Saturday, August 30, 2014

It's about time for a Pregnancy Update

I came across this picture on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and it is very accurate:
I've been keeping very busy these last few months. My twin pregnancy is going well. Everyone seems healthy.
Even before I was pregnant I researched cute ideas for tracking belly growth. I was going to wear the same clothes every time, stand in the same spot, and the onlt thing that would change is the size of my belly. Ha. I'm not sure what happened, but that totally did not happen. I'm lucky if I remember to take a picture every three weeks or so. Seriously, the following pictures are the only growth pictures I've taken so far. (We're 32 weeks + 3 days)

At about 26 weeks my doctor told me I'd need help with my two small boys for the end of the pregnancy. My sister and some family friends have been out to help me since then. MY husband is actually stricter, and he gives me more restrictions than my doctor. They can be party poopers sometimes, but all in all they work as a good team to keep these babies in as long as possible.

He doesn't even let me cook or do dishes. He's taken over shopping, and as scary as that normally is, he's shown more self control at the store.
One Saturday I was getting really sick of staying home and he wanted to go to the new Cabela's in our area. He said I could go ONLY if they had a riding scooter. Sure! Anything to get out of the house, right!? Wrong. It was probably the single-most embarrassing thing I've ever experienced. Next time I'll go for the ride and sit in the car, thank you.
So pretty much all I'm allowed to do is sit on the couch. Even when I try to help cook or clean up dinner I get scolded to go sit down. As awesome as that sounds, it's really hard for someone with nesting instincts to just sit all day and let everyone do all the work... especially since they don't know how to do it as good as you! ;)

 Trust me, I have plenty to keep me busy on this couch. You'd think I'd post more often, but my brain went on vacation somewhere, and it doesn't want to come back. I do, however keep up great on Pinterest and Facebook. It's not a good thing, but what else have I got to do? I've also probably completed at least 40 crochet projects, and fully planned out the babies' room. I have a list of thirteen more projects to complete. They shouldn't take more than a few days.
On that note, I'm currently taking orders for crochet projects for the next few weeks! :) Help keep me busy, if you want.
If you're wondering how big I am now, this is me a little more than two weeks ago. I can't squeeze this shirt on anymore. Also, for those (like me) who would like the small details:
  • The boys are both currently breech and the doctor says they look cozy, but she isn't scheduling anything yet.
  • At 31 weeks they were weighing in at {3 pounds 13 oz.} and {3 pounds 15 oz.} My other two were 8 pounds each, so I'd like the twins to be good-sized.
  • Yes, they do kick a lot.
  • At 34 weeks, we will be considered "safe" but the goal is at least 37 weeks.
  • No, the babies room is NOT painted yet! But hopefully this weekend will give somebody time to paint and set up the crib.
  • Yes, I'm going to try to sleep them in the same bed. If it doesn't work, we have two cribs.
  • Yes, I will have help when they come.
  • Yes, we have names picked out but we don't like to tell. And yes, I can mostly tell which baby is kicking me or has hiccups.  
If you have any more fun questions, leave them for me in the comments. Hopefully it doesn't take me another four months to post another update!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Never Buy Chocolate Syrup Again!

I haven't bought chocolate syrup in over a year. Yes, I need extra chocolate on my ice cream and I love chocolate raw milk. It's like a treat. My boys get chocolate milk when Grandma and Papa visit. And no, I didn't stock up or stretch one bottle this long. I make it. I especially love that I can control what's in it. This is so easy, and you probably already have the ingredients.

Chocolate Syrup:
1/2 cup powdered cocoa
1 cup water
2 cups sugar (I only use 1 1/2)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Combine cocoa and water in saucepan on medium heat until dissolved.
Add sugar and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. *Be careful not to boil over! This happens to me as soon as I turn around.
Take off heat and add salt and vanilla.
Allow to cool and store in glass container.

Use within two months. If you have children, this usually isn't an issue.


Friday, March 21, 2014

When God Hands You an Extra Blessing

Since my first pregnancy we've always looked forward to the first ultrasound. This was the one that would tell us if we were having one or two babies! During our first pregnancy we thought it'd be so cool to have twins. I mean, who doesn't think it'd be awesome to have twins? {At one point or another in their life.} Our first baby was just that. One baby. That's obviously totally normal and most common. Shortly after bringing out new baby home, we laughed {or cried} at the thought of having two of these!
At the beginning of our second pregnancy, it seemed we were always meeting parents of twins. We thought surely our days were numbered before it'd happen to us. I had an ultrasound at 7 weeks. One baby. {Phew} Now don't get me wrong. I love my babies. But two at once sounds more overwhelming, don't you agree?

In the last year we know of two families who just had twins. For the last month, after learning of our pregnancy, my husband's been paranoid about having twins. We talked about it a lot. "What if we do have twins? Do you have twins in your family? Could you imagine if this was twins?" My ultrasound was scheduled for early last week to learn my due date. Well, we had a serious snow storm that morning and my appointment was cancelled. I rescheduled for a week and a half later, due to my husband's work schedule. He told me that he'd rather I go the week before, and he would even drive me! He just couldn't stand the suspense. The drive there was really nice. He'd never been to any of my appointments before.
So... we started the ultrasound, and the first thing my husband saw when it started was a flash of two obvious black areas. I was watching his face since the monitor was faced away from me. He had this instant look of shock on his face. I thought it was just because it was a different experience. Nope. The next thing I hear is from the doctor, ever so calmly, "It's twins." Ha. I didn't believe her. She insisted there were two babies. We were in complete shock. My husband laughs about it now, but he got sick, took a nap, and then a shower when we got home.
It took a while to get used to the idea. After searching "twins" on Pinterest, I began to get excited. Even later that day my husband began to be excited about it. We're both very happy about it now. We've already been searching for baby items on craigslist, and bought a twin stroller.
We're so excited, and can't wait to meet our two little babies!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Surviving Early Pregnancy with Oil Pulling

