learn to put others before myself; I need to learn to love others before myself. I am getting there. Baby steps.

This song by Ginny Owens is amazing. Meditate on these lyrics:

Got a stack of books,
So I could learn how to live;
Many are left half-read, 
Covered by the cobwebs on my shelf.
And I got a list of laws,
Growing longer everyday;
If I keep pluggin' away, 
Maybe one day I'll perfect myself.
Oh, but all of my labor, 
Seems to be in vain;
And all of my laws, 
Just cause me more pain;
So I fall before You, 
In all of my shame;
Ready and willing to be changed-

Own me
Take all that I am,
And heal me
With the blood of the Lamb.
Mold me 
With Your gracious hand;
Break me till I'm only Yours-
Own me

Oh, you call me Daughter,
And you take my blame;
And you run to meet me,
When I cry out Your name,
So I fall before You,
In all of my shame.
Lord, I am willing to be changed


The Wonderful Children that I have been Blessed With!

I haven't discussed the kids in a while, so I thought I would do that :).  

Karis is a beautiful 3 year old; she loves to be held and hugged.  She always tells me "I want to hold you."  She likes attention to be on her 100% of the time :).  She has recently begun "testing her boundaries," and I've been working on that.  Each day brings something new with her.  There's never a dull moment.  She's really smart, and enjoys learning.  Some of the recent things that she enjoys learning about are sounds of letters, counting objects, helping mommy bake, colors and shapes, animals, etc.  She loves to "sing and dance."  She's very creative, and has a great imagination.  She's a blast much of the time, and a challenge sometimes as well. :)  She's almost fully potty trained (finally!), which is nice.  She is just a big girl now.  It's crazy.
She has moved out of being big for her age, to being small for her age.  She's very picky when it comes to eating.  She's a dainty little girl.  We're going to have to beat the boys off with a stick when she gets older!  Here are some recent pictures of her:

Ethan has developed a LOT over the past month or two.  A few weeks ago, he started standing up in bed; yesterday, he started pulling up on furniture.  He'll be walking before we know it (I'm not sure I'm ready!).  The two kids are VERY different.  Ethan puts EVERYTHING in his mouth; Karis didn't do that.  Ethan is into everything; Karis wasn't (I just taught her not to, and she learned quickly).  I'm working on teaching Ethan as well, but he could really care less.  Baby proofing wasn't necessary with Karis, but I'm beginning to learn that some baby proofing is necessary with Ethan because I can't watch him 100% of the time!!  He "talks" constantly.  He is very vocal (this is just recent).  He LOVES his daddy.  If daddy is in the room and not holding him, he gets very upset.  It's especially interesting when we're in the dining hall because daddy is usually working while we eat, and he can't hold him right away.  Ethan doesn't understand that yet :).  He has beautiful blue eyes; he's a "pretty boy."  Someone told me once that he should be in commercials :).  He's still pretty big for his age.  My mom was holding him the other day, and he looked like he was about 18 months old, and he's only 10 1/2 months :).  He's beginning to thin out, though, as he gets more active.  I love my little boy!
Here are some pictures of him (all from this past month):

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yummy, Healthy, Whole Foods Shake

Through the help of a friend, I was introduced to this awesome thing called a Whole Foods Shake. The one that she told me about I haven't tried, but I found one that I LOVE. It is called Nature's Way Alive Whole Foods Shake. It is VERY expensive in stores (about $45 for a 2.2 pound can). I bought the same size on Vitacost for $23.67!!! It seems expensive still, but this can replace a vitamin because it is a vitamin in a shake. And, it is filling and nutritious enough to be breakfast. So, it's two in one. This particular one is very yummy; it is vanilla flavored.
This shake is FILLED with nutrients. It has all the vitamins/minerals that are in a multivitamin, plus green foods, amino acids, veggies, fruits, mushrooms, digestive enzymes, omega fatty acids, citrus blend, and more! It has everything. I have done a lot of searching, and this one is the BEST of the ones that I can afford :).

Changes in Kids' Rooms, and more

I just had to show off my new pot holders :). It's a simple change, but I like them :).

