Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Week

This week has been one of craziness and rest all in the same breath.  It started with having a Thanksgiving meal at my Meemaw's (my dad's side of the family) last Sunday.  Not everyone could be there on Thursday, so she just decided to have a meal on Sunday.  Then, we hung out with some great friends that evening and didn't get home til after 11:00 (which is late for us!).  It was a great day, though.

Monday we had another Thanksgiving meal, here with our camp family.  That was another great meal!  We took Karis to my mom's because she and Karis needed to finish a project that they started, and Robert, Ethan, and I went to Whole Foods to get some groceries.  It was fun :).

Tuesday we spent the day doing NOTHING.  We didn't even get out of our pajamas til early afternoon :).  It was wonderful.  We watched t.v., did some things online, and just hung out.  It was the perfect day before going out of town.

Wednesday we drove to Abilene (Robert's family) and it was a pretty stressful drive.  Ethan does NOT travel well.  He cries/whines/screams almost the whole time.  It makes a person crazy after a while :).  It took us more than an extra hour to get there. 

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, was great.  We all pitched in and made our various "pieces" of the meal, and it was WONDERFUL.  We spent the rest of the day just resting and enjoying each others' company.  The rest of the time that we were there, the men worked outside on some things, and the women and children just hung out and rested.  It was a great time for me to get some naps in and just be.  It was much more relaxing than the usual trip out of town :).  I'm very thankful to Robert's mom and sister for allowing me the opportunities to take a nap!

We decided to come home late Saturday so that the kids would sleep most of the way, and it worked out!  It was a very stress-free, quiet trip home.  Robert and I had great "talk time."  I love quiet trips home.

Yesterday, Sunday, Robert and I ended up sleeping too late to go to church :(.  But, that afternoon we were able to go to town all alone, with-out the kids!  Our friend Christa here at camp watched our kids so that we could run errands alone.  We ate Schlotzky's for lunch (and had a wonderful Cinnabon cinnamon roll!), and ran many errands.  We bought the new car seat (with a 20% off coupon!), re-newed our Sam's membership, bought several Christmas gifts (especially this kids'!), some groceries, etc.  Although, we have to take the car seat back today because it's broken :(.  But, oh well.  It was a great, relaxing time of shopping when normally it's completely stressful :).

I would show some pictures of Thanksgiving, but I just realized that they are mostly of the food :).  I don't have many pictures of the people that were present!  I will get some from family and post them soon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Changes in Our Hearts