Well, I know I haven't been pregnant for very long, but I've already been confined to the couch. My first pregnancy was a breeze. I had no morning sickness, and I don't remember anything making me sick to my stomach.
Second pregnancy, how hard could it be? It wasn't that bad, but I got sick more. Certain smells set me off. I couldn't do dishes or even sneeze without gagging. All I ate for the first month was boxed mac & cheese {yuck, I know!} and bagels with cream cheese. The worst was changing my toddler's diaper. That's the only thing that made me actually throw up.
This third pregnancy, well.... yeah. I start out the day feeling sick, and lay on the couch because doing anything else is dangerously sickening to me. Well, I felt like that for about a week until I felt like I couldn't live like that anymore. I searched online, and found oil pulling. I'm on my fifth day. I have more energy than I've had in weeks!
Oil pulling is known for its oral health benefits. Pregnant women are prone to tooth problems already, so this is a double win for me!
{Don't worry, this picture is from a previous pregnancy. I'm not this big yet!}

How to oil pull:
 First of all, I am not an expert. This is just my own experience.
Use between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of the oil of your choice {coconut, olive, sunflower, sesame, ect.} I uses coconut oil for Trader Joe's. It's organic virgin coconut oil. I just put it in my mouth as a solid, and it usually melts within a minute. Swish it around for 15-20 minutes, then spit out. It's really that easy. The hardest part is that it's supposed to be done before eating or brushing your teeth. {Otherwise you eat the yucky bacteria you're trying to rid your body of.}
To me, it's worth getting up earlier and before my boys to feel better the rest of the day. I still have to be careful of triggers {smells, things that gross me out, like solid milk}. Also, I found that I can't let myself get too hungry. I just try to keep a small snack with me.
The first day I started feeling better I made chocolate chip cookies. I haven't made them in like a year! That's how great I felt. I also cleaned and cut 35 carrots! Yes, 35. I did that on top of normal household chores that I had fallen behind on. It was nice to get things done again.

You don't have to be combatting morning sickness to try this. Actually, most people who do it aren't pregnant. It's just really great for your teeth.

And don't feel bad if you can't do the whole twenty minutes. I haven't made it that long yet. The first day, my boys were up while I tried it, and they got into a 50 lb. bag of birdseed when I was about 15 minutes into it. The next day I had to sneeze at the 17 minute mark. Go as long as you can.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What No One Told me as a First Time Mom

You've read What to Expect when You're Expecting. You're ready. You've got this. Guess what. Surprises happen. I'm not trying to be negative. If you know me, that is far from who I am. I just wish I had been warned about some things. Don't get me wrong, I did it a second time, and I'll be doing it a third time in a few months. Odds are, I'll do it again in a few years.

1. Don't expect to go into labor on your due date. Everyone is warned of this. This is obvious. You're told you full term could be as early as 37 weeks. The problem with this is that most 8 month old pregnant mothers hear this and are excited, and are sure they'll go early. What makes this worse is if your doctor/midwife tells you they think you'll go early, and you don't. That's torture. You should be prepared to go as early as 3 weeks, but don't expect it. Really. No matter how big you are, no matter how uncomfortable you get, don't expect it.

I was teaching when I was expecting my first baby. The last day of school was June 10, and I was due on the 24th. I thought, "How perfect, I'll finish school, then I can have the baby any time after that! Maybe even the day after!" I laugh at that thought now. Keep in mind I had gained 60 pounds and was miserable. After school, I was starting to get antsy. My midwife had told me it looked like I'd go early. My due date came and went. Another week went by with trying every labor inducing remedy (except castor oil). June 30th I picked up some castor oil, drank some, and went to bed. I woke up to the side effects at 4 AM. Then, consistent contractions! {Woot woot!}

All that to say, do not expect to go early. Be prepared to go early, but don't expect it. It could save you from getting depressed.

For my second baby, I went a week early. I whole-heartedly expected to go a week late. It was so much easier to expect the harder. Then, you're less likely to find it unmanageable.

2. Don't expect your water to break. It might. But odds are, it won't. It always does in the movies, I know. I think only like 25% of women experience this. With my second baby, labor was not as obvious. I had contractions 5 minutes apart right from the beginning. I was a week early so I thought, "Surely I'm not in labor. I just need to walk it off and drink some water." (That's what you do to get rid of Braxton Hicks.) After about a half hour, I actually got worried. Not every contraction even hurt. The doctor said to come in because they were close and consistent. I thought for sure she'd be sending me home. She did, but it was a few days later, and I had a baby in my arms. :)

3. Labor could take a while. At the end of my first pregnancy I watched the 19 Kids and Counting episode with their first grandson's birth. She was in labor for 11 hours. I told my husband after watching it that we could be in labor for a whole 11 hours! Wow, that's a long time!

My labor was 33 hours. Three of those hours were pushing.

My second labor was 11.5 hours. It went by fast because I was prepared for another 30+ hour labor. That labor was such a breeze because I had prepared myself for a much longer one.

4. You're not a failure if you can't have the natural birth you wanted. For my first baby, I was going to have a natural birth. I didn't even want an IV or anything hooked up to me. I could do it if I set my mind to it.