We moved the full size bed into Karis' room, and moved the twin bed into Ethan's room. The main reason we did this is because Karis hasn't been sleeping well, and we are hoping that she will sleep better on the bigger bed (it's more comfortable). She slept well last night :). We'll see!!
Here are the two rooms:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Peace in my Heart :) (slowly but surely!)

I have been on a journey for the past couple of years, and I have been learning a lot about nutrition, supplements, herbs, natural products, organic/grass fed/cage free/local, simplifying, etc (over the course of the past few months, especially). I, at times, am overwhelmed by the amount of information and people's opinions about things!! So, it makes me feel defeated when I just can't do things the way that I would like, or the way that people say you should do things.

I am beginning to learn that I just need to entrust my family to the care of our Creator, and just do the best I can with the Holy Spirit's power. God knows my heart, and he knows what I desire, but He is ultimately in control of my family, and I need to remember that every time I make a decision for my family's health.

I don't have to do everything the way others do them, nor do I have to do everything the way everyone else says is best. Even when the information is from a reliable source, it may not be feasible for us.

Nutrition is something that different reliable sources have different information and opinions on. I just can't take what other people say is best and run with it. I have to make the decision that is best for our family, with the Holy Spirit's discernment and wisdom.

And, I don't mean this just about nutrition and natural things, I also mean that with other family decisions (well, I follow the Holy Spirit's wisdom and discernment, and my husband's leading). There are some decisions that my family has made, and they work for our family, but they wouldn't work for every one. I am learning to get over what I think other people think. This is a hard one for me, because I, too often, care way too much about what other's think or what I think they think (I KNOW that I'm not alone in this!).

Robert and I have made the decision that it's really best for our family that I work part time. I have battled inwardly because I take others' opinions and Satan can use those to really mess with me. I sometimes feel that I am being a bad mom because of what some people say! But, Robert especially thinks that it's best that I work part time, and I have decided to follow His leading on this. It's not about money (although, it helps to pay off our debt, buy the foods that we want to buy, etc), but it's about the fact that I've tried the "stay at home mommy" thing several times, and I always end up wanting to teach, or even just wanting some way for me to do something part time out of the house. My anxiety and sometimes slight depression make it difficult for me to be home all the time. That may not make sense to some, but my husband and I have dealt with it time and time again, and it just makes sense for our family that I work part time. Also, I really enjoy doing what I do. Teaching at the school that I teach at has been a privilege. My supervisor (and the whole school) is amazing. I have never been part of such an amazing school. I find fulfillment in teaching (although, my biggest fulfillment is in Christ and my family!).

What's funny to me is that I have heard this argument time and time again: "well, the Proverbs 31 woman would stay home and take care of her family." I agree that family should always be my first priority. That's why I'm working part time (10 hours a week this year, 12 hours next year; I get great holidays, and summers off!). But, if you read Proverbs 31, it shows a woman who works to make things and sell them in the markets. She's a woman who takes care of her family in many ways! I have read the argument that making and selling things is all that a mother is permitted to do because that's what the Proverbs 31 woman did. Really? That is silly to me.
I can't believe that God wants all mothers to stay home because I have known too many godly mothers who have worked. Now, if a mother's job is making it way too difficult to take care of her family, then she would need to re-evaluate if the job is God's will. BUT, that is up to her and her husband. It's no one else's place to judge. Every family is different. Every family has to make the decisions that are best for them. For me, teaching part time is a dream come true. God has blessed me with the best of both worlds! I am able to do two things that I love: teach, and take the best care of my family that I can.

Growing and maturing in Christ is a hard, but great thing :). I still have a lot to learn, and a lot of growing to do. But, don't we all?! If we didn't, then we wouldn't need Jesus. As I grow, I gain more peace.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Update on Supplements

I realize that vitamins, supplements, etc aren't ideal because my kids (well, all of us) should just be eating healthy and getting everything they (we) need. My 3 year old refuses to eat fruit (always has), basically refuses to eat vegetables (this is a new thing), and only wants bread, peanut butter, rice, meat, milk, and cheese (which aren't bad, but she needs more); I felt that I needed to do something. I searched and searched for an affordable supplement that gave all the vitamins and minerals that she needed in a 100% whole foods form, and it's just not happening in my price range. I found a pretty affordable one (MegaFoods Kids and Us), but it is not in chewable form (which, for a 3 year old is necessary). I was giving her Nature's Plus Animal Parade Source of Life vitamins, but she boycotted them very quickly. So, I decided on some different supplements, and so far so good :). She has continually asked for them since I bought them (of course, she can only have them once a day!) I bought them at HEB because I was there, and they had them. It's so much easier to shop when you can pick the bottle up and read it :). I wanted to go ahead and see if she likes them. Next time I will buy them on Vitacost because 2 out of 3 of them are cheaper (although, with shipping, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference in this case), and I can buy larger bottles.

