Friday, February 26, 2010

Life with 3 Little Ones

I've been trying to sit down and write this post for over a week and it has been too difficult!

Life with three babies is definitely rewarding and challenging all in the same breath.  The kids have started to adjust, but they still don't quite understand and want my attention more than normal.  They struggle with being patient and waiting for me to finish feeding Levi before I can tend to them, but they are getting better.  They have definitely been throwing more fits than normal, and we have just had to deal with each one as it comes.  I know that once they get used to things, the fits will begin to taper off and it will be back to the normal amount of fits :).  But for now, our house is filled with crying and screaming much of the day... which makes for a stressed out, exhausted mama. 

The house is definitely messier than normal... and Robert had to remind me the other day that the house isn't a priority right now, and I need to let it go.  His exact words were "I don't need a clean house, I need a wife that isn't frazzled all the time."  So, I'm trying to let go, but still struggle because a messy house means chaos to me.

Unfortunately, one of the things that I've had to let go of is worrying about eating perfectly.  We've been relying heavily on convenience foods and eating in the dining hall.  I had made a bunch of "meal starters," but I haven't even used most of them yet... I made a few full meals (casseroles), and we've taken advantage of those, but the rest is still in the freezer.  They will come in handy in a few weeks when things are getting somewhat back to normal, but I still don't feel like fixing a huge meal.  We also had the blessing of our church family bringing us a bunch of meals (probably a few weeks worth!).  We're so thankful for that!!  I didn't realize quite how difficult things were going to be.

I would say going from 2 to 3 is actually harder than 0 to 1 or 1 to 2.  Some people say that once you have 2, it's nothing to add another.  But, I think it's tough!  Maybe it's because our kids are so young still.  But, I can say that we probably won't be having any more... and if we do it will probably be a long time and/or through adoption :).  I think three may be our max, though.

Despite the challenges, I'm so thankful and in love with my family.  I have an amazing husband who would do anything for me and the kids.  I have beautiful children who I love unconditionally even in their most challenging moments.  My new son is perfect.  I couldn't have asked for a better third child :).  He doesn't sleep wonderfully at night (that seems to be when his gas hits!), but he is my easiest newborn so far.  He doesn't cry much (just when he's hungry or gassy), and he takes a nap in the afternoon when the other kids do!!  How'd I get that lucky??

I'm very thankful for my mom, who, right when I need it, takes the older kids off of my hands for a night.  I might be going crazy without her.  I feel bad to send them away, but I also feel like if I don't, I might just lose it :).  I miss them when they're gone, and am thankful to get them back the next day.  Right now she takes them about once a week, which is perfect.  In the future, once things settle down a little more, she's still going to be coming to my house once a week to help me.  That will be the day that I take Levi with me to town to buy groceries, etc.  I'm lucky and thankful to have the opportunity to do that.  Otherwise, I would probably just have to wait until Robert was off to go to town :).

Breastfeeding has been more of a challenge than I had hoped, but it's pretty much gone as expected.  The first few days went pretty well (except for the fact that I breastfed non stop), but it just went downhill from there.  I have been taking my herbs (lots of them- Motherlove More Milk Special Blend, Goat's Rue, and Fenugreek tinctures), and I breastfeed on demand (for a while it was CONSTANTLY).  But, I just still wasn't able to produce enough.  I produce more this time than the last two times, but it's still not enough to breastfeed exclusively.  I tried using the Supplemental Nursing System, but struggled with it and when my supply started dwindling more, decided to stop using it.  Not only was he not latching well anymore, he would just barely suck (just enough to get the formula out of the tube), and it was also very difficult to use every time.  We went to using Breastflow bottles and things have been going pretty well since.  It's frustrating that I can't produce enough, but I'm trying to just get over it and know that some breast milk is better than none.  I'm taking one day at a time right now because doing both is difficult, but my hope is to continue for a long time.  We'll see what happens!  I've decided not to be hard on myself no matter what.  I've been down this road twice already and had so many regrets.  I want no regrets this time around.
Kristen, my midwife, has been so supportive of me with breastfeeding.  She checks on me every day!  She left me her scale so that I can weigh Levi daily to make sure he's gaining enough weight.  And when I'm having a rough day with nursing, I just text or call her and she encourages me.  I'm so thankful for her!

Here are some recent pics:


Monday, February 22, 2010

Levi’s Birth

A birth story is in and of itself a bit graphic, so if you can't handle the details, don't read :).  It's hard to share the story without sharing the details!

The birth of Levi was amazing… I am excited to share!  This is how birth should be… gentle, normal, relaxed, unhindered.  Everything about it was how God made it to be.  I wouldn't change one thing about it.

Wednesday, February 10th, Robert and I both woke up really early for some reason (4:00).  We both couldn't go back to sleep, so at about 4:45, I decided to go make some coffee (mostly decaf with just a little bit of caffeine!!).  As I was making it, I felt a "trickle," and noticed that my shorts were a little wet.  I just knew that my water was starting to break!!  I got very excited!!  This happened with Ethan, and within about 30 minutes, it broke all the way.  So, I did the things that I needed to (to prevent infection), and I waited.  It was too early to really call anyone because I didn't really know what was going to happen.  I decided to take a shower and then just see if the water continued to leak.  And, it stopped.  I was SO confused… what was that?  If my water was breaking, it should continue to leak… maybe I'm just crazy… who knows.  So, at about 6:30, I decided to call my midwife, Kristen (yeah, still a bit early, but I'm a little anxious to know what's going on at this point).  Luckily, she was awake already (or maybe she just told me that so I wouldn't feel bad).  She said that it should continue once it starts (so she's not real sure if that's what it was), but to go ahead and take precautions as if it was leaking.  Oh, just to add, she had been sick for several days before this and had I gone into labor just the day before, she wouldn't have been able to be there.  Just so happens that her fever had now been gone long enough and she was feeling good enough to come that day. God's timing is perfect :).   She ends up calling me back a little bit later and said that Levi's head was so low that maybe he was just creating a "plug."  She really thought that my water may not leak anymore, and it definitely wasn't going to break all the way (she later decided that my second bag of waters probably leaked and sealed back over).