Well, turns out, I needed an IV because I tested positive for whatever that thing is they test at the end of pregnancy. Okay, that was manageable. Hours went by with contractions getting closer and closer. Thirteen hours into labor, contractions 1 1/2 minutes apart, I was talked into getting an epidural. Do you know what? I do not regret it. It was wonderful. Do you know what else? I had another 20 hours to go after that. There's no way I would've made it that long with those intense contractions by myself. With the epidural I was able to sleep for a few hours. Oh, it was so nice. I'm all for doing it naturally, but don't think you've failed if you can't. You're still strong. You just have limits. Odds are your husband would never go through any of that, so you're already stronger than him! I wanted to have nothing hooked up to me, but at one point I had 9, yes, nine, things hooked up to me. (Oh, and don't be scared of a catheter. I've had one with each, and you don't even feel it. {Yes, you may need a catheter. Another thing no one told me.} While we're on the topic, don't look at it before they put it in. Trust me on that one. Actually, don't look at anything they put in you-needles, tubes.)

For my second baby I planned on getting an epidural, but not until I felt ready. I wanted to labor naturally for a bit before I got one. That's exactly what I did.

You can still use natural remedies at home, and eat healthy if natural-ness is important to you. You don't have to prove anything during labor. You're pushing a watermelon out of an opening the size of a cherry. You're super woman either way.

5. Breastfeeding is not as easy as it looks. I'm friends with a mother of thirteen. I've seen her nurse her babies. It looks so easy and peaceful. How hard can it be? You know what? She's had practice. And when I've seen her do it, her babies weren't newborn.

Newborns are born with a sucking instinct, but that doesn't mean they know how to nurse. My first baby was diagnosed with a tongue-tie. She told me it'd be hard to nurse. (Turns out it wasn't tongue-tie, but a recessed chin, which made his tongue farther back.) I had to use a nipple shield at first. It was a rough first two weeks. Not only that, but it really hurts at first! Like really! Don't give up! The pain goes away, and then it usually becomes as easy as the veteran mother makes it look. It is also so beneficial! It only hurts for the first few minutes at each feeding. Come up with a way to deal with the pain. I used to stomp my foot. Some people hit their leg. After a few days it doesn't hurt anymore. So please, please, please do not give up. You made it through the labor, don't give up now. This too shall pass.

6. You still get contractions after labor. I know, right? That's not fair. When you nurse your newborn, you get contractions. It's all good though, because it helps your uterus shrink faster.

The worse news is that it hurts way worse with your second. Like, epidural-worthy. I even asked for one, sarcastically. This only lasts for like a day or two. Just be prepared. No one told me any of this.

7. You will still carry baby weight until you're finished nursing. Yes, they all tell you nursing will help you lose the weight faster. It's true. What they forget to tell you is that while you may lose it faster, you still keep the last 5-10 pounds until you've weaned. Trust me, it's mostly in your chest. You'll know what I'm talking about if you nurse.

8. Don't expect to sleep on your belly yet. Oh, how I longed to sleep on my belly again. This was going to be wonderful. Wrong. You are so engorged it's painful. If you're not on a steady nursing schedule, it hurts for a few months to sleep on our belly. I didn't get to until my first was at least 6 months old. With my second, I never pumped excess milk, and I strongly believe that's why I was able to lay in that position after about a month.

9. Do expect to be over-protective. I actually expected this, and I don't see anything wrong with this. You carried this baby in the most protective way possible, within the safe walls of your womb. You may have started watching what you eat right after finding out about your upcoming arrival. You want what's best for your child. Who doesn't?

We had to stop at Target on our way home from the hospital with my first baby. I had a receiving blanket covering his carrier in the store. I didn't want any yucky germs infecting my precious new baby.
Who doesn't love to see/hold/kiss new babies? When a mother brings her new baby to church for the first time everyone wants to love on him/her. Especially me. The thought of my new baby being touched by everyone just made me so nervous. I closely monitored each person that came close to him. I didn't think twice about asking the teen girls to wash their hands first. He wasn't a doll, after all.
My husband made a rule. No one under the age of 18 could hold our new baby while standing. Well, that didn't last too long. But anyways, new parents are very protective. I'm not even ashamed to admit that. Even with the second you're still protective at first. They have very pure immune systems. It's our responsibility to protect them.

10. Your baby will grow so fast, you'll wish time would stop. I've always heard {old} people say, "in the blink of an eye." You quickly understand what that means. Soon, your baby will be smiling, laughing, talking, teething, crawling, eating, walking, running, speaking sentences, wearing big boy undies, and you just brought them home yesterday. Seriously.

So, this is in no way meant to be a negative. I really did enjoy being pregnant and having a newborn. There were just a few things no one told me that I wish I was prepared for. I obviously did it a second time, and I will do it again this fall. It wasn't all as bad as it sounds.
A Little R & R

My Joy-Filled Life

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baby Products You Don't Need

I know I've only had two babies so far, but these are the products that I will not be using for my third. Some people swear by a few of these, but they are not necessities in my opinion.

1. Diaper Genie
When I worked in a daycare, we used one in the toddler room. I really didn't care for it. It still stunk. For me, it's easier to just have a grocery bag hanging on the door knob, and throwing it out each night. If it's a terribly smelly diaper, that one just goes right outside. Or double bag that one. Some people love it. To each his own.