I wrote this last week, but felt the need to pray for a little while before I published it :).  Robert and I decided that we should, so here it is!
These past few weeks have been ones of deep thought, prayer, and seeking counsel.  It started with the thought that we might need to make a huge change in where we are in life, and it ended in the decision that we needed to make a huge change in our hearts. 
A few weeks ago at church, a missionary from Serbia came and spoke about what they are doing there.  Robert was actually off that day, so he got to hear as well.  He spoke of the different ministries that they have going on there, the state of the country, history, the Orthodox Christian religion, etc.  Then, they began talking about a camp that they started there.  It is a camp that serves children from a near-by refugee camp.  These kids have grown up in the Orthodox Christian church and have never even heard the gospel.  Their church was very traditional and the services were actually not even in their own language.  It is a small, family-style camp, and these kids got to hear about Jesus for the first time ever.  Many have never even understood why they celebrated Christmas.  After that service I told our pastor that Robert wanted to move to Serbia now (I was really just trying to blame him for feelings that I was having!).  Through the next few weeks we sought counsel from a few people (just a few… we didn’t want this to be something that we told everyone, then decide that it wasn’t going to happen!), prayed, talked, etc.  We talked about the difficulties of missions (especially after talking to my best friend who is a missionary), the fact that it doesn’t matter how hard it is if that’s where God has called us, the timing of becoming a missionary (takes 2-3 years normally), training, language, culture, leaving our family, etc.  We talked about if God wasn’t calling us to Serbia, why this stirring in our hearts??  It was a lloonngg few weeks and it was tough to think about anything else.  I read a lot in God’s word, read in several books (including Crazy Love!), and just journaled my feelings through this.
Through all of this, we came to the conclusion that IF God IS calling us to foreign missions, it’s not time right now.  We talked about the fact that we can’t assume that we will go to another country and share Jesus if we don’t do it here.  We talked about how we can’t expect to live a more simple life in another country if we don’t do it here (well, we do live simply, but we feel like we can do this even more…).  We can’t expect to put others before ourselves if we don’t do it here.  We can’t expect to “do missions” if we don’t do it here.  Yes, we live at a Christian camp in which many people come to know Jesus, but ultimately we focus on our own comforts, our own frustrations, our own desires, and our own lives.  We focus on what we want and “need,” and not what others need. 
It was a hard reality to face.  It’s not that we think our salvation comes through these things (salvation is through Jesus’ death and resurrection alone!), but if we truly love Jesus the way we say we do, it should be more evident in our lives. 
I’m not saying that we won’t ever think about our own comforts, desires, frustrations, etc, but our goal is to learn to put others before ourselves.  How can we do this?  We’re still trying to figure this out.  We are praying for opportunities to love others before ourselves.  We do feel that it should start where we are… with our family, our friends, the people around us.  Stop griping and complaining.  Stop thinking about all that we want and desire, and learn to just love others where they are.  Stop thinking about how we are “wronged” in this life (because nothing in life is fair… thanks to sin) and think about all that God has blessed us with.  We also need to love others here at camp, serve others here at camp, be an ear for others here at camp, put others first here at camp, and stop focusing on how hard this life is.  Then, it should radiate out into the community.  How can we serve others who need Jesus in our community?  We are looking into ways to do this over the holidays because Robert and I both have lots of time off.  We want our family to view Christmas as a time of giving and loving others, not receiving.  Of course, Robert and I have talked about, how can we serve others in our community even when Robert is working a lot of hours (some seasons are busier than others)?  We always use his hours as an excuse to not serve people outside of here, but we can’t use that as an excuse because no matter where we are, there is always something that could stand in the way. 
I’m also not saying that we need to “busy” ourselves with “serving,” only to forget why we’re doing it.  That would be legalistic.  That is the opposite of what Jesus has called us to.  We want to take it one day at a time and just learn to love others.  It’s a process that happens the more we get to know Jesus and His heart.  How do we get to know Jesus and His heart?  By spending time with Him.  By praying.  By reading and studying His word.  Daily.  The more we read His word, the more we know His heart and our heart becomes like His.  I am far from perfect and there are always going to be things that I struggle with.  I am always going to want to put myself first because of the sin that so entangles me.  But, again, the more I get to know Jesus, the less that will be a struggle. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Decisions about my Dilemmas

As I have written many times, I have a few dilemmas that really cause some stress for me.  I have done so much research on things and I want to always do what's best for my family, but I find that very difficult much of the time because of money and time.  I put a lot of pressure on myself and expect a lot.  I had a long conversation with someone that I trust about all of my dilemmas, and she gave me some great advice that will really help me to just move forward and stop stressing and worrying about things that I can't change.  Some of this advice has been given to me over time in bits in pieces from different people, but the way that it was explained by this one momma really put it all together for me and it just seems to make the most sense now :). 