At this point, I just rested for a while because I knew I would need my energy.  I called my friend Corrina (who was going to be at the birth), and I called my mom (who was going to be picking up the kids).  Corrina would only be able to be there in the evening because she had to wait until her husband came home from work (so someone would be there with her daughter).  My mom had an appointment that morning that she really didn't want to miss (and I didn't want her to miss it unless completely necessary), so we decided that she'll just go on with her day as planned unless something changed.  At this point I wasn't even completely sure what was happening, so I didn't want anyone to change their plans yet!  We went on with our day.  Robert was already off, so he didn't have to call in, which was nice since we didn't know what to expect! 

A few hours later, I began having some other signs of impending labor, then I started having some contractions.  The contractions weren't that painful, and they weren't regular… so I decided that after my mom picked up the kids, I would go for a walk and see what happened.  They continued for the rest of the morning… Kristen came just after lunch (because she was already coming that day for my appointment anyway), and she felt that I was probably in early labor.  I definitely wasn't in active labor, and we didn't think it would be just real quick.  She went ahead and called the apprentice (who is actually acting as an assistant now because all that she's lacking is her final test!).  She was at Ethan's birth, and she was excited about being here because she thought Ethan's birth was amazing :). 

After my mom picked up the kids, Robert and I went for a walk.  While walking, I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes, but they weren't that painful yet… I could continue walking through them.  I knew that those were not the same contractions that I felt when I was in labor with Ethan… so I was either still in really early labor (which I never had with Ethan!), or was just having some "warm up" contractions.  I still didn't know what to expect at this point.  I came home kind of frustrated.  Kristen asked me if she could check me to see if I was progressing at all (the last time she checked me was the week before and I was 1cm dilated and the baby was at +1-+2 station, which is as low as he could get!).  When she checked me, I was only 2cm dilated, and the baby was actually higher than he was the week before!!  She decided that it was probably going to be a while because the contractions seemed to slow down a lot when I got home.  She asked me what I wanted… did I want her to stay?  Did I want her to leave?  When I wasn't sure, she decided to have me lay down for a while.  If the contractions continued and got longer, stronger, and closer together, then we knew I was really in labor.  If not, then they would leave and I would call them when they got longer, stronger, and closer together (which she thought would still be pretty soon). 

I laid down, and the contractions stopped.  I was pretty upset because I knew that what I had been feeling before wasn't just Braxton hicks, but what were they??  Kristen came into the room and started working on getting the supplies together while she waited (because she knew it would be soon no matter what).  I was just visiting with her while I laid there, and I had a strong contraction.  It was a little more difficult to talk through than the others were.  A little bit later I had another one.  Then another… They weren't consistent yet, but they were definitely getting stronger.  By about 5:30, we determined that I was in active labor, and I had progressed another centimeter, and the baby's head dropped again.  So, I decided it was time to get in the tub.  Robert lit some candles and turned on my favorite relaxing music (which was actually a lullaby tape, yes a tape :), that a volunteer here at the camp gave me when Karis was a baby!).  I breathed through the contractions and just let my body do the work.  Being in the tub is so nice while in labor!  After a while, I decided to get out of the tub and lay on my bed.  I laid on my right side for a while and just continued to breathe through the contractions.  With each contraction, I just visualized the baby moving down.  Very quickly, I started to feel some pressure.  Scottie, who was the apprentice, was right there in front of me.  I told her that I thought I was starting to feel pressure, but wasn't sure if that's what I was really feeling.  She told me that she is pretty sure that I AM feeling pressure, and that I was probably already approaching transition (she could tell that the hormones were making me really sleepy, which is one of the signs).  I couldn't believe it because even though the pain was really bad, it wasn't NEAR as bad as it was with Ethan during transition.  So, I decided to go ahead and have Kristen check me to see what was going on because I was really doubting that I was approaching transition.  Well, sure enough, I was almost at an 8!!  I couldn't believe it.  At this point, my water hadn't broken yet, so that actually helped the pain because it gave a cushion.  I continued to breathe and consciously attempt to relax my body with each contraction.  The contractions continued to get longer, stronger, and closer together.  I then began to feel the need to push.  Kristen wanted to check to make sure that there wasn't any cervix left before I started pushing because it's not good to push if you're not fully dilated.  So, she checked and felt that there was just a little bit left.  At this point, I really needed to go to the bathroom because I felt that my full bladder was making the contractions worse, BUT I didn't want to get up!  They helped me get up and get to the bathroom, and it did help, but having a contraction while up is much worse than when laying down!  They quickly helped me get back to the bed.  I had a few more contractions, then my body just had to start pushing.  I had no control, really.  I remember that feeling with Ethan, and it actually makes me feel better to just let my body do the work.  Plus, I knew that because I let my body do the work with Ethan, I had no tears.  That was my goal again this time. 