2. Changing Table
I don't have one. My mother-in-law told me I could just put a changing pad on the top of the dresser. Ha! Brilliant! With my second baby, I just usually change him on my bed or the floor. Sometimes I use the couch. It's just easier to change him where you are.

3. Changing Pad
I used one more for my first baby than my second. I put it on top of his dresser. (See item 2.) It was in a convenient location. It was so much easier to just change my second baby on my bed. If straining your back is a concern, kneel. Or sit on the bed.

4. Wipe warmer
Ha. My babies have never needed one. I don't even know why people get these. Does anyone use them for very long? Maybe just put the package of wipes by a heater if you want to have warm wipes for your baby's hiney. I've never been worried about it.

5. Bottle warmer
This might be convenient at times, but You can just use a small crockpot. You could just put it in a bowl of hot water, or even hold it under hot, running water. Unless someone gave me one, I wouldn't use one.

Some people may have used some of these items with success. If you're like me, then you're trying to figure out if you really need certain products for your new baby. Maybe you go without these products but decided you really need it. In my opinion, it's better to go without, decide you need it, then buy it rather than buy it then not use it.

Check out the Baby Products I did need.
Also, 10 Things No One Warned Me About as a First Time Mom.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Must-Have Baby Products from a soon-to-be Mother of THREE

Yes, {soon-to-be}. We found out on Valentine's Day that we're expecting another baby.
Today I started thinking of where my baby items were, and which ones I'd want to find the most.
That led me to start thinking of the products that I would be very sad to lose. Just like any new mother, I registered and bought many things. And like most mothers, I quickly figured out which things I didn't really need. Many of these are preferences.

Must-Haves for babies:
1. Boppy Pillow

This has many functions. Oh. My. Word.
A. It's great for nursing your newborn. I mean, AWESOME. Especially your first. It brings the baby up higher, and it makes it easier on your back. Trust me.
B. It's good for when you need to set the baby down. I used to put R down to nap next to me on the couch with one of these things. {Especially before they get too wiggly.} Of course, this is mostly only useful for newborns.
C. You can lay them on their bellies, supported up by the pillow for tummy time.
D. When your little one starts sitting, put this pillow around them so if they do fall over they don't bump their heads on the floor behind them.
E. Older kids, {At least my weird one} likes to lay on one, especially when his little brother does, too. That's why I have two.

You can get these at pretty much any store that carries baby supplies. I've seen them at Babies-R-Us and Target. I'm pretty sure Walmart even caries them. My nice looking one was a shower gift for my first son, and the other one was just a dollar at a garage sale. I just stuck it in the washer before I let my son use it. I have a feeling I should start looking for another one because my sons won't want to give theirs up yet. That's okay because I have a whole season of garage-sale-ing ahead of me.

2. A Playpen {play yard}

I guess it's called a play yard because you put animals like pigs in pens. Well guess what, my mom always called it a play pen, so that's what I call it. And you know what? Sometimes pigs are cleaner than my children. Anyways, we got this at a garage sale also. It came with a bassinet level, a diaper changing level, and a place for diapers and supplies. I guess they also come with mobiles and even carriers now. Anyways this has always come in handy. I didn't use the diaper-changer much, but I used the bassinet level quite a bit before my first son started crawling. It was a nice place to just be able to put the baby down and keep him in the living room.
Eventually he outgrew that part, and the main part of the playpen is an excellent place to let them play, but confined. My oldest didn't like it that much once he realized there's more to explore outside of it. After a while the only time he went in it was when I took my shower. I'd turn on a recorded episode of Mickey Mouse and set him in there. Actually that still works. He still has never tried to climb out. I know that is not true of all kids, but I'm lucky.
When I had my second baby, I never put the basinet part back in, because I still used it for my older son. I didn't put the younger one in there as much, especially unsupervised, due to the fear of my older son throwing something in at him. He knows better now. I just had to make sure before I trusted him. Still, at 2 1/2, I'd put him in there if I needed to be sure he was confined somewhere.

3. A Jumper

Once they can support their head and body enough, I put them in this wonderful product. Oh, it keeps them occupied and happy for so long. There's plenty to keep him entertained on it. I love it. Again, this could vary from child to child. My 12 month old still goes in there. After they start walking, they don't become as interested in it anymore. It's another place to put them that is safe.

4. Nosefrida

I didn't get one of these until my second baby. I only got one a few months ago, actually. With my first son, I only had to suck out his nose maybe once in his first two years. Seriously. My second son always had boogers in his nose. Always. We eventually found it was much better after I eliminated dairy. Still, he gets more boogers than my first. I was always sucking his nose so the poor guy could breathe. Sometimes I'd make him bleed. It made me so sad, but he needed to breathe. I don't even want to think of what the inside of that thing looks like. Ick. {shudder}
Then, I came across this. Oh, it is so nice. You actually use your own suction from one end, and put the other end right at the opening {not shoved in} of their nose. Suck away. Your suction brings the mucus from down deep, since they can't blow their own nose yet. I know it sounds really gross. Just the mention of it makes my husband gag. {It's actually funny to me watching him gag.} There's no way you'll end up with snot in your mouth if you use it right. There's a filter. Even if it somehow made it through the filter, there's a long hose. If you have a baby who frequently has a yucky nose, you'll love me after reading this. Trust me.

5. A Vibrating Seat

Wow. My son slept in this for like a month. Our basement floods, so I made sure this was way off the floor. There's no way I'm going without one of these.
This also was from a garage sale. The dangly-toy thing comes off so it's easier to put smaller babies in without bonking their head on it. They really don't care at first anyways. But this seat is like the baby whisperer of products. I didn't use one for my first son. {First-borns tend to get held and spoiled more.} My son used this until he was trying to sit up straight in it. That was a sad day.