Several of the things that I have had a LOT of trouble deciding on are:
  • Eating in the dining hall: it's free, I don't have to cook or clean up, and we get to spend time with Robert and others here at camp.  But, it's not always the healthiest (at least it's not always what we would eat at home).  The quality and healthiness of it has improved within the past few years, but when there's a lot of kids here (up to 800), there's only so much you can feed that many people!  Another issue is that it has always been hard to plan for because we don't know sometimes when they will have dinner there.  We sometimes plan to cook meals at home and end up eating in the dining hall, or we'll plan to eat in the dining hall then they don't end up serving that night, which means we usually go to town to eat because most meals that we make at home require some planning ahead. 
  • Raw milk versus organic milk versus conventional milk:  Raw milk is best, but it has been hard to find and it is expensive.  Organic milk is really expensive too, and I just haven't found one that I like (the one that I can "afford" has a bad after taste).  Conventional milk is one of the worst things to consume, BUT many brands now sell a hormone free type (Borden, Oak Farms, etc).
  • Grass fed/pastured meat and poultry versus "natural" versus organic versus conventional (LOTS of options!): Grass fed/free range is VERY expensive, but so much better for you.  Natural meats are hormone free and aren't usually as expensive as organic or pastured... but they aren't organic or pastured.  Organic is usually really expensive and not even grass fed, but I can find it somewhat cheaper at Costco.   Conventional is just bad, but cheap.  
  • Buying in bulk (large bags of things) versus buying as we need things: bulk can save money over time, but it takes a big chunk of money at once, which is hard to come by.
  • Organic fruits and veggies versus conventional: Organic is better, conventional is cheaper (obvious dilemma there).
These are the things that I plan to put into place (or just continue!):
  • Dining hall:  We have decided to just plan to eat lunch there.  This way, I can actually plan and budget for all breakfasts and dinners and I know that we will always eat those at home.  And, I always know that lunch will be in the dining hall which will just be part of our daily routine.  Lunch is always served... even when there aren't guests here.  We will get to see Robert while he's working, and we will get to be out of the house and around others.  Robert plans to just wait to eat dinner when he gets home, so I will probably try to give some healthy snacks in the afternoon and serve dinner later (when Robert has to serve in the dining hall that night).  Summers may be a whole other story since it will almost be too stressful to take all three kids to the dining hall, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. 
  • Milk: I've found a place in Georgetown that sells raw milk that isn't much more than the organic milk that I buy (50 cents more).  This place is inspected by the health department every month, so I trust it completely.  My thoughts are that this is one of those things that is worth buying, so my goal is to start buying enough for a month at a time and freeze it.  I have been taught how to thaw it and have been told that it tastes the same after it's thawed.  I will really have to work on rationing it so that we don't end up using it all before I can buy more, but that will be a good discipline.  If for some reason I need more, I will just buy what I can buy.  I will most likely just focus on hormone free.  I can't let it be a stressful thing.  I hope to buy a gallon or two to make things like yogurt, kefir, etc, but that's just my goal.  We will see what happens :).  Oh, and I can try to pour the cream off the top to make butter (like I did when I was able to buy non-homogenized milk).  Butter I will just buy what I can (probably at Costco), cheese we will probably continue to buy the hormone free kind that we have been buying, and for now, I will just keep buying Stoneyfields farms yogurt. 
  • Meat/Poultry/Eggs: I have decided that for the most part, conventional is out except for Jennie'O ground turkey (it's at least hormone free).  I will do my best to buy natural meats/poultry from Sprouts and sometimes organic from Costco if we can that month.  As much as we would prefer buying grass fed/pastured, it's just so much more expensive.  I will buy free range eggs from the store, but they aren't too expensive.  The biggest thing is that we've decided to cut down our meat consumption.  We will find more ways to eat beans, eggs, and use other sources of protein.  We will use less meat even in the meat recipes.  Robert will most likely shoot at least one deer (maybe even two), which would provide PLENTY of meat for our family (ground meat, stew meat, steaks, etc).  I would still buy some chicken to have variety here and there, and maybe some breakfast meats here and there, but that would be all I would have to buy.  So, we're PRAYING that he shoots one or two deer :). 
  • Buying in Bulk: I plan to buy a few large bags of things that we will use ALL the time when I get my stipend from school (wheat berries, sucanat, beans, rolled oats, rice) from Sun Harvest (because this is the cheapest way to buy in bulk that I have found), then the rest I will buy one thing in bulk per month.  That way, when I run out, I will just have that one thing to buy and not everything at once.  It really saves a lot over time to buy this way.  It'll also be nice to know that if there is a month in which we really can't afford to buy much food, we will almost always have lots of food in the pantry.  I also plan to buy things like diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste in bulk at Costco because they carry an organic brand that is much cheaper than buying individual cans at the store (about the same price as non-organic).  I plan to buy trash bags, freezer bags, toilet paper, laundry detergent (maybe... if I don't go back to making my own), peanut butter, frozen veggies, olive oil, maple, juice, and coffee in bulk at Costco.  After all of this, there's not much left to buy :).  I will just shop at Sprouts for the rest.  They have great sales every week, and Wednesdays are double ad day!  So, I will hopefully be able to shop there on Wednesdays!  HEB will be the the place that I go to if I just need a few things here and there.  I really don't like HEB much... 
  • Fruits/Veggies: If I buy frozen, I will buy organic (Costco sells these in bulk); fresh I will just pick and choose depending on what we buy that month.  I also plan to plant a garden again this year; we'll see how it goes.  That will save a lot and is much better.  I just don't know how it will go with three babies :).   
Anyway... I realize that many people have similar dilemmas... that's why I like to share (well, and I just like to think/write about these things!).  The biggest thing that we want to focus on is eating whole foods and making things homemade.  Things that I will definitely make homemade are bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, granola, granola bars, all meals, protein bars, any desserts, etc.  I will do my best to not worry so much about all of this right after I have the baby, but my goal is to try to make a lot of things to freeze so that I can just pull them out of the freezer when I need it (as I have shared before).  