After Kristen checked me, Corrina came in :).  It took her a while longer to get here than she had hoped, but she got here just in time.  At some point (can't remember if it was before Corrina got there or after), the assistant midwife came as well. 

My body began pushing with each contraction.  At this point, my water still hadn't broken, so Kristen and Scottie were preparing for a mess :).  I didn't push for long and my bag of waters started coming out, intact.  They were completely surprised that it hadn't popped on its own (and midwives don't normally pop the bag unless absolutely necessary because that's considered an intervention).  They eventually started to try to pop it because they knew it would be easier on me, but it wouldn't pop!  It was very strong!  Levi's head came out, then the bag popped.  It made a nice mess :).  Kristen said that I had a LOT of fluid (which is what I was told with Karis as well).  That's probably why I looked SO huge at the end.  A little bit later, the rest of his body came out (with a lot of work and pain… this was the most painful part for me this time).  But, even though it was painful, it was only about 10 minutes, and it was over.  And, I didn't have any tears again (just a few "skidmarks…" which is like when you bite the inside of your mouth; they heal quickly on their own).  Robert caught him, and put him up on my chest.  They cleaned him off a bit, then just let him lay on my chest for a while.  I just held onto him and wouldn't let him go!  We still had a few more things to take care of (the placenta, etc), then I was able to breastfeed him.  He latched on well on his own.  He seemed so tiny to me (and to everyone… they were expecting a bigger baby because of how big my belly was).  Scottie fixed me some food and Robert fed me while I fed Levi.  I fed him for what seemed like about an hour.  It was a beautiful time.  Kristen and Scottie cleaned up, washed the sheets and towels that were used, etc.  I took a shower and felt much better :).  While I took a shower, Kristen did the newborn exam, weighed him, measured him, etc.  Scottie guessed that he weighed 7 lbs 12 oz, and she was right :).  My smallest baby so far!  And longest, at almost 21 inches!  So, he's long and skinny... with long fingers and long feet.

I then climbed back into bed and cuddled with Robert and our new little one.  We had a quiet, peaceful night.  It was perfect!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Levi's Here

Levi was born at 8:28 last night!  He weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces, and was 20 3/4 inches long.  The birth was amazing and quick!  I will post the birth story when I get a chance.  Here are a few pictures:


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Many Different Topics in One :)

Since my last post I have found out that I can still buy raw milk... and NOT freeze it.  I'm real excited about that!  A friend of mine buys raw milk every other week and it keeps fine.  Which, I'm glad to know because switching to pasteurized has already done a number on mine and Karis' digestive systems.  Raw milk is SO much better!!!  I will be going back to the farm this week to buy more!!

That same friend has become part of the Simple Living Media and has her own blog... and it is going to be awesome!  Check it out: Simple Organic

I also wanted to share some things about my kids :).  I rarely do that for some reason and feel like the kids have grown up a LOT since I've last posted about them. 

These past few months have been interesting because of all that has been going on.  Between my brother's death, the move a few weeks later, having lots of family here for the holidays, and now me staying home and expecting a baby any day, they have adjusted pretty well!  Since I've been home it has been really good.  The routine and consistency has REALLY helped them a LOT.  And just knowing that I'm not having to focus on school has been great too.  They know exactly what to expect most of the time, and Karis' temper tantrums are beginning to fade.  They haven't gone away completely, but they are at least more manageable :).  She's learning to better control herself and she knows what to expect when she throws one.  Ethan on the other hand is just now starting to throw temper tantrums... so we have a long way to go with him :).  It's MUCH harder to discipline a 19 month old than an almost 4 year old.  We'll figure it out.  I'm not looking forward to the two's with him :).  Karis was EASY at his age and as a two year old.  Maybe he'll get it out of his system before he turns three!

Ethan is starting to talk a lot more.  He has been putting two and three word sentences together.  I was a bit worried even a few months ago because he didn't talk much at all (compared to where Karis was at this time), but he's getting there.  He's also following directions well and helps mommy pick things up off the floor (since it's tough these days!).  Haha.  He is definitely a clingy little guy and wants to be held a lot... which will be interesting when Levi comes, but we'll figure it out.  He's still a baby in a lot of ways, and I can't expect him to grow up just because we have another baby coming.  I have to (and want to) still love on, cuddle, and care for him just as I would if we didn't have another baby coming.  He won't sit still for very long so even though I desperately want him to let me read to him, he just won't let me.  So, we sit and he just plays with the book while I attempt to read.  We have started the bedtime routine that we do with Karis, and it is fun :).  We read, sing, and pray all together as a family.  When we sing, he just laughs hysterically.  He loves it!  He is a BUSY boy.  He likes to climb up on things and get back down, over and over again.  He keeps me busy.  He has been frustrated at me because it's been raining and I won't let him go outside and play on the porch :).  When the weather is nice, I know he will be outside all the time! 