These are the supplements that I bought:
Nature's Plus Herbal Kidz KidGreenz:
They contain broccoli, spinach, wheat grass juice, whole brown rice, carrot juice, chorella, spirulina, beet juice, kelp, alfalfa, chicory, and dahlia. It is strictly a whole foods supplement, with no extra vitamins/minerals added, just the ones that are naturally occurring in whole foods.

Rainbow Light Nutristars:
These contain the typical vitamins/minerals found in children's multivitamins, plus a Whole Foods Complex, Herbal Tonics, and Plant-source Digestive Enzymes. Rainbow Light is a brand that I trust, so I know they will be effective.

I plan to alternate between these so that Karis won't get tired of them (although, right now, she wants them both, which is fine!).

Fish Oil
For now, I bought Nordic Naturals Children's DHA (which is the most popular fish oil, because it's great, but one of the most expensive). HEB didn't carry Barlean's Cod Liver Oil, Fruit Punch Flavored, or I would have bought it. I will probably buy this on Vitacost next time I buy fish oil for her. It is cheaper because the dosage is much smaller; ½ tsp daily makes 8 oz go a long way.
Nordic Naturals and Barlean's both have 100% Cod Liver Oil (which is the best from the research I've done), and they contains no heavy metals, etc. Check out the benefits of cod liver oil. Barlean's contains Omega 3, 6, and 9's, not just Omega 3. Nordic contains Omega 3 & 9. Both are good. One of the most important things is to look for a brand that doesn't contain heavy metals and other contaminants. That is especially important with pregnant women and children.

I'm still torn on which brand I plan to buy for myself. I currently have some, so I'll keep researching until it's time to buy them. Robert isn't all that interested in taking supplements, so until he is, I won't push it. Ethan, in my opinion, is too young still J. I'll try in a year or so.


Just so you know, I don't get paid by these companies, these are just my opinions J. I just like to share my research!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Organization Tools: Do they just make things more difficult?

I am in the process of trying to work through some things and figure out ways to stop stressing about everything. Robert and I were talking last night, and he really gave me some insight into things that he sees from his point of view. I made some decisions that I think are really going to help me. I am going to attempt to make these changes, but it will be hard because certain things are engrained into me (not sure why).

Household notebooks, organizers, routines, schedules, etc are good things, but they aren't good if they make things more difficult. Routines/schedules just DON'T work for our family (I knew I would come to this conclusion again after I made the last routine, but I had to try one more time). Robert never has a normal schedule. We never know from one day to the next if he has to work dinner in the dining hall, what days he's going to have off, what time he's going to be home, what time he has to go to work, etc. It's always been this way, and always will be in camp ministry. Their schedule is completely based around who is scheduled to use the camp each day. I think some routines are necessary, but they just happen (bed time especially). Having a written routine/schedule just makes me feel defeated all the time. This also goes into scheduling where/when I go to town and go grocery shopping. Right now, we just go when we get paid for our main two week grocery shop (no matter what day of the week it is), then we just get things here and there as we need them. My goal is always to try to fit grocery shopping into one certain day every two weeks, and that's it. For some people, that works. With our schedule, it doesn't. I need to just be okay with that and move on! :)

There are certain things that I have to plan because it does help. Budgeting (obviously), meal planning (helps us save money and time), shopping list, and a simple to do list. That's all I need. I have my calendar on my computer, and that's all I need for a calendar.

My desire to "homeschool preschool" is another thing that makes me feel like a failure a lot of times because I don't have the time or desire to write the lessons (since I have to write lessons for school). Robert reminded me that I'm not a failure just because I don't do "homeschool preschool." All I need to do is read to her daily and take advantage of teachable moments. She is a smart kid, and that's without doing "homeschool preschool" on a regular basis.