I plan to put in place once a month freezer cooking, once a month freezer baking, crock pot meals, etc so that I am just focusing in on those things all at once to make the rest of the month easier. 

I will begin sharing more and more recipes and my meal plans soon :).  

Homebirth from the Perspective of a Momma of 8

There is a blog that I read sometimes that I love because it totally focuses on eating homemade whole foods, doing things naturally, but it's from the perspective of a momma that is older and has true experience in life.  She doesn't ever seem to have it all together, but she just gives the information that she has learned over the years.  It's not about all-organic, grass-fed, etc.  She gives LOTS of tips on how to do things frugally and homemade.  Anyway... one thing that I love is that she wrote a blog about homebirth, and it is so well written and easy to understand that I thought I would share.  She has had 5 homebirths (she has 8 children total), and she gives information on the benefits, safety, medical intervention that impedes natural progression of labor, etc.  Check it out:
The Family Homestead: Homebirth

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Perception of Perfection

There are many blogs that I read because they give great ideas, recipes, information, etc.  In fact, I wouldn't know NEAR what I know if it weren't for those blogs, so I am thankful for them.  But one thing that is pretty universal about these blogs is the perception of perfection.  Even when they share what their weaknesses are, they seem to bring it back to a strength (if that makes sense).  Sometimes when I read them, it really brings me down.  It makes me feel like I'm a failure and that because I don't do everything the way they do, I don't do it right.  One thing that I always remind myself is that this is only their life via blog.  I know that if I were to step into their lives for just a day, I would see that they don't have it all together.  And, I'm sure they would tell you the same thing.

One thing that I strive for through my blog is to show that I am FAR from perfect.  I struggle with the desire to be a certain person and with the inability to be that person.  I don't ever want someone to walk away from reading my blog thinking that I have it all together or that I'm super mom or something, because that's not true.  I have been called that by someone, and it almost made me sad because I would never want someone to think that they are any less of a mom because they don't do things the way I do.  Everyone has their own parenting style, weaknesses, strengths, desires, etc.  No one mom is going to be the same, in any area.  For those of you who want to know who I am in "real life,"  know that I feed my kids processed foods more than I would like, I struggle with disciplining and teaching my kids, my house is NOT always clean (not even far from it in my opinion!), I don't manage my time very well, I don't play with the kids NEAR as often as I would like (or should!) because I'm either too busy working, cleaning, or being online, I'm not the best manager of my money, one of my biggest "food" weaknesses is Coke (which is HORRIBLE for you), and I sometimes just shut down when I can't do things the way that I would like.  I struggle with balance because I am a "black and white" kind of person.  I struggle with the fact that since I feed my kids in the dining hall, I might as well just give up on trying to feed them well when we're not in the dining hall (why try when I just feed them there anyway?).  I struggle with wanting to even try to keep my house picked up because I know that it will just be messy again in a few minutes.  I struggle with even desiring to make a budget because I rarely keep it. 

Just as it is easy to focus on all that I don't do well, I am trying to always remember the fact that it's okay that I'm not perfect.  No one is.  If we were, Jesus would have had no reason to die for us. 

I just wanted to share because I'm having one of those days in which I feel bad for not being who I desire.  I am sure we all have those days :).  I am learning to take it one day at a time. 
I almost feel better just from writing this :).

I have several posts "up my sleeve" that I will probably be publishing in the next few days.  I have allowed myself some blog writing time lately because I haven't been able to do it much these past few months.  So, just be expecting some new posts!