6. A Rocking Cradle
I don't have a picture of mine because it has other baby things in it in storage. When they're newborn and can't move around, this is wonderful. Mine has a stopper in it so I can make it stationary if I want. I liked that if he woke up and wiggled a little, it'd rock, and sometimes it was just enough to rock him back to sleep.

7. Bumbo Seat

This is great for those who need support sitting. My oldest used it all the time. I would sit him in there with a few toys, and get some housework done.

8. Crock pot

I know it's not a "baby" product, but if you have a baby, seriously, get one. Oh, they are such a time saver! With my first, I held him a lot. It's nice until you have to put him down to start dinner. For months, the only way we could eat dinner was by starting it in the crockpot during his nap. I became a pro at converting meals to the crockpot. I don't make lasagna in the oven anymore. This is my best friend. I have three this size and two smaller ones. My medium sized one broke, and I really miss it.

Check out the Baby Products I didn't need.
Also, 10 Things No One Warned Me About as a First Time Mom.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Homemade Garlic Oil

Garlic is a very strong herb for immunity. I'm pretty sure I read you could go years without getting sick if you ate enough garlic every day. You might stink, but you'd be healthy.

When my son was sick last week I was desperate. He was so miserable, coughed like a smoker every few seconds, and had a serious booger nose/faucet. Some "crunchy" friends of mine suggested "goot." {huh? What's that???} Yeah, that's what I said. Goot is Garlic Oil OintmenT.
Homemade Garlic Oil:
3 Tbsp. Organic Coconut Oil
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Pressed Garlic (I only used about one Tbsp. It still worked great.)

Heat up your coconut oil so it's not in a solid form. I put mine in a bowl, then put that bowl in another bowl of really hot water. Add your olive oil (extra virgin is best) and your pressed garlic. Stir. Let it solidify in the fridge for a few hours. Store it in a sealed container. It's not recommended for use after two weeks. Don't throw it away, though! It's all edible, so brush it on some grilled chicken or something! Mmmm..

Seroiusly though, coconut oil can heal just about anything, and garlic has incredible healing properties, itself. This stuff is awesome! My husband can't stand the smell, but it makes me hungry. It reminds me of alfredo. Guess what I'm having for dinner tonight... Alfredo!

Homemade Vapor Rub

When you or your kids get sick, please, oh please, do not use the nasty stuff in the blue jar. Please just don't.

When my little R got sick last week, he needed something to help with his cough.
After a little research I decided to make my own vapor rub.
{drum roll, please}
It is so easy! As long as you have all the ingredients, there's no reason not to use this instead.

Homemade Vapor Rub:
1 Tbsp. Organic Coconut Oil
4 drops Peppermint oil
4 drops Lemon oil
4 drops Eucalyptus oil

Heat up the oil so it's not solid. (Preferably not microwaved) Combine all ingredients in a sealable container.

See? Easy Peasy!

Tips to Keep your Family Healthy

I really don't like when my boys are sick. Who does, right? I find that when I listen and adhere to the following advice, they don't get sick as often.

1. Eat real food. This one is hard, but true. As much as I don't want to admit it, Taco Bell is my weakness. I can't help it. And my husband knows it. He knows if he mentions it, I'll always give in. Always. To avoid him bringing it up, I try to always have a meal planned that he'll enjoy.
     More so than eating out, because really, we only eat out like 2-3 times a month, is doing your grocery shopping wisely. Unfortunately, like many others, our budget won't allow for 100% of our food to be real, and unprocessed. I just pick and choose my battles. Our spaghetti sauce doesn't need to be organic, but we do need to buy gluten free spaghetti. Stay away from refined sugar, bleached flours, and artificial sweeteners. The obvious stuff.

2. Use/diffuse essential oils. Thieves from Young Living is a good one. I (when I remember) rub some on my boys' feet before I put them in the church nursery, go out to a public place, or take them outside when it's cold out. Even just smelling it straight from the bottle is known to be beneficial.

3. Know you won't get sick. I know it sounds silly, but this really works for me. Proverbs 23:7 says,  For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: I only applied this verse after a few years of knowing this tip. I whole-heartedly believe in this. My husband, on the other hand, knows he will get anything that goes around. I told him about the bad flu going around, and he said, "Great. I'm going to get that, too." Also, a few weeks ago my husband came home telling me how he had thrown up his lunch. I asked, "Who did you find out was sick?" He was shocked, because that's exactly what had happened. A co-worker had told him he was up all night with the flu. (My husband showed no other signs of the flu.)
     Around the same time I detected a slight discomfort in my throat, but I kept attributing it to a dry throat. I would not let myself believe I was getting sick, because as soon as I did, I would get worse. Do you know what happened? It was the shortest sore throat ever. (For me, anyways.)
     Just don't get it in your mind that you'll get sick. It will help. Try it! Of course, it won't always work, but there's no point being down all the time about catching everything.

4. Eat a lot of garlic. You might stink, but garlic is really good for your immune system. I personally like garlic. A lot. That also might be why I don't get as sick.  Garlic is more powerful than you might think.