Karis is a drama queen and princess.  Her challenges right now are that she likes to try to boss us around (and her brother!) and she gets really upset when she doesn't get her way.  But, she is sweet most of the time :).  She still likes to cuddle with mama, and I'm all about it.  She's still little!  She loves to read, color, play dress up, play tea party, and all the things that little girls love to do.  As hard as Robert worked to make sure she didn't turn into a girly girl, it didn't work :).  And, I told him that since he will have two boys, he's just going to have to get over it.  She loves to play outside and do those things too.  He is still determined that he's going to get her a climbing harness of her own as soon as he can and get her out on the ropes course... we'll see how that goes... 
Karis is a VERY intelligent little girl.  She has known all of her alphabet (not just the song... recognizing all of the letters) since before she was two... which honestly makes her a bit of a challenge.  She can outsmart her way out of things :).  I know that if I sat with her and actually taught her how to read, she could read... but I don't think it's necessary yet.  I'm trying not to do real "structured learning" with her yet... just read to her every day and allow her to do some fun activities.  There's no rush.  Since we will be homeschooling, I'm trying to decide when to start with her.  Maybe next fall... but I might just wait.  We'll see how things are going with a third little one at that point :).  I do know that a friend of mine and I will be starting some fun little "field trips" with the kids soon.  We want to start doing one or two things a month.  She has a little girl that she's homeschooling and she's in kindergarten.  She and Karis get along well, and it's good for them to have a friend!  We plan to start taking them to the zoo, museums, parks, etc together!  I can't wait!  I also plan to start taking the kids to the library regularly again.  I've missed that.  Since I will be home, it's more realistic.  I just want to not be pregnant anymore, and get more into a routine with Levi before I tackle anything new. 



Sunday, February 7, 2010

Taking a Break...

I decided today that I need to take a break from researching/blogging about things like nutrition and natural living for a little while because it's taking too much of my thought time :).  I want to focus more on my family and just being here these next few days/weeks.  I LOVE learning about nutrition, but when I can't put it all into practice 100% of the time, it starts to stress me out... so I'm going to stop focusing on it for a while and making it an idol.  I have been way too focused on it!  I hope that the information that I have given is good for now, and that you can use the recipes and things that I have left for you!  If you look to the right on my blog, under Natural Living Resources, there is a link titled "Recipes" that has a LOT of the basic recipes that we use often. 

I WILL be back to all of this at some point.  I'm definitely not finished blogging about it... it is after all a passion of mine!  I just need a break :). 

One thing that I'm kind of sad about is that, for now, we are having to stop buying raw milk (yes, already!).  I have been having trouble thawing it out... I have tried just about every way possible, and the cream always ends up kind of lumpy.  It still tastes good, but the texture is just not for me.  And, since it's already hard enough to drive an hour and 15 minutes every two weeks, buying it weekly isn't even an option... So, we are back to buying organic whole milk.  It will work for now...
It is tough when I know what's best and can't do it.  So, this is an area that I will have to let go of and know that God will take care of us!  Buying pasteurized milk isn't the end of the world... it's just not ideal to me.  But, oh well! 

Whole Foods Nutrition

(my whole foods pantry)

What's the healthiest? Low fat diet or whole foods diet? The problem with low fat foods is that they may be lower in fat, but they are higher in MSG, sugars, and artificial sweeteners. These ingredients are much more harmful than fat. In fact, fats are necessary to a healthy diet. The best way to lose weight and/or be healthy is to maintain a whole foods diet.

Whole food means that the food hasn't been processed or refined. It is a food that is in its original form. The best way to eat is to cook from scratch using whole foods. The necessary whole foods are:

Whole grains- you need 8-11 servings per day.
Many people cut out grains and flours of all kinds because there is all this hype about how bad flour is for you. But, your body NEEDS whole grains. The flour that is bad for you is the refined, white flour that is used most of the time. Whole grains contain fiber, iron, protein, calcium, essential carbohydrates and sugars, and minerals. This includes whole grain breads and cereals, whole grain pasta, whole grain rice, barley, oats, quinoa, etc. Freshly ground and soaked grains are the best for maximum nutrient absorption and digestion. When combined with another protein food such as legumes, they form amino acid and B vitamin complements.
See Sue Gregg's website and the Weston A Price Foundation for more information on grinding and soaking your grains. See benefits of grinding and soaking, in an easy to follow manner at Passionate Homemaking.
We grind our own flour using our Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and grain mill attachment. I buy Hard White Winter Wheat because it contains the same nutrients as Hard Red Winter Wheat (what most people know as wheat), but it is lighter and fluffier and tastes better in my opinion!

Fruits and Vegetables- you need 4-6 servings per day, heavy on the vegetables because they do not contain sugar.
Fruits and veggies give your body countless vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, fiber, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Organic is best because they are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides (which are harmful for anyone).

Proteins- Protein is necessary for developing the right amount of blood cells, and it gives you more energy! It is important to get protein from a variety of sources including:

  • Pastured meats, poultry, and eggs (high in iron, complete protein and fat, and rich in minerals)
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc)
  • Seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc)
  • Whole grains (wheat, spelt, quinoa, oats, etc)
  • Sprouts
  • Nutritional yeast (this can be found in health food stores; we sprinkle it on fresh, oven popped popcorn)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Wild caught fish
You NEED healthy fats. Fats provide energy, and aid in the absorption of calcium and Vitamin A.  Good sources are avocadoes, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil (research shows that even though this has saturated fat in it, there are many nutrients in it that counter act the saturated fat; we use it in some things such as baked oatmeal, muffins, etc), butter (same as coconut oil), wheat germ, eggs, meat, and milk. We use butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and occasionally we use sunflower oil.  Through research, I have learned that canola oil isn't good for you as some think.  It is highly processed and genetically engineered!  Here are some reasons why we use the fats that we use:

  • Coconut oil
    • According to Dr. Mercola, coconut oil is the "smartest oil you can use." Benefits are: "promoting heart health, promoting weight loss when and if you need it, supporting your immune system health, supporting healthy metabolism, providing you with an immediate energy source, helping to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking, supporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland."  
    • Food Matters considers this one of their Superfoods. This is straight from their website: "Coconut oil's saturated fat is of the medium-chain fatty acid variety, which are digested more easily and utilized differently by the body than other saturated fats… the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. Coconut oil will actually speed up metabolism so your body will burn more calories in a day which will contribute to weight loss. Coconut oil supports healthy metabolic function and is a revered anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent. Pacific islanders deem coconut oil to be the cure-all gift from nature for all illness."
    • The Weston A. Price has a study on coconut oil. Organic facts says that coconut oil has many benefits including: hair care, stress relief, skin care, premature aging, heart disease, weight loss, pancreas (treats pancreatitis), digestion, immunity, healing, infections, liver, kidney, diabetes, bones, dental care, HIV, cancer. Go to their website to see the explanations of all these benefits.
    • The list could go on and on for all the research that shows coconut oil to be one of the best.

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil- Made from the skin of olives.
    • Because it's made from the skin and not seeds, it requires less pressure and lower heat during the pressing process; this means that the nutrients are contained in the oil. 
    • This is high in oleic acid and in linoleic acid.
    • It is slow to spoil.
    • Contains 90% unsaturated fats.
    • This oil contains omega 3 and omega 6, but not a high source of it (information from

  • Butter-
    • According to the Weston A Price Foundation, butter contains Vitamins A, D, and E.
    • It contains lecithin, iodine, and selenium.
    • It contains short and medium chain fatty acids which have strong anti-tumor affects.
    • It contains the minerals manganese, chromium, zinc, copper, and selenium. Butter provides the perfect balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (this is the best in grass fed butter).
    • It protects against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, thyroid health, digestion, weight, etc.
A lot of water (at LEAST 8 cups a day) is necessary for anyone. Naturally decaffeinated and herbal teas are included in this category. My suggestion is to stick to water and (naturally decaf.) teas only. If you want coffee, drink water processed decaffeinated, or a very low amount of regular. Do not drink sodas because not only do they contain a LOT of high fructose corn syrup (or artificial sweeteners in diet soda), they have caffeine, and they are carbonated which breaks down muscle mass. They are totally empty calories and bad for you. I have to remind myself of this one. We mostly drink water, milk, or water with a splash of juice (my kids drink this… literally probably less than a tablespoon). I occasionally have sweet tea or a Dr. P, but I'm in the process of weaning myself from these. I know they are horrible, but I grew up on them! :)

Organic and Why It's Important
Organic foods are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides and herbicides can alter hormones, can disrupt immune systems, and can cause certain types of cancer (breast, uterine, prostate cancer, and leukemia). See "external toxins" for more detailed information on what pesticides and herbicides can do. Organic meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not contain hormones, antibiotics, steroids, or pesticides. When I can't buy them at the Farmer's Market, I buy hormone/antibiotic free animals at HEB or Whole Foods. Also, Wal-Mart actually has chicken made by a company called Harvest Land, that is hormone/antibiotic/steroid free, and they are inexpensive (I'm talking about $4 for a whole chicken). Meats, poultry, milk, eggs, etc are the highest on the list to buy organic, if possible.

  • Local harvest is a great resource for finding CSA's, Farmer's markets, Farms, etc that sell organic foods in your area.
  • A great resource to find out more information on organic foods and why they are important is Organic Consumers.
Pastured animals and eggs
Eating grass-fed/pastured animals and eggs is more important to me, even, than organic.

Pastured means that the animals are not confined and are able to graze the pasture. Not only are the animals able to eat grass, they are able to walk around, which means they exercise. Because of this, the meat is lower in fat.

The benefits of grass-fed vs. grain fed are that pastured animals (beef, pork, chickens, etc) contain more omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A, beta carotene, lecithin, and are lower in fat. Pastured animals and eggs contain no hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. And, most of the time, they don't contain pesticides.

A great resource for finding grass fed meats, poultry, and eggs is Eat Wild. Not only will you get a lot of information, you can search for local farmers that sell pastured meat, poultry, and eggs.
Real Foods has some more information on why to eat pastured animals and eggs.

Sweeteners that we use (in moderation)

  • Sucanat (SUgar Cane NATural)- evaporated cane juice.  Keeps all of the original nutrients intact because it is just evaporated... not refined or processed at all.  Another brand/type is called Rapadura.  It's basically the same thing.
  • Raw, unfiltered, unheated honey (Goodflow, made in Austin or Raw Honey from Dyer Dairy)
  • Molasses
  • Pure Maple
  • Agave Nectar
Foods, drinks, other things to limit/avoid

  • Food coloring
  • Artificial flavors and sweeteners
  • Caffeine- Some is okay, but excess can cause many problems.  Also, if you drink this, you need to drink more water to counter act it. Caffeine is a diuretic. It depletes your body of necessary water and nutrients.
  • Nitrates- these are found in lunch meats, hot dogs, and bacon that is not specially made nitrate-free.
  • Refined sugars and flours- these can cause diabetes and can alter brain chemistry. They do nothing good for you.
  • Hydrogenated oils ("trans fat")- this raises the bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol. This oil is found in many packaged foods and commercially fried foods.
  • High fructose corn syrup- found in almost every canned, packaged product. Look at labels!!
  • Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs- for obvious reasons.

Websites for Cooking Easy Meals

Over the past year and a half, I have found several websites that I use OFTEN to find recipes.  Sometimes I do them exactly as they say, and sometimes I make them my own... but the point is, they give me a place to start.  Check them out!