My desire to do things a certain way has turned into an idol, and I want to just rid myself of it. It is causing bondage, and I'm tired of it.

Changes in Bedroom and Dining Room

We made some more changes last night :).
We made our play area into a dining room, and we did this for two reasons: 1) The kids never really played in that area, 2) It was REALLY cluttered and busy.

Soon, we will be getting an antique dining room table and buffet from my cousin that has been in the family. It will look really nice in this new space :).

Here's our new dining room:

We put the shelf into our bedroom, and took out the desk, and other small annoying pieces of furniture. Here it is:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Week Meal Plan

Some dinners are the same because we didn't get to them or because they are simple, good meals and I'm doing them again (most of the time breakfasts and lunches won't change much).

Breakfast tacos
Peanut butter and honey on homemade bread, fruit
Breakfast cookies, fruit
Yogurt and cereal, fruit
Boiled eggs, toast, fruit
Egg sandwich
Granola, fruit, yogurt
Cheese Grits

Dining hall
Grilled cheese

Breakfast (sausage, eggs, toast), once weekly
Pasta and sauce, veggies, homemade bread
Link Sausage sauteed in red bell peppers and onions, cabbage
Chopped steak, mashed potatoes, carrots, roasted zucchini
Cheesy baked squash (p. 164), Cuban Black beans (p. 173)
Cheesy Chicken and Rice, roasted or steamed veggies
Pan seared lemon-pepper, avocado Chicken breast; roasted veggies; quinoa
Black Bean Quesadillas
2 leftover nights (1, 2)

Things to Bake/Make:
Breakfast cookies
Breakfast taco filling (2 batches; 1 batch per week)
Granola (1 batch)
Wheat bread (total of 4 loaves; 1 loaf at a time)
Boil eggs
Cook lentils, white beans, quinoa; steam veggies (for Ethan)
Cook black beans
Slice cantaloupe

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Changes in our home

Robert and I were blessed with a large income tax refund :). We were able to pay off a few debts, put money in savings, and we decided to buy a few things that we have wanted/needed for a long time. One of those is a rug for our living room. We also got some new chair covers a few weeks ago (we decided to do that instead of buying new/used chairs). We got them on sale; one of them was 1/2 off! :)

Here are some pics:

Living Room Before:
(These "chair covers" don't look so bad in the picture... the off white one was all stained, and the green one wasn't actually a chair cover... it was a throw that we pinned to the chair!)
Living Room now:
We decided to simplify our "tv area" since this was so cluttered looking (and our dvd player didn't work, and the speaker cover was broken):This is after (we really simplified- we don't watch a lot of tv):Kitchen Before:Kitchen After (not a lot of change, but some subtle changes that I think make it look better and more fun):I LOVE this mat. It is SOOOO me :):
We are stocking up on food because I won't be getting paid during the summer (I love my pantry :)
We are still in the process of changing some things around in our house, and I will add pictures as we finish :). We are trying really hard to make our home a place that we want to be, simplify and declutter, and make it comfortable.

Our next project will be painting some accent walls and doing some touch ups in the living room. We also want to eventually work on the kitchen cabinets (paint, new hardware, etc), but that's just a goal. Who knows how long that will take.

Pics of Bread, update

One is flatter here because it was a wider pan... I need to get another pan like the other :).

I was making some bread last night, and I remembered that I left something out :).
After you add the cup of flour with the gluten, etc in it, you will need to add another 1/2 cup of flour.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Decaffeinated Coffee

I realize that this is a very random blog… but if you know me at all, you know that I'm obsessed with coffee. I have felt lately, though, that I need to cut down on caffeine (for many reasons). I have avoided decaf because it is chemically decaffeinated usually, and that is not good for you. But, I have found a decaf coffee that is organic and naturally decaffeinated!! So, I'm making the switch (with a cup of ½ caff. in the morning to get me started J).
This coffee, bought at Sam's Club, is only $15 for 40oz. It is a steal for organic, naturally decaffeinated coffee. Here is a little info about how it is decaffeinated (copied from
"Member's Mark® by Marques de Paiva® organic decaffeinated medium roast is made using 100% organic Arabica beans, which are then decaffeinated using the patented SWISS WATER® decaffeination process. Unlike the conventional decaffeination process which uses chemicals to remove caffeine, SWISS WATER® process uses only pure, fresh water."