What if you or your children do get sick? Good question, seeing as my youngest was just sick with a really bad cold. I didn't feel he was sick enough to merit a doctor visit, because I wasn't going to give him antibiotics anyways, so I asked for advice from a few "crunchy" friends. I was already applying thieves to his feet, homemade vapor rub to his chest, and standing in the steamy bathroom with him.
     I found that lavender is an antihistamine and helps dry up mucus. The next three days, every hour, on the hour, I'd apply lavender to this chest, vapor rub on top of that, and homemade garlic oil to his feet. Literally within the day his nose was so much better. We also diffused oils at night in his room. (I believe eucalyptus and peppermint? My husband picked out the oils.) After those three days he was so much better! I saw improvement after one day, but three days later all he had left was a left over cough and an occasional booger. I also made him a smoothie. We only had vanilla almond milk in the house, so we blended milk, a frozen banana, some honey (for his cough), raspberry flavored emergen-c, and some vitamin d drops. He loved it! It was really sweet due to the honey. My older son found it after half was gone, and he finished it all at once!
     He also had a fever, but a fever is the body's natural response to something in the body. A low-grade fever is good, so I never did anything, because I wanted his body to do what it needed to do.
     My in-laws, and my husband and I also fervently prayed the first night he was sick. That was a big help, because the Great Physician is the greatest healer.

I am not a doctor, nor have I had any medical training. These are just a few tips that has helped our family.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Few $ Saving Tips

Yeah, so.. Bean Week turned into Beans For Two Days. ha.
We got sick of them.

My husband gave me $400 cash for groceries this month. My goal is to have at least $100 left over.
I've found that I spend less $$ when I have cash. That helps.
I bought three whole chickens. I froze two immediately, and cooked one. We canned the broth, and cut up the chicken, then froze it. I'll have chicken pieces, and free broth.
We eat leftovers for lunch, and lots of rice. Although we eat brown rice, I shop around for the best price per pound. We also eat a lot of quinoa, but I had that in stock, so that doesn't count. Quinoa has a lot of protein in it. It is excellent for my big eater.
We have a gluten-free boy and a dairy-free boy, so we have to spend extra for those specialty items.
We also have two deer in the freezer. It's in different forms: ground, stews, steak.. so we don't buy beef.
I meal plan. I try my hardest to stick to it. I plan my meals and make my shopping list after I've checked my pantry.
If we need anything extra in between shopping trips, we get it from Aldi.
Oh, I shop at Aldi first. Then Trader Joe's. Then Wegmans. Wegmans is awesome! It's a regional store. Anyways, cheapest first.

Those are just a few tips that I've been implementing this month for my shopping trips. I'll let you know how my spending went when this month it finished.

Yummy Taco Soup

Mmmm... This was great.
I measured out my soaked beans from earlier, piled in the rest of the ingredients, cooked it for a little while, and voila!
Every one of us loved it! My skinny, 5th percentile-in-weight, 11-month old boy had two bowls! Two. This kid eats more than me. I don't know why he's still so skinny. Anyways....

The first time we had this, I prepared it as a freezer meal. No matter which way you prepare it, it's just all thrown together. My kind of cookin'.

  • 2 lbs. cooked ground meat - I actually only use about a pound. I use venison.
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 can of pinto beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of small red beans - I soaked all my own beans for this and measured out about 6-5 cups worth
  • 2 cups fresh/frozen corn
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 7 tsp. (or one packet) homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. minced onion
  • 2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
I put it all into a pot on the stove over medium heat until it was all cooked. Once it's cooked, set the heat lower until you're ready for dinner! It's okay to leave it on for an hour or two. It's meant for a crockpot recipe if you start it earlier. If you use your crockpot, set it on high for 3-5 hours. If you want to freeze it, just cook it after you thaw it. 
Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and any other fun condiments you like! 
Warning: It's really filling.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The {Best} Chili {Ever}

In my husband's words, "This is the best chili I can remember ever tasting!"
He decided the beans helped it taste so good. 

I like not measuring while I'm cooking, but I guess it doesn't help when I try sharing the recipe. 
2-3 cups of soaked beans
1 lb ground meat. {again, we used venison}
1 cup frozen corn
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1 tsp each:
minced onion, garlic powder, chili powder, salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Mushrooms are optional. My husband loves them. I just pick mine out and add them to his bowl. 

Add all ingredients into slow cooker and cook on low for about 4 hours. 

Again, I'm never strict about those measurements. I just usually throw them in there. 
Yesterday I had my two-year-old helper. i just gave him an almost empty salt shaker and a spoon to stir. He was happy as a clam. 
Top with cheese if desired. 

Chili marked the beginning of BEAN WEEK. {Woo hoo!}
Tonight we're having hay stacks. Left over chili with nachos, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and whatever else sounds good. 
Our systems will definitely be cleaned out after this week!

We're attempting this bean week because beans are cheap and healthy. If this works out, I'd like to try this every month. Hopefully I can come up with more "bean" meals. I suppose that's what Pinterest is for!

Happy Beans!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January Meal Plan

Maybe I like to make things difficult.
I don't know.
But I like to plan my meals a whole month at a time.
At first it takes a while to get started on it.
Then, before I know it, I'm taking meals off because I thought of a better meal.