Friday, November 20, 2009


As I am quickly approaching my due date (3 more months!), I have gotten into nesting mode.  I’m not quite there physically (actually DOING the nesting because I’m waiting for a break in my schedule!), but I have a lot of ideas of things that I need to get done and things that we need to purchase before the birth!  I sat and made a list this morning, and I thought I would share.  Mostly this is just for me… I love making lists :).  I feel like we need to put a little bit extra time and effort into preparation this time for several reasons: 1) This is our third… meaning we have two other children to take care of and it will be harder for me to get out with three kids, 3 and under, 2) We are going to have to make more meals since it’s not summertime.  When we had Ethan, we didn’t have to worry about meals because we had all meals in the dining hall!  3) I will be home more, BUT with a newborn and previous breastfeeding issues, I want to make it as easy as possible the first month or two. 
We had budgeted in the next several months to buy/pay for many things that we need.  Then, I found out last week that I will be receiving a stipend from the school for writing curriculum, so we will be able to buy all of the things that we need in December instead of waiting until mid February to get our last few things (I would rather get them soon :).  So, we can put money in savings from my January and February pay checks.  Praise God for His provision!  This will be especially helpful since I won’t be returning to work after I have Levi.
My plan is to do most of this over the holidays because I will have 4 weeks off (and Robert will have a substantial break as well!).  Some of these things aren’t related to the baby, but are just things that I want to do/buy before the baby gets here.
Things that we need to do/buy:
·         Clean out all closets and drawers
o   Get rid of clothes, toys, shoes, etc that we don’t need/use (give them to someone who needs them!!)
·         Organize all of the kids’ things (we will be moving everything around)
·         Do a “deep clean” of our house (it’s honestly been a while…)
·         Touch up paint some places in our house.  Work on our yard (it needs some work!).  Work on our garden.  All of these things will be done with the help of my sister and brother in law in December :).  We are exchanging our time and energy to help each other with some projects around our houses!
·         “Freezer Cooking/Baking”
o   Casseroles (there are great freezer meals on the Passionate Homemaking site)
o   Tortillas
o   Biscuits
o   Muffins
o   Protein bars (not sure that these will freeze well, we’ll see; if not, I will make some anyway for labor!)
o   Pizzas (we might just par-bake the crust and freeze those)
o   Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Lactation Cookies (There are two things in these that help with lactation: oatmeal and brewer’s yeast… I will change up the recipe a bit to make it more healthy.  There is also a recipe for peanut butter ones, but it the recipe definitely needs some revising.)
·         Buy a deep freezer (Robert is hunting this year and we’re hoping for a lot of deer meat!).  Regardless, our freezer is so tiny and I think it would make things much easier to have a way to bake/cook a lot at one time and just pull from the freezer (once a month freezer cooking!).  It would help us to not eat out much at all, and to just be able to throw something in the oven would be nice!  We’re hoping to find a great deal on Craigslist when it comes time.  I have found a few for about $50-$100.  We’ll see what we find!
·         Possibly buy a Grain mill attachment for my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (this will most likely be bought with Christmas money… at least it will go to the purchase of it!).  This is something that I have desired for a long time because it is SOOOO much healthier (most of the nutrients oxidize out of flour very quickly) and it will be cheaper in the long run.  I can buy organic wheat berries for 79 to 89 cents a pound.  Organic whole wheat flour is sometimes twice that.  And, making things from scratch is definitely MUCH cheaper.  Most of the time you’re paying for things because of the convenience.  And, it’s less healthy.