It even has a wonderful, smooth taste, which has been hard to find in whole bean coffee. I'm sold!

(I should be getting paid for all the advertising that I do! Ha! J)


I have had the dilemma of what to do about vaccinations in my mind for about a year. With Karis, I fully vaccinated her without looking into it at all, without any question. Then, I started realizing that there is reason for many people to question them. With Ethan, I did lots of research, only to be more frustrated and more confused. Every bit of information so far has been extremely biased one way or the other, and I won't even go into the amount of "sob stories" that I have read/heard about what those horrible vaccines can do to your child. I don't say that to be insensitive, it's just that to me, I need facts, not an emotional story.
So, I, with the help of my pediatrician, came up with a vaccine schedule that we could both be comfortable with. But, I still haven't been satisfied because I wanted more information, but in an unbiased manner. My pediatrician suggested that I read The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears. I finally picked up a copy, and I'm so glad I did. This is the best source of information that I have found on vaccines. He isn't anti-vaccine by any means, but he understands why parents are concerned about vaccines; he gives every bit of information possible, in an easy to understand way. At the end, he gives an alternative schedule so that you can "fully vaccinate," in a safer way. I haven't read a whole lot yet, but I'm already glad that I bought it.

Each chapter is broken up into bite size pieces. I will give this example by discussing chapter 1- the HIB vaccine.
It starts by answering the question of "What is HIB?" He then answers the questions, "Is HIB common?" "Is HIB serious?" Is HIB treatable?" "When is the HIB vaccine given?" "How is the HIB vaccine made?" In this answer, he gives the different brands and how they are each made. He then answers the questions, "Are any of the ingredients controversial?" "Are there any side effects of the HIB vaccine?" "Should you give your baby this vaccine?" He then discusses the reason TO give it, and the reasons why some choose not to. He discusses travel considerations, options to consider when getting this vaccine, and then a brief summary of his opinion.

All in one book, I have found what I've been searching for! J When I'm finished, I hope to be able to come back and write a summary of the book. We will see J. I will, however, come back and write my final alternative vaccine schedule so that you have an idea of where to start if you want to do it differently.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Updated Bread Recipe

I have FINALLY made the best homemade bread ever with the help of an added dough enhancer. The bread is light and fluffy and the consistency and texture of store bought (with the healthiness of homemade). See Recipes: Breads in the resource section for the recipe. The dough enhancer that I use is (found on several websites):

3 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1/2 tsp. of Soy Lecithin
1/8 tsp. (or pinch) of Citric Acid
Pinch of ginger

You should be able to find any of these at a Health Food Store.

Updated Resources

Robert, the kids, and I have had a lazy day today J. So, I had time to work on my blog. In the resources section, you will find a page on Natural Products (non-food) and Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements. They are a work in progress, but it's a start J.

Natural Products (non-food)

I have many favorite products, and I thought I would put them all in one place!!

A rating on the Cosmetic Database is 0-10, 0 being the least toxic, and 10 being the most. My rule is to try to use products that are 5 or less. The majority of products that I use are 1-4.

Natural Baby/Toddler Products

  • I use Dr. Bronners Organic Baby Mild Castile Soap as baby wash, and I love it. It actually suds up quite nicely (without having to use much), and rinses off quickly without leaving a residue. Dr. Bronners can be used for so many things: baby wash, adult body wash, face wash, in homemade cleaners, hand soap, etc. It is very versatile.
  • We are currently using Boudreaux All Natural Diaper rash cream, but we are going to switch to using Coconut Oil when we run out. I have read through many resources that this is one of the best all natural ways to heal up bottoms (lanolin is another). In between bouts of diaper rash, I can use corn starch to keep the bottom dry.
  • We recently started using Flushable Diaper Liners, and we love them. They keep the poop from transferring to the cloth diaper (which makes easier washing and clean up), and we are able to use the diaper rash cream which keeps his bottom from getting torn up. Next time I will use a different brand, though, because these aren't very soft. We originally went to Austin Baby to buy the softer ones, but they were out, so we settled for Eco-Wise's brand of liners. They do work well, so we aren't disappointed.
  • We love our BumGenius One Size Pocket Diapers; the only complaint is that the Velcro is getting a little worn out. I think with our next baby, we will buy Fuzzi Bunz One Size Pocket Diapers because they have all snaps instead of Velcro. I have heard great things about these diapers.
  • For Karis, we use Tom's of Maine Children's Toothpaste and Fuch's Natural Bristle Toothbrush. Soon, I will be buying Cloth Nighttime Training Pants instead of using disposable training pants. She doesn't use training pants anymore except for at night, and it would be nice to not have to buy training pants anymore. These are white, so we can use them for Ethan as well.
Natural Makeup