L likes yogurt every morning for breakfast. Every. Single. Morning. R likes applesauce. Breakfasts are easy peasy. Lunches are usually leftovers, sandwiches, or something else creative. {*cough, ramen noodles*}
Dinners are the hard part. My husband is picky and doesn't like too much of the same food too often. Sundays I like to use my crock pot.
In case anyone is looking for ideas, I thought I'd post my rough draft:

  1. {New Year Day} Pizza
  2. Something not planned out :P
  3. Crock pot lasagna
  4. Enchiladas
  5. Apple cinnamon pork loins {Frozen last month}
  6. Venison stew over rice
  7. Taco soup
  8. {Lost my list, and can't remember what we ate} 
  9. Cheesy crock pot chicken over rice
  10. {Birthday party-pizza}
  11. Hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes
  12. Crock pot lasagna
  13. Chili *BEAN WEEK*
  14. Chili haystacks
  15. Bean burritos
  16. Chili pizza
  17. Mexican lasagna
  18. Venison stew
  19. Cheesy crock pot chicken over rice
  20. Corned Beef - Husband's favorite meal for his birthday
  21. Leftovers
  22. Italian cheesy chicken casserole
  23. Hamburger gravy over rice
  24. {Out of town}
  25. {Out of town}
  26. Creamy chicken
  27. Enchiladas
  28. Goulash
  29. Chicken spaghetti
  30. Leftovers
  31. Balsamic chicken over rice {Frozen last month}
Meals in bold indicate crock pot used. I use my crock pot a lot. I have a few of them. In fact, I don't even know how many for sure. :) 
Some of these recipes are are posted. Some will be posted. Stay tuned. :P

Hamburger Gravy Over Mashed Potatoes

So I had a whole month's worth of meals planned out. 
Then, in typical Gabi fashion, I lost it a few days ago. ;)
Luckily I found it today. 
 Tonight I made hamburger gravy over potatoes. Yum!
I think I made this once or twice  few years ago. I couldn't remember exactly how to make it, and didn't have a recipe written anywhere. 
I just kind of had to wing it. 
I had a little helper who needed his own spoon. He actually does a good job.
First off, I browned my ground venison. Now, my husband has told me many times that when you use venison, it needs to be seasoned well.
I added some garlic powder, minced onion, salt, pepper, and some basil for the fun of it. 
I only had unsweetened coconut milk, sweetened almond, and vanilla almond milk. So, my choice of milk was obvious. {I used the coconut milk.} - add about a cup, maybe another 1/2 if it looks like it needs it.
I mixed a good amount, about 1 1/2 tablespoons, of rice flour in about 2 tablespoons of warm/hot water, and stirred it into my mixture. 
It was brought to a boil, and simmered for about 5 minutes, until it thickened.
Serve over mashed potatoes. 
Depending on how you prepare your mashed potatoes, this could be dairy-free. 

This was my 2-year old's bowl. He didn't finish it, by the way. My 11-month old ate more than this. :P
This is a great "cheap" meal. I didn't have to buy anything for this meal. Everything was on hand. I love those kinds of meals. It tasted great, too. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Yummo Cheesy Crockpot Chicken

Mmmm.... This is my favorite meal! I'm getting a little excited just typing about it.
This is so easy and so yummy. Also, it's gluten-free.

1-2 chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
dash of cayenne
1 cup of shredded colby jack cheese

Add all ingredients together except shredded cheese in a crockpot on low for 6 hours.
After chicken has cooked through, shred, and add cheese. Cook for one more hour.
Serve over rice.

Now here's how I make it:
First off, double the recipe because this is amazing, and I want left overs.
Add all ingredients together except cheese in a crockpot on low, unless I started it late. Then set it to high.
After chicken is cooked through, usually less than 6 hours, shred, and add cheese. Oh, and I don't use colby jack. I just use cheddar.
I usually start it too late. :) Whoops...
I didn't shred the chicken this time.. I just cut it because I was that lazy...

This meal is just so yummy, I'm starting to drool. It's perfect for busy days. My picky two-year-old will even eat it without nagging. Not that I nag... Ha. It's my favorite for Sunday afternoons.
Happy eating!

Creative K Kids

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How I Get My Baby to Use the Potty

Yes, my 11 month old uses the potty.
Not just occasionally.
Now, when I say "use the potty" I mean pooping. I can't quite catch all the pee.
The poop is easier.

When R was about seven months old I started recognizing when he was pooping. I mean, he wasn't very discreet about it if ya know what I mean... So as soon as I noticed his "poop face" I'd run him to the potty. As I was on my way I'd start undressing him.
The first two times I caught him, he had started going in his diaper but all that quick commotion and running had caused him to stop what he was doing. I'd set him on the potty seat and, of course, when they're that little they don't really want to sit on the big seat with the hole. I knew he had to go, so I waited until he was ready to finish. Once he can't hold it anymore he'd stop fidgeting and go. He did that twice.

The third day, when I noticed him, I jumped up, ran him to the potty like the previous two days. This time I got a surprise when I took his diaper off. He hadn't gone yet! Yay! I caught it! As soon as I set him down he let it all go! Yes, my baby just told me he had to go potty!

His way of telling me he has to go is by acting like he is, but not. I know he is trying not to actually go because he will look at me while doing it. He will try his hardest to hold it in.

This is not for everybody. You have to pay close attention. Every day. It is a lot of work.

I do it because I'm too lazy. I really, really don't like changing poopy diapers. I still have to deal with the wet ones, but it's a whole lot less gross than the smelly ones.

Does he still poop in his diapers? Yes. Occasionally I'll not be in the room, or not paying attention, or he'll need to go at night. It's okay. I just think every time he goes on the potty, "That's one less poopy diaper." But I catch most of them. And that is wonderful.

Every baby is different and will give different cues.