·         Buy Cloth Diapers: One box of BumGenius Flip Diapers, and one box of BumGenius Econobum Diapers (only $100 for 1 ½-2 days of diapers.  This is SO much cheaper than buying disposables!!)
·         Possibly buy a Bebe au Lait Nursing Cover: these are awesome because they have a wire in the top part so that you can actually see to latch the baby.  I’m very excited about this because I think it will be much easier to nurse in public (this has been a huge issue for me in the past).  This is on my “wish list” at the moment and isn’t necessarily a priority.
·         Possibly buy a sleepy wrap.  The sling that I had with Ethan (I had a Hotsling when he was a newborn… not talking about my Ergo) he outgrew REALLY fast (at that time they didn’t adjust), then it shrunk in the dryer.  I highly believe in and recommend a sling or wrap for a newborn!  This is another item on my “wish list.”
·         Buy breast pads, nipple cream, etc.  These are necessities.  I’m looking into buying cloth breast pads.  We’ll see.
·         Buy a Sunshine Kids Radian Car Seat:  We have to buy a new car seat because the three that we currently have won’t fit in our car.  We have a Mazda Tribute, which is a small SUV, and we can’t afford to buy a new car.  It’s much cheaper to buy a new car seat.  These car seats are made to fit three across one seat.  They are VERY narrow.  Most car seats are at LEAST 18 inches across and this one is only 14 inches across.  It’s also made with metal framing and seems more comfortable.  The one that we want is the Radian 65, but it looks like they are in closeout, so we may have to buy a Radian 80 (they’re more expensive but look more comfortable).  We’ll see what happens!  We may have to buy two of these if the carrier still won’t fit in the car.  I’m praying that it will fit because I would hate to have to buy two car seats right now. 
·         We need to pay off our midwife, set aside money for her assistant, and set aside money for a lactation consultant.  This was already budgeted… and our midwife is close to being paid off :).  It’s a great feeling.  We also need to purchase our birth kit from In His Hands.  This website is awesome because it is a family business, and it is local.  People from all over the country purchase birth kits from here.  The guy who runs it actually met his wife here at camp :). 
·         If we can, I’d like to stock up on some food/grocery items.  I budgeted a little extra in January for this, so it should work out, but it’s not high on the priority list.  These are things I would like to stock up on:
o   Buy these things in bulk at Sun Harvest or Whole Foods:
        We have a pretty stocked pantry right now, but with the holidays and Spring coming up, we will be eating a lot more at home, so it will deplete quickly!)
* Hard White Wheat berries (to grind into flour)
*  Rolled oats (mostly for breakfast cookies, baked oatmeal, and granola)
*  Sucanat
*  Beans (pinto and black)
*  Rice
*  Whole wheat pasta
o   Other Whole Foods items:
*  Shampoo/conditioner (we’ve decided to buy their 365 brand because it is $4.99 for 32 oz and is free of all the toxins that we try to avoid!)
*  Dish washer detergent (we buy BioKleen and it is cheapest at Whole Foods… it works awesomely with our well water)
o   Costco: (I may buy meat at farmer’s market… we’ll see!)
*  Several whole chickens
*  Several pounds of ground beef (if we don’t get deer meat)
*  Several pounds of link sausage and breakfast sausage
*  Several dozen eggs (I won’t buy more than we can use with-in a month or so… but we do eat a LOT of eggs)
*  Toilet paper (32 rolls of a recycled brand)
*  Laundry detergent (ECOS brand… a 220 load container for $14!)
*  Organic frozen veggies/fruits (5-6 pound bags of organic broccoli, mixed veggies, corn, green beans, etc)
*  Organic peanut butter (this is actually cheaper than making our own!)
* Organic Eggs
* Butter
* Organic Canned diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and paste
o   Vitacost:
*  Vitamins (the kids have plenty, I will just need more prenatals) and fish oil (we have plenty, but the kids will need some Nordic Naturals).  These are definitely worth it.  Not only does it help their moods when I consistently give it to them, it also helps their immune systems!
*  Herbs for milk supply (haven’t decided which ones to buy yet)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Making More Milk