  • Physicians Formula Organic Wear Makeup is my favorite. It is 100% natural- contains no parabens, harsh chemicals, or synthetic preservatives. It is in-expensive, and found in most stores. It looks natural and washes off easily. The rating on the database is low-moderate (2-4).
Personal Care Products

  • J/A/S/O/N Lavender Body Wash and Biotin Shampoo and Conditioner are what I use. This brand contains no parabens, laurel/laureth sulfates, or animal by-products. They are certified organic and bio-degradable. Rated a 2-5 on the database. There are a few others that are rated even lower, but they are either more expensive, or they are not what I am looking for.
  • Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash is very potent and works well. Vitacost has a wonderful price on this product, in a 32 oz size. Robert and I are both pleased with it. All of the ingredients are completely natural, consisting of castile soap, oils, etc. Rated a 1 on the database.
  • We use Tom's of Main Whole Care Toothpaste, and it has been great. It isn't sweet, so it took a while to get used to, but now I love it. We buy it at Sam's Club, because we can get 3 tubes for $8.87. Rated a 2 on the database. We also use Tom's of Maine floss. It works well. When we need to buy a toothbrush again (which will be soon), we will buy a Fuch's Natural Bristle Brush.
  • Antiperspirants are not that great for you because of the aluminum, but I sweat a lot, so I have to use it. I use Sure Invisible Solid Unscented because it is rated a 1 on the database. It also works REALLY well and is cheap. Another cheap and good one is Arm and Hammer Unscented. It is rated a 2. But, I can't find that anywhere but Wal-mart, and I don't go there all that often.
  • I don't use moisturizers for my skin often because I don't like oily stuff on my skin. But, there are times when I really need it; those times, I use coconut oil J. It works well, and actually absorbs into the skin quick; therefore, it's actually not very oily. The other day, the backs of my hands were really dry and flaky. I rubbed a little coconut oil in, and they were immediately not dry and flaky anymore.