Go ahead, try it. When I take him potty at someone's house they usually ask to watch. :) They're usually quite impressed. And he's a little guy so it's really cute. {I know, watching someone use the toilet is hard to be cute. But he is}

Creative K Kids

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Soaking your Beans

This is my first time buying dry beans. 
It's cheaper.
And I'm all about that.
"Canned beans are cheap enough, why bother?"
Because when you're seriously trying to save money, every little bit helps.
It's actually really easy. Put your beans in a big ol' pot, cover them with water, swish it around, drain, cover them with water again, and bring them to a boil. Bring the temperature down, and check on them every half hour or so. The water evaporates, so you have to keep adding water. Once they get soft {like the canned kind} drain them and rinse. 
Mine are still in the strainer, cooling.
I put a bag {16 oz. each} of pinto, black and small red beans. 
So.... yeah, it made a lot. 
I thought I was being all smart.
I'm having taco soup for dinner tonight. {recipe to follow}
The recipe calls for one 15.5 oz can of each of the beans.
so I got out my measuring cup and measured about 15.5 oz, and put it in the pot. 
There wasn't much left in the bags, so I just threw all the beans in, and I figured I'd freeze the leftovers. 
Anyways, I put it on the stove, but by the time I brought it to a boil, the beans had definitely grown. I added more water, because it had all evaporated already. 
My pot was almost filled to the brim, and I didn't want to make a huge mess, so I had to switch to my largest pot to avoid catastrophe. 
I said all that just to say... start out with a much bigger pot than you think. 
Also, 15.5 oz of dry beans is way different than cooked beans. Measure after cooking them :)

*Edit: My husband told me the beans tasted better than they usually do! See? It's not just cheaper!

Monday, January 6, 2014

When You Don't Feel Like Being Productive

What do you do when you don't feel like doing anything at all?
I have only one thing I require of myself every. single. day. No matter what.
When I'm not getting much else done, I really try to get at least some things done.
These are the things most important to me.

My main chore I make sure I do every day is make my bed.

Especially after having a new baby, because that's usually the only thing that gets done.

Of course, my children's needs come first.
At nap time, I re-assess my priorities....
{cleaning..... or resting....hmmmm.....}
For those days I choose to rest, {more often than not} here are the things I try to get done at least once a day:

  • empty my sink - Any mother will tell you this is a beautiful sight, an empty sink. :) It makes me want to smile. It most definitely won't stay this way {unless we leave the house immediately after!} but if I do the dishes at least once, I know I've accomplished something.
  • clean up all the toys - I just cleaned up all the toys and already there are treasures on my trunk, here. Again, as long as it gets done once in the day, I don't feel as lazy.

  • take a shower - For obvious reasons. ;)
  • drink 3 full glasses of water - Like I've said before, I don't drink enough water. I'm trying to drink at least one full glass of water sometime before each meal. I try not to eat until I've finished one. But, that's only happened like three times last week. 
  • sweep my floor - I only used to do this like once a month, lol. But ever since I got my Norwex wet/dry mop, I've seriously swept my floors like twice a day. It's so much easier! I have a chocolate lab, so there's a lot of hair around here, but not anymore!
  • do my hair and makeup - I used to not do this everyday. Until my sister was playing with my camera and I saw what I really look like. AAAhhhhhhh!!!!!! That was scary! I wanted my husband to like what he came home to. So, I started taking time every day to do my makeup. 
  • read a Bible story to my boys - I really want my boys to have God's Word hid in their hearts. If I start now setting time each day to have some Bible time, hopefully it will become habit, even when they're older.
  • wash a load of laundry - I was doing good at this until our washing machine broke a few weeks ago. We still don't have a washer, so I am currently doing the laundry in the bathtub. I don't get as much done that way, and I know it's not as clean as the machine gets it, but it's better than running around naked. {Contrary to what my 2 year old believes} 

Now, this is my own personal list, in no specific order. I do not get to every one of these every day, but if you don't have any goals, you're not going to get anywhere.

Most of the time, by the end of the day, the sink is overflowing again, there are toys scattered ll over the place, and I've forgotten to drink any water..

One step at a time.
One day at a time.
Each day is a new start.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Homemade Marshmallow Frosting

Alright, you can't really have cake without frosting. At least I can't.
Here is what makes the cake. 
First, get a cup's worth of marshmallows. 
I don't measure. I'm too lazy. 
I haven't made this in a while, so these are the leftover marshmallows, and they were a little hard. 
Heat the marshmallows so they mix easily. Usually about 30 seconds is enough. But mine were hard, so it took a minute. 

Add a tablespoon of milk. Regular milk, raw milk, whatever kind you want. I used coconut milk. Stir until it looks like this. Mine was a little lumpy because, again, they were harder than normal.

In a separate bowl, mix 3 cups of powdered sugar with 1/3 cup of cocoa.
Put about a cup of coconut oil in another bowl, and cream it with a mixer. 
{Again, I didn't measure. I'm too lazy.}
Next is the really messy part. It's not usually this messy. Of course, it's because I was taking pictures. 
You're supposed to mix the coconut oil in the powdered mix. Um, if it's as messy as mine, just go ahead and add the marshmallow mix, too. 
Use the mixer... unless you're really strong.
Using a bigger bowl would probably help with the mess.
Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla. 
Set aside a 1/4 cup of milk. 
Add a tablespoon at a time, mixing in between. 
You don't need to add the whole 1/4 cup of milk. Keep adding until you reach desired consistency. The less you add, the thicker it will be. 
Frost your cake, and enjoy! 
The kind of coconut oil you use will determine your outcome. This time I used a better quality oil, and you could definitely taste it. Keep that in mind. Also, you could use butter instead of coconut oil. 
This frosting could also be dairy-free if that's your preference. 

Just be careful of what size bowl you use. Lol.