The Breastfeeding Mother's Guide to Making More Milk is a WONDERFUL book and I recommend it to anyone who has had problems with milk supply in the past.  As I have mentioned many times before, I had a lot of problems with milk supply with my last two babies.  I am such a "black and white" kind of person... I have a hard time with things because if I can't do it perfectly, I don't want to do it at all.  After reading this book, there is possibly an answer to all of my milk supply issues, which actually makes me feel better about things.  Through the reading of this book (and from researching online), there is a good chance that I have insufficient glandular tissue, which means that I may not be able to breastfeed exclusively.  I have most of the signs and symptoms of this, so there is a good possibility.

This book encourages women in saying that milk supply issues are actually becoming more and more common... and probably because of the amount of toxins in things these days (although there is really no clear answer as to why).  I always feel bad about not being able to produce enough because many women think that it's just something that you're doing wrong.  Through reading this book, I know that's not true.  It is true sometimes, but not all the time.  This book helps you to go through every possible reason for low milk supply, and it gives ways to remedy that situation if possible, and ways to supplement without hurting your supply if necessary.  I have heard many many times to NOT supplement because it will hurt your supply... but this book re-affirmed my intuition that it is necessary sometimes and it can even hurt your supply if your baby begins to get frustrated and/or lethargic.  I know now that it wasn't the wrong thing to do to supplement when with my kids... especially with Ethan.  He was not getting anything, really, and he had lost tons of weight (18 ounces by day 3), was dehydrated, jaundice, etc.  He was also nursing for 4-5 hours at a time and screaming all the time.  He needed more.  The problem came in when I decided to stop breastfeeding altogether because I thought it was too hard to do both... and because I couldn't breastfeed exclusively, I thought I might as well not breastfeed at all.  This time, I will:
  • Supplement if necessary (even at the beginning if I need to), but do it the way that they say to supplement (and my midwife will be working with me on this).  The idea is that it will help me to not get overly stressed, which will in turn actually help my supply.  
  • Begin pumping between feedings from the beginning.  The pump that I had with the last two babies was considered a good one (the Ameda), but it HURT me... which made pumping a horrible thing.  I bought a new pump, the Playtex Embrace double pump.  This pump has many wonderful reviews.  People who have had issues with pumps before because of pain, etc, were able to use this one with ease.  It doesn't just suck... it massages and sucks which makes it a lot more comfortable.  Many women who have not been able to get much milk out at all with other pumps (even the Medela) were able to get a lot more milk out with this one.  I know people personally who have had a lot of luck with this pump as well.  I haven't heard anything bad about it... only good.  And, on the Happy Mothers website, you can buy it pretty cheap compared to buying it in the store or on other websites.  I actually got an additional 10% off because they were running 10% off anything over a certain amount sale a few weeks ago.  So, I bought it for $148 (usually anywhere from $175-250).  We are going to be buying a new car seat from this website as well.  Wonderful site.  
  • Use different herbs and foods to help with supply, from the beginning.  Making More Milk has an entire chapter on the MANY different herbs and foods to increase supply.  There are way more than I ever would have realized.
  • Have a prescription on hand for domperidone.  I have heard from midwives and through this book that if you have major supply issues to try this medication.  
  • Cosleep at the beginning especially.  It actually helps increase supply for two reasons: 1) because the baby is right there... all I have to do is lift up my shirt :), 2) the closeness helps increase supply.
The biggest thing that I have learned through this book and from my midwife is that if I can breastfeed even 50%, then I am successful.  It doesn't have to be black and white.  My midwife tells me to take the pressure off of myself and it will probably help considerably.  I need to be able to enjoy the first several days of having a newborn... not dread them.  I am looking forward to the first days now :). 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Hard White Wheat versus Hard Red Wheat

I learned something new a few days ago that I think is really going to make a difference in my baking.  Through the Heavenly Homemakers blog, I learned that hard red wheat and hard white wheat have the exact same nutritional value, but hard white wheat is much lighter... which will in turn make baking with whole wheat much easier.  I decided to do a little bit of research on this to just make sure, and all the research that I have read says that is true!  One great source is this: The Fresh Loaf.  I still haven't gotten around to buying a grain mill (I'm hoping that I can buy one with Christmas money!), but I found a great hard white wheat flour that I trust.  King Arthur is one of my favorite brands of flour for many reasons.  One, because it is never bromated (meaning they don't intentionally oxidize it), and two, because they carry hard white wheat flour :).  I bought two 5 pound bags today because they were on sale for $2.99 each!  I can't wait to try it and I will let you know how it goes!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Update on Life

I feel like I have so many things to say… Some things I wrote on my wordpress blog (that I had for all of a week), but since I didn’t know how to transfer over, I’ll just repeat myself.  
First, we have decided that I will stay home after I have the baby.  I was pretty sure that I would stay home the rest of the semester (because I had so many issues with breastfeeding the last two times, I didn’t want anything to mess that up), but we’ve decided to make me an official stay at home mommy.  It has been a bittersweet decision because I love my job, but I know that it is necessary for me to be able to take care of my family to the best of my ability; and, well, I feel like I’m being stretched thin right now and it’s only going to get worse.  I am ready to be fully present when I’m here and not emotionally and mentally tied up in something else.   It was also hard to turn down the amount of money that I make.  But, money isn’t everything.  We have found that the more we make, the more we spend.  We have been so unorganized this semester (more than in a long time), and I’m looking forward to get back to doing things the right way. 
Second, I’m so thankful… even though Robert works crazy hours during the summer and fall, he gets AMAZING holidays for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I am so excited because he is off November 22-30, then again December 17-31.  I can hardly believe that he is going to be home with us that much.  I really need to stop complaining during the summer because who else has that kind of holidays (besides teachers)??  I am SOOOOO looking forward to him having that time off.  It is going to be amazing.  We will (hopefully) be making a lot of our Christmas gifts this year, so that time will be helpful.  Of course, many of those days are tied up in being out of town, etc, but we’ll still have plenty of time here (and just being together is all I want).  We just need to get through the next 2 weeks because he only has one day off each of those weeks… but, we did it all summer, so I think we can handle it. 
Third, I am now 25 weeks pregnant!  Only 15 more weeks until my due date.  It has been dragging, but now it’s starting to get close.  Here is a picture of me from last week, at 24 weeks pregnant:

Things have been getting easier with the pregnancy as I have been in my second trimester, but I’ll be hitting my third pretty soon, so things will probably get harder again :).  That’s the way it works!!  Some things will never change from pregnancy to pregnancy… like my heart burn and the fact that it’s already getting harder to breathe… but February will be here before I know it!  I can hardly wait.
Fourth, this is little and silly to be excited about, but we got a Costco membership :).  I was SO excited to go there and see all that they sell.  I was very surprised.  I don't know why we chose a Sam's membership before... Costco is so much better.  They have many organic meats and other items that are in my price range (well, they are cheaper than "natural" meats at HEB).  I was going to have to cut out some of those things with me staying home, but now I might not have to.  I have been thinking through the changes that I will be making when I have this baby and stay home, and one of them is that we will have to cut out a lot of organic foods.  My main goal will be organic animal products, and I will pick and choose everything else.  I will have a little bit more time to shop at a few different stores if necessary, also, which actually does save (since most of them are in the same area-ish).  My mom has told me that she will come to my house one day a week to help me (I'm SO thankful for her!), and I will just make that day my shopping day.  Most likely I will take Levi with me, but I can handle one, easily!! :)  I also plan to begin making most things from scratch again, and I hope to start making all of my cleaners and personal care products homemade again.  I really hate chemically laden products, but natural products are just so expensive that we have to pick and choose... and we only use a few.  If I'm making my own, it will be much cheaper.  We'll see what happens with that.  My goal is to choose a day over the holiday to spend making personal care products from scratch and see how it goes.  I have found a great recipe recently for shampoo :).  I hope that it works out!!
Fifth, we have made some changes inside and out of our home :).  We like to move furniture around, and we do it several times a year :).  We made our "living room" area actually a bit smaller, but it opened up the rest of the room.   We've also changed things up outside and it has made it really enjoyable to sit outside now.  Well, the beautiful weather helps too.  It has been in the 70s and sunny every day.  The outside is still a work in progress, but it's getting there.  Just a little mowing/weed-eating and cleaning up some things, and it will be finished.  We hope to get the kids a few outside things to play with/on for Christmas.
Here are some pictures of the inside:
(our biggest goal with moving the inside furniture was to take the tv out of the front entrance... it used to be right in front of you when you walked in!)

Here are "before" pictures of the outside:

(there was a cedar post fence here but Robert took it out because it was rotting... which is why we added a new fence)




Here are "after" pictures of the outside:
(which, technically, we still have some work to do... but it's MUCH better!)


Our biggest goal with changing up the outside is to lesson clutter and make things more simple.  And, if we can't get to mowing/weed-eating the backyard, it won't be as visible :).

And sixth, I am thinking about starting a website (apart from my blog).  If I decide to, I will let you know.  :) 

Anyway... sorry for the length of this post.  I feel like it has been FOREVER since I've really written.  I hope to pick up again with the holidays coming... we'll see.  I still have many things that I would like to post about.  I'll get there one day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Swine Flu

I have been asked MANY times why I have decided not to receive the flu shot and/or swine flu shot. I hear all the time, "but you're pregnant!" Well, this article is just ONE reliable source of information that explains why I don't get it, and why I don't get it for my kids: What We Have Learned About the Great Swine Flu Pandemic. There is SO much information out there, even in the "mainstream," that shows the truth about the swine flu. Do your research! Don't just go with what the news says.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This week’s Meal Plan

Normally when I make a meal plan, I have no idea which nights Robert will be home, so I don't assign nights. This ends up making it tough because then we don't end up sticking with it. This week I actually know which nights he will be home, so I can plan specifically.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Breakfast: Breakfast cookies
Lunch: Out after church
Dinner: Sausage, potato, and squash soup

Monday, November 2, 2009

Breakfast: Eggs, toast, fruit
Lunch: Dining hall
Dinner: Crockpot chicken and dumplings

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Breakfast: Egg sandwich
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Bean and cheese soft tacos

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Breakfast: Breakfast Tacos
Lunch: Cottage cheese, crackers, fruit
Dinner: Black bean wraps

Plan ahead- soak beans overnight and cook in crock pot through the day; make breakfast tacos evening before

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Breakfast: Breakfast tacos
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Baked potatoes, broccoli cheese soup

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breakfast: Crockpot cheese grits
Lunch: Dining Hall
Dinner: Dining Hall

Plan Ahead- cook grits overnight

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Breakfast: Baked oatmeal
Lunch: Dining Hall
Dinner: Dining Hall