Vitamins, Minerals, and Other Supplements

  • Nature's Plus Herbal Kidz KidGreenz:
    They contain broccoli, spinach, wheat grass juice, whole brown rice, carrot juice, chorella, spirulina, beet juice, kelp, alfalfa, chicory, and dahlia. It is strictly a whole food supplement, with no extra vitamins/minerals added, just the ones that are naturally occurring in whole foods.
  • Rainbow Light Nutristars:
    These contain the typical vitamins/minerals found in children's multivitamins, plus a Whole Foods Complex, Herbal Tonics, and Plant-source Digestive Enzymes. Rainbow Light is a brand that I trust, so I know they will be effective.
    I plan to alternate between these so that Karis won't get tired of them (although, right now, she wants them both, which is fine!).
  • Nordic Naturals Children's DHA (which is the most popular fish oil, because it's great, but one of the most expensive). I think next time I will buy Barlean's Cod Liver Oil, Fruit Punch Flavored. They are cheaper, and they last longer. Nordic Naturals and Barlean's both have 100% Cod Liver Oil (which is the best from the research I've done), and they contains no heavy metals, etc. Check out the benefits of cod liver oil. Barlean's contains Omega 3, 6, and 9's, not just Omega 3. Nordic contains Omega 3 & 9. Both are good. One of the most important things is to look for a brand that doesn't contain heavy metals and other contaminants. That is especially important with pregnant women and children.
  • Nature's Way Whole Foods Shake- I haven't tried this shake yet, but just from looking at what's in it, I'm sold. It has EVERYTHING in it. Nature's Plus has a similar shake, but it is more expensive (and I think Nature's Ways' shake has more in it!). I will update once I try it!
  • Nature's Way Alive Multivitamin Whole Food Energizer- I plan to take this when I don't have a shake. It is basically the same thing, but in pill form.
  • Emergen C- A great way to get a quick boost, the natural way. Emergen-C provides 1,000mg of Vitamin C , it contains electrolytes, Vitamin B, and 32 mineral complexes. When I was pregnant, my midwife highly suggested that I drink a glass of water with Emergen-C in it several times a day (morning-afternoon). The flavor that I have is Tropical, but I would suggest using Pink Lemonade, Lemon, or Orange.
  • Holy Basil- This is one of the primary herbs used in India for reducing negative effects of stress (lowers cortisol levels). It also helps maintain normal blood sugar levels. This is a great herb to take when in the moment of stress and/or anxiety.
  • Natural Balance Happy Camper- I have been told by someone who struggles with some anxiety like I do, that this stuff works very well. It is completely herbal, and can just be taken when needed. I haven't tried it yet, but the reviews look promising as well.
  • Multi Minerals- This is like a Multi-Vitamin/Multi-Mineral Supplement without the vitamins J. It is good, when pregnant and breastfeeding, to add this in. I took 2-3 capsules a night with some form of vitamin C to help with absorption (orange juice, oranges, tomatoes, etc). It is a good way to increase iron without having to take an extra iron supplement (which usually causes constipation). It also helps keep you regular because of the magnesium. The calcium in them also helps with leg cramps, etc.
  • Evening Primrose Oil Capsules- I took this when I was pregnant (the last 5-6 weeks or so) because it helps soften the cervix and prepare the body for labor and delivery. Taking it also helps with hormones (mood swings, etc), and is especially great for women who suffer from PMS.
  • Papaya Enzymes- This is basically tums in a more natural form. Someone who struggles with heartburn (again, especially in pregnancy) should take this before and/or after a meal. Not only does this help with heartburn, it aids in digestion.


I'm not an expert by any means on any of this; I have just experienced these, so I'm giving you my opinion and a little bit of information that I have researched.

My New Favorite Makeup

I don't wear a whole lot of makeup, but what I had been wearing was full of toxins. A few weeks ago, I looked into natural mascara because I needed some and wanted natural. I looked at Whole Foods and quickly decided to wait because the cheapest that I could find was $15. I had to stop by HEB for a couple of things, and I just happened to walk by the makeup section, and I'm SO glad I did. Physicians Formula sells a new 100% natural makeup called Organic Wear. It has no parabens, harsh chemicals, or toxins; plus, they are "eco-friendly." Everything is made from recycled paper or plastic.

HEB had buy one thing, get another free!!! PLUS, an additional $3 off coupon!!!!! So, I was able to buy mascara, eye shadow, tinted moisturizer, concealer, and powder for $19!!! The concealer and powder were actually just the "mineral wear" and not the "Organic Wear," and they don't rate as well on the cosmetic database (though still better than the brand I used to wear). Next time, I will buy only Organic Wear. Physicians Formula Organic Wear is one of the most affordable natural makeup brands that I have found!! The great thing about it is that you can buy it almost anywhere. I know for sure that it is sold at HEB, Walgreens, CVS, Target, and Albertsons. I am VERY pleased with this makeup!!
Other benefits are that it looks very natural, and it washes off very easily.

Check out their website Organic Wear Makeup. It is full of information.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Family Driven Faith