Tammy's Recipes
Heavenly Homemakers
Passionate Homemaking
Homemaking Homesteader

Saturday, February 6, 2010

38 1/2 weeks

So I just realized that I never updated about my last appointment with my midwife.  I had my appointment on Thursday.  I was still 1 cm dilated, but the baby is even lower... at +1 station.  And, if you know anything about the stations, you know that he can't get much lower!  So, we'll see.  She said it could be any day, or it could be a few weeks.  It's hard to say.  All I know is that with how low he is, I am SUPER uncomfortable.  Most clothes don't fit me anymore because nothing covers my belly.  Most of the time I HAVE to wear a jacket in order to not show off my belly :).  It's a bit frustrating!  But, I know that he'll be here soon... even if it's a couple of weeks.  Although, these days, even a day seems like forever.  I don't have the energy that I had even a week ago.  It's just the end.  I'm tired.  I'm cranky.  I'm ready.
And, as much as I was hoping I wouldn't get as big as I did with Ethan, I'm pretty sure I am just as big or bigger.  Maybe not... but it sure feels that way.  Here's a picture from today:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Easy and Healthy Meals

I decided that I want to start this post off with a confession.  I don't always eat the way that I know I should.  I occasionally have a craving for Doritos and a Dr. P.  Occasionally I like to eat at Chick Fil A or Sonic.  I tend to eat too many meals in the dining hall (here at camp) because it's easy and free (although, they really aren't too unhealthy these days!!).  I don't eat perfectly all the time!  But, each day, my desire to eat the things that I shouldn't decreases and my desire to eat healthy increases.  I don't have the strong cravings for "bad" foods that I once had.  It has been a long journey, and as I've said in the past, I still have a long way to go.  So, any advice I give to you, I give to myself!

Homemade is best, but if you want to buy something "processed," just be choosy!!  Choose things with just a few ingredients.  Make those ingredients count!  Whole wheat/whole grain, low sugar, no high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, etc.

One other thing that I would like to point out is that as I have learned about food, I have learned that "low fat" isn't necessarily healthy.  Low fat foods tend to either have more sugar, salt, or both and have been altered in some way.  Look for foods that are from the original source.  I will come back to this at another time.  For now, I'm going to focus on some meals :).  

I went through my recipes and tried to pull out the ones that are a little more simple.  Don't be thrown off by a long list of ingredients... that doesn't necessarily make it difficult!!
Again, try one or two new recipes a week.  Don't bite off more than you can chew.  It will take a while to make changes!
If you are really busy during the week, it's a good idea to set aside some time on Saturday or Sunday to throw some of these together and you can either refrigerate and/or freeze them to eat during the week.

Some of these meals I have made up myself, some of them I got from friends, and others I have found on other blogs.  Much of the time I change it up a little :).  

Breakfast Tacos
Eggs and whole wheat toast
Yogurt and fruit
Homemade "instant oatmeal"
Breakfast Cookies
Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal
Homemade Protein Bars
Banana Crumb Muffins

Roasted Chicken, Steamed Veggies, and Whole Wheat Pasta
Beans and Rice
Meatloaf and your choice of veggie
Black Bean Wraps
Pan Seared Chicken or Fish and your choice of veggie
Cream Cheese Potato and Ham Soup
Sausage and Pasta
Skillet Chicken and Rice
Pasta and Homemade Sauce
Southwest Chicken Salad
Chicken Bean Quesadillas
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Dill-Lemon Chicken (crock pot)
Southwestern Chicken (crockpot)
Sloppy Joes
Shepherd's Pie
Enchilada Casserole
Spinach Enchiladas

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Want to Eat Healthy, Where Do I Start??

Changing from the typical American way of eating to eating whole foods is a very long journey.  We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!  It's not something that should be done all at once because that would be too difficult!  I have come up with a list of realistic ways to begin a whole foods journey, and I will follow up with what to do next.  I remember reading a list like this once and thinking that I would never get there... but it's not as difficult as you think, over time!

I wrote a blog many months ago sharing information on Whole Foods Nutrition, but I didn't explain where to start, so that information will be covered here!

The MOST important way to eat healthy is to completely cut out processed foods.  Homemade everything is best because of the fact that processed foods contain so many harmful ingredients.  The first step in this process is to learn to read labels.  If there's a bunch of things in the "food" that you cannot pronounce, run!  What you eat should not have a lot of ingredients.  Some changes to begin with are (I'll try to keep it simple!):
  • Cut out High Fructose Corn Syrup:  this is found in most processed foods... breads, crackers, ketchup, canned foods, all "junk" foods, sodas, ice creams, even some "juices."  Even plain old white table sugar is a better alternative (although, eventually, making a switch to natural sweeteners). 
  • Cut out artificial sweeteners!  The FDA has 92 noted symptoms from aspartame.  It has been known to cause many health issues that when cut out, those health issues disappear.  
  • Switch to whole grain products.  If the label says enriched flour, that is highly processed and should be avoided.  There is NO nutritional value whatsoever to refined flour.  Some sources are whole wheat breads and cereals, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, oats, etc.  
  • Cut out margarine, and any other trans fats (look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients).  The best ways to get fat are through butter, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, milk, meats, etc (a WHOLE foods source- meaning nothing has been added or taken away).
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables... raw if possible.  Focus more on vegetables because they don't have sugar.
  • When eating meat and chicken, and drinking milk, look for hormone and/or antibiotic free.  Whole milk is actually best because it is a whole food. 
  • Drink more water!  This was a hard one for me... I'm finally at a place now in which my body craves water, but it has taken a long time.
  • Cut down on commercially fried foods.  These contain trans fat!
Some easy ways to make the switch to eating more homemade foods:
  • Get a crock pot!  One of the easiest ways to make a meal is to throw the ingredients in a crockpot, turn it on, and walk away!  
  • Buy simple foods.  Whole wheat pastas, whole grain cereals, rice, beans, eggs, oatmeal, grits, etc.  
  • Learn to make one new meal, fix it once a week for a while, then try a new one.  You don't have to do it all at once. 
  • Cooking meals does not have to be complicated... it just takes practice :). 
Stay tuned for a list of easy meals...

Monday, February 1, 2010


It finally hit me.  I was looking at the pictures on my screen saver, and I saw this:

This was at Karis' two year birthday party.  Joey loved Karis.  Yet, at Thanksgiving, he didn't even know how old she was (because of the treatment that he had, he didn't have a lot of his memory).  It breaks my heart that a week before he died, he hardly knew his family.  And it breaks my heart even more that because I didn't know what to do with that, I just avoided talking to him much.  We hardly spoke before he died.  I miss this Joey- the smiling, happy, excited to be with his family, Joey.  Look how happy he was in this picture.  I'm sad that he never really got to know Ethan because he had such a bad year, and he'll never get to meet Levi.  I'm an only child, and I will never have nieces and nephews from my side of the family.  Karis' only uncle on my side is no longer alive.  It's just a lot to wrap my mind around.  I guess I just had to come to a point in which there was nothing else to do to keep my mind busy for me to start to grasp it. 



Update on Goals... and Nesting, Nesting, Nesting! :)

I made a list of many goals that I have for this year, and so far so good! :)
My biggest goals were to mainly spend time with Jesus before the kids wake up in the morning, get into a routine, spend more quality time with the kids, and eat more the way that I know is best.  And, so far, all those things are happening. 

Robert and I wake up by 6:00 at the latest (sometimes as early as 5:30 or 5:45), and we both sit in our room and spend quality time with Jesus.  I love it.  We have both read through Nehemiah recently, and I'm trying to figure out what to do next.  I'm currently doing a reading plan that has me reading a chapter out of the old testament, new testament, psalm, and proverbs every day.  So far I like it, but we'll see.  I might end up going back to just reading through one book at a time.  That's what I normally do, but I wanted to try something different.  After I read, I spend time praying in my prayer journal.  It's such sweet time and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  If there is a day when I don't spend that time with Jesus, I can tell a huge difference.  It is necessary!!  Without alone time with Jesus every day, we can't grow to be more like Him. 

Because of that quiet time with Jesus, I feel like the rest of my day is less stressful.  I have been able to get into a routine.  After my time with Jesus, the kids always come into the room when they wake up.  I feed them breakfast, change Ethan's diaper, etc.  I then spend some time planning for the day, and doing a few things online.  I get off the computer and make the beds, put clean dishes away, etc.  I try to get everything done in the morning so I don't have to worry about it the rest of the day.  The kids play and sometimes I play with them... They are pretty much always where ever I am :).  Because of help that I received to get caught up on a mound of laundry, I am able to just do one load of laundry a day and keep up with it.  I may have to do two loads a day after Levi is born... we'll see how that goes.  I do a load of diapers every 1-2 days.  I try to keep up with the dishes so that I never have tons to worry about.  In fact, my newest goal is to get them done while I'm cooking at night and right after we eat.  It has made things much easier.  The kids (well, Karis) and I pick up the house before nap and before bed at night, and it seems to stay pretty picked up.  Everything else I just do as needed!  I sweep every couple of days, spot mop when necessary, vacuum when necessary, clean the bathrooms once a week or so (which, even though we have 3 bathrooms, ours is the primary one used!), and just take care of the priorities each day.  
Lately, when the kids are taking naps, I actually get some time to just sit and do what I want!  So, that's why I've been blogging more lately :).  Of course, I've also been working on cooking and baking foods for after Levi's birth.
I am very aware that much of this will change after Levi is born!  My goal is to get back into this routine after a few months of his birth.  We'll see how it goes.

Cooking and baking from scratch has definitely become much easier these days.  I am enjoying it a lot!  We are pretty much eating all homemade dinners, breads, breakfasts, etc.  I am mostly only eating lunch in the dining hall with an occasional dinner if it's available and I've had a long day (which, last weekend I was exhausted because of lack of sleep so I took advantage of free, cooked food!). 

With the upcoming arrival of Levi, I have been in the nesting mode, so I have actually been cooking and baking a LOT.  Some of this is repetitive, but here is a complete list of what is in the freezers (not including uncooked meats, veggies, etc):
  • 2 bags of veggies for roast
  • Veggies for black bean wraps
  • Sliced sweet bell peppers
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Cut up squash and zucchini
  • All items for cream cheese potato soup except cream cheese!
  • 2 Shepherd's Pies
  • Prepared meatloaf (uncooked)
  • Rice and chicken bake
  • Broccoli chicken bake
  • Spinach Rice Casserole
  • 2 bags prepared pasta sauce
  • Several containers pizza sauce
  • 2 pizza doughs (planning to make more)
  • Several containers chicken broth
  • 2 bags breakfast taco filling
  • 2 pounds cooked breakfast sausage
  • 2 pounds cooked ground venison
  • 3 loaves of bread (that I bought)
And prepared breakfast mixes in the pantry:
  • 5 batches whole wheat biscuit mix
  • 3 batches whole wheat pancake mix
  • 4 batches breakfast cookie mix
  • 4 batches peanut butter oatmeal mix
  • 2 batches protein bars... two each in individual bags
I think I am done.  I was planning to make even more, but I'm not sure that I can fit more in the freezer, and I'm not sure that I want to make any more :).  With meals that I make this week, I might decide to double up and freeze one... we'll see.  At this point, I just want to focus on maintaining each day and not worry so much about later.  It's enough to make sure that we have dinner for that day and enough bread and breakfasts for the week! 