Robert and I are reading the book Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God, written by Voddie Baucham, Jr. Anyone who grew up in the Baptist church knows that Mr. Baucham is a man of God and speaks truth. He spoke at several camps that I attended while in youth group. He speaks at colleges on a regular basis. He has a family of 2 biological children and 2 adopted children. He is a great father as well as speaker, writer, professor, and pastor.
We are only in the second chapter, and we both feel so far that this is going to be a great book. Voddie Baucham is much more conservative than we are, but the main point of this book is truth: Family comes before anything else, even ministry outside the home. He discusses Deuteronomy 6 often, bringing in the fact that God calls us to multigenerational faith. We need to teach our children, our children teach their children, and so on. He emphasizes the fact that in today's time, as children grow up, they leave the church and the faith of their family because it never became their own or because it was never made a priority. As parents, we are commanded to teach our children, daily. We are to make Jesus the focus, not school (good grades), sports, etc (which are the things that most parents are focused on, Christian or non-Christian). Our desire shouldn't just be for our children to grow up with a good education and a sports scholarship, but to grow up serving Jesus and making Him the center of their life. We are to show them what it looks like to spend time with Jesus daily, to worship Him. We are to teach what true worship is. We are to show them what it looks like to make Him the center of our lives.
The chapters following are going to be about how to do this. I will let you know how it goes!

Robert and I had great conversation last night, and it was all about how to do these things despite how many hours Robert works. It's hard being here because Robert doesn't have a regular schedule, and he works a lot of hours. But, we need to use the time wisely that we have, and I need to make a point to take the kids to church even when Robert can't go. I need to spend time teaching them about Jesus, daily. We have a routine in which Robert and I read a devotional to her that has scripture, then a devotion that puts the scripture into terms that a pre-schooler can understand (all before bed). We sing a praise song or hymn, then pray. Karis knows that her routine is: "it's time to read, sing, and pray!" If we don't do one of those, she gets really upset J. I hope that as she grows up, we can begin to incorporate scripture memorization in (which we will begin soon), and really start focusing more on depth in scripture. I feel like we need to emphasize Jesus' love for her more, and what the gospel is all about. I think we have started off well, we just need to kick it up a notch. J I am looking forward to receiving more wisdom on how to put these things into practice more.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Slowing Down and Gaining Routine

Things have been crazy around here, and I feel some days like I've lost my mind J. We used to have some kind of routine, and it has been very difficult to gain back. It doesn't help that pretty much every day that I'm off, we're out and about running errands. I have decided recently that in order to get back to living simply, to save money, and to be more focused, I need to slow down. I have come up with a flexible routine/schedule (which is hard to do with Robert and my work schedule!), and I'm hoping to make it work J. I'm exhausted, stressed, and I feel I'm not able to do any one thing well because I'm trying to do too much. I ran across this post- Simplifying the Schedule - Passionate Homemaking, and I am going to try it! I will add in my own touches to make it work better for us, but it's the simple-ness that I'm attracted to.

Morning Routine:
School Days
1. Bible study and prayer (up by 6:00)
2. Shower, makeup, hair
3. Breakfast
4. Leave for school

Non-School Days
1. Bible study and prayer (up by 6:30)
2. Shower, hair
3. Breakfast
4. Quick pick up
5. Plan for the day
6. Daily chores- Dishes, sweep, make beds
7. Ethan nap (9:30-11:00)

Lunch: 12:00

1. Ethan Nap, Karis activity time (1:00)
2. Karis nap (2:00-4:00)
3. Calendar item- see below
4. Blog, read ("me time")
5. Complete rest of to-do list

Evenings: (this will vary based on whether the camp has dinner in the dining hall)
1. Dinner (6:00), clean up
2. Family time- play together, watch a movie; just hang out together
3. Baths, brush teeth, family devotional, bed (begin at 7:30- bedtime is 8:00)
4. Robert and I- time together
5. Quick pick up before bed
6. Be in bed by 10:00

Calendar items (afternoons):
Sunday- Bake for the week, Prepare for the week, wash diapers
Monday- Daily chores, Laundry, wash diapers; Grade papers
Tuesday- Work on simplifying (clean out closets, organize, etc)
Wednesday- Daily chores, Laundry, wash diapers; Plan for school for next week
Thursday- Housecleaning day (every other week); Meal planning and budget on opposite weeks (weeks that I grocery shop)
Friday- Daily chores, Laundry, Wash Diapers
Saturday- Grocery shopping (Farmer's Market, Whole Foods); every other week

I feel like having this schedule (without a lot of exact times) will help me to be focused on a few things every day. I tend to make a large to-do list, and struggle with even wanting to begin it lately. I just put things off (especially school preparation), and it is making it difficult to get any one thing done well!
I'll let you know how it goes!!!