Now that I am pretty much completely prepared for our little guy, I desire to just rest and do some things that I enjoy before it gets more stressful again.

I'm ready for him to come!  I can't wait to hold him!!

So Blessed :)

I feel like I have so much to say and I'm not sure where to start :).  I am going to be breaking up this post into two because it was going to be way too long :).  This one is just an overflow of my heart right now, and the next will be updates on my goals for this year!

The death of my brother is still very interesting to me.  As I've mentioned before, it doesn't seem real.  And even after 2 months, it still doesn't seem real.  I still have dreams about him a few times a week, and I think that's the way for me to deal with it right now.  I'm not sure why.  This past week I have probably thought about the reality of him not being here more than ever before, but it's still not completely real to me.  I guess it'll just take more time.  And, it may never hit me as strongly as I think it should... I'm not sure what to think about it.  I think maybe knowing that he is in a place where he's not suffering anymore brings me peace and that's all I need.  Only God knows when/if it'll be time to "break down."

After having the cramping that I had a few weeks ago, Robert and I felt that it was time to go ahead and stay home.  We felt that I was too stressed and at the time it wasn't good for the baby because it was too early to go into labor!!  As soon as we made that decision, a huge weight was lifted.  It's not that I didn't enjoy my class or the school (it's a wonderful school with great kids, families, teachers, and administration), it's just that I knew that my heart was here at home now and I was having a hard time keeping up with the preparation and things (because even though I only taught 3 days a week, it's still a lot of preparation!).  I also knew that I had many things that I still needed to do here before Levi's birth, and wanted a chance to do them (as well as get some rest time in before having another newborn). 

So far being home has been amazing.  It hasn't been easy necessarily because last week Ethan had a bad ear infection and was clingy all week, and I'm not sleeping great, but it is right.  This is where I'm supposed to be.  This is where my heart is.  I'm supposed to be the one who takes care of my kids when they are sick.  I'm supposed to be the one who holds and loves on them for hours when they just want to be held and rocked.  I'm supposed to be the one that makes meals for them.  I'm supposed to be the one to discipline, train, and teach them.  It's my job, and I love it.  It's not easy... in fact, it's one of the hardest jobs (Robert says he couldn't do it!).  But, it is what God has called me to.  For the first time in my life I'm at peace with where we are and feel that we are finally doing all that God has created us to do.  We aren't ready for the next move anymore...  We're no longer in transition.  We have moved so many times that we haven't known what it's like to just be.  Now I know what that feels like.  God has made it clear that He has placed us here, and we're content with that. 

I feel that we are blessed beyond our wildest imagination and that we don't deserve it.  I have an amazing, wonderful, supportive husband who would do anything for me and his kids.  Our kids, though trying at times, are beautiful, sweet, loving, funny, adorable...  This house... it's amazing and I would never have imagined that we'd end up here.  I get to stay home and be the mommy I have always wanted to be.  God has provided for our needs and many of our wants, and it's honestly hard to understand why. 

As I've said many times before, my desire is to glorify God through all of the blessings that He has given us.  I don't want to ever feel as though I'm entitled to these things or that we deserve them.  I don't want to ever take them for granted.  He gave them and we desire, in return, to share them with others.

We are also blessed with such amazing friends.  I have learned the true value of friendship more in the past two months than in my lifetime.  When we needed help, our friends were there.  In fact, they still are.  The camp has become more unified over the past six or so months than I have ever seen it.  I'm amazed at the work that God is doing here and just pray that the areas where Satan is trying to get a food hold, God would be victorious.  I know He will. 

I love that my kids are so loved here.  I love that if I need someone to watch them or play with them, there are many people I can call... and they want to do it.  I loved that when I was worried that I was going into labor, my wonderful friend came over to help me get my house into some kind of order.  I love that another wonderful friend of mine came and picked up my dirty laundry last week and brought it back the next morning washed, dried, and folded.  And she wouldn't let me tell her no :).  And when I was put on a couple days of "bed rest," a friend brought me a bunch of movies because she knew I didn't have a way to watch TV.  I love that we are a community of Christ followers doing what God has called us to do- love each other.  I only hope that I can be that friend/family member to others as they are to me.  

Life hasn't been easy since Robert and I got married six years ago.  We were young and stupid and made a lot of mistakes (mostly financial!!) that have made things tough.  But, God's grace is sufficient for our stupidity, and we have learned so many lessons through those mistakes.  One thing that is great, though, is that even though life has been tough, our marriage has pretty much always been strong.  Very rarely do we have issues... and when we do, they are resolved within the same day!  I am blessed with an amazing life partner and I couldn't ask for more in a husband!  Our marriage isn't perfect and will always need some improvement, but ultimately we both desire to love and serve each other to the best of our ability and know that we can always improve... and we seek that improvement.  Which, I think is what makes a strong marriage.  We have many more years to work on it!! :)